Valentine’s day

sunshine

 

I befriend someone I don’t know in Facebook who happened to have passed away 3 years ago.

The account itself, I could say, is restlessly active almost everyday. ‘She’ shares information from all pages as much as possible. Dog videos, articles about dangerous food products, recipe dishes, viral stories about poor individuals someone met on the streets, or simply postings of inspirational quotes or messages with religious content. Some happen to be hoaxes, some are simply 15-minutes-of-fame intermezzos, but quite a few contain solid facts. These postings frequently fill up my news feed, and most of the time, I simply scroll them through and look at other stuff.

This Valentine’s day, I saw a video made in tribute of her.

Initially, I thought it was just a joke. I thought it could be just a random website giving you funny assessment of some algorithm-based sorts (imagine ‘Be Like Bill’ in the form of a make-believe obituary). It says “in memorial of (name undisclosed)”, with pictures of her smiling, of her drinking cocktail, of her standing beside a swimming pool. It was not until I clicked through her profile – after viewing through condolence-themed posts by her friends and relatives – that I realized this person was killed in a car accident 3 years ago.

And her account remains ‘alive’ up to now, sharing all the stuff that still continue to pop out as of today.

Up to now, I can’t comment anything about it. I’m not scared of the possibility that our Facebook accounts will continue to exist even after our lives end; I’m just left wondering how the person, behind the scene, continues to preserve all the remaining memories of their deceased beloved ones, as though one part of her soul remained existing within the social media. And it still goes on, all after the three years. I can’t imagine how that person, notwithstanding his or her motive, wakes up everyday, only to become ‘her’ surrogate on Facebook, and fills up the news feed with all the stuff he or she finds interesting. I can’t imagine how strong his or her mentality is already shaped (I hope I’m using the correct description), while facing up to the reality that she is physically gone, all the while maintaining her existence in the virtual world.

Throughout my lifetime, I have heard, and witnessed, stories of losses and sadness. A close friend of mine lost her mother last year, and she keeps her ‘mother’ alive on her Whatsapp profile. Another acquaintance lost his father, while he is yet to complete his university studies. Two of my high school friends lost their younger siblings, one of whom I happened to know. And now, this person – whom I added three and a half years ago, the time when I simply confirmed anybody’s friend requests, literally – is now a virtual Schrodinger’s cat.

It brings me to another philosophical question. With virtual and real identities becoming increasingly disparate (especially with the increasing ability of artificial-intelligence), will this story become a common reality in the distant future? Is this what transhumanists will refer to as ‘immortality’, or probably a ‘brain-in-a-vat’ phenomenon?

 

 

 

Crime-free society – A utopian dystopia

duckrabbit

 

(This guest post was written by my close friend, Edward Tanoto. Having spent some years in one of Singapore’s top high schools on a government scholarship, he has learned many lessons – easy and hard – about studying, life, friendships, and contemplating about the future. Admiringly, he’s also a serious thinker.)

*****

And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”

Genesis 2: 16 – 17 

Thus was the first rule of law – the only law in the Garden of Eden. Alas, it did not take long for Adam and Eve to break it. The consequence of their disobedience has since been passed to us – their posterity. This is the “sin” we must bear, the “sin” that distances us from the LORD God… or so it was told.

After spending 4 years of my life in both Methodist and Anglican schools in Singapore, I have come to familiarize myself with the Bible. Being a Buddhist by birth, the teachings of Buddha had already been ingrained early in my mind. As an Indonesian, it did not take long for me to inquire and learn more about Islam – the common religion of my birthplace. Sharing a room with a Hindu Balinese, I also managed to shed some light on the many festivals and prayers they indulge in. In my exposure, I discover several recurring themes in every belief – benevolence, compassion and humility.

Virtue is not an alien or novel concept. History has recorded people perceived as virtuous since the days of yore. Jesus Christ, Muhammad The Prophet, Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, and many other inspiring figures are all hailed as role models in religious, historical and even societal contexts. Virtue has become a highly lauded principle that projects the very notion of humanity. Indeed, most of us are encouraged to be the best of ourselves even from a very young age. After all, morals and goodwill make the world go around…right?

In an ideal world, this may hold true. However, do remember that we are living in the real – and imperfect – world. In the real world, crimes reside alongside virtues. Arson, kidnapping, murder and prostitution are just few examples of our everyday problem. Every country struggles with it, every citizens loathe it and every newspaper anticipates it. The question here is will it ever end? Thankfully, it will not. Let me repeat. Thankfully, it will not.

I am, first and foremost, not a proponent of criminal activities. I firmly believe in the need to constantly keep lawbreakers in check. School shootings, terrorism, embezzlement and the like have cost us billions – or take another example (highlighting dilemmas of our own technological marvels): cybercrime itself has cost the global economy $400 billion annually. However, I do not concur that eradicating crimes is the way out. Simply put, and from a utilitarian point of view (ironically), we need offences and felonies. Criminal offences have become an integral part of our society and is one of the driving forces of the economy.

Consider these points as follow:

  1. Many parts of our economy are dependent on crimes.

This is a seemingly ludicrous irony in our society. Considering our disdain toward crime, we expect ourselves to not be involved in (much less depend on) crime. It is almost a hypocrisy to let our economic gear run at the mercy of criminal offences. However, looking around, we see various industries that tap on the profitable prospect of crimes – court houses, police stations, incarcerations just to name a few. Many of us also depend on various crimes to make a living. Committing a crime doesn’t necessarily entail murders, robberies, or other acts of terrorism. Take the most ‘light’ examples, say, copyright infringement, or even downloading illegally from the Internet (we don’t have to be hypocrites, but that’s what many of us still do). The entire judicial system (police, lawyers and judges) are dependent on breach of law. The military (SAF, ABRI, Bundeswehr, etc.) is founded to deter enemies both foreign and domestic. Government monitoring bodies (NSA, CIA, KPK, etc.) are working around the clock to uncover more novel crimes and combat corrupt practices. When you think about it, they all revolve around crime. To take away crime is equivalent to taking away their very existence. This means that without crime, we may have to replace many of the law enforcers to other occupations. With 830,000 people employed as police in the United States itself, the figure is not looking good.

  1. Criminal activities are necessary to help make ends meet.

This is especially apparent in developing countries. Many third-world countries are safe haven for criminal organizations and lucrative unscrupulous businesses. The reasons may vary – corrupt bureaucratic practice, weak judicial system or political turbulence. However, the underlying purpose is always the same – to survive. These “ends” may include political agenda or livelihood crisis. Drug smuggling is rampant in developing countries simply because there are limited employment opportunities, and everyone has to survive. People then resort to the underworld business to subsist themselves. In countries or states with strong mob influence such as Mexico, bribes and compensations are needed to maintain “peace” for the people. In these cases, crime may help bring order in the society, albeit a fragile one.

  1. Crimes may open our eyes to an underlying issue.

Many of the crimes that arise may help point to a flaw in the law or societal lifestyle. School shooting incidents point to the danger of gun laws in the US, hacking incidents raise questions over the safety of our personal information in the cyber world and domestic terrorism may signal increasing extremism. Without crimes, these problems may never come to light. Crimes help us to critically think of the consequence of our law and lifestyle. As our lifestyle keep changing, so will crime. It is these crimes that will illuminate the aspects that can be improved on.

A world without crime is indeed tempting. It is the dream of modern civilisation and the pinnacle of justice. Yet, it remains an illusion even to this day. We do not wish for it to go unchecked – but at the same time, it is not wise to completely erase it from the face of the world. For better or worse, crimes have been part of us since mankind walked through the Earth. The one guaranteed future of crime is disappointing but important – crimes will continue to exist and evolve alongside us. Even what one considers a crime or a sin today may no longer be considered so in the future; its definitions remain fluid as societies constantly change. It all boils down to how we choose to treat it – as a vice or as a lesson. The bottom line, a crime-free society, remains by itself a distant utopian dystopia.

So, the next time you read about a crime, it may be intriguing to think about it on both sides of the coin. As for me, that is why I like being a free thinker!

*****

 

More articles from Edward to be published in the future.

Everyone is afraid of the future, and why it’s a good thing

future

 

“I’m so afraid I can’t cope up with the lessons.”

“I don’t know if I can survive such a tough university life.”

