Coming Out: Confessionals

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THOUGHTS ON CHINESE IDENTITY// "THE MYTH OF CHINA": this was originally a couple forum posts but I wanted to save this one and perhaps review it later. I also elaborated more on my thoughts in some areas.

I have never seen any evidence or suggestion that China is interested in starting a war. It seems to me that people are projecting the imperialist history/ bias of their own country (especially the U.S. onto China) plus a whole lot of fear and anxiety. Although much emphasis has been put on how China has apparently changed at its cultural core because modernism, industrialization, globalization, etc., China still tends to view itself fundamentally as a monolithic, conservative culture spanning back thousands of years. This is true despite any actual exceptions to this, including actual ethnic and cultural diversity which has been a constant, perpetual project of the government to keep things in a state of order and “harmony”, but in no way is this a modern phenomenon.

The Chinese identity is at its core too ethnocentric, but in such a secure way, that I think people can't relate to this too directly, and if one is actually born and raised in China and so thoroughly immersed in the insularity of Chinese culture, this is a huge blind spot and something which is absolutely taken for granted. Compare this to people from much smaller countries that had to fight for their survival with other countries (e.g. mostly any country in Europe, especially one that is not significantly surrounded by water, or is not surrounded by water at all, and so it is relatively landlocked). Alternatively, consider cultures that are much more aggressive and externalizing in their core spirit, and have had much more of an imperialistic/ conquering drive. (Related Note: It's not in vogue still to talk about the sort of core spirit or psyche of a nation or a group of people too directly, is it? As in, its considered somewhat archaic, but thinkers and philosophers did this a lot, especially from the 1600s in Europe (earliest) and especially in the Enlightenment to the Victorian eras. If I'm going to make a sweeping generalization, this would be it.) I think people have trouble relating to what this means at a deeper level of security in a nation's psyche, as in, there is not an abiding sense of insecurity about what it means to be Chinese in a human, cultural sense; this is not what's at the base or foundation. There might be a deep insecurity about their level of modernization on a global scale and their ability to do so (particularly at the level of government and policy makers); that's a somewhat separate issue.

This is with the exception of Taiwan/ Tibet, of course.

So this really isn't my area of specialty, but to my understanding, both Taiwan and China think of themselves as the "real China". And that's why Taiwan is officially called "The Republic of China". Mainland China disagrees, of course, since it used to belong to the Han Chinese some handful of centuries and refuses to recognize their national sovereignty. I guess that goes both ways though. Even if this isn't how both sides generally think of the conflict at the moment, they've been landlocked in this position for years and years, and mainland China has been keeping its eye on getting Taiwan back all this time. (I think Taiwan also sees itself as the legitimate heir of Sun Yat-Sen's ideas as well.)

Things that China has cared about for centuries or millennia:


In other words: China tends to measure itself first in relationship to itself, even moreso than other countries. People say the same thing about the US of A, by the way, and so globally we tend to say that y'all are notoriously self-absorbed. Consider that this might even moreso be the case for China due to it being so culturally insular. Just as one of many examples: I've always found it a bit daft and tone deaf to observe the projection of the perspective of US race relations onto the rest of the world. This includes trying to make sense of racism in a country such as China, with its large size, ideologically tight borders and identity (and with that, the cultural monolithism and insularity that I mentioned). It's a bit like 1+1 = 3: all of the various factors you could and should be taking into consideration aren't not being observed properly or at all, and so you have people running around screaming: “IT'S A TWO WHY IT IS A TWO?!?!!” when it comes to making sense of phenomenon in these countries culturally, and I find myself in the background observing and thinking to myself, “K......” Mainland Chinese or East Asian racism is a different sort of phenomenon and their understanding does not intersect well with ours; they do not understand US or even Canadian and European racial and cultural politics well at all and a certain level of structural, inbuilt conflict that would be considered either 1) widely justified 2) avoidable for the most part, particularly in public. It is extremely alien. (The issue with it being “public” or not and “public dissent” is also an issue that has deeper cultural roots with an entirely different historical background, expectations, and context.) Consider that the government and people themselves are turning against people who are "dissenters" or "people infected with foreign ideals" first from this perspective, and not from the perspective of being raised with this notion of 1) "free speech" 2) this idea that things aren't intrinsically harmonious, and existing in some consensus reality. From this perspective, there is almost an impressive impartiality with which the whole turns against anyone, whether its own people, foreigners, ethnic minorities, rioters, etc., like the immune system turns reactively against anything deemed a threat. I am not saying this as a justification at all, by the way, if that is not clear. I am suggesting that you imagine having a completely different backstory, upbringing, community and neighbours, parents, schooling, and everything, and then to imagine what it's like coming from this perspective. As a Eurasian person with a Chinese parent, I had this explained to me in much more simplistic terms, and also I was partially and selectively raised in this way, so I am speaking from personal experience too if that is not obvious. I have always had one foot firmly on one side, and the other foot somewhere else.

Anyway, the preoccupation with their borders is on an extremely obsessive level. To my awareness, China is too preoccupied with China to care about influencing others in the exact way that they think others are caring about them, let alone taking over their land. Because if you take over it, then you have to rule it, and the country hasn't shown much interest in that either historically (imperialism) for a reason. There is a great sense and weight of what this means: to rule. The country has a very long, ancient history of meticulous record keeping (historical records, and likely even census type materials) and the kind of attention to bureaucracy that goes with this, what works and what doesn't. Most of what I see being interpreted as aggressive manoeuvres to me simply appears as reactive in nature and almost purely defensive (and not so much in an "offence as defence" sort of way unless it's really believed to be unavoidable). This does relate to their particular brand of conservatism. As in, they care about getting attacked or compromised in one way or another more than anything else first, arguably moreso than we Westerners do. And the way that they deal with this is not by thinking about taking other nations first, especially their land? TBH I don't think this thought would even actually occur to people there. I think they would find this very strange and alien to the point of unrelatability.

To add to a particular sort of self-absorption: there is an obsessive preoccupation with getting "infected" with foreign ideas because there has been a poor track record with it historically (e.g. the history of the Jesuit missionaries in China since about the 16th or 17th century and what was rightfully viewed as religious imperialism and foreign interference at the time). Plus, there is some natural propensity towards this anyways (i.e. I would argue that this is a feature of a deeply monolithic, conservative culture, or one that strives towards monolithism, and not a bug). But to a level that arguably really is paranoia, but in no way does this specifically originate with communism. I have often noticed people talking about this like this mentality completely originates with the CCP. Huh?

You can see these two preoccupations coming together as what is really one singular whole with the sort of control the government has over the internet in China. It is effectively one nation sized firewall. And make no mistake, its the contamination of ideas, ideals, and ethics which has been treated as the source of the highest concern. It's not with letting visitors in or out of the country, for example. To my understanding/ memory, this has rarely been the case as well even historically (like even during periods during the Boxer Rebellion/ Opium Wars). Historically speaking, Japan (another very culturally monolithic society) was much more strict about letting foreigners in their borders, including traders (i.e. The Portuguese?), and only did so rather tentatively after the Meiji Restoration period (1868) because it was the end of the shogunate period and there was the intentional will to modernize, and they recognized that closing their borders so aggressively was not a great strategy for modernization. They wanted very selective aspects of modern/European ideals and practices but the wanted to keep “traditional values”. (If I'm wrong about any of these details; I'll totally eat my words later). By default, they did not react well to European missionaries, to my memory, and did not tolerate them living in Japan either. China actually did for a time and they weren't so happy with the results; this lead to a number of long lasting consequences which were hard to reverse. (Added note: this is the time period when then transitions into the deterioration of the Qing Dynasty due to Western powers and Japan, which is apparently called the "Century of Humiliation".) And you might also notice: the Chinese government is still particularly brutal with shutting down ideas of a religious and spiritual nature, especially anything that is deemed cult-like and has the power to interfere with the harmony of the collective hegemony. I have noticed that when "Western" people bring up the government using this as a reason for their behaviour, they think it's almost entirely an excuse, almost like people or the government does not believe in this at all. Honestly... how are you so sure of this?

Historically speaking (if I'm going to make another vast, sweeping generalization), it's just that other cultures with these sorts of aggressively defensive, insular, conservation policies were usually 1) much smaller 2) got wiped out sooner rather than later for the most part because they got conquered and/or they couldn't adapt culturally and technologically. At one point, it was technologically and culturally advanced in comparison to its surroundings, but then, so were Islamic civilizations. What changed? (Not going to go into this right now though.)

