How to fix something broken

Random thoughts

A guide to deal with assholes

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Griffin Dunne lives a literal nightmare in Martin Scosese‘s cult masterpiece After Hours (1985).

Remember to repeat this mantra every now and then, in order not to go mad when you come across some asshole:

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)…

But it’s oh so hard…

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Memento mori

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Frances Conroy as the Angel of Death in American Horror Story: Asylum (2011).

Death or God are not the selfish ones: we are.

We cannot cope with the fact that we die at a certain time and we desperately hold on to life and those around us.

It’s only natural to cry and miss someone when they leave, but it’s not sensible or generous to deny Death when it comes. Not sensible because Death is part of living (just as getting old is), and we should learn to welcome it with peace and serenity, albeit sadness because we abandon life. 
Not generous because the selfishness and posessiveness that make us want to keep someone who’s about to depart by our side (or even ourselves) interferes with the process of mourning, which is necessary to leave this earthly world peacefully.

It should feel just as when you leave a place you’ve lived at for a long time, and people you’ve shared precious moments with.

We don’t have any rituals in our culture that celebrate Death in a natural and open way (or funnily, they’re all rituals that come from paganism). We live with our back turned to it, running forward to catch up with time, like Captain Hook running from the sound of the clock in the jaws of the crocodile.

Our culture is the culture of denial before Death. We should have a permanent reminder since childhood that prepared our spirit for that event. For Death is not the end, not even the worst of outcomes.

Just let the dying die.

Ego & capitalism

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Marshall Arisman‘s 1998 book cover edition of Bret Easton Ellis‘s American Psycho.

Lately I’ve been using the notion of ego quite often in lots of conversations, either they’re deeper or lighter. I don’t really know what people might think when I do that. Perhaps that I’m a lunatic prophet trying to turn them into some cult fanatics.

But the notion of ego I use is very real. Not an esoteric concept, not even the psychological one. But the ego resulting of an unjust system.

Ego is quantifiable. It is political. It is ingrained in our identity, an identity we build by means of enculturation. It is a cover letter an a protection measure against something out there we believe it’s threatening, something we usually imagine to be The Other. 

It shows in competitivity, pressure to gain success, classism, envy, the lack of solidarity… 

Actually, cultures are the building of collective egos, the ultimate ego projections, a system of rules to maintain social cohesion in a group in order to become strong AGAINST another/other group/s. It is the most primal form of unity and corporation, and it has its fullest expression in the capitalist system. Capitalism is a form of culture in itself that’s been spreading worldwide.

I’m sure even the ancient scholars, ascetics and other people who had experienced and wrote about the esoteric aspects of human existence knew about this.

Gaining awareness is not impossible. It’s not something accessible to just a few chosen. Unless those few chosen are the ones who have the money, the power to get the best education, the best jobs, and the most influence and they convince you that that kind of awareness is out of your league.

 

What am I?

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Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H’ghar, the faceless master of Arya Stark in the Game of Thrones series, based on the books by George R. R. Martin.

I grow aware more and more each day about how I would like to be known/seen.

I don’t want to be known or recognized for what I think, neither for what I am (what am I, indeed?). I would like to to be known, at least, for what I do, as much as it changes every now and then.

If I stop to think,

I am

To my father, a son

To my son, a father

To my older brother, a little brother

To my little brother, an older brother

To my wife, a husband

To my sister, a brother

To my uncle, a nephew

To my nephew, an uncle

To my teacher, a pupil

To my pupil, a teacher

To my country, a taxpayer

To my town, an army reserve

To my friend, a friend

To my enemy, an enemy

To my doctor, a patient

To my regular pub, a regular costumer

To my dog, a master

To my house, an owner.

 

Therefore

I am

Son

Father

Little brother

Older brother

Husband

Brother

Nephew

Uncle

Pupil

Teacher

Taxpayer

Army reserve

Friend

Enemy

Patient

Regular costumer

Dog master

Owner

And not just one I

 

Tell me,

Then

What’s

The I

No one knows, The I

Here and now,

Who is

I?

김광규 (Kim Kwang Kyu), I, from Faint shadows of love (Huimihan yetsarang-ui geurimja) (1991).

(I apologize, since I translated it from Spanish, as I did not find the English translation, and it might not be completely accurate).

 

Who wants to live forever?*

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Still from Shôhei Imamura‘s 1983 Narayama bushikô (The ballad of Narayama), based on the 1956 novel by Shichirõ Fukazawa.

Most people wish they could live forever. I guess it’s because we have too many regrets and we would like to catch up with time.

But I guess living forever would mean living forever preferably in a young and lively body, not an old  and wrinckled one.

Also, even if it’s physically impossible, I’d like to know whether our instinct of preservation would gradually disappear, since our body would grow aware of its immortality. Otherwise, that would mean that we would die over and over again and that the sense of danger or fear everytime we were about to die would also repeat itself.

Sometimes I think we live too much. If being old in the modern world meant being respected due to wisdom earnt along the years (not that adding years does necessarily imply becoming wiser….), if it meant that your status grows, even the awareness of physical decay and increasing dependence wouldn’t be so burdensome knowing there are people around showing you their love, letting you know you still matter. Being otherwise, the load of getting old may become even heavier.

*Classic song by Queen, included in their 1986 album A kind of magic and in the Highlander film soundtrack.

Communion?

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James Stewart spies on his neighbors in Hitchcock‘s classic Rear Window (1954).

I miss that time when having an opinion was not important. When the only important thing was being generous, warm-hearted and prone to help others.

Some might say those times never existed. That there’s always been judgemental people everywhere, even more inside a community. But I believe we are even lonelier these days. By expressing your thoughts in social networks, people can judge you even before they know the way you look like, what you do… And based on that they may decide whether they want to get to know you later on or not.

It’s true that in the past some people would hide their true selves in order to be accepted into a social environment. That was a lonely way of life as well. But the same questionable values that put you in the spotlight, sometimes served as a guide to being compassionate to those who didn’t seem to fit (because they were sick, poor or simply different). Even if it was in a paternalistic way. But everyone knew that was the right thing to do.

I believe the reason why people reach out for aliens or supernatural creatures outside of our world, is because they are uncapable of reaching out for their own neighbor, friend, relative when in need.

 

Worn out obsessions

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A still from Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1943 masterpiece Shadow of a doubt, where Joseph Cotten plays a wealthy middle-aged widows murderer obsessed with The merry widow waltz tune, which usually triggers his killing instincts.

 

When the song lyrics have lost its meaning from overplaying it, isn’t it time to skip the track or change the record?

Bee syndrome

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Humans always get frightened and try to chase or scare away a bee whenever they hear one buzzing around. 

You may know that a bee will only sting another living creature (particularly a larger one) when it panics, since it instinctively knows that it dies when it does. 

Try to think about that in a sympathetic fashion next time you see a bee. Or an unprivileged, unfortunate human being with an agressive, violent attitude. They might be far more frightened of you than you are of them.

 

I am sorry. Thank you. I love you.

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A fragment of  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio‘s The conversion of Saint Paul (1600).

Three things I have a hard time saying.

Allegory of the outcast planet

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A picture of Pluto taken by the space probe New Horizons in 2015.

Teacher: Saying that the solar system has nine planets is not valid anymore. Anyone know the reason?

Yoo Jin: Pluto was kicked out. Now they call it planet number 134340.

Teacher: And do you know why?

Yoo Jin: It’s too far away from the Sun and it has an unstable orbit. Also, it’s not round like the other planets and its mass is too small.

Myung Ho: What a loser…

Teacher: Yoo Jin is right.

Joon: (whispering) That’s wrong.

Soo Jin: Joon says he doesn’t agree.

Teacher: Why not? What’s the reason?

Joon: The reason Pluto was kicked out is because of the assumption that the Solar System is the centre of the universe. We have to consider if this assumption is correct. If being too far away from the Sun is a reason, doesn’t it mean that if it comes closer its status is restored? It’s absurd to evaluate a star by its shape, size, mass or distance from the Sun. Stars are born and die just like humans. The Sun is old already. Nothing is forever.

 

A dialogue excerpt from South Korean movie Pluto (2013).