31 August 2016


I've been slowly but surely posting photos (a larger set than what's up on fb) of my Asia trip. So far Japan's complete:
All trip posts will be pre-dated so my archives don't look so sparse haha.

Also wrote an analog travelogue, which is why those posts have exceedingly little words. Instead, have a video about traditional Japanese homes:

29 August 2016

Autumn/Winter '16

I've never been this happy for autumn and winter to come, although I won't be surprised if I'm cursing the wind a few months down the line.

This will also be a short post because I want to challenge myself to buy nothing* in the categories of clothing and cosmetics so I can splurge on this baby when I head to nyc:

C&J Holly, aka the boot of my dreams.
Correction, the perfect jodhpur is still Zonkey's, but the logistics of obtaining one is exponentially more difficult.

So, with the exception of one planned cosmetics haul that is the asterisk above, I endeavor to not spend any money on clothing or cosmetics until February. It really shouldn't be that difficult since I bought a ton of stuff while I was in Asia (I literally have my suitcase full of cosmetics ahahaa...ha)

As for tea...black friday sales will definitely see a big YS haul, and perhaps chawangshop and bitter leaf.


As for updates on S/S:
  • linen tapered trousers: did not find, but did find a pair of tapered black 100% wool trousers from JNBY (which is my fav Chinese brand now). I consider this a success, such a a success that I'm kicking myself for not buying a second back-up pair.
  • lightweight (cotton linen blend perhaps?) cream cardigan: done, via Uniqlo in Osaka. Light grey though, but that's splitting hairs.
  • khaki shorts: bought an abundance of skirts instead, still have a pair of grey shorts to carry out all shorts duties.
  • teal high-low skirt: see abundance of skirt above, iirc I've bought an olive paperbag waist skirt, grey lace pencil skirt, red maxi silk skirt (swwwwoooonnnn and the actual replacement for this teal skirt), and a black "embroidered" pencil skirt.

28 August 2016

Notes from the Underground

Prepare yet again for a mammoth wall of quotation.

At the moment I've finished 3/4 of Dostoevsky's novels, with The Possessed left to go. It might be premature to make some general remarks, but I'll go ahead and say the following two points anyways:
  1. All of his works is so consistently...framed? No clue whether this term is correct. For example, while all of Vonnegut's and Murakami's books very obviously have the same signature, Dostoevsky's books seem to be the same idea told in very similar, yet still distinct, ways. It's like you're eating different slices of the same pizza. Hopefully this made some sense, and I'll point out a few instances in the quotations below where the same ideas as TBK are brought up.
  2. He writes so well about the ugly sides of human. 

Notes from the Underground is structured sort of in reverse, the first part explores the narrator's state of mind, then the second part recounts the events that took place which invoked that state of mind.

I recently discovered that kindle saves a text file with all of your highlights, so no more haphazardly typing quotations in my phone and awkward autocorrect mistakes.

Without further ado, and minimal commentary:
what was the chief point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it.

I got to the point of feeling a sort of secret abnormal, despicable enjoyment in returning home to my corner on some disgusting Petersburg night, acutely conscious that that day I had committed a loathsome action again, that what was done could never be undone, and secretly, inwardly gnawing, gnawing at myself for it, tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last--into positive real enjoyment!

The context of this next block is that he is talking about how revenge is carried out. It was difficult to condense a couple pages down:
For a time there is nothing else but that feeling [of revenge] left in their whole being. Such a [direct persons or men of action] simply dashes straight for his object [...] and nothing but a wall will stop him. [...] (For them a wall is not an evasion, as for us people who think and consequently do nothing; it is not an excuse for turning aside, an excuse for which we are always very glad, though we scarcely believe in it ourselves, as a rule.) [...] Well, such a direct person I regard as the real normal man, [...] he is stupid. I am not disputing that, perhaps a normal man should be stupid. [...] The antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort, this retort-made man is sometimes so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. And the worst of it is, he himself, his very own self, looks on himself as a mouse; no one asks him to do so; and that is an important point.
Now let us look at this mouse in action. Let us suppose, for instance, that it feels insulted, too (and it almost always does feel insulted), and wants to revenge itself, too. There may even be a greater accumulation of spite in it than in L'HOMME DE LA NATURE ET DE LA VERITE. The base and nasty desire to vent that spite on its assailant rankles perhaps even more nastily in it than in L'HOMME DE LA NATURE ET DE LA VERITE. For through his innate stupidity the latter looks upon his revenge as justice pure and simple; while in consequence of his acute consciousness the mouse does not believe in the justice of it. To come at last to the deed itself, to the very act of revenge. Apart from the one fundamental nastiness the luckless mouse succeeds in creating around it so many other nastinesses in the form of doubts and questions, adds to the one question so many unsettled questions that there inevitably works up around it a sort of fatal brew, a stinking mess, made up of its doubts, emotions, and of the contempt spat upon it by the direct men of action who stand solemnly about it as judges and arbitrators, laughing at it till their healthy sides ache. Of course the only thing left for it is to dismiss all that with a wave of its paw, and, with a smile of assumed contempt in which it does not even itself believe, creep ignominiously into its mouse-hole. There in its nasty, stinking, underground home our insulted, crushed and ridiculed mouse promptly becomes absorbed in cold, malignant and, above all, everlasting spite.
For forty years together it will remember its injury down to the smallest, most ignominious details, and every time will add, of itself, details still more ignominious, spitefully teasing and tormenting itself with its own imagination. It will itself be ashamed of its imaginings, but yet it will recall it all, it will go over and over every detail, it will invent unheard of things against itself, pretending that those things might happen, and will forgive nothing. Maybe it will begin to revenge itself, too, but, as it were, piecemeal, in trivial ways, from behind the stove, incognito, without believing either in its own right to vengeance, or in the success of its revenge, knowing that from all its efforts at revenge it will suffer a hundred times more than he on whom it revenges itself,

