How Quora Awakened My Curiosity Again

I.

Some of the best things in life are those that comes at the most unexpected times.

It surprises and awakens something inside you.

When I discovered Quora back in 2015, I never expected to enjoy the site as much as I do now. I’ve often encountered people mentioning it before when I was randomly reading through blogs after blogs, forums after forums and social media sites after another. At first I was hesitant to join another site. All of us have countless memberships we’ve already signed up for and I reached to the point where I didn’t want to join anymore at all. But then I got curious and when curiosity strikes, nothing can stop it from killing the cat. A day came when I decided to give it a try.

It was a period in time where I got obsessed in reading about the most popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, based from George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel A Song of Ice and Fire. My Quora newsfeed was filled with back stories, fan theories, speculations, predictions and interpretations both of the novel and TV series. Honestly, my feed was only about that!

Reading about it day and night, that’s when I encountered the first Quoran I truly admire, Kelsey L. Hayes. She provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of every part of ASOIAF. She even understands how GRR Martin’s mind works, which is incredible. I’ve never seen someone who had so much depth of knowledge and who possesses such deep understanding on a literary work.

The realization of her character as a person changed my view on a certain aspect of the world. I began to question myself, “What have I been doing all this time?”

I realized that there are a lot of amazing people to meet and interact with; There are so many things to read about; Things to have in-depth knowledge of; Things that will expand and provide thorough understanding on a variety of subject matters.

I got excited.

Really excited.

For the first time in a long time, I was inspired again. My ultimate goal in life has been revisited and re-evaluated. It has been right all along – My search for knowledge and broad understanding of everything in this world. That is still my ultimate goal and Quora is one avenue for that.

II.

It reminds me of an important episode in my life a decade back.

When I was still a sophomore in high school, I discovered a book at home that awakened my true curiosity and it triggered the formation of who I am today. I can still vividly remember that particular night: There was a major blackout in the city on a weekday. We only relied on our emergency lights to guide us and illuminate our paths as we fumble in the dark. I still don’t know what’s gotten into me but somehow, I grabbed this 3-inch A4-size hard bound book, published in 1975, and started browsing instead of playing my portable Nintendo like an ordinary teenager of that time.

The book smelled like it hasn’t been flipped for ages. The pages were turning yellow but still thick and crisp. It was a special edition Readers Digest that we picked up from my grandma’s house a few years back. The book’s content covers from ancient history up until humanity’s prediction of the future. It is filled with interesting, factual, mysterious and trivial information such as crop circles, peculiar diseases, the case of Mary Celeste, the two Titanics, and the bizarre story of a young girl (which I’ll never ever forget). Despite relying on a dim light I managed to read it for hours. I just couldn’t put it down.

Years passed and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read it cover to cover x number of times.

Since that night, I went to bed with a realization and understanding of what my interests are and it explained a lot why I enjoy documentaries and other science and history-related books/movies/TV shows. Thus, my interest with Mythbusters, Ancient Aliens and Fringe Science.

I met myself. As if for the first time.

It was absolute bliss.

Every time I read or watch something about a topic I’m interested in, I feel like a little kid going all thrilled over a piece of candy.

III.

Throughout the years after, my attention and focus somehow diverted to college and everything Advertising-related. A few interests were added along the way. I found myself reading about different religions, philosophy, sociology, psychology and surprisingly literature.

I spent my lunch breaks browsing in our college library, seated in the least explored corners closest to the bookshelf of choice, and getting annoyed at anyone reaching within a 5-metre radius.

I found people I can share and discuss ideas with both in real life and online.

It was a period of awakening.

Reading about all these subject matters opened doors to a whole new view of the world. It was the kind of realization with no point of return.

My own paradigm shift.

I embraced the change and a lot of the knowledge I acquired. Things that used to be important to me seems to have become insignificant. Irrelevant to my everyday life. I found them shallow and childish.

I simply lost interest.

Up until today, I can’t manage to go back, peek and enjoy a little of things that used to be my source of entertainment.

It was the point where I accepted that I’ve clearly outgrown them.

IV.

After college, as a new graduate who just entered the real world, work seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Work seems like how a minor subject acted as if it’s a major one back in the day. In short, it consumed all the time I had, which in all honesty, wasn’t the best choice at all.

I consider that as my dark ages.

