i ii
iris tan swee ling
(23 & back pains)
Saturday, June 03, 2017

have had these guys close by my side since i was twelve. it's been almost half our lives. they have taught me unconditionality and allowed me to experience growing up the only acceptable kind of love i've ever known from water—so much so that now, we are one blood. amidst the fleetingness of the average person, there rests the best comfort in the permanence of our connection that spoils me rotten, and whenever greed starts to stain our bones, i pray for us to always remember each other's hearts, where we are kings and others, merely commoners (even though our demeanours paint us as quite the contrary)

twelve years, three schools, thousands of hours spent reading and writing, and words are still not enough


Monday, April 24, 2017

what the FUCK


Wednesday, April 12, 2017
tonight i was looking out of my window when a guy—well-built, well-dressed, and well-groomed—walked precisely on the road ahead of my room to his destination. as he turned into the street adjacent to mine, it occurred to me that at any given time, someone might be watching you with an affect less ordinary than you would otherwise think the moment deserves. in that two minutes i had formulated a life for him that he'd probably never led, a personality he probably does not naturally manifest, and a whole house of countenances blurry and likely inaccurate from the distance. perhaps it's the idealist or the whimsical storyteller in me, but i find that inclination oddly consoling—like i could be one person right now that i neither fancy nor reject, yet in that fleeting juncture of extrinsic observation, i am anything and everything all at the same time

what a wonderful notion to carry


Monday, April 10, 2017
'written on the body' by jeanette winterson

i finished 'written on the body' quite a while back (about a year ago, i think) but haven't gotten down to writing about it because, well, truth be told, i've been lackadaisical and uninspired, which is the an apt description of my recent days outside of novels anyway. when reading this book i felt an immense disconnect from it, thought, wow how different i am from the protagonist of this story, 'how can i ever relate to this maniac?' meditating on it over the last few weeks, i conceive now that the detachment was probably conceived out of coercion and fabrication for the sake of my own delicacy. in fact, i suppose i might be the almost, if not entire, likeness of his image. the character, in love, is despondent, whimpering, contradictory at best, and across the duration of his various sentiments, he broods over unsavoury positions pages on end, yet engulfs himself in dissatisfaction in the attendance of cooperative affairs. it was then when i realised that i was merely reading to myself about myself, and that it is the cornerstone of the every little bit of riot i host within

the subject i remember most from this novel is the idea of the circadian clock functioning as a metaphor of which the connection of love and interest can be articulated. i have always believed this to be true to some extent—that each romantic dalliance is like a game to be completed, its specific rites of passage as levels to pass before the players arrive at the conclusion, satisfactory or not. there is the charming bouquet of desire and/or allure, the insistence of attributing attachment to the tiniest signs of semblance, then the first kiss, the first fuck, the first fart under covers... up until your feet touches the monumental space of graduation and there is nothing new left to achieve. surely this is why people often tell others in good (or jaded) faith to 'take it slow', for the circadian clock of any relationship is individually erratic, ticking slower or faster towards midnight according to the spans of time between each rousing step made. and it is when it reaches the finale we start to flicker in any previously static reliability, when we unfasten the gates to perhaps yet another round of frolic with the same person, or to a new game entirely. i find this line of thought neither wrong nor right, just as inherent epicureans, intuitive to some, but restrained by others. as winterson said, 'she was so little there that while she occupied a fair stretch of time, she filled my days hardly at all. that may have been her secret. if she had lain with me and eaten with me and washed scrubbed and bathed with me, maybe i'd have been off in six months, or at least itching. i think she knew that'


other quotes i like—
i) 'even here in this private place my syntax has fallen prey to the deceit. it was not i who did those things; cut the knot, jemmied the lock, made off with goods not mine to take. the door was open. true, she didn't exactly open it herself. her butler opened it for her. his name was 'boredom'. she said, 'boredom, fetch me a plaything.' he said, 'very good ma'am,' and putting on his white gloves so that the fingerprints would not show he tapped at my heart and i thought he said his name was 'love''

ii) ''so you try and regain control by telling me you love me. that's a territory you know, isn't it? that's romance and courtship and whirlwind''

iii) 'contentment is a feeling you say? are you sure it's not an absence of feeling? i liken it to that particular numbness one gets after a visit to the dentist. not in pain nor out of it, slightly drugged. contentment is the positive side of resignation. it has its appeals but it's no good wearing an overcoat and furry slippers and heavy gloves when what the body really wants is to be naked'

iv) 'i am prepared to accept the many-sidedness of god but i am sure that if god exists he is not a building society'