The stone wall in the quotation below refers to "the laws of nature, the deductions of natural sciences, mathematics":
Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least, and therefore grinding your teeth in silent impotence to sink into luxurious inertia, brooding on the fact that there is no one even for you to feel vindictive against, that you have not, and perhaps never will have, an object for your spite, that it is a sleight of hand, a bit of juggling, a card-sharper's trick, that it is simply a mess, no knowing what and no knowing who, but in spite of all these uncertainties and jugglings, still there is an ache in you, and the more you do not know, the worse the ache.
This can be read as an argument for the incapability of science to replace religion.

The next two quotations echo my favourite part of Hamlet's soliloquy:
In the depth of my heart there was no faith in my suffering, only a faint stir of mockery, but yet I did suffer, and in the real, orthodox way; I was jealous, beside myself ... and it was all from ENNUI, gentlemen, all from ENNUI; inertia overcame me. You know the direct, legitimate fruit of consciousness is inertia,

perhaps I consider myself an intelligent man, only because all my life I have been able neither to begin nor to finish anything.

This is a contrast to the "The Grand Inquisitor":
What man wants is simply INDEPENDENT choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.

But if he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped. But that is not all, that is not his worst defect his worst defect is his perpetual moral obliquity.

The context of this block is that if "showered upon him every earthly blessing [...] man would play you some nasty trick", aka this is why we can't have nice things:
He will desire to retain, simply in order to prove himself that men still are men and not the keys of a piano. [...] And that is not all: even if man really were nothing but a piano-key, even if this were proved to him by natural science and mathematics, even then he would not become reasonable, but would purposely do something perverse out of simple ingratitude, simply to gain his point. And if he does not find means he will contrive destruction and chaos, will contrive sufferings of all sorts, only to gain his point! He will launch a curse upon the world, and as only man can curse (it is his privilege, the primary distinction between him and other animals), may be by his curse alone he will attain his object--that is, convince himself that he is a man and not a piano-key!

Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing? [...] And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained

This parallels what Zosima says about love in dreams vs love in action:
And what loving-kindness, oh Lord, what loving-kindness I felt at times in those dreams of mine! in those "flights into the sublime and the beautiful"; though it was fantastic love, though it was never applied to anything human in reality, yet there was so much of this love that one did not feel afterwards even the impulse to apply it in reality;
Katerina's character is a support for this:
"Will it not be better that she should keep the resentment of the insult for ever? Resentment - why, it is purification; it is a most stinging and painful consciousness! Tomorrow I should have defiled her soul and have exhausted her heart, while now the feeling of insult will never die in her heart, and however loathsome the filth awaiting her - the feeling of insult will elevate and purify her ... by hatred [...] perhaps, too, by forgiveness.... Will all that makes things easier for her though? ..."
And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better--cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?

27 August 2016

its the end of the night, you'll be alright

The soundtrack to the previous post, not that they're related in content, but because it's literally the song that I was listening to while falling asleep. This one is my favourite from the album.

26 August 2016


I can see things differently now. Can also see the shape of my ego and take a successful stab at it.
So this should mark the end of a distinct period of anxieties.


Should make more random graphics for my late night thoughts, fun exercise and it'll be justification for having a large font library. Today's pick is Abadi MT Condensed Light.

20 August 2016


I'm a sucker for pretty water, aka 99% of the photos I took where different shots of the Grotto.

