Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?

I wish I was a square-dancing lady!

During the most puzzling moments of my life, when I found myself at crossroads unable to make any kind of decisions at all, my mum would tell me that I’d be better off with less functioning neurons. Of course, in a sarcastic way, but still with a concealed indication of yearning. Why would she say that? Obviously, she doesn’t actually want her only daughter to be less able, but she prefers her daughter to be less of a perfectionist and would love it if she’d stop over-analyzing any teeny-weeny detail of her life.
Just to add a bit of a context, for the past two years of my life I have been struggling a lot with becoming a full, responsible adult capable of choosing a career, setting goals and assuming responsibilities. I am overwhelmed by adulthood and I am nostalgic of teenagehood.Sometimes I feel like I am not ready to choose anything that concerns my life, except travelling destinations and books I want to read. Sometimes I am even confused about that. I don’t know if that’s gonna change at any point, the inability to choose seems to be a constant characteristic of mine since as far as I can remember. It started when I was about 3 or 4 and I couldn’t choose between toys, then I couldn’t choose between cakes, then I couldn’t choose between games, then I couldn’t choose between boys, then I couldn’t choose between universities, between countries, between jobs and so on…
I am sure of nothing, and I know nothing. It is like Socrates put it, I cannot affirm any truth or certitude in what concerns my own life. To a certain extent I can only live life randomly and realize on the way what isn’t good or ‘the truth’ for me. The more I read, the more I travel, the more I work, the more I study, the more I experience, the more I meet people, the more I feel and the more I go through relationships the more baffled I am.
The critical way of thinking, analyzing any aspect of any issue, from academic articles, to theories, to art currents and to psychological matters transformed me into a person that self-doubts too much and over-analyzes her path in life. I am way too scared to be living life in the wrong way. Where does that come from? I think it comes from the multitude of choices we are presented with nowadays. I keep thinking what to choose and make scenarios to see how and where I would end up if I opened this door or that window instead. When I am mid-way on a path I feel my option was faulty and I end up relinquishing. I gave up too many times to remember and always in search of something fictitiously better, only to realize that I never actually pursued anything until the finish line. What I did realize so far is, that no matter what I choose, there will always be shortcomings.
An important question to ask is : Am I a fickle product of a capitalist society that needs to feed on new products every 6 months or so?
In my case it is not about the materialistic reality of products, but rather about the variety of experiences and emotions. I hunger for intellect and intellectual ideas, for books, for self-discovery, for exploration, for travels, for happiness, for events, for new music, for new social currents….gosh, and overall I think too much. On top of this, it is extremely hard to adapt to a society that constantly imposes trends and a set of rules in everything. (how we define time, when to work, what to do, how to construct our CV and life path, blah blah…how to be competitive and successful).
I hate all of this. I long for escaping this choice-making environment. I am pretty sure I was born at the wrong time.
21st century is not my time.
I slowly started to envy people. I envy the square dancing ladies and I envy people who fit their society-assigned roles. Why? Maybe because they are more simple, because they use their brains and bodies to live in the moment, to go with the flow without any kind of perfectionist ideas or any ‘what would it be like’ ideas, or how to improve the ‘self’ at all steps ideas…
I envy the square-dancing ladies because they have this fantastic routine of dancing in the evening at the same hours in public squares in Shanghai. Because they enjoy the dance, the music and the community feeling without their mind wandering off to far-away imaginary lands.
I envy some girls back home because their whole existence is to be in relationships and their purpose is to get married, form a family, be pretty, follow the latest beauty trends and go to as many weddings as possible. Why do I envy them? Because they don’t overstep and ask themselves if there is more to existence than this. Because they enjoy every bit of their lives and don’t self-analyze. Of course they have their own issues too, but those go down to what kind of dresses are the best in the fall season (pretty easy to solve, right?).
Thus, I understand why my mum sometimes wanted me to be a woman with lesser analytical capabilities. For my own good…my life would be less troubled.
There are many things I appreciate about who I am, don’t get me wrong…but sometimes my stream of thoughts gets too heavy to bear> forever questioning, on a forever quest to find something, a restless spirit in search of a substance (what, more exactly?happpiness, love, friends, career, spiritual development, psychological self-awareness and understanding, self-acceptance, self-love, language learning, creation etc. )
To end with, I think I am doomed to put forward my own creation during my mental struggles. I hope that one day it will be a novel or a book of poems.

Word Doodling

Philosophy-will-make-you-rich

 

A canvas is the rationalizing, patronizing 

Tool of a tool of an artist of his hands

Of his form as artist, of his copy of the copy

Of the fake of the fake

As Plato might say, of something real 

In heaven.

But what would a canvas look like

In heaven? 

 

Ideas, just ideas of thoughts, of randomness

Ideas of questions, never answered

Forever questioning philosophy

Ideas that give rise to things big and small. 

What is a chair? 

I am philosophizing in class

But the world outside 

Is full of reproach. 

Why? Forever questioning, forever wondering

The mental issue of the privileged

The higher concern of those…

“Distinct from animals”

My philosophy professor said:

– Without critical thinking

Constant questioning, a.k.a philosophy 

We are like animals!

Or dead, not worth living. 

I beg to disagree

I wish to disagree. 

An animal is not a lesser being.

People concerned with the material

Might do so to survive.

It is a choice, 

to do philosophy or not 

to see the purpose of philosophy or not.

A dog is a dog of the shape of the copy

Of a painting of the absurd of a dog of a question

Philosophy is a 

privileged person’s CONCERN. 

P.S: I, too, philosophize. 

 

On Utopia

 

After a long period of absence I decided to mark my return to blogging with a hot and controversial topic: utopia, and more exactly, my own utopia.

Thomas More must have been one of the most awesome and bright people just for coming up with the idea of an utopian world, a land of the plenty.

Utopia is useful, if not for anything else, for paving the way to progress and giving birth to innovative ideas and challenging the status quo, for being the seed of change.

After reading Rutger Bergman’s book “Utopia for realists” I started thinking about my own version of utopia. Would I ever see a small part of the ideal world I dream of in reality?

So let’s start…I will pinpoint some of the wrongs of nowadays’ world (from my perspective, ofc):

  1. Huge income discrepancies between the poor and the rich
  2. Materialism and consumerism dominating the world
  3. An overabundance of choices
  4. Overwork and work becoming equal to high social status in society
  5. Supression of creativity, free thinking, emotional expression
  6. Lack of time
  7. The promotion of the superhuman > The superhuman profile: excellent public speaker, amazing social networker, participant at the latest and most up-to-date events, super boss or manager, constant traveller, working out/yoga included in the daily schedule, healthy lifestyle, perfect family member, desirable income, multiple language speaker, active reader and art connoisseur, engaging in shaping others > No free time, but supposed to be satisfied and fully happy with this productive super-packed schedule
  8. Technology, claimed to improve our lives, transforming people into less sociable human beings, bringing about increased feelings of loneliness, superficial friendships, relationships and the dissapearance of tightly-bound communities.
  9. The biggest health challenge of the 21st century: stress, anxiety and mental breakdowns.
  10. If you have the freedom and possibility of being everything and anything, how will you choose to be something? In principle,  you could do or be a bit of everything, but in reality you just end up having identity issues, personality issues, relationship issues,  career issues and all sorts of other issues. Questions like :who are you? ; what path can you choose in life? ; what career is the most suitable for you? ; which country should you settle in? ; who do you love and why? flood your mind more than ever before.

 

My utopian world:

A world every human being respects animals and considers them equal to people. Of course, that means providing everyone with a basic education on animal rights. I would love to see a world where animals don’t suffer anymore because of cruel humans and a world where the ecosystem isn’t disturbed any longer for the purpose of creating more business developments or expanding the human habitat.

A world where everyone has a basic income that elliminates worries about the most standard survival issues (food, roof above their heads, transportation, health, clothing) and allows them to use their energy to be creative and passionate about their life, work, community and leisure time.

A world where we have enough time to listen to our inner selves, to our emotions and moods…thus a shorter workweek (4 days per week)….Many times I was confronted with the following strange feeling: I got sick and therefore I had the chance and right to skip university or work. Normally, I should have felt horrid, because I was physically sick, but at the same time I got that great, hidden feeling of happiness that I was in charge of a full day off, my own day, my free time to do with as I please. I was all of a sudden free and in charge of 12 hours of unplanned, spontaneous available time and I was jumping around with excitement even though I was weak as hell and I should have been crying instead. Why does that happen? Does it happen to other people, too? Maybe because we do things because we should and not because we love to. Let’s face it, more free time to control by ourselves is an amazing idea.

A world where people are free to propose any kind of business or educational ideas they might have and a world that supports the implementation of these ideas.

A world where people are just people with no disctinctions based on race, nationality, gender, age, sexuality  and so on. A world where we all become global human beings.

A world where we have free movement of people and goods and no drawn-up, strict borders that limit human beings’ wellbeing and worldview.

A world where people are more humble and altruistic and where brands don’t matter at all.

A world where the rich and the so-called poor are not far apart in terms of income, education and social status.

A world that appreciates intelligence, cooperation, harmony, collaboration and empathy.

A world that listens with the heart and works things out with the brain.

A world based on love and understanding.

Let’s not get caught up in the details. Does it matter if we will have cities in the sky, if we will move to Mars or not, if we will have flying cars, if we will have human holograms, if we will be able to have robots replace our work?

Nope, because we have not been able to solve our poverty issues, because we still have prejudices regarding our fellow human beings, because we are still selfish and would like to keep the benefits and high standards of living to ourselves, because we ignore what happens outside our bubble of “apparent” wellbeing, because we don’t believe in anything anymore, because we are practical robots that fear to oppose the status quo, because we are frustatrated idealists, because we tell ourselves that society made us like this.

I challenge other bloggers to share some of their utopian world ideas in response to this blog post in the comments section!

Melancholic romance

An early spring morning

With a taste of soy milk latte

The crispy chilly air and the rays of sun

Smiles and Edith Piaf music

French brings back the old, the past, the adolescence

Romance,melancholy

Waiting and observing

Bonding with memories

The Portugese stage of my life,

Fado gives spirit

To the old communist blocks

First loves, first lessons, first embraces

First deceptions, first tears,first falls

The love of life, the life of love

Comes alive

On Greek island music now

Oh melancholic romance,

Thou art so sweet!

The need to disappear

pexels-photo-258510

 

It gets heavy, bold,

And strong…

It weighs

As if your whole body

Breaks and dissipates,

Into the thin air.

There is this need

To disappear, to erase

Your identity, your memories.

You vomit your feelings

On the train tracks!

Spill your pain on liquid tar.

You want to become

nobody, a stranger

with no emotional package.

Take to the road

with no destination in mind.

A frontal body collision

Covers you in ice-cold sweat.

Brutally penetrated by hate,

By anger and disappointment

You feel fucking disgusted!

By love, by words, by ridiculous promises

A distorted body covered,

In flashes of

atrocious moments of silence.

Fighting against the windmills

You and Don Quijote,

Both smashed, crashed…

One mentally, the other bodily.

You are like:

An empty glass of whiskey,

full of rancour.

You  hate what you’ve become

A conglomerate of unspoken words,

unfulfilled expectations, painful emotions!

They all got stuck in your throat.

Last time, you swallowed,

your dry disillusion.

With no saliva.

There is this need to disappear

And remove the plaque of steel

From your smokey, dirty throat.

You’ve been coughing blood

Cuz this poisoned love

Fed your veins too long.

Violent convulsions

Attack your body

From head to toe.

There is this need to disappear

To cleanse your wretched guts

There is a need for wind

For sea and motorbikes

For nature and random drunken experiences

To occupy your mind, to make you  numb

To make you forget.

There is this need to disappear

So you can finally let go…