What Happened to the Poets?

If you don’t know yet, I’m in love with literature. It’s perhaps the only thing in life so far that I actually have a true passion for. So when I began watching the movie The Dead Poet’s Society just two days ago, I was awed. And I was inspired. For those of you who don’t know what the movie is about, it’s about this new English professor at this prep school in England who tries to teach these kids the beauty of poetry. And the way he teaches is unique and entertaining, but perhaps best described as beautiful. Because the way he speaks, the way he teaches, the way he quotes poems, is like honey dripping out of his mouth. It’s sweet, soft, and moving.

So this professor, named Keats, was back in his high school days part of this organization called The Dead Poet’s Society. Students would meet in this cave and reread poems of big poets like Whitman and Frost or they would present their own problems. And they would just sit there in the cave in a circle letting words flow out of their mouth and playing around with it. Just being artistically beautiful with it.

As I sat there watching this movie, thrills were being sent through my spine. I was like simply wow. Because I wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to be in this school of literature where poets, authors, novelists all come together to present, talk, and discuss about the beauty of literature.

And then my light bulb flashed. What if I could make a club just like this? And so I began a search for someone in my academically driven high school who shared this same passion with me. And the results- I felt like I was the last of a dying breed.

I mean, if you want to go find some math or science people at our school, you will have no problem. Like the majority of the students I know are those kind of people. Or if you wanted to find people who like to present, do speeches, do law, you also won’t have trouble finding them. But when I tried to find someone just one person who liked to write for the fun of it, for the beauty of it, for the sake of the art itself- I found none.

I did find a few people who were interested. And the closest I could find was this friend of mine who likes to write rap lyrics (which is a form of literature by the way). But overall, no success.

And so I asked- WHY. Why do I feel like I’m the only guy out here all alone. And so I thought.

And I realized. It’s because of the sense of economic security. Those people who do math and science and law usually pursue these subjects because they know for a fact a  good-paying job is out there for them in those fields. This is perhaps the only reason why I have still held on to engineering (I do think it’s cool though). But if you pursue literature, not really.

But you see, rather than having this discourage me, I became even more motivated. Because I realized that the majority of people who do pursue literature actually do love it. No one would take big risks such as those taken in the literature field if it weren’t out of love for it. Whereas in the other fields of math and science and others, there’s a big chance there’s gonna be a lot of phonies out there who do it just for the job.

So even if I am alone, I like it. It makes me feel unique. But I don’t want to keep this all to myself. I want to spread it throughout my school. I want to spread this beauty I see in literature. I want to create a school of literature in my high school. This is my goal, and may God help me achieve this before I graduate.

And a quote from that movie:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

My Struggle

As you probably noticed, I haven’t been blogging much. And so I am here to explain why- I have lost my motivation to blog. Really, I feel I have lost my motivation to do anything in life.

Before, I was a happy person. I learned for the fun of it. I felt smart, I felt confident, and I felt I could achieve anything in life as long as I worked hard and tried. This was the Titus that I was before.

Now, if anything, I wish I never had this happy past. You see it is sadder to see a great man fall then to see a person who has been failed all his life. That is why all tragedies have a tragic hero who experiences a reversal of fortune. And sadly, I feel I am the tragic hero of my own story.

I don’t know what specifically happened. All I know is, for one thing, I became increasingly dumber. I remember how before, I was quick to catch up on things. I learned quick and I loved it. But gradually, I have come to the state where I’m slow now. I can’t seem to think as well, and upon seeing what has happened to me, I am discouraged to think again. I feel as if my IQ decreased, and I can’t do anything to stop this downward trajectory. It’s almost as if I had a curse on my brain.

My love for learning quickly disappeared along with this. Before, I learned because I was passionate about the subjects. But one by one, this passion started disappearing. First, math. Next, science. Even literature, my love in life, I am sad to say it’s slowly dying away, too. And I’m looking at all of this, and it saddens me. It’s as if seeing a bright yellow flower with a potential to bloom suddenly go dark, petals falling off, and then shrivel up and die. Because now, I feel like I’m dragging my way through school everyday. I am only learning so I can get the grades.

Besides all this, I guess the most important thing that changed is my general emotional state. Everyday, I feel tired and sad. I try to be happy, but I just cannot. Because everything reminds me of my downfall. Of my once wonderful past, now doomed present. I wish I can still return to what I used to be, but that’s impossible. I’m stuck with this fate of failure. And I have accepted it.

So now what I live through everyday is this struggle against this fate. To deal with it. It’s hard battling against this dark cloak that seems to swallow up the sun, but nevertheless I try. I try just living through it. Just letting it take away the light from me and not making a big deal of it.

Yet, sadly, I still take it as a big deal, even though I try to let it go. I still feel that society as a whole thinks me a pathetic being who used to be great. And, sadly I am. Maybe I’m imagining things, but this is what I see.

A friend of mine later became sad himself, too, because of my depression. And it makes me depressed that I made him sad. So everyday, another part of my struggle is pretending to be happy. Pretending not to care. But it’s hard masking these feelings that are eating at my soul and heart everyday.

What makes me sadder is this girl. She’s the most beautiful thing or person or entity in this world. She’s like a god. But she’s pushed me back and sees me as a friend, and I know I have to accept that. And it makes me sad that I can never be with her, that I’m not good enough for her. Again, I’ve fallen.

And my family life. I never feel truly happy with my family. But I remember I used to.

Some people have asked me to don’t commit suicide, because I have had these thoughts before a long time ago. And of course I won’t. But I scoff at them, because I am already dead. Inside.

Your Refrigerator Can Be Hacked

I apologize for the lack of blogging this past month, and I will talk about this in the next post or so. Meanwhile, enjoy this interesting article from LA Times:

Simple Internet-connected devices can end up in complex online crimes

To keep an eye on his child via his smartphone, Marc Gilbert installed Internet-connected video baby monitors in his home in Houston.

One evening, Gilbert heard a stranger’s voice bellowing obscenities from the monitor. He disconnected the device after realizing that it had been hacked.

“I’m a pretty technical guy, and I thought I knew how all this stuff should be hooked up,” said Gilbert, who has written several letters to his congressman and other elected officials, trying to bring the security issue to their attention.

For decades, hackers have used the Internet to break into network routers, personal computers and advanced industrial devices.

But now, a whole new generation of often mundane, household devices is being connected to the Internet — and hackers are having a field day.

Thanks to smaller, cheaper processors, speedier wireless connections and the explosion of smartphones and tablets, it’s becoming easier and more affordable to digitally link just about any object — sports equipment, watches, light bulbs, washing machines, thermostats.

If you can think of it, someone has probably stuck a sensor on it and connected it to the Internet.

Like a PC, the devices have operating systems and processors. And when they are connected to the Internet, hackers can break in and seize control.

Manufacturers and consumers haven’t taken the same security precautions as they would with a PC, however, enabling hackers to turn seemingly innocuous gadgets into drones that can be used to spread malicious spam or launch a massive cyberattack — disrupting services or shutting down entire networks.

Even more frightening for many security experts is the prospect that the hackers could cause physical harm to people by shutting off thermostats, cars or even medical devices.

Such fears led doctors to turn off the wireless functionality of a heart implant in former Vice President Dick Cheney, out of concern that someone might hack it and attempt to kill him.

“It’s the Wild West out there again,” said Tommy Stiansen, co-founder of Norse Corp., a San Mateo, Calif., cybersecurity firm whose threat-detection team has discovered a wide range of devices being hacked. “The number of devices that have been compromised is staggering.”

Such attacks are expected to multiply with the proliferation of Internet-connected devices. By 2050, analysts project, there will be 50 billion Internet-connected devices, or five such gadgets for every man, woman and child on the planet.

Consumers for the most part are helpless because they usually have no idea their gadgets have been commandeered.

A home wireless router can be configured to provide some rudimentary protections, but most users typically turn on the firewall or anti-virus software on their PCs, thinking that would be enough. And as such the wireless router becomes an unlocked door of sorts for hackers to gain access to the household devices.

This year, Proofpoint Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif., cybersecurity company, tracked a global attack that sent 750,000 malicious emails from more than 100,000 gadgets — including home Wi-Fi routers, TVs, DVRs and even a refrigerator.

“How do you update the software on your refrigerator?” Proofpoint Chief Executive Gary Steele said. “I don’t even know how you do that.” ….

These attacks aren’t limited to individuals: Businesses and large organizations also are getting slammed.

