A case against swearing

*dons the veneer*

Or, as a sage would utter, a postulation for counterpoising malodorous confabulation.

Equitably, it bespeaks a meagreness of erudition. We blaspheme owing to the verity that our cerebrums are destitute of immaculated and unblemished lexicon. Blasphemers anathematise the supposition of being transmuted to personages of letters.

If they are veritably lingually chivalrous, then why wouldn’t they ply more opulent locution? ‘F*** you’ can be transposed with ‘fornicate thee’. ‘Motherf*****’ with ‘lady-parent copulator’. ‘Son of a b****’ with ‘descendant of a feminine canine’. One can be edified by the opuses of synonyms.

Barring my articulation above, there are no assurances for any personage to raise our modulation and unhand our decolum, let alone blaspheme. Not even in the middle of parlous quandary. Instead of declaring curses or having recourse to nefarious somatic undertakings, one could have said something like, ‘Dear, fine sirs. I am privy to the certitude that each and every one of you is sexually titil;ated by the visibility of my ménage. But, would you be so forbearing to not ravish them? Prithee, cogitate about my solicitation. Thank you’. I am 100% assured that they would not acquit themselves of anything peccable. Who knows? Mayhap there could be a concordantly- espoused coital soirée thereupon.

Sinfulness is not caused by sinful intentions. It is caused by rudeness.

*disengage from the veneer*

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Support this deadbeat blogger on Patreon.

I love sarcasm and/or satire

Arts

It is a great tool to deal with human beings, God’s most regrettable creations.

Obviously, sarcasm is an asset for comedy. Without it, there would be no satires that call out the ignorance and prejudice possessed by humans, especially the powerful ones. Without it, comedy would just be a completely escapist form of entertainment. But, I also love for it another reason.

For me, it is a great outlet to vent my anger. It is healthier than vandalising properties, angry-eating and mean-spiritedly insulting my fellow human beings. Besides having a more appropriate venting outlet called satire, my sarcasm also successfully calls out the people I am angry at.

Well, because my satire can be very mean-spirited, I still sound malicious. But, at the same time, I have also compellingly (I hope) illustrated how empty-headed and jingoistic some opinions can be. Took me over 365 days and many satirical blogs to get the picture. At the beginning, I only cared about emotional satisfaction.

I am not surprised that I end up writing satires. Satirist Stephen Colbert is one of my favourite comedians; I can relate to his takes on politics, religions and anti-intellectualism. A few of my favourite Youtubers are also known for their sarcastic comments. Either they affirm my love of sarcasm or they are the reason why I love it, I am still not sure. But, I am sure about something: not everyone gets them.

They are accused of possessing undesirable traits when, in reality, they possess ones that are the complete opposite. I have been trying to comprehend why people misconstrue them when I, far from being the most intelligent organism in the neighbourhood, can easily spot sarcasm.

My methods to detect sarcasm is not ‘peer-reviewed’ and their validity is purely anecdotal. But then, almost every single one of my blog posts is anecdotal. So, adding another anecdote should not matter. Anyway, here we go:

Maybe, just maybe, people misconstrue sarcasm because it is not always detectable. In the case of internet comments, some users are skilled at masking sarcasm as sincerity, fooling even the most intelligent among us. But, there are times when the satire is blatant.

The ridiculing comments usually start with deceptive sincerity. Then, either midway or at the end, they ‘punch’ themselves by pointing out their own glaringly shiny irony; by this point, anyone would chuckle (assuming you agree with the comments’ messages). But, strangely, there are also sincere comments unintentionally disguising themselves as satires.

Even though they seem indistinguishable to satirical ones, they are actually easy to detect. Instead of starting with a tone of sincerity, they immediately start with an ironic one. In fact, the entire comments are 100% irony. No punchlines and self-mockery whatsoever. By the time you finish reading them, you are not sure if they are being serious or not.

You probably reply, expecting the commenters to confirm their sarcasm. But, their replies seem to be mere extensions of their original comments. By this point, you are great in disbelief. Surely, it is impossible for anyone to be that ignorant, it is impossible for anyone to be that prejudiced….

And yet, it is possible. Soon, you realise that you just encountered humanity at its lowest moment. You realise that satires don’t always exaggerate their portrayal of mankind. You are terrified that humans can be their own caricatures. When life imitates art…

(Side note: I am pretty sure this so-called method can also be used to detect sarcasm in videos. But, personally, I have only used it on internet comments.)

