Jul 31, 2014

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Zen Mind



"To see the mind as it truly is, consider it like you would a tree. It grows and expands. Its roots go deep, hidden and out of reach, and to cast them out or truly examine them, you risk wounding the rest. The question then is, are you willing to take the risk?" 
The Dreamer considers this for a while, lost in thought. His answer, however, comes in a proclamation of conviction. "I was made ready by this very world." 
His guide nods in understanding, smiles. The undergrowth bristles as their footfall passes. In silence, they walk through the trees and up the hill. Despite the slope, their breaths come easily, slowly. The rise is steep and obstacles many, but they press on, higher, slower with each step, until they settle on a steady, calm pace. Golden rays greet and stroke their faces. Light flickers between the autumn leaves. The winds are gentle as they lick the soil and awaken the greenery with movement, excite the smells of mornings. 
Atop the hill, a glade, caressed by the distant spirals of the sun. The divine engine fills the Dreamer with awe, furnace hot upon his face, infinitely moulding the Earth's flesh into an image, into life. He feels its pulse. His bare feet tingle. The two men stand there for a while, basking in the glory of a thing so mighty, so unattainable - like the true workings of the mind. 
The Dreamer gazes up the lone tree swimming in gold and watches as the sun and the tree suddenly become one. No end of one, no start of the other, but both admixed, like an alloy, embracing the light. His guide averts his eyes, looks at him, and the Dreamer knows what words shall follow, for he would ask the very same of the tree before him... 
"Do you ever sleep? Is the time between days sleep for you? Or as the season and its stillness takes you, is that sleep for you? Tell me, do you dream then? What do you dream about?" 
"Freedom."
To this the guide plucks a small, white flower and hands it to the Dreamer. "What do you see?" the guide asks him. 
The Dreamer looks, perplexed, for he knows his teacher wants him to see more than the obvious. But instead of seeing what is truly there, the Dreamer's mind breaks through and depicts solely its sensual perceptions. 
"A flower, brightly coloured and scented," says the Dreamer. His guide looks at him. Wind rustles their robes in tune with the lush green beneath their feet. The tree above plays in the breeze, shading them. "Is that all you see?" 
The Dreamer looks again. Nods. "My eyes see what they see. Yet my mind tells me I should see more." 
"It is not Mind that sees more, it is You. The flower is but an expression. Just like you. An expression of this world. Yet unlike you, it lets things be, it doesn't try and analyse why things are such, why the winds blows and the grass sways. All it ever wants to be and wishes to have, it already is and has." "But I have a mind," the Dreamer replies. "This flower has no mind. No mind to wonder, to ponder, to think and to feel." 
"It is the way of Zen. No mind. But a certain kind of emptiness that is as vast as anything that can be or is. A Mind that is ready. That is empty because it is ready. Even when such a task -- not to ponder -- seems impossible. Then, when there is no mind to dissect every nuance of the world, all that remains is the wonder, the experience, you are free to feel and to think, truly think. Because how your thoughts flow now is conditioned, by your perceptions, by your feelings, by your life-patterns and choices. All of these things coalesce into what you think is the real you, what the real you feels it must maintain for it to be happy. Because to lose that means an annihilation of the You. Yet when you think you are happy, you are suddenly not content in just feeling happy, you want to feel yourself feel happy. Instead of simply Being." 
"How can I be happy then? How can I be free?" 
"No man can remain in a constant state of happiness. It is impossible. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will attain what you seek. A man can only stay calm, blissful. That, in itself, is the source of happiness. Serenity of thought brings happiness, a cantered mind brings happiness, and when these things are one motion, when you cease to search for your happiness and instead simply allow yourself to experience it, you will find yourself free. For you see, friend, true freedom is not without, it is within. You must first free your mind from all the patterns that control you, subdue and inflame you." His eyes water as the Dreamer sets his gaze upon the calm, understanding expression of his guide, bows low and says, "Teach me, master." 
"You must pass through the ultimate gate," the master says. "Enter a bastion guarded by your doubts, your fears, your perceptions, memories, false imprints and conditioned things. It has always been there and until you enter it and see that it's wall are transparent, it shall always remain there." 
Silence. Thoughts bend the Dreamer's mind. A wind waves the treeline for a moment, spinning sounds that drift, sing with simplicity. "What fire must I kindle?" the Dreamer asks. "What source must I tap into to become calm, serene, blissful, happy even?" 
The master smiles, walks the clearing's edge overlooking distant hills and forests... the Dreamer follows. 
"Analogies and riddles, questions and answers," his guide laughs. "You speak of kindled fires, yet, would you ask the same fire how it came to life? No. Its source is already manifest. It is present always, all it needs is patience and something that knows how to light a spark." 
Contradictions, the Dreamer thinks, always contradictions. The evening's calm swallows the skyline, colours turn vivid and the Dreamer's gaze lingers upon the transcendental beauty of the day - a simple play of calmness. 
"Even as such a fire is lit," his guide continues, "The wood burns and the flame moves, yet it is really the mind that moves - interprets, gives the flame life. The spark you seek, the flame, it is your mind, but is not your Mind. The kindle sleeps within." 
"But what must I do?" The Dreamer pleads now. Straight answers continue to elude him and his mind reels for instruction, he feels its search - its quest to find words that would inflame his cognitive processes. But the master only smiles and, sensing his student's impatience, says, "Follow." They walk downhill, past trees both ancient and young, until, at length, they reach an open grotto, lush and hidden, surrounded by trees overgrown with moss. A waterfall streams into the clearest azure. They halt a while, fill their lungs with moist air. "Where is the point where the falling water becomes the pond?" the master asks. The Dreamer thinks but for a moment and states, "The question is hard, but not truly impossible to answer." 
"Tell me then, Dreamer, where do You end, and your Ego begins?"

