Hosting ghosts

I don’t know why I have so much love for you
I want to charge you with all my love
You are gone but present in my thoughts
always the last lingerer behind closed eyes at night
Sometime I sneak into

the minds of those who are falling in love
Paralyzed yet adrenalized
The sweetest stupor of bliss
that rivals the scale of colossal sadness
sedulously sculpted by poetry

Its sorrow reverberates and wakes me from delusion
Words ghosts whisper sympathize my pathetic love
pathetic thoughts and existence
They waltz around my loneliness
chasing away spirits named overgrown feelings
refusing to dance themselves to death

(Can't) Beat Listening

Amidst a sea of budding artists in London, Tom Misch has emerged as a fresh beatmaker, guitarist and vocalist reminding and bringing us what I would call "home-made" music. I want to introduce you to his new album "5 Day Mischon" which he completed in five days, collaborating with different musicians. Through this project he was able to take a break from his usual routine and go back to his roots, making beats everyday. 

Please find the Soundcloud link above. Happy listening!


Joni Mitchell's River is melancholic and glittering, an evocation of what it is to be uneasy with one's home and oneself. The song opens with the melody of Jingle Bells, ever so slightly altered so that it can melt into the song—and one can't help but feel as if one is walking on a crowded street at Christmastime, holiday music pouring from the shops, but one hears something different from everyone else, something sadder. Meanwhile, the subtle resplendence of the piano is the ice on which Mitchell's voice skates. Depressive, guilty, self-pitying—and brilliant.

Link above.

El Suicida

The space below features a translation of a simple yet fecund poem of Borges, a 20th century Argentinian poet. 

The Suicide

A star in the night will not stay.
The night will not stay.
I will die and with me the total
Of the intolerable universe.
I will wipe away the pyramids, the medallions,
The continents and the faces.
I will wipe away the accumulation of the past.
I will make history dust, dust of dust.
Facing west I am marveling at the last setting sun.
I hear the brazen bird.
I pass down no-thing to no-one.

Translated from Borges’ “El Suicida”

声声慢 李清照

Below, we offer a translation of the poem 声声慢 by 李清照

Sound, slowing sound

I seek and grope
In mist or cold
or fear or rue or woe?

With spring on threshold,
Gone is repose.
A sip of wine or two
Resists not
The cold evening gust.

A swan flew by,
  An old friend
To my sad, dim hours.

A garden of fallen petals,
Withered so,
Who will now bow for?

How could I, alone by window,
watch the day away?

An elm in the sunset drizzle
In twilight
Streams and drips.

And this hour!
O sorrow,
buried there
In twin syllables!

Translated by Hongru Luo.
Original poem below.



Batter my heart

John Donne's poetry is remarkable for its ability to render turbulent psychologies, reflected in paradoxical imagery. Whilst Donne could be accused of petulance and arrogance, this frequently masks the unbearable desperation he feels in response to what he sees as the intractable problem of his own sin.

In this poem, by imagining human morality as a battle between God and the devil, Donne might be accused of absolving himself from blame. I would argue, however, that the poem offers an intensely frightening depiction of humanity powerless and passive in the face of evil.

Read by David Conceicao

Please click here for the text. 

Joyce Mansour: A Reflection

Your breath in my mouth
The pointed nails of your dry hands...
— Joyce Mansour, translated by Mary Ann Caws

The first thing that struck me after reading this poem is its explicitly erotic tone. One is hard not to imagine the visual image of the poem upon reading it: breathing, kissing, grabbing, sucking etc, all constitutive of a consummate sexual experience. The image is a passionate, almost violent one, as “you” and “I” go out of their way to satisfy each other’s desires. “The pointed nails” of the other’s hand is unceasingly on one’s throat. “Pleasure” of the flesh is accompanied by “shame” and “pain.” Finally, there is not just caressing, but “suck[ing of] blood,” rendering a vivid, primitive, animalist image.

As my above quotation has already somewhat alluded to, intersubjectivity is key to this poem. There is a constant shifting of perspective from “you” to “I,” from the possessive adjective “your” to “my.” With no exception, a description of the Other is immediately followed by a description of oneself, e.g. “your breath” is followed by “in my mouth.” While other surrealists have also paid varying attention to intersubjectivity, Mansour employs this “technique” systematically. This hyper-attention to the shifting of gazes reminds me strongly of the cinema of Varda and Akerman; in fact, upon reading this poem, one cannot help but feel that this is the work of a female poet.

Mansour’s use of intersubjectivity is concretized in two levels. On the one level, the sexual activity is characterized by both a constant awareness of the Other and the self. Arguably it is precisely during the sexual activity that one’s level of awareness reaches the height, hence the fixation on the physical bodies (“your” dry hands, “my” waxen flesh), especially their color (“my” crimson throat, “your” violent lips) as well as one’s inner sensations (“shame pain pleasure”).

On the other level, the sexual activity is likely the primary location where the I-Other distinction breaks down. During the activity, one feels maximally close to one’s partner, physically and emotionally, to the extent that a credible distinction between the two can no longer be satisfactorily drawn. Mansour destabilizes the I-Other distinction by projecting the activity infinitely into the future — “the pointed nails of our dry hands will never loose my crimson throat,” and “my waxen flesh still tempt you as long as my eyes stay closed.” These italic descriptions help to permanentize the “pleasures of the moments,” stamping them with an almost ontological status. It is in these “eternally recurrent” moments, to appropriate Nietzsche’s phrase, that the subjectivities of “you” and “I” are somehow merged. The physical merging is clearly there as, for example, “your” nails grasp “my” throat and “your violent lips will suck my blood.” But there is, on a more fundamental level, the merging of consciousness: the simultaneous double awareness between the partners, the sharing of pleasure and pain, the shared projection into the future. In the final analysis, therefore, Mansour succeeds in essentializing what is a very common experience in our lives.

Essay by Larry Hong

Please click here for full text.

Aurora Cordial Musings

Aurora Cordial is the name of Clemens Fantur's vibrant series featuring his first solo exhibition in New York, attended by two Symposium members. You may find their inspired and intertwined musings below.

Portrait 1
Portrait 2

stripped of bark
the fallen tree lies
across the naked road

If we are made up of permutations of our eclectic memory
and our ancestors were superior to us
in their ability to remember
then we are but half at best
a realistic fourth of who they were
And if words are inadequate to convey this
nostalgic helplessness

All I can do is leave behind my old school uniform dress
in an old abandoned village
just like how I chanced upon one
in an art exhibition on Ludlow Street
where the photographer was lost in Kon Ko Tu
there a traditional uniform dress left hung on a frail clothesline
waving its expiring glisten
between the blinding sun and the abandoned land
in a black pond below
I saw the reflection of the dress owner and with her
the tales and tricks, warnings and songs of old begrudgingly
confiscated by the inadequacy of words and time’s insensitivity

Is this why cultures can only be experienced and not told
because words can never replace memory
and while
memory is conditioned by forgetfulness and selective distortions
words are conditioned by the reader’s subjective imposition

Is this why I chase after unique combinations
of words commonly known
to create new nexus of meaning
an explosive thirst to recreate an unforgotten
sentiment like finding sediment
sunken down sunken deep
shattered into disfigured pebbles so fine
still refusing to flow down the river named time

keeping memories in our mind
leaving curious traces behind
Ancestors and we alike
provoke and puzzle

wet leaves obscure
a spray of rain – white flowers
his face dripping