upon encountering the ugly fish

by Feng

In spite of myself, I really like Tao Lin. I love this poem about the ugly fish. I love many things he does. I want to meet him and talk to him.

I am currently working on a few projects, one of which is inspired by my recent experience of “With Deer” by Aase Berg, (a portion of which will be forthcoming from Spork Press), and another that budded from the term “feebcore”, owing to my feelings about whatever the Tao Lin movement is, a term which doesn’t really mean anything but connotes a vulnerability that is not actually feeble when executed well, and an affect of dissociation that is not actually apathetic, but obliquely critical of ornamental language and the lameness of adult pretentiousness.  So I wrote a bunch of things that I am glomming under the title of Feebcore Poetry as a fun exercise. I guess this is a personal exercise that works like journaling… but eventually it may become something more… or I may abandon it… You can see the work in progress here… But I guess the later parts of what I drafted so far read more like a blog entry, and it has to do with the ugly fish poem and the Great Loneliness. So I will paste it here for you, o loyal 3 readers of my blog…


There are people in this world who think they are isolated in a special way. I am probably one of those people. No animal metaphor is satisfying, not even the mutated hybrid ones like the Liger or the Bird Mouse… because the point is that the person is beyond all interpretation…

I know that isolation/alienation is not special. You don’t have to do anything to be alienated. It is so easy it doesn’t have to be taught.

I don’t care about being Asian. When I do, it is not my choice.

I don’t have an excuse for failing at activism or politics. I just feel too stupid. I can try to do the best I can as an ambiguous entity, but ambiguousness makes doing anything difficult, as most events require some grasp of the matter… I have clammy hands. It is hard for me to grasp things. My brain is clammy.

I think education is important and can help alleviate most global problems.

When I was a wee dark girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I did not realize that I would become like this. Now I am like this, and I am feeble in some essential ways.

My family’s home has a silence that is special. It has taught me about the world in a way that has made me an animal that does not exist.

My mother speaks a jumbled language that strips Chinese of its almost all but its grammatical skeleton. A sentence could be like this:

(In Chinese) Mama go to the [. . . ] now to get [ . . . ] so that you can do [ . . . ] in the [ . . . ].

Objects disappear and appear in English. The “future” only exists in Anglophone terms. But the English she speaks is a mutilated form with a lilt and inflection that rakes my nerves. When I speak Chinese, I speak as a two or three year old. I am always an infant. When I speak in English, I speak through a machine that grinds it so that only chunks are understood, and usually these chunks are parts filtered in order to fulfill a narrative or purpose that Mother already has… The combination does not go both ways. I cannot translate essential terms to Mandarin. On my side, language only disappears.

We argue impotently. Obsolete adages fall out of her. We eat together. The food is delicious. We share fat. The existence of many objects and events come into question. The questions are not relevant or cannot be communicated. Sometimes we light fires.

Sometimes I feel like there are sloths hiding in the walls, with dangerous moss.

The house is very quiet. The father is also quiet. It is so quiet you can hear the water in the pipes. And there are echoes. Sometimes the TV is on. My mother is like a TV channel (I don’t know which because I don’t watch TV) because she transmits what she sees on TV. It makes me afraid, but she is better than the TV because she is soft and cares for my happiness. I am cruel and hard. I want to bleed myself sometimes. Her life is smaller than this house. It is very quiet. There are no mice here.

Even my body goes soft and less defined. It is a very subtle horror.

It is important to be tender.

Philosophers have come up with many different ways to look at “loneliness”.

I do not feel lonely but I understand a loneliness that is complete and all-encompassing. It is born or shat out of silence. I empathize most with lonely individuals. I am very sensitive. My whole body hurts because loneliness is beyond us and within us, and my cells know this and they struggle.

Nevertheless, I would rather be the ugly fish than a person who is vain… but I am not always strong enough to be that ugly fish.