so many ideas so little words

Message from Writer

In the end, we reached the mirage
And it became our reality
The scary desert
Became the ocean with our
Blood, sweat and tears

The White Book

January 19, 2021

“At times my body feels like a prison, a solid, shifting island threading through the crowd. A sealed chamber carrying all the memories of the life I have lived.”

    Often when we read a good book, a word or two, even a sentence perhaps, tends to linger. Sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, we might stumble upon an author whose words manage to hide themselves in the crevices of our thoughts, cozy in the certainty of their impact. Han Kang has managed to imprint hers in a place I didn’t know existed, a place filled with my own swaddling bands and moon cakes, candles and white birds.
    A book is defined as “a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together.” Books are bound by characters, settings, progression and endings. We marvel at the unexpected plot twists, the thrill that comes with surprise. I found myself lost in this book that wasn’t a book. The White Book is a marvel in itself, and for the first time, I found myself hooked to a book where I dreaded each page turn; I hate goodbyes. 

“Is it because of some billowing whiteness within us, unsullied, inviolate, that our encounters with objects so pristine never fail to leave us moved?”

As devastatingly simple as it sounds. Pages upon pages of things that are white. There are no sophisticated metaphors, no complicated paradoxes, no magical other worldliness. This is the painful rawness of white and all that it is burdened with: peace, purity… perfection. It left me confused. I felt distant from a colour so untarnished and yet found a hidden sadness in the character it was given, an expression of pain despite beauty.

“Don’t die. For god’s sake, don’t die.”

    Musings of a person disturbed. We watch Kang navigate the loss of a sister she never knew through her memories, bordering past and present, light and darkness. Her thoughts breathe strength and drown in fragility, given life by the (in)finiteness of tangibility. It felt as though I was reading a collection of organized thoughts, and I relished the feeling it left me with. Reading her words, I was lost within myself. The baby, pure as an untouched moon cake. The moon, a chiaroscuro of two eyes lost in thought above the shadowed suggestion of a nose. The face, witness to a broken city that is day by day burying her deeper into herself... Kang herself is the story.
    Stories live through language. Like succeeding in a game of Chinese Whispers, the human desperation to be understood can be blinding. Sounds tend to stumble upon each other, losing their meaning in the labyrinth of interpretation. I believe it is worth mentioning that this is writing that transcends language. Skipping stones across the oceans that divide me from you, Gwangju from Warsaw, Korean from English. 
    It didn’t feel as though I was reading her words. Perhaps it was the realisation that whatever seemed to speak to me was simply white light reflecting black ink on paper now tainted. It didn’t feel like I was reading her words, it felt as though I was feeling the spaces between the lines. The not-ness whitewashing her existence, and the certainty of my own. 

There is none of us whom life regards with any partiality. Sleet falls as she walks these streets, holding this knowledge inside her. Sleet that leaves cheeks and eyebrows heavy with moisture. Everything passes.”

There is a cliché that a good book will seem as though it is speaking to you, but I didn’t feel as though I was supposed to be listening. I felt as though I was supposed to speak… or perhaps, somewhere between the tenderness* of these pages, I was speaking all long.
*would transparency work better?

appreciate any and all feedback :)

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