Well, that at least is how it comes across to me and those who make up my tiny community.
I am sorry…I am a farmer…I have made a solemn oath to call a spade a spade.
Now lets dive in! Blogger Ravi Philemon has reached out to both sides of the divide in the controversy over the holding of an Independence Day celebratory event at Ngee Ann City on 8 June. If you want to read more, go to The Online Citizen and check out Andrew Loh’s essay entitled “A Singaporean shows the way, when leaders fail.” As it’s very unlikely that Pravda or any of the Potemkin sites in blogoland such as Singaporedaily will ever showcase it.
My feel is Ravi & Co is definitely approaching this impasse in a mature and sensible manner – quiet diplomacy is key. As even if he is not given an opportunity to facilitate some resolution to this impasse, at least he has given the custodians of power some valuable insights as to how to effectively resolve this complicated matter.
Nope! This is definitely not a ‘pure and simple’ matter as some immature bloggers and politicians would like to believe, that’s like calling the Grand Canyon a big sinkhole or Lake Toba a giant puddle – it’s awfully complicated and even comes encrusted with all sorts of emotional baggages and it definitely needs a whole lot of patience, imagination and understanding to come up tops! So it’s not pure and simple lah!
What this impasse absolutely doesn’t need is for petulant folk to shout and call those who they have neither the brains or inclination to understand nasty and hurtful names – if they want to do that, they should be man enough to go start their own enterprises and see whether they can manage change in that ‘pure and simple’ way. Go on. I dare you lah!
Otherwise leave it to the professionals…..better still… sit down before you all fall down like bowling pins lah.
‘This is not the Intifada! So there is absolutely no justification to come down so hard on people. To me, you have to be a bloody fool to roll out the tanks and fix bayonets without first exhausting diplomacy as a means of resolving this impasse.
As all you’re dealing with here are anxious folk who may feel encroached and threatened – and that to me is a perfectly normal reaction – that’s part and parcel of managing change. In my book, if you want to be an agent of change, then the whole idea of managing conflict comes with the territory. If you think it’s pure and simple then to me you have scaled it all wrong. Your risk assessment will never correspond with what’s happening on the ground. It’s unreal!
Even in my case as a lowest of the low in the capacity of a seemingly ‘simple’ farmer – I have to manage change. Let me give you an example. El Nino is coming. And this time round, all the weather scientist are in agreement, its going to be a monster!
So what I have had to do is to throw away the farming Bible and implement a round of experimental farming techniques relating to manuring and managing a plantation that has never been seen around these parts before – it’s a 180 degree turn! It’s back breaking work….and at times, its not unusual for the farmhands to grumble behind by my back and to even call me names. It’s even normal for them to ask of me, why is our work so difficult this season? Why are we doing six times the work we used to do? Why can’t we do it like the way our forefathers did it…it was far easier then? Why are you torturing us farmer?
Sometimes I feel marooned in my own skull. As it’s difficult if not impossible to try to explain something to village folk which they have never experienced before – to these simple people, the seasons are fixed like stars pinned steadfast to the heavens – January to March, they will all till the land. April to March when the rains come, they will sow the seeds and June to August, they will harvest and come september when the monsoon rains come again… whole cycle of life repeats itself again…it’s being this way for mellinia.
Only this time with a monster El Nino looming somewhere like a restless man eating tiger….things will be very different I reckon. I have seen this all before in Africa. I’ve stood on a hill and watched mother nature curl it’s fingers in the way a tiger brandishes it’s claws…watched it turn the land into a dustbowl under a godless sky…watched it for so long till no one even bothers to ask any longer when the rains will come…as no one can remember. So I know what it takes to make it thru to the other side – but it will always be difficult, complicated and at times even frustrating. As I need to get people to buy in to my plan.
….I reckon it takes wisdom to manage change.’
What would be abnormal in my assessment is, if we all did not see this sort of reaction. As even in the ranks of the silent majority there are many who are not fully comfortable with that idea. Don’t believe me, then go and poll it….I dare you lah! So I don’t understand what can possibly be accomplished by name calling and attempting to simplify this whole matter under the guise of ‘pure and simple.’ Tell me which part of it is ‘simple?’ I want to know, bc even as a farmer I find it very difficult and at times even exasperating…as I know what needs to be done, but all around me, all I seem to have is people who believe that the party will go on forever….so please share with me specifically, which part of it is ‘pure’ and even ‘simple.’
IMHO there is nothing ‘simple’ about managing change. It will always be challenging….hard…and difficult. As the goal is to get those who may not share your aspirations on board – you have to win them over. Or at least try your best to do so lah!
So how can that be simple? Sure, you can take Stalin’s attitude and give them ultimatums like either you’re with or against me! Only understand this, should you do that, many will dig their heels in and what will you end up with? As for me, I don’t nearly have that sort of latitude to do that – I just need to KEEP on explaining to them what NEEDS to be done and WHY….and I do this again and again and again. There is no end. That is why it is so complicated and not simple…and since many the issues involves culture, heritage, share values and even race, there is nothing ‘pure’ about – it will always be messy.
So to me it always pays to work towards a Mao and Nixon moment – it is only once you able to work towards this point that you can turn them around so that they can stand with rather than against you.
Otherwise what is the point – as even when you manage to accomplish your goal…you will be standing there all by yourself – there will be no one beside you…and when that happens. You have no one to blame but yourself…as you believed it to be pure and simple when it could only be hard and difficult as it has and will always be – managing change that is.
As for me I hope that I can make it thru this monster el Nino.’
April 28, 2014
The best way to do this if you happen to be a struggling PMET is to go out of Singapore – start an enterprise and make it into a success. Never settle for downgrading. Never! Because if you buy into that shitty propaganda, all you’re really doing is cannibalising the best aspects of yourself just to get by – to me this has to be the most insidious form of slow of acting poison. As even if you manage to get by with that sort of crappy software. All you can really hope for is a miserable life of existence and never the gold standard of living the life that you were meant to live. Neither should you allow your skillsets to corrode away by driving a taxi or guarding a condo or by settling for any other job that takes away your self esteem and pride… that is defeatism. A solvent that will eat your soul up and leave you a hollow man.
I realise some of you may feel this is just a stop gap measure – something that you may consider doing till something better comes along. But once you’re committed to running in that treadmill of tiny slices of death that goes nowhere. I can almost guarantee you 110% nothing better is ever going to come your way – nothing lah!
As all you will be thinking about is driving. You will even end up dreaming about getting stuck in the traffic jams. Driving will occupy every waking hour of your attention that it will only just be that and nothing else, till the end of time. And since you will be marinating with defeated folk who can only find comfort in TOTO, football and salacious make belief tales of the MILF they picked up yada yada yada – there will be nothing to feed your brain and you will end up stupid.
Pack your bags and just go! Make something out of your life. Do not buy into the propaganda that life is dangerous outside Singapore. As even in seemingly bubble wrapped Singapore one can just as well die in little India on a bad hair day or anywhere else. Besides, if all you’re doing twelve hours a day is superglued to a taxi – the chances are you will probably be prime candidate for 1,001 diseases due to lack of exercise. Coupled to that, you will end up bald, fat and no one will want to fuck you. You can never hope to be a George Clooney uncle with 5% body fat and a six pack. You will look like Jabba the hut!
