December 31, 2013
“In chess, you have to kill to win. In go, you have to build to live. The aim of the game is not to eat the other, but to build the biggest territory. The rule regarding taking stones says that you can “commit suicide” if it is to take your adversary’s tones and not that you’re strictly forbidden to go anywhere you might be automatically taken. And so on.”
“When I think of go… Any game where the goal is to build territory has to be beautiful. There may be phases of combat, but they are only the means to an end, to allow your territory to survive. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the game of go is that it has to be proven that in order to win, you must live, but you must also allow the other player to live. Players who are too greedy will lose: it is a subtle game of equilibrium, where you have to get ahead without crushing the other player. In the end, life and death are only the consequences of how well or how poorly you have made your construction. This is what one of Taniguchi’s characters says: you live, you die, these are consequences. It’s a proverb for playing go, and for life.
Live, or die: mere consequences of what you have built. What matters is building well. So here we are, I’ve assigned myself a new obligation. I’m going to stop undoing, deconstructing. I’m going to start building.”
Muriel Barbery, Elegance of the Hedgehog
“I tell myself….”I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing……Only I will remain.” But this magic incantation does not seem to work this time. As I slowly find myself slipping into stasis…vacillating…making excuses…anything not to make a commitment. Anything not to make a decision. To even slowly allow this feeling of melancholy to course through my veins like venom, as it begins to poison my hope till all that remains is perhaps a militant refusal to do anything….to even allow a good thing to slip right out of my hands and to see it disappear forever…Just let matters slide with perhaps the sanguine knowledge, if one neglected a decision long enough, the act of neglect itself would begin to affect the situation, and not even allow myself to think what will come thereafter. Such is the version of political theory of the man who is prepared to watch a beautiful thing die right before his very eyes…..it has to be this way. As it is doomed from the very beginning. You see there is no way out…I tell you no way! Not even a sliver of hope to break out and run as fast as I can to that place I so want to be in…..it’s just doomed and I am encircled like an animal stretched in a pelt rack….”
December 30, 2013
December 26, 2013
We all aspire to goodness. That at least is how I see it. We aspire, which is of course very different from being good.
Even those who will not balk at unethical means to achieve their contorted end, and those who deceive, lie, employ the black arts of treachery and betrayal along with the fabled notorious all aspire to goodness.
What else can account for generous donations by mafia dons, nefarious industrialist insisting on sponsoring the Mahabratha and of course blood thirsty dictators who are often depicted doting on perfidious faced children.
But I wonder what really lies beneath the will for even the unabashed amoralist to seek closeness with the idea of goodness? Could it be goodness holds out the promise of redemption to the damned? Or perhaps by some wonderful alchemy, these seemingly diabolical monsters are just really good deep down…and it’s really world that shaped them to be who are…
I wonder what accounts for the irresistible allure of goodness….even for those who may be damned?
When I first started to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. I was just a simpleton who was happiest minding my own business – planting row after row of palms – one day I saw an immaculately dressed rich landowner in a creme bush jacket standing beside a shiny black Mercedes looking down at me from high above. He was on a hill – I took off my baseball cap and waved at him – he merely looked on impassively. I remembered his features, they were granite hard and he had an aloofness about him that was characteristic of all landowners – as if he was fashioned from stone – that very night, gangsters knocked on my small little hut. I was told, if I wanted to live, I should consider selling my tiny veggie patch to him and return back to Singapore. So I fought them all and eventually his lands became mine.
After that, that motherfucker cobbled together a motley crew of landowners to fight me. And I fought them all tooth and nail. I gave back as good as I sucked it all up.
Eventually all their lands became mine. And another came. I fought them as well. I have been fighting so long that I cannot even remember not fighting.
One day when I was sitting down in kopitiam minding my own business munching on kaya bread and kopi O kauh – a group of businessmen sat down on my table. They poured me tea and called me taipan – that was when I realize there was no one else to fight in this valley.
Recently, I cast my eyes across another valley – as I need more land. That was when I saw him from a promontory – he looked like just a simpleton who was happiest minding his own business – planting row after row of palms in his veggie patch. When he saw me, he took off his baseball cap and smiled innocently. The man had just finished wiring his chicken coop. It was a beautiful smile and if I had to hazard a guess, this must be his first run at a season. They all have that wide eyed look of optimism when they’re new. I remembered muttering to myself – As I looked down from high above. I could tell this man had absolutely no idea that an invader was standing right before him or even the slightest inkling why I had come all the way here.
At that very moment, a storm of memories swept across the desolate plains of my consciousness…and I remembered who I am and whence I came from …that was when I looked down and said to myself, “Yes….I understand now….I understand completely”….the circle is now complete…I have come full circle.
The horror…..the absolute horror.
“every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
December 25, 2013
There are many themes in Homer’s classic, The Odyssey – the steadfast loyalty of Penelope, who waits faithfully for 20 years for her husband’s return. Duty, Telemachus, who stands by his absent ather against the suitors who have invaded their family home. Servanthood, Emacus the lady in waiting to Penelope. Sagacity, Eumaeus, the swineherder who has to bear the cruel barbs of the unruly suitors. Diligence in Philoetius, the cow herder who continues to bring milk despite his master’s absence are all exemplary in their loyalty, service and honor to their master and his possessions.
But the theme that appeals most to me is Odysseus tragic loneliness and how he tries to cope stoically at best he or for that matter any man can as he searches to rerun home to his loved ones despite his many trials.
I read it slowly savoring every sentence all the while wishing I had a neck as long as a giraffe. Yes…the idea of home can be so very compelling to a man who believes he is marrooned…so near, yet so very far that it might even belong to another age…another life – like one of those stars I find myself staring at from time to time…wondering to myself whether perhaps the faint light that streams out is all but a remnant of a star that has long since cooled and died…
I understand. I understand completely. Life is indeed….cruel.
“By nights he would lie beside her, of necessity, in the hollow caerns, against his will, by one who was willing, but all the days he would sit upon the rocks, at the seaside, breaking his heart in tears and lamentation and sorrow as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water.”
The Iliad (5.154-158)
December 24, 2013
Being a Nice Guy, doesn’t mean you come in last all the time. Or that you’re always the poor sod who ends up with cancer of the wallet as everyone considers you easy meat and a push over. It also doesn’t mean you are easy to manipulate or take advantage of either. Or that you will just allow others to take potshots at you all the time like a sitting duck while turning the other cheek – that may well be other people’s version of what a nice guy is. But it is certainly not my understanding of what a nice guy stands for.
Being a Nice Guy simply means you know what is really important from the useless, vapid, pretentious and meaningless.
You have no time to get mad at the small stuff, as you see and think of the world in larger and broader terms beyond just me, me and me.
Mr nice guy is the man who always has the bigger picture in his mind – he can set aside his ego and pride for the common good and be perfectly comfortable in his own skin even when others gets all the credit. To him the bigger picture is all that matters….he’s not interested in the gossip or rumor mill….no time whatsoever.
That’s because Mr nice guy works very hard at being a very big hearted man. And despite living in the shadow of petty, evil and small hearted people and paying for mistakes he didn’t make, Mr Nice guy still holds on to the idea important things are always worth valuing, preserving and defending…that is why, he’s a nice guy.
“Being a nice guy has nothing to do with being nice at all – it just means, you know what is important, pertinent and operative in life and you are not afraid to make that idea known to people.
Let me give you all an example. Not very long ago. I saw a storekeeper beating the shit out of his dog. I demanded to know from him, why are you whipping the poor defenseless animal? The man replied, ‘it is a useless dog. When burglars broke into my shop last night. He does not even bark!”
I asked him, ‘did you do what was most important, pertinent and necessary to seal the relationship between master and servant?’ He called me a crazy man, but since I was dressed in my bush jacket, he softened up, apologized and asked me to elaborate further. I told him it is very clear to me the burglar must have made friends with his dog and gained his trust and this was because he was derelict in his job as a master of nourishing his servant the dog.
Before I left, I told him, ‘if you want to learn how to keep something then you would do well to understand this. The greatest thing in this world is to love and be loved in return.’ I told the man – feed the dog with your hand at every meal lovingly, do not cage it up, but allow it to lounge around and even believe this is it’s home and if you do just this, then you shall see that what I have shared with you is wisdom.
Three days when burglars tried to break into the man’s store again – the dog was able to alert his master. When the pudgy store owner saw me to recount this story, he told me, I am a very nice guy to share with him such wholesome wisdom.
Following that incident, I met a distraught woman who was searching for her runaway husband. Apparently her husband had taken off with another woman and left their village to settle where I turn the wheel of life.
She was accompanied by three gangsters – one of them a heavily tattooed man was her brother. They showed me a photograph of the man and woman – and asked me whether I know where they are hiding.
That same afternoon. I made enquiries and knocked on a door – a man who I recognized from the photograph appeared. I told him in a serious tone, men are looking to rearrange his face.
It seems you have runaway from your wife and kids with another woman. The man looked down. I told him plainly, this is a very serious crime in these parts – the man began pleading with me in the ancient ways. I told him to get up, looked him in the eye and asked him, what was the reason for his apparently irresponsible act – he said to me, I was not loved. I only want to be loved….
I told the man – he must provide for his children. This is after all the way of the old country and the laws of heaven and earth can never be circumvented. The man gave me his word. We shook hands.
The following day when I met the woman and the three goons again – even before I sat down, the heavily tattooed man told me gleefully, he had discovered the whereabouts of his dearly unfortunate brotherhood in law – and they planned to exact revenge. I told him to please reconsider as I would consider it a personal favor. I turned to the woman and told her that she should not be so vindictive and reminded her that heaven has eyes. She turned beet root red and accused me of being in league with a philanderer, fornicator and a good for nothing man.
I turned to her, narrowed my eyes and flared my nostrils and asked her, ‘ did you do what was most important, pertinent and necessary to seal the relationship between husband and wife?’
Her brother stood up and demanded an apology. I placed my cup of tea on a pair of chopsticks. The three goons turned white and began to shudder like frightened rabbits before a cobra. I turned to them and told them I would appreciate it, if they do me the courtesy of not making a scene – then I turned to the woman and con’t.
I told her under the laws of the old country, when a wife does not accord respect to her husband. She forfeits all her rights – but in this case, I went on to inform her, her husband will fulfill his obligations to give a part of his humble salary every month to their up keep. I went on to tell her, if I was her husband – I too would fuck around. In fact I went on to tell her, if someone put a skirt on a palm – I would gladly hump side A and side B.
Then I got up. Drank my tea and left. Before walking away I told them all. I am so happy that all of them were so patient, considerate and understanding to bring out the nice guy in me and that The greatest thing in this world and perhaps the whole universe – is to love and be loved in return.
This is the way politics is conducted in the kampung old country style…..
December 23, 2013
When I come across people who share a deep spirited love of nature. Then I believe it is incredibly easy to bond with them. As since we share so many things in common, like a tree that is nourished with water and sunlight, the relationship can only grow from strength to strength.
I’ve always been fascinated by trees and the birds. To me it is never boring to be in the embrace of nature – to me it is always restoring to the spirit, nourishing to my body and very stimulating to my mind.
I guess my love affair with nature stems from my fascination with how something so small as a seed that can fit into the palm of my hand has the power to become something so massive and complex. I see an allegory in almost everything in this world that can be explained in the alphabet of trees and birds.
“I don’t relish the idea of people putting me on a hamster wheel and making me run for nuts. I don’t believe we were meant as humans to live a life where we work twelve hours a day, seven days a week just to accumulate stuff that we would later on regret buying or consign to cash converter.
In my younger days, I didn’t really mind that idea at all – as since I was scripted by society to believe this is what I should aspire towards. That is what, I should own, buy, covet etc etc. So if everyone bought a Walkman I would just save up for one – if I see a man wearing Calvin Klein briefs, I would get myself one, though I never got around to figuring out, how buying the world’s most expensive underwear could possibly give me a six pack and leg muscles to die for – like I said, I never gave life that much thought.
In truth, I hadn’t given life that much thought at all. And I can only imagine all these goals where really something that someone just poured into my brain like cranberry juice.
Somewhere around my thirties, I did remember saying to myself, I am no longer young now and I had better get smart about what I want to take with me into my forties and beyond.
So I started throwing out things in my brain and somewhere in this mental spring cleaning effort – it did cross my mind, whether it would not be such a great idea to jettison my obsession with birds and the trees.
As when I consider how many hours I spent in the park just whiling my time away on the trees and birds – it occurred to me this was not only a time wasting hobby, but it was also the least productive.
But I am glad I decided to keep my love for nature instead of throwing it out from my mind – as when a man loves a thing, he can only be raptured by it – and it is really only a matter of time when then he will commit himself to doing everything in his power to be close to his one and only love – I tell you, there is no greater power in this world other than love. As only love can move mountains – it can even fill a man’s stomach with fire and transform him into a super human being where he can just go right on like one of those soviet tanks.
I once came across a solitary farmer who stood tall before me with a shovel and this man told me in a loud clear voice, “I will fight you and your generations, if you try to take my land away from me!” I asked this man why, he merely replied, ‘I love this land!” Whereupon my resolve dropped right out of my hand like a stone and I cried and embrace him all the while whispering to him, ‘forgive me…you are right…thank you for reminding of what is important and sacred in this miserable world…you are right, I have no right to force you to sell me the land that you so love….let us not fight, let us be brothers.’
We both embraced each other and cried like old women who have lost their sons. As for years – I had fought so many and searched in vain for people such as myself that I had forgotten – The man who loves the land. The rugged individual who lives a simple knight Templar’s life and rejects all forms of opulence along with frivolous and pretentious living. A simple man who is just content to sleep in a field bed beneath the stars to feel the wind against his cheeks and to bask in the very idea that this is all he ever wanted in life.
Therereafter we became kindred spirits. Men cut from the same cloth. Men who love the land and desire nothing else, but to be close to her…always.”
December 22, 2013
This morning Babu, the prince of pariah dogs came to me. He barked three times and pounded his paw three times on the ground and looked to the Eastern gates.
I asked Babu to mobilise the pariah dog nation for war – I told him to get Ramu, the world’s noisest Pariah dog and Supermaniam, the world’s fiercest gangster Pariah dog – before he left, I gave him half a piece of bak kuah and promised him the other half after the mission is completed.
From what Babu has told me – three intruders are hiding in the eastern gates – they are assassins.
Tonite I shall strip naked cover myself in mud and sneak up on them with my trusted bodyguard dog and whole nation of the pariah dogs with only a commando knife to ambush these assassins. I believe when they see my guli’s dangling in the pale moonlight, they will understand the error of their ways.
We will see who is walks out from this alive – I pity stupid who do not know how to wage war!
All my life, I have struggled with the awareness of an irreconcilable contradiction in the very nature of my existence.
I simply didn’t fit in. Or maybe I did -to others, at least. But deep down inside – I’ve always felt as if all the world wanted out of me was to force me – a square peg into a round hole.
You could even say, ever since I could string a train of thoughts – this was all I struggled with – the idea of fitting in. But despite my efforts, I found it impossible to resolve this dilemma.
There is and will always be two different persons within this person called, ‘me’. Like all contradictions – light and darkness, the sun and moon, black and white – if my world changed, I would cease to be the person that I am, and if I changed, my world would cease to be what it is. That as incomplete as it stands is the extent of what I considered ‘resolution.’
I think in the moment of my youth – the idea of not being able to fit in or find ones place in the world was certainly something that gnawed at me. I guess that’s only natural – as we all like to get along with others. We all like to be liked. We all want to fit in and seek solace in that sugary belief – this is where I belong. This is home.
But since I always been in a de facto state of self imposed exile – I am always like that person who stands outside peering in. That to me is how I have always seen myself in relation to the rest of the world.
There’s always a lag…a disconnect….a discomfort zone.
The idea to be my own man took sometime to congeal with me. I am slow when it comes to these things. But I am sure, if you’re a regular reader of my e-novels. You could probably be able to tease out certain aspects of how I’ve always felt estranged from the world without too much difficulty – as in virtually every story, the main protagonist always struggled with from this state of duality.
In my case I was incredibly lucky. I was able to create a world for myself separate from the world that I didn’t really get along with – it’s a peculiar world to most people. An alien landscape even to most Singaporeans.
The idea of a man living in an ocean of green – surrounded only by his dogs, the gentle sway of the palms and the indolent flight of birds. A slow and tranquil world that is so very different from that other world I used to struggle in.
These days no one dares to call me weird – they just say he’s a very experienced planter who prefers to see and do things his own way. If they call me names or try to make me fit into their mould. I have enough money to intimidate, bully and make them feel so infinitesimially small that they may even believe for one moment bacteria is even larger than them – give me more time and I reckon, I can even make them believe, they’re the ones who need to change and not me – in this strange way the world that I used to find difficult to fit in now seems very accommodating, forgiving and even slightly a less intimidating than it used to be.
I think if you’re someone who constantly struggles with the idea of estrangement and not being able to fit in or met the expectations of others – then it’s jugular to learn how to be comfortable in your own skin and to even cultivate that weird way of seeing the world so that you can find your niche in this world and be happy – never allow others to tell you what you should think, lead your life or aim for. Never!
The way I see it – when a man feels estranged, exiled or alone even in a sea of humanity – then all he’s really doing is pricking up his ears to his inner voice and it’s perfectly natural for this man to search for that missing jig saw puzzle in his life – these people aren’t weird at all. They’re just being true and forthright to themselves. Nothing wrong with that at all.
As the only reason why the world labels them as weird is because they can’t be bothered to understand something that they have probably never felt before. And that’s how it is with most people – they try and try to fit in and some do such a great job at getting along with people that they even lose sight of the idea they are living someone else’s life – that’s to say, if they truly sat down and thought long and hard about it, they would probably realise, they’re not nearly as happy as they would like to be. As all they’re really doing is living out the dreams and life of someone who they prefer not to be.
My point is whose to say what works or even what’s good for you? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness when it comes your way, and not worry too much about the details.
Experience informs me – we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time to find our place in this world, to be our own man to live life under our terms. And that’s if we are lucky – and if we allow these opportunities pass – they may never come our way ever again.
That’s why when those rare moments present themselves – it is so important to be able to see it as what it is – a door that can open to another place – and to just grab it and not bother what others think or may say and running as fast as you can.
That I feel has to be one of the greatest skills that a human develops in the course of this great journey called, life.
“Sometimes to find yourself. One needs to get lost.”
December 19, 2013
Most people don’t sense the changing of the seasons. I can only imagine to most folk back home, they’re really aware of two seasons – the rains and the hot spell. Other than that life in Singapore just ambles along in the industrial cool of twenty three celsius produced by air conditioners.
Last night, I continued living my double life that no one suspects of running with the wolves in the pale moonlight – to be stripped completely of the world like a naked savage. Primal man. To sit around a fire with the tribesmen and peer intently at flickering shadows as they slither along the uneven wall of a cave – to look up at the stars and wonder what tomorrow holds. Above all to drink the juice of the jungle – that bubbly fermented tapioca brew that plunges one into the abyss of one’s primal consciousness.
To let go completely of the world in the way a man releases a heavy weight. To allow one’s consciousness to melt like a cube of sugar in hot tea. To feel the coil of the hypnotic beat of the drums encircling the walls of consciousness. To stare unblinkingly at the flicker of the fire as it dances, crackles and spit for hours….as the jungle brew weaves it’s mysterious spell drawing one deeper and deeper into another plane of consciousness.
I join a knot of braves dancing around a fire. Soon I am into it like a stylus finding the smoothness of the grove. I can feel the texture of the ground as the feet thumps into it ryhtmically sending a shudder down my spine with every step – dancing around the fire, like a moth circling a tongue of light, drawing closer and tighter all the time….to the very source of all its fears and fascination.
Then suddenly woosh! The moth charges into the flames – my mind’s eye sees it all in slow motion. I am aware of the every feature of the before, during and after. The momentarily feeling that comes when one knows it’s futile to resist – to allow oneself to be raptured till the only thing one desires is to be part of the very essence of what is the sum of all our fears and fascination – to charge like a screaming aeroplane as it ploughs straight into the jaws of blinding oblivion – to feel a thousand arrows pierce the skin…………to die and be reborn again as the mythical albino monitor lizard.
I can hear one of the braves turning to another and saying, ‘he’s turned into that lizard again…make way.’ They all dance around me, I can see it all – the blur of the wheel. To be in the eye of a mysterious storm………as the mythical albino monitor lizard.
I find myself standing on the edge of the cliff all by myself – the winds have died down. There’s an almost surreal fluorescence in the way the leaves glow in the dark – for a moment, I find myself struggling to understand how I got here – I look at my hands. I count my fingers. Ten. Or is it eight. Are thumbs fingers?
I look up the moon is full – then it came. The changing of the seasons.
I saw it all in that mysterious land last night….deep in the jungle….through the eyes of a mythical albino monitor lizard…saw the before, during and after.
Sensed the moment when air would be so still that not even a blade of grass moves…to be in that moment when the wind shifts ever so slightly like a whispering hush against the cheeks – to see it unfurl like some giant bird spreading it’s wings and kicking up the air.
A new season has come……
December 18, 2013
I do not believe anyone back home will ever understand the depths of solitude that I experience as a farmer. I don’t even believe it serves any purpose to enquire further, other than perhaps draw the very specialized interest of someone who studies the clinical and psychological effects on people who are marooned due to shipwreck or cut off from the world for prolonged periods.
There are somedays that go by when all that reminds me the entire human race has not suddenly turned into zombies killed each other and become an extinct species and I am not a chinese version in Will Smith’s movie – Iam Legend – is when I suddenly turn my head upwards….. and the singularity of a silken streak of a jetliner splitting the sky in half high above jolts me out from the idea….I am the last man on this planet.
God some jetliners fly so high. You don’t even hear the whine of the engines, unless one really cups the ear to make it hear like a bat – that is the only thing that reminds me there is another world beyond this world….my world…..and that other world that is faraway from this green that seems to be alive taking on so many unexpected shades and forms – a green tree snake curled around a low hanging branch indolently. It looks just like glazed porcelain.
For a moment the man is transfixed by this sight…..of a distant airplane high above. He peers at it long and hard like a shaman studying the entrails of the mythical albino monitor lizard – as to this man who is marooned in an ocean of green this is how he marks the chastening passage of time.
The endless litany where the sowing, tending and harvesting goes right on like a road with no end that seems to stretch right on into the darkened mysteries of the infinity.
Imagine a world where green is not just a color of a bra you choose to go with your see thru blouse…imagine yourself immersive in an ocean of green. Marinating in it. Sensing its coolness. Feeling the weight of its resistance against your skin. Savoring it in the way a man runs his callous hands on the back of a woman.
