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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


i'm looking forward to japan.

at this point, i think anywhere except singapore will be welcome.

but cold japan is particularly appealing.

japan is a strange place. so much beauty and yet it can be so cruel, perverted and scary.

she has not come to terms with the past.

i'm like japan in my ways. i'm beautiful at times and monstrous as well.

i honestly don't know whether old painful things are in the way. i think not but the brain tells you lies. the sandman tells you lies.

but lies have profund truths in them so let's not despise these lies.

why are lies truthful?

because of hope.

and the desire for beauty, rest and completeness.

Monday, November 28, 2005

the world revolves

it gets tougher and tougher each day.

lacking the courage to kill myself, i pick up the pieces and struggle on. i want to say i'm depressed but it's a dangerous word and i dare not use it.

it's shameful because i have many things, many things to be thankful for. but not enough to want to live, linger and love.

i don't feel sad, i just feel empty and void. listless and aching.

will a woman make me feel better? probably. for a while. but life lasts longer than a while. too short for some and an eternity for others.

when technology enables us to live long lives, that will be the end of humanity. We will no longer be humans, not Gods either. but strange, shallow shells with withered flesh. and a heart full of emptiness.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Writing has become difficult lately. I'm becoming more aware of the fact that I am a lousier writer than I thought myself to be.

I am reserved. I keep many thoughts to myself. I think better than expressing myself. I have difficulty speaking up. I have problems letting myself go. I want always to project a confident, on-top-of-things image when I am really falling apart inside.

I always thought I was good. Now, I know I can't be any worse.

I need rescuing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


how do you make everyday interesting?

first of all, do you have to be an interesting person? can a boring person make everyday interesting?

maybe a boring person don't have to live any day interesting.

maybe i should be a boring person.

what if i already am?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

"Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid of love, I who love love? Why am I afraid, I who am not afraid? Why must I pretend to scorn in order to pity? Why must I hide myself in self-contempt in order to understand? Why must I be so ashamed of strength, so proud of my weakness? . . . Why was I born without a skin, O God, that I must wear armor in order to touch or to be touched." -
Eugene O' Neill

"The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two hundred proof grace-of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel-after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps-suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started.... Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case." -
Robert Capon

"Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need they have produced." -
C S Lewis

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. ... It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 'You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!' . . . If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance." -
- Paul Tillich

"A Church that will not accept the fact that it consists of sinful men and exists for sinful men becomes hard-hearted, self-righteous, inhuman. It deserves neither God's mercy nor men's trust. But if a Church with a history of fidelity and infidelity, of knowledge and error, takes seriously the fact that it is only in God's Kingdom that the wheat is separated from the tares, good fish from bad, sheep from goats, a holiness will be acknowledged in it by grace which it cannot created for itself. Such a Church is then aware that it has no need to present a spectacle of higher morality to society , as if everything in it were ordered to the best. It is aware that its faith is weak, its knowledge dim, its profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin or failing which it has not in one way or another been guilty of. And though it is true that the Church must always dissociate itself from sin, it can never have any excuse for keeping any sinners at a distance. If the Church self-righteously remains aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God's kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted." -
Hans Kung

"Several years before his death, a remarkable rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, suffered a near fatal heart attack. His closest male friend was at his bedside. Heschel was so weak he was only able to whisper, “Sam, I feel only gratitude for my life, for every moment I have lived I am ready to go. I have seen so many miracles during my lifetime.” The old rabbi was exhausted by his effort to speak. After a long pause, he said, “Sam, never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder and he gave it to me.” -
Brennan Manning

"For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get." -
Frederick Buechner

"I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of the mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut that little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth that I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks.
"Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks. "Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut."
She nods, and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says. "It is kind of cute."
All at once, I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I [am] so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. "
- Richard Selzer