But if you just get on your bike….and go in faith that no matter where you decide to turn the wheel of life….life will definitely get better…..come on lah! It can never be as bad as where you are right now….not even if you’re smack in the Ukraine in a fire fight or in a pot with diced carrots somewhere in Africa with the locals bucking to tribal music.
As when you succeed….and you will! You just don’t know it, but you will! You will inspire many to do the same and in this simple way….you would have given the hopeless faith in a better tomorrow.
You will be hero and I for one will have absolutely no trouble linning up for hours just to shake your hand!
‘In my humble opinion. A true blue patriot is someone who has the will power and capacity to render the whole idea of government optional, irrelevant and obsolete in his life. I don’t doubt for one moment this may require such a strong minded person to nurture a false sense of arrogance and perhaps even nurse a certain revulsion for politicians and their hanger on’s, where he might even consider these noisy people as just glorified food court managers – but in my opinion such an attitude as anti social as it may be is preferable to surrendering oneself to the inferior idea that your fate can acually reside in the hands of lesser men.
Whether a first class or crappy outfit is running the country is wholly an irrelevant matter to the patriot – as he will just work around those issues to ensure that his lot comes up tops.
Just imagine the whole idea of government being an optional construct – and that is really just another way of saying…sometimes the things that you cannot change will change you! So to me, there is no point in complaining that things are not right or that there no level playing field or the custodians of power just don’t have the requisite powers of empathy etc etc.
As in life you can only reinforce failure a few times and no more. Only bloody fool will continue doing the same thing day after that expecting different results. It has to be a form of insanity to try to change that which can never lend itself to change. At some point, you just have to cut off that which is rotten and say to yourself – ‘I rather rule in hell than be ruled in heaven!’ As to me, even if there is a lousy outfit in power, then I will just treat that as a constraint or bottleneck and work my way around that idea to make my life better….and this I do, by just picking up and voting with my slippers…bye bye lah…I go my way…you go yours lah! After all since I don’t believe in your mission…if I stay on..all I am going to do is cause myself to be a very bitter and angry man. So it’s best, if I just go lah….I am off to make a better tomorrow for myself and my kiddies….as for you….you have always been optional to me….it’s all in my hands.
It has always been that way and it will not be any other way but that way…all in my hands!’
April 26, 2014
This has to be a trap lah! It is is designed to make me look petty and small minded should I decide to reject the olive branch – not that I am not petty and small minded….actually I am lah. Fortunately, I learnt enough from the likes of PAP, SPH, Bertha Henson and that other Potemkin site the Singapore daily the strategic value of embellishing, exaggerating and assassinating the truth – kampung folk can’t be allowed to know this…the truth needs to be massaged, processed and if possible even engineered in such a way where I don’t come across as the evil person that I actually am. I need to somehow secure the moral high ground and be seen as a victim and not an aggressor.
Mother fuckers have all checkmated me! Mother fuckers! Thrown a spanner into the works even….to do this now when I am so close to crushing all of them! This is the excuse that I needed all these years to make my move and now the wind has gone right out of my sail! Fuck them lah!
I have to use time as a weapon. Delay them while I continue my dirty war to secretly undermine their influence in the community through a process of lies, disinformation and character assasination.
Its not as if I have a choice. Put yourself in my shoes! Besides if other people know that I am willing to forgive those who trespass me so easily, then all it would do is send a message to every huckster, charlatan and confidence trickter to take a bite out of me – No! I am so sorry, I can’t allow this to just slide. Cannot. Will not. I have to make an example out of these people to even show others this is what happens when you double cross me!
Once I finish them off – then I will accept their apology. Besides war is just a continuation of politics by other means.
Besides I can’t be blamed for this! I never disturb anyone. I was prepared to keep the peace. I even kept all the covenants and to the best of my knowledge. I always remained truth to my words – after all if stupid people decide to live dangerously and dig their spurs into me for fun and fail to consider that I may not be all together so different from one of those bad tempered farm horses with a big ass and giant hooves – the type that doesn’t mind just sitting on people who take a dig at them till they turn blue and stick out their out their tongues….and die…am I really to blame?
April 26, 2014
Six months ago. A group of businessmen in my village conspired to cheat me. Had their plans gone thru. It would have certainly torpedoed me and set me back.
Since then, the equivalent of a cold war has colored village life – I no longer dine on the same table as these men or any of the other men who are associated with them. I have severed all business ties with this group of people and made it clear to others I will boycott them, if they do business with these people.
I have even made it clear and unambiguous to the village elders that I want nothing short of an apology from this group of businessmen who they seem to offer protection.
Since the impasse, life in the village has been tense. I don’t imagine it can be so different from one of those scenes in a cowboy movie – as whenever I show up in the village kopitiam this group is present….all the patrons run off….they’re fearful….and for very good reasons.
It is so very tense……
Early this morning today. A group of village elders paid me a visit. They told me the impasse between me and this group of businessmen is making everyone so nervous that it’s affecting business – and because of this, the other side has agreed to apologize to me……
When I heard this….I did not know what to say. You see…Since the impasse began I have invested so much into neutralizing these group of businessmen – a dirty war to undermine them is in place…..coupled to that, I have invested so much time, effort and brain juice to further erode their credibility along with sabotaging their enterprises….I have even launched an elaborate deception plan last month scheduled to strike their businesses next month!
Now they want to apologize and sue for peace!!!!
These people are very inconsiderate….as after all the time and effort I have invested in this impasse, they should at least have the courtesy to continue waging war with me…..Now I have to find a good excuse to turn down their offer of an apology….but how can I do this without coming across as a war monger…..these people r just fucking inconsiderate….have they ever considered, if I don’t fight them…then how the hell am I going to go forward!
Moving on beyond trying to manage a very complicated problem by just labeling everyone as a xenophobe and bigot.
April 25, 2014
I’m not a big fan of ascribing labels on people. Don’t doubt that may well be a very easy way to get a handle on someone or a group of people. But to me, at best, labelling has to be just a lazy man’s way of trying to understand people’s motivation along with what really makes them tick. As it’s a form of reductionism that regularly uses simplification as a way to make sense of what’s usually a very complex situation.
Granted! No one denies there are certainly xenophobes, bigots, fascist and those who might belong to the ultra right who are bent on a spot of agro. Only my point is when a label is put on someone or a group of people without the requisite due diligence and rigor of having to use one’s grey matter – then what invariably follows is we don’t ever feel to need to drill deeper or peer into darkened interiors to further understand what’s really behind the groundswell of anxiety and fears that triggers off such irrational reactions.
Label someone as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ and that’s really code for ‘I don’t have the brain power or inclination to understand you.’ That’s really how I have always seen it.
Realistically though, I don’t think society can ever do without labels…. As it’s a very efficient way to categorise people along with supplying us with an executive summary of what motivates them. Being able to put someone or group of people in a pigeon hole in the time it takes to empty one’s bladder remains one of the most reliable way of gaining wisdom on the cheap to what may otherwise be a very complicated subject that we just can’t bring ourselves to admit that we have neither the intelligence, imagination or inclination to ever fully understand.
