anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

Never let me go.

I read most of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go over the weekend and finishing the last chapter intermittently at work today (I couldn't keep my mind off the book; it was really distracting. I just had to read it). The style, at least in spirit, was what I tried to go for with this short story I wrote a couple of years back: I tried for something restrained, something subtle; but I ended up writing my usual bombastic nonsense, emotions overflowing into bathos, and that's why that piece has not seen the light of day by anyone else but me. (It's probably well-written, but what's the use of that if all that I can think of when I read it is that it shouldn't have turned out this way?)

Life feels more familiar now that I'm making it a point to read the books that I've bought. It feels more purposeful, more controllable, and less like I'm sleeping with my eyes wide open, going through the motions of day-to-day life.

But that's still what it is. And so Never Let Me Go almost feels like a wake-up call: the fragility of life, the courage to go after what you want, the fortitude in living a life with no regrets. But I've always known this. The question now is: what do I really want?

Then again, that has never actually been in doubt. I've always known this. I've always known this. The past 5 and a half years feel more like a deviation than anything more meaningful than that. It became comfortable for a while, but I can't, just can't, do this to myself for the rest of my life.


To be honest, I really wonder how much more of this I can take: doing things day in, day out, with no joy, let alone passion, constantly wondering why I'm here, doing this, with no joy nor passion, when I can think of so many other things I'd rather be doing, even if most of them are more facetious than not. I also have a problem with putting up with crap from people that I don't respect, and every day that I continue down this path increases the gap I feel from myself.

Well, when it all ends, I'd take it as a lesson learned, hopefully for good. Otherwise, all of this would be in futility.


I wonder if the LLM is what I really want.

It actually scares me that I think the answer is "no".

And that is why I'd rather not think about it, not just yet.


In other news, Wei Chuen and I watched Devil on Saturday and once again, I left the theatre vowing that I'd never put myself through the torture of putting myself through a horror flick ever again - and Devil isn't even classified as horror.

Wait, wasn't it what I said the last time I watched a horror movie, namely Paranormal Activity?

I watched with my fringe covering half my face and when the scary parts came on, I hid my face behind Wei Chuen's shoulder. Is it just me or is that quite an apt description of "waste of money"? (Speaking of waste of money, I bought the tickets online on Thursday night when I was dying at work at some ungodly 10.45 p.m. and thought I'd bought tickets at the Cathay, but I was informed by the counter girl at the Cathay, 15 minutes before the show started, that I'd actually bought tickets at fucking Cineleisure.)

Anyway, there was really only one scary scene but I'm an absolute chicken when it comes to such things so I hid my eyes everytime the elevator lights started to flicker. It's a very typical Shyamalan film even though he didn't direct it. It explores his usual themes of spirituality and faith, and ends off in a typical Shyamalan fashion: low-key, to-the-point, finished. The film definitely lacks Shyamalan's keen hand in creating suspense though. Shyamalan has a knack for drawing out the tension of a scene to its breaking point and milking the suspense for all its worth - that's one of the reasons why I keep going back to his movies, no matter how bad they are (okay, even I can't defend The Happening. That was just so bad). That was sorely missing in Devil - which is probably good news for me or I would've walked out of the movie.

The movie has a nice ending, one that I could probably appreciate more if I were the religious sort. It basically says that if the devil exists, then so must God. That's obvious to anyone. It's also obvious to me, except they exist as abstract concepts to me that don't mean anything beyond their dictionary, and I suppose cultural, definitions.

You know, I don't think I'm scared of the concept of the devil or of the supernatural as much as I'm probably scared of the unknown and the unseen. I don't know if that makes sense. Oh well.


Lastly, I read this great article while trying to stay alive on the train ride home.

Rafael Nadal pumps it up but fading Roger Federer is still grand master

With his fluidity and skill the Swiss has transcended our sense of what seemed possible in the athletic age

The idea was born in a column by America's Rick Reilly, who argued that you are either a "Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson kind of guy". This was before we found out there were two Tigers but it works across all sports.

Chances are that, if you think Steven Gerrard is the propulsion in the England midfield, you will see Frank Lampard as its passenger. Devotion to the ice man Borg precluded an affinity for the histrionic McEnroe. Prost-Senna, Ali-Frazier, Ovett-Coe, Denman-Kauto Star: these are the polarities that force us to take a stance and then ask ourselves what the choice says about us.

