life goes on.
It’s not often that I read something then feel compelled to immediately talk about it, but here’s something.
An excerpt from The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, by George Eliot.
“Indeed, what mortal is there of us, who would find his satisfaction enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents to himself of his own doings, with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neighbours? We are poor plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our own conceit: alas for us, if we get a few pinches that empty us of that windy selfsubsistence! The very capacity for good would go out of us. For, tell the most impassioned orator, suddenly, that his wig is awry, or his shirt-lap hanging out, and that he is tickling people by the oddity of his person, instead of thrilling them by the energy of his periods, and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his eloquence. That is a deep and wide saying, that no miracle can be wrought without faith—without the worker’s faith in himself, as well as the recipient’s faith in him. And the greater part of the worker’s faith in himself is made up of the faith that others believe in him.
Let me be persuaded that my neighbour Jenkins considers me a blockhead, and I shall never shine in conversation with him any more. Let me discover that the lovely Phoebe thinks my squint intolerable, and I shall never be able to fix her blandly with my disengaged eye again. Thank heaven, then, that a little illusion is left to us, to enable us to be useful and agreeable—that we don’t know exactly what our friends think of us—that the world is not made of looking-glass, to show us just the figure we are making, and just what is going on behind our backs! By the help of dear friendly illusion, we are able to dream that we are charming and our faces wear a becoming air of self-possession; we are able to dream that other men admire our talents—and our benignity is undisturbed; we are able to dream that we are doing much good—and we do a little.”
Illusion! the artifice of men’s minds to fool themselves and to convince themselves of their dreams. knowing that they are but dreams we hold on to the hope that reality is what we make of it, that when we impose our dreams on reality and attempt to live them out there will be some form of realization of what we have idealized. the future suddenly seems bright (or dark) and limitless and boundless but at the same time we know that dreams are but the stuff of the night, and don’t belong in the light of day. what then is a man to do when confronted by his dreams? when he is alert to the knowledge of illusion but still enamoured with the dream he possesses. but it is in the nature of the dream to cause one to start to believe and have faith despite knowing that dreams don’t come true – this human irrationality is the best and worst of all of us.
and how does illusion affect the way we look at things? the way we see each other? our own illusions overlap with those with which we conceive others to have, which then again layer over with the illusions they have about themselves and ourselves. layers and layers of camouflage cream over and over again, distorting features and changing the landscape of the face, mirroring the alternative emotional geography of the heart. in that case does the map of your own feelings depend on how the borders and mountains and seas of other people are charted? one cannot chart a course in a void. there must a something for the waves to crash against, a foreign destination, an empty horizon laden with promise. but beyond the horizon you can’t see what’s there – is it the illusion of promise or is it one of those ancient Greek legends which still hold some sort of primitive terror for us all? the legendary whirlpool at the end of world which threatens to suck everything into not nothingness, but a continual swirl of increasing violence to which we have no idea where we are going: that lack of final knowledge is what scares us.
what the pong i have no idea how i came up with all that but it’s there.
So I just came home and got out of the shower and decided I had to blog.
Walking back home from the bus stop I have to walk across the local neighbourhood basketball court – the place where I grew up in my basketball life. The place where I started out as a runt and got bullied and the place where I became a local fixture along with the other guys who live around the place – people I know only as Louis, Gabriel, Ping, and Bart. These are the people I’m just used to playing with against other dudes who come to our court to play. It’s our court, man. We live here.
There’s a sense of easy camaraderie and how we know where each other stands in life. Like today I asked Bart about how his a level prep was going. Gabriel asked me about how uni year 2 is. Cool stuff. And we remember little things about each other.
Basketball is a sport about people. I learnt how to play inside from Gabriel, learnt how to side step and push a layup from Louis, watched Bart grow from a skinny Indian kid to a beast of a player. 1.9m of swift destruction. With a smile.
One of the things I miss about staying at home is the court downstairs and the people on it. That’s why today even though I was wearing slippers, I had to stop and chat and of course end up playing against some random dudes who were all friends. When it came to choosing teams it was pretty obvious who was going to play with who-
After all, you’ve got to defend your home court.
now i secretly wished that i could dance.
well, now its not so secret any more.
but today, i watched Swing Time. 1935 movies, yeah.
and within it was the most mindblowing dance sequence i’ve ever seen in a film. heck, anywhere. the sheer artistry and technical genius of it. how did they film it????
i beseech you, dear reader, to spend 7 minutes of your time watching this. it is worth it.
if you don’t have 7 minutes, just watch from the 4.55 mark onwards. but really… it’s worth it.
i’ve noticed that my best writing comes when i’m stressed. this phenomena stretches across all types of writing – academic and non-academic both. i guess when the regularity of long blog posts goes up it means that i’m feeling pressure from somewhere. which is true i guess. and it’s good for writing so i shall go ahead.
before i continue i must place here a caveat that whatever follows is potentially flammable and offensive. not in the sense that i’m going out to flame people or put them down, but some might call me chauvinistic or narrow minded or plain stupid. justifying myself will not make sense because it is most likely that if you choose to read something in a certain way, you’re not going to be persuaded by whatever explanation i can provide. this paragraph is the biggest justification and warning that i can provide to you right now, dear reader.
so one fine day i’m in lit class. as you well know, lit class is predominantly populated by members of the fairer sex. normally, i know, this should be no cause for complaint. however, there is always the risk of the ‘giggling girls’ syndrome. now, i’m not generalizing. i’m just saying that such a phenomena does exist. not all girls do this – i have some female friends who get similarly annoyed when this happens. i refer to instances where a group of girls (who somehow get to know each other if they don’t already do so) can get all a-twitter about something… trivial that happens. something like that. and then the noise builds like a wave crashing against the breakers at high tide – it comes to a point where it becomes something of a physical manifestation and i can feel a sort of force bearing against my ears. normally what happens is that after a while the giggling stops, but inevitably begins again. once again, let me say that i bear no grudge against the fairer sex – if anything, i very much like girls. i just do not like the giggling girls syndrome (as i term it).
so i was in lit class, foaming hard in lecture (as usual) when this happened. someone asked about why we studied literature, and how it always seems to be about teaching us how to live our lives. and the question was that is there actually any other way to live life? because there was an implied searching for such.
now, i must admit that such a question does not really figure into the content of a lecture. i must admit that without a doubt, it detracts from the lesson at hand. and so when the lecturer said that lit was being taught for lit, and not for how to live life, it guess it would be an acceptable ending to the discussion at hand. but the issue was pressed.
what happened then was fascinating, for the lack of a better word. do bear with my description: i know it may sound odd and you may dismiss it as something strange or say that i just don’t understand. but what happened was that there seemed to be the beginnings of hushed whispers about how so and so shouldn’t disrupt the class and we shouldn’t run off topic, yada yada. i know, i’ve muttered similar sentiments myself. but was not the question a highly important one? fundamentally it poses the problem of how to live one’s life. but as the discussion between student and teacher continued, i felt that the hushed whispers grew in scale and volume and malice, like how the Balrog strode through the corridors of Moria and manifested itself at the Bridge of Khazad-dum. a creature of shadow and flame, truly. it wasn’t a hushed whisper anymore – it became affected whispers in a hollow attempt to keep the volume down, loud enough to be heard. but what struck me was the spite and the mean-ness of it all.
even during the 10 minute break (very much desired in a long long class, thank you), when i went to the toilet, i could see clumps of people discussing it. discussing is perhaps a lousy term. a more accurate phrase would be perhaps lambasting and criticizing in the most negative sense of the word. it was an all-out offensive, a dissing of the highest order. it was quite vituperative.
why did i bring up the giggling girls syndrome? because by far and large it was the girls in class who were doing it. yes some of the guys were doing it also. but somehow i felt that it was an exclusion of sorts. that the class had suddenly excluded the student who asked the question. a social rejection that continued and i have no idea how to define. at that point in time i was still sitting down in my seat, rather oblivious and detached from all that was happening around me, but on hindsight (about 5 minutes later) i found myself greatly disturbed by what i had just observed. was it an extension of the giggling girls syndrome? it sure felt like it. i don’t know if it is, but it sure felt as if it were.
why did everyone suddenly manifest their own internal Balrog? my very arrogant guess is that maybe, just maybe, a lot of people were shocked by that question because they suddenly realized that they had never once asked themselves that question – how to live their lives. i’m not sure. now, i’m not saying i have The Answer to that question, but i have a set of guiding principles and a code and a way in which i am going to live my life. in short, i have asked myself that question and i have found an answer that satisfies me.
but how come everything turned so bleak and black? i really have no idea. is social conformity so important? i would like to think that life itself is far more important. that going to university means that you have been trained to a level where you can recognize and process what’s important. and one focuses on the important things. see that a question is asked for a fundamental reason and not a desire to be guailan. but the strange part is that i felt that the balrog-ness was of a considerably feminine character. like spite and envy and herd mentality all rolled into an evil roiling cloud, waiting to burst out but glorying in its own inevitability. it really sounds quite nasty (now that i look back at what i typed) but that’s what a really felt like at that time. like the taint on saidin in the Wheel of Time, except female. WHY?
i’m not trying to be anti-feminist or anything like that. i’m an ENFJ. i like being at peace with everyone. nonetheless i like to air my views. and now i have a question that i have not found the answer to, despite having experienced something very strange. perhaps it’s just me, and how i experienced it. but i don’t really think so. some gut feeling tells me that there’s an answer to it. but was the reaction to such a question (granted yes, there would be some reaction, but on such a scale?) – let me rephrase that. what caused such a reaction to the question??????