Poetry

Purpose

9/07/2017 10:02:00 PM
A girl wants to take someone out
not to a diner or a fancy restaurant,
but a place that is famous as
the home to Niagara Falls.

She wants to take him for a walk
on some afternoons at the amiable park,
strolling in the midst of maple trees
that its leaves' friction creates euphonies.

'Catch a falling leaf for me.' she will ask,
and he will extend his arm reaching one in the gust,
struggling to catch one particular leaf
that will remind him of that day's eve.

She wants to see him holding that leaf
and pushing it towards her face in dignified,
revealing her face that gleams with conviction
of its magic will make her being loved in return.

A Journey to Completeness in Hedwig and the Angry Inch Play

7/10/2017 10:12:00 PM
Complete; a word that notices the existence of wholeness. The feeling when your torrent or downloaded files’ green bar showed 100%. Or when you put the last missing puzzle pieces then the puzzle is a whole. It’s clear that wholeness is the key to feeling complete. That concludes feeling complete is something that we all cherish. Imagine if we feel complete of ourselves, the feeling that nothing is missing from our life, and that we have everything we need within us. It's a genuine happiness; because the image of consumers being happy with the new phone or millionaires made happy when they become billionaires, is not going to prevent the hunger for happiness. This is the theme this post will discuss from Hedwig and the Angry Inch open-ended play. This post includes the spoiler for those who haven’t read the book (or watch the musical/movie). 

As the human being, we’re all still lurking in question on what is the missing pieces that make us whole—feeling complete. The same with Hedwig, the play is telling us the story about his journey in finding that missing pieces of his poignant life. Hedwig’s real name is Hansel and he was born when the wall between East and West Berlin was erected. Such unfortunate for him, he was born in the East Germany, where he can only be listening to his favorite rock and roll tune on the radio in silent—inside of an oven. His father is an American G.I and his mother is a Berliner. When he was sunning himself in an old bomb crater near the Wall, he was mistaken for a girl by an American G.I named Luther. Hansel revealed immediately his masculine identity, but Luther doesn’t seem to care about the fact. He asked Hansel to marry him instead and have the freedom he always craved in America. However, for them to escape East Berlin, Hansel must go through a full physical examination. His mother and Luther thought of a sex change operation. Hansel then used his mother name, Hedwig Schmidt. Unfortunately, the operation is botched and resulted in his one-inch penis. 

Another unfortunate thing happened when he arrived in America; Luther left him amid a trailer park in Junction City, Kansas, for a blond and handsome young man. Shortly afterward the wall of Berlin finally put down and the two halves of Berlin have become a single city again. Brokenhearted Hedwig then worked as a babysitter while being the lead singer of his band, The Angry Inch, dressed in drag. Then came Tommy Speck, the son of the general, who is interested in Hedwig’s music. They later became infatuated as Hedwig taught him to sing and created a rock persona; Tommy Gnosis. When Tommy found out about “the angry inch” he left Hedwig and stole their songs to become the superstar who fills great stadiums. From that moment forward, Hedwig tries to boycott Tommy’s musical tour by singing in parallel the same songs with his band in hotel bars and dining rooms near the concert place with her trans husband, Yitzhak. Thus what the audience will watch is one of their concerts that was held in one of those places. 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not quite a conventional musical and also not a one-man show. Peter Askin, the director, described it as "Hedwig is really divided into three things. It’s standup comedy with some hoary, cheap jokes. It’s Stephen’s wonderful music. And then it’s also this unexpectedly poignant love story. And it was a question of first recognizing that, and then shaping it so that the comedy came in certain sections, and whatever happened to the comedy and the music, it never took us away from Hedwig’s journey." The play, the lyrics, the music are all part of Hedwig’s story and that’s what makes reading the deeper meaning of the script is very much interesting. 

Incompleteness is the source of pretty much Hedwig’s unhappiness in the play. It all started with the bedtime story that Hedwig’s mother told him when he was little, Plato’s Symposium. 

HEDWIG 
I’m sorry, I’m completely dilated right now, I’d like to share with you a bedtime story that mother once whispered to me in the dark and later retracted. Whatever allowed her to reveal such a story to such a little boy, I’ll never know. But I remember it like it happened yesterday. 

(The Origin of Love Song) 
(You can find the lyrics here) 

HEDWIG 
After mother finished, she began to snore. But I had to go somewhere I could think. I crept into the kitchen and put my head in the oven. It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? Is it Daddy? He went away. Or Mother? I was suddenly afraid to go back to bed. What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complementary? Does my other half have what I don’t? Did he get the looks, the luck, the love? Were we really separated forcibly or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I? Will this person embarrass me? What about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Or can two people actually become one again? And if we’re driving on the Autobahn when it happens, can we still use the diamond lane? Practical question of wholeness. Completion. Think of it. I thought of it. I thought of power. 

The speech of Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium is heavily influenced the way Hedwig thought of finding completeness. In “The Origin of Love” songs Hedwig explains that love is fundamentally the effort to repair a division. Love, according to Aristophanes, is a desire for eternal wholeness with another half. Earlier humans were perfect in their completeness; the shape of each human being was completely round, with back and sides in a circle; they had four hands each, as many legs as hands, and two faces, exactly alike, on a rounded neck. They led a failed rebellion against the gods, and as punishment Zeus split them in a half, resulting in the forms we have today. However, humans fundamentally haven’t forgotten their original forms “Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. Each of us, then, is a ‘matching half’ of a human whole” Hedwig took this more of practically than metaphorically, then he experienced this desperate search for wholeness in people he met in his life.

(To be continued...)
Thought

How the Internet Perceives Gender Role in a Relationship Satisfaction

6/27/2017 01:49:00 AM
A dear friend of mine asked me once about how to maintain her relationship with her partner; What she should do in order to keep the joy in her currently boring situation. She sensed her relationship isn't going anywhere pleasing for him. At first, I wonder why I am getting this question, since I am anything but a relationship adviser (I am more of the one who asks back then, to be honest.) I did some research, mostly on the internet, on how to answer the question of my best friend who was struggling to keep the joy in their relationship. And I stumbled upon many websites and videos that tell you how to be a decent girlfriend instead. More like, dictated.

"How to be a decent girl that get boys like", "How to keep your partner company by text" or "How to keep the man interested in you" which is what I stumbled upon most than the otherwise stuff; how a man should behave. The foundings got me into thinking that I shouldn't actually tell her what to do, because I thought the struggle for them to keep interest in the relationship can only come from both of them, no? And why is it that only the women who have got to be dictated to be a decent woman in order to fulfill the joy in the relationship?

The list goes with empowerment such as confidence, intelligence, and self-esteem. However, the list ended with being submissive, being good in bed, not being more intelligent than the man, and almost all part sensual stuff. It suggested that some parts of the internet still think conventional stuff of sexism in this modern era. Alas, that concludes why my friend was asking me in the first place due to her insecurities of being not good enough to please her partner. 

However, there was a study from students from the University of Texas at Austin and Boston College which says the normal insecurity of women in a relationship. It suggested that women’s perceptions of men’s gender role conflict did not predict somatization or self-esteem, but the gender role conflict factors were significant predictors of women’s depression, anxiety, and satisfaction with the relationship. It said that women were reported being more depressed and anxious when they viewed their romantic partners as having higher levels of intimacy with other men. That's also the thought of my friend with the saying "Shouldn't I be the one who's listening to him intimately?" 

As women perceived their male partners to have more intimate relationships with other men, greater depression and anxiety levels were reported. Several tentative explanations can be provided for why the pattern emerged in that study. For one, it said women who evaluated their partners as being comfortable expressing closeness with other men may have experienced an underlying competitiveness for connection with their partners. As such, women might feel “down” or worried if they viewed their romantic male partner as not valuing their romantic relationship as much as he might value his relationships with male friends. A second speculative explanation may be that the participants had homophobic attitudes that contributed to their feeling more depressed and anxious. For example, women who perceive their partners as being physically and emotionally expressive toward other men may not feel comfortable with their partners’ interactions with other men, thus potentially leading them to feel depressed or worried. 

I think the suggestion that I would give to her would be the fact that the importance of examining how men and women’s interactions can reciprocally contribute to stressors and/or well-being for their partners. Therefore, it is not only women who need to change (or dictated) to make the healthy relationship back. It is from both parties that could make the difference---to make her less insecure--and address the problem solving of their current situation instead. Only then, both ways can reciprocally try to make their relationship alive again.

What a Wonderful World

6/11/2017 02:05:00 PM
I always love the time
without anyone's company
but a couple of books
and a hot drink here beside me

At coffee shop around the corner
or just at one's balcony
finding peace in the rays of the sun
or preferably in the pouring rain

Don't care about the sneer
from whose eyes I know or yet to know
What is so wrong with being content
deep down I wonder

The world is already filled with noises
and the only way to suck it out
is to try the peace within
not from hiding in any form

Thought

Are We Alone in the Universe?

5/24/2017 01:06:00 AM
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space." - Douglas Adam, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

As a fan of science fiction books, films and TV Series such as Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Star Trek, I've always been curious about the matter of extraterrestrial life. All of the storytelling about civilization exists outside there in the vast void and emptiness of this galaxy questioning the fact: are there other living things outside the earth?

Many explorations have been done in the attempt to answer that question. However as Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote in an essay titled "Reflections on the Scientific and Cultural Implications of Finding Life in the Cosmos" for NASA's Astrobiology Magazine, life on Earth is the only known life in the universe. Although to some extent, it is possible due to some findings and arguments that say otherwise. The chance could possibly be higher due to recent findings from an unmanned spacecraft that dive into the planet Saturn and its moons, Cassini. According to Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology, Cassini discovered that one of the moons called Enceladus is an active moon that hides a global ocean of liquid salty water beneath its crust. With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist. Or else, there could be a possible civilization in that moon, or somewhere in another galaxy.

The question about where are other civilizations or the "aliens" in the galaxy is known as the Fermi Paradox. The theory is named by physicist Enrico Fermi to speculate on the reason for this lack of contact with the extraterrestrial civilization. With over 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and 1/2.4 that many earthlike planets (Terzian and Hohlfeld, 1976), there are more places that life could have arisen than we could ever look. If we look back on how old our Milky Way Galaxy is, thirteen billion years old, and compare it to Earth's age which is only four billion years old, a hypothesis emerged that there could be chances for life to develop on other planets in the past. However, none of them has found the technology to make us on the earth notice their civilization.

Nikolai S. Kardashev, an astrophysicist from Russia, in 1963 came up with a hypothetical way to categorize the civilizations that could exist in this universe. He created the Kardashev Scale to measure how advanced a civilization's technological achievements are based on the amount of energy it can access and harness. In his paper titled "Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations", an advanced civilization would have the capacity to transmit radio signals far into the cosmos. He came up with three types of civilizations: Type 1 civilization or known as the planetary civilization would be able to access the whole energy available on its home plane, utilize all the energy that reaches the planet and what it can produce. And we are currently around 0.73 on this scale (we are only an almost type 1 civilization). After the civilization reaches type 1, they possibly trying to find energy from other planets. Then it will turn into type 2 civilization when would be capable of harnessing all of the energy of its home star. The way to harness the energy is through a concept called the Dyson Sphere, a hypothetical megastructure to completely enclose a star and capture all of its energy then transfer it to the home planet. Type 3 would be a civilization that controls and possesses its whole galaxy and its energy. Regarding the age of our galaxy, there are other possible planets with life have had more time and build technology to be an advanced civilization, probably even type 2. Or there could be a type 3 with the aim to colonize a galaxy that makes their existence would be pretty noticeable. However, the civilization on earth hasn't heard a thing or visited by any extraterrestrial civilization. The question about where they are or the Fermi Paradox are still left unanswered.

However, there's a couple of most discussed ideas and theories through the century that could be the solution to the question. To make it easier, let's categorize them into two categories; Group 1 is a couple of explanations that assumes there are no other advanced (as in type 2 or type 3) civilizations because there are none of them out there. Group 2 is a couple of reasons in which why we are not seeing or hearing anything from advanced civilization because they are out there.

Group 1 suggests that if there are thousands of things in our own galaxy, well, there must be something else that has happened before and will be happening again in the future. The theory is called The Great Filter. The theory says that at some point in time, there's a wall that would block and deny civilizations because something (evolution or disaster, etc) happened. So, it's very unlikely and impossible for life to get beyond. The question is; where in our timeline does the Great Filter happen? There are many possible answers to that question. The Great Filter could be behind us, or we successfully surpassed it because we're special. We have surpassed it because the filter has already happened at the very beginning of time of the earth's existence or the filter could be the evolutionary of prokaryote cell to eukaryote cell. However, if The Great Filter is not behind us, the filter could be ahead of us.

Group 2 explanations don't believe in us being special things. They believe in the Mediocrity Principle, that there is nothing unusual or rare about our galaxy, solar system, planet, or level intelligence until evidence proves otherwise. The popular explanations about this group circling about how our technology is too primitive to perceive them. The simple example of this is like an anthill right next to a highway. Would the ants be able to understand the technology and the intentions of the highway is? How do they communicate things to the people on the highway? If there are type 3 civilizations out there, we probably can't pick up the signals from their planet using our technology yet. Or higher civilizations are aware of us and silently observing us, it's called Zoo Hypothesis ("look but don't touch" kind of experiment). However, if there are any civilizations out there who wants to travel to our milky way and could travel at the speed of light, it will still take nearly 100,0000 years just to cross it.