To be so close to this color that it even becomes you and seeps into the marrow of one’s bones. To even nurse the suspicion, your veins are not filled with blood, but chlorophyl – You feel this heavy opium laced vapor in every breathe, in the way a dog suddenly pricks up it ears and sniffs the air….you run in the pale moonlight naked with just three arrows and bow – running….feeling the ground momentarily melt away as you’re soaring like a bird….chasing the wild board with the rest of the braves under the wan of the pale moonlit.
You run like a whispering hush through a field of tall grass. You feel the little slices of death as the reeds cut you like broken glass – but you don’t feel the pain…..you only have the boar in your mind. Running as fast as your legs can take you. So close that you can even smell the fear in the prey. Your heart beating furiously, pounding against your chest till you gasp for every breathe like sprinter on his last quarter.
Suddenly the beast stops turns around slowly. You suddenly realize it looks about three times larger from the front than the backend – the beast billows out smoke in the chilled night air like Vespa. kicks it’s hoofs, narrows its tusk and dips it’s sledge hammer head preparing to charge. You want to run, shout out….but suddenly another side of you takes over.
A side that no man ever talks about – all that he can do to seek some form of redemption by surrendering to this primal impulse. The man draws out his commando dagger wraps it knuckle white tight around his fist with rubber strips. He crouches to prepare himself to trip up the charging beast.
He plans to grab it’s hind legs and wrestle it down to the ground, turn it on it’s back, hold it still momentary and thrust the dagger deep to find the beast heart and hope and pray somewhere in the perpetuity of the dead roll – the beast will still and all that fills the nigh air is the reassuring elevator music equivalent of the jungle – the perpetual hum that goes through the night in the flourescent green jungle…under the pale moonlight.
A green ocean of green of so many indescribable hues of greens – emeralds to the turquoise green of jade – the color green permeates everything in this man’s world.
Imagine a universe of green that can enthrall, rapture, seduce a man to look at mother nature with childlike eyes – to lose oneself layer by layer and go deeper….deeper…..yet even deeper into this churning ocean of green. To flail helplessly at times when a color even begins to drive a man to the edge of madness and by some stroke of luck to spit him out to sanity again.
Yes to be surrounded day by day by just one color…green…can be terrifying at times.
(I must go to the field now. The winds are starting to pick up. I think the seasons is changing. I need to climb a mountain stand on a rock promontory and peer deeply when the seasons change. To see it all happen before your eyes – the before, when the trees would be so very still. Even the birds are silent. Nothing in the jungle moves – not even so much as a blade of grass. The gentle fall of a petal.
The During. When suddenly the winds begin to pick up from a different direction. You recognize this new wind like an old friend in the way planters have always done so. A lone man leaning against one of his wooden fences. His got one feet perched up and he’s just lighted his pipe. The sky is a dark paraffin blue just before evening is swallowed by the creeping velvety night.
Meanwhile the man continues to look on as one season bows out to another. Cont)
December 17, 2013
“As far as first impressions goes that may well appear to be the case. I can well understand why many may have drawn that conclusion. Believe me, I can. As the custodians of power seem to be very vigorous in taming the many voices in the Internet of late.
But what I find particularly strange is how Bertha Henson seems to be single-mindedly coy about not choosing to reveal specifics concerning what exactly about the registration process specified by MDA caused her to conclude that it would make more sense to wind up the whole enterprise instead of just complying and carrying on.
I find this particularly strange to say the least from someone who seems to make it a point of reminding all of us in many of her trite articles on the importance of keeping to the fidelity to the truth when in comes to online reportage.
So what do we really have here in terms of raw material to fashion an opinion on why BN closed shop.
Let’s see. The chief editor of an online outfit that has not even revealed a single compelling reason why she believed it would make more sense to continue and has instead opted to pack up her show like a traveling circus without revealing any other reason other than the fact she is unable to comply with MDA’s criteria.
This should prompt any reader with half a brain (such as myself) to ask two questions.
Firstly, what exactly was the criteria which Bertha Henson experienced difficulty complying with? Well in the absence of any information, one could certainly be forgiven for drawing the conclusion it might have something to do with an impossible requirement specified by MDA.
This I feel has been what most bloggers weighing on this issue have concluded. My point is just because something has the agency of power does not necessary mean it has been invoked. And in this particular case, since none of us know the specifics of what that requirement may have been, how are we to draw the conclusion that it was even an impossible or unreasonable requirement specified by MDA that actually culminated in the closing down of BN?
Do you see my point?
This should lead the perceptive reader to ask the next hypothetical question – if the decision nexus to close down Breakfast network had absolutely nothing to do with fulfilling the requirement of MDA. Then what was the real motive behind Bertha closing down Breakfast Network?
I submit to you all Bertha Henson did so because she would have gained considerably more mileage from doing so had she continued on with BN.
As I cannot for one really see how her metier of wordsmithing articles which hardly differ from the reportage of the nation destroying press could possibly advance her designs on establishing a beach head presence in blogoland nor increase her standing in the eyes of most netizens.
I think what many fail factor into the whole equation when they hurriedly drew the conclusions they did concerning BN’s abrupt closure – was yet another victim of government high handedness – but this picture has to mislead, as what is pertinent here for me is the historicism that accompanied the BN. It would not be an exaggeration to say many netizens viewed Bertha’s debut into blogoland with what I can only describe as mistrust, askance and suspicion. This is understandable as to its nearly impossible to speak about Bertha without thinking of the MSM. She is as historians would say prosaically, like many other things that are supposed to belong to the past but still linger on, the thought is hard if impossible to dispel. As she once cut her teeth as a propagandist par excellence in the sanctum sonarium of SPH. To put it crudely, she has never been able to successfully shake off the historicism of being affiliated with the MSM that many netizens consider to be the evil empire and my feel is has always held her back in more ways than I can possibly elaborate from playing a more meaningful in blogoland.
And when one sees it from this new perspective then it makes perfect strategic sense why she may decided to close down BN by putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of officialdom.
As in this one act Of self victimization she is able to reinvent herself to a very skeptical audience in blogoland – firstly she able to distance herself expediently from officialdom to lead us all to believe she is an independent thinker.
Secondly, she is also able to gain wide spread acceptance along with sympathy from netizens which previously she found nearly impossible to solicit given the completeness of her complicity in her role in fashioning the nation destroying apparatus of mass assimilation – she might even be able to finally shake off her cardboardish image from the past that has always militated against her to lead us all to believe she is a complex and brilliant individual who confronted issues of good and evil on a scale that most of us cannot possibly imagine.
My point is if we all step further back and look at this from a public perception standpoint then it’s a brilliant ploy to engineer consent, albeit it comes at the price of BN taking a swan dive.
Above all when she decides to set in motion the self destruction sequence of BN, she is able to wear the self fashioned badge with great pride that may hopefully endear her to netizens – that she too has been the victim of government high handedness.
To put it another way, the woman is trying to reinvent herself and seek redemption from her less than savory past on the cheap without ever having to adequately explain to all, the role she once played as an apparachik in the nation destroying press, where she regularly dabbled in deliberate obfuscation and prevarication in fashioning the nation destroying press to be what it is today.
By fingering MDA as the big bad wolf Bertha Henson is able to elide once and for all, the many contradictions that she could never hope to square off with netizens otherwise.
I understand. I understand completely.
Only there remains one problem with this happy picture – as sooner or later someone is bound to ask: what exactly did you find so difficult to comply with, in the MDA requirement to register Bertha….
Care to share?
Like the sages say, silence can only speak a tome when everyone expects you say something profound and meaningful – but in this case, I don’t ever expect her to elaborate on the details as to why she felt compelled to close shop….
