“Cancel culture stops people from growing”

… is something what people argue against cancel culture. They believe even the worst of the worst should not be cancelled; if they are cancelled, they would never learn to be better people.

I disagree because it insinuates that every mistake humans make is equally bad. We know damn well that is not true. Making tasteless jokes is certainly not on par with inciting violence, being sexually predatory and filming a dead body and showing it your young viewers. You won’t grow up if you don’t taste the bitter consequences for your actions.

Obviously, the severity must be proportionate. Ruining someone’s a career just for a tactless joke – especially the one made in the past – is needlessly cruel. Stern but constructive criticism is more than enough; you would learn that likeability requires reading the goddamn room.

But, incitement of violence? Sexual abuse? Filming a corpse and showing it to children as entertainment? Do I need to explain how harmful they are?

If you committed either one and the only punishments you get are mere criticism and temporary income decrease, it sends a message that your atrocious acts are trivial stuffs which people overreact to. Why should you learn from your mistakes when you can repeat them over and over again and always left relatively unscathed?

Take Youtubers Logan and Jake Paul as examples. They were never cancelled. As severe as the criticism was, they were never on the brink of losing their careers. In fact, not only they are still thriving, they are still sleazy.

As far as I am concerned, neither of them continue targeting mature content to children (and Logan only filmed a dead body once). But now, they are peddling cryptocurrency scams.

They never stop being bad guys; they simply changed their modus operandi. Logan also created a well-received podcast which, intentionally or not, gives a false impression of personal growth.

If not getting cancelled fosters personal growth, why are the Paul brothers still the cunts that they are?

If influential and problematic Youtubers like them were cancelled, they would be powerless to cause widespread harm. Not only they wouldn’t continue mistreat lots of other people, they also wouldn’t normalise toxicity, to the point where we have extremely low bar of human decency on Youtube, making them look virtuous compared to other problematic individuals.

Would they grow as human beings? I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck.

Seriously, between stopping a disease from spreading and giving it a chance (which is not 100%) to cure itself, why the fuck should we prioritise the latter?

Why the fuck should we risk letting it spreading just for the sake of your pathetic, deluded sensibility?

Why the fuck should we responsible for their redemption arcs?

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We should hand it to warmongers

No, I am not being facetious.

A war is a conflict which not only results in destructions of human properties, but also the brutal, violent deaths of innocent human beings, physical and psychological trauma of the survivors and the possibility of long-term geo-political instability, which may lead to even more violence.

To describe it as hell on earth is an understatement.

And yet, despite what we know about wars, warmongers have successfully convinced the world that killing innocent human lives, physically and/or psychologically scarring the survivors and destabilising the entire region are a must. Why? Because the hypothetical liberation promised by the so-called freedom-loving invaders.

What I just described does not make any fucking sense. And yet, warmongers have successfully convinced people to embrace that nonsensical belief.

One may argue I am giving them too much credit. Some people are so gullible, it does not take much to persuade them. In some cases, that is definitely the case: all you need to do is to say things, no techniques needed. But, the more I interact with people, the more I see the complexity.

Not all of the people who fall for the warmongering are stupid. In fact, I have seen some whose intelligence is above average, who are capable to process complex thoughts with great ease.

It is infuriating how warmongers can convince even the most intelligent people to believe nonsensical bullshit, while war-opponents are unable to persuade even the most gullible people.

This is just another reminder that simply knowing the truths and having the morality isn’t enough. If we want to spread our values, we must have the skills to do so and we must be great at them.

Obviously, this judgement of mine has been clouded by cynicism. But, I cannot help noticing how the more immoral and/or reactionary people are, the more likely they are to be accomplished in organisational and communication skills.

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“You should ‘go out’ more”…

… is what people usually say to me in arguments. When they say ‘go out’, they mean leaving my safe space and exposing myself to different worldview.

Obviously, that’s a sound advice. We should thrive to avoid any echo chambers if we truly have the desire to grow and discern our reality. But, I do know those people don’t care about my well-being; they just hate it that I refuse to appease to them.

