Shit talk, talk shit, talk shit talk, shit talk shit talk.

Tick tock, life is short.

Yesterday I was talking w Ratna about shit. I’m going to India at the end of this year and that reminded me of my last trip there almost 2 years ago, when we were walking in an alley.

It’s kind of like a back alley of somewhere. A restaurant. Pretty narrow pathway, maybe for two or three to walk abreast. And it was littered with shit. If “littered” is the right word to use here. Because I don’t think it’s resultant of the same action as littering other kinds of litter. Shit, shit everywhere. It was dusk and the darkening sky reminded us to turn on our torch and shine where we are walking and to side step the piles of shit. Was it dog shit, cow shit, or human shit we didn't know because all of the above being shit. It could be any and shit is shit and we won’t wanna step on them or get any of it on our bodies or shoe or whatever. So avoid, avoid, avoid, and side-step, side-step, side-step.

I could get really frustrated that the place was badly managed and why nobody clean up the shit and why is there shit all over in the first place. But. Everything shits and i’m just a tourist and who am I to change anything I don’t live there it don’t belong to me i’m just passing through I don’t want it to belong to me either no thank you.

Ratna was oh like that’s so evil. But it’s not evil, shit is shit, shit is not evil. I shit you shit we all shit. The dog and cow and us human are not evil for shitting. Shit isn't evil.

It’s just that I come from a world a culture where shitting in toilet bowls and flushing them away is the norm. And shit is dirty to me. And I don’t wanna touch it even with my shoe, and definitely not my hand or what. So that’s us. And in a way that I see it (because of my culture) it’s privileged.

So happens that i’m going to India again end of this year. That’s why I thought about India and the shit.

But the real point is this. That shit on the streets is like people's bad vibes. The talk was analogous of people vomitting their bad vibes everywhere. So in some environment, like a toxic on, there’s just bad vibes all over the place. In this situation, I dont have to do anything but to avoid, avoid, avoid and try not to get any on any part of my body. Much less to put it in my bag and bring home. Or whatever. Some times people fling shit in my direction and I gotta avoid it like the matrix keanu reeves stunt when kena fired bullets. Or like be in some kungfu movie qinggong fly away from that situation.

Don’t engage in shit flinging back cos then I will get more shit on my hand and whatever whatever aggravating the aggressor. If I get any shit just get away fast minimise further contact don’t stir don't rub just get away then and wash it off asap.

Wash where. Wash it in nature maybe. Go to a park and see some plants. Or somewhere that is quite quiet, like a museum or a library. And observe something beautiful and refreshing. Or eat some fruits, juicy and cool. Until I internalise this ability to have an internal tap or something easy. And also

Side stepping shit and bad vibes is a life skill. Be vigilant!

Postscript to shit talk: updated with ratna on this, that when others shit talk us, we should pour some zen in their direction to make them stop. people who say “why you look so happy?” just to kill your good vibe, deserves a reminder, “why not? life is short.” or at least to be called out, like “yo why you trying to kill my vibe. life is short man.”

We need to prepare some lines to put out the shit that some people spit out from their mouths man!

Not to fling any shit bad, but like, like an umbrella or a water hose to get rid of this shit spray.

“Well, to each his own.”

Tick tock, life is short.

Art writing is not art writing

Occurred to me this morning that maybe I went to art school so that I can relearn or remember or be aware of how I write.

How I write, why I write, how I do what I do blah blah blah.

Learning art is good.

Got a few nice stories from these 3 weeks. Current favourite is the nail cutter. I just cut my nails this morning too.

What if I make cutting nail my raison d'etre. Maybe i’ll be happy and settled and fulfilled.

FL VS LF extended remix

The fallen leaf on the river does not choose to go downstream.
but the little fish has some choice on which way it is going to swim.

Which one would I rather be?

What if i’m not at a river but a sea?

What if i’m not at a sea but an ocean?

Does that make any difference, or is it that it shouldn't?

I think too highly of myself

The protagonist is the outsider for not having faith, is the same as victor Frankl’s second book search for ultimate meaning what.

The ending is optimistic in its condemned way.

But it is condemned.

And in the end if I identified with the outsider then it is woe to me.

But I had asked who is the outsider.

And I am sad to realise that it has always been me.

