Still more about existentialism


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


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

The magical world of Haruki Murakami

haruki murakami



There is more to the reality he wants to convey through his mind-bending narratives, but some literary critics are still unsure what he actually wants to convey about.

Read the full article on The Daily Beast.


With Murakami, there are certain motifs that appear again and again, and for which he’s sometimes mocked—cats, wells, baseball, and jazz, to name a few. Thematically, Murakami’s work explores the complexities of relationships, sex, self-discovery, the influence of Western culture in Japan, violence, and the reverberations of World War II. “You get a sense of the oddness and the eeriness of a modern culture, I think, which was born from a great act of violence,” said John Freeman, the editor of the literary magazine Granta. “His work is full of monsters and earthquakes.” Freeman said there are two things that make it hard for Murakami to win big literary awards and gain unmitigated praise. The first is that his stories have an improvisational feel to them, even if they weren’t actually improvised. The second is that “there’s a silliness and comedy to his work, and people who have comic impulses I think are always underrated in the short term.”

Reminiscing year of the dragon


“Seems like on every twelve-month passed, Chinese New Year seems similarly monotonous. Paying a visit to our distant relatives’ homes once in a year, talking about skeptical predictions of this country, asking how the businesses transpire throughout the season, and having some kwatji (Hokkien words for stir-fried melon seeds) and small-shaped cakes to devour on. That’s all what we’re doing.”  My dad came out with this statement while we had just been back from going round our distant relative’s house, whom we do really visit merely once in a year. Their house, as I could say, is not too distant from ours, and even can be inferred as ‘a stone’s throw away’, if you try to reach it using vehicles.

I envy those who celebrate it to the fullest. When I was looking around social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or Blackberry Messenger, I saw that many of my friends uploaded pictures taken, showing how they excitingly interacted with, be it their cousins, nieces, nephews, or any distant relatives from cities beyond Medan or countries beside Indonesia. Some of them even celebrated it with their classmates, paying a visit to their beloved teacher (hopefully I did it on the fourth day of Chinese New Year). A few commemorated it by holding a big feast with their grand-big families.

Looking back at everything they had done, all I could conclude, among many of the friends I’ve known before, was that we used to, and are still used to, having the most ‘un-special’ annual Chinese New Year celebration.



Seriously, I had no idea over what to do while being in someone’s hearthstone other than accepting red pockets, getting some snacks they had prepared on the living room, quothing ‘happy Chinese New Year’ to once-in-a-year distant relatives (just these sets of syllables, simply speaking), and listening to my parents’ conversation, in which they frequently did only once per annum, as well.

Let me confess further of what I actually did during the festivities celebrated by the bulk of almost 1.5 billion Chinese people worldwide. On the first day, we held it in our grandmother’s home (of paternal side, as both from the maternal had so long deceased), and it was also the day where we spent almost half a day taking care of grandmother, as my uncle and his family, who have been staying  altogether with her for so long, had to pay a visit to his wife’s siblings’ families. We had been doing this same thing over and over ever since we moved to our new house in 2000, as her husband had passed away. Moreover, she currently suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but of lighter symptoms.

Instead, to kill the boredom induced by accompanying our parents, I brought a laptop to take a look at every file I had saved from Internet, and my younger brother took school textbooks to finish all the homework. During the interval, I had chat with what I dub as ‘youngest aunty and uncle ever’; they both are children of my grandmother’s younger sister, but the duo are still in their 20s. After almost half an hour, as I conjectured, I went on ‘having a virtual trip’ over my laptop, scanning through myriad Microsoft Word documents I had long copied from many web-sites, but even never managed to ‘touch’ it.

Geez, I took a look at myself. What a nerd I am. That’s how my mind responded when I took a brief look at the mirror of my grandmother’s room. (it’s where while I awayed the time sticking my eyes against the Hewlett-Packard) My dad and my mom were out there greeting all the guests coming into our grandmother’s house, but I and Dicky, my younger brother’s name, spent time playing laptop and PSP! (note: if he’s surrounded by tedium, his big, rounded eyes may goggle at that device, no matter if he’s accomplished either his homework or his lessons’ reviews)

And our main job was only to receive red pockets, as I’ve said before, and outspoken ‘Gong xi!’ to the masses. I swear, to be honest, that sometimes I forgot how to call our seniors (you know, Chinese customs in calling the elders are complicating, because there’s differentiation to ‘second uncle’ to ‘third uncle’, ‘grandmother’ in maternal and paternal side, and so on). To simplify, I simply called all of them, either ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’. That’s all, even if it always means a tremendous error.



Another thing that I did, while we were being guests at others’ houses, was dallying over the Blackberry’s trackballs. My ears hearkened to my dad’s conversation (most of the time, all he did was talking about politics and, a bit sensitive one, ‘how’s your business?’) with the male counterparts, be it my dad’s father’s business partner (a tax consultant), my mom’s distant relative’s husband (whose address I have mentioned earlier in the first paragraph, or my mom’s elder sister’s sons. I bet, almost half of the words related were all about our country’s situation, and spoken in skeptical manner. Ranging from labor protests demanding higher pay, a heating political temperature towards the 2014 presidential election, candidates they perceive as ‘potentially dangerous’, and in the long run, the slap-bang, obnoxious attitude of vehicle drivers along the roads and streets.

If my Blackberry’s battery was down, I opted to read comic books. That’s what I did while we were in my dad’s elder sister’s – or what we, the youngsters, should call gugu, or ‘aunty’ – home. She invited us to have a lunch (no, just call it a ‘feast’, then) there because she had specially cooked chicken’s rib curry, fried pieces of chicken, and stewed snaps to all of the big family, including my grandmother and my uncle’s. Having been slaked by the delicacies, I got myself back into my own imaginary world, relaxingly munching my thought through every single page of Karriage Kun comic books I borrowed from my cousins (my aunt’s sons, anyway), whom I widely acknowledge as a sarcastic way of viewing into the daily life of a Japanese office worker which unavoidably provokes stomach-shuffling laughter. What a nerd I am, back and again.


