The Psycho in Us All

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All the acts of love that go unseen and unknown, where do all those thoughts and gestures go, the ones that live inside of us and become expressed in our daily lives; our words, our food, our way to work.

These gestures misdirect others. Instead of knowing you, they learn the remnants of your lost love. Your sudden predilection for Italian food- the one you love is living in Rome. You make your pizza pilgrimage because this act is a living memory to feel a little closer, a gesture of love. The real story, the true story happening in the under currents of someone’s mind, can make us all seem a little like Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The spitting image of a upstanding white American male, Norman personifies his psycho by cross-dressing, imprinting on the American imagination that a man dressed as a woman can easily fall into violent instability. Norman misses his mother to such an extent that his psyche takes it one step further and his personality splits and becomes the other. However, the split has its flaws. The mother Norman introduces to us is only an interpretation of his mother, distorted by Norman’s own fears and desires.

Say a new person meets someone already in love such as Norman and his love for his deceased mother. As you are getting to know this person, some of his phrases could actually be quotes from the beloved; his fascination with vinyl, the beloved was a DJ; his fascination with a certain city, his beloved suggested he make a visit.

Now you’ve gathered all these golden nuggets of information, the treasured and interesting remains of your beloved. You find yourself twittering that phrase, including his specific word choice in an article. You develop an interest in vinyl and make efforts to visit Singapore.

Then someone falls in love with you, reads your articles and becomes interested in Singapore thinking this is you when in fact it was a memory of someone twice removed or who knows how far it goes back and to who or what was the original.

This happens in Psycho, these redherrings to the truth. The characters think they know the plot but the plot is actually a drama within a drama. It becomes another case of Rosencrantz and Gildenstern. You think you’re getting Hamlet or that you are Hamlet but you’re just unlucky, like Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, carrying around fool’s gold. Where does all that unseen love go?

Crazy Rich Asians




For a few months, a story captured my imagination. Two young transcontinental lovers not more than 22, burying a deceased mother on their own during a hot Singapore summer. All the ingredients for a lifelong mind fuck. The boy’s favorite book As I Lay Dying. It should be a crime to be so obvious. The girl ends up of leaving him (the boy that was crazy about her and helped bury her mother) for an Cambridge guy, those charismatic English. Boy ends up praying to St Jude, the patron saint of desperate and lost causes. I just happened to be in Paris to hear about this story. I could feel the pain just by sitting next to him and 5 years had already gone by. The boy loved deeply. I wondered whoever fell in love with this boy, would she have to love this girl too? It was essentially who he was after college. I think he was someone else before.

I never want to be with someone who loves lightly.

Curious, I tried reading As I Lay Dying. Genius written in poetry is nothing compared to genius spoken through a bunch of uneducated idiots. It’s almost incomprehensible.

Wanting to know more about Singapore, I found a happy outlet in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. Now this was a fun book!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being at 22


My philosophical journey started in 10th grade with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (the seed to my later architecture leanings) moving on to Sartre and existentialism by the end of high school. In college, it continued with existentialism through Kierkegaard, then a long-lasting affair with Romanticism and difficult relationships with Heidegger, Hegel, and Nietzsche, men I will never fully understand. My literature was American/English/French, but my philosophy was always German plus one Dane. My senior year in college, I became infatuated with Milan Kundera, to the point where I wanted to name my first-born child Milan, not to mention I also liked the Italian city. After hours spent with a bore like Kant, Kundera’s novels were a godsend, entertaining and highly digestible. I consumed almost all his novels that year along with Sex and the City episodes. I eventually outgrew Kundera, more so than I did Carrie Bradshaw. In the end, Kundera became forgettable. When asked about this novel recently, the only thing that came to mind was one minor skinny female character, and this character wasn’t even from unbearable but another Kundera novel. Even after writing a 15-page paper on The Farewell Waltz (where the skinny character actually came from), I wondered how can one forget so much. Being falsely accused of identifying with Sabina, I couldn’t even defend myself.

Having read the book again, half of it deals with stuff I am interested in i.e.  love, art, beauty, and the other half, stuff I am not, infidelity and politics/communism.

In my twenties, I was definitely the victim of this and to guys I wasn’t even initially attracted to in the first place:  “Does he love me? Does he love anyone more than me? Does he love me more than I love him? Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short.” Kundera

Love is repetition and the weight that makes Being bearable, personified by Karenin the dog, whose sole function in life is her repetitive expression of love. “Happiness is the longing for repetition.” Karenin’s death escapes kitsch; she gives birth to a decidedly postmodern epitaph, two rolls and a bee, unlike Franz whose epitaph will forever be kitsch.

Sabina, in the end, becomes so light (through cremation) she finally attains the opposite. “She would be lighter than air. As Parmenides would put it, the negative would change into the positive.” Kundera

Sabina’s love for the cemeteries of Bohemia, where her father and uncle are buried, finally allow her to touch weight by becoming lighter than air.

Tereza is long-suffering, loyal and filled with a sense of duty. She deserves Karenin’s and Tomas’ love.

I like the thesis that love starts with a metaphor that is wrapped in the poetic.

How you see me


Another writer depicted in a movie The Way We Were, the compromising kind. Pollack foreshadows how Katie (Streisand) and Hubbell (Redford) will (not) understand each other by the polarizing way in which they first see each other, i.e. the moment when they give each other the perennial love eyes, the sparkling kind. Dilated pupils = attraction. Sparkling eyes = love/ potential love. I am always amazed when actors are able to portray this, make their eyes sparkle.

She takes notice of him for his writing but mainly because she believes his writing is much better than hers. But she doesn’t even look at him when this occurs, she is too busy mulling in envy and ripping up the pages of her own disappointing story. He first notices her and the movie immediately depicts love eyes while he watches Katie deliver a passionate speech to rally her apathetic college peers to political action. He admires her conviction but also realizes how ineffective she is at the last moment due to her lack of social graces. She is too serious and ultimately fails to connect. This misconnection reduces her otherwise beautiful speech to loud words in the wind. Katie’s love eyes appear much later, as she sees him sleeping on a barstool in a nightclub, his eyes closed to her. Not only does this strange encounter depict Katie’s blindness to the real reason their relationship ends, it shows she values Hubbell’s damn good looks foremost.

For Hubbell, what draws him to Katie also causes the rift between them. From a distance, her conviction seemed admirable but in the domestic, it becomes uncomfortable, unmanageable and even brings violence into their lives. He doesn’t want her alienating tendencies, the anger, the seriousness that comes from strongly held beliefs; he is someone who makes compromises. Katie doesn’t know how to separate the two, the person and the politics, and is blind to the real reason he leaves her. She believes she wasn’t, never was, pretty enough.

I finally understood the “Katie” reference in Sex and the City (final episode Season 2) when Big marries a twenty-something after years of telling Carrie he can’t marry again. So you just didn’t want to marry ME, Carrie muses. Carrie asks the question all girls want to,” Why wasn’t it me, come on, be a friend.” The Sex and the City reference makes Katie the hero, the untamed, strong woman Hubbel/ Big can’t handle, so they revert to, marry beautiful, tamed girls. Of course, Big needs to be with Carrie; however, Hubbell does not belong with Katie. Hubbell knows who he really is (insight from Prof Ruth Chang’s TED talk on Hard Choices), and it never had anything to do with Katie being pretty or not, tamed or untamed.

Museum of Broken Relationships

May 3, 2014 (iPhone 5s)


I was tempted to buy this piece of chocolate but had no one to give it to but myself.

After the first 2,5 rooms, I stopped reading all the summaries and only looked at the artifacts. It still became a little depressing. After 30 years, one lady’s husband told her “I never loved you” and left. She never understood what happened. “I don’t understand what happened.” Her artifact was this small, old, worn stuffed toy of snoopy. He could have had the decency to explain, but to realize at the end of your life it was all a lie. But at least she got to spend 30 years with someone SHE loved. Another woman’s artifact was a joint checkbook, which she saw as signifying their financial togetherness through the purchase of a house and children and then their financial separation with divorce and her subsequent years of psychotherapy. There was only one story of an unbroken relationship in this museum. The first story I read. The artifact was of a life size toy car, one the person telling the story always wanted as a child. His wife finally found him one. He concluded that when you love someone you want to make all their dreams come true. In the end, their happiest moment becomes your happiest moment, their saddest your saddest.

Chicago reunion

June 2012 (Nikon D50)

I went to my 10th year reunion in the summer of 2012 in Chicago. I saw for the first time how much love it took to raise a little one from my college friends who were now parents, how the campus had become even greener (the ivy is out of control), a new library cafe, and the beaches of Chicago near Ravenswood. I met around 9 lawyers that evening at our class dinner. None of them had any idea what social commerce could possibly mean.

I know this isn't the origin of the heart ideograph but I couldn't help but imagine as my friends bent over their son, is there a child in the middle of every ♥as their bodies arched to form the outside of one.
I know this isn’t the origin of the heart ideograph but I couldn’t help but imagine as my friends bent over their son, is there a child in the middle of every ♥ as their bodies arched to form the outside of one. They were the most attentive parents I had ever seen.


Out of control ivy... my graduate student Calculus teacher dropped his glasses our the window of that building... we spent forever trying to find it.
Out of control ivy… my graduate student Calculus teacher dropped his glasses out the window of that building… we spent forever trying to find it.

I would have studied here all the time. Regenstein's new extension.
I would have studied here all the time. Regenstein’s new extension.

Chicago beach
Chicago beach