Friday, September 28, 2007


Often I am reminded that to love someone is to have the ability to hurt them deeply.

Or maybe to be loved by someone is to have the ability to hurt them deeply.

How then to love so that the love is not a burden?

Monday, September 24, 2007

the spaces between languages

At the end of the first day of the conversazione, in response to Alain Gagnon's lecture on Québec identity, I noted, as if it were a problem, that the fact that the marker of identity for the Québécois being language and the marker of identity for Anglophones being institutions already presented a décalage of common ground. Two frameworks by-passing each other.

But by the end of the second day, this bypassing of the two languages, seemed to be the very thing that made the Canadian experiment work, albeit irritatingly. As Alain said to me in our conversation after dinner, On se parle, quand même.

And in the spaces between languages, while we listen and wait patiently to understand the other, we allow for the possibility of multiple voices and languages to enter our consciousness.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the fucking long-tassel #2

Yang Shifu, his arteries threatening to explode with every brief walk, his wife Shimu dying of cancer in the bedroom, is alert to the approach of death. In response, he has decided to make me the keeper of the long-tassel sword form, insisting on working on the details with me - "Make proficient". All this would be well and good except that he keeps forgetting stuff. We end up yelling at each other. Well, I yell at him (I am so disrespectful..) and he laughs at my irreverance.

Still, he manages to give me notes that solve three-year old mysteries even as he sheepishly admits, after looking at his notes, that I am right after all about a sequence of moves.

Thus, I fall into the embrace of study, into the embrace of this relationship with an old man. But I too am alert to the inevitability of loss.


During dinner, after spending a weekend hearing words like "loyalty", "duty", "sacrifice" spoken in relation to citizensip and national identity, it occurred to me that it was possible to think of your nation as the beloved to whom you offer all your efforts.

And the state of which one became citizen, was the state that would accept the offerings.

It is enough that the beloved accepts.

But I did not say this to anyone. Because I could tell that I was already on the verge of being dismissed as the raving lunatic artist in the room (I swear, the things I said were very tame. Really.)


hobey-dobey is the word that Junhong coined for the people who bought million-dollar townhouses overlooking the courthyard where the children's playground is and who now yell at the kids to shut up.

On Friday I left in the morning to the Oxford-Boston-Melbourne-Vancouver conversazione full of vigour and enthusiasm - eager to be stimulated by international intellectuals. David, in his usual cynicism about academia, said, "Good luck with the intellectual hobey-dobeys".

It turned out I really needed that luck.

By mid-afternoon Saturday I found myself crying in the washroom: exhausted from the effort of not leaving my fork in the eye of an Australian white supremacist over lunch, disoriented at the overwhelming conservatism permeating the intelligentsia; and depressed, depressed beyond belief at the stupendous lack of imagination in the world. Also fatigued: fatigued and burdened by having to bear the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the multicultural hordes in this anachronistic anglo-centric bubble of myopia and fear.

It is not so easy to do as Naipaul says, to take it on the chin and move on.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I feel like crap.

Last night, after cooking and eating a fantastic dinner of grilled sirloin on baby arugula from the garden, fettucine tossed with pesto (made by Adrienne and David from basil from the garden), sautéed green beans (also from the garden) accompanied by the baux de provence I brought back, and finishing it all with the macaroons from Ladurée (ah..the squeals of delight from all. I felt like Prometheus bringing light!) ...I threw up everything.

My neck, which felt perfect all these weeks in France, had seized up earlier in the day.

The body, after 4 weeks in ascendance, open to stimulation in all aspects, can only go so far.

But there is a certain pleasure in giving in to the fall. Especially when I can fall into the embrace of my child, when I can fall into the quiet refuge of having coffee in bed with David, talking about everything from love to politics in Ancient Greece...

Friday, September 14, 2007

true north #2

That first whiff of Vancouver air when one steps out of the airport ...aahh..Pacific ocean, rainforest.

The first meal home: eggy rice noodles with shrimp, which David got especially for me from the Congee Noodle House..aah..comfort food.

Accompanied by world wine, so bold and forward..even if it did not go with the Hor Fun.