“Is the government trying to exert control over internet speech? Yes! I have always believed this to be the case even as far back as ten years ago. If you take to trouble to read many of my blog entries and even choose to dwell into the decision for the sudden closure of the Intelligent Singaporean – you will find that I never once doubted this day would come to past.
But when we talk about MDA versus Breakfast Network. I don’t think it pays for us to consider the bigger or macro picture of whether the government is trying to clamp down on free speech on the Internet.
To me, if the goal is to get at the truth – then it makes far more sense to find out exactly which part of the registration process led her to make the decision she made.
Now if one elects not to fill up the form and instead opt to close shop. Then I think, it’s highly irresponsible as that really feeds coal into the rumor mill and that can only lead to endless speculation – hence its only fair to disclose the reasons why. After all who is the one who keeps on harping on about the need to keep to the rigors of the best practices of reportage? Who is the one who constantly draws the distinction between amateurs and professionals when it comes to the purveying the truth? Who might I ask is the one who keeps on going on and on like a broken record that we should all be exhaustive in what we choose to write?
So pray tell don’t you find it strange that the self elected high priestess of how to blog – now suddenly decides to wind up her act without even sharing with us the specifics as to what led her to make that inexplicable decision.
I don’t think it is fair in this case to put the blame on MDA. Those who have concluded that government is responsible for shutting down BN are in my opinion jumping the gun prematurely and this includes the likes of Cherian George – they should go and apply for jobs in the CIA or the weather bureau where they can put their ESP skills to save people and planet.
As have you all considered another possibility – one where if she did not register with MDA, she would be able to get more out of it in the long run.
I think if all you pursued that line of enquiry as unconventional as it seems, you will all find yourself closer to the truth.
Bear in mind, I am not for one moment condoning the hard stance the government has taken towards the Internet recently. Not at all gentlemen, but the issue that we are all called to consider before us is hardly the issue of whether what the government is doing is right or wrong….rather it all boils down to only one question.
Were there any requirement specified by MDA that was unreasonable, impossible to fulfill or posed a clear and present danger to any of the stakeholders of Breakfast Network?
If so all I am asking for is please kindly share with all of us the specifics, so that we can make an informed decision as to whether a reasonable person would have decided to make the same decision she plumbed for.
Having said that, my gut feel
tells me that is never going to happen – as I said, the woman comes encrusted with a whole lot of baggage and let me be perfectly honest – those constrains will always be a source of contention and divisiveness and I really cannot see how she can grow from strength to strength to garner a cachet of intelligent readers online – if she doesn’t find a way to reinvent herself.
In this particular case. It is my considered opinion she is leveraging on this sentiment to do exactly just that – reinvent her image. And I for one can very well understand how compelling that motivation may well – along with why she has seen it fit to use this opportunity to Worterbuch der Vergangenheitsbewältigung her image…..I understand.
After what else can she leverage on to break free from the past and rise up like a mythical phoenix from the ashes….it can’t possibly be what she regularly writes about….at best…as a writer…Bertha is a catastrophic success.”
December 16, 2013
Many years ago in a dusty airfield in Northern Uganda
The Chinaman Cocoa Planter of Gabundi Estate looked on impassively from a distance – as the last of the lumbering twin propeller driven Dakota’s prepared to take off from the make shift airfield – he wondered to himself whether it might be too heavy to make it cleanly off the ragged field. Then again the distant rents of approaching artillery shells reminded him – this is as good as it gets.
Somewhere nestled in the crammed to the brim fuselage of the Dakota was his one and only love – Eva Meyer. They didn’t even have time to say good bye. It was a hurried affair. The renegade pilot demanded his Rolex. He thrust it into his oily palms. Endless jostling. A sea of scrambling humans all with only one thing in their mind – to get the hell out of this shit hole. Somewhere in the melee, their hands separated. The door slammed closed.
As the plane picked up speed against the wind, it roared and whipped up a dust storm….goodbye my love…he muttered to himself…He remembered that final look when the door closed…he reckoned, the German nun must have thought he would be taking a seat beside her. But he knew better. This was Africa…and life is cruel, with these stray thoughts swirling in his mind. The unforgiving realization slowly dawned on him that no matter how much he wanted to be beside his one and only love to take off into the sunset like the final moment of redemption that featured in all Hollywood movies – he would have to content with watching her slip right out of his fingers just then…life his cruel…he muttered again to himself, this time turning towards a knot of refugees as they covered their faces with their kheliffa as the engines kicked up a dust storm – he clucked his tongued as he wondered to himself whether he might be like one of them…another desperate tragic soul left beside in this miserable war that was starting to sweep Uganda like a fire storm.
For a while, he wondered to himself whether he too would wail like them, close his eyes tight…like them…scratch his head…like them. Look up to the last departing plane hungrily…like them. And wished that he had a seat…like them.
All the while the dust swirled around mixed with the sweat, spittle and wails of thousands of simmering…desperate souls…he wondered to himself whether we would end up like one of those faceless pulsating whimpering souls. He flashed them a hard look of wounded despondency that just managed to betray how much he objected to their neediness. At that moment when the dust storm blotted out everything, the Chinaman experienced a rare moment of epiphany – he realized he was not like everyone else…
In the distinctly wonderful way only he could have arranged his thoughts to think the things that swirled in his mind just then – the Chinaman had answered a question that resonated deep inside him. If he was indeed different from all other men that day who watched on hungrily as the last plane in Uganda barreled towards the minty blue safety of the skies. Then maybe he did not really love that German girl with the blond hair.
When the lumbering plane finally lifted off, ten feet short of the end of the runway – the Chinaman lit his last cigarello, inhaled and looked for the first time that day at his tall Matabilli tribesmen bodyguard. Together they smiled.
And when the metallic bird banked hard to regain airspeed to break out from the death grip of gravity – the familiar clang, clang, clang of automatic gunfire began to rent out. But the Chinaman continued to smile wryly – he knew nothing could ever bring her down.
His eyes remained trained on the diminishing form of the plane as it cut through the flak covered skies. He noted the slight whine and felt a wave of reassurance that came with the knowledge the pilot had began to open up the throttle.
In a while the burgundy rage of flak subsided as fast as it had begun and soon the plane disappeared from sight completely. What was to follow was an alien sensation that swept through the desolate soul of the Chinaman. A gut wrenching tug that tore right into his heart ripping it’s way like a molten bullet.
The Chinaman breathed hard and wondered to himself again as the plane slowly disappeared from sight – ‘If I do not love her, then why do I feel this aching pain?’ He scanned the steely skies this time with his field glasses, in an attempt to snuff out that smothering yearning that could only come from regret from not being able to escape to freedom with his one and only love. The Chinaman grit his teeth hard and wondered – what is this strange force that is laying siege to the watchtower of my heart?
He wondered where Eva Meyer would go after this. Would they ever see each other again? He was even felt the acute grief that came from wanting to inhale her breath in darkened hours of infinity and to feel the pain of regret when in the morning, the sun would ruefully ripped them from their death grip embrace and throw them out into the cruel world of light. He wondered to himself how his days would u furl without her by his side – would he mourn her passing? Did he even have it in him to fumble through those waking hours without her. He even wondered whether the days would from now onwards feel so long that it might even threaten to scrunched-up his heart and leave him a wreck like one of those whimpering souls who were left behind.
Above all, as the Chinaman stood there like a solitary tongue of light long after everyone had moved on – he wondered to himself how he had allowed a pathetic German girl he hardly knew to lay siege to his being….an insurmountable fortress – in most cases one which has been built around him brick by brick from his many travails – he chuckled to himself like a deranged man when he toyed around with the notion. The perverse reality could well be while he secretly craved the forbidden fruit of reassurance which could really only come from being in love, which he could really only experience from a kindred soul such as Eva Meyer – he was also frightened of what opening that draw bridge might deliver. The Chinaman loathed the very idea charging through the gates of his heart may well be the apparitions of something he could never ever exert control.
