Random Stuff #023: The dilemma of existence

I exist. You exist. We exist. But how do we exist? What is existence? What does it mean to exist? To me, existence is being self aware. Knowing that you are because you exist.

French existential philosopher René Descartes posits in his famous Discourse On Method that by virtue of our ability to think, we exist because how would you think if you didn’t exist. The phrase cogito ergo sum translates to ‘I think therefore I am’. Our ability to think about our existence, whether in acknowledgment or denial of it, is sufficient proof that we exist. 
So what if we being self aware of existence is just a design flaw in our code? What if all we have been thinking is after all an illusion? What if its an evolutionary trait that aids self aware individuals to survive? 

Random Stuff #022: Back to the WordPress

I’ve been off for a while but I’m coming on in a big way. Too many articles about many interesting subjects to write. Existentialism, psychology, cosmology, enlightenment philosophy, reality, rationalism, fringe science, artificial intelligence, pantheism, dogmatism, Freudian theories, morality, ethics, meaning of life, religion, media and et cetera are some of the issues on my agenda. I’ve turned a little more philosophic of late. I’m questioning everything I see in a new light. One of the eye openers I read recently is René Descartes’s Discourse on Method which has made me question my reality in a way I’ve not done before. I’m reading Baruch Spinoza next, then I’ll embark on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses which I heard earned him a fatwa from the Iranian president in the late 80s. Its frankly ridiculous to me. A religion that can’t take any kind of criticism is fruitful grounds for extremist violence and terrorist mindsets. Terrorists will exist with religion or not. But some religions, especially ones built on military ideologies instead of peace and nonviolence, will continue to encourage and breed extremist behaviour. Anyway enough on that. There is no basis, whether religious, ideological or political, under which a sane human being should put a price on another person’s head. I don’t care if your religion condones it or not. 

Back to philosophy. I’ve also been reading about many enlightenment age philosophers and other great characters like René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Giordano Bruno, Voltaire, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Johannes Kepler, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Albert Einstein, Francisco Goya, George Orwell, Karl Marx, Albert Camus, and Immanuel Kant. The list is long, I know. In a way their ideas have collectively influenced the articles I’ll be posting. I don’t agree with all of them but at least I learnt something new from each of them. With every philosopher I read, I got more enlightened. 

Psychological horror/thriller on the small screen

Note: This is not an exposé on psych genres in recent years

I have been an avid fan of horror dramas for years. Right from The Ring (which was the first real horror I watched) to Chainsaw Massacre to I know what you did last summer to classics like Psycho and then more recently TV shows like American Horror Story, Harper’s Island, etc I have watched numerous different horror dramas. Full disclosure, I can’t name them all. 

Do zombie shows qualify as horror? Yeah some do. The Walking Dead was a horror, in my opinion, only for the first season. The latter seasons are just mostly “survivalist thrillers”. They have walked away from the horror genre. Its more about the people than the zombies. But still so awesome, ain’t it? Arguably one of the best shows right now. Though I don’t classify The Saviors vs Rick’s group as horror. Its just highly intense survivalist thriller. 

Now that I’ve painted a picture on the little I know about horror, I can go forward to a fascinating subgenre, shall I say, of horror – psychological horror. Ever since I started watching Hannibal, I’ve been wondering why there aren’t many TV shows in that subgenre. To elaborate abit, Hannibal is about a psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who basically murders people to cannibalize them. In layman’s terms, he eats people. Imagine the main character being a serial killer. That’d be epic. That’s what this show was doing until, for reasons beyond my understanding, it was cancelled after a game changing third season. Dr. Hannibal and a patient of his, FBI agent Will Graham, were locked in psychological warfare. Basically, psychiatrist vs insane patient. Though the patient instinctively knew what he was up to, Hannibal always used psychology and manipulation to cover his tracks. At the end of the second season, Hannibal has been outed as a cannibal. He runs off to Italy. The main theme of this TV show was you couldn’t tell what was real or fantasy half the time. There were layers of illusions, stunning visual art, and a masterpiece of blending sound effects. When Noah Hawley, one of the creative geniuses in show business, was making Legion, another psychological horror/thriller, he described Hannibal as “a great example of something that had this almost fetishistic beauty to everything that you saw, whether it was food or violence.”. The unique concept of Hannibal with its unorthodox yet seductive audiovisual art should, in my opinion, be considered one of the most TV redefining shows ever. Bryan Fuller did really great work on Hannibal. Just like he’s doing on American Gods. I think he’s a visual art genius. Attaboy. 

P.S: Bryan Fuller, if you are reading this, terrible idea to pitch Hannibal to NBC. Should have taken it to Netflix or one of the cable networks. 

