Where is the middle of nowhere?

Where is the middle of nowhere?
Maybe ‘The Middle of Nowhere’ is the name of a place, just as China in Chinese stands for Middle Country. Or ‘Nowhere’ is the name of a place (an incredible one at that, where everyone’s skin is blue and pink and green), and we have to find its centre: it might be where most people or features are, or even the centre of mass, though that might mean that the middle of nowhere is not actually in Nowhere. Which, if you take Nowhere to be its literal meaning ‘nowhere’, means that the middle of nowhere is truly somewhere. (Which is what we’ve been asserting all along.)

If we were in a crime novel and were trying to be even more obtuse, it might be the letter h. We might even try representing ‘nowhere’ numerically as 14-15-23-8-5-18-5. The middle, then, might be the arithmetic mean of the numbers: 12 4/7, which is L D / G, or perhaps more appropriately LD7, an area in Llandrindod Wells.

But what of these obscure ways of interpreting phrases? Sure, they bring pleasure to the lover of triviality and of obsessive attention to detail, who flips objects like one might a loose pancake, making them more contorted with each flip until they are beyond recognition. These are then served repackaged as a some exotic gourmet dish often exclusively delicious to connoisseurs, but confusing and perhaps distasteful to others. Perhaps it would be better if we turned from them, at least for a while.
So if we were being more reasonable, we might say the middle of nowhere was a place in the radial centre of a deserted area. But in naming this place, we’d have to come up with an arbitrary measure of desolateness, and coldheartedly brand places people call home as forsaken, empty, and devoid of civilised life. Although some may take these labels with gusto, most would not be flattered by the often despairing, or even condescending tone borne from ignorance targeting the places they grew to know and love. And upon judgmentally identifying these places, all too frequently we end up ransacking rainforests and pouring sediment into the sea, only to have the tide turn against us soon after, at which point we blame others for the deed.
Thus, by the same token, should we not treat these seemingly frivolous issues with less contempt? This silly playing with numbers, or twisting of words might be the seed of a creative spirit, a hobby fostered from childhood ready to bloom. Soon, one might even find that these trifles have some use – first for occupation, then for entertainment, then for solving problems in ways never previously imagined. Trying to eliminate trivialities based on perceived usefulness is no winner’s strategy – imagine if mathematicians had stopped working on number theory, which Hardy had declared so proudly to be useless. We wouldn’t have the encryption systems or swift digital calculation often taken for granted today.
Is this claim a stretch? Perhaps. But with the prevalence of investigating for the sake of investigation, and playing with data for the sake of play among the pioneers of intellectual advancement (no citations, sorry), it’s worth at least a second thought. Otherwise, we might soon find ourselves lost in our own ignorance – where we began, in the middle of nowhere.

A recent rant (of mine) that came out of Nowhere.

Tagged , , , , , , ,


My blanket is an alpine range

Snow-covered silks with dancing suns

fresh from the sky just for the eve,

an omelette of tourists on cotton sleeve.

// Another day a bloodstained scene of war

with flowers the size of fortresses,

stalks streams flowing up the slope,

vessels of thought, of dreamless sleep.

// I poise my lens, a photographer

capturing a snapshot of the History of Man

before I hop on the late night train

to the place where no cameras reign.

I am adding // s to the start of each stanza (save the first) because the line spacing isn’t working.

Tagged , , , ,


The first tree

to lose all its leaves and stand exposed to the hustling of others’s leaves,

the rustle of warmth as it waves its branches in


wind strong enough to chill but

not to let those fingers touch and feel its own existence –

But it will perhaps hold first the golden chandelier when the spring comes.

(Final work imported from A.Symmetric Space, a side project I have now rescinded.)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Stream of Consciousness

I was thinking of doing some stream of consciousness writing. A stream, a flowing stream not necessarily of water but of music, of lava, hot from the oven, hot from the heart, hot from the centre of the Earth, hot from the pot stirred most smoothly by the ladle of Time. But the consciousness that pours out is chaotic, regardless of how you try to stir it. It does not obey the Laws of Whatever-You-Want-It-To, it does not even flow as one stream but has slight bumps in it, slight words here they come that you don’t expect, slight phrases even, or break offs. So the fluid is not continuous (not /necessarily/ continuous, it could be.) Don’t bother with trying to model it.

But yes, I had this idea from watching a monologue on credit from Love and Money, where the video was just (!) a mouth talking talking for five minutes straight it hurt my eyes at first but I grew more intrigued by the mouth, the emotion in the lips and teeth, wonder if you can see that normally if you’re not tunnelling? But yes, I thought hey I’d like to write something like that and see what I sound like in my head on paper if that makes sense, though it isn’t really a monologue at all: it’s a polylogue, the voices of your surroundings speaking through you in terms of the interactions, people your thoughts the discarded receipt on the floor saying something in their silent language of waves and frequencies, possessing you. Possessing you through your eyes and nervous system and brain and back to fingers onto paper. Clickety click.

