In reading R.F. Kuang's novel BABEL today, I noted the mention of dreaming in more than one language. I found this interesting because I have been aware for some time now that I often dream in Indonesian, or rather that I am often speaking Indonesian in my dreams rather than English. Why, I wonder, do I choose Indonesian rather than English? Is it merely because I am using Indonesian about half of the time in my daily life, or is there something about expressions in the language being more suitable to specific dreams? I don't know. I suppose that I am addressing in the dreams, or in a particular dream, Indonesian people. And so it makes perfect sense that I would be using the Indonesian language. I have the feeling that it deepens the dream life in that it is calling upon the dynamics of language as well as the dynamics of symbols. Although English is a particularly rich and robust language, there are nonetheless certain things in certain situations that are better expressed in Indonesian, especially if we are talking about a dream subject that is focused on life and experience here. Anyway I had noticed this in my dreams, but I hadn't really thought about it before.
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Evelyn was here in Bali this past week, and as it turned out, her visit coincided with my ex-wife's request that I stay in her Villa while she was in Norway and Iceland. So we enjoyed luxurious living in Louis and Wayne's new Villa, to watch over the place and to take care of their dog, Etta.
Evelyn had in mind that she wanted to explore how to take the bus in Bali, as at some later date she and her sister have a plan to take the bus to Ubud and possibly to Jimbaran.
We found that the buses here run in really a pretty inconvenient way. There seems no such thing as a bus that takes a direct route to where one intends to go, but each bus must go around in various circles, traveling in the exact opposite direction one wants, then turning around and heading in the direction one does want. The long and short of it is that bus travel requires an unusually long time and some discomfort. Definitely not my cup of tea, but I guess that Evelyn and her sister won't mind so much as I. So they will take their trip without me. Or at least the one to Ubud, which took pretty much the entire day, with two transfers, and not even getting off the bus other than that.
In any case, with that out of the way, we enjoyed ourselves around the villa and with touring around Sanur as we usually do. As always, we enjoyed each other's company very much. I swear, I like this girl more every time I see her. She may be back again in late October or early November, and Louise has once again offered the villa for our use.
Saturday, September 9, 2023
I was tickled this morning to find a reply from a Facebook user to a comment I made in defense of Biden policies. "Lie!" he said. "How do you even get news in Indonesia?!" 🤣🤣🤣
I thought of telling the guy that we do have one TV, which the whole village gathers around on Sunday when there is electricity. But I suspect he would have taken this quite seriously.
Friday, September 8, 2023
I first came to Yellowface, a novel by Rebecca Kuang, through a Facebook site called Literary Fiction Lovers, or some such thing, which features fiction that for the most part is literally not literary fiction. It was just the name and the book cover art that piqued my interest. I had never heard of this author before and I had not read any reviews of the novel. In general I avoid reading reviews as they tend to color ones expectations and judgments. I read first, and then look at the reviews if the book itself has inspired further interest. Most of the comments on the book on this Facebook site were banal, vaguely negative, and purely suggestive that the commenters had failed to understand the text. Therefore, this became a book that I just had to read😉 There was just something in the nature of the cranky dissatisfaction that told me I might find a rare treasure here.
And I did! I absolutely loved Yellowface. I don't know whether everyone would, but certainly anyone familiar with the practice of fiction writing and the world of publishing will find this novel delicious. How might one describe it: a satirical horror story? A study in literary hypocrisy? An embittered comedy? Well, there are plenty of laughs for those who know when to laugh. And there is much to find familiar, sometimes painfully so, sometimes nostalgically so.
I guess the ultimate question is What is truth? And the answer is, as so sharply pointed out by Ms. Kuang, that there is no truth. Or rather, there are many truths fashioned by their own set of alternative facts, each answered by yet another truth, purely subjective and self-justifying. It is all quite endless. I see your truth, and I raise you mine. We see this mechanic at work every day on social media--and indeed this author's lampooning of the same is spot on.
This is certainly a novel I will read again when it has begun to fade from memory, and I do not have to wonder whether I will find even more of delight in the rereading, because it is just that kind of novel--literally!
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Convenience store woman, by Japanese author Sayaka Murata, which I just finished reading this morning, is a quiet little novel (brief indeed at 159 pages), and yet one of deceptive depth. Murata's style is carefully understated, even blunt, which fits well with her main character, Keiko Furukura, an oddball in the eyes of society as well as her own family, a misfit, a square peg in a world of square holes, whose only option, as Keiko herself sees it, is to somehow learn to function as if she were actually a part of that world such that she can please her family and be acceptable to the people around her. She lands in a job as a part-time convenience store clerk, and as it turns out this becomes a perfect vehicle for becoming just like a human being, or as close as possible, for the next 18 years. But the world of "normal people" is not easily pleased or satisfied. So much more than simplicity and her own personal comfort is demanded of her. Which leads to a series of well-intentioned mistakes.
I really liked this novel, or novella. There is just something about it that echoes, resonates, a sort of poetry hidden beneath the plain language. The nature of Keiko's oddity is not described, but I can't help being reminded of high-functioning autism, familiar to me through my own experience with my son. There is something not right about Keiko, but there is definitely something not right about the world too. Where is the proper balance to be found?