With a guarded firelight

Witches' Sabbath, Francisco Goya (1798)


Dear Reader,

I expend considerable effort to detach from the possibility of rejection. As a close friend explained it, with uncaring, it doesn’t matter if I lose [thing I desire]. In particular, it feels somewhat disingenuous, as awards often do to me, to celebrate the institutional acknowledgement of my occultic lesbian bookchild on the Singapore Literature Prize shortlist this year, now, in the middle of so much uncertainty and loss.

But, love, kneecapping my desires only works as long as I’m cartwheeling along in my chariot without a care as to whether I’m haring along in the right direction, or even sending a wheel spinning in the process. Rainer Maria Rilke says, “If you want to have a deep love in your life, you must save up for it and gather honey.” I feel this in every aspect—there isn’t time to mess around any longer, with no real skin in the game. It is easier to pretend ‘things will never change’, that we’re all on this unassailable, immutable trajectory towards disappointment and doom, re: climate change, local politics, even personal failings.

However, in moving house against the backdrop of a pandemic and a rapidly transforming political landscape that has repeatedly been described as ‘exciting’ from strangers on the internet to my new landlady, the desire to create spaces that will nourish and protect—be they a country or a room of one’s own—is stubbornly rekindling, even if walking towards what we need is exhausting (and we, long ago exhausted).

Already, the milk tooth loosens from its socket, and we must only find the opportune moment to yank it out and make way for new growth. In a collective inability to plan for the future, I find myself reaching for the things that matter to me—community, connection, creating space. In a time that seems designed to destabilise, there is a potential for reimagining that I am finding equal parts terrifying and deliciously permissive. My fear of commitment wails murder while I put down my name for a rental lease, make art in the name of mutual aid efforts (Nine of Funds), and found a new multidisciplinary arts collective in an attempt to create home for pleasure, play and oddity (DIS/CONTENT).

These twin desires—to tamp down the earth, curl into a home that will weather the storm; to send out creepers to connect, interweave and collaborate—form a duality that often seems to contradict itself, like a skinned snake twisting for some semblance of reality.

Of course, I, in true chaote magick fashion, only believe in belief, and shaping the world one lives in by turning the snake inwards and sitting in stillness, all to distill one’s true direction.

“Slow' and 'down' are modes of the soul; they are connective modes, ways of keeping connected to oneself and to one’s environment. 'Slowing downwards' refers to more than simply moving slowly, it means growing down towards the roots of one’s being. Instead of outward growth and upward climb, life at times must turn inward and downward in order to grow in other ways. There is a shift to the vertical down that re-turns us to root memories, root metaphors, and timeless things that shape our lives from within. Slowing downwards creates opportunities to dwell more deeply in one’s life, for the home we are looking for in this world is within us all along. The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.”
― Michael Meade, Why the World Doesn't End: Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss

With a guarded firelight, a little hope thrumming through my chest, and so much love,

(From August 1, 2020)