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Dean Kyte, Writer, Artist, Filmmaker, Flaneur

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As someone not unskilled at picking up las chicas en la calle, I appreciated the direct way in which Melbourne photographer Tommy Backus (@writes_with_light) approached me in Frankston and asked if he could take my photograph.

I was surprised, moreover, at what his camera saw.

Are you surprised at how others see you?  I confess I often am.  To see yourself in a photograph is like seeing yourself reflected in a mirror which is angled away from you: you catch an unexpected vision of yourself—side-on, as it were.

I didn’t altogether recognize the dapper gloved gent staring back at me from Tommy’s photographs with such steely confidence.  Was this really the vision that others had of me as I took my dreamy flâneries down Melbourne’s laneways?

The hard-eyed, no-nonsense gent in these photographs looked more like a dandy Don Draper than Dean Kyte.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1QIoqbHLK-/

As I studied the stranger in the photographs, I was reminded of something which a girl had said to me once.  I picked her up in Chinatown, approaching her with the same sort of humble directness with which Tommy had approached me in the Shannon street mall.

It was our second rendez-vous.  As we departed the Treasury Gardens and wended our way down the Paris end of Collins street, she told me of some of the manipulative and socially unintelligent manœuvres which other men had pulled on her in the past.  I violently expressed my disgust with what I considered to be ‘weak’ behaviours because (as I had learned to my cost) they are ultimately unnecessary.

She gave a kind of ‘verbal shrug’, as if to say, ‘But of course!’  It was natural, to her mind, that I should regard such behaviours as weak and unnecessary.

‘You are a confident man,’ she told me, quite matter-of-factly, as though the intelligence was already well-known to me and she was not, in fact, giving me a revelatory clue to the mystery (which always preoccupies me) of who the hell I am.

I was as surprised by that observation of myself by another as I was looking at this confident gentleman I hardly recognized as me in Tommy’s photographs.  I didn’t ‘feel’ especially confident.  Perhaps truly confident men never do, because they never think about it.

In Daygame, we used to say that confidence was nothing more than ‘situational competence’: you gain competence (and thus confidence) as a man by consistently throwing yourself into situations where you are not yet confident (such as approaching women in the street) and mastering that domain until it enters into your economy of habits as an ‘unconscious competency’.

The truly confident man is, I think, as much a man of thought as of action.  To act decisively, with confidence, demands that we first of all consider the complexity of problems at a very deep level.  This takes time and does not preclude the potential for self-doubt: confidence is not something you ‘have’ even when you are competent in a given situation; it is a reserve you call upon to inspire action.

Certainly I did not ‘feel’ especially confident when I picked up the girl who alerted me to my innate confidence.  I had no intimation of what would transpire between us in a very few hours’ time, and I almost let her walk past before the reserve of unconscious competence commanded me to approach.

Indeed, I sensed a similar ‘summoning of courage’ in Tommy when he stopped me in Frankston, which made me appreciate his direct yet humble approach.  If you want to see Melbourne like a local, I recommend that you take a look at other of his portraits of Melburnians on Instagram.

I want to thank all my friends who have accepted the invitation to follow my adventures on The Melbourne Flâneur vlog.  As I commence my enterprise, offering a bespoke, artisanal approach to document preparation, it means a lot to me to have your support.

It’s also an honour and responsibility to produce online content for an audience who has committed to watch it.

In thinking about how to produce online content that is meaningful, engaging and valuable without bombarding or overwhelming you, I was influenced by Jasmine B. Ulmer’s article, “Writing Slow Ontology” (2017).

In the spirit of the ‘Slow’ movement (as in Slow Food, Slow Cities, etc.), I want to propose a ‘Slow’ approach to producing online content, one that does not bombard you with volume or overwhelm you with fast pace, one that is, as Ulmer says, ‘not unproductive’ but ‘differently productive’.

As opposed to the consumptive and disposable model of online content production that predominates, I won’t spam your inbox with clickbait.  You won’t hear from me often, but I hope that when you do receive notification of a new post, you will look forward to the content I offer.

To my mind, online video should open a space in which to breathe for the viewer, not fill a hole hungry to consume.  In line with the bespoke, artisanal value promise of my enterprise, I want whatever leaves my hand to be the best that I can make it.

I called my vlog The Melbourne Flâneur because I wanted to bring a more ‘pedestrian’ pace to producing online content, introducing Paul Schrader’s notion of the transcendental style in film to online video.

In the video above, you’ll notice my love of ‘leveraging boredom’—holding on shots of ‘nothing’ at the beginning and end, moments of ‘ventilation’ which encourage you to pause, breathe and observe with me in my flânerie.

The fast-paced, high-volume approach to content generation is opposed to the bespoke æsthetic of the handcrafted, artisanal products and services I promote.  To write and publish even a slender volume like Brazen Gifts for Gold took more than a year of my life.

Writing is a true ‘manual labour’, but, as Ulmer observes, it is also a labour of time and being in which we don’t just ‘do’ writing but ‘live’ writing.  To be a writer is to live an artisanal lifestyle.

Value emerges from this condition of artisanship: all the being and ‘life/time’ of the writer is imbued in the bespoke, handcrafted book, not merely in the words he sweats over to make perfect, but in the total ‘livery’ of his libello.

Likewise, in the video content I offer you on this vlog, in which places are allowed to be and breathe, I hope you enjoy a vicarious oasis of valuable respite from the overwhelming pace of our amped-up existence.

How does a ‘Slow’ approach to creating online content resonate with you?  Do you agree that we could benefit from a more thoughtful, deliberative pace to online video production?  I’m interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

William street, night, by Dean Kyte.
William street, night.  Shot on Kodak T-MAX 400 film.

As an emerging writer, you gain valuable experience by networking with other writers.  Their fresh ways of seeing the world open exciting new directions for your own writing.

As he demonstrates in this prose poem based on the ‘flânograph’ above, Dean Kyte doesn’t just see the world differently, he hears it differently too.  And the poetic way in which he describes his personal experiences is idiosyncratic to say the least.

For the Melbourne Flâneur, even moments of banality, loitering in Melbourne at night, waiting for the perfect shot, are freighted with epiphanic mystery…

If you want to take your writing to a new level of mastery, it pays to network with an editor rich in literary experience, one who shares your passion for le seul mot juste because he happens to be a fellow Melbourne author.

And if you’re a writer in French seeking to make yourself perfectly compris dans la langue de Shakespeare, Dean Kyte can provide editorial assistance bespoke to your needs with his Bespoke Document Tailoring service.

Enjoy the augmented experience of this ‘amplified flânograph’.  To connect with Dean and experience his bespoke approach to your editing needs, drop him a line via the Contact form.

Is Melbourne too cold for you right now?  Are you sick of shivering at your desk in Kensington, or feeling uninspired in Flemington?

Sometimes a writer needs new surroundings to feel inspired.  This week, the Melbourne Flâneur takes you on a vicarious visit to the Bendigo Art Gallery, narrating some notes he scribbled down there.

If writing is your hobby, you may often feel uninspired by the everyday.  A useful habit is to take your notebook to an art gallery and describe what you see and the thoughts that works of art inspire in you.

What you are practising here is the discipline of writing.  The trick is to be less concerned with writing sparkling prose than with describing as precisely as possible not merely what the artwork looks like, but the thoughts, feelings and associations it inspires in you.

When it comes to publishing a book for the first time, it’s developing and maintaining this discipline of writing over the long haul that matters—even when you feel uninspired.  A skilful and sensitive editor can always help you to shape the prose, but there must first of all be words on the page to work with.

Like the indefinable frisson you feel before a work of art which inspires you, the experience of working in real life with another writer to shape your words into their perfect form inspires you with the confidence that your book will look its best.

Through his Artisanal Desktop Publishing service, Dean Kyte offers you an authentic artisanal experience, the feeling of confidence that comes from collaborating with a craftsman who cares as much about the perfect presentation of your words as you do.

To experience the real deal and discover how Dean can help you to publish your own book, get in touch with him via the Contact form.

Street art, Hanna lane, South Melbourne, by Dean Kyte.
Street art, Hanna lane, South Melbourne.  Shot on Kodak T-MAX 400 film.

Melbourne style’ is the dogleg laneway off the main thoroughfare of high-street fashion.  It doesn’t think outside the box: it takes the boxes out of the National Gallery of Victoria just up St Kilda road, glues them to a mechanic’s wall, and reimagines them as many pixels adding up to a graffito’d digital daguerreotype.

