february flowers by fan wu

i'm trying to write this as honestly as possible, and by "this" i don't mean the book (i loved it), but how it made me feel even more distant to where i am and how i am living, and how it rationalised my blooming antipathy towards everything. i picked up this book in my most frequented bookstore in the city where i find myself feeling safest and calmest in because it's the only place (apart from my bedroom), i was anonymous and intact.

i remember how guangzhou was promised to me. i was to spend the summer of 2013 in a small but charming apartment, see the lotuses in linhua mountain, walk through shamian island, maybe fall in love in the process. when alex left for guangzhou, somehow, we lost each other and that's the way it should be. he told me once that, "if there's a city where you'll be fine alone, it's guangzhou." and maybe someday i'll experience it for myself. 

the novel is about an unlikely friendship between ming, 17, virginal and in love with literature and yan, 24, wild and seemingly in love with everything, who meets in a university in guangzhou. their interactions happen mostly in rooftops, where yan smokes and haughtily hands out always lavish and most often harrowing tales of her love affairs, while ming plays violin and fawns over yan. they visit cinemas, buy fine-tailored suits, drink tea, eat dimsum, and take ferry rides across the glittering luahua lake. they are frivolous, beautiful, and romantic.


preromantic, premodern times

it is difficult not to be a fatalist when you're a romantic. while some might think that both qualities are internally antagonistic to each other, i think that when a person has surrendered to romanticism, then there is a consent that yes, things might fall apart, but for now. zizek writes, “you are not in love, you just make one night stands maybe here and there. you meet every evening with friends. you drink. you go to blah, blah. then all of a sudden in a totally contingent way let’s say you stumble on the street, somebody helps you to stand up. it’s a young girl or boy blah, blah. and, of course, it’s the love of your life. a totally contingent encounter but the result can be that your whole life changes. nothing is the same as they say. you even spontaneously perceive your entire past life as leading towards this unique moment, you know, the illusion of love is oh my god, i was waiting all my life for you. this – something like this would have been the love event. and i think it’s getting more and more rare today."

the entire time i was listening to zizek talk about how love is this great moment of occurrence within a space that has no attachment to cause but in actuality, creates its own causes -- all i could think about how i have felt greater impact in falling in love with you* ('the event') than the causes of it (urban loneliness, dysfunction, seeing you through therapy), and how before i met you i couldn't reconcile the similarities of your 'predecessors' but now that you are here, i can see how his hair, his fingers, his violin, all the best qualities i could find, is synchronised within you, and how there's this monumental collusion of romance and modernity in how we have managed to free-fall into each other. 

at the same time, kristeva writes on how we place love in this idealistic pedestal where "the confidence that i place in him is based on my love for him and what i assume is his love for me." there is this profound possibility for two people to move within each other (through mind and body) in which they are interconnected through consent and the medium of words. when i implicate this practice into, and how, so much of what exists between us (that untouchable mountain of granite), relies on how i love you and how i think you love me, and vice versa. then i think, that it is all i can depend on: the assumption that the way in which we love each other are mirrors of each other, in that it's reflective and coalesced and endless. 

*the "you" i refer to here is personless and can be replaced with anyone within the objective narrative