Sunday, September 24, 2006

By Zeus!

Maybe it’s because I’m studying him at two in the morning or because I am running on a stomach full of weak tea with no sugar, but Socrates (or should I say Plato) is driving me crazy.

I fully appreciate the need for argument and for clarification of important things like holiness and justice and virtue in order to be “better men” as the man himself put it, but right now, I really cannot stomach another Socratic dialogue.

To my tired mind, this is what a Socratic diatribe reads like:

A Treatise on Pigs (or, Socrates as interpreted by me).

Socrates: By the dog! What is a pig?

Random Conversant Who Will Eventually End Up Thinking That Socrates Is The Most Wise and Godlike Human He Has Ever Met: Well, Socrates! There are big pigs and small pigs and fat pigs and thin pigs and…

Socrates: I did not ask you what variations pigs came in! I don’t care if they come with or without wings. What I really want to know is: What is this piggishness which makes a pig a pig and which makes all pigs similar and identifiable as pigs?

RCWWEEUTTSITMWGHHHEM: Well, duh-uh, I’m so stupid Socrates, I don’t think I get what you mean.

Socrates: Think about it this way RCWWEEUTTSITMWGHHHEM, can I call you HHHEM? What makes a pig a pig? Is it that it has four legs? Well, by Zeus a cat or dog may have four legs. Maybe it is because it is pink. Well, many other things are pink. Maybe because it is a bristly thing that squeals and snorts in a certain way. Now HHHEM! Here is another question for you while we’re at it because, you know, my purpose is to confuse you and make you feel stupider than you already know you are.
Is it bristly and snorty because it is a pig or is it a pig because it is bristly and snorty? Aha! Riddle me that you sucker!
AND! Is a pig a thing of knowledge? Is it something that we can LEARN? Or is it something that is naturally occuring in the most lucky of us, that we are born naturally knowing what piggishness is and understanding the fundamentals of piggishness? Can piggishness not be taught?
I put it to you, good HHHEM. What is a geometrically perfect pig? Is a pig that is twice as long in length and breadth also a pig that is twice as large in surface area? Does a pig that is twice as large in surface area make curry that is twice as good?
And really, before we answer all those things, pray tell me, once and for all, what is a pig?

I’m sure he was very intelligent and his work was invaluable to humanity in many ways. I just don’t think I would be a very effective Philosophy student at all.
Give me my crazy people and I’m all set.

PS For best results, substitute the word “pig” with “honour”, “justice”, “goodness” or “holiness”. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Just In

Besieged by the midnight munchies, I cut up a small mango which I was eating with chilli powder and salt when Chip came nosing around for some food. I fed him a couple of plain mango slices and then he got really noisy and greedy, whining in that small dog- suppressed way where his mouth is closed and a high-pitched, reedy sound issues from the sides of it.

I wanted to shut him up, but wasn’t sure how till I hit upon the idea of dipping a mango in my chilli-salt mixture and feeding it to him. Well, the silly dolt didn’t bother to smell it, but put it in his mouth whole.

As soon as the chilli touched his tongue, he spat it out like a T-Rex expectorates bones and stood in the greatest puzzlement, staring at the reddened mango and licking his stinging mouth. Then he emitted an angry, long-suffering huff, dipped his nose in his water bowl and scoffed his way back to his cushion looking for all the world like a spurned lover who was pretending not to care.

And then, all whines stopped together.

AHAHAHAHAHA! Damn, I love that mutt.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Meet Swubby-Sundae

Ladies and gentlemen!

I proudly present to you the newest acquisition in my menagerie: Swubby- Sundae.

Swubby is a pedigree short-horn who was previously bred for competition but who jumped the fence as soon as he got the chance, and showed up on M’s doorstep one rainy night. Because I am the only living person who can simultaneously keep crazy animals and ensure that they stay with me, M handed him over for temporary custody until we find him a better home.

He was named because he looks like a Swubby and his body is black on top and white on the bottom, just like a good ice-cream sundae should be (unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, of course).

Just because I’ve named Swubby and give him a place to sleep, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that he’s actually dependent on me in anyway. Oh no. Swubby is one of the most independent, mischievous amd irreverent… erm… cows you will ever meet.

In fact, I only recently discovered his wanderings and compiled them into a series of candid shots, taken when I followed him over the course of one week. As my little contribution to the Singapore Biennale, I present:

~~The Swubby-Sundae Photo Essay~~

Swubby-Sundae starts his day by waking up from sleep. Although he is supposed to sleep in my bed, he has recently been caught sharing a cushion with Chip. I am not sure what this means, but I am prepared for the worst news and will always love him regardless of his orientation.

He then heads to work to type out several work documents…

Align Center
Read meeting minutes recorded by his subordinates

And of course, indulge in a little light flirtation with the office babes, who seem to like him very much though I have no idea why.

Swubby- Sundae, as I recently found out, is quite the prodigee when it comes to music. His tastes are electic and original, and while not rocking out with other virtuosos…

He is improving his drumming skills

And checking out the latest tunes on my brother’s – I mean, his iPod.

Of course, his interests are far more varied than that; I bring up all my pets to be intelligent and all-rounded. So he also engages in a little physical activity to flex his muscles. He seems to like tennis and boxing but his real passion appears to be arm-wrestling innocent passers-by.

He finally rounds off the day by playing a few games to exercise his intellect...

… which he often wins

The thing that amazes me most about Monsieur Sundae, however, is that everytime I arrive home, regardless of how many exploits he has engaged in for the day, he is right where I left him, quiet, well-behaved but always with a little twinkle in his eye.

The End!

Photos taken by:



Miss Geraldine
Fujitsu Lifebook

Thanks to:

The Swubby-Sundae Estate

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Light of a Dark Black Night

You don’t have to have lived for long to figure out that the old saying about friends staying in your heart isn’t true.

Sometimes even the best of friends go because like the tide, time and people ebb and flow. Friendship is not something you can predict or decide. I cannot hold on to someone who doesn’t want to hold on to me. I am not unduly distraught, but I feel a little sad and resigned.

It it not an easy or likeable thought that there are those who have decided to keep their distance. How strange it is that you can spend hours discussing the most mundane things with someone and that they can then turn around and decide never to see you again, that the memory of your time together is little more than an annoying blot, papered over.

How did we go from touching hearts to becoming blank walls?

Yes, there are those that have left and there are relationships that I know I will never salvage for in my mind I have long given them up as lost causes. But I sincerely hope this will never happen with anyone else that I know right now… for this friendship to become a myth that once might have been but that no one else can remember well enough to verify.

I love my friends and I won’t let them fade. I don’t want to look back for the millionth time and think “things will never be the same again”.

And on the one I love most of all, I cannot turn my back.

I don’t know how to stop the erosion of time, the staunch but gradual pull apart of photos from walls and hand from hand, that shameful creep of letters from wallets and artefacts into dark, tucked away corners.

It would be hard to be this happy all the time.

But to be this close, this near, this deeply enmeshed and embedded is something I have a little bit of control over.

So I won’t wait to tell her I love her. I will be the first to say sorry after a tiff. I will offer to care for her and stand by her for as long as we both shall live.

And I will love her, like I loved her the first day I fell for her, like I loved her when I could not have her, like I love her when he is with me. I will love her with a kind of love that doesn’t give up.

And from start to finish, I will be her friend.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taking four whole psychology modules seemed like a good idea at the time, really it did. Only sometimes I get swept up in the whimsy of the little Siegmund Freud cartoons in my head and forget what a technical subject it can be. There are ANOVAs and t-tests and diagrams and EEG readings and fMRI scans of the brain and lobes and cortexes and sulcuses and gyruses that need labelling and colouring and dissecting and inspecting. And mein Gott, it’ll whittle you down like a hungry dwarf hamster does a piece of chocolate. (I know I shouldn’t be feeding Angstrom chocolate, I know. But I keep asking myself, if I were a dwarf hamster, what would I want?)

And then there’s literature. I love literature, and while I don’t want to sound like an over enthusiastic anglophile, I like most books, films and I even like good poetry. There is an enormous catharsis in being able to write about something somewhat subjective and having a point of view. There is just one thing I cannot reconcile myself with at this moment: James Joyce. For the sake of this class, I have ploughed through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and will one day, come hell or highwater, make myself read Ulysses.

And while I have managed to get through the first book and understand it better now than when I first began, I can’t seem to make myself like it for the simple reason that I am a shallow sod. Strangely enough, I am one of the few people in class to admit that I don’t like it which is slightly suspect because I’ve never met anyone who has actually sung his praises (although M told me she met one such anomaly today).

Yes, it’s a novel about development and yes he does a wonderful job of undercutting himself with a “series of deflations” but somehow this doesn’t seem sufficient to me to garner the accolade of “most brilliant writer of this era” or something to that effect.

I persisted that despite everything, it was a novel of failure.

“But doesn’t a man deserve that kind of recognition to write so spectacularly about failure and about the reality of life?” Dr T. asked.

I am ashamed to say that I feel like the answer is no. Maybe this makes me a philistine because I cannot tell good writing and craftsmanship from bad and everything I write is as pompous and self-important as I imagine Joyce’s writing to be but I still can’t appreciate it as much as other novels of development like The Razor’s Edge. I suppose not understanding the history of Ireland and not taking it all apart enough has something to do with it.

It’s not the nicest thing to be laughed at in class, but it teaches you something about the things that you believe in and not to get tangled up in arguments that you cannot fully explain as yet. As M reminded me, we are only human and can only see things from the perspective we were born with, something I tend to forget.

But there is some consolation in knowing that I have the time to learn.

Until today, I was worried that I had been in university for three years and still had nothing to show for it. It felt like I hadn’t learnt enough about how to write or how to analyse things and question institutions.

Well, this afternoon, I found that there was a subtle difference after all. We aren’t as naïve as we once were, and a little less ignorant, if only a little. Someone once told me that graduating didn’t feel like accomplishing anything at all. Rather it was just one step on a longer and neverending journey of learning. The secret is in taking it all in your stride.

One day, I hope I’ll know what it is to read Joyce and like it. It’ll come with time, effort and a lot of patience. Till then, I’ll be content with doodling little sketches of Oedipus Rex during lectures.

And kicking ass at Roller Coaster Tycoon III.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On Desi Terms

A friend and I, discussing arranged marriage by internet:

Me: You should look for a tech savvy young man. And you can add that he must like “Long walk, children and the L- word.”

J: "Preferably not a computer or electrical/electronic engineer". How much do you think that'll narrow the search?

Me: Huh. There’ll be two boys left. One will be a really nerdy-looking, skinny sitar player. And the other will be gay.

J: Oh great. The prospects are looking soooo good.

Me: Well, you know. The sitar’s not so bad.