Friday, August 11, 2006

A Triumphant Headache

So. After a million months of working on a particular writing project that has spanned eons and several lifetimes, I am finally DONE. Submitted my last chapter no more than five minutes ago, which makes me a very very very happy hobbit. Of course, my head also hurts from being locked in the flat for most of the entire day, plus the fact that some idiot threw a smoking something down the garbage chute that connects through ALL of the flats in the building, which means there is something strange happening in the bins down below. O_o

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Classes start next week. My schedule is from Tuesday to Thursday, 6-9 PM. I've already shelled out more than SGD 200.00 to purchase most of my primary texts, and will most probably get cracking on them over the weekend. I realize that there is a big (think wide and gaping maw) in my education regarding post-colonialism, and since two out of three modules have the title "Post-Colonial" in them, that gives me around four days to re-acquaint myself with the literary concept. Being someone who writes, I could probably spout of a load of gibberish from Russian Formalism until Cleanth Brooks and not look like a total spaz, but once we hit Structuralism, my brain decides to shut down. This may not be a good thing.

Yes, library, here I come. O_o

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Bit of shout outs:

Happy birthday to Hiyas and Andrew, who celebrated their respective getting-spit-out-of-the-birth-canal day yesterday. ^_^

And a major congratulations to Dean, Nikki, and Larry Ypil for their respective Palanca wins. I don't know who else won, but let me congratulate you (the winner) just the same.

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In a bit of a rut, actually, when it comes to writing. I have bits and pieces strewn around the attic in my mind, but nothing worth piecing together to make a whole. I'm starting to disappoint even myself. I've never been this unproductive my entire wriitng life.

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A Singaporean poet caught my attention: Alfian Bin Sa'at, who is a medical student at NUS. His latest collection of verses, A History of Amnesia, is part of the reading list for my Asian and Other Modernities class. Despite the political slant of his works, the lyricism and tension of his works struck me as pretty darn brilliant.

One of the works I loved is the final piece in the collection.

XII. (The Phone Crackles When You Are Far Away)
Alfian Bin Sa'at

A phone call from you. You are in Thailand. I am not. You sound happier and I am also happy for you. You are now doing your art without anybody hassling you, without the need to apply for licenses or having to erase your name from black lists with water sleeves. You once taught me dirty words in Thai but I cannot remember any of the, I wish I could say them now, so I can hear you laugh, although there is no need for any of this; you are already happy.

"It is easier to live this way, this is a body and nothing else, this country is a collection of rocks and concrete and grit and nothing else. We do not need what keeps on leaning towards an idea of paradise, that which does not even quetsion why we would need paradise. Some people would call this a soul."

Josef, I want to tell you about what I see outside my window: National Day buntings in front of the Police Post, children with giant schoolbags mechanically looking left and right before crossing the street, a girl at a bus-stop balancing a closed file on her lap, I want to tell you that I am also happy. Last night I dreamt of the day you left, the wheels of the aeroplane disengaging themselves from the runway, its upturned nose nudging the clouds, calf-like, you gazing out the window at your own reflection, which has always looked the same and yet can never be the same again. But my dream could not follow you, the thin cord between us snapped like a line of spit between two lips and I awoke to my baked bed and the sunlight's sudden bounty on my thighs.

"When I say silence is a form of violence I am saying that inaction is complicity or that deliberate ignorance is the malnourished conscience or even that the man who said 'yes' to the death-senence is the man who turned his face away and muttered to himself, 'This is something else, somewhere else. Or I am.'"

Josef, I feel my nerves are like the strings of a musical instrument turning slack, men in power are fondling tuning knobs with invisible fingers. They knew what you were doing, so they twisted your actions so hard with their gloved fists that they snapped your strongs, one by one. You once did this performance art piece where you asked members of the audience to hit you with a violin and if they did not you would run down the hall and slam your body against the wall. One of them, enraged at his powerlessness, smashed the violin on the floor. But you took the unbroken neck of the violin and asked another person to hit you with it. This could have gone on until the violin can no longer be called a violin, yet you would still insist that someone push a splinter through your palm or rub the sawdust in your eyes.

"I am not a Marxist. Tell me what is a Marxist."

Josef, over the crackle of the telephone I will speak to you these words: Thailand. Happy. Paradise. National Day. Dream. Aeroplane. Sunlight. Silence. Fingers. Music. Money. Marxist. One of these words will describe the country that you left. One of the words will describe the country that abandoned you. One of them means the soul in a destroyed language.

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