Interlude

I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m really not in the mood to go to bed. I just had an International Political Economy lecture followed with my usual hour long discussion with a friend on global politics.

There’s this stupid semi-presentation thing I have to do next week. I hate it. I really, really hate it. At times I get depressed about this. About this defect. If I could speak clearly I would change the world. I would join parties, debate people in class, preach, tutor or work as a lecturer (I would love that), make YouTube videos on either politics or just gaming. Or perhaps do book reviews. I would sing. I would tell my future girlfriend a poem each day. I would read stories to my kids one day…

But I can’t. All I can do is be silent. I have no choice but to be “quick to listen, slow to speak”¹. It’s really depressing.

To make it worse, even when I speak clearly I don’t. This is due to two reasons. The first is that I don’t always know how to describe something. I mean I’m almost finished with my honours degree and the one problem all the lecturers point out is still my grammar.

The second and more painful thing is this: whenever I use some obscure word people will not understand what I said. Even when I say it clearly, they won’t know. Why? Because they assume that as I am often unclear, that they misunderstood me because of my problem. To give an example, if I say I learned about Tenochtitlan. If someone SAYS it, people would probably say nothing. But because it’s weird AND because of my problem they would think I’m being unclear and that I probably mean Tennessee or something. So even when I’m clear I am not.

N. T. Wright talked about this. As this is my blog I’ll share it in length:

One of the greatest journalists of the last generation, Bernard Levin, described how, when he was a small boy, a great celebrity came to visit his school. The headmaster, perhaps wanting to impress, called the young Levin to the platform in front of the whole school. The celebrity, perhaps wanting to be kind, asked the little boy what he’d had for breakfast.

“Matzobrei,” replied Levin. A typical central European Jewish dish, Matzobrei is made of eggs fried with matzo wafers, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Levin’s immigrant mother had continued to make it even after years of living in London. To him, it was a perfectly ordinary word for a perfectly ordinary meal.

But the celebrity, ignorant of such cuisine, thought he’d misheard. He repeated his question. Levin, now puzzled and anxious, gave the same answer. The celebrity looked concerned and glanced at the headmaster: What is this word he’s saying? The headmaster, adopting a there-there-little-man tone, asked Levin once more what he had had for breakfast. Dismayed, not knowing what he’d done wrong, and wanting to burst into tears, the boy said once more the only answer he could honestly give: “Matzobrei.” After an exchange of incredulous glances on the platform, the terrified little boy was sent back to his place. The incident was never referred to again, but to him it was a horrible ordeal.

I’ve also noticed that due to both the above issues, the longer my sentences are the less chance people have of understanding me. So my replies are always short. Then I come off as irritated or blunt.

There’s also another thing. I noticed that it also depends on my confidence and my personality. When I’m angry I speak clearer. Yet when I try to be comforting I am unclear. I’m clearer around certain people like my friends, and less so around others. It also seems to vary depending on the time of day. In the midday it’s good, by night it’s bad. I’m not sure why. Probably because I’m tired. Sometimes during the day it could be bad. So I never know how it will be.

Even worse, I developed this unhealthy habit of avoiding people’s eyes when I speak. It wasn’t always like this. I avoid them because I have become terrified, as in psychologically frightened, at the faces people make when they didn’t understand you. That “huh” face.  It always cuts me deep and makes me miserable for a while.

You would think that the older you get the more used you get to it. That you finally make peace with it. That’s not true. The older you get the more you become aware of it. The more you realise what it means for your life. How it influences your relationships, and your career, and even something as stupid as a 5 minute discussion in class.

It was actually a really good day today. I enjoyed singing along to my awesome music on my way home. And I did well on my assignment again. And things are really good the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure why I wrote what I just did, but it needed to come out.

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On Turning Girls into Goddesses

It is always in retrospect that you finally understand why something did not work out. At that time you really, truly think that it is or will be perfect. Only after a couple of months do you see how obvious the problems were or would have been. And then you consider yourself lucky that it didn’t actually happen, or not for long. But does that make the sentiments you had at that moment false? I don’t think so.

Let me provide a personal example to illustrate my point. A couple months back there was this girl and I put her on a pedestal. I wasn’t naive enough to actually think that she was perfect (I’m rational like that), but in my actions and thoughts I considered her a goddess. I was painfully aware of my own shortcomings, but at the same time I really recognised her worth. Every photo of her I saw as divine. Every request I obeyed. I never held anything against her, even if she ignored me. To this day that day still feels humiliating every time I think about it and I am so incredibly tempted to be angry at her for that. And perhaps I should be. What she did was wrong. But at that moment and for a while afterwards I couldn’t see any faults in her. I dreamt about her (all of it good) and I prayed for her. I started reading the books she loved, I started watching the series she liked. And I still like the books and the series.

There are many evil people out there that you may fall in love with. Not that she was evil. And yet I think this tendency to almost worship someone is how it should be. Yes, months later you can logically reflect on all the problems, but the sentiment you had at that time is still true, even if your opinion of that person changed. At heart every person is worth more than anything in the world. I don’t know how to explain it better than to use a common Christian idea: we are right to appreciate people so much and to love them so much and to almost (but not quite) worship them, because at the end of the day they are made in the image of God and because of that they are worth all of this.

This is not to say that that abusive person you loved deserved you, or that you should keep on doing so. Love can never be deserved. What I’m saying is that your feeling was right even if that person did not take it the right way. In a perfect world there would be no abusive or evil or manipulative or ungrateful people to take advantage of your feelings, of those pure and good feelings.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should not be ashamed of how much you loved someone, how much you thought about someone, even if they did not love you back. Even if they hurt you or spurned you. Don’t be ashamed of your love. They should be ashamed of not appreciating it and not being changed by it. You should keep on loving people. Don’t regret your feelings. And don’t avoid them in the future for fear of feeling like a fool it doesn’t work out again. Love just as much as you did before.

Three Types of Beautiful

Mantis: I am hideous?

Drax: You are horrifying to look at. Yes. But that’s a good thing.

Mantis: Oh?

Drax: When you’re ugly, and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are… Beautiful people never know who to trust.

Today I went to a famous South African gaming convention, called Rage. It is insanely big. You have all of the major brands there, from PlayStation to Xbox to MSI and a host of others. There were also a Fortnite lan competion and, what I liked most, a certain CS Go event. For CS Go they had one amazingly good (and insanely beautiful) girl play against audience members; whoever beats her in a one-on-one match after five rounds wins a R1000 knife.

There were also a whole bunch of people doing cosplay. My one friend took a picture with almost every one of them. Most of these were pretty girls as well. Even some of the assistants at the stalls were gorgeous.

I’m saying all of this as for a couple of months or years I’ve been thinking about beauty, and I noticed that the people I saw today were beautiful in different ways. If you’re a consistent reader of this blog (which I doubt) you would know by now that I discovered a lot about myself, about my own false expectations (and standards) with regards to beauty. I’m learning to be a bit less shallow. I am not where I need to be, but I’m getting there. So after this intense and long day I thought I could divide my different understandings of beauty into three different categories.

The first is a kind of deep beauty. This is the kind that is not obvious at first glance, but which becomes apparent as you get to know someone. To be clear, this is still a physical beauty. In school I likened it to a beautifully crafted light bulb: the brighter the light, the more the art of the bulb itself becomes apparent. In other words, your personality makes you physically more attractive. We’ve all known people who at first we don’t like, or even find ugly, but as you get to know them they seem to really become more beautiful. Or more accurately, you become more aware of the beauty they already had. I think Beauty and the Beast reflects this type of beauty on the part of the beast. Or think about some film where the guy or girl has some physical defect, yet as you get to know the character they actually begin to seem more beautiful. Maybe like the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The problem is obviously that many people will overlook this type of people. They won’t think twice about you. Only those who take the time to know you will recognise your beauty.

The second is the obvious and common type: just physical attraction. People, or in my case a girl, who is just clearly extremely attractive. I think the best way to describe it is not “beautiful” per se, but “sexy”. “Sexy” has all the physical and sexual connotations that I intend with this type of beauty. These people are just pretty. They can be awful people and yet you find them attractive. Many Hollywood stars fall into this category. They are not necessarily “bad”. I’m pretty sure a lot of them are good people. They are also not necessarily shallow (though that is likely). I’ve made the mistake before to think “Oh, probably just a shallow pretty girl” when in fact there is a lot more depth to them. My point is just that when you first meet them you don’t see the personality side to them. You just notice the physical beauty and afterwards the personality, whereas with the first type it is the other way around. This second type might also be the most unsure about love: “Does he really love me or does he just like how I look?”.

The third is different from the previous two. What makes them beautiful is, in a sense, a combination of the previous two. These girls (or guys if you’re a girl) are physically pretty, but at the same time reflects such a strong sense of honor or respect that you don’t even think anything bad about them. It’s like looking at a painting: you appreciate the beauty with the upmost respect towards that person. There is no objectification here. Their personality shines just as bright as their physical beauty. The moment you meet them you know they are beautiful in both ways. This doesn’t necessarily make them better than the other two. The first type might be better as it teaches you to really LOVE someone without any regard for looks, and in time you are rewarded with it anyways. The second type teaches you not to expect shallowness just because someone is attractive. But I think this third type is good in that, from the very beginning, you know you have to be cautious and respectful. You immediately appreciate what you have.

