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Corporeality

This is a world that favours corporeality. Facts, figures, proofs, tangible things.

Ironically, rationality falls under those things, for it allows us to makes sense of them.

But so does the irrational.

—-

I have never quite believed in love. Not until my mother left.

She left a huge hole. She left big shoes to fill. She left pieces of her behind. Her paintings. Her calligraphy. Her costumes. Her clothes. Her.

She left behind her diary too. It was a notebook, a gift from me. Small, black, with the pages having gold sides. She wrote of her pains, her appetite, how she took to her medications, her weight…She was a meticulous person.

But there was one page that stood out. In her beautiful calligraphy, she wrote “I love you”.

Once for me, once for my younger brother.

I guess that gave her love corporeality. It was the most tangible of her love that I’ve felt.

I remember watching “Her”. It left me questioning: Are our feelings real? How do we know it’s real? There was a line in the film that went something along the lines of falling in love being a socially acceptable form of insanity.

What is this love? Why does it affect me so, despite it leaving no trace, almost?

It’s in the actions, some might say. It’s in the little notes, the littles surprises, the mundane details of life. But those too, will pass. And it shall pass, all that left of it a memory.

The things made are never special. It’s the memory behind it. But memory isn’t real per se. It, like almost all things, if not all things, is paradoxical. It’s real, but it is not. But this is a world that favours the real.

Because the real provides validation. It assures us. It will always be there. And so it shall.

But how real is my experience of those things? 

My mother left that three words and gave her love corporeality that will stay with me throughout. But there must be something else too, for whenever I recall reading that in her diary tears will fall.

I’m not making any sense at all.

—-

It’s a month after she left. I went through her drawers and saw that notebook. I didn’t think she had used it, but I flipped through.

As each entry goes by, her writing becomes less legible, less calligraphic, less….her.

Then I saw that page.

It wasn’t till an hour later I got my composure back.

Tinder Adventures Part 2

Do I intend to be on this app for long? No.

It’s the fourth day in and I’ve basically chucked it aside. Looks like rating guys based on the “hot or not” principle is not my kind of thing. Plus I swiped left for a number of cute guys, so there’s that.

Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that naturally I’m an anti-socialite. I’m sociable, but I don’t make the extra effort to know new people unless I have to. I can chat, and I hope I can hold conversation, but I tend to be on the passive side when it comes to initiating new relationships/acquaintanceships. And tinder really isn’t helping since it’s based mainly, if not solely, on looks.

Back to how shallow I am. This vibe thing. It’s not working too well on tinder either. It’s difficult to read a person based on his pictures and solely on his pictures. I ended up going with gut instinct. The guys I swiped to the left though, I think I can explain why I swiped left for them.

Assuming that everyone scores the same on hotness (of course that is not true on tinder, but let’s not complicate things; tinder is a shallow app), I will say “nope” if:

1) There is not at least one good picture of him.

By good, I mean I can see his face and his features in good light so I can analyse that picture to death to see if I might like him in real life. It’s kinda like how I think at some point in making friends you just need to look at the person carefully. The vibe is off, it’s probably off. And yes, you can get this vibe off from pictures, if he has a good one.

2) Multiple photos of him with his friends.

I don’t mean just one or two. I can’t tell you exactly why I tend to not like this, but I’m on tinder not to know your friends, but possibly to know you. Again, with friends in the picture, anyone can seem friendly. I wanna feel the potential vibe that you’ll give me, if we ever meet. 

3) Photos that try to be more important than they really are.

Okay I know I know that sentence doesn’t really quite make sense. Do you know someone who has photos on instagram with him/her in such “deep” poses? On instagram it might be less annoying because there’s a whole bunch of pictures, but on tinder the number of pictures are way way WAY lesser. And people trying to be deep just don’t work for me. And then there are the photos that look like the guy is trying to show that he has a fabulous life. It’s in the facial expressions. I suck at explaining myself. You know how you just kinda judge a person as a “poser”? Yeah that vibe. THAT vibe. I cannot stand it.

4) Buff guys.

Don’t get me wrong. Nice abs will be great. Awesome body is a great feast for the eyes. However, go too buff and I recoil. I’d like to think that your recreational activities include more than just gym, and since I only have photos to work with, these guys can’t explain for themselves. Sorry, I’m shallow.

Forget it. I’m shallow. I give up explaining. I am shallow.

I’m On Tinder!

Surprise, surprise. Or maybe not. But I’ve become a Tinderer and if you ever see me trying to stretch my thumb or something it probably means that I’ve spent too much time on Tinder.

It’s shallow. You get matched up if it’s a mutual “like”, so basically…yeah…erm…looks…cute….attractive. Demographic observation so far, it’s still more of an expat-ish sort of app, so I had my initial cultural shock and went “wtf I didn’t know we have so many non-Asians (I’m using Asian in the sense that goes beyond people of East Asian descent) in Singapore.” Really. Then again, I live in a place that most expats don’t live in.

