Final Thoughts

This was an interesting project to do because more often that not, we try to see and analyse art in isolation. Here, we seek to establish links between different art forms and from there, realise how all art, despite the different mediums in which they are expressed in, tries to see the world and understand it through different lenses. We see that art works all have a common theme - the human condition; to understand and grasp the concept (and the absurdity perhaps) of life. We visualise what we read - and here in this blog we show how we make personal links between the different forms of artwork we consume. This is interesting because we are all made up of different experiences and background and viewpoints and thought processes so our interpretations also differ. This was an enjoyable project to do and we hope that the readers of the blog have also gained a new perspective with regards to literature and other forms of art.

Dance by Eileen Tan


A dance interpretation by Eileen in response to Cyril Wong’s sexual orientation and the theme of homosexuality:

This dance item seeks to portray the vital part of the poet’s life and the emotional roller coaster that he has to go through to achieve what he would call, happiness. At the beginning, it shows the internal struggle of the two parties as a result of rejection from their society. Both parties try to control their love by preventing themselves from revealing their true feelings, but to no avail eventually. They soon come to realize the importance of each other and how much their lives have revolved around each other such that there is no way one can do without the other, as much as they try to conform to the expectations of their society. That is when they finally decide to follow their hearts and lead a life that may be condoned by some but fulfilling for themselves. The finale celebrates the true happiness from the reunion of two souls- the souls who were torn apart by what is known as the norm. Who are we to decide what is the norm, and what is correct or wrong, when all that matters is happiness within oneself?

Via

danielacamus:

訪々入浴百景 (One Hundred Views of Bathing)
by 坂口真理子 (Mariko Sakaguchi)

- -

Unmade Bed by Cyril Wong


I have become
a foreigner
in my own home,
padding past an
unmade bed
someone else had
slept on, then
examining things
I used to think
I needed.
In the living room,
I observe the inert
body of my father
on the sofa as if
from behind
a velvet rope,
fascinated by his
stillness; not dead,
yet not quite alive.
Next, I scrutinise
the hallway as if
I am standing at
the scene of a crime,
except there is no
body sprawled across
the white of the floor
over a growing pool
of blood, its vague
outline delineated
by chalk; perhaps
the body has already
been removed and
I am really its spirit,
trapped between the past
and that other place.


Reading this poem which reminds me of a series of photographs taken by Japanese photographer Mariko Sakaguchi. The idea of “private and public” is explored in this series - the act of bathing is considered a private and personal affair, usually conducted in the comfort of one’s house - the bathroom/toilet, but here, the photographer inserts herself into different private and public domains of life. This playful spin and interesting spin sees the creator of the artwork immerse herself in her own photography, which is quite rare to see. Similarly in the poem, there is this awareness of one’s self - the persona is his own spectator of his life. He describes himself as “observing” the body of his father “as if from behind a velvet rope”, as if his father was a specimen to be curiously examined. The tone in which he depicts his father to be “not dead, yet not quite alive” is matter-of-fact, adding to the sense of indifference and detachment. The next image conjured hints at the persona’s furthering detachment from his home, even from his sense of self which belongs to this home - he describes the hallway as a crime scene, cold and clinical. In this poem, a sense of helplessness and haunting loneliness pervades. Words like “foreigner” and “someone else” further contributes to the persona’s detachment from his home, ironically, a place where he is supposed to belong. He may be physically present in the house, near his father, in the hallway, yet mentally and emotionally he is absent. Just as in the photo series where the spectacle of the self is explored, here in the poem the poet explores how the persona views himself - in the intimate confinements of his house. Yet ironically he feels foreign in his own home - he cannot even portray the vulnerable side of himself, cannot fully identify with his home and his loved ones.


Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet




Boats by Cyril Wong
You and your photographs of boats; that repeated metaphor for departure,
or simply the possibility of a voyage? What you cannot tell me you tell me
with a vessel and its single passenger,  eyes fixed on some skylit conclusion.
Set apart and starkly upon a canvas  of tractable waves, brought to still
by the trigger-click of your camera,  like the sound a key makes when it
releases the lock. Your heart became that lock; these images how you have
always articulated distance, a withdrawal. Darling, there are just as many ways
of saying goodbye as there are ways  of letting you go. The boat is narrow
like the width of my heart after  impossible loss, cruel resignation;
this heart you ride in. Love, if this is how you choose to leave me let me let you.




This reminds me of the painting - Impression, Sunrise by Monet, which presents a misty maritime scene of boats leaving and the sunrise in the background. The early morning sun depicted rising over the foggy harbour links with the line “the possibility of voyage” - for the persona perhaps, boats represent departure, but for his lover, it is a new journey, the start of another life away from him, a form of release perhaps. This painting induces a calm feeling from the viewer - the use of mostly cool, dull colours of blues and greys, with a little splash of warm colours in the sky and the red-orange sun. The focal point of this impressionist painting is of course, not the boats, or on departure, but I feel like, this particular artwork would fit the poem’s atmosphere a lot. In the poem, he persona compares the “width of [his] heart” to the narrow boat, the boat which the lover rode in. His heart is a vessel that had accepted the lover, had allowed him to fill up its space. And the way the lover leaves him is perhaps, like the departure of a boat - it is slow and drawn out; the boat slowly drifting away, the increasing detachment and alienation, the persona watching, as it disappears among the waves, among the horizon. This slow and calm feeling invoked - the departure is not a sudden and shocking one, creating in the persona anger and sorrow, but rather a quiet affair, is experienced while looking at Monet’s painting as well. This hazy landscape and the serene atmosphere seems almost ordinary, but what lies behind this scene can be untold stories of great intensity.

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet

Boats by Cyril Wong

You and your photographs of boats;
that repeated metaphor for departure,

or simply the possibility of a voyage?
What you cannot tell me you tell me

with a vessel and its single passenger,
eyes fixed on some skylit conclusion.

Set apart and starkly upon a canvas
of tractable waves, brought to still

by the trigger-click of your camera,
like the sound a key makes when it

releases the lock. Your heart became
that lock; these images how you have

always articulated distance, a withdrawal.
Darling, there are just as many ways

of saying goodbye as there are ways
of letting you go. The boat is narrow

like the width of my heart after
impossible loss, cruel resignation;

this heart you ride in. Love, if this is how
you choose to leave me let me let you.

This reminds me of the painting - Impression, Sunrise by Monet, which presents a misty maritime scene of boats leaving and the sunrise in the background. The early morning sun depicted rising over the foggy harbour links with the line “the possibility of voyage” - for the persona perhaps, boats represent departure, but for his lover, it is a new journey, the start of another life away from him, a form of release perhaps. This painting induces a calm feeling from the viewer - the use of mostly cool, dull colours of blues and greys, with a little splash of warm colours in the sky and the red-orange sun. The focal point of this impressionist painting is of course, not the boats, or on departure, but I feel like, this particular artwork would fit the poem’s atmosphere a lot. In the poem, he persona compares the “width of [his] heart” to the narrow boat, the boat which the lover rode in. His heart is a vessel that had accepted the lover, had allowed him to fill up its space. And the way the lover leaves him is perhaps, like the departure of a boat - it is slow and drawn out; the boat slowly drifting away, the increasing detachment and alienation, the persona watching, as it disappears among the waves, among the horizon. This slow and calm feeling invoked - the departure is not a sudden and shocking one, creating in the persona anger and sorrow, but rather a quiet affair, is experienced while looking at Monet’s painting as well. This hazy landscape and the serene atmosphere seems almost ordinary, but what lies behind this scene can be untold stories of great intensity.

First Day of My Life
Bright Eyes

Arrival by Cyril Wong

 

During our first few dates, we
scribbled our confessions on paper,

sending them like fast-forward
letters back and forth across the table.

Then you relented and taught me sign-
language, demonstrating how “like”

is the drawing forth of an invisible
string from the centre of your chest

like a loosened thread, freed from
the constraining fabric of your body,

while “love” is the crossing of
both arms in an act of self-defence

and a warning, or simply that “X”
which marks the point of arrival

upon the very treasure map of you

A simple poem by Cyril Wong on words, sign language and symbolic meanings. The lovers communicate via words on paper and later, the persona’s lover taught him sign language. “Love”, the crossing of arms is compared to “self-defence” or “warning”. Love can be protecting oneself from harm, loving oneself, or it can be detrimental, causing harm even. Yet the persona chooses to end it beautifully, on a positive note - that it marks the “point of arrival” upon the “treasure map” of his lover. This comparison made reveals how precious and valuable the lover is - he is his final destination, the place where he has seek and has arrived at, the place that he yearns for. There is a sense of finality, and hopeful love.

This poem reminds me of a song called “First Day of My Life” by a band Bright Eyes. The song similarly talks about love and the theme of “arrival” is also evident. The singer sings about how meeting his lover marks the “first day of his life” - it is as if this meeting signifies his (re)birth, his coming into life, showing the immense importance his lover is to him. There is a sense of the persona in the song having live his days up till the point of meeting the lover that makes everything worthwhile, meaningful. This is just like the persona in the poem who discovers the treasure that is his lover - so too here the persona in the song starts out afresh - here he even declares that he was “blind before [he] met [the lover]”. Everything that has happened before the moment of meeting his lover was deemed invalid, was not real, merely a prelude to the real life that is now.

Also, the lyrics of the song (written by the talented Conor Oberst, singer of the band and also hailed as the “Bob Dylan” of our generation) are hauntingly beautiful and bashfully honest. Here it is below:

First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
This is the first day of my life
Swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain, suddenly everything changed
They’re spreading blankets on the beach

Yours was the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
I don’t know where I am, I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go

So I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever, I especially am slow
But I realized how I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

I remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange, you said everything changed
You felt as if you just woke up

And you said
“This is the first day of my life
Glad I didn’t die before I met you
Now I don’t care, I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”

So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We’ll just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery

Besides, maybe this time is different
I mean, I really think you like me