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Ruminations of a dissatisfied mind.

Jun. 18th, 2010 | 08:52 pm
mood: discontentdiscontent
music: Caribou - Bowls

What is the creative spark?

The stuff of writing takes place in everyone's minds, but is mostly unsuitable for print. There are many reasons for this; human thought is often undisciplined, rampant and blurry. It is difficult for us to be succinct and compelling in the form of writing.

After all, writing is at a degree of separation from our conscious thought, and most of our thoughts are themselves disorganized and without direction. This is why we turn to literature, as well as film, theatre and other art forms that deliver stories. They present us with a structure, which our minds enjoy as a substitute for the usual caprice and unpredictability of real life. Real life often makes no sense! When a person experiences a story, with all the diversity of elements that storytelling affords, s/he is profoundly affected. It stimulates emotion and cognition alike; they often prompt both thoughts and feelings. Maybe that's why we like them so much.

Back to the creative spark, the artist is basically changing the metaphysical nature of an idea from a disparate, floating wisp of consciousness, to a tangible, identifiable thing combined in ways that guide and stimulate the mind at the same time.

MAYBE THAT'S WHY WRITING IS SO HARD TO DO!! You have to influence the 'experiencer'. It also has to be at least somewhat extraordinary, in that very literal sense of being 'out of the ordinary' or remarkable. If a work does not have this property, the person just won't get the significance, and it will seem trite.

I realize now that's probably why I started writing this: to convey one of my great fears.  
The fear is that my creative expressions suffer from being trite or uncompelling!  This does not inhibit me too much from creative work, but I often feel dismayed with the results and the activity is less rewarding.

Worse still, follows the anxiety that my entire accumulated mind - maybe we can call it gestalt - is fundamentally limited in its capacity for organized creative thought.  My mind can be vibrantly creative, just...dispersed.  In contrast, it can also achieve periods of intense hyperfocus: productivity and motivation go up remarkably during these times.  But it is fleeting, and I still cannot achieve poignancy in creative writing to my satisfaction.

This is just it: there is no lack of creative sparks for me.  But their nature is vivid and fleeting, and are forgotten in moments.  What I need is a sustained flame - a fire!  Something that burns persistently and can be ruminated on to see what shapes are inside it.

Cognitive therapists are starting to suggest occasionally forcing the mind to deliberately and consciously emphasize a cognitive process they typically ignore.

For instance, I rely a lot on semantic understanding, to the detriment of visual or spatial learning and organization.  This in fact is the heart of my particular cognitive deficit.  So, I should try thinking in pictures more often.  The unlikely one or two of you still reading - congrats by the way - may find it interesting to try this.  Oddly, I tend to experience a sense of electricity in the upper right hemisphere.  That the brain itself has no feeling, confounds my testimony.  Maybe it's the scalp and ripples of brain activity are felt there?  WHO KNOWS. Not a doctor or a neurologist....

Anyway, I guess I just am trying to develop a mind that thinks at length, is precise but has great latitude, and structured enough to put the right strings of words together to express those ideas that swirl powerful but unseen inside me.

Wow I actually liked that last line, better leave off on a good note...
lol  :)


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No freaking idea.

Aug. 11th, 2009 | 08:20 pm
location: a dark room.
music: silent headphones

The 'average'(not as in 'mediocre,' but as in 'typical') mind has an intermediary process that takes place automatically when it encounters new information. Think of this process as a secretary in an office. Most of my professors describe their cognitive thought process as resembling a set of drawers. Knowledge and ideas are filed appropriately, and the secretary knows where to store and, more importantly, from where to retrieve them. My secretary is bad. Sometimes it is unreliable or slow to respond. At other times, I can experience absolute clarity of something new or something once forgotten. This is a paradox for me.

This is an analogy for a condition that I was born with. There is no name, so we must defer to the realm of generalizations and call it. as professionals do, a "learning disability."

This affects me socially, academically and psychologically. It explains thousands of instances of anxiety, frustration and grief that date back to my earliest days of self-awareness.

Brief feelings of panic, reaching for some basic fact...the most simple trivia, something learned over and over again, with thought and care, yet all sense of it is lost. To read a book and experience the amazing clarity of words and ideas, the most perfect picture of organization... and then to lose it minutes later. I feel like my mind is beautiful, but only in the present. It can grasp the essence of things yet rarely recalls them. The structure of reinforcement and repetition in school is helpful, but hours after the exam and my sense of the real SIGNIFICANCE OF THINGS is gone.

The secretary is bad. There are not enough active brain cells, neural connections, or whatever, in the part(s) of my brain that handle spatial organization.
This is what my 'profile', drawn from rigorous cognitive tests, tells me.

It is frustrating to have a condition that affects my life, and yet to most observers, has no noticeable symptoms. Frustrating also, is a history of misdiagnosis that plagues the relatively new field of learning psychology. Things have come a long way from those years when 'learning disabled' meant 'ADD', where Ritalin or some such could be conveniently described and the problem imagined away. Yet there is much more to this.

Many do not appreciate the significance of another's personal struggles and challenges, particularly if others or they themselves have (or think they have) experienced something like that already.

I have been told by more than one person, that they "don't believe in learning disabilities." This to me, is arbitrary and quite indistinguishable from one's personal opinion. Some people reject my suggestion that the term was assigned to me by professionals in psychology, on the loose basis that "it's not like that," and cite various examples of themselves or other friends who had 'something' yet got by 'just fine.' I often feel that people are not interested in particulars, only generalizations which are broad and comforting - the "duct tape" for the uncertainties in this world. Indeed, labels are problematic because they by definition allow for 'grey areas' but are all too often used in the service of 'black and white truths.'

In my two years of negotiating the varied and confusing terrain of my own personal deficit, I have learned more than enough to advocate for myself. This process however, has also raised a ton of philosophical and existential questions: what is my potential? What, in fact - all truisms and motivational posters aside - is my mind capable of? I know that I"m running. In fact, I recently completed the last credit of my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Philosophy. So yes, I am running. However, once can be on a treadmill and run in place forever. Is this what I am doing, or is forward motion possible given this difficulty of mine?
I'm told that to get through undergrad alone is an accomplishment in itself, given the 'odds'. If this is true, is it wise to press on in the world of academia?

If academia is for human archives, could I persist and achieve in such a world? And if so, would I not suffer, striving hard towards something for which I'm not suited? If law school is the best place for people with an easy facility of mind, is this where I belong?

I grew up, as so many of us do, believing that what we achieve is solely the product of our own works. This is a nice sentiment, and great for inflating our sense of self. However, it's not very good at helping us to accept the natural strengths and weaknesses that accompany all people. I have considered more now than ever, that when hard work fails to bring the expected result, perhaps it's an indication of something else, something systemic.

I don't believe in giving up, or in dreaming up limitations for ourselves.
But the runner with asthma has to get off the treadmill, no? The runner has to become something else, in fact to run further only injures her more. There is little progress, yet she remains stubbornly insistent that she is supposed to run; perhaps her very identity depends on it.

I"m not sure about that, or about how to finish this.

Though I"ve spoken about this tens if not hundreds of times, I can't reproduce it here with the same clarity. I do NOT believe that I will be properly understood. This frustrates me, and as many perfectionists can attest, makes me want to avoid it for now.

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I have a question.

Jul. 1st, 2009 | 01:51 am
mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Please answer with complete truthfulness:

Is anybody out there? Are you?

I need to know, please confirm, time is short. Your participation now could change it all!

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OH baby.

Apr. 21st, 2009 | 09:10 am
location: Pie in the sky
mood: melancholymelancholy

Now you caught me heart for the evening
Kissed my cheek, moved in, you confuse things
Should I just sit out or come harder?
Help me find my way.
-A Tribe Called Quest, 'Find A Way'

We been friends for a long time, a very close friend of mine
Love you like you was mine, but respect a thin line
I love you like you was mine, think about you all the time
Very close friend of mine, but respect a thin line
-Jurassic 5, 'Thin Line'

No updates for 41 consecutive weeks. What brings me back, irresistibly? Have to capture this moment in time where music and life converge into a (perhaps artificial) but nonetheless exhilarating feeling of MUTUAL RELEVANCE!

Now I bring to you a couple song lyrics that find their way into my life at the most 'appropriate' time. New songs for new feelings? Look these songs up too, breaths of fresh air, watch the sun rising or falling, think lovely thoughts.

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(no subject)

Jul. 7th, 2008 | 11:45 am
location: Mah crib.
mood: chipperchipper

News from the G8 Summit has never brought me much other than a mix of skepticism, confusion or disappointment.