Maybe I’m lucky, but most of the time (by this I mean like 90% of the time based on my perceived sense of percentage AKA this number is just a perception) the guys that appear on my feed are not bad looking. Good looking people. Then I realised I’m not quite suited to Tinder because I start searching for hints of how these men are like and I’m left with nothing except their pictures. And eventually I decided to play along with whatever vibe I can get through those. It’s not easy. I feel like I’m in the age of arranged marriages where all I can tell of my future husband whom I’m marrying in a week is through this one picture. But Tinder has more pictures. But still.

And yes, out of the objectively good looking people I end up picking and choosing. So the swiping has been to the left more than to the right thus far. I am hyper selective like that. Now, here’s the interesting part. For the few that I did swipe to the right to, it’s almost instantly a match. By that I mean the gray screen of “happiness” took a few seconds to load after I swiped to the right. Nothing quite like knowing that this guy has seen your picture before you saw his and he swiped to the right as a response.

So that means, based on my face, I’m under the “girl I might approach in real life if real life socializing sucks less” category.

I have only recently come to notice that I am, indeed, fairly attractive as I have believed myself to be in the “not ugly, but defo not pretty” category until I finished JC. So yes, this inner self-depreciating child is getting quite a kick out of realizing that I’m going through metamorphosis to become a pretty girl, at least pretty enough for Tinder.

Then I thought, Tinder is a pretty cruel app. It’s your high school nightmare realised on your phone. It works on the “hot or not” thing that dominated your formative years (and yes, they admit to it too; see the numerous articles on the app) and everyone is swiping based on first impressions, and by that I mean, face.

There’s no other aid to help determine if I will want to chat with this person. And this, frankly speaking, drives me crazy. I feel that I cannot formulate a good enough analysis of a person based solely on pictures. And I need that analysis, because 1) I wanna avoid creeps 2) I enjoy conversation that involves brains 3) cute as these people are, brains. I can’t handle physical attractiveness if there is no intellect. And pictures alone don’t tell you that.

Okay, great. I’m not making new ground. All these have been mentioned before. Maybe I should just TL;DR this as “Hi everyone I’m on Tinder and the guys I’ve ‘liked’ ‘liked’ me back too!”

I better not. I’m deeper than that.

As much as my activities on Tinder reveal much about the app (groundbreaking! we are shallow!), it reveals quite a fair bit about me too. But erm….I’ve just started on Tinder. Might make that into a post in future.

BRB, chatting with a pretty nice guy right now.

Loss.

Submission date nears. My heart is empty.

For the past few months I have been pouring my energy into this one person, almost obsessive over her.

It is her 85th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Yayoi Kusama.

And now as everything draws to a close, I am not quite sure how I feel. “Ambivalence” is not apt enough.

My stubbornness and a few other things have led to things the way they are. But I guess, I did my best. It wasn’t a good best, but it is my best given all the decisions I made.

This is one truly personal project. I’ve never been so selfish or self-conscious over my writing. Regardless of grade, it is one I can say, I’ve gone mad, that the project was both a culmination of rationality and irrationality.

It is the essence of all things, paradoxes, ambiguity, ambivalence.

Onward. Forward.

The Fairest of Them All

"You’re so fair."

This, one of the lines I’ll never understand.

First, I don’t “feel” or think I’m fair. There are fairer people. Second, by “fair” do you mean skin tone only or does it include the Snow White’s “fair”?

Third, so what if I’m fair?

It’s usually the third question that haunts me for extended periods after the comment is made.

For most people, it is made as an observation. Yet, underneath the observation lies something larger. Something social.

I never quite understood the whole concept of “fair”. It’s difficult buying cosmetics that does not help me to become fairer. I used to yearn for the sun-kissed tone, but then I realised it does not last long on me, and plus I got lazy to actively search for the sun.

I read somewhere that “fair” signifies someone of certain social class, one that does not need to work. By work, they mean menial, manual labour. Also, during the time when being tanned was more desirable, the tan colour signified that person has enough free time to laze in the sun and bake.

Wow.

I have also come to realise that when people make this comment, they mean it positively. As if my being fair has added on to my desirability/attractiveness/whatever it is.

I have also found the converse to be true for men. Being tanned adds on to their desirability/attractiveness/whatever it is. (But then again, women have this insanely long list of traits that make men desirable. I, too, am guilty of having one such long list.) 

Now, being tanned for women or being fair for men doesn’t do any of the “value-adding” . But being fair/tanned depending? Yes. 

So…what? Yes I’m fair, but so what?

Nothing. Reality is there’s nothing to me being fair. It’s just an observation. But it’s an observation that kinda hints something at what is desirable in a woman.

