4AM in the night, DJ Melodily here with you

There is a common vein in certain pieces of work that attracts me. The setting’s in a city, it’s a big place filled with nameless presences that pass you by, you can die in the middle of the street and it would hardly feel your loss. It could be cold. But it’s also a place you are bound to, because it was there when your life unraveled, it was indifferent but it was there. And it’s the only thing you have.

You wouldn’t be unfamiliar with it:

From T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

. . .

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—

This song, 北京北京, originally sung by Wang Feng and now performed by Han Lei, distils this sentiment to its very essence:

當我走在這裡的每一條街道
我的心似乎從來都不能平靜
除了發動機的轟鳴和電氣之音
我似乎聽到了它燭骨般的心跳

我在這裡歡笑
我在這裡哭泣
我在這裡活著
也在這兒死去

(As I paced through every street of this city,
calm denied, restless,
I seemed to hear, beyond the roar of engines
and the electric whirr,
the throb of its heartbeat against the bone.
[very liberally translated here; it’s how it feels like to me.]

I have laughed here,
cried;
I have lived here,
here, I will die.
)

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