Manichean Aesthetics – Everywhere

So I was reading this secondary reading on Manichean Asthetics for my South Asian Literature course. If you are not sure what the term means, Manichean dichotomy is basically a theory that views the world in binaries, possibly without grey areas. Like for instance: light versus dark, good versus bad.

The article applies the notion to colonialism, pointing out the series of double binds that the colonized are placed in due to the effect of colonization. One of the most crucial ones is probably the “savage” versus “vacant imitator” dichotomy. Basically, if the colonized chooses to stay by their own indigenous culture and reject colonial ideas, they are considered backward and savage. If they choose to accept and assimilate into colonial culture, they are considered “vacant imitators” who blindly follow others. Oh boy, is there nothing right a person can do.

Reading it I feel like like this form of unpleasant double bind is everywhere. Let me give you some examples:

  • A girl who is very picky is considered choosy and hard to please.
  • A girl who is easy going is considered “too easy a game”.

(I am not making the above up, I heard it from adult males, like seriously.)

Then more stuff comes along.

  • If you tell your partner something he did to upset you, you run the risk of offending him – especially if he thinks it is something unimportant therefore trivial – and he may in turn be upset by how “petty” you are.
  • If you don’t tell your partner about the annoying little thing he once did, chances are he may do it again and you will be upset again and it is not gonna sit well in the long run.

You see??

Being a human is really tough.

I have more examples:

  • If your angry mom scolds you and you try to justify and explain yourself, (some, mainly Asian) moms will see it as you being “disrespectful” and talking back to the authority.
  • If your angry mom scolds you and you stay silent – no that’s not a sign of your docility – it means you are being silently rebellious and “do you think being silent means you are not in hot soup?”

Bah. Double binds everywhere. More double binds:

  • If you tell your friends everything about you, it makes you very vulnerable if the day comes that you should fall out.
  • If you don’t tell your friends everything about you, it can come across as being not as sincere making it hard for you all to bond.

This one is easy, just tell them things you are comfortable with sharing. A quick survey with my classmates and friends all agree that everyone has a different threshold for sharing and need for privacy. Meaning, if they don’t want to tell you something, it is PERFECTLY normal. Really, it doesn’t mean they treasure you any less or place less importance on you.

I really like reading this article on Manichean Aesthetics. It is really thought provoking and though I think I am applying stuff all wrongly, it is still fun.

I need to stop with South Asian Literature and move on to Psychoanalysis. My Psycho-A is so dead.

Meh I have a lot of opinions on everything. (Surprise y’all! Why do you think I have a blog?)

I just don’t really feel the need to verbalize it or argue with others on what we think. Like if I think a certain manner, okay! If other people think a different manner, that’s cool too. I will nod at you in recognition that you share a different view, but I don’t necessarily agree with you.

I don’t think everyone needs to agree with each other all the time. It would make the world view very homogenous and boring. though extremists who disagree with each other violently are crazy scary too, so I don’t know which one is worse. Bland uniform world or one with people lunging at each others’ throats.

I am giving you a false dichotomy. Hehe.

We can disagree peacefully and judge people secretly HAHAHA. I keed.  I mean we can be all fluffy little unicorns embracing everyone and everything.

Though technically, I don’t think you wanna embrace a unicorn as you will be speared through your heart.

#randomrambles.

 

Antonio Gramsci is Haunting Me

Forget about Romeo. As in the Romeo in the classic of Romeo and Juliet.

Instead, remember Antonio. Antonio Gramsci. This dude has been haunting me and my modules since year 1.

I have a poem for him:

“Antonio! Antonio!

Wherefore art thou subalterns?

Deny thy oppressors and thy structure

Or if thou wilt not, then live subjugated

As cultural hegemony is everywhere.”

 

Okay that was lame shit. I had to get it out of my head though, or all throughout the day my brain chants “ANTONIO ANTONIO” as though it is calling out for some long lost lover (ooh alliteration!).

 

Why I am blank

If you have ever had an experience with me whereby you are talking to me and realized that I am suddenly not focusing – i.e. staring at you with a vacant expression and nodding mindlessly, it means that my mind has teleported itself, against my will, to some far off place.

