[2023-02-22] Life Stories

When Andrew Wiles was 10 years old, he encountered Fermat's Last Theorem for the first time. He became fascinated with the theorem and decided that he would one day prove it. Approximately three decades later, Wiles fulfilled his childhood dream.

Wiles is someone whom I consider as having an unusually straightforward life story: he conceived an ambitious goal very early in his life, then went on to achieve it. I envy such people; while their lives follow elegant trajectories, mine so far is choppy and meandering. Rather than making progress towards one significant goal, I feel like I'm constantly blundering, stalling and backtracking as I try to pursue several trivial ones.

Perhaps life paths like Wiles' only appear direct in retrospect. Between learning about Fermat's Last Theorem and proving it, he probably experienced periods of aimlessness and periods of focusing on minor plans. At 10, on realising that he lacked the knowledge to prove the theorem, he abandoned his aspirations, and would only revisit them at 33 due to finding out about developments in mathematics that made the proof more feasible.

I'd like to think that some day I'll find a subject for my life's work; maybe this will involve unearthing an old dream when an opportunity to fulfil it arises. And then, once I've achieved my chosen ultimate goal, all the banal chaos I've struggled through will fade away, leaving behind my very own elegant trajectory.

[2023-01-02] Aesthetics

I have a lot of respect for people who commit to a specific aesthetic; clothes and accessories that fit the aesthetic can be costly, hard to find and/or high maintenance, and putting together outfits and decor can be time-consuming. I admire their dedication to making themselves and their surroundings visually interesting while most people are content with bland uncoordinated clothes from chain stores.

I would like to adopt an aesthetic, not just to be stylish but also because I like consistency. However I find the apparent expense and effort required intimidating. Additionally, since I'm short it's already tricky for me to find ordinary clothes in my size. Committing to an aesthetic would make clothes shopping even harder. I've tried making my own clothes, with decent results, but that brings other challenges, such as the fact that most sewing patterns and supplies are marketed towards middle-aged women and hence don't make for things I'd want to wear. Using my own handmade patterns would be even more labour-intensive.

I would also have difficulty choosing a single aesthetic from several contrasting ones. Currently, the aesthetics I like include military uniforms, business wear, dieselpunk, dark academia, corporate goth, cyberpunk, pastel goth, steampunk and kidcore. Ideally I would combine elements of a number of these to create my aesthetic, but that would be challenging given the mixture of colour palettes, anachronistic and futuristic styles, levels of formality and levels of ornateness.

[2022-12-25] Fairytale Beliefs

I never believed in Santa (or the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny or any other mythical being) as a kid. My parents didn't encourage it. When I tell people about this, they tend to be shocked, and some of them even try to make the case that I was deprived of holiday joy. I really don't get it.

People who vehemently defend kids' belief in fairytale beings claim that it helps them to be imaginative. I was extremely imaginative already; I created many stories, characters and fantasy lands with their own maps and histories. I played pretend a lot, and sometimes I'd get so deep into character that it would freak out my family. I was aware that nothing I made up was real, but that didn't make it less fun. To this day I can still remember some of the vivid mental images I had of my imaginary worlds.

I came up with my own Christmas lore, including a race of tiny people who lived in Christmas trees and used them as colourfully lit playgrounds. I never liked the concept of Santa anyway; the idea of some old guy constantly watching me and being able to get into my house creeped me out. One Christmas I tried writing a letter 'to Santa', because I'd heard of other kids doing it, and the whole time I was thinking to myself 'this is lame'. I preferred my own creations.

I was also a skeptical kid. My parents were having enough trouble trying to make me believe in God; if they'd encouraged me to believe in Santa it wouldn't have taken me long to call bullshit. I'd probably have been vexed about them lying to me.

I'll never understand why some people are so hell-bent on encouraging kids to believe things that aren't true and flaming those who don't play along. I've been told that I'm taking this too seriously, but people underestimate how seriously kids take things. It doesn't take much to get a kid to have fun or use their imagination.

[2022-12-23] Don't Explore Your Sexuality

Or rather: don't explore your sexuality past a certain point. However that doesn't make a snappy title.

Developing niche kinks/fetishes is like opening Pandora's box. You now desire things that you used to be content without, and attempting to indulge these desires may be just as unsatisfying as ignoring them. That is, if it's at all possible to indulge them (consider fetishes involving magic or mythical creatures).