I don’t doubt for one moment, labeling may well be very useful when it comes to speed dating, trying to figure out whether the guy with the bag pack smiling at you in the MRT has the hots for your or just a crazed suicide bomber or trying to figure out whether its a good choice to sign up for an insurance policy with someone that you just bumped into last week in the MRT….but to use it in statecraft to manage the complexity of social and economic change along with smoothing out the multitude of interest of diverse groups is just plain infanticide lah…..you have to be kidding me!
Coming to think of it, you have to be crazy…how that for a label?
‘When you put a label on someone. All you have really done is buy lock stock and barrel into a happy illusion that you understand that person – not only is that idea at best a figment of your over inflated sense of worth about yourself and how you believe…only you and you alone see the world in clearest terms – but since all you can really do is take comfort in the crumbly idea that the label that you have chosen to ascribe to that person adequately explains everything about them along with their objects of interest – it also means that you have successfully managed to bracket the conversation – that is to say, you have stopped it dead on it’s tracks, like the phrase, ‘I don’t care!’ ‘he’s like that!’
Only understand this clearly! Just because you are lazy and have no inclination to see the problem for what it is and not what the politicians and newspapers say…. doesn’t mean there is no problem. In the same way just because you have managed to bracket a conversation concerning a problem doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t taking place elsewhere or isn’t discussed in earnest by the disgruntled masses – and just because newspapers don’t publicize the plight of those who may feel marginalized, desenfranchised or left out, doesn’t mean all is well either or that it’s just another balmy day in paradise – it just means they much prefer to believe all is well.
No. I don’t imagine for one moment this is the way intelligent people go about solving problems. Personally, I am always assaulted by a keen sense of envy whenever I come across ‘leaders’ who seem only to manage themselves and others by just labeling people and situations – I do, as it’s so simple for them. But I cannot do that in my business. Because if I don’t keep my ears to the ground and just choose to talk about the problems I want to talk about while avoiding wholesale the problems that I should talk about and most important deal with! By diligent intelligence gathering, interdicting threats, pre-empting a revolution – then it’s conceivable one night…very angry folk will march up the hill with torches and that will be end of me!
I can of course call the police. Or appeal to the sagacity and better nature of my fellow men by saying to them…’this is not our way!’ But that does not discount the awful reality that should I ever have the misfortune to find myself in that sort of position – I have failed in my duty of care to my community and should I even go to my peers for moral support – the serious men of this world will simply have this to say,
‘we trust you will do the right thing for the sake of your wife and children…rest assured they will be cared for…’ and it will end with the cryptic words, ‘travel well…we will met in happier times.’ and that is really just planters code for please kindly make preparations to go the other side lah….remember to put a damp towel over your head…don’t make a mess!
This has always been the planters unspoken creed – doesn’t matter where your plantation is, could even be anywhere along the Amazon, from the paraffin blue waters of the Madeira to the croc infested muddied waters of Tocantins…could even be along the never ending length of the Nile from Alexandria right down South to what Bedouins call the blue Nile, the Amharic in the great lakes of Tanzania – it is….what it is.
Now you know why I don’t nearly have the same margin of error like some incredibly lucky folk and above all I certainly don’t have the luxury of just resorting to labeling people as a means of managing myself and others in a business environment of complexity – I just have to see it for what it is….roll up my sleeves and take the problem by the horns and deal with it. I don’t have a choice. As that is the first discipline of leadership! People who do not understand this discipline have absolutely no business in leadership roles…they should just be content being followers!’
April 23, 2014
This is a true story…
Not very far from where I turn the wheel of life. There is a dog who has a habit of bolting out of his compound and frightening all the villagers. When this happens, I am called by the local constabulary to hunt the animal down. Usually I find it wandering my lands. When the dog is returned to the owner. The farmer will give the poor animal a scolding and proceed to whip the shit out of it…and this seems to go on….and on and on. The pattern is always the same with very little or no variation.
When everyone in the village ask this farmer – why does your dog always run away from home and frighten everyone? The farmer will usually reply, ‘it’s a bad dog that must regularly be whipped, otherwise she will not know her place.’
On the seventh occasion when the dog ran away again and after returning it to the owner. I decided to give this farmer some friendly advice. I told him that dogs are by nature territorial creatures and since he has so many animals in his compound, such as a pet hog, a monitor lizard, geese, rabbit, monkey, cat, parrot and even a boa constrictor – if he wanted to run a private zoo. He should consider an enclosure for each animal so that every species will have their own space to call their own – that way his dog will not feel as if it’s space is violated and will not be so nervous and bolt away all the time.
He told me to mind my own business and fuck off.
One day when his dog ran away again. The foolish farmer showed up on my lands with a policeman. He pointed to a tanned alsatian and said, ‘that is my dog and this man is a thief.’ When he called the dog, she ignored him and that was when the foolish farmer raised his whip…only this time, the dog gave him 120 stitches….I just watched…what else could I do….he had after all thought it was his dog…..
‘I am a farmer. I can pick up a thing that the world considers worthless and useless and give it so much love that it flows over the brim and much more. This thing will grow like a humble seed into a big and wondrous thing and one day when I say come my love….it will simply come to me…..that is why I hope stupid people will scold and throw things which they are foolish enough to consider worthless away….as providing they continue to do this, then I can continue to do the things I do. I pity these people as they will always say, what is it about this man….but the fools of this world will never ever know the truth…as I am simply, the man who will always pick the things the world throws away and love them perfectly…yes, I have no doubt…we will win!’
April 22, 2014
It’s perfectly natural for people to cling on to what’s familiar. We wouldn’t be humans…not at all… if we don’t find tradition and the past consoling – as only by valuing these set pieces are we able to gainfully connect to those who came before us – and this sense of shared purpose and destiny cements us to those who share many of our histories, thereby giving us a sense of belonging.
No doubt these are indeed positive things. Only one needs to be mindful – take this idea too far and it can also trap us in obsolete attitudes along with promoting xenophobia and blind nationalism.
This should prompt us all to ask – is there a sweet point where nationalism and multiculturalism can co-exist peacefully?
For example. Am I xenophobic or unreasonable in my expectations, if all I want to do is sit down and watch the birds and trees quietly during the weekend in the Padang without having to put up with a bunch of Africans beating their drums and bucking to tribal music…as this is the way, Africans traditionally celebrate their national day. Am I xenophobic, if all I want to do is walk along Orchard road without being assaulted by the sinking feeling that I’ve suddenly been teleported to to either downtown Manila or Shanghai?
My point is, if most of us don’t have any problem in recognizing that a large chunk of xenophobia involves a group of people shoving their values down our throats. Then by the same token, its conceivable that by insisting time and again multiculturalism has an automatic right of place even if it means squeezing out the way of life one associates with the idea of home – then that idea has to be a form of reverse xenophobia as well.
The perverse effect of insisting that multiculturalism is here to stay even if it threatens to blot out all that’s familiar and makes Singapore what Singapore is, may well provoke many natives to be turned off by what they used to enjoy and consider as diversity – so much so that many may even be so resentful of having multiculturalism shoved their throats or labelled a xenophobic on the slightest sign – many may even feel justified to develop an aversion to anything “diverse” and foreign. And if that happens, can you really blame people for being REALLY xenophobic then?
Maybe the custodians of power should just cool it when it comes to labeling people xenophobic in the absence of strong evidence. After all, let’s not forget what were the operating conditions that brought about such a reaction (if there was really such a negative reaction, given that the ST is the world’s most unreliable purveyor of the truth) along with which outfit was responsible for creating this stress point – besides life is not so simple, where if someone just insist it’s xenophobia…the rest just follows….some people, I am reminded will much prefer to sit on a stone and wonder…xenophobia?
You’re kidding me right?
‘You have a right to your culture and heritage. But you don’t have a right to insist on it so forcefully that you make the natives so anxious and nervous by threatening their way of life.
And let me share with you one other thing…it doesn’t take a lot to give the natives high blood pressure and sleeplessness nights.
That is why, I often tell my friends who come to me for wisdom (though I remain ignorant as to why they should even do such a ridiculous thing) – if you want to celebrate Singapore day…then, do it in a low key manner. Don’t be loud, brash and full frontal about it. Be like a submarine. Don’t do stupid things like stage a reenactment of Parameswara discovering Singapore abroad in the public square – and never shove so forcefully the idea that you are so different from the natives, as they might feel threatened.
Whether they are justified to feel threatened or not is NOT the point. My goal is to share with you WHAT will happen…not what SHOULD happen! The point is simply this gentlemen!
The natives will feel threatened! If you are so reckless as to disregard their sense of space and privacy, that is really my ONLY point – because you cannot be stupid like those people who go around beating gongs and waving giant flags – you cannot, not if the goal is to prosper and win the hearts and minds. You have to be a man of all seasons and ask of yourself further – what is at the nucleus of nationalism?
Let me take you by the hand into my mind’s eye and share with you it what the serious men have shared with me – nationalism is simply a giant myth making machine…it’s not so different from that machine behind the curtain in the story, the Wizard of Oz…as the very idea of nationalism is to sell an illusion – and this it does by regularly twisting the raw material of history into what is regularly served up to the general public.
Do not confuse nationalism with history. As while history is the quest for the truth or at least corroborated facts that make up some semblance of the truth. Nationalism is none of these things, it is at best a fait accompli which requires omitting, exaggerating, embellishing and in many cases wordsmithing a version of the ‘truth’ to produce a story to satisfy a strategic need.
Nationalism to me is in every sense of the word synonymous with the idea of religion – they are both cut from the same cloth…the same reality even. So as an idea, it can never be logical, testable or even scrupulously close to the truth. Neither can one reach a happy consensus on the idea of nationalism either…as there are so many versions – so to me, it is an idea that should always be treated like expired dynamite – with utmost care.
I much prefer quiet diplomacy to beating gongs and drums, where a simple tent is set up in a plantation. Simple makan is served. No flags. No symbols. No lexicons and absolutely no speeches. It’s a low key affair with a footprint of a stealth fighter. Neither do I do stupid things like wear a loud G2000 shirt and my tightest trousers that trigger fainting spells amongst kampung lady folk – I don’t cause heart attacks or make people feel uncomfortable, that is not my goal….my goal is to win the battle of the hearts and minds with quiet diplomacy.
So for me I am always attired in a sombre bush jacket. This is uncle power in it’s highest form. As one cannot even enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as scratching your gulis in a bush jacket, it will look peculiar. And the uniform of the keeper of the wheel of life is always a welcome sight to kampung folk, it reminds them that the center has not caved in. When carried well, it even can cure everything from type 2 diabetes, lowering high blood pressure, relieving menstrual pains, stopping mass pengsan spells, curing epilepsy, consumption, cancer to scaring away malevolent spirits, chasing away sloth, depression, bent politicians, traveling confidence tricksters, bengkok pastors etc etc etc. Since time immemorial it has really always been only this way in the collective memory of those who turn the wheel of life in the kampungs – you could even be forgiven for believing, it can only be this way till the end of time….the serious men of this world taught me all these things…one day they came to me and told me, it is time to set aside my childish ways and to study the art of quiet diplomacy.
As for the rah rah brigade who are beating drums and gongs and shoving multiculturalism down the throats of natives. I don’t care very much for their ways….all they seem to do is cause the natives to get hot underneath their collar, feel very uncomfortable and resent them….and one really needs to ask of them: what is your goal lah?
As for me, I have a very clear mission and I have no illusions as to the discipline that is required to accomplish my mission. You see, I am the first of a new breed of farmers and many will follow in my footsteps. One day more and more people will come out of Singapore to be farmers. I know that is hard to fathom now, but trust me, one day growing iceberg lettuce will be cooler than investment banking and when that day comes everything will be ready for them.’
April 19, 2014
Gabriel García Márquez, novelist, journalist, friend of left-wing causes, master of magical realism, is dead. He was 87.
What was the one operating factor that caused so many kids to perish in the Korean ferry disaster? Was it dodgy steel? Might it have something to do with the weather? Or maybe it was lousy seamanship?
I have no doubt, there will be many theories, but one that may have a disproportionately role in the unusually high death count, may have something to do with the cult of venerating authority that is such an entrenched feature in Korean culture viz-a-viz the inability to question a request made by an authoritative figure.
The ferry disaster may seem to be another stand alone in the pantheon of disasters. But I distinctively recall there was a period when the Korean airline industry was riven with same corrosive culture of blindly following without questioning. Result: planes fell out of the skies like cats and dogs.
In those days, it was not unusual for younger Korean pilots to follow orders from the top blindly without ever seeing the wisdom to question them – the prevailing mantra of Korean air used to be – the captain is more senior than me. He is in charge. He has years and years of experience under his belt and he is God and if I want to aspire to be a captain one day. I would do well to else to sit quietly in one place and do nothing.
No….this ferry tragedy is not new….not at all. Nope, it’s just old dressed up as new. As when the ferry listed at the speed of a motorised wheel chair. Some bloody idiot told those brainwashed kids not to move….to stay where they are….so they just sat there obediently like sheep….and we all know, where sheep end up….don’t we….or maybe we don’t…as they’re all in the bottom of the ocean in this case.
How sad….how very sad.
‘When I was a boy and the teacher asked the whole class – what do you want to be when you grow up. Everyone stood up proudly and said, ‘a lawyer, doctor, architect etc etc.’ When it came to my turn. I would usually look down and keep quiet.
I learnt from an early age that people in authority can often be very cruel and heartless without even realising it – as there was once when I told the whole class, that I wanted to be a landowner when I grow up. The teacher made fun of me by asking, ‘how is that possible, you are so slow.’ And the whole class laughed. After that whenever this teacher saw me, he would often poke fun of me by telling the whole class, ‘the great landowner is here!’ And again everyone laughed.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day news of ambition reached the ears of my employer. He was a landowner and after school I worked as a dog handler in his lands.
One day I was told by the mandur the great planter wanted to me to report to the mansion on the hill. He wanted to see me. The night before I couldn’t sleep as I thought, he was going to sack me. I have always lived in fear of the great planter. He was always a larger than life to me.
The villagers said he once fought the communist. They raped and killed his wife and children, so he gave them death and though he was shot many times, death had no dominion over him. The Tamil rubber tappers believed, he had made an unholy pact with Durga, the goddess of death so whenever they passed his lands on a full moon, they would pluck a hair from their brow to protect themselves from restless man eating tigers. As Kali was fashioned from the brow hair of the goddess of death.
The taoist believed he was a reincarnation of Mara. They believed the communist had murdered him, but since the planter so loved the land, the spirits of the good earth had taken pity on him and turned a blind eye and so the man who was meant to be on the other side…stayed on with the living.
Then there were those who just believed the bush jacket of the planter was made out of steel mesh that could stop bullets. They called him, the six million dollar man – as the planter wore a glass eye, had a stump leg and his left hand was made out ivory.
He smoked a briar pipe. Listened to only Spanish love songs. Drove a land rover with big tires. Wore square dark glasses and sported a pencil moustache like a silent movie film star. I had only seen him a few times. And even then it was only from a distance.
When I saw the planter. He did not bring up the matter. He simply asked whether I was happy with my work as a dog handler. He then went on to explain to me – a man would do well to know his place in this world and if he didn’t know his place, then he would have to be told his place. I told the planter, I did not understand…the planter gave me an example…he told me. A teacher is supposed to impart knowledge. That is his role. But if for some reason this teacher teases me or makes fun or me, then it’s my duty as man to remind him of his role and if necessary to put him in his place. After those words he waved me off.
One day during PE when the teacher made fun of me again in front of all the students. I told him what the planter had shared with me. I told the teacher, please don’t make fun of me. As when I am asked a question what I want to be when I grow up. I can only say a landowner and that is the solemn truth. I may not know how this is possible, but as implausible as that may be, that is what I aspire to be. I went on to tell this teacher that I meant no disrespect and that he should stop what he was doing…as his role is to impart knowledge and not to be a comedian. When he heard this. His face turned beet red and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘how dare you!’ and punched me. Later on when everyone asked how I got a black eye. He would say I picked a fight with another boy and I had been insolent, so I received another round of beating from the disciplinary master. During those days that was how it was…the software to bring up kids was very rudimentary and teachers were all very powerful figuress….there was no one to complain too….and even if I told the truth….no one would ever believe me…that was how it was then.
When I shared this with the planter the following day. He told me that there are times when a man has to go against the grain just to earn his right to be his own man. He went on to share with me that it doesn’t always pay to respect one elders without always questioning and if possible interrogating their motives. As it’s not in every case that they are right or for that matter driven by altruistic motives and a wise man would do well to always remember this. Thereafter he asked me to hop into his land rover. We went for mee rebus, then the planter took me to the chap huaw tiam (village sundry shop). He bought me a hockey stick and an ultra man mask. When he handed me these things, the planter simply said, ‘we shall see whether you have what it takes to be a planter.’
Two weeks later the PE teacher ended up hospital. Apparently one night after a heavy round of drinking in the snooker parlour. According to eye witness accounts. He was set on by a short mask fiend, who beat the crap out of him with a hockey stick in pitch darkness and sped off in a waiting Land Rover. Despite an extensive search by the police. They never ever found the culprit.
Even today, I often wonder to myself – who could it have been? Really, I do wonder.’
April 18, 2014
Travelling by air, sea and even driving can all appear seemingly safe. In reality, they’re all highly dangerous. That may not seem so as technology has successfully lulled us into a false sense of security. We travel at breakneck speed through thirty seven thousand feet in a pressurised cabin – where the only thing that separates us from certain death is a thin veneer of aluminium and insulation without ever once contemplating how small and fragile we really are.
We sail through the peaks and valleys of the seven seas often oblivious to death as technology makes it possible for us to feel as if we just walking around a giant air conditioned mall…and often we drive without even realising that the only thing that separates us from the finality of death is a few feet of crumple zone – as automobile designers have successfully sold us the idea with cup holders and vanity mirrors that light up automatically, our cars are nothing more than extensions of our living room…..but make no mistake….we are in dangerous territory.
And when something goes wrong….we….as humans….never ever say to ourselves…yes, we are indeed fragile….and living is dangerous…instead, we look for someone to blame.
‘Recently I read there was a Singaporean intellectual (I had no idea there was such a thing actually). A thinker! I am not kidding. I sumpah! If I bluff you all, I undertake to run three times around the padang with my ass painted fire engine red. The sight will be a success….not so sure about the smell though – anyway this ‘intellectual’ wrote recently that if there is a war, Singaporeans will fight to the death because they all believe in this fuzzy idea of the Singaporean spirit.
Well all I can say is this chap is either babbling while puffing on his ganja pipe or maybe he has never ever in his life had to lug a 60kg backpack thru the jungle before. I doubt he even knows what it’s like to sleep in your boots after a hard day’s trek as you’re so beat that you can even sleep hanging upside down like a bat. Because that is what the jungle can do to you…..it (the jungle) can literally turn your whole life upside down and shake you so long and hard till there’s nothing left that you can really call your own….your beliefs can all crumble into a heap of dust…you can even betray yourself and everything that you stand for given enough time.
Spending time in the jungle to me is like interrogation. You only think. You even believe you can hold out – but understand this! You cannot! You think its mind over matter, but you are so wrong. I’ve seen this happen so many times, to even good men. Men who I respect and don’t even mind sharing a quart of brandy with the evening as the sun goes down in the verandah… but put them in a jungle long enough and the combination of damp, lousy food, skin rashes and what I can only describe as the scouring litany brought forth by having to function day to day in the jungle can just turn perfectly well adjusted and reasonable men into animals, that’s because the jungle is a very dangerous place and our mind’s, bodies and spirit will always be weak.
To me there is no shame in admitting this reality. Because when you accept the idea our bodies, mind and spirit is inherently fragile, that’s really when you come to terms with your real strength and weaknesses….and most importantly you discover humility and that is the skeleton key that allows you to cultivate a deep respect for jungle, mountain, sea or just a stretch of road…you give it the respect it deserves because it can kill you dead!
That’s the defining difference between the man who knows a thing from the inside out and a man who only knows how to string empty words that all add up to nothing.
I reckon, I’ve led enough expeditions to know deep down what really works and will endure from what only sounds good and doesn’t even have the stamina to last 24 hours….but I am going to keep it all to myself…because if there is ever a war, I want to kill as many as I can….I will even keep score…I want to place the cold cinder of fear into their hearts of the enemy….make him sweat blood, breathe in needles and turn his brain into jelly…above all, I want all my men to return home safely to their families….so I’ll keep it all to myself, the reason why men will fight on. There are some things I dont mind sharing, but then again, there are always other things I much prefer to keep to myself…..as these things will always be very dangerous in a seemingly safe and care free world.’
April 17, 2014
Early this morning while walking the dog. I came across a convoy of lorries carrying palm fruit. When the driver of the lead lorry saw me standing on the hill, he shuddered visibly. You see these kampung folk all think I am the devil, but all I did was to pretend that I didn’t see him, so they just drove right by.
Latter in the day one of my neighbors came over to pay me a visit. He told me that thieves had stolen all his fruit in the night and he has every reason to suspect that they used the roads on my land to transport them out…he asked me whether I saw anything suspicious.
I told this man…. four years ago when I first came here to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. The same thing had happened to me and I had gone to him to ask the same and he had told me, ‘perhaps you should sell me your land….if you keep losing fruit.’
