equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
11 Dec 07

Pardon My Freedom

Oh my God, did I just say that out loud?
Should’ve known this was the kind of place
That that sort of thing just wasn’t allowed

And look at me now up here run­ning my mouth
I just open it up and see what comes run­ning out

Well here it comes…

Like I give a fuck, like I give a shit about that fuck
Like I give a fuck, like I give a shit about that fuck
Like I give a fuck about that moth­er­fuck­ing shit
Like I give a fuck
Like I give a fuck
LIKE I GIVE A FUCK
LIKE I GIVE A SHIT
LIKE I GIVEFUCK

—!!!, Pardon My Freedom

This is me with­out boundaries.

This is the truth. My truth. My hon­esty in it’s purest form, includ­ing my opin­ion and bias.

Often, there are things said that peo­ple don’t want to hear, or don’t want to know. I never apol­o­gize for what I say because my opin­ions are never forced on oth­ers. No one has to come here and read what I say.

There are two rules: I never say any­thing here that I can’t say to someone’s face, and I never give away some­one else’s pri­vate infor­ma­tion.1

Other than that, I’ll never cen­sor myself for the sake of others.

  1. Private” is to my dis­cre­tion, of course. []
08 Dec 07

Missing Kissing

I’m fac­ing the very tan­gi­ble pos­si­bil­ity that I’ll be sin­gle for the rest of my life. Sometimes I won­der how I’ll sur­vive. The strange part is that I feel like I was meant to be in a rela­tion­ship. Quixotic ideas and roman­tic ideals have always pointed me in that direc­tion, but either the right per­son hasn’t come along, or they’re taken.

At the same time, I won­der if I can be in another rela­tion­ship. I’ve grown so accus­tomed to liv­ing alone, hav­ing things exactly my way, with time to work on my projects. No main­te­nance, as it were. How I do enjoy the freedom.

One sit­u­a­tion isn’t bet­ter than the other, of course. Both have their pros and cons.

Still.

I miss kiss­ing. More than the sex.

The quick acknowl­edg­ment of love in the form of a peck, or the inti­macy of a make-out session.

Has the win­ter brought this feel­ing? Has the sight of snow and snow­fall reminded me of how frigid the nights can be when you’re by yourself?

Or maybe it’s from being sin­gle for this long.

04 Dec 07

The Weight Issue

With a tone of gen­uine con­cern, as if I was being con­sumed by some dis­ease, Abdallah told me he noticed I was get­ting thin­ner. Perhaps this is true. I was recov­er­ing from an episode of IBS, and con­trol­ling my food intake. Maybe its my sets of nar­row, flared pants I’ve been wear­ing lately on Julie’s sug­ges­tion1.

Louise tells peo­ple I don’t eat a lot, which is true only when we’re out 2, and is also the only time she’s seen me eat. It makes me even more ill at ease when I’m already feel­ing unat­trac­tive, as if it was my fault and I wasn’t doing enough about it. Others will com­ment about the size of my waist, or make a pass­ing remark about how they wish they had my metabolism.

I try to take it all in stride, but it’s not easy when the sub­ject is con­stantly brought up.

According to my doc­tor, I’m aver­age weight — the aver­age being a range, with me being near the bot­tom. I know this, but it doesn’t make it eas­ier. Bronwen once told me that I have a weight issue, and after think­ing about it for a while, I real­ized that it was true. Even though it’s some­thing I can joke about, it’s still a source of self-consciousness, lead­ing back to mem­o­ries of my par­ents telling me that no one will love me if I’m this size forever.

Sometimes I won­der if I’ll ever get over it.

  1. Her the­ory is that baggy pants do noth­ing to hide thin limbs and make skinny peo­ple look even skin­nier. []
  2. Usually because I don’t like to be too full when I’m out. []
03 Dec 07

Hyperactive Euphoria

Maybe it was the exhaus­tion mak­ing me hyper­ac­tive and all WOOOOOOOOOOO this morn­ing. Maybe it was the weather on my side, try­ing to bury the city in 40cm of snow, telling me to for­get every­thing else. On see­ing myself in the mir­ror, I started to have one of those Strung Out, Matchbook moments while shav­ing. You know, the part that goes

I just comb my hair and wash my face
Keep straight ahead and keep my pace
Just think about noth­ing and my life’ll be alright
Well I got my friends, I got my pen
I got a mil­lion dis­trac­tions to keep me warm
And all I know is that I’ll be alright, that I’ll be alright

And while it’s get­ting so busy that I can’t keep track of every­thing, it’s also nice to be dis­tracted. I can keep these thoughts in the back of my head, and bring them out when I need them. Almost like I’m in total con­trol of it all, while it con­tin­u­ally verges on the peak of instability.

Maybe it’s the insta­bil­ity I thrive on, a way of feel­ing like my life isn’t stag­nant. That way, I’m not in a rut, devoid of inspiration.

So yeah. I think it’s mak­ing me hyper.

02 Dec 07

Where I Belong

Those who rule in accor­dance with Tao do not use force against the world
For that which is forced is likely to return

—Verse 30, Tao Te Ching

I may know bet­ter, I may under­stand what I’m sup­posed to accept, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Sometimes the world is crash­ing down around you, and all you can do is watch.

Because you can’t yell at the sky to keep it from falling.

01 Dec 07

Mittens Make It Up

Thumbnail: Club Monaco mittens

The win­ter storm watch con­tin­ued at –14°C today. When you’re inside, the sun fools you with the warmth of its colour, until you step out­side and feel the bite of the wind.

I spent an hour-and-a-half look­ing for var­i­ous things and run­ning errands down­town. The streets were packed, the stores were packed, and I found nothing.

So I spent a stu­pid amount of money on these awe­some mit­tens at Club Monaco. I actu­ally walked out of the store and out of the mall when I found them, for fear that I would pur­chase them, but alas, here they are on my hands. I had to decide between the white and black stripes, the grey and black stripes, and the flat grey ones, but since most of my cloth­ing is neu­tral, I decided on the flashiest pair. The open hole for the fin­gers makes iPod and cam­era manip­u­la­tion easy. They’re 100% cash­mere; thin enough to wear indoors or inside your coat pocket.

Thumbnail: Club Monaco mittens, RW&Co toque

So it wasn’t a total waste of a day.

29 Nov 07

Fighting Oneself, Revisited

This is one of the strangest times of my life. I remem­ber feel­ing some­thing sim­i­lar to this over four years ago, but I haven’t had it since.

I’m fight­ing my old self again. Fighting against these feel­ings and past habits.

I wish I could define and explain it. Vincent Gallo has a song he titled “Glad To Be Unhappy”, filled his dis­tinctly min­i­mal­is­tic piano and acoustic gui­tar sounds, so sparse you don’t know where the down­beat falls. But there are no lyrics, and I think I’m start­ing to under­stand why.

Everything is so sim­ple when you’re set in your heart. But when you’re filled with such para­dox­i­cal, con­tra­dic­tory feel­ings, noth­ing makes any sense. The world is turned upside down.

It’s frus­trat­ing1 and beau­ti­ful all at once.

I think a part of me wants to think about it. I want to keep this feel­ing, where every song sounds as good as the first time you heard it, and the leaden sky is urg­ing you for­ward with every step you take. To be so inspired.

And while part of me knows that to fight against ones inner nature is fool­ish2, another part of me knows how destruc­tive it can be.

  1. The orig­i­nal title of that post was actu­ally just a 5x5 pixel square, meant to con­fuse the reader into not know­ing what to think. Trolley tried to cor­rect me once and told me the title was bro­ken, and I had to let him know it was done on pur­pose. With my new head­line images plu­gin, the graphic title doesn’t quite work so I had to change it. []
  2. To add another level to this, I’m fight­ing against fight­ing myself []
27 Nov 07

Differing Perceptions

Julie's drawing of me

Julie drew this pic­ture of me. The details betray her perspicacity.

Such as the way my shirt tails dan­gle insou­ciantly from the sweater. How the pant bot­toms are slightly bunched up. And while I don’t wear a tie that often, the preppy top + skater bot­toms style is accu­rate. Even the length of chain and the shape of my glasses. All the lit­tle details I think about when I dress myself. The only thing that isn’t me is the hair, which falls flat in the win­ter, due to the fact that it’s toque wear­ing season.

Also, I have no eyes, nose or mouth is this pic­ture. Only my wide-arm glasses, which I’ve said before is a large part of my iden­tity. Obviously, her exclu­sion of my facial fea­tures has put even more empha­sis on this.

I won­der: why are my arms drawn behind my back? Posture says a lot about a per­son. Maybe this was done with­out any con­sid­er­a­tion, but maybe there was sub­con­scious intent.

It’s always inter­est­ing to find out how other peo­ple see you. A self-image is often biased.

So which image is more accu­rate; yours or theirs?

25 Nov 07

Becoming Pat

At the core of our beings, Pat and I are the same person.

