A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence
"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"
"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation
"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes
"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake
Think about it
Kill that boredom!
Binder Paper Comics
Web Comics and Such
A Distant Soil (Some nudity)
The Adventures of Gyno-Star (Some explicit stuff)
Blue Milk Special
Cigarro & Cerveja
Cyanide and Happiness
dead winter (has some explicit stuff)
Devilbear: The Grimoires of Bearalzebub (PG-13?)
Eat That Toast!
The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon
For Lack of a Better Comic
Girls with Slingshots (some explicit stuff...?)
The Intrepid Girlbot
The Last Halloween
Last Train to Old Town
The League of Evil Genius
Legend of Bill
Living With Insanity (some nudity)
Love Me Nice
Married to the Sea
The Moon Prince
Moth (Some nudity)
The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Political Cartoonists Index
Poorly Drawn Lines
The Property of Hate
Robbie and Bobby
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Scenes from a Multiverse
The Secret Knots
Stand Still. Stay Silent
Strong Female Protagonist
The Super Fogeys
Tales of Pylea
Three Word Phrase (some nudity)
Tiny Kitten Teeth
Toothpaste for Dinner
Trying Human (Some nudity)
Two Guys and Guy
Yellow Peril (PG-13)
Infrequently/No Longer Updating Web Comics
The Abominable Charles Christopher
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja
The Adventures of Ellie Connelly
Bag of Toast
Bear in Mind
The Book of Biff
Chain Bear (Some explicit stuff)
Daisy is Dead
Ectopiary (Some nudity)
Edmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life
A Fine Example
Finn and Charlie are HITCHED
Hark! A Vagrant
Head Doctor Productions
Hello with Cheese
Kyle & Atticus
Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
Letters to a Wild Boar
Lovecraft is Missing
Meat and Plastic
The Nerds of Paradise
No Reason Comics
One Swoop Fell
Pictures for Sad Children
A Redtail's Dream
Roy's Boys (PG 13?)
Run Freak Run
The Super Gay Adventures of Ross Boston
YU + ME
Pure Flash Awesomeness
Die Anstalt : Toy Psychiatry
Clients from Hell
Creatures in My Head
Damn You Auto Correct!
Jhonen Vasquez's site
Overheard in New York
Passive Aggressive Notes
Sunday, January 18, 2015
My friends say things about me, like I'm patient, or strong, or caring. They talk as if these qualities were some innate part of me. I tell them otherwise and they shrug it off as modesty.
But I really don't think that I naturally have many of these positive qualities I'm perceived to have. Most of the things I am now were developed through purposeful effort. It's no different than training for a sport, except that whatever progress I make is internal rather than external, and therefore hard for others to see.
I wanted to be someone patient, kind, caring, selfless, etc. and that's the kind of person I have worked toward becoming. I don't think I had any sort of natural affinity for those things, and it's not always been easy to pursue them as qualities. I guess if I had any sort of innate or at least strongly-rooted advantage it would be that if I truly want something I pretty much always find a way to get it. This aspect of me just doesn't come up that often because there aren't many things I truly want.
In a previous post I talked about the insignificance of the individual in the larger scale of the universe. The external world is absurd and unpredictable, unmoved by the self. The internal world is more controllable, though many people don't understand that. It seems to me only sensible to focus one's efforts on the parts of life that one can control-- the self. Of course there are ways to affect the external world, but it's much more difficult, I think, and much less flexible. We can't choose the system we're born into, but we can choose how we play our role within it. This thinking has factored heavily into how I plan to achieve my goals.
My goals, I think, are hard to explain though. I guess in a way I want to be a skeleton key that can open any door. I want to be in a position where I never have to worry about my options, rather than wanting a specific option. I think having money and a good education will help me get there, but money and education aren't ends in themselves... I don't want to know things for the sake of knowing them, I want to be able to flesh out my understanding of the world with the knowledge I gain.