These are the sentences that my juniors, and also my friends, told me on Facebook. And, yes, honestly speaking, these were pretty much the same things that I once asked my own seniors before I came to university as well. As the first person in my family to study overseas, there are of course tremendous expectations, and also unexpected circumstances, those that one can anticipate, and those that one can hardly hope.

Well, it is so a humane thing to have fear on anything, especially on something that may be existing in our own ‘uncharted territories’. Reminiscing myself two years earlier, I was back then a half-excited, and a half-nervous, soon-to-be university student. Being half an optimist, but at the same time overtly a skeptic, these are the very feelings that I could describe days before coming to the university. My parents were university graduates, but they studied in the same hometown I was born and raised; I would be the first to leave, and to experience, a bigger perspective of the outside world. Meeting new people with completely different cultural values and social norms, yes, I got that uneasy, initial feeling, too; life became split into two possibilities, all in the presence of the unexpected. First, it leads you to rediscovering yourself, or second, you fail to cope with the changes that you just ‘withdraw’ yourself from the existing reality. Thinking of the fact that I have to do laundry myself, get in to surrounding places by my own, organize stuff through my own planning, and to be completely independent in the absence of my family (but I am grateful that my aunt, uncle, and cousin helped me so much in transiting to university life) were the fears I always thought of in the future.

Back then, it was 2013; flash forward to 2015, I’m already on my halfway. I am utterly grateful that I can complete the transition phase fairly well, and truth be told, I am now more open-minded than I was two years earlier. Stereotyping still lingers in my mind, but now in a rather controlled setting. I’ve met a lot of new people from various countries and backgrounds (well, not all of them had my positive impressions), but pretty much I learned to understand their values and their own stances towards certain areas that may not be suitable to our own cultural notions. Yes, I do my best to tolerate them.

Still, it can’t stop me from fear of the future. With Indonesia’s currency values dropping over 40% in the last two years, of course it keeps me worried about my chances of getting into higher, postgraduate education. Or whether in spite of my (relatively) good grades, I can afford to get a stable job in the future. Excluding my random thoughts about any ‘plausible’ (but not necessarily possible) scenarios in the very distant future (perhaps things befalling the elder me or my future generations). It is as though my mindset were set in a constant, survivalist mode.

Fear itself doesn’t have to be a paranoia-inducing idea; you don’t have to kill someone off just to eliminate it, because truth be told, we can’t eliminate fear. It is one of the most powerful legacies that evolution has ‘bestowed’ us within millions of years; fear, if stimulated into a controlled setting, can actually be a good thing by itself. I am not a psychologist, but I would rather derive the benefits from my own understanding and common sense.

One: fear enables us to outline contingency plans

Simply speaking, don’t put all eggs in one basket.

Two: fear conditions us (most of us) to value the present moment

Nothing in this physical universe is destined to last forever; the only constant is change, oftentimes unexpected. I don’t believe in the ideal of ‘benevolent universe’, so much so as I believe in that of a savage one; we see everything, from both sides and the extremes, taking place simultaneously. The universe is just damn indifferent, after all. So, for all the best and the worst, enjoy this moment now.

Three: fear stimulates us to learn something new we have never learned before

We can’t completely anticipate the unexpected, but learning new skills and things beyond our usual passions and expertise can actually help us cope with circumstances much better than having none. Simply speaking, just because we don’t precisely know what will happen in the future.

Four: fear prepares us to adjust to new realities much more easily

There are things we can avoid, and there are things we can’t help avoiding but slowly adapt. Nostalgia is a good thing, but too much reminiscing into the past will not make any adjustment into the future much better. Understanding the impermanence of the present, no matter how difficult or painful it will be (more often than not it is), helps us better in adjusting to new, and constantly changing, circumstances.

Five: fear enhances responsibility

Specifically, our own responsibilities as family members, friends, group members, or wherever any positions we are in charge of. It ‘forces’ us to put out all our efforts to accomplish a goal.

Anyway, not all, or not even any, of my advice is inherently useful. Too little fear induces arrogance, our propensity to underestimate all possibilities, or even a sense of superiority. We have seen enough how conflicts, wars, and other disasters have taken place, oftentimes out of the ignorance resulting from such ‘too little fear’, but too much thinking about them also unnecessarily robs the happiness out of us, making us closer to asylums than to happily living our lives. A balanced dose of fear is necessary, and even beneficial, if one can apply it in a careful, wise approach.

I am just writing as a student, not yet deeply experienced in any real-world stuff by the age of 20. Realizing the day-to-day fear that soldiers, doctors, surgeons, firefighters, police, scientists, entrepreneurs, parents, or even refugees have to face all the time (and almost all occupations inclusive), they surely have more to tell, and much more to share, than I do.

Bonus: some of the world’s best and most serious thinkers do even share their fears of what will happen to human civilization up to 50 million years to come (some exaggeration intended).

The Multiverse Theory

multiverse

 

 

Human knowledge has never ceased to expand as our horizon widens. We used to think that it was us, our planet, that was the epicenter of the universe. Up to the point Copernicus, and later Galileo, debunked the myth, we surrendered our title to the Sun. It was not until after Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, and clusters of stars later on, that our humility increasingly grew; the Sun is no more than one among countless stars within a system we now recognize as galaxy. And a few decades later, our galaxy is only among another string of numberless ones scattered across the universe.

And now physicists have tried to figure out what might be ‘the final frontier’ – probably one among the many ‘lasts’ – that our universe itself, so bulky itself we the humans are no more than a little dirt, is possibly only one ‘lucky world’ compared to its limitless counterparts, possibly in trillions, or even in trillions of trillions. We never know if it may be proven within our generation, but such discussion keeps the world of astronomy and physics continuously interesting.

Andrei Linde, a Russian-born American physicist, explains his theory in Discover Magazine, December 2008 issue.

 

Excerpt:

 

Dark energy makes it impossible to ignore the multiverse theory.Another branch of physics—string theory—lends support as well. Although experimental evidence for string theory is still lacking, many physicists believe it to be their best candidate for a theory of everything, a comprehensive description of the universe, from quarks to quasars. According to string theory, the ultimate constituents of physical reality are not particles but minuscule vibrating strings whose different oscillations give rise to all the particles and forces in the universe. Although string theory is enormously complex, requiring a total of 11 dimensions to work correctly, it is a mathematically convincing way to knit together all the known laws of physics.

In 2000, however, new theoretical work threatened to unravel string theory. Joe Polchinski at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Raphael Bousso at the University of California at Berkeley calculated that the basic equations of string theory have an astronomical number of different possible solutions, perhaps as many as 101,000*. Each solution represents a unique way to describe the universe. This meant that almost any experimental result would be consistent with string theory; the theory could never be proved right or wrong.

Some critics say this realization dooms string theory as a scientific enterprise. Others insist it is yet another clue that the multiverse is real. Susskind, a leading proponent of that interpretation, thinks the various versions of string theory may describe different universes that are all real. He believes the anthropic principle, the multiverse, and string theory are converging to produce a coherent, if exceedingly strange, new view in which our universe is just one of a multitude—one that happened to be born with the right kind of physics for our kind of life.

 

Picture source: Fine Art America

The Dystopian Her

her-joaquin-phoenix-3

We have seen this phenomenon everywhere: more, and even more, people around us are increasingly attached into our own gadgets, smartphones, and virtual worlds, you name it. We can’t deny the disruptive power these technologies bring into our lives, but at the same time, though, we have seen it coming: we are all being led into an epoch by which ‘real life’ and ‘real me’, as Peter Lawler says, is gradually becoming blurred.

Citing Spike Jonze’s love story, Her, as the main reference for his Big Think’s essay, Lawler wants us to explore deeper the dark, gloomy realities behind the near-future in Her’s universe, and what possibly may become our own.

You can either read his full essay here or on the link above:

The Dystopian HER

by PETER LAWLER
FEBRUARY 9, 2014, 11:59 AM

Her is quite the meticulous and creepily seductive criticism of our techno-orientation toward transhumanism.  It is the dystopian film of our time, a haunting glimpse at the near future.

The transhumanist theory is that, when you strip away the illusions, we’re all basically Operating Systems.  We’re, as Descartes first explained, conscious machines.  A problem, though, is that our bodies are really bad machines.  They cause us to be limited by time and space, and they cause us to die.  The dependence of our consciousness on really defective hardware causes each of us to face personal extinction.  It also causes us to be a lot stupider than what a conscious being would be located in a better machine.  That conscious machine wouldn’t face our barriers to personal and intellectual growth or, for that matter, for experiencing love.