People who love exaggerating the flaws of Marvel films think I need to watch anything other than Hollywood blockbusters, not realising that my favourite film directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick, arguably giants of arthouse cinema, and some of my favourite films are not even American, let alone Hollywood.

Some people think I will grow out of my “extremely woke” politics and suggest leaving my echo chamber. It is interesting because not only there is nothing radical about centre-left politics, I used to be a lot more conservative. I also live in a country where even self-proclaimed moderates are very socially conservative. Not to mention the many conservatives, libertarians, liberals and centrists I constantly run into online.

Pro and anti-multiculturalism and anti-Muslim westerners have something in common: they genuinely believe that the west is the only diverse place on earth. The differences? The pro wants to feel superior about their own countries, thinking simply seeing minorities on the streets and having foreign ancestors boost their multicultural cred. The other camps think other places aren’t being forced to be diverse. When I refute their factually incorrect claims, they condescendingly suggest me to interact with people of differing cultural and religious backgrounds.

What they don’t know is I am from Indonesia, a country with six officially recognised religions and literally hundreds of ethnic groups; my hometown specifically has five dominant ethnic groups, which is unusual even for an Indonesian city, and has visible Christian and Buddhist minorities. I attended a middle school where I was one of the few non-Chinese-Indonesian and non-Buddhist students and I got my degree from an Australian university. Oh, and virtually all of my online friends are foreigners and much of them are non-Muslims.

My exposure to different cultures and religions is so mundane. If it wasn’t for my interactions with dumb westerners, I would have kept taking my diverse upbringing for granted.

“The more you know, the more you don’t know”

The older I get, the more I can relate to the quote. As much as I want to see myself as extremely knowledgeable, I have to acknowledge the horizon’s infinite vastness.

I haven’t tasted every film style of imaginable. I haven’t matured politically. And I have only been exposed to a tiny chunk of the world’s cultures and religions. I need to keep learning.

But, as one can tell, my aforementioned opponents clearly don’t care. They all share something in common: the belief that some or all of their opinions are absolutely correct. My mere disagreement is more than enough for them to make a baseless assumption about my personal life, which they make even before I say anything about it.

One may argue I am a hypocrite because I also make assumptions about others when I disagree with them. But, there is a difference.

My aforementioned opponents make assumptions simply because I disagree, that’s literally the sole reason. Meanwhile, I make assumptions based not only on how (un)reasonable and factually (in)accurate their opinions are, but also the anecdotes which they willingly share.

If you say enjoyment of pop culture is a sign of immaturity, I can assume you are a self-righteous bitch who want to feel undeservingly high and mighty about your tastes.

If you say centre-left politics – which is closer to the centre than it is to the far end – is too “woke”, I can assume you are swinging too far to the right end. I can also assume you are unable to perceive life’s many many shades of grey.

If you say multiculturalism can only be found in the west, I can assume you are jingostic westerners who think your countries are more special than they really are and/or you know nothing about lives beyond your borders.

If you admit that you intentionally avoid interactions with the “others” and avoid visiting other countries because you “know” how bad they are, I can definitely say you don’t care about the truth, you just want to affirm your preconceived beliefs.

Again, I refuse to say I have fully escaped all kinds of bubbles. But, I am confident I have escaped more bubbles than my opponents do.

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Destructive criticism shouldn’t motivate you

Why should it?

The proceeding adjective should have been enough. Destructive critics don’t care about our well-being; they inject mind-controlling parasites into our minds and make sure they are hard to get rid off. They want the power to control our lives, they want to live rent free in our minds, free to release toxins within them.

If they do care about us, they wouldn’t exaggerate our weaknesses and make us feel guilty for having trivial ones that do not affect them personally. If they do care about us, their criticism would have been factual and they would have targeted weaknesses that are actually detrimental to us and/or others.

Why do you exercise? Is it because you want to be healthier or want to be more physically attractive? Or is it because some people bully you because they don’t like seeing fat people?

Why do you work long hours? Is it because you love your job or you want more money? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a lazy pig?