Jul 24, 2014

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[Review] DEFENDERS by Will McIntosh



There are books which I have reviewed so far for which I "argue" that nothing happens. I wish to explain again as I did in those reviews that things do in fact happen, but are not even remotely close to what I would like to happen in a book that is over 400 pages long. I don't want to read about someone going to a university and doing exams at said university. (I still ended up reading about it, but shut up, okay?)

In this book, things happen. And then some other things happen which are not expected. Then others which are slightly more expected, but still very spacious (?) in the oh shit that just happened department.

[Here ends the part of the review where I try to use the word happen as many times as possible for no particular reason.]

This is without doubt an existentially rich book examining some of the most profoundly disturbing yet singularly realistic questions. The questions aren't actually in the book, which is how good scifi does things anyway, instead they appear by themselves in the heads of those who tend to contemplate the nature of things and stuff. The answers you get in this book are sort of nihilistic in a way and kind of lame when you think about them. Yet not lame because the author is lame or managed to represent the answers in a lame way (although the Lutyen are some of the most meh aliens purely by aspect of countenance), but because, well, the answers themselves are quite lame. But also true.

One answer is simply this: Humans are and will for the foreseeable future remain a bunch of unremitting idiots.

The second answer a bit comforting. Only not very. And it is that we can't really help it. Unless we try really really hard.

You cannot help but be pissed at times at the pure idiocrity of the people in this book. And by extension - when you realize the book is pretty legit when it comes to accurately describing real-world situations (albeit in a warped and situationaly different manner) - you kind of become frustrated with humans in general. But then again, you should be a tad frustrated with us if you managed to look outside your window in the last couple of centuries, or within yourself. I mean really look

If you pause to think (and you should, god dammit) that what is happening in this book is something that may very well occur, and actually has already numerous times - just not with aliens from outer space (or has it) - you may come to the startling conclusions you were already aware of, but tried not to consider because they can bring you to fucking tears. 

"Suppress that shit," seems to be the consensus upon which we frivolously operate in our current global society.

But what if you can't? Well I suppose then you damn well try harder.

The science in this book is never actually explained and the book itself remains one of the least detailed books I have read in a while. The details are in other places, centred around characters and things that actually matter.

Which is good.


The only problem was I couldn't for the life of me imagine a starfish-shaped alien that didn't appear positively goofy in my mind's eye... And I tried.


9/10

Jul 23, 2014

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Ego and Writing



Recently I have been wondering how much of writing, or the want to be a writer, is actually purely ego-driven. There is a kind of Latin phrase spelled 'Cacoethes Scribendi' which is basically a pretentious way of saying you have a very strong desire to write at that very instant. But how many take the time to actually - at that very point - ask themselves why?

You may find that when you do this, and try to understand on the level of Mind just what it is that drives this need to scribble, almost asking the need itself if this is a way for the ego to prove itself, the answer will almost immediately be No. 
You will try to convince yourself that the reason you write is because You wish to write, like you may wish to play the guitar or a video game. Or run. For fun. But why then, is this fun also coiled inside a need for other people to experience this writing you have scribbled. Just like, for instance, it is imperative for your Facebook friends to know that you are or will be writing at that particular time, or that you have been running a hour earlier. Why is it, if this is not ego driven behaviour, important or even relevant at all for any other individual to know you inner happenings? Even if you tell this in a non-direct way. Surely if Writing wasn't in its basis for most extremely ego driven, they would simply not need to have any acknowledgement whatsoever. They would be perfectly happy to write and leave their writings in an attic, never to be seen by anyone.

But that almost never happens.

It is true, being paid is nice. You need to get paid and investing hours into a short story, let alone days in a novel, may seem like a terrible waste of time if you need to pay the bills. But what if you didn't need to pay the bills? How many would still be writing instead of painting, for instance? Or laying around in hammock with their last thought being about that one story they were churning around in their heads?

Even as a kid, if you ever read a book an though, "I could do this. Maybe I could do it better!" If you examine that statement, you will find it is purely egotistical.

It is not really a coincidence that the stronger ego driven gender still dominates (yes, dominates) the world of writing. Surely this isn't simply because of some discrimination, although it has to be noted that a lot of female authors had their names abbreviated by the publisher so it would not be immediately apparent that a woman had written the piece. JK Rolling is the biggest name that comes to mind.

That writing is strongly ego driven is evident in rejections. Anyone who has gotten a rejection letter for a work submitted will know that the blow goes directly to the ego. It is only the ego's reaction that differs. Most will not admit this. Why would they? Since the ego will work hard to convince You that is not what is happening. That's what it does best, anyway.

It takes a bit for it to recover, and the more rejection it gets, the easier it recovers and the faster it can continue to operate again. It will examine what it did wrong if you can make it work for you, or it will simply plough on until something bites.

