Disillusioned Writer’s 3rd Practice: Another Passage Describing an Unfamiliar & Unusual Space

I have to admit writing a descriptive piece about an unreal location [Link] was fun. I think this is why I like writing. To explore and fantasize about things without having to commit to them. And I think that is why novel writing is such consuming labor to me.
So I decided to do another descriptive writing exercise to describe an unfamiliar, unreal, and speculative space or location. This time I went the horror path. I feel it turned into a very small fiction piece of its own.
I’m looking forward to writing more and learning how to describe places well.
Here is a passage describing an unfamiliar place:


Photo by Kriss MacDonald on Unsplash

It takes you a little while to realize that this is not your usual early winter garden. You will have to walk over the dried rotting leaves long enough, until the listless stone house fully disappears behind the dried bushes and branches, to get that unreal feeling.
A melancholic sense of isolation defines all winter scenery including this forgotten garden. The muffled sound of your steps on the organic decaying floor, the soft swish of the wind blowing in the branches, the sense of emptiness that clings into the air gives you a slight shiver.
As you keep going, an occasional bird will skip from a branch to another. All that informs you of the avian movement is an abrupt flap and flutter, and a violent swing in the branches. By the time you have turned your head around to find the source of the sound, it’s already out of sight. But the garden slowly grows quieter as you proceed. At this point, you have forgotten why you are out here in the first place. You breathe in the chill air that carries a hint of damp leaves. You do not care about the world outside. You want to see the birds, the other animals. You know they are hiding behind the branches. You can feel the nature looking.
You’ll come to notice that it is starting to feel more uniform. Each and every element feels like they are one with their surrounding. Your first thought is that perhaps this is some sort of nature’s mystical harmony everyone talks about with tragic nostalgia.
But a voice in the back of your head disagrees. It Warns you that something’s wrong. Another, very unfamiliar, voice protests that something’s right!
You pay them no heed and continue. You are still enjoying the feeling of the soft breeze on your cheeks. You like being out feeling lost, feeling like you’re somebody else.
But the scenery, dimly illuminated by the winter sun, will slowly grow into an unsightly shade of brown. You’ll soon find it too monotonous to enjoy. The trees, their branches, and the rotting leaves on the path are all painted in the same lifeless color. Perhaps it’s time to end the walk, the cautious, familiar, voice urges.
You pause, take a deep breath, and look around. You spot a bird. It’s sitting on a branch, a pigeon-sized bird in the exact same brown. The bird’s head is turned to the side and its eye is observant. It doesn’t move. You do not move. Its stillness raises the hair on the nape of your neck. You try to intimidate it with a sudden movement but that doesn’t work. It stays still, quiet, and observant.
You finally decide to turn around and go back. Everything, from the dead remnants of the foliage you crush mindlessly to the squirrel holes on the trees, is watching you. They are all watching you through that one eye. As you raise your foot to step away it opens its plastic wings and flies away. It flies towards the end of the path. It flies away and tugs at your senses. You feel the need to follow against your better judgment. It’s like the unfamiliar voice from earlier has taken over the steering wheel. You follow. The smell of the rotting leaves slowly diversifies. There are traces of rotten fruit, rotten eggs, rotten everything.
The trees start to look welded into the forest floor, fused like a molded toy. Everything has become one. The brown is a shade darker here with a slight glisten to it. The wary voice finds it sticky. It also weakens and vanishes with the breeze. Your nose bridge wrinkles as you get a waft of rotten fish smell.
You walk into an opening centered around a grand tree. Its branches reach high into the sky and are spread out over a large area. The grandeur is that of an ancient tree. Around it are deer, bears, wild cats, people who are gravitating to it. They form a circle but remain quiet and still. These halted pilgrims too are glistening in that color. Some of them have clearer forms, some have lost their edges. All changing, melting to merge with the tree.
The bird has landed on a branch, next to other small animals that are paying their own dues. They look like candles offerings in a place of worship, only none of them is praying.
The tree’s arms are open. It calls out to all like a patriarch, asserts its dominance, demands its due respect. You feel it. Futile is your resistance to the urge. Your body denies you. After a moment of struggle, you fall forward on the ground. Your hands have darkened. You can feel the desire of the cells in your body to disband. You’re tired and scared. You close your eyes. You try to close your eyes. Your eyes feel dry and begin to burn. They feel naked. They feel exposed.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

