the tamago report

Eggs benedictated

Tag: reading

Do people exist?

by MDY

We forget what we leave behind. Milestones, exhortations, fair-weather friends. Good writing can memorialise the debris, but it too has a tendency to fall behind. Lavosier’s principles apply equally to words and hand-made birthday cards. When I look myself up on the Internet, I see at least seven cached personalities gradually receding in smugness and hair length. There’s a school captain who takes his primary responsibilities very seriously, as well as musician allegedly making racist comments about the French. It only takes two iterations for a budding young writer to resemble the gin-sardonic pen-for-hire he once thought cool. Like the soldiers sent by Mars’ governor to contain his Californian equivalent, it’s hard to tell what’s real. We think Descartes enlightened, but he never had to study Stoppard in English 2.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Take one part steel and four parts concrete, and you can end up with anything from Atlantis to a Fortune 500 corporation. I sometimes have trouble distinguishing my reader’s smile from the :)’s in her text messages, or the ones sinking fast into the loam of my subconscious. The characters in my mentor’s latest novel are composed almost solely from their trace elements, and I’m struggling to apply myself after months spent grazing exclusively on 500-word opinion columns. Reverting to a cached version might do the trick, but it’s not yet worth running the risk of irrevocably corrupting time and space.

We write ourselves into existence. I often wondered about the practicalities of English lessons until one teacher yelled at us after an hour trying to guess a poem’s subtext, “You’re not reading! Read!” It’s often easier to conjure up someone’s letters than their smile or the softness in their eyes, but doing so bears its own risks to time and space. Good characterisation requires the writer to capture a certain wholeness of being but without any idiosyncratic loss. Take one person and infinite perspectives, and you end up with a story or a funeral. We leave behind what others will remember.

What I did this weekend.

by MDY

I struggled on the weekend. It was the water’s fault. The sun was out but the wind was cold, turning my already-sparse muscles into shadows of themselves. The water was heavy from the previous night, immobile save for the faintest shards of wind-chill. When I pulled, it sucked quietly at my strength and turned it into bubbles, and by the seventh lap my only thought was I don’t really want to do this. By the time I was done, though, it wasn’t so bad. On Wednesdays I swim sixteen laps, and on Saturdays fourteen. I used to be antipathetic towards swimming fourteen because no portent outweighs that of certain death.

One of my friends is antipathetic towards kidney beans. I’m not sure why: although kidneys are the life-giving organ, their leguminous counterparts do have a bit of an alkaline taste which sticks in the mouth. We shared tonkatsu and salmon on the weekend after a long hiatus, and she told me about many instances where her only thought was I don’t really want to do this. She also told me that despite my fears, saying to a girl You’re beautiful never gets old. I thought this was good advice and wrote it down, but not on a piece of paper. I also wrote down a short story, which my reader read.

I wouldn’t choose it as an apartment number, but at the end of the day it’s only a matter of belief. If you think it’s cold, then it’s cold, but if you choose to think about tonkatsu or your reader then the crawl doesn’t seem so hard after all. Everyone needs a green light to swim for, otherwise you just end up depressed by the act of covering the same fifty metres over and over again. Even when I do struggle against the current, it’s always comforting to know that I can get out, dry myself off, and have a warm shower which’ll leave me glowing until nightfall. That’s what I did this weekend.