My judgements at that time have been clouded by an artificial form of lifestyle. Masked happiness, materialism and high-end way of living. PR was the only thing that mattered. What’s inside has been neglected.

When I quit and focused all my time studying again, this time, a diploma course focused in arts, I looked back to prior and questioned how I lived my life for that short period of time. It wasn’t the corporate life I imagined it to be.

Corporate Sellout. 

That’s what my friends in the creative industry used to refer people who have chosen to be part of the corporate world when clearly they have future in an industry with more intellectual freedom and creative expression.

Apparently, giving up what you believe in and performing tasks you consider unethical for some temporary monetary gain hurts ones character.

Where was the substance?

It was another turning point in life and a chapter to be closed.

V.

If passion is lost, then what’s the point of living?

Fast forward to present day, Quora is a site that continuously inspires me to create and enrich myself. It constantly awakens my curiosity, provides valuable information with a right balance of satisfying entertainment and helps focus on the important things in life. Most importantly, answering on Quora challenges writing, comprehension and researching skills. It’s a site with the right balance of learning and creating without any unnecessary stress.

From the site’s analytics, my knowledge, based on my answers, encompasses Haute Horlogerie and surprise, surprise, Melbourne, Australia. Apart from basic questions about watches, I get a lot of requests about migrating to Australia; Most likely because of my unbiased and subjective answers in regards to the topic.

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The ultimate question is, “Who are my top picks of Quorans to follow?”

To be honest, I cannot consider myself to have explored the site to its maximum potential. I’m still enjoying the tip of the iceberg and little by little savouring my way down to its depth.

So far, the top Quorans on my list are as follows:

  • Richard Muller – A physicist at University of California: Berkeley, author of “Now, The Physics of Time”. Apart from science related answers, he also writes about interesting personal stories that comes with an important life advice.
  • Robert Frost – Works at NASA. Obviously answers a lot of interesting NASA, science and astronomy-related questions.
  • Franklin Veaux – Writes mature relationship advice and an author of a book and site on polyamory, “More Than Two”.
  • Kelsey L. Hayes – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of the entire A Song of Ice and Fire novel and Game Of Thrones TV show.
  • CJ Lee – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations, quotes page references and movie parts of the entire Harry Potter franchise.
  • Jake Williams – Very opinionated and his writing has a satirical nature.
  • McKayla Kennedy – Answers a variety of topics and it’s always rational and mature.
  • Josh Fechter – Gives insightful advices regarding startups.
  • Jordan Yates – Answers a lot of questions about everything.
  • Dan Holliday – He claims to be an “agnostic-atheist-humanist-materialist-utilitarian” Pretty much what he writes about apart from personal experiences that he shares.

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I have yet to discover more interesting Quorans. There are so many more topics to cover and to read about. Hopefully, a lifetime would be enough to satisfy ones intellectual cravings.

A Morning Walk

The darkest hour of the day has just retreated and sunlight starts to pierce through the clear sky. It is dawn, wind is chilling, streets are still empty and thousands of stars can still be vividly seen shining in the midnight blue sky. The woman in her mid-20s observes the celestial bodies with melancholy as she stands in the cold pavement of the unfamiliar metropolitan. The cold slowly envelopes her fragile body wrapped in black trench as her eyes focus on the brightest star.

“Strange. Really strange. I’m staring directly at the past. It’s a reminiscence of a baffling time that nobody could possibly imagine what it was like.”

The screeching of the passing tram breaks the silence and draws her back to reality from her deep thoughts. Her long wavy auburn hair dances with the breeze as she clutched her purse and starts walking towards up the road. It’s a bit of a stroll until she reaches her destination that she can’t even vaguely remember. The trees gestures with their outmost courtesy, branches waving and bowing as she passes by.

The intense aroma of different sorts of coffee linger in the area, inviting and awaking every passers by for a warm cup to grab. Around the corner of the laneway, a hole in the wall caught her attention. A rustic coffee shop with a huge wooden plank nailed just above the head reads “Expresso.” She pulled a bill from her pocket and ordered a latte. In a snap of a finger, the coffee is handed over to her. Or so it seems. She continues walking and crosses the road heading to the next block. The cup warms up her freezing hands as she slowly sips and savour the morning treat.

