127 literature = poverty of human condition

created by qixuan

post-panel reflections – beyond the slp (10 july 2016)

there were discussions of loss and pain through the various mediums of literary art. creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

literature is understanding the depth of what happened. to understand the circumstances and growing from them.

there are experiences where we do not immediately comprehend, and so we need to learn how to accept and be comfortable with uncertainty and the unfamiliar.

we may not be able to grasp fully the extent of an emotion, but we should be aware of our perceptions and be open towards such experiences.

the emotional intensity ~ core memory are some what related. the intensity continues to exist in our subconscious. some may not embrace and choose to avoid it – which becomes a suppressed emotion and memory.

and we try to recreate the experiences of pain and loss in our minds because it has impacted us a great deal.

pain and loss is a shared human experience. that is beautiful.

being human is about being broken. and in this brokenness there is beauty. we need beauty to sustain us. in that, there is redemption and hope amidst the dark – even if we don’t see it in this lifetime.

[compilation of the words of leonora liow, danielle lim and eric valles]


126 every night

remember i am only human, but
have you heard the names you have given me?

i weigh 135 kilos, and i actually work out.
i am that strong.

but i also know what it means to be firm,
and soft. and comfortable

in my own skin, i love it, and i know
you love it too. we understand each other.

i like to listen to you in your most intimate
moments, and you have chosen to share it with me.

don’t worry i will be gentle with you. i want to.
let my chest be yours to cherish.

when you close your eyes, you know that
my belly will take you in. tightly.

we are closer than you are with your mom,
i’ve seen more of you than she has.

you trust me, don’t you? otherwise,
you wouldn’t come to me every night.

i’m just a softy.
i’m just your softy[1].


[1] Inspired by Muun’s advertisement with a fat man: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/06/01/mattress-firm-tasks-giant-sleeping-bouncer-showing-his-softer-side


123 when a bright light left


This is a letter of confession that is unsent. It contains the lamentations of a leader’s regrets and shame that he has towards his late servant of the army.

Dearest friend,

I know that you are no longer with us but I am writing to ask for your forgiveness.

A few days ago, I got news that my wife was pregnant. In fact, she was your wife. I have made it through so many months after your passing, and the guilt and shame that I live with return from time to time. For the past few nights, the moonlight that crept in from the balcony has been keeping me awake. Last night, I was pacing up and down the cold marble floor when I finally decided that I should pen my thoughts down to you.

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for your faithful service in the army. After your passing, I have repeatedly heard of the many great and desirable things about you from General Joab and your other comrades. He told me of how you had fought bravely for our nation and brought me pride without fail. Yet, their words pricked my conscience.

You see, no one else but your wife and God knows why you died. No it was not the archers that shot you. You probably thought you were faithfully serving your nation, but here I am writing to tell you the brutal truth and to seek your forgiveness.

It was my order to place you there on the battlefront. I needed to cover up for my mistake. And I have let you, my good soldier, down.

It happened on a night where the moon was nowhere to be found. I had seen her from my balcony as she was removing her robes. The servant girls were pouring spring water over her body with earthenware jars, her eyes closed as she relaxed and laid in the bath. Her face was serene and her long black hair was alluring. I caught myself standing at the balcony for a long time and realised how frustrated I felt that it wasn’t me who was with her in the bath. I am ashamed to even recall this incident. I know I should have stopped myself. I should have turned away. But I didn’t. Instead, I called for a boy to get her.

Sometimes when I stand at my balcony I am still haunted by that very night – it changed my life, her life and your life. It was because of that dreadful night that changed who I was, causing me to take your life away.

You and I were not very acquainted but the people could tell that I was a man with big ambitions, to lead my nation into victory and direct them towards success. I wanted to serve my people, guide them see the Light and be a role model for them. I suppose that the prosperity we enjoyed as a nation was because I was confident about my strength and capabilities. But after stumbling upon your wife and falling for her, I lost all of that strength I took refuge in and found my competency being stripped away. I lost myself.

Irrationality invaded my thoughts and panic overtook the wisdom I took pride in. When I heard the news that I had made your wife pregnant, I knew that I had to act fast. Honestly, I did not want to break your marriage but I had to pay the price for my foolish act. My plan was not meant to hurt anybody. I thought that getting you to leave the war and join your wife at home would settle this once and for all. I thought that what I was doing was for the best, for you and her.

Just the other day, I was observing a myna in the courtyard. It was searching for food and it chanced upon an injured butterfly. Using its beak, it caught hold of it but it was too large for it to swallow. Instinctively, the bird seized its wings and shook the butterfly violently. It took the bird a great effort to finally break the wing of the helpless butterfly and swallowed it. That reminded me of myself.

Did you know that you drove me mad? You were not easily enticed by entertainment or even allured by the idea of spending a night with your wife. I can remember your passionate words spoken unto me, “I’m sorry”. You could not bear to abandon your comrades. While Joab and the rest slept in tents, you did not deserve rest at home, you explained. And I saw what sort of man you were, the honourable one that I was determined to eliminate. You opened my eyes to see that I was the deplorable man deserving to be condemned.

Resentment mixed with fear overcame me. If I could not get you to follow through with my plan to preserve your marriage, I knew that I had to get rid of you entirely before my name was tarnished. Hence, I ordered Joab to move you to the front of the battle.

It was one of the rainy days when the fateful news came to us that many men had died in the recent confrontation.

I saw her – your wife – fall to the dirt ground. She was screaming your name amidst the thunderstorm. The servant girls rushed to help her up but her heart weighed her down. Her continuous wailing made my insides churn and her scream dragged my heart down into abysmal depths. I remember rushing back to my quarters to rest from all the commotion.

