September 29, 2011

Great, Ordinary and Small (2)

Alien MindsImage via WikipediaAnother thought jumped into my mind:

Great minds share ideas, ordinary minds share information, small minds share gossips.
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September 28, 2011

Finding Ultimate Causes - My Journey of Recovering From Child Abuse (1)

Join the movement to end child abuse: www.1sta...Image via WikipediaChild-abuse is always one of central subjects of my thinking during my adulthood, for 2 reasons: 1. I am a victim of child-abuse; 2. it creates the worst damages upon human nature (I literally mean: THE WORST).
To recover from this damage, the first step for me is to confront. By saying "confront", I do not mean "revenge", but "finding the ultimate causes" of all self-harming "thoughts and behaviors".

This morning I had another "sudden enlightenment" about one of my accustomed behaviors which caused my mental disturbance: my incapability of defending myself when under personal insulting (I actually acknowledge this weakness long time ago, but today's "enlightenment" showed me another aspect of my weakness). I found, this behavior was precisely caused by my childhood experience: I had to accept all kind of attacks on me from the early age of my life. I learned to oppress my "self" in order to keep the "harmony" with my abusive parents, who were the only "shelter" of my life at the time. Since this "oppressed" behavior - to yield to almost all offenses - was the only way I could get through my early life, it unconsciously became my "nature" of my later life as well.

By acknowledging such causes, I understand: 1. this self-harming "misbehavior" is NOT my nature (and it should not be anybody's nature); 2. in future, I will be more capable to recognize the "face" of personal insulting at the first hand, hence I can be more readily to protect myself.
Of course, I also understand that change will not happen over night.

This, is only one of my many "enlightenments" about many of my unconscious "mis-behaviors" which kept harming myself in the course of my adult life. I found, by being conscious of all of these problems one by one, I am able to change my life little by little.

People may take my "hobby" of reflecting my childhood as bad things, as a continuation of "abusing" myself, and may suggest that "to forget" is a better way to cope with the past. I understand their perspective, but I don't believe that problems (especially problem caused by child-abuse) can be solved (only) by avoidance. The problems of child-abuse are such: the traumas were created so early in your life that they become an instinct NATURE of yours, hence it will happen and harm you again and again no matter how "completely" you "forget" about them.

Here comes a question: what is our nature? My answer is: our nature is a "package" that contains both our mental and physical capacity which comes together with our life. And because it comes together with our life, it is almost UNCHANGEABLE.

I do not suppose our nature has difference of being good and evil, but I do believe that it has the difference of being "strong" and "weak". And I believe all our postnatal effort is to keep our nature from being harmed, so that we could achieve its strongest potential - as strong as possible.

The importance of childhood lies in its powerful influence upon our nature: a good (happy) childhood can preserve our nature as its best (strongest) form; and a bad (miserable) childhood can make damage on it - make a person with strong nature "less strong", make a person with weak nature becomes "weaker", or the "weakest". I can hardly imagine any kind of events during a person's adulthood could have the same impact on one's nature, not even a life sentence in prison!

Someone (such as Liu Xiaobo) even believe that "childhood" is so unconquerable that it actually BECOMES our nature, but I disagree. This is because we human does have plasticity to adjust ourselves in the course of life. However, this "adjustment" is not UNCONDITIONAL, rather, it depends on 2 factors: how strong our nature is, and how serious the damage has been made. So there really is no one solution for all (and for some cases there might be no solution at all).

I think for those victims whose problems are less serious, they might be able to carry on their life simply by oblivion, but for those whose problems are serious, "to forget"is just not enough. They may have to confront (with or without help) - to understand how all these happened, to acknowledge all these self-destructive thoughts and actions were NOT their nature thus they could be CHANGED. I believe, only if they reached such understanding, could they have a full confidence for the future action: to fight against their "imposed nature", and eventually restore the original nature that is healthy and self-confident.

However, since the adjustment also depend on how strong our nature is, for those who has weaker nature, or if the damage is too serious, recovery might be impossible. In such cases, "to forget", indeed is a better way to cope with trauma (the bad thing is, some of them are not even capable of "forgetting").

