ephemeral

[adj.] —
lasting for a very short time.

The word ephemeral sounds really pretty, doesn’t it? Ephemeral is my second most favourite word. (The number-one favourite word will come out as the 8th post of A Hundred Words project. Probably.)

I fell in love with this word when I watched the 8th episode of my all-time favourite anime, Durarara!! (2010). The episode’s title was called Nankanoyume (南柯之夢), meaning Ephemeral Dream. It is one of the most beautiful phrases I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

I have a very keen affection towards fictional literature. My first encounter with literary works happened when I was 11 years old or so. I found a local classic mystery novel entitled “The Mystery of the Haunted Ship and the Poisonous Blowpipe” (translated) in my grade school’s library. An absurd title, but the story was adventurous and engrossing for me at the time. After that, my literary experience went on building up. I started buying novels, at first mostly fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, and romance (JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Dee, Suzanne Colin, Veronica Roth, John Green) but as I grew up my genre preference got more serious topic to deal with (Dan Brown, Stephen King, Haruki Murakami). In my teenage years, these novels influenced me in many ways. I often kind of made up stories in my mind: creating my own universe, coming up with a bunch of unique characters, and adventurous story lines (pretty often romantic too).

These stories were often to come up as a vivid dream. They appeared so good and so real it lingered for long period after I woke up. Normally, when we woke up from sleep, the everyday memories would be flooding our neural circuits in our brain. But these dreams are different, they were so clear almost like it was there in my brain all along and imprinted permanently. I managed to record several of them in a form of writings, like these following posts:

The writings might not be depicting the feeling perfectly due to my raw and primitive writing skill. But these stories were crystal when they were dreams. Sadly all these dreams only lasted for a very short time. They were ephemeral. Now I am in my 20s. Beautiful vivid dreams comes far less frequent. I’m pretty sure I’ve had that kind of dreams every now and then. But the everyday mundane memories are just merciless. They don’t leave any room for blissful dreams once my senses come to reality every morning. Dreams are indeed ephemeral, like every other thing in this world: shooting stars and every wishes ever said, lit-up sparklers and the joyous feelings they bring, life, and everything.

P.S. I have one vivid dream that I haven’t put in a writing form. It was a breathtaking dream. I’m not telling the story in this post because it will be more suitable for the future A Hundred Words project called “celestial”.

(3/100)

delirium

[noun] ー
an acutely disturbed state of mind results in confusion and disorientation.

I suffer from fever quite a lot, mostly due to exhaustion, acute upper respiratory infection, or even simply mental stress. Like today, for example. I pushed myself too far in running yesterday and I went to bed as late as 2:20 in the morning.

When we have a fever, our body feels weak, lethargic, sluggish. Our breathing gets deeper and more rapid, that’s because our body tries to release heat. We get so thirsty because the evaporation gets more intense which results in dehydration. Not to mention, the muscles and joints pain. But for me personally, the most significant change when I have a fever is the cloudy mind. I can’t describe the feeling perfectly, but in general it feels like I’m trapped in the middle of this white suspension of an in-between gas and fluid. It’s not exactly called a state of delirium, but it definitely causes mental confusion. Unfortunately, it’s not the worst thing that can happen in fever.

The most unpleasant thing would be the vivid dreams. It’s not that kind of blissful dream. In contrary, the vivid dreams that appear in our feverish sleeps are nightmares. The nightmares vary from time to time and differ from one person to the others. I have two most frequent nightmare scenarios: 1) I am stuck or trapped in this endless net/web of black sticky strings with endlessly white dimension as a background. What frightens me is that the more I struggle, the more I feel suffocated. And 2) There is some kind of deranged and huge black creature that chases me through, again, an endlessly white dimension. The creature is actually more of an entity made of pitch black shadow trying to engulf me in it rather than a solid thing. The problem with dealing with vivid dreams is, of course, now matter how aware we are of the dreams, you can not just decide to get out of it. Is it not frightening to be trapped in your dreamscapes? Feeling like inception, isn’t it?

What does actually cause these terrible nightmares when we have fever? This explanation will be quite medical. Fever is caused by substance called Pyrogens. Pyrogens can be originated from outside our body (exogenous, e.g. from bacteria) or produced by our own body (endogenous, e.g. interleukins). These pyrogens mess up our central body temperature controller up there inside our brain, making our body thinks that the temperature around us is way much colder then it actually is. Beside messing up the temperature controller, the pyrogens also make our brain lose control of the limbic system. This part of brain controls human emotion. When we sleep, dream occurs in the very first stage of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. In this stage, normally the limbic system generates previously (yet subconsciously) determined dreams. But during fever, the brain loses control the limbic system and causes it to fall into a hyperactivity state which makes it no longer be able to control dreams smoothly like it’s supposed to. Therefore, vivid and scary dreams occur.

(2/100)

flicker

[verb] ー
(of light or a source of light) unsteadily shine.

I like sitting on the balcony of the house I’ve lived in for the past 16 years. In a clear night, I can always see lights of the houses and building so far away on the hills stretched from north to south, at the east horizon. Looking north, I also see the far cityscape. Those flickering lights look peaceful and somehow give warm and fuzzy feelings in my chest.

It hit me that I love the word flicker. Not only flicker, though. I find several others, words, that I find uniquely attractive to me in an indescribable manner. That’s when I decided to start this… From this point onward, I will be posting those words along with stories behind them. I currently have target of a hundred words for this project to finish. Wish me luck.

(1/100)

holocene

It’s a bar in Portland, Oregon. But also the name of a geologic era; an epoch, if you will. All the songs (in the album) are meant to come together as this idea that places are time, people are places, and times are… people. Most of our lives feel like these epochs. But, once I knew I was not magnificent. Our lives feel like these epochs, but really we are dust in the wind.

(Justin Vernon of Bon Iver)

all this and heaven too

And the heart is hard to translate.
It has a language of it’s own.
It talks in tongues and quiet sighs and prayers and proclamations,
in the grand deeds of great men,
in the smallest of gestures,
in a short shallow gasps.
It talks to me in tiptoes
and it sings to me inside.
It cries out in the darkest night
and breaks in the morning light.

But with all my educations I can’t seem to command it.
The words are all escaping; coming back all damaged.
I would put them back in poetry if I only knew how.
I can’t seem to understand it.

I would give all this and heaven too.
I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand
the meaning of the words.
You see, ‘cause I’ve been scrawling it forever 
but it never makes sense to me at all.

No.
Words are a language. It doesn’t deserve such treatment.
All of my stumbling phrases never amounted to anything worth this feeling.
All this heaven never could describe such a feeling
as I’m hearing words were never so useful.
So I was screaming out a language that I never knew existed before!

(Florence and the Machine)

do we know ourselves, at all?

Recently I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s “Sputnik Sweetheart”. There is this one paragraph in the beginning of Chapter 5 that caught my attention the most.

Given the chance, [people] are surprisingly frank when they talk about themselves. “I’m honest and open to a ridiculous degree,” they’ll say, or “I’m thin-skinned and not the type who gets along easily in the world,” or “I’m very good at sensing others’ true feelings.” But any number of times I’ve seen people who say they’re easily hurt or hurt other people for no apparent reason. Self-styled honest and open people, without realizing what they’re doing, blithely use some self-serving excuse to get what they want. And those who are “good at sensing others’ true feelings” are taken in by the most transparent flattery. It’s enough to make me ask the question: how well do we really know ourselves?

Most of people tend to do those kinds of things. They can be surprisingly confident about themselves when sometimes they do something entirely opposite of what they say about themselves. I’m starting to doubt myself whether I do these kinds of things unconsciously, too. Am I one of those people? Do I know myself, at all?

there’s no end to it.

“I know I’m a little different from everyone else, but I’m still a human being. That’s what I’d like you to realize. I’m just a regular person, not some monster. I feel the same things everyone else does, act the same way. Sometimes, though, that small difference feels like an abyss. But I guess there’s not much I can do about it. I’ve experienced all kinds of discrimination. Only people who’ve been discriminated against can really know how much it hurts. Each person feels the pain in his own way, each has his own scars. So I think I’m as concerned about fairness and justice as anybody. But what disgusts me even more are people who have no imagination. The kind T. S. Eliot calls hollow men. People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing. Callous people who throw a lot of empty words at you, trying to force you to do what you don’t want to. Gays, lesbians, straights, feminists, fascist pigs, communists, Hare Krishnas—none of them bother me. I don’t care what banner they raise. But what I can’t stand are hollow people. When I’m with them I just can’t bear it, and wind up saying things I shouldn’t. I can’t control myself. That’s one of my weak points. Do you know why that’s a weak point of mine? ‘Cause if you take every single person who lacks much imagination seriously, there’s no end to it.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (2002)

a world that isn’t here.

“I’m walking alone in the forest—not the thick, ominous forest that Hansel and Gretel got lost in, but more of a brightish, lightweight sort of forest. It’s a nice, warm afternoon, and I’m walking along without a care in the world. So then, up ahead, I see this little house. It’s got a chimney and a little porch, and gingham-check curtains in the windows. It’s friendly looking. I knock on the door and say, ‘Hello.’ There’s no answer. I try knocking again a little harder and the door opens by itself. It wasn’t completely closed, you see. I walk in yelling, ‘Hello! Is anybody home? I’m coming in!’

“It’s just a one-room cottage. Very simply built. It has a little kitchen, beds, and a dining area. There’s a woodstove in the middle, and dinner for four has been neatly set out on the table. Steam is rising from the dishes. But there’s nobody inside. It’s as if they were all set to start eating when something strange happened—like, a monster showed up or something, and everybody ran out. But the chairs are not in disarray. Everything is peaceful and almost strangely ordinary. There just aren’t any people there.

“So anyhow, I sit in one of the chairs and wait for the family that lives there to come back. That’s what I’m supposed to do: just wait for them to come home. I don’t know why I’m supposed to. I mean, it’s a dream, so not everything is clearly explained. Maybe I want them to tell me the way home, or maybe I have to get something: that kind of thing. So I’m just sitting there, waiting for them to come home, but no matter how long I wait, nobody comes. The meal is still steaming. I look at the hot food and get tremendously hungry. But just because I’m starved, I have no right to touch the food on the table without them there. It would be natural to think that, don’t you think?

“But soon the sun goes down. The cottage grows dark inside. The surrounding forest gets deeper and deeper. I want to turn the light on, but I don’t know how. I start to feel uneasy. Then at some point I realize something strange: the amount of steam rising from the food hasn’t decreased at all. Hours have gone by, but it’s still nice and hot. Then I start to think that something odd is going on. Something is wrong. That’s where the dream ends.

“Would you like to know what the scariest part of the dream is? It’s that I might be the monster. The possibility struck me once. Wasn’t it because they had seen me approaching that the people had abandoned their dinner and run out of the house? And as long as I stayed there, they couldn’t come back. In spite of that, I had to keep sitting in the cottage, waiting for them to come home. The thought of that is what scares me so much.

—”1q84″ 1:24