Friday, May 29, 2009

A good sex act

I want to send someone an email, a message, something written, about our sex act. It was good. It was satisfying. I want to say, “That was good sex.” Good sex like masturbation after 9 months of pregnancy and another 3 months of postpartum healing. I’ve often heard mom talk about those women who did not, because they could not?, leave an abusive husband, a horrible relationship, because they “love men,” meaning, they love that thing about men. And always in disgust. But I wonder, good sex really does make a difference. And if you experience good sex with the man you’re with, then perhaps the relationship is worth saving. At the very least, you know that, at least in one aspect, he puts your pleasure first, or at least, he knows your body enough to make you come. You can't really give a woman good sex unless you know her body and what it needs. All these feminists (I am among them), all these talks about masturbation as liberation. I don’t see it. Can’t feel it. Personally, I find autoeroticism to be sub par. Really. Not all that it’s cracked out to be. Having another person touching you is so much more erotic than you touching yourself. You get wetter, come harder and longer, and in the end, much more satisfied. The only time I've been completely satisfied with work done by my own hands was in that long afternoon shower 3 months after Mary was born. I was ready to be sexual again, my body had almost healed itself and it had enough of the right hormones for me to have a libido, but not so much that I wanted intercourse. My body hadn't completely gotten over the shock of a 7 lbs baby pushing through my vagina, and it really didn't want anything coming in or out of there at the moment. So masturbation was the best recourse, and it was very good. It was perfect, just what I needed.

It took me a long long time to accept masturbation, and accept that it was okay to masturbate, that it was normal human behavior. I grew up thinking it was a sin, a great great sin that wasn't even religious, it was just bad, and dirty, a bad and dirty thing for a little girl to be doing. But it was the only way I knew to get to know my body, to come into my own. When did it begin? I don't remember. I just remember it was early. Even before I started menstruating. My menses began when I was 12 I think, or maybe 13, when I was in 7th grade. But I remember masturbating when I was in Vietnam. Maybe 7 or 8? Maybe 9. Or 10 I think. I don't know how it all began. Maybe I just woke up one day and decided to masturbate. Or maybe seeing the neighbor looking at nude pictures of women with another younger neighbor (they were both trying to shoo me away but I was incredibly curious and had to peek as I walked by them and saw those voluptuous white women with their full, perky breasts. They must have been from the 60s. None of the adults were home that afternoon; the younger neighbor was supposed to be watching us. I wonder if they ever did sleep with each other.) Or maybe it began afterwards, after I was molested (what's the difference between being molested and being raped?). My goodness, to use that word now, it sounds so strange. I have such a vague memory of this word, funny, such a vague memory for something that haunted me for so so long. Maybe later we can talk about it. I can't do it now. Not now. Not because it's hard to do. Not at all. It's actually quite an easy topic. I can talk about it with a great degree of ease now, after much struggle and fighting and horrible horrible fears, until finally, out of sheer exhaustion and out of time, pure time, because pains like this can't be cured by anyone or anything except time, just time, the memory just gave up and stopped h(a)unting me. I think it happened when I was eight. I say I think because I'm not sure. My Vietnam memories are time-less. They're all mixed up in one big collage I label childhood. What came before and what was after have shapeshifted until I can no longer recognize which is which, until they all peer out at me from a single window, and when I call one, they all show their gaunt faces. But, yes, like I said, later, later we'll talk about it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A book and a book

Suddenly had the urge to read, so here they are:

"Disquiet" by Julia Leigh. A haunting, lyrical novella about love and lost, snap shots into womanhood, motherhood, and yearning. A woman takes her two children to her estranged mother's chateau in rural France, seeking refuge from her abusive husband. Her brother and his wife are also there, for what would have been a baptism and baby welcoming party but what turned out to be a preparation for a funeral. As she thinks and plans suicide, the brother's wife, mother of a dead baby girl, carries the bundled dead baby around and feeds it milk. During the night they place the baby's body in a wicker basket and puts it in the walk-in refrigerator. The woman's children, meanwhile, scheme to runaway to get back to their father. They finally get on a canoe and paddle out to the middle of the lake, but there water begins to seep in, the paddle floats away, and both canoe and passengers begin to sink. When the woman sees her children drowning, she swims out, get the older one to help his sister to the shore, while she stays in the middle of the lake, contemplating drowning. The son, who previously hates his mother for taking them away from their father, swims back out to her and persuades her to swim to shore. All the meanwhile the sister in law stands on the shore and watches with the dead baby in her arms. After the incident, the woman decides to get the sister in law to finally bury the dead baby, and she finally acquiesce. The final scene is that of the baby's burial.

My thoughts: haunting, beautiful, lyrical, flows like Rio Negro, that blackwater river of the Amazon, bearing in its quiet currents all the ugly and grotesque possibilities of life. I LOVE IT!