So this time I wanted to do a Lovecraftian or Weird genre style passage. I think the genre tries to convey uneasiness and terror true descriptive means. It subverts the familiar objects and makes them haunting.
What I love about some works in this style of writing is the escalation from trivial and familiar to insane. Insanity, I suppose, is the central adjective that can define it.

What do you think about this descriptive writing practice piece? I still have a problem with it. I’m not great with putting tangible details to the place. The passage lacks the main character feeling a tickle and looking down to see a dot-sized white moth on their hand. Things that don’t matter much but make you feel and visualize more.
Please let me know your opinions and criticism. I am really looking forward to that.
Check my other passage describing an unfamiliar location.

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Disillusioned Writer’s 2nd Practice: Passage Describing an Unfamiliar& Unusual Space

Ok, now I’m off to describe a space that is not only unfamiliar to me but is also imaginary. I like writing speculative fiction, so describing strange, unfamiliar, and awry places is a skill I definitely wish to possess. This is where a descriptive writing exercise becomes trickier. It’s not trickier because I do not have a tangible location as a reference, rather it is trickier because the reader does not.


Modified from a Photo by Ludde LorentzUnsplash

The girls stepped into the glowing staircase that pierced through the heart of the forest floor. And even though it had been built into soft earth the walls and the steps were stone. A weak dim light emanated from the entire place. It painted everything around it pink.
As they descended lower the air grew hot and damp like a stuffy summer day. T loosened her shawl. She was dressed for a day of fall, she had not anticipated journeying down into a hole.
The stairs lead them down for quite some time. The sound of her steps mixed with that of her companions and joined some weak indistinguishable sound that came from below.
Slowly the smell of the forest floor and the rotting leafs faded out without any new smell replacing them. Their surrounding started growing unnaturally odorless.
T rested her hand on the smooth stone wall needing a moment of rest. The wall was warm like the ground under the sun on a summer afternoon. She leaned against it to take the burden off of her tired feet.
“How much longer do we have to go?” she asked the old woman. Her voice echoed both upward and downward.
“You are young,” the old woman responded. Her voice slipped away from the walls swiftly and did not come back like T’s. “You should not have much trouble until the end.”
T looked at S whose red hair was turning invisible against the glow of the walls. S, in turn, returned her worried regard. She looked like a bird trapped in some beast’s burrow, not meant to be there in the first place.

Any feedback or criticism on my second writing exercise? I would love to know other’s opinions.
If you have any descriptive writing examples of unreal, unnatural, or speculative space you can share with me?

Disillusioned Writer’s 1st Practice: Passage Describing a Familiar Space

This is the first of my writing practices I’m going to share. Not being able to properly describe locations, things, people, etc. is a big weakness in my writing. So I thought I would tackle that first.

In this practice I’m writing to describe a familiar space (which I thought might be a good place to start). This is based on my apartment in Seoul South Korea:


Photo by Markus Spiske

She woke up with a gasp. The astringent taste of a nightmare hung heavy in the air. She sat up and stretched her upper body to open the window by the bed. Fresh air started streaming down on her bare shoulders. She collapsed back into her pillow. A light burning in her stomach prevented her from going back to sleep. She’d waked up to that feeling more nights than the ones in a month now. She lifted her body, Slow and groggy, out of her warm blankety cocoon and put down a hesitant foot on the cold floor. She’d long gotten over the habit of stretching her limbs upon waking up. There was not enough space and the tips of her fingers almost touched all 3 walls of the bedroom. The room, now filled with chill fresh air, with a hint of morning rain. The buildings outside the bedroom window looked a shade of grey darker.

