AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: January 2013 (Page 1 of 3)

Enjoy the Silence

The whiteness in your head. Feel it. Let it take over. Cherish it. Whitewash everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re here or not.

For a minute there, I lost myself: The story of a love that goes beyond time and space

Some music transcends its purpose as song and becomes an experiment in self-awareness. The medium of sound and silence shifts into an analogy for breathing and suffocating. You start correlating the thickness of the music’s texture to the people of your life and their timbre, as opposed to the layering of instruments. Pitch stops being a perceptual property and becomes an excruciatingly physical sensation that you feel deep within your bones, your muscles, and your blood. Damn it, you start sensing the frequencies vibrating inside your esophagus, and the involuntary muscles of your body become slaves to the tempo, contracting and expanding with the notes of the music.

Most music is not transcendental to me, regardless of how much I enjoy it.

Radiohead is.

My story with Radiohead is practically auto-biographical. In the 15 years since I first heard “Creep”, their music has become a reflection of my life and my being. I was 13 when I fell in love with my first Radiohead song. It was around the time “OK Computer” came out, and way before “Amnesiac”, “In Rainbows”, or “Hail the the Thief”. My first song wasn’t from “OK Computer” though (we can all agree that that album wasn’t designed for 13-year-old girls): it was “Creep”, from their 1992 debut album “Pablo Honey”.

A boy I was in love with sent me the MP3 file, and it was the most excruciatingly painful thing I ever heard in my life. I was instantly addicted, playing the track over and over again. I couldn’t relate to the lyrics (as a teenager, I believed I was too cool for my own good), but there was something so beautiful about “Creep” that I wanted to do nothing but get lost in the sad, sad pain of Thom Yorke.

During the rest of my teenage years, I explored Radiohead with agony, swallowing them in bites larger than I could chew. I didn’t know how to feel every time I heard a new album. I realized the gorgeousness of their music, but I still had not developed a feel for the experimental electronica that I now love so much. I listened to Radiohead anyway, often to impress the boy who introduced me to them. He had good taste in music, and to this day, his love of Pink Floyd, Oasis, and Tool greatly influenced my own musical preferences.

Then right as I started university, Radiohead released “Hail to the Thief”, and my uncomfortable appreciation turned into love. That album marked an important year in my life. I had just moved to Jordan, I became the proud owner of my first car, and I spent many, many hours discovering who-the-fuck-Roba-is in Amigo’s, a little rock pub in Jabal Amman. “Sit Down Stand Up” and “2+2=5” perfectly embodied my awakening as an individual and my rising frustration from being a part of a backwards system.

Several years later in 2007, five months after I started my first full-time job, “In Rainbows” was released. For around a year, it was the only album on my iTunes library at work, and it was during this time that Radiohead started becoming transcendental to me. Thom Yorke says that “In Rainbows” is based on “that anonymous fear thing, sitting in traffic, thinking, ‘I’m sure I’m supposed to be doing something else’. The lyrics are quite caustic—the idea of ‘before you’re comatose’ or whatever, drinking yourself into oblivion and getting fucked-up to forget … [there] is partly this elation. But there’s a much darker side.”

The darkness of death and pain came into my life as the album continued to be the only thing in my iTunes playlist, and the darkness only started abating around the time they released their most recent studio album “The King of Limbs”. The latter is light and airy, with a lot of white space. Although I’ve listened to it over a hundred times, I have no idea what the lyrics say. It’s just an experience in elation, very much like how my life has been in the past two years.

Somehow though, this elation I feel now affects all of Radiohead’s music. Listening to them is like drinking a very stiff drink. Their music triggers feelings of pain and joy in exactly the same millisecond, sending my brain into a رحلة إنفصلم, where I lose control over my muscles as I try to make sense of all the contradictory things I feel allatthesamedamntime.

I am sitting on the floor and the woodsy fragrance of my teenage bedroom’s carpeted floor is attacking my senses. I am 18 and it just started snowing lightly, but I don’t care because I’m heading to Books with a guy I like. I am at work, furiously fighting to finish a deadline. I am 25 and unhappy, sitting outside on my balcony watching the rain and smoking a cigarette. I am 13, writing an essay for my English teacher. I am drunk somewhere, feeling the frenzy of their music, screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs. I am at the hospital, my dad dying on the bed across from me. I am 27, lost in new old sensations.

That’s what being transcendental is about. My heartbeat slows down. My mind is gone.

Silence.

Stuff on a Coaster

Freddie

The voice of Freddie. The presence of Freddie. The feelings Freddie brings up.

Freddie. Freddie. Freddie.

The Physics of Living in a Bubble and the Futility of the Bubble

F = ma
Principal of Relativity

Interaction with an object changes momentum. 

The only way to not be affected by a force is to not interact with it at all.

Exchanging momentum between objects will not affect the net momentum of a system. It is possible to define a system such that net momentum is never lost nor gained.

Accept this.

Bubbles in Perspective

Let’s All Get Emotional Now: Microsoft Reminds Us Why We Loved the 90’s

Aside from the electronic voice that sounds a lot like Microsoft Sam, I can’t believe that this campaign is from Microsoft. MICROSOFT!

Microsoft actually said yes to some crazy copywriter who came up with a brilliant idea to make Internet Explorer cool again:

It’s genius. As a person who grew up in the 90’s, I couldn’t help but grin and remember (and how relevant is this campaign to my recent post about how growing up in the 90’s influences how I look at the Internet?).

Yes. We grew up indeed, baby. But I’m not sure if you did enough growing just yet. Sorry.

I’ll give you a chance though. At least now I like you a little better. Much better, actually.

Nothing Happens for a Reason

Meanwhile, away from space punk and beer cans, here’s a short-and-sweet piece about how nothing has meaning (via my beautiful Karma). Some excerpts:

We humans are meaning-making machines. We want, even need to see meaning in our lives. We look for patterns, for answers, for signs from the divine, to psychics, tarot cards, astrology, and psychology to give us the answers we desire.

And:

It is a weighty thing to accept that this life we each live really has no grand meaning. We are not pawns on a cosmic chessboard, and we are not here to discover meaning. We are the script writers of our own existence, and we are solely responsible for the life we create, the meanings we attribute to our lives, and the ways we interpret our existence. It is not at all a hopeless thing to surrender to meaninglessness; it can be one of the most empowering ways of being. When I accept that I am fully responsible for the creation of my life’s meaning, I can choose how to lead my life. I can see tragedy as the sum total of who I am, or I can see it as a stroke on the canvas of my life. I can choose to see the trash on the freeway or the flowers dancing softly in the wind

And finally, a beautiful quote at the end of the post:

What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. — Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (1959/1984), p. 12

As a female who actively tries to achieve rationality, being a part culture that believes in astrology, luck, and all other kinds of خزعبلات means that I am always getting sucked into useless debates.

Luck (for lack of more politically-correct terminology):
“Do you believe in energy?”
“Yes.”
“Then you must believe in luck.”
“No, I do not know enough about energy nor am I intelligent enough to claim belief in luck, but I do know that randomness rules our world.”
“But energy!”
(I must add here that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT when science-illiterate idiots try to use magnetic fields and magnetic energy as topics to make sense of bullshit. I personally don’t grasp much about either topic, but I can grasp just enough to be able to tell that YOU’RE AN IDIOT.)

Astrology:
“How can you not believe in horoscopes? The alignment of planets on the day you were born really affects your personality, your life, and your future.”
“If distant objects in space are able to influence the character and lives of human beings to the degree alleged by astrologist, then fundamental principles of physics, biology and chemistry which we already take for granted cannot be accurate.”
“But it makes perfect sense!”
“Okay.”

Neuro-linguistic Programming:
“But I’m a certified NLP trainer!”
“And this is why I will never take you seriously. Ever.”

Homeopathy:
“Water is atoms, and atoms remember. That’s why homeopathy works.”
“Aha.”

Crystal Healing:
“This crystal will influence your energy field.”
“Oooh, this crystal is pretty!”

Seeing Ghosts and Other Kinds of ESP:
“But she swears she was visited by her dead aunt.”
Trauma. Mental disorders. Memories rewrite themselves all the time.

I know. Most people don’t see the fun in actively seeking rationality. After all, there’s so much more magic in star signs and rabbit feet (I find the Internet to be the most magical thing in existence, so I can’t relate). It’s also easier to pin the misfortunes of our lives on cosmic divinities, but more often than not, things don’t happen for a reason.

It’s not an easy thing to come to terms with. I am constantly reading, thinking, and doubting myself in my war against my own irrationality. Sometimes, I just want to believe what my mother taught me as a child, which is that “everything happens for the best”. But that’s not true. The world is random. It is liberating being honest with oneself.

Punk Voyager

This is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read, about a spaceship built by punks in the 70’s who were offended by Carl Sagan’s choice of including classical music and Chuck Berry in the Voyager Golden Record.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

Punk Voyager was built by punks. They made it from beer cans, razors, safety pins, and a surfboard some D-bag had left on the beach. Also plutonium. Where did they get plutonium? Around. f*** you.

The punks who built Punk Voyager were Johnny Bonesaw, Johnny Razor, Mexican Johnny D-bag, Red Viscera, and some other guys. No, asshole, nobody remembers what other guys. They were f***ing wasted, these punks. They’d been drinking on the San Diego beach all day and night, talking about making a run to Tijuana and then forgetting and punching each other. They’d built a fire on the beach, and all night the fire went up and went down while the punks threw beer cans at the seagulls.

Forget the s*** I just said, it wasn’t the punks who did it. They were f***ing punks. The hell they know about astro-engineering? Truth is that Punk Voyager was the strung-out masterpiece of Mexican Johnny D-bag’s girlfriend, Lacuna, who had a doctorate in structural engineering. Before she burned out and ran for the coast, Lacuna was named Alice McGuire and built secret nuclear submarines for a government contractor in Ohio. It sucked. But that was where she got the skills to construct an unmanned deep-space probe. Same principle, right? Keep the radiation in and the water out. Or the vacuum of space, whatever, it’s all the same s*** to an engineer.


Read the rest of the short story.

Absolutely genius. Absolutely genius.

A Love Letter

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember a life before the Internet. But DAMNIT, I WAS 13-YEARS-OLD WHEN I FIRST USED THE WEB. That’s not young; I haven’t grown an inch since I was 13.

In my life, I had to use encyclopedias to complete school assignments. When I wanted to know something, I had to ask my dad for information. When he didn’t know the answer, that was it, there was no answer. When I wanted to get new books, I would go to the bookshop and randomly pick books based on the paragraph on their backflap or the recommendation of the nice Filipino man who worked at Jarir. I had to get my data fix from magazines, use the phone to get in touch with friends, and go to Music Box and buy a whole album because I liked a particular track.

It’s easy to forget. It’s hard to equate that life with our life today. BABE, THERE WERE TIMES WHEN YOU COULDN’T GOOGLE ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. There were times when we weren’t connected through our smartphones. I HAD TO WRITE MY OWN DAMN RESEARCH PAPERS IN HIGHSCHOOL.

Baby, I don’t know how old you are, but you could possibly be a part of the last pre-Internet generation with me. We, the ones who had a taste of life before the Web. Yes, granted, we were young before the web, and we are digital natives. It is our generation who built the Web, after all. It is our generation who emigrated from Usenets to IRC to Yahoo chatrooms to MSN Messenger to Skype to GTalk. We’re the first people to create pages on the World Wide Web, whether it was on Lycos, Geocities, or blogs much later on. We used the Web from way before there was Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. We had to suffer with Hotmail’s 2MB storage size, and we’re the ones who cried when Netscape died.

Baby, we grew up as the web grew up. It was small when we were small. It was buggy and stupid and ugly when we had braces, failed English lit, and giggled at the dumb jokes we used to make. We grew, and the Internet grew.

Today, the Internet is life, just like the sun is life and air is life. Did life exist before there was air? Before there was sun? Before there was the World Wide Web?

You and I know the answer to that. You and I, the blurry line between the great divide of digital natives and digital immigrants. We, the ones who love it.

For myself I can say this: the Web is my job. The Web is my freedom. The Web is my best friend. The Web is my joy. The Web is my teacher. The Web is my muse. The Web is my life.

I appreciate the Web, because I remember my life without the Web, and it was empty.

I, child of the Internet. Lover of the Internet. Mother of the Internet.

Internet, I love you.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén