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Hey guys!

If you are a new visitor to the site: welcome! This website aims to be an open environment for everyone: I want to create something – be it prose, poetry, or podcast – that will be relevant and relatable to all of you. Please don’t be hesitate to comments, share posts, and reach out to me whenever you need someone to listen: I will always be there.

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So, I am Thanh Dinh, a.k.a the so-called Bipolar Psyche. Host of the podcast the Radio of Resistance, the second of her name, shedding blood and squeezing tears out of every souls. I am a jack-of-all-trades literary-wise and I post all my creation here. As a strong advocate for the betterment of those affected by mental illness and for the increase in awareness for equality, my prose and my podcast focus on bringing the best out of everyone.

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Thank you so, so much for being here.

This is Thanh Dinh, and thank you for being a part of the resistance.

#about giving up

When you say it like that, you make it so believable.

– And Even If Love Was Lost, Unknown Chapter –

When you say it like that, you make it so believable, I say.

I can still remember the scenery.

The sky is blue, the sunlight passes through you, and the faint shadow of summer leaves

make me think that for a moment, perhaps time had stood still

for us, for the youth within us and the youth outside of us.

The world is still young.

When you say it like that, you make it so believable, I say.

Your voice’s timbering on the canal of my ears.

The sweet sound of the rain on the tin roof.

I sit inside the house and look out –

the baked earth evaporates into these small fragments of the things I’d lost.

And in this country, you already know that the rain never stops.

On and on, the sweet sound of the rain on the tin roof

has been timbering on the canal of my ears.

When you say it like that, you make it so believable.

That we will have another life.

That we will have time to make up for it, no matter what it is.

That we will have lives.

The world is still young and honey, perhaps we were not made for it.

We were not made to last – no human is.

We were not made to stand still while time is moving on

and trampling all over us.

We were not made to endure the pains and the sufferings.

But on that very night – on the night that separation filled the air,

on the night that the rain ran the air until morning,

on the night where the songs kept playing on repeat,

on the night we learned to lean on a fragile shoulder,

when you say that we will be passing through,

that you will be here, and I will be here,

and for a thousand years,

the waves will not erase what has been carving on the sand –

Your vigor, and the night is still young.

Honey, when you say it like that –

you make it so believable.

#leave a message

I will call you back next week.

K.

I will be checking my mailbox more often.

M.

She’s a wolf.

When the moon strikes at midnight and its blue light paints a shadow of pain,

she turns into this hideous creature

moving along the shops’ window panes:

her claws leave red blood on the pavements and her hair falls down the well;

is it her blood or someone else?

And even if she knows the answer, will it make any difference?

She’s a beast.

Her heart grows as big as the old fairy tales.

Perhaps when she was born, a witch left a curse on it.

A curse that looks like a red claw mark of the wolf looking at her:

His yellow eyes still haunt her dreams.

I will call you back, he said;

I will check the message you left, he said;

She doesn’t know what to do when she hear words like that,

because the wolf always leaves in the end.

She’s the moon.

Though there are hollow abysses and craters on her face,

she still manages to ride through the waves,

and when her beauty shines – once in a while – on the full moon night,

she brings the silver ocean to his lover, the shore:

She knows that now and forever more,

there’s no love for a moon that’s a thousand hundred miles from it.

She’s a girl.

Broken and destroyed and rusty – you name it.

She wasn’t born this way, she promised you that,

but the rest is as old as time, and she never mentions it.

Of course she knows lies when she hear them, she said,

but how can one give up on hope?

And when she asks you that, you will be stunned.

You don’t know if she can distinguish truths from fiction,

or whether she sees through your facade.

You wonder what she wants: loyalty or another hurtful breakup.

Perhaps it will help your conscience when you know that

she’s been long used to both.

I will call you back, you said,

And I will check my mailbox more often, you said.

She smiles through and through, I know.

She’s a human.

Podcast: Natsume Soseki – Kokoro

Transcription:

“I am a lonely man,” Sensei said. “And so I am glad that you come to see me. But I am also a melancholy man, and so I asked you why you should wish to visit me so often.”

Natsume Soseki, “Kokoro”

If you are familiar with the first season of the Radio of Resistance, you will also notice the familiarity of this quote, which I used to the full extent in 2 or even 3 episodes. I did mention the admiration for how simple the words used here. I did mention how great an impact it is to me, and maybe to other readers like me, who are also affected by the melancholy of the changing seasons. But I never once mention the sadness and loneliness of this simplistic phrase, in consideration of its context and the foreshadowing conclusion of human’s peculiarity with the death of a man.

So here I am alone again. I am using this chance to explore Kokoro. The heart of thing. The heart of human. The heart of darkness, and of light, too. Choose the meaning that most befitting for you, and let the journey begin.

Hi, I am Thanh Dinh, and I will be your host for this episode of the Radio of Resistance. In this week’s discussion, the highlight is on everything that beauty cascades on, and also, everything that darkness casts its eyes on. The heart of thing, Kokoro. Trigger warning, there will be discussion of suicidal events and acts. Please tread with caution.

And now, if you’re ready for another emotional rollercoaster, welcome back.

“A man capable of love, or I should say rather a man who was by nature incapable of not loving; but a man who could not wholeheartedly accept the love of another – such a one was Sensei.”

Natsume Soseki, Kokoro

Sensei. The one who was always alone and later on, readers find out that he had been carrying on his life as an atonement for another’s death. The cause of the climax and the end of the climax. Such a one was Sensei. You will see how important Sensei is through the first glance at the chapters’ title, which in turn are: Sensei and I, as chapter one, and then, Sensei and His Testament, as the final chapter. Sensei is the conflict and the resolve itself and through him, we slowly learn what really lies at the heart of thing in Soseki’s eyes. And thus, it will be fair to say that Sensei is among those characters that can hardly leave you with forgetfulness. Yes, such a one is Sensei.

If somebody asks me, Since the incident, has Sensei ever truly live?, I would find it hard to answer. Not because the question is difficult in its complexity, but because the answer is simple to the point that it hurts to even utter the word.


Since the incident, has Sensei ever truly live? I wondered out loud, the book covering my eyes. She contemplated the question. Not that she knew the book then. I had to summarize the content for her. And contemplating further for a while later, she said:

He had never really live before, and after the incident, he is even less of a person than he was.

Why? I asked.

Because he is, at his heart, a melancholy man.

“Yes, you did. A person who has been in love himself would have been more tolerant and would have felt warmer towards the couple. But-but do you know that there is guilt also in loving? I wonder if you understand me.”

Natsume Soseki, Kokoro

Let’s talk about the incident. I hope I can give the description of the incident its true honor in truthfulness, as did Sensei in his testament for the protagonist.

Where to begin? Should I start when Sensei was still a rich person and with mother and father died, being betrayed by his uncle and ridden off the heritance? Should I start when Sensei’s heart, filled with doubt and suspicion, began to take vengeance on the whole human race and closed itself in the four walls of distrust? Should I start later on, when the painful love Sensei had for Ojosan was stopped by his own distrust towards human? Or should I start from the end, where the innocent – and yet, cruel due to its innocence – remark indirectly caused the suicide of his friend – the only friend he adored?

There is so much to say about Sensei, from the life he had been leading before the incident, or the suicide of his friend, to the life he has been leading after. The constant moral teetering at his heart, torn between the promise to bring happiness to Ojosan and the guilt in loving Ojosan so much that he was blinded by jealousy and caused the death of his friend.

Have you ever imagined, then, the guilt in loving one so? The guilt in a love that from the moment it begins, it has born at its heart the seeds of distrust and the shadow of someone’s death. The guilt in knowing that no matter what you try to undercompensate or overcompensate, you will never be able to fill in the existence of another life. The guilt in jealousy, betrayal to one’s belief, and most important of all, betrayal to a life we hold dear.

And yet, such a one is Sensei. He carries on loving Ojosan, no matter what. He treats her with utmost kindness and gentleness, because her existence is the only pure beauty left in his life. He savors every moment of his life by Ojosan’s side, knowing that she knows his heart is not there. All the while, at the heart of thing, he know that he will only live on as the symbol of atonement for his friend’s death.

But how can one atone for another life?

I recall the conversation I had with a friend not long ago. You may have heard it from the previous episodes. He said he had wanted to die a long time ago.

And what would you do, then? I asked

I don’t know, he said.

Will I be enough of a reason for you to live? I asked

I don’t know, he said, and then later on, But you have been kind enough to me.

And me being kind enough is still not a reason for you to live?

I don’t know, he said again, I had been wanting my own end for a long time.

If I had known what could save a life, I thought to myself then, I would stay up with you all night. I guess that is also the guilt in loving. In thinking that I, somehow, could not use love to conquer the darkness seeded deep in my friend’s heart. In not knowing what would be enough. In the notion that nothing will ever be enough to fill the heart of thing.

But back to Sensei.

“I do not want your admiration now, because I do not want your insults in the future. I bear with my loneliness now in order to avoid greater loneliness in the years ahead. You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves.”

Natsume Soseki, Kokoro

I am reminded of Jean Paul-Satre’s famous work of existentialism, “Nausea.” The idea of not owning up to anyone or anything, and not owing to anyone or anything either. Not wanting admiration, and not wanting to hear insults either. The notion of existentialism is symbolized in Sensei by his statement, a modern age so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves. The constant fear of actions and the consequences of those actions later on. The constant fear of regrets having done the deeds and not having done the deeds. The constant fear of our own freedom, independence, and egotistical selves.

One of my favorite fictional character said, There is no one universal way for everyone to be happy.

Sensei lives. He breaths and his heart beats with a calm, reassuring rhythm. In the sense that a person needs to breath and his heart needs to beat to live, then Sensei is living in the bare minimum sense of the word.

And yet, Sensei never truly lives. In the sense that a person needs to be happy to be alive and to fill his life with some meaning, then Sensei never meets that high requirement. And the purgatory he puts himself in does not help either.

I guess one could say that his whole life’s meaning is to protect Ojosan’s innocence and the beauty within it. But his notion of Ojosan’s happiness does not coincide with Ojosan’s defintion of happiness. Ojosan simply wants him to be happy. To have him laughing and talking energetically with his heart racing as he was when his friend was still alive. To turn everything back to zero and rewrite a few endings; cut a thing here, drop a thing there. And in his death, as he reaches for his own conclusion, he just further worsen the life of his wife, Ojosan. Thus, he is, indeed, once again caused more guilts by his loving and his egotistical self.

We often talk about the person that got away. So much that we never think about the ones that stay. Even if we mention the ones who stay, we never mention the pain left behind by the loss of a life. We never mention the empty chair at the dinner tables, the missing laughters amidst a long conversation, the soft touch of a hand, the voice, the figure, the shadow. Our life on earth is never really gone: it just disappears. And as the cycle goes on, the life that’s been loved and lived will return to us, once in a while, in the shape of a teardrop, mourning for the things that had been and the things that never will be.

I don’t know who I should grief for in Kokoro. The sensei who had spent all his life with a yearning passion to trust and love, yet incapable anyway? The Ojosan who had, voluntarily or involuntarily, become the symbol of beauty and sadness, but never happiness? Or the protagonist, wanting to escape the loneliness by confiding in a figure who is even lonelier than the fickle youth that he is experiencing? I keep imagining the three figures standing in the darkness, back to each other, head hanging low, and none of them can see the people standing just next to them. They only need to reach out their hands and there will be a human warmth comes to them, rescues them, and brings them out of the darkness. And what force it is, what stake is there, that makes them refuse reaching out?

Is it true that there is so much guilt in loving? I don’t know the definite answer to that question. Perhaps I’m too young to know the guilt. Perhaps my soul is too old and weary for even trying to love. Perhaps I’m just fortunate. I had never been subjected to the fear of losing someone I love to someone I treasure. The looming fear of being lonely. The overwhelming power of jealousy and the darker side, the grittier side of love that human had spent decades to bury.