Even when the sarcasm seems blatant for some, it is still not obvious to others. It is all about subtlety. We must not read and hear words as they are. We must dig deeper to determine whether there is an underlying merit. Took me years to recognise (and appreciate) understatedness. But, such skill is not always needed when watching Youtubers.

Many Youtubers are entertainers and entertainers in general are known for establishing public personas who may be an exaggeration or the antitheses of their true selves. Correct me if I am wrong. But, I notice that ‘traditional’ entertainers often don’t show their true selves when performing. With Youtubers, it is a bit different.

Many Youtube videos are indeed scripted. But, scriptless ones are also bountiful because either some formats should never be scripted (e.g. gaming videos) or the content creators prefer to ad-lib everything. That situation makes it easier for Youtubers’ true selves to surface from time to time.

The shifts between personalities are very noticeable. Just pay attention to their body languages, facial expressions, speaking intonation and choice of words. They often drastically change from time to time. How does one identify which persona is the real one?

It probably does not apply to all Youtubers. But, in many cases, their true selves are more introverted, more thoughtful, more inhibited and kinder than their obnoxious, loud and mean-spirited personas. Even without sarcasm, the contrast is too glaring for one to ignore. The art of subtlety spotting should be futile here. Well, ideally.

In reality, those characters are still seen as the actual personalities, despite mounting evidences to the contrary! More sarcastic Youtubers have it worse because they are accused of non-existing sins! I still don’t know why this shit happens. But, I have a hypothesis.

Maybe some people do not see the transformation intentionally. Maybe they know about the Youtubers’ real personalities. But, they love to hate. Being haters is the only thing that gives their sad, worthless lives meanings. Hate is beautiful, they believe.

Either that or they are just a bunch of dumbfucks who cannot separate facts from fiction, whose intelligence is comparable to one of flies-covered faeces, who ideally should not be allowed to breed even though, despite my obvious hatred of idiocy, my personal ethics still prevent me from embracing eugenics with fucking wide open arms!

But, anyway…

Earlier, I talked about genuinely ignorant and prejudiced people who unintentionally make their statements look borderline satirical. Well, there is another breed of humans who do the exact opposite: self-proclaimed satirists who don’t know what a satire is!

Instead of displaying idiocy and bigotry lampooningly, they do so in a very matter-of-fact manner. There is no embellishment that indicates any traces of ridicule whatsoever. Their statements sound sincere. Maybe, just maybe, they are skilled in making their satires look real. Yeah, no.

Upon meticulous appraisal, those earnest-looking satires disclose their veritable quintessence. That’s not how things stand with those unadulterated utterances which, even after a profusion of enquiries, still look unfeigned with their indiscretion and dogmatism.

Sorry, I am being unclear here. Let me show you some examples.

Example one: Let’s just say I want to mock anti-Semitism. Ideally, I would say something like, ‘All Jews are evil! If they are not, then how come these cherry-picked articles and videos say they are?’. Not the best satirical statement. But, it is still satirical. Clearly, I was badmouthing anti-Semites and their lack of cognitive soundness. Only imbeciles declare otherwise.

Example two: What if I go to the streets and opted to suddenly blurt out ‘All Jews are evil!’? What if I opted to suddenly dress myself as a Jewish caricature, complete with a yarmulke, a prosthetic crooked nose and speak with a stereotypical Yiddish accent while holding the Israeli flag in one hand and a bag of money in the other? You would call me an anti-Semite straight up. No hesitation. In the latter, alternately, some of you would accuse me of being offensive for the sake of it. You would noall me a satirist, not even after a close scrutiny. Why? Because context.

Mind the word ‘suddenly’. The people on the streets were strangers. Nobody knew who I was, let alone being familiar about my social stances. Nobody expected my supposedly satirical anti-Jewish statements. My audience should know about them being my audience. Never ever catch them off guard! They ought to be respected… and even that it’s not enough.

Instead of berating anti-Jewish outlooks, my statements merely exhibited them. Straightforwardly. No ornaments to materialise any lampooning quality whatsoever. In truth, purposefully or not, I endorsed anti-Semitism. I would emotionally torment Jewish people and empower anyone who yearn for their extermination.

