Confederacy….. and bin Laden?

In a Japan episode of Vox’s Border, a far-right Japanese activist said it was offensive for the Zainichi Koreans (Koreans who have been presence in Japan since the Japanese rule of Korea) to have schools dedicated to North Korean-style education. He believes it is akin to America having schools dedicated to Osama bin Laden.

Well, about that…

After the civil war in which the separatist, slavery-advocating Confederacy lost, a handful of Americans started propagandistic efforts to ensure the heroic long-lasting legacy of the secessionist state; they whitewashed history education and built monuments glorifying the Confederates. They have successfully brainwashed many into believing that the Confederates were fighting for states’ rights, without asking which rights.

Then, during the civil rights activism era, more Confederate monuments were build. It sent a clear message that they wanted to keep black people as second-class citizens.

Not to mention there are many schools and even military bases named after Confederate leaders.

Never mind the Americans who think factually-misleading monuments can teach us history. Some also believe the Confederates should also be celebrated because they were a part of American history, regardless of the damages they caused.

If that’s the mentality, why stop there? Why don’t they also celebrate other people who tried to destroy America? You know, like Osama bin Laden.

Considering he is a significant and undeniable part of American history, why won’t Americans celebrate his glory and mourn over his demise? Why won’t they name schools and military bases after him?

Obviously, those rhetorical questions. The Confederates were seen as Americans – regardless of their secessionist tendency – and they were driven by an ideology which many contemporary Americans deem tolerable or even desirable. Meanwhile, bin Laden was not an American and his ideology is inspired by his Islam faith, which makes it unacceptable for many Americans.

As a Muslim myself, I despise Islamic extremists and their apologists. But, I would have respected the history negationists much more if they are consistent.

I would undoubtedly be frustrated if they celebrate both the Confederates and bin Laden. But, at least, they are genuinely motivated by the misguided desire to celebrate history, NOT by the desire to whitewash certain ideologies.

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Memories are weird 2

In one of my previous blog posts, I talked about how weird my brain perceives memories: the more “tangible” they are, the more I will miss them once they are gone.

It may seem normal enough. But, how I define “tangibility” is inconsistent.

I consider works of arts and entertainment -even the exclusively online ones- tangible as they are stored in containers (e.g. VHS, drives, etc) and therefore, losing my favourite works would be unimaginable to me. Yet, I consider my travelling memories intangible and losing them would not be a loss for me, even though I have photos and souvenirs.

Well, I just realised there is something else which makes it even weirder: my presence.

I am not present in my favourite arts and entertainment, as in I am not a part of their creation. I was not the performer, composer, writer, editor, designer, you name it. While they clearly affect me emotionally, I have no tangible attachments to any of those works.

Meanwhile, I am fully present in my travelling memories. I mean, they would not exist without me. I am them!

And yet, I don’t want to lose the former while I have no problem losing the latter. Considering how I have actual tangible attachments to my travelling memories, wouldn’t it make more sense to choose them over my favourite works?

I did wonder if emotional attachment is a factor. But, I ruled it out because I am emotionally attached to both my travelling memories and my favourite works.

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While writing this, I just realise how I perceive memories shouldn’t have been a mystery in the first place.

My travelling memories are entirely stored in my brain; the photos and souvenirs are not its extensions, they are just reminders of the memories’ existence.

Once the memories are erased from my brain and the photos and souvenirs are lost, I won’t have any reasons to be sad. Why should I mourn things that I forget ever existed? While it sounds sad now, it won’t be once they are entirely forgotten.

My favourite works, on the other hand, are mainly stored in data storage and my brain is just a subpar extension of it. If all of the physical copies are lost, all I have is their shadowy presence inside my head. Once they are tangibly lost, I would not be able to fully immerse myself in them ever again.

Okay, the mystery is not entirely solved. If I won’t be sad about things I will have no recollection of, shouldn’t I be okay with losing my favourite works? Once they are lost, they are slowly but surely erased from my brain. Eventually, I will entirely forget them and there is one less reason to be glum.

I also don’t understand my fixation on the travelling memories when I also have many others to ponder over. I don’t think it has something to do with how positive they are, considering travelling can also be a pain in the ass with the constant physical and emotional exhaustions caused by long journeys, cultural shocks and ruined plans.

But, overall, even though there are still unanswered questions, the way I perceive my own memories is not as mysterious as I thought it was.

And you just wasted your time reading this.

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Memories are weird (for me, at least)

It is a thematic sequel to this essay.

When I travel, I no longer feel the need to take photos and to buy souvenirs; it took me a while to realise that photos and souvenirs cannot bring the memories back to life.

My sense of awe when seeing beautiful sceneries, the tastes of foreign foods on my tongue, the feeling of hot or cold weather stinging my skin, the feeling of cultural shocks.

In theory, photos and souvenirs should be able to revive those sensations. But, they make me feel nothing. The photos only remind me of how fast time has passed. The souvenirs? Well, the T-shirts eventually become rags and the other souvenirs either end up as dust collectors or slowly disintegrate.

With works of entertainment, however, it is an entirely different story.

I always ALWAYS make sure I have access to my favourite books, films, TV shows, music, you name it. I always make sure they are not lost to history.

Okay, I admittedly sound paranoid. In this DNA age, it would take extraordinary events to make any works lost into history; even obscure works would still be preserved in some ways. But, that does not extend to ones published exclusively digitally.

On Youtube, there are quite a lot of Youtubers’ videos which are either made private or deleted entirely for varying reasons; they can be for obvious reasons like the appearance of unsavoury individuals and copyright strikes or they may be entirely undisclosed personal reasons. From what I observe, those missing videos are almost never re-uploaded.

And I hate that.

Unless they are taken down because of the unsavoury individuals, I miss them greatly and I hate myself for not downloading them. In fact, this makes me fearful about the future of Youtube: what happens if most -if not all- of its videos are deleted?

You can see how starkly different my reactions to the memories of travelling and watching Youtube videos are.

I don’t know why. But, it seems my mind perceives experiences like travelling as intangible and experiences like watching Youtube videos as tangible.

Travelling is all about immersing ourselves in different human and natural environments, which are impossible to describe unless we experience them ourselves. Enjoying works of entertainment is all about immersing ourselves in things stored in physical containers; for examples, stories are stored within books and, of course, digital videos are stored within hard drives.

Somehow, that’s how my subconscious defines what is and isn’t tangible. Dumb, I know.

Because of the supposed intangibility, I am content about having memories of experiences like travelling erased from my mind. I am content about the fragile longevity of the intangible ones.

Because of the supposed tangibility, I hate the prospect of losing memories of my favourite works. In my subconscious, tangibility and sturdiness are synonymous; there is no reason for my favourite works to be lost to history, at least not in my (probably short) lifetime.

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