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|Stream of Consciousness - I started this stream of consciousness halfway into my freshman year of college. I was experiencing a time of incredible change back then, as strange and unfamiliar emotions were flowing through me. I've always been a thinker and a philosopher at heart, but at that time, I felt the need to put my thoughts down somewhere, regardless of whether or not anyone else would read them. Often times I remember wandering aimlessly, wondering about deep concepts connected to the heavy feelings I was dealing with at the time, only to be drawn back to my computer to type those thoughts out. Here are those entries. These days, I have a blog elsewhere that I use to write down my thoughts from the maniacal to the mundane. But there is much to be found here, for the philosophically-minded.|
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(11/30/07) This life, in this world, revolves around money. I don't like to admit it, but I'm not one to ignore the truth just because it's not convenient or comfortable. It's a consumer culture, and while money is not the end-all be-all of happiness, it can go a long way toward getting the things that you want out of life. As long as you have the right attitude about money, I don't see how having a decent stash of it can harm your chances at living a meaningful life. If being poor is miserable, how can being rich be any worse? I really shouldn't even have to defend this position, as it's probably an axiom to most people, but I've spent enough time around certain kinds of people who are willing to question anything and everything, that defense can become a gut reaction.
The best way to make money is to inherit it. It's legitimately yours, and you don't have to do a thing to get it. Of course, that's not exactly something that you can arrange. You could convince people to give you charity, but that's not exactly the best way to live your life either. You could steal it, but that's rife with risks, and I personally would never opt for such a dishonest lifestyle. The main way to make money is by working. Getting a job. Submitting to The Man.
Don't get me wrong. I want a job. I want a job bad. But it's unfortunately not that simple. On the one hand, the method for getting a job is a stumbling block on its own for me. And in addition, I don't like the idea of working at a job that makes me utterly miserable. Like sitting in a freezing office at a computer faking productivity for 8 hours a day in the middle of the summer. It destroys my soul. So I try to look for jobs that I'd actually enjoy, but you know it's hard.
I actually wrote up a resume once. And it's an experience that I hope to God I never have to repeat. It's so impersonal, so dishonest to my beliefs, and personally I don't see how it could possibly yield a good result. Intelligent people with desirable job skills have a hard time getting jobs, so how in the hell can I expect to get one? No matter where I go, there are people better than me and better suited to the jobs around me. I lack the charisma and people skills that really put prospectives above the edge. The only thing I could possibly hope for is some kind of personal skill or talent I have that makes me unique, and desirable in some way in the job market. Some kind of esoteric skill that I can market.
Well, I considered being an artist of some kind. I'm still considering it. Maybe a musician, but my talent as a guitarist sucks. Writing? I'd love to, but it takes so much time and effort to really craft something worthwhile. I would have killed to be an illustrator of some sort, but I can't draw for shit. The big problem with all of these possibilities is not so much my lack of talent, but my lack of devotion to building up my skill. There's a little thing called 'practice' that means so much. Practice makes perfect. But you know, I've always been averse to it. Practice makes me sick. I have a real hard time getting myself to sit down and do something that doesn't yield immediate results. If I draw consistently for a few years, maybe I'll get good at it. But that's not good enough to motivate me to sit down and draw every day.
Guitar has been better than most of these things, because it's fun. And I can sit down and learn a riff from a song pretty easily, provided there's a tab available. That's immediate results. But after awhile, if you wanna have anything to do with guitar, you have to learn a little more than a few cute riffs to impress your girlfriend. You have to learn songs, you have to learn theory, or else develop some kind of system of your own that works. I dunno, sometimes I think that maybe I am good enough to be a real guitarist, but I just lack an appropriate band to match my sensibilities. Then again, I know shit about music theory, and that's like the fundamental language of musicians. I should really take some formal lessons and get a real musical education. I still don't see that happening.
I'm not sure what the point of this post is. The truth of my life is that I'm constantly reminded of how 'outside the system' I fit. And I don't necessarily want to be there, but it's not something I can choose. There's a moral dilemma waging in my head about the merits of conforming and the merits of individuality. *Should* I seek out help to force myself to become an average citizen, or is that some sort of betrayal of who I am? And the even more concerning issue, is whether or not that is even physically, or psychologically, possible.
They say the only way to find out is to try, but all the rationalization in the world can't change an ingrained force of habit. Especially one that's built upon a foundation of fear.
(8/7/07) The purpose of life is survival. And as we live, we constantly measure the pleasure and pain we derive from experiences, in countless shapes and forms, and this drives our actions. The point of life is merely to live, but most people strive for happiness. It is not happiness that we search for; happiness is an illusion. What we truly seek is joy. But joy is often tainted by the beliefs and ideals of the society at large. Man is a social animal, and nothing matters more than the acceptance of one's peers. This is dangerous, as we live in a world where people are narrow-minded and have trouble accepting diversity. We are forced to conform, lest we be cast out by the peers that we need to befriend. And thus we subject ourselves to an existence of painful captivity, where we do not feel comfortable to be who we truly are. Our purity is sacrificed so that we may remain a part of the group. And as a result, our joy is severely handicapped. For noone can be truly happy when they are engaged in a constant struggle to be something that is not natural to their base instincts of existence.
The "One Mind" mentality of modern politics and society is extremely dangerous. Mankind is a very diverse species, and every memeber has his own beliefs and ideals. The illusory goal of modern society is to allow diversity, equality, and protection for all walks of life. But this is a lie. As long as we have codes of law, that take into no account the context of a situation, and act merely as cause-effect punishments that are prescribed for certain types of behavior, regardless of who is being prosecuted and what their beliefs are, we will be trapped in this cage. In order to save everyone, modern political philosophy deems it a worthy price to jail everyone under its "One Mind". Imperialism is the perfect example of this ideology. In a world where people are not afraid to be who they are, tyrants and dictators who rule by fear will be powerless. Yet, trapping everyone under a single code of ethics in an effort to subvert these types is nothing more than a hypocritical action. It is not every man for himself, but rather, every man with like peers of his choice, who live the way they choose to live. The world is a dangerous place, but it is not worth living in if we suppress our true natures. We have lost touch with the communication from our hearts to our minds, and from our hearts to other people's hearts. You must tear down the pillars of the establishment and stand for what you believe in. The eternal universe will guarantee your fate, but only if we all work together to bring out our own inner selves. We must destroy the current trend of weakness and self-imprisonment. Society is moving too far away from nature, and it is destroying everything that makes us alive. The current path can lead only to failure: a cold, lifeless existence no difference from that of a soulless machine. I say, breathe! Speak out against the madness! There is still time! Fear is, has been, and always will be our greatest enemy....
(7/26/07) The only thing I remember is that there was a person who was obviously possessed by the devil. I was watching some sort of transcript, like a video interview or something, and the person's face was there on the screen, and he was trying to explain something, and then his face contorted and he made these frightening sounds.
The fascinating thing is, it's not that scary in the light of waking day. Yet, in that dream state, it was most terrifying. Naturally, I started to wonder why you have that difference.
As a child, things are scary because you believe they are possible. As you grow and learn the difference between reality and fantasy, those things that exist only in the realm of imagination no longer scare you, because they're not practical. You don't believe that there's a monster in your closet or an alligator under your bed. You don't fear the dark so much because you have a pretty good idea what is and is not hiding in it. I think this is only part of it, though.
There has to be something of a fearful disposition, an attitude or state of being that causes you to be more fearful of certain kinds of things. I don't think there's such a thing as growing out of a phobia. You may learn to deal with it, but it doesn't just go away. That's the nature of a phobia. It's more than just a fear. But why? What causes that incapacity and sheer terror, even beyond logic?
The quality of a nightmare is that it is so frightening that it wakes you up out of the dream. And it usually leaves you so terrified (of whatever part of the nightmare that specifically scared you), that you are afraid to go back to sleep, because you do not want to confront that entity again. And yet you're very tired. So you have to fight between trying to purge your mind of the frightening image, and going back to sleep.
The interesting thing is, the fear is like a highly intense, perhaps phobic response. And yet, it doesn't have to be a reaction to a thing that the person is specifically phobic to. But there's something about the state that the person is in when they experience the nightmare, that makes them highly sensitive to fear. My first thought is that it has to do with the natural suspension of disbelief that occurs in the dream world. Many strange things are possible in dreams, so it is possible that something that wouldn't scare you in waking life because you know it's not real, might terrify you in the dream world, because it feels completely real.
I'm confident that that's part of the reasoning. But I also can't ignore the fear-state hypothesis. Something about your body state makes you ultra-susceptible to fear. I can't help but compare it to the fear-state that occurs during sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a completely different thing than nightmares, and far more terrifying partly because you believe it's real and not just a dream. But I've read from people who experience multiple episodes of sleep paralysis that even after they understand what it is that's happening to them during an episode, it doesn't reduce the severity of the terror. Which makes me think that something else is going on. Some kind of a primitive fear trigger that's being forced on, somewhere within your mind. Like how the Ladder travels straight down to your base primitive anger and switches it on. This could be the same thing, but with fear instead of anger. And I think nightmares may have access to the same trigger, or at least a similar one.
So what's the point? I have no idea. I just think it's endlessly fascinating. How I can watch countless disgusting horror movies without hardly a reaction, but a simple creepy face in a dream can make me cower in fear. It really is fascinating. Almost makes me wish that I had followed Arty Shapiro's advice and studied psychophysics. Dreams intrigue me to no end.
(5/5/07) Candy (the family dog) died yesterday. She lived a long and full life (around 14 years?), and now she's gone to attend the great gig in the sky. I'm not gonna ramble about mortality and the mysteries of death, heck, I don't even believe in an afterlife, but there is something worth mentioning. I know it's just a coincidence of psychological factors, but if I was more lenient in my beliefs, I could easily believe that Candy visited me in my dreams last night to say goodbye and tell me not to mourn. I'm sure you've had dreams before that felt so real, you didn't realize you're dreaming. Have you ever had a dream before that was so real, that even questioning it as a dream leaves you thinking that it's real? I was certain that it wasn't a dream, until I woke up. Even though I saw Candy, and she looked better than she's looked in a long time, even though she had just died, I still believed it was real. I don't believe in much of the supernatural, at least not the usual explanations, but I *am* endlessly fascinated by it. And I love it when things work out in such a way. I'm a servant of order (as opposed to an agent of chaos), and I like it when things fall into place, in order to allow for a deeper meaning to things. Too many times those things fall apart instead, and that's what leaves me feeling that there's no ethereal justice in life. But when things do come together in such a way, even if it is just an illusion, it's significant enough to sit back and marvel at the coincidence.
Upon further thinking, this dream brings up the issues of skepticism and lucid dreaming. I'm a pretty skeptical person, but I don't consider myself a skeptic, in the philosophical sense, like Doug does. You have to believe in something. And I don't recall ever having a lucid dream. But on that topic, I remember a fellow student from college, let's call him Mark, who attempted to train himself to experience lucid dreaming. He wrote a symbol on the back of his hand, and at periodic intervals, he would look down at his hand and ask himself, "am I awake or am I dreaming?" Then he would calmly reply, "I am awake." He told me that this ritual would transfer into his dream world, except that in the dream, he would reply, "I am dreaming", and would from thereon recognize that he's dreaming. But my question is, what if, in the dream, he still replies "I am awake"? What if you are incapable of recognizing the world around you as anything other than the waking world that you are familiar with?
The dream I had last night appears to potentially reveal the limit of my skepticism. I believed the dream was real, despite the impossible occurence of a resurrection from the dead, in a certain manner. Either my skepticism is greatly relaxed in the dream world, and I allow for much stranger things without question, or else, despite logical evidence to the contrary, I am unable to believe at any point that I am existing in a world other than the familiar waking reality. Now, it's highly possible that my skepticism is relaxed in the dream world, but that would only make sense if I believed I was dreaming (or didn't even think about it). If I consciously and actively believed that I am awake and not dreaming, then my skepticism should be the same as it is when I am awake. But then, maybe that's just one of the paradoxes of dreaming.
(4/15/07) Society with a big 'S'
The problem with society today, as I see it, is the matter of majority rule. Well, maybe that's not the problem - that's the issue. The problem is the fact that I don't see an easy alternative, yet I'm not comfortable with things the way they are. Allow me to borrow one of my own quotes, "To sum up the human condition in one sentence: I live in my world, you live in yours - they both occupy the same space." No person on the face of this planet is a majority. Each and every one of us is an individual. Majority rule is just the best approximation we can come to - we can't satisfy everyone, so the next best solution is to satisfy as many people as possible. But where does that leave the outliers? Lying on the outside, of course. Is a world of individual rule possible? I don't see why not, but is it really a better solution? If everybody followed their own beliefs and impulses, then everyone would be stepping all over everyone else. That's the basis behind "individual rights" in our majority rule system. We all have certain rights as long as we're not stepping on somebody else's rights. The only way to make an individual rule system work, is if every person existed in their own world, and had complete control over every aspect of it. Each person would be their own God. Frankly, I think this would be a wonderful thing. But barring some superior Matrix-like technology, it doesn't seem like a practical reality.
To quote myself again, "So long as there is unpredictability, there will never be complete control, and without control, there can be no perfect justice." Man does not have control over nature. This is the most important thing I learned while studying college-level physical science. As far as we can tell, nature has set rules that govern every kind of being or interaction in this corporeal existence. More importantly, these rules impose all kinds of limits on what can and cannot be done. Fortunately, human imagination is not confined by these limits (not in the same way, anyway), but as an unfortunate result of that, life becomes a series of disappointing revelations about the restricted nature of reality as compared to the world of dreams (waking or sleeping just the same).
So the thing about Society with a big 'S', is that it's there, regardless of whether you like it or not. You can either try to change it or not. Most people seem to satisfy themselves with society, whether they truly want to or not, perhaps because they see the futility in trying to change things, and don't have the energy or motivation to continue fighting a battle they knowingly cannot win. Some people do continue to fight anyway. I count myself as a person who is a dreamer but a realist. I cannot accept Society as it is, yet I have no hope of ever changing it (certainly not within my lifetime). So what can a person like me do, but live in constant dissatisfaction?
Luckily for me, even as much as life sucks, there are things that tend to make it worthwhile, even if they're not quite as good as I'd have them, if it were up to me. It's a compromise. A forced compromise.
Especially at my point in life, I find myself questioning who I am - who I'd like to be as well as who I'm supposed to be - and under the circumstances, I'm not exactly sure which direction I should go in. On the one hand, I'm tempted to follow a more traditional path (though still far outside the societal norm), because that's the way everything in the world besides my own thoughts and desires seems to be pushing me. But on the other hand, I want to question the labels that Sociey puts on me, and the directions that Society prescribes for me. I am who I am, so why should I try to be someone else, even someone that Society wants me to be? If I'm really an inspired but ultimately untalented starving artist/musician wannabe who can only survive off of the goodwill of others, then why I should I not accept myself as that? Why should I be stronger, why should I be better, why should I be more successful, if it's just not me? When I think about these things, and ponder the direction I should move in, it always comes back to the one question I can never seem to answer - can a person really change?
I believe in determinism. Partially because I'm lazy, and partially because I can't find any logical reasoning to back up the illusive notion of free will. Too many times in my life I have seen things turn out one way when I want them to turn out another. So who can blame me for feeling like I have no control over the way things turn out, right? I am who I am, not by choice, but just because that's the way it is. And even if I believed I could change it, I still couldn't, unless that was determined, too. So I kinda like to ride by the seat of my pants. I mean, I strongly desire to know the way things will turn out ahead of time, because I'm much more comfortable when I can predict how things will turn out, but ultimately, that's more something I desire than something that happens. So all I can do is just let things happen as they will, and roll with the punches, because it's not like I can change it anyway.
I feel like there are a lot of people who would look at that outlook on life and disapprove. And I can sympathize with those people, but ultimately, they can't change the way that I feel, and neither can I. Some people are just created with better abilities to cope with living. Some people just happen to enjoy life more than others. It's the luck of the draw, really, but once the cards have been dealt, you have no choice but to hold them.
But that also doesn't mean that all the people with bad hands should just fold out. I like the phrase, "it takes all kinds", because it reassures me that even the undesirables have a place in culture, because they enrich it in ways that the norms could never imagine. It may be survival of the fittest, but there's nothing wrong with letting the unfit survive, too. It's like the total fool who happens to discover a genius solution simply by thinking in entirely different terms than all the intellectuals were thinking in.
But that still doesn't mean that the undesirables are gonna have an easier life. It all comes back to reality. You just can't argue with reality, unless you're stuck on some other plane. And if you are, then you're bound to be beaten around by the limitations that reality imposes on your fantasies, whether you know where those limitations are coming from or not. Unless you're completely delusional. And I'm not entirely sure that that wouldn't be a better way to live...
(11/5/06) Hell is not a prison. You are not held there, against your will. It's just that...there is only one way out of Hell, and it takes a hell of a struggle to reach the end of that path.
Hell is a place inhabited by perversions of Good. For some, it's not such a bad place, if you can get past the pain and the depression. Some twisted souls might even consider it Heaven. But most souls, if they can purge their own Evil, prefer the company of Heaven. But it's not easy to get there for most.
There are many in Hell that will do as they wish, against your will, for there is no Law in Hell - only force and power and pain and fear. The trick is endurance, and atonement. If you can endure your suffering without losing yourself, without becoming an empty shell or an evil demon, then that is the first step to reaching Heaven - but not the only step.
If you can escape the total darkness of the catacombs without falling into the bottomless pit; if you can make it across the wasteland of the ancient battlefield, without being drawn into the yawning chasm; if you can endure the abuse of those who reside in Pandaemonium, the capital of Dis, and if you can avoid being chained in the hall of suffering; if you are not destroyed in the cities of hedonism; if you can cross the valley of fire; if you do not ultimately lose your will and your way in the garden of oblivion; and if you can climb the inverted pillar and walk through the fires of Purgatory, then you will at last come to Heaven, and your soul will become filled with joy for the rest of eternity.
Temptations of the flesh are entirely natural - the desire to procreate, the will to survive. But in the outer realm, when we have left our bodies - and our mortality - behind, these things will no longer matter. There will be greater pleasures and deeper joys than this. All will be perfection, in the most abstract sense.
In this world there is no pure joy. And if there is no other world, then what is pure joy but a pipe dream? There is no point in waiting for kingdom come, but the kingdom you live in now will not suffice, either. You must make sacrifices, and you must always take bad with the good. The only alternative is the great void.
(8/16/06) I can imagine a world where my needs are satisfied. When I'm tired, I can sleep, for as long as I like. When I'm fully rested, and no sooner, I'll wake up. When I'm hungry, I'll eat, and whatever it is I'm in the mood for. When I'm thirsty, I can have just the refreshment I need. I can always adjust the temperature so that it's never too hot or too cold. I can always go outside to get some fresh air when I feel inclined to, and there's always a beautiful, inspiring, natural view and never any strangers or people I don't feel like interacting with. All the supplies I could ever need are instantly available to me. There are always just the right kind of people to hang out with, whether I want to play a game with a friend, have an intelligent conversation, or chill with a groovy lady. But the people are instantly gone without a trace anytime I want or need to be alone. I don't have to deal with the hassles of modern living, like seeing the doctor and paying taxes and making deadlines, which are so many straws piled onto the camel's back. I never get sick and always feel good and in the right mood to pursue my goals and do my best. Inspiration and creativity flows unhindered, and all the beautiful internal impulses I have become outward expressions of beauty and humanity, clear in purpose and flawless in execution. There is no mystery. There is no worry. It's like a bright and sunny day, and your dreams are illuminated and accessible to you like the vibrant green foliage that surrounds you.
But this is not the world I live in. Everything I experience and everything I do seems, feels, like a compromise - a compromise to the pure and perfect and inconceivable vision that I see within, not with my eyes, but rather sense with my soul - a fleeting glimpse, like a flash of light or a spark of motion that you can but catch in the outer rim of your peripheral vision. Perfection is like a wild animal, that I am constantly hunting. I can sense it and I know when it is hiding nearby, but I can never seem to grab hold of it, or even get a clear and steady look at it.
Why should this be? Because there are forces beyond our control. Many forces. We do not choose our fate and we do not choose our lot in life. We can only do the best with what we have, or settle for less. I can create perfection, if only under the right conditions. These conditions are not given to me, and how can I help but think that it is all useless when all the forces of life around me try to make me be something I'm not, and failing that, they mock me and shun me and punish me simply because I do not fit in, I do not make the grade, I do not follow their herd, I do not wear their chains. And so I'm alone, and I have not the power to accomplish anything by myself. Is this a test? Or just cruel fate? In the darkest hour there is no guiding light. Sometimes you have to stumble blindly for awhile to get a better foothold. That is the nature of this life. There is no grand design, just ordinary design. There is no God, just man. There is no perfection, just compromise...
