The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Month: July, 2013

Blame it on the Aracuan

Sometimes, I make myself so busy with my own projects during this period of unemployment that I wonder what it is all for.

busy (1)I’m just trying to get to the end where I hope there is no Aracuan bird to derail my efforts to delude myself that this is all worth it.


Keep your chin up, little bird. There will be more nests to build.


[edit] I decided to turn the above gif into a “Thanks, Obama!” gif, because it seems like the right thing to do.



Whatever was that?

Last night, I attended the premiere of internet TV series, Whatever This is. The creators of this series previously made The Outs, which  fairly enjoyed. The event was well-attended and that floor was packed with so many plaid, skinny, mostly-white, creative-industry-looking people that I actually raised an eyebrow the moment I stepped in. I’m not calling them hipsters, because I’m sure they probably are not; I’m making a fashion and demographic observation (honest!).

The show played, and… I felt a searing sense of loneliness and distancing from everyone else in the room. In my opinion, the episode was not particularly funny to me. I don’t laugh very easily at things, and even the original outs only had me smile a couple times, but never left me adequately-humoured. However, the room erupted into laughter at what I thought were some of the most banal moments. I wondered if I have had botox done to my face at point in the screening, because my face felt stiff from not emoting in response to the show.

Don’t get me wrong, the show had good writing, and seemed to have set itself up for a good story ahead, but I just did not find it particularly funny as the audience seem to have indicated from their response.

It seems as if the American public were pre-programmed to laugh and applause at stipulated moments in television. A funny point is not funny by being funny inherently, but becomes funny because the audience participates in recognising it as funny. “This is funny because I am laughing,” so as to speak, and not “I am laughing because this is funny.”

I feel like the audience expected the show to be funny, hence the laughter and the clapping. What if the director intended the show to be sombre, but directed it exactly the same, with the same one liners that painfully reveal our dreary existence, financial woes and personal insecurities that had led the audience gleeful? Would the director feel anguished, or would he approve?

But I digress. I stood, unmoving, unsmiling, watching the show, feeling painfully removed from everyone else’s mirth. And it’s not only this show — I’ve been to stand-up comedies and felt exactly the same thing. Comic says something really ordinary, but at moments where it seems primed to harvest laughter, and the audience delivers.

I had definitely spent such shows paying attention to the audience more than I did the show. I wouldn’t know which parts of the show was funny otherwise.

Eventually the screening of the first episode of Whatever This Is ended, and everyone clapped and cheered, especially hard so at  certain lines in the credits (were half the audience cast and crew members?). I clapped because everyone else did, but I’m not sure if I’ve made the premiere a success because I clapped or that I was clapping because the premiere was a success.

I am mesmerised

This is quite everything I’ve wanted in a video: unicycles, video games, and music.

Also, I’m working on making an illustration for a short story I once wrote. It’s taking a lot longer than I expected.

A Pinch of Me


The Daily Post at posted a weekly writing challenge, titled A Pinch of Me. There, they asked bloggers to write a recipe that described who they are.

However, I think recipes are too boring (even though I cook a lot) and decided to come up with something geekier: a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet!

I generated my D&D stats with this site: What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus.

It was fun time-waster, doing this. When I play table-top, I seldom follow official rules, and I had to look up some of the terms and stats a little while making this.

Vegetable Rhythm

I have no idea why I’m so addicted to watching this, but this is べジタリズム (bejita-rizumu/Vegetable Rhythm) performed by TEMPURA KIDZ. The song was commissioned by national broadcasting channel, NHK, for a children’s show, Minna no Uta. The song is meant to promote eating vegetables, which is also what the song is about, and that explains why the kids are dressed with vegetable headdresses.

One of the four dancers is a boy! It’s the purple one, whose stage name is P-Chan.

But seriously they’re all really good dancers. I was looking at their footwork and hands, and the gestures and movements are all very clean, crisp and well-executed.

This is going to stick in my head for a while.

The inevitability of translating poems

There will always come a point where poetry written in one language cannot be accurately translated into another, because of the very nature of the language itself. It is often cited that certain words in certain languages have such precise meanings that they usually cannot be translated into English. Common examples are ‘schadenfreude’ in German and ‘wabi-sabi’ in Japanese.

But a much simpler reason some poetry cannot be easily translated is simply for its puns, stress, rhyme or rhythm. A Czech person once told me in English, “I was smashed on concrete too much last night,” and that actually turned out to be a pun. In Czech, concrete is ‘beton,’ but it is also the name of a mixed drink ‘beton,’ which is short for ‘becherovka’ and tonic water. So simply saying you were smashed on concrete in English slightly takes away the meaning of the pun.

Such shortcomings become a lot more apparent in Chinese and Japanese, when many words share the same sound, and are only truly differentiated by context and the characters used.

Listen with your heart, walk with your heart/Listen carefully, walk carefully

Listen, and only hear the sound of the heart beating
beating for past regrets
beating for present doubts
beating for everything in the future
but when all’s said and done
there are goods and bads
and this chapter
will end
I can only ignore the sound of the heart beating
headed for an uncertain journey
headed forward

This was something I wrote that I found hard to translate, especially when the words were rife with double meanings. The title 用心听,用心走 means two things at once, depending on how you bind the words. “用心” as a compound means to be careful, but as a verb-noun construction means to use your heart.

