Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Sad State of Differences

A yellowed sheet of notebook paper fell out of a 1972 Japanese translation of The Great Gatsby. There was writing on it, in a clumsy hand in halting English:

I am American boy. I like to different. I am American girl. I like to different.

Look at America today. No one likes to be different anymore. Lady Gaga does not count. She is a celebrity, whose job is to create an illusion of difference and get paid for it. No, I am talking about the real people. They are all so fond of "overcoming differences" and "discovering similarities." In this regard, celebrities are no exception, because they have to please the people.

Differences should never be overcome; they are simply to be respected. Similarities, like photons, are too numerous and commonplace across the globe and the universe to be truly discovered. Mr. O'Sarcasm said: "Oh, you found some similarities and commonalities? Big deal, and you probably just mistook your own hand for someone else's, ending up in a tautological bind. Extricate yourself, you can do it." But what he really meant was: "Oh no you can't." He is Mr. O'Sarcasm.

Differences are the most cherishable moments, and the most divine. They are the true sources of harmony, which is nothing more, as any musician or philosophe would know, than a result of carefully calibrated, and luscious, discord.

Discrimination arises in the process of passive-aggressive, coercive assimilation, where the value of similarity and parallel structures is overrated to the nth degree. On the other hand, differences, when rightfully acknowledged, can prove the existence of genuine tolerance and intellectual freedom--just as a flickering flame can signal the presence of oxygen or of life, an eye, and a perceiving mind. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just the Way You Are?

A response to the song, "Just the Way You Are":

But it's so hard to stay "just the way you are." Some people may stay just the way they are for longer periods of time than others, but they will undergo some kind of change eventually, unless the beholder decides to ignore them. But that would be so sad--for the changes to go willfully unnoticed.

So the song is verily synchronic. Like Saussure's system of signs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two Points

P: You are not alone.
Q: But I want to be alone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Messenger's Burden

I received a single-line message from a distant friend on Facebook, which read: "What r u doing now?"  What am I doing now?  I almost blurted out to say: "RIght now, I am breathing.  Or am I?"  But instead, I faltered and decided to remain silent.  I was doing so much and so little, all at the same time.  How could I respond to such a friendly, but misdirected question?  I let the messenger go empty-handed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Utility's Song

Anything can be useful

Depending on what you want to do with your life.

Please don't tell Phoebe this and that won't be useful for her to learn

Before you've even asked her what she hopes to do with her life.

Even after you've heard what she wants to do,

Her plans may change, and after all,

It is Phoebe herself, who will need to work on

Making good use of what she's learned.

No one , not even herself, can tell her in advance

What will be useful, and what not.

It is entirely up to her, in the moment.  Phoebe, go hide in the utility closet

While people who don't understand say this and that

And make useless assumptions about you.

They ought to be ashamed.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

So Much for Innocence

As a boy, I loved fat girls.  Without even realizing I loved them.

What I also did not exactly realize, or care to know, was the fact

That some people may consider those girls fat.

I didn't.  Being fat was too abstract and relative an idea for me.

Instead, I thought to myself, fondly, that they reminded me of

Animals.  Mothering mammals, like cows and pigs.

Which was very mean.  But I meant no harm, although

I know, and I also knew back then, that there was no way

I could be excused.  But as much as I ought not be excused,

weren't we all, all of us, victims of certain preconceptions?

That humans are completely different from, and superior to,

animals--above all, to cows and sows.

That fat girls easily become objects of ridicule.

In reality, I was laughing and smiling because I loved them,

But no one, including I myself, would ever forgive me.

To this day, I deserve no forgiveness.

And yet, I would like to ask: Are cows and sows so terrible?

I am terrible, but cows and sows and fat girls are not terrible.

Not Even a Poem

Today, I will be literal and say:

One needs to be persistent.  In life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two Golden Phrases

"You do not understand what I am going through" and

"You do not know me" are, to me,

Two golden phrases.

They are totally different from "No one

understands what I am going through" and "No one

knows me," which amount to little more than

Childish exaggeration.

The magic is in the address--"you."

You may not know me, you may not understand,

But at least, in this fleeting moment,

You are there for me, you truly are.  Thank

You, in a whisper.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Selfish Being

I don't like animals at all, but I like their shapes.

I change friends more often than I change towels.  Seriously.

I despise most people, because I am afraid of being despised.  Gag,

I am a selfish being,

   But I will never admit it.

Times change,

   And friends do get old.

Silently, I pass by my old school, without saying a word...

Only the river flows on, as the saying goes...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Florescent Lights and Plums

There was a time when I would spend hours daydreaming about florescent lights and plums.  The florescent lights would come in all different shades--green, yellow, orange, purple-gray--and so would the plums come in all different states--ripe red, ripe green, unripe green, too ripened and pink, pickled, candied, caramelized.  I would sit in my chair that my grandmother once sat in, just once, when she came to visit, and watch the hallucinatory florescent lights and plums go by.  Then my long summer afternoon would be over.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Year!

Today marks the beginning of the lunar new year;

Happy thoughts of dragon.

I, forlorn, wrote three books in a dream.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Easy Life

Why aren't the things I like about this world concentrated in the English-speaking world?  That would have made my life a lot, or if not "a lot," somewhat easier.  But an easily life?  No, thank you.  Yes, thank you, but no.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am Longing for William Inge's Plays

Faster than the wind,

Greener than the wild evergreens on the plains,

Distracted as we may be,

We make a stand

Against thin air

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Stars, I have not seen you for months

I can barely imagine your presence.

Do you exist?  Do I?  Surely we do.  But how?

Heavenly and banal thoughts, all well-mixed, on this Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Note to an Aspiring Academic or Artist

You cannot become an academic (or an artist of any kind) if you cannot stand other people pointing their fingers at you and calling you a failure.  You are not, in fact, a failure (as long as you are alive), but in some people's eyes, you have unquestionably failed at life, and you should be okay with that.  You should even be able to befriend those kinds of people.  If you are not okay with people calling you a failure, and if you are unable to befriend even the people who really believe that you have failed at life, then maybe you should start looking for a different path.


No, do not start looking for another path.  If you have fallen into this path, it is your path.  And it is, as the old saying goes, what you make of it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Dance

Darkness

You do not understand me

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Complicate

"Simply, simply," someone said or wrote.  I do not want to simply.  I refuse to simply.  I would like to complicate instead.  Once I wrote somewhere, "Complicate till you drop."  There shan't even be any "till" from now on.  My island's name stands for complications (and never completeness).  What does your island's name stand for?

I would like to create a set of complication tables.  What will it look like?  I do not yet know, but trees in the wind know.  They know that air is never empty; it is usually very full of things.  They know that the sky is never blue; it is almost always a combination of blue and some other color.  For them, today is not a day; it is a date and only a date.  A day is something much more complex.

I know now that I do not yet know what the process of complication actually involves or means.  At this time, I still have no other choice but to drop.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Anti-Alphabetical Phase

Full of longing, and the alphabet cannot express all that I am feeling.  The alphabet forces me to leave all typography behind, except for a bare minimum, which is egregiously far from enough.  How the trees sway, and yet the letters are not adequate to capture the sunlight glinting and glancing in ways no human or animal eyes can.  I pray this be just a phase.  The alphabet is, and will be, whether I like it or not, my last straw.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Change

Unable to read or write, or

Remember pain, I float

In mute silence

Unable to sit or sleep,

The days leave me behind, while

Fatigue and forgetting take their toll:

Flowers, petals, and tongues.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seven Lines of Cascading Ambivalence

In the dwindling spaces of stars

Lost to the wind

Trees stand still, leaves dark and sparkling

From across a distance,

I am watching the abandoned balloons

Disappear

Vacuously, anxiously, tremendously

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On OWS

New York, New York:

The Guggenheim Museum is a spiral or two away

On the Waterfront, there are no ducks; just vividly blue waves crashing

A few blocks down, a leafy garden in the sun,

And a dry-cleaner with lots of pastel-colored wire hangers hanging from cacophonous, metallic racks.

Do the crowds really know what Wall Street stands for?  I don't think so.  I think they are clueless, to be exact.  For one thing, Wall Street doesn't stand for greed.  It stands for dishonesty, period.  Even if greed might characterize Wall Street, that isn't the problem.  Greed can consume and destroy the greedy person by bringing him or her incredible amounts of stress, but it usually won't harm others.  Dishonesty is the real culprit.  The financiers who are responsible are unwilling to take responsibility not because they are greedy, but because they are dishonest.  And you know what, dishonesty provides a defense mechanism to those who practice it.  That's what dishonesty is for.  No human being inherently likes to be dishonest.  It is only out of the need to protect oneself.  So don't point out their greed.  That's superfluous!  Point out their dishonesty.

Also, don't say "Occupy" blah-blah-blah.  What a weak and negative word they've chosen for themselves; I am so full of contempt for them native English-speakers.  You can only occupy a toilet or a colony.  Why not "Overthrow Wall Street"?  In modern history, aristocrats have been overthrown; kings and queens, too, and colonial governments as well.  Their grounds, palaces, estates may have been occupied by revolutionaries, but that was just a means to an end.  Overthrowing was the goal.  The word "occupy" boggles my mind so much that I am beginning to wonder if this movement is being backed by Washington and Wall Street banks to allow the poor, poor masses to vent their anger, and to mislead them into scapegoating a toilet that doesn't exist.  That way, Washington and Wall Street will never take the real blame.  How smart of them, if this is what they are actually up to (which I doubt, but still - there is always a possibility).

With deepest love and admiration I say: America, you are such a silly country.  You talk so fondly of the Arab Spring, and yet - how many dictatorships have you supported throughout history in the Arab world alone?  But I do not blame you.  Victors never have to repent.  Even if they have to be dishonest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Travel in Images

Compri's ten Seoul pictures, for the sky in you.


Swirling in Mint

Longing for mint tea, I return on the Square

Searching for lemon drops, I gather my tea cups in the rain

Fly away, tear drops

Till the hour you return

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Snail's Day

A snail made its way across the window pane and it was content.  There were no rainbows in the sky--just clouds.  It had stopped breathing in fumes long ago.  Its house was covered with leaves, just leaves.  Old leaves and new ones, mixed and tossed.  Water was everywhere, and the earth was a soft bed.  Then it began to pour.  A mudslide swallowed the house with all the leaves.  Seven hours later, the snail emerged from under the mud alone, just slowly, and the sun was shining.