Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time Keeps On Slipping

Alright, alright, I've ripped the title from a Futurama episode. If you do not know the awesomeness that is Futurama, I suggest you go Google it. Right. Now. And watch a couple of episodes too.

Anyway, time does keep on slipping because there are a few weeks left to the A2 exams right now. I am prepared, but things seem to escape my mind nowadays, squirming a bit to get out? OMG stay in stay in information.

And this is not a good time, but my right hand itches to draw. So. So. Badly. To somewhat escape my boredom I have taken to drawing little Star Trek cartoons in the edges of my past-year papers. I was so bored I tried doing a Kirk/Spock moment. Yes. ST slash. If you want to see my doodles, cbox me and I'll move it here for fun and laughter. Well more likely laughter, my own drawings are so bad sometimes they make me laugh.

Anyways, I'm really thankful I can doodle at least. It's fun! I used to be really suckass at drawing, and I'm not so hot myself even now, but I never thought I'd be able to draw. I think art saves my sanity sometimes. Granted, I'm not as talented as some brilliant! artists out there, but yeah, drawing is just for fun. After all, Matt Groening (creator of Futurama and the Simpsons) said he couldn't draw his own characters very well, and look where he is. =D

Sometimes I wonder what my life would've been like if I'd been an art student. Like, really artsy-fartsy, dissecting literature and quoting Lord Byron and studying art history. Probably I would have more time for drawing, and maybe I would have more time to practice too! I suppose I do enjoy expressing myself, but for some reason I've always preferred the sciences. (Maybe because it appeals to that small logical part of my brain, lol.) Art subjects...are too subjective! Nothing is right or wrong...but then I suppose 99% of life is like that!

Anyways, this is my brain right now. Pretty much self-explanatory. =D You guys should try a brain portrait sometime; it's really fun!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brave New World: A Dystopia of Pleasure?

Today's post will be a book review about the novel "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. It's a pretty iconic book, and if you haven't read it yet, please give it a shot. I'm just going to post my thoughts about it, and its underlying message.

I have never liked literature because of the way I was taught it (memorise, memorise, memorise) but maybe that will change as I'm slowly returning to my habit of reading.

To give an intro, Brave New World is set in the 2500s, where everyone lives under a "World State" and is perpetually happy. Humans are divided into five classes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. Gamma to Epsilon classes perform more menial work, and Alpha and Beta are more upper-caste.

No one is born the normal way; everyone is "manufactured" via IVF through sperm and eggs. Sometimes eggs are "Bokanovskified" so that they produce batches 96 identical individuals(for Gammas to Epsilons). Promiscuity is promoted and everyone is encouraged to "have one another". No one ages. At sixty you still look young. The word "mother"is a swear word, and "father" is a joke. The idea of marriage, family, and passionate relationships are over.

Kids are conditioned by having subliminal messages pumped into their ears during sleep. The first part of the story deals with life in this society. We are introduced to Bernard Marx (who somewhat questions the civilisation) and Lenina Crowne (who is a typical female).

The second part deals with Bernard and Lenina going to a Savage reservation in Mexico (where people still live lives much like the native American Indians in my opinion). They find a white man who was born there; he is John, known as "Mr. Savage" when he returns to London with Bernard, along with his mother, Linda, who has actually aged without the chemicals to keep her young.

The third part of the book deals with the Savage living in London and the struggles he faces with this "Brave New World". I won't say more here, except that in order to truly appreciate the many layers of this world you have to read the book yourself.

 My opinions on this dystopian world:
--It has some elements of early 20th century advancement, such as mass production, being written in 1932. Perhaps the most eerie one is the "baby in the bottle" way of manufacturing people and then putting them on an assembly line, where they have alcohol put into their bottles to dumb them down and exposed to heat or cold so that they can be adapted to future job conditions.

--Consumption and capitalism seem to play an important part. Deltas are conditioned to like certain things so that they would spend more on them, supporting the economy. Not very unlike our current world, where we have to "keep up with trends" and new products are always grazing the surface of the market.

--People are brainwashed since young to like their place in the Alpha-Epsilon caste, and there is always a "soma" drug to keep you happy should you ever feel unpleasant emotions. Everyone is happy. This is something the Savage questions. Given my never-ending quest to truly understand and live with human emotions, I couldn't help but be interested in this part. A world where everyone is happy?
It is ideal, but then we would lose some semblance of humanity. For what is there to work for, if everything you want is given to you? If happiness is something shaken out of a pill-box?