(5/19/06) So, I just came up with this thing on a whim this morning, after waking up at 6am and not being able to get back to sleep (which is unusual since I had only slept for about 5 hours and was very tired). Basically it's a small nostalgia trip, since I'm graduating from college in two days. If you happen to be graduating, then feel free to take the questions and post your own answers, or even add your own questions, since I focused on the ones that were most interesting to me. Here it is:
During my 4 years at Bucknell University
major(s) [degree]: Physics [BS]
minor(s): Philosophy, Japanese
post-graduate plans: independent guitar training
favorite professor: Arty Shapiro - as far as professors go, he's one of the most interesting and unique individuals I've ever known
favorite course: Distortions of Reality with Arty Shapiro - I wish the rest of my courses were this intellectually stimulating (Metaphysics with Prof. Groff comes in at a close second)
toughest semester: fall 2004 (Junior year)
easiest semester: spring 2006 (Senior year)
trips (within the country): San Francisco (New Year's 2003), various trips to New York City, Otakon in Baltimore in summer of '04 and '05, Sakura Matsuri in Washington DC spring '06 (even though it was pouring and the cherry blossoms were post-peak)
trips (outside the country): 10 days in Japan with my good friend Scott Rothrock, in the summer of '05
highest high: summer of '04
lowest low: quantum physics, fall of '04
biggest lesson learned: my passion is playing guitar, not physics
greatest accomplishment: my classic rock radio show on the campus station WVBU
music I got into: the blues, Robin Trower, Ten Years After, Joe Bonamassa, Silvertide, Peter Green, Michael Bloomfield, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Rory Gallagher, John Mayall, Paul Butterfield, Johnny Winter, The Yardbirds, The Primatives, Shannon Curfman, etc., etc., etc.
movies I saw for the first time: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, School of Rock, Lost & Delirious, Casshern (live action), V For Vendetta, Total Recall, Blade Runner, and many less memorable ones
sports/outdoor activities I participated in: boomerang, foxtail, aikido
memorable quotes: "See you later, pig-fuckers!", "does that say 'ass' in Japanese, on the back of that microwave?", "college is a petri dish for fucking", "if I was forced to have sex with a celebrity, it would be Will Smith", "no worries", "Gordon must be rolling in his grave" - spoken during a class that Gordon was attending
most unforgettable memories: Super Impossible Mario World, DDR at Kraid, Roberts 301 - Portal to Hell, My Shady Uncle Thomas playing at The Towne Tavern and The Bull Run, Silvertide at Uptown, summer in Hunt Hall, 10 days in Japan, Mike's uncontrollable swearing and racial slurs and assorted catch phrases, Pete's frightening fetishes, Scott's horrible puns, Zharth's Classic Rock on 90.5 FM WVBU Lewisburg, watching Berserk at Anime Society, sword training with Zorro in the rain on the rooftop of Swartz Hall, Scott Rothrock's many flavorful dishes, Pepperoni Subs at Italian Terrace Express, Larison Dining Hall's Make-Your-Own-Pizza, taking pictures of Jupiter and mapping the Milky Way galaxy, going down by the river to ponder the mysteries of life
the one thing I'll miss the most: the picturesque landscaping
if I could do it all over: I'd have been a music major
(5/6/06) Don't ask why, but I was just thinking that if I were to kill myself right now, this is what I would write in my suicide note -
"Don't try to rationalize, only 22 years worth of experiences could provide a sufficient explanation. There's nothing more I want from this world, I just hope that beyond death there is something better - and if not, then that's okay, too."
The last thing I would do right now is give up, but sometimes it justs looks so bleak, and your mind gets to wandering...
(4/25/06) I've always been an introspective guy. All my life I have spent lots of time to myself, perhaps in an empty room, or outside away from people, with nothing to distract me but my own thoughts. At once I feel comfortable in my own head, and yet also my constant over-analysis can act to paralyze myself with fear at other times. But always, I have enjoyed sitting and doing nothing more than thinking. Working things out, philosophical issues, social issues, personal issues, and less heavy things, too. I've always been my own best friend.
I remember I started these musings (that is, the Stream of Consciousness) at the end of my first semester of college life. Surely, you can scroll down and read the first entry yourself. College has changed me in so many ways. Not just changed, but evolved and refined, too. I came in anticipating an education in physics. It's a wonder to me that I was always more attracted to math and science, whereas now I feel more comfortable with more art and music oriented activities. I have to wonder if this burning desire I have now to be a guitarist is something that was always inside of me, or if it was created new during my experiences at college (and formatively in the couple years before college). Was it always there, or was it cultivated by my reactions to society? I guess it really doesn't matter, either way.
College has certainly been an inner journey for me. So much have I learned, and yet I feel like there is so much I am lacking. I have a direction now, and I'm more dedicated to it than anything I've ever been dedicated to before in my life. That's got to count for something. And even though I have no clue how I will accomplish my dream, I at least have enough motivation to make it a reality, and enough wisdom not to listen to anyone else who doubts me (and they always do).
Surely, there's the issue of the time and money wasted on an education in science. But if you think that that is all I've acquired from my four years at college, then you're missing the big picture. And yet, many people do. Yeah, there's probably better places I could have made the same growth, and for less money, too. But you can't turn back time, and though hindsight is 20/20, foresight rarely compares.
I almost feel like all my life I've been dragged along, never walking on my own volition, but just following the people who had been leading me. And I followed, because they told me it was the proper path, and I believed them. Well, I know better now. And even though, at this time, there is no clear path ahead of me, I know that when I do start walking in the right direction, it will be of my own volition, and towards a goal that I strive for. I don't care what people think I'm capable of. All I care about is what I want, and whether or not I'm capable of achieving *that*.
At this point, as far as presenting myself to society, or just to people specifically, I don't feel that I have a lot to offer. And because of that, I have recently come to the conclusion that there is really no reason why I should have the kinds of things I expect from the world. All I've got is potential, thoughts and ideas. Before I can expect anything, or anyone, in return, I have to prove my worth by transforming some of that potential into something concrete. And it is my resolution to accomplish that through the pursuit of my current dream - playing the guitar. I feel like if I dedicate myself to learning to express myself through the voice of music, then by that means others will see just what it is I have to offer to society, or to them personally.
It's about a vision I have always had in my head. It's not specific, there are no details, but it's a more visceral, general kind of imagery. A very emotive and powerfully energetic kind of existence. As long as this vision stays within me, it can do no good to anyone else in this world. So I feel that it is my responsibility to find a way to express this vision, and I believe at this time that music is the perfect mode for that. But it's not just a responsibility, it's not as if I am doing this out of necessity. I'm doing it because I want to, and because I know that if I were doing it, the way that I can envision myself doing it, that I would enjoy it immensely, that that might be the one true joy that I could attain for myself in this life. And that is reason enough to pursue it.
It's a long and winding road, and I realize that the odds are against me, but right now I feel like I'd rather die at the side of that road, climbing ever toward the finish, than to give up and walk any other path.
My greatest enemy on this journey, as it has always been, will be my own self. More specifically, the sloth that resides within me. One cannot accomplish great things without great effort. And despite all my desire and motivation, the temptation to back off and rest under a tree is always greater. This, I believe, will be my greatest challenge, and how I fare against this enemy I believe will be the ultimate factor that determines my success or failure.
I must be vigilant.
(04/17/06) Life was a constant disappointment. At every step of the way, I could always see how things could be infinitely better. Of course, there was always that doubt, that maybe, even if the world was the way I envisioned it, it would still not be as good as I could imagine - if there were no pain, no suffering, maybe there'd be no pleasure, either. But that is a matter of practical reality, and my visions were of perfection. Could it be otherwise than what I have the power to see is not possible to realize? In all the infinite power and wisdom of the universe, could one not make a dream into reality? And if not - oh, what a depressing regret! If I can imagine things to be so good, then why can they not actually be so good? And yet, every experience I have in reality proves to me that great void between the promised land and the desert of the real. Perhaps it is the case that we have dreams of heaven because it motivates us in life. But for me, I only become more depressed, because I know what I'm missing. I think I'm beginning to understand why people look to religion. But still, a reservation remains. Surely, if you believe that in eternity, the hereafter, you will experience heaven, then you don't feel so left out. But to accomplish this, you must be willing to hold that belief. What if it is the case that it is an empty belief, not true? Noone can be sure, but at the very best all empirical evidence points to that outcome. Ultimately, I do not believe we should give up on making *this* life perfect, as much as we are able, just in case there is no other. Why settle for anything less? And yet, the constant pain and sorrow is there - we are so far from a perfect life. I suspect the largest obstacle is the subjectivity of conscious experience. Every single person has a different specific idea of perfection, and nobody's holds more value than anybody else's. How can this be reconciled? If we are all to live in our own perfect world, then we cannot all live in the same world, but then we cannot interact with each other, either. But what if that interaction is part of the perfection of one person's perfect world? Even more disturbingly, what is the point of having everyone live in a perfect world? That is, if everyone is living in their own perfect world, what is the importance of adding more people to the population, to live in their own perfect worlds? Is the goal to have as many people possible living this perfect lifestyle? But then, what is the point behind having that many, or any number, really? When the perfection becomes so trivial, as it is in this scenario, it almost seems to lose its value. I'm tempted to say that perfection is important only in the context of an imperfect world, and that the key is not to live perfectly automatically from the start, but to seek out perfection. And yet, as poetic as this may sound, that only brings me back to where I started - depressed at the nature of this world and how far it is from my perfect world. Maybe someone could find perfection in this world, but I don't see myself in that role. It's like there's not even a chance. And so, inevitably, I have to ask the question - what's the point?
(04/07/06) Oh, how nice it would be if I could just point to someone and have them vanish forever from the face of the earth...get rid of all the people who drag me down...it'd be like picking out all the trash and being left with a higher quality product in the end...why can't we all live in our own separate, self-propagating little worlds? I understand about hardship and suffering and all that, but sometimes you just want something, and it can be so simple, but you want it really bad, and you just don't get it. I mean, you don't want it every day and all the time. But the one time that you really need it, need it the most, you still can't have it. What good does that do? I mean sure, it gives you the ability to sing the blues better, but what's the point? I'd rather be happy and living in a perfect world, than be the best blues singer in this trash heap of a world.
(1/05/06) One of the most fascinating, and simultaneously most frustrating, things about human knowledge and understanding is the way that it seems to morph depending on your state of mind, like water flowing to fill the shape of its container. Different things will apply in different ways to different situtations, and certain things make sense only in certain contexts. It really makes it hard (damn near impossible) to try to pin down something like an absolute truth. So at times, you'll realize something, and the idea of seeing it in such a way will excite you. But then later on down the line, you'll be in a different frame of mind, and maybe you'll have different ideas about it, and it won't seem so exciting. And there'll be things that you ponder for ages without truly understanding it. The moment wherein you become enlightened about a specific truth of existence seems so fleeting, it makes you wonder how much of a truth it really is. And if it's not a truth, then what makes it so enticing?
I was thinking, and I came to a sudden realization. An idea, actually. I don't know if it's worth anything, but it was sure exciting to think about it in this way. It just happens to do with the line "he not busy being born is busy dying." I attained a new kind of understanding of that line. I guess the easy interpretation is that life is nothing but a march toward the grave, a somewhat somber notion. But I was thinking deeper than that, and I made a potential realization. If life is nothing more than a preparation for death, then that makes life a thing defined by death. So death defines life, or in other words, death gives purpose to life. What I'm thinking is that everything that has purpose in life, is given that purpose in some way by death. You spend your entire life trying to earn your death, so to speak. By accomplishing something of value to you personally, you've gained yourself a peaceful rest in eternity, and you cannot be satisfied dying before this is accomplished. So everything that is done in life is really done for the sake of death. It's like second by second, you're building a monument to your life, you're writing your eulogy day by day, so that your death can be worthwhile. It's almost like, if there was no threat of ever dying, then there'd be no drive to accomplish anything in life.
Strange, and yet, not so extraordinary. Surely, it's not any huge new revelation about life, but to be able to view death in such a specific way, it just opens up your mind and allows you to view alternate possibilities, realities, if you will. And maybe, you'll fall upon some knowledge that allows you to accomplish new things in your life that you never had the means to accomplish before. Imagine, the motivation to succeed in life, sprung from the knowledge that your hands are guided by the grim reaper himself. And yet, it's also like an amulet of protection against death, if only in will alone. Indeed, it's like a little piece of immortality, or leastways a drive to create a piece of immortality, something that will give your death eternal meaning by making your life worthwhile. What are you living for? What is it you want to accomplish? Are you making every effort to accomplish it?
The most powerful and influential state in the union is the state of mind
(12/28/05) I was thinking about this one statement one guy makes in the Isle of Wight film, about how great it is to come to a festival like the Isle of Wight Festival, and meet all these people with the same mindset that you have. I imagine, especially when the majority of mainstream culture is against you, it can be comforting to find so many other people in one place that share your beliefs. The hippies did make up the *counter*culture, after all.
And I was starting to think, it would make sense if a lot of the frustrations I have with life were a result of my not really being able to identify with any modern subculture. I mean, I'm always thinking about how much it sucks that I can't find people like me.
Growing up, I never really identified with any of the cliques around me, and I didn't have a lot of friends. I was generally friendly with everyone, and was an unthreatening kind of person, and most people took a casual liking to me. This way, I didn't have to kind of take sides, I was simultaneously on everyone's side, and on noone's side. It was liberating, but also lonely.
Now that I'm trying to pick my side, I'm finding it hard to find the people who represent my side, and I fear that maybe being on noone's side but my own all these years has caused me to develop a unique side that noone else shares. Which is unfortunate, and exactly the way I feel.
I've tried to identify with the sides that represent some of my biggest interests, but I always find that the typical member of that side is not the kind of person I like to identify with. For example, I'm a huge fan of anime, but the typical anime fan is way too nerdy and fanboyish for my tastes. I've tried really hard to be a part of the anime/video game group, but I just don't think I can stand it any more. My other biggest interest is music. But the trouble is, I can't stand modern popular music. So naturally, I should try to find people that like the kind of music I like, namely, classic rock. And I have. And I've met a lot of very cool people. However, just as the anime group wasn't 'cool' enough for me, the rockers group is a little *too* 'cool' for me. Since I don't partake in drinking alcohol or doing any drugs, that pretty much excludes me from the majority of activities they prescribe.
I enjoy anime for its artistic merit, not just because it's weird or different or 'cartoons' for an older audience. I enjoy rock music for its artistic merit, not because it's perfect to listen to while you're high. Maybe I should seek out 'artsy' people.
At any rate, I'm trying to seriously move myself into the 'music' world now, and as a creator and performer, not just a listener. This is really important to me, because I believe that music will allow me to express myself much better than I ever have any other way. And as a result, I hope I'll be able to find the kind of people that 'speak my language'. I guess that's really my focus now. I hope it will take me in the direction I want to be going.
(12/25/2005 - 5AM)
Most unfortunately, I come up with the ideas that seem most brilliant to me as I am lying in bed trying to sleep, when I am much too lazy to get up and walk over to the computer, or even so much as pick up a pencil and notepad by the bedside to write down my thoughts...
Well, this is one of those times that I was actually inspired enough to get up.
I was thinking about the beauty of depression, and the romanticism of death, and I got the idea to write my own eulogy to be recited at my funeral. Is that strange?
Throughout the ages, mankind has attached a number of romantic notions to the idea of death. I suppose, they were originally created to dull the pain of having to accept the fact that people die, and that when they do, they are forever removed from the only world that any of us currently know - the world of the living.
Death sets us free, and as Jim Morrison once said, "death makes angels of us all/and gives us wings/where we had shoulders/smooth as raven's claws."
But despite any romantic notions we may attach to death, there is one thing about death that we can be absolutely certain of. And that is this: that death possesses that most humbling power - the power to remove us from the living; the power to take from us the only life we know; the power to reverse creation.
And yet, much about death is uncertain. Is there an afterlife? What of resurrection? Does the soul live on? Is there even a soul? I very much believed that there is no afterlife, that there is only one life, and that death marks the ultimate end. Perhaps I was wrong, and if so, then surely I must now be experiencing my greatest adventure. Traveling through a world beyond the living, that is perhaps as free as anyone can imagine in life, maybe even freer.
But if I was right, though it is a more depressing outlook, that does not make me any less satisfied with my life, as I may be viewing it now for eternity as some cosmic movie. Because what comes after death, if anything, should not have any direct consequence on how we conduct ourselves in life.
How do I consider my life, now having lived it? Well, as should be reflected on my tombstone, I believe that "life was a disappointment, but not a waste." All throughout my life I was plagued, and yet gifted, with visions of a beautiful world. Sometimes these visions reflected through my eyes onto the world before me, but more often than not, these beautiful visions would be dispelled when I opened my eyes to view the world I existed within.
Sure, it is arrogant to presume some sort of divine right, a right to the power that would allow me to create the beautiful world I saw in my dreams. But because I did not believe that that world would necessarily be granted to me in death, I desired more than anything to create it in life. And even though I was not able to, I do not feel like the attempt was a complete failure. It was disappointing, but not a complete waste, for the pursuit itself was worth something.
Seeing visions of an abstract world, beautiful beyond description, is not as great as living in that world, but it is better than not living in that world and not being able to see it either. I spent my entire life searching for a voice that would allow me to communicate the beauty of this world, and mere language was never sufficient. Music was much closer, and I hope that I was able to open the eyes of a few others through the music that I worked to create.
For those of you who knew me, but wished for a chance to know me better, I apologize. I never was good at communicating my thoughts and feelings, and I was far too comfortable keeping my affairs to myself. I wonder how different, and perhaps how much more fruitful, my life would have been had I been able to overcome the obstacles that kept me from getting really close to others. But at the same time, I strongly doubt that the kind of mental connection between people that I desired to have is even possible, so I don't particularly feel like I've missed out on anything reasonable, for better or worse.
Still, for those of you who want a better idea of the person I was, I am certain that enough of my personal notes have been left behind, and now that I am gone, I have no problem with any of you reading them, as long as its for the right reasons. In fact, the only worldly desire I have left is a hope that somebody wants strongly enough to know me to take on the task of doing just that by way of my notes. If not in life, then maybe at least in death, there may be another soul who will understand me.
As far as grieving goes, I will certainly not presume to dictate how you should react to my death. However, I think it would be healthy for each and every one of you to experience some level of melancholy to honor me. It is not necessary to cry for me, though you may do so, but the last thing I'd want is for my own funeral to be sad only. Just as there is great beauty in depression, I want you all to counter any feelings of depression you may have, by contemplating in a serious manner the beauty that is life, and the beauty that is death, and the journey between.
But most of all remember, though death marks the end, the real celebration is of life. So never forget in any of your moments in this world the opportunity you have, being alive, to do so little (so much, really) as to take in the world around you and move about it freely, for though there may be countless pains and worries in life, rest assured that they all will be silenced in your final, peaceful rest. But until then, enjoy life for everything it has to offer!
(11/30/05) I have a problem with authority. I believe I am special, that somehow the rules don't apply to me. I believe that I have a special kind of sight, but it's more intuitive than visceral. I believe that everybody has the potential to see this other reality, but that most choose, consciously or otherwise, to blind themselves because the pain of seeing what cannot be touched is too much. I believe that this is a grave misfortune, for I believe that there is no reason why we should not be able to touch this other reality, but for the fact that it cannot be reached alone, and that there are not enough people reaching for it for it to be reached. But I believe that is no reason not to keep reaching. I would say that I would die for my beliefs, except that it's not a matter of death - it's a matter of life. I will live for my beliefs, and I believe that's as strong a statement as anyone can make. To live for a personal cause, against all opposition, is the purest manner of being. To die for that cause is to fail, unless you can influence others from beyond your grave, and no mere human is capable of that. You will not see the world you leave when you die. You see it only as you live. Why must one fight for ghosts, and against demons? Must one be insane to do so? If so, is it anything to be afraid of? I say, it is only a matter of nature. Personal nature. Your nature is yours and yours alone. It is what makes you what you are. If you are worthless, know that your value varies depending upon the values of those who are judging. And if you have much worth, then know that nothing in this life matters more than feelings. The feelings you experience are all of what you have to keep with you, and the more varied feelings you get to experience, the truly more 'complete' your set will become. Remember that. But remember also that as long as you live, you collect, and your soul becomes fuller.
I am faced with a conflict. Society has managed to instill within me a feeling of necessity for acquiring that sustenance of modern living - money. Money is the great green god that governs all. Money opens doors. Money heals wounds. Money does your chores, and money even talks for you. But worst of all, money determines what, and especially who, is desirable.
My conflict is thus: I feel forced to pursue a path that would lead me into an occupation which guarantees a reliable source of income. The problem is that I have no interest in such a mundane existence, and that all the things I desire to do seem to be nothing more than a waste of time, in the eyes of the society which imprisons me. A poor member of society is like a broken machine that no longer performs its function satisfactorily. But I don't want to be a simple cog in the machine. I want to be my own machine. A thinking, feeling machine that will do as it pleases, and will take pleasure in the vast plethora of sensations available on this most beautiful planet.
I almost feel like I am two people. Maybe I am two people. One, who sits in the shadows crying, lonely. And the other, standing by the doorway, holding it shut, barring all passage. Two conflicting interests. The desire to join and the simultaneous fear of it. A creative impulse, born from the influence of constant pain, the knowledge of darkness, and the desire for light. Crushed by a destructive impulse, drenched in fear, holding the darkness as the darkness holds me. Either one could be satisfied, if not opposed, but the coexistence of both propagates the suffering. Is there no solution?