The coffee triggers a memory.  “How long have I been drinking coffee?” she asks. It has been ten years, “It was the time I decided to start taking risks.”

The vivid memories quickly flashes back in her mind. Her thoughts sucks her back to her senior year in college.

It was the time of the year of acceptance letters. The most awaited moment for every senior student. After receiving offers from the most prestigious universities in the country to take up the course of her childhood dream, she, suddenly, out of rationality, backed out. She was frightened. She got scared of the pre-destined path she’s about to take. She felt something is missing in her life. A spark. A challenge. A risk.

She decided not to accept any of the generous offers. Instead, she has chosen to pursue education on career paths she never even imagined herself doing. Everyone around her was surprised. Her unwavering dream, or so it seems, officially came to an end.

A decade later she finds herself looking back at the very first risk she did in her life. She sips from her cup and feel the energising liquid fills her empty stomach. It’s satisfying and comforting at the same time. Her thoughts linger with a What If.

“What if I pursued my childhood dream?”

She takes a deep breath and exhales generously. The best response she gives herself.

As she reaches the end of the block, a lengthy crosswalk leads to the next one. Her destination is nowhere yet near in sight. She pulls herself together, uplifting her evidently down spirit with all the melancholy that lingers in the early time of the day. There isn’t any stoplights around. Cars vs pedestrian, basic traffic rules apply in confidence that everyone obeys it despite the lack of signals. She braves the crosswalk and begins to cross, level-headed and fearful of the massive vehicles that are about to pass by. Her heart keeps beating fast, terrified and unsure of the outcome she’s taking. However, she feels excited, challenged and surprisingly alive.

In every step she takes, she puts herself in a balance between life and death. But it doesn’t stop her from pursuing such a risky path. She holds her purse tightly and advance like a determined chess piece making a move. Certain of the progression and aggressively faces the path yet to be taken. Vehicles of all sorts continue to pass by without hesitation and she continues to brave the crosswalk. As she gets through, she looks back and observes the path she has just taken.

She suddenly realises that for a decade, she has been spending her life taking the path of a crosswalk. The moment she started to take the risk, she has been continuously taking one risk followed by another. And she’s still not yet halfway through. It may not be an easy path, but undoubtedly, she knows that it’s the right path to take. The only way for her further development as a better person, a passionate individual and an interesting personality with a broadened understanding of the world.

Looking forward, she continues her stroll towards her destination. Boldly facing the direction of the wind. Sipping again from her cup, feeling the cold breeze brush against her pale skin, she obliviates all her worries, unnecessary What If and enjoys the rest of the risky journey ahead.

“Risks are definitely worth it.”

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei

It is such a privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a major international exhibition featuring the late pop icon Andy Warhol and political artist Ai Weiwei. Being the two of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, I was so thrilled when I first heard the news (a year before the start of the exhibition) that the National Gallery of Victoria has teamed up with The Andy Warhol Museum, in cooperation with Ai Weiwei, to organise such event.

The major exhibition explores the influences of both artists in modern art and contemporary life, which focuses on the parallels, intersections and points of difference between the two artists’ practices. Due to transportation, gallery’s area and other limitations to consider, not all iconic artworks of the artists have been exhibited at NGV for this particular event. Nevertheless, over 300 artworks of both artists’ significant contributions that delivered evocative messages were curated, which lead to my cultivation towards their remarkable life-long journeys. (National Gallery of Victoria)

I’ll start exploring the journey of Andy, who’s art I’m the least a fan of amongst the two. Ai’s extensive, massive and evocative installations beat Andy’s flat, complacent and mass-produced paintings. Ai’s works cover as far back as Ancient China up to the latest societal issues. But to be fair, Andy’s audacity and unconventional art practices have defined a new era of revolutionary artists and may have majorly contributed to Ai’s bold, dissident style.

Andy Warhol

andyAndy Warhol carrying a Brillo Soap Pads Box photograph by Billy Name

I first heard of Andy Warhol when I got into Advertising. I wasn’t talking about the time I majored in the field in college, but the time I got really interested in the history and admired the glory days of the industry back in mid-40’s. (cue Mad Men’s theme – TV Series) One of Andy’s famous paintings is called the Campbell Soup Cans (1962) series in which he hand-painted each can of the product, arranged each variety according to its date of release, and observed uniformity through merchandising in grocery shelves.

