However, believe or not, I think I can top myself in drivel writing by writing about writing. I wasn't intending to, until I read Mr Wang's fine blog http://commentarysingapore.blogspot.c
Anyway, scroll down his well-enjoyable weblog to read his entry called "Boring, Inane Trivia About Glasses, Spectacles Etc". The gist of the entry is that Sumiko Tan of the Straits Times had written a rather mindnumbing and boring article about herself which irked Mr. Wang somewhat, possibly because deep down inside, Mr. Wang wishes that the Straits Times would be a purveyor of well written articles and also perhaps deeper down inside, Mr. Wang wishes to be writing for the Straits Times, if only to improve the Organ of the Nation. There's also quite a few articles about the heights of consistency that the Straits Times reach for when it comes to writing.
I was quite amused and happily occupied by the whole thing and as such, I found myself wondering about a few things. Is the writing in the Straits Times that bad? If so, why does Mr. Wang never learn and keep going back to it? Come to think of it, is it a reflection on the general standards of writing in Singapore (not Mr. Wang's writings, I mean, the Straits Times. If the world at large took Mr. Wang's writing as a measure of the level of writing ability in Singapore, it would have appeared as if Mr. Wang had been hogging all the brain juice when it was being handed out. Then again, he might well have been.)? Should I even bother with Singaporean writing?
And here is the gristle of my stewings (I get there, you know, just as a wave tossed message in a bottle gets from Hawaii to.... okay, okay.). Writing in Singapore really isn't much to write home about.... *snigger*. Ahem. Sorry. I mean, I had gone down to the library the other day to idly browse and see what new literary experience I could find. Invariably, I found myself drawn to foreign writers, which, oddly enough, bugged me somewhat. I just can't seem to get interested in local writers. I have tried, mind. Catherine Lim, Philip Jeyaretnam, Adrian Tan, even those hokey hantu books by Russell something. They weren't the worst ever books I've ever read (though I'm pretty charitable when it comes to reviewing writing, I give approving reviews to ingredient labels.... heck I even read my own writings.), however, they were really underwhelming. I don't ever feel like reading any of them more than once and I've noticed this about folks who've read Catherine Lim books. If someone admits to having read Catherine Lim, or any other Singaporean writer, the defensive rejoinder, "She's/he's actually not that bad, you know," always follows. But... not that good either.
That is so odd, I think. There are any number of well-educated Singaporeans who could be capable enough of writing at least one good book. Financially, perhaps, a Singaporean would be less motivated due to the small domestic market.... or perhaps, quite simply, Singapore deserves the lack of quality in writing. Most Singaporeans really don't care about writing, or the arts but if they do, they tend to care more about the financial viability of any artistic endeavour. Which isn't a bad thing but that runs the risk of putting the cart in front of the horse. Furthermore, it seems that those who are capable are content with minor celebrity with weblogs. Ahem. Sentimental as it sounds, I think that the sole, or at least the main motivation for writing should always be a desire for telling a story. Ah. That could be the problem. Perhaps Singaporeans struggle with fulfilling desires that can't be bought.
I may be wrong, I may just be mean but at this point I think I'm close enough to the truth. Still, there is hope, there always is. That's where bad writing could help. The reality is that bad writing will always sell better than good writing. Bad writings infect the mind in more direct, coarser ways and provoke stronger and more easily vented reactions. That, in turn, may compel the reader to pay attention to it, if for all the wrong reasons but one- to sell more books. Then, maybe, just maybe, once the critical mass of bad writing has been achieved, a heroic Singaporean would finally be spurred into writing something good and Singaporeans could finally appreciate the value of good writing. It's a big karmic cycle thingamajig. We suffer so we learn what's best, perhaps?
And that is why I wrote this. Hope I didn't make you suffer too much.
In the meantime, read!
and keep a hopeful eye out for:
when Ed finally posts his long awaited second piece on whiskey appreciation.
I enjoy these weblogs, from time to time and interesting as they are, part of the enjoyment comes from the gratifying hope that they can get even better. Sorry I can't return the favour though.... its a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.