Just a point of comparison (take it for what you will): Some religious Americans believe in the sort of notion that God has vindicated the right for the US to exist and do what it does in terms of policies, wars (a sort of modern cultural imperialism), etc., and also that God has vindicated the creation of the nation itself.

In comparison with this, since people do sometimes make this direct comparison to the more European/ western notion of the "divine right to rule" as it has incarnated in at least a few different forms in the last millennium or so (e.g. through European monarchs): those particular religious, vocal Americans strike me as incredibly insecure in comparison, and this is the partial, likely reason why these people are so aggressively vocal about it. If you were as secure in your position, in the idea of your history and nation, like it has always existed in the beginning since the formation of your cultural/ collective identity and with relatively little conflict and perceived threat, then there would be nothing to react against here anyway. It would be alien to you.

And what... you have a handful of centuries in comparison in the formation of your country? There is this tendency for Chinese people to see it this way.

When Chinese people do get aggressively self-protective about China, it's coming from a different vantage point IMO. It's coming from a fundamentally secure position, and this is even likely the case amongst the “educated and cultured”. People over here are bound to make this an issue about some sort of cultural brainwashing and ideology in academia itself, as if that is somehow the start of it. What makes you think that it starts then?  What makes you think that it's not in the fabric of everything culturally, including what extends beyond modernity and modern institutions, the current government?

And unlike the notion of the western "divine right to rule", the very ancient "The Mandate of Heaven" is considered a fundamental yet divine affirmation of the people's will first and foremost via "Heaven". (And arguably, this does very much fit into how the CCP's actions are treated over there.) The Mandate of Heaven is self-circular/ self-fulfilling in the sense that if you lose it (e.g. via rebellion which is generally first considered to have been caused by governmental ineptitude and not serving the people first), you're considered to have to have lost it via something that you did. The power is not intrinsic in that sense. The people can turn against you, like a force of nature. It has been written in history since ancient times, and history is considered to have vindicated this. In very ancient times, nature itself turns against man: it brings flooding and droughts, starvation and death. The emperor bears this responsibility most brutally and directly (and often this did factor into peasant revolts). It is different than believing that you have the right to do whatever you want as a governmental figure because God/ the Heavens gave you that power. It can and is taken away. So in practice, while there are many other factors... this notion of "The Mandate of Heaven" does factor into this belief/ cultural identity of China being some unbroken chain of culture despite the changing of dynasties, rebellions, conflicts and challenges faced, etc.

Some people think these old ideas are irrelevant in the modern era, but IMO it is buried deeply in collective psyche. Especially for a country that still very much identifies with this sense of unbroken lineage. Chinese people tend to see themselves as THE unbroken culture since the Shang Dynasty, at the very least, the largest culture with the most people, with the greatest monolithic grip culturally (Han hegemony), with the most consistent cultural policies (what do you think Confucianism is?), language and consistent record keeping (and a profound respect for this sort of bureaucracy for the most part..), a certain kind of shared ethos/value system (traditionally, the Buddhist-Daoist-Confucian triangle), and there is even considered to be a certain kind of regularity in our rebellions and changing of dynasties under the notion of the Mandate of Heaven, almost like the changing of seasons, things happen in cycles. But “China” itself is beyond all that. “China” is entirely an idea, like all nations are. Of course there are other cultures that identify with ancient cultures in their own vicinity. Sometimes there is more or less of an actual direct cultural or ethnic relationship and a great gap of time has passed between the present and the ancient, arguably fabricated past (for example, in the case of the Ancient Greeks vs. Modern Greeks, sorry if you're Greek and my comments about modern reconstructionism and reclamation of the Ancient past happens to offend you ….).

So the difference is that the idea of “China”... it is absolutely built on continuity too, but all “traditional” cultures tend to be, but especially with this notion of continuity of the "One China" has always existed perpetually since the Qin Dynasty, when China was first made into one giant country with the intention of making it pan-Han, basically, and it has been affirmed perpetually and officially this whole time.

There is very much this sense that it will continue on indefinitely too. (And here is an example of this sense of security manifesting in the collective psyche which they take for granted, but we are less likely to, and we are much more insecurity about our fundamental existence as a nation in "Western" nations. Well... we think of histories as being much shorter, broken up and fragmented. It's not too surprising, is it?)

(Also an important point: this mandate does not extend to other countries/people unless somehow they also come to be defined fundamentally as "China" somehow. But... how would this "just happen"? 1) It's kind of hard if you're not in a nearby proximity to China itself, as it very much thinks of itself as one singular, physical unit. There has never been any particular interest in claiming colonies in the sense of traditional imperialism. 2) Do you think that Chinese people are keen to invite or to force people to become Chinese? No... especially if you can't assimilate properly in a cultural sense. You will fundamentally be, as Cantonese people tended to call it, a Gweilo.)

IMO, the insecurity about modernization also stems from that same security rooted in deep conservatism and history. This is again an issue of what makes you strong (or what used to make you strong), is now a point of inflexibility. Your own stability or propensity towards choosing stability and thinking in hyper-conservative ways; that becomes a weak point. I think there is very much an awareness, like a fresh, fragile sprout, especially at the level of policy making, of this. This is very much the first thing I think of when I read anything by any Chinese policy maker. Could they probably ever articulate this in this way? Probably not. I wouldn't describe it as a very self-aware insecurity. Actually, I think it's being in close contact and conflict with other cultures and nations which fosters this awareness, as well as some fundamental sense of cultural insecurity and anxiety. Growing up in a monolithic, conservative, and insular culture...  it will make you much more secure culturally but also tends to foster a blind spot to outside experiences and perspectives. But there is the anxiety about slowness and making oneself relevant which comes from this odd position of stability, like a tree tethered into the ground straining its branches to reach into the sky; it somehow feels that strain. Like being a giant, slow, ancient, lumbering turtle. Contrast this with a culture where the collective core identity may be fundamentally unstable or transient at an emotional level. I can't help but think of the Jewish culture due to the history, economic barriers (and sometimes poverty), constant migration and persecution and the ways in which people from that cultural background have adapted in different ways, to different places (and with that, my own confusion and reluctance to talk about it too directly in the first place, lest I tell you what you are and you find it fundamentally oppressive, because this is exactly the type of thing that I tend to be extremely sensitive to as my default perspective).

Another Side Note: So a cultural group in China with similar circumstances of perpetual instability is the Hakka (minus a comparable degree of active persecution), but they are actually Han. (I believe it's generally thought that they might be the group the closest genetically to the origin Han people from Ancient China.), and when it comes to Chinese immigrants that live overseas and who have adapted to that life and integrated quite well, usually they're Hakka.

The Asian Invasion: Are you picturing a "War of the Worlds" type situation but with mainlander Chinese people? Loads and loads and literal hordes of neverending, faceless, soulless, opinionless, freedomless Chinese people taking over your country and everything else that you know and love (or at least is familiar enough for you to be attached to)? I don't think it's gonna happen. Like with most sci-fi fantasies involving aliens, we tend to project our own fears about how our culture treats people or has treated them on the past right onto others. This is our own sort of paranoia.


Edit: So, my knowledge of modern Chinese history tends to be much more limited, but I would still like to add a few notes. Pure "economic imperialism" is not included in what I wrote above. Arguably that's been going on long before the CCP, if we're talking more about settling in (i.e. the migrant Hakka who were disenfranchised in their own country) and/or trading with other countries. E.g. what's going on with the Chinese in Africa right now, from what I know about it. Making the jump to them wanting to own and occupy a country via military force makes my brain hurt, and is the essence of "well... that escalated quickly." If you want to compare this to some historical phenomenon, wouldn't it make more sense to compare it to the Dutch East India Company? Things that they are interested in first and foremost: $$$$$$$$ (******possibly not historian approved!******)

The Chinese Map of National Shame: Apparently Sun Yat-Sen delineated this as the desired sphere of influence, to my awareness it is directly tied to Sun Yat-Sen and to consensus around that particular period. Notice how everything is directly attached to China itself. (Um... I'm pretty sure many of these countries and territories were more aspirational than anything else. Did they actually want to conquer and rule them? Not so sure about that.....)


