littlewonder2

Little wonder we stumble in life.


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Logic, and its problems

Feeling, and instinct, are essential evolutionary traits to any conscious lifeform. An animal never wonders whether there’s more to life. Logic has its uses, of course; logic can help us to survive by rationalising our decisions. In combination with imagination, we were able to survive in the desert long enough to evolve and spread out. We even made logic a cornerstone of civilisation, and ingrained into our education system, especially in subjects like mathematics. But we are not built to be creatures of pure logic, nor should we be.

In the Star Trek universe, Vulcans have often been interpreted as creatures of pure logic, and I have said before this is an idealisation. Yet despite what the Vulcans themselves probably like to believe, they are not creatures of pure logic. To compare them to the Romulans, both peoples share one important difference: one believes in peace, and the other in war. These are cultural values, and cultural values are never, and should be never, a purely logical concept. To reduce it to as much is to take something essential away, to reduce a people to a lost child. This is a concept tackled in Star Trek The Motion Picture through V’Ger, and it remains an important narrative.

I believe all cultures require a feeling in order to understand, more than a direct translation: there is no such thing as a direct translation in either language or culture, and to rely strictly on any set phrases is to sell yourself short. The trick is not to understand another culture through your own, but to understand another culture in its own original context. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it takes instinct, which even the most detached beings have, to understand others. It’s only a matter of finding similarities, things that resonate, to guide you there. Especially if you find a resonant culture, this is possible. However, it also takes and keen and open eye to new perspectives to really immerse yourself in it. And in the end, it’s all worthwhile when you’re heart’s in it.

We are not empty beings. Logic can be a powerful tool, but it can also be a sanctuary from life. Life is messy, but you can only hide in it for so long before you lose yourself in it. To the lucky ones who break out of this rut, it may not seem like it, but it is a good thing. Because logic is a rut to hide in, an enabler of all the shame within a person. When Darwin released his Origin of Species and revealed humanity’s ancestry, it threw this shame into the spotlight: the most civilised humans simply couldn’t deal with the truth. They wanted to continue to hide, but that didn’t last forever. Today, we are stepping more into the light, learning to embrace our flaws more, although shrouds still remain all across our world. However, as the world continues to change, perhaps civilisation will eventually cease to define itself by clinging to logic; or perhaps it will simply find new ways to hide.

Social media might be the modern equivalent, and perhaps that’s understandable. We all need our masks; it’s when those masks become horcruxes that truly turns us to dark magic. To choose what is easy over what is right, to extend the Harry Potter reference, is what really does us damage. Let’s look at Voldemort for a second, because to create a horcrux in the first place is to literally commit an act that would tear you apart; and Voldemort has done that seven times. You wouldn’t imagine it to think of him, but each of these acts really holds so much power ove him, these kills far less than the casual way he presents himself, that you can’t but wonder at the soul that still remains in him. To bring the concept back to social media is look at the way people use it. Because, like logic, it can be defined both has a tool and as a mask. But when people live their lives through that mask, instead of living their lives as they are, in short if they start living their lives as if the mask is their real selves, then they are only then creating their own horcrux, and running from who they are. Because if any medium means so much to them, it’s only because they’re using it as a mirror to their real lives, untouched from the selves contained within.

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The Spock Narrative

I fell into the Star Trek fandom again. Inspired by this, because I felt there was a particularly absent Spock perspective on their relationship in original Spirk songs, as this is the second Spirk song I’ve heard and it was also from Kirk’s perspective. First is here.

As I’m not very musical, these are just lyrics. As there’s no music attached, you’ll just have to imagine.