"He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!" -
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"The devil dwells in the urge to control rather than liberate the human soul. One can hardly live in these closing years of the twentieth century without realizing how the forces of control have gathered. . . . We stand by a dark forest through which fearful religious and political leaders would force us to pass in single file through their exclusive pathway of righteousness. They want to intimidate us, make us afraid and hand over our souls to them once more. Jesus saw such shadowed forces as the corrupters of the essential nature of religion in his time. They are no less so all these centuries later."' -
Eugene Kennedy

"Reason demands moderation in love as in all things but faith destroys moderation here."-
John McKenzie

"I was seized by the power of a great affection" -
Deep South saying

reading plan - 2006

i'm embarking on a ten year plan to finish the top 100 books of all time, "as determined from a vote by 100 noted writers from 54 countries as released by the Norwegian Book Clubs".

for 2006, i wanted to do Dostoyevsky first, having read so much about him and never actually read him. so i might as well do all the Russians.

What do you know? They are exactly 10 Russian books in the list.


1. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor M Dostoyevsky)
2. The Idiot (Fyodor M Dostoyevsky)
3. The Possessed (Fyodor M Dostoyevsky)
4. The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor M Dostoyevsky)
5. Dead Souls (Nikolai Gogol)
6. Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
7. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
8. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
9. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories (Leo Tolstoy)
10. Selected Stories (Anton P Chekhov)

Pray for my soul. If i can get through Anna Karenina, War and Peace and Crime and Punishment in one year, i can go through anything.

full of shit

friends are full of shit.

actually people are full of shit.

really, I'm full of shit.

over the weekend, i was mad with the Jew-hater and the Man-hater.

now, i feel a bit better, especially after meeting up with mr. tan, who is lost like me, but can figure out where most libraries are and where 111 ends.

i heard from mr. tan that the Man-hater is upset with my email. cos i called her self-centered. it's ironic cos it's a self-centered letter to a self-centered person. anyway, there were other things i wanted to say but i held back.

i shouldn't have.

the truth is hard to take.

i have known her for years but it really very sad because I don't really know her. i think none of us do. maybe because we are men.

i thank God i have no romantic interest in her (can't say the same for some other fool), although i have thought about it. but we will bore each other to tears and early deaths.

the jew hater is another old friend i don't know well. but there is less sadness here, not because he's a guy but because he's just off the charts. i didn't turn up for the group meeting cos i know i was pissed enough to shoot my mouth at him.

he and his Possible Girlfriend (mr. tan's brilliant words) are undoubtedly meant for one another, whether the sponge cake tastes delicious or not.

i just have this feeling that the cake in question, and the tastebuds involved, is simply, like me and my friends here (except the esteemed mr. tan)

full of shit.

Friday, November 18, 2005

a tribute to mr tan

mr tan is a good friend of mine. good because we can talk, connect and see each other when we have no one to see.

that kind of good. not the other kind when we will die for one another. but you'll never know. because that kind of good is a good way to die. so we might die for another, but not so for the sake of the other person but more for the sake of a better way to die.

i try to remember narratives- the adventures of tan and lim. i'm sad to say that these stories aren't exciting. they are not even sad. they are merely happenings, like the wind blowing, clouds drifting, birds shitting.

i remember in jc days, walking with a group of people towards buona vista mrt, engaged in a conversation with mr tan. i cannot remember what we talked about, but i know we talked and somehow connected.

i remember in jc days, at pre-hip plaza singapura, mr. tan once took some drinks, leftover by strangers, mixed it and drank it.

what balls.

i remember him in worship, playing the guitar, in school, by the sea at marina. his own unique way of showmanship - as if playing was a sport he physically enjoyed.

i'm stuck to find narratives involving both of us. there are none significant. but there are fragments enough to piece together something.

the lack of spectacular narratives may mean that we are losers. allow me to speak for myself - i'm a loser, not because i lack narratives which i do but because i struggle with meaning, with purpose, with results.

i lack want.

mr tan is a good man. in a sad way, so am I. it's a sad sad truth - if somehow we were a little less than good, we will live far more interesting lives.

its frightening, the world we live in.

but let me salute you mr. tan. you're a good man and i'll be the judge of that.