Monday, April 29, 2013

Don't Be Prejudiced

People with prejudices are stupid.

No, really, it's been proven scientifically with a sample of 15,874 people.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Observations of Music; Chaos

I have found the best music player ever.  Foobar2000 officially takes the cake.  It took some time to get used to, but it works so much more effectively than iTunes did in so many ways.  The way the lyrics plugin works, the easy renaming of metadata at the file level, the fact that opening new windows doesn't block out one another's functioning, the volume control, the cool minimalist design... lots of other little details that I really enjoy.  I'm happy iTunes botched everything up, because now I'm left with a much more effective piece of software.

I'm trying to understand what music is and what there is to get out of it.  When I'm in a live performance, I'm focusing all of my attention on the music and the thoughts that the music inspires.  I spend some of the time thinking about the technical aspects of the performance, some of the time trying to understand what the composer was trying to convey, and the rest coming up with ways in which the music is relevant to my personal perspective.  Maybe it's true that language communicates ideas and music communicates emotions.

Chaos is Life.  Really!  Life = Chaos.  I probably wouldn't have made such a stark realization without the mythos proposed by the Fabula Nova Crystalis, but now that I realize how important chaos is to our vivacity, I can appreciate the fact that there's now more chaos in my life than there was before spring break.  It is something that fuels creativity and spurs the mind in all directions.  It encourages nonlinear thinking and invention.  I thrive on it in my spare time, and keeping up with my responsibilities in the face of disarray keeps me energized.

For better or worse, swimming in chaos makes it harder to see what's missing.  If there are things in my life that I desperately need, I don't see them as readily when I don't have order and my mind isn't allowed to pace incessantly up and down the same deleterious paths as if it were having an emotional seizure.  I'm glad that I rid myself of that, but having order did allow me to accomplish more.  Perhaps I've sequestered myself from the brightness of a more structured lifestyle, one where I spend my time going to class and reading the textbooks, for the simple reason that I am frightened to see what is missing in my life--and what is wrong with the world around me.  I think that on some level I realize that I would best be served by striking a balance between Chaos and Order.  But I'm scared to return to Order, as Chaos provides me a shroud to hide what I don't want to look at.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


It's strange, hearing about the death of an artist you've been following.  In this case, he died two years ago, which is a time I can tie to a point in my own life.  I first saw his work long before that, and I had no idea his life had ended.  The few snippets I can find tell me he was an astoundingly peaceful person with only the best intentions, and I feel such a strange, nebulous remorse for him.

Your memory lives on, and through your work you are immortal.

It's different than hearing about or watching the death of a stranger.  It hits closer to home.  And especially when it's somebody who's not all that different than you.

Even if spirituality can only help heal the living, it's important to understand that our transience does not diminish our value.  We are so, so, so important.  The ephemeral spark of our beautiful existence is powerful.    Our tender vulnerabilities may be the greatest component of that strength.  Our inevitable deaths, the dynamos of our living.  Inescapable heartbreaks and the pain that is outside of our control bring into our lives the darkness that

Craving the bitterness of strong tea, I feel as if I've escaped from the heavy darkness only to escape my greatest strengths.  I don't feel like the agent of my will right now.  Is there a way to both be happy and regain that intensity?  I don't think that's the right question, but it's a start.  I'll eventually find the right question.  Before that, probably, I'll find its answer.

Last night, I fell asleep quite late, listening to a playlist I've titled "Death".  As my insides writhed, I spent time wondering who we are.  I didn't come up with any new formulations that I hadn't before, but looking at it as a big whole, a teeny piece of the vastness of the Universe, seeing ourselves as contributors to a consciousness that will live for millennia, creators of immense happiness and wonder... it instills a sense of peace in me.  Peace that I really need.

College.  Youth.  The epoch of finding one's self.  It's going to take a bit longer, but I'm getting there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013



You don't know how ÜBER EXCITED i AM RIGHT NOW.

But really, I'm prepurchasing that sick filth right now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

-G- o

If there's one thing that never ceases to amaze me, it's space.  Everything about it.  The fact that we GO there.  The fact that humans can attain escape velocity.  Pictures taken outside of our atmosphere.  The grand scale.  The utter, nihilistic beauty.

I really hope we find life out there, or that it finds us.  Eventually.  Even still, there's enough beauty behind the lenses of our telescopes to last the human race for quite a while.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Late Night Thoughts on Reading "Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony" and Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony

My friend once lent me a book by Lewis Thomas - The Medusa and the Snail.  I can't remember whether I ever finished it, but I did really enjoy it a lot, and I had to eventually return it.  At some point, she gave me another book by him for a birthday present:  Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

I never got to it for whatever reason.  Probably just the fact that my life is in perpetual disarray and an ever-changing set of responsibilities that I hate to see unattended (and thus attend).  So the things I want to do... well, I want to do a lot of things and don't really get to all of them.

Anyway, I started reading it a couple weeks ago.  It was largely about the necessity of science, as opposed to technology that's only directed at figuring out the answers to the basic problems of society, which is actually a huge part of what I'm using to further my own goals--which is ironic, because my own goals are in a sense very well defined and could be categorized as more technological than scientific.

It was also about the imminent threat of thermonuclear war with the Russians (I wasn't aware before opening it up that this set of essays was written during the Cold War, in a time when people were actively living in fear of a nuclear winter).  It was about wide-scale death.  This was also a rather nice fit with my recent thoughts and outlooks.  As I have a great interest in ending the systematic torture and murder that permeates the fabric of our society and that is funded by taxes and grocery bills, I always listen to people speak about violence.  It also hurts that I recently saw, for the first time, videos of people actually dying, which honestly had a huge impact on my perception of violence.  An American engineer named Eugene Armstrong, and two Syrian citizens whose identities I haven't been able to find out.  I don't care who the victims are, I don't want there to be any more suffering.

When I was mostly done with the collection of essays, I found out that our very own Rutgers Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to perform Mahler's Ninth Symphony this very month.  So I finished the book, made plans for Friday night, and went on over to watch it in person.  I texted my friend to suggest he come as well, caught the bus, arrived on Douglass campus after it was scheduled to begin, and ran with my flip-flops right into the theater to pick up my student rush ticket and sit down a couple of rows behind my friend moments before the downbeat.

I don't know if it was because I was so winded, or because I haven't been listening to all that much classical music recently, or because I'm mentally exhausted, but I don't feel like I completely understood the music.  I went in knowing nothing about it except the few words Lewis Thomas had to say about it.  Now, I think the Rutgers Symphony played it with a bit more vim than I have found in recordings online, and the director's interpretation might have been idiosyncratic, but I felt that the symphony was really dense.  I walked out having obtained only a glimmer of what it was about, what it meant.  The significance.  I spent the duration shifting between deep thoughts, which had little to do with the music, and listening without stark affect.


I really like that.  I can say without hesitation that the symphony was beyond me.  It was more than I could handle, when listening to it being performed live, and when actually focusing on it.  At best, there were moments when I had glimpses of a natural world decaying, which does resonate with Mahler's intention.  And maybe my lack of response is a consequence of the content, as opposed to the form; it has been said that his symphony is written from an impersonal perspective, as music from the beyond, which may be why I didn't feel particularly touched.  Maybe I simply know too little about stepping outside myself, too little about death.  Maybe I'm too young and inexperienced.

Whatever the reason may be, I can say that there is an opportunity in this incomprehension.  I can continue to listen to this symphony and seek understanding.  Or I could choose to leave it a mystery.  I don't really mind whether I ever figure it out, because I at least know that I like it, and the complexity is inspiring as well as stimulating.  I'll have to ask my friend for some good recordings of Mahler.  After hearing this posthumous opus, I know I'm not done with him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not Different Worlds

I am in the world of the Eiffel Tower.

I am in the world of my ex-girlfriend's bed.

I am in the world of my soulmate.

I am in the world of factory farms.

I am in the world of out-of-shape hippies.

I am in the world of indescribable torture.

I am in the world of the oval office.

I am in the world of terrorism and ideologies of hatred.

I am in the world of my college friends.

I am in the world of hope and aspiration.

I am in the world of frat parties and booze.

I am in the world of art and literary criticism.

I am in the world of research

I am in the ivory tower of academia.

I am in my mind.

I am in my body.

I AM OVERWHELMED.  The emotions are all too much for me, and the only way I can respond is to caress each one softly as I store it in the center of my mind, amidst thoughts of today, wishes for tomorrow, and dirges for the past.  I ruffle the sensations of each moment, as I might the fur of a wounded animal.  Most of them are the extensions of empathy; although I myself have known sorrow, I am not in nearly as woeful a plane as the myriad individuals who suffer, actually, daily.

I am perpetually surrounded by a stucco flash of the images in my memory and imagination.  Walking up a road in my hometown at night.  Driving home as the sun rose after my graduation day.  Waiting in the dark on so many occasions.  Riding the bus with friends and without.  Freezing happily at marching band competitions.  Painstakingly typing away at high school masterpieces.  On my computer screen, a blindfolded man having his head sawed off, or the smile of a soldier stabbing a prisoner to death.  Extrapolations to what the constant violence in Karachi, Newark, or Homs looks like.  Verbal depictions of two Japanese cities being destroyed by a nuclear bomb.  Walking alone down the road in my college town.  Singing my heart out in an unpacked lecture hall.

I meditate on this.  There is so much humanity that one person can see in such a short amount of time.  I can't help but feel remorse for every one who turns away from the images, and who doesn't create them.  There is so much to be gained from the challenge of sorting through the human psychological response to enlightenment and revelation.

I feel once again engaged with the world.  I must take all of what I feel and know and direct it towards finding truth.  I will advocate peace and create liberty.  I will seek inspiration and knowledge.  I will create and accomplish.  I will one day find the kinds of happiness that come to those who are patient but diligent.  I will do my best to placate the entanglement of life inside my memory, sustaining it with every breath.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No Deus to Ex Machina

Even the renegade Light Yagami obtained his power through the generosity of the gods.

But there is no Deus to Ex Machina.

Fate exists.  There is only one path to my future, but it happens to be too occluded to see right now.  That path depends on who I am.  I create my fate.  Even if it can only be one way, the way it turns out depends on how strong I am, how compassionate I am, how skillful I am.  My actions depend on the interaction between my desires and my ethics.

I'm bound to freedom, and that freedom is bound to turn out one way exactly, if simply because one cause cannot lead to two outcomes at once.

"The future is a constant in a world of free will
but if we are all predestined, a future variable."
~Owen Pallett, in A Man With No Ankles

I am not yet strong enough to obtain the skills and knowledge that I need.  Not as quickly as I originally wanted to obtain it.  The rigor with which I studied and worked up until spring break was too much for me.  I couldn't keep going, and now I've been recuperating in the ways that I know how.  I've done a pretty good job getting myself back to good health, in whatever kind I wasn't.

Now I'm reexamining everything I've been doing.  Putting my actions into a new light - one that also shines on the various things that would make me stronger, make the path towards my fate more clear, and ways to make my path a real one.

I've come to realize that, given the megalomaniacal proportion of my plan to engineer land-dwelling animals that can use language to communicate with each other and humans, there's really only one thing that I need to do:  start.  I only need to create a niche that will be filled out by the vast amount of people who want to contribute to the worthy goal.  There is an ethical impetus to make this the world we live in.  Among such a vast human population, there are plenty of personal motives for doing it, too.  Once it becomes a field, it will absolutely be populated by plenty of bright minds until it finds fruition.

And there's my new goal.  Although beginning a project is immensely less ambitious than finishing it completely, it is logically necessary.  And given what I know about human behavior and the progress of society, I have faith that its completion is the natural corollary to its inception.

So there it is:  the biggest hurdle, the one that requires the power of a god, is to change reality, not to extend it.  The machine will continue to operate the way it always has.  Operating outside of the machine is part that's impossible; it just so happens that operating outside of the machine is completely within my reach.

Or, should I say, within the reach of a stronger me.  The me that exists once I have trained and studied and molded myself into a capable, wise man.  One whose existence I so desperate covet.  I must steel myself to the challenges ahead, sensitize myself to the reasons I push onward, and precisely make myself fit for the specific roadblocks to my ambitions.  I must expand my mind and be more erudite than before.  I must hold dear my dream and take steps towards actualizing it.

In the past couple weeks, I've given myself time to think and postulate some of those steps.  Instead of drowning myself in coursework, I've been studying the world around me, the world of ideas that isn't covered in my academic studies, and trying to innovate.

I may still be in the brainstorming stage, but I daresay I am rather excited for the plans I've come up with so far.  I know for a fact that I can help heal the world:  because if I can heal myself, then nothing is irredeemable; if I can strengthen myself to be who I want to be, then there is no limit to the potential of people or society.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I'm happy that TEDxRutgers rejected me.  Well... I shouldn't say they rejected me.  I should say they didn't have the wherewithal to give me any information about whether I was accepted or not, and I've decided to make other plans for the date.

Listen up, those of you who are searching for the bright future of humanity:

I'm not here to impress people.  I'm not here to be smart.  I'm not here to be talented.

I'm not here to help humanity, or do anything grand in the forward-thinking kind of way that's expected of medical students and basically all professionals in the mainstream work force.

I am not here to push forward the desires of the hive mind.

I am here to fundamentally change the fabric of our society.  To annihilate one of the most basic truths we hold to be self-evident - that being human is unique.

I'm here to tell everybody that they're not as fabulous as they think they are.  To tell you all that the rest of the world is as valuable as you are, and that you hold no more intrinsic value than a corvid, or a puppy, or a pig.  That we completely lack an understanding of the mind and will never understand what consciousness really is until we know about the other kinds.  The nonhuman kinds of consciousness, which are beautiful in their own respective and unique regards.

I'm here.  And I will continue to be here.

Your mind is small, and there are many things that you cannot or choose not to understand.  So is mine, and so there are for me.  But really, understand what that means.  Try to see beyond the walls of our tiny, little box.  Accept that everything you believe is wrong, and recreate from scratch your ideologies.  This isn't to say that you are, in fact, wrong about anything.  But if you believe you have arrived at the correct solution, and that the solution you have is immutable because you arrived at it, then you have stopped being a child.

That should be the absolute worst thing to an intellectual.  Growing up means losing all of the beautiful devices that children use to shape their minds into better, more agile devices.  It means losing the ability to learn new languages.  Losing the spark of youth and the bliss of novelty.  No more awe.   No reverence, except for structures heralded by overarching society and individual cultures.

Speaking of the influence of culture...

Today, I came across a video of violence in Syria.  Over the course of a few minutes, two Syrians were tortured and subsequently murdered.  This happens.  I do not suggest you watch it, but I will inform you that it exists, here:  debilitatingly outrageous footage of the Syrian civil war.

That put a lot of things into perspective.  I have decided that it is necessary to do something and I will do my best to push forward that agenda.  I will set into motion the animal language movement and aid in whatever way I can fathom the research on communicating with cetaceans.  Because I am fed up with YOUR refusal to acknowledge the capacity of other species to suffer the consistent abuse of humanity's efficiency.  Watching the death of a fellow human sure hits close to home, but morality is not the extension of natural emotion - it is a set of universal laws that apply consistently to all situations that are analogous.

The death of one is a tragedy.  The death of a million is two million tragedies, where each death succeeds a long and tortuous life of fear.

Most of my life is centered around beliefs that are supported by evidence and thorough sets of personal observations and analyses.  But I do have some faith; namely, I have faith in the fact that the scientifically established separation between language and all other aspects of the aware, conscious mind, in conjunction with the experience I've derived from knowing so many cats, dogs, and other nonhumans, is enough to justify that the mind is a well conserved and well distributed feature in the animal kingdom.  I have faith that the first talking animal will have enough to say that we are forced to realize the error of our ways and accept that humanity is not the only set of minds on this Earth.

I am indignant now.  I know who I am and I know what I will do.  I demand peace and I will not settle until all systematic injustice has been erased from our reality, and a memorial for its countless victims is constructed in its stead.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4AM Babbling and Introspection

I would really like to be a dark forest.  I want to be a labyrinth that mesmerizes and confuses.

(Mystery.  Darkness.  Empathy.)

Maybe that's what we all are, behind the pretty treeline and the well trimmed hedges.  I have no exclusive claim to any feeling.  But it's so. hard. to find people who will open their gates and share themselves with you.  I crave intimacy and genuineness.  I want to know that there are other people wandering the dense brush with me, albeit along paths many times removed.  It is necessarily solipsistic to say that I'm alone.

Depending on others makes me vulnerable.

to myself.

I've been asking people who they are when they eliminate situational identities.  What is constant?  What makes you you, even if you take out every other person on the planet from the equation?  Generally, people don't seek out those answers.  It doesn't matter to them.  So, should I maintain that understanding one's own identity is universally important for any person, or should I assume that such comprehension is only valuable to a subset of people with some differentiating characteristic?

