What does “It” mean?-It Ends with Us

Regardless of the critics on the literary execution of this book (it’s not a great literary work, just a brave and emotional story well told, so you really shouldn’t be too harsh on this), it’s hard to rate this book anything less than a 5-star.

I read Verity first, and the twists and wits she shows as a popular fiction writer surprised me. She’s the only one using one chapter to upsidedown the whole not-that-good plot and makes everything I complain about meaningful. So I expect something similar in the book, but again, she surprised me. As Colleen Hoover says in the epilogue, this book is in nature different from her other books which are written for entertainment.

This book is about domestic abuse that sounds so far away from me. However, I understand what this book is talking about. I don’t like physical conflict and would never accept my future husband laying a hand on me in any way that is close to violence.

My past experience from so many stories told me that love can cure, although my semi-professional training told me that’s not true. Colleen is the only one I know trying to tell the brutal truth coated with a romance. Sometimes, love is not omnipotent; sometimes, love doesn’t cure.

I had never read any psychology book on domestic abuse before. Yet I know both sides of the story are true. 1. Some abusers are ONLY abusive towards their spouse, and some are really with a psychological problem that hard to be resolved. 2. They are not abusive to many other people, such as their own children. So, that love they claim should be examined by everyone undertaking the physical attack. If love is really “the cure”, you wouldn’t be hurt at all. You only get hurt because that love cannot save the abuser or you. Thus, love should not be seen as a way to cure. Instead, whether this traumatized person is cured should be a sign to prove the love.

May all get peace and love, and may all have the courage to keep swimming until reaching the shore.


Your Underestimation-Verity

It’s been years since the last time I read a book and cannot fall asleep long after putting it down. This book is not about romance, passion, or suspense. This book is about the power of creation—the ones we create for others, and the ones we create for ourselves.

You read the porno description and think holy s**t this is too explicit, and this plot is just about how a disturbing female writer gets so obsessed with her husband’s body and attention that she becomes jealous of her own daughters, for they steal the man’s time, attention, and love away from her. She hates it so much that she wants to kill them, and she does, at some point, in her confessional autobiography. Her obsession with the man urges her to kill her daughter, and when she realizes this only pushes him farther away rather than winning him back, she decides to kill herself. You think this is such a dark cliché that doesn’t worth your time; you think this graphic depiction of the bedroom actions is fun to read but nothing more than smooth erotica.

Then you see how this new girl gets into the couple’s mansion, after the wife’s mind zooming out because of the suicidal car accident, reading her manuscript of those crazy nights shared between her and her husband. The wife is a great writer, and the girl’s here to gather resources and information so that she could continue to work on her unfinished series, but only find out the disturbing writer who’s supposed to be in a coma could be faking it, and herself falling for the almost perfect and attractive husband all over. She sleeps in their bed, studying their sex life in the manuscript. Learning that the man is addictive and toxic to the wife while she is pure evil; the girl decides to reveal the truth. Now that the man also knows what kind of a person his wife is; they tear up the wife’s mask, forcing her to face them. Of course as manipulative as she is, the wife tries to explain. They don’t give her a chance before killing her, using the way she confessed to killing her own daughter in the autobiography, faking an accident.

However, months later, the girl found a letter in the wife’s old room. The wife tries to explain herself and makes a wish that her husband could read it. She says that the autobiography is a writing exercise for her novels, and this suggestion comes from her editor. All those passion and desire, darkness and violence, excessive jealousy and out-of-control emotions, fakes, and lies, are merely creations. She knows that her husband found the manuscript by accident and believed that she killed their daughter. That’s why he fakes a car accident as if the wife committed suicide, just as she wrote in her draft. She cannot believe the man trusts her words more than he trusts their decades of life together. When she’s awake, she tried to explain, but only finds out her own husband’s bringing someone else home, and the two of them seem to fall for each other; for some reason, the girl gets her hands on the manuscript too and believes that she’s pure evil. Now it’s two to one. In the darker world she creates for her own to escape the dark world where they lose their children, she drowns and suffocates. In that world she creates, her husband finds a way to let out of his own anger and grief, and someone to blame.