Norse and Sans Institute, an Internet security research and training firm, released a report last month that found Internet-connected devices in places such as hospitals, insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies had been infiltrated.

In addition to getting access to patient files and information, the attackers managed to invade radiology imaging software, conferencing systems, printers, firewalls, Web cameras and mail servers.

“What’s concerning to us is the sheer lack of basic blocking and tackling within these organizations,” said Sam Glines, CEO of Norse. “Firewalls were on default settings. They used very simple passwords for devices. In some cases, an organization used the same password for everything.”

In such instances, companies such as Norse will contact large organizations and try to alert them to the breaches. Some companies take action; others prefer not to deal with it. Although some breaches are also reported to law enforcement agencies, most lack the resources to deal with what they perceive as a relatively trivial crime.

As bad as things are now, security experts fear that these attacks may cross over into the physical world. Hackers could access an Internet-connected smart lock and open the front door to burglars or tap into a smart meter and turn off the heat in a home during the winter, causing pipes to freeze and burst.

U.S. regulators are starting to take notice. In September, the Federal Trade Commission announced its first settlement in an “Internet of things” security case. The FTC complaint said Trendnet Inc. had falsely advertised its security cameras and video baby monitors as being, well, secure.

According to the FTC, a hacker exploited a flaw in the cameras’ software, and that led to other hackers posting links to the live feeds of 700 cameras. These feeds showed babies sleeping as well as kids playing and adults just wandering around.

“I’m sure it’s slowly going to be addressed,” said Johan Sys, managing principal of identity and access management for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “The same thing happened in the mid-90s when everyone was joining the Internet. They had the same security problems. Now we’re in that cycle again, and there’s going to be some pain.”

The “Physics” of History

Imagine building a house. Initially, all you have is wood, nails, glass panes, and a whole bunch of other materials just lying in random places. The first step is to somehow make a design to fit all those pieces together. Then, the builder actually starts working, by first building a base, and from the base he works bottom up. Through various techniques, a lot of work, and a lot of adjustments, the end product is one full house where a person can live in.

Scientists call this a reversal of entropy. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that the natural order of things is to go from order to disorder. For example, the reason why every process generates heat is because the heat is the most disorderly of the energy forms for which other more orderly energy forms (i.e. electricity) can convert to. Or you can take a glass of wine. It’s easy to drop a glass of wine and watch all of it spill out and the glass shatter- that’s natural. But it’s near impossible to do the reverse of that.

However, in this case with the house, we see it going from disorder (a bunch of shit materials lying around) to order (one functioning house). Pretty much the reverse of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. And as all physicists know, to go from disorder to order, it requires an input of energy- as seen with the energy and effort exerted by the builder.

This analogy of the house is just like human history itself. We started off as a bunch of roaming primitives, but later came together to form one single unit- say a village. That right there was the first spark of the reversal of entropy- in other words, the first spark of history.

That was the first event. And each and every event that came after was another step towards a reversal of entropy. The formation of cities. The rise of a centralized government. The initialization of trade and commerce. A developing system of written laws. The Industrial Revolution, in its more efficient and unified way of manufacturing. The rise of the Internet. All these events helped in creating a more unified and less disorderly world. And all these events make up what we call now as history. It’s sort of like an arrow moving into a direction of orderliness- this is like history itself.

As mentioned, this direction towards orderliness requires input of energy. Where do this input of energy come from in terms of history? By the many individuals and groups that changed history. The kings, tyrants, inventors all were part of this input of energy. A anti-entropy reaction can only work because of an input of energy; similarly, history could only exist because of the many people that can allow it to happen.

World War 2 actually resulted in more order, such as the creation of what is now United Nations

Of course, people might point out to war events- how could these cause society to be more orderly? Wouldn’t it cause it to be more chaotic? The thing is, no. In fact, you could say that wars and bad events are like catalysts of this progression towards orderliness. A catalyst is an enzyme or anything that speeds up a reaction. This “reaction” here- history and its progression towards orderliness- has been sped up many times by bad events. Take the many conquerors throughout human history- they waged so many wars, but in the end, not only do they create a unified empire, but they also spread their own culture to other cultures and intake new cultures into their own.  Therefore, not only is it more orderly literally in terms of land controlled, but more importantly it is more orderly in terms of the exchange of ideas, money, etc. And all of this could be just from one big war.

Another way bad events serve as catalysts is because they force people to confront their problems which are making their lives disorderly and thus fix it, becoming more orderly. Another step into the direction of the arrow of history.

Pretty much, I am redefining history into this- history is the continual movement of the reversal of entropy. There may be some times in which disorder seems to dominate, but in the end, it all speeds up the general trend into orderliness.

Why Winter Olympics Are Less Popular

Recently going on is the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. However, in my 15 years of living, I am beginning to notice a pattern- there is never that same vigor and energy for the Winter Olympics compared to the Summer Olympics. Now, why is that?

1. History– We all know when the Olympic games originated from- during the old old days in Greece. However, only Greeks participated in it- thus only the Greeks got excited about it. The first international modern Olympics, however, would no doubt bring a lot of excitement. I mean, think about it- it’s the first time nations are competing with each other in which no war is involved, so there must have been extreme patriotism back then. Oh and guess what? The first modern Olympic games were summer, not winter, Olympics. Winter Olympics only came around 20 years after. Thus, from the beginning, all the main initial excitement has always been focused on the summer games.

2. Accessibility–  you can’t just go out in the middle of the street and start ice skating all of a sudden. But you can go out to the middle of the street and start playing basketball, soccer, or any of those summer sports. Pretty much, anywhere you go, even in places best for winter sports, you can play summer sports. Whereas with winter sports, one is restricted to the ice rink or places with snow.

Unpopular Sport of Luge

3. Mainstream popularity– let’s face it- the last time you watched a luge competition was probably the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In between  2010 and now you probably didn’t even bother about it. Now let’s look at basketball- oh wait isn’t the All-Star competitions happening right now? In the middle of the Winter Olympics? Pretty much, we all pay attention to summer sports even when its a Winter Olympic year.

4. Time– the Winter Olympics take place around February. I’m still at school; most adults are still at work. If I have a freaking test to study for the next day, I’m not gonna watch the Olympics. Pretty much, the time the winter games take place in is merely inconvenient for many. We still have to go on with our normal lives and in turn, not bother about the games. Whereas with summer, why it’s the season of vacations! And why not when you’re free tune in at the summer Olympics? More convenience here.

Shani Davis

So what does this all show? One thing is that the appeal for winter sports is relatively low. Whereas most nations opt in for the Summer Games, a fair number opt out of the Winter Games. I would predict a slowly declining interest in winter sports, specifically sports like luge or bobsledding, yet I guess the only reason why these sports are still retaining a good amount of their appeal is pretty much due to the Winter Olympic Games itself. Second, winter athletes are paid poorly. The only reason why Kobe is sponsored like hell is because basketball is being watched almost daily, and thus Kobe has more fame appeal to take advantage of. How about people like Shani Davis? The nation only pays attention to him like for two weeks every four years. Very little incentive there for sponsors.

But I guess there is one thing that’s good about all this. Winter athletes are more passionate about their sport. Despite the lack of fame, money, and good incentives, these athletes still practice and work out everyday. They still compete and do it for the fun of it even if they know nothing as good as summer sports might come out of it.  Who knows if basketball stars really love basketball? Maybe it might just be the fame or money they like. But we all know that the little-known skeleton racer who places in a little-known competition is doing it for the sport.

On a last note, this year’s Olympics has actually made me more open to watching skating. The skaters are beautiful. But so hopefully will be my next post on the relation between the concept of entropy and the concept of civilization.

A Love Poem I Wrote

So recently I have been caught up in some love…….thus explaining why I haven’t blogged for some time. So I have decided to put an end to my love craze for this particular girl. Instead of saying simply “I like you” however, I decided to write a love poem. A really depressing one, because I know that it won’t end well. Nevertheless, I’m amazed at the pathetic piece of literature I created. The meaning of the poem I will leave it up to the reader to decide.

The Gold I Found                      by Titus Wu

Once upon a morning,
A man with a shovel wandered.
Upon a black hill he stood,
A hill barren and lifeless.

Hopeless and disappointed,
He stuck his shovel into the soil,
Expecting nothing
But dirt.

But a clunk he heard,
And there yonder he saw gold.

