April 28, 2012 0 Comments

Source: University of Washington
A cyan anger blazed within his body, consuming every fiber of reason, shredding every strand of calmness.

He couldn't believe that he has the potential to be so destructively angry.

It has been a long while since he last felt such vehemence. Be like the rolling waves atop the oceans, he tended to remind himself, be peaceful and calm and meditative. 

It was surprising to have this poison erupt. There was a sick kind of curiosity with this anger. He couldn't help being curious about it. It had washed over with a tidal power and left shards behind as it receded.

He picked up those pieces - tainted the angriest cerulean - and examined them. They were fragments of the past; they were portents. They had intricate motifs - interlace of lines that hissed with fire. Some shimmered with ire. Others moaned. The landscape was stark, layered with these azure pieces.

The rage had towered and, now, it simply crashed. It cracked.


A Return to Love

April 24, 2012 0 Comments

Adapted from Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love:

"Our needs need not be separate. If we contribute to another person's pain, it will always come back to haunt us. If we do what we can to help them, someone will always come around to do the same for us.

It's not enough to sit idly by while others hurt, using the catchphrase "It's not my responsibility" or "It would be codependent of me to get involved" as an excuse for a selfish stance.

A person once said to me after a situation in which I felt betrayed, "I never intended to hurt you." I said, "But you never intended to love me either."

Love is not neutral. It takes a stand. It is a commitment to the attainment of peace for everyone involved in a situation."
An interesting tidbit to meditate over.


A nagging question: On the nature of holidays

April 21, 2012 0 Comments

Why do we live for holidays? Why do we spend more time planning for the next trip than for our next phase in life?

What is it about the present predicament that we cannot experience it fully and must resort only to looking forward?

Is this a sad expression of modern living? That we're so numbed to the chaotic pace of the modern metropolis and can only long to be away from it.

Or is this an essential, inescapable feature of the human condition? That we will always search for the elusive, undefinable something.


Baby talk

April 17, 2012 0 Comments

"Sometimes, I get below my threshold."

"And what is that?"

"70 marks." He continues to fiddle with his Beyblade toys. Apparently, I'm poor competition to some spinning scrap metal/plastic instruments.

My baby cousin is in the Gifted Education Program (GEP) - the first child in the extended family to be in such an exclusive academic program. Honestly, he is not a "baby" but given my age - erhem - I feel every right to regard him as so.

He tests me about charms, quarks and neutrinos - subatomic particles that happen to be beyond the typical NUS Chemistry syllabus. It is actually quite embarrassing when I desperately attempt to deflect his questions. Anyway, back to the story.

"Why did you score below 70?"

"Cause my handwriting is bad. Now, I write damn slowly."

I gasped. "You're a baby, you aren't supposed to use the word 'damn'!"

"Huh, why not?"

"It is a vulgarity. Very naughty of you to use it."

"Why is T-H-E-M a vulgarity?"

I wonder what this suggests about me, haha.


Glimpsing the human spirit: Patricia Piccinini's vision

April 13, 2012 , 1 Comments

Patricia Piccinini explores the interaction between science and spirit; the humanity in her artworks - regardless of how grotesque some may appear - cry out for empathy.

These deformed figures speak of the horrors of genetic technology, of the ethical conundrums that shroud scientific inquiry.

In The Long Awaited (2008), a boy rests his head against an old woman with a dugong's body. How do we reconcile the serenity that their peaceful slumber evoke with our revulsion of the outwardly different - yet clearly human-looking - figure?

The Long Awaited speaks of redemption and benediction. There is a surprising sweetness in the figures' postures that we somehow understand that mutations don't matter.

A mother reclines, surrounded by her brood, in The Young Family (2005). Her flesh folds and sags, the very portrait of resignation and lethargy. Yet, her eyes hold neither condemnation nor judgment. We inevitably step forward, compelled by the stories she embody.

Foundling (2008) looks at us with longing eyes. It wants to be comforted, to be picked up and loved, just like other babies. Yet, in many ways, it is different from them.

In biotechnology, we augment physical attributes - increased muscle strength, intelligence, longevity, viral immunity and the list runs on. What happen if the effects aren't what we desired? Instead of longer and stronger legs, we get two more pairs of limbs. What do we do then?

Piccinini goes beyond this criticism of unethical experiments on living creatures; she speaks of wisdom, of accepting people despite physical differences. The nonjudgmental acceptance of unsightly creatures by their fellow human beings suggests the redemptive influence of the spirit.

It is all too easy to judge and criticise and ostracise based on tangible differences. However, Piccinini offers a tantalising vision - judging and criticising need not be the norm.


The paradox of thinking

April 09, 2012 0 Comments

What happens if we think and merely think?

What joy can there be?

Plato once said that the ideal retirement would allow one to frolic among the pastures of philosophy. To think and think and think. In a way, I'm drawn to this vision - of languorously examining every thought, of picking them apart with curiosity, before discarding them whenever disinterest strikes.

In other ways, such an existence struck me as a nightmare. To think and merely think. To live in a limbo, where thoughts are one and all. It's nauseating.


Thinking about thinking

April 04, 2012 0 Comments

They're our second skins - brittle, porous yet tight. They hug our bodies - snugly - such that we aren't even aware that they're there.

The preconceived ideas that we've, the judgments and assumptions, the instinctive opinions and convictions, they're our second skins. They hang all over us, colouring our perspectives, tainting our visions, limiting our horizons.

Do we realise that we can shed these skins? To give them up so that we can breathe more easily, more freely? Do we understand that 'it doesn't have to suck', that we don't have to pass judgment on everyone and have everyone judging us reciprocally?

These second skins, they obscure our movements. They hinder, they impede. They are part of us, they are, they really are. But, they need not be. 

We can shed them. We can examine these filters and discard them. We need not be hindered or impeded. We can think about the way we think, do away with the petty blinkers and see truth in hitherto unknown ways.