I am actually one of the few people who believe motives matter. They are the reasons why we do anything in the first place. Dismissing them is being untruthful. One must always thrive to grasp the whole stories or risk ignorance.

But, one must also thrive to take the outcomes seriously. They should correspond to the intentions. If the dissonance is caused by people’s idiocy and saviour complex, which may happen with example 1, then the problem’s on them; nothing I can do to fix their sorry-ass brains. But, if it is caused by my own tactlessness, which may happen with example 2, then it’s on me.

No matter what my intentions are, nothing can defend me from the explosive wrath of my fellow human beings. Even saying, ‘it’s just a satire!’ won’t cut it. Actually, that would aggravate the situation. I would look like I am putting the blame on my ‘stupid and fragile’ audience. Worse, I would look like an anti-Semite who exploits satire for the sake of indulging his prejudice. The only way for me to fix everything is to repent.

Sincerely. Gullible creatures may be fooled by my fake apology. But, observant beings can smell lies from miles away. If I am not sorry, don’t bother to apologise at all! At least, I am honest about my inconsiderate nature… and more considerate people will understand that I am to be avoided.

Anyway, my point is this: think before you act! If you are going to do a satire, make sure you understand it first! If you do things like shown in example 2, then you don’t know the proper techniques and therefore, you don’t know what a satire really is! Antagonistic reactions to your brainlessness are still within reason and decency. A victim, you are fucking not!

Oh, and speaking about that…

Since the start of the article, I have been making one mistake: using the words ‘sarcasm’ and ‘satire’ interchangeably. They are not.

Satire is a genre of the arts and entertainment that mock certain people for their apparent flaws which the targets seem to be insensibly unaware or even proud of. Sarcasm is a confrontational method of communication in which our words may convey the complete opposite of their literal meanings and it is also one of the many techniques used in satire-making. So, how did I end up with this factual inaccuracy?

Well, regardless of the fact, my mind still cannot set the two apart. Sarcasm is the reason why I was attracted to satire in the first place. Heck, because of the sarcasm, some of my favourite Youtubers’ videos have strong satirical touch to them. Their lampoons are unquestionably rooted from their sarcastic inclination. But, I also have another reason to possess such mindset: because I love being mean.

For me, sarcasm is the reason why some works of satire are laced with raw meanness. It is the reason why satire has that strong and blunt punches to their targets’ faces. Obviously, some people find this objectionable, thinking that even mockery must always be polite, respectful and civil. Yeah, no.

Unlike journalism and the academia, arts and entertainment do not have codes of ethics. There is no inherent obligation for artists and entertainers to embrace those “positive” adjectives, like “neutral” or, which is relevant in this case, “nice”.

Okay, I admit that niceness should be compulsory in some cases. If our targets are ones we truly care about and have no ill feeling for, we should express genuine playfulness instead of pure malice. Well, duh. This is what we call Horation satire.

But, if our targets are ones we not only resent but are also corrupt and powerful (in a general sense), niceness is unessential. In fact, if we are being too nice, we would not be distinguishable from toothless tigers, embarrassingly impotent in exposing the sinfulness of our targets. Call me self-righteous. But, being too nice means we are mere usable bitches of the establishment. Ferocity is a must in Juvenalian satire.

And the article ends here. Seriously, I still don’t know how to make conclusions properly. Besides, as a computer document, the article is four pages long. Quite lengthy for my blogs.

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Support this deadbeat blogger on Patreon.

Two reasons to hate Stephen Colbert

 

*puts on a mask*

Wait, why only Colbert? Why don’t we include the others? Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Sam Bee, Jordan Klepper, Seth Meyers, Hasan Minhaj. You know, those subhumans.

Reason 1:

Because they are libtard fascist commie cucks! They are ideologically different from me! How dare they? Don’t they know my belief is the only correct one? How can my belief is false when I am the most perfect person on earth? Duh!

Reason 2:

Because they are entertainers! They have one duty: to entertain and entertain only! Entertainment is about fun and one cannot be fun without objectivity and neutrality! It is literally stated in every ‘how to entertain’ book. Every entertainer must bow to the ruling of Global Association of Politically Compliant Entertainers. Heck, even arts schools expel students for skipping the compulsory 100-hour-long ‘objectivity and neutrality classes! Media like Fox News, Breitbart and Infowars frequently report that! Can’t go wrong with right-wing pundits.

