Jan 31, 2012

I realise that after a time, it becomes disgusting to repeat the story of my life. So it's true that I've had an unconventional way of doing things and every stranger who comes along and listens to it finds it 'interesting' but I start to wonder if it is that special after all. What does it matter to them anyway—it is not as if they were there every step of the way experiencing the same emotions and angst and difficulties of another man's life. What makes us so important, I think, is because we cannot see and feel past ourselves. That is why we can still be proud of who we are despite our failures and eccentricities and humiliating ways, and judge others as losers or misfits by that very measure. Holden Caulfield, if only you knew what a hero you are.
"If you want to know the truth, I don't know what I think about it. I'm sorry I told so many people about it. About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Jan 30, 2012

Once, I really enjoyed our little conversation over coffee about life. We talked for three hours without realising it. And each time when we have to part ways, a certain sadness always fills my being: what is good must inevitably end somewhere, and I wonder when we'll get to talk like that again, and if we'll feel the same happiness the next time. But between now and then, we always seem to be pulled apart by circumstances and our foolish egos. If only we could give each other a chance, save each other from ourselves. But I suppose we're still young about such things, so the best thing to do I guess is to wish you the best, my Friend, and let you go.

Jan 28, 2012

And in the end the man realises that life, with all its complications and difficulties and misses and regrets, turns out exactly the way he wanted it to be; but he is an old man now, and such is the price of wisdom. But surely, he muses, if life had turned out otherwise, this day too might not have come? Indeed, indeed, you old man—the game, too, is a game.

The Clod and the Pebble


Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite.


—William Blake (via Bards and Sages)

Jan 25, 2012

"Most of the writers I know are weird hybrids. There's a strong streak of egomania coupled with extreme shyness. Writing's kind of like exhibitionism in private. And there's also a strange loneliness, and a desire to have some kind of conversation with people, but not a real great ability to do it in person."

—David Foster Wallace (via Booklover)

And I've been thinking, perhaps it's time to apply myself back in school.

Jan 21, 2012

There once was a soul who knew itself to be the light. This was a new soul, and so, anxious for experience. "I am the light," it said. "I am the light." Yet all the knowing of it and all the saying of it could not substitute for the experience of it. And in the realm from which this soul emerged, there was nothing but the light. Every soul was grand, every soul was magnificent, and every soul shone with the brilliance of My awesome light. And so the little soul in question was as a candle in the sun. In the midst of the grandest light—of which it was a part—it could not see itself, nor experience itself as Who and What it Really Is.

Now it came to pass that this soul yearned and yearned to know itself. And so great was its yearning that I one day said, "Do you know, Little One, what you must do to satisfy this yearning of yours?"

"Oh, what, God? What? I'll do anything!" The little soul said.

"You must separate yourself from the rest of us," I answered, "and then you must call upon yourself the darkness."

"What is the darkness, o Holy One?" the little soul asked.

"That which you are not," I replied, and the soul understood.

And so this the soul did, removing itself from the All, yea, going even unto another realm. And in this realm the soul had the power to call into its experience all sorts of darkness. And this it did.

Yet in the midst of all the darkness did it cry out, "Father, Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Even as have you in your blackest times. Yet I have never forsaken you, but stand by you always, ready to remind you of Who You Really Are; ready, always ready, to call you home.

Therefore, be a light unto the darkness, and curse it not.

And forget not Who You Are in the moment of your encirclement by that which you are not. But do you praise to the creation, even as you seek to change it.

And know that what you do in the time of your greatest trial can be your greatest triumph. For the experience you create is a statement of Who You Are—and Who You Want to Be.

—Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God Book One

Jan 17, 2012

The World Does Not Belong to You, Though You Belong to the World,

for this is not a marriage,
living. Only you have
given your hand and
climbed into the carriage
of Morning. Where do you
think you're going? Morning
owes you nothing. She is

fickle, she is strong. Only
to Morning does Morning
belong. As she takes you
into the day, onto the old
wide way of the world, she
sings so intimate a song you
may begin to believe she

loves you. You may even
come to believe you somehow
guide her along sometimes,
but you are wrong.
You think you are a pitcher
taking the mound, but it's
the other way around.

