fredag, juni 22, 2012

New blog address

Non Compos Sui. I hope you will enjoy reading!

torsdag, juni 07, 2012


Many thanks to Ung Studerende for posting a link to my blog on his. As you can tell, my blog underwent a long drought due to embarrassing neglect on my part. Right now I am busy working on a few exam assignments, but I would love to start writing again once I am finished with the work I currently have on hand. I have plans to start a few new blogs (but I am not sure if I will have the dedication to finally bring them into fruition or the stamina to ensure their longevity), and tentatively it has been decided that there will be one written in Danish, one written in Mandarin Chinese, one for academic posts in English and one more for literary works in English. Please watch this space for more updates, if you find that my writing is to your liking so far. Meanwhile, if you have a lot of time to kill, feel free to visit my archives. Criticisms, both constructive and destructive, are always welcome, insofar as they are made in good faith.

Thank you for visiting.

lørdag, februar 12, 2011

Conversation with Herr Fantastisch

Herr Fantastisch says:
Don't you love how inscrutable I am?

Miao says:
Of course. Everything about you is worthy of love. An impenetrable cloud of mystery unremittingly surrounds you.

Herr Fantastisch says:
Oh, you merely know the tip of the iceberg.

Miao says:
Even Titanic was irresistibly drawn towards your brooding magnificence, looming over the dark horizons.

Herr Fantastisch says:
Is this a concealed reference to the abyss of my wretched soul?

Miao says:
Perhaps. I look into your eyes and I see your abyss staring unwaveringly right back at me.

Herr Fantastisch says:
My abyss doesn't stare. It consumes. It devours. Like a black hole it attracts everyone and everything, even light, so it can't be beheld. It sits in the depths of my mind, waiting. Lurking. Greedy.

Miao says:
Alas, not everything. Sometimes a lone particle swirling at high velocity may escape you. When a pair of dancing particles are so strongly attracted to each other that they travel inseparably, inexorably in the same direction, hurling themselves unstoppably into space, approaching a black hole would cause one of them to be sucked away with such immense force that the other is released in the opposite direction at an unimaginable speed.

Herr Fantastisch says:
And it's exactly these rare, wayward, radiant particles that make me suffer. Craving, yearning, wishing I could reach out and catch them, all the more aware of the blackness of my abyss.

Miao says:
I am one such particle that has eluded you; staring at you, while you stare longingly back at me.

Herr Fantastisch says:

Miao says:
My partner exchanged his life for my liberation. My life is a testament to his sacrifice, his martyrdom.

Herr Fantastisch says:
Are you trying to tell me that you killed your partner so now you're strong enough to face the perils of the abyss?

Miao says:
Oh, how did you guess? Just as we were approaching you, I summoned all the strength in my body to nudge him ever so slightly closer to you. It worked. It was tricky, but I performed it with incredible finesse and adroitness.

Herr Fantastisch says:
Oh, that's why I suddenly felt so well nourished and constipated. How cunning of you.

onsdag, november 17, 2010

Ask me if I miss(ed) you

When he asked her in earnest anticipation if she missed him, she replied, "Do you desire truth or happiness?"

She knew that such an answer would lead him to subconsciously assume that there was a dichotomy between truth and happiness, that the two were mutually exclusive, that the possession of one necessarily entailed the loss of the other. Such is the wonder of the human mind - the seemingly inevitable failure to recognise that truth and happiness do not have to be understood as polarities even when framed in a manner which implies that they are. He did not consider the fact that, regardless of his choice between happiness and truth, he might have gotten the answer he really wanted to hear anyway. When humans ponder over a query which exists in the general form of "A or B?", they very often ignore the possibility that A = B, that the outcome would be the same regardless of their eventual choice. The careless tendencies of the human mind have been most instrumental in facilitating the countless psychological games we often witness in the arena of social interactions - those who have a firm grasp of the workings and the inadequacies of the human psyche dominate by exploiting their knowledge.

She is one of the experts in this field, and she employs her skills to mask her unfortunate bashfulness. She knew that he would immediately jump to the conclusion that she did not miss him. She knew that, instead of answering openly if he wanted truth or happiness, he would leave the question lingering in the air unresolved while changing the the conversation topic in an attempt to conceal his despondence, without realising that his sadness was perhaps due only to his own guesswork. She would be able to take comfort in the fact that she did not lie to him - she merely allowed him to make his own assumption. Perhaps she was selfish for not declaring her feelings directly, for making him crestfallen, for involving him in such convolution, but her pride overwhelmed her considerate nature at that moment, and she couldn't erase what she said.

If he'd told her bravely, "I want the truth, even if it hurts", she'd have dropped all her shyness in a beautiful act of courage to reward his; she would have told him without reservation, "I miss you", and he would have experienced the beginning of a dizzying romance under the lovely auspices of truth.

torsdag, november 04, 2010

Some inconvenient questions

If you are against capital punishment because innocent people could be wrongfully executed, then would you agree that incarceration should not be permitted as well, since people could also be wrongfully imprisoned, especially in a highly corrupted nation? If you think the difference is that reparations can be made for wrongful confinement but not for wrongful executions, then the assumptions here are that 1) the truth will always be discovered in time for there to be meaningful and adequate compensation for innocent convicts, and that 2) death is always worse than losing your freedom/independence for nothing. These assumptions need to be bolstered. J.S. Mill, for example, would say that the loss of liberty is much worse than death. Patrick Henry, who uttered "Give me liberty or give me death!", is also in Mill's camp.

If you are a non-vegetarian who thinks that bestiality should be banned because animals cannot give consent for cross-species sex, why do you think it is all right to violate animal rights by eating them but not all right to violate animal rights by having sex with them?

If you are a non-vegetarian who thinks that there is nothing morally wrong with eating animals because they are incapable of rational reasoning, would you also say it is morally permissible to eat human infants and severely retarded patients?

If you think incestuous couples should be banned from giving birth because their children could be physically harmed, would you also forbid biologically unrelated parents with hereditary diseases or extremely damaging habits (e.g., chain smoking) from having children?

If you are anti-incest because it is unnatural (actually whether it is really as unnatural as one would immediately assume is questionable, since members of the ruling classes in certain ancient states - e.g., Egypt, Hawaii, China, etc. - did practise incest), are you also anti-contraceptives since having protected sex is also very unnatural from an evolutionary standpoint?

If you think homosexuals should be given the right to marriage because no one can help whom he falls in love with, would you grant the same right to incestuous and polyamorous lovers too?

If you think military conscription is morally allowable to safeguard a country's economic and political interests, would you agree that it is also morally allowable to force women to bear children to fulfil their country's economic needs (both cases demand the sacrifice of one's right to bodily autonomy for the good of the society, and are thus analogous)?

If you think marijuana should be banned because it is a harmful substance, would you say that alcohol and cigarettes should also be banned, since they pose greater health risks than marijuana?

If you think prostitution should not be legalised because it is immoral, would you also make it illegal for people to accept jobs they do not genuinely enjoy? In other words, is it okay to sell our souls for livelihood but not okay to sell our bodies? In addition, why is it okay to earn income by marketing our non-sexual talents (e.g., singing, dancing, etc.) but not okay to earn income by marketing our sexual talents (e.g., the ability to administer really enjoyable blow jobs, etc.)? If you think that allowing prostitution would worsen the spread of STDs, then you should read this article on the benefits of legalising prostitution - doing so actually reduces health risks.

If you have any more questions to add, feel free to comment or send me an email.

fredag, oktober 22, 2010

To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

[Announcement: I experimented with my blog settings some time ago and forgot to adjust them back, so I didn't realise that comments were forbidden until my friend kindly informed me of my mistake a while ago. I have adjusted my settings and now comments are allowed again. Sorry to those who wanted to comment but weren't able to.]

So the other day I was having lunch with Mr Vietnamese when our conversations, in between those leisurely sips and bites, casually drifted into the realms of philosophy. Mr Vietnamese revealed that he sometimes has Cartesian tendencies, questioning if the world in which we live is indeed objectively real. Having experienced similar bouts of existential panic before, I articulated my sincerest sympathy, at which point he earnestly asked me how one could reconcile the idea that one's life is not entirely meaningless with the notion that we could very well be living in computer simulation (or in a figment of hallucination).

I responded by bringing up two different points: 1) As argued in Descartes' meditations, even if the existence of our world can be called into doubt, at the very least we can still be certain of the presence of our consciousness, and that much seems indisputable. Insofar as our consciousness doubtlessly exists, I believe that we have free will, and our free will can be best expressed in our navigations of and reactions to the physical world, illusory as it may be. The chimerical nature of this universe in which we reside does not necessarily entail the loss of all meaning in our lives; after all, we continue to preserve our capacity for autonomy, and our agency can be exercised through our volitional responses to the circumstances fashioned by the computer which operates the simulated world in which we currently exist. Perhaps everything exists merely in our heads, but we must never forget that we exert power over our imaginations, and not vice versa - it is definitely quite plausible to presume that we have the ability to decide and influence the directions in which events should next proceed, even if these events are just products of our collective daydreaming. 2) While establishing my earlier point, I was tacitly assuming that the unreality of our physical world is a characteristic always concomitant with the notion that we live in a matrix, but now I wish to clarify that I do not really think that these two ideas are so inextricably intertwined. I actually follow Chalmers' lead in arguing that, even if it does turn out that we live in a matrix, we can still be assured of the tangibility of our corporeal world, because then what underlies the fabric of our world is not physical substances such as quarks, but computer bits upon which simulated universes are built, and these computer bits are certainly no less real than the physical entities which, according to scientists in our present age, constitute the foundation of our universe. I find Chalmers' argument particularly compelling, and one big advantage it offers is the avoidance of nihilism even if we simply turn out to be brains in vats.

Here I deem it important to elaborate what I mean exactly by the term "simulation". My Weltanschauung does not accommodate the concept of a moralistic, interventionist God ('God' here is loosely defined as any superior individual that has the power to control the unfolding of things around us - note that I do not invest any connotation of supernaturalness in this understanding of 'superiority'; the scientists who constructed our simulated world - if we do live in one - also qualify as superior beings, even though they are most certainly not supernatural figures), for I think no argument can achieve any success in demonstrating that such a God is compatible with the idea of free will, and I choose to reject a God of this nature in favour of free will. If it does turn out that we live in a simulation, I think the likeliest picture is that this invented world was set into motion and then left completely alone to run on its own. My agnosticism regarding this version of the Simulated World Hypothesis (hereafter abbreviated as SWH), which I shall name Version X, compels me to concede that deism is not a totally outlandish doctrine (insofar the definition of superiority does not necessarily involve supernaturalness), for they are one and the same. Compare:

Version X: We live in a world which was created and then left to run on its own without additional interruptions or interferences.
Deism: We live in a world which was created and then left to run on its own without additional interruptions or interferences.

Essentially, there is no difference between the two. Therefore, I am an atheist inasmuch as a moralistic, interventionist, personal, anthropomorphic God is concerned (in fact, if the Bible, the Koran as well as other religious texts are to be taken as faithful literal representations of God, then I can say with confidence that I know they are fallacious), but I am undecided on the issue of deism. I am still more inclined towards the stand that deism is misguided, but I cannot deny it with as much certainty. Anyway, it is surely possible that there is an innumerable series of simulations, one contained in another, and eventually we will return to the issue of creation and maintenance, this time of the world in which all the other simulated worlds are stored.

Anyway, to resume, Mr Vietnamese asked me to defend my commitment to the absence of a non-interventionist God by accounting for the phenomena of accurate divinations. I explained that it is merely a false belief that divinations have predictive power, and that this false impression is an outcome of our unintentional/irrational predisposition to transform supposedly prophetic words into self-fulfilling prophecies through our own actions. E.g., if your daily horoscope tells you that today your colleagues - even those from whom you are usually quite distant - will be exceptionally friendly towards you, this piece of nice news will very likely affect your mood in a positive way, and your sudden display of joviality will in turn subtly encourage the people around you to treat you in a more friendly manner. At the end of a reasonably enjoyable day at work, you go home marvelling merrily to yourself about how accurate your horoscope reading is.

To truly maximise our free will, we have to learn to break free from the fetters of these 'divinations' - they are detrimental to our lives for their suggestions are difficult to be completely eradicated from our minds, and it is likely that we will end up being puppets to their dictations. 'Divinations' are mostly phrased in very vague terms, often allowing their readers to form their own assumptions and interpretations of the contents, and the inception of these ideas will impact people to subconsciously lead their lives in a way that would bring about the fulfilment of these predictions. Humans are curious creatures capable of retrospective rationalisation, and the partial failure of these prophecies is very often ignored or conveniently explained away by re-construing their words in ways that suit the previously unexpected results. It is quite depressing that superstitious people are likelier to end up being even more superstitious, for they are the ones who would religiously peruse horoscope readings and visit fortune-tellers in the first place.

Skepticism does not necessitate an endorsement of nihilism. Divinations sell emotional comfort for the price of rational agency. At the risk of ending this entry on an annoyingly cheesy motivational note, all I wish to emphasise is that we must always remember that we can all be masters of our own lives, instead of finding excuses for laziness, intellectual or otherwise.

mandag, oktober 04, 2010

Translating Luo Zhicheng

Could it be that only a beautiful encounter can nullify the loneliness of living on this planet in the indifference of the rest of the universe? We desire to be noticed by the most oblivious of people, and yet a phenomenon so rare could only happen in love.