How about journalists? Well, their job is to make opinions. Duh! Journalists and pundits are inherently the same. Only fucktards think they are different! The best journalists are the ones who only make opinions.

Actually, no. The best journalists are the ones who make the proper opinions. When I said ‘proper opinions’, I meant the ones that affirm my belief. Again, mine is the correct one.

‘But, good sir, aren’t you being biased yourself?’, some of you may ask. Well, yes, I am biased. But, bias is the prerogative of right-wingers! As I sai-

‘But, sir, aren’t you being unreasonable here?’, some of you may interrupt. Look, the fact is that I am the most perfect person in the universe! Anything that I do, anything that I believe is absolutely perfect! Rejecting me means you are rejecting perfection! Rejecting me means you are rejecting God’s will!

Worship me….. or else!

*takes off the mask*

No, I am not Charlie

Two years since the Charlie Hebdo massacre and I still refuse to wholeheartedly declare I am Charlie.

Why? Because I believe condemnation of violence does not command us to ideologically align ourselves with the victims. Yes, I am offended by the publication’s mean-spirited vilification of my Islamic faith and fellow Muslims. But, in spite of my hurt feelings, I still cannot find any moral justification for the killings whatsoever. Cynicism has yet to kill my sense of humanity.

If I have to choose a slogan, I would choose I am Ahmed instead. Apart from Ahmed being similar to my last name (albeit with a different spelling), it is also the first name of the Muslim police officer slain by the terrorists. A Muslim died while defending the publication who derided his faith. I cannot see myself enlisting to any law enforcement agencies. But, I should thrive to be just like him, defending everyone’s right to express themselves, no matter how horrendous their thoughts are.

But, some people think my view is not good enough. In fact, people have accused of me supporting the massacre. They believe that my refusal to call myself Charlie makes me an apologist of terrorism. A violence-loving, freedom-hating extremist. I am not sure about you, but I find the accusation blatantly problematic. Hypocritical, to be exact. Hypocritical in various ways.

First, the supporters of Charlie Hebdo love to call themselves freedom lovers because they defend blasphemy. Just like many self-proclaimed freedom-lovers, they try to silence the critics of the blasphemers. How? By smearing, of course. They fail to realise that freedom of speech is a two-way street; it is not a prerogative of the blasphemous ones.

Second, they also see themselves as the humanity-loving. Yeah, no. Their reaction to statements like mine show the complete opposite. They imply that any resemblances other than simply being humans are prerequisite for sympathy. They imply that they would not sympathise with any victims of violence if they are different from them. Humanity-loving my ass.

I just realise something. Besides the slandering and two-facedness, Charlie Hebdo supporters are also guilty of something else: glorification. Actually, glorification is such a soft word. Idolatry is more like it.

Somehow, its staff getting massacred makes them worthy of worship. Somehow, that tragedy makes it the most honourable publication in the world. Getting killed by extremists instantly makes you a hero. Yeah, again, no.

Should I even bother to dismantle this faulty logic? If you are assassinated because your works count as activism, you die a hero! If you are assassinated because you were being offensive just because you could, you don’t die a hero! Not every victim of acts of inhumanity is virtuous. Harsh, but true to life. Do you seriously believe being a victim elevates your moral standing? Your morality is defined by how you treat others, not the other way around.

Okay, I need to end this soon this before I give my detractors more dishonest ammunition.

Once again, I still condemn the killing. But, I am still not Charlie and probably never will. It does not negate my condemnation of the violence. In fact, it shows my sincerity. It shows how I still have a sense of humanity for anyone, even for people I deeply loathe.

An extremely short defense of ‘Let’s Play’ (and dispelling the myth of sports cultures’ innate superiority)

I used to sneer at anyone who watched sports for fun. Like, come on! What’s so fun about watching others playing sports which we can do ourselves? Shouldn’t it be fun if we are actually physically involved in the activities? I thought sports spectators were a bunch of imbeciles with feeble grasps of reality.

One day, I found Youtubers. It didn’t take me long to idolise some of this ‘unusual’ breed of entertainers. Not surprising considering their humour and intellectualism (*self-praising cough*) were similar to mine. But, I was surprised that some of them were ‘Let’s Play’ Youtubers, aka Youtube gamers.