This is just my two cents. I’m just a sad university student NOT studying philosophy or anything related to this issue. I don’t even classify myself as one of these three. But for what it’s worth I just wanted to write about this.

‘You must not be ready to go with everything beautiful all at once, Diamond.’

‘But what’s beautiful can’t be bad. You’re not bad, North Wind?’

‘No; I’m not bad. But sometimes beautiful things grow bad by doing bad, and it takes some time for their badness to spoil their beauty. So little boys may be mistaken if they go after things because they are beautiful.’

So you got a boyfriend…

I remember when I started university, about six months in, how you told me about the bad stuff he did. You appreciated me listening to you. Fast forward a year later. You broke up. For the first time my heart really went out to you.

I have this rule that I cling to to prevent any unwanted feelings: never ever ever get between two people who are in a relationship. This unconscious rule made it easy to be your friend. Usually I struggle not to get feelings for a girl, but with you I managed it.

But when you broke up, suddenly that wall, that rule, was gone. I realised that this is abnormal: compassion shouldn’t be confused with love. And at worst falling for someone who is in pain is to take advantage of her. So no. I struggled for a few weeks and I managed to kill that feeling. I’ve been getting better at it the last few years.

A few months later you made up. I remember you, me and some other girl walking to class and you told her that he is the one you’re gonna marry. I never spoke badly of him, but I never complimented him either. He’s your boyfriend so I cannot insult him, but I also cannot appreciate what he’s doing to you.

A couple months later, at the end of second year, he left you for good. You really couldn’t manage it. And it was just before the semester tests and exams. I remember one night after a difficult test you broke down in tears. I wasn’t sure what to do. I gave you simple polite hug. And again my heart went out to you again.

I remember how I didn’t know what I felt towards you. It wasn’t romantic love. But it wasn’t quite a friendship or sisterly feeling either. At times I would sit outside during the holidays and ask myself: “Out of everyone I know, who would I most want to be here?”. Often times your name came up. And I’m not sure what it meant, if anything. I am pretty sure I was not in love. But in hindsight I’m not too sure. If the last few months of my life taught me anything it is that I actually do not have a clue what love is. I had a superficial and probably false idea of it.

But eventually somehow you managed to complete your last year. And that was goodbye. I only saw you one time afterwards earlier this year.

Yesterday you said you’re at the coast. When I asked who you went with, you said with your mother and him (not him above, but another him). A friend with you on holiday is one thing. But that he came along with your mother is a whole different story. I don’t know him, so the first thing I did when you gave me his name was to look him up on Facebook… and he actually seems okay. But still, it was a bit of a shock. Just a teeny little bit.

I can’t help but be suspicious, though. Why didn’t you mention him before? Why, for a girl so often on Facebook, didn’t you post a picture of him? Why not update your relationship status? Why not tell me? Why do I get the feeling that you’re not very passionate about him? I just looked at the messages to confirm, and you do actually seem happy. I know it’s just whatsapp and you can never know how somebody really feels. I guess I was wrong. When I realised you met at that “church” I had my worries. What if this is an arranged relationship? It has happened before? What if you don’t really like him and you’re just appeasing them…

Or, you know, maybe you just love him.

 

On Loving Germans

I know there is something in Germany that can be loved, and that perhaps is not yet lost.

G. K. Chesterton

Germans and Germans and Germans. I don’t really like Germany. I don’t like the country’s past. And I’m not just talking about that. I also don’t like the modern Germany and its condescending and manipulative and pathetic and hypocritical foreign affairs. But I know there’s a difference between a state and its citizens, so I’ll try not to generalize.

But you, German girl. You intrigue me. I don’t know why. It’s most likely just a passing fad. Next week this time I’ll probably be writing about someone else.

Now, German, why do you interest me? I have to be honest: at first it was your fellow German friend who had my attention. But then a couple weeks ago when I looked you in the eyes… How did I put it last night? Not beautiful or pretty… I mean they are but those are not the words I’m looking for.

They are exquisite. Captivating. Intense.

And your eyebrows. Why the hell do I care about your eyebrows? Then that ginger hair delicately cut to just above your shoulder.

But forgive my superficiality. No, actually that’s the problem: your personality. A bad personality? Not at all. You’re definitely a good German. A particularly interesting German? Honestly no. But then what? Or if so, why? I don’t know. And that’s the problem.

Well, meine Deutsche, schlaf schön.

Just Wow

A short while back I believe I wrote (in Afrikaans) about a girl who I haven’t met. I just saw her in one of those Facebook friend suggestions. And she just blew my away. Not just the way she looks, but her entire posture. The way she stands with her arms crossed. As I said in that post, the first thought in my head was “Wow, she is so cool!”. I never use “cool” to describe a girl, but for some reason I used it there.

That experience cured me of my obsession over a girl recently. Not that I became obsessed with this Facebook one (I almost forgot about her after a few days). Yesterday my friend did this Harry Potter house quiz where he discovered that he would fit as a Ravenclaw I believe. It reminded me of just such a quiz that girl sent me a few months back. So out of the blue tonight I looked through our old messages trying to find the link she sent me. For some reason just seeing her replies kinda shook me up a little bit. So I went outside and prayed over it, and played with the cat for a little while…

When I came back I remembered how this Facebook girl cured my obsession. So I looked her up again on my phone. I clicked on her profile picture again to recapture that “wow” effect. It wasn’t quite as strong, so I scanned through her older profile pics. And one of them, well, JUST BLEW ME AWAY! I would so seriously love to meet her!

And just to be clear, I mean this all with the greatest respect towards her. (What blew me away the first time is nor her looks, per se. It was how in the picture she burns with honor. Burning with honor and beauty!. What a combination in a girl!). I’m not some stalker. I came across the picture by accident. I’m not gonna send her a friend request or pester her (though I admit a small part of me is tempted to ask a “mutual friend” for her number). No. I’m just gonna leave it, and hopefully even forget about her (although I am immortalising her memory on this blog). Maybe one day I’ll meet her. And if I do, well you heard it here first!

Sensitivity and Judgment

From Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer. She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry,—I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart—God knows what its name was,—that tears started to my eyes. The moment they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in having been the cause of them. This gave me power to keep them back and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss—but with a sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded—and left me.

But when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart without a name, that needed counteraction.

My sister’s bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts, and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.

Para Ti

Tú, sí tú. Tú eres la poema de mi vida. Todo el día pienso en ti. Cada noche te veo en mis sueños. ¿Donde estás?

Me preocupe que pensarás de mi. Eres bonita, soy feo. Eres maduro, soy… soy un soñador. A veces me odio. Odio mi cara y mi voz y todo sobre mí. Pero tú, tú eres un ángel. Me gusta tu cara, tu voz, tus ojos (especialmente tus ojos). Me preocupe que tú eres perfecta para mi, pero yo no para ti. Yo sé que te amaré todo mi vida, te amaré y adoraré cada momento, con cada aliento y cada latido de la corazón… pero me molesta que no me querrás.

 

Ek Sukkel Erg om te Slaap

Dis nou byna half drie die oggend. Die afgelope uur of so sukkel ek om te slaap. Eks heeltyd so ongemaklik. En die gedagtes, sjoe.

Soos hierdie een meisie, ne. Ek het haar nie ontmoet nie. Ek weet dis weird en eks ten volle bewus van dat dit borderline “stalking” of “creepy” is, maar wees geduldig. Soos die afgelope paar maande dink ek so bleddie hard aan my toekoms as dit kom by n verhouding. Ek stres myself uit oor die kleinste goed: ek kan nie dans nie, ek kan nie “manlike” goed doen soos n kar of n sink fix nie, ek gym nie, ek is net nie manlik in daai manier nie. Eks bang ek gaan soos n kind wees langs haar eerder as n man.

Ek is ook so bewus van my eie defects. Dit sluit die fisiese aspek in, wat my veral pla, maar ook my persoonlikheid. Dis asof ek voel (doen ek?) dat die rede hoekom ek haar nog nie ontmoet het nie is omdat ek nie reg is nie. Ek try, of ek dink ek try, om beter te wees vir haar. Vir haar wie ek nog nie ontmoet het nie. En ek weet nie of ek ooit sal wees nie.

Maar die “creepy” ding is hierdie. Op Facebook is daar mos friend suggestions, ne? Wel daars so een suggestion, een meisie, wat net eenvoudig ongelooflik lyk. Met “lyk” bedoel ek nie net haar lyf en gesig nie. Dis die hele manier wat sy staan en smile. Die gedagte wat in my kop gekom het is net: “Wow, sy is SO COOL”. Ek weet nie hoekom ek “cool” gedink het nie. Dis nooit n woord wat ek gebruik om n meisie te beskryf nie. Maar dis wat ek gedink het. Sy lyk confident, slim en tog vroulik. Dis die “vrou” in “vroulik” wat my bang maak. Daai volwassenheid. Nie dat ek onvolwasse is nie. Ek probeer wees, maar dis asof ek in my kop net n seun sal wees teenoor so n meisie.

Maar dis dit. Ek dink wat my vanaand so torture onder andere is nie sy self nie, maar die idee van iemand soos sy en hoe ek sal wees vir so n persoon. Halfde van my gedagtes is baie mooi, maar die ander halfde is scary.

Ek het vir myself so n boksie druiwesop gaan haal wat ek nou in die bed drink soos ek hierdie skryf. Ek hoop ek kan nou slaap!

Friends

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends’.

C. S. Lewis