Musicology 007

Are we truly ever free? And when we choose to actively disengage from everything society dictates, are we not still trapped, but in a different way? Isolation from everything?

Those are just a snippet of the questions that ran through my mind when I heard this song.  And true, these questions have always been in me, but they resurfaced yet again, thanks to Katy Perry’s “Chained To The Rhythm”, featuring Skip Marley. So here’s to some pondering.

“Are we crazy / Living our lives through a lens”

This most likely pertains to living through the camera and through digital devices, which is quite common now in this generation. What I mean is that for every single little moment, sometimes we don’t get to savour them anymore in an organic manner due to constantly documenting them, filling up one’s newsfeed with selfies and pictures and giving off this image of a life that is so picturesque. Is it a forged perception of our personal lives or is it actual reality?

It’s like we’re our own paparazzi really…Is it a form of self-worship and obsession in maintaining an image by placing oneself in the limelight of a social media platform? Or it could be that we’re just sharing our lives with those who matter to us with no ulterior motives. It is our right and we have the freedom to do so, after all, but does it not come to a point wherein it seems almost like a trap in its own shape and form?

Social media has become such a huge influencer that I just have to quote yet another song here.

“Wrong information always shown by the media / Negative images is the main criteria / Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria / Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema” (“Where Is The Love?” by Black Eyed Peas)

Information overload. Difficulty in triangulating sources. Fake news. Amorality. Degradation of values. Sex successfully selling. Propagation of the sexual objectification of men, women, and children. Rampant pornographic visuals, cyber-sex and human trafficking…

“Dance, dance, dance to the distortion”

The power media has is scary. While it can inspire, it can also hurt. And that hurt can be so deeply entrenched in society, we can become blind to media’s intoxicating effects, carrying down into history.

Many times I hear of people wanting to remove themselves from societal influences, but can we really say we successfully have done so and aren’t affected by the dictates of what we should all look like? How we should act? Doesn’t the fashion industry control our perception of beauty, what makeup to buy, and what clothes to wear (I will NOT go into consumerism right now)? Don’t magazines and articles and TV shows and music dictate how we should run our lives and relationships?

I could continue on with this point really, citing and adding more onto my EE during IB, wherein I delved deep into fashion magazines via linguistic analysis, but I truly need to study right now…

“Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity / Whatever happened to the fairness and equality / Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity / Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity” (still “Where Is The Love?” by Black Eyed Peas)

I don’t really intend to put any finality in this directionless post with some huge point, as these were just questions and thoughts floating around in my head that urged me to put them down into words since I need to really study for an upcoming exam (but these said questions and thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone to concentrate on studying), but I do choose to finish this off in an open-ended, inconclusive manner. These are, after all, incomplete thoughts and questions with so many answers, that I doubt I’ve covered everything that needs to be covered here.

How much influence does the media have on you and me? Have your values altered over time because of what it tells you to focus on and what it says is right and wrong? Are you and I hypocrites? How deeply enslaved are we by the system?

Social media and the media truly have made the world smaller, which is truly its strength, I’ll give it that. But at what cost?

Anyhow, “We’re all chained to the rhythm” (unless you disagree).

“So put your rose-colored glasses on / And party on”

P.S. Props to Katy Perry’s new song (that features Skip Marley), as well as to Black Eyed Peas’ classic song

 

Yours truly,

RaMarAl, an overanalysing Mass Communication student

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Movie Review: The Choice

First off, I never really ever wanted to ever watch a Nicholas Sparks movie. Ever. I never really truly put too much faith in romantic love, most especially when written as a love story. And even more especially so if written with a happy ending. There’s just too much sadness in the world I’ve encountered over the years that it seemed impossible to ever see those romantic happily ever after stories in movies actually come to life or translated into reality successfully (with the exception of my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles). I just trust logic so much more than emotions, which can be oh-so explosive at the worst of times.

But when someone tells me to try and watch a romance movie — a Nicholas Sparks one, no less, to which I’m highly averse to — I’d hear them out and then leave the movie on my desktop to gather dust (figuratively). Now, however, I finally have watched a Nicholas Sparks movie. And all out of pure curiosity too.

The first things that come to mind while recalling the movie’s details would be the words “beautiful” and “deep” and “touching”. Absolutely. I may have judged things too quickly through non-rose tinted lenses before, by quickly dismissing this Nicholas Sparks movie, but I guess it very much is worthwhile.

Love is all about taking risks. Or rather, that’s what Alain Badiou seems to imply (review from brainpickings.org). It’s a “tenacious adventure” and has the ability to unite people despite differences, as it forces two individuals to see the perspective of another; from the perspective of two and not just one. It supposedly triumphs over “time, space, and the world”.

