Today in ‘strange lunchtime conversations’

Me [about my impending deadlines]: Oh my god, I’m going to die.

Friend [about her work]: I’m dying too.

Me: With the passing of every infinitesimal fraction of a second, we’re progressing towards our inevitable deaths. So, we are actually going to die.

How fun is it to remind everyone of their very human mortality over lunch, thereby resulting in existential crises that will creep into their minds and haunt them in the midst of the darkest nights for the following week or two? 🙂 🙂 🙂

“People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege.” – Marilynne Robinson, 2008

The Second Coming 

W. B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

shock & disbelief

it’s been almost two hours since the race was called; i’m still stunned and shaken – i think we all are – but given time to think this through, perhaps not as emotionally volatile as before. spent the past hour discussing the elections with my professor, with whom i was supposed to consult on my essay, but words on paper don’t mean as much now that the world’s turned upside down.

i’m concerned – for my friends in america, who may wake up tomorrow and find themselves in a society less accepting of their skin colour, their gender, sexuality, their background; i’m concerned for americans who find themselves displaced in their own homes. when such a hateful rhetoric is repeated daily, on a twenty-four hour news loop by a persona blown up in the media, and when it is validated at the ballot box, i can only fear for the welfare and lives of anyone who belongs to the “minority”.

granted, i don’t believe that the election was won solely on the basis of ignorance and of social inequality. in our conjectures on how america came to be this way, it was rather fascinating, if not disturbing, that my professor, a white male academic, perceived the death of american democracy as predicated solely on the anti-intellectualism that pervades america today. it is rather telling that whilst the majority of americans i interact with regularly online – most of whom happen to queer, non-white, female, or some combination of the above – fear for their futures, his lament is one characterised, perhaps, by privilege. pointing to the blue portions of the map, he waxes nostalgic of the cultural vibrance of those states, but of the radically right-wing states, he has only contempt for their ignorance. i see his point, yes, i do joke about the southern states as well; but what of the significant proportion of latino men and women who’ve voted for tr*mp, and what of the white working-class demographic in the rust belt that has largely been ignored in this election? i must admit i’ve been guilty of overlooking the latter, and perhaps there is a need to acknowledge and address the disenfranchisement of several sections of the american population, but we know that tr*mp is not the person to do so.

like brexit, the results of this election was unfathomable yesterday, but it’s our reality now. the question on everyone’s mind now is, perhaps, how do we move on from this? how does one survive four years of a tr*mp presidency should there be no constitutional loophole for this apocalyptic future to be avoided? unfortunately, it seems we have no answer to this yet. so americans, please stay safe tonight and for the days to come, take care of your families, friends, and neighbours, for tomorrow, the world wakes up to a grimmer reality.

Following the elections at my college’s informal viewing event right now, and the atmosphere here is absurdly tense – saturated with disbelief, perhaps, at the fact that Tr*mp is leading. None of us prepared for this. My college’s rector, Singapore’s former ambassador to the UN’s here as well; he appears dismayed. This doesn’t bode well.

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just discovered a doodle I made a couple of months ago, in my journal, as i was watching gilmore girls that i thought is rather apt for today. (i mean, you have to admit that paris geller is pretty much secretary clinton – however neurotic they may seem, you know deep down that they’re, more often than not, right.) anyway, @ americans, PLEASE GO OUT TODAY AND EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE TODAY. 

“I lay and cried, and began to feel again, to admit I was human, vulnerable, sensitive. I began to remember how it had been before; how there was that germ of positive creativeness. Character is fate; and damn, I’d better work on my character. I had been withdrawing into a retreat of numbness: it is so much safer not to feel, not to let the world touch one. But my honest self revolted at this, hated me for doing this. Sick with conflict, destructive negative emotions, frozen into disintegration I was, refusing to articulate, to spew forth these emotions – they festered in me, growing big, distorted, like pus-bloated sores. Small problems, mentions of someone else’s felicity, evidence of someone else’s talents, frightened me, making me react hollowly, fighting jealousy, envy, hate. Feeling myself fall apart, decay, rot, and the laurels wither and fall away, and my past sins and omissions strike me with full punishment and import. All this, all this foul, gangrenous, sludge ate away at my insides. Silent, insidious.” – Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

It’s never a good sign when I begin to identify a little too much with Sylvia Plath’s personal writing. I’ve been sobbing into my pillow for the past hour now – sobbing myself numb and my emotions paralysed – out of mounting stress, I would assume, at all my deadlines, but also out of a frustration at myself, perhaps, at my glaring incapabilities.

the election’s finally happening.

This election season’s been possibly the most daunting one I’ve ever seen (despite facebook memories reminding me, over the past couple of days, of how nervous I was about the results of the American election four and eight years ago) and it’s finally coming to a close. Still, it’s perhaps a tad too early for me be relieved of the anxiety that’s plagued me – and many of my peers – over the past year. There remains a possibility that the fate of American and the world could swing the other way; what happens then I’m not entirely sure. (And given how Brexit’s being handled in Britain now, I doubt anything would be certain for the months to come, should perchance Tangerine Mussolini be elected president.)

So, I’m taking a break from work right now to address whatever audience I’ve amassed on this blog, in particular, Americans. (“Amassed” might be the wrong word since it suggests a sort of vastness or mass when I know hardly anyone – let alone any american – reads this blog, but I digress.)

I. Vote, please. 

I understand it’s slightly too late for this since voter registrations are now over (and I would presume that everyone who’s already registered intends to vote), but should you be daunted by the queues at polling stations today, or tomorrow, please, still vote.
Vote for the younger generations who aren’t yet old enough to vote, but whose futures will be determined by the election. Vote for the citizens who live among you, who do not have a voice due to restrictive voting laws or legislation, like you do. Vote for the rest of the world, including myself, whose countries – and lives – would, in one way or another, be impacted by the decision you make.
Vote, because even if your life will not be transformed drastically by the results of the elections, another person’s would.

II. Vote wisely.

I hate to prescribe what one should or should not do, particularly on an issue some would think I have no business interfering in (again, I’m not American), but if you’re going to cast a protest vote tomorrow, please consider the implications of your actions.
And no, I don’t mean this in a moralistic way. I only implore you to consider the state you live in and the strategic impacts of your decision when you vote. That is, if you live in a red or blue state, perhaps a protest vote would communicate your message through to the major parties more effectively than if you live in a swing-state, where any narrow margin would be considered a victory to either parties.
Understand that if you should vote for a third party tomorrow, there is close to no chance of your candidate winning, and hence you should be willing to accept whichever democratic or republican candidate as your next president. If you cannot stomach the notion of the latter as the leader of your nation, perhaps you should consider casting your vote for the former.

III. Vote, not for yourself, but for your society

This may be a contentious point in a country that prizes individualism above all else, but know that this is a game of numbers that will necessarily implicate human lives. No, I’m not implying that one candidate is entirely faultless – since neither of them, even the third party candidates, are – but there is only one choice America that can make on Tuesday to counter the unfathomably racist, sexist, xenophobic, and ableist rhetoric that has been amplified and perpetuated throughout the country over the course of this election season.
And this brings me to my last point

IV. If Hamilton could endorse Jefferson for president, perhaps you could find it in yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton this election

If Lin-Manuel Miranda and his primarily black cast could stage one of the most successful Broadway musicals ever to hail America’s very white (and undoubtedly problematic) founding fathers, one of whom (Hamilton himself) Joanne Freeman dubbed an “arrogant, irritating asshole”, perhaps you could find it in yourself to admit the merits of the democratic nominee as well.

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Joanne Freeman being utterly awesome in Hamildoc.

I make no attempts at concealing my admiration of Hillary Clinton’s ambition, of course, being a rather Type A personality myself, but if anyone needs any more convincing of her merits, I’ve compiled a list of links that you could check out whilst you’re in line at the polling station:

  • On Hillary Clinton’s activism at Wellesley: [x] [x] [x]
  • On her work on childhood education and welfare: [x] [x]
  • On her work ethic: [x] [x] [x] [x]
  • Her major endorsements: [x] [x] [x] [x] [x] [x] [x] (this is but a portion of the full list)
  • And finally, her voting record [x] (some hits and misses there, yes, but I would rather you get the full picture of who she is and judge her for yourself.)

V. Vote down ballot.

Regardless of whom you’re picking for president, please do your research and vote down the ballot, because a president alone cannot enact the change you wish to see in America; whoever is going to be the future president needs a government that will be able to work with them.
On a side note, if you’re considering a vote against the democratic party candidate because President Obama seemed rather ineffectual during his two terms of presidency, do consider the makeup of the congress he was working with (it had a republican majority, which made liberal changes much less plausible.) Whilst Clinton boasts a rather exceptional bipartisan record, the democratic platform has shifted considerably to the left in this election (all thanks to Bernie Sanders), and thus, for what she’s promised to materialise, she would have to work with a much more supportive government.