Writing about reading about writing about death.

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“As I dashed for help, one can never quite forget – keep out of one’s mind – that in searching, in pleading, in asking, there is always a chance that one’s hopes might be dashed. For, even if the call is answered, even if the other attempts to attend to it, there is no, never any, guarantee that the response might have anything to do with the call. In some way, a call for, call to, a calling, and its response, might always be separated by a dash – But it is not as if this dash, this cut, caesura, is absolute as well: it is also a connection to another, the other, a point of touch. And here, we can never forget that in order to touch there has to be some distance – if we are too close, in the same place, we are already consuming, subsuming, the other, one another.” (30-31)

“But since you are gone, the one that I am attempting to mourn is always already in my memory, remembered. Which fragment of you have I resurrected? Is it even possible to speak of thee as such any longer? Or perhaps it is this fragmented, fragmentary, nature of the remembrance that ensures every memory is singular. Not that I am necessarily able to tell the difference between them. For, each recollection of thee, you, is haunted by the possibility of forgetting. And since there is no object to forgetting, no referentiality – all I can possibly articulate is the fact that I might have forgotten – there is no possibility of knowing what is being forgotten. There is no possibility of knowing if each time one remembers, each moment of memory might bring with it forgetting as well. In other words, forgetting is not always in an antonymic relationality with memory, both are possibly a part of each other.” (36)

“What does it mean to cry for another, to tear for them? Barring a performative moment, it is not as if one could will oneself to tear(s) – one is moved to tears, one is taken over, seized, in that moment. Often, one is also ground to a halt, ceased in that moment – and one is nothing other than the very tears that are pouring out of one self. Perhaps it is in that dual movement, the stasis of being grounded, and the frenzy of the outpouring, that we can catch a glimpse of the constant duel that is in tearing itself: as we are crying, there is always already a tearing apart that is going on; a ripping that is not external, nor from a source other to ourselves, but one that is occurring within. For, in some way, we have always known that this moment of tearing happens to us in us, is brought upon ourselves by no one but our self. After all, we can only truly tear for someone that we care for, that we have opened ourselves to, that we have responded to, and called our friend.” (92)

– Jeremy Fernando, Writing Death.

This is not a love letter.

But.

I met Jeremy at a very bewildering time in my life.

I was passing through a city in which I used to live, maneuvering a strange familiarity, and wrestling with the corporeality of grief through the only coping mechanism I had (and on auto-pilot at that) – words.

Words are my heart medicine.

Somewhere between weekends of prancing around with peers, affect-dumping past midnight, and interspersing half-formed brainwaves, he gifted Writing Death to me.

It was my second last night in Singapore.

“I hear you write about death,” he said.

I gave him a face.

Ah Facebook intimacies.

Funny when we translate digital affects into physical spaces. Interlacing writingwords and speakingwords is much effort – must be the burden of reciprocating gazes that does us all in. How long is too long? How much is too much? How does one blink at 30 bpm?

Minutes before my flight back to Perth, I sit in the boarding area, piecing away, making away, churning away.

I needed to affect-dump and make sense of translations of care and paralanguages. I needed to document progress and growth. I needed to visibilise vulnerability. I needed to feel lighter. And words are my heart medicine.

I left my grapplings with grief in the lounge area of miscoloured cushioned seats, sticky carpets, crying toddlers, a blaring television in the background. What a public place to be anonymous and grieving alone.

Until I boarded my flight, and flipped open Writing Death on the plane.

This is not a eulogy.

But.

I read Writing Death at a very bewildering time in my life.

Nothing like reading about writing death to write oneself out of grief.

I see Jeremy in the… ellipses… d-a-s-h-e-s – elegantly effusive eloquence.

Words are his heart medicine, too.

Somewhere between pages of prancing around with the dead, affect-dumping past textual therapies, and interspersing half-formed confessions for affects of the past, he read Writing Death to me.

I finished the book in one sitting, re-lived grief, and imagined a distance built into writing about reading about writing about grief.

Minutes before arriving in Perth, I sit in my cramped seat, piecing away, making away, churning away.

I fished out my phone to write him a note.

“I finished your book on the flight.

no where on it does it state when it was published, save for the few conversations footnoted 2010. maybe you chose not to give these words a time, a context, a name.

you are like water.

your words bring an ambivalent ache.

i have never jaywalked in singapore.

‘Now excuse me, I have to go.'”

i dash you too.

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