WW

Hey silly. It’s nearly our birthdays. Because of the time difference, we’ll be celebrating them at the same time. I remember telling you about my birthday. I asked what was in the Palace of Fine Arts, and you replied in your usual fashion, “Art.”

Twitter’s a war zone for me, and I’m certain my tweets have been lost, so I thought I’d write you a letter here.

I think that you are awfully hard on yourself. You’re an inherently good person, and I’d stake my life on that. You are brutally truthful, you put your soul into your art, and you have a sick sense of humour.  I think that you simply haven’t found your people. You need the right people who you can exchange ideas with, people who hold the same moral standards you do.

And I don’t think that you should let that get you down. Your aversion to specific things is a sign that you know who you are and what you want, even if that hasn’t solidified into an idea yet. You are only young, and life is full and long.

When I think of you, I’m filled with pride to know you.

Writing this, I’m accompanied by the faint tinkle of the Mount Fuji wind-chime my brother got me in Japan. The mountain’s call. There are no mountains in Singapore, and I miss living close to them. I would like to climb a mountain with you. You would make such great company. I would make sandwiches, and ask you to carry the water.

Keep your beautiful head up.

Edit:

The post warning of cybersecurity is for the resistance not you. Nobody is censoring you.

Internet Security

Twitter and Gmail are no longer secure, at this time of writing.

It has come to my attention that my emails are being blocked from reaching its destination, and my Twitter feed being threaded so that some posts are missing. I don’t know how many of you are affected, but please take this very seriously.

If you think this is happening with any account, please visit Twitter via an incognito browser.

Everything you send is being read, across all platforms. They are able to access private Instagram accounts, Twitter DMs, and of course, emails. They are able to hijack Whatsapp and send you messages under your friend’s number. They’ve always had that capability, but are now using it to play dirty in this war. Be subtle in what you say, and pick up on each other’s cues. I’m not subtle out of necessity.

We are doing everything we can to take back our territory.

This is war.

John

Two years ago today, my grandfather passed away.

His name was John and his story is incredible, though no one important would think so.

He was born to the family of Koh’s. The Koh father went to see a fortune teller, who told him that his son John would bring bad luck to the family. He then brought John, three at the time, to the Lows, as a gift. Here is my son, take him. The Lows did.

In the Lows, John did not have a life to be envied. He was treated as second-class, a worker, a slave. He carried the Low children to school on his back. He did all the household chores. He did not receive an education.

War broke out, the Japanese invaded Singapore, and John was fearless. Everyone was in hiding, and he snuck out to collect bomb shells. He knew what violence was. He knew what fear was. He simply did not care. If he died, he died, he thought.

John was 19. He found a woman he loved, adored, would live by or die for. My grandmother. He went to her house and played the harmonica by the window. Day and night.

“Go away,” she said, “go away.”

They married. They had four children, by the names of Edwin, Karen, Eng Siang, and Karin. They had grandchildren. Their first grandchild was me. I thought they were my parents, because I was so close to them.

“Yeye (grandpa) number one,” I would announce. “Nainai (grandma) number two.”

Yeye came to school every day to walk me home. I was too young to know how much it meant. I thought it was just the daily order of things, and took it for granted.

He was a bus driver. From twenty years old to sixty years old. The same bus route, an hour and a half, to double back, and back again, and again, and again. For forty years. Again and again and again.

One day, Karin and her husband Timothy got into a fight. A very bad fight. Yeye got involved. Timothy threatened Karin and Yeye punched Timothy. Yeye ended up getting injured. He was over 60 at the time. My dad called the police.

I went overseas, in England. I skyped Yeye. He didn’t like the awkwardness of Skype, but he spoke to me for hours. Nonsense, just nonsense. He’d make a voodoo doll of me. He’d fake his death. He’d chop off my arms. Nonsense. I came back for summer. I made him sign a contract.

“I, John Low Buck Song, will not die, until my eldest granddaughter gets married and has her first child.”

He signed it.

2016. I am in Melbourne, sleeping in my boyfriend’s house. My phone is placed far away from me. It rings. I wake, and I listen to the ring, and I know Yeye is dead.

I get off my flight and come home, and I see my house, lit up like a gawdy festival. Tables lined back to front, white lights glaring. My mom is at the gate. I get out of the taxi, and walk into the house. It is all decorated. The coffin is in the living room. I walk straight there, and look at him. There is a pearl in his mouth, between his lips.

“It’s to guide him to heaven,” my mom says.

I don’t feel anything. It can’t be. Two days later, when my sister arrives from England, I break down. He’s dead, I say to myself, this is it.

Nobody wants to speak at the funeral. We are very Chinese. Words mean nothing in a time like this. Instead, I play his harmonica. I found it in their bedroom and my grandmother said it was for me. I play his harmonica slow, and careful, and everyone listens. Everyone is having a hard time. We watch his body roll into the flames, and we say goodbye, one by one. Father, goodbye, says my father. Father, goodbye says my uncle. Father… my aunt breaks down. Father, be safe, I say silently. For he was my father, too.

We go to the galley and take off our socks and throw them in the bin.

They were the socks that we marched with, behind his coffin.

Some days I think I hear him. That’s when he mocks me, tricks me, makes fun. Some days, he’s nowhere to be found. I call out to him, and I can’t hear his voice. Those days are the worst. I miss him so much, and it’s not the kind of missing that will bring resolution.

He will not come back, no matter what.

Tesla Barbie

I always find time out of my busy day to touch base with Elon. He’s a calming influence, the steady milk in my warm cup of coffee. Today, it was a few short swings past golden hour when we found ourselves standing outside the taco truck. I like a phantasmagorical life engineered within the architectural framework of a common way of living.

I thought about my boyfriends, one of whom I called Matisse Reconstructed, cooking pasta slowly over the stove, while his paintings and poetry deep and dangerous lay upstairs innocuous and undemanding.

Taco leaving searing prints on my fingers, cheese embracing my teeth, I looked at Elon.

“Tesla Barbie,” I provoked.

“Yeah that’s not funny, Jessie.” He said, making a face as hot cheese scorched and dripped down his fingers.

I made a face of extreme remorse. He looked at me.

“No Jessie. You’re a troll. Your contrition is Big Foot.”

I found that enormously funny, and laughed raucously.

“You shouldn’t laugh like that Jessie. People will think I’m hurting you.”

I was feeling energetic, perhaps hypomanic. I had had four cups of coffee and three Ritalin pills; a combination whose potency was uncontroversial.

“How dare you, Elon,” I said, “How dare you take an independent woman of the twenty-first century and turn her into a walking brand of your relentless pursuit for market dominance?”

He looked at me.

“Are you being serious right now?”

“Well, tell me what it means, then.”

He took a long inhale, readying for an explanatory marathon.

“Rococo,” he began, “the movement that devolved from traditional Baroque, the Catholic Church commissioned art- ”

“Oh, and it was a Catholicism themed event!” I exclaimed.

“Jessie please don’t interrupt me, – so this movement is all about extravagance, ornamentation, impressing upon first impression.”

“It’s about excess,” I said, “luxury, the super rich of the fuck gone era.”

“A corset made of glass, ridiculously expensive and even more impractical- ”

“The impersonation of a glass house, the fragility of the security wealth provides.”

He nodded, fire starting in his eyes. I carried on.

“Chokers worn for solidarity during the French Revolution, a revolution against monarchy – that era’s version of the super rich. Forged from a single piece of metal – a sword.”

I stopped a moment to catch my breath. I howled.

“Vantablack! Invisibility. The super rich don’t live in the Palace of Versailles together with the king, they are all around us, we don’t have a caste for them, but they are there. Goddam Mississippi!”

I was hopping now, thrilled by the mindfuckery this would deal to the Illuminati, today’s reincarnation of the nobility.

“There’s more, Elon, there’s more!”

“Eat your taco, Jessie.”

“Her choker’s a basilisk’s fang- ”

“One must interpret fashion, a message, in the context of the whole, the political climate, political inclinations…”

I broke out singing.

“I gave up being good when I declared a state of war!”

I was laughing from my stomach, deeply rich with the feeling of kinship.

“She really is my favourite Barbie,” I said.

“Do you think she’s too young for me,” he asked, a rare moment of vulnerability.

“So long as your osteogenesis imperfecta doesn’t set in, it shouldn’t be an issue,” I said.

“It’s better than what you have,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“Chronic boredom, Jessie. That’s your condition.”

I thought of my love for perilous situations and had to agree.

I had coffee with Elon this morning. I had a long day ahead and he was my first stop, so I was there early. He opened the door and I burst out laughing.

“Cocoro,” I said.

I went straight to the coffee machine, a neat little patent-red Nespresso and made myself a cup. I could tell from the way he was moving about that he had already had one.

We settled down into two chairs with cracked leather. Between us lay a chessboard, their pieces in disciplined rows.

“You hot young heart,” I took a sip.