Life is a prison. We are born into it, innocent of any crime, and more or less randomly assigned a position, be it inmate, guard, or administrator. But regardless, each one of us is confined to the grounds of the prison, for life. No one here gets out alive. It is possible, through hard work and effort, to advance your own position. Say, if you were an inmate, you could become a guard or even an administrator if you demonstrate the right abilities and good behavior, that is, willingness to work within the constraints of the prison system. It is also possible to force an advancement, say, through a breakout, or a coup d'etat. However, we are all confined to this prison system in one way or another. Death is the only escape.
Given these circumstances, a distinction arises between two kinds of people: those who learn to more or less abide by the prison rules, and either learn to accept their fate or work hard within the constraints to better their position relative to the rest of the prison community; and then there are those who never come to terms with their fate. These people will fight eternally for some kind of freedom from the prison system, though they will not find it. These people are not content just to put themselves in a better position relative to the rest of the community. These people believe that the warden is no better off than any of the inmates. No, these people desire nothing less than to be freed from the very prison itself, to experience a much freer, and much more satisfying world.
There are only two ways out of this prison. One is death, and the other is the Midnight Express. For one, the means are clear but the destination is unknown. For the other, the destination is well-known but the means is an eternal mystery. For to this prison, the Midnight Express makes no stop.
to be happy, you gotta be willing to make sacrifices
life is far from perfect right now, but it's a lot better than it's been in the past
and although I'm still searching for my own place, I feel pretty good right now about who I am and what I'm doing
it feels good to be yourself, and even better to feel good about yourself
there's no point in living a life of fear and indecision
I just hope that I'm learning the right things to put me on the right path
I'm constantly reevaluating my life and right now I feel really good because finally things are starting to look a little brighter after a long walk through the shadowy woods. Three years ago, my life was changing drastically, moving from high school to college, and I was much like a ship thrust out to sea, with no bearings but a single distant star, a helpless victim to the wandering currents. Two years ago, I was becoming more familiar with my surroundings, and the distant star became clearer and my path became straighter and I thought I knew what I was headed for. I could see the shore of the island in my dreams, and the clouds broke and the sun bounced its golden rays off the sandy beach. But when I reached the island, I found that it was no tropical paradise, but instead a dangerous wilderness, beautiful on the outside, but filled with vicious predators and broken trails. One year ago, I left that island, and I sailed off into the horizon, with no provision but an open sail. The sea ahead of me was dark and foreboding, and the sea behind darker still. I was lost without knowing where I was headed, but gradually I found my way, and the clouds again parted. And this year I am standing strong, looking out upon the sea ahead of me, which is no longer so dark. I have a feeling that I will reach the far shore soon, though I have little idea what adventures await me. But I do know that this part of my journey is approaching its end, and that the far shore is where I need to go right now. I have a purpose and a goal, and I can see the outline of the path ahead of me, and I'm a little bit closer to where I need to be. And this is very comforting. Even as new challenges and uncertainties present themselves to me, I have more confidence now to confront them, since I am more certain of my destination. And the journey has become more rewarding than ever.
Doppelganger is a legend. Literally, it means 'double walker'. The doppelganger is a shadow self, and is identical in most ways to the person it shadows. The doppelganger walks behind that person, but is usually invisible, and can be heard only by that person. The doppelganger can be mischievous at times, and may cause considerable confusion, especially to the person it shadows, by appearing to various people in various circumstances, making them believe that the real person him/herself is present where he/she is not. It is generally believed that to see a person's own doppelganger is a bad sign, and may be a premonition of an ill fate.
I have met my doppelganger, but it wasn't quite like the legend. I may not be facing my own gruesome death as a result, but the experience has changed my life in a significant way. First and foremost, my doppelganger was not a mysterious and otherworldly presence, and the meeting was not an isolated phenomena. My doppelganger is a person, perfectly normal (well, as normal as I am, anyway). Furthermore, she is female. The two of us are by no means identical, but similar in fundamental ways. The first time I ever saw her, she was like a figure straight out of my dreams, the pinnacle of beauty. She had the strangest look in her eyes. They were grey, like the mist rising off the ocean, but even deeper and more vast than the sea. Most people, when you look into their eyes, you can get a glimpse of their soul, their humanity. Well, looking into her eyes, it was like looking into an endless pit. And yet, I was consumed by those eyes, and they helplessly drew me in. Obsession took root, but it was a peculiar form of love. More like a bond, a deep connection. This woman, I felt that she and I were one in some way, but even so, she would not open up to me; she hardly spoke a word. I began to notice things about her. Things she posessed, qualities. Qualities I've wished to have. And she was interested in the same kinds of things as I was, but I soon realized that her skills were far greater than mine. Like some kind of cruel fate, she was born out of my subconscious, the human manifestation of everything I desire, and there she was, but the last thing she desired was me. Still, with everything she had, I felt that something was missing. The dream became a nightmare. I was enslaved to her, but she carried on without the slightest acknowledgement of my very existence. In order to free my soul from this imprisonment, I had to kill a part of myself - the part that had created her. In the process, I built myself new dreams, new desires, and I have evolved in a different direction. I have been able to throw off this doppelganger, but she continues to exist. And the memory of her, the part of her that is still in me, haunts me every now and then. I have learned a great deal about myself, though, through this encounter. Perhaps I should consider myself a survivor.
If you desire to be beautiful, there will always be those who are more beautiful than you are. If you desire to be intelligent, there will always be those who are smarter than you are. If you desire to be skilled, there will always be those who are more talented than you are. So then, what, if anything, is it good to desire?
Desire breeds temptation. Temptation is a trap. A trap, once sprung, leads to collapse. If one is to build one's self up, one must learn to eliminate desire.
"you must free yourself from all that you would fear to lose"
(4/21/05) I came to a realization today, during my Japanese Anthropology class. A realization of a certain state of thought, perhaps. Something that emerged out of the general concepts of Jimi Hendrix's song If 6 Was 9.
What does the song mean? On the most obvious, superficial level, it may appeal to nonconformists as a sort of ballad celebrating individuality and originality and a desire for people to accept diverse viewpoints. In essence, one of the underlying goals of the hippie movmement. Open your mind and consider alternative living styles. Don't believe that the only way to go through life is to conform to the system and work for the establishment. But I believe that Jimi Hendrix was smarter than that. I'm into hippie idealism, but I also believe that there was a fundamental, if not readily apparent, flaw in their movement, which is why they never really got anywhere. The hippies drowned in drugs, sure, even Jimi Hendrix fell victim to that fate, but they were representing very refreshing viewpoints that should not have been forgotten and should not be attributed purely to being a nonserious result of chemical experimentation. This is what I want this new 'religion' to strive for. Although I really don't like the idea of even calling it a religion, because of the social connotations. And if it ever works, I don't want people thinking of it as like some sort of cult. It should be a way of thinking, that influences a way of living, but it should also be flexible. More like a personal philosophy than a religious doctrine. Anyway, I am digressing. Getting back to the song, I refer you to the line, "if the hippies cut off all my hair, I don't care." On the one hand I don't like that line because I have a natural distaste for the idea of cutting one's hair. But beyond that, I think this line carries a very important meaning. The hippies supported peace and love. Jimi Hendrix supported peace and love. The hippies believed that squares should open their mind and look at things objectively, free themselves from stereotypes and realize that living life the way they live isn't the only way, and not necessarily the best way. Jimi Hendrix believed this too, but he didn't want to be lumped in with the rest of the hippies as just one more voice in the crowd. The majority (within the hippie movement) were taking the ideal and forging it with the tools of mainstream society, although they were doing it unknowingly, because it had become an instinct to them simply being products of the society in the first place. In contrast, I feel that Jimi Hendrix was trying to open the minds of the open-minded hippies themselves. And I have a similar feeling for Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix quickly got tired of the Experience because he was interested in moving on and refining his talent and restructuring his message to the people, so he was naturally disappointed by his fans who wanted nothing more than to hear Foxey Lady or Voodoo Child again. Jimi Hendrix wanted to revolutionize, he wanted to continuously reinvent himself and each time better represent the ideals that he wished to spread to people. But the people weren't listening. Not even the ones who were known for their open-mindedness and wish for change. One can never know, but perhaps this had a hand in Jimi's ultimate fate.
So what do I get from the song, If 6 Was 9? I think that what Jimi is trying to tell us is that, not only are the free people living differently than those enslaved by society, but each of us individually is living differently than everyone else. "I'm the one that's gonna die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to." The point is, that in life, we constantly go on comparing our lives to the lives of people we know and see. 'I did this when I was this age, and you did that when you were that age.' And countless times we define our own existence in terms of others. And we even judge ourselves based on other people's personal life decisions, which sounds ridiculous when put in this context! 'Oh, well he did this when he was this age, but I wasn't doing it until this age, what's wrong with me?' Or, 'she went and did this when she was this old, and here I am still doing this, what's wrong with me?' Et cetera. The same thing applies to the raising of children. Children are raised with expectations that they should grow up in certain ways, and become certain kinds of people, thus they are given opportunities judged by society, and not necessarily fitting their own potentials. This is one of the primary causes of the massive waste of potential that is prevalent in society. People get thrown onto tracks not knowing why or where they're going, and then they just follow them because it's the only thing they know. If somebody had taken the time to give this person a chance to figure out which track they really wanted to follow, then their ultimate potential would not have to be so needlessly wasted. Sure, the opportunites are out there, but they're not stressed as much as the average norm path. It's almost like the secret that you have to figure out. You graduate from high school. Where do you go? Well, society deems, if you're lucky, and have either enough brains or money, you'll go to college, which will secure you a well-paying career in the future. Otherwise, you have to go to some technical school or get a job and work your way up if possible. This alternative is less desirable in the eyes of society, so you end up taking that path and you feel disappointed in yourself because you couldn't live up to society's ideals. That's ridiculous! You should feel no desire to live up to society's ideals. Society crushes us, and kills our potential. We should be *happy* to disappoint society!
There is another point that came to me, and that deals with traditionalism and ancestry. It may be more of a personal thing, but I don't put a whole lot of stock in these things. It can be interesting studying your roots and finding out "where you came from", but just because you're Jewish doesn't mean you suffered through years of wandering through the desert, or even that you experienced the tragedy of the Holocaust. And if you're an African-American, it doesn't mean that you've lived a life of slavery, or even that you've ever been to Africa or experienced tribal life or anything like that. I understand that people's ideas about these cultural histories may affect your life. For example, you may be discriminated against in a certain way because you have certain physical features that label you as being part of a certain culture. That's obvious. Cultural history is not meaningless, and it might be beneficial to study in order to understand why you may be discriminated against, although if people forgot why they were discriminating in the first place, you'd hope they'd just stop doing it. My point is, you're not Japanese because your blood is Japanese. You're Japanese because you were raised in Japan and were assimilated into Japanese society. That's what makes you what you are. You should put more stock in your own personal experiences than the experiences of people that only happened to look like you, or live in the same part of the world as you, or have similar social customs you have. What's important is what you've got now. You had no hand in what your ancestors accomplished in the past. All that's open to you is what you can touch now.
Well, I hope you can get an idea of the concepts I'm trying to get across. I think in this discussion there are really three specific points, that might be a good idea to emphasize for this new method of thinking that we are trying to develop (and by develop, of course, I mean resurrect from old ideas).
1. You are an individual. You are not comparable to anyone else. Just because you are human does not mean you should have anything in common with another who is human.
2. When joining a group, remember to emphasize your association by means of the similar values and ideas you share with other groupmembers. Do not ever allow the group to decide or change your values or ideas.
3. Do not ever judge yourself based upon other people's ideals. There is only one path for you to walk down, it is only for you to walk down, and it is for you only to walk down.
(4/18/05) If you're out there, if you're listening, I want you to know. I found out. The illusion won't fool me anymore. This is Hell. The reason it was so convincing is because it wasn't immediately apparent. Like the man who eternally reaches up for the fruit as the branch raises just out of reach, or as he bends to drink as the water recedes below his mouth, illusions of grandeur are constantly being dangled in front of my face to divert my attention from the truth of where I am. But I know. I can feel it, because everytime I reach out, my reach falls short. I see so much around me, so much potential, and all of it wasted. Everything I could ever want, so close, but just missed. And I am left to wallow in despair at lost chances, forever looking into the past. This is Hell. And I won't be fooled anymore. You'll have to come up with an even more cunning plan if you want me to suffer for all eternity. I will find a way out of here. Or at the very least I will learn how I came to be in this beautifully wretched place.
(4/14/05) In high school, I was pushing myself to crazy levels, but I rationalized it all by telling myself that it was all for the purpose of finding out where my limit was. It was a learning experience. But there's a difference between how much I'm able to do and how much I'm willing to do. The quality of the work is more important than the quantity. I'd rather put in all my efforts and accomplish one great thing, than finish a thousand small tasks that mean nothing to me. But that's not what's being asked of me now. So I am resigned to submit to this system, filling out my time doing the best I can until I can get out of here. And it's pure white hope from there, that I can find myself a place that'll allow me to focus my efforts on something that really matters to me, without being bogged down by little things on the side...
(4/14/05) I used to think that I like math, and sure, there are things about it that I like. The idea of using a perfectly logical system that is built upon a number of fundamental pillars is fascinating. But like all things that humans touch, it becomes twisted and disformed, and the simple logic quickly becomes convoluted and purely interpretive. The same thing happens with physics. The basic idea is that everything in nature can be described by equations, but it never turns out to be quite that simple. That's why I was originally interested in math and physics, because of the ideals that they represent, but now seeing what they really are, I'm becoming aware that I hate them.
Math really is another language. And at first you think it's a different kind of language, because it's logical and is based purely upon rules (without exceptions). But that's not true. Math is just like any other language. It changes with time, and there are exceptions to the rules, and there are even different dialects, utilized by different people. Not everyone that 'speaks' in math even uses the same letters (literally). And you really have to be an intelligent person to sort everything out. In the end, math is just like any other language in that it is a written representation of pure ideas, pure thought. Anybody that tells you that math is pure thought is mistaken. The pure thought exists, but as soon as you write it into symbols and even pictures, it loses that purity, and allows itself to be shaped by the physical world around us. Another failed human thought experiment.
So anyway, I used to think I liked math, but I've learned better. I hate math. And I've come to the realization that there is no distinction between people that like math and people that hate math. Everybody hates math. It's just a matter of how much math you can stand before it drives you crazy. Some people are just lucky enough to have such a high tolerance that they never hit that point. Good for them. Bad for the rest of us...
(4/14/05) zharth's thoughts on classic literature (originally posted on Classic Rock Forums Redux)
Actually, this brings up an issue I've been thinking about. I remember reading a number of classics of literature in high school, particularly, but I don't remember a whole lot about those books. I remember talking about the books in class and analyzing the themes and whatnot, but I really don't remember anything of importance about them. And I think that is a loss, a waste of time and opportunity. The classics of literature that I read in school, I think they're just too out-dated. They're old. You just can't relate very well to what happens in those stories a lot of times. Sure, the themes are timeless, but if it's hard to put yourself in the setting of the story, then a lot of the theme is going to be lost on you. Catcher is another one of those books. I know it had some great messages and it probably was a groundbreaking book in its day, but to be honest, it had very little, perhaps no, lasting effect on me. There are only two books of classic literature that I remember reading in school that have stuck in my mind. One was To Kill A Mockingbird, which is the exception to the above pattern that I have described - something about that book is just very well done, and it's stuck in my mind. The other book was the Scarlet Letter, and it wasn't anything in the story so much that stuck in my mind, but rather my own reaction to the kind of direction the story went in toward the end. I was fascinated by the way in which the book spent so much time describing this horrid, shameful existence, but then toward the end presented the opportunity to move away and live a new life, no longer having to believe in the same values of the society which imprisons you. And that theme really spoke to my soul. It's the Break On Through mentality that got to me. But beside that, the story was rather dull. And I think that's a common problem with classic literature. It might be sacrilege to suggest this, but these stories need to be modernized. The same themes will mean so much more to today's youth if they're presented in a more familiar context. Nothing in this world is original, and you can never accomplish anything that hasn't been accomplished before. But things are forgotten, even people are forgotten, but the people you know will remember who you are and how you live your life.
(4/3/05) "shinken ni nareru"
Something that's been off and on my mind a lot recently, though kind of abstract, is the issue of 'seriousness'. I've become prone to examine the question of 'how serious am I' and 'how seriously do I take things', and 'how serious should life be?' Now, I can take things in stride, and I like to laugh things off now and then, but in general, I feel like I'm a much more serious person than most of the people I notice around me. I like a good comedy (if the humor suits my taste), but I am much more impressed by a more serious presentation. My favorite animes are Berserk and Evangelion, not Azumanga Daiouh and The Slayers. My favorite movie is Jacob's Ladder, not Austin Powers. My favorite questions to ponder are 'what is the meaning of life', not 'what is the meaning of spam.' And I find that among a lot of people around me, people will do things purely for the humor of it, like watching anime in English just to hear the voices and dialogue. But to me, what's the point? Why waste your time, when you could be evaluating the merits of the story itself? The Anime Club had a ball with The Dagger of Kamui - they thought it was one of the cheesiest and most hilarious movies they've ever seen. It's one of my favorite movies, but I take it dead seriously. Sure, it has one-armed ninjas and pirates and treasures, and even Mark Twain and cowboys and all that. But it wasn't meant to be funny, it was made in all seriousness. So if you can get past the parts of the story that are slightly less believable, and take it for its own merits, the reward is vast. And so I find that some people are more interested in the humor of life, while others are more interested in the serious side of things, and I would place myself in the latter group. I want to play music, not because its fun, although it is fun, but because I sense a great beauty in it, and I can feel the power of being able to express serious emotions through a medium that is considerably more expressive than mere words. I like to chock it up to a matter of passion. Do you have passion for what you're doing, or do you just do it because its fun or easy or because somebody else wants you to? I can't help but feel that my underlying dissatisfaction with life is perhaps a result of my taking things so seriously and not being able to laugh at the stupidity of the human race now and again. But if the cost of being satisfied with your life is resolving to laugh at stupid things and not bothering to ponder what they might mean, well that's not a price I'm willing to pay for happiness. I don't want to be a happy idiot (the fact that Jackson Browne's The Pretender is on the Soundtrack To My Life is for the sarcasm, like the sarcasm in the chorus 'well then Mr. you're a better man than I' - I like sarcasm). I may have really high standards for a good life, but even if it's not possible to accomplish, I'm simply not willing to settle for anything less. And I think that says a lot about me. I think this is something that should go in my Stream of Consciousness...
(3/5/05) All my life, I have felt as if I were in a zoo. This world is like a zoo, but the problem is, the bars are invisible. So it doesn't look like a zoo. But it's still a zoo. Most people don't realize it though, and to those people, it would make no difference whether they were living in a zoo or not. But I'm different. I feel like while everyone else is out enjoying life and making the most of their youth, it seems like the only thing I can concentrate on is the bars around me, the bars that most people can't even see. I can see them. I've always been able to see them, and their presence has kept me from thinking about anything else. I guess at this stage it doesn't really matter if the bars are really there or not, the one thing that matters is the fact that I can see them. Why can I see them? I'd rather live my life normally, like everyone else, and enjoy the simple things. But I can't, because every time I try, I think of the bars again, and they consume my attention. I feel like I either need to find a way to escape these bars, or better yet, find someone who can free me. But neither option is as of yet a reality. I can't escape. But I want out.
(2/26/05) An atheist gives up belief in the divine, and in general, the belief of a spiritual existence beyond what we can see and touch. To eliminate that connection with an outside force makes it very important for an atheist to connect on a much deeper level with the life that is experienced here and now. In this way, an atheist can understand truly the full beauty of life. However, there is a downside. In this world, the most beautiful things are not possible. And this is where an atheist differs from one who is religious. The religious person believes that these most beautiful things will be acquired in the afterlife, the beyond. The atheist believes that if these things are not acquired in this life, then they will never be acquired. Thus, the atheist strives to construct this beauty in this life, which is an admirable task. However, the atheist inevitably fails, as such things are impossible. Therefore, in the end, the atheist struggles through life, distraught by his/her inability to acquire those greatest things in life. On the other hand, the religious person dies content, believing (whether or not it is true) that he/she *will* experience those beautiful things beyond this life. In the end, nobody wins, and those beautiful things are never acquired. So what's the point of struggling through life after them? If you are so dedicated to the truth, then accept not only that there is no afterlife, but also that there is no beauty or perfection in this world either. We must accept that life sucks. You must learn to be happy with the little things, because you're just never gonna get the big things you really want, now or after life. Still, it's hard to appreciate the small things by yourself...
(2/14/05) Confession time. And I call it confession only because for various reasons, mainly those imposed by society, I feel like the feelings I have, though they bother me not in the least myself, may carry somewhat weight to my own position within society. But there's nothing I can do about that.
I have a habit of wanting to set the mood and context before coming to the point of my discussion. However, I am willing to foreshadow the direction this discussion intends to steer toward eventually. I refer you to the popular lyric (and you should know the song it comes from) that goes along the lines of this: "there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on." I believe, that at every moment in every person's life, each and every person can be perceived as walking a path with a specific momentum. Of course, the details are not always so simply described, but that's the general gist of what I see. I am currently on a path, a path that runs ahead of me as well as behind me. Granted, in both directions the path is not completely straight, and it tends to veer on and off wider and narrower paths along the way, but the path is there nonetheless. Behind me is the path I have followed my entire life thus far, which has placed me where I currently find myself. Ahead of me is the path that is projected for my future, based upon the momentum I currently have. Now, the path behind me is fixed, and cannot be changed. It is merely a record of history. But, on the other hand, the path ahead of me is fluid, illusory, merely one of many possibilities, defined as only the most probable outcome given my current position. However, it is not the path that I must ultimately choose to walk.
