Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Clarifying Clarifying Goths.

For an idea about what I'm talking about, go see Nina's entry.

I know it's probably gonna make me look really lame (since, you know, I'm not a Goth), but it had to be done. So this is what I sent to the Star's Youth section:

I am responding to Ex-Goth Wannabe's 'Clarifying Goths' letter, dated September 22nd, which in turn was a response to Candice Chai's 'Testing a Theory', dated September 15th. Please withhold my real name and address from publication.

I must respectfully state that Ex-Goth Wannabe's purported experience and research paints a very stereotypical picture of the goth movement, which is more an aesthetic and philosophical ideal rather than a subculture of its own. It has ideas, traditions, role models and musical influences, but nothing of the monolithic features that Ex-Goth Wannabe describes.

Firstly, a significant number of Goths are depressed and prone to melodrama, not because they are hated and despised, but simply because of the emotional and philosophical traditions that they espouse. These Goths may embrace nihilism as a philosophy, and attempt to exemplify ideals like death, darkness and film and fictional horror, but those characteristics are not something inherent in them; rather, it is a conscious choice. People, as you may already have guessed, often react badly to this.

There are Goths who break this stereotype, known as Perkygoths. Despite exemplifying the goth aesthetic, these Goths have a light-hearted demeanour. The works of Jhonan Vasquez and Neil Gaiman's character Death are examples of this.

Secondly, while the black fishnet stockings and dark clothing are staples of the goth movement, denoting the classical goth look, it isn't necessarily the only kind of outfit Goths may wear. Again, some subcultures, notably the Cybergoths, buck this trend by having brightly colored hair (think Alias) as well as extensive bodily modification. There are commonalities, like androgyny and impressive-looking footwear, but these are commonalities, not uniforms.

Thirdly, it is true that not all Goths practise magic. But then again, neither must they necessarily be spiritual; it depends on what a specific person believes. Some Goths, but not all, are members of a neo-pagan religion known as Wicca; while most people recognize proponents of this religion as 'witches', this, again, is not the case, as Wicca has its own rituals, spells and core beliefs way beyond the scope of this letter.

And finally, and most importantly, I've never heard anyone say that you have to be a Westerner to qualify to enter the goth movement. The goth movement, if anything, is world-wide: it is more than not a reaction towards modernity and globalization, reflecting our fears of a uniform, bland world. Ex-Goth Wannabe, however, makes it sound like being a Goth is something like the Malay's propensity to 'amuk' and 'melatah' -- mental conditions restricted to a specific culture or ethnicity. After all, just because you become a Goth doesn't mean you have to give up your friends. That, after all, is their choice.

Besides, I've never met a goth who cared about what other people thought -- as a matter of fact, many Goths prefer to elicit any reaction, even a negative one, from people around them, rather than disappear into the crowd.

Tariq Kamal

Translation: Ex-Goth Wannabe doesn't know what the hell he/she/it is talking about.

Here's hoping it gets published, but if it doesn't, I don't mind. I've had my say.

Never Invite Us To Watch Movies With You.

Or, at least, not the Two Towers. Be warned: It's horrendously long, and impressively offensive.

Me: man, Elijah has a rent-boy's mouth.
friend: and scary lopsided eyes
friend: but yes
Me: heh.
Me: the eyes add flavor :D
friend: lol
friend: scary rentboy for $5
friend: i feel like stalking him
Me: some people like the gothboy look. I'd say $20.
friend: now that's a major dork
Me: man, he has a smooth chest. not bad for a 55-year old.
friend: not bad for a male, period. :D
friend: him and orli are scary western hairless boys
Me: it's all the estrogen in the water.

On Legolas:

Me: true. and look, it's the manchick Legolas!
Me: manchick manchick.
friend: great i have visions of a mutant chickenman
Me: manchick for the chickenhawk.
Me: mmm.
friend: yikes. donald rumsfeld feasting on leggy. friend: ahahaha

And if you thought yaoi Legolas fan-fiction was bad…

Me: man, Treebeard is teh hawt.
Me: now that's what I call a tree.
friend: you are a disturbing man
Me: lookit trees!
friend: i know i've read a leggy/treebeard fic before...
Me: that is SO whack
friend: well welcome to fandom my chickiepoo
Me: tree sex. haha!

Teh gheyest elf in the whole trilogy, and what elves have in common with robots:

Me: oh look! the gayest elf in the whole fucking movie!
friend: he's gay irl too. :D
Me: elves can be real creepy
friend: they're like vampires
Me: look! we're, like, robots!
friend: but with more glitter
Me: very ghey robots, but hey!
Me: ghey robots with ribbons in their hair.
Me: and longbows.
Me: and shiny armor.
Me: and makeup.
Me: and hairnets
Me: who knows what els.e
friend: at least they don't drink blood
Me: no, they sing tra la la lally. and express a deeply-repressed desire to bugger halflings
Me: that's so much better
friend: them and boromir. :D

Battle commentary — it's a good thing we weren't there:

Me: har har har har.
Me: one dead elf.
Me: two dead elf
Me: three.
Me: four.
Me: heh
Me: you know, I'd like to have seen the battle of the four armies. you know, the one in the Hobbit.
Me: that had dwarf armies.
friend: i still haven't read that. :(
Me: it's fun.
Me: ha ha! groinshot!
Me: split the nads in twain!
friend: ........
Me: ...and now, back to the Dewan Rakyat-- er, the Entmoot.
friend: you'll make an interesting MSTer

And really, it's funny what kinds of offensive stuff you can say between friends:

Me: oh look. suicide bombers are orcs.
Me: yay for the Muslim Anti-Defamation League.
friend: ^^
Me: it's an honorable profession, I say. man and boy. or at least, gibs and giblette.

More Legolas, and more battlefield commentary:

Me: man running towards pike is always a fucking bad idea.
friend: BWAHAHA
Me: look! Legolas, President of the League of eXtreme Archery.
Me: look! Manchick President fighting orcs.
Me: the faggy elf's time is numbered...
Me: and he's dead.
friend: awwwwwwwwwwww
Me: very manly death.
friend: you weren't even supposed to be here!
friend: but at least you reclaimed your masculinity... ish
Me: except for the bit where he gets buggered by swords.
Me: that's so to character.

Hilarious Movie Names:

Me: oh no! Treebeard has finally learnt the effects of deforestation!
Me: When Trees Attack: The Stupid Things Wizards Do!
friend: activist treebeard!
friend: treebeard smash!
friend: :D
friend: vol.1
Me: Ents Gone Wild!
Me: Treebeard Does Isengard!
friend: BWAHAHA
Me: Gollum Bondage. OMG!
Me: Tie Gollum Up And Make Him Your Bitch!
Me: The first stages of Halfling Hearing Loss.
Me: Emo Frodo.
Me: Goth Emo Frodo.
friend: hehehaha re:halfling
friend: BWAH
Me: Goth Emo Frodo Meets Teh Nazgul!111one
friend: *snickers endlessly*
Me: look! Bondage Gollum again.
Me: can you imagine? Tie Me Gollum.
Me: Tie and hear him whimper!
friend: ...
friend: a hit at xmas!
Me: Rohan's chief exports: whimpering peasants, crazed and despairing kings.
Me: blow that horn like you mean it, bitch!
Me: blow it! blow it! oh yeah!
Me: Ooh boy.
friend: you are a truly disturbing individual

It's orc-and-horse action!!!!11one

Me: Uruk and Horse Action!
Me: uruk/horse (beast), horsedom, violent. lolol!
friend: there was a titanic joke i could make, but i lost the window
friend: bestiality eh?
Me: horse-on-orc action!
Me: whee!
friend: you gotta admit, there's something phallic about the spears
Me: horse-pikes
Me: longer and more bang for buck.
friend: ah sou?
friend: i keep thinking that's a fish
Me: pikes are fish and weapons
Me: actually, infantry pikes are longer.
Me: hmm.
friend: sardines?
friend: pilchards?
Me: not pilchards. but sardines, now that's an interesting idea.
Me: or vice-versa. 'tis late.
friend: hehehe

Japanese porn, anyone?

Me: and so it is, that Frodo pins Sam down, as he waves his weapon menacingly on Sam's face.
Me: bukakke anyone?
friend: WOOHOO!
Me: a flash of movement, and then SPURT!
friend: oh tmi
friend: tmiiiiiiiiiiiii
Me: evil kan?
friend: indeed
Me: Saruman the Stained!Q
Me: hahahaha!

And, finally, when Frodo and Sam talk about what future generations will tell of them:

Me: bastards didn't know what hit them. why yes, there are stories about Frodo and Sam. amazing how much of them involve man-to-man action.

And that's that. I'd be impressed if you read even half of that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Rush

For the past week or so, I've felt disoriented, confused and blind, as my mind, already numbed with long inactivity, struggled to readjust into new projects, new subjects and new deadlines.

Today, for the first time, I felt the Rush.

I don't trust the Rush when it happens. By experience I know the feeling is transitory, and the emotions associated with the Rush are very often misleading. It has caused me to overestimate my ability, overextend myself, and generally cause grief.

So it's not something to be trusted. But it's welcome, because it means that it's already started.

Tariq's Semester. Funny how it took three weeks.

Got a fucking headache, though. Argh.

Monday, September 20, 2004

When Doubt Strikes

This post originally appeared in the Book Review Blog. Fuck! Sorry, Grace.

I just spent twenty minutes trying to convince a particularly stubborn piece of hardware to work, with no sign of success. It's frustrating, but everytime something technical gets beyond what I know, I get… doubtful.

It's an old, old feeling, one that gets submerged with the business of well, living. But small things like this, and the realization that I haven't touched a proper IDE or worked on a ‘proper’ programming language (oh, like, I don't know, C. Java. C++. Python. Perl. SQL… ah ha ha ha, okay, maybe not SQL) for almost a year, or when I concede that I don't know (to people I can trust) or bluff my way out of admitting that I don't know (to people I don't) the answer to that techie question….

Yeah. How does someone deal with not knowing what's supposed to be your bread and butter? How does someone deal with the fact that you may not want to be what you've always wanted to be, or that you don't want to be what you used to want to be anymore?

Experience? Time? I know what people say — I learn nothing while in college; I'll pick it up when I start working. But it's not necessarily something I want to learn. The dry rapture of programming, the esoteric knowledge of design… what if I don't want it anymore?

I've begun to realize, at least in my life, that I cannot maintain interest in something for a meaningful period of time. There is a part of me that fears what seems like an inevitable truth — that focus, that dedication, that elusive thing that drives people to greatness, may simply be out of my grasp. I get bored too fast, it seems.

What, then? Learn to cope? Learn to accept the inevitable fact that everything I do will eventually bore and exhaust me? Spend the rest of my life bouncing from one thing to another, hoping for me to settle into something, knowing that I never will? Learn to live the life of an intellectual dabbler, perpetually learning but never mastering?

Or am I deluding myself again, the way the overly-dramatic do? Every time I feel like this, I hear my father's voice dismissing my fears, telling me that thoughts like that are for the weak-willed and the foolish. Even that is in doubt. Am I? My time with Hani seems to cast that in doubt — everything I've gone through with Hani seems to contradict everything I've known about myself.

A friend of mine, Jennifer, would probably smile at all this and pat my hand. A Southern girl with a tolerance of alcohol I haven't yet seen equalled in man or beast, she's training to be a psychoanalyst, following the thoughts and writings of Jacques Lacan. “You're an obsessive” she'd tell me. “You'll always question yourself.”

Oh, anything for a little more certainty in me.