I consider myself extreme lucky, for I have such a strong nature which protect me from being destroyed by my dark childhood (while my sister had totally different fate). I was a happy person by nature, and I was a bright/positive person during my teen-age and 20s (which gained my lots of friendships and love). However, since I entered my middle age, my personality was shadowed (partly by my chronic illness), which made me a seemingly different person. But I knew I was all the same, the only difference (beside my physical inadequacy) was that I had to confront some traumas which had been always there preventing me from being my best. And it is precisely because of this confrontation, which was painful but inevitable, after all these years, I find I am in a new place - the freedom and happiness built on my true self-esteem.

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September 27, 2011

Great, Average and Small

Cover of "A Beautiful Mind"Cover of A Beautiful MindAnother day I saw a popular saying on blogcatalog:
"Great people talk about ideas; average people talk about things; small people talk about people."

Here comes mine:
Great minds look for (different) ideas; average minds look for advices; small minds look for commands.
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September 25, 2011

Mildred Pierce (2011) - A Mother-Daughter Complex

I had a glance at Mildred Pierce on HBO a while ago and was attracted by the "look" of this TV show. After seeing Kate Winslet's winning Emmy award this year, I decided to watch this show from beginning to end. After I did it I was totally satisfied!

KW did a fantastic job on the rule of Midred Pierce - a hard working woman who put all her love on her daughter yet at the time spoils her daughter until it's too late. Her performing was so convincing that every moment of Mildred's appearance on screen was virtually real. I believe I saw one of the best acting on "mother" (another on I could recall was Night, Mother by Anne Bancroft).

Different from most other contemporary movies or TV shows that mostly focus on mystery, romance or violence, the story of Mildred Pierce focuses on protagonist's passion - passion for her daughter and her career, and eventually, the cruelty of fate. At the end, despite of the fact that all things go wrong, life of Mildred Pierce continues.
I think it is precisely this theme (passion) that gave KW plenty of room to display her talent of acting.

After I finished watching the TV series, I found there is an original movie in 1945 by the same name. I too watched the movie. I must say, KW's performance is not any less than Joan Crawford's, except KW's reached a deeper level of exploring the complexity of a mother's emotion.

Prior to watching Mildred Pierce, I watched Revolutionary Road and The Reader. KW's was leading actress in both movies and I was highly impressed. I will be totally proud of being called a Kate Winslet  fan. That's how much I love her. 

September 24, 2011

Understanding & Acceptance

Peace graffiti under a bridgeImage by Toban Black via FlickrSince we are doomed to be different, it's impossible/unnecessary  for us to UNDERSTAND each other completely. However, if we could accept/embrace our difference, this world might be a better place. But it seems to me that even "acceptance" is a "request" that goes beyond human capacity: many people (not sure if it's "majority") can only accept what they UNDERSTAND.
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September 21, 2011


Personification of knowledge (Greek Επιστημη, ...Image via WikipediaFoods will not bring us to immortality, but we must eat; knowledge will not lead us to absolute truth, but we must know. This is for one reason: to know is like to eat, is our nature which we have no powerful to fight against.
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September 15, 2011

Knowledge - Quote from Plato

"Sure, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul;...there is far greater peril in buying knowledge than in buying meat and drink..."
---Plato, Protagoras

A Gift to Myself

Just got the 3 volume novel War and Peace from Amazon! What at beautiful treasure I ever had! I especially like the "3 volume" part, because when I read Les Miserable it was over 1400 pages in one volume and it felt great inconvenience to hold it, especially for a slow reader like me.

It will take me long to finish it, but I expect a good time reading ahead.

September 11, 2011

Hardest Things to Accept for Mediocre People

The hardest things for mediocre people (are they majority?) to accept is, 1: the extraordinary of others: the extraordinary talent and the extraordinary tragedy. The reason for the former is jealousy, the latter is selfishness; 2, the ordinary of themselves - the reason is lack of self-confidence.

September 7, 2011

Who Is Liu Xiaobo? --- My View on A True Humanist

Upon the time Liu Xiaobo won his Noble Peace Price last year, I knew nothing about him and his works. Due to my indifference towards politics, I also never had enough interest to get into know him as well, until I read his book Mist of Metaphysics (briefed as “Mist" below).

Lu Xun said "It's better to read Chinese books as less as possible. Actually it's better not to read them at all" (he used “books" as a general term, but I believe he specifically meant those books of moral teachings, which pretty much includes all traditional Chinese books). I happened to be such a person who doesn’t read many Chinese books, not because of Lu Xun said so, but simply because they never inspired me that much. But Liu Xiao Bo’s Mist is an exception - it was one of the best philosophy books I have ever read. And by reading it I gained an general impression about the author himself.

The book appears to be a history of western philosophy - it started from ancient Greek thoughts all the way to modern western thinkers. However what make it better than other history books of philosophy (that I have read) is that even though it was written chronologically, the whole book was coherently interwoven so the development of western thoughts were animatedly displayed. This development of western philosophy, under Liu Xiaobo’s interpretation, was a "organic life being", made by the contradictory between the desire of eternal “absolute” and the transitory reality. The whole history is a struggle through a never ending process of the pursuing and overthrowing this “absolute".

Whereas the “appearance” of this book is a history of thinking, it is virtually an highly original work of philosophy, in which Liu input lots of his own thoughts. Briefly speaking, Liu firmly disprove the existence of “absolute truth” (that’s why he called it “mist”), not only in the sense of metaphysics, but in any other sense or forms - such as “God”, "empiricism" or “science”. The whole western metaphysics originated the confidence about human reason, but this confidence is a plain delusion. Any declaration of "absolute" is self deceit, any faith on "absolute" is biased and subjective. From this perspective, art (especially music), by its most direct and essential way, is the only mean that human can experience life.

My impression of Liu Xiaobo from this book is that he is a highly intelligent, yet highly passionate person. He seemed to be greatly influenced by western modern philosophy, especially Existentialism, include modern literature and art. His grasp of the whole development of western thoughts is very impressive, and the points he made for different thinkers and philosophical schools seem to be spot on, and the way he put all these elements together was very inspiring, surpassed most of Chinese “professional” scholars ("pedants"?). So far I conclude Liu Xiaobo as a person contains three aspects: an absolutely independent thinker; an counter-rationalist and a pessimist.

First of all, Liu Xiaobo is an individual thinker. Just by this reason alone, he (or any independent thinkers) is a absolute rebel of his own culture (Chinese tradition). This is because any independent thinkers (a rational being) will not accept any orthodox ideas without personal examination, and this is due to a simple fact that “doubt” is the most essential aspect of reason. Like Liu said in the beginning of the book: “The history of thoughts is the history of questioning”(Mist, Introductory). Unfortunately, this "doubting spirit", is exactly what Chinese traditional ideology/thoughts repel - Chinese traditional ideology is all about “authority”.

As an independent thinker, Liu also gave out his definition of Human being - the ultimate subject of philosophy: “(human) life is first a sentient and animated system, second, it is a (self) consciousness of this system (reason).”(Liu Xiaobo‘s essay: About Reason) I personally absolute admire this interpretation. To me it is to say, only those who strongly possess both “sentience” and “reason” can have a real experience life and a clear conscious of it at the same time. Based on this understanding, Liu highly adores Kant - who was a combination of acute intuition and profound reason, and on the other hand, Liu despises Hegel - who lacked this sentient/animated system totally, and built his whole theory as a grandiloquent decoration over a lifeless body.

And from this understanding about life, Liu naturally criticized “Chinese people” on this very essential level: “if one’s sensation were oppressed totally (servility) , one cannot have rational spirit (reason). If one had, it would be a kind which is nothing more than a blind obedience…the “reason” that Chinese people possess is just a blindly obedience to Chinese traditional orthodoxy” (Liu Xiaobo‘s essay: “About Reason”).

Liu Xiaobo’s “attacks” to Chinese culture is thorough, non negotiable. He thinks during Chinese ancient history there were never anything called “knowledge” existed: “There were never any independent classes - such as Intellects or vendors - existed in ancient China. During the entire Chinese history, only two classes ever existed: rulers and the ruled.” (Mist, page 41) And I personally believe this is the same place that Liu stands on together with Lu Xun, who slashed Chinese culture by his literature works. From philosophical perspective, Liu might be a step further on the rational thoughts, but both are determined, and powerful.

Just like Lu Xun, Liu is a total individualist. He said:"I believe, one’s most valuable moment of life is not to declare to the world as such: ‘I am reprehensive of human', but as this: ‘I am a only one in the world. I do not represent anyone else but myself.’”(Mist, page322) (Here I could clear see the influence of Existentialism).

And just because Liu is not only a "rational being", but also a passionate and sentiment "life form", he is well aware of the limitation of our reason and stepped out of “absolute rationalism” firmly. He doesn’t believe that our reason can bring us to the “absolute truth” (simply it doesn‘t exist). He believes one can only achieve the full meaning of life by experiencing life “itself“ - that is to say through our animated instinct, or through ART: “Irrational state is not a state of animal. The higher level of irrational state is the life in its full bloom. Without this state there is no creativity. ... Life starts with music and ends with music.” (Mist, page51)

Liu’s thoughts resonates the anti-rationalist trend in modern western philosophy. In this book, he compared philosophy with art, said if we call the modern western art “pure art” because of it anti-rationalist tendency, we should as well call the modern western philosophy “pure philosophy”.

This anti-rational tendency made Liu Xiaobo somehow a little “religious”. Of course, he would not blindly accept any religion doctrines due to his rational mind, but he certainly has his insight on religion. He thinks religion is our instinct needs: “human, as a self conscious life, not only need to be satisfied with our current life, but also the next life (or eternal life)… to some extent, the victory of science over religions since Renaissance is just an illusion. In terms of the value of human being, religion is not seconded by science. Believing that science is omnipotent is a new religion. …” (Mist, page27)

Beside these two aspects I mentioned above (independent thinker and anti-rational tendency), Liu Xiaobo also is a pessimist. This is because of his insight on the transient nature of human being. The consciousness of this transient nature leads human to transcends, and at the same time human also conscious the impossibility of such will, thus tragedy is inevitable: “all creativities human made are for one goal: transcendence. But the limited existence cannot creates any such kinds. To human, the so call “transcendence”, only exists in will, eagerness and illusion. " (Mist, page 6)

However, this “pessimism” is not in a mundane sense, but in philosophical sense. This is not the kind of attitude of being sad/complaining, but a confrontation to the reality, an embrace to the tragedy of life. This kind of pessimists, do not need any delusion (such as “absolute”, “God”) to satisfy his/her survival need. And from this perspective, I think Liu Xiaobo again shares Lu Xun’s pessimist spirit.

These are my “impression” on Liu Xiaobo based on the book. The book has over 400 pages, briefly covers over 2000 thousands history of western philosophy. Liu wrote it during his early 30s, and it took him less than half year long. It truly was a work of inspiration. In my opinion, Liu Xiaobo deserves to be recognized as a genius thinker.

I do not know what kind of developments Liu Xiaobo made on his thoughts over the course of twenty years after finishing this book, but I know he once said (despite of his passionate and sharp criticism): “I have no enemy“. However this is just what he said from his perspective. From the perspective of the “nation”, the Chinese government, he is the most dangerous enemy they ever had, and that’s why they put him in prison (I just found the currently is the third time. The first time was after 6.4 students movement 1989). I only hope, Liu Xiaobo has not been enduring too much in prison. I also hope, after he is released in future, he would choose not to live in that country, because that piece of lifeless land (or any lifeless land) is not worth any of his sacrifice (or of anyone who loves freedom).
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September 1, 2011

The Situation of Contemporary Chinese Intellects - Inside or Outside of Jails

China's FIRST McDonald'sImage by flickr.Marcus via FlickrIn China, a best thing to a truthful intellect to do is either to be courageous inside jail, or stay silent outside of jail, because there is no way for a honest person to open his/her month and being honest at the same time without being persecuted under current (or almost anytime in history Chinese) political and cultural circumstance.

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