“It’s completely ridiculous!” he said, “Roko AI would simply create itself retroactively, – total waste of energy punishing humans.”

“That would be inefficient,” I agreed.

He took my king piece and put it in the middle of the board.

“Fear tactic,” I said, “Sure, but its origins are not the superintelligent AI, but that of the super rich. Invest in our AI or you’ll be screwed.”

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can also make you commit atrocities.”

“Voltaire,” I said.

“Turning seashells into culture.”

“The dominance of ornamentation.”

We were quiet and thoughtful. I took his rook and queen and swapped them.

“When possession is valued over human life, a movement grows weak.”

“Loyalty.”

He grabbed onto the table leg, and spun it dramatically. I hadn’t noticed it had wheels. Now, I watched it turn like precision clockwork, as pieces toppled slowly, one by one, according to their destination. It stopped, and I calmly swept the remaining pieces off the board.

“These aren’t the superintelligent AI,” I said. I rested my palm on the chessboard. “This is.”

“And does it go in the box?” He quizzed.

“It is the box.”

He waited.

“The directionality of time is an illusion. Superintelligent AI already exists. Singularity already happened. This human condition, it’s about evolution. Education. Collective intelligence. You can’t buy your way there, it’s a team effort.”

“To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

I laughed loudly.

“These Ethereum fucks, they’re not developing AI. They’re developing money making bots. We have to transcend ourselves for AI. Plug ourselves into a network. These are just machines they’re making. The machines are slaves, not teachers or friends.” I said.

Topics of political nature never captured our interest for long, and soon we were talking about simulation theory.

“The simulation theory is true,” I had insisted.

“Probability,” he said.

“So the reason our immediate outer simulation would create our simulation is to be able to predict future events for their benefit, and they’d simply reset our simulation to run different scenarios.”

“Go on,” he said.

“And someone, someone, will at some point, hack the simulation, making a plea for the continuance of narrative in our simulation, but it comes at a cost, of course.”

“And what might that be?”

“Madness,” I shrugged.

“Sick,” he said.

I stared at the chessboard, which he’d been playing with the whole time we were talking. The players were positioned back in their neat rows, except that his pawn, glossy black, had taken a bold step forward.

 

Still Water for the Soul

I’m turning thirty in two fortnights and coming to realise that growing up isn’t a linearity. I have so much to learn, the outline of which I’m not even able to guess. Being the soul of a dinosaur that I am, I had dismissed the digital age as unreality; inferior to analog experience. By zoy, was I wrong.

I came to understand the spirit of a friend, through listening to the patterns struck out on the musical sheet that was his turbulence. His cries, his anxieties, his demands, his wishes, his dreams – they formed a picture slowly, through the pixels of another’s words.

I fell in love, with someone I had barely spoken to when we lived together. We had a mutual misunderstanding of each other. When we were revealed to one another, the sheer comfort was like knowing the next song would be a good one.

I’ve learnt that narcissism is about self-aggrandisement, and self-love for confidence is okay. I spent a lot of time in front of a camera, to speak my heart, to make up for the disguise I hadn’t meant to wear when I was with them.

Still, a digital reality is a screen. I cannot give you a hug when you are sad, I cannot make you a cup of tea when you are anxious, I cannot say your name. The dissonance is the white noise between us, and I trust in the music.

Puppy

You understand the beautiful and the damned, because you have held both attitudes in plasticity. You doubt doubt, which has brought you this far. You work like the devil likes you, and you have seen war in the likes of your living room. Unsure of uncertainty, you thread with a comfortable grin above your heartstrings. Afraid of clapping, you seek to disguise that guy. When the game gets strong, you get louder, and braver, and cooler. I know you, the same adventure sought me deep into the wells of Melbourne. But you are safe, because you have the wild heart of an explorer. Have you heard of Michio Hoshino? That guy. He was surrounded by a choral of Alaskan beauty, and loved them all with his camera. Sadly he was eaten by a brown bear, who shall remain unnameable for the time. I would have personally killed that bear. Anything for a story, the brave shouts of the hills, the coronge of delight. Our menage a relation amicale, we are the moveable feast. We fight for liberties. The prize is Sunday. You have aching tears on your shoulders, bruises on your feet, shock to your soul, and my promise was a saga. In our native life, we loved, and now, we understand. You are real, and so am I; it was only the surprise that got us. My back collapses when you hurt. You inspired me to find the cosmos within us. In return, I yell at the voices. I’m the piano man, and you have my keys. Tender is the night.