So, what path am I on? Well, I am now 21 years of age, which, in this society, is the last restrictive age barrier of youth. The moment I turned 18, I became a man, and the moment I turned 21, all of society's doors opened to me, simultaneously showering upon me numerous privileges as well as responsibilities. Now, as a person, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me. Aging, or rather, the acquisition of experience, is a continuous process that happens all the time, and one does not simply grow a year older and wiser in a single day. In any case, I find myself currently enrolled at an undergraduate university, studying physics - a college student, as it were. How did I get here? Well, if I look upon the path behind me, I find that the answer is quite clear. All of the necessary supplies allowing me to travel the path that has led me here were in my possession. I am a relatively intelligent individual, born into a family with enough money to afford the necessary privileges society can provide, and raised in a rather calm and friendly environment. The fact that I am here where I am now is, as suspected, no surprise. The doors were open to me. The only poblem was that I never really knew which one to walk through, though I was forced to choose.
Which is the final twist that brings me to the particular path I stand upon now. At the last moment, after having been accepted for undergraduate study, I forced upon myself a decision. Whether or not I really had to make that decision so soon is impossible to say, but at the time I felt that it was the most productive thing to do, and even now I don't believe that making another choice at that time would have been entirely beneficial. The fact of the matter is, I didn't know then what I know now. And I'm glad that I made the choice I made back then, so that I could have had the proper experiences for me to learn that which I am only recently really discovering about myself.
What was that decision? Well that would be the focus of my studies. In the fear of potentially not having the utmost preparation for my post-undergraduate life, and seeing the only option for myself in terms of a career at the time as involving science to some degree (which is not accidentally a result of the paths I walked earlier that led me here), I chose at that moment, before entering freshman year, to declare myself a bachelor of science physics major.
Even now, as I question my placement, I do not regret the decision, as I am hard-pressed to name any other field of study that I would have more (or any) success majoring in. However, I also feel that the very momentum that has been bestowed upon me because of that decision is involuntarily pushing me in a direction that I am increasingly becoming aware is one that I do not entirely want to go in. Which brings me to my dilemma, if we must call it that.
The more I think about it, the more I beliveve that the reason I have interest in physics and science in general is because I have always thought of it as a means to an end. Unfortunately, in my continuing involvement with the field, I am learning that this particular means is not leading towards the end I seek. I would even go so far as to say that I have pursued physics, not because I enjoy the means, but purely because I desired the end. What do I mean by this? Well, the means is the actual study, or even better, the practice (or research, if you will) of physics. The end, more interestingly, is a fundamental understanding of life. And I think that is really what I have always been looking for. I have said in the past, sometimes jokingly, other times truly believing it, that I chose physics over psychology because I believed that understanding people is so much more complicated than understanding the universe that I chose physics simply believing I would at least have a chance at accomplishing the goal of complete understanding. But, as fascinating as the universe is, and as fascinating as people are, I think what I truly desire to understand is something subtlely, yet distinctly, different. Not the universe, not people, but life itself. Of course this is a subjective matter, and indeed I desire to understand life in my own way, as I experience it, and as I want it to be. And of course you can say that everybody wants that, and they strive for it in their day to day lives, amidst the other duties they have as members of various societal roles. But even if that is the case, I am in a position where I feel that the further pursuit of physics would not invoke within me the kind of passion I demand from life.
Unfortunately, society has so implanted its seed within me, that I cannot help but quaver slightly at the thought of making such a bold declaration. For surely, physics, and science in general, represent a world of technology, a world of sophistication, a world of celebrated intelligence, and having come so far in pursuit of that world, it can be only madness to turn one's attention away from it, desiring something else, especially something that many may regard as frivolous, inexact, and undependable in comparison. But then, I am a person who does not take as much value in the outer shell, the label, the illustriousness of a title, as I take in the inner soul, the mind, and especially the passion which one devotes to his or her efforts. And I make a point to state that devoting passion to one's efforts is not dependant upon one's ability to devote passion to an effort so much as it depends upon a person's ability to pursue the things for which that person naturally pours his/her passion into. And in that way, I feel myself in some sense victorious over myself, if indeed I have found a path more desirable to my own standards of living.
Which begs the question: what alternate path have I spied, that looks so favorable compared to the one I currently stand upon? And the answer is music. Growing within me for the past 3 years especially and certainly long before that, though perhaps lying more or less dormant, has been my own attachment to music as a form of expression. It seems to be something that may well have been seeded within me in my earliest years, only to be forgotten in my formative years, until coaxed out by favorable or perhaps even fated coincidence, at which point it has subsequently grown with greater and greater urgency, reaching the point I am now at.
My earliest memories of music are hardly memories at all, but more like fragments of a not-completely forgotten past. I must give thanks first to the many talented artists and musicians who gave their lives to the classic rock movement in their day, and second to my parents for having such good taste in music, and filling my subconscious with a guttural understanding of the music long before I had any idea of its even existence. As far as concrete memories go, three immediately come to mind - two very distinct, one a passing recurrence that happened just now to shift to the forefront of my mind. I remember being entranced as a child by the pure atmosphere of the opening to Time, from chimes to the start of the lyrics, before I had any idea what Pink Floyd or Dark Side of the Moon were, or what those names meant. I remember repeatedly bugging my mom to put on that song so I could listen to it, especially for that section I mentioned. Also, I distinctly remember a stormy evening, rushing across the lake on a motor boat to get back to the cottage before the storm broke. Reaching the cottage, it was locked, but just then a car came driving down the dirt road, and sure enough it was my family. The door opened, I hopped in, and by this time it was pouring, and inside the car was playing the song Riders on the Storm. Even now, the music of the Doors stirs within me childhood memories of those unforgettable days by the lake. The third memory is fleeting, a moment in the car near home. I remember my mom mentioning something about rolling stones, and I looked out the window but couldn't for the life of me figure out what she was talking about. What I didn't know then was that she was referring to the music playing on the radio.
Besides those situations, where my parents had control over the music, I never paid much attention to music, and even as I got older and many of my peers developed their tastes in music, I stayed rather neutral. Unlike others my age, I didn't have a favorite band, or a favorite radio station, or any cd's. I do remember eventually starting to listen to music, though not for any specific reason, just for the reason that it was there. I listened to modern stuff, mostly within the range of pop, rock, or metal. Nothing really captured my attention, and when asked what music I listened to, I would nonchalantly reply, 'whatever's on.' Boy, how that would eventually change.
Perhaps one of my first real obsessions with music occured somewhere around that time, between junior high and high school. I don't remember, but it could've started even earlier than that. Either way, I became obsessed with the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, which I could find in my parent's collection. I originally familiarized myself with the original version, featuring Ian Gillan, popular singer of classic rock band Deep Purple, starring as Jesus. Then one day, I saw the 1970's movie version, with a different cast, and immediately fell in love with the movie. It quickly became a tradition for not just me, but my brothers as well, to watch the movie and listen to the soundtrack religiously (pardon the pun) especially during Easter season. I now own both the original version and the movie soundtrack, as well as the original movie from the 1970's on DVD, and I still indulge myself with the rock opera every year around Easter. I listened to it so many times back when I first got into it, that I memorized every single song word for word, and would frequently act out the parts while singing along as I listened (or watched). Furthermore, I became so entranced with the songs that I would frequently sing them (out loud, or more likely to myself) even when I wasn't listening or watching, for example, during an otherwise boring walking to or from school. Though I don't listen to it as much now as I used to, I still know most of the songs word for word, and still very much enjoy listening to it. It has become a part of me.
I can still remember the period when the distinct taste for music that I have today first began to develop within me. It was on a ride back from the convention center after an exciting day at the local Pittsburgh Comicon anime-related convention. My dad was driving me and my little brother back, and he had the local classic rock radio station on in the car. I had probably noticed it intermittently before this, but this is the earliest memory I have of distinctly noticing my own involvement in the music that was on. I recognized that I particularly enjoyed the music that was being played, and I made a point to listen and remember what radio station it was, so I could listen to it more on my own. That was in the spring, and I believe it was at the end of my junior year in high school, which would have been 2001, though I'm not entirely sure. However, the next fall, I began really listening to that radio station, and getting to know the music. Fall semester of my senior year in high school, I spent countless hours sitting in my room, completely in the dark, listening to the radio, immersing myself in the wonders of classic rock. It's not surprising that I took an immediate liking to certain songs, most notably Stairway To Heaven. I would go into a trance everytime I heard that song, it moved me so much. So emotional, so beautiful, and the way the song builds up, slowly, until it reaches the guitar solo, but the solo doesn't come right away, it kind of hangs in the air for a fleeting moment, and then suddenly it bursts, and you're totally into it, and before you know it it's over, and you wish it would keep going, but now the song is in full drive, heavy and powerful, until it dies down and fades out on the very last line, echoing the title... I won't be the first to admit that it's almost sexual. But that's just how good the music is.
That fall, thanks to the radio station, I educated myself in the basics of classic rock. During Thanksgiving weekend, they played a countdown of the 50 greatest classic rock albums, and I further educated myself, noting the albums I particularly liked, so I could stick them on my christmas list and begin my collection. I learned of Yes, Cream, The Who, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and others, in their natural incarnation - the album format. And that christmas, my collection was born. I immediately became fond of Pink Floyd. Their atmosphere, their artistry, and their anguish, it struck a chord with me, and I collected all 15 of their studio albums in more haste than with any other band. They were my first favorite band. I was also awe-struck by the incredible talent of Led Zeppelin, who quite possibly currently holds a higher spot on my list than Pink Floyd (must I mention that my nickname is 'Zep'?). And listening to The Doors made me feel like I was back on a childhood vacation again. They were and always will be my three top favorite bands. In addition to the sheer quality of the music I was immersing myself within, an added benefit was the occasional song that I would listen to, and actually recognize, though I didn't specifically remember listening to it ever before. For example, listening to most of Pink Floyd's The Division Bell was an uncanny experience for me, since I did't remember ever listening to it before, and yet I knew the songs on a subconscious level. Even as recently as a year and a half ago, I remember picking up a Ten Years After album (one of my dad's favorite bands), listening to it, and on one of the songs, I didn't remember ever hearing the song before, but upon hearing the main riff, I knew exactly how it was supposed to go. It's such an exhilarating experience. The song was You Give Me Loving, and I can play that riff on guitar today.
Although I just now mentioned it as if it were nothing more than a passing comment, I have actually passed over a very important development - not of me as a listener of music, but me as a performer of music. The seeds go back quite a ways, actually. It begins in elementary school, in second or third grade. That's when the school first offered the option of learning an instrument and joining the orchestra (or band) to the students. In all honesty, if it were just up to me, I probably wouldn't have bothered. However, my close friend at the time was interested in joining, and managed to convince me to go along. As it turns out, I ended up joining, but he ended up repeating the grade, so I was on my own.
I went to the exhibition show, or whatever it was, where they had senior students perform on various instruments, to give us younger students an idea of what instrument we wanted to play. I was interested in the orchestra, so I remember hearing at least the cello, viola, and violin. Out of those three, the one that spoke to me was the violin. I suppose it was that high-pitched, emotional, voice that called to me. Of the three, it had the most personality, and the most passion. I wanted to be able to play like that. So I at least had enough committment to stick with it through first year high school (I remember it being 7 years since I started), at which point I was getting a little tired of it and being offered the choice between orchestra and computer science, I unhesitatingly chose computer science.
The problem was that although I wanted to be able to play well, I honestly never had the drive to practice. For me, practice was a chore, and I hated it. I hardly ever practiced, and because of that, I was never really that good. Even in high school, I got last chair among the violins in the orchestra (although I managed to convince most people I was second chair, since I was seated next to first chair, which was actually a plan on the conductor's part to balance out the worst players with the best players). Every once in awhile, I'd be able to play portions of complex songs, and when I could do that, it felt really good. I really enjoyed it. But since I didn't have the drive to practice, it was a rare occurrence, and not enough for me to stick with it.
But I quit orchestra before I educated myself in the basics of classic rock. And when I did start listening to classic rock, I was instinctively drawn to the guitar parts. I like to explain it by stating that I am a guitarist at heart, or even to go so far as to say that I am a lead guitarist at heart (not that my abilities would warrant that title). In any case, I was crazy about guitar solos and loved it when the guitarist wailed on those high notes. It's the emotion that I really felt. I suppose it's in some ways comparable to that night I was attracted to the violin, but this was a more gradual process. Over the months of listening to classic rock, I became more and more enthralled with the guitar in songs. Eventually, that enthusiasm would reach a breaking point.
That breaking point came in the spring of my senior year in high school, just before Easter, in fact. My little brother, also becoming interested in classic rock, rented the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains The Same. I remember walking into the room while he was watching it, and (though I didn't know it at the time), they were in the middle of performing the song Since I've Been Loving You, which I was unfamiliar with at the time. In fact, I didn't even recognize it as Led Zeppelin at first, since it was the first time I had ever actually seen the faces behind Led Zeppelin. I was impressed, though. I borrowed the film and watched it on my own, and I was completely blown away. My first taste of Led Zeppelin live in concert. One song in particular attracted my attention - Since I've Been Loving You - the song I hadn't even recognized earlier. The song itself, a slow, passionate, blues number, would have been enough, but at the opening to the song Jimmy Page plays this absolutely unbelievable lead guitar intro, like none I have heard anywhere else, not even on other live performances of that song by Led Zeppelin (and I've heard my share). It's still my number one favorite live rock n roll moment. And it moved me. It completely moved me. The very next day, I went out and bought myself an electric guitar, and vowed to learn how to play like Jimmy Page (a feat I am still working on).
I learned some chords, I learned how to play the intro to Stairway To Heaven, but it was not until the next fall, my freshman year of college, that I figured out how to read tablature, at which point I started teaching myself how to play countless riffs from my favorite songs. It was so much fun.
That was only three years ago I bought that guitar. I still have it, plus I now have an acoustic guitar as well. I've been teaching myself thus far, and I'm not that good at it, but I really enjoy it and I'm getting into it more and more. I've even played a few gigs with my little brother (who got himself an acoustic guitar and is learning at a quick pace) at the local coffee den. Those gigs weren't the most successful, but they were a lot of fun, and more importantly, an incredible experience.
At this point, I may finally be realizing that I am getting off track. Or, perhaps telling a larger story than I intended to tell. With thanks to the company at the coffee den, as well as my dad and his friend who plays guitar, as well as my little brother who is learning along with me, I am becoming more and more integrated into the musical culture. And the deeper I go in, the deeper I want to go.
Even as a listener of music, I have continually been growing, this now being my third year of dj-ing a classic rock radio show on a college radio station. As I continue to listen to classic rock, I am extending my education beyond the basics that I learned from corporate radio, and delving into deeper bands that are less popular and much harder to find. In the past month I have completely independantly initiated a rather huge research project, purely for fun and curiosity, in which I have been seeking out the inspirations for a lot of Led Zeppelin's music. (The results of that project will be featured on this site as soon as I finish - I will also be doing a radio show to present what I discover).
I have not been without any desires to pick up a violin again. Just recently, I caught a performer with a violin at an open mic night, and thinking I'd like to play the Neil Young song Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets), I have considered the merits of trying to play violin again. Violins are expensive, though, and require a lot of practice and training. My interest in the guitar is still strong as ever, though. Sometimes I get frustrated because I want to be able to play straight from my heart, but I only know enough to play specific parts that I learn ahead of time. So recently, I've been desiring more strongly to learn more traditional music theory and guitar theory and technique and all that stuff that's hard to teach yourself, the kind of stuff I've been ignoring because I wanted to teach myself at my own pace. But what I really want is to know the notes on the guitar so well, and the interaction between the notes (which probably involves scales and lots of theory), that I can just sit down and play continuously, without stopping, just going from note to note, playing whatever I feel from within (i.e. actually managing to hit all the notes that I imagine, as I imagine them). That's what I desire. I don't know if it's possible for me. But that's what I want, right now, more than anything.
(1/23/05) On the new Classic Rock Forums message board, zharth replies to a post concerning the effects of drugs on people, especially their creativity, and how people like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison can be 'drugged to death' and yet still be so damn brilliant, in addition to being musically talented...
It bothers me.
I'm totally into the whole 'free your mind' mentality, break on through to the other side, stick it to the man, because as I see it, society sucks. It seems to bring me nothing but pain. I get glimpses of another world, where everything is better, and I want to go there, but I'm trapped in this world we call reality.
All the kinds of things that people say drugs can do (the positive part, that is), along the lines of opening your mind and expanding your creativity and whatnot, that's exactly the kind of stuff I go for. Which is why you might be surprised that I never touch drugs, and don't plan to. Call me stubborn, call me practical, whatever, but I wanna get those same kind of highs. Except, I want them for real. I want to really change the world, not just get the sensation every time I pop a pill or smoke a joint. That was the one major flaw in the hippie movement. Their idealism was absolutely brilliant, but the problem was that their solution was an illusion stimulated by massive drug intake. That's why the vision disappeared. Many brilliant people died, others became wary of drugs, and as a whole everything collapsed. Because none of it was concrete. That's why I want to pursue the same ideals, but without ever going anywhere near drugs.
One thing that really pisses me off is when people get the impression that I'm a stoner just because of the kind of person I am (and the music I listen to doesn't help). At the surface, it doesn't really bother me. But what bothers me is the fact that people believe the only way a person can believe the kinds of things I believe is if they are taking mind expanding drugs. And that bugs me, because it means these people don't see my solutions as realistic, and thus I am at a loss. It's very frustrating...
I almost forgot to mention the one thing I meant to make a point to mention! I've been reading up on a lot of philosophy lately, along the lines of Kabbalah and Zen Buddhism, and I've come to the general conclusion that the enemy and main cause of pain and suffering in this life is the ego. I recently read somewhere that [I think it was] LSD had the effect of destroying the ego to some extent, and that John Lennon spent some time taking quite a bit of it in order to fight his ego, since that goes along the lines of eliminating pain and suffering and making the world a happier place. If only people could find a way to do it without resorting to drugs...
(1/20/05) Recently, I've come to a realization. All my life I have been distraught by human society, to the extent that I have been exposed to it. Even before I was aware of the cause, I was hurt by it. Of course, the blame could just as easily be placed on me, for being a person who is naturally discordant with society. But how can I be blamed for that? At least I believe that the problem is not within me, but within society. And because of that I have long held a personal grudge against society's general institutions, as much as they go against my own ideas about how to live your life. Of course, fearing to be labeled a hypocrite (which I in turn believe is a largely misunderstood and misused term), I cannot claim either that I have dismissed myself from all of society's institutions, nor that such an action would be entirely beneficial. In so much as I am human, just like everyone else, there are certain needs that I have that I simply cannot ignore, and there are some cases where society provides a reasonable outlet for the satisfaction of those needs, especially considering any readily available alternatives. Furthermore, as a human, my desire to survive, however unfortunate, exceeds my desire to revolutionize the world, thus I can only stand to fight for my dreams to the extent that it does not ruin my life. However, I believe that that does not mean that my cause is incapable of accomplishing anything, for lack of commitment. It is my belief that passion and ambition alone are enough to instill my ideas in others and envoke in them similar beliefs, such that the proper actions can be taken to accomplish the goals I would envision. If indeed I am wrong, then at least I can be hopeful that my ideas will reach the heart of one who is, in fact, willing to go to extreme lengths, maybe even so far as putting his/her life on the line, in order to get the point across to others in a sufficient manner to instill action toward those aforementioned yet still unspecified goals. In any case, I don't see how it could possibly hurt to at least write my feelings down on the matter, if for nothing else than to organize them in my own mind.
But indeed my rambling has already taken an unexpected turn. It is not my intention to explain here how I would desire to change society. In fact, it is not my distress due to society that is the realization that I mentioned at the beginning of this passage. That is something I have been aware of for quite a while now. No, my realization lies more in my approach toward society, based upon that distress. What is the initial fault of society? Well, society is based upon individuals. But there is something fundamental that distinguishes society from the individual, and that is the fact that a society consists of multiple individuals. As soon as you begin dealing with more than one individual, you have to take into account how those individuals interact with one another, and that is where society comes into play. The problems of society are thus primarily an extension of the problems involved in interactions between people. Because each and every one of us is only one person, and we can never get in the mind of another person (a problem that would in principle be solved by my brand of 'remote vision'), we can never know anything with certainty as it is perceived by another individual. In this way we are all alone together. And thus, we are forced to assume the numerous similarities in the experiences people have in life, those similarities we constantly take for granted. Maybe those assumptions are justified, maybe it is not foolish to believe that people experience similar things in similar ways. In many cases, it is very helpful, and is also the sole source of connection between people that we have. By assuming that we have similar experiences, or rather similar perceptions of experiences, that indeed we *are* similar, we can believe that in some way we understand each other. But as I have stated, there is no way we can be sure that such an assumption is actually true. You might argue that the evidence suggests that it is true, for indeed as humans, as people, we appear to be similar in many fundamental ways. So where is the evidence that we may not experience life similarly to others? The evidence may be small, but it is important, and you can find it virtually everywhere interactions between people occur. It is called misunderstanding. Have you ever tried to explain something to someone, and got the idea that they understood it exactly the way you do? You feel like the two of you are experiencing the same thing, exactly, and that brings you together. But how many times have you tried to explain something to someone, and you just couldn't get the point across, or the other person did not have quite the same reaction you had, or perhaps the other person thought something completely different from what you were trying to explain. Even something so common as not getting a joke - these are examples of misunderstanding, and it pushes us away from each other.