I thought all would be well after conniving the ultimate ploy to get rid of you, but what filled my heart turned out to be guilt instead of freedom, remorse instead of repose.

It is probably too late to apologise because after you have departed, darkness crept into my life. I just want you to know how guilty I am of being a proud scoundrel that refused to lay my crown down to acknowledge my mistake of sleeping with your wife. To think that I could outsmart the people around me, especially you, and to try and manoeuvre around my mistake – I was wrong.

The bloodguilt that stained my hands stumbled me from leading my people. I was drowning in the scarlet sea of my shame, shackled to the curse of my iniquity. I was afraid and lost in complete darkness, without vision or any sight of redemption. I know I do not deserve forgiveness, but I begged God to show me mercy.

I am so bloody broken. What I did was selfish. I disregarded another life. I played God to think that I could have it my way. Now I want to confront my past and plead with the innocent man whom I have harmed. I sincerely hope that you will look beyond my abhorrent actions and forgive me, will you?

I still remember the last words you said to me, and these words have been ringing in my ears recently. It showed me your sincerity and nobility as a solider and man. You said, “My lord, thank you for showing us servitude, and what resilience is. You’ve led us selflessly, always placing others before yourself. It is an honour to be led by someone so upright and virtuous. I have learnt a great deal from you.”

I am not sure why the first time I had heard these words from you, didn’t strike me to have a change of heart but it must have been the evil within me that deafened my ears. My friend, you command my utmost respect for your brave service to this nation.

I will look after her and love her as you did. After the day we heard the news of your passing, I decided to take her as my wife because I felt compelled to care for her. We lost our first child, but we have been blessed with another. I am not proud of what I have done as a leader and I have learned things the hard way. With you gone and my first child taken away, it is time for me to learn from you what it truly means to place others before my selfish ways.

It seems like things are no longer as dim as it used to be. The cold days have grown warmer, and the light of dawn a little brighter.

Yours faithfully,

122 stanley kubrick

stanley kubrick.
checked out some of his photography and they are so inspiring all over again. i think b&w photography will always be my favourite medium. no matter how disappointing your photos are on film, it still looks great on b&w for me!

note to self: watch the shining again. watch full metal jacket, barry lyndon, a clockwork orange and 2001: a space odyssey!

kubrick-5kubrick-410296_66cm_ 00166cm_12268_ 035

images above from: http://twistedsifter.com/2011/12/stanley-kubricks-new-york-photos-1940s/


images above from: http://collections.mcny.org/

121 he took it away from me

(my heart broke when i realised i was not good enough)

that feeling where you were taken on the high road to achieve something greater than yourself.

(but it was not the plan he had for me)

that feeling of soaring so high because i THOUGHT it was the plan.

(but it really wasn’t the plan for me)

that feeling thinking it was peace.

(but it may not have been so)

that feeling when i hit the bottom.

that feeling of wanting it so bad.

that feeling where i lost it all.

that feeling of shame.

that feeling of loss.

so he took it all away from me, for the good.

120 J.D. Salinger

alright, i should give some credit to Salinger for writing one of the most influential and relatable novels of the 20th century.

having watched Salinger it was truly an insightful documentary of this man’s life, to a certain extent it is no doubt dramatised. but it meddled with loss, darkness and pain. as much as Catcher in the Rye seems to be a close reflection to his personal life, this angsty teenager is not unfamiliar to us. deep inside he crave acceptance yet he is ambivalent towards these “phonies”.

yet Holden Caufield’s creator was not as simple as he seems, call him mysterious or reclusive. first of all what amused me was how he wanted so badly to be published in the new yorkers – cosmopolitan and other magazine publications were not good enough for him. but when he had his “big break”, he retreats and isolates himself. i wonder what could he really have wanted? acceptance from the world but changes his mind after?

then i find it quite haunting that he mentioned that the only person who could play Holden Caufield was himself. his life was in that book, and i’d like to believe that because he penned an unofficial “memoir”, the public was able to relate and take it personally. and that’s where his life is for the world to see, yet everyone could fit the shoes of Holden – Salinger himself! hats off to a man who can pick apart his life and readers are able to piece them together and say, “this is me”. incredible.

when Salinger shared with reporter, Betty Eppes, that “writing Holden was a mistake”, my heart broke. imagine immortalising your life in a story and then saying that it was a mistake. the writer has gone through the pains of putting this masterpiece together and when the public dramatises it, it’s like trying to snatch it from the world but they refuse to let it go because their soul is a part of it now.

i’ve got to say, i think Salinger’s secrecy is what gets me most. his broken heart from making a “mistake” of publishing Holden has caused him to clamp up other greater books he has written i guess.

119 blooming delicates

7 hour work. yes, dealing with these delicates.

a friend of mine shared me with an analogy: people are broken but beautiful even in the midst of the fragility there is radiance. just like flowers, they are beautiful but they are fragile and a lot of care and love is necessary to make them bloom.









118 details, he is all about details

he is interested in the details.

there is not one thing overlooked, not a single thing.

he goes after perfection, he is all about perfection, he is perfection.

when we look through the magnifying glass to study his world and its organisation and functions – it is precise and complex. he gets more intricate than we can ever imagine and yet we shall never uncover and explain everything we have discovered because he created them. we will eventually leave with thousands of stones unturned because that is his vastness and greatness.

humans err, but err is not his name.

recognise his details and his perfection. may we glorify his details and his perfection and his name.

he is in the details.