Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A weird dream

I'm not even sure whether i should pen this down but I just had the most fucking weirdest dream ever.

I dreamt that I was in Aunt Ah Ling's house with her son. Her son is quite the accomplished person, already earning around 4k in his early years. Now he started acting (in my perception) patronizing towards me and stuff and since we talked about how he can be prideful sometimes i whispered in his year that he is too prideful and all of a sudden it erupted into a full scale argument with me telling him that there are loads of people better than him or what not and all of a sudden it's all about revealing dark secrets in each other's family and god for some reason I actually dreamt about a very screwed up secret on my family's side being revealed and due to it's magnitude i decide not to pursue that matter any longer and have him and me apologizing to everyone and stuff.

My god that is such a mind freak. I had to write without punctuation because it's a dream sequence and it's way to surreal to fit into a grammatically perfect paragraph.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Meditation 1a: Hypocrisy is the Compliment Vice Pays to Virtue

I'm going to go ahead and assume, with my limited knowledge, that this statement means: When you are paying a compliment to those with a virtue while you yourself embody the vice that is the exact opposite of that virtue, you are being hypocritical. I am guessing the meaning of this quote w/o referring to official sources, but this is what i think it means.

Regardless, that'll be the title of this post, which deals with hypocrisy. Specifically, I'll talk about the most screwed up form of hypocrisy - the one where you internalize the hypocritical values that in truth you do not have. I'll deal with outward hypocrisy (or hypocrisy when dealing with people) in another post, as there are many reasons leading to it and differing ways to solve it.

How Does it Happen?
It's not hard to explain how hypocrisy is formed. It is what happens when you 1. want to do something or 2. have a value system that is at odds with a. the societal norm or b. someone you don't wish to contradict. To prevent any forms of conflict, you assume the value system/execute the action in tandem with the societal norm or the person in question. Take filial piety for instance. You are not a filial person but when facing societal norms, you internalize the value - but it is a very superficial internalization. You'll say to yourself: 'I must be a filial person because this is what society requires of me and this makes me a good person' but in truth you don't give a fuck about it. That's hypocrisy...or when you're jealous or don't really care about a friend but you tell yourself: 'I want to be good to him because that makes me a good friend'. In truth, you do so because you either envy him but he has something that you want or he is better/more powerful than you. That's hypocrisy.

Why is it bad?
Why is it bad then? I mean it's a very good system that prevents you from coming into conflict with external pressure and it's the best way to smoothen the two out without serious internal conflicts. Well, the main reason is simple : hypocrisy is lame. I don't have that high an opinion of many Christians but I'm going to quote a story from the Bible, whereby Jesus attacks the pharisees who extol certain virtues in public but indulge in their vices in private.The general idea of this piece is: why compliment a virtue when you can embody it? Since certain virtues are so good that the societal moral gravitates towards it and great people embody it, why make that your artificial side when you yourself can make yourself an exemplar of that value? Internalizing a value without much thought is laziness. You take in a value or attitude before thinking why it is actually good for you.

The thing about internalizing values and attributes which you don't really like deep down is that it brings about various consequences. The first thing is you'll feel very bad while adopting that value/attitude, and it's not going to last in the face of serious challenges. The second thing is, when you try to self justify your failures based on faux moral grounds (as a convenient excuse) you are, in fact, lying to yourself. The third and perhaps worst consequence is, all these things impede real character improvement ie. you'll think that you are really so when, in fact, you aren't. You do not even know why it's good for you.

How to solve
There is no quick and simple fix to the problem considering that there are so many factors leading to such a trait in one's life. If one decides to take a quick route out for fear of peer pressure or societal norms which are at odds with what he clearly wants, then he is internalizing hypocrisy.* The essence of preventing the internalization of hypocrisy is simple in principle: If a certain societal value is at odds with yours, carefully analyse whether it's good or not for yourself, without taking what people think of you into account (there are exceptions of course, such as the anguish of a friend or the hatred of an enemy). If it's good, then try hard to get rid of what you have at the moment. If not, then to hell with what other people think. One cannot satisfy everyone in this world. Document and think deep about every conflict that arises between your actions/values and that of the society's.    

The above can also be applied to self-image. Do not pretend to be responsible and mature when you are not. To repeat, if you think that it's good, you should try to embody that characteristic, otherwise, well, fuck it. By artificially embodying it you are depriving yourself of a chance at self improvement.

There is a very thin line when straddling between hypocrisy and the internalization thereof, and this is a trait in many people. However, always in life, one must understand that hypocrisy, when internalized, prevents the development of true character - and this is perhaps the main argument against hypocrisy.

*There is a saying by Plato/Aristotle/Socrates which says that one can only trul
** Next up: resilience, greed, and self-discipline

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

This blog was intended to express my feelings and thoughts on some matters but it is fast becoming some kinda movie review website. Nevertheless:

Yes my friends, the greatest western epic to be made by a non-American, which is also the best western epic ever. Sergio Leone's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is now considered a classic, and I believe that an American director will never have the kind of vision that he has. This is not because of their intellect or cultural training - rather, I think it has something to do with their cultural background. I think Leone, as an Italian,  distinguishes his western (aka spaghetti western) from other westerns due to the inclusion of epic themes (war) as well as a sweeping musical score.

Now, let me put out a disclaimer: I must say that this is not your typical 'deep' movie. You won't see deep moral messages or nuanced reflections on the state of the human psyche. Rather, it is a movie that gives you pure enjoyment - the kind of enjoyment which you can't find in the bumbling special effects of the Transformers trilogy or the soapy operas that are some Harry Potter films. Rather, it succeeds to impress through brilliant characterization, a strong, attractive storyline and the inclusion of the themes of war. There are two especially memorable characters in the film that I wish to mention here:

Senor Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, also known as The Ugly, is your simple run-off-the-mill bandit at first sight. He has no set rules that he lives by. When we are first introduced to him, he had killed, raped, pillaged, divorced, robbed, stole - simply put, every crime that you've heard of except treason was on the paper that the executor read out to a mob of fearful peasants before Tuco was hanged. Also, he tried to kill our protagonist twice - once by trying to strangle him with a rope and once by trying to walk him to death in the desert. Both scenes are equally sadistic and he relishes in it. And yet, when at last  we see him running towards his destiny - 8 bags containing $200k - with Ecstasy of Gold blasting in the background, I can't help but feel happy for this son of a bitch. He did a lot of bad things but deep down we really feel for a person whose unfortunate circumstances shaped him into what he is today. The scene with his brother and the interaction scenes with Clint Eastwood's character are to be credited for this.

The Union Captain. At the start, we were treated to scenes of Union victories and the Confederate armies retreating, but it is the Bridge Scene that carries the most gravity in the film when it comes to themes of war. It aims to show the pointlessness of conflicts, regardless of outcome. To me, that's the unofficial climax of the film. The union captain was introduced as a drunk soldier who jokes around with 'Blondie' and Tuco about things that his men were very serious about. He literally swaggers into the scene in the midst of disciplined soldiers and the onset of another melee. But then he says: 'Whoever has the most liquor to get the soldiers drunk and send them to get slaughtered, is the winner'. This is followed by him pleading the two 'civilians' to blow up the object of the melee between the two armies to stop the pointless bloodshed.  His death followed swiftly, but not before he saw his dream come into fruition - the end of the pointless melee, whereby 'so many men were wasted so badly'. As the bridge was blown up, the second part of 'fine di una spia' plays while the captain smiles trimphantly before his flame was snuffed out forever...

Yup that's it. Once again, the good, the bad and the ugly is not an arthouse film, but with all the elements of a good movie, it succeeds in impressing the viewers. It's definitely one of the best movies that I've seen in a while. Oh, and Ennio Morricone's filmscore - bloody hell, it's brilliant. Right up there with John Williams'. I'll be setting meself a new ringtone soon.

Oh, and a new quote: People who do great things normally set out to do something greater. That is perhaps the case with Sergio Leone.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011



令我最不能忘记的是结局时许文强在被枪杀前在酒吧对丁力的一番说话。。。不,可以说是冯敬尧死后的每一个情节我都不能忘记。我们来慢慢研究 (这中间穿插着很多个人见解):

1. 冯敬尧之死。冯敬尧死后,丁力满脑想的,不过是如何联合冯敬尧和其劲敌聂人王的残余势力来称霸上海滩。此时,北平大学出生的许文强却有点不屑地问他可否想过将要离开上海远扑法国的程程。当然,此时的丁力因认为程程对他多番羞辱,况且平时也没有尝试了解前妻的心理和感受,所以遇到这件难搞的事情时不予置理 - 当然,程程对他的感情也早已淡化。这里,我们已经可以看到两个人之间的明显对照。

2. 聂人王之死。丁力在这一方面显示出他的心狠手辣 - 上海出名交际花方艳云因他急于杀死聂人王而断送了性命。这也难怪许文强醒后悲愤地伸出手对他说: 恭喜,你已成为上海滩的霸主了。

3. 与程程的离别。冯程程是冯敬尧之女。她继承了这上海龙头巨豪的执著和坚决的理念。但是,名门出世的她却厌倦了上海滩的争权夺势而依然地决定了离开上海滩。之前和父亲对抗已经看出了她的自立,而从许文强枪杀了她的亲父后还能给他一个机会看来,我们充分了解到这个女子的心理 - 毕竟,许文强是她离开花花世界的唯一保证 (这是笔者的卑见)。

4. 餐厅内的一番对话。这是我认为最为震撼人心的一幕。在丁力对下人命令枪杀两个新来的对手时,许文强反讽地说如果冯敬尧有他心狠手辣,他俩早就横死上海*。许文强又指出了他最近和丁力的话少了。他说,一山不能容二虎,他和丁力迟早要反目成仇。丁力一笑置之。但洞悉人性的许文强知道丁力心胸狭窄,而这从丁力如何处理与程程的感情已看得出来。如果有一天他不知何故得罪了丁力的话,那时便会没完没了。所以,他委婉地和丁力说:不是丁力忍不了,而是怕他自己忍不了- 其中一人一定要离开上海滩。他也劝丁力不要自己骗自己。
当然,许文强和心理经历重大改变的丁力也已没有共同话题。 许文强要的是宁静,他厌恶了上海永无禁止的暴力 -- 一波又一波的打击让他完全放弃了他来上海要出人头地的初衷。丁力再帮冯敬尧合作时尝到了权力所带来的快感 -- 他要的是独霸上海法租界**。而到时,他的心理变化可能连许文强都无法预测。 到最后,许文强给了他的兄弟一个劝告 -- 法租界根本不可能平静,因为这不是掌管上海的法国人要的。从这里,我们更能看到许文强的远见和对大局观的掌握。

*原来在上半集中许文强也不肯交保护费给冯敬尧,但冯敬尧不但不生气,反而因欣赏许文强的胆识而有相识之意。他俩谈话间冯敬尧也从许文强的谈吐及理想中看到了年青时的自己,因此与他惺惺相惜。从这里我们可以看出冯敬尧的心胸 - 也难怪他会成为上海法租界的龙头。
* *我后来看了前半部,看到了丁力之前是如此地穷苦,也难怪钱和权在他心目中有如此崇高的地位。他之前的举动是可以了解得,只是后来控制不了(或是根本没有控制)自己的权力欲而变得贪得无厌。他的生命不是被理想所导引,而是占有欲。