The other book I just finished reading, and kind of wish I hadn't picked up:
"Esther's Inheritance," by the Hungarian writer Sandor Marai. Hate it. Can't get my head around it. Don't like anything about it. It's a story about Esther and her love of a perpetual liar, Lajos, who lies to and robs everybody because he is so disarmingly charming and wields a certain unexplanable power over the spirits of those with whom he comes to contact. So he lies and cheats and robs her, then disappears, then twenty years later suddenly announces that he's coming back. And he comes back, carries fake gifts for everyone, and in a pedantic diatribe about love and life, and in a theatrically over done manner, manages to convince
Esther that she has to sign over the house to him, her last and remaining source of life. Why does she do this? In every single page, she acknowledges that she sees through him and his lies. She even tells him so herself. Yet at the same time whenever she describes his "charm", she uses words like "(super)natural," "magical," "unexplanable," and "spell." As if her love is like a spell that cannot be broken, that her love for this liar and scoundrel has somehow become its own animal and has taken on a life outside of her control. So she succumbs, and signs the house over to him, all the while knowing that she is being conned! As she explains it, "...that Lajos was right in saying that there is a kind of invisible order in life and that what one has begun one has also to end..." When her friend, a man who had previously saved her by saving the house (her savior, no less), the one representing sense and logic and reason (a man--did I point that out already?), tries to stop her, she says, "I think only a woman could really understand this, the kind of woman who is no longer young and no longer expects anything from life..." I have so many problems with this sentence, this book, I don't even know where to begin. I know a woman like Esther, and she was married for many years to man like Lajos. He lied to her, cheated her, and cheated on her. But she stayed with him, loved and worked for him, because of the very reason Esther mentions: because she was "no longer young and no longer expects anything from life." She surrendered to that sick abjection. Until she decided she's had enough, and kicked him out of the house, back to where he came from. From what I hear, he went on to fool other women, even married one, but she became stronger, stopped thinking that she needed to man to be happy, and now she's very happy. So she, a woman no longer young and seemingly no longer expecting anything from life, does expect something for and from herself after all.

It's so interesting how the two works can differ so much in their presentations of the possible solutions/escapes of abuse. "Disquiet" gives two possible choices: suicide, or life. Here, the abused woman chose life, even when she is surrounded and confronted by death. In the end, let death be buried, where it belongs. "Esther's Inheritance," on the other hand, offers not a choice but a surrender. It is as if this love, which she has never had any control over, of this man who continually takes and takes and takes is a genetic condition, incurable, in-operable, and which has somehow become her bones, her blood, until she no longer knows what to do except to give in. And that's all she does, resignation. That is her "inheritance," a slow dwindling of the self until there is nothing left, everything is carried away or auctioned off, or waiting to be sold. She doesn't fight, neither for death or life. It's as if she's in perpetual limbo, without any will or even breath, just waiting until the day when she will be nothing.

Perhaps the difference is because one is a woman writing, and the other is a man writing what he thinks a woman would write.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We are

This morning we walked into the sea,
To catch a conch and listen to its wailings.
Instead we find lost thoughts, caught wandering
above the waves, momentary notes of colors,
voices vibrating from darkened corners, fish hooked and salted
in mid air.
Self hatred unravel our thoughts into stretches of
clear daylight,
sensoried bodies gasping at each sand grain.

We stop to puzzle at the fossils under our feet.
For so long we've hated our selves,
burned and buried in our mothers' graves, yet
find in their places voices
to speak of ourselves, wanting.

Today’s ecstasy comes like the blazing dawn,
Loud silence throbbing across the horizon
and we are satisfactied.
We've finished each our share of the act.
We've calmed those nauseating urges
of petrified inspiration.

Suddenly it makes sense:
we are listening to desperate desire
and semblance of womanhood.

The new next door neighbor

Sightless eyes,
Could not see fire in curried squash.
(The knife I sharpened, pressed against her chubby
She wants to sneak into me
Hiding questions
In armpits.)
Perhaps she’s been gossiping with old Shadow. Stupid
There’s not
Just wine colored drapes,
Locks of hair at night;
You also have coffee shops, afternoon weedings, and
contorted hats on a chair.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reverie, part 5, I made love and loved my body after

I'll go back to that stone body, the body that taught me to see mine. It was perfection. Like the stone Greek gods. He had just come back from two years abroad in China. I knew him a while back in a study abroad program, and we have flirted with the idea but kept missing each other. I remember he came to Berkeley to visit me once, stayed for a night and left in the morning. We didn’t even bother to do coffee. This second time around, my attraction to him surprised me. He turned the corner and I saw, with a gasp caught hidden in my throat, how much softness he has gained. The lines and bulk of his body that came from years and years of weight lifting and constant muscle toning had been muted. His face was some how softer. His body leaner, smaller, more touchable. I knew the moment I recognized this new softness that we would have sex. We went out for dinner, laughed, and for the first time since I knew him, I laughed and was happy and freely laughing. He had worked hard enough for it; he deserved it. We went back to his house that night, and for the first time, I took off my clothes without reservation. This surprised me too, why I wasn’t worried about my fat belly as he pulled the sweater over my head. Or why I wasn’t wondering if he found my armpits hairy. Or why I wasn’t concerned about my teeth, or my willy hair, or why I stopped trying to remember if I had remembered to shampoo and condition my wiry patch of hair. None of it mattered. Suddenly I was confident and sure of my body. I was sure it was beautiful and desirable, and I acted like I had known this all my life, and I think, this knowledge made it true. As I laid on the bed looking up, I couldn’t see his face, didn’t bother to see his face. I could only see his body, the masculine body that had somehow softened for me, the body that I never thought would be possible before to touch in nakedness. What was it? It felt good. It felt so good. I touched him as if my hands could see. They did. They did the looking, the seeing, the opening. It was as if my hands were touching a body for the first time, and for this first time I could actually feel a body. He couldn’t get me to come. He didn’t know how. I didn’t tell him, because it didn’t matter if I came or not, I didn’t care. To feel my body seducing, it was better than coming. I would continue on to have wonderful, ecstatic, bleeding, kneading sex, but never like that again. Never with a newness and wonder that only non-virgins can know. Because, I think, it wasn’t about him or what his body was or could do. It wasn’t even about me. It was about my body. I had found my beautiful body through his. His body did not cause this discovery of course. Something had already happened before he came, I was already somehow open to accept my body, all of it. But he did help me feel it and experience it. And it was so gloriously physical.

He tried very hard to get me to come, but I didn’t. He couldn’t have known that I don’t come from intercourse. I don’t. I’ve faked orgasms from penile penetration many times. Not once have I come from being penetrated. Once, I lied, and pretended to be pleasantly surprised, and told the one whom I called the prior-him, prior to me finding a sexual body, prior to me coming into my body and myself. What a surprise, I said, I just reached orgasm from penetration, your penetration. He scoffed. He said, so, you buy into that Freudian shenanigan about orgasms too? He didn’t know my enthusiasm was a fake. He didn’t know my orgasm had actually come from the inadvertent stroking of my clit, from my being on top. He knew so much about feminism (he was an intelligent man who distinguished between being intelligent, which he considered himself to be, and bright, which he considered others to be; he was a youngest born Jew, knew several languages, had traveled to different parts of the world by the time he was 20, and by the time he was 25 had over fifty thousand dollars in his savings account and could remember the names of all his lovers, one for each year of his birthday.) So he knew a lot, but didn’t now anything about me. I continued to fake orgasms with him, because I still needed to feel loved and was unwilling for so long to give up on a possibility that I was. Whenever we had sex (I am careful not to call it making love), he would enter, come, and fall asleep. After he had fallen asleep, I would lay there awake, disturbed and bothered, until I had to quietly masturbate to quell the disturbance (because when I was young and full of youth, every sex act required a physical orgasm, without it sex just didn't feel right) and that would suffice. but the need to achieve orgasm during sex went away, disappeared with my disappointment. It went into a balloon and floated away. It was as if his mentioning of Freud, or the Freudian model of female sexuality, or maybe it was his arrogant dismissal of the Freudian model of female sexuality, or perhaps it was my sense of injustice for not being able to set the record straight (about the true cause of my orgasm or about Freud?) because I had already started the lie and didn't want him to catch my lie, had trickled cold water over my libido and it was turning my sexuality rigid. I didn’t need to come after that, and wasn’t bothered when I didn’t. I just stopped caring about it. That’s when I started healing, I think, and withdrew myself from him. As I withdrew my need, I slowly gained strength until one day, I no longer needed him. One day I just took all my things that left that place. I didn’t care who he slept with when he wasn’t with me. It didn’t bother me to see him kissing others on campus or holding someone else’s hands in the café. I ran into him one afternoon, a few days afterwards in the elevator with a new girlfriend. We said hello, I got off, and found myself feeling happy. Happy because he wasn’t a part of me anymore, because I could walk and run with a light heart again. My girls, my crazy cat and mum, tried to get me to detach myself long long before, when they first saw him and instinctively knew that he had no love for me. But I didn’t care. I gave and gave and gave so much that I got used to it, I just adjusted my intelligence to accommodate for the obvious: I told myself, I did not need him to give me love, because it was not about me receiving love but about me loving. That, I told myself, was most important: me loving. I needed to love, and didn’t need to be loved. He, who always needs to be loved, just not by me, could recognize it. Like finding money on the street, he picked it up and stuffed it in his pocket. Money for coffee later.

It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s in the past, and we will leave it there. Let us get back to a much happier story. A much more important story. So we had a long night of sex. I didn’t come, but that was ok. Sex is not always about coming. I finally told him, that’s ok, I don’t have to come, and in response he heaved a sigh of exasperation, mumbled an apology, and somewhere, I think, I also heard a sigh of relief. He helped me get dressed—buttoned my shirt, straightened my sweater, put on my socks, and in the kitchen made us each a cup of tea.
I still carry the memory of his body with me. I carry it hidden deep, like seashells buried in the sand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reverie, part 4

I had been dreaming about bodies. I had been fantasizing about bodies. Women’s bodies. Their bodies, on their beds at night while I, their appendix before the operation (the operation will never happen), lay covered on their carpeted floor, with all the blankets in the world, listening to the sounds of trains passing over our heads while waiting for those sonorous moments when night noises would be broken by kisses that couldn't be stopped; they vibrated across the room to where I lay, waiting with dread and anticipation for their kisses (their skin pushing against each other) to reach my flesh like the night train’s whistle across the hills. Who were they? I was going to call them Gertrude and Alice, but their names are Crazy Cat and Mum. At least that’s what they called themselves when they make love. They were two of a trio. I was the third. They were two women with soft swellings; their love making was a collection of guttural and vocal signs sliding over each other; their bodies did not flab against one another. We used to share the bed together, three of us. Now I occasionally still sleep there, but only when they are not there. It was their finding their bodies for each other that gave me my body’s femininity; I became conscious of the existence of my woman’s body; I began to desire a woman’s body. But I did not know that I could desire a woman’s body. At first, the femininity of their sex overwhelmed me, only the more I am overwhelmed the deeper I delved. I could not run from them, just as I could not run from my body or my voice. I thought I desired their bodies, both the one that came before and the one that came after. Even their bodies together, in front of me. All of this prepared me for the experience of his body, which was not the first body I touch but it was the first body I felt through. Strangely, it was also a hypermasculine body, chiseled and hard, with the face of stone. I have never liked masculine bodies, let alone flesh of stone, but perhaps I had never experienced the body in itself for me before. Prior to him, bodies always existed to be in the world. When I touch, I always touch the being of that body and not it. Why wasn’t I ready to experience the isolation of a body in its sexuality before him? Perhaps because just before his arrival I had been broken by a masculine being inside a feminine male body (my heterosexuality was always based on the other’s femininity). With this prior-him, it was too much being (man) and no attention to the body—my body and his body, to the femininity that is embodied in both. Sex was just opening and entering, coming and leaving. Because he was so wrapped in his own being that I couldn’t touch any of him except his body, and even his body resisted me, because what good is a body if the being is not in it? How could I touch his body when what I wanted from him was not it? I had always made love to a man’s body, had only known a man’s body, but I had never like men’s bodies, their hardness, their genitals. I find the sight of it repulsive—men in boxer shorts; men in speedos, with their penises bulging as if it was a prize (which was not won), strutting in a manner that even goats would think it’s overdone. But let us go back to the stone body, in a little while.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I would imagine

It seems I've stumbled upon a new friend, and I being the very wayward person that I am, already think about the possibility of an affair (isn't there always that possibility with every friend that you make?). I imagine one of these days, when I go there to do research for my thesis, I'd give him a call, we'd meet up for coffee somewhere, and when we meet, I imagine we would have a certain unspoken and undeniable attraction for each other. It probably won't be a physical attraction --I know myself, I hardly can do physical attraction, and besides, I don't up keep my body enough for a likely chance of a physical attraction. It'd probably be a likeness that somehow cannot be ignored and must be satisfied. A likeness that whines and gnaws at both of us until we acknowledge it and look at it in the face. We'd probably meet for coffee again, maybe even once more. Then, like Benjamin Button and his first affair, we'd just give up trying to deny our curiosity. By that time we'd be comfortable enough with each other that we would have finished our time of being coy and awkward. On that third or fourth meeting, we'd take each other to a hotel, and on the way there we'd be talking about something serious and but uncomplicated, because while we've made up our minds about sleeping with each other, there's still a certain sense of nervousness, perhaps from not ever having done anything like this before, or perhaps because while we try to think and act like we're mature adults of the books we both ferociously read, deep down we're still kind of childish and worry about how the other would look at us when we're naked, maybe the other would find us unattractive when we've stripped down to our underwear, or maybe after we've stripped down our underwear, when we have totally and absolutely exposed ourselves (because it's very very hard to maintain any kind of facade of confidence and certainty when you're naked). We won't tell each other this childish worry, of course. We'd just come off as sure and confident by pretendig to talk seriously about something else trivial. When we arrive at the hotel room, we'd spend a few minutes chatting, probably, and then, who'd make the first move? Because it's my story, I probably should make the first move. I'd reach for his hand, pull him gently towards me, and we'd kiss. Once the first move's been made, it's much easier. Would I close my eyes? Probably not. For two reasons: a small disbelief that this new friend actually finds me attractive, because in my mind and in my eyes I am so plain, as plain as plain can be, and that I'm actually having an affair--it's hard to imagine it, I'm so used to the idea of loyalty, of monogamy, of staying true to your husband. But this new friend is so intelligent, so smart and funny with words. He could say and write things that I can only think but don't have the language to express. If my mother has given me my language of life and intimacy, he gives me the language of knowledge, of ideas, of the possibility for a transnational and translational world I love and adore and desire. This is a desire to be outside of myself. This is also a desire, buried in the subconscious that sometimes surface, a wish of a different life, one that does not involve husbands or children or family. One where I can be myself by myself for myself. (Haven't all housewives desired this one way or another?).

After we've made love, he'd drift off to sleep, while I'd be awake because I don't want to sleep (in fact, what I'd probably be wanting is a cigarette, even though I don't smoke anymore and am actually against cigarettes). I'd look at him sleeping on the bed, and think about whether or not he's as handsome as some have said about him. He's young, and talented (he's my age and speaks several languages). He's kind of nerdy, and thin, which makes him all the more attractive. He probably has a girlfriend, and loves her very much (they're perfect for each other, the power couple), which is fine and wonderful because I don't plan on making any more of this affair than an evening of love making. I don't intend on loving him. I don't intend on leaving my husband--one is enough. I'd probably leave when he's still sleeping. I'd leave him to pay for the hotel, of course. That's just how things are done. Next time I'm in the area, we'd meet up for coffee again, and we'd make love in a hotel room again, and again I'd leave when he's sleeping. If he should ever meet my husband, I'd introduce him as my friend, of course. And while I say I don't intend on loving him, somehow, some part of me, does, in some way. He's like a little treasure I keep locked in my jewery box.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reverie, part 3?

(Tôi chả cần. Tôi đóng cửa, tự việc huyên thuyên một mình. Như vậy dễ chiệu hơn. )

I went to Au Coquelet to sit, but found that sitting was too static, so I took a long walk around downtown Berkeley. I could have bought another pair of pants, three other shirts, all the while thinking about her, and the boots that I would buy to complete my dress up for her, if she was with me, if I should run into her, if she was within my view or my arms. Whenever I manage to escape my body and throw myself towards her (which is not thinking about her but think her), I call her my Tamara, and she is not at all belonging to me but for a second I have her. She is my ideal; I make her my ideal.

I want to get away from the staticity of the body: Why should the body be so important? Is the body all that important? My body is not. My body is to me only a faculty with which I touch the body of an other. Any other. Her body, for example. But it is not my body that I want to get out of. I want to get out of my self, which is constituted in this body, this body that exists in the world’s reality. Perhaps what I want to get out of is the world reality of this body. I mean the situations that make up, that cut, that take from and give to this body. I mean the situations that give rise to this body and drain it. The situations controlling the being that is this body and not me. I am in search of an I that is not me. I’m looking for a way to get to that non-I which belongs to the I, a non-I that enchants the dreamer and which poets help us share. But I don’t want a non-I that is universal. I need the universal non-I which poetry lets me see, but I don’t want to be a being shared by all the dreamers. I am my own dreamer; my dreams are my own—I can’t get rid of that. Once I have seen this universal non-I, how do I get back to my own self with a non-I that is me?

But this body is one that is also…I was thinking…my discovery of a body that marks all the bodies after. I discovered the body’s flesh through a man’s body, but before that, before I could do that, I had to discover women’s bodies. But I couldn’t have been able to do this had I not known men’s bodies, living the heterosexuality that I had learned to identify myself with. I discovered his body beginning with a woman. Because of Helene, actually. I’ve been reading a little bit of Helene’s works. I read her, but they were not just words I was reading; they were also words I was hearing. It was as if she was speaking to me and me alone. Her reveries are cosmic reveries that opened the worlds to me. They helped me re-discover my voice. But first—first they were directions on how to reach a body, to reach it and through it reach the universe’s other. Was it before, or after his body had come to being for me?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reverie, part 2: In My Skin

I recognized my hell recorded by G.H. G.H. belongs to Clarice Lispector. The Passion According to G.H.—is the greatest disposition, a proliferation of reveries, each page continually opening itself to me and opens me. My emptiness learns that it is seeking vastness. My neutrality recognizes itself as need. The hellish fury in me is impatience for the moment to burst open. My waiting is full. These are her reveries; I have taken them for my own. But punishment for my self is also my forgetfulness. I keep forgetting the lessons I learn. I always have to relearn everything. Maybe that’s what Helene means when she tells of an ancient knowledge within herself that is invoked by another? Like the lessons I learn from Lispector, for example. I had learned it already with Pham Thi Hoai’s Crystal Messenger, then with Bachelard, and just yesterday, with Nguyen Khai: Vì hắn không có cá tính mạnh, không có bản sắc rõ ràng, chỉ là cái rỗng không nhưng cái rỗng không ấy lại có sức mạnh hút vào nó mọi màu sắc của cuộc sống mà chỉ một kẻ nhút nhát yếu đuối có nhiều khát vọng dang dở mới cảm nhận được. Because he doesn’t have a strong character or a personality, only an emptiness, but that emptiness has the ability to suck into itself all the colors of life, something that only a weak and spineless person with too many unrealized dreams is capable of doing. Nguyen Khai writes, through (and in) his writing, he searches for his ideal. He takes a part of a story he heard, some random person he meets on the street, a comrade’s mother or wife, and blindly feels their existence before taking them out of their reality and weave for them an entirely new universe from his imagination, where their newly spun selves become a part of him, with characteristics of his ideal self. A literary character is his different self and never his own self. A specie of humans in the dream world, not the real world, because his self in the real world is so bland and boring, he can’t possibly put into writing.

I must always take a break from the continuous singularity of time and space. To turn away, detour of some kind, slightly off a foot or half. It doesn’t matter. Those moments when I do not wait, when I decide to stop waiting. To decide, yes, that’s the juncture between one wait to the next. A reprieve.

Tonight’s reprieve is a circular and visual disappointment. I went to see The Machinist, hoping that a movie about obsessions and madness, in all its glorious clichés, will give me reprieve from my own. But no. I forgot that it is an American movie of madness. American movies of madness are often about the beauty of life, about going back to life, the human insistence on life. Such a life-driven force is banal at best. I don't know what I was hoping to see, but I remember In My Skin, a French movie written, directed, and starred by Marina de Van, in which the main character accidentally discovers an odd (morbid) taste (tsk tsk) for self-mutilation. This desire to self-mutilate gradually increases, resulting in more severe and extreme self-mutilations, leading finally to auto-cannibalism. It was disturbing to say the least, but it was somehow oddly familiar. I recognized that deeply not-normal (and yet so identifiable) obsession with one's body, first wanting to see inside it, to look at it from a distanced eye like it is not mine, and could understand why the film merges this twisted curiosity with desire and eroticism until the film climax, when reasons and explanations and judgments on her self-mutilations no longer matter, when what causes her to be like so and do like so and who sees her and won't understand why (she kept having to hide her self-mutilations as accidents, like when she purposely runs barefoot straight through a yard full of barbwires and other sharp objects). When the movie climax with its auto-erotic ending, when the movie is left to itself because we the viewers have stopped trying to make sense of the horror, we've given up on understanding it, when the movie is left to itself we see the character alone by herself in her hotel room. This is when her desire for her body has also reached its climax, and she must, must, must, be alone so she can finally finally do the absolute unthinkable: eat her own body. At that moment, in that space alone by herself, she no longer has to hide or pretend. She is no longer seen (by her own self, with judgments coming from the larger social more) as a victim or object of a psychological defect. The infliction, the sickness of which she is the object of, has become her own desire. She now owns her condition. She owns it, wants it, and needs it. It is this moment, when the object becomes subject, when sickness becomes desire, that victim becomes victor, and we, the eyes that watch and measure, are totally alienated from the experience. That's what makes the movie so good and so satisfying. It takes you to the edge and push you over. Not like The Machinist, that very American movie that takes you half way to the edge and leads you by hand back down the slope. Ending rất có hậu.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


(Beginning today. I promise myself must read and write some before sleep or after wake. More endless ramblings.) Here goes nothing.