The problem is, is the letter the truth, or is the autobiography the truth?

This book is all about how blind and subjective we all can become, as human beings. When we think we are flawless, we are prob not that innocent; and when we acknowledge the darkness we all have, that darkness devours us, not only us but also the people around us. That’s how weak we are when facing creation. We see fictional narratives and distorted claims as “evidence”, and think we know it all too well. But this is not our fault; this is not because we are too arrogant in trusting our own minds and hearts.

This is the power of writing. It rewinds your mind and reshapes your heart. This is the only thing that changes us at the present. This is the way to turn a person into someone else, a devil, a maniac, a superhero, a god…We’d believe it. We’d buy the created new alternate reality because it IS a reality.

That’s when you find out that you were wrong. All those smooth and shallow plots, all those 18+ restrictions applied erotica and all those point-of-view setups suddenly make more sense than it’s supposed to do. You think you are toyed with by the author now, and you think she’s doing the same to herself because there’s no way she knows for sure which alternative is the truth. Colleen Hoover is the only person I know that could turn a 3-star story into a 5-star one using one single chapter, and it only means that the writing itself is a 5-star piece. You know it’s just you never notice the delicate design and every detail she shows and hides on purpose to misguide you, like what all literature does to you, as all realities do to you.

Your underestimation is good when you tag this story “a romance” or “a thriller” because you will know that your underestimation is exactly what the author wants from you. Now you see how wrong you could be throughout your lifetime, to everyone around you, and to every alternate reality you discovered, lived, or even created.

What else do you expect from a piece of writing that shows you exactly how powerful a piece of writing can be?

This s**t is brilliant!

Love always, -The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

So many scenes have rushed through my mind while listening to this book. I don’t understand how someone could write words so beautiful and sentimental that a story of someone in his 15s could reach into the deepest corner of a 32-year-old’s heart.

Last week I bought a new backpack to fit my laptop so I could carry it to and from work. I was also looking for some pins to put on it so it could look more like “my backpack”. That’s when I saw that black pin with silver stars and trees decorated on the background and a sentence says “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” It reminds me of the moment at the train station at Glenview, and it reminds me of the time I spent by the lake. So I bought the pin; I Googled the line; and I found that it is from a book–this book.

I finished it in two days. A couple of my friends asked me what this is about. The first evening, I said it’s about youth; the second evening, I said it’s about a traumatized youth; and the next afternoon, during my lunch break, with only three chapters left for the audiobook, I decided to go on a trip to the book store close to my workplace and finish it on my way so I could spend some time wandering in the book store. I have it all planned out except for the last three chapters are longer than I expected, so it was still playing when I arrived. I found a seat in the store, a seat close to the huge window facing the street. I sat on the seat, with my headphones spooning my ears, leaning on a shelf with tons of traveling books and facing a floor spinner with postcards stacks of the Summer Palace, the Old Beijing, the giant panda, and the Tian’anmen Square. I saw people passing by through the window, they all look indifferent. I guess I look sad. Not because of what I saw though, not because I was sad. I ended up finishing the whole book in that bookstore, but because I was listening to the audiobook, people may think I’m weird sitting there listening to some music in a bookstore facing some postcards for the whole noon and then just leaving. I somehow persuaded myself that this was fate and that I lived the book for two days in my life. And by the time I finished it, I said it’s about living a life full of regrets.

I don’t feel it now, but maybe ten years or twenty years later, when I look back, I’d feel in this moment I was kind of infinite too. I guess that place we keep going back to is not a memory at all because it’s infinity. It is now.

