Dream of Red Chamber infatuation

I have a relationship with 亦舒 Yi Shu (Queen of HK/sino contemporary romance) ~30 years, tbh my enthusiasm has dwindled as the years pass, but I'm a masochistic creature of habit and her completest.  YiShu always writes way faster than I can read, I'm barely catching up with her 2008 novel  癡情司/Infatuation Officer.  The novel is her homage to Dream of Red Chamber, corresponding characters have homonyms, with YiShu's biases woven in, all transported to modern day HK. It's the best fr YiShu I've read recently even if she's too materialistic for my taste in RN and characterizations too full of it for me to care.  Her favorite heroine is here again in her Lin DaiYu: annoying, persnickety, snobbish but all is saved and well because of her exquisitely beautiful face *shrug*.  And as always she's critical of the good girl, the Xue BaoCha reincarnate, hinting on her being a scheming fakey.  There r a lot of Team Lin out there who hold this opinion on Xue, but I'm not strictly on either team myself.  I've read the whole 120 chapters twice only, considering this is my absolute favorite piece of literature, sometimes I'll reread a chapter here and there for the exquisite poems, but never had I regarded it as solely a tearjerking romance btn Lin and Jia.   They r only 2 out of the richest collection of characters, mostly ladies for me to explore the world writer Cao lived and breathed in, the constant human battle of growing up conforming to society yet staying true to your vocation, the fight btn naivete and reality, and the toying with Fate.  I like how in YiShu's revision, we're given an honest modern take, with the characters recognizable fr original, yet our modern environ participates as a new character meddling with Fate.

This is pushed up my book queue also because of the revisionist musical Awakening/贾宝玉/Jia BaoYu, based on the characters fr Dream of Red Chamber with the story picking up from the last chapter as a 'time traveling/reincarnation' modern take. The musical/play begins with Jia Baoyu long dead and is allowed to reincarnate as the fairy granting the stone (ie Jia himself) his life and the fairy watered and nurtured a twig spiritualised into the form of a lady, following the footstep of the fairy to 'experience' human suffering she's reincarnated as Lin and her life's purpose is to pay back the debt of life/watering by the weeping of her tears.  In the play, BaoYu is reborn as the fairy 'godfather' without Baoyu's memory initially, meeting all his beloved 12 beauties, a fresh beginning, it seems.  Alas, his memory catches up with him reconnecting with each fancy object he's treasured in his past life hence making him the only one knowledgeable of all their fate.  It's by famous HK playwright and producer Edward Lam.  I ADORE this genius.  PD Lam got the idea Denise Ho is the perfect Jia BaoYu comparable to Brigitte Lin's take after she did a comedic scene with Ariel Lin in his last work Men and Women, War and Peace where they loosely revisited the scene of the Red Chamber OTP Lin DaiYu and Jia BaoYu's very first meeting.

I didn't have the idea to post until I'm finishing up the novel while listening to Denise's new CD, the soundtrack of Awakening.  Its title song is 癡情司, ie the exact title of book I'm reading and just the fact knowing the bestest HK lyricist atm Wyman Wong MUST've read the same YiShu novel while brainstorming such beautiful words is making me batshit.

This is the most beautiful, addictive 'Cantopop' I've heard in years. The melody is a nod to Cantonese Opera, ie the mother of Cantopop, made perfect by the breathtakingly befitting beautiful prose of Wyman.

'夢還沒有完… 其實你我這美夢 氣數早已盡 重來也是無用'

The Dream has not ended….but Fate of our sweet dream has expired, there's no use revisioning.  *ahhhhhhhh!*

And the brilliant fans' been commenting on the brilliant video with the concept of Last Supper where Jesus (BaoYu here) knew of all the fate of his closest 12.  The table dressed like a terrarium microcosm of the Grand View Garden (Ta-kuan Garden), ie the gilded cage they live in, echoing the pivotal chapter 5 'flower prophecies'. 
White snow is constantly falling throughout the scene, the bleak white is a visual of the final desitute, an obliteration of the materialistic filth.  A cleanse of fate we're powerless to alter. ( the words 好一似食尽鸟投林,落了片白茫茫大地真干净!fr the opera-in-novel Red Chamber Dream sung in the same chapter.)

What haunts me most in Dream of Red Chamber is it's autobiographical and every word, every lush poem is a the reminder of the devastation for Master Cao to experience a love so deep, a heartbreak so devastating, the fateful deterioration of his family and the feudal society so traumatic first hand to have this level of intensity to pour everything into words, revisiting these scenes, these objects in his life he painstakingly described as the most precious token of the love lost, in a romanticized haze of dreamy illusory and realism. In the end it doesn't matter to me whether Lin and Jia can be together in this world, what's lost lives on in me.  . In many ways what we hold dearest in our hearts, rereading a favorite book, rewatching a knowingly satisfying drama or even being in love with a person is like an endless dream we suspend in our conscience, we evolve, and every moment it's no longer the exact same yet we hold onto it almost stubbornly to recapture the feeling it evokes and we call it love, the intoxication, the addiction the loss of control.  In Cao's pov, without the heartbreak of separation, of fate interfering, we will refuse to grow, not knowing what love is.  

And we'll not have one of the most terrific work of literature.

From Awakening:

黛玉:我們會再見面嗎?
寶玉:要分開了,才能再見面的。
黛玉:既然能見面,為什麼還要分開?
寶玉:因為…..這樣我才能掛念你。
黛玉:你的心裡只有我嗎?
寶玉:不。。。妳,就是我的心。

Daiyu: Will we meet again?
Baoyu: We need to part, so we'll meet again.
Daiyu: But we can be together, why do we need to part?
Baoyu: That's because…only then can I miss you.
Daiyu: Do you only have me in your heart?
Baoyu: No…You are my heart.

The wait will hurt.   You have repaid me with your lifetime of tears so we'll meet again in Heaven.

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2 thoughts on “Dream of Red Chamber infatuation

  1. You know, you’re so right about HLM feeling real and surreal at the same time. My memory’s fuzzy but I can still recall feeling like I’d been transported back in time to witness the happenings first-hand. Their lives are so removed from our own time, the things they do and the words they say. But as strange and fragile as that world was, it was also rich and vivid… like a realistic dream.Will check out the song once I get home. Oh god, I can already resee the “Lin meimei, wo hui lai le” scene typing this comment up.

  2. That was beautifully written. Actually I’ve been immersing myself in the story so much I needed a few days’ break before watching the last five. It’s a little overpowering.

    My reading is only up to chapter nine, though. I’m slow.

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