Acting on kinks/fetishes may be costly (for instance, you might need to purchase toys or hire sex workers), unsafe, or otherwise inconvenient. You may have to handle logistical challenges. In order to find willing participants, you may have to compromise on other things you'd usually require in a partner. There's also the risk of the act being unlike how you imagined it; you could end up disappointed at best, traumatised at worst. Your existing relationships might suffer.

If you're someone who prioritises their sex life then these things probably aren't an issue. However, if you're not, it's best to let fantasies remain fantasies.

Reconciling yourself with not being able to act out your fantasies can be difficult (I speak for myself at least). It's better to not have those fantasies in the first place. If you don't want to make sex a major focus in your life, being 'vanilla' is advantageous because you can be easily satisfied.

[2022-12-13] Christmas Music

I don't listen to the radio if I can help it, especially in December. Vapidly peppy corporate music is lousy enough; vapidly peppy corporate music about Christmas is painful.

Most Christmas pop songs fall into one of two categories: generic love songs that mention snow, bells or some other Christmas motif, or 'modernised' covers of classic Christmas songs where a grown adult wails about Santa and stockings over a bouncy pop instrumental. ('Modernisation' seems to necessitate choosing a singer with a plethora of annoying vocal affectations.) People who don't find this unfathomably lame perplex me.

I had classmates who unironically loved songs like 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' and would dramatically sing along to them. The same people would get sentimental over megacorporations' high-budget Christmas ads. Obviously, such people would have to exist in large numbers, otherwise corporate Christmas schmaltz would disappear due to being unprofitable. It's things like this that make me wonder whether the NPC meme is real.

I don't hate all Christmas music though. Although I'm not religious, I quite like traditional hymns/carols (some of my favourites are 'In Dulci Jubilo', 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', 'Personent Hodie', 'Carol of the Bells' and 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel'). For me, good Christmas music is sedate and nostalgic.

[2022-11-18] Chores

I once read a 4chan post that said, roughly, 'adult life consists of existential dread and chores'. Currently, that seems accurate.

Sometimes I consider how much time I spend doing mundane, repetitive tasks: cleaning my surroundings, cleaning myself, eating, going to the bathroom, dressing, undressing, buying supplies, commuting, tidying, sleeping. The amount of time I spend doing chores probably dwarfs the amount of time I spend doing things I consider meaningful — work and hobbies. So much of life is overhead. Sleep is probably the most striking demonstration of this: in order to perform other tasks adequately, I have to spend approximately 8 of every 24 hours asleep. That's one-third of my life that I spend unconscious.

I often wish that eating and sleeping were optional. Sometimes eating is enjoyable; at other times, preparing food and loading it into myself is a laborious process. But I have no choice but to eat, lest the hunger becomes too painful to ignore. Likewise, no matter how reluctant I am to abandon an activity for the time sink that is sleep, I can't forestall my increasing tiredness and inevitable shutdown.

I can increase my efficiency at performing chores, but I can never escape them completely. Once I've finished a work/hobby-related task, my progress is set and I'll never have to do the same task again; however, my progress on any chore will be undone over time and eventually I'll have to redo everything. Take cleaning, for example: dirt continues to settle even as I'm cleaning a surface. Cleaning is a war of attrition between me and the dirt, and I will inevitably lose. Someday I will die and my belongings, left behind with no one to clean them, will be consumed by dust and grime, while my body disintegrates into more dust.

I am grateful for technology, because it helps reduce the time I spend doing menial tasks. I sometimes wonder why more progress hasn't been made on cleaning tech. Perhaps the owners of tech companies simply don't care. The wealthy already have sophisticated machines to clean for them — ordinary people.

[2022-11-13] Purpose

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to achieve 'greatness'. However, I have never been able to develop this idea from a vague aspiration into a concrete plan. I want to dedicate my life to a noble cause and thus make a memorable contribution to society, but I remain unsure as to what this cause may be.

I don't think I'm really passionate about anything. I'm not as committed to my interests as I could be. I receive constant reminders of this — people I meet with resumes full of impressive personal projects, renowned thinkers I read about who have made groundbreaking discoveries and conquered unsolved problems. I seem to lack their focus, dedication and zeal.

