Evaluation versus Interpretation of Art

By Nhi

“Even though I watch a lot of Korean soap opera, to be honest, I consider them bad art,” I said, thinking about my unhealthy obsession with Korean dramas for many years.

“I don’t watch soap opera. But I can understand why people watch them. For example, if you work in a hair salon for many hours a day, and you have all of these family responsibilities, then soap opera is a great escape. And sometimes, bad art is great. People can connect with it, ” my friend said.


As everyone in my family didn’t grow up in an artsy environment where they had access to an education that valued art or received encouragement to pursue aesthetic pleasure, they also raised me in the similar way. Rather than looking at art with seriousness, I used to view it as a hobby unworthy of evaluation and inferior to ostensibly important subjects at school, such math or science. Yet, I was luckier than my grandparents or parents, in the sense that Internet, which they did not have until the 1990s, helps me travel through time and space to find excellent art works, and my education in the later half of high school and college nurtures art appreciation. The observation of my family is not meant to chastise my origins, but to appreciate those as the context giving me the advantage of cultural awareness and wider knowledge of how art influences people, no matter where they live and how they think. Knowledge obtained through my background and my education helps me grow to look at art evaluation and interpretation with reverence and full expectation of complexity.

Continue reading “Evaluation versus Interpretation of Art”


On the role of the artist


shaking head,


keeping on looking at the pictures,

making comments,


shaking head,


scrolling down for more images,

expressing sympathy,


shaking head,



Look at these images oh poor them isn’t that horrible how can one do something like that there’s no moral what if that happened to us aren’t the politicians going to do anything is it still safe to demonstrate they are not even human anymore


and what if I choose not to react in the way that is expected of me? and what if I don’t want to look at these images at all? and what if I refuse to read the papers and to watch the news? and what if I dare to speak the truth that one by looking at these images experiences more secret discomfort and uneasiness than sympathy? and what if I want to bring these images to the world in another way, to invoke other feelings, to leave other impressions?

and which position should I take, that of an artist, or that of a Somebody? Continue reading “On the role of the artist”


“Do you want to know how I think you have changed?”


“You are free and independent and growing. I think you are still sensitive but much stronger, more accepting and not as easily swayed.”


Friendship is something so sweet, gentle, and comforting. It doesn’t have to be passionate like love and burdensome like how family relationships can become. It doesn’t need to be deep, or dramatic, or complicated. It is kind. It is simple. Or at least, I think, it should be. It decorates our life with little lights of joy filled with short messages suddenly sent by a friend just to say: “I love you. I just want to say that.” It teaches us profound lessons that could echo for years through a random thought blurted out by your idiotic companion who likes to think that she is very smart.  It connects us with the world through laughter, candies, late-night conversations, coffee, ramen, fandom, cutting class, video games, and all the wonderfully (weird and) special things that contribute to friendships.

I would like to think that friendship is one of the essential elements of life. And because it is so necessary, just like the water you drink, or the air you breath, friendship is natural, involuntary and universal. Suddenly, you become friends with someone. There is no anniversary date or a starting point. Without realizing it, someone becomes a part of your life. The best friendship occurs when you don’t force it, but it just happens.

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I won’t even try to pretend that the very idea that I try to express in this post is mine. I learned it from a close friend two years ago. +1 to friendship.

However, because of its simple nature, friendship is also an underrated form of love. We may hug our friends too loosely and forget to ask how they are doing more often. We can take friends for granted, let go of friendships when certain things in life get in, and allow our friends to drift away from us. At one point, we may even become cynical, angry, and envious creatures who hurt our friends with immature actions and unintentionally hurtful remarks.

Because it is not that much of a challenge to make new friends, we forget about friends. Because we take friends for granted, we don’t make an effort to understand our friends and their actions.

Sometimes, I like to think of all these problems under the lens of “Why”, to just realize that I don’t have an answer. I am doing it all wrong, because friendship itself should be simple. It is about how after so many years, you still can meet with your friends and have a good laugh. About suddenly being reminded of them through little details like a type of food you used to get together or a song that once connected you two. About that sweet feeling that warms your heart when you think of the memories you once had. About missing your friends. About feeling guilty because you haven’t been in touch. About writing about it all. 

And most importantly, about accepting that falling in and (not totally, just a little) out of friendships is a part of life.




(December 2013)

“Nhi, have you ever got thirty out of a hundred for a test?” he asked his elder sister, who had just lied down on bed.

“Yes,” Nhi replied without giving a second thought. “Sixth grade. In Vietnam. I got my geography quiz back, and there it was, a three out of ten, which is equivalent to the thirty out of a hundred scale.”

“My first time failing a test was in 3rd grade,” he continued, then cut off the conversation and stared at the gray ceiling as if there were stars threaded by the skillful hands of sailors. From the tiny room on fifth floor of the building, both of them drifted off far away into the ocean. Their minds began wandering off into these jungles of contemplation at midnight, when parents had no control over their horizons of thinking. Hundreds of related and unrelated thoughts flashed through these active brain cells, which should have rested after a mind-boggling day that would soon blend itself with the stream of time lucid memories had no part of. Events were recalled. Human’s faces remembered. Hands touched on ecstasy; brains self-lacerated with blades of mental torture. A wink of sleep gave up and slipped through the murky glass window, on which droplets of water were sticking.

Photo Credit: Nhi

Continue reading “THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS”

Being 20 and confused

By Nhi

The United States of America elects its President once every four years. The last time that Obama was chosen as the Commander-in-chief, I was here. That is to remind myself of how long I have been living in New York.

Four years — the amount of time required for someone to get an undergraduate degree, one fifth of how long I have lived and the unforgettable length of a vague process that somehow transforms a 17-year-old sentimentalist into a young adult who is lost at 21, because for sure, I cannot define adulthood, rather than saying nonchalantly, “It is weird. Weird and painful.”

Continue reading “Being 20 and confused”

A Compilation of Feelings From a College Student

By Nhi

Hi, it is Nhi.

It has been a while since I last posted my blog post. I miss Worldlittlelights and the WordPress community a lot. Sometimes, when I found some free time in my hectic schedule this semester, I would briefly get on it to see if there were anything new and immediately feel guilty about not being able to post anything.

This semester is truly crazy.


I flew back to the States in August, started school with five classes, an internship that takes from me 20 hours per week (not including long hours of commuting), a club board position and other small roles in at least two organizations. Before taking on things, I told myself, “Let’s just try this for one semester. It is not like I will die.”

But things do get too much to bear at times, and that’s why I am here, writing about questions and thoughts that I had because maybe at the next moment, I will find myself running on the street and worrying too much about the future to care about the present.


Continue reading “A Compilation of Feelings From a College Student”