Saturday, August 25, 2007

Aren't You Suppose to be On the Moon?

In progress...


Often I sit in front of it
and look at it for a very long time,
then I can really see something from it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The First Goodbye, The Second Goodbye, The Third Goodbye

People say goodbye to their loved ones so often, but not all of the goodbyes are the same. Sometimes I don’t even realize I had already said goodbye, and sometimes I know it too well as part of a well-planned schedule.

It can come suddenly and you are not prepared to say goodbye.

It can come unconsciously, but you have already known that you are going to say goodbye.

It can definitely be going to happen, and I imagine too much about saying goodbye.

The First Goodbye

The first one was tricky. Actually, I am not sure if I am going to use past tense to talk about my first goodbye. The process of saying this goodbye seems to be endless. It’s not like giving big hugs and sharing tears on each others’ cheeks. The words are not even spoken. This goodbye is to my mother, who died when I was only five years old. There was a ceremony, a funeral, and several other traditional events, but I wasn't at all sure of the situation. A fact was thrown at me, and that was it. If there must be a specific moment of saying goodbye to my mom, that would be fifteen years later when I was twenty years old (I am twenty-three now), when our family went to pick up the bones from the tomb. There I saw her. I wouldn’t say I saw her lying down there peacefully, but at the moment, my mind wasn’t full of intensity but instead, peace. I finally got to speak the words, although I did that in my mind, and it was transferred into tears. Actually, I think we haven’t said goodbye yet, because there is no such thing between me and all of the memories: the everlasting goodbye.

The Second Goodbye

This was like a tragedy. It had all the materials that a Hollywood movie would love to have: the most popular scene for saying goodbye, LAX Airport; characters, sisters and the rest of the family; date: the end of summer 1991. Now the film is running; the whole family and I are ready to walk toward the departure gate. My elder sister is walking beside us, and suddenly she stops. I turn my head and see her standing there, looking smaller and smaller. I can’t believe she is not coming with us! Everything becomes slow motion; I turn around, let go of my dad’s hand, lift up my right foot and run toward my sister. The background music rises; here comes a crescendo; violins pull long bows before the rest of the orchestra joins in; cellos, basses, trombones and tubas grow thicker with the wind instruments strengthening the main atmosphere. The camera zooms in, captures both of our watery faces, my dad is grabbing my arms, and my Uncle George is grabbing my sister’s. I cry, and I scream. It sounds sharp enough as to make all the buildings collapse. Thunderstorms and lightning combine with heaving raindrops, the ceiling starts to fall apart, it crashes down and all of a sudden….Cut! Of course it didn’t happen that way. I came back home and couldn’t get used to the life without my sister for a long time. I knew this trip was going to end without her, I knew it was going to be, but until it really happened, I was right in the middle of this unbearable reality.

The Third Goodbye

I left my country and came to Chicago this July. My boyfriend was sad about my leaving him, my friend cried when she thought about saying goodbye to me, my dad became upset about saying goodbye: he just kept mentioning how dangerous the city was going to be, how expensive the tuition was going to be, and he didn’t mention how much he was going to miss me. During all the countdowns for the departure, when I saw them expressing those emotions, all my mind and body was as emotionless as a log. Was it because I had already prepared for saying goodbye, or was I pretending not to be as sentimental as I was? My friends asked me, where does the sentimental one go? Where is she? What have you done with her? Well, I told them, I am trying not to be that sentimental anymore. But was I pretending; was I trying to cover up my true feelings? Getting too emotional makes me feel tired easily, especially saying goodbyes is a pretty sensational thing to do. Am I preventing this emotional cause of a sensational moment?

Maybe it is a lesson to learn, as those written words in a book that teach you how to fall in love or, fall out of love that sells in Eslite or Borders. Those big and small goodbyes are like a well-structured seminar in a program of showing paths to become a professional “goodbyenist.” Just follow the instructions, and you won’t get lost in the sentimental castle.

However, my rational, emotionless goodbye has been giving me strong aftereffects. It is like a terrible hangover after drinking one beer, one screwdriver and two shots of tequila in the two hours before dawn. All the emotions sneak into my skin, especially every time I crawl into my bed, which is placed in a mezzanine of a kitchen, besides a doorway, above a bathroom, an awkward place for my sleeping area. When I lie down on my bed with my eyes wide open, staring into the darkness, I start to see precious things from my visual memories. During all the preparation for this rational goodbye, the rational me persuaded myself not to be emotional or sorrowful. I even convinced myself not to bring too many things, such as the pretty red high heels that I never wore before, the retro style dress I wore to my graduation party, the poster of The Wayward Cloud autographed by Tzai Ming-Liang . I even looked through my luggage and boxes several times, trying to find those items I imagined taking along with me to the States. Often I ended up sitting in front of empty luggage and a pile of unwrapped boxes, feeling terribly sad.

It doesn’t make any sense at all. What I have prepared for such a long time has given me a stronger payback.

A friend once asked me this question: “ If a baby was born to know that falling on the ground was going to hurt, he or she would never learn how to walk, right?” “And if a person knew that falling in love would hurt, then he or she would never learn how to love, right?” I find myself standing in front of all the signals and signs that are telling me if you did something and it would cause you this and that, if you didn’t do something it would cause you that and this, and I realize that all the experiences make me stuck in the middle of the known world and too afraid to take any step forward.

One day I was looking for another pair of shoes in a pile of boxes. In between the crumpled newspaper wraps and the other unwrapped shoes that had fallen out from the top of another box, I saw a slice of red sparkling in the back of the mess. They were the red heels.

Maybe a person should improve themselves by learning or getting knowledge from experiences, but in some cases, it is ok to relax and follow one’s instinct. If learning is only to prevent something worse or decrease the encouragement of taking risks from merely showing one’s true feelings, I would rather be a sentimental kiddo.








A lot of things squeezed in between,

Comes from inside,

A vast expanse of whiteness,
The dry, dry ice-cold.

Maybe, only from the tail-like part
Could tell the
Most Chinese

Say, it is Chinese or Taiwanese because it is on a Taiwanese foot,
But who can understand?
People with western accent western tone.

Specially belongs to,
The romantic
For you.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Color of Blood

Red is the color of blood. Despite all the other species that have no hemoglobin in the blood, red is the color of blood running inside most living creatures. “In language after language, the word for red is an ancient one” (Greenfield, p.2). It is the color of blood, it is the color of fire, it is the color of sun. “Throughout much of the world, red represents events and emotions at the core of the human condition. Danger and courage, revolution and war, violence and sin, desire and passion, even life itself” (Greenfield, p.2).

It is the color symbolized in an extreme way, a color that runs in your own body that you could embrace with all your heart and also hate it and be scared of it at the same time.

In many countries, emperors wore red robes to symbolize power and prestige, wealthy people wore bright red colors to show their dignity, a cardinal in Rome wore red robe. In Chinese culture, the color red has been in an irreplaceable position. Throughout Chinese history, from ancient times to contemporary society, the color red has represented the whole Chinese culture, exactly like the running blood in the heart of this empire. Red has been a color for everyone. It is the symbol of joy and luck.

Red is such a basic color for Chinese, and it also has become such a stereotype in the West. Although red goes with the skin and hair color, it doesn’t mean that Chinese people wear in red all the time. In Hollywood films, a Chinese woman wearing scarlet lipstick and red clothes combined with a few kung-fu tricks sounds terrific. It is true that Chinese do wear red clothes, especially on special occasions. The Chinese traditional wedding dress is red. This kind of red is called Vermilion, also known as Chinese red. The bride would dress up in this complicated red dress with phoenix embroidery and wear a silver phoenix cornet covered with red hood, and would sit into the red sedan chair. The groom did not wear red, but he would carry a big red peony in front of his chest. All the dowries and hope chests along with the wedding parade would be tied up in red ribbons and also had peonies on them. Red candles, red table covers, red decorations have all been used until nowadays. They are all symbols of joy and good luck. During Chinese traditional New Year holidays, people put up spring festival couplets, which are red; set up fireworks to scare away the New Year’s Monster, which are red; the lucky underwear for gambling or mahjong games, is also red. Children happily collect all the red envelopes with money inside on New Year’s Eve. This long steady traditional culture brings us joy and blessing. The whole time, we are filled with the brightest color in the air that shines through the night until the last minute before the New Year. When there is a place with joyful cheer and warmth, there is a place hidden beneath the flame.

There stood four women in front of four hallways in an atrium, facing the same direction, waiting in anxiety but showed no expression on their faces. An old servant walked leisurely into the atrium. In his hand he held a big red lantern that glows in the dark. This evening, this big red lantern went to the fourth wife of the mansion. The master of the house, stayed over night with the woman who owned this great privilege. Raise the Red Lantern, a movie about the period just before China’s Cultural Revolution, directed by Zhang Yimou, is about how a powerful man who embraces the traditional culture can easily trample down unsophisticated girls, turned them into slaves of prestige. This film reflected the corruption of traditional Chinese culture. The red lanterns, which should have presented luck and joy, have turned into the cage of free minds. Where the luck goes, there the endless desire grows. Some of the symbolic use for red from ancient Chinese culture has become a burden carried on our shoulders, chains tied around ourselves.
This chain could chain up a large amount of people. It is not only a color anymore; it turns into a spirit, a method, a discipline. Red happened to be in the names of important historical events or tragedies throughout the history of Chinese. The famous long novel from the Ching Dynasty, The Dream of the Red Chamber, was a tragedy about a big chamber in which a group of wealthy people lived in, and the love story hidden under. Red-Color News Soldiers (Li) of the China’s Cultural Revolution were the most dangerous and powerful weapon for the revolution, the masses of royalty to the leader Mao; just recently in Taiwan’s political event, the “red” campaigners gathered on the street to ask President Chen Shui-Bian to step down from his position. This passionate color has become a radical one.