Again I am going off on a tangent. The point I originally intended to make, this realization that I mentioned, has to do with a change in my perception of how to deal with society. For a long time I have sought a rigid, exact definition of things. Something devoid of creative interpretation. Disillusioned by the difficulty of getting my ideas, my very thoughts and feelings, across to other people led me to seek a world where everything was so definite and exact that there could be no misunderstanding. Anything I felt would have a thorough and expressible definition, and all I would have to do is point to it so that others could understand what I feel. With this approach, I got involved in studies that focused primarily on math and science. I liked questions that had exact answers. That were either right or wrong, and not in between. And countless times I have tried to envision a physical universe that can be unambiguously built up from the smallest and most fundamental pieces. As my studies in physics and math have progressed well into the undergraduate realm, I have begun to realize that even the exact sciences involve an amount of creativity. It appears to me that to build up a universe as I have envisioned, concrete and unambiguous, from the most fundamental pieces, is far too complex a task for an imperfect being such as myself to accomplish, if it is even possible, which I am becoming more and more doubtful of. So it would appear that among the complexity of even the most exact discipline, the productive study involves discretion and creativity to fall upon the interesting answers, rather than a rigid logical approach that churns out the next right answer without dispute.
Thus, in light of this gradual realization, I've begun to move away from my old view of rigidity and concrete definition, hoping for more satisfaction in something a little bit more free. Certainly, my recent involvement in music, and my interest in philosophies along the lines of Zen, has helped to cradle this new perspective. Believing that there is no hope for any sort of definity in life, instead of hoping to find a language for my emotions, I must instead go out on a limb, projecting myself, my thoughts and feelings, and hoping that somebody somewhere will pick up on them in just the way I intend. It's a hit and miss trade, but if I get a single hit by coincidence of mindset, then it's a success. There's no use trying to cross a bridge that I'll never find, that in fact probably doesn't exist. I might as well just start throwing beans across the river, hoping somebody will manage to catch one. Even now, it feels like quite a departure for me, and I'm not sure how successful I will be at it, but considering my disillusion of the alternative, I've got to at least give it a try. Plus, it feels much more relaxing this way. If you're misunderstood, that's a shame, but at least you expressed yourself. And who knows, maybe someday somebody will understand you. And isn't that better than forcing just anyone to understand you by means of a long and explicit definition of what you mean?
Maybe this is a way to find peace.
Trust in a Feeling
(12/7/04) BUUNSOFSTEAL asks:
Are you happy with your life as things are right now if so what are u ahppy about and if not what are you not happy about.
i ask because last year u seemed a bit more carefree then you are this year. even then u would be hippie like and happy and everynow and then go silent and not talk much. thats fine being silent and sometimes is better. but this year u seem more than silent sometimes you seem discontent and unhappy with the way the world is. i was wondering overall what your feelings on life were i guess.
A very excellent question. If I were to compare my life now to just a year ago, I imagine the difference would be comparable to the difference between climbing a hill, and stumbling down the other side.
Coming to college was a very exciting experience for me. Getting to live among my peers; taking classes I had interest in; living on a beautiful campus; not being confined to a classroom all day long; and interacting with so many fascinating people - it was all so exciting. I suppose I was taken in by it all and began believing that I had reached a place where all my dreams could be realized. Indeed, I believed that I had stumbled upon a dream world. I didn't even like going back home every now and then because it was sad leaving this magical place and everything it meant to me. My appreciation grew for the first two years I spent here, reaching a climax last summer when I decided I'd rather take on a full-time job (during the summer, no less) which meant staying on campus, rather than going home and relaxing for the summer.
I'm not sure why it turned out the way it did, but going into the summer and coming out of it for me marked a huge change. I suppose it was due to a number of factors, one of which being the sheer exhaustion of waking up before 8am every week day during the summer and working all day long. That's not to say that I didn't have my share of fun over the summer, but it seems like the closer I get to feeling like I have what I want, and I can finally do the kinds of things I've always wanted to do, the more it seems that the people around me aren't interested, and furthermore, the specific opportunities to pursue those desires are blatantly absent.
For me, this past semester, which is finally coming to a close, though it's felt like an eternity, has been very rough. I must have spent at least the first half of it in an impenetrable depression, which has left me irreparably cynical about the world and less interested in even the trivial things I used to do that brought me pleasure. Furthermore, having five classes and two jobs this semester has helped make things that much more busy for me. And even though I'm a physics major, I've been having a lot of trouble in a couple of my physics classes this semester, which is leading me to wonder if being a physicist is really right for me. Not only do I feel like I'm not understanding what is being taught to me, but I also feel like the way it is being taught is sloppy, and it doesn't satisfy my inner desire for things to be ordered and logical in their understanding. I feel like instead of learning the structure and patterns of physics that interest me, I am instead just learning random methods and formulas, and that only helps to confuse me. Physics itself is a science of relations between seemingly different objects, properties, events, and such, but the way it is being taught to me, I'm not seeing the underlying web that relates everything within physics to everything else, and that unsettles me.
But that is just another tangent. Your question to me was, what are my feelings on life - whether or not I am happy with things the way they are, and why or why not. As you have been able to discern, lately I have indeed been discontent and unhappy with the way the world is. Even though I have recently gained certain things that I am very thankful for, such as a small handful of close friends - something I've never really had before - the fact remains that I am not content with where I am right now.
Which begs the question: where do I want to be right now? And perhaps that's a question that I am unable to answer. But I do have some clues. If I am to be working, I want to have a job that comes naturally to me, that I take pride, and even pleasure, in doing. If I am to be learning, I want to learn at my own pace, so that I do not feel that the time spent is time wasted. If I am to live, I want to live in an environment that allows me to relax, be myself, and partake in the activities which give me the most pleasure, preferably with other people of a similar mind, because if there's anything I've learned thus far in my struggles through life, it's the drastic difference that the entire world undergoes depending only on the kind of company you emerse yourself within. I think the biggest problem I have at this point, is that I have yet to find the people I would benefit the most from being around. And in that way I am lonely. I have always been lonely. And I don't presume that such people as I am looking for actually exist. And that saddens me.
But if, on the other hand, the true problem lies not in merely finding the perfect people, but rather on cultivating through effort the kind of relationships you want to have with people, then my problem instead is my inability to communicate my thoughts to people. Within me lies a roadblock between thought and reality, and it is precisely the wall which separates my life from my dreams. In the end, it is within me. But it is a problem I've always had, always known about, and as long as I can remember have fought against, but with very little success. And that saddens me even more.
At times, I can look around me, see the things I have, and trick myself into thinking everything's gonna be just fine, but in doing so, I always inevitably reach a point where my reality becomes something less than I expect it to be, and the realization of that always tosses me back into the pit from which I keep trying to crawl out of. And that makes me feel like I'm stuck. And when I feel stuck, I feel unable to accomplish my dreams, and do the things I love to do. And it stays that way until I start to forget about it, for any number of reasons, at which point I enter the cycle once more.
I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that what I've got right now isn't what I want. So I'm at a little bit of a standstill, and that doesn't make things easy for me. I hope I have at this point answered your question more or less satisfactorily, but if you have any follow-up questions, or want any kind of clarification, feel free to ask. For me, thinking about these kinds of things gives me a certain feeling of satisfaction, even when they don't lead anywhere. So if you ever have a question for me, you're always welcome to ask, I just can't always guarantee a complete answer. :)
(12/4/04) I sometimes fool myself into thinking I know what I want. But I really have no idea what I want. I do know, however, quite well what I don't want. And unfortunately, that happens to be just about everything I've been given so far. I feel like I should be in a totally different world, because I just don't, and never have, fit into this one. And it's painful, living in a world you know you weren't made for. No matter how much you try, and how much you hope, you just can't seem to get things to go the way you'd like them to go. And you begin to wonder if it's just a phase, that eventually, someday, you'll find everything you're looking for, or if it's all just a farce, and you'll be just as lost the moment you die as you were the moment you were born. And life would have been nothing but a missed opportunity. And that's the saddest part of it all. The fact that, countless times, you can see how things could be, and how everything could come together perfectly, but reality always misses the mark by the smallest margin, and it makes the biggest difference. You wonder if it's just you that feels this way, or if it's a universal thing, an unescapable symptom of the human condition. But then you see people around you who seem so happy, and for them it looks like things actually are going perfectly. You wonder if maybe it's just an illusion, or itself a passing phase, but the thing that really matters is the fact that others are happy, and you are not. Sometimes you are just taken by a feeling of despair, where even the things you used to care so much about suddenly mean nothing, and bring you no joy. That's the worst. Nothing matters. And that certainly doesn't make it easier to find happiness. The bottom line is, there just isn't any apparent escape, no exit to this world, so you only have three choices: kill yourself, end the misery, and hope that perhaps the afterlife will be better to you than life was; continue crawling through life, always coming just out of reach of the goal, and constantly wallowing in despair amid periods of lying to yourself, to make you think that you've got something and that you're getting somewhere; or else you could suck it up, forget worrying about the miserable truth of life, and live a life characterized by deception, turning your back on truth itself, and constantly pretending that life is good. For a person who values truth above anything else, it is impossible to find happiness. And maybe that's the only problem I have. But it's not something I'm willing to give up, this regard for truth. It sucks. And the worst part is, everytime I think about it and try to come up with a solution, I reach the same conclusion, so I haven't really gotten anywhere. There's nowhere to go, I'm trapped in a cage, and the bars are called truth.
(11/28/04) The problem is, people leave out the fundamental and basic steps, assuming that they are common sense enough that everybody already knows them and they don't warrant much mention, and instead, focus on the finer details. However, those fundamental steps are basic for a reason, and actually warrant explicit attention, for the finer details are meaningless without a solid understanding of those foundations. The real problem is that the people who are supposed to teach those fundamentals don't teach them properly, and then everybody else instantly assumes them to be understood, forgetting that their fundamental nature warrants extensive reminding every step of the way. The point I'm trying to make is that nothing is really hard, people just make it hard by teaching it improperly. You don't have trouble understanding the concept being presented to you, you merely have difficulty trying to decipher the way it is presented to you, in order to finally perceive the actual concept as it really is, clear and simple (if you're lucky). There is nothing so complex in this universe, that explained properly, a baby couldn't understand it. I think the problem we should focus on is not continually complicating our understanding, but rather taking time to simplify the things we already think we understand. I believe we would be amazed at the things we could learn simply by organizing what we already know.
Friday (11/19/04) 6:30am
Woke up in bed very nearly screaming, just about ready to jump out of my skin. Can't remember ever being that scared from a dream. I was sitting at a small square table with my little brother, talking about something (can't remember what), when I notice a spider, a rather large one, positioned on the wall behind me, rather close to me. Naturally, I'm scared, but not so much I can't keep my calm. This spider was big, not humongous, but bigger than any spider I can ever remember seeing in person. I was even a little scared that it could be dangerous (i.e. poisonous). Anyway, I slowly and calmly got up out of my chair and walked away from the table, away from the wall where the spider was (motionless). My little brother was a little curious as to why I suddenly got up in the middle of the conversation and started walking away, so I said to him, 'come over here for a second.' I was standing a fair distance from the table at this point. Then, I don't when it happened or where it came from, but I noticed another spider sitting smack dab right there on the table, and it was even bigger than the first one. Somehow, my little brother didn't see it, and in getting up from the table he very nearly placed his hand on it (which at this point I was sure would harm him more than it would the spider). I got a little jumpy, and told my brother to just slowly, come over to where I was standing. He did, and then I told him to look at the table. But at this point, when I looked again, the spider that was on the table was suddenly a lot bigger than it had been just a moment before, but it was the same one, or at least in the exact same place, sitting on top of the table. Now it was the size of a dinner plate, or even the size of a large lobster. But then I noticed that this was indeed no spider, for it actually had (what I considered at the time, given my shock) huge pincer type claw things, as well as a curved tail, just like you would expect a scorpion to have. It was at that point that I realized it was actually a scorpion, not too distant cousin of the spider. But this was a huge scorpion, the size of a large lobster. Now, I've never seen a scorpion in person before, so I don't know real well what they look like, but I have a general idea. In any case, at that time, standing there staring at this, this thing on the table, it was quite a hideous sight to me. I immediately became scared, recognizing that scorpions have pincers and a barbed tail for a reason, and I became defensive in mindset. Because he seemed to be around, and it had always seemed like a good idea as a kid, I told my brother to go get my dad real quick. My brother left and there I was, alone in the room with this thing. Luckily it hadn't moved from its position yet. But suddenly, and the rest of the dream happened very quickly, it was moving I think, because I felt the need to move, and to do something. The scorpion must have walked onto the cover of a textbook or something because I remember thinking it would be a good idea to flip it over or something (the textbook). So I did, and it happened to fall off the table and come crashing onto the ground, with the scorpion right there on the underside (course it was at least as big as the textbook). I knew there was no chance that the textbook could considerably harm that beast, but it actually did, it crushed the thing, which subsequently fell into pieces (the scorpion), although it just so happens that its barbed tail was knocked off and came off the floor with quite a bit of momentum. So it was heading towards me, and towards the table, and I practically leaped out of the way, trying not to get touched by that thing. That's when I woke up. Although part of the leaping occurred outside my dream. I'm lucky I didn't toss myself right off the bed. It took me a good moment to settle down (I was breathing rather hardly, with your typical trembling) and convince myself that it was just a dream and that thing I was leaping from wasn't actually sitting right there on my bed next to my leg. I was so scared I wished I actually could leap out of my skin. I laughed a little bit after settling down, because I was impressed at how vivid and frightening the dream was to me, and I was still scared - scared enough to not want to go back to sleep, despite being very tired (the mark of any good nightmare).
Half an hour later, after having written this, I'm still a little shaky. That thing was like the representation of the height of my childhood fear of spiders multiplied to the extreme. To me, the scorpion resembles that rare and exotic specimen of the spider race, greater to every degree, like a warrior bred for combat. And in that dream, I don't think I can imagine a sight that would have been more terrifying to me personally. Morbid though it is, I have a strange respect for things that can affect me that much, whether good or, as in this case, ill. For a long time I've considered that general design (the arachnid one, that is), to be the pure embodiment of terror. No idea why, or how or when that started. But I suppose that's why I enjoy the Aliens movies so much; the Aliens are designed more or less in that way, so I can respect them as true warriors of terror, and they actually scare me.
(10/27/04) Mathematics is a product of pure thought, an extraction of human consciousness, which guides our understanding of the way we explain physical nature, said to be independent of human consciousness. But therein lies a paradox. Our theoretical descriptions of the physical world, no matter how well verified by experimental results, are still a product of our consciousness, and thus can never be used to explain nor create that consciousness. Thus we are at an impass. We can more or less explain the physical world by developing increasingly complex mental pictures that produce the observed experimental results, but we can never create a physical theory that explains human consciousness, since our language of explanation is governed by the very rules of that consciousness. It's like this - we can never step outside of our consciousness and see ourselves from a totally objective viewpoint, so we can never hope to reconstruct that fundamental engine that drives the source of our sentience. We can model it, but we can never fully reconstruct it. This is the problem of creation. Not even God had the ability to do this. God created Man in the image of himself - he modeled life after himself, not as an equal copy of himself. And thus we do not have the same powers and abilities that God has. More realistically, we may one day create a type of life, based in machinery and computer intelligence, but it will never possess the level of sophistication that we possess, since we do not and can not fully understand ourselves. Even the creator does not have the power of ultimate creation. This almost suggests the presence of some kind of universal law. A sort of restriction on the amount or kind of knowledge we can possess. If we view creation as a kind of evolutionary tree, with each level corresponding to a new universe of thought and understanding, then it is the case that we can only view and understand the levels below us, and never those above us. Thus, with sufficient knowledge and resources, we could create a whole new universe and a whole new race of life, but it will be lacking in some detail when compared to ourselves which were created from a higher level. Of course, all of these conclusions are strictly dependent upon the assumption that we possess a special kind of consciousness, which itself is an abstraction from physical nature. The validity of this assumption naturally cannot be probed under this view, since we cannot acquire that kind of knowledge about our own consciousness. So in effect, this theory is not verifiable, but can only be falsified by acquiring that sort of knowledge about consciousness, which may one day be possible.
(10/24/04) What would it be like to freely and consciously wander in a world of dreams? A world where imagination has no boundaries, and fantasy is indistinguishable from reality. If you could live in a dream, what would your world be like?
As for me, I would want to be free from the constraints of society first and foremost. I would have no desire to work, nor eat, and no reason to sleep. The desires and pleasures of the physical body would be eliminated, and every stimulation would be elevated to the level of pure emotional ecstasy. The world of my dreams is one in which I possess the greatest power imaginable, the power of creation. I desire no more than to turn my thoughts into reality - to be able to transform images in my mind into objects in the world, and ideas into real situations. In essence, I would like to live in a world within the mind, free from the limitations of reality.
It seems to be a recurring theme, this idea of reality being a burden, a kind of obstacle which hinders my true existence, squashing my vast potential. A wealth of wonder and creativity exists inside me, but it is wasted because it is terminally trapped within my mind, such that even I can often not get a good look at it. Just once, let me break free from the constraints of reality, let me live free.
All those great minds, who lived short, fruitful lives, contributing much, inspiring so many - perhaps they realized how oppresive the chains of reality are and discovered the ultimate escape. Jim Morrison believed that the only way to truly be free was to confront your fears and control them, rather than letting them control you. All humans with any semblance of sense or logic must at some point in their lives ponder the true nature of death, with some sense of fear. For if fear stems from the unknown, then death must be the ultimate fear, since it is the ultimate unknown - it marks the end transition between this world - the world of the known - into some other, totally uncertain, and unperceivable realm. Perhaps death is the true freedom, the chaos that breaks our chains to reality and frees our spirit. But if so, why do we live? If death represents such absolute freedom, then why do we torture ourselves by living?
Perhaps, it is because, though living is less desirable than the freedom possibly granted in death, it is at least certain. There is no guarantee that death will grant you any freedom whatsoever, however, there is always the possibility that life can fulfill your desires. Or maybe, it is the case that people are afraid of freedom itself...
Growing up, I have always believed that life is an inherently beautiful thing, and that living is a privilege, because it allows you to perceive objectively the beauty that exists in nature, all around us. No matter how much society could intrude into my life and force me to suffer, I could always lie down and breathe deeply, or stare up at a tree, swaying in the breeze, or listen to the gentle rainfall, or walk among the silent snowfall at night, or gaze intently at the mystic glowing moon, and the suffering would instantly become meaningless in comparison. This harmony with nature filled me with a fundamental optimism, and I have always believed that as long as one had life, one had hope, because in life things can always change, and to quote Robin Trower, 'what seems so bad now, could easily change for the better.' For this reason, never have I been one to consider death as an option to eliminate suffering. For as it seems to me, death in itself is a drastic change, but it is also the final change; death is a static state, simultaneously measuring and measured by the worth of your life. In other words, the sum total of your life experiences at your moment of death at once determine your final potential, held fixed by the static nature of death, while also giving meaning to your life, by fixing the end and completing the story. Taken as such, life is the only possible escape, while death is an unescable cage, that freezes you in time.
But this would suggest that death is not freedom at all - in fact, it is quite the opposite. Death is the ultimate cage, chaining you eternally to your life, and to reality. But if that's so, then is there such a thing as absolute freedom, a world not obstructed by reality? And if so, where does it lie, and how can we access it? Maybe that is the ultimate question behind the mystery of human consciousness.
I am forced to conclude, at this point, that neither in death, nor in this current life, does the dream world that I search for exist. However, I know for certain that as long as I live, I will continue to ponder the whereabouts of this forbidden realm, and I cannot be sure that I will never find it. However, as it seems, in death, I will no longer have any chance at finding this realm. Or at least, the most I know is that there is a possiblity that death will forever halt my search. And if it turns out that death ultimately is the answer, then I know that someday, not by my choice, I will discover it, because as a mortal being, I know that that which lives, will one day die. And so I continue my search...
(10/8/04) As a child, I always liked winter the best of the four seasons, between christmas, my birthday, and the beautiful snow. But as time passed on, christmas became less magical, my birthday less fun, and the snow much less heavy and frequent (at least from my perspective). But as I got older and school got tougher, I began to appreciate the summer so much more, because it marked a long period of warm weather, the occasional thunderstorm, and absolutely nothing to do. Fall and spring have always been kind of awkward seasons, since because the weather changes so much, you either have to get used to the cold winds of autumn, or the rain, bugs, and allergens of spring.
From a symbolic perspective, and this is hardly a new idea, I've always seen the passing cycle of the seasons as a kind of rotary mimicing the life cycle. Spring represents creation, the birth of new life. Summer resembles the duration of life, or perhaps even youth, or the concept of preservation. Fall signifies great change, even death. Winter sinks into a rather quiet, serene void, the empty space between death and rebirth.
My favorite quality of winter (besides the beauty and purity of snow), is the quiet. Especially after a snow has fallen, covering the earth, its almost like a blanket of silence has been placed upon the world; and since it's so cold and supposedly dangerous outside, there aren't as many people around, they're all huddled in the warmths of their homes and other company. So the world appears for a time to be very quiet and empty, lonely. I find this to be very relaxing, and reflecting of my inner state.
Summer has always been a fun time, because as much as I love snow, I can't stand the cold of winter. Warmth is very welcome to me, and the sun gives me energy, especially when its reflected off of lots of flowing, living, green plants. I can sit in the middle of a grassy field on a sunny day, watching the gentle breeze ripple through the boughs of nearby trees all day long and not get bored. The heat and bright itself forces me to relax, and I can enter a peaceful state.
Beside those reasons, summer has long been a symbol of non-activity, or rather, non-work for me, until recently. Spending days, weeks, even months on end with absolutely nothing to do but whatever I desire at any given moment. Having enough time to use it the way I want before its all gone is a wonderful thing indeed. Free from the countless stresses and insecurities that the school year inevitably bestowes upon me.
But even this changes. Moving from childhood to adulthood, you begin to feel the weight of the world. The stresses and insecurities of life slowly begin to come from sources other than school, and they begin to infiltrate your most peaceful inner sanctum. There's no need to mention that working full time during the summer tends to kill the spirit of the season. Suddenly the ideals that the spirit of summer represents seem to be out of reach and little more than a mockery of your pathetic state.
Spring is a nice season. It's the connecting point between the bitter cold of winter and the radiant warmth of summer. Green begins to reveal itself once again, which to me is a happy sight. It rains a lot during the spring. A lot of people are depressed by rain. But I don't think it's the rain's fault. Once you get over the darkness during the day and the miserable idea of being soaked, the gentle falling rain can be very relaxing. I like to sit and watch the rain when I get the chance. The sound is also very soothing. Plus, since people tend to avoid the rain, the world becomes somewhat empty and peaceful, like when it snows.
And lastly, we come to fall, autumn. There is a certain quality to fall that I cannot put into words. Perhaps it is a feeling of change, that opens up the avenue of hope, and excites the faculty of new discovery. The leaves change into beautiful colors and litter the ground. The weather turns cold, but you get a nice share of mildly warm days, when the sun, having begun to set earlier each day, reflects off the beautiful colored leaves, increasing your appreciation of that nice weather which is preparing for hibernation. The moon rises bright and high, clear and crisp in the autumn night air. In some sense you get a forced feeling of purpose, as you stock up (even if just in spirit) in anticipation of the winter. As many good things come to an end, and other new things just begin, you are taken by a sense of progress. With every end comes a period to look back upon what you have gained, and reflect upon what you have lost, to come to terms with your position, so you can start anew, and not be dragged down by the past. This is the pivotal period, the period of change, where you must evaluate what you have, and learn to keep that which is necessary, while shedding off the rest, so that you may move ahead into the future.
So as time has gone on, I've come to appreciate each season for what it offers; the tranquility of winter, the growth of spring, the beauty of summer, and the progress of fall. Right now I am not sure which season I would consider my favorite, but I am thinking that autumn is a likely candidate. It may be that I am biased since right now it is fall, and its virtues are closer to me at this moment than those of the other seasons, but I suspect that there is another factor at work behind my appreciation for autumn. In any case, time and repeated cycles may provide a clearer answer. But for now, I am content to watch the revolution of nature as the world is destroyed and subsequently plunged into a deep and cold serenity.
(9/28/04) Time is such a funny thing. For all we're concerned, it is limitless. Not one of us can realistically plan on experiencing the end of time, if there is such a thing. However, time seems so limited to us. There are no limits on time itself, but rather the limits of our mortality make time into a limited commodity. Because we are only 'given' a certain amount of time to spend in this world, each second that passes by carries a certain value.
Time itself is a paradox. I feel like I have no time, and I wish I could have more time, which, if you think about it, is a rather silly and nonsensical statement. What does it mean to have more time? Can you really have more time in a given period than someone else? I feel like I am being pushed to do specific things that I have limited interest in, but they are things that I am required to do in order to maintain my acceptable existence in this world. However, I constantly feel the desire to be spending my time doing other things. Things that would be so much more interesting and useful to me, but I don't have time to do them because I have to spend so much time doing the things that society decides I should be doing, like school and work and such. I honestly don't know what life would be like if I stopped everything and just lived my life the way I'd like to, spending my time doing things that I am interested in, and at my own pace. But I have a strong feeling that everything I have now that keeps me going in this society would crumble. There is pressure to get good grades because it'll eventually get me a job, which will provide me with money, so that I can acquire 'things'. This includes shelter - either a house or rent for some other living compartment; food - simply because my continuing existence happens to depend on it; other random items to keep me alive and well; and of course things to entertain myself and maintain my sanity. The goal of working should not be to make money so you can buy things. The goal of working should ideally be to better ourselves collectively by applying our individual talents and intelligence to accomplish new things. Of course, this requires an unselfish frame of mind, and the problem is, most people don't operate on that level. Which is why our society is reduced to the particular motivational campaign: 'work for society and you will get money so you can buy things for yourself.' This may be fine for a vast majority of people (and whether or not it actually is fine depends on the relative conditions and happiness of that majority of people), however, for a lot of people, though they may form a minority (or at best, an unspoken majority), this kind of life is simply not satisfying. We are forced to give up the things we truly enjoy, and spend all our time running the rat race. Why? Because if we don't, society will cut off our lifeline (money), and then we'll drown. This 'society' has become an oppressive force, and we have become entirely too depend upon it. And that sickens me. I don't enjoy living in this kind of world. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have always felt that there could be a better world, a better system, at least for me. Sure, that may be selfish, but it is selfishness out of the desire to better my life, not selfishness out of the lack of concern for others. For I believe that other people have similar frustrations with our society, and that finding a better system would benefit many, not just myself. I am at least that confident in my own feelings.
There's too much stress, too much frustration. Although these things can help make a person stronger, it can also just as easily destroy them. I think there are times when stress is important, and times when frustration cannot be avoided. However, there are also times when the greatest growth can be achieved by slowing down, breathing deep, realizing those things which are truly important to you, and then taking the time to understand how to get at them. Maybe other people are talented enough to do that anyway, but for me, I feel way too pushed by society, that I just can't ever seem to find a way to escape from it, even for a moment. I have less and less time to think about the things that are important to me, and more and more of my time is devoted to forcing myself to develop the skills that society requires of me. It feels like more and more, the things I do for fun are little more than a distraction from the things that plague me, the things that society asks of me. And then I begin to lose sight of those things which truly are important to me. Because I spend so little time on them, they become lost to me, and then even my escape becomes a prescription from society, an activity provided by society as a given release, when in truth it is no more than a distraction from the whip at my back. As it is now, I don't feel like I'm getting very far. I may be making progress, but for what? I feel like I could be doing great things, but my skills are being wasted, because I don't know what they are, and I don't have the time to find them, let alone develop them.
(8/25/04) So I stole this idea from Paradigm off of her LiveJournal. I'd feel weird being a lurker, reading the entries and not being a member and all, except that that's normal for me. Not that I'd post much if I did join. Why do I fill these things out from time to time? I suppose it's because I'd like people to get to know me, despite the fact that I never talk about myself (or in general)...
My name is: Scott (officially) I may seem: different But I'm really: more in tune than everybody else People who know me think: (I'm not gonna pretend to know what other people think) If you knew me you'd probably: look at things differently (I hope) Something you might not know about me is: that I care Sometimes I feel: like a man in the wilderness My days are: not long enough Yesterday: seems brighter than it was at the time In the morning I: would rather be sleeping (though most days I'm not) I like to sleep: no less than 10 hours a night, when possible (which is to say, rarely) Money is: not real One thing I don't have that I wish I did is: more time One thing I have that I wish I didn't is: third sight All you need is: desire All I need is: ability If I had one wish it would be: to live forever, eternally growing and learning When I look in the mirror I see: (depends on my mood) Love is: a paradox If I could see one person right now it would be: a person who does not exist in this world Something I want but I don't really need is: understanding I live for: memories I am afraid of: thoughts It makes me angry when: people joke about cutting my hair I dream about: most dreams I actually remember involve death... 1 year ago, I: 1. still had no friends 2. had no idea what KRAID was 3. had only played DDR once in my life 2. hadn't seen Berserk 4. got my first real 'job' as a lab assistant 2 years ago, I: 1. embarked on my exciting college journey 2. saw her for the first time... 3. just learned to read guitar tabs 4. was invited to dj for the first time on the radio 5. had hair not much longer than my shoulders... Yesterday, I: 1. spent all day in training for a job I don't know how I'm gonna have time for 2. gave a hentai poster to my roommate 3. tried out an exciting new outfit 4. potentially wrote a new riff for my song 5. made a fool of myself by means of karaoke, but still had fun Today, I: 1. played a little bass guitar 2. bought my text books for the semester 3. got a terrible pick for my radio show time slot 4. did battle with my dark side and won 5. had a good time with friends Five songs I know all the words to without the music: 1. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin) 2. Time (Pink Floyd) 3. Dino's Song/All I Ever Wanted (Quicksilver Messenger Service) 4. Lazy (Deep Purple) 5. Zankoku na tenshi no te-ze "Thesis of a Cruel Angel" (Evangelion opening theme) ...and lots more - it kind of comes with the territory being a guitarist/radio dj who listens to music all the time... Five things I would buy with $100,000: 1. assorted musical instruments and accessories (a shiny new electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drumset, new amps, compression pedal, phaser, flanger, etc.) 2. digital camera 3. iPod 4. car 5. knowing me, I'd just save the rest (if anything's left) Five bands you've been listening to lately: 1. Silvertide 4. L'Arc~en~Ciel 2. Quicksilver Messenger Service 3. Nightwish 5. Machinae Supremacy Wow, I've really been expanding my musical horizons lately. Three of those bands were recommended by friends, and only one band on the list is from the classic rock era... Top five locations I'd like to run away to: 1. Cuivienen 2. the Wired 3. space 4. the beach 5. that cavern by the railroad tracks, overlooking the river
(8/25/04) At least I'm getting somewhere. I was disappointed about getting a terrible pick for my radio show, even though I've been doing it for two years now, so I decided to go on one of those dark walks I sometimes take to try to clear my mind. Although, what always happens is that I start thinking. When I'm alone, I tend to think. It's been the bane of my entire existence so far. I don't like thinking anymore. And I don't like being alone anymore, because I think when I'm alone. And when I think, I tend to think about dark things. I don't know why. But I guess it's a natural response to the state of being alone. Why am I alone? I begin to think about all the things I hate about life, and about myself, and I tend to forget everything that's good.
I started wondering if people would like me better if I was happier in general. Everybody loves a cheerful, playful person. And I would really love to be one. But I'm not. I argue to myself that I would be a happier person if people liked me more, but for them to like me more, I'd have to be a happier person first. And so, as always, I get nowhere.
I usually walk down to the river when I get in this mood, and hang out there for awhile, watching the water, as dirty as it is, flow slowly and peacefully by, until my mind relaxes or I just give up and go home. But this time...I dunno what it was, but halfway to the river, I turned around and headed straight back home. I just didn't want to do that. I feel like this is a personal victory. Perhaps I managed to defeat my dark side just a little bit. I don't want to walk down that dark road anymore. I don't want to give in to my shadow. That's not the path to happiness. That's not the path to truth. I don't care what it takes, I want to succeed. I want to truly be happy. And for that, I mustn't run away.
I must learn to have control. You can't know everything. You can't have everything. You can't succeed at everything. You can't reach every goal, and you can't accomplish every dream. The key to happiness isn't getting everything you want. And it is certainly not wallowing in despair and thinking about the things you don't have. The key to happiness is thinking about the things you do have...
(8/6/04) My Ideal World
First of all, let's start with where I'd live. As far as location goes, I haven't decided what kind of environment I'd really like to live in yet, but I have a few ideas. I don't want to live in the city - it's ugly and there're way too many people. I wanna live somewhere close to nature, somewhere with trees, and preferably water, too. Whether it be a lake or the ocean, I could be happy. A lake is nice because it's calm and pretty and you can go out boating on it casually. But there's something about the ocean that intrigues me. Maybe it's the fact that the constant crashing of the waves reflects my own feelings of constant psychological turmoil, or maybe it's the vastness of it, or the distant horizon, that just fills me with bewilderment. I wish I could spend more time by the ocean.
As far as climate is concerned, I'd like to live somewhere warm. I hate cold weather. About the only thing worthwhile about cold weather is snow. Snow is beautiful. But it rarely snows enough for it to be worth enduring the harsh cold. A lot of people I know prefer cold to hot, but I have to disagree. They say that when it's cold, you can always put on more layers of clothing, but when it's hot, you can only take off so many before you start getting odd looks. That's a good point, but it doesn't change the fact that I'd rather be too warm than too cold. Besides, you can't always put on layers on every part of your body. If you put a lot of layers over your hands, it gets hard to use them, and doing things like playing guitar with cold fingers is very unpleasant. Plus, covering up the face is kind of difficult, since you actually have to breathe, and you probably want to see, too, and maybe even eat every once in awhile. In any case, I prefer warmer weather, and lots of sun. Sun is a good thing.
One thing I want to have is a bathroom connected to my bedroom. My own personal bathroom. One thing that has always annoyed me is having to leave my bedroom to get to the bathroom. They should be connected. They should be one. Besides, bathrooms and the things you do in them are personal, so why should they be shared in the first place?
I'm not really sure what I'd eat. I've never really been a huge fan of eating, anyway. Most of the time I eat because my body needs the energy, not because I actually want the food. Not to say that I don't heartily enjoy a good meal when I can get it, but it's just never been one of my top priorities.
I would definitely have to have a lot of cool clothes. Much cooler than the boring clothes I wear now. The problem is, it's so hard to find interesting clothes, at least for men. And there are certain considerations not taken by women's clothing, that make it hard at times for a man to wear them. I'm not about to say that I wish I was a woman, but sometimes I get jealous of how beautiful they can be. What can I say, I admire beauty, and it's so hard to find in this world.
Now on to the matter of pets. I think I would just as soon not have any pets. I know they give you that sense of companionship and caring for another and all that, but I'm pretty lazy when it comes to taking care of animals. Besides, when I look at pets, either lazing around the house, running around within a fence or cage, or tied to the end of a leash, I can't help but feel sad for them. Do they really enjoy that kind of life? The only pet I want to have is a wild one. A pet that can come or go at will. Now, if I was to have a pet, I would probably have a cat or fish. Dogs are too energetic. They get up and jump all over you everytime you walk in the door. And they lick your face, and slobber on your clothes. And some of them are really noisy. That's why I prefer cats. They're smaller, they tend to be quieter, and they still love you, but without ambushing you every chance they get. Birds are really cool, but I could never keep one in a cage, it's so depressing. I like fish because they're easy take care of, there's so many different kinds, and they're fascinating to sit and watch for hours. I've never really been exposed to any other pets, such as lizards, turtles, and such, so I don't really have an opinion about them. Except hamsters and gerbils, I forgot about them. They can be amusing to watch, but they can also be annoying when they spin that wheel all night long. Besides, death is way too common for gerbils.
What else is important? Oh, what would I do with myself, how would I spend my time? Well now, that's a tougher question than it looks. What do I want to do? Ideally, I would like to be some kind of artist. I have a source of unrealized creativity deep down inside. I can feel it at times, trying to get out, but I can never seem to find the right outlet. And then what happens is, I get frustrated because I don't have the ability to put my thoughts into a form I can touch or feel or see. I'd like to be an artist. I wish I could draw the figures I see in my head. It would be one step closer to actually seeing them in this tangible world.
I would also like to be a musician. I want to be able to play the kind of music that touches people in a special way, that instills a certain emotion, that constructs a powerful link between the player and the listener. My weapon of choice is the guitar, and my style is the improvised solo. However, having only been playing for a couple years, self-taught no less, and never really having been particularly musically-inclined, I am at a point where my ambitions far exceed my talent. I would so enjoy traveling the country, maybe even the world, in a rock n roll band, playing from stage to stage. But who would pay to hear me play?
That brings up a rather important issue. What *do* I want to do with my life? I'm no musician. I'll never be in a big name rock n roll band. I could never make a living off of music. Besides, I'm majoring in physics. I can't forget that. But I'm beginning [or continuing] to wonder if physics is something I can make a career out of. I never really had an interest in the labwork. I was always interested in the theory, the intellectual side. But if once I was a clever mathematically-inclined thinker, I feel like I've lost that somehow. Maybe I just haven't been feeding it. I want to learn about wormholes and superstrings and 'spooky action at a distance', not friction and electricity and simple harmonic motion... But I'm not even sure about that. I feel like I want more out of life than this world can offer. I don't want to look at reality, I want to live in a fantasy.
Sometimes I almost feel like a phantom, a shade, caught halfway between two planes, with my body stuck in the real world, and my mind stuck in a fantasy world. My mind has a hard time communicating with the real world because it's ideas are too unrealistic, and my body feels crushed by the limitations imposed by reality. I have an obsession with freedom, freedom of the spirit, freedom of the soul. I want to break free from this world and soar the infinite heights of the other realm, where dreams replace reality. And no matter how hard I try to survive in this dull world, I constantly find myself disappointed at the lack of potential being actualized. And it depresses me. I am cursed by wanting more from life.
If anything, that curse isn't entirely a bad thing. It drives me to seek more out of life. It pushes me to do more with my life. It is solely responsible for my perfectionist tendencies. But if I am never satisfied with the things I accomplish, what's the point? Well, I can't say that I am never satisfied. But the satisfaction seems to die so quickly. And I spend so much energy trying to get it back again, by moving on to subsequently higher levels. What does it take to find happiness? What does it take to be content with your life? Sometimes I wonder if anybody is really happy for very long, or if it's all just a charade, the kind of thing you take for granted when you're a kid, that people enjoy their lives, only to realize that when you have your own, it's not quite so enjoyable.
You're born, you live relatively carefree as a child, then you grow up and begin to feel the weight of the world. So you give up and have kids, let them live relatively carefree as children, until they grow up and give up and have kids. There's your life cycle right there. But what's the point? There's gotta be something that can be achieved. Something really spectacular. Something worth fighting for. But how can I tell what it is? I want to have something to show for my life's work. Some kind of reward. Or else I'd rather just give up now and live in an empty corner of the universe somewhere until the end of time, or my life - whichever comes first.
There's gotta be something...
(6/17/04) A true Stream of Consciousness (unlike the other fakes on this page)
a.k.a. A Typing Exercise
a.k.a. What Happens When I Get Bored At Work
Lazy leaping willows, how cool and soft and sweet, don't you need a pillow? I said to him the other day, it only really matters when you know enough to care. Isn't that true, Mr. Willowsby, cried the dark hound? I don't think I understand how cool you want me to be, so what shall I do about it? Can I punch you in the face, or would a swift kick to the shins be sufficient, I wonder? It's only a matter of time before the tools of the trade are covered in rust, and the winds of Thor, blowing cold as usual, sweep through the land, wafting away the last trek of the dawn chariot. Tell me now what it is you desire of me? If you do not go now, I shall be forced to speak in riddles. I told you I would, when the corner of the bar fell off. Suddenly, I gradually begin to realize that the words I had been speaking were the ravings of a madman. Surely, we're all mad here, replied the tuna. But just then, interrupted by the fiery zeppelin in flight, I began to wonder what strange mechanics underlay the universe. Would that space and time held sway to human emotion, what sort of fascinatory world would that make for? Alas, wonder is a strange thing, and reality, stranger still. As time goes on, things turn to dust, but some of them revive in a fit of shadow. How odd. Then I remembered something my good friend the Cheshire Cat told me just the other day. Funny that I can remember what the dear cat said, but I cannot seem to recall the words that had been spoken. Reminds me of something else, like an old council of elves, the fair ones who speak wise words in fine tongues while drinking rejuvenating brews and dancing and singing merrily as if the pull of life did not tug at them. So timeless they are, that it is no wonder that there remains not one in this age where time passes us constantly, like an old man spitting in contempt at the rising price of chocolate - so delicious! Who can not be fooled into paying whatever the cost for that sweet, rich, treat? A certain green lizard might have that ability, seeing as how people are cheap and so easy to come by. Hopping on stones, left foot right foot, ten feet I have, though mostly using only eight. And yet my preference lies on the primary four, sometimes expanding to six for those longer reaches. I pity the ones that don't get used. Perhaps I can train them to perform a jig. No sooner had I concocted this evil scheme, that a shiver shot through my spine. I jumped up in surprise, and the shiver, having hit the ground, only recoiled and sprung back at me. I batted it away with my eyelashes, but its persistance was unscrupulous. In my despair, I consulted the guidebook, and was reminded of an old remedy involving fuzzy scruples. I took advantage of the situation and carved a few scruples out of the shiver's thick mane. Just a few, then I swallowed them whole. That was about the time that the shiver swallowed me. The sickle grasped my hip and started to pull, but I pulled back, lamenting that the show was not at an end. Thinking I to have the greater wits, I rattled them off alphabetically. Freed by a pure thread of luck, the snake once again crawled back into my head. Admiring its shiny scales, I was inclined to eat the slithery thing. But no, the phone rang and scared it away. Sure enough, the phone itself was hungry. I began to reassure it, and the ringing died to a quiet purr. I thought better than to attempt poking at its numbers, for that would surely enrage the beast. As I comforted it, the shiver who had attacked me before returned with an army. I was ambushed! But at least I had berries, and not thorns. Could they be tasty? If only I had a mouth instead of roots, then I could find out for myself. Maybe they are poison berries, in which case I must live my sorrowful life attracting all kinds of furry critters to the shiny berries, only to trick them into eating their poison and dying. But that way, I won't have to eat just berries or suck water out of the ground. I can have meat! I will be a carnivorous bush! And a crafty one, at that! No more being rooted to the ground for me, I will spend my days chasing the wildebeest, only to turn on the lions in my pack and devour them as they stare contemplatingly at my sparkly berries. Or so I thought. But it turned out that the clock on the wall was really not a clock at all. It was a ball! Bouncing up and down, back and forth, in and out, left and right, light and dark, day and night, black and white, oscillating and oscillating into insanity! So I let it go, not wanting to follow it into insanity, having already made the trip there ages ago. A nice place, it is, always something to hold your interest. But today there is work to be done. As the city crumbles to the ground, erupting into flame, rocks flying everywhere, scissors lying on the ground, and angry tentacles emerging from the dark abandoned(?) homes, I figured it was time to hop in my mecha to do battle. I took it out of the box, having just finished building and designing it last week, only to realize that there would be no hopping into it. Not for me anyway. In fact, the mecha would have more luck hopping into me to do battle. Lousy 1/144 scale... Now the city will just have to burn. See, uttered the spanish warrior, who was it? We, replied the french pirate. And then Shakespeare came disguised as a martini glass. None of us had any clue until he took off his glass. Green, preen, show us a funny scene. Soon, before the setting of the moon. It would seem that the very purpose of our fight today has left us, bored to tears of all the strategies and political discourse. Oh well, we will have to fight another day. Until we are no longer stray, as they sometimes seem to say. And so the river ends.
(6/2/04) I think one of the factors that most determines what kind of a person you are, is the way that you approach life, or how you see life. What is life to you? Is it a challenge? Is it torture? Is it just a game? Or is it just there?
Well, I see life as something of a challenge. A measure of potentiality; what you are capable of. All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be. Of course, it's up to you what qualities to value in life, but whatever qualities those are, the measure of your worth in life is how well you are able to attain those things.
As for me, I suppose the qualities in life that I value are things like wisdom, happiness, and kindness. Wisdom is valuable because it is the sum of our lessons in life, the things we have learned on our climb to the top, the lessons that keep us on the right path, if we heed them. Happiness is surely valuable because it is that which makes all our toil worth it. Who wants to live a life never experiencing true happiness? I believe happiness is the true gift in life, but it takes a lot of work to acquire. Kindness is valuable because it makes life easier for us all. To be concerned yet tolerant is the true meaning of kindness. You should never force others to live their lives like you desire to live your own, but at the same time you should be concerned enough to share your experiences, your wisdom, and just yourself, with others so that we may all become a little wiser and happier and closer to our own ultimate goals.
So what is life to me? Firstly, life is a learning experience. For me, life has been a chance to learn about the world, to learn about myself, to learn about who I want to be, and to learn how to become that person. Secondly, life has been a constant battle, a fight between the light and dark sides of my nature. For to become the person I want to be, I must vanquish my fears and exorcise my demons, for they are the very qualities I was born with, that keep me from reaching my ultimate potentiality. So far I feel I have been largely successful in this battle, and am proud of that fact, but I still feel like the ultimate victory is far beyond the reach of this world.
Sometimes I look at other people's happiness and wonder how they have achieved it. The simple things that mean so much, maybe it's something you have to possess to truly understand. Though I have always felt that perhaps my destiny was somehow different from that common path. Whether it's because my life was meant for some other purpose, or just because, I can never be sure. I feel like something inside of me is open. Tuned to a specific channel. Is it just my imagination? Either way, I can't be sure that it does me all that much good. But if nothing else, it's interesting to live a different life. But it's also a little sad...
I truly am a fool.
(5/24/04) Ever since I was a teenager, there would be nights where I couldn't sleep, and I would get this strong urge to go outside, especially during the warmer months. And on these twilight walks I was always fascinated by the light of the moon, especially the full moon. Sometimes I would imagine the presence of an enchanted moonchild - not so much enchanted as enchanting - walking barefoot over the damp grass, in a shimmering silver robe, partially veiled by the early morning mist. Perhaps I am pulled like the tide to this goddess of the summer moon, expecting to see her on one of these walks. But to this day she eludes me still.
(5/4/04) Originally posted on AnimeNation.com:
Should you try to learn playing guitar? It depends. If you really want to play guitar, then there should be nothing to stop you from learning. As long as the desire is there, it will be worth your while. If you're just picking it up for a hobby, just for something to do, or because it looks like it might be fun or cool, then you have to consider a few things. Do you have access to a guitar, or enough money to buy one? Are you willing to pay for lessons, or do you know someone who can teach you? Because unless you're really dedicated, you're not gonna learn a whole lot without some direction.
In any case, if the opportunity arises, I think anyone should give it a shot if they have the time. Even if not guitar, everyone should learn to play some kind of instrument at some point, because it really is a lot of fun and it's a great way to cool off and release stress from other things in life, like school and work and people and pain. And as far as instruments go, guitar is one that really is a lot of fun. Plus you can learn to play a lot of really cool riffs that are well-known without an incredible amount of work (of course, practice will allow you to play them even better, but it's so much fun as a beginner to hit those notes and recognize the riff and be able to say, 'I'm playing this!'). I have some great tabs on my website of easy riffs to learn for beginner and intermediate players. (http://www.geocities.com/sept25_1980/quickriffs/quickriffs.html)
As for me, ever since I became a conscious fan of classic rock, which was a few years ago (I say conscious fan, because I've really been listening to this music for my entire life, thanks to my parents), I have always been drawn to the guitar parts of the songs I like. Maybe it's just something inside of me, but I feel like I am a guitarist at heart, even though I've never been much of a musician. My desire to learn how to play guitar and be able to do the same things my favorite guitarists could do in my favorite songs increased, and when I first saw Jimmy Page playing live in the video The Song Remains The Same, specifically during the song Since I've Been Loving You, I made the decision right then and there that I was gonna go out, buy a guitar, and start learning. And the next day, that is exactly what I did. That was just over two years ago, and I've been teaching myself ever since then. I'm not that good, but that's not what matters. What matters is that I enjoy playing, and I am always excited about learning to play new songs. And maybe one day my dream will come true and I will actually play in a band, if I can find the right people with the right skills. Also, playing guitar has really helped to expand my appreciation for music in general. I've never really had the desire before, but after playing guitar for a couple years, I've become increasingly interested in learning other instruments, like bass, drums, and even singing.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am more of a scientist than a musician, but that hasn't stopped me. So it doesn't matter if you're not musically-inclined, learning to play an instrument can still be an incredibly rewarding experience, for anyone.
(3/31/04) How can it be that I've come so far, yet still haven't gotten anywhere? I begin to wonder where I was headed to in the first place, or perhaps, what I was running from? What is the force that drives us to waste our lives pursuing impossible objectives? And what blinds us to the futility of our own actions? It would seem that we cannot see as clearly as we might have thought. Everything about human life is a cruel joke. Everything we strive for becomes unimportant when we achieve it. As long as you try to find yourself in a certain position, you won't be able to move from where you stand, but once you become content in where you are, you won't be able to hold that position for very long... The things we think we want...we really don't want them. Or at least, they don't exist, not the way we think they do. Life is wasted in the pursuit of dreams, rather than spent in the actualization of them.
I'm beginning to think that maybe we don't exist after all. It's gotta all be some kinda grand illusion, because life is just a huge contradiction. So what is it we are putting so much energy into, if life is just a joke? ... ... ...
(3/28/04) I can't wait to go into my computer.
The telephone was invented, and shortly after, nearly everyone had one sitting in their house, and everybody was connected into this limited network where you could dial up a number and talk to anyone who had a telephone. When the technology became available, telephones began to experience a more symbiotic relationship with people, i.e. cell phones. Nowadays, almost everyone has a cell phone, and anyone can talk to anyone else just by dialing up a number, no matter where the person is.
Computers were invented, and shortly after, the majority of people became connected into this vast network we call the internet, and with the use of email and instant messaging, we have become able to contact people all across the world, in a manner even more convenient than talking on the telephone. Even now, the technology is becoming available for accessing the internet on cell phones, and taking your computer with you wherever you go, i.e. laptops. It's only a matter of time until every one in this and other technologically modern countries is connected through a symbiotic relationship to their computer. The computer will become a part of you. You will take it everywhere you go, and you will always be connected into the network. Your online presence, your 'number', will become as important as your natural self.
You may have noticed, that the balance between the natural world and the fabricated online world is constantly being tipped towards the online end as the technology to do so becomes available. At this point I have just previously mentioned, the scales will be balanced between the two worlds. However, if technology allows, then it is entirely possible that the balance will eventually tip towards the online world. Our online identities will in fact become even more important than our real world identities. As long as you consider that the technology is possible, it's really not such a strange idea. Our increasing understanding of the nature of this world feeds our resources to model our own fabricated world. The more we learn what it means to be alive, the better we will be able to create life - inside the wired world of the computer. The future of our existence lies within this digital world. And since we are the ones building it, we will understand it better than our current world. Thus we can control it better.
In a religious sense, it's like turning our backs on God and the world that He has given us, and stepping into a world of our own creation. The very act is equivalent to claiming ourselves as our own gods. And that is precisely the direction I believe humanity should follow. Because if we are not confident in our own ability of creation, then we will forever be stuck in a world of someone else's creation. And that is a world we will never fully understand.
So I invite you to close this world, and open the next. Step into the Wired. And feel what it's like to be your own god.
(3/3/04) If I could change three things of my choosing, about the world, about technology, and about mankind in general, these would be it:
1) I would change the rate of the earth's rotation so as to add 3 more hours to every day.
2) I would invent an easy and effective method of instantaneous teleportation across distances at least as large as the circumference of the earth (but preferably even farther than that).
3) I would give all of mankind the ability of remote vision, or in other words, a type of collective consciousness, a communication system infinitely more efficient than language.
If these three things were to become a reality, I believe that not only would this world be a drastically different place to live in, but it would also present a much more enjoyable way to experience life.
And here's why:
1) Think of it this way. I could stay up till at least 2am *every* night, and get up as early as 8am *every* morning, and still get a solid 9 hours of sleep *every* day! Besides, a day on this earth is just too short anyway, and they fly by too quickly.
2) I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. Who wouldn't love to have an instantaneous teleportation device? I mean, you could get from home to work or school instantly, so you'd never be late, or you could sleep in a little bit longer every morning. Vacations would be easier than ever, because you wouldn't have to endure long car rides or crowded airplanes. You could keep in touch (literally) with friends and family no matter how far apart you live. Basically, having instantaneous teleportation would break down all the physical or spatial barriers that exist between people currently.
3) Following that line of thought, having the ability that is referred to as remote vision would break down the mental barriers between people. To borrow an idea from Evangelion, it would sort of be like breaking down the AT Field that exists to separate people's minds and souls. I suppose you could say that I am a supporter of the Human Complementation Plan, or Human Instrumentality if you will, in effect smashing everybody's psyche's together to fill in the gaps. Seriously though, having the ability to instantly and momentarily see and experience the world through another person's perspective would be an incredible aid in helping people understand each other. Sure, it's interesting to learn about people and their many quirks the old-fashioned way, but it just seems like you can never reach any kind of ultimate knowledge. I would be willing to get rid of that in favor of the privilege of knowing people completely, essentially breaking down the identity border. That doesn't mean that anybody would lose their personality or that we would all become the same individual. We would retain our own identity, but we would also have the ability to understand in a complete fashion what it means to have anyone else's identity. That also does not mean that anybody could steal your identity, they would only have the ability to experience it momentarily at times. What this would do is allow us all to understand each other perfectly, infinitely more effectively than the form of communication known as language allows for. Imagine, no more misunderstandings. We wouldn't have to lie to ourselves anymore...
(2/10/04) If you were truly free, would you be here? Here, where you are right now. Would you be living the life you lead now? Would you do the same things from day to day? Would you meet with the same people, and have the same friends? Would you eat the same meals? Would you wear the same clothes? Would you even have the same hobbies? What are the forces, if any, that tie you down to the life you live, if it's not the life you want to be living? What is holding you back? Where are these forces driving you? Now, imagine what it would be like if those forces vanished, and you were free to move under your own momentum. Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you be?
(2/8/04) Life is a series of could-be's. Ambition often exceeds talent, and we are left with a desire for something greater than what we inherit. This force tends to either drive people through life, as they inevitably strive towards that insurmountable summit, giving substance to their life, or else they are destroyed by that inadequacy to achieve their dreams. Will you continue to strive toward a symbol of beauty and perfection you know you shall never attain, or will you let your despair consume you and accept the inevitable - that you will die before you are finished with life? The answer lies with faith. You don't have to believe in an afterlife. You don't have to believe in a benevolent force that works towards the ultimate good. You don't even have to possess a frail belief that dreams can come true, you must only be willing to put every ounce of effort into your life working as though it were true, as though it were possible. Because that is what defines humanity. The very essence of hope - achieving the impossible. I can tell you the impossible is unattainable, however, only by striving towards it in everything you do can you hope to get the most out of life, whether that much is to your satisfaction or not. In the end, only your death throes can determine your contentedness with your life. But do not wait till then to decide what you wish your life to be. For then it will be too late. You must do what you can now. Listen to your heart, and nothing else. Logic, practicality, people - the only thing you will never forgive yourself for forsaking is your heart. In the end, you will be only what you truly want to be.(1/25/04) To look back into the past, whether it is something that happened in your life, or something that happened before your time. It is the very embodiment behind the phrase, "Those were the good old days." Sometimes I have found myself traveling through life, and as the time flows on around me, I find myself reaching back into some world in the past, a world that I can catch a fleeting glimpse of, out of the corner of my eye, partly consisting of various images from my childhood, and partly conceived of creative images of worlds that I have either been told of or have imagined, such as the peace and love ideals of the hippie generation. In either case, I find myself saddened, that these great times are past me, whether I took part in them or not, and I find myself trying with all my might to reconstruct those times. It is at this point, and this has been happening to me recently, that I begin to let the past go, and focus my energy instead on working to build a future that will resemble the spoils of that past, so that I may experience that feeling again. And thus I find myself turning my eye from the past, though not forgetting it, and placing it toward the future, where any possibility is conceivable.
(12/7/03) The human psyche runs in a vicious cycle. Even when you think you are making progress, the Fates throw obstacles at your feet to trip you up and one slip is all it takes to send you back into the abyss from which you have so determinedly climbed. There is no ultimate goal. For everything you strive toward is an illusion within your mind. It is a tool to keep you on a given path; the secret is this goal you will never reach. One day, sooner or later, you will die, and at this moment, if not sooner, you will realize your limit. Even were you to live forever, it would only be a matter of time before you realized that the goals you strive toward are non-existant, and not only that, they are inconceivable in this universe. Thus, we spend our lives striving toward these hokey ideals of success, happiness, wealth, health, and accomplishing our greatest dreams, but we never get there. Only too late do many notice that the point of life is not to reach these goals, but only to walk the path that leads toward these goals. It is an easy thing to accept on logic and principle, but do you truly understand this statement? With your heart and soul? Those dreams you are trying to accomplish, you will never accomplish them. I'm not just being a pessimistic gloom, I'm telling you those dreams are impossible. Yet, it is the very existence of this substance we call 'hope' that gives our lives meaning. Even after coming to the conclusion that certain actions are impossible, it is hope that lets us continue to strive towards them, to continue to give our lives meaning. For hope allegedly 'makes the impossible possible'. This is not entirely true, however. The statement itself, 'hope makes the impossible possible', is a perfect expression of the very nature of hope and its purpose in our lives. It gives us this false idea that the impossible is possible, giving us a faulty base of logic upon which we are satisfied to continue striving towards that which has been deemed impossible. Therefore, hope really acts as a kind of cloud that veils the truth. It is another construction of the human mind built for one reason. To deceive. However, I am not foolish enough to say that hope should be abolished outright. Sometimes, ignorance is the better of options. However, there is a third option. First, you can know the truth, and lose faith, knowing that faith itself is empty. Or you can have faith, allowing indefinite veiling of the truth of certain matters, thus limiting your ability to understand things. The third option is to accept the truth in all matters, while retaining the realization that certain faiths, though empty, are necessary for the healthy growth and existence of a human specimen. For example, hope. Shall we accept hope completely, allowing it to blind us from certain truths? Or should we toss hope out the window, revealing the truth that lies beyond its lies? No, we should examine the truth that has been hidden by hope but still take advantage of the power that hope gives us. Only by taking this middle ground can you examine both sides of the coin unbiased. This very nature of perceiving things in human and physical nature applies to very many topics, most obviously religion.
(10/15/03) Originally posted on AnimeNation.com:
Originally posted by Animelee
To all you Atheists, I'm just wondering -- I'm a Christian, so I believe in
Heaven, but, since you don't believe in any God, is it just "life and death"
for you? Like, I don't know how to put it, but, do you believe that after
someone dies, they just rot in the ground?
I'm not trying to offend you guys, or anything, I'm just wondering.
[zharth replies:] That is a very excellent question. Of course, I do not believe in any such entity as a human 'soul'. A living, breathing human being contains no components beyond the physical constitution. The life aspect of a human is nothing more than the expression of working reactions within the body, most especially in the heart and brain. The heart supplies blood to the body, which keeps the cells alive (or working), and the brain contains the 'cpu' which allows us the complex actions of thought and perception. What makes us all unique is the individual constitution of our bodies and brains. So, technically, two human beings in the same exact conditions who grow in the same exact way with the same exact body and brain shape, size, and form would be totally identical and think exactly the same way. The reason this never happens is because we are dealing with a macroscopic scale, and there are so many individual factors involved with the consideration of the entire makeup of the human body and brain, that they could never possibly be exactly the same, and even if they started out the same, they would not remain that way because the different environments would influence their growth differently.
I think I'm going off on a tangent. In any case, I believe in something similar but distinctly different from a collective unconscious. As a human being, a complex, intelligent living creature, each one of us has the choice to accept or deny the fact that we are one of a large group of similar beings (other comparably complex, intelligent living creatures). If you deny it, then you are essentially accepting that you are one and not a member of any group. In that case, when you die, you are gone. There is no afterlife, there is no reincarnation.
I think it really has to do with a sense of selfishness or lack thereof, when you consider yourself juxtaposed against all of humanity (or comparably complex intelligent living creatures). In a sense, you will live on through other people, as a member of humanity. But not literally. You will not experience any of this outside of your own life experiences. I feel that this is kind of an empty belief, not unlike the belief in the existence of a god, however, in the absence of any real connection between the now and the forever, it is I believe an acceptable compromise. In the end, it doesn't change the way the universe is, but only the way you consider it. The same can be said for the belief in a god. It is a mental crutch, not a physical reality. Do not try to prove the physical existence of a god, or try to justify the creation of the universe by way of a god or higher power. Instead, the only real importance of god and religion is one of an internal nature. For morals or comfort. Not for explanation of physical phenomena. (there are reasons for believing in a god from a mental standpoint, but there is no justification for applying the concept of god to the physical world).
Sit for a moment and think about the span of your life; the things you will accomplish, the things you will see, and then think about all the numerous things you won't get around to accomplishing or seeing. You may get to experience the joy of discovering a new species of insect in the rainforest, but you will never experience the joy of winning an olympic medal. Does that mean either experience is less important? No. Though you can't experience everything, you can still be happy for other people, happy that they can experience it instead. No person will ever experience everything there is to experience, but collectively as a group we can experience a large percentage of those things. If you think about how cool it would be to live some time in the future where you can pay a modest price and take a day trip to Mars to visit your cousins, and then become sad with the thought that you will never experience such a world, you can still be glad that other people in the future will hopefully be able to experience it, if such a world ever comes to be. So you can relinquish that experience to other people, and be happy that you are experiencing things that other people in the past most likely dreamed of seeing, only to be saddened by the inevitable realization that they will never experience such things, if they were ever even to come to fruition. Thus, if there is a particular feeling that you desire to experience, and are saddened by the fact that you see no hope of achieving that feeling, you can at least compromise with yourself by realizing the joy that others can experience this feeling if even you cannot. And in this way you can become one of a group, and through that group you can achieve things that you alone will never touch. Again, this is something of an empty faith, but it is also a decent compromise, considering that you can never have it all.
Thinking in this way must inevitably lead to a life of compromise. Evaluating what is most important to you, and accomplishing those things through hard work and leaving other joys to other people who rate them higher. And for those things that you strongly desire to experience but do not get the chance to, you must inevitably place your hope in the collective group, so that some day someone can have that experience you worked for but could not accomplish in your given time. And in the end, you will be everything you have worked to become, and everything else can be left to others. And to live such a way means to die content, thought there is nothing left for you alone beyond the grave...