Why do you study hard? Is it because you love the subjects or you want the diplomas for future employment? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a stupid pig?

Why do you do those adrenaline-inducing activities? Is it because you are an adrenaline junkie or you want to overcome your fear? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a pussy?

Why do you do the things you do? Is it because you love doing them and/or you want to reap the benefits, regardless of how shallow or profound those benefits are? Or is it because you want others to stop verbally abusing you?

If your answer is always the latter, then you have a problem. Even if those destructive criticism brings us worldly successes, your life still revolves around the desires of your abusers, NOT your own.

Yes, thriving to achieve worldly successes is great. But, is it really worth our time and energy if our goal isn’t to please ourselves but to please our abusers?

One may argue that we shouldn’t complain; if the abuses bring us those worldly successes, shouldn’t we show gratitude instead of behaving like ungrateful brats?

First, how can those successes of yours bring pleasure when they were never intended to please you? If they do bring pleasure, is it possible that you and your abusers just happen to share the same dreams?

Second, what if other people abuse you not for your weight and lack of workaholism, but for your sexuality, facial features, cultural backgrounds and skin colour? Believe it or not, if yours are the right kind, your life would be practically easier; not only you would be less likely to suffer abuse, you would have easier time achieving professional successes as promotions become more likely to occur.

Now, if you are a giant cunt who think simply being different is inflammatory, you would not see anything wrong with the whole thing. But, if you are one of the lessers cunts, you would be troubled by it.

One may argue the two groups are not comparable. Weight and workaholism can be achieved and un-achieved while sexuality, skin colour and cultural backgrounds are not things we can pick and choose. I acknowledge the difference.

But, how do those things affect other people? How the fuck does your fatness negatively affect others? Your so-called “laziness”? Your so-called “pussiness”?

Well…

Your fatness affect others either by not affirming to their aesthetic standard 0r making you unable to be used as their 0bjects of masturbation.

Your lack of workaholism affect others either by disrespecting their love of workers exploitations or reminding them that workaholism does not always pay off.

Your lack of thrill-seeking affect other people by refusing to put adrenaline junkies on a higher pedestal for their “bravery”.

Basically, those traits of yours affect other people like your skin colours and sexuality do: robbing them the chance to feel undeservingly superior about themselves.

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If you don’t like them, just say it! Don’t make up excuses!

This blog post is a translation of this.

Indonesians know we are a nation ashamed of itself.

Of course, many of us are despicably behaved. But, many of us are ashamed because of things I consider trivial: ashamed of our own heritage.

Let me show you two example cases.

Case one:

On a food-related Facebook post, a foreign citizen of Indonesian descent said she disliked Indonesian cuisine due to the strong and “imbalanced” flavours of spices. That’s why she preferred Indian and Thai ones. She only liked Indonesian foods made abroad.

She also said Thai cuisine was more “sophisticated” than the Indonesian one, hence why there is an abundance of Thai restaurants everywhere.

Case two:

On Youtube, I made a comment about how invisible Indonesian culture was on the world stage. Not long after, a fellow Indonesian told me the lack of popularity was caused by the lack of aesthetic originality.

He said our ancestral cultures were just carbon copies of Arab and Chinese cultures. He believed that was the reason why foreigners were more interested in Malaysian, Thai and Filipino cultures.

If take a close look, none of their arguments make sense.

The first person said she didn’t like Indonesian cuisine due to the strong and “imbalanced” spices. But, she also liked Indian and Thai cuisines….. which are also known for strong spices.

The second person said Indonesian cultures were just copying foreign ones. But, he also praised Malaysian, Thai and Filipino ones…. which were also influenced by foreign ones; even the end results look similar to the Indonesian ones.

They criticise Indonesia for something…. and praising other countries which also have the same thing. It is obvious they can like something, as long as that something is not Indonesian.

They also said the lack of popularity was caused by its low quality. This also does not make any sense.

If we analyse every single worldwide cultural phenomenon one at a time, we will find a common thread: marketing. That can be done either by governments for diplomatic purposes or by corporations for profit’s sake.