You give me something I’ve never known before
And there is no logic in it
It’s hard to know what I need more
You dare me to lose you every minute

Can it be I trust you because you feel?
Maybe I’m just too addicted
Because I don’t think I could ever heal
When I see you stray, I am left strickened

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you

Whenever you touch me, my nerves alight
Mind over matter, I focus on you
I make sure to keep my body packed tight
Minds joined, I understand everything you do

Whenever you smile at me, I feel seen
Though I have no need for emotional security
Yours I will be and ever have been
I’d do anything to keep you in safety

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Oh show me words I used to know
the man I was channelling Show me

I couldn’t stand it, the feelings inside
I must close off the pain, feeling so wrong
Let my hair grow long, need Vulcan to hide
I should have it known it all along

And there you were, so open and proud
Yet I couldn’t even look back at you
You had a way of getting through this cloud
I never knew what I was about to do

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Until this moment

This is my interpretation of their relationship, but there’s another perspective I need to explore. I recently saw The Spock Resonance from the most recent season of the Big Bang Theory, and I keep thinking about it. It isn’t as though I didn’t know Sheldon thought differently of Spock than I do, but given that his history with Spock and Star Trek runs far deeper than mine, it surprised me that the way he sees Spock would be so ignorant.

So the way Sheldon sees it, Spock lives in a world of pure logic, and perhaps this was an idealisation of Spock, whose logic he’s always admired. But he has also admitted in the past that he ships Kirk and Spock, so I wonder how he ships them. There is certainly enough evidence in the original series for both physical connection and, dare I say, emotional connection. There is certainly loyalty, and friendship; protectiveness and relief. Spock sticks as closely to Kirk as Kirk does to him, and he even smiles when he learns he didn’t kill Kirk on Vulcan in Amok Time from the second season. Perhaps Sheldon, understanding arguably less about narratives than I do, simply took this at face value, not recognising the contradiction between this emotional connection and Spock’s so-called pure logic. Perhaps he shipped it out of some need in him to share a connection with someone, even while his need for detachment through logic created a wall of denial of this side of himself. Both sides are a part of him, and yet he chooses only to see the dominant feeling, through a compulsion to protect himself from the chaos of feeling.

The most obvious and important part of this evidence of duality lies in Star Trek The Motion Picture, the first of the TOS films, and my favourite area of the Kirk/Spock canon. In my opinion, this film is second only to The Search for Spock in terms of film canon. After watching The Spock Resonance in season 9 of The Big Bang Theory, more than anything I’ve been tempted to give Sheldon my blow-by-blow of this movie; but given his just-as-fictional reality, I’ll do it here.

So the first we see of Spock, he’s in Gol undergoing Kolinahr. This parallels Sheldon towards Amy in The Spock Resonance, since after their season 9 breakup, Sheldon swears off women entirely. Although this is a trope in many men post-breakup, I think with Sheldon it carries more weight as he is more physically restrained than many other men, making him a more direct parallel with Spock here. I don’t know whether you could call whatever happened to Kirk and Spock leading up to this first scene a breakup, but what does become clear is that it was Kirk who drove him here. And you have to understand this was a long time coming; it goes way back to Spock’s admission in TOS that, “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.” Although when he served with Kirk on the Enterprise, he didn’t resist the little things like touches and looks, that shame continued through their relationship — again, this parallels Sheldon in an earlier season of BBT, when he says, “What has that little vixen done to me? Amy has altered my personality.” This background in both cases has led to Spock stopping the ritual, an action with no pure logic in it, but instead an emotional reaction. Spock reached out during the ritual to stop the necklace because he knew there was still something unresolved in his heart that brought dishonesty to the ritual; much the same way as Sheldon got a song stuck in his head in season 9 that eventually reminded him how much he loved Amy, leading him back to her.

The next time we see Spock, he has come aboard the Enterprise, probably after monitoring its activity going by his actions once aboard, as well as the timing. Here we come to another parallel within the film itself, that of the other Vulcan employed by Kirk, who I think he hired in part as a replacement for Spock. That’s why he appeared so shocked when Spock stepped onto the bridge: I don’t think Kirk ever expected to see him again. But in fact, that Vulcan officer was his excuse in, and I think Spock needed that. As Spock distracted himself from Kirk with his work, arriving without an excuse would have exposed him and whatever his true intentions were, when he likely didn’t know yet what he wanted to do beyond facing Kirk again. No matter how happy Kirk was to see Spock in either case, Spock needs duty first, before he can acknowledge anything approaching his feelings. This is similar to Sheldon too, as he briefly tried to replace Amy with a woman he would meet through craigslist, though he soon abandons her for fine details, probably at least in part indicating that he’s still too stuck on Amy to move on. But before he could go back to her, she first had to invite him in. Even when she did, like Spock, he was resistant at first, until he reached his revelation and finally returned to her.