As the name suggests, they upload videos of themselves playing video games and millions love to watch them. I was never a video game enthusiast myself and yet, I found myself enjoying Let’s Play. But, one day, I had a realisation: it was surprising that I was surprised by this.

Uhm, that’s confusing. I am sorry. Let me explain.

Growing up, I actually enjoyed watching other people playing games. I loved watching adults playing those difficult games, my cousin playing Suikoden II and my sister playing Pokemon Ruby (a reason why my mom bought me Game Boy Advance SP; Pokemon Ruby was the only game I ever played on the device). I was excited as the actual players. To sum it up, I was already a fan of Let’s Play before Youtube existed. So, my love of Youtube gamers should never be a surprise.

Then, I had another realisation: Let’s Play and sports spectatorship are conceptually similar! Both are about us getting excited by watching others doing activities they (seemingly) enjoy! Throughout the years, I constantly looked down on people for embracing such a ridiculous-sounding concept, not realising I have been embracing a similar one throughout my life! Hypocrisy shredding me to worthless, tiny pieces.

(Side note: I realise how the conceptual comparison is a bit flawed. Let’s Play is not always competitive while e-sports always are, just like what we consider to be traditional sports. But, the spectatorship aspect still stands. I hope…)

Brilliant enough to be the first to have such thought, I am not. Countless Facebook comments have pointed out the same thing. They counter equally countless comments that demean Let’s Play videos and anything ‘nerdy’ in general. Sports fans cannot accept that their beloved culture can be similar to the nerd one.

Never mind the denialism. The hostility is unbelievable and unnecessary. In any similar situations, my old self would react in an even more hostile manner. But, nowadays, I try to replace my hostility with something else: pity. Why? Because one does not have to be a genius to see the mindlessness of their anti-nerd culture rhetoric.

One stupid argument states how sports cultures encourage physical fitness. Sports fans love to believe themselves as people who are collectively in good shape. Somehow, loving sports make them instantly fit. Yeah, no.

Sports culture is all about the reverence of teams and athletes, akin to how nerd culture revere creators and their creations. Embracing the importance of physical fitness is and will never be the core. Can you convince me that every single sports fan is in good shape? Can you convince that those fat sports fans are just my hallucinations?

Fat nerds do exist, including the ones on Youtube. But, there are also people who are both nerdier and fitter than me. Some of the nerdy Youtubers I am subscribed are physically fit, way more than most sports fans will ever be (their physique is often credited for their physical attractiveness).

Going back to Let’s Play format, sports fans love to dismiss it as nothing but the worship of ineptitude, unlike sports spectatorship which is absolutely about admiring talents. Yeah, about that…

Admittedly, untalented Youtubers exist; the constant yelling and crude jokes is their way to compensate. But, being Youtubers can also be challenging. You have to be your own host/actor/voice actor, writer (if a script is needed), editor, director, graphic designer (if one needs catchier thumbnails) and PR person; if you are a Youtube gamer, you have to constantly make commentaries when needed, you are often pressured to upload videos daily and actual gaming skill is an asset.

You know what? I really cannot say whether some professional athletes are actually talented or not; I even don’t have the most basic knowledge about them. But, I can say that the spectatorship also includes watching amateurs playing sports; it is often the case in villages, neighbourhoods and schools. As condescending as it sounds, some amateurs are not talented! Watching untalented players is fine. Pretending that sports spectatorship is all about the appreciation of talent is dishonest.

From all anti-nerd culture arguments in existence, probably the most common one argues about nerds’ supposed lack of maturity. Their obsession with fictional worlds is seen as a sign of unwillingness to grow up. Real grown-ups have learned that only real world things matter. Things like sports cultures. Yeah, again, no.

Immaturity does exist among nerds. But, it is less about their supposedly feeble grip of reality and more about their intolerance of differing tastes (yes, the former is actually a rarity). Interfandom conflicts are excessive in nature and unfortunately abundant. Everyone must love what we love… or else.

… And the same mentality exists among sports fans. They also constantly clash with each other. In fact, their conflicts are more dangerous because they occur on the public spheres. Ensuing vandalism and fatalities are never in shortage. It has been covered too many times by the news. How often do you encounter nerdy fandoms inciting brawls in public spaces?