9 A.M,. a loud robotic voice announced in the bigger room. She rushed out and turned off the alarm. Her nose bridge wrinkled the moment the sneaky malodor of dry bathroom pipes hit her nose. It always found its way into the living room during the nights. The living room was not much larger than the bedroom, but it was much darker. There are rooms even 3 windows can fail to illuminate. Her space was surrounded by walls surrounded by walls. With the click of one button the florescent ceiling light turned on, and reflected upon the aggregate of her belongings that spread over the place like ivy vines. She placed her head over her heart over her pelvis; it was time to start the day.

***

While writing I noticed that there was a tiny problem with my practice. Just because I focus on describing it doesn’t mean I write good descriptions. It doesn’t mean I’m putting down tactile words that make the reader really see or feel the room. This might be a bit of a challenge.

What do you think about this writing practice? I would really appreciate feedback and criticism on my writing! I would also love to see descriptive writing suggestions, or examples.

Also don’t hesitate to suggest descriptive writing topics. I have made a small list of topics to describe and I would love more challenge.

Confessions of a Disillusioned Writer: Perhaps Practice

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Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

I will not lie. Writing was supposed to define me. Writing was supposed to be the last resort to separate me from the others, justify and give meaning to my existence. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. For one thing, I chose to write in English, which is not my native tongue. I have never lived or visited an English speaking country. For the other part, writing is not easy. It is a highly well-regarded form of art easily available to everyone who knows the alphabet and we live in an age that there are no limits to putting your work out there. As a writer, your competitors are almost everyone.


But as 21st-century humans, we are coded to be slightly conceited when it comes to our own capabilities. We know that deep inside we have a diamond, if we get the right chance, the right exposure… maybe, surely. But the world is not kind to us all.

The last decade has been full of disillusionment and disappointments to me, as are the 20s to most of us. I turned 30 this very April without having succeeded in any aspects of my personal or professional life. And writing, which was supposed to redeem me, became a thorn in my eye.

But I’ve decided to start practicing. Really sit down and practice writing. By practice, at least at this point, I do not mean write more stories. I have decided to practice like you practice a language. Pick aspects of writing and try to get better at them by writing limited passages.

And I have decided to put those passages here. I know not many people will end up on this page but it is still exposing a weak side of myself. It is masochistic but I think that is an aspect of expressive arts. You will have to deal with people see the weak and the strong in you. And you will have to be able to receive kind and harsh criticism. Yes, this is going to be good practice.

To begin, for my birthday I gave myself Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass in storytelling (check it here if you’re curious) and at the moment I’m going to be following his teachings, and practice based on the course. Of course, due to life circumstances, I won’t be able to do it as often as I wish. But every step counts.

We’ll see if I end up any better or worse within this year. I will be posting these practices here under an identifiable title. If anyone else wishes to join this journey just let me know!

The End Of Resistance; a Rant On Chuck Palahniuk’s Zombie

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Before starting, I should say that this post contains spoilers to Chuck Palahniuk’s short story “Zombie”. If you are interested you can read the story here.


In Miss Chen’s English class, we learned, “To be or not to be…” but there’s a big gray area in between.

-Chuck Palahniuk, Zombie

In his short fiction titled Zombie, Palahniuk weaves the story around a sense of despair, and a desire to escape, many of us feel. And it revolves around young people who utilize a grotesque means of resistance. Maybe this sense is not as universal as I think, maybe it mostly affects those of us who cannot not live up to the standards of living we are preached to by TV. Saying TV of course I mean the media, or the mass culture obsessed with images and image making.

We are told that if we play the game of life right we will be happy, if we work hard and play hard and reproduce the right amount we won’t feel like shit. But most of us have been suspecting for long that this happiness simply cannot exist in between the many hours of wage slavery, the moments wasted in becoming the ideal individual, or on dulling out our senses one way or another. The humans of the post-modern world, it seems, are fucked for good.