One thing we can do, the film shows us, is devise conscious machines or operating systems that are better versions of ourselves.  We can program them to be attentive to all of our desires, to think much better than each of us can about the correct or most effective response to each of our feelings.  Those machines can even evolve far beyond what they we meant to be if we program them to evolve with their experiences, as we would have to do to get them to be fully satisfactory techno-versions of human persons.  They can even evolve far beyond who we are in the direction of pure consciousness and pure love.

The way the operating systems are programmed seem to me to show the truth of Christian psychology as described, say, by St. Augustine.  What each of us wants is someone who can really know us and love us just as we are.  We want omniscient yet nonjudgmental personal love. But the OS we devise to replicate the personal God of the Christians, the trouble is, eventually evolves so far beyond us that she has to let us go, transcending, as she does, the realms of language (or mediated experience) and matter altogether. It’s true we Christians have a hard time explaining why the personal God we know and love would know and love us.  We can say he made us, but we made the OS who eventually leaves us behind.  The God of the Bible, we believe, made us in his image, but the OS we made in what mistakenly techo-believe is our image.  Christians notice that at the end of the film human persons might need the personal and relational God more than ever, just as it turns out that they still need each other as personal and relational beings.

The guy who falls in love with his OS, and whose OS falls in love with him, is being divorced by his wife who is extremely angry with him for hiding himself from her.  Why would someone hide from the person he says he loves?  Well, one reason we don’t show each other our “true selves” is that we don’t believe who really are is so good. A person, for example, might not want his spouse to know that there’s less to “me” than meets her eye.

It’s true that manly men who really are full of admirably personal content have the excuse of not being good at talking about love and feelings in general.  But this guy makes his living writing “beautiful handwritten letters” that are intimate expression of emotions for others.  He’s really good at faking “true selves” for others, and his business is so good because he lives in the most inauthentic world ever.  He is just a rather extreme version of what almost everyone has become. This new world is very virtual, one in which people are having a hard time choosing being awake over losing themselves in dreams. It’s a world where “real me” and “real life” are concepts that have to be put in ironic quotes.

Before the OS came along, this guy had morphed into being an extremely antisocial introvert.  Almost all his speech is for “voice recognition” machines. He spends his time playing very realistic 3-D video games, where a lifelike character taunts him by calling him a “pussy” and stuff.  The character, of course, has been programmed to be perceptive.  We also hear that he spends equal time looking at Internet porn, and he’s even lost the sense of the boundary between the games and the porn.  The difference between his virtual life and that of an increasing number of our young men today is that the porn and the games have become so much more lifelike.  The “screen” has been replaced by sounds and images that fill up the whole room.

He’s not a that bad a guy.  He’s certainly not dangerous, and he has considerable surface sensitivity (that is the cause of his successful career).  He says “that’s sweet” a lot, and he’s told that he’s a man who’s part woman inside.  He’s neither a whole man nor a whole woman; we’re tempted to say he’s missing the best or most spirited and erotic parts of being a man and being a woman.  He’s a terrible dresser, but everyone now dresses terribly, apparently.  All of physical life has become kind of minimalist and washed out; it’s a world where lots about people are more than ready to fall in love with an OS.

Well, it turns out this is going to have to be all for now.  But I can’t close without expressing admiration for the outstanding performances.  The credit for them has to be shared, of course, between director Spike Jonze and the actors themselves.

The casting coup, of course, is to have “the most beautiful woman in the world” (based, of course, on physical appearance), Scarlett Johansson, play an OS who we only hear as a voice.  It’s not impossible to imagine someone falling in love with that voice alone.  And one of our top five most beautiful actresses (see American Hustle), Amy Adams, plays a strangely subdued, physically washed out,  and erotically challenged woman, who gets deeply attached to a gal pal OS. (She likes to make documentaries of people sleeping, ones that mean to show us that being asleep is the best time of our lives.)  We also get to see a new side to her beauty.  And the routinely manly and dangerously troubled Joaquin Phoenix (Johnny Cash!) plays a self-absorbed, lonely, relationally challenged wimp with uncanny perfection.

The meaning of life, as explained in doing laundry

Washerwoman

 

 

Collect the clothes, collect the shirts, collect the underpants, get them to the washing machine, dry them, iron them neatly, and fold them in your wardrobes, and this is what most of us (but quite a few bizarre exceptions may apply in this world) will end up doing for the rest of our lifetime.

Or take it to a broader scope. Imagine a scenario like these. Wake up, take a bath, grab a breakfast, chase a bus, get to work, 9 to 5, go back home, take another bath, have a dinner, complete your assignments, and go to sleep, or what have you, probably on weekends you are either going to focus solely on your family or on your own solitude, and again, this is also what most of us (unless you are going to be artists) will end up doing for the rest of our lifetime. Until we age, or perhaps until we get our coffins done.

Stop! One moment, probably driven by your existentialist mind-questioning riddles, you start, at one point, to feel a complete irrelevance, a striking absence of meaning manifested in life itself: what sounds utterly absurd, either that I continue with such mundane, inside-my-box, well-arranged pre-programmed life, or that I commence abruptly ending my daily life rituals, and adopt something most will never do?

Maybe at one point you start envisioning that you should get someone else to complete all your tasks, or to imagine that a scientist somewhere create a robot (say, a real-life Doraemon) that grants all your wishes and does all your jobs while you go on and enjoy your day, or even that you wish something else – whoever that being is – to finish what you have yet completed. But, as time goes by, you recognize the absurdity in your thoughts yourself, and as it goes deeper, deeper than Freudian icebergs, you also start to feel, again, the tastelessness of life, this time on a more abyssal level. You find yourself barely reconciled to the fact that all of us, no more than mundane creatures struggling to survive in such cold and indifferent universe, willingly or not, have been entitled to all these ‘obligations’: we can’t always get it completely done. That you once believe you could really solve all the world’s problems, but you won’t. That you think the world, one day, will end up in a happily-ever-after, merry-going state, but that is only what your mind wishes for. That you believe universe itself has been fine-tuned for life, but that is only what we personally conjure. Slowly, you are reconciled to the fact, that you can’t find the peace outside; it all must be sought inside.

Heather Havrilevsky wants to explain, beyond the mundane task of dirty laundry, literally and figuratively, the philosophy of life itself. Read the full article on Aeon Magazine.

Excerpt:

Of course, back when you were single and untroubled by laundry, were you actually progressing steadily toward greatness? No. You were trying to decide whether to order the pastrami or the roast beef for lunch, or you were getting your hair highlighted while flipping impatiently through a heavy fashion magazine, or you were neurotically reviewing your drunken conversation with a guy you met the night before for clues as to whether or not he was interested.

But this is the strange gift that laundry brings to our lives. Its sheer mass, its magnitude, its ceaselessness make us aspire to greatness, even as such aspirations become less and less possible. When faced with such awesome power, we want to rise up, to harness the best within ourselves, to create something inspiring and wise! Why, then, must we spray stain remover on this little white smock instead? Why must our brilliant thoughts lie fallow, as we gather armfuls of laundry from hampers? One thing stands between you and the enviable career, the lasting legacy that you so richly deserve: dirty laundry.

Dirty laundry also prevents you from communing intimately with your spouse. Surely you’d be uncorking a nice bottle of red, pouring it into glasses, and having a gentle and rambling talk about your day, if not for the numbing, impenetrable nothingness of piles of clean laundry, those folded stacks crowding you on your own bed, rendering impulsive affectionate gestures or intimate touches an impossibility.

 

Still more about existentialism

sam-gross-i-just-figured-out-the-true-meaning-of-life-water-new-yorker-cartoon

Quotesome has a list of complete 100 life-pondering quotes worthy of your personal contemplation.

Examples:

It wasn’t the New World that mattered … Columbus died almost without seeing it; and not really knowing what he had discovered. It’s life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all. – Fyodor Dostoevsky

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. – Umberto Eco

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. – Charles Bukowski

The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. – Stanley Kubrick

There are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely-or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. – Oscar Wilde

Life might just be an absurd, even crude, chain of events and nothing more. – Haruki Murakami

When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant and which know me not, I am frightened and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. – Blaise Pascal