Today is the day when I become conscious of it happening to me. A lot.

Early morning on the bus, I had all sorts of weird questions running through my head, first one being…

“How are the buses in Singapore numbered? How come there is no bus 1 or 2 or 3…but all sorts of complicated large numbers like 963 and 990?”

(I went to google after that, and supposedly there is a pattern based on the area, but it is not specific enough to sate my curiosity.)

Halfway through pondering about the bus numbers, my mind interrupted itself to ask a philosophical question of…

“Why do some people have religions and some don’t? What is the role of religion in the believers? Can any system of belief become a religion through amassing a great number of followers? Can I start something like Potato-ism? (kidding) Some religious ideologies overlap with each other – so how come there is still religious tension? Why is it that Satanism is so frowned upon, since I have no idea what it entails but it sounds so scary?”

After that my brain hopped over when the bus jerked to a stop to think about how does the brake system work in buses. It is a hydraulic press system I think I read it somewhere before, but where is it hidden? How big is it? Why are there rocks in the train tracks in Singapore (btw, I googled again, it is to prevent growth of plants or something, if I remember correctly).

Right just now, I googled, “Why is my coffee so sour?”

Yes I bought a Starbucks brewed coffee and it is a true insult to the $4.30 I spend. For your curiosity, coffee is not sour because you add sugar (which I assumed) but sour because it is not brewed long enough to properly extract the essence of the beans or something. That results in tannic acid in the coffee that makes it sour. One extra knowledge you didn’t know.

How are the blocks in Singapore numbered? Are they random or are they following a system like buses? Who can I ACTUALLY ask this question to? Omg. I wanted to email the Land Transport Authority but I think they will think I am crazy…

Gosh. My brain is so distracted all the time. I need to learn how to focus.

What is the science behind focusing? GAHHHHHH!

Pink Candy Korean Snack Bar Cafe

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you! On the eve of Chinese New Year today, we decided to be very un-Chinese by going to Korean cafe for lunch. Pink Candy is an aunthentic Korean cafe run by Korean owners, and the food is both homely and very very reminiscent of the food we all crave while watching K-dramas…

Located at the 4th floor of Beauty World Center, Pink Candy can be easily found at the rooftop hawkwer center at Beauty World that similarly sells delicious and affordable food!

This is how the Pink Candy looks like from the outside!

Pink Candy

To be very fair, I wasn’t all that impressed with the external decorations (or the name of the cafe itself) when I just saw it because Pink Candy doesn’t remind me of anything Korean-ish at all. It reminds me of like cotton candy and too many fluffy imaginary unicorns…like at the Bangkok Unicorn cafe. Somemore the glass door of the eatery was like covered in all kinds of posters and words, which gave it a very messy feel.

Pink Candy Korean Snack Bar

I like the fact that they serve healthy food – as healthy as outside food can get, anyways. Also, they definitely live up to the name of “Home-made food” because the entire ambience was really really homely almost like you are staying over at your Korean relative’s house!

Okay, let us not focus too much on the exterior, and go straight to the food that we managed to try today!

A quick glance down the menu of Pink Candy shows that the food is relatively pricey especially with regards to its location. The cheaper snacks like the Kimbab costs around $8.90, and the plate of gyoza costs around $12.90.

However, here is the redeeming point: the food come in pretty large portions – the Kimbab was a generous WHOLE roll which can definitely feed 2 people nicely! The gyoza was a generous ~12 pieces, whch really exceeded my expectations because wow, they are not only relatively big but also quite stuffed with japchae fillings!

Crispy gyoza – around 12 pieces for $12.90

The gyozas are a light golden brown and deep fried to absolute perfection: each bite brings about a satisfying crunchy sound. The fillings of japchae (Korean glass noodles) are well-seasoned and really interesting for gyozas since I am used to eating meat or vegetable filled gyozas.

The picture of the gyoza above shows what we got after we have already eaten 3-4 pieces…as you can see we were so hungry and eager to try the food that I totally can’t remember to take photos until I was reminded I wanted to blog about this. 🙁

I find their choice of light soy sauce instead of vinegar rather interesting since I have always been used to using vinegar. But hey, the soy sauce actually went pretty well with the gyoza!