Just observe who’s the naughtiest one depicted in the picture. That’s Karriage.


Yet, the celebration this year was a bit more special as some of my classmates (of 2-Social-1) invited me to pay a visit to our form teacher’s house, the woman whom we have considered more as a ‘friend’ and ‘a great company to outpour all our personal feelings’ than as simply a teacher. This has never happened many years prior back in my high-school life, but I just feel simply happy enough that there’s a bit time left to interact with the teacher and my classmates, while she was preparing bowls of noodle soup by her own. This was how I closed the rejoicing, by racking in the thinly-shaped noodles, and the round-shaped fishballs, pieces by pieces. It’s the part where I really enjoyed it.

Reminiscing back into the past, the way how we cherished the Chinese New Year was persistently still as ‘unimmoderate’ as ever. I am running out of ideas of how to make such an ‘out-of-the-box’ festivity during the holidays. Guess like I need to learn meditation for some flush of inspiration.

But, anyway, my dad’s word of ‘monotonous’ was proven correct. At least he recognized it.



What we fear about when we fear about 2012


Accept it or not, all of us have now officially abandoned 2011. There was much painting-the-town-red celebration held over thousands of cities and towns worldwide. We saw fireworks dazzling over the night sky. We heard sounds of triumph. Trumpets were played. Laser lights were set off, in accordance to countless patterns of iconic images we perceive in our daily lives. Vehicles, from motorcycles to private saloon cars, were all rushing in to the nearby city centers as the drivers were impatiently waiting for the momentum to take over. Unlike the previous 364 nights, we commemorated the last night in 2011 with glimpses of hope and anxiety, making up to the hotch-potch of feelings we stared with full awe when the fireworks were launched, step by step.



As usual, I and my family would solemnize it at our hearthstone, our very own home sweet home. We would order pizzas, salad with thousand island sauces, and fettuccinis, to be shared altogether. My dad sometimes bought some cans of beer as an additional bonus. We ate, and we drank, at the same time we were watching Hollywood movies in television. At the same time, I saw that some of my friends were celebrating it overseas. A Blackberry contact of mine even spent time in Singapore together with approximately a dozen of her classmates. Another one was in Orchard Road, together with her family. Meanwhile, some others had just been back home. Some also spent time broadcasting Pollyannaist messages of encouragement and inspiration for more success in the coming year of 2012. I did, too. But I don’t expect much success. It doesn’t matter whether a singleton would have achieved more success than failures or vice versa, as long as one can afford to truly understand and appreciate oneself and is happy with it, that’s all.

In a brief spasm, a thought flashed on my mind like a comet on its way to strike a planet.



While everyone’s on seventh heaven, deeply seduced in exhilaration as they were watching the pulchritudinous fireworks being set ablaze above the cities’ skyline, did they still keep it in their mind vividly about the so-called ‘end of the world in 2012’? You know, what you have eavesdropped from someone’s conversation, or read from someone’s blog, or seen from the disaster movie, that it is so cocksure, simon-pure, that the apocalypse will shatter us to bits? It must have been a terrifying experience for some people after they were shown Roland Emmerich’s spine-chilling vision of the Armageddon, whose box office revenues also raked in the cash in spine-chilling ways, as well. (As a matter of fact, the movie itself grossed almost 700 million US$ worldwide, far exceeding its astronomical budget which was rumored to be between 200 and 250 million US$) Los Angeles in less than an hour ended up like pieces of birthday cake being cut off. Las Vegas all in a sudden fell deep into the core of the Earth. Himalaya was flooded with tsunamis measuring out thousands of meters high. And, briefly a few seconds before the movie faded to black, if you noticed it in full details, Indonesia was no longer seen. So were most of the land swaths in India. While some thought this might be too formidable, especially for the youngsters (that’s why MUI, or as in Indonesian, Indonesian Council of Ulemas, issued a fatwa, declaring it verboten for everyone to watch such a ‘morally bent’ film), I just found it to be too adventurous, and in some cases, hilarious. The scenes of how the protagonists (sorry, I’ve forgotten all their names) tried to escape from the torn-apart Los Angeles, while skyscrapers were falling down and colliding against each other, reminded me of those I’d seen in Transformer movies. There was excessive maelstrom, exaggeratedly CGI-ed explosion and destruction and blow-your-head-off performances, and one more hilarious thing: protagonists, in 99% of all films I’ve ever watched, no matter how severe, how wounded, and how hopeless they have been, do always survive, albeit sometimes they do in illogical ways. After getting out of the cinema, I simply told my friends, “It’s not as frightening as the trailer has originally unfluxed. I even found it, much of the time, laughable.” Emmerich’s imagination works pretty much like that utilized in any of Michael Bay-directed films (trust me, most of his films often involve hyperbolic pictures, perhaps that’s also why most of his films often succeed with flying colors, with aggrandized box office income, and embroidered critic bombs.)

Human’s imagination seems to have never stopped exploring and exploiting the invisible borders of the apocalyptic vision itself. Roland Emmerich’s 2012, and many of his notable films, particularly Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day after Tomorrow, have demonstrated how apocalypse might look like, as a result of secret neutrinos getting entrapped deep in the Earth’s core ready to explode, or false miscommunication between humankind and an unknown alien civilization billions of light years away, or because of a top-secret military experiment gone wrong, or unjust changes in global climate. But, for sure, that’s not how apocalypse might exactly appear like. That’s how Emmerich envisions his own versions of apocalypse, and implements them through his on-Queer-street scenarios he penned often by himself. He’s an artist, and he needs money, anyway. But it doesn’t mean there’s absolute impossibility that these doomsdays might ever happen. They may ‘someday’ take place, but for sure, the probability rate is comparable to a rare asteroid which collides with a giant planet billions of times the size of Jupiter.



Throughout my own life, my almost 3-year equivalent spent in browsing the Web for information and information, I have read and copied so many nouvelle about how the world might possibly end, perhaps in 2012, or perhaps in November 2010 (forget that, if that were to happen, I might have never written this post anymore), or someday in the future. Someone in the Web wrote down like this: by the time 21st December 2012 has come (the day the Mayan calendar officially ends), a giant red planet named Nibiru will appear, whose visibility is as clear as the Sun, and the planet’s climactic equilibrium will soon experience massive changes. It is estimated that two-thirds of the global population, say the least, will have perished, and other two-thirds of the remainding survivors will have succumbed as a result of long-term consequences implicated by the arrival of Nibiru, and the gravitational chaos it causes to the Earth. Another scenario might be like this. When the Nibiru has arrived, still on the same date as of the former, an extraterrestrial life form, a very advanced civilization whose technological progress is no match with that of human, who themselves have been colonized by smartphones and Facebook and Twitter, named Anunnaki, will come to ‘enlighten’ us. During the ‘enlightenment’ process, it is estimated that as many as 90% of humanity will be obliterated, or to be more courteous, eliminated. But once the process is over, there will be a new epoch of spiritual transformation among human beings, where humankind may be able to interact with countless, inter-galactic civilizations with better spiritual understanding.

Before you end up gobsmacked and dumbfounded, there is at least something I need to clarify up here. Nibiru is a mythical homeworld for the gods of Sumerians, so-called Anunnaki. While the 21st December 2012 is the day the Mayan calendar officially ends. What kind of cultural co-operation is this? Sumerians lived in territories we now officially recognize as Iraq more than 4000 years ago, while Mayan civilization’s acme only achieved its apex as far as 1500 years ago. They only extended their political influence as far as Central America, and had no idea what Middle East really was. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible if, who knows, either the Sumerians or the Mayans had in secrecy co-operated with certain very advanced civilizations to invent time machines, so they could trade their stories with each other. Although the probability ratio, as I can suggest, is 1 to 100 billion trillion. (that’s a conceivable estimation of number of Earth-like planets, within the 13.5-billion-light-year radius of our universe)



Another scenario is like this: United Nations, known to be an evil superbody controlled by super-genius, and super-evil Jews (don’t compare me to John Galliano or Charlie Sheen for these anti-Semitic remarks, I’m just summarizing down what I’ve once read), is currently devising a secret program which is aimed to eradicate 90% of the population as far as 2012. Named Codex Alimentarius (Google it), and implemented by FAO and WHO, which has co-acted with thousands of multi-national corporations worldwide, namely Monsanto, they are distributing food which have been, unbeknownst, genetically manipulated, with aims to generate permanent genetic defects on humanity. By doing so, it is expected that human population will decrease as far as the target they have set. I tell you, if this effort were really made, it would have turned out to be a double-edged sword game for United Nations, and particularly, all these MNCs. Let me figure out the facts at first. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, as I list the world’s countries in alphabetical order, close to 100,000 multi-national corporations are executing their daily business operations. Excluding other 100,000 national corporations, but this time, omit the ‘multi’ word. If combined, all these 200,000 corporations employ more than 2 billion ranks and files. That’s already similar to more than one-third of the world’s population. If they were all eradicated with this way, tainted with secretly poisoned food you and I perhaps are right now eating, where and how will they discover their own source of income? By asking Harry Potter to convert banana leafs into money?

But, for sure, the probability is high that the world’s population may have exceeded 10 billion some time in 2050. That might sound like a piece of good news for economists, but not for environmentalists. (because of the carbon footprints they will inherit)



2012, as mellifluous as it sounds, turns out to be a catchphrase for many so-called ‘apocalyptists’. And the militant supporters of vegetarianism seem to have made a virtue of necessity from this number, as well. It is a-dime-to-a-dozen task to find out posters, with features including a blonde-haired Asian woman who seems to be a quinquagenarian, and multitudes of words erected beside her posture. There, it concludes: global warming becomes increasingly difficult to solve. Be a pure vegetarian. Help save the planet. By: Supreme Master. There, it is also written like this: unless governments take actions to halt the acceleration of global warming, all the ice caps of North and South Pole would have melted, commencing in … 2012. Be a vegetarian, eat plants, and save the planet. It is true that there is tendency that this rara avis is on its path towards acceleration. It is also true that, still, out there, many governments have failed reaching consensus upon the frameworks needed to initiate global actions to combat global warming as lately as 2020, as have been seen from the final conclusions of the latest UN Conference on Climate Change held in Durban, South Africa. (before that, it has repeatedly failed in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia and Cancun, Mexico) But it is, as for me, excessively rapid if the ice caps have to melt by the end of this year. No matter how deteriorating the situation is, we would still be able to see penguins strolling in the Arctic Circle or polar bears hunting in the Antarctica, until as late as 2030, after further analysis on how fast-paced the melting process will be was made by scientists (not Supreme Master).

Furthermore, what will happen to the whole world if the entire earthlings were commanded to be ‘full vegetarians’? Aren’t we taking other animals’ rights for granted that we grab their source of food, at the same time? (this inquiry can get you stoned by any pro-vegetarianism activists) Doesn’t this also mean that we will disrupt the global food chain system, in which we let all the chickens, ducks, swans, turkeys, pigs, cows, lambs, and many other kinds of poultry or any other domesticated animals to overpopulate the entire planet? Won’t we be overwhelmed by not only their omnipresence, but also abundance of faeces they produce, which in the end will release large amounts of ammonia, which will entrap more solar heat in the end, which means we are actually deteriorating the global warming itself, as an unintended consequence?



I found it even more frolicsome when our form teacher, while I was a student of Senior High School First Grade, showed us a PowerPoint presentation regarding to global warming. At first, we were shown pictures of recent disasters taking place throughout the first quarter in 2011. Floods claimed myriad lives in China, Pakistan, Brazil, and soak our beloved hometown, Medan. A 9.0-magnitued earthquake ravaged east Japan, which in the end instigated a deadly tsunami, which in the end caused a nuclear leakage. Earthquakes also took place in geologically active countries, like New Zealand and Haiti. Afterwards, we were shown that all these kinds of pandemonium had correlation with global warming, and 40% of CO2 emissions which cause global warming itself is caused by livestock-related activities. Then, it directly came into a conclusion: it’s all because we eat meat too much! What’s more, the author had even made his own prediction, which left me scientifically doubtful about the real authenticity: unless we begin to reduce our meat consumption, the total amount of ammonia gas released may contribute a drastic increase to the sea level as tall as 75 meters, which will be overwhelmed by CO2 and ammonia, that will convert the water into ‘seas of raging fire’. In the end of the presentation, we were promoted to watch Supreme Master TV. How Emmerich-esque, I concluded. Even if all of us decided to be full vegetarians, won’t it be the same thing that we will still contribute to the emissions of ammonia gas? Unless you believe it, try to loosen your bowels this night. I bet, the faeces won’t ever emit oxygen, even if the Sun all of a sudden rotated in reversed direction.

Vegetarianism might not be the only ultimate solution, as it turns out. Won’t it be a better crinkum-crankum if this is added with continuous and expansive process of converting the faeces into either fertilizer or biogas?



I recalled, 2 or 3 years backward, when I was skimming through a blog post, written by an Indonesian blogger whose website I had been oblivious with, about so-called New World Order (Novus Ordo Seclorum), which is scheduled to reach its acme, again, in this 2012. Google it, and you can equate the creator behind this story with John Galliano, or any anti-Semits else. Known to be a very top-secret project (the plot versions depend on which blog sites you pay a visit to), it is a clandestine project conducted by Freemasonry fellows – and super-genius Jews, as it turns out, again – to rule the whole world in Stygian darkness and enslave the entire mankind. One version relates it with secular service clubs like Lions International and Rotary International, which if combined, have a 2.5-million-strong membership structure. These organizations are often accused of spreading Freemasonry thoughts, which turn out to be subjective allegations by religious fanaticists or bigots. Another version informs that the world’s most powerful businesspeople, allegedly including Bill Gates, are funding the construction of a gigantic underground city in a top-secret location in Antarctica, to anticipate the Nibiru disaster. Another version again mentions that those suitable to populate this city are tantamount to members of Lions and Rotary clubs. Another variant calls for the destruction of Dajjal, a one-eyed beast scheduled to be born in Israel, who will one day be the ‘eternal dark leader of the whole world’, and the one who will lead the Freemasonry to achieve its glory. And all these scenarios are scheduled to take place in 2012. needs to check whether this is simply a Photoshopped picture or not.


Hold on a second. Rumor has it that the whole world’s governments, incorporated into the United Nations, are currently constructing a gigantic starship, miles down the Area 51 (in which President Obama leads all the project), which can accommodate in maximum 1% of the world’s population (that is to say, 70 million human beings), at the same time the rest, the 99%, the abandoned – which is why it becomes the slogan for Occupy Wall Street demonstrators – will have to be crucified when the 2012 apocalypse has come. The starship itself reportedly costs the whole world, particularly United States and European Union, over tens of trillions of dollars in debts (because they are the main shareholders, together with all these corporate giants), which actually is the main contributing factor to the global recession that is taking place, aside of subprime mortgage and financial deregulation which turns out to be decrepit. I recognize this tattle-tale more as a piece of applesauce. Because I myself invent up this story. Just leave this paragraph. And I bet you (won’t) believe easily in it, as long as your logic remains working.

It turns out that the rapid outflow of information through the Web has accelerated the contagion of fear among human emotion. As things become increasingly accessible, especially after the introduction of smartphones (which in the end colonize our brains to keep holding on the trackballs), it becomes easier and more effortless to obtain knowledge and information, almost everywhere you are. But, often, more knowledge does not always indicate we become wiser than before. As the whole world becomes more complicating and more inter-connected, it also turns out increasingly difficult, often, to differentiate which information we should really believe as facts, and which we should really believe as hoaxes. Things are often subject to cognitive biases. Perhaps what Socrates has once said 2500 years prior is correct: true knowledge lies in the fact that we know nothing. Here we are, fellow beings, we have to recognize our main Achilles’ heel: we often think that we know we know it.




What about all those scenarios mentioned above? They may be correct, but the probability is very low. Psychologists have estimated that out of all sorts of fear we have envisioned in our own minds, only 10% do really come true. Meanwhile, the rest, the 90%, simply remain our own illusory stupefaction. Moreover, often those fears emerge in ways beyond our own ability as human beings to imagine how their occurrence might be. Perhaps the real apocalypse, as the universe has itself designed, might be numberless times much more terrifying than those previously written above. What will happen in 2012, nobody knows. Even if apocalypse were to take place, it does not always mean the end of the world; it might just simply be ‘the end of the mankind’. The world will still be out there, even if Earth has perished. True knowledge lies in the fact that we know nothing.

Just relish every single moment in your life, as long as you’re still alive. There are too many good things in life you can afford to do. That’s why we could still devour the pizzas voraciously throughout the New Year celebration, or watched the fireworks through the windows, with full fascination.

But still, always prepare yourself for the unprepared. Nothing is ever impossible.

A hidden irony behind the inventor’s death

One of my friends in Facebook once posted a picture featuring a sombre comparison between a mammoth, world-changing mover-and-shaker like Steve Jobs with one starving kid in Sudan waiting to be swallowed by a vulture a few days ago. I clicked towards the image, and found out that more than 1,000 people – as of today, now it’s more than 4500 – had shared the pictures worldwide, irrespective of national or geographical borders. What astonished me the most was the message written below: one dies, million cry, million die, no one cries. To be honest, this conveyance had seemed to be like a large hammer knocking down my subconscious mind. The popularity of one man’s death could transgress that of one million.

I admit that Steve Jobs had been a miracle to our world. Through decades of persistence, resilience, and almost seemingly unsinkable gusto, he had built Apple from a garage into a world-changing conglomeration whose products had given endless hopes to millions of people. If there were no Steve Jobs (don’t forget Wozniak as well), the world would not have been as colorful as now it has been, millions of blind and deaf people worldwide (as Stevie Wonder quoted it) would not have lived a brand new world without the assistance of Apple’s inventions, music industry (as some musicians said) would not have ever revived into an entirely new stage, that is now known as digital music industry, and there would have been no Pixar, whose eye-popping, brightly-tinted animation movies have been seen by hundred million people worldwide. Steve Jobs’ inventions had spread like magic, beyond anyone’s expectations. The world has progressed rapidly through the introduction of firstly Macintosh, then iPod, Macbook, iPhone, and currently, iPad. Out of these products, there were still a pantheon of inventions Apple had contributed to the whole planet.

Nevertheless, that’s the source of the irony. And unfortunately, it is a fundamental weakness of us as humankind. One man’s popularity may exceed dozens of news headlines taking place on the world. Often when we had been hypnotized by someone’s fame, we began to forget there is something more important we should have known. At the same time Steve Jobs has passed away, some of us only began to realize that something that should be larger than it is coming off in other parts of the world. Starvation is happening in Somalia, where millions are struggling to stay alive amidst the hostilities between al-Shabaab combatants with government forces. The war in Libya has usurped more than 25,000 lives since NATO-led military invention in March. Few people know there was once a devastating genocide taking place in Rwanda which took off more than 1 million lives of the Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus. And still not many people know much about the reality.

One psychologist, Paul Slovic, once mentioned what he termed as ‘fundamental deficiency in our humanity’. Automatically, we have been programmed by our subconscious minds that we pay greater concern on one person than one thousand masses. This was proven after a series of psychiatric tests conducted by Slovic and his partners, one of which the participants were shown two statements, the former contained one statement written down ‘one child’, and the latter with ‘eight children’. Afterwards, the participants were given an option how much money they would like to donate after taking a brief look at these statements. In the end, most of the participants decided to ‘donate’ 11 dollars on this ‘one child’. What about these ‘eight tenderlings’? They only contributed 5 dollars each. Thus, another test was conducted. The participants were again shown posters, but this time, there were 3. The former showed one girl from Mali named Rokia, the latter was a statement with ‘hundred thousand kids in Africa are starving’ sign, and lastly, the other showed Rokia’s picture and the statement, all combined. In the long run, the participants were willing to donate 2.25 dollars for Rokia, but were only disposed to give away 1.15 dollars for these so-called ‘statistical lives’, and the individual amounts of money given only slightly improved after responding on the third poster, in which they bequeathed 1.40 dollars for Rokia and these children combined.

Slovic concluded, as quoted by one article I copied from, like this, “As the world watches but, insufficiently moved, fails to act to prevent mass starvation or stop genocides in Congo or Kosovo or Cambodia or so many more, who would not agree with such a lament. But as heartless as it seems to care more about the one than the many, it makes perfect sense in terms of human psychology. You are a person, not a number. You don’t see digits in the mirror, you see a face. And you don’t see a crowd. You see an individual. So you and I relate more powerfully to the reality of a single person than to the numbing faceless nameless lifeless abstraction of numbers. “Statistics,” as Slovic put it in a paper titled “Psychic Numbing and Genocide”, “are human beings with the tears dried off.”

What’s more, Slovic also pointed out that another ‘fundamental deficiency in our humankind’ is that we often respond ignorantly on calamities that have been taking place for many years, or decades. This is logically straightforward to explain, as of my perspective. We are often told that for every problem, there is a solution; as soon as there is a will, there is always a way to solve it. But so many things in the world have happened for a very long time, and there are too many matters to be solved. When we have attempted myriad times to solve a problem, but it turns out to be unchanged, or to a lesser extent, worse, the highest probability we would conduct is to leave this business alone, and let others accomplish it.

To sum up the note, let me pick up someone’s quote. Once Joseph Stalin, the all-time notorious-yet-respected leader of Soviet Union, said like this: one death is a tragedy. One million deaths is a statistic. Steve Jobs’ death has been one example; numerical figures, no matter how Cyclopian they are, do never have emotional power like one does. At this perspective, Stalin’s quote wins the debate.






For more understanding about human’s ‘fundamental flaw’, click here.

God’s real name is not God…but we don’t have other better alternatives

When did humanity begin to have preconceptions of God? As I read from National Geographic a few months ago, some scientists argued that as soon as our ancestors began to learn farming subsistence 10 thousand years ago, the idea of belief in God began to fluorish (archaeologists summed up the conclusion that the first harvesting period began to give them inspiration that ‘miracle’ was working on the plants). Nevertheless, the others argued vice versa. They came out with another theory, suggesting that the plasma nutfah – the vocabulary biologists give to extraordinary plant seeds – these hunter-gatherers found in the grasslands instead had inspired themselves inspiration that something ‘larger than life’ is working out there, creating all these sorts of miracles. I am not sure which one is better, because either one may be correct.

Almost all religions in the world (truth be told, the number of religions in the world may vary from 4200 to more than 10.000) emphasize on the semipternal existence of God. But few tend to have tendencies to deny, particularly Buddhism. They instead propose of this idea: that the God all of us have been praising for centuries may not be the real eternal God we are used to believing in. But they do believe in Karma, the what-you-sow-so-shall-you-reap eternal law that has been ruling this universe, whose authority is only rivalled by that of God.

When I was still a small boy, I had no doubt that I had to believe in God, no matter how whether God is real or not. As time passed by, I began to develop my own theories about the supreme being. If God is omnipower, It must have been able to create a castle that is ‘larger than universe’. If God is omnipower, then God must have created something that is even larger than Itself, so large that God may look like a dust compared to the thing It creates. If God is omnibenevolent, won’t It forgive all the sins humanity has ever made in their lifetime? Won’t there be hell?

To be honest, I find it hard whether to believe in God or not. Even Buddha once emphasized through this quote, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own common sense.” So, who should we believe and rely on in this world? So far, only hypotheses are able to provide the answers. God may either be what that has existed, without beginning and without ending, or what we agree that seem to exist. What we conceive and what we see and what we believe in is merely the tip of an iceberg.

Instead, I do believe more in the hypothesis of God reflecting the universe Itself. I do believe more in the theory stating that the universe is a hollow state that will remain forever existent than the Big Bang theory in which cosmic-scale fabulosity started as soon as atoms began to split within trillionths of a second. Let us not debate whether which theories on existence of God and universe are the most correct ones; I never like to force anybody to either accept or follow my theory. Theories are merely about things that are according to our minds acceptable. The real problem is that we hold on to different principles on how we believe everything is taking place.

But I believe that no thing in this universe will ever last forever. From an atom to a galaxy, from something that is unseeable through our visible eyes until things that are beyond our current borders of knowledge, there is nothing that is infinite. Change is always taking place. Atoms collide and split. Ocean waves move in and out, back and forth. Continents split and reunited within a period of hundred million years. Apes evolved into human beings within 2 million years. Galaxies dissolve, stars explode, and planets are formed. Our hearts pump the blood, and cells carry on oxygen and carbon-dioxide every time. A baby grows up into a toddler, into a child, into a teenager, until he/she ages and passes away. Change is always permanent, and it always requires energy. As we used to learn in physics textbooks about energy conservation theory, it is always emphasized that energy is something that is both unmade and indestructible. So, the main question is: is God the energy? Given that logic, it might be correct.

Perhaps the largest of all the large problems humanity faces lies on how we have to make use of our own free will. Ever since every human is born into this planet, he or she has been given choices. But here comes the main problem: we often believe we have no limits. We often misuse it, and often at the expense of others. What I want to do may be unsuitable with what others expect me to do. And there comes out conflicts. To a larger scale, humanity had witnessed endless numbers of wars, battles, disputes, and conquests. There’s always upheaval almost every time. Why doesn’t God intervene? Even if It existed, perhaps It wants to emphasize something behind this: in the end, all of us have to reap what we have sowed. That in the end, everyone, including me and you, is equal. We get paid for what we have done.

It’s up to you whether you believe in God-like figures or not, but you may have to believe there is something larger than life that superintends all of us. Personally, I am not sure whether that ‘something larger than life’ is God or not, but I’m sure that we are being watched. On atomic level, we are all the same. We are all made of atoms which combine to form molecules and DNA and thus, seeds of life begin to form. The only thing that precedes all the problems in the world begins with us, and our free will. But this has always been the reality of the world, and it will always be.

The main question is this: is there God? There are questions whose answers are unknown unknown. It is not important to doubt and argue whether God exists or not, but the most important thing lies on how we’re all going to make use of our lives. When all of us are born into this planet, we are all still pure souls, like paper which has not been stained with even a single dot of ink. We are responsible for what we are going to do with our lives, and what we are going to do with this world, as well. Everything about God is just a matter of belief. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s more about ‘what’, less about ‘why’. That’s what I always believe in.

But then, at last, I will always tell my friends like this, “May God bless you always.”

What has been, has been, and what will be, will be.

Beauty in the minds of Mauritanian gentlemen (and the rest of the world)

Let us begin with this: activate your Internet modem, take a surf in any browsers, and type the keywords ‘Mauritanian women’. Nearly all the recommendations may have resulted in one correlation: they are fat. Imagine what if someone marries a potbellied, chubby-faced, and buxom lady. That used to be popular during the Middle Ages, where men – particularly the peasants – were commonly perceived as being thin, bony, and well-muscled. And there were their wives; big, fat, perhaps xanthippe-alike, doing the daily chores in the kitchen or mopping or cleaning the floors. And that is still pretty much popular in Mauritania.

It sounds hard to admit here, but to be honest, I am much more attracted to chubby-faced – and short – women. Sometimes, I myself find this notion incomprehensible. I thought of the factors that triggered me for a while. My mom is not that type; she’s instead the one who is used to giving the coldest shoulder on being fat. She frequently exercises on the treadmill, at the same time watching TV, every afternoon. But my mom is shorter than me. Then I saw my younger brother. He’s chubby-faced. He’s quite fat, and some of the clothes I am still wearing today in fact suit his first-grade-junior-high-school body. Perhaps both these combinations subconsciously influenced my mind.

One thing I like from the evaluation of beauty is there is no precise unit on how beautiful a woman should be. Beauty according to me is not assuredly beauty according to you, or beauty according to your friend. That implies societies are free to adjust their own standards of beauty. But sometimes – starting from this point – beauty has its own ugliness, if seen from the wider perspectives. Some societies take extreme measures to define by their own subconscious of what beauty is, and how it should be made.

One example has been shown by societies of Mauritania. In order to obtain recognition, husbands are responsible to feed their wives as much as they can afford, despite the fact that more than half its population still earn less than even one dollar a day, until they turn obese. It’s unusual to conceive a poverty-and-coup-ridden nation where wives are instead obese, but for Mauritanians, it turns out to be ‘no problem’ at all.

