An art piece “Palimpsest” is part of the digital exhibit on immigration at the Wing Luke Museum. The collages are an exploration of dislocation as an embodied experience for immigrants and children of immigrants: the distance between past and future, the relationship between body and landscape, and the simultaneous erasure and rewriting of histories.
And one of my “Letters to Mao” is in the latest beautifully designed issue of Ninth Letter. Other poems in the series (in Mid-American Review & Web Conjunctions) can be read here.
joshua tree national park; secret gardens
July 2014: desert birthday
And more, more notes on bewilderment:
“To engage repeatedly with those patches of darkness, those nights of history, those places of unknowing”
“The language of nuance and ambiguity and speculation”
“While there are many Woolfs, mine has been a Virgil guiding me through the uses of wandering, getting lost, anonymity, immersion, uncertainty, and the unknown”
“In To the Lighthouse, Woolf wrote: ‘For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself… To be silent; to be alone… Her horizon seemed to her limitless.’”
For example: “Class struggle” is codified differently within particular historical/cultural contexts. In China, or among those who left (escaped) during the Cultural Revolution, it means Mao and the Red Guards, a corrupt government, a widespread trauma. As a child, “Communism” was only ever a terrible Evil, and it was a surprise when I got to college and examined the ideas of Marxism/Socialism; I had to re-contextualize these.
Related or unrelated, “democracy” must mean something different to Hong Kong than it does to the West. Or it is undoubtedly shaped by the West, but what does it represent exactly to Hongkongers? How does it manifest?
[Oct 28]: Or how “democracy” and “propaganda” are codified on the Mainland: Guernica: Interview with Evan Osnos. The ability to have a voice is a moral imperative, but beginning with my Fulbright year I’ve wondered about how our Western conception of “democracy” has become its own specific categorical good, moral right, that one takes at face value rather than as a culturally nuanced ideology.
Happy mooncake day! Mine was spent on a national seashore in a tent.
“It has something to do with preserving life’s mystery; with leaving certain things undescribed, unspecified, and unknown; with savoring certain emotions… It depends on an intensified sense of life’s preciousness and fragility”
“Each of us has a certain resolute innerness—a kernel of selfhood that we can’t share with others… There can be something enjoyable, even revelatory about that feeling of self-protection, which is why we seek out circumstances in which we can feel more acutely the contrast between the outside world and our inner selves”
“By learning to leave your inner life alone, you learn to cultivate and appreciate it… And you gain another, strangely spiritual power: the power to regard yourself abstractly. Instead of getting lost in the details of your life, you hold onto the feelings, the patterns, the tones” [On Virginia Woolf & Privacy]
Perhaps that is the allure of lyricism, even when essaying (“to balance our need to be known with our need to be alone”). There is a compulsion toward truth and the articulation of truths, but there is also a compulsion toward opacity, shadows, white space.
in the meantime
There was Taiwan, and there was the desert, and there was hermiting and home-tending, and thoughts on sacred spaces of solitude, of leaving things unarticulated.