Warhol.-Soup-Cans-469x292Image Source: MoMA

The Campbell Soup Cans (1962) is the epitome of Andy’s style when it comes to paintings. Detailed, commercial, low-cost, and mass-produced, similar to the popular products he took inspirations from. His silkscreen medium allow him and his assistants to instantly produce similar huge paintings in a short period of time.

IN2323_30_CCCR1Image Source: MoMA

Another famous series of paintings by Andy is his tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe, which he created after the iconic actress’ death. He used a single photograph from the 1953 film Niagara as reference to re-create an entire series as a form of “..memorial and as a reflection of the media’s insatiable appetite for celebrity and tragedy.” (NGV Label of The Three Marilyns 1962)

MarilyndiptychImage Source: Wiki 

The Marilyn Diptych (1962) contains fifty images of Marilyn Monroe. Twenty-five images on the left are brightly coloured while the other twenty-five are in black and white, that suggests the relation between the celebrity’s life and death. The particular painting above is currently owned by Tate and unfortunately was not part of the NGV Exhibit.

IMG_6169Andy Warhol – Filmography 

Most people would associate Andy with the expression “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” and his popular talk show “Fifteen Minutes” which aired from 1985-1987. Through my readings, I’ve seen at least three different interpretations for this famous expression:

  1. German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that Andy’s style invalidates the hierarchies worthy to be represented, and once abolished, will be an opportunity for everyone to be famous; Or
  2. Fifteen Minutes represent the limited time a celebrity can only be famous; Or
  3. Due to the technological advancement and level of accessibility of today’s society, anyone can actually be virtually famous. (Wiki: Fifteen Minutes of Fame)

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I also came across different articles refuting the expression’s origin to be the words of Andy. The critics have suggested that the famous phrase was actually taken from the text of an exhibition brochure written by the curator rather than Andy himself. He tried to honestly confess the truth through interviews but it was too late. The society has already branded the expression as his and still continue to do so today.

Screen Tests (1964)

Throughout his career, celebrities, poets, musicians, socialites and other personalities posed for a short film at his legendary studio in Manhattan, the Silver Factory. The films capture the actions of the subjects at natural state and let the viewers interpret whatever narrative they desire.The Silver Factory has attracted many prominent people and has become a space for Andy’s social scene. In a span of two years, Andy has shot over 500 Screen Tests, which he prolonged to imbue a dreamlike stillness. Some of these prominent people include: Cass Elliot, Ann Buchanan, Bob Dylan, Donyale Luna, Billy Linich and Jane Holzer.

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Silkscreen Paintings of Mao (1970’s)

Andy’s repetitive paintings of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong portrays media’s proliferations of the image and advertising’s promotion of consumers’ desire and identification. Andy created these paintings during the height of cultural revolution in China that has been a global media spotlight. Andy’s numerous works of Mao portray him as a pop-cultural icon during his time.

Andy’s other silkscreen paintings throughout his career that defines today’s definition of pop-culture.

The core of Andy’s career is the portrayal of American’s consumerism: Inexpensive, low-cost, mass-produced, charismatic and popular. His means and the final products of his works both satisfy his core, which are clearly seen through his inspirations and the media he utilised.

coke

Andy’s painting of Coca-Cola first appeared in 1961. Six years later, he coated Coca-Cola bottles with silver paint as representation of source material. Three years more,  Coca-Cola Company responded with a cease and desist letter when he expanded his project to 100 bottles and filled it with his own You’re In / Eau d’Andy’ (1970). Get it? You’re In…

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Andy did not only focus on the glamorous lifestyle of popular products and celebrities. One of his thought provoking artwork tackles the clash of American Dream and violence in America. Incorporating a tabloid style, gloomy and sombre, Andy replicated the photograph from a newspaper with a headline ‘Did a leak kill … Mrs McCarthy and Mrs Brown?’ referring to the two women killed due to expired canned tunas. In Tunafish Disaster (1963), Andy portrayed how consumer products actually failed its consumers.

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In Silver Clouds (1966) and Cow Wallpaper (1966), Andy expands his artistic style to a theatrical scale by offering an immersive experience that encourages participation through floating metalised polyester films propelled by air currents floating from the walls into space itself. This particular installation exemplifies his fascination with serial production and repetition of pop-cultural imagery. Andy’s deployment of modern manufacturing techniques served as an introduction to a whole new era of art installations.