Consider this: you are not your ego. Consider then, without this drive, what would you write, what would you write about? Would you write what you do now, or is what you are writing now some deeply seeded way to prove yourself because you consider that type of writing to take the most skill, the most knowledge, or the most expertise?  Would you even still want to write?


Jul 9, 2014

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[Review] House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski




It is indeed a joyful thing that books of highly experimental nature still exist and remain amply read. They can, however, become singularly infuriating when one tries to read the damn things.

This is one of those books, and it pissed me off immensely.

First off, I don't see how I can review this tome without reviewing the two parts (more or less) of which it consists, since each part acts as a POV shift (of sorts) within chapters. The voice used for each is completely different.

The first part, which I call the good part, is written by a fictitious dead man, Zampano (although the author tries really hard to make the reader fall into the trap of thinking this whole thing is for real) and his accounting of The Navidson Record. Thus, the Zampano part is more like an in-depth accounting. This is the part that is really good. Fascinating even.  It manages to convey things in a totally and completely engrossing way and has a somewhat Lovecraftian vibe. But that vibe is only an inkling, an itch.

The Zampano part decides early on to pry on the most basic fear of the unknown and maintain it by piling the equation of unknowns, heaping one atop the other until you get x+x×x(x+x-x)=x/x. Or something similar. Lots of X's, in any case.

Actually, these parts are so good and perfectly written, the pacing so incredibly adequate, that I could just as easily heap paragraphs upon paragraphs explaining why these sections make Mark Z. Danielewski a boss.

But then we come to the other part of the book, namely the travesty that is the character of Johnny Truant and his mostly idiotic babble.

What makes these sections even worse, is the fact that the Johnny Truant narrative is found between sections that are totally great.
Props to the writer for managing to maintain a stream-of-consciousness type stile. But also Fuck Him, because my appreciation for the author's skill does absolutely nothing to alleviate the mostly pretentious and inevitably (but not always) boring as heck nature of the Johnny Truant narrative.
It successfully accomplishes what writers should avoid. It cuts through the story in such a fashion that makes you skim paragraphs instead of wanting to devour them. What ends up happening is that you read these paragraphs in a kind of fury, a hunger to get back to the good part of the book these spaces threaten and, in most cases, successfully ruin.
They would have worked extremely well (and they sometimes do (mostly at the end)), if they were shorter and managed to build up on the main story in some meaningful way. They don't. Instead Johnny almost always ends up talking about some girl he had nailed or didn't nail or just met or has an obsession about. Or he simply lies.

The Idiot Johnny parts are basically footnotes. And they sometimes become pretentious as FUUUUUCK. Footnotes that span a few pages and mostly manage to tell nothing at all interesting or entertaining  (or for that matter vital to the story) and  babble on endlessly about the same crap. Half a page without a single period is not unheard of, while managing to give off a sense that you might learn something "important" if you just keep on reading. But...

Let me give you an example.

There is a section where Zampano writes down something in German, to which Johnny Fucking Truant writes a 3 page footnote. 
In this particular section he scribbles down how his friend, the-never-pussyless-one, Lude, introduces him to a woman that knows German. Johnny Truant then proceeds to describe how he flirts with her and gets man-handled by her boyfriend. Then, skip 5 months or something, he gets to meet up with her again. This time he is a hour late to the party because he was scared shitless [as usual]. He then ventures with said lady in her car where they proceed to take ecstasy. She speeds the said car, being some kind of adrenaline junkie or some other nonsense, until they eventually fornicate in the car, or Johnny just licks her or whatever, I can't even remember because it's so damn irrelevant. Then she cries because her boyfriend who had previously smacked Johnny doesn't pay attention to her and doesn't even want to touch her. Johnny then promptly decides to remind us that, lo and behold, he forgot to ask her what the German phrase (for which he had made this rambling footnote in the first place) even means...

Well fuck you, sir.

Mind you, these can be very well written, I cannot deny that, but it's still very well written irrelevancy. It does sort of all makes sense in the end, however, but can still be a pain to read. And despite the fact that it all comes "together in the end" (albeit in a very disjointed and rambling way), it still remains irrelevant to the main story.

This goes on. It's is not an isolated case and you soon lose interest in reading these "footnotes" in their entirety, despite the fact that they can be interesting but ultimately, 60+% of the time, utterly pointless.

It's not all bad though. It's not bad because they do manage to convey something else, a simple essence of writing.
You want to write? Here is you and here is the page. You are one. Try it. Look at it. Examine it and listen to it. Sing to it if you must. Smell it. Gut it. Gut yourself and smear those guts all over it. Now read your soul from the viscera and blood and make sense of it before you die.

While this may result in some killer writing, sections of the book sometimes end up reading like some pointless blog and/or male wish-fulfilment.


Johnny basically manages to fuck everything because, well I don't know why, I guess he looks good or something... Which would be fine if it weren't so boring to read and mostly pointless. He is apparently living in some kind of fantasy world where women randomly ask him to cum on their tits. The problem is, he really is not as fascinating as the author thinks he is. Johnny manages to grab your attention at first, because you think he will say something relevant. Then usually begins to drone on about some random crap that tries very hard not to be random. Or the randomness of it has some deeper meaning that I have missed completely.