This fish and chips places was really good, went there for two meals in a row. Though it reminds me of the shop in Torquay  (also when I started to use VSCOcam o: ) where I dragged my two friends on a 30min uphill trek to...only to discover that it was closed that day.

16 August 2016

The Brothers Karamazov

Will be away at cottage for a couple of days, where I'll be reading some more Dostoevsky (and balcony heat loss papers) so I leave you with a whole bunch of quotations from The Brothers Karamazov to ponder over. I don't need to write any more than that it is indeed true that all of humanity can be found within it's pages.

On belief:
Faith does not, in the realist, spring from miracle but the miracle from faith.

Besides, proofs are no help to believing, especially material proofs.

On general human nature:
As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too. 
For love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active live in labor and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. 

"There are people of deep feeling who have been somehow crushed. Buffoonery in them is a form of resentful irony against those to whom they dare to speak the truth, from having been for years humiliated and Intimidates by them."

Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very consciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire

"Gentlemen of the jury," began the prosecutor, "this case has made a stir throughout Russia. But what is there to wonder at, what is there so peculiarly horrifying in it for us! We are so accustomed to such crimes! That's what's so horrible, that such dark deeds have ceased to horrify us. What ought to horrify us is that we are so accustomed to it, and not this or that isolates crime. What are the cause of out indifference, our lukewarm attitude to such deeds, to such signs of the times, ominous of an unenviable future? Is it out cynicism, is it the premature exhaustion of intellect and imagination in a society that is sinking into decay, in spite of its youth? Is it that out moral principles are shattered to their foundations, or is it, perhaps, a complete lack of such principles among us? I cannot answer such questions; nevertheless they are disturbing, and every citizen not only must, but ought, to be harassed by them.
"Yes, one day perhaps the leading intellects of Russia and of Europe will study the psychology of Russian crime, for the subject is worth it. But this study will come later, at leisure, when all the tragic topsy-turvydom of today is farther behind us, so it's possible to examine it with more insight and more impartiality than I can do. Now we are either horrified or pretend to be horrified, and though we really gloat over the spectacle, and love strong and eccentric sensations which tickle our cynical, pampered idleness. Or, like little children, we crush the dreadful ghosts away and hide our heads in the pillow so as to return to our sports and merriment as soon as they have vanished. But we must one day begun life in sober earnest, we much look at ourselves as a society; it's time we tried to grasp something of our social position, or at least make a beginning in that direction.
The man who lies to himself and believes his own lies come to such a pass that he cannot distinguish truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
^Although this is said to Frydor Pavlovich, it's equally applicable to Ivan and Katerina.

Speaking of those two, they're hands down my favourite characters of this novel. Here's some quotations pertaining to them. First on Katerina:
What for anyone else would be only a promise is for her an everlasting burdensome, grim perhaps, but unflagging duty. And she will be sustained by the feeling of this dirt being fulfilled. Your life, Katerina Ivanovna, will henceforth be spent in painful brooding over your own feelings, your own heroism, and your own suffering; but in the end that suffering will be softened and will pass into sweet contemplation of the fulfillment of a bold and proud design. Yes, proud it certainly is, and desperate in any case, but a triumph for you. And the consciousness of it will at last be a source of complete satisfaction and will make you resigned to everything else.

She had been firmly convinced, perhaps ever since that bow, that the simple-hearted Mitya, who even then adored her, was laughing at her and despising her. She had loved him with an hysterical, "lacerated" live only from pride, from wounded pride, and that love was not like love, but more like revenge. Oh! Perhaps that lacerated love would have grown into real love, perhaps Katya longed for nothing more than that, but Mitya's faithlessness had wounded her to the bottom of her heart, and her heart could not forgive him. The moment of revenge had come upon her suddenly, and all that had been accumulating so long and so painfully in the offended woman's breads burst out all at once and unexpectedly. She betrayed Mitya, but she betrayed herself too

Katya never had made such confessions to Alyosha before, and he felt that she was now at that stage of unbearable suffering when even the proudest heart painfully crushes it's pride and falls vanquished by grief. 
Laceration is used a lot to describe her actions, it's my favourite new word learned from this book.

On Ivan:
"Brother, let me ask one thing more: has any man a right to look at other men and decide which is worthy to live?"
"Why bring in the question of worth? The matter is most often decided in men's hearts on other grounds much more natural. As for rights - who has not the right to wish?"
I want to travel in Europe, Alyosha, I shall set off from here. And yet I know I am only going to a graveyard, but it's a most precious graveyard, that's what it is! Precious are the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their work, their truth, their struggle and their science, that I know I shall fall in the ground and hiss those stones and weep over them; though I'm convinced in my heart that it's long been nothing but a graveyard. And I shall not weep from despair, but simply because I shall be happy in my tears, I shall steep my soul in my emotion. I love the sticky leaves in spring, the blue sky - that's all it is. It's not a matter of intellect or logic, it's living with one's inside, with one's stomach. One lives the first strength of one's youth.

