Sickness

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In my sickness, I see every sign as either a vessel of salvation or destruction. Unable to hold two ideas at once, I either merge with one or wander amongst countless, which is like a cycle, which is like the fog. In my sickness I close the blinds to my window every night, and sometimes afterwards I rip one side open, crane the pane halfway, and stare at the distance between my body and the ground. In the morning I let a big breath out with the wind: it smells unbearably like spring or mass-produced breakfast.

In my sickness, I diagnose my condition as sickness. Every couple of months I add a new characteristic to the consideration. First it was rumination, then sensory-processing sensitivity, the trauma of heartbreak, imbalance of idealism and cynicism, cultural dissonance, self-image, rupture from the cycles of nature, mommy issues…

In my sickness I do not see many things or declarations as authentic. I often assume a position of skepticism, believing that people have a motivating agenda that is unethical or are embedded within a system that is too perverse to generate genuinely ethical sentiments that I can apply to my own living.

In my sickness, I am not always sick. I might not even be sick at all. Who makes the boundary between functionality and dis-functionality? Maybe I’m just normal, a depressed normal, an unstable normal, a mostly fine normal. How am I not, okay?

In my sickness, I am reproachful. I forgive, but failing to forget, and failing to completely forgive, or perhaps forgiving erroneously, blame the mis-forgiven once again. I bless the sun constantly, relieved it has appeared, overwhelmed that it shines, across the entirety of the sky.

In my sickness, a pimple (just red, no whitehead) grows under my eyebrow.

I trim my bangs, enough to still hide the inflammation.

Eh I’ll Just Post It

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That bitch made me cry, but she’s an influencer now. She’s an Amazon Associate who “really tries my best to choose local and small brands, products, and services whenever I can.” She got those weird on-page pop-up ads that manifest with a click. Fuck ads. Fuck shitty workplace environments and government bureaucracy. We all compromised our integrity that summer.

God I Wish I Was

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God I wish I was a graphic designer. Wish I was Angel Chen’s face. Wish I could speak European, bear a sleek tattoo. Wish I had an effortless Twitter that made me seem smart, nice, and not neurotically dependent on validation. Wish all my underwear was sexy, and terribly comfortable. Wish I could hit those high notes and low notes. Wish I had a male specimen that could reciprocate perfectly my need for a specific type of physical affection that requires an emotional understanding built on months of a whirlwind trust. Wish the cafeteria food was less salty and more Chinese. Wish I didn’t inherit my mom’s face pores. Wish I could do with less clothes.

I can do with less clothes.

Picasso

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I came back to Winnipeg on December 13th, and quickly fell into a feverish yearning for my high school crush. On my first night, under two thick blankets and embracing my stuffed dog, I gazed at the streetlamp and black sky and snow-covered road, and felt my past surface as a dark ember. In the weeks prior I had been worried that memories of the summer, afternoons of unspeakable depression, would haunt me stubbornly, but the cold and the changed trees allowed no other season to exist in my consciousness. All I could think about were those freezing evenings with a violin case on my back, the sound of tuning instruments in the basement rehearsal room, and my stupid naïve longing for a boy I had fantasized would kiss me first.

I grabbed my notebook and wrote lines like “In my Winnipeg, the only person who mattered was you,” and “your gaze fell in the air like misunderstanding.” For several brief moments I wanted to call you. I had no fear. I was just curious, curious perhaps about whether you had changed, whether you were still of the temperament to do the things you had done when we knew each other more intimately. I would like to say that on my side I am of changed temperament, that I would no longer read Ezra Pound to a hopeful someone by the river, foolish and nervous, but of course I still would, flowing river or frozen.

The heat of the emotion left me some days later and I started to meld into other, more recent emotions. At some point I dug up my old notebook and I found a poem (a dual poem, the only one of such I’ve written thus far) about a visit to the Art Gallery. It was the year of the Picasso exhibition, the summer where my skin was tanned to a shade my mom scorned at, the time I still believed you could like me. What I didn’t understand then was that even if you did, it would not count for much, not in the way I wanted and deserved. I would look at you looking at a woman of cubes; I do not remember suspecting you would ever look back at me.

Soul

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A few social-political thoughts about the film before I head to bed (and before I had read the critical reviews):

  • Why allow Terry to say, “Lots of Garcias here?”
  • Why was Joe’s “in-the-zone” composition a piece of contemporary minimalistic music, not jazz-like at all?
  • Why was 22 an annoying white middle-aged woman? Are we supposed to laugh?
  • How did Terry catch the wrong Black man?
  • Why is it a “business of inspiration?”

A few aesthetic thoughts about the film before I head to bed (and before I had read the raving reviews):

  • Terry and the Jerries are quite beautiful. Picasso-like.
  • The ship on crystalline sand.
  • Blue wool suit, not polyester!

God’s Own Country

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Simultaneously, the similarities and distinctions between God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name, films both premiered in 2017 and featuring two men falling in love with each other, astound me. CMBYN, lush, vibrantly coloured, seeped with the beauty of high European art, flourished with the nostalgia of a full soundtrack, invites me in its atmosphere of the mystery of love. God’ Own, soiled, broken walls, grunting and unfolding in the language of the everyday, of labour and the gray green fields, shows me the day’s break of love.