Poetic reverie gives us the world of worlds. Poetic reverie is a cosmic reverie. It is an opening to a beautiful world, to beautiful worlds. It gives the I a non-I which belongs to the I: my non-I. It is this non-I which enchants the I of the dreamer and which poets can help us share. More importantly, for my “I-dreamer,” it is this “my non-I” which lets me live my secret of being in the world. (In my dream, am I not all the characters of my dreams?—Cixous) A banal desire to escape the banality of the banal self. What is not banal about this banality, is the desiring. Perhaps. To speak is to be out of one’s self. Speaking, one projects one’s self onto the other, or, to put one’s consciousness into the form of speech, spoken words, thrown outside of the body. I went to him with one question: how to go outside of my self. It doesn’t matter. I have never experienced astral travel or felt my spirit rising above my body, but I believe that it’s possible and was seeking from him an answer. He is a spiritual teacher. He shows people how to cure sicknesses inside the body with the heat generated from an outside body, his body, the healer’s body, or the body of a tree, because every form of body has heat and every body is a healer. We have been talking about the Way, Buddha’s Way, and the a-temporality of time. I didn’t want to talk about time any more. My existence up until then had been a long waiting, nothing but time, so I wanted to move on from it. I wanted to talk about space. I wanted to be in a different place. I asked him, how can I go outside of my self? He answered, Where were you? I have been here. That is, my body was there, in the living room of his house, with his body and the body of my father. But I? Where was I? I was there, I was, that is to say, I existed during those thirty minutes, and my body heard him and responded to him and asked him questions, but, where was I? I’m not sure. I was not in my body. I was not about my body. I was not with my body. I know, because otherwise I would have been clawing at it in my head. Otherwise I would have been cutting it and ripping the cut that I have made in it. Had I been my self in my body, I would have been in isolation, locked inside the epidermis, the muscles, the organs that have long been petrified; my body was sedimentation. I was …just…my voice. I was my voice and I was the questions and the replies and the laughs that came from these cavities inside my body. I wasn’t my body. What a great revelation it was! During moments when I want to escape from myself, because in my everyday responses and thoughts I leaked and gradually I have become an empty bottle bobbing on top of the sea’s currents. I leak because I am permeable. When all that is me has leaked outside of myself, I become empty and my permeability reduces itself until I harden into bounded vacuity. Then I am no longer open to leakages or filtrations. Then I am just bottled space. Substances inside my body…what’s left is dried up, their shells collapse into themselves. But this wasn’t really a revelation. It was just a re-learning of a lesson. I have learned this lesson before, because I am always seeking a vastness enough to contain the whole of my splittings and because I am always seeking this vastness in my splittings, I know what hell is. Splittings. Bachelard says splittings are good. To split a self is also to double a self. To split an already doubled self. Doubled because a self is a coupling of the animus and the anima. But what if the split within the self is not one that belongs to these two genii? What if splittings within the self is not between any two things but just splittings? And what if splittings are not good? What if splittings are undesirable? What if they torture, and they bring hell? There is always that. I record my splittings with extreme caution, because good and bad splittings are indistinguishable, and it is a difference between here and the asylum. Asylums seem to be a place of confinements, but are they? Coehlo doesn’t think so. In asylums his characters get to live outside of the world. They are free of worldly responsibilities and real life constraints. They are free in that house of madness. They get to be. They just have to be in there. So to be free, I have to give up my freedom? No, no thanks. I don’t want my madness to be doctored and ordered. I still want to be in the world. That’s my hell, I think. It’s very boring.

Nha` tho*`

Nhà thờ

Nhà thờ vào ngày thường im thin thít,
những dãy ghế và bệ quỳ lắng mình cầu nguyện,
Chúa Giêsu lặng lẽ giang đôi tay gãy
chờ đón các linh hồn đến xin Ngài cứu rỗi.

Chúa Giêsu ơi, Chúa thấy không những ngày thường.

Nhà thờ ơi, vào ngày thường ngươi thinh vắng,
bình an,
sao ngày Chúa Nhật để ngươi đầy sâu bọ.

Sâu bọ bò quanh gian Thánh,
Sâu bọ đứng trước gian Thánh
Sâu bọ cuối mình,
nhân danh Chúa trước gian Thánh.

Chúa Giêsu ơi, Chúa thấy không những sâu bọ.

Chúa vẫn im lặng đứng nhìn.
Ngôi lời ấy vẫn im lặng đứng nhìn.
Ngài lây nay vẫn hằng thương loài sâu bọ ấy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Khon nan oi!

Khốn nạn ơi!
(Cho mẹ của chồng)

đâu đây tôi thấy những linh hồn
đang rỉ sét.
khốn nạn ơi,
khốn nạn ơi,
mi sao không đi cứ lẩn quẩn bên tôi.

khốn nạn thay những trái tim không nguôi tức giận,
giữa khuya lại bùng nỗ vật vã, nhớ thương,
để tình yêu trở thành lời nguyền rủa,
như móng sắc
móc vào tai
vào mắt
vào họng nhau.

thôi, hãy quỳ xuống cầu xin Chúa
ban cho chúng ta tình yêu mới,
loại tình yêu không sở hữu,
vất vã làm đau nhau,
đến ngày cuối
còn có được nụ cười trên môi.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Drink tea and be well!