i enjoyed this book 70% of the time


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


Wednesday, February 22, 2017
i imagine humans to be puppets stitched together by threads of the words uttered by someone else, yet ventriloquists of each other's lives. we are fat or thin, clever or stupid, astonishing or vapid, worthy or not—all by the anatomy of the foreign yarn that seems to hold our bodies whole. we walk around with the frayed ends of negative strings dangling around our calves, allow them the liberty to create legs of petechiae we have grown insensible, but not impervious to

the problem with this image is that these words grip onto definitions formulated by similar others, puppets shelved on the lines of the same dictionary. we claw at our rashes to procure only more, enjoy or suffer the grandiosity of these meanings because we simply do not understand the fundamental basis of vocabulary. the book is written by us, and thus, as authors, we should not assume that any adjective is the same across two, three, a hundred people. this is the gripe i have with the english language, or just languages in general—that its stability is used to pigeonhole the idiosyncrasies of every figure, making each of us vulnerable, eager for a 'better us', a 'better me'. it is made as such that every single word embodies an incisive comprehension, when it is, in its actuality, fluid, swirling around in a container of subjectivity. 'good' is not the good as we know it, neither is 'evil', 'debauchery', etc., inherently bad

many a time, we label people with the nuances we carry significantly in our pouches (i, too, am a culprit of this habit)—as nice, interesting, dull, or shady. we think them true and judge each entity before intimate discernment, and this decree dribbles through convenience to the docile opening of our veins, affecting us almost immeasurably in our years to come. i realise now that that verdict is not the absolute conclusion, that any judgment is omnipresent yet flawed, and we cannot be designated any term genuinely befitting us at all. what we essentially are, are merely living organisms smothered within a class of unjustifiable interpretations. i can describe someone as cute, as mesmerising, or 'special'... any way i like it, but is this person, really? is he/she actually good-looking? is he/she actually the embodiment of what all of society, i.e. the lexicon, thinks is amazing? what is beautiful, what is intelligent, and what is extraordinary? in the spirit of irrationality, why do we, subconsciously or not, let someone else decide who or what we are, to sew away at the appreciation of our unequalled identities, without our executive endorsement? no one is superior beyond another in cognition, no one can definitively say that you are depictive of any name, and in some way, i believe that once we release the obstinate illustrations of these words we use on others, and ourselves, that we carry so close to our hearts, and embrace the ambiguous qualities of each individual, it is when we settle—settle for the undivinable dispositions of those around us, but settle only for the current best

after all, the ventriloquists breathe and the threads of the puppets unravel into oblivion over time


Thursday, February 02, 2017
your skeleton is an entity separate from any nerve, any muscle, any line of life, separate from any sensation. your body is still and you feel nothing. but with his touch, your skin rises as the only platform in function. it siphons at the scent, that which drifts from his whispers, careless as they are, yet rousing all the same, your easy nonchalance in return, and in that moment, you forget the bones, the meat, the blood. the tenderness morphs into cobblestones in the cold, leaving prickly fur in its wake. you whimper into the crevice of his neck—it is the only organ that signed up for this rendezvous after all


Friday, November 25, 2016
i have failed to mingle faithfully with solace in my writing these few years, determined to expunge every little, natural affliction of life through the gaps of dreary sentences. but tonight jingzhi, russ and i had dinner together at marina square, and as with any rally she and i seem to categorise our meetings as, we remained completely sentient throughout the evening, the stage was humble, and i felt that familiar tranquility in the motley and candour of our conversations (albeit the newcomer to the table of shared meals and chinese tea). i am grateful, and when the going gets tough i know i will always be


Friday, September 30, 2016
bye jasmine

today is my last day at a place i've left and returned to for more than four years now. in a way, i guess i can say in hindsight that my time here is like an unsettled relationship i've finally rallied enough bravery to put to an end

someone once used the term 'modus operandi' when expressing his hurt to me. the event was quite a while back, i've forgotten most of how it felt like to sit fidgeting, seemingly irreparable in my self-reproach, yet i found that the phrase on its own had continued its tempest amongst all other texts i've accumulated over the years. perhaps that is the doing/undoing of language as one of my dominant priorities. i think about it frequently, allocating it to things—and by virtue of the circumstance from which i discovered these words—unfavourable things that i'm used to discharging with little to no contemplation, gesticulations that sprout out like natural claws from my flesh

