The Squire Goes to the Polls [1]


[dedicated to the memory of Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012)]

Petra, Yanyun Chen, 2012

by Jeremy Fernando

Save him … was the only thought occupying his mind as he rode in. “He is the last of the noblemen, even if he doesn’t quite seem to know it himself these days.”

“If he doesn’t know it, can he be all that noble?” replied the ass. “Surely nobility would imply that you know what you were doing!”

“Certainly! Why else would he be making those claims to save the nation? Repair the economy in spite of all mathematical fact? He’s all the more noble for marching straight into the unknown.”

“Adderall baby.”

“No wonder you’re just longing for tomatoes”, muttered the rider.

“If you’re unhappy, go ride an elephant.”

He had to bite his tongue.

The storm was flying around. Around him, wooden backyard fences had broken off and an outdoor glass table was dancing with the devil. And as far as he could tell, the storm hadn’t even properly hit yet. To console himself, he entertained thoughts of Travolta running through the streets, raining curses—cursing the rain—as Sandy messed his hair.

At least it was better than muttering clichés about not being able to go on whilst actually moving …

“Why are you doing this though?”

“Memories …”

“Of him? He who made you ride behind him, walk behind him, be behind him?”

“Not so much him. His ideas. Wanting to rid the world of naysayers, evildoers, wanting to save all womenfolk from corruption, from the ways of the world. Challenging anyone, and everyone, in his path who didn’t match his ideals.”

However, riding was no longer good enough for the Don. He had now dedicated himself exclusively to the Bugatti Royale. Had rejected the Rolls Royce completely: it was inconceivable that in front of every man was a woman. An elephant on the other hand: that couldn’t be put into binders.

Sometimes, he wondered if perhaps Lincoln wasn’t really assassinated. Being such a visionary he might have caught a glimpse of what his party would turn into—and just let himself be shot.


don’t you worry
i’ve got your back
i sometimes need
something to stab

(Zhang Jieqiang)


Alonso had caught wind that his old squire was on his way.

Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have bothered in the least. He had practically had him on a leash, had him follow without questioning—even had him walk behind his horse after his donkey had been nicked. His loyalty was unquestionable.

Earlier that month he had even sent a note saying that he was going to come—and try one last time to convince him that he should come back on the road. That he had strayed from his noble path: that people mattered. Typical humanist bullshit thought the Don. He was about to crush the note and consign it to the bins when the flipside caught his eye.

That poem by Zhang had disturbed him for days.

He cursed his upbringing—if he was rational, he would have seen it as just the back of a note, that he should have fired that squire sooner for not even writing on blank paper. But instead, he was now haunted by poetic premonition.


“Treacherous Fernando! You’ll now, this instant, pay for the wrong you’ve did to me! With my hands I’ll tear out that wicked heart of yours that is filled with every crime, especially with fraud and trickery!” (Cervantes, Don Quixote, 228)


What had always disturbed Sancho was his insistence that one day he would be King. Whilst they were riding together, he had hoped that perhaps this was just his twin within talking—his nemesis, as it were.

“You are hoping against hope you know,” he heard his ass mutter.

“Then why are you coming along then?”

“You’re asking the one who is harnessed?!” came the reply, filled with incredulity.

“Ah yes, sorry,” sighed Sancho, “I did pick up some bad habits after all.”

“I don’t really think it’s him though.”

“Why’ja say that?” came the reply from beneath

“I think it’s really his image.”

“But don’t they all just end up falling in love with their own images—even Narcissus did.”

“Only when he didn’t know that it was himself.”

“Maybe then what you need to do is to show him himself.”

“Like Brutus?”

“Perhaps …”

“Anything you know that might catch his attention?”

“He …” said the rider reticently, “has a strange hobby—collecting clothes, moonshine, washing line.”

“What—like Arnold?

Takes two to know, two to know …” [2]

“Hang on,” said the ass, “he wants to rule the world, you want to save the world. Pray tell, what is the difference?”

“What we ride on …”


if only I could only bring him home to La Mancha


[1] With thanks to May Ee Wong, Nicole Ong, Sharifah Afifah Aljunied, and Lim Lee Ching for their generous thoughts, and comments.

[2] Syd Barrett. “Arnold Layne”, Columbia (EMI): 1967. Vinyl.

About the Author:

Jeremy Fernando is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and is the author of Reflections on (T)error, The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death, Reading Blindly and Writing Death. Exploring other media has led him to film, music, and art; and his work has been exhibited in Seoul, Vienna, Hong Kong and Singapore. He is the general editor of both Delere Press, and the thematic magazine One Imperative; and a Fellow of Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore.

About the Artist:

Yanyun Chen is a full time freelancer for illustrations, animations, design and game creation. Her clients include IDEO Singapore, Nexus Singapore, Shyalala, byFlo, Audi, Propellerfish, Proteus Technologies, Search Ventures and more to produce flash games, animations, trading card games, illustrations, UI for app and web layouts. She also contributes to the online magazine One Imperative, and does book layouts for wonderful writers, such as Peter Van De Kamp, Jeremy Fernando and Anila Angin.

She works under the artist name Stick and Balloon, with her long time creature pal Sara Chong, and is establishing a dramatically illustrated ebook publisher named Delere Press, with writer-dictator Jeremy Fernando, who has been said to “make philosophy sexy”. She’s also part of Piplatchka Collective, which recently held their first illustration and photography show.

Yanyun is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Tembusu College, NUS, Singapore.