Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 1 No. 2 Jan 2002

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Everybody's looking forward to a recovery

By Toh Hsien Min

Unless one has been leading a hermits life at the top of Bukit Timah Hill during the whole of 2001, its not possible to escape the fact that Singapore and the whole world is in the throes of recession. So many people I know are sick of it sick of reading more bad news in the paper every day, sick of reading when our highly paid economists forecast a rebound, sick of worrying about not having or losing jobs.

Yet if you think about it, so many parts of life are cyclical anyway. We all get tired, but after stretching out the morning in bed we often feel refreshed. The person who is continually and consistently happy has my greenest envy. Im writing this editorial now without much inspiration because it just happens to be that time of the month again (no, not... oh never mind). Sometimes it seems almost as though weve all kept our eyes so firmly and so hopefully on the recovery that weve forgotten to look at anything else.

What is it that causes us to be this way? Perhaps its an idealization of what the world ought to be that in chasing the Singapore Dream (or American Dream or dotcom dream or whatever) we have believed it not only to the extent that enables us, but to the extent that encumbers us, or in some cases, disillusions us. But there are blessings to count. I wont start on art being consolation or anything up that rainbow, but by sheer coincidence a number of the pieces that the editorial team has received and accepted for the current issue smells the flowers on the way, not, or even in despite of, the coffee. Serena Lims short story deals with the pain of retrenchment in a very human way; we also have poems that celebrate family, nationhood and childbirth. Eddie Tay writes on a poet who meditates on love, while Cyril Wong reminds us, even if incidentally, that our understanding is constituted relatively. So art could be more simply what helps us maintain a sense of perspective.

Which means, of course, that art is responsible for my liver crying out for recovery after a gruelling holiday season filled with champagne and claret and pipe dreams...


Never mind gloomy economies, we still managed to throw a very enjoyable launch party for QLRS at the Book Caf on 12th November 2001! My thanks again to the Book Caf, and to all the readers and those who helped out in one way or another. Although economics does dictate our online status (and so were not contributing much to that section of the NAC annual report that analyses the economic contribution of the arts in Singapore), our eyes are constantly peeled for opportunities, whether on- or offline... So if you have any ideas for us, please do send them in. Wed love to hear from you.

Will art ever make sense to economics? Will economics ever make sense to art? Discuss in the Forum.

QLRS Vol. 1 No. 2 Jan 2002


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