for the past few weeks, i've been internally ruminating about its connection with my stint at this desk, with my snoozing of the alarm more occurring than desired, with my depictions of rigour and amusement alike pinned before eyes, with all the tasks in their initial variety and novelty, and beyond everything, with intimacies sowed within the second floor, then third, then independent of any location at all. many times before, i had presumed this to be my personal, endearing tendency to carry the shallow baskets of my life around forgivingly, clumsily, to enable the artefacts to mingle, familiarise, and marry, and to constantly dust the crumbs off those that had fallen and put them back into my embrace. i sauntered about my loved ones, blessed in the impression that i had, above everyone else, managed to unify a robust, private pool of affinities, to the dalliance i'd shaped indoors. we had known and looked after each other for quite a while, after all. but now, during my final days, this supposedly innocuous wont had launched its cruel brand. its facade had dissolved under grainy circumstances to reveal graceless, heavy cartons of silence, ills and irrevocable ruin, and i cannot help but think, were the boxes always there? had i been obtuse and ignorant in an subconscious attempt to clasp onto a splintering shelf? had i always been so relentlessly naive, or even foolishly determined to cradle shattering entities?

... has my habit become my modus operandi?

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Monday, August 01, 2016
something i wrote for consciousness class
there are many things in life that hold great precedence over us. we are increasingly and unceasingly altered in our physicality and mentality by bodies of television, radio, arts, culture, intimate social circles and those that are not quite so, etc., and over the years, these have become the mediums which we allocate gargantuan credit to for formulating our dispositions. to me, beyond everything, the novel is and should be appraised as the most prominent entity of them all. in a modern world of many conflicting concepts and ethical conundrums, there are valuable lessons to be taken away from this that we could also consider as narrative fiction. a well-written novel is alluring in plot and voice at its very least, yet it also imparts upon its readers a sense of introspection that can be applied not only in the daily execution of life, but above all, in the reflection of the self. it is the beacon of promise that bridges somatic actions and peripheral thoughts of humans, often ignorant and frivolous, with the intrinsic significance of self-cognition and self-rumination. while there is limited literature of which that deliberates this line of thought, studies conducted by both sabine and sabine (1983), and ross (1999), appear to support it almost wholly. both investigations, accomplished by interviewing a thousand over readers across the united states, found many people who believe that books they have read had precisely brought about a change in their constitution, with some participants even going as far to say that the books “had literally changed them” (djikic, oatley, zoeterman, & peterson, 2009). like these researchers and avid readers, i, too, trust that it is through unraveling the metaphorical yet literal nature of the fictionalised characters, notable or not, that one discovers and builds upon the layers to form a more sturdy version of the self. this is the importance of the novel in metacognition as i see it

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
i haven't written in a while. they say the best writers are born out of tragedies or melancholia, and without those a writer is rendered uninspired or insipid. that is a statement i find fault with, because it merely gleams at the ability of the written word, but not the inability itself. certainly, those two, anonymns in contrast, should provide some explanation for the many whose voices we do not hear? we are rendered unable by happiness, of course, or anything settling nicely on the other end of spectrum, yes, but we are also unable by conflict—a conflict within one's self of whether or not we are indeed glad or sad

this is the conflict i've been dealt with in recent days, and so i do not write

how does one begin to describe confusion to her best capability? surely, she cannot, and therefore, she does not

Monday, May 30, 2016
i've spoken about my silly superstition to bodies of charity who would give heed. often, they find the belief strange yet reply unfailingly in kind, stating their own little neuroses to abate the malaise i suffer through mine. when i told my dad, he said, oh no that's not good, and i laughed a little both inside and out, as if to denote my understanding and flagrancy of his remark. of course it is absurd, i acknowledge that all too clearly, it is perhaps even idiotic and indicative of my small mind, but this is a conflict i feel like i will always grapple with. tonight i attempted to compartmentalise my irrationality by wearing a pair of earrings given to me by a ghost of my past, i was reading a book in bed when ultramarine began to trickle its heat across my bruises, so i proceeded as an instinctive measure to remove the accessory and almost immediately felt unladen. i am reminded of the times i assumed restriction in my demeanour just because i lack the tangible item that brings me an intangible sense of courage, which i now realise could be related to my fixation with perfection. in my dreams the people i've abandoned morph into new souls who, in turn, desert me, and i think about the articles they had laid in my hands with their sincerest resolve, how much i have betrayed my need for consistency of self to leave behind violent sentiments i fear. everything seems to me to be contigent upon a material object, as i am happy i am worried it would be altered from pearl to jade, just like how it did reality to dream. i want that fixation to go away