I don't just desire this knowledge, I need it.  As much as I wish to be perceived as a maze, I struggle to escape what is certainly a tangled mass of body and mind.  To find a vantage point that allows me to see what I am, that enables me to navigate myself and exit to the world around me as I fancy.

The fact that my inherent dissatisfaction with the nature of my existence is particularly salient is a minor detail that has no impact on the universality of our mortality's limits.  Being merely an animal that acts in accordance with the world around it is insufficient.  I can't explain why it is insufficient for everyone, but it absolutely must be.

I am reaching for spotlights, searchlights, flashlights, and all the lights I can find to find my way, and I worry that I'm blinding myself.  The inconsistency of my lens of choice is detrimental to the stability of my path.  Keeping a strong hold on the footsteps directly ahead is necessary for persisting towards the larger accomplishments much farther ahead.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What I Don't Think

I've started everything too late.  There's no way I can learn how to be the writer, poet, artist, musician, linguist, scientist I want to be.  I'll have to settle for being a subpar scientist who tried to be a jack of all trades and succeeded at nothing.  I'll wind up doing research in some no-name university and make tiny bits of progress in an area that doesn't really matter.  The academic networking enterprise I wish to create is doomed to failure and nothing I do in life will ever matter.


I do not believe this.  Any of it.  I will not.  Even if it is all true, I refuse to accept hopelessness, and I will do whatever it takes to reach my dreams.

Dreams.  Those are much grander than I've lately been thinking.  I don't know if I can keep going if there's only one thing that matters - especially if my passion for that one thing is mired in a grief mutually exclusive with daily happiness.  I have many dreams, and I need to be able to pursue them without feeling guilty about forsaking the primary one.  Balance my pursuits with one another.  Become everything that I can, experience everything that life has to offer -- hell, simply to live!

I want to start living again!  I want to feel the things I used to feel, embrace the Universe, be one with the world I'm in!  I'm tired of being something that isn't me.  I know who I am.  I refuse to be shackled by circumstance, by my inhibitions, by my reservations, and by my insecurities.

I put myself down so that I don't stand out.  I have to stop.  It hurts me; all of the artificial modesty and the compensatory superiority complexes.  I used to have such a great handle on my place in the world, but I'm losing it.  If I don't regain it, I may be lost in a way only capable of being expressed by euphemisms.  I've been there, and I feel like I'm looking back down at the same place from a precarious perch above.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

, bitches

Thank you, Richard Dawkins, for making my day:

There's something ineffably fantastic about the fact that this happened.  The simple fact that one can now attribute this quote to Richard Dawkins (even if he was merely quoting a certain popular webcomic) is astonishing and surreal.

I am proud to be a scientist in this day and age.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Climbing and Falling

Not all decisions are made once.  There are some decisions that you have to make over and over again, whether it be leading up to a momentous action or continuing an arduous journey.

Once you start climbing a mountain, the rest of the journey consists of countless steps.  Although each step certainly depends on the ones before it, the first by no means causes the last.

Falling is different.  The false move start leads to the cataclysmic crash end.  There is no recourse.  There is one single event that decrees the downwards path.  Bad falls cause injuries that insinuate vulnerability.

When one falls far enough, they may feel as if they have lost all of the progress they made up to where they were before.  It can be difficult to bear the vanity of all the wasted aspirations, and sometimes the fall hurts so much that it's hard to consider resuming the climb, and the energy necessary to get back up is difficult to make resurface.

Haste and zeal both augment the chance of another misstep.  And because it is so empirically difficult to measure retrospectively one's pretension, getting back on your feet can be disorientating; if one cannot determine the cause of their blunder, then do they try again the path they were traveling, or do they foray into another, perhaps safer, route to their imagined summit?

There needs to be a driving force.  It takes something positive - a perceptible hope - to persuade a person to continue making the decision to climb upwards.  No bitter remnant of failure or past dissatisfaction will suffice, because all such stresses are naturally assuaged by increasing one's distance from the immediate danger.  Reaching for the pinnacle of some lofty goal may help a person to leave behind misfortune, but escaping from misfortune will not sustainably lead one towards that peak.