—Todd Boss (via A Poet Reflects)

Jan 15, 2012

"Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth." —Fyodor Dostoevsky
Yes, I think I haven't been seeing things in the right perspective after all, from an inflated view of how we are connected in some way in this world. Step back, step back; and the illusion disperses. I was young Werther, unworthy of Lotte. I wish I had never read this book that mimics my present situation in life; but if I hadn't I might have ended up like poor Werther, dead and unloved and unpitied.

Jan 14, 2012

But people, they don't yet know how words have the ability to cut into each other's hearts like a knife in the dark. I once killed a man in my naiveté; now it is my destiny to be the bearer of wounds. Be strong, don't die—I tell myself everyday.

Nothing harsher than the sudden need for friendship, but one cannot be sure if one is being demanding on people's time. Loneliness always wins in the end; and in the end, someday at the very end, death to a man who doesn't know who to turn to.

Jan 13, 2012

白先勇: 写给阿青的一封信









Jan 12, 2012

The Wake.

Colours. Blue. White. Black. Yellow. Orange. Red. Gold. Sounds. Chants. Music. Trumpets. Cymbals. Shuffling feet. Chatter. Big noisy fans. Plastic wrappers and tablecloths caught in the wind. Smell. Incense. Flowers - what type? Sandalwood. Grass after rain. Sight. The coffin. The body. The people. The priests. The paper house. The set of clothes dressed over a chair. Touch. Wood. Plastic bags. Paper plates. Joss sticks. Emotion. Solemn. Laughter. Tears. Silent strength. And when all this is over, what shall we do?

Jan 11, 2012

Perspective, perspective...

All of a sudden I realise that the book is too linear. It goes from A to B to C to D, Sunday to Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday, two o'clock to three o'clock to four to five. That wasn't the intention, no no no. And then the distance one feels with the characters. It focuses too much on Damien (yes, a name at last!) but the thing is not to make one stand out too much. Everyone is a main character in some way and then no one is the main character. What crazy ideas, coming from a budding writer! Before this is over I will have thrown ten jotter books into the bin, I am sure.

Jan 10, 2012

In the end,

I couldn't speak like my life depended on it.
"Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing."

— Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (via Literary Verve)
"There are times when I very much want to say: 'take my hand, let us go together, let me show you this other world filled with love.' But I cannot, not yet. You haven't fully understood the pain of your loneliness, nor the true value of love which is not always sweet and is capable of plunging one's heart into a thousand darknesses just to love one being. And only when you have understood these things and more, then you'll begin to find people who really matter. But not before. Before, my love for you will only be wasted and you will not win any wisdom for yourself. So go, because I too had to go through it. But when you come back one day, if you did not come to hate me first, know that I have always kept this space in my heart for you. It is yours and you would complete me if you fill it."

Jan 9, 2012

坏人情歌 III

The man comes to understand the poet's love within himself: enduring, bittersweet, illuminating. Still, as in all types of love, there is too much desire to quickly give it away, all of it. Patience, young poet! It is but a budding seed, barely breaking out from its shell, out from the earth. No doubt love's light is too bright for one to bear, but in order to grow a tree, one must not be too quick to harvest in the hope of finding fruit.

So he learns.
"Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way."
— Janet Fitch (via A Poet Reflects)

Jan 8, 2012

One should not fault man for not seeing deeply, for not awakening. Life in its entirety is a big black chasm, and the longer one gazes into it one really begins to feel its lack of meaning and wants to jump in and get it over with. So to live like there is a purpose, man compartmentalises his life into manageable portions, such that each, taken on its own, will seem like it is capable of being cultivated to fruition. As for the other portions that do not serve him, they remain seeds in the dirt, unwatered. Yes, I believe now that many want to grow a garden of flowers, because flowers are colourful and beautiful, pleasing to the eye; but I, I want a tree and nothing more. A solid one with deep roots, that rises to touch the sky, to bridge the earth and the stars. The Tree of Life—I imagine that must be the sort of tree I want.

Jan 7, 2012

I live my life in widening rings
which spread over earth and sky.
I may not ever complete the last one,
but that is what I will try.