Friday, May 27, 2016
'men explain things to me' by rebecca solnit

very recently i came across this video in which a girl describes how it was like to date someone whom she labels as a 'fuck boy'. in the world of youtube jargon, this term illustrates a guy who, in the eyes of the person he has had a romantic dalliance with, embodies all the 'wrong' or 'worst' traits he/she does not desire. the narration of the story left a mark on me in a manner that is abhorrent and naive, and throughout the video i found myself, instead, further segregated from some, perhaps most, females of today

modern feminism to me has always been a crusade i cannot bring myself to fully endorse. i guess that is the main reason why going through this book had been quite the chore and struggle. the feminism i know and practise myself involves empowering and enabling women in ways that are impartial regardless of gender, while also respecting the reality that our very sexual anatomy divides us into the direction of many different routes. this might not be a popular stance, but i trust that before the intrusion of narcissism and egocentrism, norms were first set in place with due reason—that being that our bodies and minds are ultimately divergent. the fact of the matter we do not like to utter is that there are, without question, some things that women are unable to perform quite as well (or even at all) as compared to their male counterparts, vice versa. unlike my male friends, i am bound to my biological whimsies that might disallow me access to various behavioural, emotional or physical sources, and that, in turn, would affect my life course, choices and opportunities included. yet what we forget is that like me, they, too, are not only restricted by their own organic constitutions, varying as it may be from being to being, but they are also punctured and pressured by the culture they did not decide themselves to be born in. men are expected, in so many bizarre conventions, to be 'this' and 'that' and 'what' and 'who', all of which a woman can never completely comprehend. that does not mean that we should not and could not possibly accomplish what the other gender would, surely we must all venture to better ourselves despite our limitations, and while it is currently peculiar to see individuals wearing hats are too big or too small for them, there should be little to no grounds to substantiate prejudice stemming those instruments of conduct. so it occurred to me on many an occasion—what then, truly, is this battle of sexes we are engaging in?

it is my own conclusion that the disparity in treatment ferments within a manifestation of spite and hostility we women know all too well. we carry this faculty with us like second skin, injecting it into our conversations, endeavours, and eventually, our steady nature. this, sequentially, gives rise to this figure of self-entitlement many of us adulate and usually mistaken as 'balance'. indeed, feminism is faithful to the sense that no female should be denied basic rights like the cliches we frequently hear being fought for (e.g. equal chance for promotion, a louder voice, etc.). i am furthermore convinced that women should feel free to roam the streets after hours wrapped in an automatic assurance of safety and general courtesy, to speak of the vibrancy of their personal, intimate lives without the boulder of judgment towards their supposed promiscuity. females should be able to break out of formulas of confinement just as much as males are allowed to retain their physical and verbal liberty, to reveal our entity in the absence of scrutiny and unattainable yardsticks. however, jostling for equality these days excludes the separate rights due to those of the other sex. we want and argue after better circumstances for ourselves in the areas we believe we lack, whilst unwilling to sacrifice situations which benefit us much more than they would, men

why do masculinity often precede over mildness as an area of allure? why are the guys expected to pay on first dates, and the girls, to be shy? why can't men earn less or stay at home without being diminished by bystanders? there are many questions to be answered, but the unfortunate actuality is that people, both men and women, habitually speak of equilibrium without genuinely sanctioning it. over the years i've witnessed the issue continually made worse by that wife who counts on her sex's frailty as a pretext to slap her husband during a fight, and also, by that boy who stops dating a girl because she just 'wouldn't let him foot the bill'. who set these rules, and in a society of rebellion, why is it that we choose to abide to those customs that are, in fact, detrimental to our progression? what many do not apprehend is that by clinging onto these ideas of division as we can help it, we fall risk to unfurling the wounds of other matters such as the quandary behind same-sex relationships, and that behind race and religion. we are convinced that our brawls are lifting our foot forward yet really, we are trekking two steps backward

ultimately, in the argument of gender equality, this is something i truly believe in—that irrespective of whether or not i am a woman or you are a man, all of the human race should be granted duplicate prerogatives to do whatever the fuck we want, whenever the fuck we want. the only constraint we should bear, and the only constraint we should allow ourselves and those around us to bear, is that of compassion for the average person. as solnit so acutely states, 'kindness and gentleness never had a gender, and neither did empathy'. does it not ring more true to have our own and to treat others heedless of our unique distinctions?

when perusing this book in school, i remember shaun's frustrations with respect to this author's school of thought, which i thought was well-grounded from what i observed to be a sex-less mind. it was funny to me for on many occasions his vexation was apparent in his countenance and words, in the way he exclaimed, exasperated, 'why are you even still reading that book?' he was right in his opposition. it is easy for someone to absorb solnit's declarations as the holy grail or the 'single story' (a term i've come to know about from chimamanda adichie's powerful ted talk) and become disenchanted by men at large, which is why even though it was a well-composed non-fiction, even though the writer had a clear perspective and expressed her concerns with many evidential foundations, and even though i have learnt many things and accept them all, i will not pick this up again

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