Like it or not, the most effective way to globalise a culture is to showcase it on the world stage. Diligence is not enough; we also have to believe in the quality of the products we are selling.

Try remember: how often we hear news about Indonesians actively promoting our cultures abroad? I am certain the answer is either “rarely” or “never”.

Never mind culture, even our tourism campaign is pathetically sporadic. In 2019, Indonesia was visited by sixteen million foreign tourists. Singapore in the same year? Nineteen millions. We – -the fourth most populous country on earth and the most in Southeast Asia – are defeated by a petite country with frankly unimpressive cultural diversity when compared to Indonesian one.

Besides, if popularity is evidence of high quality, why is junk food popular all over the world? Why is Indomie instant noodle more popular than Indonesian traditional dishes? With that logic, does that mean junk food and Indomie are foods of the highest quality?

Years ago, I was just like those two people, especially when the Indonesian language was involved.

I used to think the Indonesian language – especially its standard register – was a language with rough and flat pronunciations, shallow and insubstantial vocabulary and simplistic grammar; hence why I prefer to blog in English. Nowadays, my opinions are still the same…. except in one aspect.

I still think grammatical tense is useful in decreasing temporal ambiguity. But, from grammatical standpoint, I finally acknowledge one thing which makes Indonesian better than English: the affixes.

Unlike in English, affixes in Indonesian (and Malay in general) are more extensive and consistent. Just by adding prefixes and suffixes, we can change a word’s meaning and decreases the risk of ambiguity. Unlike in English, we rarely encounter commonly-used words with multiple meanings.

I have rambled too much.

The point of my rambling is we – as Indonesians – have the right to dislike anything Indonesian. Not suitable to our tastes, low quality, lack of emotional attachments, morality, any reasons are valid…

… As long as they make sense. In those two cases, the reasons definitely make no sense.

Let’s recap: they criticise Indonesia for one thing and then praising other countries despite having the exact same thing. They also think the lack of popularity is a sign of its low quality, despite the fact that there are low quality foreign cultures which are popular all over the world.

They dislike anything Indonesian simply because those things are Indonesian. If they are foreign citizens with no Indonesian lineage, we would have considered them as prejudiced human beings.

But, those two human beings clearly have the lineage and they have definitely been exposed to life in the country. It is obvious they are ashamed of their own identities. If they have the choice, they would have swapped their ancestors with ones from other countries.

At the same time, they are aware that their honesty would provoke anger of Indonesian nationalist wannabes. As a result, they always find excuses to hide their true feelings.

But, no matter how hard we try hiding the carcasses, no matter how much perfume we use, the stench will seep through eventually.

If those two don’t feel ashamed of their lineage, I am certain their dislike of anything Indonesian would have been more reasonable and wouldn’t unfairly criticising the country.

Oh, and when I am say nationalist wannabes, I am referring to Indonesians who express pride when their country is insulted or sharply criticised and yet, in other times, they refuse to do anything to elevate their country’s esteem.

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What non-Harry Potter fans don’t get about Rowling’s transphobia controversy

The transphobes think her detractors are just random haters who always join any hate bandwagons. The pro-trans group think her defenders are either transphobic Harry Potter fans or zealous fanboys and fangirls who always defend their idols even when they are wrong.

Both sides are right; some people love joining hate bandwagons and many Potheads are indeed a bunch of sentient diarrhea (remember how they treated Katie Leung?). But, they are only partially right. In reality, many of her detractors are also her own fans.

Well, more like former fans who hate her while still loving her works. We hate her because she loves preaching about acceptance through Harry Potter and yet she ends up as a well-known hate preacher. We believe she must be held accountable not only for her bigotry, but also for her hypocrisy.

For many fans, Harry Potter inspires them to be more accepting of fellow human beings regardless of the trivial differences; in fact, a “study” (which must be taken with grains of salt) even claimed that reading Harry Potter decreases our chance of becoming bigoted.

Obviously, it is ludicrous to think works of art and entertainment can single-handedly mould our worldview. But, they certainly can be inspire us to think and feel in a certain way. It is remarkable if you actually know how Potheads perceive the series throughout the years.

