À la recherche du temps perdu

news from nowhere

Month: December, 2009


Here in West Coast it is 16 hours behind Hong Kong, so this is still 31st December. And I almost forgot about the retrospective I do by end of each year. But now since I am in my uncle’s home using a really old computer which sqeaks at every command and basically with no Chinese wordprocessing programme, I think I will just write a very short note as opposed to the very long chronicles of the previous years.

It is easy to evaluate and divide 2009. Basically the first 8 months was hell and the last 4 months was heaven. I thought I went through a lot in the previous years but that was not true. Which has been a very good lesson for me: it made one think a lot about what one wants for a career and how much one is prepared to sacrifice for it. About the real worth of things. About your own worth. And then, whether that is a fair deal. After all a job is a job, a transaction. You are obliged to deliver to your best capacity, on the basis that the employer fulfill the terms in the contract. When you are a freshman, you consider yourself an apprentice, and you are willing to tolerate every harsh circumstance to have that career, since you think no pain no gain, and that career is more than a paid job. And soon you find that what has been coined training or correct working attitude or the no pain no gain thing is nothing but an excuse for exploitation on the employer’s part. Slavery did not die with Feudalism, it only took on another form in Capitalist society. Now I look back on those 8 months, I do think ‘slave’ is the best word to describe my job. The major thing about slavery is not the harsh terms, but the absence of respect.

Now everything is just the opposite in my new job. I have a great boss who is young and intelligent, great colleagues for friends and mentors, this is a place with great visions and prospects. It almost feels like God is rewarding me for the misery I endured. And I can feel the real me is coming back, who had all the time been suppressed in that hellish place. I am thinking of my future developments in this organization, I have several writing projects in mind, I am going back to films and performances and seeing friends again. 2010 will surely be the continuation of this great moment, when I will be ever more wiser, prettier and happier. And I know it is only when I am my best self, that I am going to be truly loved and admired.

On the First Day of Christmas

South-Tyrolian Evangelistarium
Illumination on parchment
Cathedral Library, Esztergom 
Image from the Web Gallery of Art


今天的感覺有點奇妙。全公司一起等着放聖誕假,並互祝聖誕快樂新一年再見,其實真的…… 真的有點像回到了中學的日子。於是我想,有聖誕長假期的機構真好,即使不能讓員工賺大錢,但大家辛勞了一年,也總算在年尾的時候有一星期的長假休息,也算沒有花紅以外的一點安慰獎。在這種非牟利機構,員工的士氣是重要的財產,我想這個地方也算做得不賴,起碼大家都為將來興奮期待,而不像我以往待過的地方,年尾往往都是人人想着離開的季節。想來,這個長假之後,我的probation也完了。要說有甚麼要考慮的話,應該是如何找到自己在這個地方的角色,更積極投入於這個機構的往後發展吧。老實說,這個感覺真的很好。或者像同事所說,肖狗的人今年的壞運氣也要隨着今年過去了。

今年的聖誕要在一個沒想過的地方過。聖誕日當天我會在前往San Francisco的飛機上,這令我想起一首歌詞有San Francisco的英文老歌。那也不怎麼淒慘,因為我到達San Fran的時候正是聖誕日當天早上。時差這東西我總是搞不懂是怎麼回事,總之就是我賺了一個聖誕日。或者之前幾年我總是自己跑去玩,現在是時候做一下探親之類的事情。

但其實,這一年真的不太感覺到聖誕的氣氛。電視資訊節目的主持說今年很有聖誕氣氛,因為商場都人山人海,我想她有沒有搞錯了甚麼。聖誕是甚麼?在純經濟掛帥的現今香港,大概真的是商場的營業額。聖誕於我卻從不是那個畫面--耶穌誕生的日子;聖誕卡上三皇來朝的圖畫;學校的聖誕彌撒和聖誕聯歡會;家裡的聖誕樹和聖誕歌;大學生的聖誕派對和紅玫瑰;倫敦大街上,冷空氣裡飄揚的玉桂香味;英國老先生寄來的信;Love Actually裡的種種窩心。




Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words
Hold my hand
In other words
Darling kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words
Please be true
In other words
I love you

Musing amidst Music of the Prague Baroque

Music from the picturesque Charles Bridge

After a distracted and rather chaotic weekend, I found myself confronted today by a lot of things, big and little. As I gathered myself and tried to tackle them one by one clear-headedly, I once again felt the bliss of self-exertion. I always know that I am rather sloth by nature.

Two packages were opened and I had on and around my desk over 80 books which should be processed within 2 days or I will be damned, what with all other outstanding tasks and the long Christmas holiday. While my hands flipped through each of them and typed onto the keyboard I nevertheless kept thinking of this one thing: that I have to run to Muji and grab that Prague soundtrack straight after work.

I can never forget Prague, though I was there only very briefly, spending my last summer holiday and last penny travelling before I finished my entire MA course and was flown back to Hong Kong. And I always dream of going back, to see more of Mucha, and discover the making of Kafka, with someone who share the same yearning for this fairyland. I thought I found that someone, but it turned out he was a sham, and so I keep on dreaming, till now.

And recently I have been watching this Japanese anime “Monster”, a wonderful crime fiction, which should make a very good novel, even better than any of Dan Brown’s, but anyway the point is I had just finished an episode where the story had moved on to Prague, and how great they are at capturing the feeling of the old city! And I believe that the Muji Prague will be very Prague indeed, so good the Japanese are at absorbing the essence of foreign cultures.
In the MTR station I saw this young man who was walking towards me, we exchanged looks and I felt my heart skipping a beat. Is the romantic Prague getting into me? And he was goodlooking, with his permed hair and fitted suit. I would not mind skipping more heart beats if I can see more goodlooking guys like him. But then, this is Hong Kong. I wonder how many goodlooking guys who have a yearning for Prague there are in Hong Kong. Not that many, I fear.

A celebrity, once a very sought after actress, now some rich man’s wife, was looking at some plastic storage boxes, while I was just next to her inspecting my Prague soundtrack. Suddenly there was a loud crash which startled me and everyone within earshot, the actress-turned-rich man’s wife had upset a large plastic box and it fell from the top shelf onto the floor. I could see a few pieces of fragments on the floor. The actress-turned-rich man’s wife was very apologetic, and the staff cleaned the place without being difficult to her at all.

After getting some more extra stuff against my original plan, I am now at home, in my yellow chamber, on my princess daybed, bathing myself in Prague Baroque music. My father comes in and asks what it is. I show him the booklet that goes with the soundtrack but the composers’ names are in Japanese (that is, in Czech translated as Japanese) so there is basically no way of deciphering them. And that is exactly Prague. Undecipherable, mysterious, and so romantic as a distant dream.

Give some support and get a copy of my book!

Message from Lady Ho Tung Hall Graduates’ Association:

***Lady Ho Tung Hall Alumni Fund***

Since its launch in September, we have received donation of over $5,000. Your every dollar counts. Let’s show our unity, and build up the Fund together as a gift for the 60th birthday of our hall in 2011.

Donation could be made online on the website of HKU Development & Alumni Affairs Office (http://www.hku.hk/alumni/shac/) by cheque, credit card or direct transfer. Please designate your donation to “Lady Ho Tung Hall Alumni Fund” ( or “LHTH Alumni Fund”), by indicating it on the online donation form. Donation to the Fund is tax-deductible and will be eligible for matching dollar-for-dollar under the Stanley Ho Alumni Challenge.

As a token of thanks, the book “91A –I’m a Hotungnian” written by Ms Mary LEE, a graduate of LHTH, will be presented to donors with donation of more than $300 (Alumni) and $150 (Students).

I am just sorting this out.

First of all I have to admit that I too had been wrong. That I did not decline the invitation amiably, but instead created cause for an argument. It almost looked like I started this argument intentionally, which should never have been.

On the other hand, I think it is only natural that I should feel uncomfortable, when this friend expects me to celebrate her own birthday, while forgetting all about my birthday which is only a few days earlier than hers. On the eve of my birthday, she sent me a sms just to ask me to confirm whether I am going to her birthday party, without even saying happy birthday in return. It is absolutely ok that people forget other people’s birthdays, I do that myself sometimes, but when I casually noted to her that I just had my birthday yesterday, she acted as if she heard nothing and continued about her own birthday party.

When I asked who would be in the party, she seemed offended that the guest list should concern me. She thought I would be there just to celebrate her birthday, and the other people would not matter. Which is strange to me in fact, because if I am to give a party, even though I would love to have all the people who matter to be with me, I would still, as a host, consider if these people would also be able to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable in my party.

And so I think, this is about the proportion of give and take in friendship. Anyway I have sorted this out now, and I wish everyone happy birthday and friendship forever.

Final quotes from The Fugitive

And I will move on to the last book of Proust’s profound work: Finding Time Again.


Now if I no longer believed in the innocence of Albertine, it was because I no longer felt the need or the passionate desire to do so. It is desire that engenders belief, and if we are not usually aware of this, it is beacuse most of the desires which engender belief – unlike the one which had made me believe that Albertine was innocent – die only when we do. Rather than accept all the evidence which corroborated with my original vision, I had stupidly preferred to believe Albertine’s bald affirmations. Why had I believed her? Lying is essential to humanity. It plays perhaps as great a part as the search for pleasure and is in fact driven by this search. We lie to protect our pleasure or our honour, if to divulge this pleasure would be contrary to our honour. We lie all our lives, above all, or perhaps even only, to those who love us. For in fact they alone make us fear for our pleasure and desire their esteem.


The city I saw before me was still Venice. Its personality and its name appeared to me as mendacious fictions that I no longer had the heart to relate to its stones. The palaces appeared reduced to their congruent parts and their portions of indifferent marble, and the waters to a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen, eternal and blind, anterior and exterior to Venice, ignorant of Turner and the Doges. And yet this unexceptional place was as alien as a place where you have just arrived, which does not yet know you, or a place that you have left and that has already forgotten you. There was nothing now that could tell it about me, nothing of mine that I could invest it with, it forced me to withdraw within myself, I was no more than a beating heart and a mind anxiously following the words of ‘O sole mio‘.


If I had asked her, she might have told me the truth, as might have Albertine, if she had come back to life. And indeed, does death not come between us and women whom we no longer love but meet again years later, just as if they were no longer of this world, since the fact that our love no longer exists makes of the women that they used to be, or the men that we were, dead people? Perhaps also she might not have remembered, or she might have lied. In any case I no longer saw any interest in finding out, since my heart had already changed more than Gilberte’s face. It no longer appealed to me, but the main thing was that I was no longer unhappy, and I could not have imagined, if I had thought of it again, that I could have been so unhappy to see Gilberte walking slowly side by side with another young man that I could have thought, ‘It’s all over, I refuse ever to see her again.’ Of the state of mind which, foe the whole of that far-off year, had been nothing but endless torture to me, nothing remained. For in this world where everything wears out, where everything perishes, there is one thing that collapses and is more completely destroyed than anything else, and leaves fewer traces than beauty itself: and that is grief.


—- Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time VI: The Fugitive



Is it this place? Suddenly all kinds of interesting projects creep into my mind, anxious to be executed. And I think they will be. Whereas in my previous job, all I could think of was only to survive the day. What different lives Art can lead people to! There can be no doubt which life I prefer. To me, Art is nothing but making merry in earnest.