An Accumulation of Random Thoughts #6

Brain dump. I was going to publish this a bit later, but decided throw it out there now because I’ve been busy with work and other projects. This post consists of my afterthoughts on my latest piece on psychoanalysis and death drive, which can now be found in my “Popular Posts” menu on this site. I will also talk about idealism, materialism, psychology, writing, all the way to what it means to say “yes” and make a promise.

Have a good day. 🙂

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This blog…

Probably saved a lot of undergraduate students who are learning deconstruction and psychoanalysis in their intro courses. Due to Derrida and Lacan’s difficulty, most professors and TAs aren’t expecting too much from undergrads who writes about them for the first time. And to be honest, I often find a lot of the ways some profs and TAs introduce Derrida and Lacan aren’t always good readers of their works (sorry, but it’s true lol). Whereas some of them gets it, but without fully recognizing the real life applications and implications of their ideas.

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On Becoming a Psychoanalyst

It depends on the school of psychoanalysis you want to practice and it varies between different institutions. But a lot of them requires at least a Masters degree in a related field (some requires an MD or PhD) where you go through rigorous psychoanalytic training for several years.

In a lot of Lacanian schools, you also have to go through “The Pass” (le passant). It is where the student undergoes psychoanalysis and reach a successful analysis which yields to new psychoanalytic knowledge. The pass is basically where the psychoanalysand (patient) transforms into a psychoanalyst who is acknowledged by juries within the school. They are also granted a new title after they successfully pass. I forget what it was called.

Psychoanalytic training in Lacanian schools are an on-going process where training analysts are required to go through treatment as a patient; along with learning through the discourse of the other (experienced analysts) and the study of psychoanalytic theory. Some are also required to learn mathematics, arts, and other cultural phenomenon that is happening in contemporary society.

You need to learn math because Lacan was influenced by a French philosopher in mathematics—I forget his name. There is a reason why Lacan uses diagrams riddled with complex mathematic symbols known as “mathemes” to teach psychoanalysis. Basically, Lacan thinks language is an unreliable way to transmit psychoanalytic knowledge due to how our desires warps our interpretations of words. There is a lot of nuance in this area of psychoanalytic thought that I won’t extrapolate today. It has to do with the way knowledge is produced based on the discourses that the split subject takes position as in relationship with the other and their unconscious mind. Don’t worry, we will likely read more of Lacan’s crazy graphs and math symbols in the future together.

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Afterthoughts on psychoanalysis and death drive

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the post turned out (linked here). I really tried to show you the scope of psychoanalysis, its applications and relationships with other disciplines. I also tried to show how all the examples that I’ve used in my psychoanalytic posts operates at the same fundamental level through desire, drive, repetition, and the unconscious mind. Just to be sure, the goal of psychoanalysis is not to get people to stop desiring. It isn’t always about getting them to stop doing what they enjoy doing. Rather, it is to get them to desire and enjoy these things in a healthy way and establish a better relationship between their conscious and unconscious mind (it depends on who you ask).

If you are interested in Freudo-Marxism, I highly recommend Slavoj Zizek and people like Frantz Fanon, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. Zizek is one of the most famous public intellectuals today who is a leading figure in Hegelian-Lacanian Marxist thought (he is also a funny dude). Zizek was psychoanalytically trained under Jacques-Alain Miller (often known as JAM), the son in law of Jacques Lacan and the sole editor of his seminars.

The Zizekian branch of Freudo-Marxism is a bit different to how I explained it in my post. Essentially, Zizek thinks people have inherited the ideology of capitalism as their unconscious fantasy where every subject would endlessly perpetuate the system without consciously realizing it (which drives everyone mad over time). More over, this capitalist fantasy that has been imprinted in our unconscious mind is also why there has never been any real changes in society despite all the changes that people want. In his eyes, one of the reasons why communism had always failed was because even the most famous leaders of communism, such as Karl Marx and people like Joseph Stalin, also succumbed to the unconscious fantasies of capitalism. This is another reason why communism always failed where it turned into totalitarianism, government corruption via greed, etc. Moreover, Zizek also argues how the invention of the scientific method, Newtonian physics, and Kantian metaphysics are conditioned by what Marx refer as “fetish commodity” that is found in capitalism. The core of these ideas can be found in Zizek’s magnum opus, The Sublime Object of Ideology, which made him well known and placed his ideas at the forefront of contemporary debates.