I don't get depressed as often or as heavily as I used to, and I do think this is significantly related to my efforts to mentally restructure myself. Having friends helps a lot when I'm feeling down, but I wouldn't have as many friends if I hadn't put a lot of calculated effort into becoming more social and learning how to get past my shyness. Being outgoing used to be very forced for me but it's become much more natural with time. I still have a long ways to go though, I think. I'm always going to be in the process of becoming the person I want to be, but I don't think I'll ever be that person, in part at least because I think I will continue to find things I want to change.
Epictetus had some good things to say about how I feel.
"...None of these objects that men admire and set their hearts on is of any use to those who get them, though those who have never chanced to have them get the impression, that if only these things were theirs their cup of blessings would be full, and then, when they get them, the sun scorches them and the sea tosses them no less, and they feel the same boredom and the same desire for what they have not got. For freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men's desires, but by the removal of desire. To learn the truth of what I say, you must spend your pains on these new studies instead of your studies in the past: sit up late that you may acquire a judgement that makes you free: pay your attentions not to a rich old man, but to a philosopher, and be seen about his doors: to be so seen will not do you discredit: you will not depart empty or without profit, if you approach in the right spirit. If you doubt my word, do but try: there is no disgrace in trying."
"Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Someone who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself."
These late hours are not the best time to be pursuing Stoic ethics, but here's one last quote I should really keep in mind for my own sake:
"The will of nature may be learned from those things in which we don't distinguish from each other. For example, when our neighbor's boy breaks a cup, or the like, we are presently ready to say, 'These things will happen.' Be assured, then, that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be affected just as when another's cup was broken. Apply this in like manner to greater things. Is the child or wife of another dead? There is no one who would not say, 'This is a human accident.' but if anyone's own child happens to die, it is presently, 'Alas how wretched am I!' But it should be remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing concerning others."
I don't advocate for being resigned to everything one encounters in life, but to figure out which things can be controlled and to control them in a way advantageous to the self, I guess. No bad faith...
HCAMT, NIAE [4P]
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Stories of loss
Friday, January 16, 2015
I'm pretty sure I've posted this song before, but I heard it on the radio a couple days ago and was sort of swept up in nostalgia.
I can say the most wonderful words you just donít understand
I can show you the way but I know that youíll never be there
All the time, all the shine of your eyes, I will never forget
All I know, thereís no time, thereís no life, there is no turning back
There is no turning back
There is no turning back
I was talking to Sean about love and came across this article about a study done at Yale about selfless love. The gist of it is that romantic love activates the same reward areas of the brain as cocaine, while selfless love (defined as "a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others without expectation of reward") turns off those areas. You can love someone without having a craving for them necessarily.
This came up because I told him about a man I met whose wife of many years was leaving him to become a Buddhist nun. When I first heard his story I was shocked. It seemed incredibly tragic to me, to commit your life to someone only to have them decide they didn't want you anymore. The man seemed unfazed, though. Perhaps it had been a long time coming and he'd become desensitized to the fear of losing her. Or perhaps he'd always known she might do that, and he'd accepted that risk before they married. I don't know. In any case I feel like I can empathize with him much more now. His wife wasn't becoming a nun to escape him, it was just what she wanted to do. And he didn't want to stand in the way of her wish. At least by the time I talked to him, he had accepted it.
Anyway, I told this to Sean, with the explanation that I think, if I were in the same situation, I would probably be the same way. To marry someone I think I would have to truly love them, and if I truly loved the person I would not stand in the way of their true desire... because even if I could make them stay, I don't think it could ever be meaningful if being with me was not what they really wanted.
After I said all that, Sean said he thought I'm "one of the most mature and logical people I've met in my life." I don't know if I necessarily agree with that assessment, though. I feel it's to a great extent a matter of the values I have (although I guess you could argue that the values one holds are related to one's maturity). I value authenticity and agency and selfless love. How could I be happy if I was willfully preventing a person I loved from following their authentic wishes? I think it's better to be alone than to call repression love.
One of my favorite books when I was younger was I Am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer. I've forgotten most of the story by now, but I've thought about one part of the story somewhat frequently over the years.
Morgan le Fay gives forth a sending for Thomas, a magical summoning he cannot resist. They haven't seen each other for years, but she wants to be reunited. She tells her servants to make Caer Morgana, her domain, a paradise for Thomas, and that she wants it to be a stronghold within which he will always be safe from harm. She says "I love him truly; I have loved him since I was a child. And this one love of my life I will keep forever safe from harm." Thomas does come to her, wounded from battle and weary, and she heals him, and for awhile they're happy together, until one day he tries to go for a walk on the moor and finds out that she's constructed invisible walls all around her land to keep intruders out and protect him. She tells him that if he ever wants to go out all he needs to do is ask her, and she'll accompany him through the walls, but he feels disturbed by this lack of freedom. One day he asks her to let him go out and ride alone along the sea, but she refuses his request because she is afraid of him leaving her. More and more he feels like a prisoner, and he begs her to let him leave the safety of Caer Morgana. When she was a child, her father left for battle and was killed, and she fears Thomas may never return if he goes, so she tells him that she can't let him go. He is, of course, incredibly distraught, and he ends up tricking her and removing the ring which channels her power. As soon as he does so, Caer Morgana disintegrates, and some enemy knights who were riding nearby charge toward Thomas and kill him.
I read this book when I was in elementary school and that part hasn't left me in the more than ten years since. To me I guess it's sort of a horror story about the worst possible consequences of loving selfishly and detracting from someone's agency as a person. This theme is present in a lot of other stories, I think. Trying to hold onto someone too tightly may drive them away, especially if your goal to keep them conflicts with their ability to follow their authentic desires.
The real difficulty, I think, once you get past selfishness, is knowing what someone's authentic desire is. I don't agree with being completely fine with everything someone does and chalking that up to letting them be authentic, so being able to distinguish between authentic and inauthentic behavior is important. People are not static, so it's very hard to know what is authentic, but I feel like relative constancy matters. Desires often change with mood, but if you have a desire that persists regardless of your current mood, I think it has more weight as an authentic desire. This isn't something that I've completely fleshed out as an idea though, so it's possible there are loads of flaws in my thinking here that I'm not addressing.
I feel like I always start thinking about these things late at night when I have stuff to do in the morning of the next day... -Sigh-
"Like a ton of bricks" [4P]
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Taking awhile to get better
Sunday, January 11, 2015
I'm going to go to a clinic and see if I can get a refill of my cough syrup prescription since I've run out of it and I'm not well yet... Such a pain. >.>
I didn't do a whole lot today. Finished the second chapter of The Raven and have been listening to various songs for most of the day.
Yesterday I listened to this a bunch, and today I found out my friend Dan really likes it too:
Not stuff I usually listen to, but I like some of these songs Les Paul played:
Here's a song that I already liked. It's impressive to me that he could still play so well when he was old (he was 90 in this video apparently!). I feel like most 90 year olds really can't do a lot anymore...
I hope I start feeling well soon. I don't really want to end up being sick for the rest of the quarter or something... that would really suck. -__-
Today I had a rather ridiculous conversation on OKC. It reminded me of the fun conversations I used to have, back in... mm, 2010 or so. Maybe some of 2011 too. In a way it made me feel a bit like my old self, coming up with semi-clever silliness. I guess I don't have many chances to do that anymore. People are too busy to have entertaining nonsensical conversations now. I guess it's kind of good to be busy, because then you don't have to notice when you're the only one who isn't busy, but I like not having to do anything. Sometimes doing nothing in particular is really nice. Not for long periods of time, I guess, but still. I like that feeling when you really really don't have to do anything at all.
You know I love you but you try and kill me
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Sometimes songs go by on Pandora for awhile and I never think much of them, then all of a sudden I just want to listen to them a bunch. "Year of the Rat" by The Whitlams came from one of my semi-powerpop stations and I had the urge to put it on repeat today.
