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Exquisite containers...with a twist!

20 Jun '14


Posted by Lanchi Vo

As I turn vessels after vessels off my lathe, I often wonder what kind of content they will end up receiving. One thing I know for sure, there are more vessels out there than the type of materials that can be packaged. As a box maker, I am acutely aware of the differentiation between a box and its stash, between format and content. I end up seeing boxes everywhere. The most intriguing of all is the type of boxes we use to carry our ideas and emotions: Languages. 

As I got exposed to different languages, I acquire a deep appreciation for each one, with its own uniqueness, idiosyncrasies, and beauty. Languages are vessels that have been built by many, through generations, so ideas and emotions can be packaged, passed around, shared. The content, surprisingly is quite similar, across space and time: the way we feel and think; what we deem comic or tragic; the sense of humor, sarcasm, wit...

I envy those who can effectively package their ideas and emotion into a language vessel. I am dark green with envy those who can use several vessels with ease. For me, it's always a frustrating activity. What comes out of the word processor in my brain never measured up. The intense feeling I try to convey sounds vague like a half-remembered dream. The scenery I try to paint always ends up blurry like San Francisco in a foggy day...
and funny things happen when I switch from Vietnamese to English vessel. The Vietnamese vessel is fairly flexible. It doesn't care much about quantity, time or gender. Thus, these conventions tend to get all wrinkled up when squeezed into a more rigid English box.

Like hot wood shavings flying off my lathe, my fleeting ideas possess their own speed and direction. As I'm frantically trying to catch them and stuffing them into this English vessel, an "s" might fell off here, an "ed" jolted out there, the grammatical space and time disheveled, a few words got trampled beyond recognition...
Please pardon the unkempt appearance of my vessel. I am the type of people who seldom watch a movie or read a book twice, so please do not expect me to keep ruminating through my own writings to catch a few lumpy pieces. You get what I mean, right?