A Quiet Trove

June 28, 2012 , 0 Comments

"Why are you thrusting out flowers in a remote corner?"

The showers of orchids bobbed up and down. The purplish black flowers did some dainty curtsies.

Huh, what does nodding mean? "Excuse me, have you heard what I said?"

They nodded yet again.

Are they the simple, mindless creatures or am I?

These orchids, they lived simple lives. They basked in the golden warmth and trembled in the twilight rain. They grew and flowered and fruited, before dying. What was it that they understood and he didn't?

Perhaps they knew the futility of fighting needless battles. Perhaps they grew with courage despite the hopelessly manicured landscape. Or perhaps, they simply didn't care.

It had been a sheer joy to discover them, and a sheer puzzlement to decipher what they meant. He examined the petals and wondered what secrets they held.

Very delicate flowers, with subtle hints of purple and black.
It has either understated refinement or sheer banality.
The orchids look very surprised to be thrown into
the sudden glare of a flashing camera.
The orchids are growing in this remote corner.
A welcomed surprise in a manicured landscape.
Each bulb holds one spike of flowers.
Such resplendence is an uncommon
horticultural phenomenon for wild orchids.



June 25, 2012 0 Comments

Was he too tactless? Should he just be a 'yes' man, a 'company man' who parrots thoughts in a mindless, robotic manner?

Perhaps life would be easier that way. To see and not speak. To agree and nod his head. To say banal words pleasant to the ears. 

It was terribly trying to see that. A little sycophantic. People who merely agreed. 

Or was it because they genuinely didn't see the problems? Then, it was his fault for imagining problems when there were none - right?

And, if there genuinely was room for improvements, why didn't he himself voice it out?

He understood a little - perhaps a little too much - and wished he didn't.

Hi, I'm a parrot. Caw caw caw.
Source credit: Amazon-Parrot.net


Keeping Quiet

A PhD teaching assistant shared, "actually, I remember you."

"Huh, why? I'm fairly low profile in school." My eyebrows knitted in a mild bewilderment. My goal was to live and pass away, hopefully with minimal damage on the natural environment and in the most anonymous manner. How did I manage to be remembered without me knowing?

"Well, you answered my questions."

"Huh?" The eyebrows drew tighter.

"You know, I find that Singaporeans tend not to speak up when I ask them easy questions. Too easy, no one bothers. Then, hoping to prompt some responses, I will make questions more difficult and -"

"And no one responds anyway." I sighed.

Why is it so difficult for people to speak up? Are they conditioned by the environment, unthinkingly responding to the systemic incentives and disincentives? Do they trust that others will answer for them and defend their unsaid wishes?

Don't they realise that it's by being accepting, non-confrontational and quiet that the status quo is maintained and the society fails to move forward? Perhaps even retrogress. The banality of evil, as Hannah Arendt suggests.

It is depressing to hear vibrant thoughts in the private sphere, ones that will never be aired in the public.

Classroom radicals. Armchair critics. Why not air these thoughts out in the public so that honest debates may occur? Why keep quiet?


What's Your Favorite Day? - Pooh & Piglet

June 16, 2012 0 Comments

It'd be nice if we could all think this way.

"What day is it?" asked Pooh.

"It's today," squeaked Piglet.

"My favorite day," said Pooh.


"Why China cannot produce a Steve Jobs" and Why Online Critics should be less harsh

June 15, 2012 , 0 Comments

Associate Professor Shi Yuzhi, a Chinese language and linguistics professor, has suggested in his personal blog that youths should be allowed to consume psychedelic drugs to produce a generation of creative thinkers.
Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, had publicly credited his use of LSD – a type of psychedelic drug – as a primary reason for his success.  Drawing on this, Dr Shi is writing a book titled “Why China cannot produce a Steve Jobs”.
Some netizens have since called on NUS to sack Dr Shi. I understand that our local newspapers are keen to follow up on this incident and hope that they do not polarize this issue.
Prior to this debacle, I do not know who Dr Shi is.
I do not want to take any psychedelic drugs nor do I believe that taking them will make me a creative thinker. I do not wish for Singapore to legalise drug consumption because of the associated problems that would occur.
And I do not agree with the way Dr Shi is being hounded.
Dr Shi’s book is referring to China, not Singapore.
His expertise is in Chinese culture, not medicine or science.
He is commenting in his personal capacity on his personal blog, not as a NUS professional.
“But he is a lecturer!” A friend said. “Surely, he must have a moral obligation not to stir such controversies.”
Yes, he is indeed a NUS lecturer but this is not his area of specialty. He is a human being and he is entitled to his opinions (just as we are entitled to ours). We can meet up and debate over this issue but there is no need for me to call for his resignation.
I understand that there are differences in Dr Shi’s and my paradigms, just as there are differences between his critics and his. This, however, does not grant me the right to attack him online. It seems as though criticisms are bandied about casually in the cybersphere, without considering that there are people at the receiving end of it.
Criticise his ideas, yes. Have honest discourse, yes. But no online attacks please.
LSD has an indole  system.
Coincidentally, my current research involves indoles.
This article was first posted here.


Results of a Summer Science Research

June 10, 2012 , 0 Comments

Look at the architectural lines of these graphs. Their sleek cleanliness, their mathematical surety.

There's a quiet simplicity about them. An unassuming gentility. They belie the hours of effort and research it took to draw them up. Their air of serene stateliness ennobles. 

They - simple as they are - manifest the clear scientific rules underlying a nuanced world.

It's remarkable how the chaos of our world can be distilled into such precious simplicity. Life - complex, mysterious. Lines - clean, uncluttered, understandable. 

*An isosbestic point is the intersection between two related entities. They mark the fateful interaction of what has been and what is. 


Finding Faith in the Cloistered UTown

June 03, 2012 , 0 Comments

A chain of words can inflame and hurt.

One thoughtless comment from one friend to another became a ferocious email to one group of people, which then became an expression of internal bickering and stereotyping of external parties.

I'm dreadfully tired by these tensions, all swirling about with rapidity. Treacherous waters, indeed.

The snap reactions of so many different parties. The barbed comments by intelligent people - perhaps just not that wise.

Losing faith in the people around. Beneath the polished veneers of civility and scholarship, there lurk barbaric tendencies. Beneath the well articulated words, there lurk insecurity and insensitivity.

Mr Brown lost his Faith and found her.

P.S. I think you've lost your faith and need to find it back as well.
Two Doves Amidst the Forest (2006)
Did this watercolour piece quite some time ago. Inexplicably drawn to its calmness now.