Okay, next up, the famous Jangjangmyun, which is the traditional Korean black-bean sauce noodles. The photo below is how it looks like after the sauce has been mixed and and 1/3 of it has been wolfed down by a very hungry Ken. Again the portion is very very generous, and to be honest, I felt we over-ordered coz the noodles and the gyoza alone can probably stretch us to the brim of our stomach capacities already.

The noodles were really sufficiently chewy to give a good bite – I dislike soggy or overly soft noodles. This noodles is really of the just nice quality and was very very satisfying. I personally loved the black bean sauce that the noodles come with as the flavour hits all the right benchmarks – not too salty, not too overpowering, fragrant and not sickening. Sometimes some noodles taste really good on the first few bites but they get more tedious to eat after a while – this wasn’t the case!

Jang Jang Myun  – $12.90

Last but definitely not the least, my all time favourite, THE KIMBAB! I love love love sushi so I love kimbab which is like a more convenient form of sushi whereby one just tosses every delicious ingredient into the roll and YUMS. This Kimbab is one of the best one I have eaten thus far, though it is slightly pricier when you compare it to Hwang’s at NUS (but honestly, don’t compare as that is like insulting the efforts that Pink Candy owners put into preparing the food).

Do you guys see the two pieces of the kimbab with lettuce sticking out? I love love those end pieces because they are so genuine and beautiful – like I can just imagine Pink Candy’s chef rolling up the kimbab nicely. *emotional for no reason at all*

The kimbab was really delicious and filled with a lot of different stuffings, including egg, ham/bacon (I can’t tell HA), pickles, cucumbers, carrots and crab sticks. Ahhh, each moutful was like a bite of pure heaven…as you can see, I have already eaten 2 pieces prior to the picture which is why the plate looks emptier than it should be 😛

Kimbab – $8.90

On top of all those delicious food, we were also given free side dishes and free flask of drink that seems to be corn tea! It has a very fragrant smell but no flavour, which is okay, since the food has enough flavour by themselves anyway! The side dishes consists of kimchi, fishcake, macroni tossed in cream and sweet potato glazed with honey/sugar coating. It was all very delicious but we were so full that I couldn’t eat much of the sides apart frm the kimchi and sweet potatoes.

Overall, the food is really good and definitely worth the price you are paying. If your girlfriend or boyfriend is a fan of the Korean culture, then this is the place that is definitely worth going to if you want a taste of authentic Korean cuisine! Don’t bother with huge commercialized brands like Seoul Yummy (which is pricey as pricey gets) as this is really the real thing. The owners are the sweetest bunch I have come across and they make one feel so happy and contented eating their delicious food! When they gave me the food I replied “I will eat well” in Korean and the Unnie who served me the food smiled so sweetly and happily. The atmosphere, good food, and the service (as well as eating with your favourite people) will all make this a truly wonderful and memorable experience!

Address:

#04-03 Beauty World Centre, 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road, 588177

30 Seconds Mistake

Waking up at 6am to make it in time for 8am class has always been a challenge for me. Gravity just seemed to strong and I always feel that powerful attraction of my bed in those particular mornings.

The day before when the alarm went off at 6am, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed, go through the usual morning routine before trudging down to the bus stop. I plopped myself into a seat, feeling myself sag from exhaustion as I nodded off in between a half sleep and half conscious state.

At the next stop, a significantly protruding belly appeared in my unwilling peripheral vision. I glanced out at the corner of my eyes. The belly was really big, probably many many many months pregnant for it to be so huge (I mean, I don’t know how much the belly grows each months, hence the vagueness). I felt a huge sense of reluctance. Why do I have to be in this seat? I grouched to myself. Why did she have to stand next to me.

Moral obligation and selfishness fought each other like the traditional tale of angels versus demons. I peeked at the belly again without raising my head, as though wishing for it to disappear and move on. I didn’t dare to raise my head for fear of eye contact – in which the case I know I would have to stand up. After a brief struggle of perhaps a minute, I finally tapped the lady on the arm whilst standing up to offer her my seat simultaneously.

I wondered why she didn’t move.

I looked up into her face at last.

“She” was a man in his late forties, with a giant potbelly that now seems to be scowling at me.

Time Changes

Time passes so quickly and things change so rapidly that sometimes before you know something has happened, it has happened.

The first three weeks of school passed by almost in a dream like trance and I can only feel my days beoming more frantic with an ever increasing number of commitments and schoolwork.

Delay. Delay. Delay.

I have been delaying readings and school work.

Monday. Dance. Work.

Tuesday. Dance. Kcardio.

Wednesday. Dance. Kickboxing. Skating.

Tired, busy and really really losing a little bit of control over biting off more than I can chew. But, I will adapt right? My power to adapt is going to be stronger than the power of the stress that threatens to crush me! 😀 I am strong and powerful.

And very incredibly exhausted.

Glum Day

The morning today began with dull grey skies, dark storm clouds and sheets of rain slashing against my window panes with a certain form of vengeance. I didn’t know why, but despite my lethargy and desire to keep sleeping more, I woke up at 7.30am when my alarm rang.

I spent the next 30 minutes in bed ruminating the glum looking sky and feel the gloom spread from the sky into my soul.

There were always days like this where I felt dark and moody and really, just completely cheerless. I call those my down days, when my system is malfunctioning and one of a down. I tried to remember my excitement and enthusiasm that had marked the past few days – these emotions feel so alien now I wonder if I am even the same person?

Actually, there is no real reason to be glum, as far as legit reasons are concerned. All I had was menstrual cramps, a constant pulling and gurgling sensation in my lower abdomen and a pain that radiated from my lower spine to my sides, blisters in my mouth and a swollen saliary gland. A quick check online always give me two conclusions – cancer and STDs. The possibily of either is probably near zero since STDs first requires S which is completely absent in my life, and as a teen-adult, I feel that I still stick to a relatively healthy diet.

Really, who else eats maggie mee less than 3 times a year? Me!

Thus the illnesses themselves did not bother me, but the pain of it did. Waking early was mild delightful in the sense that I could start working on my schoolwork, but the pain in my abdomen and back kept me from sitting still for long.

It ached. A lot.

The dull throbbing aches fed my growing irritation and at aroun 9am I gave up trying to read and write my notes for my NM2203 and flop back onto bed to watch Kitchen Nightmares instead. I blankly stare at Ramsay go through his routine of insulting the food – “bland”, “disgusting”, “horrifying” – after which he would extend his gracious hand of help. The episode I happen to play was less than interesting, and I lost interest after a while, going back to work.

I tried to take a good photo of my notes.

Sitting back down, the pain started to haunt me again and I was so peeved. Why must I succumb to this stupid dull ache that won’t leave me? I proceed to stretch myself gently then forcefully in an attempt to loosen whatever muscles that could be behind the pain. I was stiff all over and my joints cracked when I stretched.

There is really not much point to this blog entry except that I find writing or typing a really good way to rid myself of any negative vibes. This is why I am exceptionally quiet on days when I am down since I don’t have the spoken words to express how I feel. I don’t actually know how to communicate a negative feeling? Nor do I like communicating a negative feeling.

Tomorrow is definitely going to be a better day since today has hit an all time low for January 2017.

Drained

Overslept today and woke up feeling quite exhausted and drained from a whole night worth of nightmare. Dreamt that I was being petulant and stubborn, throwing a tantrum at the people I am closest to in my dreams and it was a terrible feeling when I was ignored. Is it some kind of Fruedian suggestion of my inner consciousness? The tulmultuous and unstable mind?

Had a similarly taxing tuition in the morning, too many kids and too little of me is able to switch tracks from one to another. The end of the tuition always feel like a moment of epiphany when I appreciate my life so so much more (heh). It won’t be so bad if everyone is learning a tthe same time – everyone was more or less doing the same worksheets, but I had to go through individually with them, which means I had to explain a same question 3 or 4 times over, and my throat hurts from talking towards the end.

Meh, I am just being particularly whiny these couple of days. I blame it on the hormones. I will be happier once these couple of days are over.

I am exhausted and I need strong strong coffee. :3

(Btw, drinking coffee daily is proven to be good for the heart and carry anti-cancer properties. Is it pseudo science? Idk, I heard it in a health talk show. I always question the veracity of such programs.)