Such a love is what Sensei had held on to live, day by day, month by month, year by year. Such a love is something Ojosan does not need, and yet, had to receive anyway. Such a love is what painted the cold, piercing beauty of a man’s loneliness. Should we judge Sensei’s decision? Who has the right to? Should we feel sad for Ojosan? Who are we to pity her? I turned of my Kindle and left it on my bed side, then stared at the dark space of the dimly lit room for a while. I observed the shadows on the wall, and said to her:

Perhaps I am too young.

What triggers this? She said in her sleepy tone. Her I-don’t-want-another-shitty-conversation tone.

I am scared of loneliness. I don’t understand the beauty in purity and perfection. I yearn for human touch. I long for a saving hand.

And?

And I just realized how truly alone we are. How we cannot be saved by no one else but ourselves. How we refuse to let ourselves go.

Listen, honey, she sat up on the bed, turned towards me, and looked me in the eyes, wherever my eyes are, Let’s picture loneliness as something like blood. It flows within our body. It is the cause of our living; and no matter how troublesome it is, we can’t drain it all, or we will die. It will lay dormant in our body: nobody’s ever mentioned it, we take it for granted, we live with it, we use it as some shitty reasons for the way we progress through life.

And?

And do you hate having it in your system?

I don’t.

See? Loneliness is the same. It comes at you at the best of time, worst of time, whatever. But it will always be the one friend you can depend upon. Like blood. Like the living force. Loneliness is the only thing that will never betray you for who you are.

And what about love?

She was silent, and then, in the gentlest voice, with the gentlest touch, she whispered:

Life is all about love.

Even loneliness?

Yes.

Even if we can’t save ourselves?

Especially then.

And I think she’s right. Life is always about love. A love that’s not only just giving, but also taking. A love that’s a little bit like loneliness, beautiful in it’s piercing way. A love that comes to us when we can’t save ourselves.

So count on love. And loneliness. Count on being alive. Count on reaching your hands out and receiving the help that you need. Maybe you are at the worst of time, maybe you are at the best of time, and your heart is busting at the seam with sadness and loneliness, it’s okay. Like the blood that is flowing through our system, it will pass. This is what it meant to be alive. If you need someone to listen, call your close friends and family. If you have neither and are feeling desperate, my inbox always welcome you. If you need help, ask for it, no matter how hard it is. You have the right to be happy and receive happiness.

This is Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.

In A Coffee Shop

I drank a cup of coffee

to outgrow my madness and sadness;

Never know whence they come

nor when they’ll leave.

You ask me, What’s wrong

with a little sadness?

And I say, Honey, if the human condition

means the sadness will never leave or let me be,

I refuse to be a human

or half a human.

I heard the trees’ conversation: Love is in the air.

It’s hard to believe in them though, when you see they can’t even keep

their leaves.

I look out the window of the coffee shop.

It seems the people all have their place to be,

A place to call home.

What do you consider a home? You say,

and I wanted to make a remarkable answer

to sweep you off your feet.

But your nimble fingers on the straw

and your red lipstick print fading out on it

keeps me from thinking seriously about any matter at all.

I don’t know, I say, What is a home to you anyway?

The bustling street outside keeps you occupied

and my question is thrown away in an ocean

of noise. Of life. Of you and me, being nowhere near each other

than the start of this conversation.

Will you still be here, I say, when your lipstick completely fades out?

What nonsense, you say, Of course I will be here:

After all, I just need to retouch my lipstick.

And I feel like crying then, No, it’s not like that.

But amidst the slow drizzling outside the coffee shop windows,

I find myself to always be a constant nonsense.

Never mind that, I smile, wiping off your lipstick, Put it on again,

and let’s stay for another minute.

Because you will never understand

the loneliness of being human, and it will be fine

to stay another minute

while your lips are still red.

Podcast: Albert Camus – The Plague

Transcription:

Hi, and welcome back to the Radio of Resistance. It’s been a long time and it’s always good to be here, back home, where the resistance is on. Thank you so much for bearing with my irresponsibility and the unfrequent upload schedule. You are what make this resistance what it is today, and for you, the resistance will always be here.

This week’s theme might be a little too true and thus, a little too much to bear. Please kindly proceed with caution. Yeah, I know, as if depression and suicide in the last episode are still not enough. Please do forgive me: for I love dancing around on the edge of life and death. Though I am no angel, or demon, or anything in between, I still hope against all hopes that somewhere out there, you are listening to the rhythm of the heartbeats.

So, Albert Camus’s “The Plague.” From the very beginning of the book, I had to put it down a few times and told myself to leave it there for good. There’s no torture like reading a book that speaks of the current events and yet, you have to push yourself through because you find within the pains a glimmer of hope.

“The Plague” – the name itself is the summary of the whole book and somewhere within it, our current daily life. There’s the fear and the fear-mongering. There’s the vanishing act of hope. There’s the desolation and destitution of the answer-less search for meaning and for a cure.

And there’s human, as always, standing against something much larger, stronger than them, without knowing if we even have one percent chance of winning.

Men and women either consume each other rapidly in what is called the act of love, or else enter into a long-lasting, shared routine. Often there is no middle between these two extremes. That, too, is original. In Oran, as elsewhere, for want of time and thought, people have to love one another without knowing it.

. Albert Camus, The Plague .

For want of time and thought. The single sentence that foreshadows the gruesome development of the story later on, when the want of time and thought grows beyond the simple statement of “Love thy neighbor,” and the gods we treasure and worship cannot do anything more than lifting his fingers to count the blessing.

But what can blessing do in the time of the plague? It clearly cannot blur the pains and yearning of separation. It also cannot do much more than being words spoken in the hope of calming the feverish mind and the hundreds of corpses being buried each day. And as with love, though it is true that a blessing can cure a broken soul, you will have a better bargain not believing in it.

For want of time and thought. Because what else do we, as human, want from one another? We want to live, of course, but sometimes, and almost always, living is an extension of loving. You can’t severe an arm or a leg without feeling hurt and you can’t go on living without needing love.

And the plague comes in at just the right time to destroy it all.

And war is certainly too stupid, but that doesn’t prevent it from lasting. Stupidity always carries doggedly on, as people would notice if they were not always thinking about themselves. In this respect, the citizens of Oran were like the rest of the world, they thought about themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they did not believe in pestilence. A pestilence does not have human dimensions, so people tell themselves that it is unreal, that it is a bad dream which will end. But it does not always end and, from one bad dream to the next, it is people who end, humanists first of all because they have not prepared themselves.

