Response to Xhesika’s post

“People change, but one thing remains true and that is that every phase, every attitude, every laugh, and even every bad hair cut has been the real you.”

I loved reading through Xhesika’s post because in a sense it describes human beings. We tend to affiliate ourselves and others with just one thing. For example, sometimes I get recognized as Indian or Hindu or something that relates to my background. But in fact we are so much more than that. We need to understand that we shouldn’t be labelling each other with that one thing. Rather we should be viewing each other as just human beings because the way i see it, these different background informations only tend to divide us further and further. So yes, I am an Indian, but I am a human being first and thats how I relate to you or anyone else in this world.

The real truth!

What is the real? How can you define what the real is? Is there even a real definition of this real? The answer is yes and no. Somewhere in between. Its yes because there is a definition of real in each of our minds which stays unique to each one of us because of our different perspectives. But no, because there isn’t a concrete definition placed down in a way that is common for all of us. In reality, we might not even know if the real exists because how do you the existence of a thing that can just be described in words. So, yes I don’t know what the real is. But maybe that is what the real has in mind for me. Perhaps for me, it could be finding the truth. The true knowledge of the whole entirety of this world. In other words, for me the real is trying to gain the truth behind everything.

Ever though about political issues and how people usually uncover dirty secrets or accuse each other of doing things, or when any serious issue happened in the world but you don’t know the truth behind it. Well that’s exactly what I am after. Sometimes is feels good to say in ignorance because our hearts fear that truth is ugly. But I’m not. If anything, I am curious. I want to know what happened. I want to know the truth before supporting anyone or making any decision. But maybe that seems like an impossible dream. It’s because once one of my teachers showed me a water bottle and asked me what I saw and I replied the company name. And then he told me that he saw the nutrition label from his side. And he went on further to explain how the truth is similar to the water bottle. No one knows the truth, because one can only see part of the truth at one time, and that truth gets fixated in their head. And it’s virtually impossible to view the bottle as a whole at the same time.

Think about it this way. Why do you think the way you do today. It’s mostly because of what your parents and teachers have taught you and what you have experienced during your upbringing. Now imagine being taught that good was bad and bad was good. Flipping the definitions. Maybe then, today you would think that bad is righteous. That’s how the truth is hidden from us. Not being able to see everything at the same time. It’s physically or mentally impossible to process the whole truth at the same time because you can’t know what’s happening in the world and comprehend it all the same time.

We might have had so many wars because of various things such as language, culture, boundaries, race and religion. But ever wonder why? A lot of it has to do with the fact that sometimes we don’t understand the true nature of the other being, so we harm them by giving it the name of self defense. And slowly over time when you tell your group about that other being, they believe what you told to be as the truth and this shapes their perspective of that other being. Hence, creating oppression which turns out into a war.

However, if I knew the truth, then maybe I could make a difference, then maybe I could stop a war by stoping my personal fight. So, finding the truth, is what my the real is for me.

For me, what brings me closer to the real is philosophy. If there’s one thing that philosophy has taught me then it is understanding the different sides of the coin before making a decision. It has taught me that there are always different perspectives to something. For example, when in a dispute with somebody it is critical to understand the other person’s thoughts and keeping an open mind about it. For example, let’s say there was a disease on this planet and in a few days everyone was going to die. However, you can save that from happening if you take the life of the innocent child in front of you. How would one decide what to do? Side A might say that sooner or later the child might die anyways so it’s best to save the world by taking his life, however side B might say that no one has the right to kill the child, as the child has the right to live and a life is still a life, may it be a million or just one single life. For me, just being able to see these perspectives is what’s important as now I know two parts of the truth instead of just one. I am getting closer to it, even though I am not their yet. Philosophy has open my mind and helped me think differently, which is bringing a bit more closer to knowing the truth.

The truth doesn’t stop just their. It is infinite. It is being able to see the different aspects of matters and then deciding for the most logical solution which will lead to the least consequences. For example, I work at a restaurant and meet many new people day after day. Some customers are annoying and some are pleasant. And when you meet the annoying ones, you just want to kick them out. But sometimes you just have to stay shut, not because you are scared of losing the job, but because you understand their mindset and then reflect on what’s the best thing to do. Like the other day one of the customers asked me where I was from, and when I said India, he told me that he was from India too. And right after he asked me to give him extra food for free just because we were from the same country. When I didn’t give him the extra food he began arguing with me by saying that we both were from same countries so I should help him out. In my mind all I wanted to do was kick him out and be like go to some Indian restaurant (this is isn’t because I am Indian so I can say this lol). But I stopped, thought about it twice and just switched tables. I felt like at that moment if I had showed him his way out then maybe he wouldn’t do that again. I was so sure that it was the right thing to do to make people like them understand that it’s not our background or culture or religion that bond us together, but it’s rather the mentality and the way we think that bond people together. However, I stopped because I saw from his point of view and then this is what I imagined. Imagine being in an entirely new country and then seeing faces that are familiar to where you are from. You would wish that the other person should help you out in anyway possible because you have the same background. So, it’s that mentality which exists where I come from. I know that a lot of people from India usually do that and there is no helping it. It’s that mentality that has been set in their mind. So, instead of starting a conflict, why not just end it by walking away, because I knew it wasn’t worth wasting my time over. And if I walked away, they would a new server who wasn’t Indian and hence he wouldn’t be able to ask for anything for free. It’s like knowing the truth isn’t the end. You need to be able to analyze and find the best possible solution in your mind. That’s what I am after!

