Always Better/ Nothing beats Better

Being the best at something can be a very stressful position to be in. By being the best, you are pitched against the world, and if the work doesn’t kill you, the expectation would. Better, however, is by definition much more hopeful and internalized. People don’t often look at the journey but the destination – being the ‘best’. In my opinion, not even the best can over take something better. Better is as long walk and a slow journey. Life is too short to live comfortably, but it’s too long to live with regrets. May my steps be true and my stride be graceful, and my every stops patient. 

What separates us from the gods? ‘Better’ ensures hope and a second chance. It knows no peak or trough, it has no end, but an end it itself, it answers whenever we call. Better. Always better.

Building Systems

I’ve been in a mega church, and small churches. What I realize is that there is much less room for a large body to grow and maneuver through the times, while small bodies have a lot of flexibility and a lot of work. What I’m concern with would be the truly meaning in my vocational calling. These is a sense that I am leaning towards creating systems that will ensure some form of posterity and meaningfulness to the social body. But first I need to get things organized around me, work hard at it, and believe in it.

Task

-research on and expand your understanding on systems.Gear Cog

Love the symbolism of the Gears, that you need one to run the others

A World without Reason

art-of-moving-on

Picture from “The Impact: The Art of Moving On: A Telltale Heart.

Life is though. Life has the worst user experiences ever and at times just plainly unforgiving. At times, it seemed like the great mind that programmed it made it as a sick joke to torment us. In a The Impact article by Shalekiah Barton, it strucked me that in the modern times we have taught that every problem has a solution. I do graphic design, and our job is to make up problems, solve it, and sell it. It’s a vicious cycle and one that is not helpful for my wholelistic well being. 

I’m used to believe that meaning is something inherent that we need to get us through life in one piece. But the possibility is looming, that the idea of meaninglessness is a tempting one. Hear me out.

When something is given a meaning, it has a certain ideal function that we aspire it to adhere to, however, life is not always like that. Whether it is doing charity, ideally to improve the less fortunate lives, even though it reinforces the economical desparity between social classes; or love, the idea that someone can fill you up only to find that what drew you to the person is not the same one you are together. Life is a sick irony.

However, such pessimism only will led to my own demise and self-destruction. In a 2015 Bulletproof conference talk, David Asprey reflect a moment in his life where he was in a emotional therapy session. While begrudging only admitting that he is pissed off with the moment of life he is going through, the therapist asked him “is there any other feeling you can feel with your body”. Asprey responded his stomach feels uncomfortable, and the therapist replied “that’s fear.” Asprey started to questioned for what reasons such emotinos exist and the therapist gave the poignant answer “they are feelings, there is no specific reason for them to be there.”

This has major implications. With the power of purpose dissolved, feelings then become something Asprey reflected as hackable. Meaning enslaves us, tells us why something is bad and why something is good. With out it, there is a chasm of angst and freedom. Such freedom that not everyone would there to venture, that religion might claim that belongs to the gods. It is something frightful. But all this comes with a cost, the burden of meaning now false into feable human hands. Can he possibly meet up his own expectations let alone a certain deity?

 

 

 

 

Give me a reason to smile.

 

Because you can

 

Life like a book

As I sat by the dining table munching down  a piece of “siew pao”, my grandfather sat across me. He is nearly deaf, and this offers challenges when communicating. He caught me as I was about to finish and called me by my name. He trapped me with one of his old tales from World War II. Out of curtesy I had to stay put and listened to him, somehow at the back of my mind I see that any attempts of a decent communication to be futile.

As he recounts the time of when the Japanese occupation, he running from his hometown to escape bombing and taking refuge in the jungle, my thoughts wanders. He suffered more stress than either my generation or my parent’s generation have actually experience, but he is living to way beyond his age. I take comfort in that, in a sense that the future is unknown, so are the strings that orchestrates my thoughts, my actions, my future and my death.

Suddenly it struck me, if I were his age, what kind of stories can I recount to the next generation? Do I need a story? Will I earn enough to settle down and pass on quietly? or inadvertly planned my own premature passing in search for adventure? So far it struck me that at 22 years of age, I already had used up 8000 days of my life. With the average human being only having roughly 20000 days, I would say that time wasn’t on my side.

I struggle with possibilites and realities. A dialetic that Kierkegaard puts forth in the search of the self. Reality sets in harder as the days go by, but I want my book to be filled with stories; with adventure. Thinking keeps me going, but I haven’t decide where to go. At the time being I have to grind through my tertiary education. My book is already quarter-filled, I hope someone can remember when they read it.

 

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility! – Søren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

 

 

Body Hacking: Coffee Confusion

I stumbled upon David Asprey, a entrepreneur and radical proponent of bio-hacking. He’s the executive of the company Bulletproof, which sells product for advance living. One of the product is a coffee he claims to be mycotoxin free and a recipe to create a super coffee. A counter-reaction was given by Joe Rogan (who bought into the coffee in the first place until further research) gave a podcast interview Dr. Rhonda Patrick debunking the issue of mycotoxins in the product. So this left me wondering what is the truth behind the issue and whether I want to pursue it to experiment on body-hacking.

So far, the only thing that bothers me about Bulletproof is the inconsistency of the facebook page branding and the website design.

 

Capture

(snapshot of the facebook page)

Capture2

(snapshot of the website)

as of now, I’ll be focusing on sleep hacks and a Fitbit Charge HR seems suitable to get for my birthday.

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WAR: GRAPHIC INFLUENCES OF THE COLD WAR AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL WAR

‘The overriding motif Cold War graphic design was giving shape to those things which could not be seen, or had not yet happened: the invisible atom, the sine-wave-like drawings or warning signals blasted from air-raid sirens…’ (2001)

This statement was from an article “Cold War Graphics, or how we learn to accept nuclear devastation without becoming unduly alarmed” by Tom Vanderbilt. He was describing the visual culture of the day, where an invisible war, a war in the minds of individuals and of entire societies. Today, though the threat of nuclear annihilation is still present, attention has moved to a different form of global catastrophe, global warming. Controversy still surrounds the whole idea of global warming within the scientist community according to the Conserve Energy Future Community. The debate rages on between the difference of climate change and global warming. However, the graphics that influenced society and the ideologies of the environmental war can be traced to its predecessor the Cold War; both have an underpining invisible war.

THE COLD WAR

One of the final and lasting image of the Cold War was the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Stone by stone, brick by brick, it marks a resolution for new era. However, the Cold War left behind an afterimage on the peripherals of our everyday existence; an iconic symbol that was once ubiquitous, now slipped into the shadow of society gaze: the fallout shelter sign (Vanderbilt, 2001). The fallout shelter sign was what can be budded as “survival” graphics, yet it is just one step away from its cousin icon: the “rad” warning sign. The fallout shelter sign was the antithesis of its cousin, but with only a minute change of the graphics. However, the “rad” sign implies another imagery, one that was the primary driver of the entire Cold War: the image of the mushroom cloud.

As these imageries assimilate into society, they marked, a rather, speculative conflict that was ubiquitous; no longer the demarkations for were battles clear, nor at a far-off  designated zones (Vanderbilt, 2001). Even though presented with this scenario of war, much of society had never actually seen the devastation that the atom bomb can create.  “This was psychological warfare at its most sophisticated…” (p226) quote Philip M. Taylor (2003), author of the book “Munitions of the Mind”. “Official propaganda therefore had to ensure that the fear of the enemy was sustained at a higher than fear of the Bomb” (pp252-253). In the advent of this invisible war, it was then priority to convince the public that the fear of the enemy was genuine, sensible and justified. This in turn legitimise the need to sustain a nuclear arsenal that would have been at least matchable to the other side. There was never a use for them, for what Taylor (2003) would call it an “inescapably logical course”. (p253)

The logical chain of events that occurs would then involved the ‘demonising’ of the other party. Steven Heller in the article “Cold War Design: Battling the Red Menace” (1992)  for PRINT magazine commented “Communism was represented not as an ideology with a range of political agendas and tonalities, but as a pervasive evil — a disease that had to be rooted out of capitalist culture through the identification and quarantine of infected members.” “The Cold War was Stalin’s war,” writes William G. Hyland, the editor of Foreign Affairs and author of the “The Cold War: 50 Years of Conflict”. (Heller, 1992) There was two battlefields present at the same time: one that involves attacks against the ideological evil, the other involves curbing the spread of the evil within society itself. Groups like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) were created to sniff out infected individual or groups and ‘cure’ them. The HUAC spent significant probing into Hollywood construed to investigation on how Communist propaganda propagate in the film industry (Heller, 1992). Even with their failure to root out the Communist subversion in the film industry, they made life pretty miserable for those woking in the industry.

From the iconic fallout shelter sign to the radical groups, the underlining driver for all these events is that of an unseen fallout of an invisible war. A psychological war and a war of attrition, with survival in mind, because there can no true victor in a nuclear apocalypse. After the Berlin wall, the Cold War was effectively pronounced over by 1990. The end of one period merely opens another in which the past continues to loom, even in the peripherals. As what the writer and former U.S. Marine, Anthony Swofford, would say, “Every War is different, every war is the same.”

