Omniscient narrator: You are about to enter a world of perception. As you approach the light of the Other Shore you find your soul suddenly enveloped in a holy tunnel of illumination—
Chapter 1: City
You’ve lost your way.
Left or right? Or...down?
Omniscient narrator: Don’t tell me you’ve only just now realized that you’re floating over the city like a drone with a camera?
You rub your eyes trying to make out the indistinct shapes floating before you. Are they people? Or ghosts? On the skin of that wriggling, snaking, labyrinthine monster, you see something like Morse code, radiating out in all directions.
Omniscient narrator: The expressway in the city—a crisscrossing maze rewritten.
Chapter 2: Movie
You walk into a movie theatre, but the scene seems to be frozen like a stopped clock. The images have stopped flowing past. You pause in front of this vague scene, guessing at the story. Is it cool and detached? Or warm and moving? These seemingly familiar scenes linger in your mind like unsolved riddles. Even now, your brain whirls as you attempt to find traces in the storehouse of your memory.
Omniscient narrator: With all media existing on the level of perception, the world of movies has become so much realer than real—they belong to the “surreal.”
Chapter 3: History
It seems easier to get to know everything about “her” from textual sources—this “Lychee Girl” from the East Dongting river basin. The details of her suicide in 1967 have been passed down in folk stories, and compiled into fishing songs anchored in the Mandarin language and her constructed legend—a legend which shines out from her every vein. Born into a family of rich landlords and educated in private Christian schools in the U.S., she joined the communist underground, volunteering to serve as a nurse in a battlefield hospital on the frontlines of WWII, giving herself to a young soldier from Sichuan...
Is that the graphical ghosts of history you hear whispering?
Chapter 4: Monologue
It’s the first time you’ve met and you’re still having trouble getting a read on the tomboy reclined on the bed, now perched on the window sill, now soaking in the bathtub. Beside her, the text of her monologue flickers in and out.
At times, listening to her speak, you absent-mindedly imagine yourself playing a role in this tangled-up romance. Indeed, Rola’s use of “You” (maybe a “He” or maybe a “She”) seems to have been designed to do exactly that. The focus and sincerity of her vision leaves you nowhere to hide, forcing you to face your deepest desires, worst anxieties and most confusing equivocations.
If you insist on restoring a complete and real Rola from the self-presentation of overlapping and interconnected narratives, you might be surprised to discover a common origin in that as-yet unfinished perceptual space—a space only hinted at by the unavoidable gaps between those same narratives. ……