Tuesday, September 14, 2010


School has started, and I’ve taken to studying at the mall. I used to try studying at the school library, but it was like a factory straight out of some sci-fi movie. Rows and rows of desks with fluorescent lighting and kids hunched over silently in frozen stares at their textbooks. After a few minutes it's enough to make you feel like clawing yourself just to feel / hear something.

The only problem with the mall is that there are so many distractions. After an hour or so, I usually end up wandering into the bookstore upstairs to browse. Browsing a couple pages turns into reading the entire book while standing in a corner, trying to avoid the glares and elbows of salespeople.

The other day I tried to avoid that temptation by sitting at the opposite end of the mall from the bookstore. Instead I ended up wandering into the cinema and watching a movie. I had the choice of either Bright Star or the Expendables. It’s sad to say, but it took me a while to decide on bright star.. (so much for being an English major).

My memory of keats is a particularly bitter semester of romantic poetry where I felt horribly out of place, surrounded by people who wore tweed and smoked hand-rolled cigarettes. They carried scuffed and vintage briefcases (meant to be ironic) while I carried a Chinatown totebag with a talking panda on it. They could sit straight-faced while our professor talked about about the mastubatory elements in so and so and the obvious vulvic references in blake. And then there was me trying not to giggle, but mostly feeling strangely foreign and confused – is vulvic a word? What? I thought this was a poem about hell?
“yes the paternal references in this passage where blake is keenly babblebabble- a clever suggestion to the female vulva’s motivations of paternal angst and emotional need to be filled.” Filled?
*tweed wearer raises hand. “actually I felt that it would be more accurate to characterize that as a clitoral conceit.”
I wish I was joking.

But anyway while watching Bright Star, I started to forget about that semester, and even felt a bit open to keats. The love story was beautiful in its own way– these two lonely people finding each other, but then having it end without ever beginning.

When the movie finished and the credits began, something strange happened. People were getting up to rush toward the exit, when the actor’s voice came on, reciting one of keats’ odes. There was a hush, and everyone in the theatre was still, and stayed. No one moved… listening to those words until the credits had finished and the lights came on. It was the first time I had felt a sense of complete quiet in hong kong. Of suspended action, and it was beautiful.

Thinking of sad love stories, I recently re-watched the korean movie, A Moment to Remember. I came across it online while I was on a bus. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to watch it, it makes the notebook seem uplifting. I ended up crying so much that it was actually physically painful, and got random looks from strangers who probably wondered if they were witnessing a mental breakdown.
I’m glad no one came up to me… I would have felt the need to come up with a justified reason to be crying in public. “Korean drama” doesn’t really sound like a legitimate excuse.