Standards of beauty were even more terrible in ancient China. As seen from the former, the women would still be able to have diet. Yet, in the latter, it’s permanently incurable. Women there must have suffered a lot, if I can say. To have feet bound is an uneasy thing to do. Their feet would have to be bound until there came up ‘lotus feet’, one of the men’s must-haves during that period. As I read in Wikipedia, one research showed that ‘at least 10% of all the women in China who had their feet bound died of infection’. Most of the men perceived women with bound feet to be ‘erotic’, as seen from their swaying walk. But the term only applied as long as the women had their feet covered with ‘lotus shoes’, otherwise the rotten odor would be unleashed from the folded parts of their feet which had ended up rotten by the gangrenes. It’s out of the senses, but as the society accepted that norm – for thousands of years, it’s even perilous to mention it ‘insane’.

The neck-ring culture was particularly popular among the women in Kayan tribe, Myanmar. They begin to wear the neck coils as early as they have reached two years of age in order to elongate their necks, and as time passes, the number of the neck coils increases. By doing so, the women are trying to have an impression of what beauty is defined in their own minds. Like the woman pictured above, she must have had more than 10 neck coils. For further medical implications, I quoted these sentences from Wikipedia:

The weight of the coils will eventually place sufficient pressure on the shoulder blade to cause it to deform and create an impression of a longer neck.

The custom of wearing neck rings is related to an ideal of beauty: an elongated neck. Neck rings push the collarbone and ribs down. The neck stretching is mostly illusory: the weight of the rings twists the collar bone and eventually the upper ribs at an angle 45 degrees lower than what is natural, causing the illusion of an elongated neck. The vertebrae do not elongate, though the space between them may increase as the intervertebral discs absorb liquid.

When the coils are removed, there is no health danger. The only concern is that the neck muscles are atrophied, and are understandably weaker than the rest of the body. However, there is no proven medical concern for the removal of the coils.”

All in a sudden (well, actually I’m not trying to be racist, but deep apologies whenever you feel inconvenient with my statement), this elderly woman reminded me of an ostrich. We all learn that the surrounding nature always plays a crucial role in shaping mankind’s mind patterns wherever they live, and my first hypothesis was that either ostriches or giraffes must have lived somewhere in Shan and Kayah State, the homeland of this ethnicity, that gave inspiration to the neck-lengthening idea. But my hypothesis in the end turned out to be null-and-void. Ostriches inhabit the barren, arid lands exactly south of Sahara, stretching from Mauritania to Somaliland, and several territories in Angola, Namibia, and Zambia. Giraffes themselves are scattered from Chad to South Africa. What a coincidence.

Note: it would have been so courteous of you not to call them ‘giraffe women’. It’s known to be derogatory.

When people know how to beautify, they must have also known how to uglify as well. Well, you maybe won’t find this word in any dictionaries, but at least you get the vivid point. Uglifying truly helps, indeed. There was a hypothesis by historians, mentioning that the climax where many women in Africa had their upper or lower lips pierced so that very large clay-made discs would fit in through the holes, was when slave trading was at its height. Thus, the very-ugly impression was made, and the slave traders must have considered their decisions more than twice whether they wanted to purchase these women or not. But slavery itself was not the only single factor that triggered many women to have their lips pierced; a matter of culture and habitude also played a vital role to sustain this tradition, even until now.

Take a visit to Ethiopia if you want. Pick up your world map, and find out where Omo River is situated. Most of the women with lip plates make a living here. It is widely believed among the tribes there that the larger the lip plates are, the more economically and socially climacteric they are. And more beautiful. What an obscurity.

Well, it might seem pornographic, but this picture was once published in National Geographic. Click the link here for more pictures:

In Cameroon, there’s another extreme habit known as breast ironing. It’s the process of making the breasts cease growing by the time the girls have begun to enter puberty. Elders used to, and are still used to, believing that the growth of breasts imply that women are ready for sex. They hold a strong, and strict, belief that women should attend education, avoid sex and early marriage. And they believe flattening the breasts is the solution, in order to preserve ‘the unspoilt beauty of their souls’.

Here is how it works. Tools, be they bananas, coconut shells, grinding stones, or spatulas are heated over coals until they end up as ferociously scalding as an iron used to flatten the shirts and clothes, and afterwards, they are placed over the breasts. The elders would compress these as-hot-as-melting-iron tools over the breasts until the body tissue inside is permanently damaged.


We often consociate beauty with elegance and splendor, but in some parts of the world, beauty speaks an entirely different language. And sometimes, metaphorically speaking, defining beauty itself is like building an imaginary human zoo of your own, where you classify and differentiate beauty and ugliness by your own. But it is what your mind does. Indeed, we never know, there is someone out there, someone out there we know that we have never known before, have their very own ways to interpret it. Human civilization must have been marked with so many human zoos of their own.

Kafka (and the ghosts) on the shore

It took me almost three months to finish reading this novel.

As soon as I had finished reading the last page on the book, I had read 3 novels. The former was The Road. I bought that somewhere in 2009. The plot was not perplexing, but for some people, it might indeed be a kind of time-killing boredom. But what I adored from Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian tale was all the simplicity he used in interpreting the post-apocalyptic world. To be honest, I didn’t have any ideas on what and which kind of pandemonium that caused massive maelstrom, which did instantly wipe out the large fraction of the planet’s population, in no time. The setting and the background was kept at its minimal pace. But this was also the part where readers had to constantly expand their imagination independently, because one didn’t have to mention too much to provoke one’s imagination. The White Tiger was the latter one, and the most biting satire I had ever read so far. Almost all the words did indeed nibble; it entirely focused on the process from being a do-gooder into a savage, evil-minded, and corrupt soul. Balram Halwai was merely a microcosmic example of the reality in India, as Adiga wanted to interpret. The White Tiger was more of a reversed side of a happy-go-merry kind of business magazines we frequently see in any magazine stands in any bookstores.

And there was Kafka on the Shore.

Firstly, I borrowed this novel from my English tuition teacher, Miss Erica, somewhere in March 2011. Reading this novel was an uneasy task. I am very sure majority of the English teachers would not assign their students to read this novel and make a brief summary. Because it could not be summarized  briefly. Or more precisely, there are no exact summaries for this novel. How you want to define this novel depends entirely on your own. There is no exact ending to the story like the ending of the previous two novels. It all depends on the readers on how to create their own ending styles.

Kafka on the Shore, is generally conceived as a fantasy novel. But, to be honest, I did not think so. It might be more exact when it is re-classified as a surrealist novel. And I want to tell you something. It is extremely difficult for me to make a review for this story. Because almost everything written in the story is all in all notional and disordered. It involves more on a struggle between the may and may-not-be logics. And it is full of concepts and out-of-the-world experiences and out-of-the-science understanding, and much sex. But this is also where you need to unleash your imagination, where you have to ruin all the ring fences that block your imagination away. It is not too exact, also, to call this a ‘story’; this is more of an imagination-expanding moment, where everything seems so blurred to be differentiated whether this is a dreamworld or truly a world.

First, the tale brings us into a boy named Kafka Tamura. This is merely a pseudonym; the real name of this 15-year-old boy is never revealed until the end. He lives with his father, and his mother and his sister had abandoned them when he was still a toddler. He was a solitary boy, having few friends to talk to at school, and had uneasy relationship with his own father. Then he began an endeavor to search for his mother and his sister. He had nothing for preparation, merely a backpack used by explorers, some money, and some food to survive throughout the journey. Whether his sojourn had actually been arranged by the destiny, that remains blurred until now.

And the second tale introduces us into an old simpleton named Satoru Nakata. He used to be an excellent child, and his father was a professor. Because of the World War II, the whole family was evacuated to Shikoku. During the wartime, children and teachers were required to farm and seek for mushrooms in order to fulfil their daily needs. Then something absurd happened. There were more than a dozen of students who suddenly fell into the comatose state. There was no invasion by the fighter jets at that time. There were also no signs of chemical poisoning of the children. They just simply fainted, for unclear reasons. All of them in the long run woke up a few hours later, but Nakata himself remained unconscious for almost a month. He was then subjected to medical examination in a military hospital. When he woke up, Nakata was no longer the prior Nakata. His memory was already wiped clean, nothing entirely left there. As if there were an exchange of spirits throughout the period of unconsciousness. People thought he became an idiot, but indeed he did not develop any signs of Down’s syndrome. The problem was merely one: his soul became null-and-void, as if something had sucked his very own, very deeply.

Both Kafka and Nakata did not know each other, but their paths seemed to emerge. To which actual points the paths were emerging to, it was not really clear. What they had only to do was to ‘end the curse’. As I began to progress through one and another chapter, I found it no more useful to digest the story simply with robustness and rational points of view. We all are used to reading stories with precise beginning and precise ending as well, but Haruki Murakami, the one who authored this bizarre tale, had his own ways. Reading a story with a sturdy beginning and a sturdy ending as well would only restrict one’s size of imagination, according to him. Sometimes, honestly saying, it would seem insufficient to read the usual novels; you need books like Kafka on the Shore as a kind of treatment.

There were pretty much bizarre things as the story progressed. Nakata had a rare friendship with cats, and could communicate with them. Kafka met a young woman named Sakura in a bus. Kafka sympathized with a haemophiliac transvestite working in a private library named Oshima. Nakata’s search to a neighbor’s cat led to a fate-assigned rendezvous with a weird ‘concept’ named Johnnie Walkers, who told him he was making a kind of flute made of cats’ souls. Johnnie Walker took a favor in beheading cats, devouring their hearts, and froze their heads in a box. In the end, Nakata stabbed Johnnie Walker to death, at the same time something strange happened to Kafka. His shirt was stained in blood, but there were no wounds in his body. When Nakata woke up, he was somewhere in a city park, while the sun was already replaced by the shining moon, and no stains of blood in his golf clothes. He originally planned to surrender in a local police station, and predicted that fish would fall out from the sky, and that indeed happened. Nakata had to escape from Tokyo, and his decampment led him to a week-long encounter with Hoshino, a happy-go-merry, playful truck driver. Kafka received the news that his father, Koichi, had been stabbed to death. The ambiguities are: Johnnie Walker may be his father’s alter ego, or someone else, or perhaps just a kind of thing that takes shape in the embodiment of that British man.

More strange things happened. Kafka was accepted to work in the library, and sympathised with a middle-aged woman named Miss Saeki. In the end, they had sex together, and another one with Sakura, in the dreamworld. Beforehand, his father had foretold him, some kind of prophecy that he would in the end kill his father, and made love with his mother and his sister. This is another similarly bizarre conclusion: both Miss Saeki and Sakura may or may not be Kafka’s biological mother and sister. And what are Nakata’s roles anyway, then? Until a month after I finished reading this novel, the answer prevails blurred. But I know that he had the responsibility to open and close ‘an entrance stone’. What that object is actually, I do not have any further, and clearer ideas. But this was also where Kafka was given a chance to comprehend, at least, of what had been going on with himself.

And there came up another ‘concept’ who – or which – took shape in the form of Colonel Sanders. And this Colonel Sanders worked as a pimp. Who, what, and where this concept came from was never entirely revealed until the ending of the novel. He only wanted to mention himself as a ‘concept’, neither a God nor a Buddha. But he was here, in this world, to offer Nakata a solution, at least.

I understand it might be entirely confusing, and I also had that same feeling. But it was truly a novel, where reality, dreamworld, and imagination were merged as one invisible entity. I agreed with Murakami’s notion that ‘a story does not have to solely have an exact beginning and an exact ending’. You even do not have to entirely understand the story; you only have to venture it with your own imagination. This is comparable to the idea that ‘one would never understand what the world is’. We may attempt to straighten up our minds with rationalization, but in most cases, there are many things that we thought we know we have known them. The truth is always out there. In the end, the more we search in the quest to find out the truth, there come up more things we don’t know we don’t know. The world will forever remain a semipternal mystery.