Happy birthday, Jude. I miss you. I know you don’t check my blog anymore - and that’s cool, I’ve barely posted - but I consider this a kind of silent message of love I’m sending to you. Have a wonderful day.

Also, happy birthday, mum. You mean so much to me. I know you don’t check my blog - and again it’s cool - but I think it’s cute that you bookmarked my URL. You want me to know you care. You’re a sweet, beautiful, powerful woman. And I love you.

BFF

I was thinking about that expression today. BFF: Best. Friends. Forever. Ooh la la. It’s that magic word again. Forever. That’s quite the promise to make to a person. You’re telling them that you will be there for them for the entirety of time, that your friendship would extend onto the vastness of infinity. But how far into the future can we see? I’m hardly aware of my plans for next week. So who am I to promise anyone that I would walk with them across the endless landscape of time?

In truth, I respect the word “forever”. I respect it out of fear and out of love. I love Forever because it represents determination and hope. Encapsulated within the expression “BFF” are both the hope of lifelong friendship and the determination required to realize that hope – which is nice. But I also fear Forever because it represents the bleak anonymity of the future. Where will I be in 10 years? I’ll be 31 and possibly married, maybe with kids. What about in 30 years? I’ll probably be in the thick of my career. My imaginary offspring will be receiving college education and I will be paying closer attention to my prostate. But what about in 60 years? The wrinkles on my face will be well-defined and Death, with her everlasting arms, will be approaching me for that final embrace. And so it goes. In 100 years I’ll be a vague memory in the minds of a few. In 150 years the feeble remnants of my identity will have dissolved into the earth from which I came. In 1000 years, new civilizations will have arisen. In a million years, who knows what will have become of our species? In a billion years, who knows what will have become of the earth?

How strange and wonderful it is to be a human being. How meaningless and meaningful it can also be to be a human being. When I focus on the objective facts of the universe, stretching back to the Big Bang, on to infinity and beyond, I become aware of how meaningless my 80 something years of life in this world truly are. But when I focus on my subjective experience of being alive, on my friendships (my “BFFs”), my love stories, my thoughts, and my desires, I realize how packed with meaning my life truly is. And I’m cool with that.

Chinatown the other day.

Chinatown the other day.

Dear Blog,

I write to you like the prodigal son slowing returning home with his head bowed low and his heart contrite. I have missed you secretly, passionately, and guiltily. I have thought of you many times in the past few months, but only partially. I could only partially think about you, I could never fully consider you, lest the guilt of abandoning you suffocate me. I don’t know how we became like this. You and I used to be so deeply interconnected, intertwined. My thoughts were your thoughts, my feelings your feelings, my dreams your dreams. I looked at the world and shared insights with you. I observed people and told what I thought of all their interesting little peculiarities. We had a good thing going, you and I. I was passionate about us.

And then I just stopped.

Inexplicably. Like a sudden, furious downpour of rain on a sunny summer afternoon. I betrayed you. Like the time when I was little and my brother dared me to kiss our dog on the lips and I did and rather than praise me for my brazen act of brushing lips with our stinky little pet he ran inside and told my mum who reproached me with the now classic words “Son, kiss me, not the dog.” How could he do that me? How could I do that to you?

Dear Blog, here I am, writing to you with my head bowed lower than it was a few paragraphs ago (my forehead is nearly scraping the floor) and my heart even more remorseful. Do you have it within your loving, kind, digital soul to forgive me? We can start something new. You know, like the good old days. It would be a great time, I promise. So what do you say?

Ton seul ami, 
Josiah.

I spent the last month with my girlfriend’s dog while she was away in China.

We bonded a lot :D

Thoughts on Ma Qiusha’s “From No. Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili”

I recently went to a gallery that hosted an exhibition featuring female Chinese artists…photographs, videos, live performance, the works. One particular piece was a video. It featured this Chinese woman (her name is Ma Qiusha) telling her life story in Mandarin. The video had a VHS quality to it, with poorly translated English subtitles following the tale that was being narrated. The subtitles were good enough to be comprehensible but bad enough to be humorous. So this lady tells the story of her life. She grew up in a poor neighbourhood in China. Life wasn’t easy for her family and because her parents wanted her to climb out of the poverty that had so defined their lives, they put a lot of pressure on her to develop some skill or talent. She picked up drawing at a young age. When her mother noticed this, she sent her to drawing schools on weekends and made her practice for hours everyday. She ended up doing her undergraduate at an art academy in China and graduate school in the US (to pay for the latter, her parents sold off a bunch of their possessions).