I have read a theory that light and shadow factors into the TOS movie; the black clothing and shadows on Spock’s face when he boards the Enterprise contrasts sharply against the lack of shadows and white clothing in the hospital bed when Spock has his revelation about Kirk. There is also the parallel between Decker and Ilea, down to her vow of celibacy and last heartrending separation with Decker, which remains relevant to Kirk and Spock despite the fact we don’t know how they were separated. In fact, we don’t even know how Decker and Ilea were separated. Nostalgia is also used, with a brief shot of Spock in his familiar blue uniform between arriving and his first private conversation with Kirk, as well the line that follows in the next scene, “I need him” which was first said in Charlie X and directly contrasts Spock’s current, even mocking attitude of detachment. This is also repeated in the hospital room, and in both these occasions Kirk said this in white rooms, signalling unambiguous honesty, as well as vulnerability, using the light metaphor. This begins in the next scene, with only Spock, Kirk and McCoy present. Despite his intimate past with Kirk, and perhaps due to the post-conditions of Kolinahr, Spock stands as stiff as ever, and refuses to even sit down, as even that will make him feel vulnerable, as if his will is not his own; and Spock, especially in this moment, needs control over anything else. He is still afraid, still ashamed, of the connection they share. But Spock does sit down eventually, perhaps foreshadowing the outcome of this movie. Perhaps the closest equivalent in Sheldon’s relationship is his trip to the Aquarium with Amy, and the awkward conversation in the car, between Amy mirroring Kirk by trying to relax the situation, and Sheldon mirroring Spock by mocking the situation, by addressing the elephant in the room: Sheldon asks the questions friends don’t ask, just as Spock makes the stiff business-like bargains against Kirk’s personal of “I need you”.

As the movie continues, Spock continues to play the part of ship crewman, but even as they descend into the cloud towards V’Ger, Spock is already standing next to Kirk closer than the average crewman; observe Decker standing behind the barrier to the left, and Spock in front as Kirk’s right hand man. This may have been a brief, simple pretext to be next to the captain for a moment, as he’s soon back to his chair again. However, as Kirk moves the ship in closer to V’Ger, a pillar of lightning enters the bridge to tap into the computers. And here’s where it gets interesting, because there’s four main players in this next scene. Decker, Kirk’s parallel, tries to work on the computer. At Kirk’s commentary on the problem, Spock reacts by damaging the computer to cut off access. As a result, Spock’s parallel, Ilea, is attacked because of Decker and taken by V’Ger. So firstly, we have Kirk/Decker as instigators, then Spock/Ilea as defenders and in turn revenge victims. I have mentioned the woman from craigslist in BBT, but I haven’t mentioned Amy’s parallel, the British boyfriend. He may represent at least at least a subconscious desire to replace Sheldon, as he at least somewhat mirrors him in that he’s tall, as well as his unfortunate overt enthusiasm for Sheldon, which breaks through her desire for subtlety in his attributes. However, she is eventually able to dismiss even this in her desire to chase after Sheldon, up until the point he wins her back. These mirrors both show desire and loyalty in the main ships.

V’Ger then drew the ship even closer to itself, and Spock didn’t seem at all resistant. In fact, since first contact with V’Ger, it seems Spock has had direct mental contact with the unit, allowing Spock to see and know more about it than the rest of the vessel. He probably knew how it thought, and this has probably attracted Spock to it. Because there’s the mission, and then there’s Spock’s personal thoughts and feelings. He wants to be as logical as possible, which he equates with morality through restraint, and even with these small emotions and inclinations, his thoughts aren’t on Kirk; he wants to be closer to V’Ger in order to attain this enlightenment through pure logic. So he finally steals a spacesuit and heads out to meet V’Ger. And as all this is happening, V’Ger’s probe/Ilea is moving in the opposite direction by discovering feeling through Decker, and thus higher meaning through that feeling. Up until now, Spock has had a kind of contact with V’Ger, but until meeting on the other side he didn’t have a strong enough connection to achieve his ends. But when he attempted a mind meld, he was filled with the empty thoughts he would have ended up with had he undergone Kolinahr, and he understands now why he couldn’t go through with it. When Sheldon and Amy were apart in season 9, both also headed into opposite directions, with Amy moving towards forming new connections with other men, and Sheldon moving towards detachment. Although Sheldon didn’t deal well with this separation, he clung to this detachment even when Amy admitted she wanted to be his girlfriend again. Like Spock, he did this on principle: the fact that he needed to be her friend reflects his need to cling to detachment and run from his feelings, just as Spock has always done especially by clinging to duty and business-like statements.

Then we get to the famous hospital scene, and McCoy is speculating Spock’s condition. At the words, “The power pouring through that mind meld must’ve been staggering,” Spock laughs. Because he knows, it wasn’t immense power, but its opposite. V’Ger doesn’t have the answers Spock thought it did, but questions. It understands far less than even Spock has achieved in his life. Even Spock has feelings for Kirk, has hopes, and V’Ger has none. This is not something to aspire to, but to avoid devolving into. When Sheldon goes mad trying to figure out the song in his head, he eventually figures out it’s because of Amy, because it reminds him of her. Like Spock’s mind meld, Sheldon undergoes a mental journey which leads to the revelation that compells him back to the one he loves. This leads to a final famous scene of their reunion, and a kiss that has lost all its stiffness, the equivalent to Kirk and Spock’s handholding.

In the very next scene, he underscores this by explaining that V’Ger is a child. This parallels much of Sheldon’s character, as Sheldon is often compared to a child, yet his connection to Amy, much like Spock’s connection to Kirk, makes him better. Sometimes he still fears his vulnerability through this connection, but both Spock and Sheldon eventually come to accept this love over that fear. When V’Ger merged with Decker, that new life, that ascendence provides the perfect metaphor of this.

There are plenty of weighted phrases from Spock that reflects his own feelings as well as the the original context they were spoken in. He says “curiosity,” as both an expression of V’Ger’s spirit as well as his own attitude towards the entity, says, “It knows only that it needs, Captain. But like so many of us, it does not know what,” reflecting both V’Ger’s current conflict and his own recent one, and “Unfortunately, it will have to deal with [human emotions] as well,” regarding both the new V’Ger and himself into the future. In this way, V’Ger serves as a parallel to Spock as well. And in many ways, there is a resonance to Sheldon too, as these quotes may all apply to his life as well. Although curiosity could easily be explained in many contexts, it is personal curiosity that matters here, and perhaps what kept him near Amy at the beginning at least. Not knowing what he needed probably kept him from discovering the truth about how not only Sheldon’s relationship, but how it changed him, until it was too late to stop it. And now that he does know, the last quote comes into play, in that no matter how he might wish to return to the safety of 2003, he has simply changed too much to go back. So perhaps these comparisons didn’t all happen in the same order, but we can see that there are many similarities between these two ships to link them, making them mirrors in different worlds. And perhaps the most important link of all between them is that they will always find their way back to each other.


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Role Models

So lately, I’ve watching a lot of Youtube, especially Shane Dawson’s channel(s). Even though he’s more sexual than my usual Youtuber (take Ashley Mardell, for example), I really like him. I think part of it has to do with his sense of humour; I think we probably have a similar or the same sense of humour. But I think there’s also more to it than that, under the surface of that humour. He has an average figure, like to eat, as expressive eyes and hilarious expressions, and a bad childhood. He’s not afraid to show himself, yet there’s plenty of self-deprecation in his videos; he even has body dismorphia issues. He has 6 million subscribers, a ship with Joey Graceffa, and well-produced videos. I hate to say this, but the dude’s an inspiration. An inspiration to ordinary people like me, to teach us that we matter, and that it’s okay to take chances sometimes.

One of my favourite Shane Dawson videos.

But this also got me thinking about role models. And I’ve had my fair share of favourite actors, like Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman, but the thing about this is I think there was this assumption that favourite actor = crush, which equalled awkwardness with dad when I was looking at all Rickman’s movies. But it wasn’t like that at all.

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Even Benedict Cumberbatch thinks he looks odd, but we all accept him, because we know he’s beautiful.

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But here’s the thing: why are our role models always men? Why don’t we ever get inspiration from women celebrities. Mainstream media would have us model the Kardashians, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, etc., which just makes me think female celebrities are wrecked. But even Kristen Stewart gets the short end of the stick. For one thing, people think she’s an emotionless bitch. But the truth, when she played Bella from Twilight, she was only being true to the character. Bella was the emotionless bitch.

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Jodie Foster’s article on Kristin Stewart talks more about this whole thing. But there is one more thing I should point out, which is that when Stewart had an affair with the director of that Snow White film she was in, no one blamed the married man, they all blamed the celebrity slut. Even if she chose to do that of her will, she is a victim of her own surroundings, and not nearly as culpable as the director who may well have taken advantage of her for all we know. Slut shaming and victim blaming are both wrong things to do. I’m not even a big fan of Stewart, but this article really turned me around on her.

As for celebrities I am a fan of, I’d say Olivia Wilde, Katie McGrath, and Kari Byron would be among them. I like them for their characters and convictions mainly, and yeah, I could say they’re also inspiring. But media are also more inclined to turn them into sex symbols, which is a shame, because in this case, they’re also more than that, and should be seen as such. Here’s hoping more fangirls, at least, can come to find inspiration in these kinds of role models, too.


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The Ghost Story vs The Supernatural

Today in class we focused on ghost stories and the supernatural; and during the portion of the class dedicated to ghost stories, most people in class had some story to tell about hearing voices, dogs reacting to sounds, minor mysteries and the sort. The whole time, I was repressing a story of the night I spent in a haunted house and the gate that wouldn’t open, because I mean, that’s not a ghost story. Freak accidents aren’t ghost stories, at least not to me. There are no ghosts involved in what’s happening here, and there was a rational explanation for every single one.

But then the teacher said, that in writing ghost stories, you cannot rationalise anything you are writing about. The second you do, the story loses its essence and becomes real; that is, it loses its believability.

But the thing is, none of these stories were believable, at all. So when the teacher asked if ghost stories had any place in the modern world, I shook my head and answered with an emphatic ‘no‘.

But that isn’t to say it hasn’t been successfully done. Supernatural, for example, or Ghostbusters. These are both popular fictionalisations of that kind of world, and the world is constructed well enough to be believable. So obviously it can be done. What I think I meant is, I can’t do it. I rationalise things constantly; if I didn’t, I’d think I was a moron and would probably hate myself. So I personally couldn’t write a ghost story.

But then we come to the supernatural, and here is where things change a bit. Because while I don’t believe in either the supernatural or ghost stories in real life, the supernatural is more believable on a fictional plane. Perhaps because practically speaking, the supernatural requires a lot more than just psychological moronic impressions to prove. Yes, the creation of impressions over the rational is probably still required, but not as much.

In Supernatural, although I remain a skeptic reluctant to accept  things like that salt can get rid of spirits, when it comes to the world of angels and demons, that is constructed more intricately, so I can believe it more. That’s the sort of thing I mean.

So in saying that I couldn’t write a ghost story, but I could probably write a fantasy or supernatural story, what I mean is that I could better believe in a fantasy world containing both the impressions of reality and the mechanics of it, rather than just a world of lucidity alone. That’s the kind of story I strive for.


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The Symptom of Individuality

The lobotomy was created in the 30s and later gained popularity for patients displaying things like anxiety, among other things. This was the part that hit me hard; I’ve suffered from anxiety from a young age, and imagining being giving a lobotomy for such a minor problem in comparison to its solution is horrifying. If I had gotten one before I turned 14 (I sincerely hope they didn’t give lobotomies to children), I’d have never become a writer, because it would’ve cut me off from all kinds of creativity or even identity. Lobotomised victims even lost interest in their own lives, not surprising since they were also cut off from being itself.

Lobotomies were used for depressed patients, but it’s little wonder that the treatment didn’t make that problem worse, since both depressed and lobotomised people perceive no point in functioning. It’s likely that the times the treatment was popular in reflected attitudes of behaviour; instead of embracing individuality, it seems as though people prized good behaviour and civility. Anybody who didn’t conform had to be fixed.

This is a terrible attitude to have. I personally find it horrific that people would go to such extremes to control others. It seems to glorify ignorance (seen but not heard) and punish rather than treat those who struggle to fit into society. I personally prefer the idea of shaking the world up and promoting open-mindedness.

That’s why I’m a writer. I want people to understand people, which is the exact opposite of the effect the lobotomy had.


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Women are good for: Inventions

This morning, I woke up thinking of The Simpsons. Specifically, I was thinking of a scene in Season 17 in which they

The conversation about women's inventions that sparked this post. (Image not exact)

The conversation about women’s inventions that sparked this post.
(Image not exact)

were in the kitchen arguing about what women have ever invented over men, with Homer pushing that women aren’t as good as men because they’ve never invented much whereas men have invented everything good.

Even if you ignore the fact that women have had to deal with large amounts of sexism that would prevent them from inventing anything, there had to be a counter-argument to that question.

I knew for one thing (having heard about it in a documentary) that a woman had invented farming (sure, it created war and disease, but it also freed man to evolve into civilisation), but I didn’t know much more than that.

So I decided to look it up. I found this link listing a top 10 things invented by women. Instead, though, I’ve decided to list my own similar top 10:

10) Medical Syringe

9) Circular Saw

Among the Shakers, a woman noticed the inefficiency of the two-man saw and invented this alternative, which wastes no movement at all.

8) Fire Escape

7) The Compiler and COBOL Computer Language

This was an invention created by an Admiral, which turns human commands into computer code.

6) Coloured Flare System

An invention started by her husband but finished by his wife when he passed away, she never got all the money owed to her from this invention.

5) Submarine Lamp and Telescope

Women gave us the first glimpse of the ocean floor.

4) Dishwasher

Far from being a housewife invention, the woman who invented this was sick of her servants damaging her china, and invented the dishwasher, selling it businesses before catching the eye of women in the workplace.

3) Life Raft

2) Kevlar

A steel-like fabric, it can be used for everything from bullet-proof vests to radial tyres.

1) Farming

Far back in mankind’s past, a woman sowed the seeds of farming, opening mankind up to creating food for themselves.


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Writing is like Exercise

I was recently rewriting my About Me page, when I started thinking about hobbies I enjoy. One of them, which I didn’t mention, is Boxing.

Recently, within the last two months, I’ve started eating healthily and exercising. I now go to the gym and I have a personal trainer named Jess. I often do boxing exercises when I work out with Jess; I find it motivates me, I enjoy it, and I’ve always carried a store of anger with me that it lets me express.

Exercise also helps me in my writing, if for no other reason than my characters live active, dangerous lives, and working my body helps me put myself in theirs.

But I’ve also begun thinking recently that, although many writers don’t do a whole lot of exercise — indeed, for a while in my own writing, I’ve used the fact that I’m a writer as an excuse why I didn’t have to exercise — the two activities aren’t so different.

Both require discipline of sorts. Both are beneficial; one to the mind, and the other to the body. I’ve even begun to think that the two things together are important to the whole, that a person needs both to be a satisfied or balanced person.

Balance, I’ve thought for a while now, is important in anyone. Not extremes, which makes you biased and closed-minded, but a medium between them.

Of course, I believe that bias is inevitable in any person. No matter who you are, I believe there’s always something to overcome. But the point is, in the case of brain vs. brawn, of athletes versus writers, there need not even be a contest.

If books are soul food, then exercise is just as important for movement. That feeling in your muscles… is life speaking to you. And that’s just as important as the words you use to describe it.