Showing up

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977).
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977).

Yesterday, I wrote about my love affair with Cassandra.

One of the related stories that appeared after the article was something I wrote back in 2009.

In it, I described how I got my internship at Pioneer magazine, where:

According to Edgar Lee, one of the Senior Editors then, the choice was between myself and another girl. We weren’t shortlisted; we were just two kukubirds who were interested (or silly) enough to apply for that position.

Well, I thought I got it because I sounded earnest enough during the telephone interview. Actually, I got the gig because the other girl didn’t pick up her phone.

I had completely forgotten about this, but reading it again made me chuckle.

I guess it lends some credence to the Woody Allen quote about how 80 percent of success in life is showing up.

Selling it for what people want it to be

I first fell in love with Cassandra back in 2006.

Then an intern with Pioneer magazine, I had been sent to report on the results of the previous year’s Chief of Defence Force Essay Competition.

It was pretty standard military fare, with ideas centred on whatever was the rage of that post-9/11 and Iraq II age. The first-placed essay, for example, was a paper on terrorism, while the bronze-medallist wrote about peacekeeping operations.

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898)
Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898)

What caught my eye was the runner-up’s paper – “The Laments of Cassandra: Reflections on Warning Intelligence in the Information Eden”.

As an English Literature undergraduate with a keen interest in military affairs, I was impressed. Officers of that era were not particularly known for their knowledge of culture, especially when compared to their predecessors from colonial times.

The irony of the metatextual context amused me further; a paper on the pitfalls of ignoring prophecies coming in second, almost as though its prescience were itself being disregarded.

Mostly, I was intrigued by the Greek myth of Cassandra. How tragic, the Romantic in me thought. To be blessed with the gift of soothsaying, but to be cursed by never having anyone believe your predictions.

Nine years on, the story of Cassandra still fascinates me. I’ve started to wonder, though, if we should uncritically accept Cassandra’s fate for what it seems to be.

It began a couple of months back, when a contact expressed a view about the nature of communication and recipient receptivity.

In his words, if the recipient has already rejected what it is you have to offer, then:

If you keep selling it for what it is, of course people are going to say “No”.

So in the modern day, where we understand so much more about human psychology, design thinking and the nature of communication, can Cassandra complain if no one believes her, especially when she persists in peddling her prophecies in the same way?

It seems to me that Cassandra has two options:

  1. Carry on with tradition, and hope her recipients see the light one day; or
  2. Reframe what she is saying – instead of selling it for what it is, sell it for what people want it to be.

Perhaps more people will finally start listening to her then.

Green spots in urban Singapore! | PIONEER Magazine

So I’ve been featured in this month’s issue of PIONEER Magazine!

It’s in the Little Black Book column – if you didn’t get the significance of the name, it’s meant to convey the idea of it containing important information that’s sometimes not known in the public sphere, because:

  1. Soldiers (usually commanders) usually carry a small, black notebook around with them to jot down notes of seeming consequence. I use(d) mine for writing poetry and Map Grid References.
  2. In civilian parlance, a ‘little black book’ refers to a filofax or notebook that men keep with the names and contacts of girls they intend to get jiggy with.

In any case, my actual submission/the actual Q&A as follows:

  1. What tops your list of green spots in Singapore?
    A wooded area at the back of the Turf City fields. It’s not marked on the map but it’s bounded by Turf Club Road and Fairways Drive.
  2. How did you first find it?
    It was a chance find – I was looking for the Turf City fields when I stumbled upon this gem.
  3. What do you like about it and what are some of the things which people can do there?
    I like it for its picturesqueness; it reminds me of the English countryside. Its tranquility is also good for having a moment to one’s self for creative or meditative reflection.

    You can go there to run, cycle or take a slow, romantic stroll with a date. I’m sure writers and artists can also draw inspiration from the beauty of the area.

  4. What’s the best way to get there/ explore this space?
    It’s best if you have your own vehicle. Alternatively, take a bus to Dunearn Road, alight at the Turf Club Road bus-stop and walk to the area.

More PIONEER magazine madness here.