Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Addicted to Jonathan Lee (李宗盛)

After listening to his music while working, I got addicted to the sound of Jonathan Lee's voice. His lyrics melted my heart and his spirit went up my nose and into my brain. He's marked me like chocolate ice-cream on white trousers. Good luck getting that out!

The tinkling ivories tinkle away against a twilight background. The slow clap of a hushed million-strong audience rushes and shushes like crashing waves on a distant coast. Nestled in his voice, I fall asleep.

In my dreams he is a dragon. We fight weaponised ghouls and go on cross-continental open-air flights. Over rocky outcrops, we hover and watch as the sirens sat there call their sailors in. Beauty has killed. Beauty is the death of hope. I heard about it in a Jonathan Lee song.

As if he's been waiting for this chance to show me the world, Jonathan Lee picks me up and takes me over the ocean. We land on a vast plain, where great trees reach up into the boundless sunlight and fruit farms are spaced out. Banana trees and mango trees and betel nut bushes are ranged in rows. We walk along chatting. Jonathan Lee is a good conversationalist. I prefer to listen, so he starts to explain some complex theories to me. He is very well-read but breaks these ideas down like any serious matter was just as simple as the arrangement made by grains of sand as they shift randomly on the shore. I've explained it poorly, he would do a much better job.

As we walk and the sun beats down on us, I dare not ask for any water, since Jonathan doesn't seem to need any. He is talking about Post-Structuralism. I only dimly get what he's on about. My throat is so dry that it's beyond help. It's all I can think about.

"...the mutation that affects it is so profound and so decisive, the content of the political economy so thoroughly changed, indeed annihilated, that the term is nothing more than an allusion."

In actual fact, the words he's saying may be nothing like this. They would ceetainly be easier to understand, but my attention's gone. The sunlight's got so bright that it takes all my concentration to deal with blinking it out. Each time I open my eyes, my head drifts a little distance further from the centre.

Thankfully we get out of the sun and into some shade when we reach the edge of a forest. Lee is still talking. I can only blame myself as I've not summoned the energy to tell him to stop. Ahead of us we can see a large clearing, where several houses are set out. There's a low hum, ever louder, like the noise of a light aircraft preparing for take-off. It somehow gets into my ears, deeper than I'd like it to go. My brain feels cooked already. Now my nerves are vibrating, like paper puppets on the end of strings held in the hands of this droning sound. I pass out and have to be carried the last few hundred yards. Fortunately, Jonathan Lee is as strong as an ox.  

Waking up, I realise that I've dreamt much of what I thought were memories. Jonathan Lee is no dragon. We didn't fly on the back of some giant beast, we probably took a private plane.

The village is tiny, surrounded by thick forest. Beyond the forest is the open plain we walked across, where I got sunstroke. Stepping outside, I see that the sun is up and as hot as hell. The surrounding trees do somewhat mitigate the sun's fury, but I'm still constantly squinting.

The noise I heard, which made me pass out, turns out to be a generator. It hums away in the background constantly. Sleeping through that sound over night seems to have got me accustomed to it. It is a constant that you never think of.

The generator is mainly used to power the hospital tent. A lot of people convalesce there. Conditions are pretty basic. While I've been sleeping, Jonathan Lee has been anxiously pacing about, trying to help in any way he can. There isn't much for him to do, so he's taken to wandering up and down between the beds, singing the lyrics to one of his songs: "走吧! 走吧!" (zou ba! zou ba!, which means something like 'go on! go on!'). When he realises that his voice can't cure anyone, he weeps like a helpless child. I have to take him away, because he's upsetting the critically ill youngsters.

We escape that afternoon. With the sun still so high and hot, we board the town's one bus and head to the nearest town. I sleep on the bus. I'm not sure if Lee sleeps at all. He seems wired. Like a man possessed. What's going on in his head, I do not know.

Up and down and round and round the bus goes, like a circus joke, like a fairground ride. We don't get there before dark and as we near the town, where the traffic gets thicker and the roads busier, we are still passing the hills at the end of the plain. There are endless corners and there is nothing you see, just the sweep of a bus that speeds along with you barely holding on. It seems this way when you're in and out of sleep. When we arrive, I'm extremely thankful the journey's over.

The first thing Jonathan Lee does is buy a bottle of beer. We find somewhere to stay, check the room and go straight out. We have dinner in the market, where these bright, bare light bulbs hang down over stainless steel tables. You add chilli flakes and chilli sauce to your noodles. We have seaweed as a side dish. Jonathan Lee has a massive appetite. He washes everything down with his third and fourth beers. 

Playing pool, we meet two women. Lee knows what to do. He's stepped up a gear, become another man. Focused now, he gets them to come back to our room. Oddly, once we're there, he wants to talk about Post-Structaralism again. I was already feeling sleepy. The window's open and the curtains flutter about. In great waves, the room sweeps from wind-side, across the one woman's hair, passing onto her friend's blouse. Lee talks. I fall asleep.

They are gone when I wake up. I can hear Jonathan Lee singing in the shower. When we leave the hotel, I bump into a passing teenager. He is with his friends, who are slumping aroujnd beside him like hyeenas. The head dog steps foward and barks at me. My head is splitting and the sun is bright and I am enjoying the silence of not speaking. Lee and I have not yet spoken today. I observe the dog from behind the sunglasses I bought in the market the day before. Feeling like the world could be peaceful, I imagine that I can simply go on not speaking. Instead, the barking goes on. I start to walk off, as does Jonathan Lee, but the hyeenas hold us back and there are quite a few of them. I'm not sure if they hit Lee, but soon I'm on the ground and I feel them stamping on me. Their laughter and cries get louder.

I wake up in a field, where the grass is quite long. I feel like my head has split from the inside. Jonathan Lee is singing, so I lie there listen to him.

He stops singing and, out of the blue, recites the following poem:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - Too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog - 
To tell one's name - the livelong June - 
To an admiring Bog!

which seemed odd.

No comments:

Post a Comment