The risk factor, the adventure, and the tenacity when dealing with love were distinctly portrayed in the movie. Even though Gaby was still with Ryan, Travis still happened. And apparently, that choice made the greatest difference in both their lives.

It was touching how Travis fought against all odds for Gaby time and time again. From the night they had dinner at her place (to the detriment of her dishware, cutlery, and stacked papers), until the very end, he never let go of her. And Gaby’s Point that he created in honour of his love and loyalty to her was endearingly sweet of him as well. Gaby, in turn, remained loyal to him and they stuck together through both the thick and the thin. How wonderful, no? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that?

I never intended to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie ever, because I don’t put too much faith in romantic love stories with faultlessly happy endings (especially when there’s rampant overuse of unrealistic clichés full of fakery). There’s just too much sadness in the world for these romantic happily ever after stories to ever come to life or be translated into reality successfully (with the exception of my parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles, lucky buggers that they are). Logic is so much more trustworthy than the torrid affair emotions are, which can be oh-so explosive at the worst of times. Maybe I’m just too abnormally pragmatic and pessimistic. Or highly fearful of vulnerability and letting go of the control I’ve tried to maintain in my life.

I do yearn for the fabled love that is the fascination of most people though. And this movie sold love far too well to my despair. “The Choice” is a beautiful movie, a nice little piece of art in the midst of many others like it. On first watching this, it actually convinced me that something similar to what Travis and Gaby have is possible for everyone (and, dare I say it, even me), but on the 5th time watching it, it just seems too idealistic. Is it really possible?

Life is filled with choices and there’s no escape from that. That’s more or less what Travis said in his opening voiceover monologue in the movie. We’re consumed by this act every single day, even if we may not be fully aware of it. And sometimes our choices make or break us and our lives. Because, simply put, the act of choosing is the one thing that makes us all fully aware of our existence. Without being able to do so through free will, we wouldn’t be the humans that we are. But sometimes, doesn’t it just seem like the choices we end up making lead us to our own misery anyway?

The passion Gaby and Travis both had for one another was palpable. It was sudden and unpredictable. But what Gaby had with Ryan was steady and comfortable. She had love from both ends, but both were very different kinds. And from the choice she made, passionate love overruled familiar love. But is this the case in reality as well? Isn’t the familiar as good as passion? They are both still eros though, aren’t they? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree right now though…

Anyhow, love in books and movies are just imitations of reality and is just a shadow of what could actually be there. Plato will support me on that, I believe. Encountering love in reality would be better, I suppose, but how will I even know what it is, if I don’t know how to identify it? It could be thrown in my face and, knowing me, I’d still be dumb to what’s obviously there. Where’s the how-to guide to love? Love stories aren’t how-to guides, they’re just, as already said, imitations of reality.

While love can be the amazing thing Gaby and Travis experienced, it’s also scary because of the potential hurt and rejection one can encounter. Just look at Boomerang girl and Ryan. They loved, but to no avail. True, Ryan meets someone else and starts a family with whoever that is, and Boomerang girl also most likely met someone else, but before that could happen, they were met with pain. I guess to simplify things, one can either be a Gaby/Travis or a Boomerang girl/Ryan in life. And this will all depend on the choices one makes.

How, though, did the attraction happen? I tried analysing it through repeatedly watching it, but it still mystifies me. I suppose I’m over-thinking it instead of just enjoying the movie as it is, but I guess I just can’t settle with not over-thinking things. That may include many sleepless nights due to floating thoughts, but I’d rather that than an empty mind. I’ll just go mull some more about all this, to WALK THE MOON’s “Aquaman” and “Avalanche”. At its very core though, love can both be complex and simple at the same time.

”You bother me” – must someone really have to bother someone else for it to be love? Agape seems easier.

 

tl;dr
A beautifully tear-jerking movie that had me watery-eyed and screaming at the idiot characters (who didn’t actually turn out to be too idiotic) most of the first part of the movie, but then thinking deeply for the rest of the movie, because of how dang deep things got.

Gorgeous vista. Truly amazing. I’d love to have been part of the production crew behind this film.

 

This, however, still does not convince me to watch any other Nicholas Sparks movie. I am still allergic to tears and too much heart-warming feelings in one go. Who knows how I became this way.

Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

image

A photo of a page in Brian Selznick’s “The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture”

 

Reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick was an experience that mimicked that of an unfolding film reel, as the illustrations clearly guide the reader along the adventure Hugo goes on, from the opening right to the end of the book. It was, in a sense, a very three dimensional cinematic experience brought about by the very 2D pages of a book.

One of the main appeals the book has are the very beautifully done illustrations throughout that allows the story to progress with minimal texts — if anything, the book has the fewest amount of words in any book I’ve ever read that aren’t mainly directed at preschoolers or toddlers. It was a fresh take on literature and it was definitely something worthy to note.

