21.7.05

in my city

butterflylady
Is it a bird? a plane? It's a butterfly!
Another nabokov-inspired picture, another unsuspecting train passenger


The romantics held music as the most sublime of the arts. Music can be mathematical in construct - and even then, it is still abstract. It escapes the confines of the word and can rise to levels of plotting and scheming higher than mere narratives can imagine. Music is not tempted by the figurative impulse in drawing, and does not feel destined to find its twin in the physical world.

You musicians out there are lucky. What more, I am sure you will never get this sort of title or theme for conferences or festivals you attend.

By that I mean "Text in the city", which is the theme of this year's Singapore Writers Festival:
Built around the theme Text In The City, the festival programme is derived from the notion of the use of text in the city and various urban spaces/centres. The city is the context against which our contemporary interactions and concerns are played out. Text In The City explores the many unconventional ways text is used in the modern city with the emergence of new technology, as well as the rise of non-traditional media. - SWF Website

It's a cheesy title. And the city has too many lovers armed with their magnifying glass in other disciplines already. Surely a Writers Festival can do better than this, I thought. The explanatory note in the website only made things worse, using all 74 words to say nothing beyond the obvious. What do they mean "various urban spaces/centres"? (as good as "etc") The next line "The city is the context...played out" is just as redundant. Is there a different setting for our "interactions" than the city in this city-state? Do we have a choice? And where have the organisers been all these years to still call the internet "new technology and non-traditional media"?

But it is too easy to criticise and gripe. If I was the organiser, with bosses breathing down and writers to please, I might come up with a similar theme. You know, the Festival speakers are probably going to be engaging and leave us with much to learn. This is, after all, a fairly unique opportunity to hear from a diversity of writers from Asia. So if you have an interest in writing (the organisers have tried to include everyone this year - blogging, graphic novels even), do drop by the events 26Aug-4Sep. After all, you taxpayers helped to finance part of the festival. You may even be up to the festival's 100 Word Epic Challenge.

Long-winded and verbose me won't ever qualify. I like too much the sinuous sentence and the ungrammatical meandering line. The more parentheses the better! Round brackets, square brackets, dashes, semi-colons... these detours, sidetrips and the occasional falling off cliffs! In my island-city-state, I like best the train ride (preferably including a walk to another platform for another train line) that precedes a bus ride, that leads to a short break in our many kopitiams where a conversation or two can be eavesdropped on, before sidetripping for a mandatory toilet & aircon break in a shopping centre, followed by a browse at the bookstore - there, an un-planned meeting with a friend awaits - and tired, another train ride in the direction of dinner or home where, upon reaching the train station, another detour tempts.

4 comments:

fortycalibernap said...

Just keep writing, keep working the art -- it's all good, and it all makes a lot more sense than the "official" versions. . .

Tym said...

You are very Stellou-esque in your writing then, as in your written and ambulatory expatiations.

ampulets said...

40caibernap - oh, i am also guilty of generating the "governmentspeak" in my day job. heh. ;>

tym - ah, stellou must also be a nabokov fan?

Tym said...

I'm not sure how Stellou feels about Nabokov, but I'll ask her. Regardless, you two have the great I.J. connection in common.

copyright ampulets 2005-2016