Patients with type 2 diabetes may possibly benefit from drinking a native concoction of Nigerian tea, as studies performed by the researchers from the University of Copenhagen show. From the Department for Medicinal Chemistry (what a wonderful department!), researchers conducted the study by following the blood glucose and fatty acids levels of 23 patients plus the placebo group; this is after they have tried the same treatment with type 2 diabetic mice. At the end of their study, researchers found that when a reduced fat diet is coupled with drinking 750mL of the Nigerian tea per day, there is a significant reduction in blood glucose levels and a rise in polyunsaturated fatty acids after four months of clinical trials. The exact mechanisms of how the tea works is not clear, but researchers surmise that the increased levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which make cell membranes more permeable, may help cells in the body absorb glucose better. The tea was concocted exactly as native healers do it: boil the leaves and young stalks of Rauvolfia vomitoria (also known as the swizzle plant) along with the fruits of Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) and filter the liquid. Extracts from the rauvolfia vomitoria plant are traditionally used for its herbal alkaloids to reduce blood pressure and treat certain mental illnesses, and bitter orange extract is often used as a stimulant and appetite suppressant in herbal drugs. While it would be much more helpful to know exactly how these two plant extracts work to help type 2 diabetic patients manage their glucose levels (this would also help to dispel any disbelief or cynicism regarding herbal medicines), this particular research finding does offer some hope for type 2 diabetic patients. And why not? If Western medicine cannot cure, it cannot dismiss other methods.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dan ong la giong khong-du

Đang cần tập trung ôn bài thi, nhưng leo lên đây để viết vài chử, hy vọng sẽ tập trung được tốt hơn.

Để xem, hôm qua đang nói về đàn bà . ..không, đang nói về tôi và sự cần thiết có 2 người đàn ông, not that either....nói đúng hơn là 1 cái thể xác để sờ và một cái không để sờ . Nói đến đàn ông, cách tốt nhất để quên một người đàn ông là ngủ với hắn . Không, chính sát hơn là làm tình . Khi bạn làm tình với hắn xong, bạn lập tức đứng dậy và bỏ đi (đừng chần chừ, nhưng có thể lần là, vài câu chia tay lịch sự), bạn sẽ quên hắn ngay. Nếu bạn ngủ qua đêm với hắn sau khi đã làm tình, bạn có nguy cơ phải nhớ đến buổi làm tình đó, và từ đó có nguy cớ phải nhớ hắn . Trong quá trình đi tìm tình yêu tuyệt vời của tôi, tôi đã thử yêu tất cả loại đàn ông, trí thức và không trí thức, vạm vỡ và ốm yếu, nhỏ mọn và phiêu lưu, da đen da đỏ da trắng da vàng, Công Giáo, Phật Giáo, Do Thái, và luôn cả vô thần, và tất cả các thử nghiệm đưa đến kết luận như trên . Bạn có thể yêu một người đàn ông say đắm, nhưng tôi chắc rằng, nếu bạn làm tình với hắn một lần rồi đứng dậy bỏ đi, bạn sẽ quên phốc hắn ngay, và bạn sẽ được trả lại tự do để đi tìm tình yêu mới .

Đó là về đàn ông . Còn đối với đàn bà thì tôi không biết vì tôi chưa từng làm tình với người đàn bà tôi yêu, nên tôi không rõ mình có thể dùng cách đó để quên một người đàn bà mình yêu hay không . Nhưng tôi đoán chắc cũng như vậy .

Nếu bạn không muốn quên một người đàn ông nào đó, tôi khuyên bạn nên đừng làm tình với hắn . Như vậy bạn sẽ mãi yêu hắn và nhớ hắn . Lý do dễ hiểu: khi bạn làm tình với một người đàn ông, bạn phải lột trần hắn, và khi bạn lột trần hắn, thấy được cái thân xác gầy gò của hắn (hoặc béo phì, hoăc bụng bự) và cái dương vật không đâu vào đâu (với người đàn ông có dương vật nhỏ, hắn sẽ cố gắn đền bù bằng tâm lý macho hay ưởng ngực ưởng vai; với người đàn ông có dương vật lớn, hắn sẽ rất đắc chí và cũng sẽ ưởng ngực ưởng vai, cả hai trường hợp đều cho bạn thấy một quan hệ rất ư khổ sở và nực cười của người đàn ông và dương vật hắn, và khi thấy được quan hệ gần như nô lệ của người đàn ông mà bạn cho là đáng yêu vì hắn tuyệt vời của bạn, bạn sẽ thấy hắn thôi tuyệt vời, còn có cái gì đó hơi hơi tội nghiệp là khác .

Mà thôi, lòng dòng chuyện đàn ông làm gì nhỉ ? Tôi vẫn còn đang bàn chuyện đàn bà .