The Outsider and the insider

I just finished it I feel despair. Not a lot, just some. But still too much.

What constitute “study”

I think at first I had a narrower idea of what is it to study.

Then I think now I am rather willing to have a more generous definition.

Studying is slightly different from learning.

But so is 读书。which is like reading book. studying and learning is more like 学习.

we’ve been through this.

The nailcutter

There was a man who lived to cut his nails. He worked and sustained himself and did things day to day so that he could live another day, so that his nails could grow another day, so that he can cut it another time.

That’s all. It was not that he was really passionate about it, or that he would do a phD if he could about nails and nailcutting culture or whatever. It’s just the thing that he lived for, and the thing that he would do. It wasn’t that he particularly liked the tingling feeling when the nail was cut off, nor that he liked the sound, nor that he liked to see the white parts being manicured off, nor that he liked to observe the ridges of his uneven nail surface, nor that he liked to wish that he had perfectly almond-shaped his nails because he didn’t, nor the sensation of having shorter nails, nor the anything. He was not feeling all these.

But he knew that when he ate dinner when he didn’t feel like eating, when he dealt with a client he didn’t feel like dealing with, when he brushed his teeth in the morning when he didn’t feel like brushing them because he didn’t feel like going to work, it was so that he would be able to cut his nails the next time, and the time after that, and the as long as possible time after that.

This was how the man who lived to cut his nails lived.

Venue and choices

I was talking with Hyesu last evening about the venue of the 4 Oct meet, and I said that i thought maybe it was a straight forward thing (i thought cca was open until 9pm on friday as google said but google is wrong and so 4 Oct friday doesn’t work for CCA which was the fall back plan… and the new fall back plan is at my place in bbb) but then I realise that when it comes down to implementing it, it’s not just about fall back plan.

I had been thinking about choices - something wrong about the choice model along the lines of what Baxandall mentioned and the approach I took on for my thesis - that phenomenological approach that runs through to the existential - as in interpreting that whatever people choose, action or inaction or whatever A or B, is an expression of their intention - and interpreting the implications and consequence of that model as factors of that conscious decision. Lynx was telling me something he disagreed about it and that he thinks it’s not a choice, for example, to continue to take the next breathe - like maybe there are some automatic functions, but I disagreed with him - I believe it’s a choice to continue breathing because the person didn’t choose to kill him/herself. I believe it’s a choice to continue living. I think Lynx didn’t read the link I had sent him in reply to his note - that entry I had written about somebody letting go.

Anyway, that’s not the point I’m trying to record today. It’s about a thought that straightened out for me yesterday. I was thinking about going back to working in DSTA to be with my ex-colleagues I had fun working with them and I enjoyed the money and I think I will still have fun working with them and I will still enjoy the money. But one thing that hold me back is because DSTA is about engineers and designers and whatever of defence technology and warfare technology and that I didn’t enjoy - that my livelihood was closely associated with that.

When I was working there at first, as in so many years ago - I didn’t consider so much - as in I didn’t consider their business on the onset and then when i realise I didn’t resign immediately either. Okay maybe my action/inaction after i recognise their business and so on, might be a reflection of my choice. But I think… actually a lot of singapore’s infrastructure and monies come from these engineering things. Someone might say, it’s not DSTA but ST but come on, we’re a small country. And what is my continuance to walk on the roads that are built from the taxes collected from these monies - does that make me hypocrite?

I’m also responding to the withdrawal of artists from the biennale when they discovered that one of the directors of the board owned or got his money from a company that produce tear gas that was used at some unrest. and that is really a huge can of worms, where all the monies from the arts come from.

So, my point my point, maybe the choice is not always an expression of intention - e.g. especially when one is ignorant of the implications and the context, in which case it is an expression of ignorance.

My “agenda” of sorts is basically to share my existential anxiety maybe - is it. Or whatever. to awaken people to share that time is running out. this, i realise is a recurrent theme. time time time and lateness. but maybe then this approach assumes that intention is superior to ignorance. Which brings me to another discussion with lynx last week at CCA. is intention and consciousness superior to ignorance?

The craving for more knowledge and awareness - it is nevertheless a craving.

I discussed this with Tan Wen yesterday. I don’t know what’s the correct answer - or rather maybe I know - that it means to be balanced, but I don’t know how to stay in the balance.

And choices and ideas change as we progress and change.

Just like how now I am hoping to settle at the stamford arts centre for the 2 hour get together. because I’m trying to make some other meaning from the one I was thinking of making before.

The leaf on the river does not choose to flow downstream.
but the fish has a bit of choice on where it is going to swim.

Admin : i am nd: aim dn: daimn

I spent so much time doing admin for the IS group but I still have so much more to do. if you ask me what I do I also can’t really tell you.

Update different people at different times. in different whatsapp group. I updated the invite with new details. Then found that there’s a new joiner. then persuaded jillian to join the whatsapp group.

Tian asks me for our attendance last week at CCA.

Sunday: 4 pax average 2 hours
Monday: closed
Tuesday: 2 pax average 3 hours
Wednesday: 2 pax average 3 hours
Thursday: 4 pax, average 2.5 hours
Friday: 4 pax, average 2.5 hours
Saturday: 4 pax, average 2 hours

is it that artsy people don’t like to do admin? stop it cannot escape. suck it. po vibes po vibes!

I dreamt of chen wen hsi

Last night, I dreamt of Chen Wen Hsi. As in the pioneer Singaporean Chinese or Chinese Singaporean painter who passed away in1991. In the dream, he was my lao gu gong or lao dior gong, I think that means great grand uncle. The occasion was his wedding, I didn’t see the wife but I kind of know she was young, maybe a second wife. He was pretty old maybe in his 60s or 70s. I was there with my brother and I was pretty shocked when I saw Chen Wen Hsi's face that I didn’t know how to address him and he called himself the liao gu gong or something in sort of a chastise to me for not greeting him properly. Maybe because he thought I was judging him for marrying at such an old age to a younger wife.

I was a bit puzzled by that because I thought oh yah maybe he is related on my maternal grandmother side because of the same surname but yet he was teochew and my grandmother is hokkien. And maybe it was more likely that he is a relative on my paternal side which is teochew. But wait, I am awake now and I recall my maternal grandmother's surname is huang, Ng. So ok. Maybe he was really related to someone on my paternal side I wouldn’t know i’m so distant from them.

OK so anyway. I dreamt of Chen Wen Hsi. This is the second time I dreamt of him. Maybe our vibes are connected. Maybe he is the reincarnation of something else for me. Maybe he is really pleased with my thesis. Hahahaha. And comes to me in my dreams.

Dragonfly nymph

A nymph felt like it and so climbed up a stalk of a reed.

Climb so high for what? A shrimp said to it, higher you climb harder you fall then you know.

Climb so high for what? A little fish said, later you cannot breathe in the sky.

Now the nymph who had been a nymph its whole life cannot reply for it also cannot quite imagine why because it knew it breathed through its gills in the water, but still, it cannot help itself. There was this inexplicable compulsion, it had not yet known it was about to metamorph into a dragonfly.

Somemore you’re so ugly compared to us. Somemore you are so young compared to us, listen, don't go, you have a good life here you must be appreciative.

*

If you were the nymph what would you do? What would be the pond and what would be the sky? Who would be the prawn and fish? What would be the piece of reed?

Good vibes

Discussion w lynx and jess last night and then lunch with I and then have this conclusion.

That I just want good vibes and hang w people with good vibes cos i’m so tired of other things. It’s not that I am not a friend in need but I don't want to spend my life wallowing in each other's lament anymore.

If you need a tequila shot just drink it and then sober up and move on. I look at my parents and how their life is almost over and then that’s that life is over so take responsibility for not trying or not starting over nobody is going to help you.

I am waiting for bo le to come and spot me and frame me up and whatever but I don't think i’ll be happy either and I don’t think there is a bo le for me becuase I am not a horse. Because I am defiant and although maybe i’m a wild horse but actually nobody can be bothered cos there are more easier horses to train so shut up now and train myself.

Anyway what i’m saying is ok I have my own problems so imma solve my problems you solve your problems and k thanks. Let’s do it and we share the good vibes and help each other man! And move on!

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The outsider

I am more than halfway through the outsider and I wish *spoiler alert* that the fella wasn’t a murderer. It’s not that I can't take it but I was just walking to the art exhibition and I decided to read the book instead of playing with my phone because the book was easy enough to read and they were just hanging at the beach and I was waiting at the red light and enjoying the conversation and wondering about my hair and he was swimming with Marie and I really wonder who was the outsider why did camus go and put a title like that then why did he have to go and kill the man and then go to jail. Then now my question is what kind of precursor is this to orange is the new black.

The library aircon is pleasant especially after the walk in the warm evening but it is probably bad for health.

Lynx likes to sit on this side of the library where there is no view and I know I can go and sit elsewhere but i’m a herd animal I guess. No. A pack animal.

I sense a change in myself that is pretty drastic but I don't know if it is apparent to others as well.

I have some paper work to do but I don’t get it done because I am busy running around.

Suddenly this rhymth that I have in my writing voice is natural but I got it from reading the outsider.

It got messed up a little becuase I was conscious of it, but if I just let it happen it will happen.

I thought I brought 3 things out to read or study but apparently I brought 4.

Including a calligraphy textbook that I want to study but I never really study yet.

I think I should try to finish reading the other things I have started. The English things. Then go into Chinese painting history and then calligraphy history.

Tie up the loose ends. Except. They aren’t ends yet and will always grow haywire.

Post-modern

Regardless of the global trends I think I spent my childhood in a daoist world, then my formative years in a modernist world and then now it’s all switching to a post-modernist confusion.

I must clarify which of my beliefs /forgone conclusions that I hold on too, are modernist and if I actually still believe in them.

Like being a so called conceptual artist, that my works are conceptually driven, maybe is a description of my process instead of form. If I say i’m a Chinese ink painter then maybe others in the “art world” take me to be a modernist, but actually do I think of myself as a daoist doing the paintings or what? What do I mean and what do they think I mean? Can’t ignore the latter, when I am communicating. Otherwise might as well dun communicate.

Ashley and I discussed about identity and if the focus is on how one sees oneself vs another see oneself. There’s self-identity and identity maybe. Anyway aren't they two sides to the same coin?

The question is what is authentic between these two sides. The core and the authentic and real.

Is it what that is consistent? One may see oneself as feeling A and others may see oneself as being A but maybe one is really feeling B. But is the insistence to discuss myself in this separatist manner also a modernist thing. Haha. Like maybe one is more than both sides of coins plus core. Maybe there’s no different selves.

Maybe this is why I avoid etymological discussions nowadays.

I also realise that my writing which had been put aside for so long, was confused by modernist comments about its form. Comments like the length of sentence and the other formal qualities. and these have never been my focus in writing. So that made me confused about what it meant to be a writer.

My favourite is to write in this folksy language. Which I have come across recently , describing Dewey. But that brings the discussion back to the formal quality again and then… What?

So this is what I mean about re-evaluating my preferences and conclusions.

Wait I think my definition of modernist is also muddled. Sorry to my teachers who made the distinctions clear before. I meant the Greenberg modernism. Not the Terry Smith Asian modernism. Which ive also been thinking about.

It's late

Put the laptop in my bedroom thinking that I will write more but actually I am tired and cannot remmeber what I wanted to write about.

Discussed with Lynx and Jess about why the Stamford arts centre, and not CCA on another day, and I wonder if I’m too insistent on it, and if I am, then for the right reasons. There’s a sense of formality to things I suppose, when held at the SAC. In the past days people have been asking me what is it that I had envision and what’s the artistic concept whatever, and I realise that it is indeed up to me to decide, for I have a more wholistic overview. Am I being authoritarian? Is it wrong?

It’s convenient not to be democratic. but the responsibility is also pretty heavy to bear sometimes.

If I can be autocratic about making what happen where then why do I not be autocratic about other things - like what people are studying and what they make out of the month-long process. Is because I am dedicated to making this meet up happen and I want to set the terms for doing so.

Who do I engage personally but who do I not engage personally? I think I engage the people who lend me good vibes. and then we just ride on each others’.

I’m enjoying the evening sessions because it’s quite constructive for an otherwise lazy time. Especially on Sunday if Jess didn’t come down to Bugis then I wouldn’t have gone over to do some work at least for two hours. But my problem is I don’t know what time to eat dinner. If only the library was open until 10 that will be perfect.

Once upon a time

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