Anyways, the dialog that took place between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy where they talk about community can be found in books called, The Unavowed Community, and The Disavowed Community. They are really hard to read. Meanwhile, when I spoke about jokes, Freud wrote a famous book on how it relates to the unconscious mind. It’s called Jokes and Their Relations to the Unconscious. The passages that I cited on metaphor and metonymy are from Lacan’s famous essay, “Instance of the Letter of the Unconscious” from Ecrits. It is frequently assigned as an intro text to Lacanianism in universities. Finally, when I asked if whether society can have perpetual peace, I was alluding to Kant’s famous book called, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch.

Some of the relationships I presented on deconstruction and psychoanalysis were part of my masters degree capstone project. In psychoanalysis, the subject is always divided by the symbolic Other. In deconstruction, the subject is always divided by time. The repetition compulsion (death drive) in psychoanalysis is reminiscent to the repetition of time in deconstruction. And no, I’m not sharing my capstone on here because it is way too long.

While there were a few hiccups here and there, I passed my capstone project with flying colors. I’m not going to complain about it because my masters degree was free (I got funding). I am grateful. I also wrote my capstone during the COVID lockdowns. This means nearly the entire thing was written in my underwear while eating Pringles. 🥴

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Solipsism, Idealism, and Materialism

Solipsism holds the view that nothing exists outside of your mind; and that your mind is the only thing that exists in the world.

Idealism is an umbrella term. In general, it holds the view that there is a reality that exists outside your mind, such as other objects and other people’s mind. Yet, reality does not carry any ontological meanings other than the ones that you assign them through your intuitions and concepts.

There are different schools of idealism, but most of them falls under what I just said. For example, Platonic Idealism acknowledges the existence of numbers in the outside world. The pioneer of modern idealism is the Irish philosopher, George Berkeley (University of California is named after him). Berkelian idealism is not considered as solipsism because it acknowledges that there is at least more than one mind—such as the mind of God who produced reality. Berkeley was also one of the major figures who influenced Immanuel Kant that began the philosophical movement known as German Idealism.

The opposite of idealism is materialism which is an umbrella term that holds the view that matter (i.e. atoms) is the fundamental substance that is found through objects in nature. One can already guess that the philosophy of science is largely a materialist philosophy which opposes to idealist approaches such as German Idealism, phenomenology, and even existentialism. Other forms of materialism would be something like non-reductive materialism. Recently, there is also “transcendental materialism” which seeks to incorporate Kant’s idealist arguments along with other idealist philosophies into a materialist position. It attempts to incorporate positions found in phenomenology and even psychoanalysis.

Sometimes, people also consider realism in opposition to idealism. Realists takes on a position where one sees the world as it is without any filters. Whereas idealists would refer to this type of thinking as “Naïve realism” which implies how, while a realist may think they can see the world as it is, they are only seeing it through their own perspective.

There are lots of debates that goes on between idealism and materialism. We can for example, think of the problems between mind and matter in psychology. Is anxiety caused by various brain activities, hormonal responses, and the products of our different mental states? Or is it produced by our conscious and unconscious thoughts that are affected by our environments, which in turn, produces these mental states in our brains as such? Some of the debates between idealism and materialism are fierce and heated. Where idealists would argue that our consciousness (and unconscious mind) plays a key role to our mental health, materialists argues that these thoughts, feelings, and emotions are caused by various mental states and hormonal causalities and correlations which explain people’s behaviors. If you ask me, I’d say it’s a bit of both.