So this time, I asked of him, ‘Perhaps you should sell me your land….if you keep losing fruit.’
Thereafter I asked a man with a shot gun to escort him out of my lands….the conversation was over.
‘I am a very strong believer in the idea that if you are good to others then they will also be good to you. Of course there will always be a few rotten apples in the barrel who will try to game your goodness, but by and large, since most people are well adjusted, reasonable and they all want to get along, so they can reliably be counted on to reciprocate in kind your goodness.
It’s really as simple as that, there is nothing complicated to this philosophy and it really just boils down to one word, good will.
Good will is a commodity that will always command a premium to me. I suspect this may have something to do with the many hardships I encountered when I first started to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. All I can say is when I first started out, most people just didn’t believe that I could last it out. It may have something to do with how kampung folk have traditionally seen city folk as soft people who can’t nearly bear hardship as well as them. Or maybe it had something to do with a powerful landowner who saw my kind as a ‘dangerous new breed of farmer’ and was hell bent on making my life a living hell. This fellow though he could drive me out and just take over my veggie patch and he did this by denying me the benefit of good will.
So I know from first hand experience how it is like to start an enterprise without good will. I know how it’s like to be hated just because one is different. I even know how it’s like to make a police report only for everyone to laugh at you, as the forces you’re going up against is so powerful. I know all these things and they tattooed in my head forever and will always shape the way I see the world.
Things are very different today…the landowner who once wanted to drive me out now lives in fear everyday that the same may happen to him. I am not saying he’s defeated, but he is certainly not as self confident as he used to be. These days I can more or less get things done without too much difficulty. Most people know what I can accept and what I will throw out -some may not still like me, but I reckon, they respect my POV and that is really good enough for me – most importantly they all know my line and they don’t cross it. They may not understand completely how it’s possible that such a turn around could have happened and kampung folk being kampung folk will always weave plenty of myths to explain the strange and mysterious…. So many continue to believe, the boy who once came here was killed on moonless night by the evil landowner and all that remains now is the devil….a man who is very different from that other man who once came here….but I am not the devil….not at all. I am just a man who knows and values the importance of good will.’
But I will be very honest with you
April 16, 2014
Meteorologist all over the world are predicting the formation of a possible El Nino phenomenon schedule to hit late this year. The way I see, it’s virtually a done deal la – while everyone seems to be looking out for more signs of confirmation that El Nino is here to stay.
I have absolutely no doubt that it’s already making it’s presence felt – the exceptional dry spell from Jan to April, the weak westerly winds coupled with low percipitation making this the worst monsoon this year all point to dramatic weather patterns that can only be brought forth by El Nino.
The impact of these unfolding events will have a profound effect on my livelihood. None the less, there is a glimmer of hope – as the onset of El Nino means the price of palm oil will have to go up significantly. But what use it this to me, if my tonnage goes down. So the challenge is to somehow beat the curve by capitalizing on this crisis to bump up my yield.
If I can find a way to increase yield in an environment of water scarcity then I would be able to beat the curve. To accomplish this, I would need to throw out everything that I have learnt about traditional farming methods. It’s no bloody good!
Today I instructed my farmhands not to use any herbicides to kill the weeds – the change in strategy is to create a means for the land to retain valuable water. As after May, I expect a prolonged drought that may possibly last till the end of this year. As for the next monsoon rains that is scheduled to fall somewhere around mid September. I have to assume that is fucked and the only thing I am likely to get when the full effects of El Nino takes hold is the perpetual sun bearing down on me.
It is what it is – and this is really as good as it gets. But I am hopeful….if I am cool headed….play my cards right….take calculated risk and with a bit of luck. I am confident that I can still manage to slip right thru the eye of the needle and make it to the land of milk and honey.
We will win!
‘This year just to get my head above the waterline has been a game of cerebral fitness and Russian roulette. So far, I’ve cut all the right moves.
I’ve read the weather righter than right. Done all the right things – its perfect.
But I am not home yet…there is still another 50% that needs to be done and this time, I can’t read the signs at all…it’s just a swirl… like a man who is struggling to understand a dead language…it’s all gibberish. At times, it’s as if I am flying blind, not really knowing whether I will reach that mythical point or smash into a chimney stack. I am not sure, not at all.
If I believe in the idea of God, then it would be easier on me….I reckon. I could get down on my knees and pray….I could leave it all to him and just unburden myself and feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders. But I’ve long since given up on the idea of a creator….so it’s just me and my two guli’s facing off against something that is so big and omnimous that it just scares me all the time.
I am scared because the risk is so big that if I get it wrong even by 10% this time round, I will be so fucked – there is absolutely no room for error…not this time and it feels as if I am putting it all on one number….one spin of the roulette wheel…..for the moment, the ivory ball bounces around, I am hopeful. I have to be…what choice do I have…to believe in the idea that I can still climb up mother natures skirt when she has her back turned and make the summit, plant my flag, take a photo and live to tell about the one that nearly got away….maybe it’s my ego. Yes maybe it is pride that makes me feel the way I do about this – or perhaps I am just uncomfortable with the whole idea that my destiny hinges on just the randomness of pot luck.
Yes…if I make it to the other side. I reckon a huge part of it has to be due to luck….no skill whatsoever… doesn’t even feature…not even a bit. Not when everything is up in the air as it is right now and I am just like a man whose sailing without charts or a compass – but the funny thing is when I make it to the other side. No one is going to believe that luck once featured in the whole equation of success. No one will believe me even if I just told them all the solemn truth, it was all due to luck….and that’s how it has always been with me….I have always been a gambler.
Only you and I will ever know the truth…as for the others, they will see what they want to see and read into things that aren’t there….it’s always been like that….my life that is.’
April 15, 2014
Agriculture with very little water….it may all seem very complicated….but it isn’t…all it really is…..is coming to terms with the idea of growing stuff under conditions of water scarcity….that is all there is to it.
The answer might just as well be found in commercial beer…Friday’s…parking lots…or affordable meals….the key word here is ‘might.’ Then again, it’s much easier for the Thai’s to manage stress, I reckon. As recreation drinking in Thailand is significantly cheaper when compared to super duper expensive Singapore, which would probably cause you cancer of the wallet.
‘Just because you don’t want to talk about a problem doesn’t mean all is well. All it really means is, you don’t want to talk about the problem. Neither does it mean the problem you don’t want to talk has magically been resolved or doesn’t exist, it just means you much prefer not to see the problems when they surface…and trust me, they will always surface in ways and means which will always show that all is not well even though you choose not to talk even so much as once about the problem.
All wise men know this, only stupid people remain ignorant of this great equalising rule.’
If you get cut off from this link. Type in ‘TPPA forum – Jane Kelsey’ in YouTube.
Well, he doesn’t mince his words. He thinks the TPP is just a cheap pirates convention for big companies to make more $ at the expense of the little guy.
If you get cut off from this link. Type in ‘Chomsky on TPP.’
April 11, 2014
If you encounter problems watching it here, try over at YouTube – under the heading: how to ruin an economy, some simple ways
April 10, 2014
by Pablo Neruda
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.
‘It is not what a man says that truly maketh a man. As it remains the very uneventful case of what he should say, but instead chooses not to say and instead decides to keep it all to himself like some dark secret that will usually mark him out from all other men.
Try as hard as you may and you can still NEVER make this man say what he should say – do what you want to him to force him to say the things you want to hear and his monk like silence will still have the power to pierce through the wall of noise and make it’s presence felt – as when a man commits himself not to say what everyone expects him to say, then through his stoic silence he would have already said what all others expect him to say….and it will be very loud and clear…silence can truly be deafening when people expect you to say something, but instead you keep quiet.
I reckon this must be the first lesson poetry teaches every man…to be so still and quiet and to only listen to silence….this is what I have learnt from my reading of the infinite man….as he is so very still and silent, yet so strong like a mountain.’
By Darkness on Neruda’s infinite man.
April 10, 2014
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
But….I am not a very patient man. This may have something to do with getting frustrated when things don’t go my way. That’s fine, if I am just working in a factory assembling battery operated vibrating toys that keep spinsters happy at night. But take that same attitude of impatience into farming especially this year when the weather is throwing one curveball after another – I guarantee you….I will be so fucked.
This year is very different from last year. Last year I cut all the right moves 10/10 result: optimal yield. If it was the olympics of farming. I would have certainly bagged the gold in my class and region…not kidding. Didn’t even have to stretch myself, all I had to do was stick to the yellow brick road and follow the farmers almanac on when to sow, harvest etc etc.
But this year is very different…everything is up in the air.. to get the same results, I probably need to be a reincarnation of Nostradamus. Truth is I can’t read the weather at all this year….I am flying blind and it’s turning out to be a game of cerebral fitness cum sudden death with bits of chickeeeeeeen! Thrown in…one where I find myself having to frequently backtrack, devise ever inventive strategies to cheat mothernature if I want to get a good yield – you see it’s not true when people say drought = low yield. Not for oil palm at least…there is loads room for improvisation and there are ways even beat the curve and win.
I must continue to believe in this idea….hard to be confident when I consider the harsh reality most farmers this year will have to content with only half of what they harvested last year…..but I am not like them…not at all. I am the world’s greatest farmer…and as arrogant and conceited as that may sound, I must continue to believe in that idea even if it is closer to illusion than reality.
So far everything is going precisely to plan. On the 26 of March, the trees were fertilised with a cocktail of nutrients comprising of 1.3 Kg of Nitrogen & Potassium @ ratio of 12.4 – 30 – 1 kg of rock phosphate – 1 kg of Magnesium and 100 grammes of Boron. This year the growth dosage was reduced to a third of the usual rate and supplements increased – this is my own formulation, one which I adapted from my extensive research on how the Israelis have been able to thrive in agriculture to regularly yield juicy Jaffa oranges despite having to farm in the desert – there are two very specific goals here.
The additional supplements are to fortify the trees against drought related diseases and the reduced dosage of growth fertiliser to a third was catered specifically to be sympathetic to trees due to the prolonged drought from January to late March – it was designed not to shock the trees.
Trees are a bit like humans. After a prolonged period of starvation. If a person is given too much food his body will not be able to digest and it is likely to go into shock and he dies. Trees are the same…in the beginning of this year till late march there was hardly a drop of rain…so naturally they need time to get back into the active cycle and the best way to facilitate that sort of recovery is by supplying only micro and not mega dosages of fertilisers – a little goes a long way here. So far this part is 10/10. As it has rained numerous times since my last manuring session and judging by the vigor of the new shoots after these recent rounds of rains – they r all good to go.
But I am not home free yet….since I have reduced the fertilization to only a third of the normal requirement that’s not nearly enough nutrients to create optimum conditions for the trees to produce heavy fruit. They still need another round of fertilisation….the question now is how much? Should I continue with another round of micro dosage or is it better to give them the whole lot in one go?
It would all depend on the rains. We are in the monsoon now and usually this is hardly the best time to fertilise as the rains are heavy resulting in much surface run off – that means the fertiliser just gets washed away. That’s no good. But if my predictions are true, that we will get significantly less rains this year, then I may not have any choice but to take the gamble.
Everything now will pivot on the next 50%. Or shall I say, one throw of the dice.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer.
I am the world’s greatest farmer….if only I can believe.
‘Yesterday a group of Christians paid me a surprise visit in my plantation. They told me God told them to pray for me this year for a bountiful harvest. After serving them iced lemonade and going thru the obligatory small chat. I told them politely…please go away….I don’t need their hocus pocus….besides I never asked that carpenter to die for me….so if he wants to do so…that’s his pasal la(business) – I can’t understand, what’s it got to do with me.
No! The last thing I need now is hope for the sake of hope in the form of mumbo jumbo.
I need to bide for time…and stop myself from moving unnecessarily…like when I am hunting with the weapon of silent death…the bow… I will still myself till my heart slows down and I just blend seamlessly into the jungle…to even allow my sorroundings to embrace me till I disappear completely like a drop of red ink in a glass of water….that is how it is to be invisible. That’s what I need to do…to just remain patient. If I can just do that….opportunity will present itself…it will… and when it shows it’s hand…I will still bite my tongue…hold my breathe and remain so very still…closer….come closer….and even when it stands before me. I will still not move…till everything is just right. Then I’ll draw the bow in one smooth silent arc, take aim at a spot no larger than a coin…and just when it dips it’s head into the stream to drink…I will exhale ever so slowly, close my eyes and allow my fingers to relax on the bow string sending death hissing through flesh, bone, cartilage to find the heart.
I must be patient…’
April 9, 2014
There are many forms of pain that one may experience through the course of a lifetime. But the most acute I imagine has to be the sense of abandonment. As when one is cast into this state then one is virtually marooned in one’s own skull – it is like being the only human being on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere or finding oneself like Will Smith wandering the desolation of an empty city….this man goes to the pier everyday…he transmits a message of hope…but it is not clear whether he does it because he believes that there might be others out there or that it is simply an act that he must continue doing to remain human.
He wanders the wasteland of the city with his only companion….a dog. He’s always armed with a semi automatic and he’s always mindful of that those who lurk in the shadows are out to snuff out his fragile life…he’s outnumbered, but he has a mission….a mission of hope perhaps…but it is not clear whether he continues with the routine as it is the only link to his happy past or that by doing so, he can someone believe that he’s still alive.
I wonder what goes thru the mind of this man as he wanders through the remnants of a once populated city. All around him there are reminders of what life used to be….he sees a half broken bridge…yes, it’s Brooklyn bridge…and soon the images of his family begins to be projected in the movie theatre in his mind’s eye. He remembers the sights, smells and sounds of once being alive with the living and for that brief moment, he remembers what it was like before….then his alarm shakes him out of his reverie, either that or he just got spat out like a seed into the world that he is in now…it’s time to return back to his safe house…the sun would be set soon and the monsters will be out.
‘You don’t have to be the only man to stand in the infinity of the Russian steppes to feel abandoned. No you don’t. You could just as well feel the same in the churning sea of humanity…there you are marinating in a swirl of souls with all their fervent hopes and dreams and yet…you’re like a hermetically sealed diver’s watch…nothing can ever get in…then again nothing can get out as well.
It’s as if you’re watching the world go by thru bullet proof glass. You know the sort that’s so thick that it’s slightly greenish and even warps whatever is on the other side…this feeling of terminal loneliness clings to you like seaweed….it’s permeates your very soul like a scent and it’s always there.