I think I make a bad thinker. I don’t go deeper than I can hurhurhur.

Questions

Someone told me that the difference between humans and animals is our rationality.

I don’t fully believe in rationality. The fervent pursuit of it is irrational in its way. I don’t believe in absolutely separating the two, because there is simply no way.

I will probably make a bad philosopher.

What clouds judgment? What is judgment? What is a sound judgment? Why and when is a judgment sound?

—-

I’m a pleasure seeker. I’m hedonistic. I daydream about the future, yes, but I’m more interested in the present. I like pleasure.

In retrospect, many decisions I’ve made, many judgments I’ve made will not be considered sound and sensible by many. I indulge myself.

I am not a greater good sort of person. I’m selfish, and very much so. I’m almost anti-social.

As long as I like it. As long as I feel like it.

Does this make me less of a human?

—-

I’ve begun writing in a diary for I edit myself too much over here. Sometimes stylistically, sometimes thematically. Sometimes I don’t even know why.

The difference between this and a diary is that over here I see myself as a different Being, but in a diary I am the Being that is writing. The perspective differs.

In that diary there is no editing. The pen writes what the head thinks and what the heart feels and what the person, Me, experiences.

Over here I write as a form of retrospect, analysing the events that transpired. Stylized thinking and feeling, I suppose.

To some, maybe there’s no difference at all.

Semantics probably.

vulture-magazine:

Saint Laurent FW 14 at Le Carreau du Temple. Set design by @hedislimane

vulture-magazine:

Saint Laurent FW 14 at Le Carreau du Temple. Set design by @hedislimane

Thesis.

I love you.

As much as I hate you this moment, right now, I know deep down I love you.

How could I not love you? I spent so much time on you, thinking about you, changing you. You’re far from perfect, which is why I’m so frustrated but guess what? Forget it. You might suck. You might be awesome. Whatever. You are you. Not exactly the way I thought you to be, but close enough.

I swear, even as I play pokemon I am thinking of you. You make me frustrated. I hate that. And I love that too.

I’m gonna say goodbye to you. I did my best. Maybe others won’t think so, but I’m not gonna give in to any other thoughts right now. Frankly, I want this over and done with, as much as I love you.

You fucked me up in all ways possible. I might never write another paper again. But you were worth it. You are worth it. Even if you give me a C you are so worth it.

But I also feel it’s high time I get myself back. I don’t really like this nagging feeling you gave me. I don’t like how you occupied my thoughts. I have other things to do too.

Things like eating. Like pokemon. Like watching shows. With you around, I can’t enjoy anything at all.

So fare well, really. A B will be nice, but I trust you won’t fail me, literally. Please don’t.

You will always be a part of me.

Being.

I’m on this side

You, the other

My side is better, you exclaimed

Yours is barren, arid, and you deserve it!

You deserve nothing! you exclaimed

But on my side, there’s an oasis

There’s people you never thought would be there

Life you cannot imagine

A glimpse of it, and you exclaimed

You cheated!

You bought them over; you were to have nothing!

Everything you get I can get too!

But alas! None of what I have you have

Despite the shouts, despite the taunts

Chipped away at my emotions, you had

But no more. No more.

My life, I see now, you do so want

Not all, but in part

My brains you so want

My friends you so want

My oasis you so want

You’re a slut! you proclaimed, exasperated

Why do I have so much?

Your side is better

But while you were busy shouting at me, tearing me down

I build my side up

I build myself up

And now

I am my Being.

In Defense of Elite Schools, or Schools in General

So this has popped up recently. At quite a time too, considering that this year’s result release for GCE ‘A’ Levels is coming up soon, ish.

Let me first begin with an introduction of myself, or rather, my education “accomplishments”.

I am currently an honours year student in NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, majoring in Japanese Studies. To make a long story short, I scored 255 for PSLE, so I went to RVHS, became part of the last batch of its ‘O’ level students, scored 11 for L1R5 (“average” for elite schools), went to SAJC, scored ABB/CE with a B for Project Work. I was the 98th percentile for GP during prelims, but yeah, the E is there. That 12 years of education, I was a science student. I even have a certificate of honorable mention for participating in the open category of the 2009 Singapore Math Olympiad. There’s that.

Current CAP? Good enough for people to want to kill me when I start to say “I think I’ll score a C”.

Now, on to my studying habits. I’m a “coaster”. No, I’m not the thing they put underneath glasses; I belong to a group that seem to reap maximum benefits with lesser amounts of effort put in compared to the average student. In other words, I work, but probably not as hard as most other people. And I score whatever results I have just recounted. Not stellar, but hey, good enough. At least for me.

The article that resurfaced has its merits; it pointed out the competitiveness I do so hate. At one point I just wanna find the author, hug her, and say “I feel you girl”. It is well-written; most of us empathize with her. We all know how it feels to be in the rat race, right? Right.