What sep­a­rates us is our emo­tion, or lack thereof. Pat’s the log­i­cal one, I’m the emo­tional one. I’ve always looked up to him — his strength, his morals, his per­son­al­ity — with­out really under­stand­ing why.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve come to real­ize Pat is a Taoist. This comes with the real­iza­tion that I’m a Taoist myself, and explains why I try to be more like him.

The inter­est­ing part is that he doesn’t even know that he’s a Taoist — sort of like Winnie the Pooh — which is exactly what makes him a true Taoist.

One of Chuang Tzŭ’s para­bles illus­trates this point. In an abbre­vi­ated ver­sion, Knowledge seeks a con­scious reflec­tion to know the Tao, and asked Silent Do Nothing and Reckless Blurter, before ask­ing The Yellow Emperor (ahhh, the Romantic per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Chinese fables):

Knowledge said to The Yellow Emperor, “I asked Silent Do Nothing and he kept quiet. Not only didn’t he answer me, but he didn’t even know how to answer. I asked Reckless Blurter, and though he wanted to tell me, he didn’t, and even for­got my ques­tions. Now I’ve asked you, and you know all about it. Why do you say that you’re far from it?”.

The Yellow Emperor said, “Silent Do Nothing was truly right, because he didn’t know any­thing. Reckless Blurter was nearly right, because he’d for­got­ten it. You and I are far from right, because we know far too much”.

The same is true for Tai Chi1, or any mar­tial art for that mat­ter. Dissect it too much, and you lose the mean­ing. Think about it too much, and you don’t react. As Michael Babin wrote in his arti­cle on self-defense train­ing:

It is sad but true that real skill comes from seem­ingly end­less drilling of the basics and then learn­ing how to transcend/forget most of what you have so patiently learned.

In other words, learn­ing struc­ture is essen­tial to learn­ing to react to a com­plete lack of struc­ture (i.e. a real fight); but if you focus on struc­ture for too long it becomes counter-productive to “being with­out struc­ture” in mar­tial terms. One of the many annoy­ing para­doxes in the inter­nal arts.

One of the many para­doxes in the Taoist phi­los­o­phy as well. As much as I try to study it, learn it, and apply it, I find myself think­ing about it too much. As a result, I occa­sion­ally stray from being cen­tered, and lose my balance.

It’s the con­scious reflec­tion which Knowledge is seek­ing that pre­emp­tively dooms his search. This is my prob­lem as well. I buy Taoist books with a thirst for knowl­edge, but they’re all telling me the same thing now. Not that the books haven’t helped at all, but I feel like I’ve reached a limit. Perhaps even the sim­ple act of writ­ing about this is counter-productive.

I have the under­stand­ing, but I can’t apply it with­out think­ing about it first, and it’s the attempt to apply it that ruins the point. I’ve yet to reach a stage of pure reac­tion and spon­tane­ity, like Pat.

But I’m get­ting there.

  1. Yet another exam­ple of how Tai Chi is the phys­i­cal expres­sion of the phi­los­o­phy. Or per­haps this could be reverse-generalized, and said that the Taoist phi­los­o­phy is reflected in every­thing, such as mar­tial arts. []
23 Nov 07

Winter Window

Thumbnail: A winter scene out my window

Turning over and over in the sky, length after length of white­ness unwound over the earth and shrouded it. The bliz­zard was alone in the world; it had no rival.

When he climbed down from the win­dow sill Yura’s first impulse was to dress, run out­side, and start doing something.

—Doctor Zhivago

When one looks out­side their win­dow and sees this, this blan­ket of purity, what else can one feel but seren­ity, con­tent­ment, and hope?

21 Nov 07

A Chance To Create

Good news. Wait no. Great fuck­ing news.

I met with Frédéric, the owner of the Salon, and after show­ing him a port­fo­lio of my pic­tures, he agreed to let me have an exhibit in the next show in February.

As this wasn’t only his art gallery but his house as well, I offered to let him make the deci­sion after see­ing my com­pleted work. He told me there was no need, as he trusted me based on what he had seen in my port­fo­lio, which I felt was a very nice compliment.

As artists (and I use this in the loos­est sense of the word to describe myself), we’re very dif­fer­ent. I told him that I like to study pho­to­graphic tech­niques, espe­cially in pho­tos that I like, and apply those tech­niques to what I want to express or show. When I look at a piece of visual art, I look at mean­ing and intent. When I cre­ate, I keep the same thing in mind. Frédéric, on the other hand, is more of a gut-feeling type of artist. He does what he feels is right, and doesn’t worry as much about the under­ly­ing message.

He asked if I was sin­gle, and I told him I was. “Good”, he said, “That’ll help you focus”. It made me think of a quote by Alexander Dumas:

Woman inspires us to great things, and pre­vents us from achiev­ing them.