I think I'm going to skip the 5k tomorrow. Don't really feel up to it. I went out with my mom today to run some light errands and felt pretty sick, so it's probably not a good idea for me to try walking a long distance, let alone running it.
Time to play more games instead!
Saturday, January 10, 2015
So, it's 3:30 AM. I stayed up late playing The Raven, which is kinda buggy and slow at times but engaging once you get past those things.
Checked Cyanide and Happiness because I'm addicted to webcomics and compulsively check them whenever there's an update day...
Totally did not expect that ending, but I've actually had that thought a lot of times in the past. Generally during my low periods, though, and I've never taken steps to carry it out. I remember talking to Kyle about it some time ago, I think when I was at St. John's. I was really depressed at the time and trying to think up ways to end my existence without inconveniencing anyone or doing any harm, and I talked about gradually cutting off contact with everybody who knew me and then going out into the middle of the ocean on a raft and shooting myself off the side. Just a depressive fantasy, and a bit further than the comic takes it, but still. I guess it's one of those things you don't really expect other people to think of too, even though when it comes down to it, I think we rarely have any truly original ideas.
Anyway I'm much happier now and I don't think about this sort of thing so much anymore. Was just surprised to get a blast from the past like that.
I read today's Bobbins and it used the word 'dilettante', which I've seen before but never bothered to actually look up (I don't look up words as much as I should... I usually just infer from context, sometimes incorrectly!). If you're too lazy to look it up yourself, Merriam Webster defines it as "a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious." A dabbler. An amateur.
Well, there's this chocolate company called Dilettante Chocolates, and I've actually seen their products in the Seattle airport (There's a cafe in the terminal I'm usually in that stocks Dilettante chocolate). Knowing the definition of the word now though, I wonder why they'd name their company that. It seems like a terrible name choice if you want to convey quality. I mean, it's not too far off from naming your company something like "Amateur Pizza" or "Not Fully Committed Sandwiches" right?
In any case looking at the website is Dilettante Chocolates is making me want chocolate and I should probably go to bed before I get the desire to munch on something.
Not too much to say
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I heard this song on the radio when I was driving to my internship and liked it:
My internship supervisor made me go home early from the weekly meeting today because I was coughing and she didn't want to get sick. Not particularly disappointed about that. I thought it would be good if I showed up to let her know I'm committed, but I was also kind of hoping she wouldn't make me stay the whole time, so it worked out.
Since I had nothing to do after that, I went to a Japanese market nearby and picked up a Vitamin C.C. Lemon soda. They didn't have the 140mL little bottle I usually like to get, so I got the 500mL large size, but... more of a good thing, I guess?
I'm going to be participating in another study on the 17th, so that should be fun. $50 for 1.5-2 hours, whee. And I'm supposed to run a 5k this weekend... D: I realllllllllly hope I'm well by then.
I tried playing Until I Have You but I think it's a bit too hard for me... and it requires fast reflexes, which I'm not a huge fan of in games. It seems like it would be more fun to watch someone play than to actually play myself.
I also played some other "games" that were really just... interactive vignette experiences, and I feel a little sad as a result. There was one in which you walk around a room filled with people, and some of the people are grey and some are colorful, and if you look closely at the colorful ones you can see through them and into scenes where two people are doing things together. It was called "Happy Memories". In another vignette, "Having Said Goodbye", you control a character that takes slow heavy steps until it reaches a set of stairs in front of a building, at which point it sits down and puts its head in its hands. In the last vignette I played through, "Cooking, For Lovers", you go through the steps of preparing one instant cup of noodles and then pick it up, sit on the floor, and stare at the rest of the room. They were very sparse "games", but they told a sad story, and it was moving, I guess.
These kinds of things touch me, but I feel like that's due in large part to the fact that I allow them to, now. Being open to emotional experiences means being vulnerable and risking embarrassment but I guess I'm okay with that at this point in my life. It's good to feel. I don't ever want to forget that again.
It makes me think of this, from Middens, which I've posted before and which I still think about from time to time.
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