"That the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world stands in absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass in it without them. We know what we know!"
"What do you know?"
"I understand nothing," Ivan went in, as though in delirium. "I don't want to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact"
"I am a bug, and I recognize in all humility that I cannot understand why the world is arranged as it is. Men are themselves to blame, I suppose; they were given paradise, they wanted freedom, and stole fire from heaven, though they knew they would become unhappy, so there is no need to pity them. With my pitiful, earthly, Euclidian understanding, all I know is that there is suffering and that there are none guilty; that cause follows effect, simply and directly; that everything flows and finds its level - but that's only Euclidian nonsense, I know that, and I can't consent to live by it! What comfort is it to me that there are none guilty and that cause follows effect simply and direct, and that I know it? - I must have justice, or o will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have to believe in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me ride again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I haven't suffered, simply that I, my crimes and my suffering, may manure the soul of the future harmony for somebody else. I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when ever one suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built in this longing, and I am a believer.

"I feel sick with depression and yet I can't tell what I want. Better not to think, perhaps."

"But hesitation, suspense, conflict between belief and disbelief - is sometimes such torture to a conscientious man, such as you are, that it's better to hang oneself at once."

His chapter on the Grand Inquisitor is the most famous (or should it be infamous?) chapter of this novel:
They will marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them - so awful it will seem to them to be free.
So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but to find something that all would believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and if all humanity from the beginning of time.
For the secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain in earl, though he had bread in abundance. 

In contrast, Alyosha is hopeful:
I am glad that my hero showed himself not too reasonable at that moment, for any man of sense will always come back to reason in time, but if love does not gain the upper hand in a boy's heart at such an exceptional moment, when will it?

You just know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory of childhood, of home. [...] If a man carries many such memories with him into him, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one's heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.
Yet however bad we may become, [...] the cruelest and most mocking of us - if we do become so - will not dare to laugh inwardly at having been so kind and good at this moment.

"You know, Kolya, you will be very unhappy in your life," something made Alyosha say suddenly. [...] "But you will bless life on the whole, all the same."
^a slightly different  translation of the last quotation read in a Murakami book is what finally pushed me to read this book.

Finally, on what the Karamazov nature is was:
As a rule, between two extremes one has to find the mean, but in the present case this is not true. The probability is that in the first case he was genuinely noble, and in the second as genuinely base. And why? Because he was of the broad Karamazov character - that's just what I am leading up to - capable of combining the most incongruous contradictions, and capable of the greatest heights and of the greatest depths. [...] Two extremes at the same moment, or they are miserable and dissatisfied and their existence is incomplete.

...and if you think this post is a wall of text, wait until the post on Notes from the Underground. I'd rip out most of the entire first book to put up on my wall because pretty much every sentence is golden. 

15 August 2016

梦里花落 花落知多少

The TV is pretty much always on in China, and this was a drama that my grandma was watching. I liked the MC's looks and the ending song:

烟雨遥 梦里花落 花落知多少
相逢总不晚 恨君生太早

明月照 多情笑我 笑我太寂寥
千山若等闲 只记取今朝

一生一会 相思如水
缘起缘灭 情人如刀
你是彼岸昙花 刹那芳华

焚身以火 暗地妖娆
忘却纷扰 青春燃烧
等待天涯知交 拈花一笑

烟雨遥 梦里花落 花落知多少
千山若等闲 只记取今朝

14 August 2016


hopefully inaccurate blanketing statement: all important things in life requires a leap of faith.

in other news: reading through Cwyn's archive (this post is somewhat related) and sleeping early-ish.

later edit: caught up with coketalk and CITT this evening, a recent post/the current arc seem to be both dealing with the theme of understanding as the basis of love.
it's refreshing to read a bunch of CITT chapters in one sitting, it has always contended ToG as my favourite webtoon. Compared to the golden standard of H&C, which so beautifully illustrated the good, bad, and ugly, CITT does a superb job focusing on the ugly. 

07 August 2016


It'll be some time before regular posting commences, it seems that I haven't gotten rid of the habit of trying to bury myself in fictional worlds whenever there are lots of things to be done in the real one.

For now, the abundance of rain in 丽江 was a great opportunity for tea.

tea edit: I'm incredibly fond of the aftertaste and huigan of this tea, usually waiting 5-10mins between cups. Is this what I've been missing out for aged pu er? I'm almost willing to give up all clothing purchases so I can hoard more tea.