Gold, beautiful beyond measure,
Angelic beyond angels,
Gold that showered rays of light everywhere,
Turning the hill from pitch black to warm green.

Happy and delighted,
He dug for more.
And he found more.
And the more he found, the more he dug.

But pity the man when his mind
Is consumed with gold.
Obsessed, that he dug too deep
And found himself trapped
In the very hole he created.

Like a bug trapped in a jar,
Like a prisoner in a dark cell,
He tried to climb back out.
But with every attempt he failed,
With every attempt he fell back in,
Falling deeper into distress.

Every new idea, every new attempt
Into getting him back out
Only failed and made him fall deeper.

He became a madman,
Isolated, lonely, depressed,
A child suffocating in poison gas.
For the love that he felt for gold,
Gold never gave back.

He died later one day,
In a cold night.
But the gold was still there.
And his love for it remained.

Confessions of a Speciesist

For my first post of 2014, I’m gonna share this opinion article that I read from Scientific American by Michael Shermer. It’s a problem with humans that really bugs me.

Where do nonhuman mammals fit in our moral hierarchy?

The case for exploiting animals for food, clothing and entertainment often relies on our superior intelligence, language and self-awareness: the rights of the superior being trump those of the inferior. A poignant counterargument is Mark Devries’s Speciesism: The Movie, which I saw at the premiere in September 2013. The animal advocates who filled the Los Angeles theater cheered wildly for Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer. In the film, Singer and Devries argue that some animals have the mental upper hand over certain humans, such as infants, people in comas, and the severely mentally handicapped. The argument for our moral superiority thus breaks down, Devries told me: “The presumption that nonhuman animals’ interests are less important than human interests could be

cow illustrationmerely a prejudice—similar in kind to prejudices against groups of humans such as racism—termed speciesism.”

I guess I am a speciesist. I find few foods more pleasurable than a lean cut of meat. I relish the feel of leather. And I laughed out loud at the joke about the farmer who castrates his horses with two bricks: “Does it hurt?” “Not if you keep your thumbs out of the way.” I am also troubled by an analogy made by rights activists that animals are undergoing a “holocaust.” Historian Charles Patterson draws the analogy in his 2002 book Eternal Treblinka, and Devries makes visual reference to it by comparing the layout of factory-farm buildings with that of prisoner barracks at Auschwitz. The flaw in the analogy is in the motivation of the perpetrators. As someone who has written a book on the Holocaust (Denying History, University of California Press, revised edition, 2009), I see a vast moral gulf between farmers and Nazis. Even factory-farm corporate suits motivated by profits are still far down the ladder of evil from Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler. There are no signs at factory farms reading “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

Yet I cannot fully rebuke those who equate factory farms with concentration camps. While working as a graduate student in an experimental psychology animal laboratory in 1978 at California State University, Fullerton, it was my job to dispose of lab rats that had outlived our experiments. I was instructed to euthanize them with chloroform, but I hesitated. I wanted to take them up into the local hills and let them go, figuring that death by predation or starvation was better than gassing. But releasing lab animals was illegal. So I exterminated them … with gas. It was one of the most dreadful things I ever had to do.

Just writing those words saddens me, but nothing like a video clip posted at freefromharm.org. Appropriately described as the “saddest slaughterhouse footage ever,” the clip shows a bull waiting in line to die. He hears his mates in front of him being killed, backs up into the rear wall of the metal chute, and turns his head around, seeking an escape. He looks scared. A worker then zaps him with a cattle prod. The bull shuffles forward far enough for the final death wall to come down behind him. His rear legs try one last time to exit the trap and then … Thug! … down he goes in a heap. Dead. Am I projecting human emotions into a head of cattle? Maybe, but as one meat plant worker told an undercover usda inspector who inquired about the waste stench: “They’re scared. They don’t want to die.”

Mammals are sentient beings that want to live and are afraid to die. Evolution vouchsafed us all with an instinct to survive, reproduce and flourish. Our genealogical connectedness, demonstrated through evolutionary biology, provides a scientific foundation from which to expand the moral sphere to include not just all humans—as rights revolutions of the past two centuries have done—but all nonhuman sentient beings as well.