If being an adult in this mad world means to bear with disappointment, fatigue, and pain, then not being might seem like a better option. And already this is a step many young people of the developed world find themselves taking. In South Korea, where I currently live, College and Graduate School students are the second age group (after the impoverished elderly) who commit suicide. The labor market in South Korea is extremely competitive, and demanding; the starting wages are low, and furthermore the working environments are inhumane (with ridiculous hours). I myself have dealt with depression prior to graduation, in the light of the lifescape that was in front of me.

Palahniuk’s young characters face a very similar situation:

Griffin Wilson, he knew that the SATs were just the gateway to a big lifetime of bullshit. To getting married and college. To paying taxes and trying to raise a kid who’s not a school shooter. And Griffin Wilson knew drugs are only a patch. After drugs, you’re always going to need more drugs.

Griffin Wilson chooses a different path, yet he also does not pick “not being”. He wants happiness, and ceasing to exist is not exactly the same thing. Ceasing to exist wipes off the sad with its human. So Griffin pioneers a third choice. Using a defibrillator Griffin gives himself some type of electric self-lobotomy. Griffin enters a state of childlike bliss. I see Griffin’s decision as resistance in the face of a world that wants you to stay sane and strong so it can smother you longer.

His decision leads into a chain reaction in the rest of the students. Theses self-lobotomized kids are perhaps the Zombies that lend the story its title. These kids make the decision to live in this blissful state, ignorant to the rules of the society surrounding them, thrilled with the trivial joys life offers. I do not know the intentions of the author, but I find it hard to label this Zombism for there is a very hard decision involved.

Palahniuk’s Zombies find happiness in a more animalistic state. Veering away from this animal is what the main character suspects led to our unhappiness after all.

We’re basically big animals, evolved to break open shells and eat raw oysters, but now we’re expected to keep track of all three hundred Kardashian sisters and eight hundred Baldwin brothers. Seriously, at the rate they reproduce the Kardashians and the Baldwins are going to wipe out all other species of humans. The rest of us, you and me, we’re just evolutionary dead ends waiting to wink out.

We have perhaps pushed ourselves too far, hoping to hide the animal in us. But our nature nevertheless is there and limits us.

On the other hand the mentioned segment of text brings up the question of media and its role in the great misery of the post-modern times. We are all losers based on the images that the media creates and naturalizes; we can never catch up with the lives the media promote. Thanks to the neoliberal ideologies fed to us, it is our fault we are not catching up with all of the mentioned bullshit. It’s is our fault that we are not earning enough, even though we dedicate more than 40 hours of our week to our occupations. It’s our fault that we are not having magical schedules which allow us to exercise so to keep fit and healthy, engage in cultural activities and keep out minds fit, have fulfilling social relationships and create good support networks, date happy, create a family, bring up perfect kids, and age graceful. It is absolutely our fault that we do not succeed, what they media portray as success being pretty narrow, and we should feel bad about it. The normal human is a disappointing human and have no chance in winning.

However Palahniuk’s story not only does not dive dipper in this condition, it also turns a surprising turn. The narrator finds himself interested in joining the rest of his schoolmates, and self-lobotomize. But before pushing the button, he wishes to give his guardian, one last word. He decides to let his uncle know that his action in no way reflects upon the uncle’s guardianship. His uncle, upon seeing what the boy is about to do, grabs his arm and says “If you hurt yourself, you hurt me, too.” The uncle’s reaction spreads through the bystanders who grab each other’s arms and repeating the sentence. They make a chain that ends in the narrator and his uncle.

Some of the readers such as Matt Getty view read this action as a parallel this scene as a sort of zombism to that of the teenagers. That the non-lobotomized of this world are in a zombie like state as well. Some other readers have wild theories that this are all fragments of the characters already fried mind, however this second reading of the story relies on wild guesswork rather than text.

I believe that this ending was intended to be a human and felt one. I do not like this happy ending.