Group 1 & 2 solutions, unfortunately, have the same one problem; where are the borders of technology? One thing for sure, in the midst of new-born and mind-blowing technologies, is that we really don't know anything. From the beginning of human civilizations on earth, we have spent more than ninety percent of our existence as hunters and gatherers, and we've only stopped using human labors as the main source of the energy 200 years ago. If we compare it to the timeline of the earth's existence, our high-tech civilizations is actually still a baby. Right now we may not know what is the answer to this Fermi Paradox. Don't fret because there's only one way to find out and we still have a long way to go to finally know anything.
Poetry

Tell

4/30/2017 11:30:00 PM
I will not ask for your name
Therefore, don't tell me your name
For I already know it by sight,
or your name is

a receipt from your food in the canteen,
"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World,
a breeze of the wind in the hot weather,
or pen at the bottom of your seat.

I will not ask for anything,
but a memory that will make you
not being remembered as a proper thing
that is easily forgotten just that.
Thought

On How to Date (Nowadays)

3/10/2017 10:57:00 PM
Speaking of loving someone to the stage of dating, each of us has different ways of interpreting its meanings. However, when we interpret how to love someone, we're heavily influenced on how our society interprets it. Like a saying that I have quoted in my previous post by La Rochefoucauld, "There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing." that emphasized on how the people around us' fault is affecting our ways of loving. This post is going to tell you nothing on how to date with another person but just a reflection on how dating nowadays is viewed through the lens of communication theories.

How our society perceived 'loving someone' and then turned into the stage of 'dating' is heavily related to the development of technology. Try to look at Technological Determinism Theory,  an assumption that was initiated by McLuhan that technology can bring a new culture without changing a wider structure (McDougall, 2012). A long time ago, asking a dearest one's news or just saying hello can only be done by correspondence mail. The time it takes to be on the hand of the receiver is also dependent on how far the receiver is from the sender. If their location is nearby, then they can meet in person at a place that's reachable for both parties instead. Talking about life over afternoon tea or coffee every day. However, along with the rapid development of technology, communication can now be done in real-time, anytime, without delay or hindrance through short messages or chat. That also influenced how the way of dating today where the existence of the dearest one can be replaced by a few words in chat reply. Therefore, it is uncommon if the conflicts in relationships nowadays is circling around someone who's furious because the dearest one didn't reply to a short message and is often interpreted as "do not love me enough" or "not always been there". When in fact, whether the message is replied or not, the presence of the partner isn't there with her/him. It's just a text, a couple of characters.

However, with the development of technology too, there is a theory which emerged to counter and criticize Technological Determinism Theory called Social Construction of Technology. SCOT believed that technology can change the culture, but the change of technology itself also exist because of the demand from the society (Williams, 1974). We can take the example from dating application like Tinder, OkCupid, or else. The existence of technologies that facilitate the meeting of two people who are having the same purpose, to find a partner, is based on the society's demand to encounter new people. With the algorithm in such way as well, many dating apps can even present a psychological test feature or checklist of the ideal partner to make it easier for us to find the ideal one we're looking for. This phenomenon happened also due to the difficulties of finding moment or event to meet new people that can lead to finding a partner.

The debate on which theory is most relevant in this era will never stop if we see it technology and culture as a causal effect. We can see its relevance only by seeing the technological context, for that matter. Perhaps we can see the clear idea if we try to see the technology and culture as chains that link to each other which makes them can be influenced both ways. 

Reference:
McDougall, Julian. 2012. Media Studies: The Basics. New York: Routledge.
Rochefaucould, François de La. 1959. Maxims. England: Penguin Classic Book.
Williams, Raymond. 1974. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Routledge.

(Written for university assignment.)

Thought

The Classroom of Love

1/31/2017 08:50:00 PM
(Who am I to write this article actually, but this is just how I feel about the situation nowadays, so, enjoy, this is going to be a very long post.)

There was a saying that says the Romanticism ruined the definition of love. This thought happened if we try to compare it with Socrates' speeches in Symposium. 

Our culture has been deeply influenced by the Romantic conception of love; like a quote from François de La Rochefoucauld, "There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing." Then the way we love is dependent on the way our society love, which Alain de Botton said is heavily influenced by the idea from Romanticism. One of the Romanticism characteristics according to Britannica is a general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect. It was a movement led by artists from the West Europe that emphasize on emotion and individualism. When we love someone we will feel special feelings and emotions, as if we have found the soulmate of our life. We also feel happy, giddy and not lonely again; almost all good feelings. That idea leads to the belief of 'to love someone is to love them as they are, without any wish to change or alter them'. Simply, because it may change the emotion and the feeling that we both had. According to the Romanticism philosophy, we have to accept another person in all their good and bad sides, particularly the bad sides. At certain moments, it does feel somehow sweet. When they're not embarrassed by your loud horrible laugh at parties because it's maybe a sign of openness and friendliness to others. Then the idea of accepting them in every area, which is actually closer to the definition of worship, came. Because any desire for change will arouse horrible emotion and deep resistance that proof there can't be love and that one should break up.

However, there is another philosophy of love if we trace back to the ancient Greeks. It was written in Plato's Symposium and was said by Socrates. A bit illustration about what Socrates said in Symposium (using his famous method cleverly, by continually asking questions to get us closer to the truth), Socrates started by asking a question to Agathon:

Socrates (S): "And now, said Socrates, I will ask about Love: -Is Love of something or of nothing?"
Agathon (A): "Of something, surely,"
S: "Keep in mind what this is, and tell me what I want to know—whether Love desires that of which love is."
A: "Yes, surely."
S: "And does he possess, or does he not possess, that which he loves and desires?"
A: "Probably not, I should say."

Socrates argued that if it is of something, then it is something that is desired. Therefore something that's desired is something that one doesn't possess. He then retold Agathon about a conversation that he once had with a priestess called Diotima of Mantinea, from whom he learned the art of love. Diotima started with questioning Socrates who used to think that love was all beautiful and good. After the talk with Diotima, he inferred that love was ugly and bad. Diotima disagreed; just because something is not beautiful, it does not automatically make it ugly. A person and love can be neither beautiful nor ugly, but in between.

Diotima also told him that the something that love desires but does not possess consists of extremely beautiful or extremely good, particularly wisdom. Diotima asked him to get his thought into the closer reason on why it has to be good:

Diotima (D): “When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?” 
Socrates (S): “That the beautiful may be his.”
D: “Still, the answer suggests a further question: What is given by the possession of beauty?” 
S: “To what you have asked, I have no answer ready.” 
D: “Then, let me put the word ‘good’ in the place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more: If he who loves, loves the good, what is it then that he loves?” 
S: “The possession of the good,”
D: “And what does he gain who possesses the good?”
S: “Happiness.”

The Greek philosophy also taught us to love is not merely a chemical reaction in our body or butterflies on our stomach that can't be described in words; but an admiration for the perfection of that human being--for the good sides. And what we perceived as perfection is what is lack in us. It also gave the idea of educating each other to be the better person. The Greek noticed that we are all very imperfect so what it means to deepen love is the desire to teach and to be taught in return. A couple should see the relationship as a constant opportunity to improve and be improved. Therefore we shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to change our partners, and we shouldn't resent our partners for simply wanting to change us to be the best version of ourselves. Because the ultimate reason of all of this is what we all seek in life: happiness.

However, under the influence of Romanticism, we end up being terrible teachers and terrible students. Somehow we don't accept that it's legitimate for us to teach and to be taught. In the student role, we might feel attacked or betrayed because our partner criticizes us. Then we close our mind and ear to the instruction from the teacher and react with sarcasm. The fact that they, as the teacher, want to change us could ring a bell that they don't actually 'love' us (Romanticism ideology). On the other hand, the teacher's role, we are unsure whether we have the rights to teach them. We don't even know if we're going to be heard by our partners; or how big our impact is to them. We're frightened because we noticed that we have committed to the pupil who might not even want to learn. In the process, it will ruin not only their lives but ours too. And that is very dangerous indeed because when we're frightened, we can be panic or even very angry. We might teach with shouting or insulting and met with the fury of the student. Yes, in this classroom we can be the worst teachers and students we could ever be. Then from this conclusion; to love does not only encompass feeling, but also a skill. Skill on how to be a patient and wise teacher and to be an overt and keen-witted student at the same time.

Back to the philosophy itself, Socrates' speeches can tell us that we shouldn't be ashamed of the need of instructing or the need for instruction from our partner if it is for the greater good. The only fault is to reject the opportunity for education if it is offered. Because love should be an attempt by two people to reach their full potential, not an endorsement for all one's existing laxity.

However, there are a couple of question and problem that I raised from this conclusion. What is good that was meant. Because good can be perceived differently from the heads of two lovers. Is it good that was projected by society and norms or is it good that the lovers agreed on?
And also, if the classroom fails, then the fault would be on the teacher being a horrible teacher who can't teach or the student who is obstinate enough not to learn the instruction? Or both?

References:

Botton, Alain de. (2006). On Love. US: Grove Press.
Jowett, Benjamin, and Plato. (1948). The Portable Plato. UK: Penguin Books.
https://www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism