Singapore

several things.

1. THERE WAS A MASSIVE STORM, AND POWER OUTAGE, MONDAY NIGHT – it was fascinating. After my previous post, the wind grew steadily bigger and gustier, but I just kind of ignored it, and I was in my room reading Hamlet at around 8 PM at night and then the lights started flickering, and I was like … what. I was actually considering if I was just too tired, and the blinking light was just my eyelids shutting (WHATEVER, OKAY IT IS PLAUSIBLE) and then the lights went off, and I was like O: Then it went back on, and I was like OO: 

Then it went off again, and I sat in the darkness uncomprehendingly for a few seconds before fumbling my way out of the room. In general, it was PRETTY FUN and EXCITING and some of us played reverse hide-and-seek in the Max Bell and most people were lounging around campus and outside, it was actually brighter than inside because of moonlight – I saw moonlight properly what must be the first night in my life, I think. Outside the library, the half-moon was luminiscent and without artificial lights around, it was really obvious, the breathtaking white gleam of moonlight. It felt great, the sense of liberation. I sat with Francis for a while, watching Yukiko and Farabee do math doggedly with the aide of a torch light (a math test had been arranged for the next day, but that was, fortunately, cancelled), and then most people migrated to the cafe, where the lights were still working, and it was like, two hours later before I managed to start on Hamlet and my french /o\

2. There was supposed to be another storm last night, but ): It rained pretty heavily this morning, though, and I was um, persuaded to skip history class because  I was in the floating building for philosophy, and I was reading a pretty cool book, and I didn’t want to 1) stop reading, 2) leave the floating building and 3) go for history class, so I didn’t, and that marks the first class I’ve skipped here \o/ /o\ (I’m not entirely sure which emoticon is more appropriate.) I went to sit in the first floor classrom on the bottom of the building, and I read for an hour by the window, taking occasional breaks to watch the rain and the waves and the wind pushing the debris in the water. It was pretty lovely.

The book was titled something like Descartes’ error: Emotion and the Mind and Reason, and its premise was that emotions actually play a critical role in human reasoning and decision-making, using as case studies patients with specific neurological/psychological defects (they were intelligent and logical, they just couldn’t function as social beings because they couldn’t feel, exactly, and somehow, because of that, they couldn’t make decisions). I’m halfway through, it’s shedding light on the whole human condition debate. It’s also reviving the question I’ve had for a while now about whether science actually adddresses at least some fundamental philosophical issues.

3. During TOK today, I somehow got pretty worked up without realizing; it wasn’t particularly big, either, just that I got deeply annoyed and impatient with the discussion. We watched the documentary, Killing Me Softly, a part of which I think we’d watched in Raffles, and it was interesting and the woman was an excellent speaker and she had some extremely good points – but I was just taking more of an issue (than I remember doing the first time I watched it) with how American all her examples were, and how the discussion after was so North American-centered but it sounded like it was the entirety of the debate; also, I am just so instinctively tired of the issue of media and image portrayal and advertisements and beauty – and everyone eventually talking about the same thing, how emphasis on beauty and feminine perfection is bad and it’s so terrible that people do this and how it ruins people’s lives and omg!!!! I think I snapped at all of them at the end: I said something like, well ultimately if you think about it the purpose of advertisements and music videos isn’t to ‘educate us’, it’s in response to our consumerist demands, so we are the root cause of the issue and we have to take fundamental responsibility for the fact that they exist in the first place and are so prevalent. I can’t stand it when people whine about other things having ‘control’ over them because they only have as much control as you let them have.

Also, on the other side of the issue, you have genetically super thin models, who feel ostracized because of all the public condemnation against thin people, and I think it’s an unwarranted dismissal to say that men do face stereotypes but it’s not that bad for them, so let’s just not talk about it, let’s just talk about women. Obviously, a large part of this is my cultural exposure and the kind of society I’ve grown up in, but so is the other, very Americanized discussion, and – argh! 

4. On Tuesday, instead of having our math test, we had a math fieldtrip to a nearby beach, and we did geometry the ancient Greek way – by drawing circles in the sand :D It was pretty fun, actually, and I did kind of learn the origins of sine, which I don’t think I ever knew.

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One part of the beach.

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A previous class’ handiwork.

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ON A LEARNER’S PILGRIMAGE!

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HOW THE GREEK DREW CIRCLES.

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Masashi, Yukiko and Pascale.

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Nong Eye, ME! and Brittany, in our circle/hectagon/etc.

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The Harry Potter excitement is taking the campus, yes. A duel (multi-duels?)

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Sahar and Gjulio!

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Seagulls :D

It seems unbelievable, doesn’t it – though I feel like at a younger age, it’ll be equally inspiring and educational, but now I recognize that it was fun but also kind of useless, in terms of teaching us something, really. It’s illuminating, the differences in teaching style – I like the freedom because I feel like I can afford it, partly this atmosphere and partly my background (though of course this can be deceptive), but years of the Raffles environment make it very easy for me to be vaguely horrified at the lack of structure, the de-emphasis on knowledge. A happy medium -! 

 5. We also had a pretty sweet economics café last night, on illegal drugs, and if they should be decriminalized/legalized. It started with everyone in the circle saying their country, the laws regarding drug use in their country and their personal opinions on it, and I love when we do something that showcases usefully how diverse we are all, how amazing it is that we are here together now, and in that hour or so, our personal quirks fall away and we become a kind of ambassador, a representative, a mouthpiece of the culture we are meant to represent – in a way, we serve as a living reminder that there are people living in different places and situations and we are not any less human or real because of that.

A lot of very good points from all perspectives were raised, but I find that a hallmark of Pearson discussions is that, because the system of waiting your turn to speak, is very ingrained, threads of thoughts are very rarely followed through, and mostly it’s like everyone’s given a minute to speak and then the next person gets their turn and arguments aren’t actually sustained. Discussions run very broad, and I don’t really like it, though I see the purpose of the system.

Funnily enough, parts of me seem isolated from each other – I was telling them that Singapore has one of the harshest penalties for drug possession, and that we grew up learning only that drugs were inherently evil and had dire consequences and only gang members and teenage delinquents use it, and the whole issue was really put in very black-and-white terms, but for me, the more Westernized concept of drugs as divided into soft and hard drugs, and especially marijuana being almost more benign than alcohol, and definitely cigarettes, is more dominant as well, from mostly fic and the media and TV, but – I’m not a strong advocate for the legalization of drugs in Singapore, at the very least, and I think I understand why it is locally true in Singapore that drugs are entirely and wholly bad, though on principles alone, I think soft drugs should not be criminalized if cigarettes and alcohol aren’t.

6. I am pretty excited about my parents and brother coming over, to be honest. I think next Friday is going to be a school holiday so that means I could probably go join them on Friday, through the weekend. Also, I cooked chicken rice (literally, without the chicken) today :D

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