This certainly isn’t the happy ending I had in mind, but compared to where this story began-with Griffin Wilson in the nurse’s office putting his wallet between his teeth like a gun-Well, maybe this is not such a bad place to start.

The moment of connectedness, mass-conjoining of the observers and protesting the self-lobotomy is, in my opinion, constructed in a way to be viewed positively. The story chooses being over the bliss of being in between. And while this story never intended to search for the root of post-modern unhappiness, or give answers it leaves me with a sense of disappointment. I was not looking for answers in it anyways, but when it posits our better choice as living in the same shit, it chooses to naturalize shit.

Self-lobotomy was Griffin’s act of resistance to a world that has put heavy reins on us. Resistance and protest in the face of a word that gives us even less than two options. Griffin’s chooses to exist for satisfaction of his instant needs only. It’s not a good solution, but returning to the ordinary world of the narrator signifies acceptance of something that should not be accepted.

In my opinion the story begins with a rejection and ends with an acceptance. In this process, the resistance that is the centerpiece is rendered meaningless.

The Songs Of Our Mothers; The Saddest Tunes Of Our Childhood

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Jenna Norman

Lala Lala the cumin flower,

Your father has left to remarry

Your mother will die of sadness

Is how an obscure and sad section of one Persian lullaby translates into English. I stumbled across it as I was looking for the full transcription of the lullaby I used to hear as a child. It surprised me how sad the content of a piece sang to mere babes was. As I read more lullabies I noticed the recurring theme of the absence of father throughout most Iranian old lullabies. They spoke of fathers who have left to remarry, traveling, to fight, protect the family, or (in one especially dark case) to buy a 100 toman female slave. The unsuitable content of the lullabies surprised me and made me curious.

Doing a quick web search I found out, not to my surprise, that the lullabies tend to be quiet sad all over the world. Marder (2013) in an article regarding the same subject argues that it is the melody and rhythm that are effective in soothing a baby, thus the lyrics might be simply for the parent and used as a way for mothers to deal with their anxiety.

These sad and traumatic meanings embedded in lullabies may be just the result of postpartum depression, but they are also, not unlike any other form of culture, expressions related to the socio-historical experiences of the people who sing it. And in many cultures the young women were at the bottom of the power hierarchies that defined their society.

Currently I’m not a student so I don’t have easy access to sources to look further into it. But it sounds an amazing subject to inquire further about. I would be interested in reading more about it, so if you are reading this and have any suggestions let me know.

No Hashtag For Me Today; Why #metoo Might Be Distracting Us From The Real Issue

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Mihai Surdu

If you are an active and avid internet user and you haven’t heard about the Harvey Weinstein incident, you must be living under some sort of electronic rock. People on the internet have taken this opportunity to talk about sexual assault, and the systematic oppression of the women due to the structure of the power in the society. I’m glad that people are paying attention to this problem, but I wish like many other internet issues this does not end as a superficial trend that fades and is replaced by the next one.

Parallel to the Weinstein news the online trend you’ve probably seen, #MeToo, has become a hot topic. The hashtag is circling around with the supposition that if all women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment used the hashtag it would show the scope of the problem. I have a question; is the knowledge about the scope of sexual assault the real problem?

Today on facebook I saw some old friends share #metoo. My hand trembled as I started wondering if I too should share the hashtag. But I did not; I told myself that I am not a fan of these social media bandwagons, that I’m not sure if any similar hashtag trends have actually had any positive effect for their cause. That I think the society is well aware about the scope of sexual harassment and assault, that posting a hashtag on twitter or facebook makes people feel good about themselves without taking positive action. Or perhaps it was ‘shame’ that hindered me, you never know with these things.

But there is so much to talk about when it comes to sexual assault; statistics about sexual assault and harassment are not trustworthy for many different reasons, and we all know that. But we also do not need these statistics to know about the problem or its scope. It’s not a new or newly discovered issue, the discourse of sexual assault and rape has been historically used for asserting control over women and their behavior, it’s nothing new. I think we are spreading awareness to help with this issue we need other types of awareness, one’s that help people take action.

A hashtag campaign dedicated to simply checking your name in the victims list will remind people about the problem but will not bring about useful change. I wish there was a hashtag campaign that would encourage speaking up for, and protecting those around us who are facing sexual harassment and assault. If anything the Harvey Weinstein case demonstrates how the power structure silences the assaulted and forces them into compliance. If no one was surprised about the incident, then the problem is not as much awareness but it’s about silence and inaction.

The #MeToo may break the stigma and give the ones who have suffered the courage to step forward, but I think what we really need is to teach people how to potentially support sexual assault targets in their surroundings. I do not even know what the correct protocol is,and I am eligible for #metoo, because we like to shut out the thought of such acts happening in our immediate surroundings. I believe that sometimes our reluctance to acknowledging that these things can happen around us can lead to questioning the claims of those who have suffered. This is what we need a trend for, a trend that brings us together and teaches us how to support each other.

Also it seems there is some fault with the neo-liberal capitalist system; it appears that assets, professional aspiration, and corporate hierarchy are big factors in people turning a blind eye. I do not have appropriate knowledge to deploy criticism in this aspect, but I feel that being a little anarchist, and creating local support communities could do wonders.

What would you do if you picked up signs of sexual assault from an acquaintance, a child, a coworker, a school friend, etc.? How do you think we can counter the silence that protects people like Weinstein?

What I’ve been reading: Authority (2014)

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Photograph by:

John Hult

“What’s the last thing you remember doing in Area X?”
The answer, unexpected, surged up toward him like a kind of attack as the light met the darkness: “Drowning. I was drowning.”

Authority (2014) is the second  book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, and the story takes place after the events of Annihilation (2014). VanderMeer described the book as “an expedition into the Southern Reach(Spiegelman, 2014);  it is an expedition into the decaying organization that oversees the research and expeditions into Area X.

Authority is a good and interesting book; it’s both like and unlike Annihilation, which in this case is an ambiguous positive/negative position. Annihilation has a biologist as its POV character and is set in the “pristine nature” of the Area X, and VanderMeer is strong in writing about nature. In fact a big part of the appeal of Annihilation was the setting, the mesmerizing, mysterious nature with a sense of the unknown looming threat. Authority however has a government officer for the POV character, and is set mostly in the Southern Reach, which as mentioned earlier, is the department that is in charge of investigating and understanding what exactly  happened or what is Area X. However there are more going on in Southern Reach than meets the eyes.

If the presence of the Ghost Bird‘s, the biologist from the first book, in the story can hook the reader in, Control’s story will soon take over. Control is the new director of the Southern Reach, and the story starts with his first day at work. But being set in a bureaucratic space does not necessarily mean there is less mystery, or weirdness. The reader is hooked as the confidential pieces of information about Area X and Southern Reach become known to Control, and patches of the mystery unravels as if only some lost pieces of a large puzzle are being found; it is satisfying yet not enough to even hint at what is at the center of the picture.

The story sheds some light on some aspects of the first book Annihilation,  but at parts confounds us about what we think we know. We have experienced Area X first hand in Annihilation, but what one might have inferred about it is not fully confirmed. In other words the mystery surrounding the people is somewhat resolved, but the mystery about the Area X is not, which makes sense since as humans our understanding of the universe, or even the planet surrounding us is merely limited to our experience as humans. But Area X is not simply like universe or the nature that surrounds us; no one really knows or understands it or its intentions, and it has not revealed its full hand yet.

He kept in mind the note from another analyst that no other expedition had encountered what he was about to see. Among those that had come back, at least. 

And there is more to why I love the story; VanderMeer uses a narrative technique that I really enjoy. There is a strong presence of an absent character throughout the story. The heavy shadow of the previous director adds a lot to the story, to a point that this character takes a central place. We get to learn about her from whatever and whoever is left behind. The former director had been in the Southern Reach long enough for her presence to be felt everywhere, especially we learn a lot about her through the other employee’s in the Southern Reach. But I felt there was a need for clearance about some of the character’s allegiances towards the end of the story, and I hope that there are more answers in the third book.

