Essay: I’m Dead

I’m dead
by Jeremy Fernando


dear Michael,

I’m dead.
Which, unfortunately, makes it a touch tricky to be here with your good self, to be
alongside all of you at Comma Space tonight [1]. On the other hand, this also means
that I’m always already here with you — quite literally, in spirit.

Certainly in your gin.
Maybe even as stardust, billions old carbon.
But perhaps, all that really matters be that bombers riding shotgun in the sky
start turning into butterflies.

I suppose I really shouldn’t even be talking with you now, cher ami
but as I passed you in the doorway, you took me with a glance; even then, I guess —
even then, all those years ago, I guessed — I should’ve took that last bus homebut I
asked you for a dance

Ah, but what’s time between friends
and what else is death other than un pas au-delà a step beyond and a not beyond, at
exactly the same time.

A dance —
so twirl with me, my friend … even if it be for one last time.



and therefore forever.
I know now what no angel knows: astonishment.


For, one should try not to make the error of the soldier from Samarkand:
flee from one’s date with Death. After all, one should bear in mind — even if this remains a burden on one — that even at the very moment one catches a glimpse of the grim reaper, even as (s)he might be appearing before one, (s)he could well be there
just not for you

… for, even as you’d like to think this song is about you
not every tune is.


Moreover, it might do us well to remember that
there’s only love in the dark.






How shall I mourn me?

Not I, for that would be one in relation with all others, every other. But me, a personal one, one who is just one as one — singular.

But since I’m dead, the one that I am attempting to mourn is always already in my memory, remembered.

Which brings with it the question: which fragment of « I » have I resurrected; which brings along with it its compendium, its partner, a partnering question: is it even possible to speak of « me » as such any longer? Or perhaps, it is this fragmented, fragmentary, nature of the remembrance that ensures every memory is singular.

Not that I am necessarily able to tell the difference between them, between « me » and « I ». For, each recollection is haunted by the possibility of forgetting. And since there
is no object to forgetting, no referentiality when one forgets — all I can possibly articulate is the fact that I might have forgotten — there is no possibility of knowing what is being forgotten. Thus, there is no possibility of knowing if each time one remembers, each moment of memory, might bring with it forgetting. In other words, forgetting is not antonymous to memory; they are always already a part of each other, even as they may quite possibly remain apart.

So, not only can I not know if my resurrection of « me » is accurate, it might not even have anything to do with « me ». It might be an « I » — not just in relation with all others, every other, but an « I » that is completely other.

Perhaps then, all that I can mourn is the possibility of « me ».

Perhaps, all that allows me to mourn in the first place is the possibility that I have forgotten, am always forgetting, « me ».

Perhaps then, all I can mourn is « I ».




Forever’s gonna start


For, dear Michael, the risk of friendship be that one of the two of us will inevitably see the other die.

Where, the limit of friendship — when the friend is no longer with you, at least in person — is also its very condition.

So, not much the risk of death — which is not so much a risk as an inevitability —
but the risk of loss, of being the one who is unfortunate enough not to have died, of being the one without the other whom one calls, whom one has called, one’s friend; without which, there is no possibility of friendship itself.

Where all there is left for the one who remains is the name of the other —where, all you can do is look into the space where I am, the space which is all that
were left of me, and utter, hopefully even sigh, oh Jeremy



On the bright side, dear Michael, since I’m dead, I’m always already away (ex) from any accusation, from any legal action (causa).

So, free, away from (ex-) the grasp, the hand (manus) which seeks to seize, to
imprison, to limit what I might wish to do, might have wished to have done.

And perhaps, it is only me that remains to haunt you.

For, one should try not to forget the fact that everyone dies twice:
once bodily; the other time, when one is forgotten. One would like to believe that the two are sequential, but for those of us who are less fortunate, one can well be
forgotten long before one is dead.

Hopefully not so for me.

Perhaps, dear Michael, this might be why, with a little luck that is, even as you are standing in your haunt, there is a certain me — maybe even a spectral me — who remains to remind you that I’m dead.

Even if me be only voices in your head.

A me that softly, and continually, whispers to you:
I has been excused.





[1] I’m dead was first performed as part of I can’t, I have to go to Mongolia by Michael Lee at Comma Space on 13 February 2020. Each participant was tasked to come up with an excuse, with various excuses, as to why they couldn’t be at the opening, at the performance — and then were to take the stage to perform said excuse.

More on the show can be found here:




Michael Lee (b. 1972, Singapore) is an artist based in Singapore. He researches urban memory and fiction, especially the contexts and implications of loss. He transforms his observations into diagrams, models, environments, events or texts. Among his curatorial projects is “what it is about when it is about nothing” (2015) held in Mizuma Gallery, Singapore. He is currently researching on the mood of Singapore’s art scene.

His website, and some of his works, can be found at


Jeremy Fernando reads, and writes; and is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and his, more than twenty, books include Reading Blindly, Living with Art, Writing Death, in fidelity, and resisting art. His writing has also been featured in magazines and journals such as Arte al Límite, Berfrois, CTheory, Cenobio, Full Bleed, Qui Parle, TimeOut, VICE, and Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, amongst others; and has been translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Serbian. Exploring other media has led him to film, music, and the visual arts; and his work has been exhibited in Seoul, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He was invited to perform a reading at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in September 2016; and in November 2018, delivered a series of performance-talks at the 4th edition of the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento in Buenos Aires. He is the general editor of both Delere Press and the thematic magazine One Imperative; and is a Lecturer & Fellow of Tembusu College at The National University of Singapore.


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