Random Stuff #020: Why not believe?

I’m quite sure if people I know were to read this blog, they would be shocked about my opinions. Mainly  for two reasons. First, I’m not the kind to rattle on about sensitive subjects unless I’m in like minded company. Secondly, I’m a damn good actor. I honestly deserve an Oscar for best hypocritical performance. I wear a plastic plague mask of deceit. I go to church scornfully and just sit the whole time reminiscing what kind of person I am. If I was to express my opinions, my family would probably (or not) leave me to hang out dry. So I can’t take the chance. I have to believe in the impossible instead. I mean I have to believe I can pull off an Oscar worthy performance. I have to act like I’m toeing the religious line. Even though I think its complete bullshit. 

But lately its been getting to me at times. I can’t win four consecutive Oscars. At some point a better actor or better movie will steal it. So I might have to write the script to win the screenwriter award instead. So I resort to psychological warfare in my fake Hollywood screenplay. I’m beginning to learn how to manipulate people to my advantage. I’m especially intrigued how to manipulate people in groups. Thats what great leaders are good at.

Random Stuff #021: Fuck patriotism!!! 

The fast time I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I was captivated by the insanely good graphics and its semi-open world realism. The storyline gripped me and made me think like a soldier at war. Though the game induced a sense of patriotism within me, I was particularly hypnotized by one of the several war quotes.

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

— Nathan Hale

That is, without doubt, one of the most patriotic statements I’ve ever heard. Clearly, Nathan Hale was a soldier willing to give more than just his life for his country. But are you willing to give the same? Am I? Can I stare death in the face for my country? I doubt. In fact I can’t. I’m not willing to give my life for anyone or anything, be it a just cause, a patriotic cause or religious or whatever. Maybe at some point I’ll be pushed to the wall by circumstances and reconsider but not momentarily. 

But I’m willing to give my life for something greater than just patriotism. I’m willing to consider giving my life for global unity and world government. The concept of global state is one that I like and think can be a success. That’s if we were to ignore the political side of it. If there were less restrictions about movement across borders, less attachment to tribal identity, the world would be better off for it. There would be less desire To go to war or fly planes into your rival’s buildings. But to achieve global unity, our general perceived culture and religions have to be left in the past. jdFor the future of humankind won’t be safe if we are still stuck to the same evolutionary motivation factors asbbjzd we had 3000 years back. It will take time to erase these flaws. It could be that the changing zeitgeist is in that particular direction already. There are less wars and less conflict than a few years back. People are less self centred and are more open towards other racially or ethnically different humans unlike in times before. A current youth is less likely to be racist or sexist or whatever phobia than their ageing parents. Maybe all that means the world is beginning to accept that we are all different, that we can coexist without shouting at each other or enslaving another race, that we can create relationships with people we don’t share an origin or race or religion with. Finally maybe we are realising we can live life to the fullest inspire of who we are, where we are or what we disagree on. So fuck patriotism. There are better causes to fight for than die for your country.

Hardcore Quotes #002: The lost symbol

What a gripping novel it was!!

Littered with factual details and technical themes, this is arguably Dan Brown’s best written novel to date. The subject matter was once again different from the other Robert Langdon books but still as good. I still think Da Vinci Code set a really high bar for Dan Brown. He might have to look into how to raise the bar further than that in future books (although I don’t see how that will work judging with his latest 2014 release Inferno). But the less said about Inferno, the better (and I don’t mean that in the wrong way). The controversy surrounding these books is the main selling point for their readers and Inferno fails to deliver in that area. Its predecessor The Lost Symbol didn’t disappoint though. I remember first reading this book back in 2012 and I was stuck in imagination and wonderland for a few weeks. It is the kinda book that awoke the Socrates in me. I started asking myself complex philosophical questions about religion, politics, conspiracy theories, science, art, etc. Anyway I don’t wanna give any 

Since Prof. Langdon is the best character to quote, I’ll stick to only his quotes:

Great minds are always feared by lesser minds.
Sometimes a legend that endures for centuries… endures for a reason.
 The strange ideas we derive today will one day be our celebrated truths.
Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.
Throughout history, every period of enlightenment has been accompanied by darkness, pushing in opposition. Such are laws of nature and balance.
The act of tattooing one’s skin was a tranformative declaration of power, an announcment to the world: I am in control of my own flesh.
Nothing is hidden that will not be made known; nothing is secret that will not come to light.
Google’ is not a synonym for ‘research’.
 To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.
The only difference between you and God is that you have forgotten you are divine.
Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand.
The power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.
Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.
Knowledge grows exponentially. The more we know, the greater our ability to learn, and the faster we expand our knowledge base.
Imagine how different a world might be if more leaders took time to ponder the finality of death before racing off to war.
Knowledge is a tool, and like all tools, its impact is in the hands of the user.
The more man learned, the more he realized he did not know.
Darkness feeds on apathy.
Don’t tell anyone, but on the pagan day of the sun god Ra, I kneel at the foot of an ancient instrument of torture and consume ritualistic symbols of blood and flesh. …And if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take Holy Communion.
Even brilliant scientists Google themselves.
He thought about science, about faith, about man. he thought about how every culture, in every country, in every time, had always shared one thing. We all had the Creator. We used different names, different faces, and different prayers, but God was the universal constant for man. God was the symbol we all shared…the symbol of all the mysteries of life that we could not understand. The ancients had praised God as a symbol of our limitless human potential, but that ancient symbol had been lost over time. Until now.

Random Stuff #019: LGBT rights

Before I tackle this controversial subject, I just wanna repeat these are my views and mine alone. My views don’t mean I am any different from anyone else. Besides there are issues you may consider perfectly okay but they may seem unacceptable to others. Even to people in your own country. Right now, if you are caught engaging in homosexuality in my country, the locals can stone you to death before the police intervenes. So it might be a risk for me to even talk about it on social media but when the rest of my people are finally enlightened, I want the record to show I was way ahead of time.

First off, I think same sex relationships are naturally occurring and should be acceptable if not cherished. If a friend was to walk up to me and tell me they are gay/lesbian/transsexual/queer, I’d be surprised but I’d take his/her hand and tell them its alright to be different that way and they should be proud of it. 

Secondly, I don’t support any kind of inhumane torture or discrimination unfairly cast on the LGBTQ community by fellow humans. All this injustice stems mainly from outdated conservative mindsets, religion, uninformed or misinformed public, politics, etc. People hate LGBTQ because their religion dictates so. Others hate because they don’t understand it. Some hate LGBTQ because they follow other people’s views and don’t hold any sensible opinions on such issues. Others, if they were more informed, wouldn’t tolerate LGBTQ injustice. 

To fully understand why I’m supportive of legality of gay rights and marriage, you must step out of your religious box. Sometimes you have to understand that not everyone believes in your religious ideologies. So when you are making a new policy on gay rights, you flash religion down the toilet (momentarily if not permanently). So what are you left with as a yardstick to judge LGBTQ people? Just science. 

So what does science think about LGBT people? In the 1900s, science thought LGBT people were mentally ill and so had to be injected with hormonal therapy treatment to ‘cure’ them from their homosexual tendencies. (One of the most important scientists in the modern era comes to mind – Alan Turing). Later in the 70’s, after years of compiling data and research, the scientific community came to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and also not a crime. Though it still remained outlawed in several countries until just of recent. I think there’s a new zeitgeist in place, where homosexual relationships are becoming more of the norm and family culture. 

We have seen evidence in several animals of homosexual tendencies. This is no secret. At a 2007 Against Nature? exhibition, over 1500 species were observed to have homosexual tendencies. From birds to sea anaps to primates there has been a lot of documented evidence. Take for example rams and ewes, during the mating season, rams not only compete with each other for mates, but also with ewes looking to mate with each other. Same thing with Japanese macaques. Turning to our fellow primates, the bonobos, which are highly sexed monkeys, exhibit the highest levels of homosexual behaviour of any species. About 60% of bonobo sexual activity is same sex. And mostly lesbianism, since they live in matriarchal societies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of male to male sex. It still happens a lot. Bonobos perform homosexuality to solve conflict or please a superior individual. Among the observed acts include genital to genital rubbing, “penis fencing”, fellatio, some kind of fingering, etc. Bottlenose dolphins have also been observed performing anal penetration among males and beak penetration among females, where the female pushes its beak into genitalia of the other female. Though there are only two animals (just a minority of these) that have been observed to prefer lifelong partnerships of the same sex type. Humans and sheep. Otht animals that engage in homosexual behaviour are elephants, giraffes, polecat, lions, black swans, spotted hyenas, lizards, fruit flies, etc.

So now we have established same-sex sexual activity/behavior is naturally occurring, why should we condemn it? Why should we be fighting against nature? 

This is where religion comes in. The Bible mentions people being burnt to death in Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexuality and highly sexual behaviour. There is no precise explanation why homosexuality is wrong in Christianity. Even the Bible says it is wrong but doesn’t, like most religious doctrine, mention why its wrong. You are not supposed to question why things are a certain way. I won’t go much into religion and homosexuality. Not now at least.