From time to time, the world may jolt you out of your reverie, but most of the time, it’s just this way…the litany where the road just stretches out before you like a thin line right into the horizon….I once rode a motorcycle across Russia all by myself….I thought it would be fun to see an empire crumble and die from within…it was the year when the Berlin wall came right down and East Germans were glued to their TV screens to a very fuckable Vanna White striding up and down in sequins in that series that mesmerised the entire communist bloc… the wheel of fortune….latter on I realised it was a CIA covert plan to seed the idea of capitalism to undermine the communism.
It was a crazy period. I rode thru Russia till the tires gave right out…. continued on horseback….slept mainly in abandoned buildings and underneath bridges….by the fortieth day or was it sixtieth…I can’t remember…I must have lost count..who cares…..either that or the whole idea of just going on just became so powerful that was the only thing that really mattered then…then one day, I found myself standing before the infinity of the Russian steppes….my horse had just keeled over and died…I had traded my watch for a AK 47 earlier in Kursk….. I lived mainly by hunting small game, it was tough as the firing pin was bengkok, so sometimes it fired…at other times it was just make so much noise and scared off everything….I just had to make do without a meal. No one bothered me…no one even asked me for my papers….no one cared, the soviet union was melting away like a snow man and I saw it’s grand demise as it crumbled from within…..I had a front row seat.
Everyone just wanted to get drunk…everyone except me, who just wanted to go right on….right on into infinity, like a solitary space ship cutting through the darkness of space…that was how the Russian steppes was to me…it just went on and on like one of those those soap operas with no beginning or end – it’s just there…has always been there…for so long that the stars even grew up right before you every week on TV…there’s no end, no beginning…it just goes right on.
I knew I was too far gone the day when a couple of brigands on horseback saw me coming down the road and they just rode away as fast as they could…they probably thought I was a cannibal. I barely looked human. Had made a hat out of remnants of my underwear with bits of rabbit fur, sliced off a piece of rubber from a tire to resole my shoes and used the inner tube as a water bottle… I just walked mostly…..at times I worked enough for a horse…I remember the nights, it was cold…but it was the silence that really gnawed at me…so silent… that I would sometimes let loose a round and just hear it pierced the silence just long enough to remind me that there was something else besides the perpetual howl of the silent winds….the winds, they never stop howling in the steppes. They say it can literally drive a man stark raving mad. There are tales of men in the marauding armies of Genghis Khan who ate their own flesh on the seventieth day, the Ukrainians even have a name for this illness it’s called hysteria Siberiana…The Roma, they call it ‘chamasomis,’ I think it means the country of the end of time…as for the Cossacks, they just call it, ‘Garonne’ – hell. No their caravans don’t dare to go near the Steppes…in their map, it’s terra incognito….a place where you can go right in, but can never ever come out….not in one piece at least.
Yes there are some places on this planet that can just eat and spit your bones out…the steppes has to be one of them I reckon…the other probably the Tundra followed closely by the Khyber past… But I didn’t care very much for all that or maybe I just didn’t know better. All I wanted to do was to go right on and on till I reached the other side…and that was what I did… go right on till somewhere in my head I cross that mythical line of no return…I don’t know how long I walked, it seemed like years…then, one day I came across a flat and long stripe that scarred the eternity of the steppes….I remembered looking at this strange thing before me… as I searched my mind to remember what it was….but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t recall. I knew it had to be man made as it was straight and flat….it reminded me of the occasional straight as an arrow vapour trails of jets that pencilled across the paraffin blue skies of the steppes….. it’s unusual symmetry and form frightened me…I put my hand on it like a hot stove…cringed away with fear and for hours I just sat there wondering to myself what could it be? Where did it come from? How did it just appear right out from the grasslands. I know I’ve seen this before…I remember the texture….smell…it was like burnt liquorice. But as hard as I tried to search my mind…I just couldn’t recall. Then very slowly I summoned the courage to put one foot on it’s strange surface like a man gingerly placing one foot ever slowly on thin ice…It bore my entire weight and I took one more step and another…all the while laughing out loud like a mad man….it was a road.’
I warn you…..certain beliefs will always be dangerous. Especially the sort that can change the way you see yourself and the known world around you. As that sort of arcanum can stick in your brain like chewing gum. You can of course try to scrape it off. You may even dedicate yourself to the intensity of work or any for that matter any other diversion that demands something beyond the brain power it takes to tie your shoelaces…. but trust me, what I am about to share with you… will always linger like a faint watermark in your consciousness…yes, there will be enough of a residue to remind you the world has skipped a beat and jump only for everything to find it’s place again…and you were the only one who noticed this.
Remember always what I shared with you in the very beginning…certain beliefs will always be dangerous.
Still here? OK here goes…
I have always harboured the belief politicians and big corporations were messing with our heads – but I didn’t really have anything tangible in the way of proof – it was always just a niggling feeling like how I would see things in the corner of my eye which always seem to disappear whenever I turned to look at it squarely….but I knew, it was always there…lurking somewhere in my mind….influencing me….ever so silent…but I never doubted for one moment…mystery was furiously at work.
At times, I would hear or see something and automatically a train of thoughts would produce either happiness or sadness, ease or disgust etc. In the very beginning, I questioned the origins of these thoughts…sensations….responses….I wanted to know where they came from….did they really belong to me….or did someone just put it all there.
I started by reading. I read prolifically…All the while peering deeply into the darkened interiors of my mind and observed the manner in which, these thoughts influenced my responses, behavior and emotion.
Eventually I learnt to follow these streams of consciousness very much like one of those cloak and dagger secret agents, always mindful that they could either be friend or foe, careful never to get too attached to them or to be led astray by the many images they would conjure in the movie theatre somewhere in my head. It was as if the part which was me…the “i” – became a witness of myself in the greater universe of the “we” – soon I became the very raw material of this experiment which lasted nearly a decade. In the course of my long journey to self consciousness and spiritual and mental freedom, this documentary was perhaps one of the most important touchstones that allowed me to use it as a reference point to build further on the whole idea of personhood.
I hope this excellent documentary gives you the skeleton key to open the many closed doors in your life. I hope you will be patient and allow it bring transformation change to your life…in ways that can only describe as intensely profound. As it did for me. It’s a 20 parter, it’s long, very long. But it has to be, as it deals with a subject matter that is complex and deep.
I can only share with you how this will begin….I cannot tell you how it will end.
I am Darkness, the humble servant of the truth.
“Most people want to change world. The way we eat, replace this with that. All I my life’s work can be summed up in one phrase – I just want to understand myself better.
I reckon, if I can just do that and I come to terms with really simple things like why I get irritated, angry or just feel depressed for no apparent reason – then I believe only then is possible to change the world.
If your mind is so cluttered and messed up, then how is the good, better and the best part of you supposed to work itself out from your pathetic self into your family, friends and the broader world?
So you see to me…it clear as day. If we are really serious about this whole idea of effecting good change and not just forming empty words and stringing sentences that all sound good but amount to really nought. Then we need to first work on many of our time honoured assumptions. We need to interogate them to see whether they are consistent with who we want to be.
The sleeper must awake.”
(Thread in Ekunaba)