First snuggle with sleepy Junhong...he's grown.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

long-lost love #2

Today I went on a date with Paris. Without nostalgia for an old relationship. Just a curiosity about the present.

So I wandered through Le Marais, a quartier I have never really known, looking at snooty galleries with Laetitia, wrinkling our noses at cold art. Then, while looking at a couple of clothing stores, I was seduced by a dress. Later, after Laetitia left, I found a small "bar à vins d'auteurs" and let the owner bring me recommendations while I ate a dinner of salade des lentilles and foie de veau aux girolles. The salad was very good. The calf's liver, though very good, did not really go with the chanterelles nor the figs that garnished the plate, à mon avis, but the wines were delicious. I drank a bordeaux, then a côtes du rhone, then a fancy thing from the provence. The owner made a drawing of me and gave it to me. I think I charmed him. (I am very aware of how charming I am at the moment..)

On the way to the metro, I had to pick my way through an army of drunk Scottish rugby fans in kilts. I was both amused and afeart for my life..

Monday, September 10, 2007


Being back in the city that played a huge part in the formation of my identity and politics - alone without family this time and miraculously seeing both Kathy and Laetitia together again - it should be a really intense experience. But I am strangely at ease. I feel ready to kick this city's ass.

lari leong/traces of one's dancing #2

Yesterday, working on the film about Lari, felt like we were trying to reconstitute the man by articulating all the different bits and pieces he had left within us. I realised, after watching the 12 minutes of archival stuff Marc showed us, that I had forgotten how fluid Lari was. How stunningly beautiful. Christophe mentioned the word non-effort. Later, listening to Marc tell us the story of how Lari got to Paris via London via Hong Kong - a young Asian man in the late sixties, arriving in dance via movies, via fashion - I was struck by how little I knew of Lari. I never knew these things about him. All I knew was what I wanted in him - that fluidity, that effortlessness in the ability to glide through the elements, passing from one matter to another.

And I was amazed at how much we can be marked by someone we have never really known. Someone who, through an accident of timing and history, never managed, despite a certain brilliance, to emerge out of the relative obscurity of having been exoticised.

I feel I must now reconsider my insistence that in order to have an effect on the world, one must find ways to be free of the objectification that comes with being exotic...

Sunday, September 2, 2007


This project, Body-Scan, and being here in France, feels like a meeting of long-lost loves and long-awaited desires. A multi-faceted romance involving 7 people with different histories with each other at its core; then multiple ricochets and connections with the world around us.

We have been working on refining the fundamental score of the piece. How to engage with the world through multiple touches in a way that does not compromise the integrity of our body in this world. A constant re-organisation of the body in its environment giving rise to different relationships and emotions.

Then there is the delicious anticipation of planned "scores" with the beloved. How will the imagined encounter the real? Are we ready to reveal ourselves truly and to see (and smell) truly?

la vie est belle

Yesterday, Éliane took us to the market - me, Stephen and Tonja. We bought rabbit, amongst other things. I bought a Laguiole jack-knife.

At around lunchtime, Jacques Blanc came over for a casual visit. Following a collectively impulse to see the ocean, we then piled into a car and followed him to Conquet, where his house overlooks the body of water that is between the Channel and the Atlantic. We swam in the cold sea. I screamed into the universe as I entered the water. But then it was beautifully green and clear. Looking back at the beach from the water, I felt, for a moment, third beach, pulau perhentian and conquet all become one in my body. An odd sense of being at home.

We spent a few hours on the beach. I sat on a rock and modelled for Yannick's photographic efforts.

Then we went back to Jacques' house where we had tea accompanied by biscuits and ice-cream, all the while starring blissfully out at the ocean.

That night we welcomed Robert, who was arriving from New York, with an epic plate of cheeses and paté from the market. I cooked the rabbit with olives and anchovies, served with roasted vegetables. Stephen steamed the artichokes and served them with herbed butter. As for dessert, Tonja served us, with cream, honey and hazelnuts, the blueberries that she had collected the previous day in Sweden.

Later, as I was going to bed after watching A Chinese Ghost Story (I realised that it could be a metaphor for an intercultural long-distance relationship), I found a text-message from S. that made the day perfect.