And here was an interesting comment I saw: The “vast moral gulf” you see between a genocide like the Holocaust and that perpetrated against 60 billion land animals intentionally and annually in animal agriculture is in the vast perceived difference we see as a speciesist culture who believes, without any rational basis, that simply being a member of a different species is grounds for exploitation. The victims are indeed different but the methodologies, strategies, ideologies and propaganda used by the perpetrators of oppression are always consistent in both of these cases and indeed in all cases of genocide. The same “otherization” is perpetrated against those based on race, religion, color, sex, etc. It’s all part of the same “naturalization” of violence and hierarchy by those in a position of power against those who have little or no power.

“There is a vast mythology surrounding meat, but all the myths are in one way or another related to what I refer to as the Three Ns of Justification: eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary. The Three Ns have been invoked to justify all exploitative systems, from African slavery to the Nazi Holocaust. When an ideology is in its prime, these myths rarely come under scrutiny. However, when the system finally collapses, the Three Ns are recognized as ludicrous.” ~ Melanie Joy, author of Why We Loves Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism.

My Experience With Music Remixes Feat. Yeab Guracha

Yeab Guracha’s avatar

Yeab’s Avatar

Of all the types of music out there, there a few controversial types that are still to be considered whether it’s really music or not. One of them is rap- can really just saying out stuff be considered music? The other is remixes- can getting a piece of music that already exists and shuffling and editing it around be considered creating music?

To be honest, I don’t really listen to these two types of music much. But I have a friend here named Yeab Guracha whose whole life revolves around it. I’m pretty sure he listens to rap daily and not only that, he even does his own remixes. Just check out his SoundCloud: Yeab Guracha SoundCloud

What Mr. Guracha does is actually pretty cool. For instance, one time he went to the LAX Airport and pretty much recorded random sounds happening around the airport. Then, he went back home and with a couple of friends edited it. He took out sounds he liked and rearranged them so that it actually sounded like music. Perhaps maybe one downside was that it took months to complete but I am pretty sure it was worth it for him.

When he asked me to check out his music, I have to be honest- at first I was pretty reluctant. Again, I don’t listen to these music that often. But being a friend and all, I forced myself to listen, and here’s something about this music that I realize is unique. It’s not catchy at first “glance.” I mean, it’s almost pretty monotone much of the time, almost as if someone was just droning on. However, if you listen closely, there seems to be a sort of hidden beauty- for instance the places where it’s edited and also the instrumentals being used. Basically, the beauty is hidden- and sadly, for a short-attention-span world like ours today, most of this beauty won’t be appreciated and will be missed out.

Duchamp’s Fountain

And I also want to make a comment on remixes- it reminds me of Marcel Duchamp’s anti-art. Marcel Duchamp came up with the concept of a ready-made — where he took say a urinal, turned it upside down, and called it art. Duchamp wanted to rebel against the fact that art is something that’s visually appealing by creating art that provoked thought instead of visual pleasure. And more specifically, he wanted to provoke the thought of what art really is.

This is what I feel from remixes- they challenge the thought of what music really is. But with Yeab, I feel he takes it a step farther, cause his music is not that auditory appealing initially. However, the lyrics in it and the instrumentals involved and even the editing involved provokes some thought. In a sense, Mr. Guracha is rebelling against the popular mainstream meaning of good music being nice to hear, as I can see also when he tells me he doesn’t like Macklemore, Rihanna, or other famous popular musical artists that much.

And I asked Yeab once why he makes music such as these remixes, and his response:

So why do I make music? I make music because it satisfies some fundamental desire to find patterns in the chaos of our everyday existence. The harmonic movement of musical sounds through space in a uniquely familiar way is pleasing to both my mind and body. It’s a little pretentious, but I think I have something interesting and worthwhile to say with music. Its easy expressing myself through it because it’s a universal language that brings people together, and I’m totally into all of that hippie shit… just kidding… but anyway, when I sit down and write a song, I am pouring my soul, my thoughts, and sometimes my secrets into it. Music has always been a great release for me, and needless to say, one of my biggest passions in life. I don’t mind if other people listen to my music, but if they like it or hate it, is of no concern to me; as long as I can fix whatever is flawed in the making and I am happy with it. The music industry, like so many others, is filled with people wanting money, fame, or whatever. This leads to people making music for the wrong reasons. Real musicians, in my opinion, don’t care wether they are playing in front of an arena, or in an empty bedroom- they do it for the sake of the music. That is what I think. Some people want me to go and make a name for myself but I’d rather not. If I ever sell an album, great. If I NEVER sell one, great. I love music with all my heart; I would be ashamed to cheapen it, by pursuing it for the wrong reasons. Now that I’ve poured my heart and soul upon YOU, I’d like to end with a quote from one of my favorite musicians and artists.

“When we started the band, it was because we were waiting for a sound that never happened. We got tired of waiting, and we decided to just do it ourselves.” – Mike Shinoda

Holden, Me, And My Depression

Looking back at what has happened so far during my sophomore year at high school, I have realized that I have undergone a major change in my personality and my outlook at life. Or maybe I haven’t; maybe I just affirmed my position in life. Either way, something big happened. And it started with one book. That book is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye.

You see, I started getting depressed last year when I was a freshman in high school. I don’t know how it started; maybe it was a combination of pressures from home and school. But I knew who was giving the pressure- myself. And I couldn’t help it. Sometimes when it was raining I would walk down the hallways thinking of dying or pretending I was drunk so I didn’t have to worry about the world anymore. The point is, however, that I didn’t see what was happening that time as depression; I only saw it as me being negative.

I had this attitude for the rest of my freshman year and during the summer. The thing was, I really couldn’t put into words how I was feeling. Of course, this all changed when I started reading the book.

My first thought when I began reading the book- I hated it. I hated the voice, the language, because maybe it was too different from what I used to read. I was like- why in the world would an English class make students read this jumble of crap? Until I realized- it wasn’t a jumble of crap. It was pure beauty. My English teacher during one class took one tiny passage out of the book, and from that one tiny passage she revealed to us Salinger’s ultimate purpose. By the time she finished, my jaws were so wide and my eyes were so big. I was awestruck at the beauty- how Salinger managed to give a symbolic meaning behind every single detail.

But soon as I read the book more and more, I came upon another beauty. The beauty of being able to relate to the character. The beauty that because of this, I was able to FEEL Holden. And somehow, I came upon the understanding that through Holden, I was able to realize what I was feeling was depression. Holden became a symbol of my depression. He was my depression conceptualized. In a sense, Holden became me and I became Holden. I soon started talking like Holden, using words like “phony,” “sonuvabitch,” etc. I even started feeling like Holden more than ever. Sometimes I even started lapsing into panic attacks. Somehow me and Holden became one.

Perhaps this is the reason why my depression went worse. Because I related too much to him. I remember when I stayed at school late for track tryouts, and when I was walking home alone, it was all dark. And I just started talking to myself, thinking that you know maybe I could wander the streets just like Holden wandered New York. Only if I had the dough.

Just like how Holden ranted, I felt the need to rant to ease my stress. So I ranted when I was talking to my friends, I ranted on Facebook, I ranted and ranted and ranted. And I wasn’t thinking what I was saying, so soon I was letting out so many negative thoughts, so many negative emotions. And the thing is, I guess I scared people. And so my fellow students reported me. And the next thing I knew, my whole world turned upside down.

I remember being dragged out of my math class by the dean. I remember being handcuffed in front of my crying parents. I remember being transported by ambulance to the place where I would live for six days of my life. To a mental hospital. And I remembered how I laughed at myself, thinking that my life is so much like Holden’s. Crying at myself, thinking my future was ruined. Pitying myself.

But maybe it was those six days that perhaps had the most impact on my life. It was during those six days that I contemplated about myself. That mental hospital was the site of my apotheosis. And I also realized- I wasn’t the only one out there. Perhaps more importantly, there were people much much far worse than Holden and I.

I met people who cut themselves. People who do things such as lying out in the middle of the road. People who tried to hang themselves. People who were so depressed they had hallucinations. People who were verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. People who were mentally retarded. As alien as it seemed to me, however, they and I shared one thing in common- we all felt neglected, and we all supported each other. And I’m glad that I met people like that. I’m glad I met Aidan, my roommate, who I will never forget. Because I felt them, and their experiences became mine.

When I was discharged, I felt I changed. But it was only the next day, when I came back to school, that I truly changed. And somehow, I don’t know why, that very same day I came back to school, it rained. I was in track class that time, and just like Holden, I just stood there, letting the rain soak me. Letting myself be reborn again.