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Ai Weiwei

A Chinese contemporary artist and activist, I first heard of Ai Weiwei during the preparation of Beijing 2008 Olympics when he collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron in designing The Birds Nest.

birds nestImage Source: MondoArc

However, my interest in Ai Weiwei’s life only began in 2011 when the international media caused a stir on his arrest at the Beijing International Airport. Initially reported as arrest due to incomplete presentation of documentation for travel, the media uncover his alleged tax evasion case. Ai Weiwei has been known for his online presence writing social commentary and criticising government policies aside from sticking to his autobiographies and thoughts on art and architecture. He has always been known for his bold and unapologetic nature which are then transmitted through his art.

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Personally, I believe that Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (2015) is the quintessential artwork of Ai Weiwei. As one of his iconic works captured in both in video and photographs, this particular performative action of holding, dropping and smashing a cultural heritage clearly demonstrates his critical engagement with China’s violent cultural tradition. It draws attention to the continuous desecration of cultural heritage. As shown in the photograph, these images were re-created in plastic blocks representing pixelated forms for the distribution of his powerful message in the digital platform. He originally wanted to use Lego blocks for his other works as well but the company refused to participate in his political activism.

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During the dynastic changes in China in an attempt to erase the past and start over with the new regimes, much of Buddhist statues dating from the Northern Wei (386–535 CE) to Northern Qi (550–577 CE) dynasties were looted and only a few pieces survived today. In Ai’s Feet (2005)he sculpted stone feet on these remaining statues to show that the past cannot easily be erased and eventually catch up with the present.

IMG_6084With Flowers (2015)

At some point in his life, his audacity lead to his detention for 81 days. Every morning, he placed a bunch of flowers in the basket of a bicycle outside his studio and captured it on camera as a form of protest against his restriction to travel. He has posted images of these flowers on social media which emerged a movement called Flowers of Freedom.

CfwMoVyVIAACrD

Ai Weiwei created this series in another art form through Bicycle Basket with Flowers Porcelain (2015) and Blossom (2015), this time, to protest against the restrictive rights of people through speech and human-rights. He collaborated with the skilled porcelain craftsmen from Jingdezhen province, whose predecessors once produced the highest quality of porcelain in Ancient China. Through this complex project, he has provided temporary employment to hundreds of people, whose livelihood has been declining through the years.

IMG_6087Blossom (2015) Bed of flowers made of porcelain

Ai Weiwei’s projects do not only focus on his bold actions against government policies and protests against restricted human rights, but he also continuously provides livelihood to the very victims of injustice. 

ai-weiwei-ruptures-faurschou-foundation-002Image Source: AI WEIWEI: RUPTURES MAR. 20TH – DEC. 22ND AT FAURSCHOU FOUNDATION COPENHAGEN

Another perfect example would be the Sunflower Seeds (2010) which he created for his simple yet poetic exhibition. The extensive project has been collaborated again with approximately 1,600 skilled artisans of Jingdezhen producing over 150 tons of man-made Sunflower Seeds out of porcelain. Each piece have been individually hand-painted comprising of 2-3 strokes per side by the locals of the community and the entire project lasted for two and a half years.

Ai-Weiwei-Sunflower-Seeds-Still-from-Tate-video-9Image Source: Ai Weiwei Seeds

An excerpt from Ai’s Sunflower Seed’s website – Ai Weiwei Seeds – perfectly expresses the multiple yet simple meaning behind this project:

“For Ai Weiwei, ‘Sunflower Seeds’ is one piece of art that is composed of 100 million pieces of art. As a singular tiny sculpture, every seed is submerged by a hundred million ones with subtle nuances, similar yet each unique, just as 1,600 workers in Jingdezhen performing repetitive duties; as 1.3 billion Chinese, silent in the crowd; as every fragmented individual in this digital era. Through a sunflower seed, Ai Weiwei triggers a Domino effect, enlarging the lengthy, complicated and exquisite process by 100 million times. Devoting unimaginable patience, time and energy, he brings into focus the significance of individuals, and the imposing strength when they gather together.”

The video below shows the extensive and laborious process each Sunflower seed went through for this project:


Video Source: Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds by Tate

 Ai retells his detention for 81 days back in 2011 through a series of dioramas entitled S.A.C.R.E.D. Maquettes (2011). The acronym stands for  Supper, Accusers, Cleansing, Ritual, Entropy and Doubt, which are the six parts of this series that are all made of fibreglass. It depicts scenes at the cell where he was imprisoned without charges that serve as evidences of oppression, denial of personal freedom and loss of dignity, he and several victims went through.

IMG_6141One of the dioramas in the series. It clearly portrays his lack of privacy and dignity throughout his time at the detention cell.

Ai do not only portray his messages through sculptures, print and dioramas, but he also take in consideration the type of material used in each masterpiece to deliver his evocative messages.

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In Surveillance Camera (2010), Ai’s practice of incorporating traditional materials in addressing contemporary cultural issues is evident. By using traditional marble to portray the elevated status of a significant artefact in this particular sculpture, this piece is very personal to Ai that relates back to his confinement at his studio while all his actions were being monitored.

handcuffsHandcuffs (2015) were both sculpted in jade and in wood. Jade is considered to be the most precious stone in China. Historically speaking, jade is worn only by the members of imperial family. Ai portrays the similar cuffs he wore during his imprisonment to address contemporary issues in the government.

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If there’s one project that clearly defines Ai Weiwei’s character and controversial career, I personally believe it’s the Study of Perspective (1993-2005). As seen in every photograph, Ai is giving a finger in every iconic location around the globe to express his disdain for authority. His audacious behaviour and poetic forms of powerful communication have inspired a new generation of artists in the 21st Century.

Andy Warhol x Ai WeiWei

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Some exhibits showcase a parallel in artistic value and in speaking social context beyond the world of art. In Neolithic Pottery with Coca-Cola Logo (2007), Ai portrays a pop-cultural imagery through the influence of Andy by painting a Chinese artefact and branding it with a logo that represents American capitalism.

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Myths are traditional stories explaining historical events or natural and social phenomenons. Ai and Andy both explore these myths through cultural archetypes from two different parts of the world. Circle of Animals (2010), is a reinterpretation of the twelve zodiac heads ransacked by French and British troops. It functioned as a water clock–fountain in the European-style gardens of Yuanmingyuan palace. “Ai focuses attention on the ethics of looting and repatriation, the role of the fake and the copy and power relations between China and the West.” (Source: Circle of Animals label)

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On the other hand, Andy presents the cultural archetypes in the American popular culture through a series of silkscreen paintings that run from Uncle Sam to the superstardom of Hollywood screen siren Greta Garbo and the innocent charm of Mickey Mouse. (Source:Narrative, myth and memory label)


Further Readings:

Continuously Seeking for Greater Understanding

I’ve been obsessing over historical Korean and Chinese dramas lately as one of my learning methods in further understanding the politics of dynasties in East Asian History. For seven whole months, I’ve seen over 10 dramas (4 of them are more than 50 episodes each) accompanied with historical readings in attempt to grasp the realities of political strategies during that time.

It’s mind-boggling to admit that my short-term pursuit of knowledge in the subject has drastically changed the maturity of my political understanding. I have eventually developed empathy towards each historical character; For every royal family member and their relatives, maidens in waiting, scholars, and other influential people from all walks of life – From the internal politics of the palaces to the ordinary people’s struggle to survive within the kingdoms during those times, I ended up crestfallen to the fact that hundreds and thousands of years later, nothing much have changed in society.

Ultimately, the foremost influential culprit is still survival – Which is basically human instinct to sustain a living no matter what the condition of environment provides. Greed and ambition eventually succumb people as their driving forces for further advancement of their power, political standing and societal class.

I’ve come to a genuine realization and acceptance that it may be factually greedy to act animalistic in constant pursuit of survival but human beings really do not have any other choice.

My thoughts suggest that a perfectly harmonious way to live is very idealistic but it stays and ends in the theoretical sense. It sounds quintessential for everyone to submit themselves acting according to virtues of fairness and goodness, but sadly, at some point along the way, people will break free of this philosophical way of living and inevitably put someone else’s fate at stake in attempt to survive and advance their power.