That irrepressible drive to solve and discover is what I want the most. I long to be truly invested in and fascinated by a field. I want to be so focused on building an invention or proving a theorem that I forget everything else. I want to wake up each morning pondering some exciting question or startling revelation. I want to experience the thrill of making marvelous leaps of logic that lead me closer and closer to a beautiful solution.

I fear that I'm doomed to mediocrity, and I'll spend my life in a banal uneventful career, unremarkable, dispensable and directionless. I don't want to die having achieved nothing. I don't want my life's work to be routine and forgettable. If this is my only chance at existence, I don't want to waste it like that.

Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Does the fact that I need to try mean it's already over for me?

[2022-10-28] Dissociation

Occasionally I experience an uncomfortable hyper-awareness of being conscious. I feel detached from my emotions and circumstances, like an observer or narrator. I wonder why I am viewing the world in first person, and why my consciousness resides within this particular person, as opposed to any other. Why can I only perceive reality from here?

The earliest I remember this happening was when I was around 12 (but that may not have been the first instance). I remember saying over and over in my head, 'I am the me.' I wondered, has some supreme consciousness chosen this person as 'the me' from which to perceive reality? Why this one?

Sometimes it feels as though my consciousness contains reality. What if reality is an elaborate concoction of my mind — the mind? What if everyone I meet, that is, everyone the mind perceives, is a figment of its imagination, an NPC in the world it has crafted? Other people seem to have their own first-person views, and seem to be independent entities, but how can one prove that they're not just robots acting and reacting in their simulated environment? What is it like to be someone else? Do other people get thoughts like these, or are their minds always attached and participating?

What happens when I die? Does the mind choose another person to inhabit? I don't want to be not myself. Does consciousness just become nothingness? Am I in an infinite loop where I go back to the beginning of this particular life every time I die? That would be the best situation.

Thoughts like this disturb me. They always pass within about 20 minutes, and I can go back to feeling normal and present. I fear that if I think too hard in such directions, I might 'crash the simulation'. I suppose that's a way of going insane. I don't know why I have these thoughts.

[2022-10-19] Unlimited Retries

I like computer games because they give me infinite second chances. If I mess up and/or die, I can always retry the level or restart the game.

I'm a bit of a completionist, and I also like speedrunning. I wouldn't be able to achieve my goals in games without unlimited retries; it's near-impossible to play through a game optimally on the first try.

Life offers no retries, and this frustrates me. I can't test every strategy until I find the best one. I can't explore every area. I can't redo the levels where I made mistakes. I can't go back to claim missed items and achievements. I wish I could have endless reattempts until I managed to get an optimal run, but as it is, used time is lost time and I have no choice but to keep blundering on. If I quit or die, I won't be sent back to the menu.

[2022-10-16] Sex is Overrated

Sex is possibly the most overrated thing known to man. Advertising, pop music, films, TV, social media etc constantly bombard us with sexual references of varying degrees of subtlety. Countless stories exist, real and fictional, of people doing reckless and ridiculous things just to get laid. To me, very few things deserve this level of ubiquitous non-stop hype, and sex isn't one of them.

People may assume that my opinion is due to me being asexual (not the case), or a virgin (also not the case). I feel sexual attraction¹, and I have had sex and enjoyed it, but there are so many other things I can do that feel just as good if not better, such as winning a competition or solving a difficult puzzle or listening to a fantastic piece of music for the second time. Sex is optional for me. If I could never have sex again, I'd be annoyed; if I could never listen to music or do maths again, I'd be distraught.

Others may conclude that I just haven't had good enough sex. I don't think so, and if 'good sex' is in fact as mind-melting and life-changing as society makes it out to be, I'd rather not know what I'm missing out on. Instances in fiction where a character changes personality, forsakes their priorities and/or does moronic and dangerous things out of sheer horniness always irked me, and I find the prospect of that happening in real life quite unsettling. I hate acting irrationally.

For a long time, I didn't want to get into a relationship or have sex because I thought it would turn me into a sentimental manic sucker who makes wild coombrained decisions and can't live without sex. (I remember when I was around 16 I overheard one of my classmates who had recently gotten into a relationship saying, "Once you start having sex you keep needing it," and that troubled me.) When I eventually did, I was relieved to find that I didn't change at all.

Since then I've wondered why society emphasises virginity so much. Having sex doesn't make you a different person. I also don't think it has anything to do with purity; virgins can have degenerate minds/habits, and non-virgins can be moral.

¹Though probably not as frequently as others. To be sexually attracted to someone I encounter irl, I have to have befriended them first.

[2022-10-12] Nostalgia

Coined in the 17th century, the word 'nostalgia' is derived from the Greek words nostos (homecoming) and algos (sorrow). For centuries, nostalgia was considered a medical condition, a type of melancholy. In modern times, it is seen as a casually experienced, mainly positive emotion.

I think my experience of nostalgia, or what I describe as nostalgia, is closer to the old definition. I often find myself having vivid recollections of specific points in time as recent as last month, and deeply missing them. I keep getting pushed forward into unfamiliarity, and everything seems to get noisier, sharper and less colourful. I feel as though I can't keep up.

My childhood wasn't too great so I'm not nostalgic for it. The times I feel deep longing for start in around 2019, when I was 15-16. Sometimes I feel that that was when my life peaked, for a little while. By then I had gained reasonable awareness and comprehension of my surroundings, and I felt that I had significant control over my life and was making sufficient progress. Life was going at a good pace back then. If I had a time machine (which I often wish for), I would go back to 2019, regain my time and try my best not to lose it again.

The events I vividly remember in my periods of nostalgia tend not to be events others would consider important. Most of them are quiet, dimly lit evenings, nights and early mornings I spent alone, listening to music, programming, watching videos, hanging around empty buildings, or simply gazing out the window. I wish that time didn't rush by so fast, and I could linger in those moments of solitary contemplative peace.

[2022-10-08] Why I Don't Drink

[2022-10-08] Format Update

I realised that I never specified how long a post has to be to get its own page. I have now set that length at 400+ words, after considering the lengths of earlier posts that got their own pages.

Hence, I have moved my last post [2022-09-29] to its own page.

[2022-09-29] Why Label Sexualities?

[2022-09-05] Names

I was never fond of my name. As a child, I thought it was boring, and would make lists of names I preferred because they were more unique and sounded better to me (in retrospect, the names I picked were extravagant rather than cool). At school, I could expect to find multiple people with the same name in my year group. I have a biblical name, but am an atheist. I also wish my name was more gender-neutral.

I feel disconnected from my name. Whenever someone calls me by my name, it sounds odd, and it takes me a moment to register that they're referring to me. 3 years ago I started using a nickname I thought I identified with more (but which sounded similar to my actual name; I thought this would be convenient) and I could never form a connection to it either. I go by various aliases on the internet (most of which reference mathematical concepts) and I like when they are used to refer to me online, but I wouldn't want them used irl as they would sound silly.

In some situations, I'm referred to by a number (e.g. student ID number at my university, candidate number for state exams). Numbering people is viewed by most as dehumanising, but I don't feel that way. In fact, I like being a number. A number is completely neutral. No assumptions can be made about me based on my number. It cannot misrepresent me.

I am critical of the (virtually universal) practice of people's names being chosen for them by parents etc. What if people could choose their own names? For instance, when someone is born they could be given a nickname that is used until they reach a certain age, at which time they pick their official/legal name.

[2022-08-31] Happiness is Not the Goal

It seems that most people, when asked what they want from life, will answer 'happiness'. This is a bad mindset.

'Happiness' is just chemicals in the brain. Many things can be done to trigger or maintain the presence of these chemicals, such as winning a prize, or learning a skill, or making friends, or living in ignorance, or experiencing mania, or shooting up heroin, or spending your life in the pleasure cube.

Happiness is not the goal. Happiness is merely a side effect of achieving a truly meaningful goal.

[2022-08-26] Puberty

Popular opinion claims that puberty is an awkward, strange and stressful experience. I must be an anomaly because I don't relate to this narrative in the slightest. When I went through puberty I was mostly apathetic about it.

The changes were very gradual, and started much later than my parents expected. My parents told me what would happen long before it did. They also told me to be excited about it; initially I was, but as months turned into years and nothing seemed to be happening, I stopped caring. When I finally noticed differences, all I thought was 'well, I guess it's happening now'. Most of the changes took so long that I had no difficulty getting used to them. At worst, they were mildly inconvenient.

At the time I was a complete shut-in and barely interacted with kids my age. I suppose if I had been more sociable I would have compared myself to them — were they developing faster? Slower? Earlier? Later? — and I would have had a more stressful experience. I knew that all kids went through puberty, of course, but I wasn't curious about my peers' experiences at all. My extreme reservedness also prevented me from getting into most of the embarrassing situations that are considered quintessential teenage experiences.

I didn't experience the 'raging hormones' that people talk about. I didn't have mood swings or uncontrollable urges. In retrospect, I did start feeling emotions (especially anger) more strongly, but, again, this happened gradually over a few years. As for sex, I simply didn't care about it until I'd almost finished school. For a while I thought I was asexual.

[2022-08-25] 'Reject Humanity'

I have little respect for people who unironically believe that animals lead better lives. Thousands of years of human civilisation and that's their conclusion. We have built computers, cured diseases, and put men on the moon, and some Redditor wants that all thrown away so he can 'be happy'.

John Stuart Mill once said, 'It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.' The number of people who would rather be the pig is concerning. It indicates a pitiful lack of mental fortitude. 'Wahhh I'm intelligent enough to have big scary thoughts about the meaning and purpose of my existence! Nooo I can't take it! It doesn't feel nice! I wish I were incapable of all but eating, sleeping, shitting and reproduction via rape because that's the case for most animals, and unable to come up with questions or ideas, and that I'd end my life mauled and eaten by something bigger than me...b-because the not nice chemicals wouldn't flow through my brain as often! Wahhh!'

Yes, existence is confounding. Yes, life is challenging. Yes, society is flawed. Get with the program and do something about it. If you're thinking about it, that means you can do something, however small.

[2022-08-15] Consoom Heatwave, Get Excited for Next Heatwave

I swear there's been a heatwave every summer for the past 3 years where I live. I am getting really fed up of this; I already despise hot weather.

The usual 'yay hot summer' advertising seems even more abrasive now. Perhaps it's corporate propaganda to get people to stop caring about climate change. Earth is dying of heatstroke — so what? Muh tan! Muh bikini! Muh Caribbean vacation right here at home!

It always perplexed me why people would go on vacation to hotter countries. That's something I would do if I wanted to torture myself; summer at home is bad enough (and getting worse). I would prefer to spend summer in a colder country to escape the heat.

It also baffles me why people are so obsessed with tanning. Tanning is one of the dumbest activities invented by mankind. Baking yourself like a rotisserie chicken must be uncomfortable and boring, and the results are only good for starting the most inane conversations on earth ('Wow how'd you get so tanned? I'm so pale, I look like a vampire teehee') and speedrunning skin cancer. It doesn't even look that good.

[2022-07-27] Only Cowards Censor Opinions

No opinion should be censored. To clarify, it is not censorship/infringement on freedom of speech when someone is criticised or shunned for their views; after all, the critics are also free to express their disapproval. It is censorship when others attempt to make what they have said inaccessible by deleting records of it, banning them from their platform, etc.

Censoring the views of those who disagree with you is a cop-out. It implies that you don't have a counterargument and have to resort to breaking off the debate so you don't lose. People will suspect that you have ulterior motives for doing so, and will become curious as to whether your opponent has a point. (See the Streisand effect.)

If you disagree with someone, either debate them or ignore them. Interacting with them will give them attention, and you would want them to be getting either attention for being proven wrong or no attention, not attention for potentially being right.

[2022-07-25] Format Update

Long essay-like blog posts have always been strenuous and time-consuming for me to write. As a result, despite having an extensive backlog of ideas, I've become increasingly unwilling to write posts, and have added new posts with decreasing frequency.

I started this website as a hobby, so I don't want to feel like I'm forcing myself to add content. I've decided to try writing shorter posts as this will be less taxing. It will also help me improve at writing concisely.

If I find myself able to write a long post, I will give it its own page as before.

[2022-06-25] The Scouring of the Shire
[2022-06-03] Character Tropes I Hate
[2022-06-02] Safe Spaces are Unnecessary
[2022-05-24] Programming Language Name Tier List
[2022-05-16] Summer is the Worst Season
[2022-05-05] Neon Genesis Evangelion is Mid
[2022-04-10] Merch & 'Fake Fans'
[2022-04-05] How to Win an Online Argument
[2022-01-10] Programming Memes Suck
[2022-01-09] Mortality