Also, sports fans cannot claim to be more grounded in reality than nerds are. What is tangible about sports cultures? Nothing. The sports indeed are. But, the cultures that revolve around them aren’t. I repeat, sports cultures are about fans getting excited about sports being played by others, not by themselves. They are excited about teams and athletes who don’t know them personally and probably never will. Their excitement is all about irrational emotional attachments. They are excited about nothing.

I was serious about every single one of my statements…. except for the last one. How can I say that sports fans are excited about nothing? Not only it contradicts the beginning of this article where I acknowledge my own hypocrisy, sports fans are clearly excited about something real. I was just using others’ emotions to vilify them.

Yes, when they substitute reason, emotions can be the path to our own downfalls as shown by many sports fans and nerds. They can fiendishly hate anyone and anything who shatters the divine image of the things they love. Imperfection is blasphemous. Their zealotry is comparable to religious fundamentalists’. Unrestrained emotions are dangerous.

But, when healthily composed, emotions are lovely. Our healthy emotional attachments to certain entities show how we are still able to find things to love. They are confirmations of our humanity, in spite of our constant cynicism.

Or maybe the paragraph above is just me projecting myself on others, falsely believing that what I am experiencing is universal. Did I just my article futile?

Oh, and one more thing before I end this worthlessness: emotions are actually tangible. They are the results of the chemical reactions in our brains. They are not as abstract as I wanted to believe.

I am not sure how the fact contributes to this article. I just want to point out the science.

I love celebrating new year’s eve….

*puts on a mask*

…because it is a fools’ paradise. It gives us, fools, a false impression that life will get better. We are deliberately fooling ourselves to believe that a transition to a new time period (which itself is based on an arbitrarily and rigidly established time system) inherently means the arrival of a better future. We love being delusional fools.

Oh, and for that reason, new year’s eve gives us an excuse to be hedonistic. Hypocrites like me love pretending to be profound by celebrating holidays like this one using the pretext of absorbing the wisdom. The ‘verdicts’ of self-righteous organisms that mainstream society genuinely does not care about? We love to hold them with the highest regards, treating them as the literal words of Gods. We want to look good on the piercing goody-goody eyes. We love being exploitable and deceitful.

*takes off the mask*

A brief description of the outlooks of Indonesian Muslims

Based on a university assignment I made recently. Improved and translated from Indonesian:

Ahok is charged with two years of imprisonment for a blasphemy he was never guilty of. Habieb Rizieq, who blatantly and clearly insulted the Christian faith and desires for Sharia imposed on every citizen, has yet to be touched by the anti-blasphemy legislation. Worse, Ahok is considered to be the nation’s divider and Rizieq to be a unifier by some Muslims.

Unfortunately, this injustice is not surprising. First of all, Islam is the biggest religion here, venerated by 87.18% of the population; so easy for the majority to rule. I obtained the data from a census published by the Central Agency on Statistics (BPS) in 2010. Minority religions were also mentioned. But, the balance in religious studies was not always embraced.

Overall statistic studies of the whole country published in 2016 mentioned the numbers of government-run Madrasahs (Islamic schools) along with their students and teachers; there are also numbers for the people who did the Hajj (pilgrimage). Same thing with the 2015 and 2014 publications. The studies were executed to comprehend different aspects of the country’s life, including its ‘key socio-demographic’ characteristics, as stated in the introduction page of every said publication.

Demographic studies should include every single section of a society, not just the majority ones. Other religious groups are not mentioned at all while the study of the Muslim one is quite in-depth. The Indonesian government seems to treat the others like step-children. Maybe I look petty for making a big deal out of statistical researches. But, that lack of impartiality is also shown in the government’s administrative works.

From its name alone, the ministry of religious affairs should serve all religious groups. But, in reality, they only serve Muslims. The ministry is being ruled by Muslims, including the ministerial rank. If they only want to serve Muslims, at least they change their name to ministry of Islamic affairs. No need to be deceptive.

Of course, I cannot completely accuse the government of making Islam the golden child. Besides it, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism are all officially recognised. Despite being dominated by Muslims, the ministry of religious affairs still possesses organisations that represent minority religions. Publicly-funded universities affiliated with other religions can still be found. Ministerial positions can still be held by non-Muslims. Despite the tendency to be religiously one-sided and to mix religion with politics, the Indonesian government has yet to be tainted by Islamist ideology.