Then surely every thought is not a mono-thought but a poly-thought, and we have so many more thoughts apart from those we know of, thoughts we pass on to others and then forget, if we ever knew them. Hah. Giving someone a thought you never knew, as though you could do something unconsciously like that. Well, maybe you could, the same way you do some things without thinking like maybe raising your hand in response to a question asked to a group, something you wouldn’t do if you were asked individually, yes? But you know you’re doing those things. But you arguably know you’re influencing others’s thoughts, just not specifically which and what.

Okay bad analogy – let’s try some biological process that’s happening inside you that you’re not aware of. Did you learn how to respirate? Presumably no. Actually maybe your cells did at some level at some point, but the key is you’re not aware of it. That’s better. Now think on that and good night.

(Imported from A.Symmetric Space, a side project I have now rescinded)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

1. Numb

Your torso is a ladder against the back of the chair again.

When did it sink this time? But it never falls past the awkward,

never enough for you to lie down on the seat and float,

gaze resting on the constellations in your eyes.

(Imported from A.Symmetric Space, a side project I have now rescinded)

Tagged , , ,

My Birthday Fail – How failure can be a good thing

And Life said, ‘It’s your birthday? Here’s a whopping failure to celebrate!’ Hurray! It was devastating at first, but I’ve gotten over it now and thought it was interesting and meaningful (look for the bold text) enough to share, so here goes:

I love singing and especially enjoy singing in choirs — the interactions between the parts and the beauty of the human voice make for an amazing combination. So I applied for a choral scholarship at my first choice college in the hope that I’d be able to sing in their amazing choir. I was hopeful but not expectant, and prepared hard for the audition, recording myself and going over my piece again and again, sight-reading choral works and using online ear training sites to improve my aural skills (in the usual last-minute way, of course).

On the day, I was fairly prepared, excited, and surprisingly not too nervous. It was a lovely morning, which put me in a great mood. Everything was going well — I’d even managed to get to D6 on my warm-up. So when it was my turn, I just couldn’t wait to start. First up were the aural tests, in which I was asked to sing intervals, identify the middle note of chords and stuff like that. I think I got a lot wrong, but it didn’t put me off too much because I knew I’d be pretty bad at that anyway. Next was the sight reading. It didn’t look too complicated — just a few sharps and flats here and there, some interesting rhythm on the 2nd page and a key change. I foolishly sang it all in my head in the preparation time, and thought I’d be fine. If only I knew what was about to happen.

I’m usually decent at sight reading, but this time I lost my note after a mere 2 or so bars. I freaked out. ‘Where is my note? Is there some note in the alto part I can pick up on? Where are we?’ As the accompanist kept playing the alto, tenor and bass parts, I became mute for a full two lines as I tried in vain to find (1) where we were in the piece and (2) a place where I could easily find the Soprano pickup. Fortunately, I did get it back, but by that time I was so flustered that I lost my note again within another line. The apparent clashes made me feel uncertain, scared, worried, stressed, everything horrible you could think of. Luckily I didn’t have to sing my piece straight after — that was reserved for later that afternoon. I quickly thanked the conductor and the accompanist, and rushed out of the room. It was hands down the worst sight singing I’d done in my life, and I was so shocked and upset I found myself in tears.

I didn’t know why I was crying, and didn’t want to cry — was I really such a sore loser? Could I not accept that I screwed up and get on with life? After barely scraping through running my piece with the (brilliant) Organ Scholar & talking to the office head, I went for a walk round the city centre to calm my mind.

For a while I became dangerously dismissive, and tried to convince myself that I didn’t care about it. I hate that I try to convince myself I don’t care about something if I’m bad at it. I probably lost out a lot on things because of that. So don’t be an I-don’t-care-about-it-cause-I-suck-at-it loser like me.

Of course, I couldn’t lie to myself for long, so I was forced to face the music. (See what I did there?) I tried to be more optimistic, and realised that I was very lucky to be given a chance to fail, especially as I really cared about it (so it made an impact on me), but it wasn’t a life-or-death situation or something that mattered a lot. Failing isn’t something I’m used to, and it’s not something I like, but as they say it’s important because it helps you grow emotionally and in whatever area you failed in (if you’re willing to learn from it). Failure also stops you from being complacent, which is DEADLY. Hopefully, it will help you become less afraid of taking risks too. Now that I’ve gone through a worst-case-scenario level super-embarrassing audition, I don’t think I’ll be afraid to audition for anything else I’m interested in. And I know what to watch for next time I’m sight reading.