Another thing that I love about the book, that I think makes it even a good read for people who might be leery of speculative fiction is the good mixture of humanly elements with speculative ones. Annihilation did a wonderful job with the descriptions of the Biologist’s life before the expedition, her childhood and her relation with her husband; Authority delves into a similar side of Control’s memories and life. However the human aspect in these books is not only limited to the character’s background and their family, or love relations, it is also in the character’s interactions with each other. The characters are facing a horrific mystery but they remain people; they are vulnerable and struggling like many humans would. They are not untouchable single minded characters that are solely focused on solving the speculative element.

(I cut a part of the beginning of the next excerpt for so not to spoil.)

” … and there is something inside of me I don’t understand. There’s a kind of … brightness…inside.”
Nothing in the medical updates, except an elevated temperature.
“That’s called life,” Control said.
She didn’t laugh at that, but said, quietly, “I don’t think so.”
If she had a “brightness” inside of her, then there was a corresponding darkness inside of him.

Now to the negatives; which I have to emphasize are the personal opinion of mine and also might be the result of English being my second language. My problem was mostly with some of the descriptions. At parts the phrases used to describe things are difficult to understand due to selection of words and length of sentences. I regret not having marked a couple of the instances to mention and demonstrate where I struggled with the words.

The other criticism I have is that after shit hits the fan the book plunges into a slow and descriptive narrative for maybe 15 to 20 pages. I feel like this is a criticism I hate to give for many good books might contain similar pacing, but at least for me as a reader grown up and shaped in our times it is difficult to read 20 pages devoted to description of landscape right after something very important has happened. I feel like those pages might have been the darling that VanderMeer couldn’t kill, and I appreciate not killing one’s darlings for the sake of the reader that at best won’t understand the underlying value the book has for the writer. But communication is always a two sided thing and a reader still retains the right to criticism no matter what.

In the end I have to say I really enjoyed reading this book. I had not read any reviews, I don’t really read reviews on books, not at least beforehand. But I had heard from a friend that the book did not do as good as Annihilation. However I feel that even if the book is not on par with Annihilation it is still a very good book, one of the better books I’ve read this year. I will be reading a different book as a pallet cleanser, but I cannot wait to start reading Acceptance (2014).

Anxiety, and ‘dysunderstanding’ of the world

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Recently I have been suffering from another bout of anxiety.  Fearing things could fall apart in my life I had to try and contain them fast, which exacerbates the situation further. The thoughts about how to contain my anxiety brought about a thought in me, a thought that is not new or special in any way but is one of those thoughts that you feel their reality at certain times in your life. I started wondering if having more choices, and the ability to make major decisions in one’s life is a root for anxiety and stress. And the thought took me down a spiral of different thoughts. I have so many questions and so here I wish to share them.

I was wondering if in feudal Europe, for example, people suffered from anxiety and depression as we do. To be honest, many thoughts during my anxiety sessions are about how things are bound to go wrong, and how my life will end up the opposite of my dreams. Thus I wonder, what if I was a peasant girl who had not much choice over job, marriage, place of living etc. Would I have anxiety or depression in the manner I struggle with today? Or would I accept my life as a given and labor away?

The second thought is complementary to the previous one. I ask my self if knowledge is beneficent to humans? By knowledge I do not mean hard sciences, but rather knowledge that is gained in the fields of humanities, social sciences and such. But I need to illustrate my thought with an example. Imagine me as a girl living in modern times in a big city; making a life is difficult and there is not much security, no safety net to catch me if I fall. The society keeps expecting me to be hardworking, to be outgoing and to be active. I am told that a successful person works hard, and does extra fulfilling activities in their spare time. As a result I am pretty burnt out about my situation. In other words, neoliberalism has left me very frustrated. But in what way does the knowledge of my desperation being the result of neoliberalism helps me as a person? Not only am I frustrated with life, the knowledge leaves me bitter, disillusioned, and depressed.