It is a popular belief that Potheads started criticising Rowling when she mindlessly extended the worldbuilding through her bizarre tweets. But, their criticism against her and her works had been ongoing for much longer.

In the late 2000’s or early 2010’s, I loved browsing the internet for Harry Potter-related blogposts and sites. Not only I gained more facts about the HP universe (as I still haven’t read the first three novels and I might miss certain details), I also gained more perspectives about it.

And that was when they pointed out the problematic aspects of the series. Hogwarts’ disregard of its students’ welfare (e.g. having Snape ‘teaching’ his students), the mocking depiction of Hermione’s elf-right activism and the nonchalant depiction of love potion AKA magical date rape drug, just to name a few. That was one of my first exposure to critical analyses of entertainment.

Either those potheads got inspired by the moral gist of her works despite the complication OR they were already more progressive than Rowling ever was. Both make sense to me.

It is very easy for us to overlook problematic elements when they are small details or are subtextual; we may take heed of them long after we get the overall moral messages. While it is not always the case, it shouldn’t be a suprise that the younger generation is more progressive than its predecessor.

What’s the point of my babbling?

I do acknowledge that Harry Potter fandom has venomous individuals among ourselves; some undoubtedly defend Rowling’s transphobia (and, again, remember how they treated Katie Leung). But, we should also acknowledge the Potheads who are not only more enlightened than she is, but also have been scrutinising her works long before it was cool to do so.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the potheads, the backlash against her wouldn’t be as severe and, if it wasn’t for non-fans chiming in, the support for her wouldn’t be as strong.

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No, you are not introverted

Extroverts are energised by social interactions, introversion are energised by solitude and ambiverts are in the between. The extroversion-introversion continuum is all about how you gain and lose your energy. It literally has nothing to do with how socially inept you are, how anti-social you are and whether you have anxiety or not.

If you love solitude, don’t envy party animals, but you still can be sociable with the right crowd or adequate amount of energy, then you are definitely an introvert. You enjoy interactions, but they can be draining in excess.

If you are envious of outgoing people and wish you can be just like them, then you are definitely not an introvert. You are an extrovert shackled either by social anxiety or social ineptitude.

I know I am an introvert because social anxiety and awkwardness never make me solitary; social interactions never give me panic attacks and my poor social skills do not stop me from interacting with people I like or interacting for practical purposes. Not to mention that I never envy other people’s outgoingness. If anything, not only I find their lifestyles jarring, I have always hated how I was constantly forced to denounce solitary life.

They may be ignorant people who are willing to learn; in some cases, they indeed are. But, I don’t believe ignorance is the only culprit here. The more I hear anti-introversion comments, the more I take heed of the prejudice.

Despite having been informed of what introversion actually is and how to distinguish it from social awkwardness, social anxiety and even anti-social personality disorder, some people refuse to acknowledge its validity as a personality trait. Interestingly, they are never explicit about this.

Their mouths say they acknowledge introversion’s validity. But, from time to time, we still catch them claiming that introverts secretly want to be extroverted, that we secretly prefer social situations over solitude. Worse, they even still perceive symptoms of social anxiety and poor social skills as signs of introversion.

Maybe those people are still consciously anti-introversion; they lie about it because they don’t want to any (deserving) backlashes. Maybe their sentiment is subconscious; they genuinely believe they are accepting of introverts, not realising acceptance requires more than verbal expressions.

Either way, contrary to the words coming from their face hole, they still believe that people like them are the default normal, mentally sound people. They still believe that solitude is an inherently bad thing, simply because it is not for them.

And, no matter how hard they try to hide them, their true sentiments manage to seep through and will always do.

This is a bigger deal than it seems.

If you are already a self-accepting, empowered introvert, you would not be affected. But, what if you aren’t? What if you are still an impressionable and insecure introvert who does not know that introversion is a legitimate personality trait?

I definitely was one. Despite the fact that I was able to socialise on my own accord, I was made to believe there was something wrong with me; I genuinely thought my love of solitude was a symptom. If it wasn’t for internet and its bountiful introversion-related content, it would have taken a lot longer for me to reach self-acceptance.

And yes, I believe how those people treat introverts is an example of bigotry.

Dehumanising your fellow human beings and making them hating themselves simply because of their trivially “undesirable” traits. How is that not bigoted?

Oh and I am never tired saying this: the COVID pandemic has proven how much of a liability extroversion can be. If it wasn’t for extroversions who felt entitled to parties, the outbreak would have been more manageable. Extroverts can also be damaged people.

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Can we stop pretending that every person who helps Ukrainian refugees is moral?

If you help people regardless of backgrounds, then you do have kindness in your heart.

But, we can clearly see people – in this case, westerners and their governments – are picky.

Not long after Russia started invading Ukraine, Europeans were quick to aid the incoming Ukrainians on the borders. The governments were on it to, with high-ranking officials showing supports for the refugees; even the Polish government sent veterinarians to help anyone who brought their pets.

And it is not just Europeans. Other countries like US and Canada also flocked to help. Even their firefighters donated equipment to their Ukrainian counterparts!

And the public discourse – unless one includes Tankies and Putin’s cocksuckers in the picture – is entirely sympathetic to the plight of Ukrainian people. They are perceived as human beings undeserving of such dire situations. No one was making a fuss about the refugees’ age and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Overall, the humanitarianism was unconditional.

Compare that when brown, non-western refugees were involved.

I acknowledege that many people did welcome them with open arms. But, there were also as many as people who greeted them with dehumanising hostility.

They constantly suffered violence on the hands of border patrols of the so-called civilised European countries. Many still live in refugee camps. Countries like Australia and the US think asylum-seeking is a crime comparable to murder. Denmark wanted to take refugees’ possessions as “payments”. Far-right ideologies became even more popular.

And the discourses are just as bad.

There were so many dangerous misinformation about the refugees. When certain refugees committed atrocities, the rest had to endure guilt by association. People genuinely believed the refugees had to stay in their own countries and risked their lives fixing the problems, especially if they were young men (because, even in dire situations, arbitrary gender roles must stay upheld). People would lose their shit when they saw refugees with mobile phones, laptops and expensive watches (because we all know those protect us from violence).

Some people suddenly argued we should focus on more important issues like women’s rights, children’s welfare, homelessness, LGBT+ rights, religious extremism and veterans’ welfare, even though none of them couldn’t give less fuck about those issues prior the brown refugee crisis (and they didn’t seem to mind having white Christians as religious extremists). They tried hiding their lack of humanity by putting on pragmatic or moral masks….. and fucking morons fell for it.

I almost forgot to mention how joyful people were when refugees got killed, almost killed or tortured. A Syrian family lost of their children to a house fire? Less Muslims to worry about. Refugees almost drowned? Funniest shit ever. Refugee children traumatised after getting caged? Womp womp.

I don’t know why I have to compare it to the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. Even the Ukrainian one has bigotry issues.

Non-white people in Ukraine – foreign or not – were prohibited to leave. There were even cases in which black, foreign men were given guns and told to fight for Ukraine. How the fuck is it okay to force foreigners – some of whom never planned to stay in Ukraine permanently – to fight for a country that is not even theirs and yet you allow the white citizens of said country to fucking flee for their lives? One white dead body is too many, any number of brown and black dead bodies is acceptable.

My point is I wish people are honest with themselves. If you hate your fellow human beings simply for being different from you, just say it!

The selectiveness of your empathy, your support or excuses for far-right ideologies, your penchant to fall for misinformation about non-white refugees, it is so obvious you have biases against certain races, cultures and religions. So, why bother putting up that translucent facade of yours?

And no, you don’t need to fear.

If governments implement anti-brown-refugee policies and mainstream media spreads anti-brown-refugee rhetorics, shouldn’t you feel at home in the mainstream society? I mean, it sure sounds you are one of the “normal” ones.

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Revisiting Life of Pi (the movie) after ten years

No, I haven’t read the book.

