missing territories

I remain attached to all the cities and neighbourhoods in which I have lived, no matter how briefly. The need for sedentary attachment to the land (la terre), in the end, still conquers the eagerness for nomadism. Sometimes I picture myself at a specific moment and a specific location in my previous life, and the physicality of both the geographical place and of the senses (the light, the temperature, the smells, the textures, the design of the surrounding space) are very much present in shaping my memories.

I remember the late-night cycling into the thickening darkness of the narrow and perfectly straight roads of the Netherlands: the feeling that this was both the ultimate escape and the destination for my endless search of a place to belong, that infinity could somehow be reached merely by keeping the bike wheels turning.

In moving from places to places, from one (micro-)cultural world to another, one network of people to another, – in living in transition –, I feel like having drawn for my life an utterly individual trajectory that resists any attempt to ‘share’. I take no pleasure in this singularity. I used to think home is wherever you are with your loved ones. But what of my other homes, which are nothing more to them but strange names and forgettable stories? I happen to think that home is also nostalgia for a familiar elsewhere; it is longing for the all the places to which you were once attached, and from which you were parted. If so, then I might never be home.

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some history of love

I.

love, still

I love you like a poem
metaphors, and
soft-spoken, and
hidden meanings, and
never
on
your
reading list.

II.

love, at last

I love you like a poem
metaphors, and
soft-spoken, and
hidden meanings,

but also like a novel
a history book
a research paper
a scientific mag, and
always
on our reading list.

III.

love, maybe

I love you like a poem
there’s nothing to say
about a poem
maybe you forget
it was once
on your reading list.

nulle part

En cet instant précis, et dans ce car roulant sur l’autoroute, je ne me sens appartenir à nulle part. Je suis incapable de fixer mon esprit à un lieu défini. J’ai envie que la ville que je viens de quitter me manque ; peut-être me manque-t-elle vraiment, au fond, mais je suis devenue si accoutumée aux adieux et à la séparation pour laisser la mélancolie s’emparer de moi de nouveau. Au fait, je n’ai aucune nostalgie ni aucun désir pour un endroit spécifique. Plutôt qu’un vide, il s’agit d’un sentiment d’entre-deux qui, malgré sa nature indéterminée, se concrétise. Plutôt que la tristesse, il s’agit simplement de la pesanteur – une pesanteur du rien, et dans le rien il y a tout ce qui résiste au moulage de la langue, qui existe au seuil de la vie, en quête d’une forme jamais à être trouvée, comme une destination jamais atteinte.

genealogy of a compote

here are the apples from which the compote we ate yesterday was made.
here is the tree from which fell these apples.
here is the soil from which grew this apple tree.
here is the garden of which this soil is a part.
here is the house of the lady to whom belongs this garden.
she was the one who made the compote and gave it to us.

here is a story of somewhere.

Franche-Comté, summer 2018.

rapport de stage (1)

Journal de bord – Semaine 2

Chaque journée démarre par une réunion, ou plutôt, deux : celle de l’équipe artistique, suivie de celle de l’équipe globale. Les réunions durent environ de 2 à 3 heures, c’est-à-dire toute la matinée, à l’issue desquelles on remplit l’agenda (imprimé en grand format et collé au mur du bureau) par les post-it “à faire” sans vraiment prendre aucune décision. Tout est soumis à la concertation et à la décision collective de l’équipe organisatrice composée de 4 salariés et de 3 personnes en service civique, autrement dénommées “volontaires”.

Lors de la semaine précédant la soirée d’ouverture du festival, la question la plus urgente et inlassablement débattue concerne la vente de crêpes. Celle-ci se décline en plusieurs problématiques : la recette, les prix, le choix entre sucré et salé – ou plus exactement “la problématique de passer du sucré au salé”, puisque l’association ne dispose que d’une crêpière. En effet, certains membres craignent que les garnitures pour le salé, tel que le fromage, se mêlent à celles pour le sucré et altèrent son goût.

Au début de chaque réunion, la chargée de communication propose (ou impose gentiment) à l’équipe de faire un tour de table “météo”, qui consiste à parler de son état âme, son humeur, son “climat intérieur” de la journée. L’exercice est assez gênant, mais tout le monde y adhère quand même, dans une ambiance bienveillante d’écoute et de compréhension. La plupart constate simplement que “ça va” avec une légère autodérision pour cacher son embarras, ce qui suscite la critique de la maître du jeu qui considère ce moment comme un exercice d’expression de soi et exige aux autres de le prendre au sérieux. D’autres n’hésitent pas à évoquer les épreuves de leurs vies personnelles (rendu de mémoire, décès d’une proche) ; ces confidences sont systématiquement accueillies avec la plus profonde empathie de toute l’équipe, alors réunie par un sentiment d’intimité et de communion d’ordre rituel. La réunion se transforme ainsi en une session de groupe de parole, ce qui peut s’avérer être une solution plus économique pour l’argent public en matière de traitement des troubles de l’humeur en milieu professionnel.

there isn’t a word for everything

Khi nghĩ về nỗi buồn, tôi đoán rằng dystopia có lẽ không phải một nơi mà người ta muốn xoá bỏ nó. Mà là nơi người ta sẽ không để cho nó được “là”. Người ta sẽ phải làm những thứ như Bảo Tàng Thấu Cảm và Nâng Cao Nhận Thức Cộng Đồng Về Bệnh Trầm Cảm. Người ta sẽ mặc áo đẹp cho nó và biến nó thành chuyện chính trị thành công cụ bán hàng. Và người ta tin rằng họ đang tiến gần hơn tới utopia.

first breath after coma

“After all: who doesn’t wish to make a spectacle of his loneliness?”
(N. Krauss, The History of Love)

I have 18 songs by Explosions in the Sky on my playlist.

It was a friend in high school who introduced me to post-rock and ambient. On my 20th birthday, he sent me a piece composed by himself, called “lunatic experience”.

There was no story, nothing special between us. I remember us standing once on the balcony outside our classes, gazing over the courtyard and talking about things people like us talked about. I don’t know what “people like us” actually are like. I just know we’re alike.

When we went off to university, we caught up once or twice about our lives abroad. Stuff that mattered. Questions that kept us wonder. About our place in this world. And how to live without being crushed by it.

The last time we talked was one year ago. He told me about a Korean post-rock band that was opening a show in Tilburg. Although I didn’t know them, I immediately booked the ticket.

The rest was beyond words.

Now that I has mentioned the Tilburg show. It was only when I moved to the Netherlands that post-rock became my full-time companion. It fit perfectly into the kind of life that was offered to me there: open space, solitude, and freedom. It was the music for being alive. Even though I don’t really like the word “music”, since it fails to evoke the physical/corporal experience of sound.

Back then, I travelled around by train a lot. Especially in winter. The whole country was sunk in gray, which was the color of the sky, the air, and nature. I remember looking out the train window on a foggy day of March. As my vision blurred, I anticipated the end of my journey, pretending I was sitting on the train that would take me away from that land forever. And that was exactly how I would like to remember it. Those moments in transit, from nowhere to nowhere, the melancholic excitement of going somewhere while never reaching it, with Brian Eno and Explosions in the Sky enveloping it all.

The piece I listen to the most is “First Breath after Coma”.

That spring, I often forgot to breathe. I would hold my breath for a long time, and then when my dried lungs cried for air, it would feel like recovering from death all over again. It was the spring that saw a love blooming. Love took my breath away by too many sleepless nights. But, love also brought the first breath after coma.

Now and then when I listen to Explosions in the Sky, I see myself cycling along the canal and the empty fields on the outskirts of Tilburg. The memory was as fragile as what ties us to this life. And, within a blink of an eye, or perhaps less, I am reminded of all that has made me alive.