You don’t have to wander far off the beaten track of the tramline to find Melbourne style.  If you’re heading to South Melbourne Beach, you can roll off the No. 1, turn down a cobbled laneway off Sturt street, and à deux pas, find yourself in this plein air gallery of salon-hung street art.

I stumbled on this cobbled coin one dreary winter afternoon.  It had just rained and the sky was the same colour as the asphalt.  A stiff wind blew me capriciously along a route I hadn’t taken before in my flâneries.

I had four shots left on the roll and didn’t expect to have my æsthetic antennæ tweaked anymore that day when I twigged to this vintage gent redux.

I love it when you turn a corner and Melbourne surprises you with an unexpected spectacle which colourfully interrupts the grey livery.

Melbourne style takes couture out of Chapel street and plunks it in the laneway.

You may be a designer in fashionable Port Phillip looking to publish an elegant portfolio showcasing your couture.  If you’re in fashion, you already know that ‘the Book’ is key to getting through the door.

You require a presentation on paper as bespoke as your own image.  And if you’re used to getting your hands dirty, you know why the artisanal approach matters.  There’s an indefinable yet palpable quality you can’t get but by the skilful application of hand and eye working in unison.

With my Artisanal Desktop Publishing service, I can work with you mano a mano to design and craft a portfolio bespoke to your needs.

If you crave the rare and exotic, treat yourself to the novel experience of working side-by-side with an artisan who brings to the craft of book design the bespoke æsthetic of a tailor.  Contact me today to arrange a discreet and private measure.

Highlander lane, night, by Dean Kyte
Highlander lane, night. Shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 film.  Shutter speed: 30.  Aperture: f.2.82.  Focal range: infinity.

Melbourne transforms itself into a foreign wonderland at night.  Armed with my Pentax K1000, I venture forth after-hours to capture ‘a Brassaï moment’—the moment when Highlander lane, between Flinders street and Flinders lane, reminds me of the square Caulaincourt in Paris—the setting of my first book, Orpheid: L’Arrivée (2012).

As a writer, I move from obscurity to clarity.  For me, writing is a flânerie through the chiaroscuro of consciousness and unconsciousness.  I enjoy the frisson of venturing into dark places which are foreign to me—like alighting from a taxi in a cosmopolitan European locale late at night, not sure where you are, barely speaking the language, some menacing silhouettes in the milieu to greet you.

Before I was ever a Melbourne Flâneur, I was a flâneur in Paris, the Mecca of flânerie.  In L’Arrivée I wrote about my experience of feeling both fearful and fearless, arriving alone, late at night, in a small Parisian square in Montmartre.  Despite barely speaking the language, I had a strange sprezzatura, a strange confidence in myself—in my mission and message as an artist—going forward.

Do you speak the language of the land?  If you are a writer in French, Italian or Spanish, can you make the obscurity of your message clear to readers in English, combining the formal and the vernacular with the bravura of the native-speaker?

With my Bespoke Document Tailoring service, I can help you translate the complexity of your experience into words which allow you to feel heard and understood by your readers.

To explore how I can help you communicate your message with a bespoke approach which complements your literary voice in your native tongue perfectly, go to my Contact form to arrange a discreet and private measure with me.

In today’s complicated and highly entangled world, problems are not solved by following straight lines, but by understanding the mysterious web of connections.

You may be a start-up entrepreneur in Carlton with a revolutionary app, but to ensure that your ideas are truly solid going forward, they need to be rigorously challenged by a mind competent to tease out the strands of complexity.

Dean Kyte brings a bespoke approach to the preparation of strategic documentation of high complexity for small businesspeople and individual entrepreneurs in Melbourne.

With his Bespoke Document Tailoring service, Dean will work with you in an intimate, face-to-face setting, helping you to test the architecture of your thought to ensure the logic is truly solid.

His serene and gentle exterior belies an incisive mind.  Both a challenging critic and a tactful diplomat, if it doesn’t make sense, Dean will tell you so and work with you until it does.  He brings a novelist’s skills to organizing an effective content strategy for you and the art of the poet to articulating your message with eloquent precision.

To learn how Dean Kyte can help you eloquently articulate the complexities of your vision, fill out the Contact form to arrange a private measure with him.