When I first watched it, I was immediately awed by the experience. Initially, I found that baffling.

Yes, I do love ethereal visual aesthetics and stories with magical and spiritual themes. But, I have also watched other similar films. None of them – not even the works of Andrei Tarkovsky, one of my favourite directors – have spiritually galvanised me like Life of Pi has.

Seriously, I spent months arguing with my online friends and reading online essays about the film. I tried to decipher the magical happenings by relating them to Pi’s religiously syncretic spirituality and his relationship with his rationalist father. Inevitably, I ended up in self-contemplation about my own life.

From all things in life, I get much of my spiritual awakening from a Hollywood film. Why the hell is that?

First thing first, I have the MBTI AKA Myer-Briggs Type Indicator hypothesis.

Around the time of the film’s release, I was extremely obsessed with the personality type classification due to my early stage of “self-searching”. I identified as an INFJ (Google it yourself) and the film’s titular character was identified by many as one as well. I might be subconsciously influenced by the words of strangers.

But, this hypothesis falls apart quickly as I still love the film even after I become disillusioned with MBTI (it is basically horoscope with psychology veneer). Besides, there were also many other fictional characters and real-life public figures perceived as INFJs, none of which I could relate to (one of them was Hitler, for god’s sake).

Maybe it is indeed the films’ depiction of spirituality. After I dissected it again for the first time in almost ten years, the film does feel different from the others.

While “raw” is not how I describe it, the depiction is certainly not understated. Pi is not just a person who identifies with three different religions, he is also one who endlessly explores spirituality; his metaphysical journey is always at the frontline of his life story.

But, it does not feel like the film imposes his worldview upon us. Instead of keeping us as emotionally-detached spectators, it wants us to empathise with his experiences. It also refrains from utilising any explicitly philosophical dialogues; they can get too technical, overt and sanctimonious.

Unusual for a story with a religious main protagonist, it also wants us to be considerate of the opposing worldview. Now, my experiences with some self-proclaimed rationalists tells me they can be as insufferable as religious zealots. But, Pi’s father, Santosh, is not one of those pseudo-intellectuals.

While he can comes across as cold-hearted*, he teaches Pi to not fall for blind faiths and to not let sentimentality controls his life. In fact, not only his son ends up as a spiritually and emotionally well-rounded individual, the latter skill helps him surviving the perils of getting lost at sea; in such situation, even vegetarians like him have to kill animals for food.

The open-minded contemplation of the other worldview also gives us a nuanced paradigm to interpret Pi’s story.

On one hand, we can take his fantastical story as his attempt to suppress his memory, which is horrific as it involves surviving as a castaway, witnessing murders, killing the murderer and cannibalising his rotting cadaver. The memory suppression is a natural response.

At the same time, the film is not robotic enough to dismiss the story’s possibility. Would I believe it if someone claimed to experience it? No, I wouldn’t. But, I also acknowledge that the world is a bizarre place.

I mean, just take a look at nature. Tectonic plates are basically giant chunks of land who always bump into each other. Many of those deep sea creatures look like aliens. The outer space has black holes. Every single living being on earth is each other’s very distant relative.

While the living island cannot scientifically exist, carnivorous plants do exist and the water surrounding the Italian island of Castello Aragonese has significant content of carbonic acid, which can be corrosive if nothing’s done about the climate change. Nature is one giant weirdo.

Scepticism is indeed a must. But, if nature – the tangible and measurable nature – is weird, we shouldn’t dismiss any human experiences simply because they sound weird.

Maybe this is why I was so obsessed with the film. It goes beyond simply depicting a character’s spiritual journey. It tries its best depicting one that is emotionally exhausting but ever-lastingly rewarding… and it wants us to have a taste of it.

And, as I was in the early stage of “self-searching”, I (probably) subconsciously craved something more nuanced than the glorified pigeonholes of MBTI.

Oh, and I have mixed feelings about the film’s multicultural nature.

