There’s something that’s been bugging me for a really long time. You know when you understand something, but it doesn’t affect you yet? Like when someone tells you that thousands of people are dying of malnutrition in (insert poverty-stricken-country’s name) but you can listen to it rather dispassionately and nod and make pithy comments like “Oh yes, that’s horrible”. But when (insert name of favourite artiste) is insulted then your feathers become ruffled, and emotions overrun, and you’re left spiralling in a pit of vertigo-inducing colours, dizzied by the strength of your feelings, before the words(or fists) come out.
And I was left spinning on my wheels a few weeks ago in a film literature module I was doing for fun. It was a rather boring tutorial, and I think we were discussing something about Eric Khoo’s cinematography or use of colours or something. And the tutor asked the class:
“So why did he do this?”
No reply came.
“Do you think he had a reason for doing this?”
Still no reply.
Frustrated, she ejaculated with emotion, contempt practically oozing from her eyes,
“So you think he was just being… clever?”
And that woke me up right up, shaking my head with fervour. Upon which she turned on me and asked for my opinion, which was and is irrelevant(suffice to say it was bad). What’s important was that I knew(having done my readings) that dear old Eric was not just trying to be clever. And her remark about his wit sent me into analytic shock – at that moment I was suddenly possessed of a terrible fear of my own life and story.
Because you see, I think I’m pretty clever.
In literature, no one famous is really too clever. Cleverness can be gotten away with by artists, but clever writing is far too superficial to be taken very seriously, like being the stereotypical bimbo(fine art is mostly superficial, so can get away with it though). Typically a good piece of writing is about something – at the very least a description – it has got to have a point. Even the most banal of romantic poems are supposed to evoke feelings to despair or tragedy because of lakes or small white fans. “Very clever” is said not usually as praise, but in contempt of some errant author whom we deem to be insulting our intelligence by smoking up our asses using the tricks of the trade. If you possess wit without wisdom then nobody wants to read you.
Is the same true in real life?
Now, I’ve been a really clever person all my life. Everyone says so. I know(and always feel the urge to share) these interesting facts that nobody else(at least, not in my social circles) knows, all from watching too much Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. I even chose Physics as my major of study, so that I could become cleverer. I crack jokes and make fun of people. Somtimes other people laugh too. I’m sarcastic without even meaning to be, sometimes. I can’t help it, I think it’s bloody clever.
Do I have a point? Is that the same question as “Does my life have any meaning?”
They do say “everything happens for a reason”(usually which we can’t see) – a reasoning I debunk to be popular belief embraced by boring people who can’t bear to think of their existence as being paltry. Luckily, if you believe that, though, you can also believe that your lack of wit or substance can be compensated by God’s.
Let’s hope he’s a clever one, then. And that he gives you big points.
What substance is there after you peel away the layers? Can you actually add anything to that depth? Will I end up dying on a hospital bed just wondering how futile it all was? In the end, will I look back and say,
“I was really just trying to be just clever.”
Okay, that’s off my chest now. What was my point? None, really.