Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tales from Down Under: #12- The Perfect Figure

I’m afraid I have to say I have long passed the teenybopper phase of keeping idols. Someone you revere is most suggestively not to be met brusquely, it is believed. I once read how Robyn Hitchcock met Syd Barrett after the former Pink Floyd lead vocal retired from the music scene, and the encounter was apparently too disappointing that he did not even bother to prolong the description. Sometimes you have to put into account that your idol still runs to the grocery and wears shorts.

Therefore while walking to school I try not to dwell too long on one specific object lest the longer I dwell upon the oftener I will like to come across it every day, and an astonishing disillusion is prophetic and imminent. People often end up reversing to what images you inflict upon when you first meet them, and being one who affirms accurately of how one’s appearance suggests, I feel like the easiest math question which contains merely a + and =. Incredulity is often foolishly magnified when countering such math question, and one’s intuition is to entangle it until every means has being tried but in vain, one can let out a long sigh and proclaim defeat. My dreariness eventually becomes inexplicably the most complex.

I hold a firm belief that honesty makes a person dreary and uncanny in the contemporary society. A person is always honest with himself if he is not insane. His eyes attest to the direct observation and the image he sees transmits to his brain or his heart or both and the honesty is confirmed. However, that person must also be a good writer if he wants to be renowned as an honest person. Adolescence craves for feelings; self-edifying bestsellers boast for their feelings; I used to stress upon feelings and it was not until recently did I realize my futility of being honest to my feelings, for I can never find the perfect words to delineate them or arch them. My inward hatred of writing is also another factor.

Evelyn Waugh must be one of those who dislike detailing his feelings, so his novels are teemed with dialogues which make an even stronger impact on readers that nobody can come to terms with their feelings after reading his books. Poets toy with feelings like a condescending art connoisseur who derails the bumpkins from Max Ernst to a more palatable Courbet, and denounce the photography like Baudelaire. There is nothing peculiar when you gape at your idol who is slovenly dressed in a tank-top and a pair of boxing shorts, and still cannot find the apt words to depict this incident after much brain-racking. That is what makes that person your very idol.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #11- The Doll House

The gust exerts its full force and crackles mercilessly the frail windowpane, well-secured from the impervious inclemency, the owner of the room quibbles with a trifle cold. A dismal day reminds me of some Impressionist painting- blurry, sombre, patchy, with smudges of blue there and grey here. An indisposed state evokes the childhood memory of incessant bedridden days, in which the vapid image shows its rays of hope with the installation of the sickly heifer’s mom. Story after story the mother tried to invoke, her incantation even more alluring than the Magical Flute, and image after image those stories played up before that heifer, with snots ceaselessly dropping into her wide-opened mouth.

My mom loved to read me stories when I was young. However, while most of my childhood memories are recklessly blocked out, it is often those unfestive moments that I remember the most. The bedtime stories that still retain their vividness are those I used to digest when I was overcome with a fever, or just a nagging blocked nose. There was the children’s version of Dickens’ Haunted House, Lindgren’s young adult fiction of a boneheaded girl who dreams of adopting Mary Poppins’ antics or some others about gnomes who beg, snowman who walks, gingerbread man who weeps.

As those stories unfolded before me, it was only a matter of time before finally realizing how a fairy tale is never only about fairy, nor is the fairy a traditionally good fairy. Pitfalls and hazards those stories are muddied with. The narrators cannot be more insouciant when any poor character is meddled in a hot water. The binary thinking seems prematurely consolidated in a child’s mind. It is like asking about how one dough adding one dough will equal to and one toddler proffers his answer peremptorily: two! Following by waves of cloying praises.

So I answered promptly bad if someone asked what the reverse of good is. I had already felt myself worming into the hazardous society when I couldn’t even perform a proper human interaction. I knew some unfortunate kids who slid before they learned to walk, and still now their legs are handicapped. Those varying children books are unblamable though, they are merely recording the memories that are trenched in our minds.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #10- Rain Drops Keep Muddle with My Head

Passed the scaffolded History department while nipping to my class. A strong desire of barging into that dilapidated building welled up in me. Ever since I had the fortune of visiting that building every week for one of my class last year, I have deemed it my favorite spot in the campus. The interior of the History department is an unsolvable arithmetic question itself. Corridors coming out of nowhere, leading to nowhere, and rooms with mysterious doors that are inexplicably sealed. The building is also pungent with the smell of rotten wood, the smell that I could still catch its whiff under a drizzling day.

I went to the History department every week to attend the sexual history class, a class with which I still lament of my inadequacy of delving more into. I happened to come across a Martin Price’s literary criticism in which he tries to draw a resemblance between reading a fictitious character and staring at a nude model. His theory is thus: a fictitious character can be as tangible as a nude model positioning deliberately in front of you, lustfully, yet distant as well, since once you want to get more intimate with that character, you are touching the model’s cold skin, unable to pore into his/her psyche. I will not call it a mechanism of disguising but more objectively, a backfire of one’s effusive desirability.

Full, effusive, voluminous, lustful, voluptuous, buxom, profuse, brimful…terms to describe an oozing desire are multiple, and none of them verge on humbleness. But only one word proffers the premonition of an insidious subversion, that is, brimful. For a cup brimming with liquid is merely an ephemeral ideal since, even if the plain the cup is based upon has no risks of quaking unalarmingly, dribs and drabs of drop of liquid will still vaporize into the thin air.

The aforesaid not only sums up the cliché of why a person is suggestive to always be half-emptied, but also explains my physical fatigue of these previous days. For my aim of studying voraciously is always frenetic, if my eyes were not occasionally glazed over. My deductive, pseudo-inventive theory seems to tend to a way which bears an image of a person robbed of everything, living in a four-walled. Lesser is better.

And there I veer into the music realm again. Since youtube disciplinarily forbidden in these days of internet hardship, I can only post some songs via list:

Syd Barret, Baby Lemonade
Ray Charles, Drown in My Tears
Caravan, Love Song with Flute
Harry Belafonte, Sylvie

I can hardly settle the fact that my binge listening is now reduced to some poor selections like Fleetwood Mac and the post-Syd Pink Floyd. An evidence for lesser makes the heart grow fonder.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: # 9- Running Up That Hill

On the eve before coming to Auckland last year, a question was seriously pondered about in my head. For a brand new chapter of my life, shall I be more of a submissive person or a self-assertive one? I’m never one who relents to neutrality so I must choose to be either, and while “reticence” had been tagging along like a dogged will-o’-the-wisp, a decision was made within seconds that I would stride in New Zealand burst with indestructible boldness.

And one year later I’m still thinking about the same question. Apparently the ceaseless alacrity exuded from the Kiwi’s baffles me, and has left me tongue-tied whenever I was good-humouredly confronted. Most of the posts I’ve written since studying in Auckland are more or less dealing with the record of my amateurish linguistic study of Kiwi’s accent. Those posts are no less than sheer nuisances, but what I’ve always wanted to expound on is how accents can cause a stirring among people. And even typify people. Not intending to sound scathing but it is the first time I see “stereotype” wielding its sword and thrusting its way through without hindrance. There are also multiple moulds made for people, and they just jump in, the most submissive gingerbread men I’ve ever seen.

There’s a slope outside the place I live, and every day I have to toil up that slope to go to school. The thing with climbing slopes is that, with full impetus, you have to rush up without any tinge of hesitation. The notion is analogous to the boldness I first visualized before coming to Auckland, of a little girl running up that hill.

There are still a lot of things I dislike but am obliged to do. To be honest I do not really fancy writing. Every time I set out on the outset of my essay I am always too eager to an end to it. I do love reading and I marvel at the flourish language some writers master upon, and it is sheer imitation that goads me on writing. I’ve long had a fatuous illusion that one day I would be able to feign some master’s style of writing. I shirk from daily responsibilities, and the feeling of having duties hoarding and heaping one upon another makes me swoon with surreal ecstasy. Those blatant enumeration of my innate inertia cannot obliterate the fact that at times I do sound like a heifer.

Charles Baudelaire said that a truth can never be concise. If you were inclined to terseness then you were more or less a liar. So to assert yourself you must tell the truth, and to tell the truth words must flow out of your mouth regardless of how they might have the potential of winding up in a tedious rambling. Every day, yet, I’m still learning.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #8- Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block?

I’ve long held a firm belief that once you start fussing over the inadequate amount of time for finishing piles of readings you oblige yourself to do, your academic occupation has a budding potential to take flight. Whatever dazzling pictures you have of your near future when you’re certain that once the attitude is set, nothing can be in the way, something still stands in the way nonetheless, and with a wry smile it holds a scintillating knife, ready to kill your ephemeral ideal with no vestige of mercy whatsoever.