Regrets, doubts and everything (遗憾,疑问,一切) are three different words, but they all share a fundamental sound of ‘yi’ at the beginning, creating a repeating rhythm and linking all three concepts to a basic fundamental. That is untranslatable in English.

The cadence of the past, present and future is also untranslatable. The structure used was “For the past’s regrets, it jumps/ For the present’s doubts, it jumps/ For the future’s everything, it jumps” where the heart “beating” and “jumping” use the same characters.

The line of ‘There are goods and bads’ is actually a proverb which literally means “A foot is as long as it is, an inch is as short as it is,” and a part of that section of the poem was written in four syllables per line, which cannot be adhered to in English.

Le regard neuf de l’enfant sauve même les trottoirs de l’usure

enfantThe fresh perspectives of a child will save even the sidewalk from attrition — Romain Gary

I learnt this phrase from a friend from France who turned up at my weekly circus. We talked about haiku and I mentioned about the naive perspectives of children being one of the most beautiful things about it, and he told me about this quote. I found it poignant and decide to illustrate it.

Every day I wake up less and less sure of myself — I open my email inbox with my breath held, expecting to be disappointed. Expectations were met. No response from any of the jobs I have applied at.

Every time I write I become less and less sure of my ability — I used to think that being capable got you places, and I was sure that I was pretty capable. Now am I less confident that that is the case, or that maybe I’m not that capable after all.

And then I realise that perhaps what I need is a fresh perspective to stop this attrition of the self and of the mind. I left college with a font of hope and optimism, and thought that sufficient to last me till I transition into the next phase of my life; where I start working. I guess I did not consider that this transition might take longer than I expected, and hoping to merely brave this foray with what I had would not be sufficient.

I will need to renew my view on how I take each day that does not bring me the news I so fervently wish.

Illusory Flowers

hana&chouI don’t know how to paint. I just hack away with pencil and brush and call it ‘fauvism’. I never took art classes, learnt how to correctly apply shades and lighting to colours. In the end, I just lighten where I think light should be and darken where I think darkness should be.

I made this painting (acrylic on canvas) a while ago, with an aim to create beauty from my mind. I think of the two most beautiful things in my head: butterflies and flowers.

There is beauty in budding, blooming, and withering. The idea of growth, blossom and death fascinates me, and perhaps in part inspired by the lyrics of one of my favourite songs.

狂い咲き命を燃やす 揺れながら
The life that blooms off-season burns as it trembles

You are dreaming

この世界は美しいと この胸に
This is world is beautiful  in my heart

It is surely blooming

True, the lyrics don’t make much sense, but the beauty of the image in which they conjure is something I’ve enjoyed for a long time, and it has helped me see beauty in many things, because things are surely blooming. It’s been a source of optimism for me, to see beauty amidst blight. Even if things are ugly on the outside, you can always count on the world to be beautiful in your heart.

Waking dreams

It is often said that dreams are manifestations of the subconscious; I find that very plausible. As if spending every waking moment being reminded that I have yet to find a job is not enough, I am dreaming about them in my sleep too.

I have always had the ability to remember my dreams pretty well, though I am not sure that’s a gift.

I am back in Singapore, but instead of returning to my parents’ home, I go to my grandmother’s. “You’re back,” she says, happy to see me return, and I said, “Yea, but I will have to go back soon.”

“You should call your parents and let them know,” she says.

“Ok, I will do that later.”

And then I procrastinated by going grocery shopping. Being back home, I need not scrimp and save when it came to shopping to feed myself. I did not have to forgo buying meat because it was a tad expensive, I did not have to buy the hardiest vegetables and produce so that they last in the fridge the longest. I could sense the temptation to just embrace this purchasing-power-freedom.

I made it home, and then I called my mother’s mobile phone, instead of my father’s, but a bad connection forced me to call the house’s landline instead.

“Mom, I’m back.”

“That’s great. When did you return?”

“Earlier this morning,” I lied; in the dream I returned last night. “I’m at grandma’s now.”

“Ok, will you come over for dinner later tonight?”

“Yea, sure.”

“How were things in the States? How was the flight?”

“Er, we’ll talk more when I go over. See ya later.”


I could sense that my father was there in that room when I was talking, and it was an uneasy feeling.

The dream ended, I never got to go over to meet my parents for dinner. Maybe I didn’t want to.

Write less, say more

I’m not a big fan of long poetry. I admire people who do write them, and sometimes there are some that catch my eye, but for the most part I like my poems clean, smart and above all, short.

There is something beautiful about making the most out of scarcity. As I see it, we are born into this world and we are bounded by the limitations of our resources and our bodies. But yet we can achieve so much with so little.

I’ve once read that Coleridge once said that in a poem every word counts, but Poe went one further and said that not does every word count, but the position of each word counts too. Applying frugality to word choices makes one more aware of the effect of each word used.

How long is too long? Long enough to drive home what you need to say. Anything else that merely shows off the skill of a writer can almost be considered masturbatory. While it is hard to create the perfect rhyme to agree with meter and image, etc., it is a lot harder to convey a message with a paucity of words.

The words unsaid are the ones that
ring loudest.
Unfettered by noise,
they sing directly to the heart.

The images unseen are the ones that
are sharpest.
Neither myopia nor senescence
will diminish visions viewed by the  mind.