How To Converse like Sheep


Sustaining a lively and unadulterated mind requires a practice of self preservation from any element of literature that might pose as a threat to the naivety of everyday life. The real struggle lies not in your pursuit for meaning or reason, rather it lies in keeping your demeanor and social display firmly eschewed from your beliefs; unless you wish your ideas and thoughts to devour your sanity as a whole. A distraught conduct leads the individual vulnerable and perilously exposed. An attempt to exhibit firm control on one’s actions must therefore, be practised diligently.

A societal manner best adopted would be hence to engage the listener in an essentially hollow yet witty chat regarding the latest gossip, carefully circumventing any topic of politics or social perils. Much like George Orwell’s oblivious society in his novel 1984, (but mind you don’t let anyone know the novel has mentally affected you, the simple excuse of casual reading should suffice if anyone seems curious) one cannot trust the people around to fully grasp and comprehend the grave nature of our current situations. Petty conversations about celebrities and fashion should be more than pleasing to ears that know nothing of the sound war artillery makes. 

The question then arises, how does one successfully spot an intellectul among a crowd of sheep. In a desperate attempt to find a mind with whom one can share their darkest theories with, one forgets that everyone has a specific threshold for darkness. One person’s level of darkness might be enough to drive another into madness. One risks the hazard of being responsible for stealing the spring from the step of their listener by rambling about reality. One risks surpassing the listener’s threshold for dark thoughts in their desperation to let theirs go.

The best way to go about, therefore, would be to take turns with one’s mind. Daylight means you control your body and actions. Night time is when, in the safe confines of your room,  away from people, you may let the darkness take over. A pen and a paper should be present always on one’s side for when things get out of hand and regaining control of one’s concious mind seems a struggle. There lies a beautiful strength in endurance.

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An Ode to The Ocean

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You beautiful monster
Drifting careful in a slumber
Deeper than your thunder, how?
You deadly lover
Riding warriors on your back
Giver of life
Your ripples of anger
Setting in action only destruction
You magnanimous creature of wonder
How?
Your waters a thing of horror
Where do you keep your love
Does it come and then leave
Like your tides on days of glee
Where do you keep your love
Your barren surface deludes my ignorant, how?
Shall I bow down?
Your towers of liquid, send my blood to shivers
In these fragile bones, my heart booms
With warnings and rules
Your belly is a “valley of doom”
But I see no doom, how?
You astounding monster,
Sitting in the eye of the storm you conjure
You’re the chaos inside of a silent calm, how?
You show me blue
Another trick you use
To lure and seduce
Don’t seduce my mind
You know not how it weaves poetry for you
You’re the lover I want to deny
I run my fingers through
The liquid death you brew
And like the sun that you engulf
I long for you to embrace me too
Hold me in your arms
And give me the love you hide
Kiss my forhead and my mind
Envy burns in me when the sun or the wind touches you at night
You’re so beautiful when you sleep
What a perfect harmony You and me would be
I see no death in you
Only longing and a muse, how?

2017 Reading List

A year has passed since I have been conveniently putting off reading books mainly because I’ve always had so much studying to do, and also because facebook is the cancer that mysteriously sucks out literally hours of potential productivity time from the day. Anyway, now I’ve decided to curb my social media addiction and steer more towards books (and studies). And since making a post about your resolutions helps you complete them sooner (or so I’ve read) here is a part of my new year’s resolutions, which requires me to read at least 6 of these books by May this year (don’t you judge me now I have a med school to pass).

1. A Brief History of Time –Stephen Hawking

I’m done with half of this amazing book already and I might be worsening the pre-existing existential crisis but anyway, studying Physics in Pre Med has a lot to do why I’m still sane till now. Also Stephen Hawking, being the genius he is, explains every complicated thing in this flawless manner which makes you want to leave everything and go do a Physics major.