For a well-organized expert will reduce his words into extreme brevity, precise and nail-on-the-forehead. A woeful disorderly one like me will eventually extend his sentence so tediously, that a comma or a dot can hardly finds its niche to fit in. Stripping bare of the superfluous rhetoric, it is exactly organization that I should do, with which also creates a distinction between a substantial consequence and a eternal illusion.

I also learned the importance of organization through listening to my record collection these days. For I’ve always loved songs that are remain in a rudimentary scale. Songs that are not deliberately polished, programmed-in or needlessly adorned. The raw spirit that the music is created in its embryonic stage should be preserved, but it is hence the problem often occurs. Oftener, music which stresses too much to retain its originality will more or less appear scattered and crude. Simplification, I presume, is the quintessence of the music, yet the most difficult, the most inimitable. Pardon for my reiteration, but Syd Barrett and The Rolling Stones, by far, are whom I count masters of.

To take those precedents as exemplar, it is needless to stress more of the significance of keeping a organized schedule. However I do detest the idea of having everything tidied or tabulated or calculated or evaluated. To choose between being a candle flame or the smoke of a fag, I opt for the latter without thinking more.

The vision of a person with his bags bulged with books yet end up still as an imbecile dreads me, which also reminds me of a story I encountered somewhere, with some lonely beggar dying in a library reading-room due to an empty stomach, and his desk is still piled with books. By whom and what title is that book in question?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #7- Life is a Slice of Lemon in a Cup of Coffee

It seems needless to elaborate our horror more when seeing the dreadful calamity on telly the past two days, and it is always at the likewise moment that we have the inclination of closing our eyes and rattling off profuse gratifications like how wonderful it is that we are here at this time/ at this moment, and how the incident gives us a lesson of seizing every moment we breathe. And how life is more worthwhile than to be frittered away in front of a computer

I’ve got a bitter lick of techno-misfortune (that is literally how I like to term it!) for days, and the situation seems hopeless to look up even for the much-exploited weekends. I reckon it a sort of backlash of what I’d been fatuously prophesying on a few past posts: of how I lamented about several mishaps in my life which truthfully after hindsight were hardly hassles; of how I thoughtlessly expressed my ideal of living as a recluse, hemmed in by trees in the middle of nowhere, living in some place with wall-to-wall books, reading to a hoary old lady everyday as my sole occupation which is also evocative of that morbid scene in Waugh’s A Handful of Dust.

Therefore, the extreme inconvenience of using the internet dragoons me into such idealized activities: reading, writing, listening to music which is limited to my portable record collection and appreciating the subtlety of life. By ‘idealized,’ I mean so, literally. It’s hard to imagine how pathetically bookish I am. A random bump into a corner bookstore can set my heart to a halt, and it is often the place that I can more or less call home. The bookstore I sought out today even had a dodgy staircase leading down to a stock-room which was still full of, books! Picturing one living there; living on books, chewing on bones.

But while you’re evidently not living in a remote place, and every thing you see on the streets is buzzing with uncultivated urbanness, it is truly grating that you should be deliberately excluded from them. Nor would I want to be included but it is a prerequisite in order to be superior. So excuse me if after reading so many wholesome books and steeling myself on stoical lifestyle, I still harbour a greedy wish of having the internet fixed sooner the better.

Every time I find it difficult to come to terms with my anxieties, I have an impulse of listening to Syd Barrett over and over again, ‘till the lyrics stuck in my head and I am convinced that I am communicating in his words. Isn’t it funny if it’s true? You lost generation.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #6- I Walk the Line

With the herald of the sixth post of my Down Under journal, a fundamental question triggers: of all the posts am I always specifying the truths? Aren’t there some bits that I inevitably need to conceal or fib about? Exactly how much rate of credibility can be found in my journal?

Before clearing off the above suspicions, I should first refer to how I visualize my journal; how I want my journal to be. A lonesome tourist wandering on a foreign territory- passersby sense something outlandish about this person but pay no heed to suss him out; that tourist, on the other hand, detects the queer nature of his surroundings yet refuses to slow down his pace and relish upon everything. The passersby and the tourist bump into each others multiple times in various occasions, every time with complete reticence. Two curved parallel lines they are walking about.

My scrawl matches the route the tourist traces, and you passersby judge me as if I was some drunkard drinking to his fill of alienation and zigzagging the way home. While frankly the destination is never a home, tourist gets accustomed to the idea of never traveling with a single aim, a sole intention. Nevertheless a well-trained tourist is not a nomad. He polishes himself squeaky clean before bracing every adventure.

Snags are met unexpectedly, and frustrations do exist. Here I see my tourist admiringly spare none of his grunts or ire. He simply puts those obstacles into his travel bag, in a suave fashion. He carries them on his back, bag bulges with something like stones. His back, slouched but never toppled over. Walking steadily with dignified steps, he is walking on the most hazardous road.

There is one thing that nothing can replace it. For art and music are too inarticulate. Words, while a stream of marvelous sayings do move anyone to tears, are reduced to parts and parcels when facing it. It is the most genuine feeling that no forms of god-granted natural entities are able to imitate, embody or convey. It even creates distance within when one person is too emotional. One said that a man is brimmed with feelings that his face is blurred out like watercolor paintings.

I am a tourist striving or struggling to live in a queer world, you are the passersby who eager to put me under the magnifying glass as if I was an embryo but fail to catch a glimpse for I dissipate all of a sudden. We walk our lines like we know no one, although sometimes faces do seem familiar. However, next day when you realize the miss of something wonderful and you retrace the road in the vain hope to encounter it again, I am already out of this place, out in somewhere. And the still next day, we remain strangers again.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #5- Wind Always Blows When the Sun Shines

Not hesitating to spare your boredom, I commence the journal by harping on weathers. Today's weather as it was: drafty; sun splashed down streams of golden rays which one can only witness under an Egyptian sky; clear-skied; winds occasionally seeped through the thin clouds and cast the spell. One's outdoor apparel inevitably came to collision with the aforesaid weather report, and a scruffy outfit was embarrasingly put upon as if providing a desultory answer to an unsolved question.

I deem it the kind of event that will most put you into jeopardy, the event in which you accept the kindness of the cordial sunshine and even bathe under it before the evil wind put its nail in your coffin. In a dog-eat-dog world I've been trained not to be fooled by anybody's deceptive smile. Everything seems to work otherwise now, for the determined side is never the side shown on the flip of a coin. So why bother flipping coins? I learned my lesson last year that the most lighthearted course which made you feel like sipping coffee on a sofa was actually the course that eventually, and out of nowhere, inverted your sofa and robbed off your coffee. I sometimes wonder the incident might result in the professor reclining on the sofa all of a sudden and set everything out flying on the air. No precise description needed for the aforesaid.

Part of my mission for studying in Auckland is to learn dealing with the world, at least, world on its pit. It is something that I've yet master upon and while bumping and blundering my way through, I am still constantly reminded of my failure of doing somebody/something justice, so far as to overlook the genuine goodness in the world. There the nagging question raised: is it the genuine goodness or rather, the surplus of goodness that someone claimed to still exist in this world?

That is why, the medium of dealing with the world I've yet to procure, and the whole notion to me is no more than a smokescreen of vagueness. You are ordered to add a coat to take precaution against the furtive wind yet the image of people with tees swarm pass you. The wind trails off in the wake of some guilty dodger, and the sun threatens to put you in its baking tray. There you walk yourself like a spectral spaz, and the leaves even refuse to serenade.

The confusions and frustations I've encountered whenever I'm on my way to a glorious exploration, have driven me back to my cockpit without mercy. Something I learned in my critical theory study, that a story embodies the inestimable power of the weak. The weaklings tell stories to make themselves stronger and eventually triumphs over the world they create in their mind. A pathetic theory really, but I opened my book and forgot the troubles.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #4- Jaunt to the Library

The distant yet persistent calls of the books itched me to trod to the school library despite the forecast of an inclemency. And there were certainly some bone-nibbling chills, a fueled seeker on her solitary route, leaves swayed and eventually parted. The magnetism of books never wore out, nor is it cast away when the object of its possession is outlandishly transported. It is the ultimate mind-assuagement when out of home.

The elephantine figure of the library bears no resemblance of that fantastical one of Jorge Borge's, but it stands in a most alluringly spooky way. Not a single soul breathed through the bookcases or signaled a cough- this sombre silence set my heart to a still, dreaded a slight tremble might disturb this solemn balance. This feeling is not staggeringly different from what T.S Eliot created in The Wasteland, though in the latter the debris is all scattered around, the silence is more formidable, and the abundance is replaced by the barreness, which is being perversely focused upon.

I'm greatly enchanted with The Wasteland. It depicts my ideal of taking a stroll through everything in tatters, and to make stories of them insofar to ascertain their distorted beauty. The intervals of this peculiar venture is spent under a dim lamplight, chessing. The room should be occupied by as less human beings as possible, so to grant those anonymous apparitions its domination.

To be made perfectly metamorph into a practical-minded, straightforward, forthcoming real human being, I shun melodramatic, pulp fictions and renounce them as crass. But my propensity of being alone almost draws a parallel line to that of dallying between lovers from day till night. This thought enraged me, for when the following two were placed on a scale, to be an optimistic dunce or a morbid waif, the former definitely sunk deeper.

Therefore I picked up my grocery bag and went to the supermarket to prove to myself that I was never a social inept, and the task was put to an abrupt halt by my inability to force up a smile. To clear others' misconceptions of me dreading some scurrying crowds, I was simply let dowm by my incurable clumsiness.

In regard to how one of the few of my readers has been complaining tirelessly of my deliberate ellipsis of music in my post, I happened to harbour this song in my head when taking the excursion to the supermarket. Enjoy this with your Guardian and tea, my friends!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tales From the Down Under: #3 Every Breath I've Fought For May Be Fragmented At Any Moment

I've been bewildering at the idea of things going from bad to worse, or things reaching to such a pinnacle that they are destined to fail. It is not karma I'm trying to elucidate but rather some wicked old witch's clairvoyance which I can never decipher.

Studying is made overwhelming if other trivial yet muddling fuss slides across. It is almost impossible to root out all the hindrances since university life entails one's preparation to a more independent adult world. Therefore, being independent of the words I ramble about and dependent on the actions I shall take is what appears to be the most challenging. Thankfully, like every start of a new year, I scrawled all over my schedule book of how I'm going to squander my weekends. The diligence can only be paid off if every single letter is spelt out correctly and accurately in its place.

It is like staring at the sun with persistent eyes only to prove that you can never win over it. When you are bulged with inexplicit anger and you can find no way to vent it, injustice is how you define the word. To struggle to be a typical student, I did dream of the ordinaries. Or I do still dream sometimes, having a life without muddle; being level-headed, pracitcal-minded.

Gratefully I was able to veer back to the track and be a realistic person, and deem all my stupid follies of 2010 as those who can only live in my diary but not in my nightmarish memory. As I stared persistently to the setting sun in the vain hope of prevailing it, optimistic thoughts suddenly came like thunderstorm, that I'm studying music, art history and English literature therefore I should be contented and happy.

Therefore the sun stared back but never managed to blind me.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Tales from the Down Under: #2 Distances Left to Run

Trodding your ways through multitudes crowds of people can be overwhelming, a well-anticipated feeling of detachment whenever the first day of school unfolds. My dogged faith of self-assertion prevented me from feeling belittled, though. It is the relativity between the petite me and the elephantine them that truly created the pressure. I never believe the old saying of hiding yourself in a crowd or gently and oozily blend into it. I only felt myself embarrasingly conspicuous that I eventually forgot to buy me a bottle of much-needed water.

Even more conspicuous was my apparel, which constituted 'shabbily' of a T-shirt and jeans, in comparison and in constrast with what the majority wore, tees and shorts. The room therefore smelled like a brothel on a tropical island. The hoary and tottery lecturer on the dais thankfully saved the grace by reading Peter Rabbit in a most idiosyncratic way. This Nabokov-esque old lady veritably topped off the day as she stammered till the bell rang.

The biggest question and the most difficult task of the first day was how to feel and act like a sophomore while every inch of you was a perfect manifestation of an freshman callow bird. Whenever a writer exerts authorial insouciance to portray a specific character, the code for it is to use as less description as possible, then the mysticism surfaces. Hold your chin up and with a listless facial expression, that is how you blow trumpets in the parade.

A pair of jelly legs and occasional dehydration were somewhat the drawbacks of my first day. Without an upsetting stomach or joy-killing exhaustion, those drawbacks were laughably trivial. For the following days and weeks, my empty diary pages urges me to head down to dilligent work and to keep an unwavering fixation on my academic work.

For a tree can never bear abundant fruits without some painstaking efforts, but those painstaking efforts can hardly guarantee the abundance of fruits(as my English Department alluded to in our report cards.) Nevertheless, leaves grow heavy and barks stay strong when you put in your blood and sweat. And it eventually shakes the entire earth. For those who get easily alarmed at the aforementioned, the effect is only prophetic.