Of course, often, that over-competitiveness kills some of us. Academically, emotionally, and occasionally, literally.

It’s a sad thing, yes. But today, I’m writing this in defense of these “elite” schools, or just schools in Singapore in general. 

You see, the one thing schools did not explicitly tell you is that what you do now makes a difference. Maybe not today, but it makes a difference in the future. All that homework your teacher piled on you? Hours have been poured in to prepare them, only because teachers want you to practice enough to be prepared for the big exams. Yes, I still hold the belief that teachers in the science stream constantly recycle material; yes our school system is still pretty much based on how well and how much one can memorize and regurgitate; yes I agree that teachers can be very impatient with classes not doing as well. BUT, and here’s the big but, NO ONE WANTS YOU TO DO BADLY.

Not even yourself.

If one chooses to skip lectures, not attend tutorials, knowing full well that one is lagging behind in learning, who can this person blame for his/her own results?

Not all of us are born with equal brains. Some coasters have a short lifespan of 6 years of primary school, some coasters have a long lifespan of the entire education life. NOT ALL COASTERS ARE MADE EQUAL.

And this is where the problem comes in. ONE DOES NOT ENTER AN ELITE SCHOOL EXPECTING SAID ELITE SCHOOL TO MAKE HIM/HER A STRAIGHT A’S STUDENT. (Ok I think I overdid the all caps rage, but you get my point.)

Yes, not all of us are made to be regurgitating machines. But simply being in an “elite” school doesn’t guarantee A’s. Hard work goes into it.

You may be in an elite school, but it is only elite because they had alumni who put in a lot of hard work to make it’s high distinction or A/B statistics. In other words, what your alumni scored has nothing, zilch, to do with your own results.

The competition is stifling, yes. It is something I feel that our education system needs to work on. Clearly the ministry is feeling it too, but constant change in leadership and direction made it somewhat of a lost sheep in being a good educator. Let’s not go there. Back to topic.

I had my own lows too. I’m not a perfect coaster; I scored S for my Math before in J1. I never scored better than a C for my H1 Geography. But I’m happy with my ‘A’ Level results for a few reasons: 1) That same year I was preparing for my ABRSM Grade 8 Piano exam 2) I had SYF (I played the clarinet) 3) I didn’t put in as much effort as I could have so I got what I deserved 4) SAJC was a good choice.

Ok, so SAJC isn’t really an “elite” school, but I was from RVHS. I know the feeling. Of wanting to just quit the competition because almost everything is a competition, of wanting to just not study because everyone else is so competitive, of wanting to just….I don’t know, because the stress is so stifling.

But none of the schools I chose failed my expectations. They did what they had to do, the teachers did what they had to do. It is *US* on the receiving end to decide if we want to fulfill our obligations as students and finish up the homework/attend lectures/not take the green slip etc.

Our results is our responsibility. The system may not be good, but it should not be the target simply because you might not have managed certain things well enough to do well, and by well, I mean by your own standards kind of well.

It’s too easy a way out. Easy target, shoot it, free yourself of your own responsibility for being partly irresponsible to yourself during your student career? How about taking a step back, look at what you did right and what you did wrong, and learn?

You see, once you’re in university, it is a different ballgame altogether. None of our institutions are entirely Americanized (as compared to our “British” school system, but in all honesty, I can only say uni is different, but not necessarily Americanized), but they are different enough that UNIVERSITY BECOMES THE BIG EQUALIZER.

Let me elaborate a bit more.

The only sort of tuitions you’ll ever know of after becoming an undergraduate is a) the one you give to students who are below 18 or b) the one that costs a bomb for each semester. Who has ever heard of an ad saying “Hi I’m looking for a tutor to help me with my Japanese studies, particularly on anime and manga, because I’m doing this module on pop culture”? It sounds…weird, doesn’t it?

And not all professors are as available as the teachers you get in your first 12 years or so of education. It is not that professors don’t care two hoots about their students, but if say one professor teaches 3 classes, each with 450 students, it is really tough to get advice or help from the professors themselves (which is why we have teaching assistants, but even TAs can have their hands full). On top of the immense hours poured into preparations, they have their own research to do, own seminars/conferences/whatever-academic-events to attend, so basically they simply cannot track if you are lagging behind and talk to you, or your parent (actually, no prof will talk to your parent since you’re an adult now), about your poor performance, unless you manage to build a relationship with the prof, but this is only possible if the class is small enough and you do enjoy chatting with profs to build such a relationship.

There is still a huge part of university education being built on the art of memorizing and regurgitating, but here’s the real game-changer: how well you do in school now is now more of a test of how responsible you are for yourself, for your own learning.

Your first 12 years of education tried to help you with that, but if you did not realize it then, realize it now.

Blaming the system is way too easy. Choose the difficult path and learn.

Learn to be responsible for yourself.