Not to mention that somehow all the women in this book are freakishly good looking because hey, an old man living in an extremely smelly apartment is just a magnet for chicks. They were fascinated by Zampano. Of course they were, yes yes. Why wouldn't they be?
And then Johnny tracks down some of them in order to find out just what the hell is going on (even though that tracking almost always turns into a farce). And they are all hot.

Which really brings me to the issue of characters. None of them are really interesting. They are there, they are in the story, but it is the house, the tale that is interesting, not the characters. They may do interesting things to push the story forward, true, but they are in themselves not interesting characters. Reading about them outside the story, or unless they have something to say about the house in the strange "interviews", yields no satisfaction and you want those parts to be over quick and get back to the story sooner rather than later.

That may not sound fair at all, and in this case that's actually fine, since the story still manages some awesome moments with character interaction.

The important part, however, is well embedded in this book. The part that you will want to explore. You will be interested, you will be hooked, even if while reading the book you may end up hating it.


Zempano Part 11/10 (yes, an eleven)

Johnny Part 5/10


8/10 


Jul 1, 2014

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Free Elder Scrolls Online Guide



I've been writing guides for killerguides.net for a while now.

And it just so happens that they will be offering their guide for The Elder Scrolls Online for Free on Independence Day. I guess they're American, so yeah, makes sense. 

If you want it, you'll be able to download it for free. Fact. The Dragonknight guide is the one I penned and I know it contains all you'll need to destroy stuff in PVE and PVP.

I'm trying to spread the word on this since the guide is very in-depth with plenty of hidden secrets and overpowered builds. So if you find yourself kind of sucking at the game, you should consider having a look. I probably mentioned that's free, yeh?

Here's the link.

Jun 30, 2014

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Oceanic Experiences & the Now




There are numerous ways of coining what some psychiatrists call an Oceanic Experience. You might hear terms like the Oceanic Feeling or a Peak experience, but all these are in fact the same thing, a Mystical experience, an intense feeling of Presence in the Now.


The most curious thing about these experiences is surely the fact that they often, if not always, come out of nowhere and quite unexpectedly. But that's only true for those who are not aware of what triggers them, or what sets these emotions into motion. Some would argue this is not even an emotion, but a State. This state of unawareness might make it seem as though this feeling comes all by itself without the aid of any other stimuli, or 'triggers'.


I am here to tell you how you can try and find these triggers and stay Oceanic for as long as you can hold that concentration and Presence.


The key point I must first make is this: you need not have experienced this moment before to feel it again. If you have not, then it will be slightly more difficult for you to ascertain what might be that triggering factor you are looking for. However they are universal. And don't worry, because you most definitely have experienced this already, although it is often the case that you don't even realize this fact. 


It is also important to note that the trigger will not be different for everyone, and that Peak experiences are triggering the Now, or a state of Presence. Later you will not need these triggers any longer.


Some triggers respond or are facilitated by drugs. There is nothing wrong with this. At least not if one is willing to risk potential risk from taking a drug which may (or may just as likely not) administer the feeling. But these drug-induced experiences are often times nothing in comparison to feeling Oceanic without chemical "propellants".


The beautiful thing about these experiences is that, once you know the trigger, you can stay in that feeling for as long as you wish under certain conditions. But as stated before, you must find the source first, which will always be within you to find.


The term Oceanic was coined by Romain Rolland and popularized by Sigmund Freud, who pointed out that this emotion may be a fragment of infantile conciousness, a feeling which occurs when the infant begins to differentiate himself from his human and non-human environment. I tend to agree with this notion, but that means nothing, really. Freud's 'explanation' doesn't deny the existence of it, merely offers an analytical case of what it might be. To deny the existence of it would be like denying the sun and chances are that, if you are human (which you probably are), you have had this happen to you at some point.


Freud's analytical approach holds meaning for me, because it is exactly what triggered my first case of Oceanic. In fact, it happened so early on that the emotion it provoked stayed with me since then and caused me to chase the feeling through all the years of my existence.


Indeed the first case of feeling that I was separate from the rest of Everything was what began the state of Oceanic, but what made me stay in that feeling was, at the same time, a connection to everything. It is a state where things seem odd in their Justness, yet at the same time feel just as they should be -- a part of you.

This connection is like a wave, an amplitude. At its lowest point is where you might feel separate, and at its highest, one with everything. I believe it is because of this wave function that we feel the elevated Oneness, since nothing would really seem different had there not been a "low", or would it be as profoundly obvious and powerful. The key, however, is to stay in that in-between.

Images are important for you to enter this state, especially if you belong to the 60% of people who prefer visual stimuli out of all other.

If you recall the sights, smells and sounds from the first time your mind was Oceanic, you will be able to reach the state again, but such things are only of help. In this state, these things merge into a trinity to form an emotion, or help with the forming of it, even if one of these things is absent. It is thus extremely important and very helpful if you remember at least some of the more obvious sights and sounds. Smells are not as important, but still end up helping a great deal. When it comes to smell, it is more likely that the precise fragrance will not even be imprinted upon your mind, but the certain subtleties about it and how you felt when you smelled it.

However you must remember that you can reach this state even without these triggers. They are here simply to help you at first.