Both films use naming as a way for the lovers to affirm their intimacy in a way that signals the untraditional circumstance of their binding. In CMBYN, it is the exchanging of birth names, the mirroring of souls. In God’s Own, it is the exchanging of derogatory words, the mirroring of solidarity. In their naming the lovers claim infinity, and both films end with such an attempt of the claim. For Elio and Oliver, this attempt is breathy through the landline, a dream already gone. For John and Gheorghe, it is under the same sky, and a reassurance that things may return and move forward.

Thus the latter return on the bus together. For the former, the last bus trip is the first, and it is away.

Wounds are important for both films; Oliver’s is of mythic proportions across his celestial stomach, untouched and thus transcending the grotesque and stinging of an aesthetic foreboding; John’s is rubbed with Gheorghe’s saliva and licked by Gheorghe’s tongue and scabs quickly, palm to palm healed.

The two pair of lovers both play in water. The water is of different temperature and temperaments.

In CMBYN the labour is intellectual; in God’s Own the labour is physical. To me, this difference is pivotal. With the intellectuality comes irony, obscurity. Thus Elio and Oliver’s age difference can be more uncomfortable, compared to John and Gheorghe’s. The physical necessity in God’s Own highlights John and Gheorghe potentiality for equality, the need to undertake the same tasks, their need for each other as muscles and limbs.

The first time John and Gheorghe have sex they are filthy, wrestling in mud. What there was of filth in CMBYN was largely lost from novel to film. For example, the cinematic Elio and Oliver do not watch each other shit, and Oliver does not eat Elio’s ejaculatory peach. Instead, Elio begs Oliver to not eat it, and finally crumbles and weeps into Oliver’s chest. Regarding this scene, Aciman notes: “The film takes a very physical, almost lusty moment and finds its emotional equivalent right way. So that it never allows you to dwell on the physical without ever giving you also the emotional counterpoint to it.”

So it is, both films, both lovers, sinking deeper and deeper into pure emotionality, their own emotionality, Elio breathlessly brushing Oliver’s hair before disappearing towards the waterfall, John kissing and kissing Gheorghe’s neck in the family living room, bright in first love.

All real love is perhaps the same, so terribly similar that we dress it with their distinctions. These distinctions make the circumstances, mark the decisions, make of love, faces of infinite interest.

Two Black Cats

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Bad luck negates bad luck. That is what I learned in Manitoba, three summers ago, in the marbled building. And that is what I saw today, one black cat crossing the street west, and later, one black cat waiting briefly as I unlocked my bike. It occurs to me now that they might have been the same cat. But I saw it twice. And the twice sight is what I can know determinedly, therefore anything more precise I cannot be punished for not knowing.

What does it mean to love individuals and not groups? To see the individuals within the group? To be cognizant, to be forgiving, of something that is now an inherent evil?

But we are all in groups. We are loved because of groups, we belong because we are in groups, we are kept alive by people who can act with collective effort.

Certainly, the original statement-question can be simply a reminder to see the humanity in each individual of each group. That, it is not always our fault. That, as units we are designed to be good.

I would like to prove this by saying that by doing good, we feel good. But I think it’s safer to say that we feel good when we do good and we receive good back. Goodness might be inherently a two-way feature. What good is one-way good?

And yet, we BELIEVE, we PUT FAITH IN, that the good we put in will be reciprocated. The opposite is tragedy, yes? So, does our belief of goodness rely on our belief of goodness as self-perpetuating? Because what is goodness without faith? Our faith. Our stupid, good faith.

I will say, what goodness it is to find similarities between two people. To know the unknowable. To crave whatever is on the other side, wherever is the side, if there is a side. To go from 0 to 1. Something from nothing. Is this not how our minds operate? Do we not perform miracles everyday by refusing our limited-ness?

Walking on hill grass, cutting through streets. Fast pace, steady pace, apt pace for the pace of the words, ideas, cold air, masked air. Two black cats, one black cat, two appearances, one colour. I biked home smiling.

The Dissolve

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All my life, I have emulated my life through art, but never saw art as life. I delighted in books because they brought me escape, elucidation, and comfort, but I believed in the distance, I said, not me, not really.

What I mean by art in this instance is narrative. I thought life had a distance to narrative, to all those artful and aesthetic objects I consumed. It was a relief. It was relief to read Munro—an affair, a death—and come out feeling unscathed.

But this distance seems more and more as pretence. The real distance is in the trivial differences: character names, hair colour. The template, the emotions, hyperbolic, but true in its hyperbole. And this is another type of relief, a relief that perhaps the truth is accessible.

But the relief feels short lived every time. It feels especially desperate when thinking of historical narrative, patterns. (I understand I am jumping between terms and definitions, forgive me). Do we fall into the same old narrative? And why this narrative?

Jumping again. Today I have been thinking about interdisciplinary. And it seems, to study in a genuinely interdisciplinary manner is to study in a constant state of doubt.

I will leave it there. I have been tired.

Silencing

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To put it quite frankly I think I am depressed again, depressive, blue, gray, however you would like to call it. I am not even sure how—sometimes I would like to question it intently, sometimes I understand the futility.

So heavy with the most searing and trivial symbolism did this new vision come to me; missed farmer’s market, a re-visiting of the old path, the weather so clearly and densely changed. And silence. An absolute silence of the mind, a silencing.

There has been gentleness too, a reaching out, a reply. But the heart is stubborn with its weighing of desire.

The best I can do is to not to deceive myself and to ease in my reproaching. Yet there is a paralysis, a heaviness in the throat, pains in the stomach. Elegy for a young man lost, doubled waves, impossible solutions.

So trusting of this temporary sun, I have been stupid. Wish me luck.