Walking Dead and Sociology

I got into reading the Walking Dead comics a couple of years back. I had, however, gotten through several of the volumes before I saw the underlying theme of the book. The underlying theme isn’t immediately apparent though. After all, the books are about zombies. Aren’t they?

No, they’re not. They’re not about the zombies or about fear or the horror or the apocalypse or about the survival. It is about the survivors. The people left behind. It’s commentary about the role society plays in our current world and a prediction of what might happen if something so disastrously destructive happened that it took away the society we lived in and changed all the rules.

Even though back then I had no idea what sociology is or what it means and how important the role of society in our lives is, I did seem to get an inkling of the broader concept when I read these books. What struck me was that they didn’t even attempt to explore exactly what had happened. And what surprised me was that I was ok with it. I was fine with them not going after the cause.

The books are about people left behind who realized that there were no rules anymore. There was nothing holding them back. They could do whatever they wanted. That they had to make the rules; had to create a new form of society. What kind of society they created, how they built it back up from the ashes of the last burnt-out phoenix of a society zombies had decimated was up to them.

“To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter feats of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics. Good zombie movies show is how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society… and our society’s station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too… But there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.

…To me zombie movies are thought provoking, dramatic fiction, on par with any Oscar worthy garbage that’s rolled out year after year. Movies that make you question the fabric of our very society is what I like. And in GOOD zombie movies… you get that by the truckload.

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With the THE WALKING DEAD I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how these events CHANGE them. I’m going in for the long haul. You guys are going to get to see Rick change and mature to the point that when you look back on this book you won’t even recognize him. I hope you guys are looking forward to a sprawling epic, because that’s the idea with this one.”

We were recently studying Durkheim in Sociology class. He is known as the founder of cultural studies. Its true too. Reading the books he wrote and trying to understand his perspective and suddenly it was an ‘AHA’ moment for me when I realized that Kirkman had done what Durkheim had tried to do by writing; he was showing his perspective, his world-view of society. Obviously, he was making things up as he went but is the Walking Dead so far from the truth? What do you think will happen when society devolves into this barbaric world where there is no sanity to be found in any crevice? Aren’t we all already reduced to blood-thirsty wild animals? What place does society- this invisible glue holding us together- have in our world and how important is it? What value does it add to our lives?

I’ve always been cynical of the role society plays in our life. It is a man-made phenomena. Us humans have bumbled our way into applying some organizational rules and patterns onto our collective lives so that we all behave in a similar and expected way. No ugly surprises, nope. The rules of society haven’t been sent by God in most cases. Society gives us a way of life and so do some religions. But that is an argument I will make later.

Is society a bad thing? Do we not need it? Looking at the Walking Dead as an example of a situation where there aren’t enough humans left to form society and I think to myself, maybe we do need it. It keeps us all on one track. It gives us morals, ethics, and shuns those who don’t follow rules.

However, society is also constantly changing and transforming. These days some societies are really moving ahead faster and faster; which is great. But I think it’s imperative that we take a step back and out of the society that we currently live in and look at it from the outside and check to see the forces that are shaping the society we live in now. Is it fear that is changing our society? Or is the change being driven by something productive and positive? Are we changing into something better or are we being driven down a road by the unseen hands of other invisible entities that we don’t know are actually in control of the societies? There are so many things to think about just on one subject.

There was something I heard in the last episode of Bones that I watched. That the forefathers of the United States of America were seen as traitors in the time they were living in. Because they were rebelling against the society that was dominant around them. So what we see as evil and unforgivable in this time, do you think it will be seen as the usual in some later times?

And now for a more controversial question that just floated in my head. No offense meant but I do question these things so here goes: in the olden days even though homosexuals and transgender people existed, they were shunned and now they are celebrated. Which is great. Everyone has the right to a respectable life, which they have every right of choosing and making decisions regarding. However, in our times there are still people who are shunned. Pedophiles, perverts, murderers. Do you think our society will ever progress to a point where these people will also be respected for their conditions?

We are horrified by the very idea. But I am pretty sure, just 50 years ago people were horrified at the very idea that women would be given the right to vote, African Americans would be free from slavery and homosexuals would be able to marry each other and live freely and respectably in our society. What do you think will happen 50 years from now? What will be condoned and what will be condemned?

Do we make society? Or does society make us? What do you think?

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

23 things

I read these somewhere and totally ripped them off because they had such an effect on me. Every single one of these words is worth memorizing because these are things I feel everyday when I just sit quietly in my corner.

1. Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Sometimes I sit around and have these astute observations about a person’s life when they’re talking to me. I wonder what it’s like to be them. What’s good in their life and what’s bad in their life. But I’ve found that I’ve never wanted to BE anybody else. The thing is, no matter how shitty my life gets, its tailored to me. I wasn’t designed to handle another person’s problems, no matter how similar they seem to me. No matter how a person’s life seems better than mine, I always know that mine is better because I am so blessed in my own ways and that I can always handle the shit that is assigned to come my way.