Basically an association of the world's badasses, the G8, whose member countries account for 60 per cent of the world's gross domestic product, says its members are united by common values of democracy, human rights and the free-market economy.

So they just met, as they do five times a year, to discuss various global economic, social and political sheezy.

And HOT DAMN did this make me laugh.

George Bush, introducing our Prime Minister to to the president of Nigeria, hollah'd: "Yo Harper," to get his attention. Here's the funny part. Opposition parties are actually CRITICIZING this as demonstrating the "ideological kinship" between the two Conservative leaders. -_-

YES, perhaps an international policy forum isn't the best place to be droppin' the slangs and certain rules of formality are what keep everyone at their best. Still, the stuffiness of political discourse should leave room for some straight talk.

Two hours of a single speaker: "INDEED, THE BIMODAL PLURALITY SCHEMES OF THE INTERNATIONAL FIDUCIARY etc. etc. ogod what's he even talk about anymore" vs. "Yo, Harper."

As if stagnating a discussion with confusing rhetoric doesn't betray "ideological kinships." In fact, it can just as easily obscure the truth or at the very least make the heart of the matter totally inaccessible. The faultiest arguments or the most single-minded conclusions can sound great under the subtle veneer of fancy language. Worry about this instead, and let playa Bush holla at Harper however he wants.

Anyway, for those who watched the Wimbledon final. Tough to see Federer go down. As much as Nadal deserved his win, and as epic as the five set match really was, 52 unforced errors from the Fed versus Nadal's best tennis made this disappointing. I have that preoccupation so many people do with our 'heroes.' Watching Federer lose just shy of setting a new record of straight titles won... well, it breaks that spell that heroes generate for us. Maybe we wanna see that unquenchable flame in others that we wanna see in ourselves, I don't know. I was bummed out to watch Federer lose - flopping on easy shots is demoralizing for the player and for the fans.

WELL NOW, more works for me to do. Hope things are good out there, miss a bunch of ya.

Hey, rap gets such a lousy name - bitches in the club, drugs and money, etc. Well, no art form is a slave to trends, rap is flexible and multifaceted too.
Check this out: Black Star - Respiration (ft. Common)

Black Star is a pair of rappers, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. Mad skills, conscious and poetic rappers. I luhhhhhhv that. Bringing in Common for this song is just icing on the cake.

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The Madness, my best account of it. (about: knowledge and learning)

May. 20th, 2008 | 03:32 pm

To say: "It could be worse," is to say nothing at all. What am I missing here? Because something of relative 'worseness' is hypothetically possible in your life, your current predicament suddenly loses the character of what it is?

Does the fish that narrowly escapes the fisherman, feel any less pain from the hook in its mouth?

We are creatures of expectations, aren't we? We evaluate the quality of our lives based on what could - and perhaps MUST - be better, given where we are and what is possible.

Knowledge and progress, school and works, are sacred to me. (among other things, if you were going to say: "school's not everything.") I'm in school to stretch my mind to the fullest extents of what I study. No, not to satisfy an ASIAN family complex or to work my way up. TO LEARN.

The doctor(s) aren't quite sure what I'm capable of, given how my brain works. Nothing is black and white, the degree to which EFFORT will override ABILITY, is totally unclear.

Sometimes, knowledge and understanding come together with such clarity, like lines of tetris. And it's a rush - of accomplishment and a sense of motion.
But, like in our favorite puzzle game, all that's left behind are meaningless numbers as record of your brief success. Perhaps you top off the high-scores list... but the lines you've made explode and disappear in a flash of pixelated light, and you have nothing that endures.

I've had my share of high scores, a good feeling. But knowledge and understanding is fleeting - WHY AM I HERE, IN SCHOOL, when everything I build in my mind EXPLODES, with some fancy numbers on a report card that are supposed to indicate success when really, nothing is left after a few days.

I'm the king of bad analogies, I know. But what's there to say other than what occurs to you?

I have a disconnectivity disorder - a problem with retrieving information; a file cabinet without folders, a stack of records without covers. 2% of the population has this - most of which were premature at birth. The two sides of my brain are like unequally trained figure skaters - one is actually average, as it should be. The other, excels tremendously, and pushes its hapless partner into difficult routines. Invariably, both will fall, and the routine fails.