I also believe the problem can also be found on the people. In the post-Soeharto era, Syahrin Harahap notices how the Indonesian society possesses three distinct images: harmonious, open and fair interreligious image, secular, liberal and western-oriented image and conflicting, in tension and terroristic image. (2006, p. 32-43).

The observation shows how a nation, especially one as diverse as Indonesia, always consists of distinct collectives. But, at the same times, those said images are very black and white and I find that unnerving.

Indonesian liberals are not thought to prioritise harmony even when they openly oppose religious sectarianism; Ulil Abshar Abdalla even supports the Ahmadis. We also forget about how, as I mentioned earlier, Habieb Rizieq is being praised by so-called harmony-loving citizens. The mask we wear is often deceitful.

Rationality, which is embraced by some Muslim thinkers, is considered to be a highly-western thing. Such assumption gives the impression that rationality is antithetical to eastern cultures and most Muslims are easterners themselves.

Rationality is also not considered as a factor for openness. Rational thinking is just a path towards blasphemy, a path towards atheism. As a result, many Muslims see it as something that we should refrain ourselves from embracing.

We also forget about how popular the western culture is in Indonesia, even among citizens who oppose liberalism. Even the Islamic pop culture is highly westernised, with its commercialism and hedonism that attract conservatives’ distaste (Saluz 2009).

In addition, a load of preachers have attained celebrity status. Every sermon is a generous money generator. They also have appeared in countless commercials. In many ways, they are not unlike the televangelists from the United States, a western country.

Those liberal thinkers are considered too westernised because they studied in western universities. People with such petty assumption don’t realise how modern Islamic education in eastern countries is based on the western one; Islamic universities in the east have followed the results of the Bologna Process. Oh and Gus Dur graduated from University of Baghdad and Quraish Shihab from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. They studied in Arab education institutes. Why weren’t they accused of being too Arabised?

Besides accused of being too western, the liberals are also labelled as secular, despite how open they are about their religious beliefs, how often they give religious sermons and how some of them teach in Islamic educational institutes. Besides, can we guarantee all of those opponents of liberal Islam pray five times a day, do the zakat, fast every Ramadhan, abstain from alcohol and pre-marital sex?

The images shown by Syahrin Harahap, despite referring to the ones foreigners see, also exist among Indonesians. We love to stamp black and white labels on each other, not realising how humans are more complex than we like to imagine. I also feel Syahrin Harahap used the wrong approach to this issue.

I appreciate how he acknowledges Muslims’ extremism problem. But, at the same time, he was an apologist; he seemed to blame the rise of fundamentalism on forces from outside the Muslim world by stating that Islam is an inherently peaceful religion.

As a Muslim myself, I would love to believe that. But, in reality, those extremists genuinely believe their views are completely aligned with Islamic teachings. We should accept the possibility of our beloved religions being far from perfect.

I do agree with his proposal that teaching globalisation studies to students will help combating domestic extremism (p. 43). It is true the ideology was born overseas and spread from one country to another. But, the academic discipline does not cover the whole issue; it does not study how something spreads internally once it reaches a country.

I propose for all Indonesian Muslims, including the moderate ones, to take a look at themselves in the mirror regarding how we decipher Islamic teachings and how we treat our fellow human beings, especially ones whose outlooks contradict ours. Even though the moderates incite neither violence nor discrimination and will call out anyone who do so, their tendency to make infidels out of liberals and unwillingness to admit Islam as the inspiration for extremism have already given birth to possibly long-lasting negative consequences.

Like it or not, the moderates are indirectly responsible for the injustice that befalls Ahok.

 

 

Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, Hasil sensus penduduk 2010: kewarganegaraan, suku bangsa, agama dan bahasa sehari-sehari penduduk Indonesia, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2014, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2015, Statistik Indonesia 2015, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2016, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Harahap, S 2016, ‘The image of Indonesia in the world: an interreligious perspective’, The IUP journal of international relations, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 30-44.

Saluz, CN 2009, ‘Youth and pop culture in Indonesian Islam’, Studia Islamika, vol. 16. no. 2, pp. 215-242.

Lowbrow elitism

I still refuse to call myself a big fan of Progressive Rock. I have yet to listen to the works of every legendary Prog Rock band. My knowledge of the genre is still minuscule. But, I know that I am overwhelmed by it. I know about how robust intellectualism and virtuoso mastery of instruments are the non-negotiable prerequisites for its musicians. That’s why I was thrilled to find a BBC documentary titled ‘Prog Rock Britannia’.

For me, it was deeply compact. It concisely retold the chronicle of the wonderfully bizarre genre from start to finish. From the startling emergence to its disgraceful downfall. Oh and about the downfall…

According to the documentary, the cause of its demise was related to the public perception. Prog Rock had been regarded as another form of elitism that dismiss the everyday life of common people. When financial crisis struck Britain in the 1970’s, the distaste finally climaxed. It was no longer socially acceptable to love Prog Rock. It was finally proven how the genre did not represent the people while the more pop ones did.

Yeah, about that…

Prog Rock disgusted them because it encouraged intellectualism and higher artistic appreciation, not because of its supposed elitism. If elitism was indeed the reason, they would not have chosen pop music, an inherently escapist genre that discourages any forms of contemplation, as the music of the people.

In his article Popular culture: a useful notion?, Willem Frijhoff laid out six dimensions of pop culture, one of them is it being everyday culture. Even before I read the article, I already had that thought in mind. Pop culture is what the common people instinctively embrace… and that is it.

We often do not realise how culture is something that we preach and does not always practice. In many cases, a culture represents a society’s loudly-expressed ideals approved by the Establishment, not the actual day-to-day practice of the ordinary people.

If a culture is always the photographic representation of a society, sexually conservative societies would not have high rates of teenage pregnancies, sexual assaults and STDs. Self-proclaimed free societies would not have politicians that advocate violation of freedom. I’d love to call out specific countries. But, I am already going too far on a tangent.

Anyway, I don’t mind pop culture. I genuinely understand why it is loved by many. In fact, I find it to be mentally relieving at times. But, pretending that it represents who we are is extremely dishonest. We should always remember pop culture’s main purpose: pushing escapism.

Pop culture’s idea of entertainment involves abducting us from our loathsome earthly existence to a world of bewitching illusions. That’s nice, isn’t it? If we want a culture to represent us, pick one that can’t even be bothered to allude to reality. Never pick ones that encourage contemplation. Ever.

A disclaimer: when I said pop culture, I was referring to the low-quality kind. There are times when pop culture works successfully combine both escapism and contemplative depth. The Golden Girls is one good example, with frequent social commentaries and occasional emotional moments. Anyway…

If you hate the highbrow because you hate intellectualism and artistry, just say it! Don’t say that your hatred is motivated by genuine anti-elitism when it isn’t. Using such pretext makes you a fraud. Nobody with sane state of mind would want to be one…

Wait, maybe you want to be one. Maybe you are one of those pathetic nobodies who believe life is all about others’ superficial recognition. You will do anything to be the so-called voice of the common people. Fondling your fragile ego is more important than being truthful.

Either that or you just from cognitive dissonance. Maybe you genuinely believe pop culture is not escapist, never was and never will be. You believe intellectualism and artistry are escapism in its purest, unadulterated form. You’re unable to acknowledge your defective mental clarity.

This anti-highbrow sentiment is hypocritical and self-defeating. You exclude anything that you consider highbrow and anyone who embrace it. But then, you exclude. You are committing exclusion. Your efforts to combat elitism ends up creating another form of elitism, where the lowbrow is the only acceptable norms. As I said, hypocritical and self-defeating.

What’s the point of this article? Well, first of all, writing insults is fun for me. Second, I believe our expressions of distaste for certain things should be properly constructed. Our attempts to appeal to the masses should be based on sincerity, not pandering and deceit. Our reasoning should also be sound and coherent; always reconsider every single one of our thoughts. Critical thinking is undeniably arduous. But, it is possible to do and worth the efforts.

Note about the referenced article:

I initially wanted to make a complete citation of Willem Frijhoff’s article. The problem is I forget where I got the article from. I did find a Dutch academic also named Willem Frijhoff. But, his area of specialisation is history and there was no indication that he ever dealt with pop culture studies. Academic studies can be interdisciplinary in nature which still makes me wonder if he is the Willem Frijhoff I am looking for.