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metaphysics personal life pop culture rambling reflections travel world events

The End of the F***ing Year

A gloomy day in London, December 2020.

I’ve been thinking about the end of this year and I imagine curtains closing—the velvet drapes sweeping to meet in the middle as it hides away the stage. But instead of the end of a play, it is the turn of the magician’s trick—the second act following the pledge, when the magician makes a promise. As the lights dim and the audience holds its breath, the magician prepares the next act, this third and final act, the reveal that upturns the spectators’ assumptions.

What the trick is, I don’t know. We started 2020 hoping that we will have a better year, the bookend to a decade that was in many ways crazy and exciting and sad: the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok (which was—perhaps—the death knell for bloggers-as-opinion leaders, to be replaced by social media influencers); the explosion of the #MeToo movement and “Black Lives Matter”,  putting front and center social inequalities, except unlike before when we only had mainstream media to spotlight these issues, now everyone who had a mobile phone could easily pitch in the conversation; the age of disinformation ushered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which also leads us to ask: are we actually free, or are we just biological switchboards that can easily be manipulated by pushing a few buttons here and there? 

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metaphysics personal life philosophy rambling reflections

Go Fake Yourself

Mirror selfie at the Musée d’Orsay, 2019

When a friend posted on Instagram stories a few weeks ago something about “being true to one’s self”, I couldn’t help but send a reply to that Pinterest platitude: “What is the authentic self, anyway?”

I wasn’t being rude: I’ve been guilty of criminally allying myself with the #staytruestayyou community at least one point in my life (specifically: in a post-breakup Facebook moment, sometime 2015: lock me up, officer.) But the more I think about pinning down who the “authentic self” is, the more I question that it even exists.

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personal life philosophy reflections vegan

Just Because It Is, Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be (Or Why Facts Aren’t Enough to Determine Futures)

Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks (1834)
“Peaceable Kingdom”, Edward Hicks (1834)

Just a few weeks back, I was reading a post on the Vegan Biologist which argued that humans are not herbivores. One would think that a vegan blog would adamantly defend veganism by appealing to nature, but the post flat-out argues against the awful science that many misguided vegans perpetuate.

While I am, for the record, vegan because of ethical reasons (it is undeniable that animals are conscious: the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness categorically stated that nonhuman animals are not mere automatons and are capable of emotions much like humans. Therefore, their continued exploitation is simply immoral, indefensible, and speciesist), I still believe that clear-eyed science must guide our arguments.

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metaphysics personal life philosophy rambling reflections Uncategorized

“The Universe is Having a Wank”: Teleological Explorations, By Way of Birthdays

Evan Tan Writer in Manila

There’s nothing that drives you further down into introspection like the waning high of your birthday that’s almost about to end (except probably a close brush with death, a bus speeding at 100 kilometers per hour barely colliding with the car you’re in at a highway—but that’s another story.)

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rambling reflections Uncategorized

You are a rat

Which is to say, you’re no one, dregs of society, scum of the earth, bottom feeder, immaterial, dispensable. What they want to say is: you deserve nothing, you are both noticed and unnoticed, and you are not really sure which is better between the two, when to be seen is to be hated, for people to wish you to die, and often it’s not even a wish, because they’ve killed your kind countless times, you’ve seen it—beating other rats with a stick until their eyes pop out, skulls cracked open until their brains spill over. Or a bath of boiling water, until their fur peels off their body. 

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metaphysics personal life philosophy reflections

What If Everything Will Have Always Been Us

The other day, I was thinking about Ate Belle and remembered that it has been almost four years since she died. I was deciding on when I was going to fold clothes when the memory of her in our house, calmly sifting through the freshly laundered shirts and sheets, came back to my head.

I really should’ve paid attention to how she did it. Then again, folding clothes is one of the chores which I absolutely don’t enjoy. Some of my friends, like Mela and Jessica, find it therapeutic; I find it dull and repetitive. I’d rather cook or do the groceries than be stuck folding clothes for what feels like an eternity.

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personal life philosophy pop culture rambling vegan

To See Clearly, Don’t Shy Away from Conflict: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Recently, I was in a heated Twitter debate about how people who had animal companions but were not vegan were essentially in a master-slave relationship.

While some of my friends argued with me directly, some chose not to reply and instead resorted to subtweets and snarky, shady remarks. Those who did the latter did not contribute anything substantial to the debate, because contesting ideas directly, while it seems superficially uncomfortable, allows people to test ideas and hones our capacity to argue well.

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personal life Uncategorized world events

Why People Would Rather Get Covid-19: Chronicles During the Covid-19 Community Quarantine

A few days ago, my friend Nancy and I were talking about how we’re all adjusting to this new normal (a term used to exhaustion that it is already grating on my ears), as we carried our groceries back to our condos. Yes, we were lucky–alive and well, not yet driven to the brink of desperation, like those spilling out in the streets and being threatened to be shot down by the police.

But to be alive is not just the goal, I argued. We might as well be living in some weird fictional dystopian place…or North Korea. Being a hermit and being a solitary prisoner may seem similar superficially, but the difference lies in the element of choice.

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personal life philosophy pop culture rambling reflections vegan

Suffering is a Cookie: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Suffering, I thought–as I bit on the half-eaten mango that I had stored in the refrigerator yesterday, is inevitable. There was nothing new to this concept: Buddhism’s First Noble Truth discusses the dissatisfaction that arises from changing states–hence, suffering is but a discomfort from a present situation which isn’t exactly what you expect.

But what I was wondering about was whether suffering was diminished the earlier one accepted it.

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film gay personal life pop culture reflections vegan

Solidarity or Shit: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Last night, I watched Netflix’s “The Platform” (El Hoyo), a dystopian science-fiction film which explores class warfare and how a threat could force people to cooperate.

I’ve been mulling about how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the entrenched inequalities in our society. Already we’re seeing how the less privileged are made to choose between dying from hunger or dying from the disease, while the rich continue to believe that these people are merely being stubborn–lacking the discipline that is demanded by this enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government, when in fact, it is the very privilege these rich people have that allow them to easily follow the rules.