From the very first page, we are introduced to the main setting of the book, not through a descriptive paragraph, but through images that transport us from a typical cinematic opening in a film that flies above a whole city, straight to the main character. The story then unravels from there and readers are given a glimpse into the fantastically engaging world of Hugo Cabret and the other characters he shares his world with; the somewhat bitter and cantankerous Georges Méliès, thrill-seeking Isabelle, and the encouraging René Tabard are just some of the few colorful characters in Hugo’s world. A simple story filled with intricate details found all over the place, Selznick’s tale is one that delights and brings inspiration to readers.

With the book inspired by the real-life Georges Méliès, it paints a true picture of magical wonder that early film contained that captivated the world the moment it was created — film has become such a major focal point in today’s culture that it is impossible to imagine today’s age without it. If anything, this book was an homage to early film and it rightly does so with justice.

All in all, I personally loved the book and it brought back my passion and zeal to create fiction.

Musicology 006

Shots by Imagine Dragons

For some vague reason I will not specify, this song just speaks to me. I suppose it has to do with the fact that in some innate part of the human psyche, people will always have this feeling that they’ve ruined some very important things in their lives, because of the things they’ve done. Due to the feeling of loss and disappointment, it leads to people thinking that things could have been better if they were never born, seeing as that would have never brought about the pain and hurt that has been inflicted on the people they care most about; in other words, one self-blames and obsessively thinks about the mistakes one has made. Yet, in the end, people still hope that more chances could be given to right the wrongs.

So at its core, this song touches the aforementioned sentiments; it is basically like an anthem to holding on to hope despite the negative that may have already occurred.

It’s a pretty catchy tune.

Just For Amusement 001

After having awoken from a dream reminder just an hour ago (4am), I needed some form of light amusement to get me back to sleep.

Since the day before was filled with talks of compatibilities, personalities, and astrology, I thought why not check my own birthday astrology.

Scarily enough, most of the first one is true. The Dreams and Goals section saddens me though; it would seem that I will always struggle with personal dreams, something of which I already feel today. But heck, I could manipulate my tendency to “tilt at windmills” in this regard somehow.

The Friends and Lovers section seems all too pessimistic on love, but then, most anything related to it for me has been disappointing and have seemingly failed. Most probably because I supposedly connect more through the intellect — which is quite true.

The second one is even more scary. Especially about me getting my best ideas from my sleep/dreams.

But I’m sure all this doesn’t rule my whole being, because astrology just hasn’t been scientifically proven to be true. A passing amusement, this was.


February 4 Birthday Astrology

Aquarians born on February 4 are intelligent and quirky and can give the impression of being “airheads”; in reality they are more practical than they seem. They are inspired by what can be achieved through hard work. They have enormous self-discipline and can be extremely austere when it comes to cutting unnecessary encumbrances.

Friends and Lovers

Strong friendships are among the greatest joys in the lives of February 4 people. They connect more on an intellectual than emotional level but don’t rule out a spiritual component. Unfortunately, they are often less successful in romantic relationships. They often fall in love with people who don’t live up to their standards.

Children and Family

February 4 natives learn many of their finest character traits from parents. They make the best-intentioned parents, though they have a tendency to be somewhat preachy. They are a strong force in the lives of their children and continue to play this role long after their youngsters are grown.

Health

February 4 people often learn mental toughness through physical self-discipline. They enjoy putting themselves through the paces. They enjoy the sense of power that comes from feeling fit and derive considerable satisfaction from staying young in body as well as in mind.

Career and Finances

Humanitarian and social issues are the chief concerns of people born on February 4. They are not interested in money for what it can buy but for what it can accomplish for others through them. They are never frivolous spenders.

Dreams and Goals

If only half the goals February 4 people envision come true, they will consider themselves fortunate. They often tilt at windmills, yet their deep commitment makes it impossible for them to behave any other way. They are often less successful with making their personal dreams come true.

Source:
http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/horoscopes-astrology/february-4-birthday-astrology.htm


Birthday Persona Profile 
People born specifically on the 4th of February are believed to have an adventurous purposeful spirit along with their typical slightly eccentric Aquarian nature. The planet that rules this particular day astrologically is Uranus which also determines all water bearer personalities. If you have this birthday the double influence of this celestial body gives you strong individualistic and humanitarian traits. Your quirkiness is coupled with excellent self discipline, a good memory and powerful concentration skills. You possess your own unique way of thinking and doing things and will often come up with innovative ideas. Individual’s with a February the fourth birthday are highly responsible and have a moralistic outlook. You can also be a bit of a workaholic and may find it difficult to switch off and relax. This does not seem to deter you from seeking someone special to love who has similar interests and views to share your life with. 

Work and Finances 
Work is considered quite a high priority to a person born on the fourth of February. Your altruistic concern for human welfare will usually determine the kind of job you choose although you are capable of almost any occupational tasks. Individuals with this particular birth date need to feel useful and valued when working. You realize the importance of finances but do not let this dictate your occupation choice. Managing financial matters comes easily to you and so you are able to get by on any level of income. You are also adept and disciplined at saving rarely needing to borrow or acquire credit. 

Personal Relationships 
For an Aquarian, the person born on the fourth day of February is conventional in their seemingly aloof and somewhat cautious approach to romantic involvements. You consider friendships to be very important and generally search for more intellectual unions than emotional ones. Even though you are wary of sacrificing your independence you yearn for the warmth, understanding and security of a long term personal relationship. Many potential partners will often fail to live up to your big expectations and this can mean that it takes a while for you to settle down. In a long term trusting partnership your soul mate lover will be exclusively privy to your intensely passionate and thoughtful side. Once fully committed to somebody you are likely to be extremely loyal and supportive and your own needs will normally take a back seat. 

Health 
Possible problems with health experienced by those born on February 4th are usually connected to your over active lifestyle. You like to keep busy and at the same time you hope to look as young in body as you are in mind. People born on this day often enjoy challenging their physical endurance levels and may be especially keen on keeping fit but should watch out for muscle strains to which they are prone. You love to be knowledgeable about the latest developments in how to maintain healthiness through the right foods and exercise. An enjoyment of food and cooking is another of your fortes that will help your vitality. 

Strengths and Weaknesses 
Your main strengths of character are highlighted in your bold liveliness, sincerity and purposive attitude. These characteristics and your independent thought and slight eccentricity help you progress and cope well with the majority of life circumstances. Being unrealistic and behaving erratically are the major weaknesses of the personality noticed for those born on February 4th. These negative sides to your individuality are mostly evoked when you have things on your mind or upset by something or someone. Your reactions in these situations are often short lived but they can be alarming to others. 

Dreams and Goals 
Being born on the 4th of February usually means that you will have an abundance of dreams and goals due to your resolute and adventuresome manner. Your desire to help others and fill your life with activity and companionship helps you easily decide life directions and aspirations. However many hopes and aims you have for the future they will probably include the longing for a secure loving relationship. Although not always obviously apparent this is ordinarily one of your biggest wishes to make your life feel complete. You are also inclined to come up with many of your best ideas when dreaming. 

Birthday Luck and Significance 
As you were born on the fourth day of the month the digit Four is designated as your special birthday Root number. This numerical reference to your day of birth has the keyword ‘Honesty’ and emphasizes your sense of responsibility and conscientiousness. The Tarot card most associated with your birthday is the 4th in the Major Arcana, the Emperor, it reveals your bold and steadfast approach to life. The luckiest gem for February the fourth birthdays is considered to be Topaz. This precious stone should be worn or carried for an added air of confidence, calm or creativity and for an increase in luck. 

Summation 
All Aquarians are thought to be astrologically influenced by the cosmic forces of the planet Uranus and you are no exception. However, the actual day you were born on, the fourth of February is also dominated by this planetary influence duplicating its impression on your personality. This creates and explains your large amount of spirited energetic individuality and your kind compassionate mannerisms. It also endows you with the ability to concentrate intensely and organize effectively. These attributes and your caring, unconventional and inventive thought can assist in making anything you set your mind to happen. Knowing yourself better and laughing and relaxing a little more should help you make emotional interactions easier. A final thought for people born on February the 4th is to try and not let worries build, sharing and talking about them is advised.

Source:
http://www.gotohoroscope.com/birthday-horoscopes/february-4th.html

Musicology 005

Perpetual Anticipation from the musical A Little Night Music

This song is very deep and very true.

Ah, Sondheim. Thank you so much for your immense contribution to musical theatre — truly admirable.

LYRICS:
MRS. NORDSTROM:
Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul
But it’s bad for the heart.
It’s very good for practicing self-control,
It’s very good for morals, but bad for morale.
It’s very bad.
It can lead to going quite mad.
It’s very good for reserve and learning to do what one should.
It’s very good.
Perpetual anticipation’s a delicate art,
Playing a role,
Aching to start,
Keeping control
While falling apart.
Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul
But it’s bad for the heart.

MRS. SEGSTROM:
Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul
But it’s bad for the heart.
It’s very good for practicing self-control,
It’s very good for morals, but bad for morale.
It’s too unnerving.
It’s very good, though, to have things to contemplate.
Perpetual anticipation’s a delicate art,
Aching to start,
Keeping control
While falling apart.
Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul
But it’s bad for the heart.

MRS. ANDERSSEN:
Perpetual anticipation is good for the soul
But it’s bad for the heart.
It’s very good, though, to learn to wait.
Perpetual anticipation’s a delicate art,
Keeping control
While falling apart.
Perpetual anticipation is bad for the heart