On the sixth night when a meteor streaked through the night sky and illuminated an ambushed French armored column – the Chinaman and what was left of his ragged Adomako tribe donned the dead uniforms of fallen legionaires and resumed theor long march along the serpentine roads of Kufu and Khilahsa leading to Sudan – when they finally reached the Sudanese border, even the normally trigger frisky Ma’alia border guards hardly gave them a second look as they strolled right through – the whole entire country had after all gone to the dogs.
Seven years ago, during dinner in Wheelock place Singapore.
Dotty: “What is it? If you don’t like the watch. I can always take it back to the shop and change it. What is it dearest? Really I can get another one…..I just want you to be happy.”
Man: “It’s just…”
Dotty: “Just what?”
December 14, 2013
“does being single make me less of a man?” It gives me no pleasure to say this ladies. But, of course it does. I guess one can wax lyrical about the joys of being independent, single, unfettered etc etc.
Or seek comfort food in endless male bonding sessions etc etc. But my point is these are merely very poor substitutes for the real thing – you got to understand, when a man or woman is single, its really an unnatural state – and whatever we may use to try to fill up that blank space has to be at best a prosthetic like a plastic limb or a device like a wheel chair that one regularly uses to get by.
Sure singles can spend their time like cripples and wax lyrical about how all men or women are half and quart measures and we would all be better off winging it on our own – in the way cripples often recount with glee how wheels are far more kinetically efficient than even human limbs. They may even be right! We may even be able to do really nifty tricks on our wheelchairs from time to time for laugh. Only let us all be frank and also accept the idea that when a cripple is confronted with a flight of stairs. Then reality hits home and usually it hits hard.
I know how it is to be alone more than any of you. More than maybe all of you in this thread combined.
I am also acutely aware of how an intelligent man can even derive an almost delightful perverse sense of pride and satisfaction from that petulant idea that he needs no one – that he can and will always manage all by himself. But I don’t ever want to go down that road. Never. As it’s really the road to perdition. That can only lead one to a hall of mirrors, where the incomplete man somehow manages to do the impossible and successfully convinces himself that he is somehow whole and complete without a woman – perhaps I have spent many years alone in mainly hostile countries where I have always had to be a hard and difficult man. And I am acutely aware of how a man IF left alone for prolonged periods can only be very destructive, cruel and inhumane. And that again is something that is so easy to do. So very easy.
But my gut feel is the greatest danger to any man like myself, especially, if he is successful is to be lulled into the false belief that incompleteness can somehow magically be transformed into a whole and complete state of being – that he can somehow be complete with just the sheer power of money, status and influence. And that if you must know is terribly easy to do. So easy it seems. That one can even step into that comfortable place and never ever want to step out again.
And that could well be the ONLY reason why I never ever want to allow myself to even step into that place. I much prefer the crushing and bitter sweet reality, as you put it,
“does being single make you less of a man?”
And the reply is yes, it does make me less of a man. Much less…. I am afraid. But at least even in this discomfort zone…I am still a whole man who knows and accepts the truth…the truth and nothing, but the truth.
Now you must excuse me ladies. I have to go to field now. I need to get drunk with my jungle friends.
December 14, 2013
When we speak about courage and the indomitable human spirit. We often conjure up images of the rugged individual doing battle with the elements – climbing a mountain, sailing the solo etc etc.
The narrative is never ever about the mundaneness of everydayness…the endless grind…the never ending litany of daily living.
Somewhere in all this heady mix. I can’t help but feel this narrative misleads terribly. As real courage and the repository of the indomitable human spirit has to reside in the litany of everydayness – where we all just live day by day, not really knowing whether our lives would get better or worse. That I believe is where real terror resides – in the seasoned grind of ordinary living that just stretches out like a road with no end…and somewhere in this journey where we may not even have any cause to trust our hopes…. when one is still able to summon hope in the face of hopelessness, courage when we stand before the sum of all of fears and just put on a smile and put our best foot forward to face the world and make the best of what we have….then surely that has to be exceptionally brave.
As sometimes just to wake up, put on your tie and face the world when all of really want to do is an act of exceptional act of courage by itself.
“Where I turn the wheel of life as a planter. There is a local legend. It is an unassuming story of a simple farmer who once wanted nothing more than to plant row after row of trees.
One day an evil and greedy land owner decided to chase this simple man out of his humble veggie patch. On a full moon, ten gangsters were sent to scare off this one farmer. No one knows the precise details. There is considerable speculation and accounts vary depending on how many tiger beers have been emptied…but all know how it all ends.
The following morning all ten gangsters were found wandering naked covered in blood in a daze muttering the words again and again, “the devil has come to these parts….he lives on that hill with a giant black dog.”
As for the evil landowner, he ceded his lands to this seemingly simple farmer and mysteriously packed up like a travelling circus never to be seen again. His last words,
“Life is short.”
Good it seems has triumphed over evil – end of story.
In the sombre oak paneled smoking room of the Planter’s club. A man in his 40’s dressed in a field bush jacket sits all by himself nursing a thumb of brandy. There is as old Germans would like to say an unmistakeable Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes quality about this mysterious figure who seems content to look on with a lingering sadness at the world….permeated with the spirit of seen that and done it air…or maybe he was just lucky like some have say, he just got spat out on the right side…no one knows for sure.
The sort heroic figure who ladies in wide brimmed hats regularly steal furtive glances at and gossip about. The kind of man that men would find themselves shifting uneasily in their chairs as they struggle to reconcile their limitations with the many rumored exploits of this one man – perhaps it is the deep scar that runs across the right side of this man’s forehead that makes them lower their eyes whenever he speaks in hushed tones. Or maybe it is his habit of cracking self depreciating jokes that they all seem to pretend to laugh at knowing full well, the man is just masking his true nature.
There is much more than meets the eye…the hardened wind swept features that only field life can impart on a man….the slight delay in the man that only comes from experience…all these and much more conjured up images of a strange creature breaking ebony still waters in the pale moonlight.
A strange, mysterious and enigmatic figure….a man who is content to sit for hours on end all my himself as he looks on at the birds like a solitary island in shark infested waters…here but somewhere else…so near yet so very far ….always with a lingering sadness in his eyes.”
December 12, 2013
“Have you heard of the illness hysteria siberiana?…I read this somewhere a long time ago…it affects farmers living in Siberia. Try to imagine this. You’re a farmer, living all alone on the Siberian tundra. Day after day you plough your fields. As far as the eye can see, nothing. To the north, the horizon, to the east, the horizon, to the south, to the west, more of the same. Every morning, when the sun rises in the east, you go out to work in your fields. When it’s directly overhead, you take a break for lunch. When it sinks in the west, you go home to sleep…In the winter they stay at home and do indoor work. When spring comes, they go out into the fields again. You’re that farmer. Imagine it…And then one day something inside you dies…Day after day you watch the sun rise in the east, pass across the sky, then sink in the west, and something breaks inside you and dies…You begin walking toward the west. Heading toward a land that lies west of the sun. Like someone possessed, you walk on, day after day, not eating or drinking, until you collapse on the ground and die. That’s hysteria siberiana.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
“I ride through endless rows of palms,
Stretching out like an surreal field of infinity,
I ride with the Sun to my back, always Westwards,
I am here but yet somewhere else, far removed from this place,
I’ve entered another dimension where I talk to the nation of dogs and monkeys, they don’t seem to have any problem understanding me. We are brothers.
