Not Made Unfamiliar

Photo of a book next to an angel statuette
Speculating the future. Photo by Chloe Chua.


It’s been some time since Ethos’ launched a new title, let alone host physical events; so when Jen, Wei Lin and I made our way to the Arts House on a soporific 4pm-Thursday afternoon for site recce for this Saturday’s launch, it was both nostalgic and poignant. Moving and ephemeral in the same way many moments are.

At the Arts House, in a roomful of unsorted books, we greeted Lisa—her candour unfazed, untouched, not made unfamiliar by the months of only-online correspondence. On site, we tested the livestream with the rest of our colleagues scattered across the island; the sound guy beatboxing to an invisible audience. Later, we laughed over his bashfulness when he realised there was in fact an audience.

And so it is with our titles—we set expectations but mostly we speculate. Whom shall the books compel; who will listen; why would you? Yet, still, we gather. I’m thinking of the line from editor Nazry’s afterword in Singa-Pura-Pura, where he writes that “meaning is elusive, and comes out of a struggle”. Perhaps the utopia that we seek will take time, but it comforts me to know that there’s a pocket of people out there, invisible, yet unfazed, untouched, not made unfamiliar even after all this time.

I’ll see you,

(From September 4, 2021)

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