But we must also consider psychology, along with sociology and other soft sciences which are currently facing a “replication crisis” where scholars discover that a lot of the influential studies that these disciplines conducted cannot be replicated. As a result, it brings to question the validity of its findings (David Hume saw this problem 200 years ago). This is why you often see psychology studies with contradicting evidence. I think that sometimes, modern psychology tries too hard to be a science even when a good chunk of it cannot be explained through materialist positions. This is not to say that psychology is useless (quite the opposite). I just think human consciousness is far too complex to simply be explained through material causalities and correlations. Modern psychology is only part of the picture. Things like medications and other methods to remedy mental illnesses are band-aid solutions to much deeper problems of the human mind and how it engages with reality and modern society. While I certainly think these methods are better than nothing, I just don’t think they are end all solutions. I might be wrong though. 😊

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Sometimes, people just wants to be heard…

It sounds so stupid on my part. But there were times in my life when someone shares their problems with me where my first thought would be to try and find ways to fix it. As a result, it makes me appear dismissive and insensitive to their feelings. It wasn’t until I got older where I realized that when people shares these things with me, a lot of them just want their situation and feelings to be heard and understood. They want someone to listen, and not some annoying guy trying to fix their problems with cold blooded logic.

This type of unintentional dismissive behavior is not only something that I do to other people, it is also something that I do to myself. As I got older, I realized how harmful it can be on others and myself as a human being—especially when you start to ignore and deny your own feelings and bottle them up inside. As I got older, I learned that it’s okay feel and learn how to understand and express our emotions properly.

I eventually realized that this type of behavior that I’ve grown up abiding to actually stems from my family relationships—particularly the relationship with my dad. For example, my dad has a very similar type of behavior towards my mom which I began noticing several years ago. I even told him that he shouldn’t be so dismissive because I can tell she gets hurt by it. But it wasn’t until later where I realize that I can be just as dismissive to people’s feelings. Talk about transference! Nowadays, I know when I should just shut up and listen.

But it may also likely or at least partly stem from the socio-cultural phenomenon that people refer as “toxic masculinity”. It’s interesting to think about it under the context of psychoanalysis. Think of the symbolic Other who challenges a macho man’s self-image (narcissism) by telling them to be more feminine and express their emotions and vulnerabilities. How do you think some of them would react? As Zizek would say, a man is a woman who believes he exists. Masculinity is a question of belief. There are lots of nuance to Lacanian views on sexuality with different variations of it depending on who you ask. But it is something that is best left for another time.

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MBTI and Neuroscience

Check out Dario Nardi, well known for his work on MBTI theory and neuroscience. I’ve watched some of his lectures in the past on YouTube and they were pretty interesting.

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I am left handed…

Please stop asking me in person Lol.

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Accessible continental philosophy books

With no specific time period in mind. From the top of my head:

-Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil by Alain Badiou (taught to high school students in France)
-Infinite Thought by Alain Badiou (great intro to his major work, Being and Event)
-In Praise of Love by Alain Badiou (it’s really good and easy to read)
-On Forgiveness by Jacques Derrida
-Plato’s Pharmacy by Jacques Derrida
-Structure, Sign, and Play by Jacques Derrida
-Deconstruction in a Nutshell by John D. Caputo (great intro to deconstruction)
-Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life by Martin Hagglund (deconstruction)
-Kant on the Frontier: Philosophy, Politics, and the Ends of the Earth by Geoffrey Bennington (deconstruction)
On Escape by Emmanuel Levinas
Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
-Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes (on photography and philosophy)
-A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes (super famous book on love; very good)
-Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (great intro to French existentialism)
-No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (this is a play)
-Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (play)
-The Courage of Truth by Michel Foucault
The Logic of Sense by Giles Deleuze
-The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays by Martin Heidegger
-Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of a Future by Friedrich Nietzsche
-Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche (gay used to mean “happy”)
-Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
-The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard
-Civilization and its Discontents by Sigmund Freud (great book, easy read)
-The Psychopathology of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud (on truth and error)
-Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan
-How to Read Lacan by Slavoj Zizek
-What is Sex? by Alenka Zupancic (Lacanian psychoanalysis)
-Meditations of the First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
-Discourse on Inequality by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
-Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View by Immanuel Kant
-Cartesian Meditations by Edmund Husserl (great intro to phenomenology)
-Ideas by Edmund Husserl (phenomenology as the science of consciousness; great for advanced readers)
-The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism by Steven Shaviro
Tool-Being: Heidegger and Metaphysics for Objects by Graham Harman
After Finitude: A Necessity for Contingency by Quentin Meillassoux
We Have Never Been Modern by Bruno Latour
A Summary on Non-Philosophy by Francois Laruelle
-Ontology of the Accident by Catherine Malabou (great intro to Malabou; talks about trauma)
-The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (French Feminism for intermediate readers)
-Google Me: One Click Democracy by Barbara Cassin
-Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living by Anne Dufourmantelle
Of Hospitality by Anne Dufourmantelle and Jacques Derrida
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler (gender theory for advanced readers)
Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler

All of these authors are ground breaking and very influential thinkers. Some of them are not easy to read, but are good places to start if you want to learn some of their ideas. I avoided listing major works (except for a few) because they might overwhelm beginners.

You’re welcome

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First Crush

I remember my first elementary crush lasted nearly 8 years (at that point, I’m not sure if it still counts as a crush LOL). It wasn’t until my early 20s where I briefly reconnected with her and confessed that I really liked her back in the days. She told me she liked me as well and we both laughed it off. By that point, it obviously didn’t matter anymore. We knew we were each other’s past.

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Does Bobby party?

No. The closest thing is probably family parties. I used to be a lot more outgoing in my early to mid 20s, but I was never much of a party person. I also rarely go to pubs and bars unless some extrovert friend takes me. And whenever I go, I am usually the person who drives people home when they get wasted because I don’t drink. 

Speaking of parties. The other day, one of my friends went to a party for work (he also doesn’t drink) and he told me how some guy got so wasted where he went outside to eat snow because he was thirsty, and everyone was like “Bruhhh, there is water in the restaurant”. 😂

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The Family Birthdays

Every year, the birthdays of my family (mom, dad, sister and I) are always on the same day of the week. Nobody noticed until I brought it up and everyone was like, “How did you even notice that?”, and I’m just like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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…Yes, Yes

“When I say ‘yes’ – as you know, ‘yes’ is the last word in Ulysses – when I say ‘yes’ to the other in the form of a promise or an agreement or an oath, the ‘yes’ must be absolutely inaugural. In relation to the theme today, inauguration is a ‘yes’, I say ‘yes’ as a starting point, nothing precedes the yes, the yes is the moment of the institution, the origin; it’s absolute originary. But when you say ‘yes’, if you don’t imply that the moment after that you will have to confirm the ‘yes’ by a second ‘yes’ – when I say ‘yes’, I immediately say ‘yes, yes’ – I commit myself to confirm my commitment in the next second, and tomorrow and after tomorrow and so on, which means that the ‘yes’ immediately duplicates itself, doubles itself. You cannot say ‘yes’ without saying ‘yes, yes’, which implies memory in the promise; I promise to keep the memory of the first yes and when you, in a wedding for instance, in a performative, in a promise, when you say ‘yes, I agree, I will’ you imply, ‘I will say ‘I will’ tomorrow and I will confirm my promise’, otherwise there is no promise. Which means that the ‘yes’ keeps in advance the memory of its own beginning. That’s the way it’s a different word. If tomorrow you don’t confirm that you have founded today your program you will not have any relation to it.