I circle around God, the primordial tower,
and I circle ten thousand years long;
and I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm,
or an unfinished song.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Jan 3, 2012

The work, the work...

I haven't touched my work for so long. Even as it goes unwritten so many experiences in the recent months have added new layers to it. But enough—a man must do his work in the end. I talk so much about it that I spend more time talking about it. And so I see that the first will be written this year, because the practical truth is that I am running out of income as well. It is good, life: it forces you to the edge of desperation and, having no time or recourse left, to action.

A few thoughts:
Two parts, three families, three primary characters.

A funeral scene, the wake.

A young boy sitting in the middle of the train station, crying in his folded arms. Everyone walks past him. Only the young man goes up to him and offers a tissue and a light pat on his shoulder.

His nurturing instinct, like he wants to protect all the helpless children in the world.

In the end, to love another being entirely, he realises that he can stand next to C as equals, not as a guardian.
And when all this is over: more work. I already have ideas for two more books. But first, this work, this book...
I have been thinking about the resurrection of Christ. Not whether it is true or possible, but how we would know. How would we know if a person is Christ resurrected? If he claims himself to be, the world will put him down, you'll see. It is the same even after two thousand years—we will kill the man before we will realise it is indeed Him. Perhaps it is necessary for things to be like that, so that man commits his greatest sin, Christ is sacrificed, and then man is forgiven. Then we'll know.
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks,

          By the love of comrades,

             By the manly love of comrades.

—Walt Whitman, For You O Democracy (Leaves of Grass)

The Killers - Read My Mind.

I am always amazed by drummers and their ability to manage so many things at once...

Jan 2, 2012

...He was walking by Katov's side once more. Yet he could not free himself from her. "A while ago she seemed to me like a mad woman or a blind woman. I don't know her. I know her only to the extent that I love, in the sense in which I love her. One possesses of another person only what one changes in him, says my father.... And then what?" He withdrew into himself as he advanced into the increasingly dark alley, in which even the telegraph insulators no longer gleamed against the sky. His torment returned, and he remembered the records: "We hear the voices of others with our ears, our own voices with our throats." Yes. One hears his own life, too, with his throat, and those of others?... First of all there was solitude, the inescapable aloneness behind the living multitude like the great primitive night behind the dense, low night under which this city of deserted streets was expectantly waiting, full of hope and hatred. "But I, to myself, to my throat, what am I? A kind of absolute, the affirmation of an idiot: an intensity greater than that of all the rest. To others, I am what I have done." To May alone, he was not what he had done; to him alone, she was something altogether different from her biography. The embrace by which love holds beings together against solitude did not bring its relief to man; it brought relief only to the madman, to the incomparable monster, dear above all things, that every being is to himself and that he cherishes in his heart. Since his mother had died, May was the only being for whom he was not Kyo Gisors, but an intimate partner. "A partnership consented, conquered, chosen," he thought, extraordinarily in harmony with the night, as if his thoughts were no longer made for light. "Men are not my kind, they are those who look at me and judge me; my kind are those who love me and do not look at me, who love me in spite of everything, degradation, baseness, treason—me and not what I have done or shall do—who would love me as long as I would love myself—even to suicide.... With her alone I have this love in common, injured or not, as others have children who are ill and in danger of dying...." It was not happiness, certainly. It was something primitive which was at one with the darkness and caused a warmth to rise in him, resolving itself into a motionless embrace, as of cheek against cheek—the only thing in him that was as strong as death.

—André Malraux, Man's Fate
Before the year ended, the energies took a turn all in the other direction and boy, was the light so bright. I shouldn't be talking like that—so out of this world—but that's just what it is. At times I feel as if I really can save the entire world, bursting into a thousand shards like thousand-armed Avalokitesvara and helping a thousand beings at once. And then, thinking like that while walking, I'd trample onto a snail in my mindlessness and realise the mortality of my existence: I am still human. Poor, poor snail; but life has its cycles, and even now I am killing some microscopic germ somewhere in my body. I looked at my hands again, and asked myself if I am capable of changing lives. I think I can, maybe not a thousand, but one at a time. But some days I despise myself, for it comes at the expense of some other life I cannot help while helping another at the same time...

I pray that each may find a light to guide him somewhere along the way.