Contemplation

Random Thoughts #1

This post is just me casually rambling about random stuff and taking a break off my exhausting work life and other things. I will share some stories about myself; my views on contemporary politics, gender pronouns, and why I think a lot of society’s problems will never be solved. Like usual, I will be speaking my mind and be myself. I like blogging probably because it is one of the places where I can be myself without following dumb rules, walk on eggshells, or hear someone whine, cry, or complain.

Just the other day, someone told me that they think I am very smart (the best of all compliments). Believe it or not, I went from nearly bombing high school and almost couldn’t graduate to a straight A university student. Going to school back in the days always felt like it was a prison for me. I am not very good at working within constraints and rules—even if this is almost impossible in today’s world. A lot of times, professionalism is just another word for social control these days. I tend to break a lot of rules and not follow rules that makes no sense. For me, rules are guidelines, not shackles. Random story: I was a bad kid when I was young. I had my first fist fight when I was in grade 5 over breaking a piece of ice on the ground during recess (possibly the dumbest thing anyone can have a fist fight over). I became friends with the dude I fought.

I often find myself speaking in a different wave length than most people I encounter. This is probably because I am a huge skeptic who is concerned about how and why something works (I am most skeptical of humans—I will get to this later). It might be why I lean towards philosophy more than the sciences even if the latter also fits the bill (science definitely have its place because I am very much a realist—even if my life pursuits so far hasn’t always been very “real” / practical). In my intellectual studies, the first question that I attempt to understand about the world is how anyone can understand the world in the first place—including myself (i.e. why do I think and understand something the way I do?). Hence, the word “understanding” is two fold: it consists of understanding how others understand, and in what conditions allows me to understand others in X number of ways (i.e. some immutable conditions applies: I exist in space and time, I am a conscious / unconscious being with a unique history, culture, etc. I interpret them through a certain context). This is to say that for me, I am interested in the question of hermeneutics (the study of interpretation) and how human beings interpret the world, produce meanings and knowledge in the first place; whether it be cultural, political, philosophical, or scientific. I am interested in why people interpret things the way they do (i.e. events, books, situations, problems, etc.).

Through my studies of deconstruction, psychoanalysis and other disciplines, I intuitively developed a “theory (philosophy) of everything”. One can even say that my world views are oriented towards a certain form of “metaphysics of difference” which is grounded in real phenomena such as space and time. Anyone who read my blog long enough and plowed + deciphered my gibberish might be able to tell by now. I tend to think and write in metaphors and anyone who can’t catch on might have a difficult time understanding some of my writings. Most of my posts are just metaphors on top of metaphors placed into different contexts. Speaking of psychoanalysis. It is interesting because if you think about it, getting psychoanalyzed is literally the most “freedom of speech” thing you can do due to the concept of free association. You can say whatever you want during a session because that is what you are supposed to do.

You know, I have a general disinterest for identity politics—along with the whole political correctness and “cancel culture”. I am not denying that social injustice don’t occur (they happen daily). Nor do I think people should make excuses to justify their behaviors and actions. But I think some of the solutions offered today in regards to racism, etc. are more like bandages. While implementing some of these solutions might be better than nothing, they are not real solutions that can solve these issues once and for all. Whereas most other solutions seems to be more regressive than progressive. What I find problematic in these types of politics are people’s tendency to racialize and gender name everything and turn towards power (it seems crazy to me that someone can racialize mathematics). One of my friends once spoke about how important it is for people to come out as gay, but at the same time he was also like, “Who cares?”. Honestly, I cannot agree with him more. I find it fascinating today that proclaiming one’s sexual preference yields to some form of special privilege—that for example, Bobby would automatically think everything you say is always right (good luck with that). In reality, all I care about is if you have something interesting to say. I could honestly careless about your social status, sexual orientation, or skin color.

To be frank, I could also careless about gender pronouns. By saying this, I know some people are going to be like “Wow you are a transphobic XYZ!” even when I know I am not and once again, couldn’t care if someone identifies themselves as a flying hamburger (it’s a joke, calm down—but it would be funny if someone did). I am not against using people’s preferred pronouns, but I also don’t see much point in it. I remember I once had a graduate seminar where we had to introduce ourselves then tell people our gender pronouns. I thought it was cool story bro. It reminds me of Slavoj Zizek’s book called Incontinence of the Void when he compared sorting gender identities to people sorting garbage. It was a pretty savage analogy and charmingly hilarious because some people missed his point (Zizek was pointing out how people’s desire to produce gender identities is unconsciously fueled by their desires that are influenced by capitalism and consumerist culture). Obviously, people got offended. But hey its 2021, everyone gets offended.

Speaking of my humor. Some time ago, one of my friends on Discord was like “For most people, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this is not the case for Bobby”. I laughed really hard because it is very true. I enjoy turning everything into a parody / joke. This is how I keep myself entertained because I get bored very fast. Sometimes, it’s almost like the things people do today are so joke-like that it should be seen as a joke (other times, I just do it for fun). It is a bit absurd and funny how stupid and naïve some of the things people do these days—including the things that I do. But I enjoy having a good laugh regardless and not take things too seriously. It reminds me of people who reads Franz Kafka and thinks his stuff are depressing even when people reportedly hear Kafka laugh out loud while writing his stories late at night (probably due to how absurd they are).

Anyways, unlike my father and some of my friends who are interested in historical events and other facts, I am interested in why people do the things that they do. Throughout history, we see the rise and fall of empires, tribes, languages, and cultures. As some might say, all of these events represents the repetition of history in all sorts of ways. My interests in studying why people do what they do are my attempts to find the root of all issues and problems of our world in the biggest picture. For example, it is not just about how Genghis Khan conquered huge chunks of China and Asia, but why he did what he did. It isn’t just about Europeans colonized XYZ, but why they did what they did. And if anyone noticed, I am also fascinated by why I do what I do in my life.

I think humans are obsessed with revenge. This theme is literally found all over history. You even see this quite a bit in today’s culture which is found in films and other TV shows (just go watch the latest Marvel film). What does justice even mean these days? Revenge (and this is hardly a new idea). How do we stop this never ending movement of revenge and aggression? You can’t. I recall that I once spoke about the theme of forgiveness because it is impossible. Call me a pessimist, but I think people are too caught up in offering petty solutions to big problems that can’t be solved in our world today.

In my view, one of the reasons why many of our worldly problems cannot be solved has to do with two words: Human Nature. When used together, the words are contradictory because the former implies rationality and intelligence which functions beyond our natural instincts as animals. I think Sigmund Freud’s views on how humans are fundamentally aggressive animals is true. Civilization consists of humans who would eternally struggle between their instincts, desires, and the rule of law. As Freud would say, “Homo homini lupus” (latin)—a man is a wolf to another man. This is an interesting topic that fuels a lot of my intellectual curiosities. I think a utopian society is not possible. But maybe I am wrong and one day we will insert AI chips into our brains and become robots so we can become “perfectly human” (or would it devoid our imperfections and humanity?—an interesting question).

I once briefly read about the idea of decolonization where parts of its movement aims to produce a more diverse and inclusive society. While I completely agree that this is a good thing. But once I thought about it more, I realized that these people are basically trying to include marginalized people into an already globalized structure of capitalism that was invented by “white people”. Then suddenly, you realize that these so called decolonization enthusiasts are doing the opposite of what they hope to achieve. But to be fair, I am certainly nitpicking a bit here.

I am not sure if it is possible to decolonize our society today. In a practical sense, decolonization is certainly possible—i.e. make X land independent of Y; bring back lost cultural practices, etc. But I think it is more complicated than that (to be super honest, I think a lot of practices in my own Chinese culture makes no sense). I have a rather Derridean and metaphysical take on colonialism. Actually, I wrote about this in my final graduate seminar class. I argued that the act of interpretation is where the origin of colonial violence lies and that colonialism is unavoidable since it is part of the act of interpretation—such as how you are reading / interpreting this text. One can perhaps think of this simply as the first colonizers arriving at a foreign land and interpreting X through their own culture (ethnocentrism). Surprisingly, I was showered with praises on my familiarity of Derrida and contemporary philosophy. I received an A+ for that essay (never got an A+ in grad school before). I still remember it till this day because it made me very happy. I guess maybe it was because the compliment came from a fellow Derridean scholar. I will get back to some of this idea in another post.

You know, I once referred myself as a centrist. But on hindsight, I realized I don’t belong in the political spectrum. I think I exist in the margins which is perfect for me. I don’t mind existing in the margins. I enjoy staying in the shadows and trying to see things differently or indifferently from most people these days. Often, I will bring deconstruction and other philosophical themes into contemporary issues like racism, violence, etc. But someone will always say something like, “yeah this stuff you are saying is just ‘theory’ and don’t mean much, racism is real and happens to real people”. Sometimes, I really want to give them my classic ambiguous / sarcastic response: “Ok” (in a neutrally dismissive tone) because I don’t feel like wasting my breath. I have no idea when philosophy downgraded into “theory”. But what makes this ironic is that some of the people who said this were PhD students (PhD = Doctor of Philosophy). Maybe we should just call it doctor of theory just so they can hate their future degrees.

More food for thought: if you think about it, a theory in scientific context is sort of like a hypothesis that has not been scientifically proven. So it makes sense to call philosophy “theory” because a lot of it cannot be proven with empirical evidence since a big branch of philosophy is metaphysics. Yet, if you think harder, science is also a form a philosophy (scientists during the enlightenment used to be called “natural philosophers”). So if that is the case, would science also be called “theory”? Not sure if you get what I am trying to say, but the logic seems circular—I’ve been wrong before.

People sometimes think I live a privileged life. It’s interesting because some people think I am rich which is not true. My family was the first among my relatives to immigrate to Canada. My dad didn’t move over with us until later when he decided to give up his construction business in Hong Kong which he ran successfully. But it wasn’t always like this, before I existed, both my mom and dad’s family were quite poor in Hong Kong. They had a lot of siblings, and my grandfather on my dad’s side died in his early 50s from a heart attack. Being one of the oldest siblings, my dad started working when he was very young (basically child labour) and had to support a family of 10. He went from picking up shit in the shipyard to running his own construction business. He made a lot of money and took those money to immigrate to Canada so my sister and I could live a “better” life (whatever that means). When he decided to move to Canada, he had to start all over again and give everything up (only this time, he would be at a disadvantage because he is not good at English and knew nobody here). My dad is super hard working and even having moved to Canada, he worked 12+ hours a day for years including weekends. I still remembered he would sometimes come home from work at 1:00am and wake up at 6am just so he can do it all over again.

I guess it is fair to say that I am a spoiled little brat. But that is not because my family is privileged, but because my dad is very hard working, competent, and smart. He never complained about life being unfair (in many ways, he is a stoic, just like me—but I definitely complain more because I sometimes get tired of dealing with people making no sense). He knew long ago that life is unfair. He just worked super hard and learnt how to adapt. Whereas my mom had always been a good mom—even if I sometimes butt heads with her till this day (where are the Freudians at?). Whereas I work hard only on things that I am truly passionate about and interests me (though I still work hard at my job that is not very intellectually engaging). I think I am pretty good at solving complex puzzles—like reading and solving Jacques Derrida’s gibberish philosophy books and extracting his thoughts and metaphors in different ways. I think Alain Badiou described good philosophy very well: “Philosophy privileges no language, not even the one that it is written in”. And Derrida is definitely one of those philosophers who does this in his writing which makes him very hard to read (Lacan and Deleuze also does this).

Last random story: I remember back in my undergraduate studies, I took a class on material culture and how the objects we own speaks about us. We had an assignment where we made a list of all the objects in our rooms. The list was anonymously given to another student where they had to present their findings to the class and guess who the person is. They also had to draw what they believe this person is like and share it with the class. I remember the person who analyzed my room objects was like “this dude is literally sitting on a pile of gold” and drew me laying down on a pile of gold. It was hilarious and got the class laughing. I forgot what my list was like, but I am sure it had a shit ton of rare mint condition fashion magazines and books that are now worth well over $1000 combined (back then I was really into fashion photography and how it intersects with art). All my cameras, lenses, and desktop computer in my room were also worth quite a bit (I am a gamer). If anything, my room probably acquired more “gold” because I became an audiophile and own a lot of really expensive IEMs. I also built a new desktop computer from ground up and have a decent speaker system. The only difference is that instead of fashion magazines, my bookshelf is now filled with philosophy books and literature.

Speaking of gaming. I recently played Cyberpunk 2077, Rust, and Escape From Tarkov. I am a big fan of first person and dystopian themed games. I’ve been a gamer all my life—even if I have less time to do such thing due to life obligations. Maybe I will share some of my gaming adventures some day. Anyways, I must say that I enjoyed my time not writing so much on here, but I will try to write more random stuff and eventually share some bigger philosophy posts. It’s time for bed.

Until next time,
B.

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