Love, War and Journalism

Okay, so just one of those. My schoolwork compels me to write about war. There was a long list of things in particular to take note of, but I'm just going to mull over the subject and meander as I go.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, war at its base is the practice of sending two large and heavily armed contigents of men at each other to see who comes out on top. Of course, humanity being sophisticated and modern, we have taken it to far greater heights. As of the time of this writing, it involves devious espionage, constantly advancing weaponry, rifles that can kill from miles away, missiles that can kill ten times the people at five times the distance, chemical weapons and the atomic bomb. This is not taking into account the various methods of defeating a country without a moment spent on the battlefield, such as terrorism and the more and more likely prospect of cyber warfare. Modern war is devastating in its efficiency and efficient in its devastation.

There are many reasons countries go to war, all of which are pretty stupid. Most of them, one way or another, boil down to enough hostile sentiments between parties for them to declare war on each other. Sometimes, this is because one side straight-up intends to take over the other; sometimes, it comes down to a simple diplomatic fumble or insult; and unfortunately, most of the time it is caused by good old-fashioned hatred and paranoia. War tends to follow on the heels of chaos; when leaders fall, feelings run high and weapons are readily available, some kind of conflict is inevitable.

Young recruits are persuaded to enlist in armies in two ways: either by abusing their nationalistic pride through propaganda, or by forcibly conscripting them. The effect of propaganda on soldiers and their gradual disillusionment has led to two kinds of outlooks on war that have exhibited themselves throughout the ages: a sweeping, glorious epic, or a grimy, horrific tragedy. Both sides of the view can be seen in wartime literature and poetry; from the larger-than-life struggles of the Spartans at Marathon, to the cheery optimism of the pre-WWI poets, to the darkly matter-of-fact escapades of post-WWI and WWII.

War is a roiling bundle of emotions which is difficult to sum up in a single paragraph, but I'll try anyway. Pride, rage, disappointment, sadness, horror, serenity, revenge, victory, defeat, numbness, death, sympathy, coldness, warmth, friendship, brotherhood, distance, comedy, tragedy, consternation, injustice, finality, love, hatred, and homecoming are all part of war in one way or another. War is an experience. War isn't something a green-nosed kid can cover in his blog thoroughly enough to be worth salt.

That's what I think of war. Hope that's enough to nab a perfect score.


Dead Poets Society

So I've been summoned back to this unearthly shambling necrotic monstrosity of a blog once again. Today, I watched a movie named Dead Poets Society. You may have heard of it. I hadn't. Well, I suppose I have now.

Dead Poets Society is about, you guessed it, the Dead Poets Society. In a conservative all-boys Vermont school, a group of boys is inspired by Mr. Keating, their eccentric English teacher, to revive the legacy of the titular secret literary club that he had once belonged to. Some teenage drama happens, the kind of things that happen in an all-boys school. Romance, getting in trouble with teachers, the works. Then one of them commits suicide, everything goes to hell and Mr. Keating gets fired. In essence, that's the plot.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Overall, I'd give this movie a seven out of 10 (yes, I remember Mr. Keating's speech about mathematically scoring art). While thought-provoking and fairly interesting, I also found it spectacularly dull at times for the cliches it invokes and the sheer predictability of its teen drama. Dear scriptwriter – if I wanted to see teen drama, I would take a stroll in my school. I watch movies to get away from teen drama.

Enough of that. Robin Williams is fantastic in the role of Mr. Keating, as are some of the boys' performances, and there is really no other complaint I could have about the film. Unfortunately, this is where its weakness lies – it dwells in the pit of mediocrity, where good-but-not-great films languish. There are a few moments, mostly involving Mr. Keating's antics, but most of Dead Poets Society is forgettable setup. This is a movie where I can truthfully say, for two parts out of three, I'd rather be out and about instead of watching the painfully slow teenage shenanigans of its main characters unfold. That's my two cents.

It may be that I'm biased towards speculative fiction, science fiction and fantasy, as that's where most of my attention lies, but that's my viewpoint. I appreciate a realistic exploration of the trials of puberty every once in a while, but I believe it has to take the subject matter and turn it into something truly extraordinary to be worthwhile.


Dear Diary.

The coming winter's cold. Pretty cold, I should say. Not nearly enough for it to snow like last year, but cold all the same.

The morning reports went like any other day. Still no leads on the Buford case. There's some minor dispute over a fence. As far as I can tell, it's just the Merriweathers acting up again. Some drunk lost a dollar. Too bad for him.

One of the niggers on the other side of town got all riled up about Tom Robinson, broke his master's cup. I felt kind of sorry for him, so I gave him a day's jail and a talking to. The master's still mad as heck, of course, but the nigger gets it. He knows we're both in the same boat.

Thinking about Tom always gets me down. Atticus got the case bang to rights. He'd damn near proven to God he was innocent, but the jury killed him anyway. Sometimes it's like there's no justice in this town. It's like Atticus, Link, Maudie and me, we're the only people who think things straight. Nobody else.

I'm thinking back to Atticus on the night before last. The verdict got to him pretty bad. The look in his eyes, it put fear in me.

Niggers. Negroes, coloured men, whatever you call them, they're people too. I can see a cook through the window as I'm writing this, and I'm thinking-- The only difference between yonder cook and me is his skin's a different color. He's got a wife, children, a job, memories, feelings. He's got a human life.

Why doesn't anyone else see that?

I'm going all deep and philosophical again. Best I stop writing till tomorrow.

November 2, 1937

For an assignment.

In Memoriam

For an assignment.

MI Learning Profile

This circular monstrosity of a rainbow-colored diagram that looks more like a candy than a chart is my Multiple Intelligences Learning Profile, according to the theories of a web page I was directed to by my teacher. I'm supposed to write a spiel of no less than one hundred words about the implications of the results.

First of all, my intrapersonal intelligence appears to be the highest out of all the scores, a completely unsurprising result. It outpaces by quite a distance the visual and linguistic intelligences, which are my second and third highest. After this comes the musical, kinaesthetic and naturalistic intelligences, then the interpersonal, and from the last result it is clear that I can't calculate numbers worth a damn. This chart, then, is mostly correct.

Strange. I thought I would score higher on the visual and linguistic. In hindsight, the reason is probably that visual and linguistic intelligences are much more publicly expressed than the intrapersonal. You don't think about thinking about yourself. But for the most part, all this chart is doing is telling me what I already knew. Gee, guess what? I'm good at languages! Amazing deduction, Holmes. Next you'll be telling me I don't draw half bad!


Life, and Meaning Thereof

When you just finished reading The Sign (great book, by the way, except for the parts where the author decides to spontaneously express his views on abortion and faith) and your mathematics teacher raises a question about the meaning of life, and you are the kind of loquacious, extremist sucker I am, there is no getting away from it. The subject to me is like a glowing lightbulb the size of the Indian Ocean to a moth. Here it goes.

I believe that there is no God. In the very beginning, some quantum conflux and the most insane of contrived coincidences combined to make the universe in which we now reside. Through cascading and improbable happenings of chance, life was created and slowly adapted over the millenia into what we are today. This is my belief because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The obvious argument of how ridiculously unlikely this is is easily rebutted by the comparison of humanity to an intelligent goldfish. Imagine the goldfish wondering why its tank is filled with water; the answer is that without the water, it wouldn't be there to ponder it.

So... the creation of everything as we know it was a purely mathematical coincidence. Without a postulated guiding intelligence involved in its formation, it becomes apparent that our existence is completely and utterly meaningless.

However, we being the fallible creatures of impulses and desires we are, humans are unable to accept this. Given this conclusion, by logic it can be seen that even if we were to firebomb everything and wreck the planet, there are no true repercussions to our deeds. Yet we have not (except for a minority of affected individuals who are outside the reach of this post). The reason for this is simply that we are unable to truly accept this idea. With this insight in mind, there are two options for the human mind: create a coping mechanism, or go insane.

Let me talk a little bit about the first option. Creating a coping mechanism in this case could mean blanking out this realization. It could mean fabricating a meaning of one's own to append to life. It is my belief that religion is such a fabrication.

My coping mechanism is strange. I acknowledge that life has no meaning, but I persist in the clockwork operation of daily life. This is because I believe that humanity as a whole has given our lives meaning. Out of those initial caveman struggles to survive has grown a complicated social system, with nuances such as castes, responsibilities and human interaction. I make it a point to adhere to these rules, as though I may feel that the burden of life holds no water, others do not think the same. In effect, I am bound by my responsibility to my friends and family. This allows me to continue.

But another, and yet more powerful, aspect of my coping mechanism is this. It is my conclusion that life has no meaning, but it can be given meaning by the actions of humanity. Is it not then my responsibility to give meaning to the lives of others, and to enrich others' lives, so that they do not recognize the terror of nihilism? This is why I tell jokes, I exercise my wit and why, in fact, I have embraced life.

To me, the meaning of life is to give meaning to it.


Somewhere In The Caribbean... Tremors

I hate how the Haiti earthquake is so overhyped right now. In school, everyone talks about it and teachers somehow make opportunities to mention it every three minutes. On Facebook, an app and about a million groups have spontaneously appeared, promising to make dubious donations of varying amounts of varying currencies to the Haiti relief effort. In real life, the aftermath of the disaster dominates the newspapers, the televised news, and pretty much any media you can think of. I wouldn't be surprised if an upcoming documentary movie was announced titled "Haiti: Eye of the Storm" and its tie-in video game and toys.

We all know Haiti happened. People died. Those who didn't, lost everything in their lives. Horrific photos have been circulated around the world. But do we, the relative upper class, really feel sympathy for these people? When we read the newspaper and see the death tolls, we don't wonder about the personal hell each of the disaster-struck people must be going through. We have not experienced the doomed feeling you have when you are trapped under meters of rubble, slowly losing blood, asphyxiating to death in the darkness. We comprehend these matters with a detached fascination. We cannot emotionally connect, because we don't know those who are really affected by the earthquake. Such is one of the many intrinsic flaws of humanity.

So stop pretending you do. Those Facebook groups claiming to donate to the relief effort for every member who joins are bullshit. They are scams to get more members, preying on the tendency to 'donate' to ease your guilt for being the lucky elite that have never experienced the harsh life that the Haitians are now going through. Stop mentioning the Haiti earthquake in daily conversation, because it won't change anything. The masquerade of public concern is just that - a masquerade.

If you really care about Haiti, take a plane there and work in the relief effort yourself. But know that if you have the money to buy a computer to read this post, you probably don't. I know that's true for me, and I am not afraid to admit it.


Dev Titlo

Some background on the new song available for download in my sidebar, "Untitled-1". It was done in collaboration with a fine fellow called Isaac for a digital music course (although it's true I did all the work). He provided the voice that says "YYEEEESSSSS" at the end of the song. Originally, when we intended to make some rock music mixed with electronics, we didn't see how dark the melody would be. Eventually, we just said "Screw this," and piled as many layers of evil-sounding sound onto the composition as we could. When it came time to name it, we just kind of copped out. That's how Untitled-1 came to be.

Which Can Eternal Lie

The acclaimed writer and impossibly cool person H.P. Lovecraft once wrote:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons, even death may die.

It looks like he was right, because I am once again forced to revive this blog from its fallen grave. Once again, my school considers writing acres and acres of drivel and posting it online for everyone to see to be a highly academic endeavor. Hence this.

I'll kick things off with a list of things that have changed. Because of intervention from my teacher, the template of this site has been completely overhauled. I've edited what once used to be the "Welcome, traveller" introductory box slightly, and added another composition of mine to the Downloads box. Finally, the name of the blog has been changed to nTwilight, because of that darned horrible movie appearing out of nowhere in the middle of last year and dashing whatever readership I had to the four winds. Also, it sounds cooler.

I suppose I'll have to welcome you to my new and completely refreshed blog for 2010. So... welcome. More awesomeness will come soon.