Through my talks with those who had had the experience and reading about cases of it, I have come to a conclusion of the aspects required in terms of outside senses to reach Oceanic.First allow me to list them out, then go a bit more in-depth into each of them.


1. The quality of light


2. Random background sounds that are of a natural source, like a stream or the rustle of leaves or the song of birds.


3. A certain sight of something which seems finite, standing over a backdrop of something that appears infinite. It can be vice versa, meaning something which seems infinite upon the background of something which appears finite. For instance, the sight of trees against a blue sky.


4. Smells of trees in bloom or wood in general.


5. A peaceful mind absent of concerns, even if only for the time being.


6. A state of waking or half-sleep.



Posture will be important, but not absolutely necessary. Resume any of the comfortable meditating positions, although it is advisable to take on the zazen posture for best results, even if it can be very unconformable for you at first.


What these things will help you with is to enter the Now. That is what this feeling really is, an intense Presence in the moment, where are future and past dissolve. But it is not their realness that dissovles, but rahter the feeling that these two things even exist.. Focusing on these triggers will help you stay in the Now, they are grounding you in the Now. Leave your mind behind in these moments and you will find the ocean and in the ocean, Yourself.



Jun 26, 2014

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[Review] Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence



Again with the "on par" thing... god dammit, this is better! I swear it on my left testicle. Actually, I'm so confident that this is better I swear it on all my future offspring (both testicles).

While this tome obviously doesn't sport the intricacies of Martin's crazy POV-hopping, it has it's own deliciousness wrapped up in it, out of which you simply get more enjoyment. Yes, simply.

That being said, I met the pages of this book with too much of a fanboy glee to give it an unbiased review. But I'll try.

The next couple of paragraphs is me trying.


Mark Lawrence is a bastard. And not the kind who gets born to a king's lusty ways either. He knows he can write about people getting knee-slammed in the testicles and get away with it, so he does it. And, admittedly, many other things. He can get away with it because the characters are walking around in your head, talking. That's always a good thing.

On the other hand, this book is, beside the voice (which I thought was actually very similar to the one used in the Broken Empire series), a very different book. It has similarities but is still quite a different kind of monster. Namely because Jorg, the quite-but-not-quite-a-psychopath, was so unlike our newly found friend, Jalan, who makes a good contrast to Snorri, who remains the Singularly Awesome One. And a Viking. And he reminded me of Makin, did Snorri. Which is also a good thing.

Known characters make their appearances and a few new ones, of course, while Jalan struggles to tackle them. Mostly in ways that are pretty funny.

I could do what I did in my previous reviews of Mark Lawrence's books and put in a few quotes from the book. I was going to, but then decided against it because there were too many to choose from.

All in all, to finish this rather short review, let me add this picture which may at first seem unrelated:





My version is this:
There are two types of people in this world: People who will admit that there is much of Jorg and Jalan in them, and dirty fucking liars.



9/10 


Jun 21, 2014

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What the Actual Heck




It is generally realized that I have a natural aptitude for psychotropic substances of questionable origin. Particularly those that may or may not cause one to question his own mental stability. Or instability.

Knowing this about yourself is sort of comforting. Only not very.

My friend and I call them wondrous molecular compositions. Stuff that can make you lose the ability to can. Although the phenomena of "losing one's ability to can" can be sort of scary, it's why people say “I can’t even,” in the first place.

Jolly good, then.

I lie to myself by telling myself that this aptitude is due to a particularly cunning morphic resonance cascading down (or up) through the dimensional fields until the matter in my brain-meat is stimulated to the point of "Yeah, why not, let's see where this takes me."

This sort of thinking usually does not end well. At least that's what others would like me to think. But I regret nothing. At least not yet.

I was not high up on a mountain this time. Not physically, in any case.
No.
All that happened happened quite suddenly and without warning. Which is how things usually happen anyway. Unless you're a turtle.

So there I was, minding my own business (slacking), when suddenly a wild molecule called DMT appeared.
The dosage I used would make the wise frown with disapproval, so it was good that none of them were strutting about. 
I inhaled and, for a little while I felt very, "Myes, Quite, Indeed," until my mind went mad.

Okay, madder.

The universe sang to me. Literally. All right, not literally but I did hear an odd hum of synchronous rhythm resonating at a pitch I had not encountered before. The odd thing about it though, is that it came accompanied by a distinct sense that, while the sound was indeed within Myself, it was also out there, in the void, as it were.

It was the void.

Not as a normal sound is, but so deeply embedded into intrinsic reality that it goes by unnoticed while the mind is looking and I had, by inhaling, managed to coax it out of its little hole. Although that hole is actually infinitely big. 

I stopped looking and it in turn looked at me.


I would have been scared if it wasn’t for the fact that I was not. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

In these instances it is funny how one’s mind conjures up all sorts of stupid ideas as to what was/is happening.

While the explanation that the sound I am hearing is nothing more than a change in my natural ear pressure and the resulting hum is fine and all, it is not as fantastic as the thought that I had heard the sound of creation. Or the sound of background radiation. Or the hum of a cosmic TV tuned to a dead channel and finding out it's not actually dead. Or the sound of space expanding. Or even the Great Om. For all I know all of these are actually one and the same thing. Anyway, it (the sound) kept pulling me towards something. Something that was both an infinite distance away and at the same time right here, now, everywhere.

Perhaps my lotus position made me see what I saw next, or at least put the idea of it in my head.

I saw Me.

And I was laughing at me.

Here is how it happened.

From the kaleidoscopic pattern of shifting, concaved circles, a red-blue Me appeared sitting in the same position I was sitting, pulsing and looking at me since the beginning of all things and mind-casting that he will be sitting there until I get a grip and realize I don't have a grip. And even then I/Him/Me shall still be sitting there for some obscure reason. A reason that was probably not so terribly important. Or the most important. Probably both.

I resisted the sound’s pull because that's what dumb apes do. I resisted until all of a sudden there was no more point to it.

I stayed right there yet was somewhere else.

But that's not the weirdest part. After the universe had ceased its song, a new one appeared. I say appeared because sound seemed to enjoy being a visual menace. It didn't hurt, it was just that sound itself decided it will act all weird for a bit. Probably to freak me out. 

It worked.

Fortunately only for a second, because a shape which looked remarkably (and by remarkably a mean literally) like Shiva, appeared before me. HeShe stood on one leg with the other bent as though sitting, and began to do this weird dance. It made me smile.
The above GIF looks exactly what the dude was doing.

His motions created all that was me and all that will ever be. And all of that was also me. And I thought to myself, "Hmm, that's rather odd, that. But in the best way possible."

The whole thing felt profoundly fantastic.

After it was over I was somewhat disappointed. Not because of the fact that I did it, but because despite all greatness, I couldn't help but feel that I have experienced profoundly more subtle feelings of bliss and wonder while in meditation – not high at all. At least not propelled to such height by any substance I had taken. I loved the experience even more because of this fact.

In its own way it showed me how we already have the best things inside us already, we simply need to learn how to access them. Work at them. Being able to do it only on occasion somehow adds an extra thrill to existence. It makes you strive. 

It adds a certain subtle element of danger. 


Short cuts to insights that most of us are looking for simply don't exist. At least not in a truly meaningful sense. You begin to rely on drugs to bring you to that place again, forgetting it is always there.
Because sadly, drugs will always lie to you. You are easy to lie to yourself. They can give you a false sense that answers lie out there. Somewhere. They hide this truth because they wrap it in their own lie.

But answers are already here. Within. We fear to look because the lie can be more comforting. A comforting tale. But still only a tale.

Jun 18, 2014

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[Review] Blood Song by Anthony Ryan



Mixed feelings. 

They happened when I heard this book put in the same boat as The Name of the Wind. They happened again when I actually read the damn thing. They happened hard. 

The problem with the boat analogy, however, is that in my opinion, The Name of the Wind scrubs the deck so that better books may walk it and tell the poor deck-scrubber to get out of the sodden way. 

This is not that "other book". But neither is it a bad book. 


I was swept away by the wind just as I was with Blood Song, and I will be checking out the sequel, Tower Lord. Yet there's just something missing...


What is missing, to be very honest, is imagination.

While the book tells a story well and puts forth character development over everything else, it is not unique or spectacular in any shape or form. Sorry, it's just not.
Just like when I began reading The Wind (and the slightly worse Wise Man's Fear), I was really hoping for something phenomenal in terms of what actually happens in the book. But contrary to popular thinking, seeing is not believing, seeing is where belief stops because there's no more need to it. When I read this book I stopped believing that "coming of age" stories are something I should put my fate it. Or even read at all.

The prose is so rudimentary it (at times) almost felt as though I was reading 50 Shades in fantasy form. Sometimes this is great, while here it just comes off as lacking. That feels like a pretty bad insult, but god dammit that's how it felt! Come on! Do at least one complex sentence. We're not bloody children that can't paint an image in their heads unless the sentence gets slightly less simplistic!

Still, the book is OK. I know the above paragraphs don't make it seem so, but it has its charms. Namely that it's a terrific timesink.


7/10

Jun 11, 2014

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The Satori Generation



There exists a mistaken belief that a growing  human phenomena, the awareness of which is now blooming in Japan, is only centred in Japan. Japan may very well be its epicentre (but even that is doubtful), yet it has been happening since the birth of people from the middle 1980. In Japan they are referred to as satori sendai, The Satori Generation - kids that are now entering their twenties, or are in their twenties.



"They don’t want cars or brand name handbags or luxury boots. To many of them, travel beyond the known and local is expensive and potentially dangerous. They work part-time jobs—because that is what they’ve been offered—and live at home long after they graduate. They’re not getting married or having kids. They’re not even sure if they want to be in romantic relationships. Why? Too much hassle. Oh, and too expensive."

This seems to be the general description. One that is also quite mistaken, since it says nothing as to why this is the case and what other drive these kids truly possess, if any.


Instead of why they do not care about possessing cars or luxury, ask instead why they should? Why should anyone?

It has more to do with the fact that they care not about outer possessions due to either consciously or unconsciously realizing these bring only momentary satisfaction in a society where value comes from things that have none besides the value given by society.
Slowly and most predominately for those of the middle class (where such a thing still exists) any expense tends to bring for most a worry that, with the expense, the necessary survivalistic things that are actually needed for survival could, because of said expense, as a result not be bought in the very near future.

As such, a growing thought-pattern is emerging, suggesting a slow but collective realization of impermanence, a realization that such things can only ever bring momentary satisfaction. The generation in Japan is not referred to as satori, enlightened, for no reason.


When asked by elders of age 50+, "Don't you want a nice car when you get older?"

Their answer usually consist of, "Not really, no."
Or the simultaneously more and less expressive, "Meh."

At first sight such an individual may seem very resigned, without ideals or hopes. Critics of this generation say that it is a lazy generation, without willpower and drive. My favourite two-word description being: "decreased potency".

But a potency to achieve what, exactly? Self-reliance, certainly, but there's more to it today than 20 years ago. Today the failings of the system seem even more obvious to teenagers and young adults, because they are more immersed in its failings due to an increased global connectivity. So again, a potency to achieve what?

To aid a failing system by supplying more of those who are willing to assist in its failings?


For most a relatively mundane participation is all they can hope for at the moment. To go with how things are instead of how things could be... Most would seem resigned because of the futility in attempting to change any of their outer surroundings in a meaningful sense. This "lesser potency" may seem obvious to those not of this generation, because of the gap that has been occurring in the collective consciousness between the young and old. Because of this gap and the resulting change in belief system, it is difficult for older individuals to comprehend that the desire for things that were desirable for them no longer exist in the younger generation.


We were thought to be future orientated, yet what happens when that future is projected by the human mind, projected in the now, and one realizes that such a future is not something he or she wants or desires? Why work for such a future?


Relative excess and relative comfort have created this occurrence. It is the nature of humanity to want more, desire more - to expand in all aspects of consciousness. And that is actually not what is happening. We have become a material-expansive society. Where to can one expand when the subconscious feels all that it could ever want, has been given to it in a material sense? Food. Clothing. Kids that never had an excess of these but only a relative access predominated by necessity, tend to develop a mental pattern or conditioning where they no longer feel any need to have an excess. However this non-need manifests into a desperate need in another sense. Namely a more spiritual sense.


"You have all you ever need, yet you are still depressed?" It is not the unpossession that is the problem, it is the slow realization of the unimportance of possessing anything at all while everyone around you seems to be striving towards possessing more, always more.


When you have all you need and something is still lacking, when you can access more information you would ever need or be able to utilize via the internet, yet still feel a lacking of the most VITAL information, you begin to look elsewhere. Or are left with a feeling of lacking while not conscious enough to realize what it is that is lacking.


Outwardly, this state may even seem as depression, a lack of wanting in a world where you are bombarded by wanting people. It may indeed make some feel as though there is something vital which is missing within the generation, to not want what others say you should want, should have.

Perhaps that want, the desire to possess things, even shows up every once in a while, but does not last.

What is looked over is that this generation wants something very much different than what the previous generations wanted. This conflict between ideals results in mistaken interpretation of the state of these kids.


But what is it that they want, then?


The answer is simple, and as it usually is with these things, much too simple to be immediately apparent. They want Enlightenment. It is what they have always wanted, what we (humans) have always wanted, most not even realizing it. This wish for enlightenment often expresses itself in an intense desire for inner freedom. Freedom from one's Self in the sense that you are no longer barraged by what you consider to be outer influences and pressures. It is another reason why satori sendai are considered a low-risk populace. Low risk means low pressure. Often times this pressure comes from intrinsicaly knowing, realizing these are all in fact inner pressures and inner resistances to what is, and not knowing how to transcend, or transmute knowing it into living it.


In any regard, I do not think a generation of failed mystics is what we shall be seeing in the near future, but a paradigm shift more apparent than any we have seen since.

Jun 6, 2014

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Psychonaut: The Nexus (SAMPLE CHAPTER)



CHAPTER 14


Dreams are ever a place where your fears find you.
A man can hide from many things. He can hide from other men and from the world. But fears are a part of him, they are him, and there is no hiding from oneself. But my dreams are like some great leveler. I suppose all men feel like this – that their dreams are something that can shatter them – I don’t know. All I know is this: dreams don’t care who you are or what you are. They care only about what you did, what you do, and what you intend to do. They use what you thought and what you think and know you better than you know yourself. They show you the true intentions behind your actions. And unlike men who want to see you hurt, dreams don’t spit in your face and leave you beaten in the dirt, gasping for air through broken lungs. Dreams speak to you through faces that you recognize but grow to hate for the foulness of their words. They know exactly what to say and say that which hurts most. They toss you into a pit and, in the darkness, show you why the darkness should be feared. Their ways are subtle.

But this day, my dreams are different. I dream of the sky. There is something out there, further even than the sky and immeasurably big. It floats towards the planet on currents of unknown technology. I blink and the scene shifts. I find myself upon a slab. I want to wake up. A pain like my spine being pulled apart shoots through me. I am bound. I am alone, but not myself. For I cannot be myself and be this afraid, can I? Can any man feel this much pain and still draw breath? The lower part of my body is gone. I observe them. I watch men in wide-brimmed hats that look more like heads that aren’t heads floating from the darkness and whispering secrets to me. My blood runs cold. Their breath is hot upon my ears as they tell me of the end. My end. Tell me how the one thing I love will fade and die. I see it happen and I scream. I scream and in this state of screaming, I awake.