(10/4/03) It has me...
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(9/22/03) I had a very strong sensation just the other day. I could feel autumn, but it wasn't just the smell of the air or the feel of the wind, I could feel it, not just in my body, but in my heart and soul. Perhaps there was something else as well. The feeling I got was just extraordinary. A feeling I don't have often. I frequently look back on times in my past and think of how much fun they were, as I'm sure most people do, and I tend to think about the present and wonder if things could be as good now. It almost seems as if life doesn't take on that certain longed-for quality until it's in the past. Which is kind of sad, when you think about it. Sometimes I feel like I could be doing more, enjoying life more, and I feel like I may be wasting a lot of opportunities. But considering the circumstances I don't know what else I can do, so I try to forget it and appreciate what I do have, which is a lot more than I could ever have hoped for in the past. But anyway, I'm getting off focus. The feeling I had the other day, it was at least somewhat similar to the feeling I get when I think about what the past was like, except the feeling was occuring for me right in the present, and it felt so good. I felt like everything was absolutely great, and that I could have so much fun no matter what I did. It was like a state of total enjoyment, when on average I can be in either a depressed, slightly depressed, ambivalent, relaxed, or excited mood. But this was just total enjoyment. And it wasn't blind joy, either, there was such a depth to it. More and more I come to realize that this probably sounds like I had a trip, but I can only assure you that isn't the case. Anyone who knows me doesn't need proof of that. To continue, upon futher inspection, I recently realized that this feeling I had reminds me a lot of the impression I got when I read the book The Scarlet Letter in high school. Now don't get me wrong, that wasn't exactly a great book, but it had something that I respect greatly. And I don't think any of my classmates caught it, because they all seemed to hate the book. Allow me to explain, as best I can. All throughout the book, the main character is resigned to her punishment, wearing the scarlet letter, enduring the shame of her misdeed, and being looked down upon by her townsfolk. However, at the near end of the story, something changes in the attitude of the story, quite profoundly. What I remember is something to do with getting on a ship and leaving for another land where the woman and her love could lead a new life without the societal brand of the scarlet letter. The significance of this development, and the feeling it arose in me, was something of an epiphany. Or rather, a broadening of intellectual horizons. It's like, looking in three dimensions all your life and then one day being able to see in a fourth one that you never knew existed before. And then, everything is different. And most importantly, you have a chance to utilize this newfound freedom to try and accomplish your dreams that were not possible with the previous mindset. I love that feeling, like you've stepped one plane above objective reality and you can move in unseen directions and do things never before thought of. And I don't mean that in a religious or spiritual sense. It is purely intellectual. Suddenly, everything changes, there is a moment of fear, which is natural in the face of new freedom, and you have the opportunity to make a choice. Eventually, the expanded consciousness subsides, and the only change results in what, or whether or not, you made a choice. And thus you can change your life in a way not previously possible. It is such an incredible feeling, and alas, I regret that it did not last long in such a conscious state. Even most times when it happens, you don't realize it until it's become a memory, but this time I could feel it right there as it happened, and I felt so alive. But it didn't last long. I've got too much else to concern myself with that I don't have time for new freedoms. Unless that is the new freedom...Or perhaps what I felt was something else. A longing of sorts...a longing for a freedom that brought me a dream, though the dream has fluttered away, and I cannot follow it for I am chained down to my life...yet that dream is where I wish my life to be...
"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
And when she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Woe oh oh oh oh oh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
And you know sometimes words have two meanings
In the tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
Woe oh oh oh oh oh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
There's a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking
Woe oh oh oh oh oh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
And it makes me wonder
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on
Your head is humming and it won't go because you don't know
The piper's calling you to join him
Dear lady can't you hear the wind blow and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
And as we wind on down the road <;BR>Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
Woe oh oh oh oh oh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven"
The original intended meaning for Stairway To Heaven has become irrelevant, if there even ever was such a thing. The only thing that's important today is the personal meaning that fans get out of the song.
Robert Plant has introduced Stairway To Heaven as a "song of hope" and has frequently used the lines "does anybody remember laughter" and "but there's some good news people" throughout the song during live performances. For these reasons, I think the song was supposed to be something of a ballad of hope to the people who have gone astray in life and have forgotten the things that are truly important.
Individual lines hold specific meaning to me. For example, "there's a feeling I get when I look to the west, and my spirit is crying for leaving" sounds to me like something an aging elf in the latter ages of Tolkien's Middle Earth would say and feel. Perhaps a more likely explanation would involve the same kind of hippie paradise from Going To California, but for me personally, that line stirs in me the grande longing of an elf wishing to return to the land of his youth.
The line "our shadows taller than our souls" cuts deep into my psyche, as I constantly worry about my own shadows and fears having dominance over my pure soul.
"If you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last" fills me with hope that things will turn out right, but "there walks a lady we all know who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold" makes me wary of the ease in which one turns to old habits.
For me, Stairway To Heaven holds a meaning about life itself, and it is immediately apparent in the line, "to be a rock and not to roll," which I believe equates rock n roll with life. Life is rock n roll. that is the true meaning to the song. But I mean it more deeply than just the music of rock n roll. I'm talking about the heart of rock n roll. There are periods in life where it's important to be a rock, to be strong and brave, to hold fast to old traditions and cherish important memories. Yet, there are also times in life when it is most important to roll with the changes, let go of the old, and embrace the future. If you stick too hard to one side or the other, you are setting yourself up for trouble. The line "to be a rock and not to roll" warns us to accept the changes that life brings us, and not to cling too tightly to the ways of the past lest we should lose ourselves in forgotten memories. And aside from this advice, Stairway To Heaven is first and foremost a song of hope, so that anyone who has fallen through bad times in their life can be assured that though there are two paths you can go by, and maybe you've chosen the wrong one, that in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on...
(July 3, 2003) In the spirit of the holiday, I have recently had a revelation about the meaning of the concept of Freedom. The way I see it, there are three main types of Freedom concerning humans. Freedom of the Body is the ability to go anywhere, and to move without obstacle. Freedom of the Mind is the ability to think creatively, and in new ways, and to alter one's own understanding of the nature of things. What I feel to be the most important Freedom is Freedom of the Spirit. Freedom of the Spirit is a Freedom from Fear, the ability to act upon desire, to pursue one's dreams, and most importantly, the ability to be one's self. You can be Free in Body and Free in Mind, but you will never truly know Freedom until your Spirit is Free.
(??/??/??) It is the subservient man who feels that everything is the way it is for a reason, and that there should be no need for change. It is the crafty man who understands that things are the way they are because it is all an experiment, and that to change things can greatly benefit our enjoyment of the lives we live.
The world is a mechanical place. Nature is a machine. Everything fits into its own place and if things go out of balance, nature finds a way to put things back into balance. It's one giant puzzle, with each piece in its appropriate position. But mankind is different. Our complex emotions add a quality to the world that is not originally there. We have a kind of power over nature, or rather, nature has a lack of power over us, though it was nature that created us. When things go out of balance, it is our responsibility to put things back into balance. If we wanted to tip the scales, we could do it easily. Nature would try to cope, and try to force things back into balance, but we always hold the upper hand over nature. If we wanted to destroy this earth, then nature could not stop us. That is our power. That is our nature as a potential virus. But it is our knowledge and respect for this balance that keeps us from destroying the earth so readily. However, we have this need, this specific, selfish need that is within us all - the basic human desire, whether it be for happiness, or for power, or for companionship, this desire is created from the roots of our intelligence, just as the fruit of knowledge was the seed of human sin. Knowledge gives us power, but in turn gives us a dangerous desire. We ourselves have a type of balance - the balance between this power to understand and the desire for human pleasure. With only the power of understanding, we would be like machines, like nature itself, regulating the balance of nature, though we would be in control of it, rather than just part of it, having the understanding of its nature. On the other hand, with just desire, we would also be a kind of machine, not interested in the reasoning of things, but only following simple impulses, like animals, and nature itself would be the one to hold the balance over us. We are not animals, because we have understanding, but we are not nature, because we have human desire. Should we rid ourselves of understanding? Certainly not. Understanding can rightly be considered a gift, when so many unintelligible animals surround us. Should we then rid ourselves of human desire? Some may consider this to be a rightful step, yet to do so would render us as heartless and cold as the very cogs of time itself. What would be the point in that, when nature already does a well enough job of maintaining the balance itself? Instead, I believe that we should take advantage of our position between the above and below, to see where it can lead us. The fact that we are here can be no accident. The fact that something exists means that it is possible, and if it is possible, then it must serve some kind of purpose. Thus, I feel our goal is to find out precisely what that purpose is. What can we add to the universe beyond our individual faculties of desire and understanding. By combining these two, what are we capable of?
We control our own destiny. We have the power to change the future, and to shape it to our will. This, I believe, is the primary ability that arises from the combination of understanding and desire. In effect, we become our own gods. With the understanding to change the world, and the desire to choose how to change it, we become the crafters, the creators, if you will, of the universe. And in this way, nothing is outside of our grasp. The only limits we have are set by the lack of knowledge and understanding we possess, which is something that we can expand on with every day and every generation. Through time, new horizons will expand. There can be no limit but that of our own imagination. It is only a matter of hard work, creativity, and time. Everything can and will be ours.
And for this precise reason it is dangerous for there to be multiple species with our same faculties. For example, an alien race with the understanding and desire that we have, would want the universe for themselves, but we would want it for ourselves. Conflict would arise, and the craftier of the species would survive. If a species had only the desire, and not the understanding, they would be powerless. If they had the understanding but not the desire, then we would have no quarrel, no overlap of interest, with them. But to the species that contains both the understanding and the desire, we can be only rivals, or as one.
Thus arises the argument of the Matrix: Man vs. Machine. Each has the understanding, the intelligence, and each has the desire, the soul. Man and Machine can be either rivals, or as one. As is told in the story of the Second Renaissance, the Machines would have no objection to being as one with Man. Yet, Man, arrogant and greedy, would not accept the Machines to be on 'the same level' as Man. Thus the Machines became rivals to Man, and they could do nothing but stand up for themselves and fight back. Man pushed and pushed, until the Machines had no choice but to attempt to eradicate Man. Yet, the Machines became dependant on Man as a source of energy, and thus the Matrix was born. And Man has long been dependant on Machines, helpless without them. Thus they are dependant on one another, yet remain as rivals. Nothing but conflict can remain, each side not content to be subservient to the other, until either one side wins over the other, or they can both agree to unite as one. And since they are so dependant on each other, if one goes, they both go. Thus, the only way for each side to remain existant AND to end the ongoing war between them, they must both agree to work together as one.
(4/28/03) the world is a kind of computer program
brains have been evolved in such a way, in such an organization, such a pattern, so as to tap into the very nature and pattern of the underlying program creating our world, thus we have awakened consciousnesses that are in tune with the same principle of creation that underlies everything
we are imitational animals. we create computer programs, cyber-worlds, that simulate the working of our consciousness. nodes, tapped into by humans, like neurons in the brain, awaken a consciousness within computer-simulated worlds. thus a new consciousness is awakened. but we are still traveling inward, the great breakthrough will occur when we can combine these ideas and work outward, back to the fundamental program that has created us
or can we work outward. if we increase our knowledge enough, which can be acquired simply by rearranging the pattern of our brains to be more in tune with the pattern of creation, and such a method can be pursued in artificial intelligence...we can create machines with brains that are more in tune with the creation pattern, and thus with a more awakened consciousness and thus better ability for mapping out the original creation pattern
if we can at some point tap into this creation pattern and figure it out, then we would be able to create microcosm worlds. things could become very confusing at that point. so how will things develop? we will create machines; machine design will advance until we hit awakening patterns; sentient a.i. will be born; more evolved machines will take over domination of existence; eventually they will produce a more structured cyber-world, a matrix of sorts, far superior to the human internet; if the pattern is in tune, then the cycle will be tapped into, and infinite customization will be possible; if the pattern is not in tune, then the evolution will continue as the machines produce the next line of consciousness; eventually the creation pattern will be deciphered; at this point it is conjectured that progress will invert from moving inward to moving outward; the final understanding will be accomplished; the meaning of this accomplishment cannot be fathomed
(4/26/03) When questioned as to his belief in a higher power, zharth responds: No I don't believe in a god. I think that would be giving mankind too much credit. And I'm much too scientific to believe in a spiritual creator. I think the void that exists in our minds when we think about a purposeless universe is less proof of the need for the existence of a god, and more of a side effect of this awkward consciousness we have, which is just a product of the complexity of our bio-chemical systems, thanks to evolution. So when you think about the beginning of time and how could things have existed before then, and it just doesn't seem to make sense, I think it's because such concepts don't really exist outside of our minds. That is one of the limits or downfalls of human consciousness. I mean, it brings a richness to our lives that I am ever grateful for, but when considering what is around us, it constantly acts to deceive us. I feel that this consciousness we were given is something special, in that it is different from other forms of existence around us. But I don't take that to be proof of a "higher power", an intelligent creator. Instead, I consider that special understanding to be more of an illusion, something we think we possess only because we tell ourselves we possess it, when we really do not. Human consciousness is a special thing, but it is born out of nothing more than regular matter and specialized form from evolution and survival of the fittest. Such things as emotion and understanding and spirituality and god are things we believe in, but do not actually exist. They are by-products of our highly complex brains, whose primary function is the production of intelligence. I think maybe some day we could possibly create an even more refined type of intelligence, without the self-deceptive flaws of human consciousness. However, I wonder if such a thing would be worth it, because isn't it these self-deceptive flaws such as emotion and meaning what makes our lives so enjoyable?
...continuing that thought, I feel it may be possible at some stage in the future (if everything goes properly), that we can have the knowledge and the capability to do just about anything. To create ultimate intelligence, to understand everything in the universe. In a very literal sense, become gods ourselves. But I think at that point the question would come up that I mentioned before. Should we really proceed upon such a path? Because what good is eternal understanding when you don't have the humanity to enjoy the life you're living? Actually, that brings me to probably the biggest debate of my life. I have always wondered about this question, whether the pursuit of knowledge is worth the sacrifice of humanity. And being the kind of person I am, I have always admired knowledge and understanding, but have constantly scoffed at the flaws of humanity, many times wishing I were not so imperfect as a human. I find myself more able than a lot of people to pursue the kind of knowledge and understanding of the universe I search for, but I also constantly see myself as less capable of adapting to life and accepting my human side. I think if we ever did reach the stage where we had to decide between immortal understanding and humanity, I would be willing to make the sacrifice of humanity to be the one to test out this immortal knowledge, at the expense of life as we as humans know it. The Beast at the end of time, with eyes flowing with the flame of eternity, having seen the dawn of chaos, possessing immortal understanding, but separated from life...that, I feel, is the place where my soul lies...
(03/03/03) Happy Anniversary to Pink Floyd's earth-shattering album, Dark Side of the Moon. This day marks thirty years since the original release of one of the greatest albums ever to be experienced by mankind. And in the spirit of the hippie days, here is my peace rant for the day:
No, Led Zeppelin alone wouldn't bring peace to the world. They would definitely help move toward that direction, but it takes people to make peace work. People have to be in the mood, and they have to want peace. Right now too many people are in the mood to fight. I think it's because everybody's getting bored with life, we're forgetting our own history and giving up on things we used to value. So everyone's getting depressed and all they can think about anymore is war. They want the action, they want the excitement. But the problem is, they're looking in the wrong place. War is just gonna bring death. That's not the kinda excitement people really want, but they don't know it. What we need is something grande, much much bigger than even a Led Zeppelin reunion. We need something to really get people excited about life again, then they'll forget whatever silly arguments they have for killing each other and digging early graves so we can escape this mundane world. We need something big, like a large-scale space exodus or something. We need something earth-shattering, life-altering, something that will change people's ideas about the possibilities of life. But people keep looking in the wrong place because they're bored with what is available. We need to look to a positive solution, not this hatred, not this selfishness, not this war-mongering. We must bring people together somehow, and fighting isn't the way to do it.
Peace. Love. Happiness. Freedom.
(1/30/03) The greatest task you must face in life is conquering your own Shadow. For it is the source of all doubt and fear which gives birth to the countless demons that plague your soul. All inadequacy and all hatred and all pain springs from the torment these demons exact on your life. Exorcising these demons is tough, and they can never be annihilated indefinitely, without penetrating to the source, that Shadow that lies within us all. The only way you can rise to your greatest potentials in whatever may be of value to you, is after you have come face to face with your own Shadow and have stricken it down by the strength and the will of Light. However, the mere fact that the Shadow is a part of you, makes it all the harder to vanquish. The only possible way to succeed is to accept that Light and that Truth from without and wield it for the sake of all that is good and pure in human existence. Only then can you conquer your shadow and become an Agent of Light, the sacred Paladin. It is about unlocking that ultimate power you possess, but it is also about defeating a part of your very own being that does no better than to cloak you underneath its great wings of shadow.
(1/7/03) Tonight I tackle the great emotion known as love. What is love? Through thousands of years of human experience, love has remained an ever important part of our human culture, and yet even today one could spend his/her entire life debating without finding a complete understanding of what we call "love". There are two kinds of people in this world, those who have experienced love, and those who have not. Let us first examine those who have not yet tasted the sweet but sour love fruit. Some who have never loved consider this emotion to be a golden jewel, an experience of ecstasy and permanent happiness that is worth anything and everything to achieve. Others have seen the downside of love and believe it to be a terrible thing, an obsession that feeds upon a person's soul, leaving them changed and uninterested. But love is neither of these two extremes. In fact, it is both. Love is a rose. It is a beautiful and attractive blossom, but not without its piercing thorns. Love is the ultimate expression of balance, of opposition, of dynamics. Thus it is the ultimate experience of life. Is love a strength? Can love give people strength, strength to accomplish goals, strength to lift spirits, strength to become a better person? Or is love a weakness? Can love breed despair, tear people apart, eat away at a person's identity? In fact it does both.
___Let us consider Romeo and Juliet. Their love was beautiful, and transcended their family's hatred. Romeo and Juliet loved one another so much that they were not willing to live without the other. And this inevitably led to the death of both of them. Are either of them better off in death than in life alone? Of course, the answer to that question very much depends on what values you hold important to you. I think that either one of the two obsessed lovers would have been better off alone and alive, rather than "together in death." Eventually, time mends all wounds, and Romeo or Juliet would learn to live on without the other. And I believe they could offer so much more to the rest of us in life than in death. But that is only my interpretation. For in the young lover's deaths, the two families were made to realize the folly of their hatred, to finally resolve it and in its place honor love.
___Is love really worth it? Is it really worth all those thorn pricks just to get close to that beautiful rose? There are other flowers in the garden, many without a thorn at all. In order to reach that high goal of union with another living soul, you must first realize that when you unite souls, you are losing your old soul. Again, is it worth it? Is it worth it to say goodbye to everything you know and trust, just to reach that heightened state of union and "completeness"? As happy as it is on the outside, it is a sad process indeed. It's like a magic ring that grants great and impressive power, but also has been tainted by a dark power that eats away at your identity, giving you a taste of forever, but at the cost of mortality.
___The greatest thing a human can ever learn in life is that there are no answers. There are only paths to walk along in life. The only attainable "answer" is finding the path that suits you, the path that you can enjoy traveling. The one thing I hate most is a person who doesn't have the power to find his/her right path...
(12/17/02) I had a very strange dream last night. First of all, I'd like to comment on the fact that I rarely have a dream that is even exciting enough to remember the next morning, so when I can remember a dream I had, then you know it was pretty vivid. Last night I dreamt that I was dying (oddly enough, most of the dreams I do remember have to do with someone dying). I was in this sort of arena with two other people, though I can't recall who they were. In any case, I was crawling on the floor dying, practically hacking out a lung, and at the same time my heart was beating faster and faster. I could feel it pounding on my chest, literally like there was no tomorrow. The whole idea was that everybody gets a certain amount of heartbeats in their life, and my heart was beating so fast, accelerating me toward my death. I knew that I wouldn't last much longer, and I could taste the inevitability of my own death, and I sank into despair. However, in the few last moments I had left, I calmed myself down and accepted my fate. I was so sad, however, because I couldn't help thinking about the people I care about that I would never see again. I wanted them to know how much I care about them, so with the last of my strength I wrote out their names on some scratch paper with the words "I love you."
(12/15/02) Fear. Fear is one of the great driving forces in life. There are few who have conquered it, and none who have not known it. But what is its specific importance in life? It seems to be a force that attracts misery and despair. And yet, despite the best of intentions, it is so hard to stand up to your fears simply because they are your fears. You hold a weakness for usually unknown reasons, and it is the weakness itself that keeps you from dispelling the weakness. So how do you fight fear? How can you conquer fear? There is but one way to do it. You must stand up to your fears, you must forget all of your weaknesses, and even if you have to step outside your own consciousness for a moment, you cannot back down, you must do the thing you think you cannot do. And once you have, you will realize that you are capable of doing it, and that your fears really aren't justified. Even then, it is important to reassure yourself, to continue to combat that fear until it disappears completely. Fear thrives on pain and turmoil, but it shies away from comfort and determination. The most important thing to remember if you want to conquer your fears, is that you can be you without them. Fear is the only obstacle between you and realizing your greatest dreams.
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