. Albert Camus, The Plague .

Now I know that the quote above is unusually long, but with “The Plague” as well as all of Camus’s works, I find it hard to separate sentences from sentences.

Back to the quote. There is so much to unpack here: above the line, below the line, and between the line. I can’t help but think about the start of the pandemic. I guess we are all humanists in a way. I remember the people who rejected wearing a mask, the people who hosted stupid parties that ended up in death and breathless corpses, the people who sneezed into a baby’s face because his parent told them to wear a mask in public.

Those people, do they believe that human is actually stronger than a pandemic and thus, than death itself? And as they lie on the hospital bed, losing what they refer to as “the gift of G-d,” I wonder what they think. Will it be regret? Will it be the stubborn surrender? Will it be the memories of a life that is now losing right before their eyes?

Bad dreams don’t end. In this context, the town of Oran is submerged in a spiral of bad dreams. They started with a death rat and they spiraling down the staircase of death. As Camust points out, they believe they are above it all. Above the situation that is harvesting human in bulks. Above the lymp node and the pains before their last breath. Above the dying children and the separation without end. Above life. Above death.

That is what a humanist is about. It’s not that they are selfish, no, far from it. It’s the strong belief that somehow, the invisible G-d had built them to last. And through many decades of wars and plagues, they are the chosen one. The top of the food chain and thus, they don’t end.

And yes, though their belief is strong, though they can fight one bad dream to the next, bad dreams don’t end. Even if they are no longer here, that they had reached their own conclusion, their own ending, the bad dreams will continue on. They will outlive us, be it humanist and whatnot.

The Radio of Resistance is dearly in need of your love to survive. If you feel generous and want to support the podcast, you can donate via https://paypal.me/bipolarpsyche. You don’t know how much it means to me and how appreciative it is, even if it’s just a $1 donation. If you want to reach out, my email is always open at tpdinh@tasteofsmallthings.com. Any donations above $15 will receive a free complimentary tarot reading session. For updates on my other works, which include novels and poems, you can follow me on Instagram at bipolar_psyche, or my Facebook page, The Bipolar Psyche’s Books. Additionally, I am selling merch, which includes T-shirt, hoodies, and mugs at https://thebipolarpsychestee.com

I wonder if we are really that strong. The strength we muster to kill each other in wars and the strength we muster to carry on, day after day, at our wit’s end, watching each other died in the plague. Just like Dr. Rieux, death takes a toll on us, be it the living or the dying. And slowly but surely, we start to see death as something insignificant. A black number on white papers. A nameless grave in a nameless cemetary. A blow of the fuse. A statistics.

And it’s hard to find compassion if all you see is just a statistics. Numbers are colder than corpses because they never carry the warmth of a life within them and thus, as humanists, we think we stand above them.

But no one can stand above death. What we are trying to do is just closing our eyes in the hope that this time, G-d will make the bad dreams end.

I guess in this particular case, as in all other cases, we are not much of a person. We stand above nothing and we are below a lot of other things. We cling onto our belief so that we can be stronger, so that we can wake up every morning and be thankful that we are still alive. As in all other cases, life had been downgraded so much that only in the plague – in the pandemic as we are – life can be something on our mind: a tiny prayer and an amazing grace at the dining table.

But what are a hundred million deaths? When one has fought a war, one hardly knows any more what a dead person is. And if a dead man has no significance unless one has seen him dead, a hundred million bodies spread through history are just a mist drifting through the imagination.

. Albert Camus, The Plague .

I learned about various wars within the near decades when I was still an undergraduate student. It was just a whim when I take my first history course. The motivation at that time was but a simple one: from whence we come and to where we will be. The first course I took was the history of the Holocaust. Then later on, the Cold War and of course, the Vietnam War. I often think how strange it is: though we have the historian, the archeologist, and the chronicle writers to write down the bloody lessons from the wars we have been through and the wars we have not yet, we always come down to another attrition war somewhere along the road.

Perhaps it is true when Camus raises his voice here: if a dead man has no significance unless one has seen him dead, a hundred million bodies spread through history are just a mist drifting through the imagination. What we see, what we learn, what we gleam from the various lessons and with them, death, are just numbers on paper. A statistic. And that take us back from the point before: statistics speak no truth. They seem pretty on paper, sure, and if one tries harder, they could have some meaning to the materialistic world.

But will they, the statistics, the numbers, the math, mean anything more than just cold, hard fact to us? And if they do, why are we burdened with the beauty of a sunset or the sadness of a hundred sunsets? Why are we burdened with the suffering of one death and the multitude of destitute of a hundred deaths? You see, there are so many why at the core of it – the core of being human. And there’s no other time to see it as clear as it is right now, amidst the pandemic. And it is just as true in what my favorite Vietnamese song composer said, When the pain is at its highest, the love grows immense.

“And when it comes down to it, you realize that no one is really capable of thinking of anyone else, even in the worst misfortune. Because thinking about someone really means thinking about that person minute by minute, not being distracted by anything – not housework, not a fly passing, not meals, not an urge to scratch oneself. But there are always flies and itches. This is why life is hard to live. And these people know that very well.”

. Albert Camus, The Plague .

Is it true that no one is really capable of thinking of anyone else? Let’s not taking it in the metaphorical way, the “I miss you” texts kind of way, or the phony “You are always on my mind” sort of songs. Let’s dig deep into the most literal way, the constant suffering way, the desperation way.

The way we are now. Thinking of someone, somewhere out there, maybe sitting by a windows, looking at empty chairs and empty table, on a constant basis without a minute of rest, of breathing, of thinking about us.

If you try that just now, even if for a brief moment, you will find it to be the hardest thing on Earth. And you will notice also that no matter hard it is, thinking about our loved ones will always be at the core of our existence, thus, our life is always in a constant search for the little lights of happiness in the dark night of sufferings. Each of the step you take, you stray further away from the person you once were and one little light faded away.

The child has grown, the dream is gone.