Red as blood should be a sign of energy and life. It represents a healthy body, a fresh mind and life. We often observe the condition of a human’s health by testing the blood or simply looking at one’s complexion. When shopping in a traditional market, we look at a fish’s gill to see if it is red enough to show how fresh it is. Elders in families do not like to see girls wearing heavy make up like smoky eye lids or dark nail colors, especially those black or purple lips. They are concerned it is the color of the death. A person with such a color means illness and he or she appears like a dead body without fresh blood. In a Jewish concentration camp, a new group of victims had just arrived. They got separated into women, men, and children. In a documentary film about a Nazi’s concentration camp during World War Two which I saw a few years ago, the Jewish women were undressing in panic; after that, they started to bite their fingers. The blood came out from their fingertips and they used it to color their cheeks and lips. The blood seemed not enough, and there were no mirrors. They kept squeezing their fingers for blood and helped each other putting on the healthy color. They would be evaluated, and some of them who were not qualified would have to go to the “shower room”. How vital the color could be!

The power of this color seems to come from its extreme matter itself. People used to share their blood to show love and trust; when two men wanted to be blood brothers, they mixed their blood in one bowl; when two men wanted to make a contract, they used seals with red inks, and it might be because of it was a symbol of trust through the color of blood. Nowadays, we don’t share our blood anymore; human’s greatest tragedy might be AIDS. It is a disease with no cure so far. It is contagious by blood, and mostly by the action of passion and love. A red ribbon becomes the symbol for the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, a ribbon made of blood.

This color happens to create heaven and hell through our life. Step back and think for a while; somehow it is the color that floats in all of us. To think on the bright side, it might also be the only and the last color that brings peace between different people, different races. No matter how different the cultures are and how obviously distinctive our appearances are, the truth is, the source of life has come out to be the same color. (If you don’t believe it, let us cut our fingers and take a look right now. But please don’t share the same tools.)

Work Cited
Ben, Tang. Tang Ben Forum. .
Berardinelli, James. “Raise the Red Lantern-a movie review.” .
Greenfield, Amy Butler. A Perfect Red. New York: HarversCollins Publishers Inc, 2005.
Joint United Nations Program. .
Li, Zhengsheng. Red-Color News Soldiers. Robert Pledge, Jacques Menasche and Jonathan D. Spence. New York: Phaidon Press Inc., 2003.
Raise the Red Lantern. [Da hong deng long gao gao gua] Directed by Zhang Yi-mou. Screenplay by Ni Zhen. Novel by Su Tong. Producer, Chiu Fu-sheng, 1991.

Seeing is Believing?

As a human being, our vision seems to be the most important sense among all the other senses. One of my painting professors once told me, “Use your eyes, not your brain.” I could understand him perfectly, but I also doubted it. In the slightest way to appreciate visual arts requires viewers must use their eyes, and they lead you to appreciate or read the concept of the arts, like the wall paintings in caves from the very beginning of art history. On the other hand, our emotions follow what we capture. A joyful smile, a peaceful prayer, a mad man with a twisted face, or a great view from Lake Michigan may change one’s mood. Somehow we come to believe in whatever we absorb with our eyes. It becomes some kind of belief, believe what you see, believe in yourself of what you see. Is it true that seeing is believing? Can we really believe in our own sight?

In previous times, before cameras were invented, that was a world with no doubt that seeing was believing. If you saw a beautiful scene and you wanted to share it with somebody else, all you could do was use your memories and interpret in your own ways by describing what you had seen. People may not have trusted you, and there were only two ways to make them: one, ask them to believe you because you saw it. Two, ask them to see it with their own eyes. After cameras were invented, everything went differently. There were a lot of times when seeing something, you wanted to touch it and feel the texture of the object. This action is like making sure about what you have seen and also saving some sort of files in your brain. The photographs didn’t provide any information similar to the files in the brain: no hairy touches of moustache that tickled, no gnarled wrinkly hands, no warmth of our lively skin. People couldn’t feel it, couldn’t grab, couldn’t smell it. People were frightened to see their faces locked in a little thin paper square. After a while, when people started to gain knowledge about cameras, to know that photos were just the captures of real images, they started to believe in photos, to believe in their own eyes again.

But wait a minute, what about digital cameras?

Today’s world is rife with digital technology. Everything can be digitalized. Cameras, music CDs, bus tickets, letters and even our essays. Thanks to digital technology, people can see each other through Web-cam from a long distance, we can send instant messages including photos which were just taken three seconds ago. The desire to see still stands in a very important position; people feel comforted by seeing with their own eyes. A mom could ask her son far away from home to sit in front of the camera and say, “Let me see you if you are OK over there.” On the other hand, digital could work in an unbelievable way. News or newspapers would put three-D animated scenes to show you the crime. Magazine covers of models could add some touches to the shape and tone of the body to make it look sexier. Photos for passports might not accurate enough for your identity because of the photo retouch can easily fool one’s eyes. Even with all the results, we still can’t stop convincing ourselves by using this irreplaceable sense.

Nowadays, we know that what we look at may all be digitalized and know that it all may not be real. It seems that “seeing is believing” may not be important anymore, but became important that trying to make yourself to believe in what you see. For example, two-dimensional cartoons are fascinating because of the incredible possibilities of the stories, figures and shapes in a great visionary world, but absolutely, they are far from reality. Three-dimensional animations make people stunned from the very first moment such as seeing the lively Woody in Toy Story, because the three-dimensional Woody actually appears in front of you on a big flat screen. Actually, they are all constructed by lines, colors and whatever you think about the drawing techniques, but why do Three-Ds look so real the first time? Why have Three-Ds become such a big market?

I can remember the first time I saw Toy Story. I kept asking myself, “How did they do that? Was it real? Can I really touch the little tyrannosaurus and feel the grain of its green skin?” I think this is very different from Ardman’s clay animation, because I actually know the characters inside are made of clay, which in your childhood memories, you could really grab and play with your sticky hands. I think the reason why a Three-Dimensional cartoon makes people think it looks so real is because the animators truly imitated the textures of the objects from every day life. The touches of things we have seen have been sorted into files, such as the texture of a wet sponge, a shivery silver knife, or a hairy England sheepdog. These files provide information for the next time a person sees something and starts to remember how it feels or what exactly that is when simply seeing the object.

Three-D animation shows the things that we are so familiar with and somehow the memories of the textures arise. It is virtual reality, a reality that you believe in yourself by seeing, even though you are totally aware that it is not real. Like the very popular movie, Harry Potter, which I just watched a few days ago, the unbelievable technique brought me into the air of London, whisked me through the night in England, and made me believe in everything in only three hours by sitting there and watching. This experience is exciting, fascinating, and what we often say,” It's unbelievable!” The point is, it looks so real to make one believes in it, but it is also truly unbelievable because it is truly fiction! Why we still so eager to dip ourselves in the world that seems you could never get your eyes satisfied or even want to get them spoiled?

Creativity never ends, imagination never stops. Visual artists and movie makers keep providing unpredictable luxuries for our eyes to be fooled by. People came to agree that you might never want to trust your eyes anymore. The thing is, images still go so fast like cluster of horses in your own brain. Daydreaming during your office hours, nightmares in your sweat soaked pajamas. What you saw in your dreams in your own brain feels so strong and so real. Imagination flows like flood. Stanley Kubrick’s last movie, Eyes Wide Shut in 1999, starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, talked about how the true experience in real life and the imagination compare with each other. Which one is stronger? Which one is truer? Is the actual action Tom did in real life? Or the disloyalty Nicole had in her dreams? Without question, Kubrick showed us both sides of the experiences in the movie, but he also left us a large range of space to imagine. Does it matter if we don’t actually see things with physical eyes but comes to believe it with our own mind? Can you still tell what life you are in? A real one or an imagined one?

I do a little bit of photography, mostly black and white traditional photographs. I think it appeals to me simply because the way it works: the principle for a traditional manual camera is to capture the image with the vibration of light. I like to imagine how the light crashed on the chemical surface and left those touches like fingerprints. This is something like those old black records, recorded and played with a gramophone needle. The physical scratches on black records are a direct response to the vibration of sound. This kind of process makes me feel real and alive. I could raise both my hands and say I totally believe in it. I believe in the music of old records and also the photo taken by those traditional cameras.
Black and white films are coming back again, so do records. Why? Why do we need them? We already have CDs or MP3 players? I think the reason why people still think they are precious and valuable is because we have believes in them. Maybe one of the reasons is cherishing old time memories, but I actually think that it’s because they are much more sincere, and maybe, trustworthy? Life circles around, so does our human nature. We touch, we smell, we taste, we hear, and we see. Our Eyes are the windows of the soul. As long as you believe in your eyes, you believe in your souls. So is seeing believing? Yeah, I suppose. 7/22/07

Stanley Kubrick on IMDb:<>