So what happened later? Well right now I’m seeing my psychiatrist weekly. I’m still being watched.

So this is my story. You might ask, why make such a personal story public? Let me tell you- out there in the world, people don’t talk about depression much. But then there are those few people who do. And from their sharing, they have begun a new movement- a movement of making depression aware to the public. And so I would just like to contribute this story to this growing library, this growing movement. My story alone cannot accurately convey my feeling of depression, but a library of these stories collectively can. And besides this, there is one more reason why I want to share this story-

Cause Holden would have wanted me to.

Jus Naturale

All of us were raised on the ideals that one day we would become famous actors, wealthy businessmen, revered philanthropists, successful musicians, filthy rich diamond mine managers, powerful politicians, unforgettable athletes, inquisitive thinkers, gods and goddesses made to be worshiped by those below us.  We all had the hope that one day we’d be happy with everything we wanted.  This is the world you and I live in: the lifestyle obsession, the race toward an Alpha Male, the materialistic consumerism, the life of strife and unsatisfactory results, the life of the slowly dying.  We will continue this madness till we realize the truth on our deathbeds.  Nothing will ever satisfy us.  We can be that close to having it all, but it will only feel like having nothing at all.  The human race is caught up in social standards, always worrying that people will judge them for what they do.  They want to fit in, be “normal”, and have the privilege to look down at other people because they aren’t good enough.  Everything has become very mechanical, lacking purpose and reason.  Lets take politics as an example:  the life of a politician is to earn money and power.  They don’t understand the balance of human rights and government force.  They only care about personal interests.  The whole pace of human involvement is slowly declining, and we sit here trying to pretend it’s “ok”.

I had a recent talk to one of my friends.  I asked him,

“What is the purpose of living?”

“Well, I guess people want to achieve certain things.  There’s only 5 I can think of:

1. Go to college

2. Get a job

3. Get married

4. Have Children

5. Earn a meager salary to support yourself in retirement

Yeah, that’s all I can think of.”

“If this is the goal of humanity now, then there is absolutely no hope.”

I have come to an sudden conclusion.  God has blessed me with an insightful vision of stupendous proportions.

We are the middle children of history without a great depression nor a great war.  Our great war is the bellicose bloodthirsty beast within ourselves.  Our great depression is our very lives.

You are not your Alma Mater.

You are not your education.

You are not your job.

You are not the car you drive.

You are not the money in the bank or the content of your wallet.

You are not the cosmetics you wear or the size of your cock.

You are not your children or your wife.

You are not the trophies on your decaying shelf.

And you’re not your fucking big-boy pants.

You are dilapidated and decaying just like all the rest of us, bidding your time on the earth and learning to enjoy the premature enlightenment.  You are the filth and scum the bible foretells of, the fire that burned Sodom and the stones that slew Steven.  Don’t kid yourself about life achievement, because all you are is worthless masses of hydrogen and oxygen, creating more greenhouse gasses, consuming more energy, filling more of the world with your waste.  You are not special, you are not unique.  You are like all the rest of us, so find your place in line.  There is no hope, because everyone believes in it.  Those that do believe that there is no hope do nothing, ensuring no hope.  Man was created to destroy ourselves.  Give up, you’re fighting a losing fight that nobody will remember.  You think you’re all smart and know everything about what living means.  Fuck what you know, you need to let go.  The things you own end up owning you.  It’s not after we lose everything that we’re free to do anything.  Give up hope, resistance is futile.

If you are still reading then this warning is for you.  Every word you read of the useless bytes, pixels, binary digits, and fine print is another second of your pathetic life.  Don’t you have better things to do?  Is your life honestly so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments?  Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it?  Do you read everything you’re supposed to read?  Do you think everything you’re supposed to think?  Do you believe what you want to believe?  Buy what you’re told to want?  This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.  You are no different from those with terminal illnesses, because both of you will end up returning nitrogen and other vital nutrients to the earth.  Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation.  Give up all your flaming worldly possessions.  Get out of your apartment.  Meet a member of the opposite sex.

Quit you’re daily lifeless jobs.

Start a fight.

Prove to yourself that you are still alive.

If you don’t claim your God given humanity you will become a statistic variable.

You have been warned.

But do what you like.