Tại sao đàn bà như chúng ta cần đến ít nhất một người đàn ông chạm - được và một người không - chạm - được ? Lý do đơn giản là đàn ông không - đủ . Vì cái chúng ta cần không phải là giống (như giống đực, giống cái) mà là giới tính (như nữ tính, nam tính), và một điều gì đó nằm ngoài hai giới tính ấy. Điều quan trọng là kẻ không - chạm - được ấy phải luôn là không - chạm - được, chứ một tôi đã chạm được kẻ không - chạm - được ấy, hắn sẽ trở thành không - đủ, và tôi lại phải đi tìm một kẻ khác để không - chạm - được, vì những thứ tôi cần bao gồm thứ tôi có và không - có . Như vậy chắc phải gọi loại đàn bà như tôi là tham lam .

Như lúc làm tình chẳng hạn . Dương vật đàn ông không - bao - giờ - đủ, nên họ cứ phải thục và đẩy và nhồi, còn chúng ta thì cứ tự nhiên to ra, thục bao nhiêu, đẩy bao nhiêu, nhồi bao nhi
êu thì chúng ta rộng ra bấy nhiêu . Có đúng không ? Cho nên tôi cứ nghĩ, cái giống khiếm khuyết phải là giống đực chứ không phải giống cái . Đàn ông là một loại giới hạn, còn đàn bà là vô hạn, vì đàn bà có khà năng co giãn vô định . Nên họ thiết yếu phải tham lam, vì họ luôn luôn có không -đủ.

Monday, May 4, 2009

For So long I've wanted

Tôi chán ngấy bọn đàn bà. Tôi chán ngấy những vấn nạn của đàn bà, những chu kỳ, những ức chế, những bất công, chịu đựng, oan ức, tức tối, che đậy, vùng vẫy im lìm của đàn bà. Cho nên tôi cố tình tránh mặt những người đàn bà trong đời tôi. Mẹ tôi. Bạn thân tôi. May phước tôi không có em hoặc chị gái, chứ không lại thêm những ức chế phiền phức của thêm cá nhân ngoài tôi.

Theo tôi quan sát, đàn bà có thể chia ra nhiều loại, nhưng loại tôi có thể xếp vào là loại không-toàn-mỹ. Có nghĩa là tôi không nằm trong loại những người đàn bà toàn mỹ. Toàn mỹ là gì? Là yêu chồng hết sức, yêu con yêu cái, là loại vừa làm ra tiền, vừa mua sắm đầy đủ cho con, tất bật nhà cửa sạch sẽ gọn gàng, hằng năm nấu bánh mừng sinh nhật chồng, đến ngày sinh nhật con thì phát thiệp mở party mời hết đám con nít hàng xóm và lúc tan tiệc mỗi đứa đến dự đều có quà tặng mang về. Những người đàn bà như thế giỏi đến rất là nhiều mặt. chẳng những công ăn việc làm chồng con đầy đủ, họ còn giỏi việc xã giao, nói chuyện lịch thiệp, nụ cười có duyên, giọng cười đều đặng và giòn giã. Họ thường gửi những món quà nho nhỏ cho bạn bè và người thân, và luôn nhớ gửi những tấm thiệp cám ơn khi họ nhận được quà từ ai đó. Có rất nhiều người đàn bà như vậy. Với những người đàn bà như vậy, họ có thể yêu nhiều người, nhưng họ chung thủy, và chỉ yêu một người trong một lúc. Và nếu họ có chồng, họ yêu chồng họ trung thực, và vợ chồng họ đích thật là đôi bạn đời cho nhau.
Tiếc thay tôi không phải là loại đàn bà đó. Tôi muốn được như họ lắm chứ, muốn sống một cách tốt lành trong cuộc sống tầm thường của tôi, nhưng có cố gắng cách mấy cũng vô dụng. Tôi không làm được. Không cách nào tôi toàn mỹ được. Đã đủ hết mọi cách. Đã thử trạng thái tuyệt cùng thất vọng, đến tìm lại hy vọng, đến buôn trôi, đến dửng dưng. Tôi cũng đã tìm đến Chúa, đã gỏ cửa nhà Ngài, và trong sự phó thác vào quan phòng của đấng bề trên, tôi tìm được chút bình an nhẫn nại, nhưng hết rồi. Cạn mất rồi.

Có lẽ tôi không toàn mỹ được vì tôi lười, không năng động tận dụng hết thời giờ trong ngày. Thay vì làm những công việc kiếm ra tiền, tôi lại chỉ giỏi la cà các quán cafe, thích xem người xe qua lại, thích nhìn chằm chằm vào một ai đó và quan sát từng nét một trên gương mặt họ. Tôi đương nhiên tự hào rằng việc này tôi làm rất giỏi, và có thể khiêm tốn khoe rằng chỉ cần 5 phút quan sát, tôi sẽ đi được ngay đúng 2 thước vào bên trong con người họ. Ngoài việc la cà bê bếch tôi còn thường đi rong trong các chợ đồ cũ, lục tìm và sờ mó những cuốn sách bám đầy bụi hoặc những chiếc váy lưng bắp dế lia tia hoa hay rực rở hoa.

Tôi rất thích hoa. Tôi thích hoa như thích đàn ông. Không, phải nói tôi thích hoa như thích nam tính. Phải nói rỏ là nam tính trong quan hệ với tôi, chứ dững dưng nam tính thì tôi cũng không hứng thú lắm. Và loại đàn bà như tôi, những người đàn bà không-toàn-mỹ, lúc nào cũng cần hơn một ngườời đàn ông, ít nhất là hai người đàn ông: một kẻ có thể sờ được và một kẻ không sờ được, vì kẻ sờ được không bao giờ đủ cho chúng tôi nên mới cần đến kẻ không sờ được.