26 thoughts before turning 26 -8. Euphemism

 In writing this entry, I suddenly realise that I’d never be making it to 26 thoughts before turning 26, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters, like I said before, which is an indication of getting older. And that’s it.

I was watching Closer, the movie starring Natalie, and in an early scene, the protagonists were talking about euphemism in obituaries: “He was a convivial fellow, meaning he was an alcoholic; He valued his privacy – gay; He enjoyed his privacy – raging queen” “What would my euphemism be?” “She was disarming.” It invokes what Susan Sontag said in an interview, and I paraphrase it: I want to collapse everything in the past. I suddenly came to understand how hopelessly valuable it might be if one dies a nobody, with no distortion of any single moment of this life, which could never be possible unless everything is erase or demolished. Traces are already distortions, like memories are already desires.

26 thoughts before turning 26 – 7. Solitude

“Why do precisely these objects which we behold make a world?”

Henry David Thoreau: Walden 

Well … here comes the question: What is this “we”? Who is the “we” referring to? Plural forms often indicate company, but aren’t people still isolated when they are seemingly perfectly accompanied, attached with each other? Solitude is the permanent, if not perfect, form of existence. And in a way, death is the best approach in maintaining solitude.  

26 thoughts before turning 26 – 6. 30*30 Grid

If one could live up to 75 years old, which is quite long (I never imagined I could life that long … ), it’s just 900 month (I know the statement means nothings … ) Then a single pieces of paper with a 30*30 grid might outline a person’s whole life. I was a bit shocked when I first heard about this. I intended to outline my life to see how many little squares have already escaped my grip in this life, but I didn’t. It might be that I didn’t have the courage to do that, let alone I really don’t think I could make my life this long. Anyhow, I was aware a great part of it could have been coloured grey if I use it to indicate the past. As the time comes when I turn 26, another of them will be joining the coloured range. The grids of different people might coincide at certain stage in their lives, never completely overlap though, which correspond to the time they spend together. I should be grateful for all those people who happen to share part of my life grid – all such experience adds up to the most distinctive “moments of being” in life. They are not necessarily happy, but mostly memorable. I, too, share others’ grids. I would be happy if I could slightly add to their happiness, which rarely happens, but for people to whom I’ve brought trouble, I wish I could eventually make up for the mistakes. And if impossible, I wish I might be forgiven. Except for extreme cases, I don’t think people would hurt each other on purpose, and if it accidentally happens, please … forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive … …

26 thoughts before turning 26 – 5. Desire

“Finally he comes to Isidora, a city where the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters a third, where cockfights degenerate into bloody brawls among the bettors. He was thinking of all these things when he desired a city. Isidora, therefore, is the city of his dreams: with one difference. The dreamed-of city contained him as a young man; he arrives at Isidora in his old age. In the square there is the wall where the old men sit and watch the young go by; he is seated in a row with them. Desires are already memories.” (Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities)

So Isidora is my favourite one among the 55 cities in Calvino’s Invisible Cities – it’s a projection of desire (the word itself is desirable), and “desire are already memories”. Thus desire we could not have, if we really want to eliminate the past, otherwise it would be cheating, not on anybody else but ourselves. But I doubt it that it’s really possible, for everything turns into memories and eventually obliterates themselves. And even in their existence, memories are not the past themselves – they are projections of human desires, or desires of the past. The real past only realises itself in the absence of the desire, hence the death of whoever projects that desire – in a way, a kind of Hegelian murder.

“Desires are already memories.”

And what’s so fantastic about Invisible Cities, thus marvellous of Calvino, is that … None of these cities is real, and thus wonderful, as if life itself.

26 thoughts before turning 26 – 4. Beauty


Virginia Woolf writes in Jacob’s Room, beauty and stupidity go hand in hand with each other. In that case, how I wish I could be stupid, more and more stupid for the rest of my life. I’m aware that I’m pretty shallow, but I didn’t expect it’s gone to a even higher level, without my consciousness before. Then I said silently to myself, I wish for beauty; I wish for beauty; I wish for beauty. Then I realised yes, I am extremely shallow, but I’m pretty okay with it and I do wish for beauty, maybe more than anything else at this moment. For I feel beauty to be more real than anything else in this world, at least I could perceive it the moment I stand in front the mirror. Well, that might be an illusion. In that case, I wish I could indulge myself in that illusion forever. The most ridiculous saying I’ve ever heard regarding beauty is that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, which might be most deceptive consolation. Nobody, I believe seeks for the kind of beauty to satisfy a single person, let alone even that single person might not exist at all. I have to clarify here that all I’m talking about is physical beauty, not including everything people tend to embrace such as moral virtues and intelligence. I’ve been refuted for so many times with people coming up with the same example: Do you consider a person beautiful if s/he is incredibly wicked/ evil/ amoral … ? So … let me propose a question in return: Does physical beauty prevent people from gaining other virtues? After all, all I’ve been talking about is that I embrace physical beauty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to discard everything else in the mean time. And from my shallow perspective, those who say that they don’t care about physical beauty at all, they are either extremely beautiful – which means that they don’t have to care – or they are merely lying. Then if beauty and stupid really go hand in hand with each other, people ask, do you really wish to be more and more stupid in exchange for beauty? Hmm … Well … I might appear to be like Dory in Wilde’s play – who sells his soul in exchange for maintaining young – if I say yes. However, that’s still extremely attractive to me … Let me see … …

26 thoughts before turning 26 – 3. Circle

I don’t know how pathetic, or how miserable I might seem to be nowadays, but people in the college start to give me clothes. Seriously – gloves, thermo-wears, hats … I was like oh my god, am I really looking that bad? What is happening here? They said to me, Eileen, you don’t have enough clothes, I bring mine for you … Well, I think I should stop advocating the theory of using will power to control the weather. Then when I thought about my phone, which was dead forever and I barely have any communication with anyone, I realised maybe … I did appear to be a bit pathetic recently … but this is not the fact. I mean none of these things matters. Nothing matters.

Never the less, I feel really blessed in the college. I’m perfectly aware that I’m not likeable and a bit weird, but there still are many people who care about me. I can never thank them enough and there’s nothing I could do to return their favours. I don’t really enjoy the sense of circle, because I know people will depart, and this is more true in the college than anywhere else. “People always exchange numbers, addresses … they end up writing once, calling each other once or twice … ” I don’t like that, so I gradually come to realise that detachment might be the best solution to maintain perfect relationships with others. After all, why should people think relationships should last forever?

Maybe I was wrong, or not. Or there’s no such distinction, for everything ends up distorted when it goes to extremes. I wish I won’t, or become aware of it as soon as I do … within this foreseeable life.

“At this moment in history, everything withers in a day; whoever lives too long dies alive.”