Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Breath of Freedom, or is it?

Life: An Eternal Struggle

Finally, some time to update my neglected blog. I have ten days of medical leave because I tore my right foot ligament again. At least I am breathing the sweet air of freedom outside camp.

Moving on, I have been thinking about the concept of the power struggle between every life form, especially humans (It seems like I have too much free time). It seems like the will to dominate, which is desire to lord over people, is ingrained within the blood that flows through our veins. To put it in simple layman terms, if anyone has an ounce of power, everyone will be dicking all over for it. It is only just a matter of how do they establish and hold power. Humans, to me, have an intense hatred for one another as humans often manipulate others for their own unscrupulous gains. A war has always been raging on since the beginning of time; it is the war for power.

So far, I have only noticed two main approaches of gaining and securing such power, which more often than not, both are simultaneously used. The first is aligned to the concept of Order. Order is an extremely effective way of maintaining power because the pyramid structure of a hierarchy allows the one at the pinnacle to use anyone below him to command the masses. A good example would be the military forces where a general would make use of his majors, captains, and sergeants to command the legions of privates and to keep each other in line with the general’s policy. There may be a few dissidents but they will be crushed into submission by the rigidity and weight of the hierarchy. The second approach is aligned to the concept of Chaos and the Darwinian theory of natural selection. The strong shall survive and the weak surely must perish. Constant power shifts are common to those who adhere to this belief and the ones in power are always on guard from competitors. Very often, the lords who rise up often establish Order to maintain their power, as power gained from Chaos is frequently temporal. Very few will remain in the realm of Chaos once they rise up due to its nature, need I explain more?

As much as I would like to be an inconnu to this extremely meaningless conflict, I cannot say I am an angel. Perhaps this is the true curse of life after being banished from Eden.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

gotta go! cya guys in a while. take care.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

What Does Æmaeth and Maeth?

The clay golem, first created by Rabbi Loeb of Prague

I keep getting questions from friends asking what æmaeth and maeth mean, so I think it is high time for me to explain their meanings.

Before I begin explaining what the two words mean, I will give a brief history of a mythological creature of Kabbalistic origins known as the Golem. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong) The Golem is an animated man of clay imbued with the power of life by a magical inscription known as the Shem. The Golem, created by a powerful rabbi, would protect the local Jewish ghetto (though not exclusively). The rabbi can also take life from the Golem away by removing the Shem from the Golem’s mouth or by editing the Shem. There have been famous incidents involving the Golem in history such as a Golem aiding in the defence of the ghetto of Prague during the 16th Century. Even Adam may be part of the Golem mythology as he was made of clay and given life through the power of creation, which is very similar to how the ancient Greek titan Prometheus created Man. Since then, the myth of the Golem has inspired countless graphic novels, with Marvel’s The Thing from Fantastic Four being the most famous.

Finally, the moment that we have all been waiting for, the meaning of æmaeth and maeth. Æmaeth is “truth” for Hebrew and is the word inscribed onto the Shem. The Kabbalist Jews believe that God is the truth and all life comes from that single source. Just one letter apart is maeth, which means “death”. By removing the Latin letter “æ”, “truth” becomes “death” and the Golem falls back onto the ground as lifeless clay once again. They believe that since God created all life, life can be just as easily returned to God. The reason why these two words caught my attention is that I believe that although truth and death appears to be like chalk and cheese, they are at the same time integrated. After all, they are but one letter apart.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Gambling in The Fine City

A pair of die. NOT DICES!

Since young, I have been picking small pieces of paper from a box, which contains the full spectrum of digits. The digits selected would then be permuted and combined in almost every way possible for a bi-weekly (now tri-weekly) lottery known as the four-digits in Singapore. Unfortunately, none of the digits that I have picked seem to be favoured by the elusive gods of fortune (if not I would be hire a typist to type this out for me). In spite of the bad history, I believe Lady Luck and the gods of fortune will smile on me one day, I just have to keep trying...

Sounds familiar, yes? Other than food, gambling seems to be this nation's favourite pastime. After all, we slow down when there is a traffic accident, not to offer help to the unfortunate victims, but to record the license numbers of the vehicles involved in the accident. We never know when the gods may smile again when tragedy occurs. Sunshine after the rain, they say. Even family gatherings, from first month celebrations to new years to funerals (truly cradle to grave coverage), seem incomplete without somebody bringing out a deck of cards or a set of “mahjong” tiles out. Gambling seems to have been nurtured as a culture along with the culture of capitalism. “The Singapore Success Story” was also a series of gambles made by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his government that paid off.

Therefore, I ask myself, “What is the big hoo-hah about building a casino in Singapore?” In fact, I find it surprising that it has not been built yet, judging from Singaporeans’ passion for gambling. I agree that social costs may result from the construction of a casino but such “negative externalities” have existed in Singapore ever since people gambled here. Illegal prostitutes have been on the rise recently and I do not believe it is because of a potential casino. Underground gamblers may end up owing huge amounts of debt at ridiculously high interest rates to loan sharks which not only endangers the health of the defaulter, his/her family may end up in tragedy too. The recent Lee family tragedy may repeat again even without a casino here on our shores. What we should be concentrating on is not whether we should have a casino, but how to address the problems that arise from all forms of gambling.

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence

Being the lazy bum that I am, I have decided not to write a synopsis for this movie. The Internet Movie Database provides such an excellent synopsis, which is like what Lord Henry of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey describes of a cigarette, “it is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?” Therefore, I shall provide a link to Internet Movie Database.


Ghost in the Shell: Innocence is a stunning must-see animation, which deliberately blurs the border between life and machine through not only its thought-provoking plot, but also through its groundbreaking cell and computer graphics animation. Even the movement of Batou’s dog, a Basset Hound, is so life-like. The full capabilities of Mamoru Oshi and his crew are shown in an elaborate five-minute parade of giant floats and Kim the hacker’s mansion midway through the show. No superlative will be able to capture my awe of their abilities.

The most important aspect of the show, in my humble opinion, is the philosophical debate of the essence of life. From the Psalms to Confucius, the characters frequently invoke ancient wisdom to enhance their discourse of their futuristic life. This film definitely sparks off a storm within our minds, forcing us to think whether our memories and our senses are “real”, and even whether we are real, ironically not just a code of a program or animation. These ideas are reminiscent of Descartes’ hyperbolic doubt, where doubt is the only fact. Thus, the only real form of existence is one who doubts.

Last but not least, although I highly recommend this film, I will also caution all potential viewers that this film is not your typical sci-fi film brimming with heart stopping action sequences. This film can be confusing at times (though not as confusing as Akira, which will be reviewed at a later date), and good subtitling is required to discover the source of the quotes. In spite of all this, this film is definiately a must-see for both otakus and people interested in philosophy

Below are some of the screenshots taken from the film.

The doll. The creepiest object in the world to me. Its torpid eyes obfuscates the same deep consciousness which its physical form mimics. Perhaps this is why René Descartes doted on a doll after his daughter passed away and even named the doll aft his deceased daughter, Francine.

Static doves in a virtual reality signal created by Kim. It is really easy as understand why Togusa got trapped in the virtual maze by the hacker Kim.

A scene in during the five-minute parade in the far north. The entire parade took one year to produce. Notice the influence of Chinese culture has on both the parade and the city.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Wasteland

This Wasteland, drawn by KCE Gleghorn of EQUUS Machine FX, is a highly detailed computer graphic portraying how the act of war, renders what was once a thriving city and its surroundings into smoking ruin. Such an image provokes its viewers to remember T.S. Elliot's these lines from famous poem, The Waste Land,

Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn
A crowd flowed over London Bridge
so many, I had not thought death had undone so many.

Wars and death undo countless civilisations throughout history. From the time of the Romans to Nazi Germany, aggressiveness has countered with more aggression, all of which are "justified" by the different "righteous causes" such as sovereignty or removing the world of "evil". It sounds like the world we live in is like J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings universe, where evil masses together and looks hideous. When will the world finally see Man co-existing? Are we only going to stop the "eye-for-an-eye" principle when everything we hold dear in our hearts becomes part of a post-apocalyptic wasteland?


At first glance, I thought, "What an amusing photo!" It was something so innocent and yet it had such a sinister title, Devastation. Upon deeper contemplation, I realise that parallels can be drawn to us. Are we, the "paragon of animals", disturbingly similar to the sheep within? Our insatiable greed has also warped natural beauty into wastelands such as The Dust Bowl in America. Perchance this is why Man is at the apex of sentient life forms here on this planet. While sheep may only destroy local fields, Man's aptitude for destruction has a more far-reaching and alarming effects on nature. Vast spaces of not only land, but air and water have been made toxic because of our desire for the word "more". Ultimately, the sheep get bigger, fatter and are sent to the s-laughterhouse, tragic victims of their own greed. Looks like these sheep have to take a few lessons from their sheperd to reach the summit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Birth

Dear Readers,

It is my utmost regret to inform you that this "blog" will not be chronicling the days of my life. Instead I wish to harness the power of technology to overcome natural evolution, the homo sapien that I am, to reach out to the world beyond the four walls I live in to discuss æmaeth, or truth in philosophical terms. Call me old fashioned or ancient (the ancient Greeks did it too) as I prefer to sit down and discuss such topics over a meal or drinks but times have changed. Intellectual prowess must be chronicled my dear readers. Dark times are ahead. Saying all that, any contribution via comments would be greatly appreciated to enhance the quality of this platform.