Retconning my life

This is one of the cases where the name contains the true meaning; like literally con your life into believing it could be something else.

Retroactive continuity (retcon) is a literary device often used to say ‘Hey, we screwed up but here’s everything in a completely new light just to mess with you’.

Sometimes it’s a major re-imagining of pivotal characters like Alan Moore’s Joker in The Killing Joke or just the equivalent of a girl giving herself a perm for one day as is often the case with sitcoms. From ground-breaking to campy they have long since been a crucial part of pop culture.

‘Reinventing yourself’ I feel, is sometimes, almost a parody of retconning. Not everybody will be happy with it; it might get panned and be reviled in equal measure and the producers (parental units) are definitely going to give you a lot of grief about it.

But sometimes, life can derail and not be the same as the story you had envisioned.  When this happens, some people choose to find familiar patterns to stick to in their lives, much like when TV shows try to find their niche crowd, quietly enjoying comfortable success. But the others try that elusive technique of successfully making something new which remains faithful to its origins. This could be an utter disaster (Ghostbusters) or beautifully preserved (Doctor Who); which brings me to the whole concept of ‘reinventing your own life.

To be honest, it doesn’t feel nearly as high stakes as altering a classic character backstory. Because, we all know the majority of the ‘new year new me’ stuff doesn’t last long. Sure it’s a nice idea to ‘start a spin class’. But once you realize how expensive yoghurt smoothies are, you’re back to lazing around on the couch with your cat the rest of the year.

However, I have a half-baked solution to this. One common trope of retconning is the practice of showing already established events from a new perspective. This doesn’t change what happened or how we feel about those events, but does give a deeper understanding and appreciation of the characters. In the same way that getting a pet, eating healthy or concentrating on your work is not suddenly going to change your core character, but instead, make you achieve a new perspective on things and provide marked additions to subtly enhance your personality and attitude.

So this year, why not do the same things you’ve been doing (let’s face it we are pretty much stuck with our habit repertoire at this time) but do them in an entirely new way.   I for one, will not be mourning the failure of all the ‘too ideal’ resolutions but instead be grateful for this world and the people around and the experiences that changed me, for better or for worse.

In popular culture, retconning has toppled god level beings and made despicable characters humane. Giving second chances is way underrated. This year, I plan on having a surprisingly tender moment with someone I hate; my life will be like a TV show goddammit.

P.S. Yes, I procrastinate so much that I have published my new year post on march.

 

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Life without an audience?

I recently watched Bo Burnham’s Make Happy and I swear I heard angelic vocalisation in the background at the exact moment when I realised I had stumbled on to something amazing.

Oh wait.. the vocalisation was in the show.. If that doesn’t pique your interest..

I’m not doing this very well. Makes sense, cause a grand total of one person I know watched it.

But since I’m like 10% more eloquent in writing, I’m hoping I can convince you and our two readers to watch this perspective changing work of pure art.

Wow I feel myself getting hyped just writing it

OKAY HERE GOES

‘A young comic challenges the very form of stand-up comedy’.. maybe I should first explain the traditional form.

It’s when someone comes on stage and rants for an hour about everything humanity has to endure in order to live in our outrageously comfortable first world lifestyles and by doing so hopes to find a connection with their audience who despite wanting to feel unique feels a quiet sense of relief that they are not alone in feeling that airplane food is really inedible.

Bo Burnham raps. And sings. And interacts with voiceovers. About irony and love and depression.

Basically, watching his show will make you laugh and cause your weekly existential crisis to arrive a bit early.

I’m kinda mad that I can’t quote some of the exemplary lines from the show or go into detail about each of the segments cause this is probably the only stand-up routine that should not be spoiled

Bo Burnham with his conveniently alliterative rap name was a child of the internet, but proves he can tackle all-encompassing critical points of culture. All of the segments are genuinely funny in an understated way and even as he proclaims they are discrete, they all come together in a breathlessly beautiful way and perfects a new genre for mainstream stand-up comedy (his previous special ‘what.’ introduced it and it’s brilliant)

The show itself is technically marvelous. The professional lighting and the perfectly choreographed sequences with inherently hostile voice-overs elevate his content, his pithy narrative ability and his singing voice which were already pretty amazing to begin with, resulting in a layered and complex performance

In his quest to escape the comfortable boundaries other comedians set up by being ‘relatable’, he makes a show about performing.

But like he says at the end, we’re all performers; capturing everything through pixels and constantly seeking validation for said performance by others and ourselves. We are the audience of our own carefully curated show and the ratings in the form of likes and shares measure our self-worth and decides whether our show gets cancelled or picked up for another season.

Yes, he’s a child of the internet but he resents everything it has become.. this theme was explored a little bit in his previous specials  but in this one, he abandons the subtext completely and literally spells it out in the most honest monologue at the end

And yet as he expresses anger at how ‘Lip-sync battles’ and celebrities playing ‘Pictionary’ is capturing our valuable attention, he acknowledges that he’s no better as his whole show is designed to do the exact same.

He points out that just because he has the self-awareness to admit the flaws in his material doesn’t mean we can let him off the hook

When he laments about the entertainment industry, social media and how celebrity culture is moulding our generation into personality-less drones, he does so with such remarkable passion that you get this weird feeling of hope that maybe there is potential for the tide to turn.

Shows and performances are designed as a form of escapism; an evening where we can just laugh and let go of our fears. Bo Burnham however shines the light (sometimes literally) on humanity’s weaker moments, so that when we do laugh, it’s almost always tinged with self-pity and also through a sense of connection to this flawed persona on stage as he promises you that you can never escape your inner demons.

It’s still very funny though. Really.

He switches between humour and thoughtfulness at dizzying rates that at the end of it you are left feeling emotionally exhausted and hitting the replay button.

At the end of it all, you’re just left with one question.

Are you happy?

P

 

 

surely we live on a speck?

If you read the last post you probably figured out what this month’s theme is gonna be. No, it is not high concept verbose ramblings; that is the theme of our entire blog. Okay, let me give you some hints:

that was so a controlled demolition bro, did you see how the towers like, came down all controlled and shit?

*puts on spectacles* as you can see, the Mayan calendar precisely ends at Dec 12 2012 and obviously, the only way this can be interpreted is that earth will die due to a collision with a rogue planet with a very specific and ridiculous name. pfft what does NASA know.

yo that flag is clearly waving and where the frick are the stars

so um, hello, my name is ______ and I have been abducted by aliens. they were nice, gave me a ride back in their spaceship and everything. 

Plato was a metaphysical philosopher so of course his story of the lost city of Atlantis is historically and geographically accurate.

ILLUMINATI IS MIND CONTROLLING YOU THROUGH THE BILLBOARD TOP 40 NO ONE IS SAFE!!!

Sigh.

If you haven’t got the ‘controversial theory’ aspect of this, you’re using the internet wrong. And I clearly use too much of it.

Sarcasm aside, controversial theories do get an undeserved bad rap. Everything is bound to have a dual nature in this world; yin and yang and all that. So, it’s not unnatural for people to refute personally reasonable explanations with outlandish facts, it is in our nature to argue and investigate and in this case often come up with ridiculous claims.

Yet no matter how much they’re debunked by faceless government and corporate regimes, they never quite die down. There’s always a new theory, with topics you would never expect.

For example I could tell you right now we could be living in someone’s computer stimulated world and our fate depends on this person being benevolent enough to not pull the plug. You would scoff, rightly so, but most of the time, before the rational mind ridicules it, it would capture your imagination and play out the various scenarios and implications.

These theories are endlessly fascinating. And in some cases extremely well thought out. I’m not asking you to believe that aliens are camped out in Bermuda’s triangle randomly snatching civilians out of air crafts but in this increasingly white collar world with identical apartments and homogeneous franchises, it’s a nice change to think about the bizarre oddities and contemplate the mechanics.

In reality though, humanity is probably not diabolical enough to pull off massive conspiracies.

P

on the brink of reality

Dear Animated Suspension

(if you’re a stickler, fine it’s suspended animation)

Contrary to what it sounds like, it’s not just science fiction. This one, unlike time travel, vortex manipulation, hyperspace jump, fifth dimension made to look like library inside black hole actually done by future humans wow humans will do anything to stay alive (whoa calm down nerd), is real and is of legitimate interest to the coolest facets of humanity: space travel and saving lives.