Learning, it goes like this: (reading a text, sitting in a lecture...anything)

It always starts, with a straight and linear road...observing landmarks on the way, just being so aware of where I am, how I got here - and foreseeably, what's next. This road makes clear and indelible impressions on my mind. so clear.

Hold on to that feeling! Then I get to the end of the road, suddenly my bearings feel lost, and I can't remember what I saw, what this road is called, or where it is.

TURN AROUND, and see that the road I travelled, has split like vines, snaking its way over and into everything. Crossing borders it shouldn't, forming incomprehensible intersections with other roads that DON'T belong together.

Take a deep breath, read it again, go back to the beginning of the concepts, find a landmark, work what the pieces you learned through to their logical conclusions. What is this chapter about, what was I talking myself through just moments ago when it made sense? Just GO BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW.

And this is where it starts. This is honestly, where the MADNESS starts.

My head spins around a handful of images. Words, some vague associations... clawing and tearing through this forest of disparate information trying to find the BEGINNING. There are no landmarks in this forest - the trees are indistinguishable! I KNOW IT'S THERE. I know there is a HOUSE in here somewhere in these woods, because I BUILT it, myself, for hours a day. SO WHERE IS IT, AND WHERE DID MY FLIPPING MAP GO?!

If I wanted to expend EFFORT without MOTION, I'd go run on a treadmill. If I wanted to build rows upon rows of infor-fucking-mation, only to watch it slip away with only a number to show for it, I'd play some bloody Tetris.

Am I cut out for this?! Is this life of intellectual pursuits I always imagined, unsuitable for me? Maybe I should just get off the treadmill, I've never felt such unsteadiness in my legs.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. I get soooo mad these days, I can't be right around people until I feel right with myself. Too self-aware of what's wrong...the most pressing issues of my entire life. Some people can switch off, enjoy their time with the outside world. Some avoid the kind of deep and merciless introspection that I feel is (...because it has ALWAYS been) NECESSARY to understand what the fuck is going on.

"Don't give up," I know. I would only be giving up on something I never had. Maybe better to give up the illusion of progress than to waste these years reaching for some lofty goals that aren't right for me.

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(no subject)

May. 18th, 2008 | 11:56 pm
location: My London apartment.
mood: Bloody furious

Hi, I haven't written in a long time. This was all stream of consciousness, editing would simply be wrong. Just indulge me, if you don't mind.

Routine and discipline, balance, everything in moderation. Our favorite maxims! I decided to give them another shot, in earnest.

As much as I appreciate the feeling that my life is in order, I've never felt closer to losing my mind. I hate the straight lines, my mind looks for anything it can to break the confines of this nice and responsible mold.

Left unchecked, my mind has a serious penchant for the neurotic - driven by a motor, I see flashes of every ounce of self doubt I have ever had. They are so persistent, creeping into my head all bloody day, between pages of my politics texts, while I work out, play an instrument. I wish I were in fact being melodramatic about this stuff... because then it wouldn't be quite so real, and at the very least, under my control.

Alas, I was never one to embellish or indulge myself in my emotions.

The mind can be so fracking persuasive; the irony of being brainwashed by your own thoughts and obsessions! Haha, it kills me. Without any compelling evidence to the contrary, all of my introspection turns - like clockwork - to the most self-punishing thoughts ever. STOP.

Generic fortune cookie advice is usually dispensed here: call a friend! think of the good things! do something else! it's all in the mind! etc.

But I'm a smart guy - I know this. I know the logics and the "illogics" of my state of mind. I know that most thoughts are of our own design, many of which we can - and should - ignore.

Change the track, switch lanes, get off the treadmill...I know.

But my MIND doesn't SWITCH - it has an answer to everything, a new image of failure or embarrassment or futility to replace the one you just banished. It's like a FLIPBOOK gone wrong, the intensity of my mind... I need sequence, order, but the pictures are moving too fast. What I do see, I don't like.

Nothing is more infuriating than the disjunct between your sober conclusions and your impulsive mind.

Logic and obsession are born in completely different places. I need the first to tame the second, but they speak different languages. Maybe this is how it starts - the gradual decline into straight up neuroses.

I've had "a grip", for as long as I can remember - a subconscious thing. Isn't it always?

Maybe that's why I'm so convinced I'm losing it. Or maybe, getting diagnosed with brain deficits that explain 1000+ instances all the way back to Kindergarten... maybe this puts me in a funk. Such a premium I always put on performance, intelligence, knowledge...essay and exam marks. This is your salvation from people who make fun of you.

I can't think of a shakier house of cards.

Jesus god, where are the brakes on this thing? I don't need a GPS to guide the way or an air conditioner to make it more comfortable. Just the brakes, for fuck's sake.

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Talib Kweli, and I'm bangin' on your eardrum.

Aug. 21st, 2007 | 12:16 am
location: Mah crib.
mood: bombastic
music: Talib Kweli - Listen

For all you cats who know me, you probably have discerned that I'm a pretty timid guy, always looking for diplomatic and 'safe' solutions, never wanting to piss anybody off. As much as it's important for me to keep things level and comfy, and give people the respect they deserve...

...sometimes you gotta tell a fool straight up that he's a fucking fool without reservation.

Shattering my former delusions, I realized that you should never bend over backwards to keep on people's good sides and keep them on yours. Because before you know it, you've got your head between your legs and the view ain't pretty. And man is it ever exhausting; there is no respect in the end, and you just pass up a chance or two to cuss a fool the fuck out.

There are so many cats out there acting like surgeons, cutting everybody up like it's their job. As a concerned individual trying to perpetuate societal equilibrium, isn't it the responsibility of me and others like me to make sure these bitches are under the knife themselves once in awhile?

All this may come by surprise, and it sure as hell did to me. I stood up to somebody I've always rolled over for. Not rude, no hard talk, just the straight goods that let him know I was sick of his clowning and he would need to come up with some new tricks if he was planning on scaring me. I was surprised, but probably not as surprised as him.

Maybe I can thank/blame rap music for this sudden paradigm shift. I have been listening to a LOT of it this summer, and these past couple weeks, me and my best buddy Rob have been rolling to this stuff with a beer in hand for DAYS now.

While I don't relate too strongly with the glorification of the 'thug life' as a straight-laced suburban caucasian guy, I know why I like this stuff so much:

Aside from the obvious musical merits of a good rap song, a lot of these rappers/ballers/gangsters/whatever exude something that our generation wants. They are bloody fearless. They will say and do what they need to and aren't afraid to do it. They don't let the haters roll over them, they know what's up and how to keep it up there.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm gonna go ape on someone if they look at me funny, or start talking hard to protect myself against peeps who don't like me. But it IS a serious promise to have the self respect to burn the fools who play themselves up to get you down. They only do it because, like any drug, they've done it enough times and it felt good enough such that they won't stop.

I haven't been tested for yeaaaaaaaars, but I always worried about it.

Worry no more - I got a taste of not being afraid, and I wanna come back for more.

But don't panic, you can't function if you livin' in fear.
Pay attention, you gotta listen to hear.

Who the fk you think you talkin' to?
Put you on hold, get a specialist to walk you through.

Bangin' on the system, fighting my kinda war.
Loud as a whisper, quiet as a lion's roar.

Talib Kweli - Listen (check that shit! Too good!)

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(no subject)

Jul. 30th, 2007 | 03:32 pm

Sick of it all, not enough time, not enough room for mistakes. Feeling claustrophobic in this little room of high expectations, the walls of criticism closing in always. I hate this credentialist society, I hate what you need to do, just to keep from being invisible in this crazy world of money, titles and corporatism.

Tired of being the 'shining hope' of the Yun family, there's never permission for failure, no room for process. Everything is always a means towards some goal, where is the sense of intrinsic value in the process? The butterfly is nothing without a chrysalis...and yet, in this crazy world of mine, process means nothing and results mean everything.

I wanna bang on this fucking system, optimism is an old habit, and this one died hard. Sick of it all! Get me outta here!

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The glove compartment...

Oct. 8th, 2006 | 05:00 pm
music: Death Cab for Cutie - Title and Registration

Well, that's the end of that.

This is as much as I can can afford to say, let alone feel. Sometimes the only real way of coping with tremendous emotion is a kind of forced indifference - that manufactured detachment from an issue so that it can't interfere with other, more crucial spheres of your life.

Work, extracurriculars and friends (work especially) are sufficient such that one can drown in them - that's what I'll do, and it starts now.

If only I could stop tossing and turning at night.


"And there's no blame, for how our love did slowly fade.
Now that it's gone, it's like it wasn't there at all.
Here I rest, where disappointment and regret, collide.
Lying awake at night."

Death Cab For Cutie - Title and Registration

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