Why we may be able to treat this as another Michael Fay incident – a study in weird worlds

June 14, 2010

I don’t like to label people – you could say I’ve a natural aversion to that sort of attitude; because if you really think long and hard about it – the act of labeling someone is not so different from pigeon holing them.

And most of the time, its self serving – when we believe we have a right to call someone X, Y or Z, it doesn’t mean that we have scaled that person’s character correctly. It’s just one of many ways to make you feel comfortable with the decision you have made, along with giving you the necessary justification to treat that person in a way that you believe is “right.”

Label someone as “anti-social” or “socially dysfunctional,” and I guess you could just about justify anything ranging from smashing his head in or treating him like a piece of shit. In my book, it doesn’t mean you have a real “right.” It just means you have managed to successfully confect what you believe to be a legitimate “right,” that isn’t so different how the Nazi’s once believed that they were the master race and everyone else was either a genetic aberration or some freakish fluke of mother nature…Hey! But that didn’t stop the truth from kicking their teeth in and relegating their “right,” to the garbage heap of history.

The same corrosive logic holds true for the ill conceived plan to invade Iraq under the guise of the “right” to freedom – how true was it when Bush declared to the world that all Iraqi’s yearned for freedom? Well that may be true; but what Bush didn’t seem to realize was while it’s palpably true that most human beings certainly aspire towards freedom – in the Iraqi context at least; they don’t seem to want anything to do with the American stripe of freedom – in fact, the stripe of freedom that the average Iraqi aspires towards is closer to an Iranian self styled theocracy that has nothing in common with the Western variant – and there in the nutshell lies the shattered dreams of American adventurism in the Middle East – the long and short of it, like the Nazi’s and perhaps ten other losers of all time, they fucked up big time as they were simply too fixated with the whole idea of labeling people instead of getting right down to pin down the whole business of the truth.

My point is in this day and age – I don’t think it’s possible these days to gainfully make progress on the cheap. Neither does it pay to pursue a policy of reductionism by simplifying events if the imperative is to gain a better understanding into the subject to help us make informed decisions – the real question to me is can we really afford not to understand others in a world that is increasingly getting smaller by the day, hour and minute?

For example let’s take a closer look at the recent case of those monkeys who broke into the SMRT depot and pulled off a “Kilroy was here!” special – many believe this case differs only slightly from the Michael Fay incident; some may not even feel that it differs so much that it even deserves the same treatment. It’s cut and dried, right?

Well I have no comment. Not for the time being at least….because I want to see where the chips are going to fall before I decide to pick a number.

In fact, I’ve changed my mind – I don’t think, it’s a good idea to broach this subject, not yet at least….so I am going to do something really weird here. I am going to clear the table and this whole essay is going to tack a different course from where it was originally heading.

Do bear with me.

I guess before we can even understand why people do the things they do – we really need to invest some time into understanding what makes them tick. As some of you may know I spend a lot of time studying gaming trends – and one of the things that has alway fascinated me is the advent of manga and anime characters who have managed to break out from the virtual format to even take their various forms in the real world.

At times when I stand by and look at these surreal developments I can’t help but feel these people who have invested so much of their time, energy and being into make belief characters are just wasting their life – I mean there was this time – when I came across this kid who spend all his pocket money, free time and was even seriously toying around with the idea of sporting dreadlocks trying to dress up as a character in Final Fantasy. And so what I did was just ask, “Hey, what the fuck is going on here? Why don’t you get yourself a bicycle and sweat it out instead of dressing up in curtains with a big Styrofoam sword. I don’t understand!”

Well that dorky kid looked at me and said, “The reason why you don’t understand is not because you’re smarter or see the world clearer than me, but it’s because you don’t know the philosophy of the Advent Children in Final Fantasy.”

You know it’s not every day that I get intellectually floored by a sixteen year old kid and find myself having to make teeth sucking sounds as I backpedal furiously away  – but what he had to say made perfect sense – it’s true, I had absolutely no inkling about the pantheon of characters that made up the Advent Children genre except maybe what I perceived to be something that I didn’t really understand and had simply labeled it as a product that emerged from the eccentric doldrums of the lunatic fringe. Let alone begin to fathom out what the deeper and darker philosophies might have guided such a movement.

It was only after I had read up on the 30 or so episodes of the trials and tribulations of the Advent Children (somewhere in the plot there’s even a plasma gun totting penguin who wears a top hat) that I realize this was  not just a perversely dull treatise that typically emerges from the run of the mill genre of I kill you and you kill me repertoire ; that what I had before me was an extraordinary and immensely rich tapestry of fiction – that not only opens up different dimensions about how we typically see the world, but may even contain whole ideas that may even have the power to change a person’s life irrevocably – it may seem quirky, but even really banal descriptions – dying sunsets, worlds that only exist in the fringes of our imaginations, that feeling of estrangement and displacement – all these sidles up nicely against a seamless philosophy that’s not only highly imaginative and creative but incredibly fun to marinate in.

And with this new understanding I eventually realize why so many people all round the world identify with these fictional figures –  granted like many of the funny things people choose to do it may not add up to much; then again, that’s because you never bothered to give it the benefit of good light – had you decided the other way; don’t be surprised even the most mundane ideas have the capacity to spread it’s wings and take flight blowing your mind away.

Darkness 2010

“There was this time; when I worked in this car plant in Derby as a section leader. And I don’t think my crew really took a shine to me. The British have this officer and enlisted men class mentality so they are a pretty conservative lot; might not seem that way in London or Manchester, but you need to understand Derby is as traditional an English hamlet as you can possibly get. So there I was the only Chinaman in a British car plant and I didn’t really know what to do.

Firstly, I didn’t really feel that I belonged with management and to them I was probably just another “wog,” so that meant I wasn’t really welcomed in the officer’s mess which were sprawling country clubs where the management boys usually spend their off days playing cricket and drinking gin; neither could I really let my hair down and have a nights out with the boys in the local pub either as we were always told to keep a distance between us and them; so I spent most of my time in my room reading and fantasying about sex.

One day after the third shift when I came back to my company lodgings – I realized that a sub compact car was in my room. I remember it was bright red. I looked at it and I closed the door again thinking that maybe it was the wrong room. But it when I opened the door, there it was again. You’ve got to understand, I didn’t know what was going on then. But what I did know was if this went upstairs – heads would have certainly rolled and it could have been very ugly. And I was a foreigner in a strange land, so that was the last thing I wanted – trouble. So what I did was disassemble the whole car quietly and took it part by part back to the shop floor without telling a single soul.

After that I realized that the attitude of my crew towards me began to change – that invisible line that once separated us had begun to melt away – they didn’t regard me this time as the “guv” anymore; neither was I really one of the lads either – but I think they realized that somewhere in this Chinaman there was a man who may not have been so different from them.  That year my crew went on to win an all expense trip to Japan as we were nominated the most productive assembly team in the British Isle – again, I couldn’t go with them so I pretended to fall sick and the ticket went to one of the lads; as it would have been taboo – officers are not supposed to get too close to their men and I was after all a company man – but the funny thing is till this day; I don’t think that would have all come to past, if I didn’t look the other way with the thingy about the car in my room….and the really funny thing about it is I still don’t get. Maybe I will never get it.”

Darkness 2005 – The Brotherhood Press / this comment has been retrieved from a thread in icered.com in Hong Kong by an auto-bot crawler – recorded by the Chronicler under the Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2010

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