Rhythmic: Writing and Singing

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Source: Rhythmic

poggio

It is a common knowledge that before the invention of the printing press, monks across various monasteries in Europe copied the books such us the holy scriptures manually through a technique called calligraphy. It has been suggested that while they were copying the books, they were also singing. The rhythm of the songs they were singing has also affected the rhythm of their writing as if they were dancing with the motion of their hands according to tune of the song being sung. The rhythmic movements of their hands were in synchronize with rhythmic counts of the song they were singing. Sometimes when I write on my journal, I also listen to Gregorian Chants, so that I could determine the accuracy of such claims. The chants have indeed determined the phase of my hand writing.

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Hideout: The Desk

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Source: Hideout

The word hideout has indeed made me thinking. I could not provide a readymade and quick response. What first comes into mind when I have encountered the word hideout? What are the feelings it provokes? Do I have a hideout? If so, where is it? How do I go there? What do I do in the hide? Is it a physical place? Say in the city? Outside the city? A park? A church? Library perhaps? Or is it more a transcendental space not bounded by the physical place? Say the hideout is a place where you are with your friends? Or a space where you write like I do now?

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Recognize the Unfamiliar

Source: Recognize

At first glance, to be familiar with something or someone is a prerequisite for recognition. We recognize those who are familiar to us. After all, how can we recognize something when we do not have a reference to our prior knowledge? At the same time, we do not really recognize normality do we? We are not aware when things are well and normal, but we are very conscious when things deviate from the norm. We recognize our body when there is something wrong with it. For example, I am not really conscious about my teeth when they do not hurt. When I have a tooth ache, that is the only time I can feel my teeth and recognize not only the pain itself, but also where the pain is coming from.

All anomalies are also recognizable. We recognize them because they are not like everybody else or everything. They stand out. It is precisely because they are different that we tend to recognize them. We tend to look at them in such a way that they become the object of our gaze and reduced them to preconceived stereotypes we have ascribed to them.

To recognize those who do not fit the pattern is easy. It is even an impulse some might say. We recognize those who deviates from the pattern without even trying or thinking about it. While it is easy to recognize those who are outside the orthodox straight forward structure, it is quite difficult to acknowledge their existence. To be tolerated is absolutely not the same with acceptance. To be recognized does not really equate with being acknowledged.

 

Overwhelming: When we think we are out of our depths 

Source: Overwhelming

At the time of writing, I am in the middle of writing my research project. Writing a research project can be a task so overwhelming and a prospect so daunting. I was overwhelmed even before I have started writing the research proposal and I am sill overwhelmed today even I am already in the middle of writing it. I have even tried to delayed the inevitable and wasted a lot of time in the past, because I was so scared to even begin.

Each day, I sit behind my desk and my computer is the first thing I turn-on in the morning. It is also the last equipment I turn-off late at night. In some days, the ideas are clear and the words are not elusive. But in most cases, I struggle to even grasp the and conceive the ideas let alone to form the words that would express it. This is particularly difficult especially for somebody like myself whose English is not the mother tongue. It even sometimes hurt to read what I have written because it shows how incompetent I am. It really does hurt.

When ideas come, they come all at the same time, but they come incoherently. Imagine pieces of jigsaw puzzle are poured on your desk. Each piece represents an idea and you must arrange them together to make a coherent narrative. That is not as easy as it sounds. It could be very frustrating. Then there is the debate within yourselves where you scrutinize the things you have said before.

Sometimes I feel that I am of my depths. I am overwhelmed by the task ahead. Sometimes, when I am sitting behind my desk and the words do not come around, I feel agitated. I get stressed and the stress manifest in my body. I get dizzy, I feel the change in my heartbeat as it goes faster, I get this pain in my lower back, sometimes I could not even breath. I want to cry, I want to scream, I even want to smash the computer.

Some of my friends have advised me that when the words and ideas are elusive, I should not stress myself so much. I should try to do something else and try to relax. Instead of writing, try to read texts that are relevant to the topic I am writing or perhaps have a long walk. That does not work for me, because it is precisely when the words and ideas are elusive that I am more determined to grasp them. I cannot help it. And when I have finally grasp them or at least think to be grasping them, I get this sense of fulfilment, so cathartic.

When all things said and done, one should not refuse to acknowledge that it is precisely because we are so overwhelmed by the task bigger than ourselves that makes such task worth fulfilling. If what we do is so easy, then where is the challenge in that? I think that it is only when we are doing something slightly above our depths that we can really discover our talents and able to reach the full potential of our lives. Imagine the gratification we will eventually get when we have finally delivered the promise we thought at first that we were not equipped to deliver in the first place.

The whole idea is to engage oneself in a project that are slightly above one’s self. It is quite gratifying to finally be able to successfully fulfil a task that we are not quite sure we are going to succeed. Being overwhelmed by something is therefore not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is within reasons. By within reason I mean that while you are quite sure that you will not fail, you are also not very sure if you would really succeed. Besides, I love writing. Not being a good writer does not make me love writing any less.

When we write, we find ourselves in a transcendental space. That space is neither here nor there while at the same time, being everywhere and simultaneously nowhere.

Scent: Repulsive and yet Desirable

Source: Scent

People who lose their sense of smell suffer greater emotional deterioration than people lose their vision. That’s because smell is a powerful way to read emotions.- David Brooks on Social Animal (2012: 16)

The sense of vision is overvalued. It has been suggested that vision is the site of knowledge. To see is to believe they say. Some would even go further as to claim that to see is to know. Convention has it that vision is the most superior sense of all, while other senses such as hearing, touching, tasting and yes smelling are all considered inferior to vision and therefore marginalized.

Unlike the superior sense of vision, the other marginalised senses including but not exclusively the sense of smell cannot be a reliable reference, because how could we verify that what we smell and how we smell are exactly the same thing? For example, imagine looking at a lavender, we can all provide an accurate and homogenous description of it. Although we all know the smell of lavender and would all could agree that what we are smelling is indeed a lavender, the emotions and experiences that the smell of lavender triggers are different from one person to another. While we can reproduce what we see, we cannot really reproduce what we smell nor translate them.

Vision is objective and transcendent, because it requires certain distance and detachment to see the object of gaze objectively. Sense of smell on the other hand is said to be subjective and situated because in order to smell, one has to establish proximity to the object being smelled. Like sense of smell, sense of taste also requires proximity. These two are intertwined. The smell  is so palpable. How many of you who have not eaten a soap and yet claimed that something taste like a soap?

Our civilization has organized smells based on the desirable and good smells from the repulsive and bad smells. We are preconditioned to like the good smell such as the smell of a flower which explains why perfumes are mostly flower scented. We are instructed to reject the smell associated with the uncultivated nature as body odours, sweat, animal extractions both by humans and non-humans.

Tradition dictates that when we encounter repulsive smells, we should reject and contain them. However, it is exactly those what we believed to be repulsive smells are the smells to which we are drawn. The flowery scents of the perfume we buy is just a decoy of the smells we find repulsive, because those repulsive smells that we find most exciting. In other words, when a woman wears a lavender scented perfume, it is not really the smell of the lavender that a man (or another woman) finds exciting, but the natural smell of body secretions of a woman (or a man) we are trained to find repulsive.

You do not believe me? Check the article written Laura U. Marks entitled ‘Thinking Multisensory Culture’. In that article she claims that: ‘The base notes of perfumes, similarly, are often sexual or animal odours that we have learned to find noxious in themselves, yet are seductive when masked. A fine meal or elegant perfume both recalls and refines our animal and vegetable nature. Smell, the chemical communication, is uncanny because it reminds us what we have in common with pigs – and with mushrooms’ (2013: 146). Of course, this article cannot stand as evidence on it’s own, but that could be a lead for further investigation.

References

Brooks, David. Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012.

Marks, Laura U. “Thinking of Multisensory Culture.” Papenburg, Benita and Marta Zarzycka. Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. 144-157.

Replacement: New Blog and New Addiction

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.

Source: Replacement

When I saw the new word prompt today, there are two things that come into my mind that are very relevant in a certain aspect of my daily mundane life. First, this new blog entitled: ‘Much To Tell About Nothing’ that has been launched just yesterday replacing the blog I have launched years ago. I will no longer refer you to the link of that old blog, because I have changed a lot since then and that old blog site of mine does not represent anymore who I have become today. Second, it has been said that addiction can be cured by replacing it by another addiction. Hence, A new blog site replacing the old and a an old addiction replaced by a new form of addiction. Allow me to ponder a bit on that.

If you will read my About Page, you will find that this blog you are visiting at the moment is a replacement of an older blog I have secured in the past. Yes that is right, I am an impulsive blogger. For some reason, I find blogging so fulfilling which I might ponder in some other blog entries in the future, but not today. The main reason why I have decided to abandon the old blog site and replaced it with the new one, is that while reading my old blog entries, it seems that I am reading pieces written by a different person. They have been written by my younger me. Therefore, this new blog represent a new regime. Again, new regime replacing the old and a new blog is a very nice gesture to mark the recognition of how one’s life gradually transforms.

Second, I am starting to suspect that I might have a predisposition to addiction of any kind. As much as I am ashamed to publicly admit it, I can watch television programs and films more than what is good for me. I feel guilty about it, especially when there are a lot of things that need my attention. I procrastinate. I am a great procrasitinator. Watching television is just an easy way to escape tackling the things that need to be tackled. As I have said, I have just started this blog Sunday yesterday. Since yesterday, I did not watch any television programs or movies at all. Hoera! Hoera! One might exclaim, but I have been glued to wordpress.com since yesterday when I need to work on my research project and to prepare for my presentation in a conference next week. In the country where I live, the day is almost nigh and I have not done anything at all except to write blogs, to read blogs of other bloggers, and to check how many likes or visits I might have received so far. In other words, my watching addiction has been replaced by my blogging addiction.

Viola REPLACEMENT!!

Yellow

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Source: Yellow

Let me mark the first day of this blog entitled ‘Much To Tell About Nothing’ by participating in today’s Daily Prompt. The daily prompt word is ‘Yellow’ at the day this blog has been launched online. For me personally, responding to the  Daily Post‘s daily prompt means writing without any preconceived plan. When the participants become aware of the daily prompt word/instruction in a particular day, they must begin writing immediately. In other words, the bloggers themselves do not know where the writing will eventually bring them. In most cases, we do not write what we have discovered, but we discover new things when we write.

The colour yellow means many different things for various cultures both in the present and in the past. In most cultures, the bright golden yellow is associated with the sun. The sun and by implication the colour it radiates symbolizes strength and power. There were even civilizations in the past, such as the ancient Egypt amongst many others, who have worshiped the sun as monotheistic god. The sun has been a symbol of potent power that Louis XIV refers to him as the le Roi-Soleil or the Sun King. The colour yellow is ubiquitous in all of his emblem. In ancient China, yellow is an imperial colour. If memory serves me well, I have heard that in those time, only the emperor was allowed to wear an imperial yellow.

Today, yellow means many different things. In the West, yellow is ascribed to gender neutrality. When a baby boy is expected, he is being welcomed with colour blue. On the other hand, when baby girls are expected, we welcome them with colour pink. In that sense, yellow is associated with welcomed uncertainty and the thrill to be surprised. In a modern society today in which we are gaining more and more control of our lives and our future, relinquishing the control to know the sex of the baby can be a very challenging prospect. Therefore, yellow can also be associated with the strength to go against the impulse to have control over everything.

Yellow is in between of two absolute things or the not entirely. For example in the traffic lights. The yellow in traffic light is way of announcing the red light. Yellow is an announcement that the command to stop is about to take place, so that the motorist could prepare themselves. It is a threshold between the stop and the go. It is not entirely stop, but it is absolutely not a go. The yellow is a space in between, the not here and the not there.

Then, there is the cakra from Hindu spiritual traditions I find fascinating. They say yellow symbolizes the Manipura Chakra also known as the Solar Plexus Chakra which I do not fully understand, which is not a problem because I have already accepted that I could not possibly understand everything there is to understand. This chakra is located in our navel and responsible for will power and the source of our power drive. The navel is yellow. Once in our lives, we have shared one chord with our mother connected to our navel. Is it far-fetched to also associate yellow with the unbreakable bond that the mother and her child share?

In Christianity, or at least in Christian festivities, yellow is ascribed to the Easter. Easter is colour yellow which symbolizes resurrection and new life. It marks the end of the fasting and the Holy Week.

Yellow is a very imposing and yet so mysterious of a colour.