All you have got left to do is keep striving forward. And I hope one of these days, when you find your little lights, when you see the dream again, when living comes to you not as a choice but an obvious action, you will come back here, refute me, and smile. After all, you don’t know how strong you are, just by waking up every morning and live throughout the rest of the day.

Well, don’t worry, I am always here to remind you of it. This is Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.

Podcast: Charles Bukowski – The Last Night of the Earth

Transcription:

That we were perishable, perhaps didn’t occur to

Him

Or

That greater gods might be

Watching.

begging, Charles Bukowski

One can never have enough of Charles Bukowski’s books on the shelves, just as one might live in oblivion never knowing that we are perishable.

Hi, and welcome back to the Radio of Resistance. I never seem to be capable of sticking to my posting schedule. Forgive me for I am, as you are, perishable, and I take that notion liberally.

That we were perishable. There is much to talk about it. There is nothing to talk about it. For the longest of time, we have taken that fact for granted, although we do not know what to do with it. Should we place it down on this baked earth after the rain and walk away? Or should we just bring it with us on the journey, constantly looking at it, keep being reminded about how we will never become anything greater than who we are?

That we were perishable. Take a moment to think about it. Like the beggar in a video I mentioned in the last couple episodes, we are all in a rat’s race, and Charles Bukowski knows where the race ends.

That we were perishable, or that greater gods might be watching. I enjoy the hidden notion behind the regular, smaller, decapitalized “g” in all of Charles Bukowski’s poems, just as much as I enjoyed the “G-d” in Leonard Cohen’s. In a moment’s notice, the notion that greater gods might be watching does not seem that horrendous or filled with guilt. After all, aren’t the greater gods the same as the mortal men on the last night of Earth? And though you choose to worship them, though to you they are “G-d,” one of these days, the fact will catch to you that they will die along with the humans they created. Or not created, depends on your religion.

Whatever you believe in, that is your one true God.

In “The Last Night of the Earth,” Charles Bukowski spoonfeeds us the mortality of men. The best of us and more often than not, the worst of us. The masks we wear and the masks we tear down, depends on the weather and depends on who is in our hearts.

Each person is only given so many

Evenings

And each wasted evening is

A gross violation against the

Natural course of

Your only

Life;

The Last night of the Earth, Charles Bukowski

It’s not a surprise to know Charles Bukowski spent most of his living life staying at home. I suspect if we could, we will also choose to spent our life not wasting our limited evenings. I wonder who among us will have enough power to determine which will be the wasted evenings and which will be the not-wasted ones. We don’t need amazing ones, thank you, just simply the not-wasted ones.

I remember Ed Sheeran’s song, “Supermarket Flower.” A life’s been loved is a life that’s been lived. And just like that, the memories of my mother and my sister flood into my mind like the torrent of rain in that far away evening when I waited before the school gate for my mother to pick me up. One of these nights, undoubtedly, it will be my mother’s last night of the the Earth. One of these nights, these memories might be burnt down to ashes, and as the ashes flow out to the ocean, as my mother wants to, I will remember these not-wasted evenings.


The evenings she took me to the supermarket on her motorcycle. No matter how tired she was, she never once forgot that task.

Or the evenings where she cooked dinner and I stood besides her, listening to her homemade recipes, her stories that day, and what happened to the stupid cat that kept begging her for cuddles.

Or even the sadder evenings, where we sat in silence. My mother at the head of the bed and me by the foot of the bed, simply staring at the empty spaces in the room. A hollow void inside our hearts keep bleeding out words of hate and revenge.

Thinking back on those not-wasted evenings, I realize one thing: that putting things against time, the notion of right and wrong is frivolous. Whimsy, even. Like a little child’s crying because he couldn’t get his favorite toys.

The more we spend time on Earth, the more we realize how meaningless right and wrong are. What could be done has been done. What we think could not be done, has also been done. And the wars will properly outlive us all, just as our right to disagree.


Within that small hemisphere, what could right and wrong possibly mean to us?

The Radio of Resistance is dearly in need of your love to survive. If you feel generous and want to support the podcast, you can donate via https://paypal.me/bipolarpsyche. You don’t know how much it means to me and how appreciative it is, even if it’s just a $1 donation. If you want to reach out, my email is always open at tpdinh@tasteofsmallthings.com. Any donations above $15 will receive a free complimentary tarot reading session. For updates on my other works, which include novels and poems, you can follow me on Instagram at bipolar_psyche, or my Facebook page, The Bipolar Psyche’s Books. Additionally, I am selling merch, which includes T-shirt, hoodies, and mugs at https://thebipolarpsychestee.com

I read the news about Beirut, and I am reminded of a verse in The Carpenters’s song.

Bless the beasts and the children, for in this world they have no voice, they have no choice.

Bless the beasts and the children, for the world can never be, the world they see.

Bless the beasts and the children, the carpenters

I saw the face of the children, covered in blood and wounds and the wars’ gruesome death, and I thought to myself, What is the right and wrong in the event? And had they seen the children’s faces – the same ones that I see, that they see, on the street, laughing, running, living – would they do it again?

I had seen the faces of the Vietnam soldiers dying in the war, their corpses hanging from a tree or dismembered. I had also seen the face of the U.S. soldiers after the war, broken and void of any semblance of a smile. Their eyes vacant with hollow souls of the death.

After the war, you are not the same person you thought you could still maintain. And if luck is not on your side, you are not even a person. What, then, could be so valuable for the winning sides and the losing sides to grip so firmly on the attrition wars and pile corpses upon corpses? And do they know which corpses belong to which sides? In death’s eyes, we are all on the same side.

Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese author who inspired me and other budding Vietnamese authors, had put it in a simple statement, The poor people never choose the war. The children in the Beirut aftermath covered in blood and dust never choose the war. The mothers and fathers grieving on the breaking ground for the smallest cries of their children surely do not choose the war.

I often wonder in my spare time on the last nights of Earth. Who choose the war? What is in their mind? What do they want to achieve? And why is there a right to turn the right to disagree into something larger? Something like death and corpses hanging from a tree and dismembered comrades.