Yes, I wish for a better life in more than one ways. But I never wish for another actual real person’s life. That would be redundant.

2. Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

I think this is one of the scariest thing out there. I’ve realized that no matter how often we think that we are actually looking into each others eyes when talking, we don’t actually really do that. We look around the eyes but never directly into them. Because it is scary. It is disconcerting. It makes a person uneasy and agitates and ruffles our feathers on an intrinsic level.

3. Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

You know like in the movies where a person is standing still while everyone just walks past them. Ever get that feeling? I don’t think I’ve ever actually felt it (I wouldn’t be able to stand it) but I can imagine what it would be like to stand apart from society and watch it work. I mean I do this with people, where I see how they think but I do that while they talk and while I listen.

4. Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

I get that people might feel this way. I might even want to go back to my former distressed self and tell her that everything will be ok. And hope that my future self could tell me how it will end and who I am now in the future at least, if not tell me that it will all get better.

5. Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

Ahhh this is my absolute favorite. I know this feeling and can summon it at any point. That wonder of standing in a bookshop wondering at the journey all these books had to go through to end up here in my hands. I just like touching the books to see how many minds they’ve fed, how many lightbulbs in people’s heads have lit up because of them. How much more hunger they have inspired.

6. Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

Not just rubatosis but also proprioception and when any unconscious and automatic functions come into our conscious thoughts. How spectacular is that? Meta-cognition. Thinking about thinking. And not just thinking too. Control. Course adjusting. A push here, a nudge there.

7. Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

Ahhhh this is why I love late night walks. Walking down the streets that are usually alive with activity. I lived in a place like this. Living in Malaysia had its upsides. Visiting the capital city 30 minutes away from where I lived at night, often made me marvel at the Kenopsia I found there. The entire city, dead, quiet like no human had set foot here in ages.

8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

I do this. I do this with so many people. And even though it feels like this is the right thing to do, it’s not. Not really. And no one fights it too. So it’s become so automatic. It’s so easy to tell people to leave. Even easier to cut them out of you life and swat them away like they’re a fly bothering you. I do this and more , a lot more, because at the end of the day, I’m really scared that if someone does look inside, what if they don’t like what they see? I can’t handle that kind of rejection. So I reject before it gets to that point in the relationship. It’s possibly why I’m still alone.

Really makes you think doesn’t it?

9. Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

Who doesn’t do this!? I do this. Specially when I’m made at someone and wish I’d been as mean as I could be in my head when I lay down at night and thought of some choice words I could have used on them. My venom though is usually limited from the time I get mad to the time I finally fall asleep.

And it’s not just conversations. I play out whole scenes, whole lives out in front of my eyes. Seeing without seeing. Doing without doing. Everything just in the head. Living an entire life of my own making in my mind.

10. Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

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We didn’t get that many thunderstorms back home in Pakistan, but over here in the States it rains every other day. When I was in Malaysia, it was worse. I hated rain then, but now I’m usually indoors when it decides to pour, or under a really large golf umbrella so that not one drop of rain touches me. I like to sit by my rooms window when it does rain, or in the sun room surrounded by windows. The image of rain outside and coffee/tea in my hand and a fleece over me and with a book just gives me so much comfort.

11. Vemödalen: The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

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12. Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.

13. Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

14. Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

I felt this everyday that I was in Pakistan and something happened. I got so desensitized at one point, where even now if anything bad happens and the world is stunned, it just doesn’t affect me anymore because I’ve seen people dying and heard of people dying more than anyone else. The value of life to me as a person might be high but only of those who I personally know. The worst thing is that this isn’t even my fault. It is the situation’s.

I might seem crass or inhumane or insensitive but that is a defense mechanism my mind has built to allow me to deal with the society I lived in. I will not be horrified by the deaths of people anymore. It won’t more me. That tenderness and that pain is gone. Replaced by a hard shell where the pain and loss of loosing someone lived.

15. Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.

Who wants to go through this? I feel for those who want this in their life. I already have too many tragedies to deal with.

16. Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Intelligence is the experience most stupid people don’t understand. And humility is the experience most intelligent people don’t understand. Story of our lives. At the end of the day we understand each other by our actions and intentions. Nothing else tells us the truth the way these do.

17. Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

18. Ruckkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.

This happens to me but not because of a trip or a vacation. Not because I’ve gone somewhere and come back. It’s usually because I feel like my life is divided into components or compartments which is where everything related to that bit goes; my friends, my family relationships, even my personality from the time goes in there. Every time a new compartment forms, a new life begins for me. I don’t like my lives mixing. I become a different person. I hope most of the time I try to improve myself. I say this because I don’t know. I feel like I have been so many different people over time that sometimes I try and remember who I was and I think to myself “I don’t even recognize me. Who was I!?”

Most of the time though, I don’t remember who I was. It’s like my memory wipes itself clean of any remnants of my previous personality. I always get the feeling that I was the same person I was then, that I am now. But I know that’s not true. I just hope I’ve changed for the better.

19. Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Sometimes my life really does feel like a movie. It feels like it’s going nowhere, which is when I get restless and work to change it in anyway possible; to get some excitement, some change, some momentum going. I still don’t know what I’m missing out or how to fix things that are out of whack.

20. Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

21. Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.

I feel this time and time again. The desire to feel less. If only we weren’t as human as we are. If only we had that kind of iron-control over our emotions. Guess we would all be robots then wouldn’t we? We’d suppress every emotion we think is beneath us.

22. Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

Sometimes I think we are made out of a template. Our brains that is. Cookie-cutter templates. Or maybe our society encourages and nourishes the notion that we all think alike, have the same issues and flaws and anxieties? I get tired of repeating myself while giving advice. People either don’t listen or they listen but don’t follow through. At one point, people’s mistakes become their choices.

If I have a problem. I work to solve it rather than avoid it. Take it head on and end it. So you can focus on new shit that’s been assigned to come your way. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. SOLVE THAT SHIT.

23. Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAnd just with these one words, languages have shrunk these profound feelings and experiences into this small words that encompass all of our most precious thoughts and emotions; things that make us human. These words are more important than anything other in any language and they need to be preserved. We need more words like this.

Expect not; lest you be disappointed

My dad says this all the time to all of us kids. Time and time again I fall prey to expectation. And I’m almost always disappointed.

Yesterday I was so mad. I don’t know why. I was fuming. Anger seeped from every pore of my body and I have been living in this state for the past few months but yesterday it culminated to the point where I was about to loose control of my senses. However, I’m happy too at the same time. Contradictory though it may sound, I have never been happier. Life is as it should be. Everything is in place except for the fact that I am in such a state of dissonance that I can’t find peace in any corner of my mind and that is what I need. That is all I need.

So I turned to the one being I knew would always be there. Behind the scenes. Always watching. Just observing, always being taken for granted. Always at the back of the mind but never at the forefront. Never in the spotlight. Shaking His head at my sorry ass. Probably the victim of the same expectations He had of me that I had of everyone else. God.

Yesterday I lay down my mat and submitted to the one being who could quiten my mind and give me strength like no other. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s like my minds been wiped clean. I woke up truly happy. All the stress, hate, anger within me, gone. I realized people will always be people. It was me I should be concerned with. Only me. What do I care what anyone else thinks and what they do and say. This is the beginning of my new life. I only have to make myself a better person.

So here’s to promises. Promises I promise to keep. Promises I won’t break. I promise to stop lying about anything even minor unless it is done not for my personal gain but to protect someone else from loss. I promise to keep my nose out of everyone’s brain and business. I promise to keep my readings of people thoughts and motivations and intentions, which I am fantabulously good at, to myself and never let them color my interactions with them. I will live myself for myself alone and for my family. I promise to remain close to God. I promise not to expect others to be bigger or better people and if I do I promise not to be disappointed when they aren’t. I promise not to advice or help another person unless I feel like it. I promise I won’t feel obliged into helping someone because I consider them my friend. I promise to hold my head high and put myself on the pedestal ahead of everyone else. I promise to say “no” when someone or something presents an obstacle in my way. I promise I’ll still try to be a good person.

I feel purified. Like I’ve been through some form of catharsis.

The Flight Of The Silvers

Argggggh! If you’ve been reading my blog, you would by now know that I HATE TRILOGIES. And not just any trilogy. I hate trilogies that are not stand-alone books. Like this one! I hate it! The entire book reads like a prologue to a juicy story that is obviously not going to be a part of this book, but of another book, which is two books away from this one. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT!!?? I don’t need such a long drawn-out epic. You are not creating literature, NO! You are writing a young/adult supposed fantasy/science-fiction that you’re hoping will catch on like a house on fire! This is not the next Hunger Games series (one of the few young adult sci-fi/fantasy books I could actually tolerate) and it is definitely not the next Harry Potter.

These books need a warning to come with them. People should not be allowed to package their books into something they’re not – books for adults.

Suffice to say, this book was not meant to be read and appreciated by someone like me. I skipped pages and eventually skipped whole chapters. In the end I just read the last chapter just to fool myself into thinking that I actually read the book. I came down to a level where I had to deceive myself into thinking I actually finished it. No book should put someone through that. I shouldn’t have had to do that to a book.

It was awful. I didn’t take anything from this book, except for the fact that big boobs always gets some hot hero person and that it’s supposedly ok to be slutty if you can’t deal with things the way other people do. I don’t know what morals books these days are handing over to the next generation. These authors don’t understand that these books are the ones that form a person’s mind; their personality. What these people write will be taken to heart and directly be transferred into young minds. Books are the USB 3.0 of our minds. This is how you get information into our brains. You can’t be putting shitty trashy morals like this into people’s minds. People unconsciously adopt the morals and ethics they learn from either by watching other adults, or by their books. If you’re showing the younger generation that its ok to have such trashy morals, what do you think they will take from this?

To take nothing will be the best. However, younger minds haven’t yet formed a filter to filter out the crap these books stick in there just so that they become a sensation. Make it saucy enough for more and more people to want to read it, but give 0 effort towards the story and actual character building. Nope, just pick up some stereotypical characters and stick them between the pages. It’s a shame really. We need authors with more mettle and who aren’t just looking for the money they can mint by becoming an overnight sensation.

Learn to Learn

Today I need to talk about something really important. I came straight from sociology class so my ideas are fresh in my mind. Today we were talking about rationalization. What is rationalization? Its the action of organizing our lives in a way where we think that we are getting the most out of it. Not the most fun or the most worth or the most quality. No. The most quantity. Where we schedule and plan our lives to the point where everything becomes a chore and nothing is done for the purpose of doing a job well. To the point where the more work we can generate our of an action means more than allowing our actions to be meaningful and worthy.

We talked about a lot of things today. But what struck me was an idea I generated on my own today in class when asked for an example of an area of life that should probably NOT be so rationalized. I thought of education. The words that came out of my mouth were “cookie-cutter education”. How true is that if you think about it? How many of our educational institutions allow us to think creatively? Im living here in the States and I don’t see it. Multiple choice questions and answers, expecting students to memorize textbooks, not forcing them to apply what they learn; all of these things contribute to cookie-cutting. They’re making templates out of students. Whoever learns the system better, gets to succeed.

Cram enough information into one class and one lecture and overwhelm the student where they feel like they can’t cope. Don’t get me wrong. I am not that student. I am capable of handling everything and anything anyone throws at me. It’s not overconfidence either. It’s experience. It’s been done. I’ve overcome obstacles people thought were brick walls for me.. It’s everyone else. I see these people who settle for a decent grade and who don’t want anymore. Students who don’t want to learn. Who are not curious. Who don’t ask why. They just want a decent grade so they can get out and do their mundane 9-to-5 jobs, sitting at a desk, pushing papers.

Teachers don’t inspire. Don’t tie what they teach into a bigger picture. Don’t allow the students to have epiphanies. Don’t watch as the students go AHA! and look at their faces with the glow of understanding. Teachers are ok with just making sure that the students have rote learned what they have taught and send them on their way.

Teachers are the same everywhere. I have met very few teachers who have inspired me. Who have made me love their subject and made me want to worship them. Who have made me marvel at their genius; not only because of what their heads are full of but because of their genius in teaching. Because they make me want to know. They hold my interest and force me to be curious. I do remember one place that never reined in my mind. That never leashed it. Mind you, it wasn’t because it was what was best for a person like me, no. It was because no one knew any better and I was free to do as I please because I usually ended up being better than the teachers at it. But I guess thats what teachers should aim for isn’t it? Students who are better than them. That’s what shows that they have succeeded. When they are surpassed by their own students.

I’m getting off topic. There are some teachers here who inspire me. Who give me epiphanies. It is so sad that none of them teach a class which I call my major. If I ever found a teacher that taught computer science the way these teachers taught me sociology and psychology, I don’t think I would ever leave that teacher alone for more than a minute.

Teachers need to teach their students how to learn to learn.

That is all a teacher ever needs to do. Not cram information into a child’d head. But to inspire the child to go look for him/herself. Even if it means he/she doesn’t get straight A’s in every subject.

Ok I don’t mean that. Students should get straight A’s in every subject OKKKKK.

Brain goes up in smoke

Sometimes I feel like I can practically see the smoke emanating from between my ears. Ever use your brain so hard, it feels like its either going to burn out or have a melt down? That’s what college is like. And trust me I know, because this is my second degree. I don’t remember things being so very difficult. Everyday, as the semester progresses, I feel overwhelmed to the point where I am ready to give up. I don’t know what drives me to keep going on though. This thing inside me that tells me that if I can break the problem into small enough pieces, I should be able to handle things. Well. I’m not going to GIVE UP. And no one can MAKE ME. I’m stronger than everything out there. And I definitely have something to prove to myself and the rest of the world.

And honestly, most of the time handling things this way works out pretty well for me. Until the next class, when more work is piled on our heads and stress levels shoot through the roof again. What I hate though, is when I feel too stupid to do something. Things incrementally get harder here of course.

I think its all a good thing though. My brain is getting the exercising of its life. I always believed my brain is like a sponge; well now it is going to be tested to its limits. Let’s see how much my brain can truly hold.