2. The Stranger–Albert Camus

I remember reading the first few chapters of this masterpiece of a novel last year but then stopped because I had a semester exam coming up (which I hadn’t studied for all year, thanks again to facebook). Now I want to finish it, but it’s gonna have to wait till I’m done with Brief History Of Time.

3. A History of Western Philosophy–Bertrand Russell

We had an essay from one of Bertrand Russell’s book in high school as a part of our curriculum and two years ago I had decided to read more of his works, inspired mostly by his thoughts and philosophy on science and his opinion on war and Einstein. Two years have passed and procrastination took the better of me. Until recently I had forgotten about it but then I came across Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reading list, and it had this book in it.

4.  The Metamorphosis– Franz Kafka

Okay, this one is a bit of a long shot, because I don’t really read a lot of novels but I have been seeing Kafka quotes on my Facebook timeline a lot lately and I wanted to see what the fuss is all about. Lets see how this one turns out.

5. The Communist Manifesto–Karl Marx and some other guy

My maternal aunts have been keen supporters of communism, in fact my uncle died defending communism in the time of a dictatorship on my country. My grandfather and most of my maternal side is referred to as comrades by their friends. So it was natural that I was brought up to believe in socialism. This time I wanted to read the manifesto thoroughly (not just skim it as I had done before) and decide for myself if it is the only way to save humanity.

6. Black Hole Blues And Other Songs From Outer Space– Janna Levin

“Scientists are like those levers or knobs or those boulders helpfully screwed into a climbing wall. Like the wall is some cemented material made by mixing knowledge, which is a purely human construct, with reality, which we can only access through the filter of our minds. There’s an important pursuit of objectivity in science and nature and mathematics, but still the only way up the wall is through the individual people, and they come in specifics… So the climb is personal, a truly human endeavor, and the real expedition pixelates into individuals, not Platonic forms.”

What more reason to love this book.

7. Time Travel: A Brief History– James Gleick

Although time travel has been struck off as a scientific impossibility after the popular Stephen Hawking’s party for the future time travelers (where no one showed up) one can’t help but re-visit this thought over and over in a futile pursuit to satiate the imagination of the human mind. This book is more of a philosophy and history based rather than pure science and I’m really looking forward to reading more of it.

8. The Birth of Tragedy–Friedrich Nietzsche

Although I’m not that big of a Nietzsche fan, but I would be missing out on a lot of wisdom if I left my mind devoid of any Nietzsche styled cynicism. This book would be the perfect way to rekindle my long suppressed nihilism phase.

9. The Phenomenology of Mind– Hegel

I didn’t decide to be a neuroscientist out of  boredom, it was because I have this crippling desire to read people’s minds and find out whether it’s just a bunch of chemicals and sparks holding together the fort of sanity or if there is more to it. Which means I am also obsessed with psychology (that is when I’m not overwhelmed with cosmological insignificance). Which also means Hegel is a must read for me, but only a summary because this book is long enough to awaken my procrastination demons.

10.Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Minds– Charles Mackay

This book was a part of Carl Sagan’s reading list which is convincing enough for me to have downloaded it. Also the title is so thought-provoking.It is more of a history accounting and quite lengthy to begin with, so I hope I don’t end up reading only half of it (which I probably will, smh).

11. The Shadow of The Crescent Moon–Fatima Bhutto

The only person in the Bhutto family that I have a slight amount of respect for is Fatima Bhutto. She was once a role model for me along with Sharmeen Obaid- Chinnoy. This novel is based in a war-stricken Afghanistan and captures most of what is happening as a result of sugar-coated “peace missions” and how they affect the locals.

12. Snell’s Clinical Neuroanatomy

Because I have to pass my neurosciences module too.

13. The Republic-Plato (summary)

There is something about books that are not written in modern English that really repels me, and I think English being my second language has to do with it. And its sad when most of these ancient works are translated in hard to read English. Also The Republic is really long so a summary will suffice for now.

14.  The Quran

Being Muslim, I have read the Quran quite a few times but I havent exactly read read it. This time I aim to read it thoroughly with proper translation and explanation, and clarify all the misconceptions and misinterpretations fed to us by the media.

15. Carrie –Stephen King

You may remember me just saying how I’m not a big fan of novels but that does not hold true for Stephen King. His books aren’t novels, they are roller coaster rides imprinted onto paper. I read almost half of Carrie but I can’t really recall why I abandoned the book. Well this year is the time to resume this masterpiece.

16.  Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour

I came across this when I researched some reference books to study for Behavioural Sciences and I was addicted, but it got lost under the pile of other homework and I had more important subjects like anatomy and pathology to study first. So now I’ve decided to finish this book before any other distractions/module exams come in the way.

Woahh this was a pretty long post. I hope it serves its purpose and motivates me to read at least half of the books I listed down. Here’s to a more educated 2017!

Beauty

It’s strange how we find beauty in destructivity. The night sky intrigues us. Trillions of magnanimous balls of burning gas capable of frying anything even a few million meters from them intrigue us. Sun sets make us feel at peace. A ball of fire large enough to fit a million earths, close enough to be witnessed from our tiny planet, inching further closer every passing decade, capable of boiling all land, makes us feel at peace. The moon, the beautiful, cold, lifeless, lightless, barren moon overwhelms us with emotion on a lonely night. The vast, never-ending, land-engulfing, moody sea brings us serenity. The beautiful sea that deceives you with the many colours it wears as times of the day change, should you discover what it truly looks like. The same sea with the potential of dragging you into a wet, painless embrace of sweet sweet freedom. Yet we lay in the sand and let our feet touch the shore and pick shells from its floor. We watch the sun set into it and we watch as it bleeds into the sky and we watch it bleed into the waters, adding another colour to the palette of nature. We watch the night sky imprinted onto its surface, distorted by the ripples created by waves that can engulf an entire city from the slightest nudge of a plate.

We find beauty in all of this. We find ways of incorporating it into poetry and art that we create. We define it in ways that best suit our interests. We calculate and measure it using systems that we pride in creating from raw thought.

Because accepting the meaninglessness of our existence in a gloriously self-expanding and self-sufficient universe prickles at our prides as flawed human beings.

Because for once we want to feel like we have control, like a child sitting amidst skilled architects showing off the fortress he made from building blocks. Or a drug addict thinking he controls what he feels, all the while rotting inside, enslaved to the withdrawal symptoms of what he calls “control”.

We think we are entitled to celebrate what we believe to be rightfully ours, drunk on delusions of being the sole heirs to an entire universe. Giving in to self-imposed falsely created megalomania.

We find beauty in destructivity because arrogance blinds man worse than ignorance.

Survival of the fittest?

The human mind: an intricately woven tapestry of logic, forever baffling the onlooker with such casual majesty. The more one tries to unravel its pathways, the deeper they find themselves trapped into this labyrinth. Just a few sparks running up and down invisible cells, in terms of physics. Just a few hormones holding together the fort of sanity, in terms of chemistry. Creation at its finest, in terms of religion.

Doesn’t it steal your sleep every night then, just thinking of what it is capable of? Everything we do–everything our brain commands our vulnerable bodies to do– is for the sole purpose of better survival. Struggle for existence is what we have evolved to master. Survival of the fittest is what nature has ensured, ever since the beginning of time.

Then how does a perfectly healthy person go into self-destruct mode? How do the same chemical messengers that keep you sane, turn their guns against the body they are supposed to be serving? How do the same electrical impulses convince the mind that the world would be a million times better without them in it? That the feeling of despair would leave once you start slitting your skin? That intoxication is the answer to all problems? That death cures all infliction?

The same brain producing the hand-jerk reflex, should your finger contact fire, is now telling you to jump over the cliff when you’re on a family trip to the mountains. The same brain that stops you from eating moulded food, should you get ill, is now reluctant to move from in front of a truck advancing towards you while you’re crossing the road. What snaps in the mind to think that the body it serves is not enough. Not fit to survive. What makes it refuse any struggle to exist?