I know that this knowledge is supposed to help us understand our world and correct it, but seeing that neoliberal-capitalism is only starting to maybe dwindle as a result of the unstable situation it created itself I am left to ask if such knowledge benefited us other than adding to the anxieties of our time.

Reading articles about the malaise of our times again and again it strikes me how dystopian our world sounds; no wonder post-apocalyptic genres are so successful and popular these days. But then the question that comes to my mind is that in the larger scale of history, how do our time fare? Maybe we are feeling this way since we can only understand our own experience of the world. Has human experience changed? Are we feeling more anxiety and pain that the people of the past and maybe even future? And more importantly, does our dystopian understanding (dysunderstanding ) of our world adding to the depression and anxiety?

I have yet to fully recover from this round of anxiety; maybe if I felt better these paragraphs would lose meaning. For now I find it worth contemplating: the state of the mind of the humans of our times is intriguing. Of course there are so many different types of humans, under different systems of thought with different understanding of the world. My anxious mind might be one in a small over-spoiled crowd. Mayhap it’s ironic to even ask these questions; sometimes I wonder if the pursuit for an answer is a valid step. Or maybe again these are the workings of my brain being out of balance at the moment.

It’s done, goodbye grad school!

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Many months ago I posted that I have decided to give up on my thesis and maybe go travel. I felt stuck and the thesis seemed pointless, I was stressed and had bad headaches. Giving up sounded like a great idea, since I have always played it relatively safe, and have taken ridiculous steps to secure my goals, without risking much. However this has meant that I have not been able to do much as well, I keep preparing and preparing for a life I hardly get to live. That is why giving up sounded so refreshing.

But then after a while I started to have anxiety again, suddenly travelling plans didn’t sound so fun anymore. As a citizen of my home country which suffers from many sanctions I was worried I would not have a bank account, and thus have a lot of trouble when it comes to managing money. Same was with my passport, there were only a handful of countries I could go to. The chances of getting freelance jobs sounded dismal and the future plans in case traveling didn’t work out, lets just say they ended up being a lot less secure than I had previously thought.

Thus again I was facing anxiety, this time to an extent I had not ever felt before, I was unsure about everything in life, it felt like everything was going to fall apart. my body was numb and my hands were tingling all day, I could not eat and I could not do much other than cry or sleep.

If I did not wish to go traveling and since I fear the day I have to return to my country my only option was to finish my studies so to keep my Korean visa. But I had to ask for money from my parents, which is greatly imposing on them. And also with the help a counselor from my school I returned to work on my thesis again. Now that I think about it, having access to counselling is quiet a privilege I hope that all schools around the world can implement such facilities for the student’s who can hardly pay for such services.

Anyways, I was back in the arena.  I felt unarmed and unarmored, I was taking some light anxiety medication and kept meeting my counselor who mostly just chitchatted with me, but it kept me sane. I had trouble working more than 3 hours a day, I felt stupid, I felt I was slacking, and I wondered everyday if I actually suffer from ADHD. I felt and feel guilty about wasting so much time, but I often find starting a task such as writing or editing my thesis impossibly difficult, sometimes it feels as if I have to push through a physical wall.

But finally it is done! I had my defense a couple days ago, I am editing and rewriting parts of it now. Sick and tired and yet somehow reluctant about not being a student anymore. My thesis is much less than I had wished for it to be. I hear everyone thinks that way about their thesis, but I wished to write something worthy of the 3 years I have spent in grad school. But it is too late now, I was not the researcher academic type, I was merely hungry for learning.

I will have to get a job seeking visa soon and plan the rest of my life from there. My future plans still seem wobbly, and I fear that there might be some destabilizing event’s coming up soon. I fear of life turning out to be a struggle at every point. I hope I can be strong, and I hope that we will be fine.