Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Meaningless Study: The 12 Days of Ecclesiastes

I'm not sure if this writing project will exactly correspond with the 12 days of Christmas, but there's a good chance I'll get some writing in during the Christmas break. This post will merely serve as an advertisement and introduction to the hopefully forthcoming content. It seems useful to write about one of my favorite books of the Bible, and it's a short book, which makes it all the more convenient. Ecclesiastes also seems to be grossly overlooked; while inspiring Bible verses are constantly shared out of context, Qoheleth's wise words don't seem to be mentioned much at all.

At least, most of the time. My interest with Ecclesiastes was actually sparked while I was in high school (probably 16 or 17), when I was perusing a certain web page on a certain social media site. Verse 2 of chapter 5 enraptured my attention: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

I wasn't into philosophy or theology at that point, nor did I possess the will to read that I am now better at maintaining, but I remember how profound those words appeared to me at the moment. I had never read anything quite like it before in my life.

Fast forward a couple years, when I was doing volunteer work in Seattle with some comrades from Bible school in March of 2013. During an ambivalent bout of indifference and worry, I turned to the pages of Ecclesiastes to bask in sentiments of vanity. The verses cooled my youthful angst, reaffirming me of the melancholy that was spreading in my life-world. This perhaps sounds like it would have been discouraging, given the way I was feeling, though quite the opposite holds true. There was a familiarity to the words of the text, not in the sense that I had already seen them, but rather, that I had, slightly below self-recognition, felt what I was now seeing. As strange as it might sound, it's almost as if I wanted everything to be gloomy, at that moment in my life. I remember how astounded I was by some of these verses, haughtily reading them aloud, as if I was wise for merely finding life to be disappointing.

The above fragments are meant emphasize the ties that my own life has to the text. Have you ever had a song you heard at a certain time and when you listen to it later, it reminds you of that other time? That's how I look upon the book of Ecclesiastes, as it brings back both memories of regret and a longing for that which no longer remains in my life.

I must admit that I have some hesitancy in starting this project, even in publishing this post with its somewhat personal sentiments. But I do enjoy quasi-existential reading every so often, so I hope to mimic that in terms of my content and prose style at times. That being said, I'm rarely interested in reading Bible related content. It's difficult enough for me to partake in personal scripture reading, but when somebody else has something to say about such things, I easily become skeptical and disinterested. What provokes people to share Bible verses and commentaries? And couldn't God reach me on His own terms? Ironically enough, I despise the rebellious attitude of such a person that refuses to receive any instruction or insight from others. Intentions are tricky to gauge. I guess you could say I almost always feel like I'm in a spiritual wilderness, a dark night of the soul. I hear many others are, too. I must be somewhere between humility, self-deprecation, and concealed pride in writing all of this. I'm sorry.

That I plan to write about Ecclesiastes during Christmas is also awkward, considering one is mostly somber while the other is not supposed to be. Setting these worries aside, and since I have somehow prattled to an inexcusable extent, I look forward to seeing where this meaningless study takes me. All is vanity, and so, cheers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Make IVM Great Again

Indie Vision Music re-launched today! Prior to the site closing its metaphorical doors in early 2015, I had visited IVM quite frequently for a few years. I'll be writing reviews and news every so often for the site. You can check out my review for the new Devil Wears Prada album right here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

What Will America's Consciousness Be Like Tomorrow?

The narrator in the video mentions that there was a major change in the consciousness of the American collective during the 2008 election. I wonder if Roger Nelson and his team have their random number generators ready for tomorrow?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Most Foolish Exemplar of Swindling: The Akademia Music Awards

Upon reading the title of this piece, perhaps you thought I had committed a case of erroneous spelling as well as a conceptual misunderstanding. No, I am not referring to The Academy Awards / Oscars, which is for movies and is legitimate; I am referring to exactly what I spelt out in the title. I came across this simultaneously melancholy-invoking and humorous scam in the summer and thought the subject would make for an interesting post. Some observations, which I should like to call "red-flags," will be listed below.

Red-flag 1: The vaporwave aesthetics of their website. The sight has a strange blend of 90s and contemporary visuals. What is perhaps most peculiar amidst the New York evening background of the header, the random pillars and sculptures and what have you, are the four images located at the footer of the homepage. Notice how three of them are just general outside city pictures, while only one actually shows off the brand name. That last one must be a Photoshop.

Red-flag 2: The fake radio station. The Akademia has a radio station called KMIX. It appears to be an internet-only radio station, which isn't questionable in itself, but what is questionable about KMIX is how they describe themselves. On their website, the heading reads "playing the best mix of top artists from around the world." However, in the video that's on the same homepage, the DJ makes it sound as if the radio station is playing more alternative music, at least in terms of popularity, instead of opulent, famous musicians. The interviewee at 0:52 sounds disingenuous to say the least. And does anybody else think that KMIX sounds like cat food?

Red-flag 3: The bizarre Gala event. The video for this is also on the homepage of the Akademia website. The scam does not entirely exist in cyberspace as the company has hosted an awards event at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. From what I've read via Reddit, artists have to pay for their own flights, are not provided chairs at the event, and have to pay to submit their music in the first place. Basically, artists are buying their own plaques and Akademia will not deny anyone.

Red-flag 4: Everybody wins. There are numerous winners for the same categories. Were you awarded best alternative rock album? So was I! Now, you'll have to take my word on this one because it appears that they have buried the evidence, but in the summer all I had to do was type winners1, winners2, etc. after the main web address. The same categories were listed on these pages, yet there were different artists listed underneath. If I remember correctly this was also discussed on the Reddit thread.

Friday, October 21, 2016

When De-Stigmatizing Becomes Demoralizing

That there is any discussion at all about prostitution not being immoral is just appalling to me. Now perhaps this has to do with some naiveté on my part, but I've always assumed that the response to prostitution was quite simple, at least, from those who were neither sex workers nor clients: prostitution objectifies persons, the objectification of persons is wrong; therefore prostitution is wrong. Personally, my objection to prostitution would be more religious, however, if I am correct in what I assume to be a quite common response, then this indicates that many people, religious or not, hold a deep intuition that prostitution is wrong.

But for some, this belief is 'not good enough.' "Sex workers need to be defended against stigmatization," they might say. I don't see this idea as a problem in itself; my problem with this, however, is what is being implicitly said. If the perceived solution to ending stigmatization is that I must stop thinking of prostitution as being immoral, then I will not succumb to that. These social philosophers, policy makers, etc. seem to think that it's so easy to get people to stop thinking about something in a certain way. Since when was it human to just shut down intuitions and judgments at the demand of another? The correct thinking of either side is a can of worms I'm unwilling to open at the moment, but what I want to emphasize is this weird notion of humans being able to simply dim their beliefs as if their mind is some unconscious light switch.

I'm also surprised at the deterministic flavor of some of the commentary on this issue. In theological terms, I would agree that transgressions are not wholly personal troubles, but that sin committed by an individual can have an interpersonal effect. That being said, this idea of defending the lifestyles of these sex workers as if they are entirely unable of getting out of their situation is just as hopeless as it is disturbing. If you're a social reformer, don't you at least think it's a possibility that these (mostly) women could live better lives? Aren't you the one who emphasized the social construction of all this? If it can be constructed by humans, it can also be deconstructed.

Another interesting point: the prostitute is defended but the customers are not. The customers are certainly stigmatized, I would imagine, so why aren't they defended? I guess you can't get mad at humans if they're just sub-atomic particles who are void of freedom.

"All the controversial issues in the culture war are sexual," says Peter Kreeft. It used to be a stereotype that young men thought sexually about everything; this was rightly referred to as perversion. But this way of thinking is now entirely acceptable, being promoted under the guise of cultural capital on behalf of the zeitgeist of the Western intelligentsia. I guess that's what you get when you keep Freud and forget about Jung. A shame indeed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Instagraham

I've been a fairly active Instagram user for ~3 years now. It's been a vanity and pride-ridden an interesting medium to express my ambivalence through (both in terms of content and posting habits). I've had numerous accounts, I forget how many ... but I think the most posts I published in a single day was 9; I did not abide by the ethics. Nowadays, I post approximately once per week.

Anyway, the numbers are currently in my favor:
  • 107 posts
  • 87 followers
  • 97 following
First, the three numbers contain a 10, an 8, and a 9. Second, they all end in 7, thus making 777 (a number of Kabbalistic significance, as a friend once put it)!

For being the colossal time-squanderer that Instagram is, it seems like an apt note to end on. I'm tempted to pull the proverbial plug altogether on the meaningless archive, but then again, I'll likely want to look back on it - that is, assuming I ever leave in the first place.