(I did try to include conflicting information and perspectives though.)

Edited by modmyth
And if you want to point out, like.. what about the Yuan Dyansty (Kublai Khan)? There is the case for chosen, "self-assimilated Chineseness" in his case. Like why fix a non-broken infrastructure?

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A couple days I woke up to this memory which I had forgotten about which seemed pretty insignificant: for years my parents had a picture of The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem that was tacked to the side of the fridge closest to the kitchen sink, so it was not visible unless you were in the corner of the room. I'm pretty sure that my dad had taken it and then gotten it laminated; my parents must have taken it when I was still living in Saudi Arabia, and during that time they travelled a lot around the Middle East. I think I previously mentioned Jordan, Syria, probably Palestine, Turkey (depending on whether you count Turkey as part of the Middle East or as part of Eurasia).  Places where they didn't go: countries affected by the Gulf War in the early 90s?

Later, probably some time in my early to mid teens, they took down that picture and whatever other photos were up and then the put up family photos my mom's parents, plus me and my brother with them.

When I was growing up, people often asked me what countries I had travelled to, and I would ask them: before or after I have conscious memory of it? Because apparently I have been to a bunch of countries in the Mediterranean including the ones mentioned in the Middle East, like Italy, Greece, Egypt, (some other countries in North Africa?), but if I don't remember it, it doesn't count, you know? I was acutely aware of kids my age appearing to not understanding this distinction. Also, there's nothing particularly impressive about being really young and having been carted around to a bunch of countries that I don't remember at all, but sometimes I have wondered what impression all of that travel and movement has left on my mostly preconscious self (and perhaps even my physical body), if anything. Living in Saudi Arabia left something for sure: at least one very hazy, dreamy, and vivid (but also soupy) memory. Arguably though, my brother's emotional connection to Saudi Arabia and the whole Gulf region is much stronger as he didn't leave until he was 9 going on 10, and I hadn't even turn 5 yet. (All I really have going for me is that I know the most Arabic in my whole family and I've studied it formally a little, the latter which doesn't mean too much IMO because I still sucked at it after studying it, haha.)

I often dealt with this as kid: being asked where I was born and the ensuing confusion. And in Vancouver, despite being quite multicultural, I would still get confused looks by kids, and questions very occasionally like, "you don't look Saudi Arabian?" ***perplexed look*** And when I had to write where I was born when it somehow came up in elementary school, I was the only person born "somewhere weird", to my memory, like my physical appearance couldn't be linked at all to where I was born. I got used to offering explanations on the spot once I got the anticipated confused look, which was basically, my parents used to teach there. And if that confused them, I rarely knew what to say next, exactly.

I took it for granted how often I grew up listening to a handful of basic Arabic phrases though, like it was just so normal that I never really thought much about it, or the fact that the more time passed, the less my parents (especially my mom) used them. I think at some point in time in writing in this journal, I mentioned that mashallah/ inshallah came up a lot (despite that neither of my parents were religious, let alone Muslim) and my mom's favourite phrase was ALHAMDULILLAH!! when she got angry at either my brother or I, especially exasperated to the point of giving up with either one of us.

I also might have mentioned that I grew up hearing a ton of stories about Nigeria, West Africa, and their travels in general (for example, I think they might have spent more than a regular amount of travel time in Egypt, but I'm not sure in retrospect due to my memory and the amount of time which has passed here). There was this peculiar quality where I grew up learning so much about what it was like to live in this place, to know people who were both local and non-local there quite closely, a few interesting details inter-tribal relationships (most of my mom's native Nigerian friends were Hausa, to my memory), but I actually had seen very little to no photos of the place, maybe one or two, and not right away in childhood. So I spent most of that time for at least a handful of years imagining what these places looked like very vividly, and by the time I had seen photos, unsurprisingly, they did not really match up to my imagination in vividness and splendour. This was probably the one area where either of my parents would indulge in questions, and in fact, if you asked one or two questions, you better be prepared to sit on your ass and listen them for at least 1 or 2 hours straight and listen to them talk. You were probably going to hear a very eagerly recounted, repeated version of a story that was told before that I already knew anyway, and told in only a slightly different way.

This was another thing that I took for granted almost entirely in retrospect. That just because I don't have strong, extensive memories of these places and a sense of lived-in experience (or in the case of Nigeria, I have never been there at all, that a lot of places (for where I actually do remember travelling after the age of about 5) and ideas of places didn't seem truly foreign, alien, or strange at all, despite not having technically grown up in those cultures (I guess it's true as I was exposed to some pan-Arabic culture while I was still living in Saudi Arabia because of my parents' friends who they were also quite close with. It was an international crowd but there were a lot of people from the Middle East too apparently. I honestly have no idea what effect that had in the long term).

I had always been exposed to a ton of ideas "outside" via these stories, but also stories about literature, philosophy, film, etc. It's probably not unheard of for kids who had more of an “international” upbringing (especially the stories), even if it was only for a short time that we had actually lived in that country, like my brother and I. So my sense of world perspective, events, and background, for whatever my parents' individual and shared limitations, it's always been... different than my peers, despite having known people from a number of cultural backgrounds (duly noting that most of the people I knew who were non-Caucasian were locally born anyway.)

Like for example: I never got a sense of there being a separate wider world or culture "outside" (whether outside of my most immediate locale, my country, my continent), although obviously I knew I didn't “belong” to most of those cultures and was also aware that there was much I didn't know about in terms of quite a few cultures (my parents often pointed out that there are so many people everywhere who think that they know everything that there is to know about culture and international politics even though they've barely left their own bedroom, talked to many people, or read actual books, but those people don't know shit). This I'm just realizing that right now.

Part of this impression of not getting a sense of some separate, outside, wider world, was from being bicultural: both culturally and ethnically belonging to both, but from my perspective, ultimately neither.

My first ideas of the wider world... it's not like... some vague ideas about the outside world (or maybe nothing at all), plus some geopolitical narrative fed to me through public education, news media, or exposure to online media grafted straight onto that, or just what I had learned by listening to my parents and older people talk about the world and world politics (I did listen to the last aspect, but despite my critique of my parents here in the past, their perspective would have been different than most “average” perspectives, for sure. Part of this was simply inevitable having had parents from disparate cultural backgrounds who were educated and actually talked to each other about these things constantly in front of both me and my brother). In terms of “stories”, for some people too, that would definitely include religious narratives, including religious narratives explicitly laced in your family's cultural history and imbued with significance. My first narratives about the world were first-hand stories about the world from my parents, actually seeing the world (this was very important to my parents), and reading a lot of books about culture, history, religion, literature from a very young age, including books intended for adults (starting very intentionally from the age of 7, as I have mentioned previously I was very much in “life quest” mode right away when I started, haha.) My parents also watched a lot of foreign films and documentaries and this I very willingly partook in, unlike my brother. And this entry point actually might be something very significant. By comparison, despite growing up around a lot of political talk which my parents did not allow either my brother to get involved in at the dinner table (and sometimes it would get super heated as my parents would do “good spirited” arguing and my mom in particular would get very emotionally wound-up about some issues), political talk and thinking has always seemed very on-the-surface by comparison. I wasn't interested in it very much as a child (although I think a great part of it was not wanting to force my way into conversations where I wasn't invited), and I definitely wasn't interested in it at all as a teenager. I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as not a very politically educated person (and as a result, I avoided participating in conversations where I know and feel that I am ignorant), even if to some degree, it's not true if you consider reading I've done what not. And then I would look around and see how eager people are to confidently barf out their political opinions about anything everything, especially on the internet, and I would find it slightly perplexing coming from my own perspective and background. Like that reading I've done is not much by my standards, but still....

Like, how are you so sure you know anything about anything?

And most of this time, I would not even have gotten upset, like it never would have occurred to me to have gotten provoked by people's “ignorance” except for a short period of time of about 2 years in my early-mid teens when I was furiously angry at a lot. But I felt like I literally had to somehow build a bridge in order to create some sort of empathy to imagine what that's like. Like... what's it like to be so sure of yourself so easily on that basis all the time? How do I imagine what it's like to be culturally clueless in comparison to whatever I am and have been my whole life? It's not that easy.)

Anyways, I think one essential point of significance is this: I do not and have never thought of the world, as a sort of cultural and institutional whole, as fragmented as we tend to think of it as being, as any sort of abstraction, or -ism first; and I don't frame it first in terms of geopolitical terminology and abstraction. And thinking about it now, when you listen to most people talk about world affairs... they do, this is their frame for their experience of the whole world and what it means, particularly if they haven't travelled, but it very much includes people who have. They have preemptively framed and have learned to frame everything that way, and so they do. From my perspective, I find this approach rather inflexible and monolithic, like a giant wooden dummy. Like our most of own rhetoric in our own language can barely account for any “truth” in rhetoric in another culture and another language and other contexts because it is noninclusive and non-reconciling in its design and use (ok, on whatever measuring terms of have for this, not going to bother to get into it right now), let alone for factors which are outside of this particular sort of framing/ ideological approach. And my default state is to find this mindboggling. I actually have to work very hard to step in people's shoes with this issue (and quite a few other issues...), and occasionally it's been a struggle.

And it's not a kind of rhetoric or perspective which tends to gain a sort positive gravitas in terms of a quality of lived-in “truth” or refinement over time. This strikes me as intrinsically concerning. Evidence: it would be becoming more sophisticated but also more to the point, and it's not, having observed people over my lifetime. We tend to have the same kinds of conversations politically, with the same contexts and meanings affixed to them, absorbing whatever terminology there is in our locale and shifting and adapting only very superficially. To simply add slightly more “knowledge” and “facts” to the “knowledge bank” (and perhaps just as equally: to shift and play around with theories, concepts, models) does not truly constitute an expansion of perspective and a deepening and broadening of thought and one's conceptual reach by any measure, as this alone isn't a very comprehensive integration of the many possible aspects. But it does give you a larger library to draw upon at the very least. But this lack of depth and detail when it comes to “worlding” applies to any conceptual “world”, and this very much includes the concept, understanding, or your personal metamodel of the world at large. As convoluted or reconciled as it may or may not be.

And people tend not have this expectation that it should, should it? That your understanding should fundamentally evolve and transform with time in every way? That it should not is extremely alien to me. So there has never been this sense of getting settled and falling into one perspective or another even as I can get pretty intense about it at times. It has all always seemed so transient. And so open.

My parents believed that travel was essential for transforming ones perspective of culture, the world (by extension, current politics), that and also education. I can't deny this since it's so intrinsic to my upbringing, but for me it's like, well... now what? I have never felt the urge to travel excessively as an adult except for the desire to get away from the place that I spent most of my life in, which was tantamount to getting away from my family, house and the entrapping sense suffocation and the trauma that came with it. (For whatever issue that I have had with my parents, I can't deny that they handled the issue of "culture" phenomenally well with everything that was at their means, and this was one of their essential points of focus in deliberately parenting, for sure.)

And also, for a time, I believed that there maybe was a place that was “not here” with people that I was supposed to live with or be near, a place I could home. That place does not exist. "Home" does not exist (not emotionally and not as a concept either, especially as a "here" and "not there"). At this particular point, I'm not sure why I thought anyone who might be looking for me might care where I was, where I wanted to be, (or perhaps even where I was from or what my actual life was up to this point in time), and anyway, that's not really what anyone ever needed or wanted from me, was it?

Surprisingly though, something that I have not thought about in too much direct detail is how my early life background factors into whatever I will do with the rest of my life from this point onward. But regardless of what I do, it's in everything that I write that's personally especially, my ideas and the way I tend to approach issues (especially anything that relates directly to culture in any way), my art even (I grew up around a lot of world art in my house). It fits into that theme of being something that I tend to take deeply for granted.

Edited by modmyth
A small slice of what it was like to grow up with highly educated parents from two disparate ethnic/cultural backgrounds with an "international" flavour.// It would not occur to be proud of me of something I didn't myself choose.

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A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF HYPERCONSCIOUSNESS: I took pictures of myself and it's been almost exactly one month on the dot, duly noticing that I seemed to have shifted back to some kind of "normalcy" when it comes to taking pictures of myself and how I feel about them. The thought process goes just about like this:

1) Why do you look so awkward? (Immediate reflexive response: why you gotta look for things wrong with yourself that don't actually exist? (//stop disrespecting yourself.) Reflexive Response to that: .....)

2) You look exactly the way you looked last month.

3) Congrats, you look not ugly. (classic "compliment" that I would give myself in my younger years.)

*****Gold star for yourself*****

****slow clap*****

****gives self an award which I apparently created****

(not everyone has gotten or appreciated my deadpan, dry humour about myself in this way, or life in general. Sometimes it's been more like: why u hate urself? Well, it's complicated (from your perspective)... if you can call it hate (and sometimes it has legitimately felt like hate), most of it is not a typical sort of hate.)

Response to that: Well, I guess I should thank genetics and my parents (and then another response: well, everything is effort now, isn't it? So it's different than it used to be, it's not like it's actually not just genetics as opposed to effort. Secondary Response: and what did it bring you in your life that was really meaningful or worthwhile that you truly value... honestly modmyth? How much do you really give a shit now? (and yes, my partner does appreciate how I look. But in and of itself... I asked myself: what is it really worth to you? Particularly when you have spent so much time hiding away and living in an anti-exhibitionistic way? Was does it mean? Response to myself: What do you want it to mean? Response to that: ......))

4) You're going to write this out and then someone's going to think that you're fishing for compliments, and then you're going to tell them something like: "well, it's not that I don't care entirely because THAT would be dishonest, but.... >insert detailed, "it's complicated" explanation< And then I'm possibly going to feel ever so slightly disgusted with myself, assuming that I have any shits left to give, and then I'm going to be slightly miffed by that, as if "fishing for compliments" or attention seeking is somehow a crime, whether more overtly, honestly, discreetly, in a subverted or unconscious way, whatever it is. (It's not. I don't judge other people for wanting compliments or seeking them explicitly. I have had friends who were more overt in this way; I didn't care, and I preferred them being in the centre of attention anyway and if attention makes them happy they should get attention as long as its not competing with me; don't got time for that. Also making friends to then judge them at every corner is bullshit; I still think "friendship" has to mean something otherwise it's better to have no friends at all.)

So it's possible for me to have all of these reactions and responses within a very short period of time, where I'm not thinking of them explicitly as thoughts in the sense that a great deal of it is not in words. But it's all there, flashing by like lightening, and I have done enough introspection and watching of myself to map out all of these responses and to write it down, if I so wish.

>Insert Gratuitous Pictures of Myself because Why Not<

Yep, it's a face. We all got one. You're not wearing any makeup and your hair is not dry and kind of a mess, but you look Not Ugly (!!). Congrats on the accomplishment of having a decent looking meat-suit that does not upset you to look at, and does not upset other people to look at too, I guess.


Ditto. (I moisturized recently, I'm a bit shiny!*******~~~~)


It's your face from a slightly different angle (with a side of parking lot in the background):


It's your face but now there's an uncomfortably white light in the background (and also your hand looks textured compared to the right of the rest of your face; that's weird.)


Make a face like you're expecting a picture to be taken (but don't try to hard to make any kind of expression on purpose, that always looks pretty daft (or sometimes a bit psychotic, haha).)


Why are you doing this still?? (Legitimately I am making myself nauseous and I pretty much go through this same process every time I take pictures of myself; like legitimately I don't enjoy it.)


Selfies.... am I doing it right? Like is this the experience that I'm supposed to be having??? Does anyone actually like this process??

Other things I've also mostly sucked at my whole life: inhabiting the role of "an attractive person" in a non hyperconscious way, as in it feeling natural as opposed to a pretense, regardless of how other perceive me or don't. I learned how to feel into this more, the way it is that I might want to feel ("attractive") but it's still a pretense!)

It reminds me of when I used to be intensely camera phobic and adverse (in my 20s), which then links back to a time where I didn't really like to look at myself but I could take it more directly, and also I was extremely isolated (my teens), when then links back to my childhood, particularly when I was 6-7 and I started becoming hyperconscious about being in this "meat suit", which was then linked very acutely to my awareness of death. I felt very much just as "hollow"; like the intrinsic Void-like quality of experience, of being in a body, of physical senses, of thoughts, of everything really. And it scared me but I felt like I had no one to talk to, nowhere where my thoughts or feelings and general humanness felt invited or wanted (not truly and meaningfully), if I exactly knew how to put it all into words. (I don't think that I did, unsurprisingly, being that young. But I did see it all with absolute clarity.) It disturbed me. Sometimes I would just sit and stare at myself for hours in the mirror at this age, observing every detail: my facial features (as if trying to figure out what it meant), the texture and quality of my hair, the visible parts of my body, the texture of my skin, my birthmark, my own eyes.

I recall looking at and studying my pores, and especially my veins, and both thinking and feeling... how frail this whole thing seems. How easily damaged it is, to start bleeding (so clearly I knew what veins were back then and what they did), for all of the blood to eventually run out of them, to die. How close they are to the surface (and that I wish I didn't have to keep looking at them and be reminded of this.... but I cannot seem to bring myself to look away, not just yet.) This pretense of physical life. This embodiment. (And I am not this, because I knew of a time "before", which is "out of time", which is all that is.)

So I recall wanting to sink into my own "mortality" in this way.

Sometimes while I was sitting an staring in my own eyes, and try to make sense of it, I would have no thoughts or feelings in particular in my mind. I would just sit and sit and sit and watch and sometimes fall into these trance-like states, like the void-like, hollow quality of my own eyes. Sometimes I would do this in the dark hours of the night when I couldn't sleep and no one else was up. Add to this the fact that I did not feel fundamentally safe or welcome in that house exactly, and that there was no place for my fears or various human experiences and quality except with myself, it often ate away at me. I would sit between these two mirrors downstairs which I could line up to almost parallel, and I would fall into myself endlessly. And then I would snap out of it, and return to this pretense of "human dis-ease".

(The front door to my house was also semi-translucent to translucent in a lot of places, which really creeped me out at night because people could technically watch through the door if they wanted to.. though I would see them too if they were close enough. Like that helped me feel better, haha. So I also didn't like walking by that front door at night time, but it was necessary if I wanted to go downstairs and do anything, include getting a drink or snacks, or just skulking around the house because I could sleep, I would count what I mentioned above as "late night skulking".)

And still I would not stop looking, even as I felt profoundly at dis-ease and sometimes fear looking at myself so directly. I wasn't just looking at myself physically. I was looking at my feelings and my thoughts too. My understanding. Pretense itself. And to be honest, I think it always terrified me more than the thought of physical death, though that scared me a lot too.

EXISTENTIAL, COSMIC HORROR TROPE?: I was AWARE of this and also watching people walking around, doing their things, explaining life away, thinking deeply about things, or not so much, (i.e. in the case that my dad cared to explain some ideas to me, as he also introduced to me Indian philosophy as well continental philosophy, Chinese thought, starting at a young age because he would just talk and talk and I would listen), as well as my own reading that I had started at around this age... but I looked in people's eyes, and felt into them, what they felt and saw... and I could not help but feel the disjunction and some profound sense of existential dis-ease about it, but also a greater sense of... people do what they do, embody and understand what they can, etc.... but something is not adding up here in all of this. Not even close.

(But I had a child's emotions, expressed and felt in a very bare way, and honestly it felt like I had no one to reassure me but "myself", and mostly that was by way of whatever came intrinsically in understanding as opposed to active attempts at self-assurance. Edit: Though anyone might easily be reduced to the barest most direct fear when stripped suddenly in the right circumstances and pretense.)

I sometimes imagined what it would be like to die suddenly; in a way I wanted to know exactly what it felt like even as it scared me. I tried very hard to imagine the cessation of thoughts and consciousness, and was like well... that's futile. Whatever I'm doing is still thinking and being aware. And then right after that... I wondered what it was like the closest state to being dead/ truly unconscious that I can manage? Is it sleeping? (No; it's not sleeping; I'm still aware, just "in transition".) (I wouldn't have thought of it in those words since it was more like a feeling/ impression than a thought put into words, but I rarely thought in words then and for most of my life anyway. It always felt... like a pretense too, I guess. Like a thin, fragile overlay, like cellophane or veins so easily visible beneath the surface; thoughts failed to conceal much at all for the most part then.) I had some good moments where I "pretended to be dead" in that way..... like maybe if I stop or slow down or make my breathing as discreet as possible, if I stop thinking, if I can somehow stop perceiving and having sensations and shut that down...

It was very relaxing, to be honest. Not that it entirely allayed my fears at all. But there was this notion... dying/ looking into infinity profoundly scares me, I want to face it or play with it on some level, even then. I want to understand. It is part of my own fabric. I'm fairly direct like this.

Anyway, I looked at myself tonight, and I still very much feel this first imprint here; this was my "normal". (Should I replace it with something else? Can I? Does it matter? Etc. thought process...) And for much of my life, this was also my aforementioned, deep, dark, dirty secrset. I KNOW. (And I feel like such a fucking weirdo for it, because in my more childish, emotional way, I don't know how to process this feeling of "normalcy" as a social construct by myself yet. It was beyond my means.)

Also, this is often how I feel talking about my life in a nutshell:

Then this iconic moment comes next:

>insert relatively deep, logical explanation<

Oh yea, that's totally it. I accidentally transcended genre, as in, predefined modes and containers of meaning and expressing oneself. :ph34r: 


(Arguably a large aspect of my feelings/ attitude, especially how dominant of an influence and shadow it became in my life and understanding here were a direct result of being and feeling isolated (literally, my parents have always deigned to isolate me), not being able to live or share my truth (feeling forced to "lie" or be "fake" by default omission and the absence of self expression) and having way too much time to myself and my own devices, and not having someone help me make sense of my emotions or mentor me in this way.  It's not that my existential concerns and preoccupations would have been resolved as a result, but perhaps they wouldn't have become blown up to quite a large degree,. Regardless, it is hard to separate one cause from another here with clarity, and perhaps it is impossible regardless, in the way that is pretty much impossible to separate classical, severe early life trauma from this whole picture. I have been of the mind that early life sexual trauma was the touch that literally split me directly, but there would have been some, maybe a great degree of splitting/ irresolution regardless. It was one of a number of factors which kept me bound up in a very ascetic way, closer to the core of my identity and expression.)

Edited by modmyth
I find it a bit amusing that I posted this in my new POSITIVITY JOURNAL. Absolutely not on theme there! (I wasn't always ill at ease, but it did very much all feel like a cross to bear.) Do you really wish for pre emptive awareness?

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@modmyth what do you think is the best way to divine? (divination) lol don't know how to say it in English 

Stay cool & dry.

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Posted (edited)

PHOTO DIARY (continued): There is something enjoyable and relaxing about creating a sort of photo diary. Not that I think of my life as super interesting especially in the typical sense, and typically I don't take that many pictures on my phone or through another means. But lately, for whatever reason, I've been in the mood. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful, even the urban parks are. I feel blessed to have a little slice of the forest smack in the middle of suburbia/ urbanity.

There was a mist outside on this day, which was what made me want to snap these pictures. I don't know when or if there will be the next one, especially with the leaves still on the trees are in this colour.


I tried to get a picture of the koi in this water, but this was the best I could do:


Where I feel most at home, in solitude:


The same stump, portrait mode:


This gives you a little bit of the experience of cranking your neck to look up:


A stump portrait (there are quite a few choices of photogenic stumps):

For me, it triggers an association of some sort of ancient, architectural structure. I find it easy to imagine this as some sort of tower, or to imagine a whole city built onto a sort of mountain-like feature in this shape, or perhaps some massive piece of architecture in the future?


A tiny stream near a solitary bench, just slightly off the path:


An even more secluded part, wandering through the green:


Another stump portrait. I found myself awkwardly covering all of the phone's portholes while I was taking these photos because of potential water damage. I was surprised that they turned out as crisp as they did because the mist turned into rain.


Tonight. I appreciate the strong contrast of the blue sky and the orange lamp - perfectly complementing opposite colours. I've probably mentioned at some point that one of my favourite things to do is to skulk in the woods at dusk by myself.


Walking through the woods with only the sky for light, looking up:


Another one of my favourite things in this world is observing these dark silhouettes from these tall trees. It's a bit like watching clouds or the stars in the night sky, and observing the changes in the colour of the sky as dusk sets. It gives me a great sense of peace.


Looking directly straight upwards, the blue sky reminds me of the ocean, the trees: like continental land masses. I find myself thinking of the shapes of ancient maps as people used to imagine what the whole world looked like.


I guess I was thinking of the Mediterranean Sea (Dutch map circa 1595):


The picture below is a good representation of the feeling of going on the dark path alone at night, in the resolution of "please use your imagination".

The feeling of light peeking through the trees in different colours and brightness immediately triggers a strong emotional and nervous system reaction, like a whole body feeling of being immersed in something beautiful, like an incredibly deep, joyful, peaceful feeling, like being dunked in the ocean (but in a highly pleasant way, for lack of a better metaphor). Very few things do this for me so effortlessly.

As I was taking them, I was thinking to myself: absolutely no one is going to find this as interesting as you do, probably. But I find it endlessly fascinating and beautiful.


SQUIRREL PORTRAITS: The park I live near is especially known for its unusually friendly squirrels; they go right up to people and beg them for food, just shy of actually taking it right from your hand. As you approach the perimeter of the park though, it's observable that they start getting less friendly and far more cautious!

Look at their adorable, little begging faces.


This sassy expression:



Lots of them have scrappy patches on their bodies, presumably from getting into fights with each other because of the extremely high population density and the relative lack of predators. (We have coyotes and that's about the largest predator until you get into the wilderness proper, or if you live in North Vancouver where bears sometimes wander into suburbia.) Like this little one had a scrappy patch over his right eye (not that visible in this picture):




To be honest, the "bad shots" are some of my favourite because they amuse me. For example, this portrait of a tail:


This angry looking squinch (girl, what is wrong with you, why aren't you feeding me?):


This eyeless wonder, mid hop. The shape of its jumping body, and also, the little indent where its mouth is:


Not a mis shot, but a squirrel looking for the food that isn't actually there. (I feel a little bad for not having anything for their efforts, but also a little amused):


End Note: I did end up feeding them today though, even though usually there aren't many out at dusk, often none, and the ones that are are often way more skittish. I try to remember to leave a nut-heavy trail mix in my bag, but I often either forget or run out. I read that you're not supposed to feed them peanuts (legumes), too much fruit (sugar), bread (unhealthy obviously, and I don't even know if they eat it), or even too many nuts, but then I also read that you should feed them vegetables and that's always been a massive fail.

THE ISLE OF SUMMER: This whole album used to be my official soundtrack for this sort of activity. I used to be very, very picky about what sort of music that I would listen to in the woods, if anything at all, because it is the closest thing to sacred space for me. It must have the right vibe, and most music, beautiful or not, belongs outside of it. (I think there were 3-4 albums at most that were acceptable; "The Mantle" was another one (also by Agalloch).)

This band is from the Pacific Northwest too, and has something of the spirit of our woods in it.

Edited by modmyth
God I loved those albums.

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It's my birthday, technically. I got to listen to "Northern Sky" while watching the Northern Lights. You could see the Northern Lights from the Lower Mainland the past night or two, though the view is limited when you're right smack in the middle of suburbia. Where I was, it was very slight and ghostly; the traces of undulating green make you wonder if it's even truly there.

Tonight, so very early in the morning, it was a bit brighter than the night before. My partner encouraged me to go outside and to soak up all that energy, and he said that apparently, I missed the best hours to see it yesterday. So I did.

The wind and very slight rain and autumn chill was incredibly beautiful.

I decided to go twirl around and dance and listen to music under the open sky by myself, and to be near the few handful of trees that there are near my house. Ever since the summer, I have a "designated meditation tree" (well, I have a couple actually). The ground was pretty wet though, so I didn't sit on it. But I did twirl and twirl until I was incredibly dizzy and it was hard to balance, and I let myself fall. When I was really young, sometimes I would twirl and twirl, as kids sometimes do, and I did observe a sort of stillness in the centre that was a little bewildering. After I noticed it, I kept doing it sometimes just to observe that effect and feeling, even as it made me a nauseous.

(MOTION BLUR: I took this picture on another day; it was late last month, I believe. Something that I really enjoy doing late at night is sitting on the swings near my house and watching and soaking in the beauty of a clear, night sky, and really feeling into the experience of being in my body, doing what I'm doing. My partner and I sometimes have enjoyed doing this together late at night too, to talk especially.)


Related Note: I feel like I might be one of those few people who is really obsessed with pictures of shadows as the main subject of an photo, in all its many, possible iterations, both taking and observing them.... not that I take that many photos.) It inevitably brings me back to this book I revisited this week, a short classic on the subject:


Yes!! A meaningful shadow! Put a picture frame around it, make it the subject of a novel or a play, and I'll probably be happy to spectate on it.

Anyway, If I had not read this book, I probably never would have never, ever thought about how this is a very traditionally East Asian thing to fixate on aesthetically. But like it was stated in this book, I have absolutely thought that too much light, especially in combination with shininess and light reflective qualities  (like mirrors, stained glass (as beautiful as it can be, sometimes it's a bit much), and all the shiny bling that you would find in a decked-out baroque Catholic church) gaudy as hell and also a headache, while shadows invoke mystery and the use of ones imagination (which is why when I used to travel as a kid, it's at least partially why I have tended to prefer half-decayed romanesque churches and gothic crypts); I used to think this was just because I was really weird.

Back to the original topic (....): I don't actually remember when I learned about Sufis and their twirling; probably I read about it in a history and culture book as a child, but I don't associate it to a specific book or time period. It was definitely before I picked up my dad's book on Rumi as a teenager, which I had found on his bed stand. (It was the very well-known Coleman Barks edition, of course, and not from the Victorian era in equally proper Victorian English). But, visually speaking, it's hard not to remember the flared, outstretched skirts and the tall hats. Vivid and unusual images have a way of etching themselves strongly into your childhood memory: such is the feeling and power of openness and being relatively unwritten by default.

(Another tangent: I remember watching this movie with my partner close to when we originally started dating at the local branch of my uni. I was 19; we had a small private theatre/ movie room, and I asked him to watch this with me. When I thought of Sufis right now, I thought of how they make an appearance near the beginning of this film. By the way, if you are reading this, it's worth checking out! There are no words or dialogue; it's a musical and visual experience.)

(Dead Can Dance's heart-shatteringly beautiful song "Host of the Seraphim" also makes an appearance in this movie. This song is a personal, significant favourite of mine, and also is such for many people who love Dead Can Dance.)

I let myself feel my merging with the elements, and I let myself move freely. There is always the most unspeakably beautiful communion with ground and sky, but especially so in the quietness and solitude of night, with the night sky and the stars. (I feel and hear all the spirits so clearly.) The aurora borealis was an extra something, for sure.

Dance and movement opens you up to your surroundings in a way that physical stillness doesn't, and it raises your bodily energy level as well. It is so nice to do it out here, and not indoors. To some degree, physically speaking, I have not been able to evade the feeling of opening myself up to a ceiling even as I feel that I am opening myself up to the world, the universe, the collective and everything that is. It does feel like a block in energy and flow in this way. To dance under an open sky: it allows me to join in the communion of the elements in a different way and to have a different experience, one that I cannot have when I feel like I must be still or contain myself physically while outdoors. My body opens up more; I carry this feeling of having opened up energetically and in feeling and perceiving with me wherever I go.

I had so often had this urge in the last 2 years or so, to express myself openly in public this way, and I supposed I never stopped feeling weird about it. There has been that thought in the back of my mind, even when I have been quite out of it, even just a little bit residually. But tonight, I stopped truly, deeply caring at all and feeling bound by self-consciousness and looking crazy or seeming weird. I just... don't care, even a little. (Though 1-2 am on a weekday isn't normally when you see people walking out and about in suburbia. The streets can be pretty empty even during the days. You tend to see people out and about the most when they're walking their dogs during the evenings anyway.)

Have you ever thought about how architecture and the shaping of space can have profound, taken-for-granted effects on one's psyche, one's base sense and perception of self and experience, and one's mood? It is something that we ought to think about more, from my perspective. The book that originally really made me think about this more deeply, particularly the concept of what it means to dwell and to inhabit (and by extension: what does home mean?) was this book by Heidegger (Poetry, Language, Thought), which I read in my early 20s:


And from there you might naturally ask yourself, how are spaces designed? What intentions and focus should we have in mind? What experience should we craft for those that dwell and pass through these spaces? What kind of experiences can potentially be created, and what should we aspire to create?


I read my first book by Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language) within the last week, and while there is so much that I could potentially comment on, one thought which has really stuck in my mind in the last couple days was this one: that we really ought to create spaces for people to dance in the street. He pointed out that people don't dance in the street anymore, but that in many cultures, people still do. He suggests a connection between this and this feeling of unmistakable aspect of human modernity (isolation and insularity), that we are stifled and distrusting meeting people in the streets. And for people who dance and celebrate openly in public, on the streets, they have not lost their connection to something essential and very human. He focused a little bit on the notion of having a designated space intended for musicians to play in the streets, and that there should be stalls for refreshment and space for all of these little humanizing details which from my perspective, can only come to be as a result of a designer's profound attentiveness and sensitivity. (For a few related examples: he also talks a lot about the human need for facilities such as cafes in public spaces, and various other humanizing features of urban and architectural house design. Another much-appreciated thought was the discussion of the profound psychoemotional impact that trees have on humans, and how it is essential that gardens and natural spaces be left wild, that they be allowed to express their intrinsic wildness without humans excessively imposing on them. As counter examples, he mentions overly curated and structured gardens as well as trees removed out of their natural context and placed without consideration into urbanity, and forced to conform to it in that way. This is when trees lose their profound impact; suburban trees may be a good example of this.)

(Something which I found very interesting, which I pulled from wiki:)


Alexander's conception of patterns, and pattern languages, were major factors in the creation of Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb, the first wiki, intended as an archive and discussion web application for the Portland Pattern Repository.[3]

The idea of a pattern language can be applied to many complex engineering tasks. It is especially-influential in software engineering using design patterns to document collective-knowledge in the field.[4][5] In that field, it was a major-inspiration to Richard P. Gabriel before he wrote Patterns of Software.[)

Anyway, this one photo was taken from Jericho Beach yesterday (not my picture; I didn't go anywhere out of the ordinary):


Why dance and enjoy myself?

It still somewhat stuns me that I made it this far in this life, that I am still alive. Honestly. Maybe it surprises me less so that I am capable of being happy and ultimately resolving whatever it is that I have had to resolve, as I have considered this to be only a matter of time, dedication, and thoroughness, and the proper use of my intelligence and perception, and acting universally to the best of my ability from moment to moment. But that I am still alive, feeling this way. That I have not died out of a sense of grief and hopelessness? Wow.

Why dance? Why be happy?

Why not?

At some point now, I realize that I have to "choose" to be happy. I ought to shift. And why not now? 

Can I legibly do this now? Yes, I think so. Could I a year ago? Not quite so much.

Despite everything that has happened and been, for whatever in me that still might feel ""negatively"" (HUGE QUOTES), I accept the messiness of life and my backstory as it has been, as it has shaped me, as I have known it, the perceived lack of love and being seen, however it is that I have been treated (and treated others) and the possible or unlikely unresolvability of whatever has been circumstantially, and to just... choose to be happy, to be as if I am ideal in all ways already, if I am the best and most ethical, and most respect-worthy and favourite version of myself, to deliberately chose what to be what I love most about myself and in general. No one can take that away from me. And to have nothing to lose and to embrace that, I've always seen that as a positive, you know?

Even though I don't know what comes next, if anything specific, if anything at all. And... that's alright. Especially right now.

Edited by modmyth
Offtopic: Tonight, a lady who was getting her car towed away got REALLY EXCITED and told me that I had the most gorgeous hair, haha. That was nice.

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Happy birthday! 

Beautiful post as well, thank you world for autumn chill, aurora borealis, clear night skies, dance/playing around with space and movement, and accepting life's messiness. Also the thought that places are lacking in communal dancing areas and that people are movement-stifled is a striking one (I definitely want to read those books now/watch that movie)




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@Advocate Thank you, appreciate it!

@Myioko Thanks. ^_^

The book is very accessible in terms of how it's written stylistically, but it's jam packed with a lot of ideas, so it took me some extra time to work through it. It was really worthwhile. The film was a very relaxing but energizing experience, very meditative. The whole soundtrack is very eerie in positive way, and it has a very "slice of life" type approach to it. It definitely demands all of your attention though.

I would be curious to know what you'd think about either one of them.

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I know I'm a few days late but happy late birthday ^_^

Speaking into the void that sometimes answers back 

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@modmyth I've been doing all right. Mainly just hanging in there and going through the motions but all right nonetheless ^_^

Speaking into the void that sometimes answers back 

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The people who live upstairs own dog who they got last Xmas. Her name is Luna and she's a grey pitbull. I have a curious relationship with her. Whenever I get into some combination of being moody, sad, and overly contemplative (as in, emotional wheel-spinning), I can sense her getting restless and I can hear her pattering around through the ceiling, and then usually she starts to howl, whine, make little squeaky noises, or make these odd growl/whine/bark hybrid sounds. (I didn't know that one dog was capable of making so many different vocalizations.) This happens almost like clockwork, I'd say at least 80-90 percent of the time.

Often it corresponds with this particular phenomenon of early morning moodiness, uneasiness, or irresolution, for whatever I have had left of it. I guess in that particular way, I have been less alone with this feeling. I have asked my partner since he grew up with pet dogs if this is normal behaviour: for a dog to keep making weird, uneasy roos in the middle of the night. He said... no? I don't think so? (...)

There is also this thing going on where I can sense that she's getting sad or moody before she starts making any noise, or that just generally, I can feel her mood. It's like part of the flowing currents of -everything that is- and I tend to pick up on whats going on in my vicinity in conjunction with that automatically. It seems like for her this corresponds to some sort of anxious loneliness before any of her people get home from work. Sometimes it feels like a general moodiness or sensitivity.

I kind of feel like she's “my dog” (but then also not my dog, obviously).

I didn't grow up with dogs, I liked them (except when I was afraid of them because I once got chased down my alleyway by a guard dog that had broken lose from its chain). But also felt like they were odd, alien little creatures with strange habits (which I suppose sums up the creatures and species that I am familiar with as well. :D)

Edited by modmyth
She was the runtiest puppy. Also: possibly the least threatening dog ever.

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I dog sat my sisters (really, really dumb) Labrador the other week. It was great, I woke up in the morning with this amazing happy-go-lucky, gregarious attitude that I sustained throughout the entire day and when it was bed time I found myself circling my bed 3 times and getting under the covers with my nose sticking out.

What a time to be alive!

Labradors are the stereotypical well-adjusted, middle-class white family dog. I remember watching Lil dicky's music video for white crime a few years back and losing my shit at the scene with labs.

For some reason, your story reminds me of Bill Burr's skit on his pet pit bull. He has a number of segments about her from memory.


I also vaguely remember there being some weird theory that people choose dogs and dog breeds that are an energetic match to their personality. I have always wanted either a German Sheppard or a Staffordshire terrier.

I used to watch Inspector Rex religiously as a little kid and I also once spent a week at a police dog training academy being a mock criminal that the dogs would try to track and chase down under various circumstances. I have a short video clip of me getting mauled by this Belgian Sheppard with a sand suit on. Oh my god, I had no idea how strong those animals were! Even through the protective layering, it felt like my bones were in a vice about to snap in it's jaws. I can't imagine what a pitbull would feel like looking at their musculature.

Staffordshire terriers also look really mean and aggressive, but in reality, they are the cutest, friendliest little munchkins around. Literally nicknamed the 'nanny dog' because of how well they get along with children. I remember being at the beach once, just sitting and reading a book, when this guy ran up to me with his staffy and asked me if I could hold her while he went for a quick swim. I sized the dog up and said 'sure'… with my heels dug into the sand straining with all my strength it pulled me to the water's edge like a tractor going full noise whelping and hollering at the dude.



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Oh, I remember seeing that particular clip by Bill Burr. It may or may not have been on Netflix.

It reminds me of one reason why I have felt morally dubious about having a pet (unless it's a cat which is typically more of an independent animal, but still). I don't feel good about emotionally dumping on animals simply because they are in my vicinity; it's not like they got a choice in the matter. Specifically for when I have went through more terrible feeling, numbed, or chaotic points in my life.


Labradors are the stereotypical well-adjusted, middle-class white family dog. I remember watching Lil dicky's music video for white crime a few years back and losing my shit at the scene with labs.

Here I would say it's either Labs, Golden Retrievers, or even Berners/ Newfies.

....or since there are a lot East Asians where I live, Corgis and Shiba Inus. (It seems like small dogs are preferred.)


I also vaguely remember there being some weird theory that people choose dogs and dog breeds that are an energetic match to their personality. I have always wanted either a German Sheppard or a Staffordshire terrier.

That reminds me of the phenomenon of people looking like their dogs.

Why those breeds, for you?

Personally, I've wanted a Shetland Sheepdog, or a larger dog breed like a Berner or maybe a Great Pyrenees. I like how chill the larger dog breeds are. Corgis are really cute, but they seem like they'd be much more stressful to have by comparison. Likewise: Border Collies are classically intelligent as far as dogs go, but I've heard that you have to walk them twice and day and keep them occupied or else they're running around your house destroying things to keep themselves busy. That's probably too high maintenance for me.


I used to watch Inspector Rex religiously as a little kid and I also once spent a week at a police dog training academy being a mock criminal that the dogs would try to track and chase down under various circumstances. I have a short video clip of me getting mauled by this Belgian Sheppard with a sand suit on. Oh my god, I had no idea how strong those animals were! Even through the protective layering, it felt like my bones were in a vice about to snap in it's jaws. I can't imagine what a pitbull would feel like looking at their musculature.

1) I had to look that up.

2) It made me think of this, which is aggressively adorable:

3) The risk-adverse child in me is nervous, haha.


Staffordshire terriers also look really mean and aggressive, but in reality, they are the cutest, friendliest little munchkins around. Literally nicknamed the 'nanny dog' because of how well they get along with children. I remember being at the beach once, just sitting and reading a book, when this guy ran up to me with his staffy and asked me if I could hold her while he went for a quick swim. I sized the dog up and said 'sure'… with my heels dug into the sand straining with all my strength it pulled me to the water's edge like a tractor going full noise whelping and hollering at the dude.

Cute. :D

Edited by modmyth

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I saw a white owl by my house!!! It really startled me, as at first it was chilling on the ground in the dark, and then it swooped up right in front of me to this spot which you can see here:


I was closer to it before I took this picture, but it's best to give wild animals the respect of some space by default. Don't swarm it like a tourist would an attraction... that's common sense, isn't it? In some cases though, you may see in your intuition that it is ok to approach it. Maybe I was the one who needed the space (as if by habit, heh).

1) I wasn't under the impression that owls liked being in the city, especially in overly open spaces or on the ground. Or near people. Around tall trees or in higher spaces? It seems more likely.

2) It looked like a snowy owl... but... do we even get them here in BC? Apparently, we do, but they're rare enough. OWL ID 4pg Sept 27.pdf  He looked little though; maybe he was a juvenile?

I could feel its emotions/ perception-space (for lack of a better term), and that it wasn't afraid of me at all. I looked into its eyes and thought to myself... you have my eyes. It stares into me and I see it staring into me, with its feeling-vision. I have his sight, and I see how he sees me.

He stays with me about a good 5 minutes. I can feel him being ready to leave just before he does. He heads for the tall trees. I feel our perception "split" (but it is not a real thing).

(Consciousness brought you here, didn't it? In almost every ancient culture, this would be considered a sign, I'm sure of it, but there are no accidents in the way that ultimately there are no unknowns. I feel an overwhelming sense of positivity, and on this day, I made the decision to step directly into a certain "highest manifestation of self" once again. This time; it is distinctly concrete and conclusive; I feel it in my body. I see and feel this particular manifestation of "self" in him, and I am satisfied with what I see because... there is nothing there that would cause harm.)


My first thought in my "logical" mind was the owl was associated with Pallas Athena. (quite literally, the species is called the "Little Owl"), to which I have an intimate connection (pre-Hesoid myths) that I have touched on very very briefly in my writing before here (and that I also don't wish to elaborate on particularly anymore).


(Her expression of surprise, though.)


A certain feeling:

Something else: Lately I've been thinking about wanting pet rats (despite my moral issues with domesticated animals and what not, as I've written about before, I still love being around animals). Very soon after I had focused on that thought, a very large wild rat ran straight into my boot on another late night walk. I noticed the shadow but I tend not to react to this because I have seen A LOT of shadows and "astral"/ spirit phenomenon across my whole lifetime; this alone is not enough to make me react the vast majority of the time. But a hard THUD! is. Certain physical phenomenon can't be hallucinated in my own experience and history. Even things that feel forceful and "weighty" aren't quite the same sensation wise, which I also have quite a bit of experience with. However, seen "non-physical" phenomenon and astral/ "spirit" phenomenon can be identical or near identical. I think that I have written before that I have opted to keep this feature: vivid, articulated, and often acid-washed vision... teeming with aliveness, and vibrating. It makes life interesting and more beautiful for me when life is like a Scott Naismith painting (the first artist out of the top of my head):


Or maybe like a Turner painting? (LIGHT IS FEELING!)


That rat... did not seem ok. It was very frightened and it was definitely not expecting my boot. I got the sense of it being surrounded by moving, menacing shadows, as if running down a dark hallway of these shadow-shapes. I saw this image (duly noting that this also was like a cross-sectional of consciousness so it very much was not "in my head", but I.. haven't worked this way in a while. My "mind" is not a container.).

I found myself wondering if it had rabies. I know that toxoplasmosis (a rather common mind-controlling parasite) makes rats and mice unafraid of both humans and cats, but I don't think it gives them a classically psychotic mindset and behaviour. To my memory, it just makes them compulsively curious and unafraid. I felt concerned for that rat.


Another late night walk this month: I feel the sky. It answers to me and I to it. As my mood shifts, I feel an opening. I call the rains; it is my desire. It rains for about 5 minutes, and it stops. I feel it as it happens, so I know when it will both stop and start before it does. We share the same feeling and perception, as long as I am open.

(Speaking of very rare weather behaviours, when my partner told me that Vancouver got its very own mini-tornado last week, I thought he was messing with me:)




I find myself overwhelmingly inclined to keep myself "covered". Old habits die hard from before I ever talked much about myself and wanted to. Not my perception and not my feeling (not overall, through there has been a residual effect here as well, like a very early life trauma residue). I was raised to be neither seen nor heard, particularly. I don't find it easy as a default; it's not a space that I would return to via familiarity in my early life experience. It's easy to find reasons to be covered or return to this idea of what was before (like I want to completely disappear and dissolve again)... but what is there??

To be invisible is to be comfortable. It is to see myself without interruption. I want to be nobody. I want to be completely ordinary and unremarkable. I want to be invisible; I want to watch through the shadows only. I am not afraid of any of this; I am not afraid to recede.

It's a strange place to be in right now.. it takes too much energy to clamp down on myself and mute myself, if I will not dissociate as I have then too. I find myself releasing my grip on it naturally while I'm out after a while... (dammit, I'm seen again.)


Don't look into my eyes; I already know that you will love me. Because I am love. And I am incapable of doing anything but seeing you, and having you see that I see you, because you feel it too. Dissolve.

Edited by modmyth
The verbal/ word-making part of my brain is a lil' slow right now.// I wish I could love people fully the way I love nature, but I guess I need a little more time for consistency. I marinate in everything that is, and then we move on.

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J's dad died last week. He's been low and the reality of it all has been sinking into him in waves: there's just no chance that he can ever see his dad again, as he was. He's been telling me about how he's been thinking a lot about all the good his dad has taught him despite being a deeply flawed human being, and I said, you know, that's how I have felt about my parents the vast majority of the time, even back when I was working through my resentment, (And still it hasn't made them any easier to be around, having that understanding, has it?)

Anyway, I sung him this song tonight ("You are My Sunshine") to make him feel better, even a little bit. I relearned the chords on the uke as I thought it was the perfect instrument for this as I've forgotten pretty much everything! It cheered him up... but I myself find this song very, very sad, especially that middle verse. Sometimes I record a song a couple times to get a slightly better version of it, but in this case, it was the only version I was able to record that I actually managed to finish. Waterworks.

It is however it is.

I'm also putting this version here. Johnny Cash makes me think of J as a teenager. Very recently though, I heard this version from a mid-90s "Low" album:

(This classic song, often thought as a lullaby, has been covered a ton.)

Edited by modmyth
Or I am simply opening myself to all of that feeling all at once.

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