During my rides, my wheels no longer touch the ground, they seem to skim across the surface like stones flung across a simmering lake,
I am floating most of the time in a cushion of air or make belief – it is hard to tell. And then it came to me, a whole hearted singleminded effort that just came out from nowhere – I saw the monkeys laughing at me. I laughed back. And in that fleeting moment, the the rhythm of a perfect circle was complete – it was mine to know and to keep – the sun is setting and soon the pulsing rhythm that rises above the worlds woes will sing out loud in the darkness of the jungle. In two days. I will be back home, I tell myself for the fifth time. Unfettered yet fitting in perfectly into this world. I’ve decided to travel light on this trip with only a knife and to live off the land. The rest of the world would never know what I see during my unusual solitary rides across this ocean of mystery. If they really knew I communed with the nation of wild dogs and monkeys what would they have to say? Maybe they will lock me up. Throw away the key? It matters not what others think in that other world that is so far away from this world I marinating in right now. They might as well all be on the surface of the moon, as I feel very like Will Smith in the movie, I am Legend. I am alone, just me and my giant black dog.
The jungle is a funny place, it can transform you without you even realizing it – only last night, I surprised a band of palm oil thieves. When one of the theives stumbled on me in the preamble of darkness and light with my face painted in camouflage with my dog by my side – the man fell to the ground and muttered, “Mercy….devil! Mercy!” At that very moment, I could sense the cold cinder of fear overwhelming his soul…I could even hear his heart pounding frantically as he crawled on the ground gasping for air as if an invisible hand held his throat in a death grip. For a moment he seemed transfixed by the sight of this strange figure who stood before him illuminated only by only the moon beam – who I wonder did this man really see? Was it me? Or could be someone else….
I must stop living this double life – what if others find out? What if it leaks out into the business world? Yes, I must really make an effort to live a normal life.”
December 11, 2013
I don’t really care very much for righteous people who go around telling others – how they should live, what they should work towards or even what is right, appropriate or acceptable.
I just don’t have time for sanctimonious people. And it doesn’t matter what the context it may be – could well be the ongoimg debate where the nation destroying press along with the likes of Bertha Henson kept on drumming: online anonymity is predition or whether you have a right to stand on a soap box in the public square to declare to the world, if you don’t slouch, you stand two inches taller.
One reason why I believe it’s morally wrong for anyone, especially leaders to prescribe the ‘right’ way for others to live by is because everyone has a right to discover their niche in this world – and I know no other way to gainfully accomplish this other than by experimenting with life. That could probably account for why I have never been particularly fond of conceited people who regularly hold the belief online anonymity is some character flaw like perpetual masturbation. As when one labels a person as either weird, crazy or just a trouble maker, then what invariably happens is we all end up seeing the world in just black and white tones – and in this reductible binary world where one is either successful or a failure, scholar or cookie cutter, elite or peasant, team player or anti social, with us or against us etc etc – the middle ground along with good gets elided.
Truth is in every age – there will always be very good and compelling reasons why people choose to do the things they do and most of the time there is no malevolent or insidious intent other that to seek a comfortable niche.
There is nothing wrong with that idea….not at all.
Neither is it true to say just because a blogger elects to come right out into the open doesnt necessary render him or her more enlightened than those who choose to remain in the shadow of anonymity – it just means we all experimenting with the very raw material of life, each under our own terms and speed.
The way I see it – if remaining anonymous makes you comfortable to say and write without a police man running around your head – then by all means, go ahead…if it’s that important to you….then it’s important to me as well and I would have to simply respect that idea.
That I feel is an idea that seems to be completely lost in the runaway train narrative of how the custodians of power these days seem to be scripting the whole argument of why the Internet needs to be regulated. No where in this corseted narrative does it even ask the cogent question – why do people elect to remain anonymous online? Or for that matter whether they even have a right to such a thing as privacy. Granted technophobes and the pineapple eyed Internet brigade may regularly tell us online anonynimty is at best a happy illusion, but just because the technology exist to unmask someone online doesn’t by itself give them the legitimate right to do so.
What really accounts for the ongoing divide between netizens and those who may regard blogosphere as nothing more than a brutish and feral haven? Why are these two groups always at each other throats? Why can’t they just sit down and see eye to eye and even agree to disagree amicably?
Most people may not realize this; but as I mentioned earlier, the root cause accounting for the odium may have everything to do with the medium rather than content – the internet, if u didn’t know like the telegraph, radio and TV imposes a new paradigm of how to make sense of the known world – this is not merely a hypothesis; the process is already under way in earnest. In fact, it’s happening all around us even as I am writing this, altering the full spectrum of our thought processes and coloring how we would normally make sense of stuff.
It’s conceivable, when we talk of common ground these days; the entire question hinges on whether we have such a thing as a common vantage point? My gut feel tells me, the outcome may have everything to do with whether you happen to be a netizen or not.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say; this form of change is closer to the revisit of the invasion of the body snatchers – only it would not be an exaggeration to say the internet may have already altered our traditional cognitive DNA to such an extent; it may not even be possible for many of us to agree on the whole idea of what constitutes; collective consciousness – like the quirky idea of parallel universe and dual economies – we may have to content with the new idea of a dichotomy.
In this parallel universe, it’s conceivable netizens may even see events unfolding in an altogehter different scale, speed and perspective from those who may choose to deride this medium no end – to paraphrase, we may have lost all hope of crafting such a happy thing as common ground.
This would seem like a novel dystopian theory; if only you didn’t realize cognitive change has always featured along side human history – when we first developed language, we significantly increased our ability to share insights and knowledge across time and space. And as language assumed text; it further compresses meaning into multiple layers of nuances, till of course, for every thesis there is an anti- thesis.
Unfortunately, with every cognitive shift, be it the printing press or telephone – it spawns the same dooms day dystopian warnings, we are all going to drown in a cesspit of electronic cacophony. In its wake the whole gamut of anxieties are dragged into the ark light about the possibility that the advent of the digital age may even do irreparable damage to our natural ability to think sensibly.
For many barreling into this new electronic cacophony it can certainly be a jarring experience; policy makers rue no end how their reasoned discourses no longer have the power to assert their cultural authority on the collective consciousness. Journalist write, only they do so with the knowledge while what they may have to say will certainly appeal to one segment of society; it’s also likely to alienate another and so on and so forth.
Breathe the world is not ending….it’s really always been that way…it’s called progress.
‘I know a boy who lives in my village who everyone once considered cursed by some evil spirit – one day when this boy showed up in my plantation, he started to make strange grunting sounds. As usual most of the farm hands ignored him and some even quite openly called him gila (crazy).
But I looked on – for hours even. While this boy ran around palm after palm often stopping only to grunt like some animal. It took me quite a while to connect the dots. But after a while I realized, he was mimicking the sound of a rhinoceros beetle. A dreaded insect that is able to render a healthy palm sterile.
After that incident, I instructed my farm hands to treat every palm that this boy stood before and grunted at with 5 milligrams of sodium cyanide – and with time the dreaded rhinoceros beetle scrouge was arrested.
Today this boy turns the wheel of life by giving his highly sought after services to plantations and even manages to support his ailing father and entire household with his extraordinary gift. He is no longer consider cursed by the community but rather a heavenly blessing. Above all when others try to stop, hit or chase him away, others who know about this boy’s unusual gift to spot an infected palm will rebuke them.
I think much can be learnt from this parabel of the boy who has this extraordinary gift – but what must first be recognized is that, it takes considerable effort, time and dedication to understand a thing for what it is and not what everyone says it is – that is why when we label others as weird, crazy, anti social or just difficult – then what we r doing is inadvertently bracketing the narrative. Worst of all, we stop thinking right there and then…and just accept – I personally feel that is not a very enlightened way to live a purpose driven life.
As in life, you don’t ever get opportunities like this coming into your life everyday, so if you just chuck it away without even bothering to give it the full light of what it deserves…it’s gone….I mean, if you keep on doing that in life, then don’t blame anyone but yourself if you end up poor, lonely and no one wants to fuck you one day….you deserve your lot!
That’s how I see it.
As experience informs me, everyone no matter rich or poor, clever or dumb (like moir), well adjusted or just plain difficult is born with a extraordinary gift – we all have it in us, you have it and so do I and if you don’t know you have it, it simply means you are yet to discover what it is – that’s really how I see it – could well be something artistic or even mind blowing like being able to paint on water, predict tomorrows weather by just watching the flight of birds. But my point is, the only way to develop this extraordinary gift further is to strive to be comfortable in your element and not bother too much about what others may say or think about you. If possible throw out the idea of what others want you to be and just follow that inner voice.
After all consider this. You do not live your life for them. You live only for yourself and your loved ones.
If all we can do in life is strive unthinkingly like robots to fulfill the demands and expectations of the world. We will probably assume a form and purpose that is very different from who or what we were all meant to be. Being “successful” by the definition of the world regrettably doesn’t necessarily make you feel good about yourself, but “feeling good,” of itself, won’t necessarily lead to fulfillment either. To be truly fulfilled, one must create a sustainable condition for one’s own happiness, and this can only come when you still your mind and listen intently to who you are really meant to be to find your niche in this world……my feel is these days….too many strive to be everyone else except who they really should be…themselves…and that to me is very sad.”
December 10, 2013
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
― Christian D. Larson
“When one begins to read deeply and truthfully about the life of Nelson Mandela – then at some point, it will suddenly occur quite unexpectedly to the reader – the remarkable power of the individual to shape the course of human history.
Just imagine. One individual. Only one. Who is able to promulgate an indestructible idea that is able to bring about change on a historical scale.
But what most impresses me about the man is his spiritual maturity.
I have always longed to be a big man. You could say that is all I love for. But I may have got the idea all wrong – as till now. I have just considered it an idea where a man works terribly hard to gain extraordinary influence and power with money.
But that is not all there is to it is there…the idea of the big man. As when I consider what he went through and imagine myself doing the same, I doubt, I could have made it out the other end as elegantly as he did.
As the idea of forgiving your enemies is very a notion that is very alien to me….very…very alien indeed.
How does a man even begin to put his past hurt behind him to summon the power to forgive? How is that possible?…I don’t understand. I wished, I did, but I don’t understand.
Somewhere along the course of my reading. I realized much to my sadness, that in this journey called life – I may not be able to aspire to be this big man after all.
This big magniminous man, who is able to stand high above the smallness, pettiness and viscousness of the small little man who pretends to be the big man.
I have so much to learn from Nelson Mandela.”
This should be common sense. But it appears for some inexplicable reason to be very uncommon. So let me try to explain this in baby lingo – it goes something like this, what happens when a group of foreigners inhabit a locale to such an extent where they even overwhelm the natives numerically?
Would it be reasonable to assume under those conditions, the social cultural attributes of that locale will be transformed to such an extent – where even if there was such a thing as a ‘Singaporean way’ (To be quite frank, I don’t even know what that means. And I suspect no one knows either) that idea would be the last thing in the minds of those who did what they did.
‘Just a few days I proposed the idea that Singapore is just as safe as any other city or hamlet in Africa. My point is safety is really at best a state of mind and no more…at best, it’s chimeric, at worst, it lulls us all into a false sense of confidence.
Hardly had I finished penning this entry – many readers were quite outrage by that assertion.
Well today, I guess reality bites…We live in interesting times.”
December 8, 2013
Yesterday I received a mysterious invitation from a distant plantation heiress to attend a formal dinner function.
The note simply read,
“The pleasure of your company would be gratitude enough.”
Judging from the exceptional quality of the stationary and the cursive hand written note penned in Indian ink. I surmised, it would probably be a small gathering. Three or four couples at most.
At first I reluctant to go. Perhaps it was the disturbing tenor of the note….’gratitude enough.’ Gratitude for what the fuck! I don’t even know the lady. Another reason for my vacillated state was probably due to my acute inferiority complex. Truth is, I have never ever been comfortable in the midst of the old money toffee nose crowd. Besides, I did not know anyone who would be attending and the last thing I wanted to do was to stand out like an awkward fire hydrant.
Nonetheless, those strange words, ‘gratitude enough’ gnawed at me relentless. I felt it intruding into my presence through out the day right into the long afternoon that seemed to stretch out like a pelt rack.. by evening curiousity got the better of me and I found myself driving for two hours to finally arrive at a majestic mansion in the middle of nowhere.
I remember the lights…..
“I believe all ambitious men are by nature egoistic. They have to be I reckon. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do.
I reckon it takes a certain arrogance and perhaps even foolish bravado to take on something big – to even harbor belief that if one just gave the door a good kick, it would all come tumbling down.
That at least is how I see the whole idea of a man taking on a very big thing such as growing an enterprise – but through it all. Though nothing would give me the keenest pleasure to believe I did all by myself.
Deep down, I have always known, there was an invisible hand who helped me succeed in the plantation enterprise – call it what you may… Gut feel…instinct…a hunters intuition.
I have always known this all along and now that I found myself standing before her, cheeks flushed. I realized, she was my secret benefactor and that made my soul ache. As I have always wished desperately that I was wrong all along that my success was due to me and no other. But now as I stood before the great plantation lady – I realized it was all due to her.
I wondered to myself….is she here to gloat? No. There was an unusual softness in her eyes, a total and complete vulnerability in someone who would usually be guarded in the rest of her life. No, she did not summon me all the way here to gloat…of that I am sure.
It made me happy to know then and there, I could still peer into the secret spots of color in the life of a woman….who I hardly knew….who had helped me succeed in the plantation business.
That was when she looked up and said to me,
“I have been warned about you….but I am so happy you came.”
I kissed her hand and simply said,
‘I will always be your servant…I am grateful.’
December 6, 2013
I spent the whole evening cracking my head trying to balance an impossible excel spreadsheet for my next land acquisition.
Despite my best efforts. I am still unable to square the accounts.
I can only draw one theoretical assumption from all this. It seems the price of land has shot up so high, it is no longer financially viable to farm commercially any longer in Asia.
Farming in Asia, it seems is set to become a multi millionaires hobby like wine growing.
We must all go to Africa.
Africa is the only continent in the world where arable land is still cheap, plentiful and suitable for plantation.
The only drawback I can see about planting in Africa is, it is often still perceived as a lawless place where everyone seems to carry guns.
But I do not think that is a bad thing. Not at all, especially when one considers that also means competition is largely theoretical, non-existent and you will probably be safer in Africa than probably Singapore.
Yes, the future is definitely in Africa.
“If I have contempt for one aspect of human failing, it is when a man succumbs to his imaginary fears. When one considers how much through the ages has gone to waste on the account of fear, and fear alone. It is a tragedy that I do not believe can be cataloged without doing considerable violence to the history of humanity.
That is why I reserve my greatest contempt for power crazy and unimaginative people, who seem to like nothing better than to put a policeman in the heads of every thinking person.
I reckon the best thing you could do if you are really serious about improving your lot is to take a leaf out of Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of life and grab hold of this policeman in your head, hold him down, slit his throat and watch his life seep slowly out of him.
After that you will be free. Only a free mind can do great things – that is why through the ages, dictators and tyrants have a morbid fear of men who have managed to kill this policeman in their heads.
That is the same reason, why good and noble role models like Nelson Mandela will continue to live on long after their deaths. As for dictators and tyrants, who I wonder even cares to remember them at all….wonder no more why they all seem to do very little except pen books that make great door stops.”