On one hand, the film could have been more multilingual. As Pi is from Pondicherry, a Tamil-majority Indian union territory that is formerly a French colony, there could have been more Tamil and French dialogues. Instead, most of them are in English.

But, I also acknowledge the film does a relatively great job in depicting the universality of human experiences. From my eyes, while the titular character is inseparable from his cultural and religious identities, people from all over can easily feel for him in spite of the differences.

The film feels even more multicultural when you learn about Ang Lee, the director.

He is a US-based Taiwanese director. His first two feature films are about the lives of Chinese (mainland and Taiwanese) immigrants in the US, his third is about the clash between Chinese traditions and western-influenced modernity, his fourth is a Jane Austen novel adaptation and many of his subsequent films are set in America and feature American characters.

He is certainly a filmmaker who has experiences traversing cultural differences.

As flawed as the film’s multiculturalism can be, I don’t find it tokenist at all. It does help reminding me about the universality of human experiences.

I don’t see Pi as someone who belongs to the “others”. I see him as a fellow human being.

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*A bit of tangent about Pi’s father, Santosh.

He does come across as cold-hearted. But, I don’t believe he is. There are times when his emotions are glaring for everyone to see.

He looks genuinely sad when he announces the family’s migration to Canada, he tries to physically fight the French cook for disrespecting his vegetarian wife and insulting Indians like him as “curry eaters” and he – along with his family -looks red-faced afterwards.

Oh, and he names one of his sons – the titular character – Piscine Molitor. Why? Because his friend is a swimmer whose favourite swimming pool is at the Piscine Molitor Hotel in Paris. There is nothing rational about that.

He is just as interesting as his youngest son.

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So, you think the Russians are complicit?

If so, why?

Why do you think the ordinary Russians are guilty of the wars? Do you realise that not only the war has low support among them and the soldiers, they also live under an authoritarian regime and therefore, rendering them politically powerless? Do you realise that speaking out against the government can get you jailed and even killed?

I have to state the obvious because some of you still don’t get it and I don’t know why. Maybe you are a privileged fuck who spent their whole life in a liberal democratic bubble and don’t know how it feels to live under political repression. Or maybe, you are a bigot who will do anything to justify your dehumanising hatred of the Russians, regardless of the facts.

If you are the former, you probably think the Russian people can easily form paramilitary units and topple the government in days. You probably think the Russian people are lazy people whose desire for liberty is as paper thin as your desire to understand fellow human beings.

You probably think The Arab Spring and the fall of the USSR are great examples of how easy it is to defeat authoritarianism, even though the reality shows otherwise.

(I don’t know why I use the word “probably” when you motherfuckers explicitly spew those beliefs)

The Arab world are still packed with tyrannical leaders, Syria and Libya become plagued with instability, Russia in the 90’s was full of political and economic crises and it ends up with a post-Soviet tyrant anyway.

Basically, not only there is no guarantee of better lives, there is also high possibility of even worse ones; those who spend their lives in liberal democracies don’t know the feeling.

As you can see, I believe it is stupid to hold all Russians accountable. But, even if I believe such intellectual retardation, how does that make Americans and their allies?

Americans have way more freedom to oppose the establishment. But, the majority of them chose to support the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, happily consumed pro-war media content and even reelected their president! Even to this day, many Americans still make excuses for the invasions and American media has yet to acknowledge their past sin.

And American allies …

Some actively supported America in the invasions and even committing their own war crimes. Those who were not busy participating could have easily boycotted America and other war participants… and yet, they did none of those.

Despite having the freedom to publicly oppose the wars, to vote every single war-mongering politician out of office, to put every single war-mongering media outlet out of business and having the power to boycott entire countries, they voluntarily choose to support the wars, vote for the war-mongers and keep making them extremely rich and let the war participants unpunished.

I don’t believe all Americans and all citizens of their allies are complicit, just like I don’t believe all Russians are. In this regard, I am consistent. But, some of you clearly aren’t.

If you believe all Russians are complicit, then you should also believe all Americans and their allies are blood-thirsty war-mongers who want their children and children’s children aroused by the sight of white people turning brown people into mutilated corpses.

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