It is time now to declare in the tightest talent test of them all. And I don't mean Eubank versus Benn. You are either a Roger Federer hide-out-in-the-mountains-and-defend-his greatness-to-the-death sort or a convert to the gang that says Rafael Nadal is usurping him as the greatest men's tennis player of all time.

Look for me in the hills, because there comes a time when a man just has to fight. It's not just that Federer has won more grand slam titles (16) than Nadal (nine). It runs deeper. At the heart of it is how you see the game. Nadal is about as captivating as power is ever going to be. But Federer has mastered an art far harder than lethal counter-punching and beautifully orchestrated aggression.

The now fading all-time grand slam nonpareil has transcended our sense of what seemed possible in the athletic realm. This soft agility, this fluidity and skill, has sent plenty of top writers into raptures they would be wary of deploying in any other literary sphere for fear of being thought hyperbolic.

On the scale of outrageous improvisation Federer will always be untouchable. The shot he plays backwards through his own legs may be the tennis equivalent of exhibition snooker schtick but it affirms his great spatial awareness and the deftness of his hands.

Long before Nadal rose to world No1 and completed a career grand slam at 24 in last week's US Open, David Foster Wallace wrote: "Roger Federer is now dominating the largest, strongest, fittest, best-trained and best-coached field of male pros who've ever existed, with everyone using a kind of nuclear racket that's said to have made the finer calibrations of kinesthetic sense irrelevant, like trying to whistle Mozart during a Metallica concert."

Disparaging Nadal out of loyalty to Federer ought to carry a prison sentence. There appears to be no crack in his dedication or humility. He seeks no immortality shoot-out with Federer, insisting instead that 16 beats nine every time. As a protagonist in the greatest passage of live sport this witness has had the privilege to cover – the 2008 Wimbledon men's final – he earns eternal admiration. Here is a modern star who measures his accomplishments by how well he is playing the game, not by how much it can bring him. It counts as a miracle for tennis (and sport) that a single generation has yielded such a glorious rivalry.

But Reilly was right. You end up choosing. And Federer's creativity is at a level Nadal can never hope to match. "That's your GOAT [greatest of all time]" tweeted Brad Gilbert after Nadal had beaten Novak Djokovic in the final in New York. With trigger-thumbs like that you wonder how Gilbert ever got a job. Bombast, mainly. The affront was deep. Djokovic was no better. "He [Nadal] has the capability already to become the best player ever," the victim said.

Nadal is a year younger than Federer was when the older man reached nine grand slam gongs. Impressive. He reached his career grand slam three and a half years quicker than his Swiss adversary. Impressive, again. Missing from this analysis, though, is precocity and its opposite: longevity. We saw this with Jack Nicklaus and Woods. People said old Jack's majors record would be crushed by the new Nike-backed machine. Then injury intervened – and chaos back at the ranch. The coronation of Woods as the greatest man in slacks is no longer predicted with certainty.

It might sound craven to point out that Nadal is already playing through knee pain. For him to rise so thrillingly, also, Federer had to slide, fractionally. There will be new threats to Nadal, fresh energy further down the age line. Temptation would normally be factored into a career trajectory but Mr Sunshine shows no signs of succumbing. His next mission, in Australia in January, is to become the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles consecutively.

Acclaim deafens, as it should, as it does when Denman beats Kauto Star at Cheltenham. But what is this deep cognisance of Federer's genius? Perhaps, the sense of just how hard it is to make the body function so beautifully.

Nature says it should be impossible.


I have to say, before I say anything else, that Brad Gilbert is an absolute idiot. Talk about hyperbolic. Nadal has country miles to go before he can even hope to wrestle Roger's GOAT title from him - and even then, it's probably clear who the GOAT is. It's actually more than the records and the number of titles won and the types of titles won. It's exactly what the writer says: it's Roger's gorgeous exacting tennis, his devastatingly beautiful shots, and the lethal pin-point accuracy of his shot placement - and I haven't even factored in his footwork. It's also for the same reason that it's a bit painful to watch him now, making strange errors and thinking back to the days when he could brush aside these top players without even batting an eyelid.

But he's got something that no player in history has, that no one currently has. He elevates tennis from a sport into an art, and it's incredible thinking that he got to where he is now playing his brand of tennis. Of course, I'm a blinded Fed fangirl, completely oblivious to reason and logic; but you know what? It'd be an affront to tennis if someone other than Roger Federer were to be declared the greatest of all-time.
Tags: articles, books, kazuo ishiguro, legal profession, movies, personal, rafael nadal, roger federer, tennis, wei chuen, work, writing

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