Counting on one hand, I see the Rwanda Genocide, and recently, the Rohinga ethnic cleansing, I wonder about what we have learned from history. I thought spending thousands of years indulging ourselves in the blood bath of the enemy story, the us versus them story, and the human story, we can finally let go of the mindset of winning and losing. The saying often goes, The winners take it all, or to put it in this, The winners are the one writing the history.

Then, what did the winners actually learn? To be on the right side of history? To be the one worshipped and adored? And on the road leading to the right side of history, do they see the tears on the motherless children and childless parents? Do they hear the cry of their comrades and their enemies, just barely breathing, barely human, barely existing on the edge of their conscience?

“you come here to win, don’t

You?”

“I come here not to

Lose.”

The flashing of the odds, charles bukowski

It is so important to win. It is ingrained in our DNA. It’s the fight-or-flight system, the run for your life system, the get rich or die trying system. It is so, so very important to us that we forget sometimes, “not to lose” is enough. On Charles Bukowski’s racetrack, when 20 years are being lost after three days, it is just as important not to lose.

I say, I know that you’re there,

So don’t be

Sad.

Then I put him back,

But he’s singing a little

In there, I haven’t quite let him

Die

And we sleep together like

That

With our

Secret pact

And it’s nice enough to

Make a man

Weep, but I don’t

Weep, do

You?

The Blue Bird, Charles Bukowski

I often wonder, when the winners go to sleep, where will they end up? And did they kill the blue birds? Did they quiet the birds down, strangle them, and kill them softly the way they kill the dreams they had once when they were a child?

I recently had the honor to read Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story on a man’s melancholy with a river in Tokyo, his hometown. The melancholy growing inside a man’s heart that is nice enough to make a man weep. And in contrast to Bukowski, who quiet down the blue birds and sleep beside them in a secret pact, Akutagawa turns that sadness into the shape of the river, the smell of it , the sound of it, the breeze across it in the spring’s cherry blossom storms, the snow piling up on both sides of the riverbank in the cold winter that only the large cities have.

Despite the differences in the approach to the term “melancholy,” the meaning within Charles Bukowski’s blue birds and Akutagawa’s river sadness stay the same.

The thing is, when will the melancholy ever leave?

It sure follows Charles Bukowski to his sleepless night, singing his favorite classical music with its sweet dreary voice. And it sure follow Akutagawa to his suicide later on, as the cherry blossom petals were storming Tokyo with its vibrant and festive beauty by the riverside.

It’s like one of The National’s song, Sorrow found me when I was young.

I know of a man. Sorrow also found him when he was young. He lived in Tokyo all his life, and he was thirty years old. I wonder if he lived near Akutagawa’s river, or if he had something that resembled Akutagwa’s river. His own pills of melancholy. His own version of a sadness that will never leave. A wooden porch. A tilted old roof. An alley filled with old candy stores. Whatever that had stuck with him throughout his childhood and turned into his heart when he reached adulthood.

He told me many stories. The stories when he was bullied as a child. The stories when he couldn’t get any job as an adult. The stories that he hated living on a job from day to day. And the stories about how he would commit suicide later on in life if he had the opportunity.

I listened to him, and I think of the authors that cannot survive melancholy. Like Hemingway and Kawabata. I thought about the heroic sides of living and the heroic side of dying. I thought about the blue nights in Tokyo when I had the chance to see a train station filled with people rushing towards nowhere, with food on one hand and a briefcase on the other. I thought about him. I wondered what can save a life. I thought that if I had known it, I would have stayed up with him all night, talking about Akutagwa’s river and Bukowski’s blue birds. I would have done anything to keep his blue birds singing, to have them sleeping besides him, to let them live.

The next morning, he did not reply to my text. I guess like all beautiful things, sorrow got him, too.

And what’s the moral of the story? I’m sorry, but I didn’t tell this story just to dissect it. There’s no morality in living and in dying. I just want to let you, and everyone out there, who has food on one hand and the briefcase on the other, to keep on living. Don’t kill your blue birds. Let them sing.

This is Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.

Fare thee well

Fare thee well

It’s been a long battle, and

I thought we could be more than comrades wearing the same scars and

the same little memorandum on our forehead

saying we have lost.

Fare thee well

It’s been a long war.

A meaningless, gruesome war

where you grow on your comrades’ corpses

and there’s nothing else you can do

but to wonder when it will be your turn to fall down.

Really, fare thee well.

Go on home. The war is over.

And I heard that we have always been on the losing side.

But what does it matter?

You leave without a turn of the shoulders and in the torrent of rain,

I wonder if you cry.

I don’t know what to say, except that I hope you find it now:

your happiness and your wishes;

your dreams and your hopes;

because who else are out there in the darken field

but us two?

Fare thee well, fare thee well.

It’s been a long battle, and now

let’s go on home.

Podcast: Yasunari Kawabata – Snow Country

Transcription:

Shall I come back again?

Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight

Are You Lonesome Tonight, Elvis Presley

Never has there been anything scarier than the solitude of being alive, of being human. The legend of the old day has spoken that when the first man stepped into the galaxy and took a proper look at Earth, he had said, There are no other species as lonely, as sad, as desolate, as human, and he wept.

As the words in Elvis Presley’s song, perhaps we are all lonesome tonight. And what else is there to do but to wander into this episode on the furthest edge of human loneliness in Yasunari Kawabata’s “Snow Country”?

Hi, this is Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.

I am so sorry for the missing episode, or episodes. I am having trouble managing my time and most important of all, managing my financials. But we will get to that later. First of all, I do hope you, my audience, accept my apology.

So back to Yasunari Kawabata’s “Snow Country.”

I am no strangers to the unique strangeness in Japanese Literature. Or perhaps, during my exploring trip, I have spent far too many hours on reading the loneliness out of thin air. From Kenzaburo Oe to Yasunari Kawabata and Dazai Osamu, none of the authors comes across as anything less than despair and sufferings.

I am drawn to humans, to being alive. And by that, I mean I am more drawn to despair and sufferings than happiness. And there’s no excuse for that.

Because being human hurts. It hurts so bad that some are dying and others are wounded. The wounds keep piling upon wounds and before you notice, you are not anything, not even laughters.

It’s the same for Komako and Yoko. I doubt that it is the same for Shimamura. And more than them – the world beyond their little universe – I doubt that it is the same for anyone who steps out into space, takes a good look at Earth, and weeps.

Like the Little Prince.

“People are delicate, aren’t they?” Komako had said that morning. “Broken into a pulp, they say, skull and bones and all. And a bear could fall from a higher ledge and not be hurt in the least.” There had been another accident up among the rocks, and she had pointed out the mountain on which it had happened.

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

People are delicate. Putting that in the context, where Komako is sitting by the window sill in Shimamura’s room as the sun sets, people is ever more delicate and fragile. The child-like Komako, who, in Shimamura’s eyes, still maintains the innocent of a girl, exclaims the philosophical statement that other geishas feel reluctant to make.

Komako, who had held onto the love for the one man she ever felt in love with for all those years, just to watch him walk out of her life once and for all, is like the Little Prince who had finally grown up. I remember the Little Prince said that one must be sad to watch a sun set, and there was a day he had watched in 42 times, just by moving his chair little by little.

So what is at stake here when Komako, sitting by the window sill, refusing to go home yet exclaiming that she is going hom, did nothing more than just watching the sun set.

Yes, a bear could have fallen from a higher ledge and not be hurt in the least. Yes, a human body can also bear a certain amount of force, and the more we put it to test, the more strength we have to hold on to when we are out in space. Yes, the sun set scene is always sad, and people will always be gone before you even know that the night has come and you must go home.

Yes, people are delicate.

The sadness is not in the sunset. No. The sadness is the soft eyes of the young girl Komako, who is turning into a woman. The sadness is in the thick eyelashes falling over her eyes that make them look like they are only half-open. The sadness is the beauty of Komako cascades over Shimamura, a beauty that is so high and mighty that it amounts almost to loneliness.

“You didn’t grow a mustache after all.”

“You did tell me to grow a mustache, didn’t you?”

“It’s alright. I knew you wouldn’t. You always shave yourself nice and blue.”

“And you always look as if you’d just shaved when you wash away that powder.”

“Isn’t your face a little fatter, though? You were very funny asleep, all round and plump with your white skin and no mustache.”

“Sweet and gentle?”

“But unreliable.”

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

What’s the point of such nifty and petty memories? What’s the point in having conversations which you know right from the start where it will end? What’s the point in loving a man whose only love is for the ideal of love itself?

Perhaps, like Shimamura had said, it was all just a waste of time. And though Komako did not feel that way, though for all it takes, these petty and nifty conversations are all that Komako relied on as the music teacher’s son wasted away on his death bed, to Shimamura, what is it but a waste of time.

In her heart, Komako knows very well that Shimamura will never love her back. I remember the scene where Komako told Shimamura that she would write down the things she like. Besides dancing and singing and learning to play music, she wrote Shimamura, Shimamura, Shimamura, times and times again.

The little details. The name she had tried to forget but could not afford to. The man from Tokyo who promised her to shave his beard but never did. Yes, all was sweet and gentle. And yes, all was unreliable.

The setting never strays too far from the inn’s room, where the encounters between Shimamura and Komako happen. The enclosing room is like a cage. And Komako’s happiness is but a butterfly trapped within the cage itself. Perhaps, knowing this, she always tells Shimamura that she is going home, that she will not come by because she had to tend to the inn’s guests, that she will never see him to the train station again.

And here she is, always coming back, always fly back into the trap, always a caged butterfly.

What else is there to know about Komako, about Shimamura, about love? Coming back after a brief break of the episode.

The Radio of Resistance is dearly in need of your love to survive. If you feel generous and want to support the podcast, you can donate via https://paypal.me/bipolarpsyche. You don’t know how much it means to me and how appreciative it is, even if it’s just a $1 donation. If you want to reach out, my email is always open at tpdinh@tasteofsmallthings.com. Any donations above $15 will receive a free complimentary tarot reading session. For updates on my other works, which include novels and poems, you can follow me on Instagram at bipolar_psyche, or my Facebook page, The Bipolar Psyche’s Books. Additionally, I am selling merch, which includes T-shirt, hoodies, and mugs at https://thebipolarpsychestee.com

Please follow my Facebook page, The Bipolar Psyche’s Books, for the latest update on the launch.

“You have plenty of money, and you’re not much of a person. You don’t understand at all.”

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

You know, this is a fun fact about me. I used to wish I can stand on a mountain of money and scream out, Money can’t buy you happiness. And thus, I guess that’s why I am particular drawn to the quote above.

What can define us as a person? The money we had in a bank? The materialistic world we build for ourselves? The selfless and the selfish?

Or the love?

My favorite song composer once said – and bear in mind that I am paraphrasing – There are the loves that once we bid them goodbye, they were, to us at that moment, nothing more than a loving relationship. Things will change. We move on. And life happens. Until we are old and tired, and we look back on them, they have grown into something larger. Something akin to the lost of a lifetime.

I guess that’s the moment we realize, like Komako, the little geisha in the snow country, that we do have a lot of money – a mountain of it in fact –  but are we much of a person?

Do we feel pain the way a person feel pain? Do we find happiness the way a person finds his happiness? What is a person, and are we reaching it yet?

A beggar on the street said, We are all in a rat’s race. But going where? After all, we all end up at the same destination.

I beg to differ. Of course, we will all reach the same ending. Some of us more glorious than the others. Some die a hero and some live a hero. But we are not in a rat’s race. We are only on the way to build a person.

Be it a selfless person or a selfish person, we are on our way to build it, so that when the moment comes – when our endings arrive – we are a little bit more than a fool standing on the mountain of money and screams “Money can’t buy you happiness.”

“What of it? Tokyo people are complicated. They live in such noise and confusion that their feelings are broken to little bits.”

“Everything is broken to little bits.”

“Even life, before long… Shall we go to the cemetery?”

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

The commotion of a large city is always, and forever will be, the loneliest place on Earth. It is where you find people who are neither sick nor well. They are simply there. Barely existing, barely breathing, barely living, and barely dying. They are in the middle of nowhere. They just float on the life the way a dying fish floats in the river, trying to catch on the last gasp of breathe.

And before long, you will forget that you are no longer breathing. Despite having your feelings broken to little pieces, do you care? Do you not? You can’t find an answer. And plus, what is it all for? What are you fighting for? Why are you still here, barely hanging from the branch of a dying tree?

Living is painful, and there’s no argument about that.

So despite having your feelings broken into pieces – despite your life being broken into little pieces before long – continue to live on. You are not the only person in the rat’s race. And besides, a little pain reminds you of everything. A life that’s been loved. A life that’s been lost. A love that is no more than the lost of a lifetime.

And you will live on. You will outlive the broken little pieces, just like how Komako outlives her love for Shimamura:

“A woman by herself can always get by.”

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

Yes. After all, only women are capable of really loving. I am not saying that only women are capable of feeling the pain of the living. If you have listened to me for long enough, I am all for equality. What I am saying is right there at the surface. Only women are capable of really loving. From my mother who had sacrifice her life for far too long and far too much, to Komako who never will become a nurse again, only women are capable of really loving.

It is a curse disguides as a blessing.

“A bee walked a little and collapsed, walked a little and collapsed. It was a quiet death that came with the change of seasons. Looking closely, however, Shimamura could see that the legs and feelers were trembling in the struggle to live.”

“Snow Country,” Yasunari Kawabata

The Earth will outlive us all, be it animals, insects, or humans. But the little bee doesn’t care about who is outliving who. It only cares that it yearns for life. And the bee’s yearning for the living is too strong that even knowing that the slightest changes in the seasons will kill it, the bee still tries his best. His legs and feelers are trembling amidst the harsh winter of the snow country. His wings are heavy and can’t lift himself up amidst the snow storm.

And yet, he lives on.

So live on. That’s the most important thing. Like my therapist once said, There are so many things, so many routes and options you can go if you live on. But once you are dead, it’s all over. You can’t start a life over. You can only move on.

Live and let live.

This is Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.

Podcast: Voice of the Void

Welcome back to the Radio of Resistance. First, thank you for being here, for your presence, for being alive, and for following through with the resistance. Second, will we take Mahattan, and then, take on Berlin? Yes, my dearest audience, that we will do in this season of the Radio of resistance. Though we will leave Leonard Cohen behind, he will still remain here in the verses and the lines. If you ask me why, I can only say, Leonard Cohen is the essential force behind the radio due his will to fight and his will to command the resistance, to let every one of the hook besides himself. And thus, he will be a guest on every season of this podcast, from here on out.

So the trailer. What are we going to talk about? What are the stories, the authors, the books, and everything else?

Well, let me tell you a little story.

The other day, as I was dining out with my mother and my friend, I overheard the conversation from the table next to us. You will have to forgive me: The tables at that specific restaurant are only separated by a wooden, see-through windows. And to me, conversations, the ordinary kind, the kind that people have over meals, coffee, and a cigarette, are so precious and pretty.

And like a sad, desolate flower blooms in the harshest winter, the conversation from the next table flowed into me.

I don’t have any feelings left for him. Just like that, the story began.

I don’t have any feelings left for him, she said, Not even the slightest sadness, the slightest worry, the treacherous tears. Nothing.

So you let him go? The other woman said.

What else can I do, the woman continued, When the core of the relationship, the two people that built the foundation for it, don’t care about each other any more?

Have you talked things through with him?

What will it help? She put the chopsticks down, I guess things are just like that. Love caught you and bounded your hands and legs. And when love has had enough of you, it will cut the rope.

So you are free to live for yourself now?

She smiled. I don’t feel any hesitation in her voice. Neither do I feel a tiny shred of happiness. And she said:

You see, it’s not about being free. It’s all about I don’t have any feeling left for him.

The conversation finished. They paid the bills and went out.

I guess you all will wonder, Why this story? Why begin Season 2 with separation and loneliness instead? Why a conversation and not something else? And I guess a song or a quote would do well, of course. And I will be honest with you, I had wanted to use some verses from Eminem’s repertoire.

But the conversation just sticks with me. And by stick with me, I mean it in a literal sense. I always think about conversation like sticky notes. The kind you would put on the fridge to remind you of something, some place, someone. Some memories you made along the way and now that you look back, they are nothing but bittersweet, invisible cloaks of clouds that you can’t touch nor see again.

And I keep reading this sticky note again and again, about the emptiness of a separation, about how the phrase “I don’t have any feelings left for him” was paired with a monotonous voice, void of sadness and desolation. Just a simple statement. A simple fact. A simple of matter where love lets people go, after robbing them off their hearts and their souls.

 And thus, “Voice” will be an important theme for this season.

We use our voice a lot everyday. Sweet voice for the one we hate. Hurtful voice for the one we love. And empty, hollow voice for the pain that is greater than what we care to admit; because once we admit it, we will no longer be the same human.

After all, what use do we have if we are not the same human? And what use do we have if we just stand still there and let the waves crush us? Would the waves cradle us and lull us to a peaceful sleep deep under the ocean, with the waning moon watching over us, like the child we once were?

We will walk through the anger of Eminem’s voice, the loneliness of the snow country in Yasunari Kawabata’s, the walk to the graveyard of regrets and painful solitude in Natsume Soseki’s. And in between them, there will be voices of those we never heard of, those we have heard but we never care more, and those that stay as sticky notes on our fridge.

I don’t know if this can be considered a trailer. I don’t even know if my voice will rise up to match yours. And don’t ever think that your voices don’t matter. In fact, I would love to hear from you. Send me your stories, your conversations, your sadness and fear. Whatever that you want the ocean to wash away, send it to me. My email stays the same, tpdinh@tasteofsmallthings.com.

And while you are at it, if you consider my voice worth a chance to survive the material world, I am urgently in need of donations to maintain the podcast and my work-life balance. If you want to follow my other journey, learning tarot and writing novels, you can be a monthly patron at https://patreon.com/bipolar_psyche. If you don’t want a monthly commitment, you can also dnate at at paypal.me/bipolarpsyche. Send me a message if you donate more than $15 please, so I can do a free tarot reading session for you as a sincere thank you gift from the bottom of my heart.

So, season 2. Let the voice rise up.

I am Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance.