Speaking Verse

Introduction

I’m pretty much overwhelmed by all the assignments and writing that I have to do for the course I signed up for. So, I don’t have much time to keep this blog up to date. As I browsed through the poems section of Eleazar’s Writing Space I thought it would be a good idea to show you why I like that style of poetry. The style is very much looked down upon these days but back in the 1500s and 1600s, it was the style. I think of it as speaking in verse.

As a teen, whenever I was happy I would imagine that I’m on stage in a Broadway Production and respond to my family (parents and sister) in verse or song. My sentences would always rhyme. I will be honest here and say that I have trouble seeing non-rhyming, alleteration- and assonanceless poems as poetry. How can you call prose poetry?

Anyway, for the next few weeks I will post the work of John Bunyan, the author of the centuries old Christian Classic The Pilgrim’s Progress. He is my role model when it comes to narrative poems. You can read more about him here. This link will take you to the first chapter of the Book of Ruth which he versified.

Dictates of Society

I overheard an interesting conversation yesterday between two friends, one of whom is a foreigner. They spoke about people conforming to cultural norms and how young people in the town I was in conformed to the dictates of fashion. As soon as a new style is revealed men and women adopt it. The foreigner used the gyms where she works as a gym instructor as examples.

The foreigner went on to encourage her friend to not conform to his culture. She said that people here conform so much that even when they don’t conform to the cultural trend, they conform to the counter-cultural one. As a non-conformist in her home country people don’t understand her anymore. She has become so different from them. With time she became confident in who she was, her limitations and her excellencies. Her friend, she confirmed, had done so too.

What I found interesting is that whether we conform to society, cultural norms or the dictates of fashion, or not, we will always conform to something. Even the non-conformists conform to an ideal. With humans there will always be an ideal. Those who don’t claim to cling to any ideal are holding on to that ideal. There will always be some standard we or others have set. Non-conformists in essence merely rebel against the standards of others while choosing to set their own. In so doing, sometimes unknowingly, they live up to the non-conformist ideology–a standard others have set.

In Romans 12:2, Paul encourages the recipients of his letter who were living in Rome at the time, as well as Christendom at large, to not conform to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. He calls Christians, or followers of the Way as they were also called at that time, to not submit to cultural norms and practices as far as they are outside the will of God, but to be transformed from the inside out into something wholly other than the humanity they knew. God was calling His people higher. But this transformation process or metamorphosis entails conforming to the standards of heaven, the everlasting principles of the Kingdom of God which basically is “faith that works by love” The Ministry of Healing, 1905, p. 169.

So, the point is that no matter what we say or do, we will always conform to some standard, decree, rule, norm, ideal, pattern or principle. There is no way of escape. It is a fundamental part of life.

The Matrix: Reloaded Revisited

Even though this post is not a work of genius (although I wouldn’t mind if it was), I feel compelled to write and share some of the stuff I picked up while watching The Matrix: Reloaded last night.

A few major events

The Matrix: Reloaded is the sequel to The Matrix and the second film of the trilogy. For a summary of the plot, you can read a synopsis here.

In short, in this film, Neo finds out that the Oracle is a program and is part of the Matrix, she helps him find the Architect–an AI program that designs the Matrix. The Architect answers Neo’s questions concerning the Matrix and his purpose. Agent Smith goes viral copying himself into a lot of people with the aim of killing Neo. We also see Neo save Trinity from death in a classic Superman and Lois Lane scenario. Zion is attacked by sentinels and its inhabitants slaughtered. A few ships survive Zion.

Themes

During the course of the film I picked up on the following themes. The film is rich in literary themes and the plot is well worked out.

1. Purpose. The whole trilogy of The Matrix movies centres around purpose specifically Neo’s. What is Neo meant to do?

2. Identity. Closely linked to purpose, the question of identity is one of the main driving forces of the film. In fact, it’s this search for identity that got Neo involved with Morpheus in the first place.

3. Truth. The two preceding themes are only two truths that drive us. In the first film, the reality of the virtual world is called into question. After Neo meets the Architect of the Matrix who explains Neo’s and the Matrix’s purposes to him, he realises that the prophecy is a lie. The Matrix is in its sixth incarnation as is Neo as the Machines grapple with understanding free will. Neo reveals to Morpheus the falseness of the prophecy towards the end of the film.

4. Self-sacrifice. A superhero movie would not be one if the hero impulse was not touched one or exploited. At the end of his meeting with the Architect, Neo is faced with the classic challenge of having to choose between saving the girl and saving the masses. He makes the unconventional choice of saving the girl.

5. Love. This theme is expressed through self-sacrifice. But Neo and Trinity’s love for each other drives and complicates the film too. It serves as good entertainment.

6. Choice. The problem of free will as revealed in Neo’s conversation with the Architect is something the Machines cannot understand. It is something the we humans cannot understand too. Everything in the film is driven by choice. It’s seen that even Mr Smith was given the ability to choose. (He chose to become a rogue program and to copy himself into a human-cyborg hybrid.) That said, predestination is rears its head too since Neo, we see, was designed to be the One. Morpheus was chosen to be Neo’s guide and Trinity our hero’s love interest. Neo was designed to be the anomaly born out of the sum total of all the wrong choices the citizens of the Matrix made. Neo’s existence was inevitable.

7. Belief. The more Neo knows about himself, the stronger he becomes. Everyone in the film believes something. Purpose and truth are only two things in which belief is manifested.

8. Understanding & knowledge. Although not always the same, the desire to know why things are the way they are, why Neo exists, why the Matrix exists, why Mr Smith keeps popping up, why Zion is being destroyed, and so forth, pervades the whole film. The Matrix exists to understand why the human race acted the way they did and to understand free will.

9. Fear. The fears of death and ignorance pervades the whole film. These are the most human of all fears.

10. Struggle for supremacy and freedom. These aren’t necessarily one and the same but in this “outside world” of the film, they are. The human race are subjects of the Machines. Their fight for freedom is limited by their fight for survival although one could say that their fight for survival is a fight to maintain their freedom. But what they do not know is that the Machines are controlling them giving the humans just enough scope to live but not enough to thrive. It is portrayed as if the humans and the Machines are in a war when the reality is the Machines have already won the war. The outside world is a controlled environment. Mr Smith’s obsession with killing Neo is another way in which the theme of supremacy is illustrated in the film.

The altruism test

One thing was clear, you had to listen carefully to what was said and what was not said. You had to listen carefully to Neo’s conversation with the Architect. At the end, Neo choosing to save Trinity should come as no surprise at all since whether he chose to save the masses then and there by his death or not, he was destined to die and so was Zion. His death was inevitable as was Zion’s. At Neo’s death, his body would be carried to the Source where his data would be downloaded and used to refine the seventh incarnation of the Matrix. A few humans would be released into the world driven by the need to build Zion. And the whole thing will start again.

Ties with Christianity

The whole trilogy seen from a theological perspective becomes even more interesting. Since Neo represents a Christ-figure, Morpheus John the Baptist, and Trinity Mary Magdalene (taken from The Da Vinci Code). Neo is the sum total of the bad choices and violence of humanity just like Jesus took the sins of humanity upon Him to die a vicarious death. The names of the people, places and ships hold a lot theological significance too.

The ultimate question

But the fundamental question is: why build the Matrix? Why do the aliens go to such lengths to destroy a society only to build a model to try and understand it? (I don’t know whether these question were ever answered in the trilogy.)

Conclusion

Fear, love, death, faith, freedom, control, choice and truth are the fundamental these the film explored. The Matrix is rich in symbolism and philosophy and superbly combines and explores the most important literary themes and truths. This, I think, is what made it a great success in addition to the media hype about it. The media played an integral role in promoting The Matrix trilogy using a human interest story to draw attention to it. The controversy and consternation the films created in the Christian community added to the films’ popularity.

As I said before, these are just a few observations I made while watching The Matrix: Reloaded last night. They aren’t worth much and only reflect the sense I’m trying to make of the world and of the movie.

What did you think about The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix trilogy as a whole?

Taming paradoxical creativity for business success

Creativity–along with curiosity, Christ’s divine-human incarnation, and nudity/modesty–is a subject that intrigues me because of its controversial and intellectually stimulating nature. This post by recent “liker” drew me in as soon as I saw said key word. I’m reblogging this post to share it with you and to file it away. May you also be drawn in as I am. (And for what it’s worth, I fit the bill for a creative person. Yay!)

Otrazhenie


Creative_mind__by_Uribaani
From DeviantArt

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical and full of contradictions.

Eminent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that creative people ‘contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.’

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people. In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

 1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.
 They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

 2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of…

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Oxytocin, A Conspiracy Story

I came across this post a while ago and have been meaning to reblog it for some time. I would not be a good scientist or blogger if I did not present both sides of the story. The author of the reblogged post contests the multitude of functions scientists, including Paul Zak, and the media in general ascribe to oxytocin, a nonapeptide (a small protein made 0ut of nine amino acids) hormone that is secreted in the brain, that mediates breastfeeding, pair bonding, the birthing process and erections among other things.

Procrustean Neuroscience

Conspiracy theories maintain that a small group of people can not only change the world, but that they can do so in such a way that virtually everyone is unaware of their role in shaping history. These theories are criticized, in part, because they assume that too few people can get away with too much.

conspiracy-theory-alertNeuroscience commentators have adopted conspiracy-like theories about the molecule oxytocin. These theories hold that evolution has found a way to make this molecule solely responsible for complex psychological phenomena like altruism, happiness, love, morality, or trust. Can a single molecule really get away with so much?

As is often the case, the science is more complicated than its commentary. A hormone that acts as a neuropeptide in the mammalian brain (Landgraff & Neuman, 2004), oxytocin plays many roles in reproduction and other social behaviors for many species, including ours (Gimpl & Fahrenholz, 2001MacDonald &…

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Blogging with Personality

The algorithm behind the www.typealyzer.com website analysed the writing style of my three blogs to see what personality type their author has. According to the algorithm, their author might suffer from multiple personality disorder (also called dissociative identity disorder).

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Chart

Who are you? (An MBTI chart)

The test revealed that in Blog A I am an artist (Myers-Briggs: ISFP) and can find a satisfying career in fashion design, (fine) art, teaching, interior design, landscape architecture, nursing, massage therapy, geology and translation–to name a few. Blog B reveals my thinker personality type (Myers-Briggs: INTP) and will be successful as a scientist, philosopher, lawyer, architect, mathematician, systems analyst, etc. My performer personality type (Myers-Briggs: ESFP) comes out in Blog C with prospective careers in art, teaching, social work, nursing, cheffing, and the like.

I find these test results both interesting and funny because according to a Myers-Briggs test I did nine years ago, I am an ISTJ. What this shows is that no human designed test can truly test all aspects of man’s personality; we are too complex for that. It also shows that each activity we are interested in reveals a certain aspect of who we are like the faces of a diamond. Sometimes these aspects are contradictory manifesting the paradox that is life.

So, go ahead and have your writing style analysed. The designer of the test does say that the test analyses the writing style only and should not be confused with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator self-reporting questionnaire (which I did nine years ago).

Dare to Chair

You know, I don’t understand my colleagues. We’re busy recording a series of podcasts on TB for a project at work. One, the most senior of three of us, wasn’t keen on doing the project from the beginning. Every time we record we hear about how she hates recording and how stupid the script is (which I partially agree with). The other colleague likes taking charge. And I’m the reluctant leader who is afraid of taking charge because he knows that he can be quite tyrannical and callous if he releases that side of his personality. I don’t like conflict so I keep that side in check. But, today . . .

The three office chairs.

The three office chairs.

Last week, colleague #1 complained about how her pleather office chair hurt her back so she decided to replace her chair (the black one in the picture) with one of the chairs (one like the green one) in the office colleague #2 and I share. She then left the black chair in our office.

Yesterday, when colleague #1’s husband came I broke my chair (the grey one). He sat on a chair next to my station and for some reason I didn’t think about moving my chair out of the way when I tried to insert the headphones’ jack into the back of the PC after having removed the PC speakers’ jack. I pushed my chair against the wall until it couldn’t go any further and the back rest broke. The chair’s back rest is in that position permanently.

So, I took the black chair because its back support is adequate. It helps me maintain proper form so that I don’t huddle over my computer. The black chair stood in our office for about a week before I made the switch. Colleague #1 used to sit on it whenever she came over to chat.

Today when she came over I sat on the chair. She asked me to get up and let her sit on the chair since it’s her chair. I just ignored her. She asked me twice. Then, colleague #2 piped up and commanded me to give colleague #1 the chair. I got up very quickly and gave the chair to #1. I then took one of the office chairs (pictured in the office image). They wanted to know why I didn’t take the green chair.

“The green chair,” I told them, “is dirty and I don’t want to ask the cleaners to clean it and hear their complaints.”

Colleague #1 said, “It’s the cleaners’ job to clean them whether they like to or not.”

To which I responded, “I don’t want any hassles.”

“Why don’t you take that chair?” replied colleague #2 pointing the low backed chair by my other work station.

“It doesn’t support my back well,” I said. I had already checked the chairs out this morning before I started working.

The rest of the office

Colleague #2’s side of the office

When colleague #1 was done with her visit she said that I can sit on her chair, I didn’t respond. I was seething with anger. Who is colleague #2 to talk to me like that? Why did I allow myself to react that way?

When we went up to the studio to record the podcast series, they took their sweet blooming time to come to the studio. They know that colleague #2 is will be out of the office from Monday for three weeks and that we would be recording the last three episodes today.

They eventually arrived and after some small talk we began recording. Now colleague #1 isn’t a good actress/reader. I’m not one either but I know a little about acting and reading aloud. I would like to help her—in fact, I thought about helping her a couple of times—but I chose not to give some unsolicited advice because she’s not open to it and will take offence. And whenever I try not to hammer her on her mistakes but when I ask her to reread something she has a problem with it.

There was one instance today where her breathing was all wrong. She took a breath right before the natural pause in the sentence which made the sentence sound choppy. When she was done with her part I asked if she could do it again and explained the reason why. She did it again and skipped one or two words. I asked her to redo it, but she refused and said that she is throwing a tantrum. I left it.

My two work stations

My two work stations

We did another programme and at the end of it colleague #2 asked whether I was going to say good-bye. Now the programmes usually end off with a good-bye but this one didn’t. I looked her sternly in the eye and said, “No.” Her eyes asked me why. I simply told her, “I’m throwing a tantrum.” Colleague #1 laughed. We did say good-bye at the end of programme 13 even though it was unscripted.

I was fuming with anger. I’m tempted to list all the bad character traits of colleague #2, but I won’t. I have a lot to say about it though just like she has a lot to say about me. I’m passed my anger (thanks to this post); now I’m only upset. But, I really feel like going into a tirade right now. She doesn’t want to see me angry. Even I don’t want to see myself angry. When I get angry, I go into a rage. And a shouting competition? Oh oh oh, you don’t want to go there! But, yeah, fights don’t solve anything. They only make matters worse.

Inside my mind

Instead of writing poetry in response to a Word Press Daily Prompt, I thought it would be a good idea to respond to the prose prompt. So, here it goes . . .

What is your favorite word?
It must be had since I tend to overuse the past perfect tense when speaking or writing about the past.

What is your least favorite word?
Fuck. I agree with the perception that people who swear a lot are small minded, are not in control of their emotions and do not have a large vocabulary. Why else would they rely on one word to convey so many meanings?

The word denigrates sex which so sacred, spiritual, and intimate. Those who use the word disrespect themselves, their lovers, their loved ones and God.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively I am turned on by thought that my creation will benefit someone. Spiritually the serenity and proximity of nature, and the prospect of undisturbed alone time with the Lord turns me on. Emotionally I am turned on by anything that tugs at my emotions.

What turns you off?
Rudeness, arrogance, and people who love to be the centre of attention.

What is your favorite curse word?
Even though I don’t like cursing, I’m no saint. I don’t regard bloody as a curse word so I use it. I say, “Bloody hell!” sometimes but never “Bloody fool!” which is just wrong in my books because you’re insulting someone. I don’t understand why some people see bloody as a swear word. If someone could tell me the reason I will be happy.

What sound or noise do you love?
The silence that results from the absence of city noise and the wind hushing bird and leaf.

What sound or noise do you hate?
City noise.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
That of a professional travel writer.

What profession would you not like to do?
Waste removal. I gag every time I take out the trash.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“Well done, my good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

This post was writing in response to today’s Daily Prompt: Inside the Actor’s Studio.