Growing up in a society following an orthodox of Roman Catholic, I was taught to be be good and do good amongst other people; That goodness is the only way to live and hence the path to be rewarded. And so, life has become a reward-driven consciousness for me. Upon studying other beliefs, ten years later, I have come to a realization that the most basic foundation of every ideology present in different historical times are all the same. Imagine a 15-year old innocent and ignorant teenager shocked upon opening her thoughts to the other wonders of the world only to find out that her religion is not only common, but is pretty much very identical to any other beliefs out there.

My whole world turned upside down. Everything that I believed in drastically changed and I found myself lost, astray and I questioned everything. I entered college the following year and out of seven theology subjects, I had one professor who challenged my faith. She stayed in the convent for ten years until she decided to free herself to further seek learning of other beliefs. At the beginning of the semester, she made a bet that she will definitely break our faiths to whatever beliefs we used to have.

It was a very challenging time of my life. I promised myself that I won’t lose to her but I maintained an open mind to seek knowledge while hanging on to the one and only faith that I have. Afterall, my favourite history teacher in high school once said, “A man without religion, is a man without path.” And so I began reading on other philosophies and religions.

Before the semester ended, I began to question myself; Everything that I know and believed appeared to be one big lie; One big conspiracy or political propaganda. It’s eccentric to say that I thought it’s a form of mass hysteria for the government’s way of mind control. From then on, I questioned my way of learning. I picked up my 6th grade Science teacher’s advice again, which is to be very skeptical in comprehending and accepting teachings. From then on, I carefully filtered information and ensured I sort out facts from assumptions and opinions. Until I reached to the point where I questioned facts beings classified as “facts.”

Through this journey, I earned consciousness of my progress in comprehending that all philosophical disciplines and religious doctrines exist not for humans to avoid being astray but to accept to ourselves that life is all about balance and harmony. This may sound cliche and I know that everyone is perfectly aware of this: There are always two sides in a coin. There’s the good and evil, the yin and yang, the light and dark, day and night, the alpha and the omega, and so on. But sometimes, it takes considerable amount time to wholeheartedly accept this factual reality and actually apply it in our lives.

PS This post is such a mess and my thoughts seems to be going in different directions. It may be a definitive example of where I am right now regarding my journey in seeking greater knowledge.

Pondering on “Facebook Depression”

I woke up today like any other day and like any other person in the planet. A laptop in front of me or a smart phone in my hand scrolling between Facebook posts for the recent happenings of my friends on Facebook. Today, I only bothered to read one post until I came to a realization.

It happened to be a post from my former officemate, a cheesy birthday greeting  accompanied by photos like any other posts in the platform. Suddenly, my empathy towards today’s generation has been realized. I’m rarely an empathic person but my thoughts regarding what “Facebook Depression” was all about dawned onto me.

Expressions of affections have become too commercialized because of social networking. It’s such a pity to see that the lives of people in this time succumb to the fact that the act of posting recent activities are nothing but mere entries for such undeclared social competition. Thus, everyone’s pitfall is the continuously expanding bottomless abyss of depression, self-loath, and resentment.

The enemy is unreluctantly vicious and judgmental with undeniably high expectations – no one but our own selves. As we silently scroll between posts of our Facebook friends, regularly everyday, for years, we have inevitably developed covetousness for someone else’s sense of happiness and satisfaction.

At some point in time, we reticently want to be like them. There’s no other way of putting it into words. We want to do what they’re doing, to feel what they’re feeling, to have the spending power they have, and to have the means and freedom to travel around the world.

And since we keep on thinking about these kinds of thoughts, the law of attraction suggests that we actualize these negative self-loathing and longing to the point that it affects the way we psychologize our thoughts, self-disposition and our daily lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the social media as a whole has an optimistic objective in providing such platforms and it’s commendable for them to do so. But somehow, there’s always the yin in yang, the darkness in light and the evil in goodness.

The best thing I could think of to counteract such negative effect of such privilege in utilizing social media is to use it in moderation. Keeping in mind the entire purpose of such platforms, which is to inform, to connect, to reach out and be reached, maybe our best option for now. After all, life is an endless journey of self-realization. Must be the same for all these platforms we accompany in our lives.

Burning Kiss

The night was about to fall when I arrived at the place to meet him for one last time. It was a humble home being renovated at the ungodly hour located in a private village in the North of Metro.

I immediately recognized it as the home of my college best friend. What nostalgia summoned me there. I asked.

Upon entering the door, I saw three men, friends of the guy I should be meeting up with, they were discussing some serious matters to the house owners, the family of my best friend.

Lately, I heard they were trying to start a business in which I don’t have any idea on what it was about. At least, that’s the most my interest in the matter could get me.

Everyone noticed as I walk reaching for the sofa, but they did not bother to greet as they were in the middle of a serious discourse. I sat there and waited until he came, the guy I was waiting for.

He came in a shoddy condition, tipsily walked towards the room and fell right beside me. The cushion of the sofa saved his head from having a concussion from a bump he could’ve gotten if he fell on the wooden table or cold ceramic floor.

He was sweating in his burning body temperature and the air didn’t seem to circulate around the room that worsened his health.

I looked at him, trying to grasp his state, thinking what I could’ve done to ease his pain for a while.  But I saw a painful sight through his glasses; It clearly reflected his sufferings from his eyes. Red tint slowly covered the pearliness of his eyeballs that triggered my alertness to panic. Trying to make a signal through my hands, I tried to grab everyone’s attention. Yet, not one was alarmed of this guy’s immediate need of medical attention. My effort wasn’t recognized.

Not soon after, the family of four looked at his friends in disappointment. I guess their minds did not meet. Their mental states weren’t mutual as of the moment to agree on the various business proposals, or at least that’s what I figured.

Darkness took over the cloudy sky and his friends bid farewell to the family. I felt that I needed to go with them to assure this guy’s life will not be in danger or else, I know, it will haunt me forever.

When I once again checked his condition, his eyes were tearing blood. That time, I felt I was in inferno, looking at a demon suffering in flames. The entire house seemed burning in sizzling fire but not one item was scorching in fire.

The guy was such a wreck. I sensed his physical and emotional pains, which ripped me apart. Tears began to roll down my cheeks in sympathy for the life he’s trying to win over the god of death.

I wanted to help him, after all, we had memories to cherish and a good story of friendship to tell. I once again attempted to get their attention for the sake of their dear friend. They immediately responded and we hopped into their red sedan.

His head laid on my lap along our way to nowhere near a hospital. I no longer panicked as I notice his health gradually improving as if a miracle happened. I guess, all along, he just needed to be near me.

I pulled out my phone and suddenly called my best friend to inform her about what happened in their home. Talking to her at that moment, while the guy was soundly sleeping in my lap, cheered me up a lot.

It was a long drive from the metro. I napped and lost track of time, but surprisingly, the sky cleared for the daybreak. We reached our destination when his friends left us to finally have the talk. They drove the car back to where they came from without the intention of returning.

The serene nature-loving place was a hilly grassland far away from all infrastructures of the city. A native restaurant built out of interwoven splits of bamboo (sawali) stood there that offered a variety of Filipino foods and cultural dances for entertainment while you dine. It wasn’t that big, but it provides other amenities you could pay for similar to that of hotels – a massage parlor, perhaps.

The entire place was very relaxing and big enough to find your own spot to clear your mind for meditation. We both entered the restaurant to fill our groaning stomachs. The interior was very native with all the wooden furnitures and decorations. Fresh flowers aesthetically pleased the area and its aroma soothed the atmosphere.

Soon after we finished dining, we stayed for awhile and began talking. We discussed the roller coaster ride of our lives during those times we were tiptoeing around what could’ve been cleared as mutual from the beginning. But it was our fate, I believe, to influence each other at some point in our existence that prepared a stable foundation for the life partners we would separately end up with.

He ended it with a brush of his lips against mine. Not too long that would be considered arousing and expression of love. But a kiss that stayed and let me felt the sincerity from the heart. An apology, a peace-making act, and an au revoir until who knows when.

However, it was a burning kiss that left a mark in my lips. It was from a demon in flames that tempted me to ask for more. But I resisted and prevailed the act of the underworld. It was the perfect time to leave everything behind now.

I knew it was the end. The end of a beautiful yet chaotic long journey. It’s time to live our lives apart and just be thankful for the good and bad memories that were left hidden behind our usual recognition. From that day on, until the rest of my days in this life, I knew I had those memories stored in my head even if it no longer crosses my mind.

Finally, I got what I was looking for some time now. Peace finally came into me to continue the rest of my existence with the man I’m in love with. The man I want to be my life partner through the ups and downs that are ahead of us.

Ultimately, both of us attained peace.