Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dead End Friend Zone

Annual youth social Sunday.
The scene was a hall, during a lunch-break that interrupted the day's program which entailed sports, games and "socializing".

Amidst a sea of "socializing" youths, I stood alone, chewing absentmindedly with loaded plate in hand. My eyes watched the way Anita moved amidst the crowd with a keen awareness of her own presence, her gestures deliberate but graceful. I was lost in the moment. Meanwhile, a mutual friend of ours was staring at me as I stared at how Anita occupies space. I briefly averted my stare for some reason, and my eyes landed on Loise, who was staring hypnotically at the intensity of my staring. Mildly embarrassing.

After waving to acknowledge Loise, I went right back to my study. Across the hall, Anita stopped herwinding travels briefly, to converse with a group of tracksuit-clad personalities. One guy in particular seemed just as enchanted by her dynamic charisma as I was from afar. Their words were a distant murmur, but their laughter rang out all over the hall, mingling with the general chatter.

Loise came over to join me. During the brief, narrow silence that still separated us, her teeth churned food mindfully, mine mercilessly. It was a perfect pairing: two party-wallflower types keeping tenuous company while they wait for the food they are chewing to drain into their bellies.

Loise swallowed first, heavily. And then: "If you like her, tell her." And then smiled nervously, because I turned to search for signs of insanity on her face.

"You know better," I said at last.
"I know she likes you!"
"You're not supposed to tell me, she is."
"Can she really tell you? You two are scared of each other."
"So you get to play matchmaker, is that it?"
"Yeah!" she smiled indulgently.

I smiled despite myself. Clearly, Loise didn't understand,but she was confident enough to air her presumptions. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to explain anything to her. I changed the topic. Explanations are exclusively available to readers of my blog.

Critical pondering lately revealed that my friendship with Anita is a dead end alley, and the brick wall at the end of it reads "Friend Zone - No Through Way". But I refuse to stall here admiring the graffiti artist's dexterity in scribbling those words. I have decided on a tactical retreat - hence the increasing lengths of time between increasingly accidental meetings. Call it bracing for the inevitable crash.

She's in the prime of her youth. I won't delude myself: lots of male attention comes her way, aggressive concerted attention that vies for her heart's affections. She's probably thinking of settling down too; many of her female age mates are either married or single parents by now. I have no such ideas in mind. Soon enough she'll show up flaunting an engagement ring and we'll laugh about it but the laughter won't reach my eyes because I laid the foundation by acting brother while the iron was still hot.

There was never any "thrill of the chase." Instead, since we began, a comfortable familiarity borne of firm rapport defined our interaction. The depth of her mind and the warmth of her character have been so rich that even our platonic conversations are rewarding. But naked desire died of neglect somewhere along the way. The moment was repeatedly lost in the multiplicity of words.

All or nothing. Looks like it'll be nothing then.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How I Accumulated Years of Useless Experience

My not-so-illustrious CV ought to include vast experience as a truck driver, a counter-terrorism agent, fighter pilot, multiple title-winning soccer team player-manager, alien-invasion repeller, professional wrestler and victorious commander of medieval armies. I have also moonlighted as a gambler, assassin, illegal street racer, armed carjacker, and crime lord; all these I should list under "Hobbies" in the relevant section of my humble CV. And I have the high scores and save game files to prove it. 

I speak of the computer games I've played, which allowed me to "live a different life," so to speak. Yet for all my experience, I do not qualify to be called a Hardcore Gamer. It puzzles me how much vicarious role-playing one must endure before the title is earned. Consider; I was there grappling with keyboards when Dangerous Dave and Super Mario were competing for supremacy; I saw 3D games evolve into a big deal right before my eyes. Extended periods of my high school weekends were devoted to multiplayer games with and against fellow obsessed gamers. We often skipped meals playing. Yet I still don't qualify for hardcore.

Games are but one symptom in the epidemic of immersive entertainment. They are so immersive that one will spend hours, days, on a game they don't even like, just to prove that they can best the computer. Even the most straight-laced upstanding member of society will not challenge a game's morality or inspect it too closely while playing. Once the objective is stated as "kill the target" and the target is indicated as a blip on the map in one corner of the screen, off goes the model citizen on murderous misadventures. "After all, it's a game," reasons the player, "it's not me who's killing really, it's the game's fictional persona." Such false distinctions are dangerous to keep in the mind, even subconsciously.

Immersive entertainment for all its intensity leads to loss of subtlety. Behold the gratuitous violence and the extravagant display in the movies and music videos of today. Fast-paced action, eye-catching visuals, ever more colorful language to be heard in surround-sound. The problem with such entertainment is the law of diminishing returns: more exposure desensitizes the viewer, so that next time they will require a more extreme stunt, a more extravagant plot. Better graphics, bigger explosions, bloodier bloodshed, dirtier language. Shortly we find ourselves eagerly waiting for the next instalment of Resident Evil. "It's just a movie, just camera tricks, no one really dies!" Thus are we willingly complicit in our own deception.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Portentious Dream?

In my dream, massed troops of discontents were commandeered by ambitious men. Their target was an enthroned priest on an elaborate white throne. The entire scene was white.  A sleek curving ramp ascended to the priest's throne. The marching armies climbed laboriously towards the priest in question as he sat there and simply stared at them. At length the journey was complete; the ambitious commanders confidently stepped forward, and demanded the immediate and unconditional surrender of the priest, on grounds of his scandalous apostasy and abuse of power. The triple-crowned priest's only reaction was a hearty, arrogant laugh and the exclamation, "You fools! All these armies are MINE!" And the commanders were perplexed.

Shortly after the armies marched down the ramp. The world stretched before them, right in the crosshairs.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage"

“As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

 How was it in Noah’s day?

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. 6:5.

In the prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction Christ said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Read more:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Much Space is there in a Blank Head?

Writer's block manifests as a great big void in the head, a chasm, a vacuum that violently destroys anything that is sucked into it. "You can not create something from nothing!" it mocks. When forced to yield produce, the creative mind ruled by writer's-block-regime concocts the most far-fetched imaginations ever, and immediately dead-ends with them, lacking a suitable ecosystem which can nurture the unnatural creature. Despair sets in, the blogger logs off.

But it is not a fruitless endeavor altogether. The sojourner who would dare to plumb the infinite depths of writers block must be strong, stubborn. One needs the endurance of a marathoner and the persistence of a housefly. To gaze into the mind-boggling emptiness of writer's block is to attain to the same heights of courage as a pioneer venturing into deep space. Yonder darkness conceals prospects fruitful and bare, and who knows what countless combinations of terrible monsters inhabit the unfathomable darkness? All manner of words and ideas suffocate the void with pregnant possibilities. Some must be chased down to the outskirts of known creation, and will not give themselves to easy capturing. Some concepts may never be captured without inventing entirely new tools to hunt them down with.

Truth the told, the writer's real block is most often the wealth of options at hand, so that to choose any is to forswear all others, no matter how alluring they may be. The opportunity cost of making a choice seems higher when the chosen turns out badly.  But rather than run in bewilderment from the choice, one may get fully engrossed in examining the edges of their writer's block patiently, with a torch, like a prisoner searching for a crack in the wall, or a detective cross examining the suspects and even victims, or a lawyer cross examining the witness, or a lecturer scrutinizing exam scripts.