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As you probably don't know, I subscribe on YouTube to the Shaytards, a daily videolog by Shaycarl, husband and father of four. I enjoy watching their videos very much - especially for the various harebrained eccentricities of the kids - but I find myself occasionally annoyed by their moralising.

Let me explain (like you have a choice =P): they are Christian, possibly Mormon ('m not quite sure of that), and as such tend to be just a little conservative in their outlook. Don't get me wrong; it isn't as if the videologs are peppered everyday with little snippets of Bible-thumping dogma - in fact, it took me quite a few videos to realise that they were Christian at all - but nonetheless, I do find the very occasional bit of soapboxing very annoying.

One of the reasons why I find this so very annoying is because Shaycarl is, I would say, a good man, and his wife is a good woman, and his kids tend to be good as well, and I genuinely do enjoy watching their videos, so to have such a good thing smudged by something like this is obviously not preferable.

However, I would say that the main reason for my dislike of their moral code, which is as you might expect mostly brought out in what they teach to their kids, is that it shares the same fault of pretty much every religious doctrine: it says that goodness is borne mainly of obedience to some higher power (the same power that tells you where the goodness comes from, very conveniently), and that therefore one has something of an obligation if not an out-and-out right to compel others to obey this higher power. They don't say this in full, of course (not that the kids would challenge them if they did), but it isn't too much of a leap of the imagination to make the jump from this video to that conclusion:

(jump to about six minutes in to see the relevant part if you're in a hurry) =P

Now I am a firm proponent of letting people believe what they wish as long as it doesn't hurt anyone, but nonetheless I find it repugnant that any person (especially a child, who is hardly going to know any better) be told that obedience is a necessary part of being whole as a person - but then, that's the whole point, isn't it? 'Get them while they're young' - the maxim of religions and banks everywhere. The only difference is that banks don't try to control how people reproduce (not that I would be surprised if they tried) - Christianity definitely does.

Although the video above was a major contributor to my ire, the video that really sparked me off writing this was another (much earlier) one in which Shaycarl and his wife disparage the lewdness of a hip-hop dance they saw performed by some local teenage girls, not to mention the rather sheer cut of their costumes. I was all set to unleash my fury in a huge rant about how religious people think they should be allowed to boss everyone about because they think that they know better than us about right and wrong, but at the end of the video Shaycarl added something which made me reconsider.

Two of his children are little girls, and, quite understandably, he was worried that his daughters (impressionable and eager as they are) might want to copy the dancers when, later in life, they reached the right age to do so. Obviously it's one thing to see some random teenage girls making vertical expressions of horizontal intent - quite another to see your own daughters doing it. Although Shay used it in a tangential sense, he did use the word 'violated', and it made me wonder if perhaps he's had nightmares about his girls being subject to just that once they come of age - a fate I would not wish on my worst enemy, to be sure.

So perhaps I am willing to go a bit easy on religious people - at least, the ones who don't spend every living moment pushing it in your face. Obedience might not be all that conducive to an enlightened moral code, but one thing it is useful for is keeping people safe. After all, when a car is careening towards your child, you don't exactly want your child to respond to your order to get the hell out of the road by turning to you and saying something along the lines of 'Now, papa, personally I do not see that there is any rational cause for me to vacate this immediate vicinity, especially considering that I am having an absolutely spiffing time amusing myself with these miniature plastic trucks which you, in your infinite generosity, have decided to purchase for me.' (I mean, your child probably wouldn't be as wordy as that, but you get my point.) People who would like you to do as they say usually want that because they want to keep you safe - not all religious people are power-mad masterminds who are planning to take over the world by brainwashing every human being on Earth into obedient, submissive slaves (although it wouldn't hurt keeping an eye out for signs of megalomania whilst around the faithful, I suppose).

So yes. I suppose my overall point is that pushy people aren't all bad. They usually act out of a genuine fear of loss, which is after all one of the most basic features of being human. Moreover, power-structures such as religion (and parenting X3) don't always turn out badly: case in point, the Shaytards. I have remarked to myself in the past that I would be glad to have a life like the one Shaycarl has - not just for the considerable material wealth that he has earned, but also for the large and loving family that he has, and I still would, even if it meant being a Mormon. (cough)

Even so, I do wish that the parents had seen fit to include love in their list of things that the spirit needs. I suppose one could argue that kindness stands for that, but nonetheless, I feel that all the other things (obedience, service, reverence and honesty - which, while pompously pious virtues, I am grudgingly willing to admit are good and probably necessary for the existence of a civilised society) flow quite naturally from a simple and accepting love of oneself and others. Why complicate an already complicated issue by bringing a load of other ideas into it?

All I hope is that the Shaytard kids learn from their parents, not just a moral code, but the ability to discern for their own selves what is right and wrong. Obedience is all well and good, but if conscience isn't personal, what's the point?

Thoughts on Uni

So, yes. I have successfully survived the first stretch of university - only two and three-quarter years left to go! (AHA! AHAHAHA! Aha...) I am writing this at roughly seven in the morning, preparing to go home for the Christmas holiday (known to marketers as the 'Primary Gifting Period', perhaps unsurprisingly), and only just realising how tired I am by the fact that writing this is like swimming through a massive bowl of porridge. With treacle in it.

So what have I learned from my first few weeks of university life? A lot of things, and perhaps the most applicable is that you can never remember life lessons when you want to - only when they're applicable to the moment. You definitely can't remember them at seven in the morning, at least not in any coherent order, so here's a mish-mash of stuff that I can remember:

Pretty much every era of history is a rehash of an earlier era, meaning that we are locked in an inescapable spiral of self-analysis. Where this will lead, I do not know - nor am I sure that I would want to know if given the chance.

Whether you're subject to time or subject to a pass-time, you're still only a subject.

You can always find at least one friend, because the fact of the matter is that everyone else is just as insecure as you.

If you could stop time and everyone else from doing anything, doing something perfectly might be an option.

It's true that a lot of that which happens in life is in the hands of Fate... but that doesn't mean that you can't try to make Fate more amenable.

Every day comes after the day before it and before the day after it.

Until mind-transference technology becomes feasible, you can only be yourself.

Everyone starts off ignorant.

Yaaay stuff. (brains fizzes, sparks and asplodes)

The 'War on Drugs'

Drugs aren't the real evil - rather, addiction is. Addiction to anything is bad, whether it's narcotics, alcohol or nicotine. And what's even more evil than that? Prejudice. Exploitation. Hypocrisy. In short, anyone (especially politicians) who says drug users and dealers are scum of the Earth while happily accepting their government's commercial tax profits on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are themselves the scum of the Earth.

It seems to me as though the Dutch have the right idea. You're never gunna get rid of drugs entirely, 'cuz there will always be people who will want to use them, so why bother outlawing all of them? Anyone fighting the 'War on Drugs' lost the moment they started fighting, just as they would if they started a 'War on Sex'. Why try to destroy that which cannot be destroyed? Instead, control it, and do so in a benign fashion. After all, which is more important - victory over drugs, or the health and wellbeing of your people? Sure, you could probably win the War on Drugs if you shot everyone suspected of owning them, but it wouldn't exactly help your PR.

As long as drugs are outlawed, criminals will continue to make a profit on them (duh) - and what is more, the drug addicts who need to go to them for 'fixes' will be in debt to them, increasing the power that drug dealers have over the drug-using population. If certain, less powerful drugs were made lawful to possess and use, this would take the power away from the world of crime, at once crippling both their income and their ability to peddle further drugs.

Of course these substances would have to be regulated closely by the government, but even if they were subject to a small tax which could then be used to strengthen the country's rehabilitation system, they could still be made cheaper than they would if they were bought from criminals - indeed, a lot cheaper, seeing as how any government is large enough to subsidise its operations, whereas criminals are usually on a much smaller basis - they'd be muscled out of business. Hell, some of the druggies and criminals might actually consider going straight because of these changes. Perhaps they could get jobs in the new rehab clinics, where they could work sterilising needles for drug users to use in a safe, clean environment. Who knows?

Instead of trying to stop criminals, I think the policies of the countries of the world should be focused on trying to help their population. Sure, use all your resources on hunting criminals if you want, but if you go looking for criminals, it only stands to sense that you will find them - and if the police forces then cannot find them, they will then begin making new criminals to justify the money being spent on them, which is the exact opposite of the desired effect.

However, if you go looking to help people become happy, well-functioning members of society... what happens then? To me, it is about creation and preservation rather than prevention and destruction. One cannot hope to make a society better by hunting down parts of it, just as one cannot hope to improve the structural integrity of a house by taking a sledgehammer to it. It seems so obvious to me - I just can't understand why everyone else doesn't think the same way.

A Meditation

It has been said before that we are people of many parts. We wear many masks throughout the day according to what suits us, or the situations in which we find ourselves. As a result, it can be difficult to find out who someone truly is; to strip away the layers of facade and thereby to reveal the true nature of a person.

Indeed, we are all such consummate actors that we assume our roles even without knowing what we do. It is as natural a process as a pearl accreting - and a necessary one, one could argue. One cannot, after all, go about with one's true self exposed at all hours of the day and night, just as one could not do the same with one's body. The vagaries of fate do sadly decree that we shall encounter wear and tear on our persons, and the same is true of our psyches.

And yet, I think it is the absolute release of this shell that all of us seek: achieving a place in life where one does not have to throw up these walls - and indeed, where one does not feel the need to. Such a situation can engender feelings of safety, of freedom, of fulfilment: a world away from the guilt and fear that is so typically at the root of our play-acting through life.

I have heard it said that life is complicated only if one chooses to make it so, and I believe that the same can be said of one's own psyche. The simpler and the less cluttered one makes one's life, the closer one gets to the truth of oneself - and the truth, once discovered, is often very simple, which is why it so often conflicts with our pre-conceived and hopelessly tangled visualisations of life and the world.

When it comes right down to it, are we all that different? Or are our walls the only thing which separate us? It is my belief as of tonight that, at heart, we are all very similar: we are all human. It is only natural that some people will be thick-skinned due to their harrowing experiences so far - it is the sad way of fate that some will have less than the fair share of good fortune - in an attempt to shield them from being hurt like that again. A logical defense mechanism, one could say: after all, if one comes under attack, who is to say that more attacks will not follow?

Despite this, I feel that it is the natural destiny of every human being to experience this 'de-shelling' and become completely who they are. All these fronts we put up - flim-flam, fakery, glamour and pretence - are merely there to shield us from the harsher realities of the world.

The world has no conscience; no override, but we humans do. We can direct ourselves, fully conscious of the consequences of what we do. Do we submit ourselves to the world and say that we will be its tools, or do we create our own world in which shields only ever have to be used against outside influences - and as a strengthened collective instead of as vulnerable individuals?

We cannot harmonise as a race if we are in constant competition each with the other. I have felt for a long time that we all wish to open ourselves fully and divulge our essence with others - admittedly this suspicion arises from personal desire, but I feel that it is true nonetheless, and become further convinced of the likelihood of its truth the more I learn about how similar all humans are as I walk the same path that many have before me. As I say, this unification of spirit cannot come about if we distance ourselves each from the other. After all, one would have thought that common sense would be enough to lead the way: it is common knowledge that having friends makes one feel better both mentally and physically, so why do so many people ignore this signpost?

I suppose it is difficult; a matter of faith. One cannot possibly predict what will happen in the future, and when it comes to surviving the human being has had much experience on the matter: so much so that its instinct to protect itself very often overrides all rational thought. But in these days when technology more or less guarantees our survival (or would, if the power of love were stronger than the love of power), shouldn't we aim for something more; for something beyond our mere physical survival?

Is it perhaps true that all that we are is pretence? It's a somewhat depressing thought: it would mean that the only things which define us are our insecurities, and that therefore human nobility is simply an attempt to deny these flaws. What is there at the core? Nothing? I must say that it is difficult to accept the idea that all humans are merely accretions of flaws wrapped around a ball of nothing, but that is where this line of reasoning has led me.

Even so, I refuse to believe it - perhaps because that's how my peculiar flaws are arranged. Even if we only try to make a better world so that those who come after us will not have to suffer in the same way that we did, I believe that human goodness exists as a thing in itself, not just as the inverse expression of the total sum of our flaws. Perhaps it's the product of the basic human desire to protect one's kin? The rest of the animals may be a race, but I think humanity is trying to break free from that by creating a reality of our own where everyone comes first. Obviously the true reality will always get in the way, but... there are so many of us.

Stop and imagine for a moment what we could do - what we could achieve if we let down our walls, welcomed each other as fellow human beings and worked together for the betterment of every one of us. There are six and a half billion of us at least, and counting. I think we could achieve something spectacular.

So how does one go about breaking down these walls? One can attempt to blast them down with sheer intensity, which would explain why one feels so drained after an extreme emotional display. One can attempt to coalesce the walls around people by making them realise that they share the same flaws, thereby making it so that they share their walls and merge them into one against a common foe. Or one could simply realise the truth of this and seek to change oneself, but such a method is difficult - any technique which goes head-on against one's problems is bound to be arduous. Still, that's the path I'm going to take, as far as I can. Of course, it's difficult to do so in isolation - after all, what's the point of knocking down one's walls if there's nothing to see outside? Theory is all well and good, but sooner or later the practical side of things must always come to the fore.

I sometimes find that I think most clearly when removed from myself; when detached from my emotions. Is that the core of nothing at work?

Perhaps it is pointless to suggest that we let fall out boundaries when we each possess a body; the most solid, tangible proof that we are divided. We humans have always prided ourselves on our individuality as a part of the overall survival mechanism, and thus it is only natural to reject such ideas of absolute unification. Is the human body actually entirely unnecessary? Will the day come when the human mind will be able to exist free of its trappings, unfettered by the basic processes of life and the whims of biochemicals? I would be very interested to know what those new humans would think about the rest of us.

Is that what death really is? No, no - death is when the body's hardware simply gives out; surpasses its tolerances and breaks down, taking the programming with it. Since I talk of computing, it's worth noting that even software requires a material shell; we speak of the great intangible tracts of 'cyberspace', and yet all that information has to be stored on servers and is represented by electrical charges that have real physical properties. The same could be said of the human brain: that the mind is nothing more than a network of electric charges, mapped and repeated as needed. Is it actually possible for the brain to exist independently of a body?

Seemingly not. It is nice to imagine that one day we might take the form of immaterial spirits, completely unbound by the normal laws of existence, but I cannot perceive of any way in which we could exist totally free of any kind of physical vessel - in this universe and with this set of dimensions, anyway. As pure energy, maybe? Even so, I cannot see how that would happen.

No - we will always be bound by physical constraints. However, engineering bodies for ourselves which not only allow us to survive but to live more efficiently could be the way forward. Would it not be wonderful to be free of depression and disease, which are after all governed at least to some extent by one's genes? Now I know it seems as though I'm painting the world portrayed in Gattaca as a seemingly perfect model, but if we were all like that, then there would be no discrepancy; no suffering - at least, none that we cannot help.

We will never be perfect - nor would I wish that. It has been argued before that the central factor of humanity's greatness is our ability to overcome our weaknesses and compensate for them in new and creative ways. After all, if there is nothing for which to struggle, what meaning is there to life? Perhaps that is why we have such sturdily in-built walls: to protect us from the ultimate lassitude that would arise from achieving absolute perfection. Who knows? All I know is that, even though we will never achieve perfection, we must forever strive towards it, if for no other reason than that what we have now gets boring too soon.

What if there is no such thing as perfection, and that the laws of space and time accommodate for infinitely prolonged progress? Well, that question can of course never be answered - unless we were to somehow tap into the very truth of reality itself, but somehow I find that implausible. Although it's amusing to contemplate the idea of infinity existing in the same universe in which there is no perfection. But then again, there are stranger paradoxes in our own world of which we are already aware; anyone who has studied quantum physics can tell you that.

Perhaps I'm being too dramatic. Perhaps my desire for and lack of a mate has led me to the conclusion that all human beings think like this. Perhaps all my seemingly logical reasoning is in fact just fallacy brought about by that same biochemical imperfection I mentioned earlier. Again, who knows? As I also mentioned earlier, some of humanity's greatest achievement were brought about by us merely trying to compensate for our flaws - perhaps this is the beginning of one of the greatest realisations of mankind? Perhaps not. I've been thinking and typing for far too long and by brain and fingers are now both very tired. You may continue this in your own time if you wish - I'm taking a break for now. That's what comes from living in an imperfect corporeal shell, I guess...

A Quick Thought... for a change

Time you spend talking to others is time you spend not doing things. Ergo, the more of a social life you have, the less of an active life you have. As we grow up, we start doing more, and talk less. It's kinda sad, but if people are happier on their own for a while, why not?

Something I Found [2]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

retard u suck!!!1 (A Look at Flamers)

Alright. That's it. I have absolutely had it up to the very last hair on my head with those people. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. Yeah, that's right: those people who have a million bad words to say about anything and everything, yet not one good. If you use the Internet at all regularly, you will no doubt have come across thousands of these 'flamers'.

Seriously, what is wrong with them? I understand that criticism is necessary if anything is going to improve, but constructive criticism, please. Just 'bashing' or 'flaming' something for no good reason is... well, pointless.

And more than pointless: it is actively damaging to the psyches of both involved. The flamed party often becomes aggrieved by these senseless attacks, quite understandably, and invariably becomes embroiled in an emotionally draining argument. Even if the flamee has the good sense to stay away from said argument, comments like this are still very damaging.

Don't they realise what impact such flaming has on other people? Words can be very powerful - they can make people think, act or feel differently. I find it genuinely sad that so many people around the world think it's okay to treat their fellow human beings like crap, whether over the 'net or in real life.

I would like to know how these flamers think, I really would. What goes through their minds when they launch their hurtful attacks on people? Or is there indeed no intellectual intervention - is it simply instinctual?

Ultimately, there can be no defensible logical position for insulting someone. As any logicians will know this is a case of ad hominem, or attacking the man rather than the argument. Slagging off or dissing the other person, in layman's terms. So why do this?

Because it's all they know, I say. So many people in today's world grow up around people who frequently lose their rag and shout, make snide, hurtful comments or are just generally obnoxious. In my town, I have on several occasions seen parents shouting at and even swearing at their children.

You just don't do that. Children should not be shouted or sworn at. They are still very young and therefore have not yet built up the thick skin needed to deflect such comments. Such displays of flagrant anger from their own parents can only lead to a child growing up emotionally damaged. Parents should learn to develop tolerance and patience, at least when around their children. I can say from personal experience that nothing scares me more than my own dad when he's angry - even now, in my teens, that kind of thing lingers in the unconscious mind.

If I ruled the world (Which I have no intention of doing, let me state: it's far too big. I'd rather rule a small area the size of Luxembourg - the country or the capital.) I would make it so that everybody, and I mean everybody, would have to undergo a test before being given a license to breed. Call me a fascist if you like, but I have some reasons, good ones or not.

The gift of life is far too lightly given in today's world: I don't think I have to remind you about the horror stories concerning teenage grandmothers. And once it is given, it is not respected. A life is a terrible thing to waste, and yet it so often is because parents do not properly appreciate the full extent of just what having a child means.

In fact, I hate that phrase; 'having' a child. You don't just 'have' a child in the same way that you have a football: you take care of them. When you bring a life into this world, you burden yourself with an important responsibility, and like most responsibilities of this magnitude if it is not shouldered then it can lead to truly horrific results. Alright, so perhaps failing to be responsible for a child is not quite the same as failing to be responsible for Chernobyl's reactor, but if your child is screwed-up enough then murders may occur - names like Jeffrey Dahmer and Seung Hui-Cho spring to mind.

So am I saying that flamers are sociopaths? I suppose I am. One does not necessarily have to go on a killing spree to be a sociopath - people who don't care about the feelings of others and are fully justified of their own actions, no matter what the case, are displaying sociopathic tendencies. But then, do these flamers feel fully justified? Or do they realise, on however unconscious a level, that what they are doing is wrong?

In the end there just ain't enough love in the world. Yes I did say that, and if you feel like throwing up now then please go ahead.

But isn't it obvious? The child grows up emotionally damaged and not knowing how to love because their parents never showed them any, not knowing how to themselves. Having grown up, they then have a child of their own, and the whole vicious circle repeats itself, like a serpent biting its own tail.

If the world is to become a good and happy place, then love will be an integral part of the process. It is widely-held that hate is the opposite of love, but these same people often forget that hate is often a product of fear. Hate leads to destruction, and why destroy anything unless it's a threat to you? It is natural to fear threats, and therefore to hate them.

The primary breeding ground of fear is ignorance. It stands to reason that you'll take the brightly-lit path rather than the dark one, doesn't it? I don't know when it was exactly that being intelligent became unfashionable, but it has, which I think is a crying shame. Not only is it not fashionable to be intelligent - intelligence is commonly regarded by those who supposedly are fashionable to be an abberation and something to be shunned. Those words 'I hate reading' sound like nails on a chalkboard to me, but what's so lamentable is that they're so often spoken.

Alright, I can understand why intelligent people may be shunned - maybe people think that they're showing off their acumen, which is sometimes the case. However, how is this any different from the 'fashionable' people showing off their fancy clothes, accessories and even their bodies? The growing trend among young females these days is to look good rather than be intelligent: I have heard that there is even a miniature stripper pole for pre-teen girls. Doesn't this sound at all disturbing to you?

Do not think that I'm saying acquiring intelligence instantly makes you a good person. It doesn't necessarily. Werner von Braun was a rocket scientist, yet he was directly responsible for the development of rockets like the V2 and ICBMs - tools of mass murder, no less - for first the Germans in the 2nd World War and then the U.S. afterward. Where and on what he chooses to work is his own business, but I think you will agree with me in saying that his morality is perhaps slightly less than impeccable.

But I am saying that, without intelligence, you cannot come to understand yourself, nor the people around you. It is through understanding of the human psyche's machinations, coupled with love for one's fellows, that anyone can become a good and kind person.

So enough with the flaming, yeah? There's enough hate in this world as it is - there's no need to exacerbate the problem. And if a flamer attacks you, please don't reply in kind - hatred breeds only more hatred, as I have demonstrated.

But neither does that mean you must suffer in silence. Instead, draw them out. Ask them why. Questions lead to answers, which lead to understanding, and possibly even to liking. And if the flamer responds in kind to you, all the better. Just like hate, harmony leads to nothing but more of itself. Let's try and keep it that way, eh?

Something I Found [1]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Looking at a video for Breaking the Habit on YouTube, or more specifically the comments for it, it occurred to me that what the song is about might not necessarily be common knowledge to everybody. Like any quick-thinking half-British half-Japanese 16-year-old, I instantly leapt to the nearest (and most easily findable) blog site to publish my thoughts for the e-community to see the world over. In this analysis I hope to shed some light on what is a dark and less than pleasant representation of reality. Ladies and gentlemen - Breaking the Habit.

So, we start off with an establishing shot of a dingy industrial city. The use of cartoon allows for some interesting surreal effects; cogs and pipes dance before one's eyes. As if the grime of industry weren't unpleasant enough, the audience now has to deal with nightmarish displays of a city gone wrong.

Citizens disconsolately tread the streets, looking like insignificant ants thanks to the wide-shot. The anime-style ghostly images of Chester Bennington flash before your eyes. It is night, with all its connotations of darkness, evil and obfuscation of truth. A body has been discovered, its previous occupant having made a considerable dent in the top of a car, and just to top it off are those four disturbing minor notes in the background which are constantly, constantly descending. One cannot help but wonder why nobody is dancing around in the street singing It's a Beautiful World.

The dystopian setting is now set. The corpse, belonging to Monsieur Bennington, literally appears to 'give up the ghost', which then leads us through gritty ventilation ducts to see the insides of various rooms. Why must it sneak into these rooms through the ventilation when it could so easily go through the door?

Because the door is locked. Because the person who locked it doesn't want you to see.

Wait. I'm getting ahead of the song here. Let's backtrack.

Here is the first verse.

Memories consume
Like opening the wounds
I'm picking me apart again

You all assume
I'm safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again

Let's take the first three lines, because they are a complete idea in themselves. Haven't you ever got so lost in your own memories that you feel as though you are living them again? You can't live in the present while you're still thinking about the past. People who have regrets, who have guilt intrinsically linked to these memories, will pick at them consistently. Memories make us what we are. Is it beginning to make sense now?

The second part seems clear enough, save for 'Unless I try to start again'. 'Start what again?', you may ask. What, you think somebody obsesses over their past mistakes and their present condition just once and then decides to shape up? That's the Habit mentioned in the song; the obsession with one's imperfections; the hate for one's own regrets, guilt, weakness, whatever it may be.

Through this, Bennington's ghost presents us with a man at a desk, emanating smoke that looks much like Bennington's spirit. The vocalist's face appears to us in the smoke, again juxtaposed against cogs and pipes, eyes screwed shut in an expression of pain. In a sense, Bennington acts two roles. Not only does he sing his own song but he is singing it for the people he shows to us, both narrating and explaining simultaneously. This is their song, as you can tell from the way he constantly appears around them, in their smoke and in their walls - he's just singing it for them. This is conclusively displayed in Bennington's ghostly face fleetingly superimposing itself on the girl's face as she speaks - their lips sych perfectly.

Then, just as the bridge begins, we have an iconic image; a shattering mirror. A mirror is so often used as a metaphor for oneself; after all, one doesn't look one's reflection in the eye. You look yourself in the eye. Your reflection is you, and when you break it, that is a classic denial of everything you are. You don't want to be yourself. Can you imagine what mental torture these people are going through - the feeling of entrapment, of self-hate?

I don't want to be the one
The battles always choose
'Cuz inside I realise
That I'm the one confused

Of course, the last thing you want when you have problems is more problems... but the very fact that you are trapped inside a self you hate means there will always be more problems. The metaphorical 'battles' that Linkin reference here are the battles within oneself - the struggles held in your psyche against yourself. When you hate something it's only inevitable that you'll attack it, but what happens when you hate yourself? These people are confused because they are trapped in a vicious circle.

1) I hate myself.
2) I attack things I hate.
3) I hate myself for attacking myself.

I think you can see how it operates from there on.

This vicious circle is, pure and simple, the all-important Habit. Why would the song be about breaking something that was easy to break? This is Linkin Park; we're talking major emotional strife here. But there's one more reason explaining why the Habit is so hard to break...

The girl, a teenager in a room that is symbolically disarrayed and littered with shards of glass, writes 'I'm nothing'. This is truly how she sees herself; her self-esteem is so phenomenally low that she is no longer. She has lost so much of herself that she doesn't even care about the glass shard she holds, cutting into her hand; this is another attack against herself.

Then we reach the emotionally charged chorus.

I don't know what's worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream
I don't know why I instigate
And say what I don't mean

I don't know how I got this way
I know it's not alright
So I'm breaking the habit

Ghost Chester hurls us mercilessly onward through ventilation shafts to a room where the desk man comes back from work, loosening his tie and then opening his briefcase. We don't see what's in the briefcase - yet. The smoke we first saw him with is a clue, though, so don't forget the desk man just yet. He presents a vital component of the Habit.

There are truly disturbing sights that flash momentarily before our eyes - a red face screams in anguish, head thrown back and jaw distended to a disturbing extent, carrying on the theme of blood from the girl (the fact that it first flashes on the word 'scream' makes it all the more effective as it registers in both the visual and aural senses). It continues in the tomatoes a dishevelled woman throws at the man in the door - this is the first external attack we have seen.

However symbolic, the red is in all cases indexically linked to blood. It is perhaps rather cliched, subscribing to the stereotype of the 'emo' genre that Linkin Park is connected with and all the ideas of self-harm that go along with it, but its main point is undoubtedly to show in raw, uncompromising terms the way these people are feeling. Frustration. Anger. Hate. Violence. Blood. So much of the blood we see in the media is spilt out of hate - whether it be the prostitute serial-killer or any one of uncountable terrorist attacks - that we make the connection between HATE/BLOOD automatically on a subconscious level.

The whole chorus is about how frustration can push us to and beyond the point where we have no control. The characters Ghost Chester presents to us can't bring themselves to realise that they are in serious denial. It is a common reaction to a threat you feel you can't deal with... but then, how can these people break the Habit if they don't know they're locked into it? As has been said before, part of the solution is admitting there is a problem.

Ghost Chester treats us to more images of his tortured face singing the lyrics - a direct appeal to our emotions. Like the blood, this is a direct attempt to subconsciously activate emotions, and what do we convey emotion with? Well, mostly with body language of course, but the face is what we look at and what we learn to read the best. The image of his tortured features along with the equally pained singing once again links the visual to the aural, getting across the suffering the characters are going through.

Then begins the second verse.

Clutching my cure
I tightly lock the door
I try to catch my breath again

I've hurt much more
Than any time before
I have no options left again

An interesting thing occurs here. Ghost Chester presents to us the mirror from before flying back together, rebuilding itself. Everything happens backwards - the girl unbreaks the mirror, uncuts her hand, unsmears the 'I'm nothing' paper with blood... unsheds a tear from a glittering eye. Although this may appear completely off the wall, it can be explained in this way.

The second verse is what happens just before the first one. What's the cure? Why doesn't it work? Well, that cure is supposedly solitude, being alone and away from all those people who want to hurt you, but in reality that just leads on to the second part of the verse. Now that flight is finished, you remember why it was you ran, and the Habit begins again. In reality, loneliness is the worst cure, although it could hardly be better to hang around one's antagonists. There are no options: nobody to go to.

The desk man makes a dramatic return. His blood-red eye slowly closes; the veins in his face are bulging... and then we are finally shown his part in the Habit: a hypodermic needle with some evil-looking green liquid dripping from it. That's why the smoke has been Ghost Chester's vehicle through the city: the smoke of cigarettes, of addiction.

The Habit is now three things; 1) a vicious cycle, 2) denial, and 3) ...addiction. No matter how foolish it might sound, there are those who like hurting themselves, be it physically or mentally. I actually missed out a step from the vicious cycle, so let me fill it in.

1) I hate myself.
2) I attack things I hate.
3) I feel good for punishing my hatred.
4) Later, after the reward fades, I hate myself for attacking myself.

Not unlike victims of anorexia, an emotional reward is gained for punishing the self that the victim hates. After all, nobody would do anything without reward of some kind - true altruism does not exist. Self-pity and self-harm are the easy way out: again, part of the denial aspect. Believe it or not, fear of how hard it would be to pull oneself back together can seem scarier than the fear of further self-harm.

I'll paint it on the walls
'Cuz I'm the one at fault
I'll never fight again
And this is how it ends

Ghost Chester then re-enters his body and unfalls back to the rooftop. Why is Linkin doing it again? They already did the rewinding thing; surely they don't expect that you won't remember that... ah, wait. Remember. Memories. Is the music video somehow returning to its beginning?

Of course, when we suffer we wish that we could return to better times... but life isn't like a music video. Time waits for no-one.

I'll never fight again... and this is how it ends.

Pink Floyd suddenly springs to mind here, with an alternate but synonymous lyric:

Goodbye, cruel world... I'm leaving you today. Goodbye... goodbye... goodbye.

'Send not to know for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for thee.' That means, more or less; 'every death kills you too'. Linkin Park made this song for a reason.

You must make of it what you will.

Aesop's Fables Retold for the Modern Age

One day, the Wind and Sun were arguing over which was more powerful, as personifications of elemental phenomena are wont to do.

"I am more powerful," bellowed the Wind, "and what's more, I'll prove it. I'll blow the coat off that traveller down there; just you watch!"

The Sun watched as the Wind filled its lungs. When the Wind's breath was unleashed, the trees shook violently against the battering gale. The traveller had to dig his heels into the path just to stay on his feet. However, even the Wind's best efforts weren't enough to part the traveller from his coat, as the biting wing only caused him to hold the coat harder to himself.

"So much for your huffing and puffing," said the Sun smugly to a breathless and bewildered Wind. "Let me show you where true power lies."

The Sun threw off its veil of clouds and shone with unrelenting glory upon the land below. The birds that had sheltered against the sudden storm took wing once again, singing their sweet songs through the clear and golden air. The traveller was surprised by the sudden change, but nonetheless took joy in the sudden return to warmth - more than that, for a sweat had already broken on his brow. Even so, he did not remove his coat.

The Wind was too astonished by this to bother taunting the Sun for its equal lack of success. It took the form of a human (because I've just decided that it can) and went to question the traveller about his odd behaviour.

"The sun's shining full-blast and it's as hot as a furnace out here," said the Wind to the traveller. "Why are you still wearing your coat?"

"And risk being seen in an incomplete ensemble?" said the traveller incredulously. "I may be swelteringly hot, but at least I look fabulous."

What's the subject?

I recently bought a Marilyn Manson album called Eat Me, Drink Me which I have been enjoying immensely ever since. One might choose to find it disturbing that I enjoy the work of an artist whose work discusses in-depth the ideas surrounding death, harm (physical, mental; inflicted on oneself and others), obsession and, inevitably, celebrity, but as far as I'm concerned Manson (that is to say, Brian Hugh Warner - I've only just found out his true name and aim to remember it from hereon) can do no wrong. (Well. Not much. Yet.)

Now, I know you might be thinking that I'm not the hugest Gothic-type-person, so let me explain: I came across an extremely insightful, not to mention forceful reply written by Warner, posted in Rolling Stone magazine but which I Stumbled across, as a rebuttal to the claims that it was Manson and musicians like him who were primarily responsible for the Columbine shooting and similar incidents. I would recommend reading it for yourself, so here's the link: http://www.antilife.org/files/marilyn.html

Upon having read it, I think you'll agree with me that Warner's ideology is anything but violent - the way it seems to me, the stage-character of Marilyn Manson that Warner has created serves as a warning against such a lifestyle that he sings about. Of course, there's the question of just how discrete the real Warner is from Manson, but I try not to comment on things about which I have no concrete data (and Wikipedia can't be relied upon absolutely).

So, yeah. I'm now listening to Manson and I like it. n w n

Ooh - and I'm going to uni in less than twenty days. Just thought I'd mention it. =P


I'll never be able to look at Mister Warner the same way ever again. >.>


Kazuaki Ieuan Roach

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