I used to

I used to think of saving everything with you.
I used to want to go to all the theme parks with you,
share every new bean I discovered,
let you take the first bite of those Swiss rolls I make,
go to see the sunset on the beach,
take you to all the Impressionism exhibitions on earth,
pull you into an ice arena or get you involved in a snow fight,
drag you to an old bookstore hidden in the Hutong,
introduce all my friends to you,
force you to wear the stupid couple t-shirt I saw in the souvenir store,
invite you to the annual Marvel movie premiere,
go to the zoo with you,
code a Raspberry Pi robot with you,
make a 1000-piece puzzle of Van Gogh’s sunflower,
mess with Play-dough,
practice skateboard,
read the same book,
go to visit our parents,
bitching about the bad taste of our mutual friend,
sorting our clothing into dark, light, and white then wash them separately,
go to the farm picking up fresh fruit on a weekend,
play chess over a cup of tea, pretending that we are already old,
hang out late out and overstay the imagined curfew,
share one whole Peking roasted duck then complain that we eat too much……
Now I have lived these experiences alone or with others,
I don’t think of “everything” anymore,
nor do I think of you.

Schizomance from Love Hypothesis

The voices have stopped for quite a while in my mind, a couple of years I guess, before that stupid cheap and unrealistic love story elbowed its way through five of my precious weekday evenings.

Why does it have to tell the story of some biology grad school girl falling for some faculty who’s exactly 8 years older than she is; why does he have to show up literally every time she needed him for reassurance and courage; why do they exchange those text messages that make her grin; why he even helped her to revise the damn presentation slides; why they go get those sugary drinks and Japanese food and struggle over sharing a hotel room; and above all, why am I so boring that I have to binge read this imaginary shit?

Of course, there’s no screaming, but those chatters start again. The voices are not as annoying as they used to be, mainly because they don’t make sounds now. They talk via pictures, blurred but vivid pictures, and smells, clear and definable smells, and feelings, brief but sharp, with their own rhythm and punctuations. These things don’t tear me apart anymore. They just hovering above so I don’t have to actually fix anything. Guess I should be so grateful for this recovery.

On theories

Saw an article on PW about Hernan Diaz’s new book Trust. Maybe what Biao Xiang said earlier wasn’t right, not that our time is in urgent need of theories, but our time is the time that puts a limit to theories’ development. I thought he was right only because I rarely feel excited whenever I hear someone saying something. No theory is fun or eye-opening any more, like Freud’s or after him, Lacan’s. The only reason that no new theory is as enlightening is because all of the former theories are still good enough for our time. So it is not theories that need to evolve, but our society, our culture, and our technology. It is hard to jump ahead of our ancestors’ theories and give brith to something groundbreaking because our practice is far behind whatever the theories could be applied. For example, experimental physics cannot prove quantum entanglement exist while theoretical physics already established the possibility. We cannot blame that there’s no new theories better than quantum entanglement when we still cannot outlive the truth of it.

Cancel culture is bad as it puts “correctness” above the freedom of expression and the confidence that we can still ALLOW the existence of diverse voices. What we are lack of is not a descriptive term or a theory that could only fit into a dystopian kind of future, but to get to a place where we could out-see the former theorists.

Fahrenheit 451-Ray Bradbury

“She didn’t want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing. You ask Why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl’s better off dead. ”

“Luckily, queer ones like her don’t happen, often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early. You can’t build a house without nails and wood. If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the Government is inefficient, top?heavy, and tax?mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non? combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely `brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can nowadays, is happier than any man who tries to slide? rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won’t be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I’ve tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your dare-devils, jet cars, motor?cycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex. “

“There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. Of course you couldn’t know this, of course you still can’t understand what I mean when I say all this. You are intuitively right, that’s what counts. Three things are missing. Number one: Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more `literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam…..'”

Summer-Ali Smith

“As in so what? As in shoulder shrug, or what do you expect me to do about it? or I so don’t really give a fuck, or actually I approve of it, it’s fine by me.

Okay, not everybody said it. I’m speaking colloquially, like in that phrase everybody’s doing it. What I mean is, it was a clear marker, just then, of that particular time; a kind of litmus, this dismissive not. It got fashionable around then to act like you didn’t care. It got fashionable, too, to insist the people who did care, or said they cared, were either hopeless losers or were just showing off.”-loc 67

*or we say so what cuz we are so passive in a situation as in Kafka’s novel that the failure is inevitable and we are so sure that we could change nothing.

“What if nobody said it in any original source and someone somewhere just made up that Hannah Arendt said it….”-loc 153

“Getting old is pathetic is you use it as an excuse for no longer being responsible.”-loc 331