Hello there — my name is Grace Teng. I’m from Singapore. More about me below.
About This Site
This is my home on the internet, where my writing and my creative projects live, and where I’m working to find my audience.
Eclectic Commentary is a space where I explore the texts and ideas that most of us leave behind after we complete our formal education, and especially the connections between them. Eclectic Commentary covers any and all the ground that we traditionally think of as the liberal arts.
Vox Singulae is a vocal playground where I make covers of songs with just one instrument: my voice. It’s adapted from a college assignment to create something using only my voice. It’s also a way for me to learn about music and to work towards mastering an instrument.
Monkey Mind is a podcast that’s the conversational equivalent of a jungle gym. My co-host David and I jump from one academic (or semi-academic) discipline to another, to another, to another, in wide-ranging conversations that swerve from biology, to politics, to video games, to fine arts, to physics, to engineering, and everything between and beyond. (We may spend slightly more time on birds and on linguistics.)
Deep Travel is a different kind of travelogue. Instead of trying to rack up passport stamps and strike off bucket list items, Deep Travel focuses on acquiring an extensive knowledge of a place and a culture, in order to gain a fuller experience than most tourists ever get to see.
Collision Course is a collaboration with Mun Yi Cheng. Each of us chooses a different field or idea as a starting point, and we try to figure out some underlying structure or driving force that explains the nature of divergent fields. If this seems kind of vague and hand-wavy, I suggest checking out our first edition for a better idea of what Collision Course is about: Trend Forecasting x Horology
Language Rush is a blog about linguistics and the love of languages. I teach myself linguistics, and share what I know with other language and linguistics enthusiasts. (Temporarily on hold, but you can check out what I’ve already done there.)
The Perpetual Garage Sale is an ongoing experiment. After a lifetime of accumulating more things than I need, I’m now trying to reduce the number of things I own. As part of this process, I want to reflect on my personal history with each of these objects, assign dollar values to them, and arrive at a better understanding of economic and sentimental value.
You wouldn’t believe that after all the writing and talking I do here, I’ve got anything left to say — but I do. When that happens, I write about it on my blog.
It's memorable. And who doesn't aspire to be a ninja?
The Short Version
I spend my time reading and writing, working on the projects you see on this site (and some others still too embryonic to discuss), and have committed 2018 to making these projects (in particular Eclectic Commentary feed me. What you see here is my full-time job.
The Long Version
I was born in and grew up in Singapore, a city of paradoxes. I got very lucky and received an amazing education in the Singaporean public school system. Thanks to the Loke Cheng-Kim Foundation, I went on to study film and television at New York University, where I also double-majored in Spanish and minored in linguistics, because I wasn’t able to intellectually sit still and focus on just one thing.
While in film school and at my first post-college film job, I came to realise that I was incapable of — and uninterested in — the whole-hearted devotion to one craft and medium that many of my peers were. I found that I always wanted to do more things, learn more skills, create in other media — writing, theatre, music, sound, new media, everything. While I will always be a filmmaker, I will never be only a filmmaker. With that in mind, I decided to leave my job in the film industry and try to figure out some other path.
For a while, I taught English as a Foreign Language to adult learners of English. My memories of that period are hazy, because I was already slipping into a deep depression that to this day I don’t truly know the cause of. Somehow, after that, I managed to get a job at an educational company, where I taught 13 to 18 year olds. Given the state of my mental health, I thought it’d be a feat if I lasted three weeks. It wasn’t pretty, but with some understanding management, some great colleagues and a visit to a psychiatric A&E, I ended up working there for 1.5 years.
On the day Trump got elected, I decided to tender my resignation. To this day I don’t think I can articulate why I quit when I did, except perhaps this: I realised life was too short, and there were more urgent things calling. There was some part of me that was still deeply unfulfilled, and I was just hanging on at my job, my psyche still barely held together by gaff tape. I needed time and space to heal and put myself back together.
After an extended period of introspection and exploration, I put together this site. Many of the projects you see here have been gestating for a long time, some of them since college. These projects have also been crucial parts of my healing process: writing for Eclectic Commentary, recording for Vox Singulae, travelling and hiking and creating Deep Travel, learning about linguistics for Language Rush, exploring the intellectual unknown with Monkey Mind and Collision Course, clearing away the physical cruft in my life with Perpetual Garage Sale.
It’s 2018, and I’ve decided to go for it. It’s these pursuits that have helped me inch out of the pit of major depressive disorder, and it’s this value I can provide to the world: my curiosity, my insight, my ability to synthesise ideas and skills from vastly different fields into a coherent whole, and to show you new ways to see familiar things.
This is terra incognita for me: I looked around and didn’t find any career paths that I wanted to go down, so I’m carving my own bit by bit. This is what I do now. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be setting up a subscription system (probably through Patreon) and work to turn this into something that will financially support me.
This list of projects isn’t fixed; it will constantly grow, as other embryonic ideas that I’m working on take shape and take on lives of their own. In a way, I’ve started to heal by going back to the thing that I love: exploring, learning and creating in every medium and every discipline.
I’ve hesitated to type all this up. In a sense it’s completely irrelevant, and too self-revealing. All that should matter is that I do my best to write and create compelling things, and if you enjoy it, you’ll support it. Who cares about the touchy-feely backstory? On the other hand, the story is how I’ve ended up creating the work you see on this site, and I think it’s important that you understand where it comes from, and that you come to know the woman behind the work.