THE ENVIRONMENTAL WARS

Majority consensus seems to agree on this particular global phenomenon. In a web summary for the book “The Discovery of Global Warming”, author Spencer Weart gives a brief history of events behind global warming. Prior to the 21st century, scientist recognised the intrinsically complex issue of global warming and the lack of competent measuring equipments brought much debate within the scientific community (Weart, 2007). He further notes “the mass media (to the limited extent they covered the issue) were confused, sometimes predicting a balmy globe with coastal areas flooded as the ice caps melted, sometimes the warning of the prospect of a catastrophic new Ice Age (pp 2-3).” However, since the 21st century, more advance computers along with prolific quantities of data enabled scientist to conclude that, indeed, human emissions are likely to cause climate change. The subject then went mainstream; rallying large numbers of individuals, government units, and corporate entities for the cause, thus solidifying the image of a possible environmental catastrophe (Weart, 2007, p4).

Tiny minority of the public and scientists who held on to the earlier views were accused of ideological convictions or sheer stubbornness (Weart, 2007, p4). One of its proponent, Dr. Ivar Giaever, a Noble Prize Winner for physics in 1973, disagreed on this concept during his speech titled “Global Warming Revisited” at the Nobel Laureates meeting on 1st July 2005. He points out that, in fact, global warming was not the cause of climate change, but rather, the climate changes anyway. He declared

“I would say that basically global warming is a non-problem. Just leave it alone

and it will take care of itself”. (2005)

The media seemed to have hopped on the band wagon, pressing for the noble cause; and possibly inadvertently created a global crisis that has it ramifications unseen or unclear.

References

Taylor, P. M. 2003. Munitions of the mind. Manchester University Press, third edition.

Vanderbilt, T. 2001. Cold War Graphics, or how we learn to accept nuclear devastation without becoming unduly alarmed.

http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/is-global-warming-real.php

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/

https://www.aip.org/history/climate/pdf/Summary.pdf

Photography Journal 5: Faces behind Poverty

Continuing from the previous post, I followed Mala back to her block. She told me a brief about her story, aged 45 and being a grandmother staying with a useless husband, oddly enough, we bumped into her husband on the way up. They didn’t talk much.

Once we reached her flats, it has a shade of gloom. I met Joshua and Bravin Raj, Mala’s two grandson under her care. They are rascals like any other young boys, but cooperative.

The place was empty but having every other utility cramped around the corners. The railings on the balcony had a huge gap between that is a danger to the kids. Bravin started to packed his bag as I walked in, tidying the area with only the setting sunlight. The kitchen and the laundry was in the same place, next to the toilet.

When there is darkness there is light. Young Joshua learning to place a candle firmly as grandma watched and guided him. A light that illuminates many other things.

22

After that, Mala had the generosity to bring me around to other residence’s homes. The first family we visited was a Malay family. Upon reaching the entrance, the windows were boarded up in place of the glass curtain that was suppose to be there. The matriarch of the house was Lini, and her 6 children, plus one more on the way. During the interview, a few of the kid’s friend came in and just sat around. Though not having much, Lini is thankful for a hardworking husband. Her husband works as a security guard with a month wage of RM900. Lini would stay in the house very often because going down stairs without being able to buy her kids snacks hurts her. But she tries whenever she can, most of the time it is just RM6 to spent on leisure snacks. Right outside the house there was quite a number of Astro satellite installation, Mala refers to them as the rich people. Does make you wonder if there is a social gap even within  poverty flats (?).

The next family that we visited was another Indian family. There was a Chinese resident, however, it is just one aunty staying alone. Entering the Indian family house, the same conditions resonants. Leaking pipes rendered toilets unusable and sundry’s pots and pans placed next to the toilet.

Pieces like these you can’t really find in normal houses. The door has been doodle, from what I understand, with study notes. That is one way to revise. Dadaist would probably fall head over heels for this piece of “artwork”.

1111

The tour ended with a privilege of visiting Mala’s humble corner shop-lot. It was still raining so we had to suffer through the rain. She sells sari that were brought over from Indonesia and flavoured drinks with a bit of snacks. She is currently waiting for a stock of hotdogs for her new sales venture.

The end of it, I was grateful for Mala’s time she was willing to give me. So I offered to buy some treats for the kids from a nearby stall. They left the place with a hand-full of balloons.

1

This is life. As I left the area, the contradictions of life ring so clear here. In Mala’s house there was a shrine dedicated to one of her sons. Loganathan worked at a car wash and was the responsible one around, but there was an accident and he passed 9 years ago. Mala never knew what happened to her son. This rings true for the reality of “the good dying young”, what a tragedy.

IMG_6186222

However, hope still blooms in the little ones, a future, and possibly… a change.