I often mix up past tense and present tense, like who the hell cares, it’s just tense, but of course, my critical essays suffer because of such complacency, such irrational stubbornness. History becomes something that manifests in the Now, Literature is dead.
Stop fetishizing the past and capturing the present, all because you’re afraid of having no future.
It has come to my attention that I have a horribly narrow view of Reality. My big picture is fuzzy, facts distorted and overlooked and scrutinised too hard all at the same time, materialising itself like one of those self-deprecating mirror exhibitions that’s free-of-entry in an ancient carnival. Reality – in my terms – are not depressing articles I cried over when flipping through my Time magazines. I refused to accept that that was Reality. Jean’s view of Reality, recalibrated in my brain, is a microscopic world, only viewable under special lenses, filled to the brim with minute details, seen mostly in sepia, colours swirling down the drain that enters directly into my belly (probably the reason why I have so much difficulty swallowing truths, because I’m already clogged up and swelling with way too much surreality).
To me, Reality was this:
A good two nights back, in that hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant with a dodgy name, sitting so closely with my friends that our shoulders bumped into each other. Acutely, I felt my nostalgia being amped up, expertly distilling itself into every conversation, every observation, every emotion I felt. My world filtered and unreal. I was there, but I wasn’t there, because I was teleporting myself to the future, hovering over us as I saw the very same scene play out except that we’re all in office wear, and we’re drinking soju instead of barley tea, and our voices are more tired and more adulty, and perhaps we’re no longer gossiping over the same things that we’re doing now, because we’ve probably forgotten by then. Instead of splitting the bill, we’re pushing it to the one with the highest paycheck, and it’s not me.
Things that still remain the same – the sound of our laughter fusing and swirling up to the ceiling along with the fragrant smoke of our shared dishes, the meaningful silences, the warm eye-contact, the pain in my gut that’s something akin to a bruise blossoming because I’ve been hit so hard by Feelings, the sunset.
We’re happy, we’re giggly, we’re on top of the world.
Crossing the overhead bridge overlooking the highway, I will feel like everything is so small, and like I can conquer everything, or I might feel as small and insignificant as atoms rotating indefinitely on the same axis, and that if I flung myself off the bridge, I would break that tiring continuity, but I would be reduced to nothing.
Ashes to ashes.
Dust to dust.
Me to me.
I’m upset that I can’t be universal. I am only obliged to the universe in my head.
If I had the capacity, if I had the time, I would be cataloguing every tedious detail of my life, right down to the number of breaths I take.
But I don’t, and I won’t.
Because I realise that Life is so upsettingly dismal when it is reduced to mere descriptions. It cannot be summed up to some words I throw in after flipping through the thesaurus. And it wouldn’t be authentic. Nothing is genuine.
From the moment it has passed through my mind, viewed through my very two eyes, it is no longer true. We are all sentient beings, a little drunk on romanticism and the power to record an own version of our life, the way it makes me seem like a reliable and omniscient narrator when in actual fact I’m undercutting everything, everything. If I dwelled on them more, by attempting to write them down, I was singlehandedly mutilating them. I am a criminal to my own thoughts, and I must be locked in my own solitary prison cell, deprived of experiences as a form of cold turkey.
But since I conflate the past and the present so much that it affects my future, I’ll forget the fact that Present me is breaking the truth (that my visions are all lies, my emotions are not real, all things are only simulacra) to Past me, and by proxy, this cyclical nature will impress itself on the future until it becomes natural.
All memories, transcribed into words, are a diorama, and they will never be an exact replica of what I have breathed life into. That night in the cramped restaurant will translate differently in the various voices of my friends. Maybe the laughter we churned out would be shrill and piercing to their ears, not melodious. Maybe while I was looking down at the cars whizzing past, musing on the impact of velocity on my ragdoll body, my friend was casting her own gaze on her leaden feet, thinking of a basic survival necessity – sleep.
It’s funny. The more I ponder over this, the more confounded I am. Thoughts are being more and more unintelligent as they fight for my attention, like venn diagrams intersecting and intersecting and intersecting until I can only see a blur of graphite.
I think I’ve exhausted myself from thinking of this, but more to come…more to come. I think I need to acknowledge that fighting the dysphoria of change is a flat pursuit, but at the same time, penning down all my thoughts doesn’t make anything clearer, it just makes my hands cramp.
Oh well, feeling physical pain is better than feeling nothing at all.
Perhaps I should stop mourning over an experience and how I’ll never relive it in the quality of authenticity it used to possess, because by doing so, I’m putting it on a pedestal, and the loss is only blacker and more tainted and more real. I’m singlehandedly defaming it, maligning a victim that had been forced to carry my burdens. At what costs? Only my own.
Gosh – my thoughts are being increasingly incoherent.
I have an unjustified and unbridled hostility towards Reality, probably inherited. Maybe in one of my past lives I was a prophetess, and Reality turned itself against me as I turned against it in abandon, tearing me apart in retaliation as I revealed the secrets of the world for the sake of mankind and at the expense of my own sanity.
One day I will read this and I will no longer relate to what I’m feeling, just like how a painter can no longer get back the exact same colour that he/she had previously mixed together on their palette – there will be some degree, however minute, of difference. Never the same consistency: either too thick or too watered down. And that will only grow more and more incongruent if I place my weight on it and bear my pressure on it, hence effectively polarising them and picking up more and more faults that only serves to add to their dissimilarity.
If this was handwritten, I wouldn’t be able to recognise my own handwriting.
I’m an arsonist. I love setting myself on fire. I love watching myself being burnt to ashes.
For dust you are, and from dust you will return.
A love-hate letter to Reality—
Stolen from Taylor Swift.
Please take my hand and
Please take me dancing and
Please leave me stranded
It’s so romantic.
钧 x x
j e a n x x