There is a part when the Controller reads a paper by Bernard describing a suspicion that the ultimate goal is not a stable Society, but perhaps some expansion of human intelligence and consciousness.

But then, he shakes his head and says "This cannot be published."

After reading the notes at the back of the book, I found out that Aldous Huxley was actually quite interested in this human intelligence and consciousness expansion. I am, too, after reading about "Boltzmann brains." These are supposedly random events where a conscious entity supposedly "pops up" in the Universe. But I digress. Wikipedia it if you want, it's something abstract that you can wrap your mind around.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, and am impressed at the scope of Mr. Huxley's imagination. It leaves me a little shaky because it reminds me of human beings' propensity for evil, and that some small parts of the book may already be showing up in our society, like consumerism. Maybe that's why I like sci-fi--it's full of "what ifs" and predictions of the future of humankind. Good as food for thought.

I know this is a long post, so thanks for putting up with it. I have a huge stack of other sci-fi and general fiction that I'm trying to finish. The next book review I think will be about "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. I'm looking forward to it.

At the risk of sounding like I'm spreading educational propaganda for young kids, Reading is Fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Utterly Perplexing Emotions and Star Trek Fluff.

Hello world! Today I will rant about my emotions. No, it's not about some boy. No, it's not about schoolwork. It's basically about...well, me. (Oh lordies another narcissistic post.)

I don't know. I do think emotions are the queerest little things that reside in your body and pop up suddenly. They interfere with everything you are supposed to do. They throw you off whack, and they're so incredibly distracting. You know, like "I don't feel like being hardworking and studying for my exams today."

And "I wanna eat so much and get fat even though I know I shouldn't." This one, friend, is LUST. FOOD LUST.
Ah I could just gobble you up so bad ya sexy thing. This pic is courtesy of http://www.foodwhore.tumblr.com/

And then, there's the Inferiority Complex. Oh mothership, I hate the Inferiority Complex. You think you're pretty damn good at something and then you find someone who does it a kajillion times better then you. Then you start wondering what sort of cosmic force would want to bring so much misery to you by rubbing your pathetic failure in your face.

You can tell I've had a lot of experience with Mr. Inferiority Complex.

Well, ever since I became a Trekkie I've looked to Spock for an answer. (Yes this is how bad my fandom is. So sue me.)Well you know I took a leaf out of his book and tried to not give in to these pesky emotions too much. Because emotions are what make us human, neh?

So I'd feel bad for a bit. Then I'd let the feeling sink in. Then I'd close my eyes and just let the feeling pass. Y'know, don't fight the feeling. Let it be.

Surprisingly, the feeling went. There was some sort of funny calm left behind, like when you stir your bathwater and it makes little ripples.
For the sake of irrelevance I shall put a pic of an adorable little kid sitting in bathwater. Heh!

So for a while the technique worked. Everytime I felt like an angsty teenager I'd let the feeling pass and return to my little bathwater calm place.

Then I started doing that for EVERY feeling. Even the happy ones. So I would be all "Yay!" and then suddenly all calm and introspective. I was kinda killing the happy feeling there. So, not the perfect thing to do.

I don't know. I seem to bounce back very fast from extreme feelings of anger/frustration/sadness/happiness. It's mostly good, but sometimes not so good.

So finally I've decided to just keep being curious about these emotions of mine. You know, treat it like a game, or an experiment. Because they're actually pretty interesting if you observe them after a while. Sometimes you laugh at yourself for even feeling that way. Sometimes you think you're an absolute idiot. But whatever it is, treating yourself like a lab rat actually does help you to see things clearer.

And I do like my little bathwater technique. I just have to make sure that when I'm really happy, my face will stay like that little baby's in the picture.

Oh yes, and that Star Trek Fluff in the title? I've actually done a little fluffy couple picture in the ST universe, and the bigger version is here. I know, I don't draw fluffy couple pictures. Or use Photoshop. But there's a first time for everything.

If you have deviantart and want to give me constructive criticism, please do so. If not, and you want Mr. Inferiority Complex to visit me, you can post a snide comment in the cBox on the left. Or a nice one. Or you could leave a message about bathwater.

Ta-ta for now, faithful cyberspace. XD