One could perceive an underlying bittersweet, love-hate current that flowed through her words as she told her story. On the one hand it was obvious that she loved her parents and deeply appreciated all the sacrifices they had made for her. But on the other hand, she seemed to feel a subtle resentment towards them. She seemed to resent how much pressure they had piled on her feeble back, their obsession with perfection, and how they threatened to turn art from an internally motivated passion to a torturous exercise for her. She addresses this tension through the length of the video. She seems to dance between gratitude and contempt, affection and animosity, love and loathing - never sure where to rest her feet.

But the end of the video is what really got me. It was twisted….but also fascinating. So throughout the clip she had a sort of grimace on her face: a pained expression that seemed to intensify the longer she spoke. Why did she have that look on her face? Was it from the angst and psychological discomfort that her childhood memories evoked? As she finished speaking and the video came to a climax, she stared at the camera, opened her mouth, and removed a blade from inside it. It turns out the blade had been inside her mouth for the entire 7-minute video. The blade and her tongue were stained with blood.

The last bit shocked me out of my seat. I literally gasped in the middle of the gallery. I felt like the blade had cut through my soul. I actually almost shed a tear. Not because it was particularly sad or overwhelmingly beautiful, but because it was so raw. She expressed herself - her pain, her joy, her grief, her everything - with such untamed intensity, with such fervency that I felt moved by it.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience.

A couple of stills from the video:

Anonymous
asks:
hi josiah, what's life been like for you after 'c'est tout'?

aw thanks for asking, anon. You’ve awakened me from my slumber. Life has been…cool. I guess. That’s such a difficult question to answer, you know? haha

Ramblings

Life is absurd. Reality is absurd. Society is absurd. Samuel Beckett could not have been more spot on in ‘Waiting for Godot’…waiting for Godot, waiting for the unattainable, waiting for the unobtainable, waiting for the unreal, waiting for…God.

Ken Ham and Bill Nye “debated” a couple of days ago. Quotation marks because it really was not much of a debate. There wasn’t much to argue about. One side: Evolution is true because there’s a mountain of evidence supporting it. Other side: Creationism is true because it says so in my Holy Book, and my Holy Book is the word of God. Well, how do you know your Holy Book is the written utterance of God? Because it says so in my Holy Book. Circular reason 101. How can educated adults in the developed world believe that the world was created in 7 days? Sigh. Absurdity.

Who is God, I wonder? Where may he be found? Once upon a time I searched for him. Earnestly. I looked in my heart, I looked in the trees, I looked in the sunset, I looked in the scriptures, I looked in philosophy, I looked in science. I looked. I looked. And I looked. Until I realized I was searching for a dream, searching for a mist, for a non-reality, searching for nothingness. God was my Godot: much had been said and promised about him, but his existence was almost certainly mythical. 

As for heaven and hell…those exist, along with Mordor and Wonderland, in the realm of the imagination. Neither fear them nor hope for them. Our world, our earth, our tiny little speck suspended in a vast and indifferent universe, is all that we have. And we can make it a metaphorical heaven or hell depending on how we live our lives and how we treat our fellow human beings.

C’est tout.

Always a sucker for flowers.

Always a sucker for flowers.

Be wary of Prejudice, lest it blind you and strip you of your humanity, till your soul is naked and bare.

paragraphs

I think a person is purest and most innocent when they are asleep. It’s a beautiful thing to watch - eyes closed, breathing constant, huddled under a blanket dreaming psychedelic things. What could be more lovely?
Not to be morbid or anything, but I sometimes wonder what death feels like. I suppose it doesn’t feel like anything, does it? It’s just a deep sleep you never wake up from. So then why do we fear it? 

I’m sitting here in my room, under my study lamp, reading about cross-cultural psychology in preparation for my exam this week. I looked outside and I saw gorgeous flakes of snow falling pirouetting down from the sky so gracefully, covering the concrete with a fluffy white blanket haha. How aesthetically pleasing.

I feel like it’s a precious skill to live life in the nuances. To look beyond the obvious and the ostentatious, and into the barely distinguishable layers of existence. There are so many tiny pleasures to be found in those delicate little spaces.

Doomsday by MF Doom from the album: Operation Doomsday

I’ve been feeling this cat recently. Sick beats, strange lyrics, and overall good vibe.

It’s a word! No, a name! MF - the super-villain!

K-tel “Record Selector”

I walked
through the valley
of the shadow of death
and planted flowers in it.