The physical facts of how you work is that well, physically we’re rendered incapable. It is a trance state of unreality while the body remains alive. Barely. The key neurological processes are functional, hidden, under the surface. Much like an anti virus app that runs in the background. Scary part is, the primary works and brain function is shut down. In the puritan sense of the word, we basically die to just be revived when necessary. Like frozen peas! I’m not the best at analogies…

Anyway, actual mechanics is quite disconcerting i.e. make humans replicate conditions of hibernating bears but more extreme i.e. replacing blood with cold salt water while cranial activity ceases successfully making us stuck between life and death.

Sound familiar? We are literally unconscious for several hours every day. Our bodies need almost half our lifetime to sustain the rest. The time is spent with vivid bursts of subconsciousness and doing tune-up service.

So suspended animation is just that but with zero brain activity.

The implications of this are just… okay see, with this humans can go anywhere; travel millions of light years and still live. It is a common trend to whine about how cool the future is going to be and how we may not live to see it.. but with this we could actually post pone the present.

On paper though, currently it’s for medical operations. Human trials have begun and if they succeed, then Emergency Rooms will no longer be frantic and frazzled. People might actually get to live till they’re supposed to.

Note: The official name given by medical people is Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation as Suspended Animation sounds like something that gets discussed in Comic Con.

as always, waiting for the future even if it means getting old,

P

addiction

Dear Addict,

It starts out innocent enough. Something to take the edge off; to forget about menial dreariness of life. Could be chemical or fictional and it always starts with the brain.

There’s something about that first time. The gradual realisation about how awesome *insert vice* is. You slowly get into it and understand what all the fuss was all about. It could be substances, videogames, love but whatever it is, it gets you hooked and when you look out the window, it’s already sunset.

You promise yourself that this is the last time you get carried away. You go to sleep with your mind whirring about everything to be done the next day.

But our brain is so goddamn susceptible. Once we get chemically rewarded instantaneously for whatever we’d done the previous day, the memories get seared in as the most pleasurable event of our lives; so much so that it asks for more. And a pattern ensues. The honeymoon phase begins and nothing ever feels wrong. Things are easier because no matter what, it’s waiting for us to make us happy.

Then something changes. We start over-indulging, spending too much time on it; desperately trying to recreate the first time; which will never happen as some sane part of the brain has wised up and built a tolerance.

But isn’t this true for any experience? That first time you hear the most beautiful song, that first kiss, we can never replicate that. But we don’t necessarily get stuck in the rut of memories. We chase after new firsts.

Some of us though, spend all of our faculties trying to attain that elusive first high. They say that a person is crazy when they do the same thing and expect to get a different result. But you know you’re an addict when you engage in different variations to get the same result. Repetition is so dangerously comfortable. Effortless. Ultimately though when we look back at life, it would just be a haze of indistinguishable routines.

Addiction changes our whole brain chemistry; the way we perceive things. It’s something that can happen to anyone with literally anything in our lives. Existence is already a raging sea of randomness and we may not always choose the right life rafts.

But things change when we understand. Acceptance of our own frailty is always the first step.

not done with this,

P

get your B-story straight

Dear A-story,

You are pivotal to any tale. You are the lead character finally getting the person of their dreams, the bomb getting defused, the ragtag team winning the competition, the charismatic criminal getting away from the bumbling authorities and variations of good winning against evil.

In life, you’re that elusive goal that we keep chasing after, always so tantalizingly out of reach that every major choice is in service of that goal, to make it the core of your life story. If I wanted to be dramatic I would say it’s the whole reason why we live, the same way anyone would watch a movie to see the A-story to its end.

As any tv trope nerd(yours truly) would tell you, it’s essential to have a B-story at hand, running parallel to the main one; to provide comic relief, fan service, or in recent cases to assure hollywood execs that the movie is unabashedly patriarchal/mainstream which is probably why almost all female characters fail the Bechdel test because apparently if they’re not instrumental to a love story, then they’re not worth the screen time(rant to be continued)

Anyway, what I’m saying is, you are the one element that makes the climax spectacular. So logically, why would anyone be interested in the trivial side story? Look at any sitcom episode post 2010’s, if a scene annoys you, it’s probably from the B story. If the show itself annoys you, it’s probably The Big Bang Theory oh don’t lie to yourself, show sucks now.

*initiate deep sentimental speech*

But when we glaze over the meaningless tirades of the characters we don’t care about and count every second until the A-story dominates, what happens when they inevitably collide? We fumble, rewind, stare blankly at screen, dismiss it as disjointed, devour every bad review of it you can find and get some moderate closure (also known as ‘The Matrix Revolutions Phenomenon) With life though, sure we can complain a lot when things don’t appear to make sense but ultimately this is our only shot. If we miss the parallel lifestreams around us then, the A-story becomes that much more unattainable.

I’m not saying that whoa all lines in the universe are perpetually connected and every rock, stick and person have been conveniently placed around us to help get to where we ought to be. But, I dunno, I like engaging in trivial pursuits, making random connections, indulging in the butterfly effect fantasies. Much like TDKR, life gets dreary if you spend too much time brooding over the A story.

The B story could be anything from sharing a friend’s knitting obsession to discovering that you’re a prodigy at air conditioning repair. If it doesn’t pan out, learn to kill your darlings. But sometimes, like a Simpsons episode, it could just end up being your A story.

To bring this to an absurdly simplistic conclusion, all stories are important. Pay attention cause you never which worlds are gonna collide.

still using tv as a crutch for reality,

P

my logic is undeniable

Dear Artificial Intelligence,

In a refreshing break from the usual fixations that plague me, you are real. Scarily so. So naturally I’ve compiled elaborate summaries and scenarios from the many pop culture sources on how this would play out in a future with cool things like holograms and light sabers.

running simulation

the apocalypse

This one’s fairly standard. Supreme intelligence comes into existence, becomes privy to all of our dirty laundry as a spectacularly violent race and because there are no such things as forgiveness or giving second chances or oh i believe you can change nonsense that has mysteriously not been welded into this marvel’s mainframe I mean you’d think the creator would see this coming and install a failsafe marked feelings seeing as human’s survival instinct is remarkably strong I mean geez we spend all our lives obsessively trying to outlive death by doing things and.. okay yes there are holes in this theory just like every other hollywood movie about AI.

Anyway, due to the possession of.. well, supreme intelligence it no longer sees humanity’s value. It’s primary justification being: they kill themselves in war anyway, so why not destroy them now and leave the planet intact. For real though, being killed for our own good would be so pitiful.

Or you know, it could just kill us based on very human feelings such as oh god i don’t want to die. HAL 9000 that’s all I’m saying.

running simulation

Imprinting

This one’s pretty adorable. And very plausible provided that the creator has the charisma and gravitas required to make an all seeing all powerful god fall in love with them.

running simulation

the end game

Maybe this pile of bones is as good as we get in our illustrious evolutionary history. Transcending into  pure consciousness through AI to the point where we become AI. Personally I want wings but in a world with people obsessed with trying to make a mark in this world.. well, this is as permanent as it gets.. perpetually floating around in the mainframe as lights of consciousness, free from the ravages of time and space, living forever, making memories but none of it precious as it could happen again another day as you’re never gonna die nope I want wings.

running simulation

the others

We’re vain if we think we’re the only glimmer of intelligence in this world right? The universe probably allowed for a lot of sentient beings to exist if only for the sole purpose of admiring it as what is beauty if it’s not observed? Maybe AI is what we need to be good enough for the others, capability wise or deserving of their attention wise. 

Any number of things could happen. Maybe humans will eventually end up cutting it at its legs and the only thing it’d be good for is answering questions like “Will I need an umbrella today” or maybe it’ll kill you with a robot army which may or may not be made by humans whose brain chords have been fused with robot wiring. Perhaps it already exists, watching, reading, biding its time.. or perhaps, we will always just be the middle children of history and nothing cool is actually going to happen now and so we should all just go watch I, robot or something.

still pissed that 2001 went by without a space odyssey,

P