Blizzard

Some days are lighter. The sun somehow pushes through regardless of the clouds’ stubbornness.
Some days are dark. As if you’re stuck in the middle of winter and forget that it will end at some point.
Other days are dark but you somehow think the darker the sky the more stars you’ll see.
But most days are like this. Stuck between spring’s warmth and the glory of when snowflakes get caught on your eyelashes. When everything is so grey you’re drawn to think you’ve lost your sense of colour. When it’s been grey for so long that when the sun does come out, you won’t let it warm your skin. It’s an unnatural feeling. You can’t.
Some days, you spend wondering whether the weather will stop completely.

Weather is erratic. So much so that you begin to think it’s controlled. By something. Anything. Stunting the growth of our gardens and causing atrocities. Only a human is sadistic enough to want such a force. But nobody understands it. No one can quite figure out the blizzard of thoughts that surround the weather or why you need a hand to hold when it’s windy just so you won’t blow away.
Yes, it’s during this blizzard of thoughts that you realise that it couldn’t be controlled. Nothing is controlled. If it was, who’s to say that we couldn’t take hold ourselves and change the force of nature? Nothing controls how heavy the rain is, even if it drowns you.

The Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle

The claim that Aristotle defines predominantly is that every pursuit is made to obtain something, an ‘end’. This ‘end’ is defined as the ultimate ‘good’, and is dependent upon the extent of the pursuit/subject, for example: happy is for man, health is for medicine, power is for triumph etc. These are all the final extent of what can be achieved within their category and function.

Essentially, a rough truth or contemporary equivalent to this philosophy could be “everything happens for a reason”, this ‘reason’ being the ultimate ‘end’ or ‘good’. Furthermore, the statement evolves into stating that if a pursuit or action has multiple reasons, products, ends, or goods; then the dominant of these will be the one which is more final, and therefore will be ultimately what one is truly seeking (in most cases, this will be happiness).

This statement omits claims that happiness refers to wealth, honour, pleasure, etc. but admits that one may choose such pursuits for the sake of happiness as their ultimate ‘good’. The same argument is presented from the view that ultimate happiness must not only be final, but self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency is therefore ‘good’, and is the end of the action.

From these outlines of ‘good’ and happiness, the argument is then applied to that of mankind and their purpose. After great contemplation of human purpose (that only applies to humans and not all animals), it was subjectively decided that humanity is an activity of the soul that practices rational principle and reason. To present human good would therefore be to be virtuous and noble, as perhaps exercised by Aristotle himself.

As it may seem, this chapter of Aristotle’s “The Nicomachean Ethics” does not in fact tackle the draining questions of true happiness or the human purpose, but inadvertently teaches how something is to be the final ‘good’ or ‘end’ within its class. This lesson also teaches that one must not strive for happiness in all things alike, but rather acknowledge that happiness is not acquired in itself but rather through other pursuits and is dependent on the function and characteristics of the action, activity, or pursuit itself.

Boundless Brilliance of Bond

Be it the classy cars, beautiful women, cases of money, or the dry wit, there is nothing as purely classic as any James Bond movie (choice of hunk is up to you).  With most action movies anyone could become sick of the infinite set-ups, cheesy pick-up lines, fancy technology and predictable stories, though the notorious 007 manages to escape all these pitfalls as he does in each and every one of his adventures.

After seeing the crowds of anxious people at opening night, I too found myself twitching with excitement myself as I queued in line to see the new Bond installment titled ‘Skyfall’. After Adele’s epic ballad intro, the film immediately focuses on Bond’s main project: to obtain a hard drive of British agents that could be used against them. During this mission, Bond is unexpectedly shot by a colleague but thankfully returns after laying low and recovering.

Without omitting too many classic features, this sequel to “Quantum of Solace” also managed to take a walk down a different path; a yellow-brick road to the ‘true’ James Bond and his prior life and personal endeavors. As well as this probe into the past of 007, the storyline takes a step into the potential future of James Bond, as himself and M deal with a past agent that has now become their enemy (and a psycho one, at that). This look into the prospective Bond gives him a scare and a wake-up call, which convinces him to open up his prior life to those around him, in order to protect him from what he could become.

This brilliantly relevantly titled ‘Skyfall’ could potentially outclass the prior two films that star Daniel Craig. Even with a slight exclusion of the beloved action and violence, the focus that the storyline holds upon one or few characters leaves room for character development and true understanding of, well “why do you have to kill him?”, rather than just knowing that Bond is up against a bunch-of-bad-guys.

The personalization of Skyfall directs itself to morphing into a timeless classic crossed with a modern, delicate development. Such a twist in the world of Bond has done the films and adventures nothing but good, with the emotion and the action a perfect combination for any Bond lover. It will be hard to overtake such a fantastic film, and I expect every viewer to be greatly anticipating the next stage in the mysterious life of 007.Image

Falling for fantasy, or falling for feminism?

Being the teenager I am, I decided that I would be rebellious and slightly and take my first step into the world of 50 shades of grey. Was it liberating? Enlightening? On the contrary, I felt like I was losing brain cells at the reading of every word.

To save you all the heartache of having to read the novel, the story line follows a young virgin, Anastasia, falling in lust with a rich, arrogant businessman who attains some interesting hobbies. Christian Grey (a depiction of every teenager’s dream) asks young Ana to enter a contracted relationship in which he is the Dominant and she, the Submissive, must immediately and happily comply with any sexual activity he deems fit. A kinky fantasy that crosses the fine line of every woman’s dream to be ‘dominated’, I find.

Disregarding my opinion, clearly there must be something brilliant about it that has got this erotica novel soaring to the top of the bestseller’s list. But forget that! The real predicament these 50 shades put me in (not quite as severe as Ana’s), is whether or not 50 shades of grey is helping us girls in making a point about all things feminine and sexual, or whether it’s winding us back 50 years in terms of oppression and minimizing our (still disappointing) women’s rights.  After reading and endless subsequent pondering, I have come to the conclusion that this supposed work-of-fiction does both of these things.

When E.L James’ “mummy porn” first came about, my first thought was ‘Wow, look what we can do!’ – We were giving ourselves our right to pornography!  I found it was about time that feminism had taken its next big step up the ladder of equality and held on for dear life. An alternative to generally male-dominated visual porn industry, this erotica novel written by a woman and for women was surely going to give feminism some more credibility.

Little did I realize until shortly after delving into the enigmatic fantasy that is 50 shades of grey, the still very male-dominated content was acutely representing not only the protagonist, but all women as submissive characters and was very much denying our integrity. There are almost identical references to the common, degrading issues that women have been faced with since the beginning of our existence. The implications and expectations of our clothing, physique, financial independence, personal hygiene and beauty, and mannerisms are all addressed directly in the contract which ironically claims to be for the woman’s benefit. Not only did this seem to be reminiscent of matters that are too-close-to-home, but also a frightening shock to all readers; why would a woman be portraying her own gender as childish, vulnerable and ‘submissive’? Essentially talking herself down by depicting women in such a cruel and degrading manner, James’ twilight-twin infatuation is unbearable and a plot border lining a man’s fantasy rather than a young woman’s desire.

After drawing attention to this series of undertones, which unfortunately almost go unnoticed due to their uncanny parallels to modern society, I did find myself having a giggle at the exploitation of such a kinky addition to the female lifestyle. The fact that I could “explore myself” in public via this, albeit terribly written, 50 Shades of Grey, made me feel strangely liberated! Though I do warn all women, that even though this fiction-fantasy may lure you in like it did me, we constantly need to be aware of the subtle sexist implications that strike everywhere. It could be just a little comment here-and-there, a blatant discriminatory act, and even “just a book”; it is these misogynistic tendencies that are continually shoving us women to the back of the queue of equality.

Julian Assange

Immediately after my arrest I was questioned several times. I had gotten so used to it that I had almost come to enjoy it. It was nice that people were interested. No one had understood why I had gone to the police voluntarily. I had not planned on being arrested there and then, but it was only natural that I did.

By now the heat had settled in. which was odd considering it was only spring. Even with my head settling against the cool stone wall, I could feel the London warmth cutting through the ceiling’s wrinkles like a razor. It wasn’t that I was under pressure; I was quite relaxed. It was the manner in which they were conducting everything about me, independently of me. Ironic, I found. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to intervene in my own life. Even though I wanted to spite the man with too much nose hair, I couldn’t even think of anything more worth saying. It had all been said for me. If not by the man with more hair in his nose than on his head, then by the two women practically waiting for me outside this “asylum”.

I wasn’t even sure what I was waiting for, but to pass time I tried to remember what had gotten me to this point. Of course I remember, but I wasn’t quite sure of the exact moment. It might have been when I first launched the leaks. Or maybe it when I first was introduced to Bradley Manning. I couldn’t be sure. I suppose it didn’t matter anymore.

I sometimes wonder what could have become of me, and the world, if Wiki hadn’t been successful. I’m not sure if the word “successful” was appropriate or not. I’m not even sure if I deemed Wiki ‘successful’ as such. As I said, it probably doesn’t matter. But I do tend to contemplate the point of the leaks and whether I had gotten that point across. Was there a point? It didn’t matter; it would have come to the same thing.

My head started to ache, from what I don’t know. I looked out the window and notice a dark security guard deny entry to a woman and her daughter. The little girl was fidgeting, perhaps hungry or sick. But the bold Ecuadorian man refused. Most likely because they weren’t the same as him. The mother put her frail hands together, I assumed to pleas with him. I didn’t quite understand why they would take me in and not someone that actually needed the refuge. I guess that they wanted something out of me, but I couldn’t think of what. I wiped my sweated forehead with the back of my wrist in hope that my concern would drip off with it. A puddle of apathy was enlarging, but that was only expected by this point. Anyone else in a similar situation would experience the same. Though I feel it may have only been for me that the feeling was always everlasting. I didn’t mind by now though. Like most things, I got used to it.

Interrupting my not-so enlightening thinking, a short, plump man stomped in, bringing up dust onto his trousers. He had introduced me to another lawyer, whose name I couldn’t be sure of. I had only remembered how anyone could take him seriously with a moustache that almost connected to his eyebrows. I had said no, that I didn’t need another lawyer. The two looked into my mind quizzically. I don’t blame them for trying to figure me out. Another lawyer was as useless as the last one. It would all come to the same outcome. I found no reason for anyone else attempting to aid the situation. The opposition’s mind had been made up. As had mine. I have come to know that I have made my bed. The complexity of my complacent attitude seems too much for a mind trying to give themselves hope.

Before I knew it my hands had been conjoined within someone else’s and I was being rushed through destiny’s doors. The Ecuadorians’ attitude seemed to have changed since they first seeded me out. I had a feeling that they may have gotten into contact with Bradley Manning, it was inevitable, but I couldn’t be sure. I could feel the essence of disappointment radiating out of the room I was about to be plunged into.

Naturally, there he was, sweat glistening the scar on his neck like snow in spring.

Dualism thus far

Imagine you are a bat. You can’t? What if I described to you what it might be like to be a bat? You can’t. Even if I described it in perfect detail, I would never know, and you would never know. Everyone experiences things differently, even bats, and there is no way that we can compare or adjust the way we experience things. Everyone’s body and mind perceive and interpret things completely differently to one another.

I believe that the mind and the body are interconnected in some way, but they are completely different and have different experiences to each other. I also believe that the brain and the mind are totally opposing features of our bodies.

The two competing theories of consciousness refer to the scientific consciousness and the reactions that occur in our brains when we see something, and our individual experiences and perceptions of things that occur in our minds. Substance dualism refers to our body and its physical aspects being wholly independent from our mind and its consciousness. Descartes argues that these two substances behave and be present in their own separate existences. I think the only way these two ‘substances’ could be identical is by (as scientists are) saying that our physical experiences and reactions occur based on our mind’s reaction. For example, these two things would now become attached because our physical being depends on our emotional and mind-being. According to scientists, everything is a physical substance, whereas according to philosophers, there are both mental and physical substances.

Descartes believes what almost any other philosopher would believe: that the mind and body are individual things. He also adopted the theory that there is an interaction between the two, and that the mind and body are dependent on each other. I would see this as an issue because how can they depend on each other and interact, when they are completely independent of each other? Few scientists believe in what Descartes believed (property dualism), but if scientists do believe this, it is generally because they see the mental properties as an extension on the rest of the properties (physical).

I don’t necessarily agree with property dualism, but I do accept that this is a legitimate way of explaining a scientists’ view on how the body and mind can differ. I find that if the mind and body are seen as the one substance, and are not independent, then it is unexplainable how they can be separate. I find it too contradictory.

I believe body and mind are totally opposite. Body focuses on the scientific and physical reactions we as humans have, while mind refers to our emotions and emotional perceptions that we feel. I only mentioned in the table above some of the major properties of both physical things and non-physical things, neither of which we can control; all are involuntary, and all are fully independent from the opposing property.

Physicalism is supported by most scientists in stating that everything has a physical property.  In my opinion, I assumed Physicalism became more popular in the 20th century due to everything being more dependent on science, and more about science being discovered, and it was almost proved that everything had a physical state of being.

After researching both ‘Occam’s Razor’ and Cartesian Dualism, I concluded that the only parallel I could see between the two is ignoring what cannot be observed or doubted. Descartes found that he could not trust what could be doubted, in this case, shaving away other variables with ‘Occam’s Razor’. This is how I found it could be applied to Cartesian Dualism; by deducing what cannot be relevant or considered in Descartes’ dualism.

‘Mary’s Black and White room’ experiment is trying to show us that though we may not have experienced some things, if we have the exact physical description from other experiences, we can experience exactly what others have described. I think this story is ultimately trying to point out that we cannot have knowledge of an experience if we only have a description. I think the underlying meaning of Mary’s experiment is to remind us that everyone perceives and experiences things differently and there is no way we can experience exactly the same things, no matter how simple they may be.

If everyone believed in Physicalism, it would completely eliminate the concepts of some religions of having spirits or souls. Not only this, but if there is no recent physical evidence of a God or Jesus, then it would also put an end to the idea of a God to follow. There are many consequences that would eventuate from everyone believing in Physicalism, but they would all follow on from the two main ones mentioned.

In my personal opinion, I believe in dualism definitely. I find the mind and the body completely separate substances, and I believe that there are completely different properties for each (physical actions, emotions etc.). The only parallel I find between the two is that they can both be affected by each other. Both the mind and the body depend on each other and have a strong influence on the other, but they are entirely separate entities.

The true feminist debate

When it comes to politics, there are plenty of things that grind my gears. Be it Tony Abbott’s budgie-smugglers, Bob Katter’s old-fashioned ways or Julia Gillard’s shockingly ‘bogan’ accent, there is always an issue in not only Australian but international politics and supporters. Though the issue that gets on my nerves the most are pretentious feminists that actually aren’t really sure what they’re fighting for.  

I have so many questions on this issue, like why is it so much worse to kill or rape a woman than a man? Why is the man always the hero of the movie while the woman is left defenceless? Why is a man showing emotion called a ‘pussy’? Why is everything manmade? Why is a girl called a ‘tart’, while a guy is a ‘stud’? Why don’t men shave their legs? Why is it not creepy when women check out guys? Why does the world ‘woman’ have the word ‘man’ in it? So many connotations for so many questions.

Although the modern and theoretical definition of feminism is ‘to obtain equality between genders in political, social and economical terms’, the more practical side of feminism has been brought about by women and therefore is quite biased. I think a lot of members of the feminist movement have forgotten this as well as the true definition of equality. The theoretical and practical side of feminism brings forward a lot of contradiction, as some feminists claim to be acting on the interests of both sexes, however may only be fighting for the rights of one. For example, arguments of women being discriminated against in the workforce in terms of job opportunities result in that there should be more leadership roles distributed to females. Technically this outcome has the subtle implication that men should therefore be discriminated against in these job opportunities; though most feminists claim it to be “positive discrimination”, it is certainly not equality.

As much as I thank the amazing and powerful female role models that led us to our first feminist movement, the basic building blocks of the feminist concept was built on the welfare of women and their rights. So what about building a feminist or equality concept based on a male’s welfare? Equality implies that both the male and female (based on a heterosexual relationship) roles are equally as important on their child’s development. If this is true, then why is it that the mother of the child is provided with a minimum of 12 months maternity leave, when the father is provided with only a week of paternity leave? The roles are supposed to be “equal” are they not? Therefore the father of the child should be given equal amounts of paternity leave as the mother, given that both roles are equally as important. Issues like this prove that seeing feminism from a male perspective and for the interests of the male population would definitely be beneficial in achieving these supposed equal rights.

Perhaps I’m being a pessimist, perhaps I’m being a cynic, or perhaps I’m just being a realist when I say that ladies, we can work and fight as hard as we want, and we can achieve things like equal opportunities and equal pay within the workforce, but regardless, men and women are always going to be different. Men are always going to get certain jobs, maybe because the job would be more suited for a man. This applies to men as well, particularly with occupations such as nursing, where I know male nurses are still looked down upon. Typically it is in a woman’s nurturing nature to have a nursing or teaching position, as it is in a man’s nature to have a tradesman’s job. These stereotypes will always be there, even in our language, notice the word “tradesman” fittingly has the word man in it, just to suit the generalisation. My fellow females, I am sorry to inform you but until males and females and biologically identical, there is always going to be a separate set of unwritten rules for each gender. Rules that infer that women are weaker or that men have no emotions apply even in the brighter sides of society like chivalry, which many feminists would argue are simply courtesies or mannerisms. Regardless of what they are they still have the subtle undertone that women are incapable or need to have the security of a man.

I myself am a strong voice within the crowd of the feminist movement, though I pride myself on not only fighting for what I know is right in terms of gender rights, but also being realistic about such things. I believe that we should continue to fight for equal rights, but I also know that they are only achievable to certain extents, and that socially we will never be equal. I hate to admit that I know women will always be looked down upon, though I think it gives me a clearer, more specific idea and view on what I believe are men’s and women’s rights. I fully support the feminist and equal rights movement, though I believe that a review of what we are actually fighting for, as most are obliviously fighting for women’s rights that are in fact above men’s. Who knows, perhaps in the future there will come a day when men and women have the same genitals, when a man can righteously punch a woman in the face, when the word ‘woman’ is less of a by-product of ‘man’; though until then, I will leave these ‘feminists’ to reflect on what they are really fighting for.