I made a remark about how I’d have a forum to develop my ideas now, projects I never pur­sued because I didn’t have a way to get them to a wider audi­ence. He told me that I shouldn’t worry about an audi­ence, and gave me an exam­ple to demon­strate his point: if you cre­ate the most beau­ti­ful thing you’ve ever done and you keep it in your base­ment, it isn’t art because no one sees it1, but to get caught up in that dilemma, and to not cre­ate sim­ply because of that, is a tragedy.

So now I can pur­sue and develop one of my photo project ideas. I have to decide on a theme. I have see how much enlarge­ment I can do to my pho­tos with­out too much loss of qual­ity. I have to decide on the size of the final prints. I have to decide on the frame size and shape. I have to get the final prints framed.

I’ve always wanted to cre­ate acces­si­ble art2.

Perhaps this will be my chance.

  1. An inter­pre­tive answer to the Zen kōan of the sound a tree makes falling down in the for­est, I’m sure []
  2. As opposed to some­thing such as poetry, which is less acces­si­ble to the com­mon per­son. As a medium, film, pho­tog­ra­phy, and music (with lyrics) are more eas­ily digestible. []
21 Nov 07

Recording My Dreams

Note: Dreams are funny things. As the cre­ator of the world you’re in, you have an omni­scient knowl­edge of every­thing, includ­ing what other peo­ple in the dream are think­ing. Things that are lyser­gic and ran­dom make per­fect sense in a dream. Every now and then, espe­cially when they’re very vivid, a dream will seem fas­ci­nat­ing, so I’ll write it down and post it. Then I read it over again, and think “This is the stu­pid­est, least coher­ent thing I’ve ever writ­ten”. Then I delete it. I’ve done this about a half dozen times, and they’re the only entries I’ve ever deleted from this blog.

This is an exam­ple from last night. I’ll try not to delete it.

There was also a part about play­ing table ten­nis that pre­cedes the begin­ning, like the scene between Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Match Point, which, eerily enough, is some­what sim­i­lar to this dream. However, the mem­ory has been lost in the haze of consciousness.

P.S. If you ever read this, Alex, please don’t beat me up. KTHX.

Dreamt Sophia and I were in love.

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20 Nov 07

A New Winter Ritual

Snow col­lected on the grass last night.

This makes me dream of week­end morn­ings in my liv­ing room, tea and a lap­top, look­ing out to a blan­ket of white. Dolly curled up on the arm­rest next to me, as she always is. No other con­trast feels as cozy.

Ritual dic­tates that I watch Onegin or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind on the day of the first snow­fall, a trib­ute to win­ter scenes and warm romance.

This year, I’ll buy myself some skates. I’ll pack a snack and some water. Maybe my cam­era in case an image catches my fancy.

As the strings shud­der and the beats go on, I’ll carve a lit­tle path for myself on the canal, and burn beneath the orange sky.

And this will be my new ritual.

18 Nov 07

She Doesn't Know How Beautiful

The art of longing’s over, and it’s never com­ing back.

—Leonard Cohen, Death of a Ladies’ Man

They ask me why I’m cry­ing. I tell them the song is too good, not to cry.

They ask me why there’s a bounce in my step. I tell them I’m in love, and I don’t care.

They ask me if she’s taken. I tell them she is.

They ask me if she knows. I tell them it doesn’t mat­ter as long as I feel this way, and I’m never let­ting go.

They ask me, “Why her?”.

I tell them she makes me happy with­out try­ing.

17 Nov 07

Emergence Exposition Opus 01

A few days before the show, I found out that Krista and Shane were play­ing a small venue in town. Usually I make it a point to see an artist just once in my life, but last time was dif­fer­ent; I was expect­ing Lederhosen Lucil, but was treated to an entirely dif­fer­ent and unfa­mil­iar sound. This time, it was my chance to see Krista and Shane per­form after becom­ing famil­iar with the songs. Turns out the venue was in un petit salon des arts. This place boasted a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent art­forms; music, metal sculp­tures, pho­tographs, paint­ings, and graphic poems.

I didn’t really feel like going out that night, but I forced myself to go, remind­ing myself that I could say the same thing any other night and I’d never get anywhere.

Thumbnail: Entrance of the Emergence Exposition

When I arrived, the Salon was to capac­ity. I couldn’t even get in the entrance; there were peo­ple phys­i­cally block­ing the door. My chance to get in came after a few had made room by leav­ing, then I saw a path up the stairs and took it.

Enter six degrees of sep­a­ra­tion.

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