TEDxNTU 2017: Here’s to the Gamechangers!

Today I attended my very first TED talk! And it definitely wouldn’t be the last. Although I couldn’t make it for the entire event, I’m still really glad I made the choice to go for at least the first half, because I left with lots of mental nuggets and new perspectives from the wonderful speakers of today.

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Some of the ideas stuck with me:

  • Love and hope are manifestations of human agency. And the thing about human agency is that it most obviously surfaces in situations where there is lots of oppression, where there is little freedom. And hate is also a manifestation of human agency. But it is always better to come from a place of love than a place of hate. A place of love is where flowers can grow, and a place of hate is a desolate wasteland. And don’t be afraid to challenge the ways of the past generation, as long as you come from a place of love.
  • Sometimes we don’t get to change the world, but we can change another person’s world. Having a love for humanity can change the world one person at a time. You’ll never know how much your actions can mean to another. Even if it’s just a simple genuine smile to a stranger who looks like he’s had a bad day.
  • Your world is basically just you looking at the world. You can rewrite your story to make it a better one.
  • Personal: How do you want to live your life? What are your priorities? Should life be about continuous learning? Is that the key to making life interesting? Can we really achieve anything we want in life? Are you brave enough to go all out for the things you love?
  • Personal: The thing about privilege is that it’s invisible unless you’re without it. Privilege seems also exponentially related to how far ahead one gets in life. Education is a key to overcoming a lack of privilege, but the quality of education one receives is itself a marker of privilege, and again, differs enough to differentiate who gets ahead and who doesn’t.

Two sides to every coin

The Internet is a great place to unleash our deepest thoughts. You find people becoming more honest with their state of mind, and you realise that an unsaid thing is shared between many of us. We all have demons within us that we struggle with, although these tend to come in various forms. I wonder if perhaps this is a norm. And it ought to be treated like a norm instead of being stigmatised. To be conscious is like all things – there are always the good and the bad. The good thing about consciousness is a deeper depth to life itself, and the bad thing is also the depth. Maybe it’s not about getting rid of the demons, but being okay with living with them. To know that they will be a part of you forever, but not letting them win.

At the deepest core of me, I know that being alive shouldn’t be like this. Being alive shouldn’t be plagued with all these sicknesses of the unseen that comes with modern day living. Then again like I said there’s good and bad to all things. Perhaps it’s about sacrifice – we are inflicted with illnesses of the modern day so that we are not plagued with diseases of the past that are now treatable, like polio, smallpox and TB. It comes with a more convenient way of living and not needing to worry about a roof over our heads, the next meal or predators that might infringe upon us. We are now more free physically in exchange for being less free mentally, and are now more prone to becoming trapped in the labyrinth of our minds.

Perhaps, this is a good argument for going primal sometimes. We are, after all, animals, and perhaps it’s good for us to reconnect with that, be it through exercise, sex or walks in nature. Anything that gets your heart pumping and your body moving. Perhaps this reconnection with the physical part of us is the key to finding balance in a world that’s increasingly going mental (pun intended).

The survival of an ethically homogenous Korean peninsular can almost be said as miraculous, considering its geography. Surrounded by the powerhouses China, Japan and Russia, Korea has gone through regular conflict since the Old Joseon period (c. 2333 BC to c. 109 BC). It was only after the North and South split into communism and democracy in the 1950s that the Korean peninsular became relatively peaceful, although tensions between the North and South still arise from time to time.

Walking the streets of South Korea, it is hard to believe that the country was still deep in war just some 60 odd years ago. Seoul, a city with a love for neon lights, quirky graffiti and freely available WiFi, does not seem to sleep. Throngs of Koreans hang out by the Hangang River even after 10 p.m. on weekday nights, and the streets of Hongdae increasingly bustle with activity after sunset.

Juxtapositions surface themselves everywhere. Rows of copy-and-paste high-rise flats, a feature common with many other cities, line Seoul’s cityscape, contrasting its  low-rise buildings, overhead wiring and uneven terrain. Traditional architecture are surrounded by those of modern times, while churches can be seen from within temple walls. Christianity is the major religion rather than Buddhism, all while with Confucian values rooted in the Korean society. Historically relevant sites, such as burial grounds, are marked out and often intimately surrounded by densely packed buildings. Traditional melodies play in subway stations to mark trains’ arrivals.

Book Review: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Extract from blurb:

In this extraordinary essay, Virginia Woolf examines the limitations of womanhood in the early twentieth century. With the startling prose and poetic licence of a novelist, she makes a bid for freedom, emphasizing that the lack of an independent income, and the titular ‘room of one’s own’, prevents most women from reaching their full literary potential. As relevant in its insight and indignation today as it was when first delivered in those hallowed lecture theatres, A Room of One’s Own remains both a beautiful work of literature and an incisive analysis of women and their place in the world.

Here is one author whose mind I would gladly pick if I could. Her book was first published in 1929 and reading this in 2017 strikes me poignantly how different things are now for women in many parts of the world. In her time, women had only just been given rights to vote, women who made their mark in history were few and far between, and the world was dominated by patriarchy. Her essay concludes that in order for women to reach their full potential they need 500 pounds a year (i.e. money) and a room of one’s own (which really in all is a representation of independence, privacy, freedom, and education, all of which were not widely available to women).

Here are a few favourite quotes from my speed-reading:

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. We are all going to heaven and Vandyke is of the company—in other words, how good life seemed, how sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance, how admirable friendship and the society of one’s kind, as, lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in the window–seat.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

On women in her time:

Imaginatively she was of the highest importance, practically she is completely insignificant.

Woolf makes a point on how the human mind is androgynous, and in order to reach one’s full potential, one should utilise both the male and female parts of their brain. And in order to write well one must have intellectual freedom. And intellectual freedom, for the most part, comes with education and money.

She gives intelligent, unconventional and provocative insights. For someone who threads lightly upon literature waters as I do, it was refreshing. I did not read her book carefully enough, but the book does deserve a re-read (and a good place on my bookshelf IN A ROOM OF MY OWN).

lyrical poem challenge

did a shuffle-and-pick on this one.

  1. the handler//muse
  2. heartbeats//jose gonzalez
  3. postcard//jukebox the ghost
  4. facedown//the red jumpsuit apparatus
  5. sleepyhead//passion pit
  6. viva la gloria!//green day
  7. clock strikes//one ok rock
  8. young blood//birdy
  9. why’d you only call me when you’re high?//arctic monkeys
  10. stole the show//kygo

You were my oppressor
One night to be confused
I don’t want you to feel broken
Hey girl you know you drive me crazy
And you said it was like fire around the brim

Hey Gloria, are you standing close to the edge?
What waits for you?
We’re only young and naive still
The mirror’s image tells me it’s home time
Darlin’, darlin’, turn the lights back on now

print(“hello, world!”)

There are a few things that always remain the same (as far as our human lifespan is concerned) – the sun will always rise and set, the tides will come in highs and lows, and the moon waxes and wanes. A day passes, and another begins. The waves will always hit the shore. In all, life goes on, and I’m no longer surprised by that.

The world is made by a dizzying multitude of interpretations. Our own little world, along with all its troubles, pales in significance compared to the glorious bustle that constitutes the earth.

my love is a funeral // i wrote some lyrics

my love is a funeral
the ghosts claw
from within

your body’s a wonderland
like a carousel
we spin

don’t stop, please

get high from me
and i’ll get high from you
and all the things that you do
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?

get high from me
i’ll get high from you
and all the things that you do
oh won’t you tell me honey
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?

i swam across the ocean
and fell into your embrace
i thought i saw devotion
but i was stuck on your face

you look like a movie star
that i’d seen as a child
but my love is a funeral
the ghosts claw from within

get high from me
i’ll get high from you
and all the things you do
won’t you tell me honey
won’t you tell me darling
is your love true?
is your love true?
is your love true?