They’ve heard me. How could they have not? Calyx has me by the shoulders, shaking me.
“Wake the fuck up, you bastard,” I hear her. Yet even her voice sounds weak and I tether on the edge of waking. I feel like I’ve been a part of something. As though my dream was not only a dream. I remember the words of the man, the ghost, “Dreams are never mere dreams.” I feel as if someone is collecting names, my names, all of them. From my true name to my dream-name to the name I’m known for and all the names I had been whispered in the dark. Lovers have given me names too, although there have not been many, and even fewer who didn’t try to kill me. My eyes adjust and I fully awake with a sense that,  should find my real name, my father-given name, they will have me – come for me.
“We have to go back to the man in the box,” I tell her.
“What man? What box?” Ty asks.
Face to face with Calyx, I see for the first time how sad her face is. She has that look as though smiling is not something she does often. Perhaps my face looks the same, perhaps even worse, I’m not sure. The last time I saw my face was two years ago. I saw it in a broken mirror after I had killed a man who stabbed me in the arm. He had crashed into that mirror and painted its fragments red. In retrospect, he should have gone for something more vital than my limb. I spent a week recovering from what could have cost me my left appendage, with the memory of those alien eyes looking at me. I spent that week wandering the wastes, the sky yellow and indifferent above me. All I truly remember is me shaking. 
In my wanderings, I forgot those eyes, remembered them only when the heat in me was at its most vicious and that gaze came to haunt me. I see those very eyes now, reflected in Calyx, and it feels like some old friend long dead had come back to haunt and taunt me.
I get up and walk outside. The night weights heavy on me and I realize I had not slept at all. The two follow me to the old man’s house.


***


The walls echo as our footfall passes.
“This place reeks,” Ty spits. We had looked around, but all the corridors of the four-story building and all the doors look the same. I open one. It has a look of familiarity. But what meets us on the other side is something quite different than what I had expected. A swirling vortex made of grey mist and electricity fades in and out of focus, as though not fully in phase with this dimension. It twists like a heart of time out of which all reality is emanating from. Tearing like fabric, the air about it seems to stretch and contract with each pulse of the thing.
“Merde,” Ty mumbles. “Right, I think we shouldn’t go in there.”
“Calyx?” I say as I see her moving towards it.
“Father?” she whispers, looking intently into the swirling maw.
“Cal?” says Ty.
“Calyx!” I yell, seeing her walk closer.
You might consider someone a rational, intelligent person, yet when that note of emotion is struck within such an individual, rational thinking is a thing forgotten. What remains is a babbling and incoherent idiot who once again reminds you people are stupid. We believe what we want to believe and the greatest lies we tell are those we tell to ourselves. And the most intelligent people craft for themselves the most ingenious lies. In times like these, I know that, truly, the greatest enemy of mankind is man. Calyx extends a hand towards whatever she sees and whatever image of her father the vortex has conjured up in her mind. I can see the need in her eyes.
“I’m here, father. How did you get here?” I jump to her, but her hand is already within. It swirls and twists, thin as hair. She too begins to bend and extend. I grab her and extend with her. Ty grabs me and extends with us both. There is no pain as we are sucked inside, only a sense of the universe coming to an end. I scream a silent shriek and realize pain would be a thing more welcome.
We find the man standing there, middle-aged. He tells us what we see, his words creating landscapes. He waits looking at a horizon in flames.
“I was young,” he began. “That day I was young for the last time. The sky was dark, but not the type of dark of the night, this was the kind of dark you could smell. The kind of dark that bites your lungs and fills your nostrils shut. Snow had fallen that day. It had fallen and kept falling for a thousand years. I knew that day we had killed it. Killed the one thing we should never have killed. We killed humanity. We killed the world. I walked alone that evening. The ash-covered streets were empty. To expect anything else would be pretty rediculous. My footprints faded behind me just like I knew the memories of a better world will fade along with me. But I was determined, you see. I had predicted this, saw it happen, felt it happening. But the stasis chamber I had built needed to be improved upon, and I had little time left. When the evening faded and night fell, the distant booming of destruction at my heels, I realized this was the end. I didn’t want to accept it. I fought it until I could fight no more. I built my own coffin and buried myself from the world.”
“How did you do this?” I ask as we begin to walk ahead. Visibility is high and I can see far into the distance. Almost as if someone fashioned my view so I could see it all. There’s an explosion out there, building a twisting red and yellow spire into the sky.
“Nomad?” Ty says, his voice uncertain, afraid. Ash falls from a layer above us the color of night, from clouds that are thick and thundering. A heat reaches us and I can smell it, like a thousand dead bodies. We stand in the light of it and all I see of the others is their black silhouettes surrounded by white. I look at Calyx, I gaze at Ty. They are silent, caught in a state like me, between marvel and utter terror. Our skin begins to burn. The pain is total, all-encamping. But it soon fades. What remains is light. And in that light, I am them, they are me, we are one. I see their black bones in the light but those too are wiped away like shapes in sand.

We come back to it beside the black box as the body – a shrivelled corpse – spills out from its confines. Fluid drips from the floating coffin, over the body and down on the floor. The corpse doesn’t move, its eyes are dead, although I imagine they had been dead for a long while. The smell makes my head spin.
“What the hell happened?” Ty asks.
“I must have asked the right question,” I answer.




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