I don’t know. But I have some ideas.
Vanity- Mentally, Physically- My Facade
Believe it or not, I concern myself over the opinions and thoughts of others more than I would ever like to admit. I tend too often to tell myself and others that I simply don’t care what others make of me or think of me. I know that I shouldn’t waste my time concerning myself over such things, because as I always say, what people think of me isn’t important, their judgment of me are quite often just an extension of how those people judge themselves. In other words, people are too busy thinking about themselves to pay any mind to you. I tend to put a protective shell of ambiguity (also known as me just not talking to anyone) to protect myself against the opinions of others. This concern for the approval of others can usually be seen in my vanity. I will spend lots of time, like a lot of other people, tending to my hair, grooming myself, and making sure I’m satisfied with my fashion choices. This is as much for me as it is for other people, since it gives me confidence, and something to think about. As materialistic as it may seem, this is part of my facade. Even as I write this, I find myself wondering whether I should say certain things or not. Whether I should go through with the risk of changing someone’s opinion of me. Perhaps one day I may find the strength to speak my heart, and not my mind. But for now, I will do all that is in my power.
Logical Empathy- My Soul
I believe, quite strongly, that there is a reason for every action and decision that one makes. I do not believe in absolute objectivity. I do not think that anything is the way it is in nature for any particular re
ason aside from happenstance and chance. I do believe, that there is a motive behind every human action, and that to assume that you are correct in all your assumptions and refusing to open your mind to opposing viewpoints, you are fundamentally limiting your potential as a member of the only species on Earth possessing high intelligence. Understanding is essential to every judgement you make, be it emotional, political, or philosophically. I do not think that by dismissing ones actions as immoral or unethical and refusing to acknowledge them, that anything can be learned from them, and that the practice of empathy is essential for emotional and logical, and ethical well being. This is a part of my person that I believe is core. Humans themselves are, at their core, predictable, and thus typically controllable. Nature is not unpredictable- but it is uncontrollable. Human nature, however, is neither predictable, nor at all controllable .
Truth and Struggles- My Heart
If you didn’t know, I am adopted. I don’t find this fact about me very important or really even very interesting, as other people seem to think. “Oh my goodness, you’re adopted!?” I get asked every time it comes up in a conversation. “Yep”, I reply, shortly before I am asked several questions, like “Where were you born?”, “When did you come to Canada?”, “Have you met your real parents?”. No I haven’t, and Kazakstan, when I was two, if you were wondering. I don’t find this to be a defining fact about myself. If I had a chance to meet my real parents, would I take it? Probably, although it’s not very high up on my bucket list. If my real parents put me up for adoption, then they probably had a good reason, and I consider myself immeasurably lucky to be where I am today, and if my birth parents could see me now, I am certain they would be proud.
If you also didn’t know, I care a lot about my friends. Like almost everyone, my friends are everything to me. My friends are the ones who raised me, they’re the ones who have taught me almost everything I know about life, and I would do anything for those who are closest to me. I know what it’s like to be so close to someone, and then having to watch them leave, and I know what it’s like to give someone your heart twice over, and receive nothing in return. It’s made me realize just how insignificant my thoughts and feelings are to everyone who isn’t me. It made me realize that I am alone. No one, no matter how much they know about me, will never once be able to see the world through my eyes. I am alone in that I will be the sole viewer of my own life’s story, and that everything I write about myself will be distorted in someway- by memory or by bias. I feel like everyone who I hold dear, I hold dearer in my mind than I do my heart. I feel like in turn of no one truly ever understanding me, that I will never be able to understand anyone else, even the ones I love the dearest. And that crushes me.
These struggles have taught me to let go of feelings that are fruitless. It has taught me to do so, but it has not taught me how. I find myself clinging to people quickly, and letting my attachments to the people I love cloud my judgments for the worse. This is something about me that I more or less know is going to cause pain in my future. I can only hope the people I choose to love will come as close as they can to understanding me and accepting me, so that maybe one day we will be able to see the world through each other’s eyes.
Art and Imagination- My Mind
I consider myself to be a very visual learner. More than that, I consider myself a visual thinker. Every time I google something, no matter what it is, I always find myself instinctively clicking on the ‘Images’ tab, and ignoring the general web search results. I’m not sure what it is that makes visual media so appealing to me. Even if its an image with words, sentences, quotes, I always prefer those over text on a web page. Perhaps I prefer visuals foremost because they are something that my brain can process almost immediately. Granted, I will not process this information to its fullest extent, as I cannot gather more than the value that is at the face of an image upon first glance. I still believe that there is something preeminently tangible about images that make them so much more rewarding than slogging through large blurbs of text. Please do not mistake me, I love reading as much as the next guy, nay, I love reading, but ultimately, aside from the spectacle of the more advanced aspects of English syntax and vocabulary, reading is ultimately an extension of my visual imagination.
Spectacle; In Language, and in Art- The Words
A large part of my identity as an artist and a writer is the idea of spectacle. Spectacle as defined by me, is that which inspires awe, in its most loose sense. A work of art that perhaps conveys scenes of vastness and beauty, plays on human emotion, or contains elements of eldritch wonder. These are all spectacular things in my mind. Art that inspires the imagination.
Not only in visual mediums can spectacle be shared, however, but it can also be conveyed through writing and texts. Not in the sense of purely descriptive writing, meant to conjure images and scenes in ones mind (however descriptive writing can very well match my definition of spectacle– and very usually does), but in the sense of awe inspiring dictation. Especially in the English language, there exist beyond hundreds of different ways to write creatively and express ideas, with millions of vocabulary pieces, syntax styles, and literary devices available to build with. I find it spectacular the amount of creativity and experimentation possible with the mere act of writing and creating beautiful sentences, let alone the beauties of writing and story weaving on a macro level.
The Importance of Artistic Meaning
One of my very basic artistic tenants for creating enjoyable and especially meaningful art is that if the piece is meant to mean something, it must mean something. To me, the words, “It can mean whatever you want it to mean” is no more than a colloquial to “It means nothing“. A piece can have no artistic meaning aside from being appealing to the eye in one way or another, or perhaps one of the other four senses, and still be very much enjoyable, however, if you seek to create truly meaningful art with intention, there must be particular purpose and reasoning behind it.
Junji Ito- Nagai Yumi: The Long Dream
I find horror to be one of the most versatile and creative sort of media that there is. There is so much potential to explore the human condition through horror in a way that is not only artistically expressive, but also entirely enjoyable on several levels. Junji Ito, Japanese horror manga artist takes the ideas of spectacle, and translates it into profound, deep, and incredible works of visual, thematic, and enjoyable horror. My favorite work of his, that I find the most interesting especially, is the comic short The Long Dream, which address key parts of my identity in a way that I never would have conceived of, and ultimately uncover things about me that I never knew.
In his work The Long Dream, more macabre and Gothic than horror, we experience the story of a man named Tetsuro Mukoda, a patient at a medical psyche ward, under the care of Dr. Kuroda. Mukoda is there because he experiences something that seems absurd, impossible, and fantastical– he has experienced dreams that have seemed to last months on end. Dreams that only seem to be getting longer by the night. Kuroda, intrigued by Mukoda’s infinitely mesmerizing condition, agrees to admit him into the hospital for research and observation– and hopefully, a cure. One morning, Mukoda is awoken, confused, and dazed. The events of the day prior, hazy, feeling nothing more to him than a distant memory. His latest dream has lasted him a year.
After analysis of Mukoda’s brainwaves during sleep, it is confirmed that his brain did indeed display signs of having actually experienced such lengthy periods of time. Kuroda fears that it will not be much longer until the effects of his anomalous and curious circumstance take their toll Mukoda’s body. Mukoda now fears sleep, he fears the risk he takes of spending so much time in a realm entirely out of his control, and losing touch with reality. Dreams can be wondrous things, and they can reveal things about ourselves that we never have the strength to acknowledge in our waking stupor. However, dreams have the potential to become horrid nightmares. The sort capable of jolting one awake in a sweat within the earliest hours of the morning, perhaps serving as a premonition of things to come. This is what Mukoda fears. The next night the good doctor’s hypothesis proves valid, as Mukoda awakes hysterical, looking more alien than man. He storms into the room of a female ward-mate by the name of Mami, telling her of how he misses her and how they must reunite. When Mukoda is apprehended, he explains that he has been married to Mami for thousands of years, and they have traveled to the end of time with each other. Mukoda, refusing to accept that his existence has been nothing more than a figment of his imagination, plays along with Kuroda, and waits patiently for his absurd dream to be over.
Here, we can indulge ourselves in the exercise of empathy. Imagine for a moment, that your life, all the thousands of years that you’ve experienced, falls apart within the spam of a single day. You wake up and are told that the past thousand years of your consciousness has been nothing more than a dream. Would you believe it? Which reality would you believe. The one that you’ve lived for thousands of years, or the one you’ve lived for one day.
The next night Mukoda is put to sleep, and when the dawn breaks, he appears even more alien than before. He his hideously deformed, and one would not be considered at fault for assuming he was indeed an alien. Moments upon his waking, Mukoda’s body shatters into a pile of crystals and dust. This is the final manifestation of Mukoda’s condition, the point where Mukoda ceases to live his life in the world that we know. It is left ambiguous as to whether or not Mukoda has actually died. Perhaps his soul will live on through the plane of existence for which he has lost himself. Perhaps his death is the answer to the question: What happens when one wakes from an eternal sleep? Kuroda is unable to determine any recognizable properties of the crystals, nor is he able to give a definitive cause of Mukoda’s presumed death. Only one conclusion can be drawn definitively: whatever anomalous condition Mukoda possessed was something tangible, something real. Something beyond the realm of dreams as we know them, and perhaps something that is beyond comprehension.
The story ends on a note that is both dark and twisted, yet at the same time, somehow hopeful. Dr Kuroda laces Mami’s medication with matter from the mysterious crystals, and soon enough, she begins to exhibit the same traits that Mukoda exhibited. When confronted by his colleague, Kuroda states that he believes these crystals hold the key to eternal life, and that the only way to understand their properties, is to conduct experiments of unknowing patients. . The story ends with a panel of Mami, her body now decayed and deformed, much like Mukoda’s.
The idea of a dream that lasts a lifetime raises questions further than the mind can comprehend, and sparks a very particular fuse of my imagination. This story, to me, represents a sort of hyperbole for the life that a lot of us feel they live. A life inside their head, a life full of the curiosities of the mind and the expeditions of thought. It alludes to the danger of such indulgences. This is something that I relate to on many levels. I consider myself an introvert. I always have things to say, but I don’t quite know how to say them. The death of Mukoda symbolizes the loss of touch with reality. I always feel like I’m always alone in my thoughts. I feel like I think too much, like I distort my own reality to the point that it may be unrecognizable to even my closest friends. The mind can create, and it can also destroy, but my mind creates things– assumptions, biases, judgment– that destroy. Something I have fought with for a long time is the idea that most of what I think I know, most of what I think I see, is all in my head. This is why I feel that Ito’s piece is able to connect to me beyond simply being an entertaining graphic short.
Kazou Ishiguro- Remains of the Day
Kazou Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day is not only my favorite read of all time, but also bears a huge influence on the way in which I think and the way in which I write. The more I think of it, the more of myself I fell I’m able to discover within the book. The writing style in this book is impeccable, and the narration and syntax sounds exactly as sophisticated and layered as one would imagine that of an English butler to be. Kazou Ishiguro’s writing is a spectacle to enjoy, to ponder, and for me, to aspire to.
The book, set in England, 1965, recounts the tale of an English butler, Stevens, who has as of late been hired by an American gentleman by the name of Mr. Faraday. Faraday suggests that Stevens takes a break from his work while he is away on a business trip, and offers that Stevens may take his Ford and journey the English countryside. During this journey, Stevens reminisces about his past life, and his career as a high-class butler. Up to now, Stevens has prided himself with the knowledge that the past three decades of servitude he has carried out for his former-master, Lord Darlington, has given purpose to his life of immaculacy and service. However evidence that his former master was a patron of the Nazi’s and causes him to put in serious question the fidelity that the veneer of class, dignity and impeccable dignity that a butler of his caliber carries.
This remains one of the most influential novels to me as a writer, but it reinforces the truth that lingers over my head, one that I’m quite fearful to admit myself. The truth that the past isn’t as it seems, and that not only are our memories inaccurate to begin with, but they are also plagued by our own predispositions and biases. That the past is the past, and time moves forward. This book touches on the truth that time moves on with or without you, and that it does not wait for you to achieve your goals or realize the world around you. In the book, Stevens tries to convince himself that he did right by his duty and by humanity, and tries to deny the fact that his master of 30 years was a Nazi supporter. This resonates with me because I have been struggling to come to terms with this fact. The fact that time goes on, that time is linear, no matter how open and how free time feels, it’s a straight line, from point A to point B. I never knew what it would be like to be 16 years old when I was merely 10. My idea of what a 16 year old was like was the same as my idea of a 40 year old. Every event I ever look forward to will come and go before I know it. This scares me and mesmerises me at the same time, and it’s why this book holds such a memorable spot in my heart and in my mind.
“We do not see the world as it is, but as we are.”
An infinitely true testament to the reality in which each of us live. We all see the world through the lenses that we impose onto ourselves- and those that have been imposed onto us. It furthers my idea that our lives are only half truths, distorted by our own biases and viewpoints, which serve as a blockade to the infinite sea of ideas that longs to be explored. It is our own experiences that prevents us from seeing the world as it is, thus we can only see it as we are.
“We are nothing more than an amalgamation of our influences.”
This quote has stuck out to me since the minute I read it all that time ago. It made me realize yet another truth about ourselves, and the more I think about it, the less this quote seems to me than a mere aphorism, and the more it seems like the human condition summed up in ten words. It is true, everything about us is a product of an outside factor, some sort of outside influence. Every part of our personality and our beliefs is built upon the foundation that is rooted in our individual experiences and struggles. This is how we evolve intellectually. Through influence and through understanding. As we grow old, we become less susceptible to ideological persuasion, and our past influences continue to stick with us and affect us, however they evolve to suit our own circumstances. The thought of this puts my entire identity in question, and ponder how much influence I’ve actually had on who I’ve become today.
“Isn’t it funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when one looks back, everything is so different.”
One of my favourite quotes ever, spoken by CS Lewis, not only speaks upon the unassuming nature of time, but also the idea that change, much like everything else in this world, rarely ever happens all at once. Change in one’s life happens in increments, which is why even though change is something most people fear, it is ultimately an irrational fear. This quote has also helped me open my eyes to the fact that time is not endless, and that life does in fact proceed past the point that I am at, and as hard as it is to even wrap my head around, I will die one day and that day is far closer than I think. Even now, if I were to look back at the first time I had ever read this quote, my life would’ve been completely different.
Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything
You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now
Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything
He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything
But you know he’ll always keep moving
You know he’s never gonna stop moving
‘Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone
And when you wake up, it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
And you’re going, you’re going home
This song is the one I chose to represent me because I believe that it strikes a perfect chord on who I am as a person, on the inside and out. The song’s original meaning tells a story of a man who moved to the big city to find success and live the American Dream, however he cannot find a place to start because of his alcohol addiction, which causes him to procrastinate, and doubt his self worth. The song, while having a rather vivacious instrumental track, communicates a message of hopelessness and misplaced purpose to those willing to listen. The song to me, however I am not an alcoholic, represents the struggle to keep going despite a hopeless situation. It represents the tragedy of someone who knows they are lost, but can’t come to terms with it. This is something that I fear I will experience. I do not know what I will do with my life beyond high school, I truly have very little idea. If you have asked me before what I want to do in university, I have probably given you an answer that is ingenuine, and probably not all too true. I feel like I should know where I’m going, what I’m supposed to be doing, but I honestly don’t. This is one of my fears, and it’s something that I feel this song communicates better than any of my words can. I fear being trapped in an endless cycle of failure that only caves in on itself the further I get. I am afraid of being the rolling stone.