Inane Ramblings

Dispassionately sitting in front of your computer with a pile of work in front of you is not the best of experiences. Sometimes, I just feel that I have lost touch with the world, as I feel so disconnected with this plane of existence. Not to say I am not up to living in the present; I actually find myself more than capable to handle life’s little challenges that come floating along my way. It is just my tendency to find all possible methods to escape from this reality that I have unwittingly fallen into that incessantly haunts me.

One of my favourite methods of escapism is probably through contemplation. Like a philosopher, I try to find the truth that lies beneath the superficialness of this world. But, is there even a truth waiting to be found? You can contemplate the meaning of life until your beard grows to the length of Rapunzel’s hair, but you are still very unlikely to be able to find the meaning that you contemplate, unless you give your own meaning to life. But, indeed, what is life? What lies after life? Why are we here?

These are probably the major questions about existence that frequently plays about in one’s mind. Some of you out there might just scoff at these thoughts, blaming the incoherency of the mind for the ramblings of this individual. However, have you actually sat down to contemplate these matters, life somehow turns out to be so ridiculous. From dust we have come, to dust we will return; why then are we trying so hard in life? why are we so obsessed with this fleeting ‘life’ as we have come to live it? What is ‘life’ even?

Unfortunately for those who wish to further argue this matter, men do not really know the nature of life beyond the descriptive ideas in our biology textbooks. What is this elusive consciousness that alows us the miracle called ‘thought’? Is it just neurons firing in our grey matters? So far, that is the only physical manifestation of thought that we have empirically observed, but that might not be all there is to this mystery.

The Russians once used a slogan to promote communism; 2+2=5. A mathematical impossiblity? True enough, but let’s not be such a stickler to the rules and observe this statement further. 2+2 is obviously 4, but here the claim is that 2+2 can make 5; so what are they trying to say? This is just a another way of saying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Do you think so? Some people say no. Certain philosophical circles, at least. Science disagrees, with its ideas of compartmentalization and Western logic. By saying that this is true, entire fields of study in science could collapse, as we study science under a microscope; we zoom in for the micro picture before extrapolating it to the macro picture.

Buddhist philosophies, however, are slightly different in their approach. In a sense, they agree with the statement that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I am not the foremost expert in Buddhist philosophy, but let me give you an elucidation of this idea.

Let A be an object. (e.g. a flower)
Consider the components  that make up the object. (e.g. stalk, petals, smell, earth, etc.)

Buddhist philosophy states that the ‘object’ that we know it, does not exist, and is merely an ‘idea’.
To clarify, the object (i.e. the chair) does not exist, but is merely an ‘idea’ that comes into existence based on the interaction between the components (i.e. stalk, petals, smell, earth, etc.) that we experience.

Therefore, all objects in this universe is merely interactions between other interactions, between other interactions, and so on. Then, what are objects truly? I dont know. Maybe I should dwell deeper, but perhaps, this is one of those instances where we just say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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A Chinese New Year Adventure

If there is one thing that Malaysia is superior to Singapore, it is in the sheer number of public holidays, school holidays and whatever-else-holidays we manage to cook up in a given fiscal year. Unfortunately, being a Malaysian myself, I have come to rely on the (relatively) long breaks during the festive season; one particular habit that even three years in Singapore has failed to fix. So, we international students who want to go home for the festive season, will tend to use our creative juices to compensate for this shortcoming. It usually manifests itself in the form of decreases in attendance, justified by a plethora of different excuses; but other more devious incarnations are not wholly uncommon either. I have decided to stick with the excuse of crossing over the international line three times lately, accounting for my astonishing¬† and unexplained 72-hour disappearance. Maybe I’ll even get points for originality there.

On another note, my return this year is a rather interesting experience, despite the fact that it is so pathetically short. For one thing, I managed to meet up with a long lost primary school friend, purely coincidentally while I was housevisiting with Victor’s group. I might not have liked my primary school very much, but you really cannot beat the feeling of trading primary school stories with someone who has gone through the same thing. Maybe it is just the sense of identification that proved so wonderfully enchanting, but it is definitely one feeling that I absolutely would not mind drowning myself in.

After some mahjong and cards, and a long session of gaming, the housevisiting group ended up travelling to Klang to find some Bak Kut Teh for dinner. That is probably one mistake this impressionable group of young adults would not make again. Most of the Bak Kut Teh shops in Klang is closed (not really a big surprise –¬† it was just the third day of chinese new year, after all) and we circled aroudn the city like lost sheep, looking desperately for an open one. Lady Luck was not on our side though, and we ended up travelling all the way back to Kepong, where luckily, we managed to find an open Bak Kut Teh shop.

Now, because of that little delay, I ended up staying overnight in my grandmother’s house instead, driving me behind schedule in my homework. Perhaps I should do something about my procrastination habits; it is really coming back to bite me in the behind lately. The next day, I settled for a trip all over the Kepong area, visiting people who are at home on day 4, which are few and far in between, since most of them are either still in their hometowns or went out for their little outings to god-knows-where.

And now, I am back here to the grinding stone in Singapore again. Well, at least I got a card waiting for me to read after this. Perhaps it is these little pleasures in life that we should learn to enjoy, and not worry too much about the big things that are not directly under our control.

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Weird Moods

If there’s one thing about my brain that I don’t like, it is the fact that it seems to have a mind of its own (aside form mine, of course). I could swear I heard a malicious snigger somewhere in the recesses of my mind just now. I have neglected this blog for some time now, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have not had the mood to actually update it, or the patience to type my normal long entries in my computer. This becomes especially true when I haven’t even enough time to get myself some entertainment, let alone time to structure and type out my lengthy blog entries.

As for why I was condemning my brain, it is more of the fact that I have an exam coming up in a few hours, and try as I might, I could not seem to concentrate on studying at the current moment. Thus, here I am, updating this blog after a long period of hiatus. To be honest, I do not find french especially difficult or distasteful, but more of another extension of english that would be pretty interesting when learnt. The fact that I am still struggling with the basic grammar, and the gender of inanimate objects does tend to murk this feeling up a bit, unfortunately.

Aside from my french predicament, I am also chalking up a spending problem. Food is no longer catered as in my JC years, but have to be bought now. This has led to a more abrupt decline in my finances, and caused me to think of alternative sources of financing. One of the options I considered is tuition, but the transport will be a problem. I may yet be able to come to a compromise for that though, because I have a plan in motion..

My hall in NTU is Hall 14, one of the more isolated halls in the university and is situated a full twenty-minute stride away from my faculty. As the bus tends to get a little inefficient sometimes (definitely not as bad as Malaysia’s buses), I tend to walk to school more, unless I am hopelessly late, in which case, it didn’t matter if I did bother to walk, since I will be late anyway. There is also another person from Kepong in my hall, Kok Xian, from Kepong Baru. Pretty coincidental, since I really did not expect it.

Perhaps it is because we are from a similar hometown, but we turned into close friends pretty quickly. Maybe it is because it is my third year in Singapore, but the first-year freshmen seems wholly insecure to me. They coagulate into groups very quickly, and the group bonds could dissolve just as quickly. Did this happen during my JC1 year? Perhaps, but I am really not very sure about it now. Maybe I am so comfortable in Singapore because I do have a group of friends who I have been around for two years already, namely my JC friends and classmates.

Back to my hometown-mate, he made an observation that couples form very quickly in university. From what I can see, it is not entirely true, but I do not deny that the courting process does go faster here than compared to JC. Is it because of the additional time spent together? Or another matter altogether? Either way, it does not matter much to me, though I do feel a twinge of discomfort witnessing some of the more blatantly open PDAs around.

Well, time’s up. Guess it is back to studying for me. Wish me luck for the exams later?

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The Road Not Taken

A/N: There was some problem with the system and this post ended up not published.

There was once this poem titled exactly as the above (I am sure Malaysian students would recall). It is about the choices the poet has made in life, and in the poem, he reminisces on what would have happened had he made a different choice in life. Although the poem eventually has a happy ending – in which the poet is satisfied with his choice, it does pose the question that most of us ask at some point or another in our lives. What would have happened had I chose differently?

The problem is simple; the answer is not. Like in the multiverse theory, there could be infinite possibilities that could have occured had we chosen differently in that situation. Some of us may lament opportunities long lost; but the fact that we have chosen differently alone, could have probably affected the outcome of the oppotunity itself. Or, perhaps I am just consoling myself in this matter. However, it doesn’t make the logic in the above statement any less true – although I do admit that the scenario above is highly unlikely.

Men have wasted away regretting the past and dreaming of the future. Although retrospection and planning is a good thing, we must also come to the conclusion that we live in the present and not just ignore the fact. And the fact is, none of us can change the past or predict the future. It is in this view that I find the poet’s retrospection through ‘The Road Not Taken’ not only futile, but depressing. After all, it is not too hard to paint a picture of success had we taken a different choice; nor is it too hard to lament a vision of despair.

While retrospection is not completely without use (we could sometimes learn a thing or two from our past mistakes – on the other hand, humans never learn, as history has proven), it is very much unhealthy for us to allow retrospection to take control of our life. The same goes for planning for the future, really. As beings in the present (a fact which will not change any time soon), we should cherish the present, and leave past graves unmarked and chart (not obsessively) our future.

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The Many Definitions of a Kiss

Professors of different subjects define the word ‘kiss’ in different ways:

Prof. of Computer Science:
A kiss is a few bits of love compiled into a byte.

Prof. of Algebra:
A kiss is two divided by nothing.

Prof. of Geometry:
A kiss is the shortest distance between two straight lines.

Prof. of Physics:
A kiss is the contraction of mouth due to the expansion of the heart.

Prof. of Chemistry:
A kiss is the reaction of the interaction between two hearts.

Prof. of Zoology:
A kiss is the interchange of unisexual salivary bacteria.

Prof. of Physiology:
A kiss is the juxtaposition of two orbicular ors muscles in the state of contraction.

Prof. of Dentistry:
A kiss is infectious and antiseptic.

Prof. of Accountancy:
A kiss is a credit because it is profitable when returned.

Prof. of Economics:
A kiss is that thing for which the demand is higher than the supply.

Prof. of Statistics:
A kiss is an event whose probability depends on the vital statistics of 36-24-36.

Prof. of Philosophy:
A kiss is the persecution for the child, ecstasy for the youth and homage for the old.

Prof. of English:
A kiss is a noun that is used as a conjunction; it is more common than proper; it is spoken in the plural and it is applicable to all.

Prof. of Engineering:
Uh, What? I’m not familiar with that term.

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Sub Rosa

Sub rosa literally translates to ‘beneath the rose’. Some of you might have heard this before coming out of a recent piece of literature; in olden times, people will hand a rose outside their door to indicate that they require privacy (meaning what they are discussing is a secret), hence the meaning of sub rosa, a secret.

For those reading between my every line at the mention of the word ‘secret’, perhaps I have to disappoint you. I do not keep many secrets within myself, but most of them are guarded jealously by myself. But, one thing I can mention about my secrets is that they are mundane and few in number. This would be the part where I fervently hope none of you start digging around me in hopes of uncovering those secrets. Obviously, they are secrets for a reason.

I digress. Seriously, I am not even sure what I am trying to write into the columns of this blog. Most of the time, this is my emotional dump, and a quite effective one too, I may add. With my return back to Malaysia, I no longer have much to enter into the annals of this place. I still try to make it a point to update, but the times I do so have become fewer and further between.

Perhaps, I could start with a little confession. Of the seven cardinal sins, I am most guilty of the worst sin, and ironically, I am still proud of it. Maybe it is a symbol in my heart of my rebellion towards society, one thing in common between every teenager. My parents used to say; whatever you do, be the very best in it. Although I did not really take the advice to heart, but I feel myself subconsciously motivated by those words.

And from those words sprung many consequences I am living with at the current moment. Have I learnt my lesson then? That is an entirely different matter to say. I may have lived through hardships of my own making, but I still believe in myself to come out smelling like roses. The faith may have been shaken somewhat by numerous circumstances lately, but it will never die out. As one of my percepts in life, the day it dies out will probably be the day I become a different person.

For those that enjoy reading in between the lines, take heart. I probably left a nugget of information or two stashed somewhere. Perhaps one day, I could come back and hunt for them myself, and see how my thinking has changed since then. Till that moment, I will probably refrain from making any more deliberate leaking of information as is now.

P.S. For those that found this vague, you are staring at a clue in the face. Have fun.

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MU: Just a Rant

I am sick, and tired, and sick and tired of everything to do around me. I feel melancholic, dramatic, fragile and imbalanced at the same time. Truth be told, maybe I just need a shrink. Unfortunately, for the shrink, we will probably end up analyzing each other instead. It is just a skill I picked up while reading through one too many philosophical texts and sitting through one too many emotional release sessions. I have been honing it ever since. Not to say that it is 100% accurate, but I would like to think that way. Or maybe I’m just bigoted. Yeah, add that to the ‘what-am-I-feeling’ list.

Reading back my above paragraph, I sound like I am high on drugs. Well, that may not be too far from the truth. I do feel high, though not from drugs. More like a self-induced plethora of feelings that I had left to fester for more than 24 months. It has emerged now, more potent than ever, to unleash its vengeance upon me for sealing it away. And the funny thing is, I don’t even know why I had that mesh of feeling in the first place.

I just had to answer a call from a salesman not even a minute ago. Now, although I should have felt completely justified to hang up on him, I could not bring it upon myself to do so. Why? Because I had felt that it was impolite and against social conventions that I had been thought. Had it been my brother, he would have hung up without a hint of hesitation. Instead, I had to converse with him for some time before I found it safe to bid goodbye, and even then I have this lingering feeling of guilt.

As I finished the phone call, I found myself having a better idea of where those mixture of feelings come from. It is from my own inability to let go of certain matters, be it matters of fate, choice or conventions that had been set down in stone eons ago. Perhaps, my ineptitude in accepting my predicaments is not the only factor to blame. I had also been actively evading from these matters at hand, burying them deep in the darkest dungeons of my soul.

Maybe it is time for me to let go of certain matters and look to the future. Easily said, but hardly executed. As I seal the vestiges of my problems away under a mask of acceptance, I wonder.. and once again I am interrupted by a phone call. It seems that I have gotten rather popular today. Well, maybe something to distract me from this mass of undefined feelings is not so bad after all. At least, I can continue procrastinating dealing with it until, maybe, I can finally accept them.

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