I won’t bore you with further details, but I’ll let you know that I had a wonderful afternoon. I had nothing to lose, sang the best I could at the mini recital, met lovely people, and listened to some beautiful voices. I didn’t get a callback, but, still, I left the college grounds with no regrets. Okay, maybe one or two, but it’s hard to banish the ‘what-ifs’ from your mind, you know? (On another note — stop what-if ing the past and what-if the future POSITIVELY.) Anyway, you get the idea. Hope this wasn’t too dull a read, and have a great day!

Tagged , , , ,

Night write.

A bee sits on the windowsill 

Licking up jam, eating its fill.

Well, good! I hope you stay that way

But, more importantly, stay away!

Daddy long legs? Why, even my legs are longer than yours.

(Thank God for that.)

I’m tired. There’s nothing special about this.

As usual, I’m just taking the p*ss.

I haven’t written in such a long time

I’ve almost forgotten how to rhyme.

Of course that’s just a hyperbole

Else it would be contradictory.

Tagged ,

Just for fun

Happy St. Nicholas Day, and also Happy International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development! Here’s something I wrote in my Economics class to celebrate the occasion:

Everyone wants the best for themselves

So says the economist, in a rational tone.

And so macroeconomics carries the results of these words

Onto a national scale, truly a world of its own.


As the world goes round, so does the money within

In a flow of income between households and firms,

With consumption and goods exchanged on one end

And wages for labour (on reasonable terms).


But there’s more! Injections like exports and investment

Equaling withdrawals like savings and tax.

Economists put it as Y = C + S + M + T

Or Y = C + I + G+ X.


With so much to take care of, what’re the key aims?

According to some there are four:

Economic growth, low unemployment, low but steady inflation

And a good balance of payments, but of that we’ll talk no more.


First up’s economic growth, more productive capacity,

Illustrated by a shift outwards on a PPC.

These changes are caused by more factors of production

Or better yet, factors of higher quality.


All this can be measured by the Gross Domestic Product –

The total value of all output over a certain interval.

It’s not completely accurate, though, neglecting inflation,

Unofficial work, or whether things are affordable.


It’s not always the end when GDP sags

The economic cycle may be the cause.

But whatever the reason, if there’s high unemployment

You bet the people will be flexing their claws.


It’s said it’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job

And a depression when you lose your own.

Either way, know that the government will be using

The Labour Force Survey and Claimant Count to make the numbers known.


It’s not one number, either: it can be divided into types

Be it frictional, seasonal, or demand-deficient.

Cyclical and structural unemployment are two other kinds

All displays of the economy being inefficient.


Which is why the government tries to solve this

Through demand management and supply-side policies,

Though firms may benefit through paying lower wages

And hiring workers with more attractive qualities.


The third, inflation, is a (low) sustained

Increase in the general level of prices,

Measured through changes in price of 600-odd goods

From clothes to watering cans and culinary spices. This is called the Consumer Price Index, used in the UK,

Or the Retail Price Index, if you throw property in too.

High inflation reduces investment, ups ‘menu costs’,

Harms trade, and makes the price mechanism fall through.


A low level is preferred to none at all,

With the UK’s target between one and three percent.

This is to reduce the risk of deflation,

A sure indicator of economic descent.


Inflation can be caused by surges in demand,

Higher costs, or increases in the monetary supply.

Which is why, to deal with continuous booms in prices

Governments can wish the excess goodbye.


So that’s it! The result of two months of helicopter-building,

Equations, discussions, and cake.

The journey is long yet, but it’s been a great ride

And now it’s time for a well-deserved break! :D


Yeah right.

Tagged ,

Just some scribblings

I like a little space for my mind to grow,

to swim and to discover the boundless joys of just being

Of just thinking, of dancing in meadows of sunshine

Conjured by hope and woven by threads of faith.


I like a little space where I can secretly dwell

In the lonely hours of twilight or soft rains

And speak to myself or to the deceiving emptiness

Of the air, which itself has a soul perchance.


I like a little space where the birds do sing

A song that is their own, and yet resonates with mine

That beats against my heart with the might of a lion

And sidles against my cheek like the mist of night.

the Wind

When your earlobes do tingle with the frost of the wind

And your nose tip is swelling red, your fingers scorned thin

You know that the North Wind is making its dent

On the year’s natural calendar, despite your dissent


And yet, if the wind did not blow as it does

How high the cost would be to us!

This poem was inspired by none less than the wind itself as I was walking to the bus stop from school. (On that note – that’s why it’s always great to carry a notebook with you! I wrote this on the bus and finished it at home.) It’s  a cool eleven degrees outside, which is unusually cold for end-of-winter Hong Kong. Hopefully, the sun will soon return, complemented with the frequent relief of spring breezes and the occasional shower.

In line 4, ‘despite your dissent’ was originally ‘despite my dissent’, but I thought it would be weird to introduce me in the middle of the poem. But it doesn’t look too right now, either. Any suggestions?

I’m also thinking of changing ‘nose tip’ to something less blunt.

And rewriting the last line because it’s too direct.

Tagged , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers