Category Archives: Personal

the signified

“there falls the rain, there comes the storm, darkens the sky
I wish to be with you on days like this and hold you tight.”

It’s a stormy morning, and these words return to my mind as I look at the gloomy sky. Despite the repeated creak coming from the stairs that are violently shaken by the wind, and the cascading sound of heavy shower, it’s brutally quiet. As if the rain has muted all human sounds. That’s my favorite part about rainy weather. The rain defeats us. It reduces us to vulnerable and fragile creatures. It extinguishes our arrogance.

I wrote the two above lines on a rainy summer afternoon 4 years ago, when I was in Vietnam. They were inspired by another person, but of course they are all about you now. Even the senses and the mood about that day are gone, no longer associated with these words. The signifier “you” remains the same, but the signified has changed. The old signified faded away, disappeared, and was rendered non-existent. You are the unique signified now, the same way you wholly inhabit my mind.

You gave me a book and said that it had a story, but I didn’t mind. In fact, not only your book, my words, or your dog (that you unconditionally share with me), and I guess everything else that makes up our own individual worlds, but both of us also have our stories. However, that should not matter. We are not owned by them forever.

I often think that essence is taken for granted. We actively attach meanings to things in our life. The structuralists have separated the signifier from the signified because their association is arbitrary. Meanings are not intrinsic or incorrigible. If we can’t control what happen to us, then at least we can decide what it means.


This is the kind of song that you listen to on a summer night when you feel lonely and the road is yours. You see some stranger’s silhouette that you mistake for somebody you knew. The warm yellow light from the street lamps and the windows is in a perfect contrast with the twilight sky. The moon is a faint spot of light brushed away by a thin veil of cloud. The sun lingers on top of the canopy whose thick and dark shape forms a rampart surrounding the sunflower field, above which the sky opens up like a canvas painted in an oneiric blue, the shade of blue that you’ve only seen in Magritte’s world. You chase the night. You keep going until it absorbs you and you can’t find the way back. Time stands still as the bicycle’s wheels turn around, and time is infinite. For a second, you wish that you were truly alone in this world. That there was no one to miss, that you were one and whole in the uniqueness of your existence, like a prime number.

This is happiness. I could very live like this until the rest of my life, but I’d probably die out of boredom and frustration. Which makes it a happiness. It’s not meant to last. I only love this place because it’s not mine forever, and so it’s mine, in this present moment. Once I realize that, I feel liberated from the burden of anticipated nostalgia. Everything that I’m experiencing right now is precious. That dead trunk on the roadside. Those insects that hit my forehead, my glasses and my mouth (giving me violent kisses). The summer air that smells of smoke, animal’s excrements and fresh leaves. This timeless town untouched by the outside world. It will cease to exist as soon as I step on the train that will take me away from it forever. It will hibernate in a corner of my memory.

I’ve found where I belong in this world. I’ve always known the answer, but never quite understood it. Now I do. In my dreams, there’s only one place that I belong to, but it doesn’t have a name, nor a shape. It takes on different shapes in real life, and so I have to constantly move between places. Because dreams can be eternal in their own territory, but will vanish when hit by reality. I only belong to somewhere as long as it remains my dreamland. As long as it doesn’t last. As long as I don’t belong to it.

I listened to that song on a summer night back many years ago, back in my hometown. I listen to it now, and it instantly brings me back to that night. Or rather, it brings that night here. The past and the present fuse together. I time travel. I am one. I am whole. I am here. I am alive. I am infinitely mine.

“De nulle part à nulle part”: Enquête du printemps

Cette synthèse de rapports a été produite à la suite d’une enquête menée sur une période de 3 mois du mars au mai 2017. Étant donné la spontanéité avec laquelle l’enquêtrice a procédé à sa mission, les dates de début et de fin restent indéterminées. Cette enquête a été conduite dans des lieux divers qui peuvent être tous définis comme “nulle part”. Le projet de l’enquête s’intitule ainsi “De nulle part à nulle part”, dans le plein respect de l’esprit de la flânerie – à la fois une discipline scientifique et une méthodologie émergente.

Mars 2017: Rapport Premier

L’enquêtrice constate que le nombre d’indices repérées empiriquement demeure insuffisant pour confirmer l’arrivée définitive du printemps. Compte tenu de la nature capricieuse du sujet, une perspective “émique”, c’est-à-dire s’appuyant sur la subjectivité de l’observatrice qui devient elle-même le sujet informateur, sera indispensable. Cette approche permettra de recueillir des preuves intangibles telles que le sentiment d’être revitalisé à la vue des boutons floraux, ou l’agitation de l’âme au souffle du vent.

L’enquête se poursuit.

Avril 2017 : Rapport final

L’enquêtrice, atteinte d’une dépendance à la mélancolie hivernale, est incapable de poursuive l’enquête dont la finalité risque de lui causer une violence sentimentale.

L’enquête se termine.

Mai 2017 : Rapport de suivi

Malgré l’annulation du projet, l’enquêtrice, ayant développé un sentiment d’attachement au sujet d’étude, s’obstine dans son observation ce celui-ci, un exercice qu’elle pratique quotidiennement de manière instinctive. D’après les dernières preuves empiriques, le sujet entre actuellement dans la phase d’extinction. Il serait donc souhaitable de reprendre l’enquête dans des conditions nouvelles, en ciblant un autre sujet d’investigation. L’enquêtrice propose, pour l’instant, de définir ce sujet naissant comme “été”.

l’heure bleu

Lorsque je me lève les yeux du livre, la lumière est en train de s’écouler par la fenêtre comme un ruisseau bleu infini. Même l’air est teinté en bleu, tel que de l’encre. J’aspire cet air liquide comme si je l’injecte dans mes veines. J’ignore s’il s’agit de ma tristesse qui s’extériorise et s’empare de l’espace, ou si le monde physique, subissant d’une réaction affective quelconque, s’est métamorphosé en une substance intangible que j’assimile, et qui me consomme.

blank canvas

I look at heavy clouds as they fill in the space
between the high-rise block and the pine trees’ top
like a child coloring a picture
through the classroom’s window frame

The view transports me back to high school
those March days where the light was new and pure and fresh
the world was born again
and for a while
we could finally breathe

there I sat in our old classroom
me staring out the window
you staring at me
both of us
looking forwards
to something yet to grow
but already born
like green sprouts stirring under spring’s moist ground

I was alone in my gaze of the sky
so were you in your gaze of me
two universes
yet together
in the solitary exercise
of silenced affection

The clouds are now long gone, and the canvas blank again
there I draw my vision
of us being in the same room
locked in our own solitude
comforted by parallel secrets
and I keep fixing on the empty space
between the high-rise block and the pine trees’ top
in fear of the picture erased.

I wish you a home


I wish you a table
to sit and write letters
I wish you a home
a happy place to rest

I wish you a teapot
a bag full of secrets
a heater, and the warmth
will never vanish

I wish you a corridor
with dozens of doors
I wish you a garden
full of scents and colors

I wish you a window
to peer out at the world
I wish you many friends
and also good neighbors

I wish you the sun
and I wish you the moon
so that you could choose
where to go and to stand

I wish you a road
free of nasty holes
I wish you a tree
to take shelter from rain

I wish you a book
to go through dark days


Spot on a window in the street of Tilburg. Unknown author. Translation from Dutch and photo by me.