Sound and Visions

David Bowie’s “Sound and Visions” and Beck’s reconstruction, both have their own uniqueness. On one hand, the original had simplicity and felt like it was straightforward and easier to follow, while the reconstruction, despite being beautiful, was extremely overwhelming. However, I felt a lot of it was because of the visual recording. In other words, because one knows that there are 160 musicians and one can see them in the video, it becomes overwhelming. If there wasn’t a visual and it was just an audio, then it would have been harder to figure out how many musicians were there. And in that case, I would focus more on the audio alone (Try listening just the audio, might change perspective). When I did so, I found out that the music wasn’t overwhelming anymore. At some points there were multiple instruments being played so I had to backtrack it and listen to it again. I felt like it was very melodious and easier to follow without the visual. At that point since the size of musicians wasn’t available, it felt very soothing. I personally liked the reconstruction better than the original. Nothing to take away from the original, it’s a beauty in itself. But it’s very simple. It’s too easy to follow. It doesn’t force me to think much. Doesn’t push to use my thoughts. However the reconstruction being a complex one, pushes me to challenge myself at every point, because now I am not watching the video, but rather just listening to the music.

From what I recall, Jazz had a lot of improv in it which means that they make things as they keep on going. There is no strict rule. This shows Jazz’s freedom aspect. If we keep this in mind, then we realize that the reconstruction might have not contributed anything to Jazz. The reconstruction having so many instruments and melodies being played simultaneously couldn’t have been done on the spot. It had to be strictly pre-planned. This takes away the freedom aspect from it as now one is strictly following rules. However, on the other hand, when I hear the original piece, I felt like that could have contributed more to Jazz. This is because in the original piece the melodies and components are very easy to follow and most likely, there was only one drum and one guitar and only one of any instrument used. So, at that point you don’t have to worry about 50 drummers having 50 different melodies, on top of all the other instruments having different melodies as well. It become just way too complicated. To pull off something like the reconstruction, one can’t improvise. So, simplicity can be the origin and can create new things, and complexity can take one idea to a whole new different level. Similarly, if one was trying to create new ways of music, then it’s always better to start with just a few instruments like in the original piece. However, if one wants to take that original piece and make it majestic, then complexity is recommended but not required.

The World Keeps Spinning

Part I

While reading the judges monologue, one could really feel the burning pain inside the judge’s heart for his city. It almost feels like a time before the rebirth of the world, where everything is in chaos and there is nothing but crime! But in all of the commotion, one could clearly sort out people like the tightrope walker because in the judge’s eye, he was a unique one. He respected the tightrope walker because he made a monument by doing something that caught people’s eye temporarily and was bold. This makes me think of how there are always some revolutionaries who would go against the flow and would try to bring about a change. The tightrope walker is one such revolter, who makes things lively in an area that is filled with crime and malice.

Part II

In life, sometimes you have to make rash decisions whether you like it or not. And often as a judge you will be faced with such rash decision making opportunities frequently, where you will be forced to make a decision based on your understanding, your morals and based on what you know from the story. So, when looking from Judge Soderberg’s perspective we find out that he sentences Tillie to eight months in prison because he sees her as a prostitute and as a criminal he mentions in the monologue. He has no clue as to what her backstory is. I also feel like he sentenced her for eight months instead of six because he sees her as a waste of the society that needs to be either tamed or removed. And removing isn’t an option in this case, so he decides to put some sense into her head by locking her in for an extra two months. However, the case of Petit is completely different. He is in fact fascinated by Petit as I mentioned in Part I. In some sense he grows to respect Petit because of what he had done. Therefore, he feels pressurized when the time comes for him to decide for Petit. In some sense, the sentence he gave to Petit, about paying a cent for every floor on the building, is funny and clever. However, it isn’t fair as it allowed Petit to walk away as a free man while it imprisoned Tillie. Now, from my personal opinion, I wouldn’t have sentenced Tillie to eight months prison since I know her backstory. It might not have been possible, what I am trying to do, but it is worth a shot. I would have sentenced her to wearing ankle bracelets for 6-8 months, so that she could stay with her granddaughters, while at the same time understand that she was given another chance in life to become a better person. This would also allow her to reflect on the part where if she was sentenced to prison then she wouldn’t have had the chance to be with her grandchildren. Maybe somewhere in this sentence, she might have found her true purpose in life and might have changed her lifestyle. The possibility of it happening might be minuscule, but it is still there. However, on the case of Petit, even though his punishment wasn’t fair in comparison to Tillie, it was justified. I feel so, because Petit was just doing something he loved. He was reaching out towards freedom. And nobody should ever be punished for following their hearts. But then again it may be more complicated than that. What if he influenced other people to do the same, but those other people weren’t skilled enough and had fallen into the arms of death? So, I understand Soderberg’s opinion as well. But I feel like the piling up of the two cases is quite complicated as it depends from person to person to give their opinion as to what they would have done. There isn’t a definite answer.

Part III

When one listens to the phrase “the world spinning”, one might think of how our earth constantly rotates and revolves around the sun on a fixed path. And there is the gravity of the sun that allows the earth to do that. Similarly the gravity of the earth allows the moon to rotate and revolve around the earth. So, we see how things keep on going, and as they go on, they cause another affect. Similarly, such is the story of our earth. Our everyday boring lives go on and on and on until something unique comes about to stop it and entertain it for a while. We as human beings are tempted to react to such a unique performance. And our reaction to that performance causes the performer to do more of such acts. And such acts influence other people’s lives like Petit influenced Claire and her friend’s lives. We don’t seem to notice the connections in between such interactions. But somehow, I feel like when Jaslyn saw Petit’s image and the date on that image, she noticed something unique. She called it beautiful and ugly simultaneously. I feel like she started to see all the connections. It made her happy because she saw how the tightrope walker followed his heart and did what he wanted to. But also, at the same time, it was the day when her mother died in a car accident. She also might have known about Gloria’s children and how the women thought Petit’s act to be nothing more than giving away his life. Jaslyn might have been able to notice all these connections and might have had come to the conclusion that despite the fact that the world keeps on spinning, there are incidents that catch us off guard and alter the course of the world. Either ways the world still keeps on spinning even with the altered path. There is no stop to it. So the best we can do to contribute towards it, is by doing what we do best, hoping that we inspire people in the best of ways.

There were many bridges in this story that were unsettling. But the one that personally made me feel a bit unsettled at first was the connection between Corrigan and the prostitutes, especially Jazzlyn. This is because in our society prostitutes have a bad impression. And maybe I was also one of those people who might have thought so until sometime in my life. But I was so wrong. After knowing Tillie’s story, it broke my heart. She did all this to make sure that her children don’t go through the same experience, but in the end, even Jazzlyn ended up being a prostitute. And honestly speaking, I personally have a friend who was a prostitute. I won’t be sharing any incidents of how we met, or who that person is, or even why they did this. But I know their story, and I am pretty sure, if you knew their story then maybe you might have sympathized with them as well. Many of these prostitutes, become one because they are desperate. They just want to be able to feed their family. They don’t see any other option. And in their opinion, the quickest way to get cash would be by being a prostitute. And honestly, I don’t even blame them. Sometimes, I am even forced to think about what would I have done, if I was so poor that I was on the brink of death, and on top of that I had to support my children and my family. It’s a tough choice to make. When you don’t see options, you do somethings that you naturally wouldn’t. And honestly speaking, that friend of mine was one of the nicest person I have ever met. But society sometimes f**ks you up so bad, that there is nothing you could do. You have to live with the pain, and drop your esteem and respect in order to make sure that your loved ones are safe and are fed.

A bridge that actually made me cry was when Corrigan was drunk all day and night and was smoking on his mother’s birthday. And he came home with eyes that were numb and a body that couldn’t stand on its own feet. Despite all this, his mother hugged him and made sure he was alright and saved him the birthday cake. I feel like I have a deep connection to this moment because I live here without my parents. Sometimes when you see such parental love and you know you are deprived of it as for the moment in life, you start to feel happiness in the moment because of the story but yet you cry so hard inside, that it creates a hole in your heart. I feel like in some sense that is what I went through while reading this connection between Corrigan and his mother. In my situation, you would give anything to have that parental love in your life. It isn’t like I am deprived of it. But it’s just that, that I don’t physically have my parents with me to comfort me in such situations. It isn’t my parents’ fault. But it’s just that people are put in situations where there are no options. This matured me quicker than I might have if I was living with my parents. But still I tend to make rash decisions as all of you might already know! But I hope that some day, despite being an adult, I will come home to my mother, all drunk and smoked up, just to be comforted by her and being able to reminisce this moment of the past.

Blog Post 6: Music is Life!

Music is life. I feel like listening to music is the only time in the day when I meditate. It’s a feeling wherein I become one with it. It also depends on what I am looking for in a music. For example, it could be either the sensuous plane music wherein I just listen to it for getting lost in its melody. I do those a lot of times during the morning, where I would usually hate it when someone would pull me out of my music because, “Relax bro, I’m meditating!” Or it could be the expressive kind where I try to make sense of everything by joining it with meanings and making a story out of it, like I am trying to do right now, so that I could scribble something about it. Either ways music is music, and I would still love it.

I listen to a variety of music, all the way from rap to a kind of classical music. But when I want to get lost in the music I look for something that has no words so that I am not being forced to understand the music using the interpretation of those words. Usually I end up listening to some anime melodies as most of you all know, I love animes! Also, it really depends on my mood. But as of right now I will be pointing towards my interpretation of Shukumei from the anime Fairy Tail.

Shukumei is a sad melody. But apart from that it is quite hard to figure out what kind of sad it is. It is sorrow sadness, hopeful sadness or even struggling sadness. At first when I heard it in the anime, it was played after all the conflicts were solved and despite all the loses they were hopeful about the future. But upon listening it multiple times I felt like there was more pain hidden in the music wherein despite everything is over, you can’t seem to forget about what you lost in the past conflict, could be a relation, could be something precious that is a reminder of someone or even a certain someone you have loved since forever. And now when I listen to it I begin questioning about what is real? It makes me think philosophically and makes me think about life in general. What is life and what is existence. It might not be the same with everybody, and that’s the beauty of it. I love this song, not because it resonates with me and my life in some ways, but because it makes me one with a timeless universe, where there are no individual entities, but only a single unity. However, I just want to point out that I am presently listening to this music while writing this song, so my mind is semi engaged in it, and therefore such thoughts. I don’t even know if I am making sense anymore. I feel like music gives life an abstract meaning where anything and everything is possible, if you want it to be!

Blog Post 5: Does music have a definite meaning?

Aaron Copland was a famous American composer who was born in NY. He had won multiple awards like the Pulitzer Prize for Music and was often referred to as “the Dean of American Composers” by his peers. In his book “What to Listen for in Music”, he talks about how Beethoven doesn’t give a definite meaning, but rather points towards a general meaning and the rest is left up to the reader’s interpretation, while Tchaikovsky gives you a more specific meaning of what the song is about. Upon listening to both musical pieces I felt the same. When listening to Tchaikovsky, I felt like I could almost picture a particular story in my head and narrate it to someone. It felt like it’s a love story kind of sad theme, wherein they go through a lot of unforeseen struggles, therefore, giving the suspense music. We don’t even need words to figure that out. Furthermore, yes, it is kind of predictable, as now it has a story. One could anticipate what’s going to happen next in the story and how that will be shown in a melody format. But on the other hand, Beethoven’s music was a bit peculiar. I got the feeling where the meaning would almost change at every second of the music. It’s like at one moment it is suspense, at another its peaceful, at another it is energetic, at some point it is a bit sad. You just can’t seem to figure it out. At that point I realized that it doesn’t need to have a meaning. And this is also when I figured out what Aaron meant by when he said that some musicians even go as far as saying that all music just has a purely musical meaning. And in some sense it makes so much sense. Music is a piece of art so gracious that you don’t want to label it with a specific meaning. I feel like that would bring its abstract meaning of unreality to the mere level of nothingness. So, yes music could have a meaning, but it doesn’t have to have one. The meaning could be as one wants to interpret it. And even if you don’t want a meaning, it is fine. One could just enjoy it for a purely musical meaning.

How big is big?

As a lot of the honors students might know, I am obsessed with animes. So let’s talk about size in animes. My most favorite anime is One Piece. The protagonist of that anime is Luffy, who is a rather pale looking guy of average height, but with enormous strength such that he can crush people twice his size. And watching One Piece and other such animes have taught me that size really doesn’t matter. It’s your will power and how much dedication and heart you put into what you are doing, that matters.

Also, big and small is a matter of perspective. Imagine you were a giant and were looking at humans. Of course, those humans would seem puny little beings to you. But now think about yourself as a human seeing a giant. I think most of us would be overwhelmed by the sheer size of that giant. However, just because the giant is enormous doesn’t necessarily make him the superior being. Someone like Luffy would be enchanted by the giant’s size and would ask the giant to join his crew (which he actually did in the anime).

This makes me reflect on whether size really matters. I think about the anime, but then an anime is a fantasy. And I am in reality. However, I feel like it’s all in our minds. We don’t really know how big is big. So, why feel overwhelmed by the size of something. Just become one with it and approach it in a way that will make size worthless. For example, even though the skyscrapers in NYC are huge in comparison to human beings, at their very core they are still human creations. So, for them, no matter how puny humans are, we are still their creators. Perspective really matters in shaping things and in deciding whether you want to let it consume you, or be the one in command.