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Tel Quel

je sais bien mai quand même

Category Archives: Lucid Dreams

It’s been almost seven days, and still I’m hovering between the interstices (or intersection) of love and unmitigated loss; then I ask myself if it’s possible to leave without leaving the people I love behind. It’s not chronic wanderlust, no – but a seasonal perpetuation of disembodiment, detachment and then subsequent re-emergence; that I may be able to breathe once in awhile. It’s also been six hours since I’ve sent my parents off, with great regret but also greater relief, knowing that they will never survive the complexities of the city and its people – they belong to the class of the geopolitically dispossessed; where the psyche of the city and all its semiotic relevance evolve faster than it takes for any meaning to acquire substantial value (or at least the ones that truly matter.) As with home, you can feel the inertia of an entire generation falling through the cracks; beneath the ebb and flow of urban regeneration and its systemic transience. Unlike East Croydon where change occurs at a much slower pace, it holds a much greater significance for my father. It was there which I finally met the grandfather I never had.

He and his wife kept one of the most opulent (but meticulous) gardens I’ve ever seen, and it was through him that I learnt about my dad and his idiosyncrasies compared to his other siblings; between a yellow Fiat Spider and a red Lotus Elite (which his elder brother chose), the dish-washing fiasco, bohemian Christmas dinners; my paternal grandfather and his stint at Keyhawk in the 50’s before where he is today and the boxy little offices off Cecil Street in the 1980’s that resembled a river town during the average tropical storm. It was then that he spoke about my father’s late friend, Graham, a kindred soul, who loved motorbikes; quit his job when he had the chance, and rode towards his destiny in the Far East, all over Asia. At the age of 87, he had such a charming soul; and even with the unfortunate reliance on a home-made eucalyptus inhaler, he had the life (and brilliance) of all the people I’ve ever met. We spoke animatedly on football – he holds a season-pass for Aston Villa games and displays an autographed 08/09 jersey in his home office upstairs behind a computer that he never uses/detests, and also photographs of the team between the 60’s all through to the 80’s – of athletics and Mo Farah, and then about my paternal grandmother and her golfing prowess, especially in the dark. At this point, I would have contested against Marvell’s winged chariot; having seemed to have the ability to stop Time altogether, if only for a moment.

My father on the other hand, is a quiet revolutionary, one who revolts in his own way and in Le Guin’s words, beginning with and from the thinking mind. If there was one thing I’ve learnt from him in twenty-three years, it was embracing the synchronicity between knowledge, astute observation and the soul. This was made manifest while we were at the NAM in Sloane Square; I suppose it was there that I realized most of my ideological influences on the various narratives of war were inherited from my father, not Robbespierre, Hobbes or Foucault. My mother, however, was wildly pragmatic, ignoring (and perhaps, wisely so) the obsession of anti-violence with her Archaeology of Knowledge on Flora and Fauna. Needless to say, Kew Gardens and Regent’s Park became her spirit home. Unlike my father, my mother was the hurricane you’d find in Looking for Alaska; heady and stubborn – it was flowers or turgid silence. But it was also this mad excuse of a lady who taught me not only the importance of being earnest but the value of self-sufficiency and perhaps by extension and my own interpretation; the inclination to trust no one. In a way, I deeply admire my parents’ diametrical opposition and it never ceases to amaze me how oddly paired they are. While they share too many differences sometimes, I would like to believe they still love each other like they did thirty years ago; which makes me wonder about too many things in general.

This week has been too surreal, and I miss them already.


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In an unexpected turn of events, I ended up defending my graduation thesis against a one-man panel or “Arnold” as we all fondly but truthfully know him to be. Gradually it seeped into a whirlwind of Noynoy, Ninoy and the generic insanity of Imelda and her two thousand & seven hundred pairs of shoes, after which these letters to no one — ghost-written and sealed — caved under the gravity of mid-day melancholia and all was quiet again. But as soon as it left, the visions of euphoria rose once more, this time in orgiastic waves of threes; a climactic collision of sight, sound and the sweetest scent of Sampoerna. When I’m not people-watching and waiting or responding to Satori Blues, I try to keep myself steady but inevitably relent to the unbearable lightness of 808s three aisles away and later on provoke unsuspecting colleagues into shuffle showdowns. They humour me most of the time. When I’ve finally used up all of my energy, I begin to look for love in all sorts of places; one of which is the dark cinder couch behind me, if not amongst the dwarven chairs: out of sight, out of mind. But every once in awhile, these little birds come to visit the hanging cages of Babylon and I begin to breathe once more. Later, we would all fall in but mostly out (of our minds) and learn to live modestly around the elusive harp of an end by embracing these dream-induced moments and non-sequiturs. Sometime after that, I quietly decided that the League of the Irreverently Departed was found, and with so much more love to go around.

My life is average, but these people; here and now, are something else altogether.

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“Like the physically and spiritually impoverished, six of us huddled over beer and cigarettes, forming a haphazard circle of possibilities. Into the night, frivolity left our lips. We spoke without a care or obligation; without a care of the said “End of Days” while the ashtray depicted a downtown Tokyo, blackened by soot but continued to gleam sporadically, a makeshift pyre and subconsciously (or no), a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are the In-Betweens, straddled between now and never again, between the metaphorical gutter and the stars. This is our halfway house…

… with lots of plants. (Out of which brought forth Plato, Locke, Kant and at some point De Sade.) Eyes wander and avoid, darting off bubbles, froth, objects and people to release the tension held by a single irreversible knot leading to the gap between Law and Lawlessness. (We are the In-Betweens.) In the midst of all things, I realized we were being watched over (from the top right window) by half-bodied mannequins with neon-coloured hair and gaping mouths. These are Conrad’s “lower sort of apostles” as we sat still in the spirit of religious-like fervour, embalmed in the smell of our own hallowed tobacco and the blood of dead philosophers.”

I used to be so much more interesting; perpetually caught up in the maelstrom of my own monologues, both real and imagined. In any case, I really liked this post. Now all that’s left is a fiercely self-conscious obscurantism —


I imagine myself in places I know I will never dare to go, for a colourless variety of reasons; to embrace an-other history, history as it were, one that was never made for me. Still, I endeavour towards a momentary reconciliation between the liminal ellipses of might-have-beens, and am entirely grateful nonetheless. Somewhere between the figurative shot and the edit, where the apex of light and meets the image, devouring completely– ; a teleological fantasy of the soul’s expanse and finitude romanticized by the spectral illusion of the golden hour. And yet, in silent resolution: This is the end, but it doesn’t end here.

Jean-Do’s POV of his window.
A wan glow announces the break of day.

Jean-Do’s Voice
Through the frayed curtain of my window, a
wan glow announces the break of day. My
heels hurt, my head weighs a ton, and
something like a giant invisible diving bell
holds my whole body prisoner.

It is good to be alive.

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I have been away for longer than expected, but I owe nobody explanations. Between the familiarity of pages and irregular pagination, I remind myself that it is my handwriting that gives (my) memory a voice, not this Georgian type-face; a feeble projection of the binary-coded decimal.

It’s been unsettling, the past few nights. I wake up, mildly lamenting my painful inability to have bearable dreams, much less brilliant ones. Mendeleyev dreamt up the Periodic Table, Lederman conversed with Democritus in the dreamscape of Fermilab’s Collider Detector Facility… I, on the other hand, was more inclined to hover between life and death situations in my lucid dreams: reversing the Euclidean condition and the accidental discovery wormholes, conspiracies, the Venus Project, the cognitive asylum between the humanist and the futurist, the scanners, the All reet! All reet! of Bester’s mad android, and in particular the neanderthal child. As usual, Asimov had the most influence on my dreams (the last time it was the Blood Daubers by Kosmatka and Poore in Asimov’s Science Fiction however indirectly) and I’d wake up with a queer feeling of physical and mental displacement that lasted well throughout the day. On one occasion, I solemnly watched my lunch travel from one end of the table to the other. These dreams were wearing me out and I could feel it.

Nonetheless, I earnestly swear by Asimov (and Bradbury, and Sturgeon). They are immensely enticing and horrific but I suppose that’s the fundamental premise of science fiction – hypotheses as infinite possibilities, the existence of the multiverse; the spiritus mundi as a thought experiment. Every night I found myself walking into Schrödinger’s Cattery, surrounded by cats and un-cats alike.
I can barely tell them apart sometimes.


Piece by piece the fragments are returned; the body, the work, the love, the life. (…) And which is true? That is, which is truer? Memory. My licensed inventions. Not all of the fragments return.

It was an irreparable vacuum of every other farewell. I turned towards the source of stillness so that none may see my face but you called out, like a wreath cast into the ocean. I let you take me in, coaxing me with an unspoken promise before releasing me once more. This wasn’t freedom, I did not want a choice and you didn’t give me one. On the contrary, we remained as lovers in a quantum entanglement; never one without the other, with the variability of motion and stasis in the same breath of logic.

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How the heart bends,
And summer she sends a sky that refuses to die
With weeds of the sea that wrap round our knees and
A sun too hot to go down

You come around, you come around, you come around

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In this life, we are the sum of all our journeys made, the greater part of us perpetually in medias res, always the becoming of time and events; most of us already seasoned travelers. “I want to be happy, sleep in a bed, have roots. And you’ll never be alone again, Mathilda.” And all this while I thought having roots meant a particular spatial-temporal groundedness in (or attachment to) community, society, culture. The idea of a home, and a family.

When I hold you in this night-soaked bed it is courage for the day I seek. Courage that when the light comes I will turn towards it. It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be harder. In this little night-covered world with you, I hope to find what I long for; a clue, a map, a bird flying south, and when the light comes we will get dressed together and go.

More than we realize, we have a tendency to be inconsistent. We carry our hearts everywhere, when I think of rootedness I think of two things: How easy it is to cultivate one from youth, and its occasional abandonment with greater rapidity. We are always growing up, but most of the time, unconsciously, apart. We carry our hearts everywhere, therefore our roots. A composition of internal systems, memories, individuals but never quite a specific place, or the larger Ding an sich. People die, but people have meaning. Places without people are just spaces, white-noise. Empty spaces and points of light. I’d like to think I have my roots in people, or more specifically, persons as Léon is to Mathilda and vice versa. When I say I want to have roots, I meant the rhizomatic interdependency of souls.

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