Tomorrow, perhaps next year, perhaps twenty years from now we will – if today there has been any inauguration; we don’t know yet, we don’t know, we can’t today, where I am speaking… who knows? So ‘yes’ has to be repeated, and immediately, immediately it implies what I call ‘iterability’, it implies the repetition of itself. Which is a threat, which is threatening at the same time because the second yes may simply be a parody or a record or mechanical repetition; it may say ‘yes, yes’ like a parrot, which means that the technical reproduction of the originary ‘yes’ is from the beginning threatening to the living origin of the ‘yes’, which means that the ‘yes’ is hounded by its own ghost, its own mechanical ghost, from the beginning. Which means that the second ‘yes’ will have to reinaugurate, to reinvent the first one. If tomorrow you don’t reinvent today’s inauguration… it will have been dead. Every day the inauguration has to be reinvented.”

—Jacques Derrida

For most people, Derrida speaks gibberish. For those who reads him well, this passage is stunningly beautiful. It is pretty well known among the Derridean circle. Certainly, if you read my post on Derrida (hyperlinked here), you may already get what he is saying. Understanding Derrida is like learning how to taste fine wine. It is an acquired taste at an intellectual level.

In Of Grammatology, Derrida talks about Jean-Jacques Rousseau on how a child’s first cry and words are the most authentic. For, one would not know if their second words are not used to manipulate you into giving them what they want. Therefore, the repetition of their second words involves a threat where it might simply be a parody of the first which makes it inauthentic. In order for their second words to be as authentic as the first, it must reinvent itself so to produce new meanings.

What Derrida refers as iterability of “Yes” is this experience of repetition and reinvention. It is the repetition of time that one experiences as they read this sentence. I can for example, write these words for you to read today, and you can read it again tomorrow, the day after, or ten years from now. And every time you reread these words from the future, it may offer new meanings that you had never thought from the past. Just like all my writings on this blog. The repetition of sameness becomes a repetition of difference. The future changes how the past is perceived. This is the natural destiny of language, where interpretation becomes reinvention through substitutions.

Thus, one cannot say “Yes” without immediately saying “Yes, yes” where the former haunts the latter that is repeated on the next day. Yet, the “Yes” is always threatened by a risk from the future where it may no longer be authentic through its own repetitions. A counterfeit yes, a repetition compulsion, a death drive, where it is like a parrot that only knows how to say, “Yes, yes”. To negate this threat, the yes must constantly be recontextualized and replaced through new systems of differences and metaphors (love). In order for the second, third, and fourth yes to remain authentic, it must be haunted by its own ghost where it gets reinvented in ways never imagined. The yes cannot be a simple repetition of the past.

When Derrida talks about “Yes” as a form of promise, he is implying that whenever we make a promise, or when we declare our love for someone, it must always maintain the authenticity of the very first declaration from history as its absolute origin. Such as during a wedding, when two people says, “Yes, I will” for the first time (just like a baby’s first words), they are making a promise towards a future, which often consists of obstacles ruptured through spacetime that they must overcome. And that everyday, such promise must be kept and reinvented in a new way. This new yes, while maintaining its original inauguration, becomes a difference through the production of new meanings. A new yes, a new love that is kept as alive and authentic as it were on the first day. Thus, for example, when we encounter an event where the human heart says yes, this very condition of yes must repeat until death in order to keep its promise. Everyday, the yes must be reborn. Just like memories. Just like love.

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On Writing…

Perhaps after reading my last random thought post, you might be surprised by how much of myself are inscribed into some of my writings. Truth is, my writings are meaningless to me if I did not pour my heart and soul into it. There is so much more to my words than what most people see. You just have to learn how to see it.

Certainly, I think this is part of what a photographer does—to learn how to see. This is one of the most important things photography had taught me during my undergraduate days. To capture a photograph is to see the possible meanings that the world may unravel before our eyes. When done correctly, a photograph becomes visual poetry—a visual essay. In turn, a photographer becomes mediators and translators of light. To capture a photograph is to translate light into writing with our eyes.

After all, photography is a word that means “Light writing”, which is to say that, seeing is writing. In many ways, I am still a photographer. I still write with light. Only that, I no longer simply write with the light that blinds the eye. I also learned to write with the light that blinds the heart and soul. It might be as Nietzsche once said:

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit.”

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More on “The Lightning Bolt” from random thoughts #5...

At times, I feel like this story is too much for me to bear which is why I avoid reading it. You might wonder, why did I choose to share a story that I’ve kept so close to me? I realized what took place between us doesn’t happen everyday. And if it ever happens to you, I don’t want you to be stupid like me. Honestly, I didn’t know what it was like to have someone take over your world until I shared that moment with her.

The short poem at the end of the story was written in my journal a few years ago. I still remember how the words randomly flowed out one day when I thought back to where we shared that moment together. In fact, I wrote quite a few passages that were inspired by her.

Perhaps you might also wonder, which sections in Part III on psychoanalysis was alluding to her? Aside from the things that I said last time, some of them are obvious—especially after you read the story from #5. I’m not going to say it out loud, but if you read Part III, it is obvious why I titled the story in #5 as, “The Lightning Bolt”. Recall the part where I gave an example on the film Arrival, where I randomly spoke about animal love. That part was added later on after I discovered that her cat passed away. So if you thought it was random for me to bring up animal love in the middle of another example—you were right because it was intentional. Near the end, when I took out the big guns to conclude the post, the example I gave about someone walking into a place and encountering a person who shakes your world, I was alluding to how I encountered her. The only difference was I didn’t take the risk to talk to her that day. And when I said that love is about caring for someone’s soul and to see the world differently, I was talking about her. There are quite a few more things in there which had deeper meanings to it. But I will let you figure them out. Might I add, the last quote that I used to end that piece was way too perfect.

Initially, Part III was suppose to be about the death drive, which is now Part IV. I remember it was near the end of 2021 where I decided to change what I planned and write about love instead. A lot of my major writings on here are planned months in advance (sometimes years). Yet, much of the inspiration for Part III came to me urgently—almost as if my entire world suddenly took a different turn. I started working on it during Fall 2021 and spent around three or four months writing it, where I drew from multiple texts and cited critical passages that I overlooked in the past. As some might notice, I continued editing Part III for several months after I published it because I really wanted it to be perfect—especially the middle and ending. I hope Part III inspired you in the same way she inspired me. I hope it shook your world in the same way she shook mine. Now you know why it is one of my favorite posts of all time. In the introduction, I made it clear how I am not talking about anyone in particular, because at heart, a chunk of that post was about me and what was happening in my life at the time.

Does she know how I feel? Yes. At several points, I had to let it all out where I told her everything. I did it because I felt like I had no other choice. I knew if I didn’t tell her, I might not get another chance in the future. I knew that the longer we didn’t communicate, the more misunderstandings we will have. Sometimes, when I tell people this story, they would judge me for the things that I did. Yes, I made mistakes—a lot of them. But at times, I also did what I had to do.

I knew all the risks that I was taking when I tried talking to her. Were they worth it? Yes, because she is worth it to me. She always will be. And it might even be as Alain Badiou once said that, love without risk, truly is an impossibility. I did everything that I could’ve done to the best of my ability—even if I know I could’ve done better.

You know, if she gives me another chance, I would do things very differently. That day might come. It might never come. In fact, I might never see her again. I guess this might be the part where I need to have a little faith. I don’t want to dwell on it because there is nothing I can do. Whatever happens, and wherever she is, I just hope she is happy, healthy, and safe. That is enough for me. 🙂


…Her name is Renée.

I often find it strange how I cannot speak her name without interpreting and translating it. What does it mean to be reborn? I prefer to think that, perhaps we were always meant to collide, and she was always meant to reborn in my heart until I die. Because she is my love, you see—she is my star in the night sky; she is my inspiration. Thus, whenever I speak her name, whenever I recast her gaze onto my soul from that evening, I cannot help but speak at least twice. It is no longer about my heart saying, yes, yes—and the yes after that; of yesterday, and of tomorrow. Rather, it is about saying, Renée, Renée. She has become an unforgettable memory that repeats like a scratched record. But she cannot simply be a memory. She is my past, and my future.

For, all I can endure is, Renée, Renée, Renée—ad infinitum.