ad astra per alia porci

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
October 9, 2008, 1:43 pm
Filed under: diary, the arts | Tags: ,


“I can tell you frankly, 7 out of 10 lawyers here don’t like to come to work. Yet they still do. Sometimes I have trouble getting myself to work at 9am everyday.”

This was what my tutor for trial advocacy said to us today, at the end of our last session. Coincidentally, I was talking to L about how life would be after law school. Days spent in the four walls of a cubicle, agonising over every letter of a contract you are drafting, feeling happy that the font size you chose was readable and pleasing to the eyes of fat cat clients which balls you have to lick everyday.

Our tutor told us not to waste our law degrees. Try out practising for at least 2 years, just to find out what you like, and whether you can take it. Coincidentally, I was talking to L earlier as we made our way to the firm where we had our lesson about how we can say that we will try practising for a few years, but the inertia at the end of that few years will be too overwhelming to overcome for us to change things. Because of money, or family, or expectations, or sheer laziness, we will choose to live on autopilot after that first few years of practise.

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.

Coincidentally, I was reading Fight Club, for the third time over the past 2 weeks. I finished it on the train back home. I deliberately left the firm quickly after the lesson ended so as to avoid meaningless banter with my classmates. It was worth it.

I got the quote above from the book. Rather meaningful, especially within the ringing echoes of what I heard and said today. A life spent in a cubicle = a life well lived?

My tutor had a ring on his hand. He is in his thirties. His skin in a yellowish-yellowish tinge, not the reddish-yellow of skin that has been exposed to at least some sun. Too much time in the office. Married, probably. Might explain why he chose to stick with practise.

You buy furniture.  You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life.  Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled.  Then the right set of dishes.  Then the perfect bed.  The drapes.  The rug.  Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.

Another quote from the book I can relate to what I saw.

I am pretty sure: his job owned him now. His wife owned him. The stuff in the house owns him. He does not own himself. And when you don’t own yourself your life is ran by other things. This society likes shopping. Things. Things. Things. And buying and buying is our new drug. And like any good drug, it owns us after a while instead of us owning them.

And we equate such a life with perfection. A job. Cash. Married is good, married with two kids is perfect, married with three is one too many.

May I never be complete.  May I never be content.  May I never be perfect.  Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.

Where contentment and completion is to be the same as everyone else wearing a suit, streaming out of Raffles Place walking in uniform lines, life gets pretty meaningless. In that case, who gives a fuck about perfection, where perfection is really conformity and static consumerism?

We live in a society of fear. Fear of not doing well in school. Fear of not getting a good job, fear of being judged. Fear of not getting some degree of recognition from peers. Fear. Fear. Fear.

And a perfect life is one lived in fear. This is fucked up. Seriously.

Emasculation is the word. Our metaphorical balls shrink as we grow older. We force ourselves to fit in, to get a job, to get married. The cookie-cutter path. And once we are in it, we irrationally and stupidly stick to it. We fear that we might lose our jobs. And we are effectively chained to the desk.

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.

I think I know how the anonymous protagonist in Fight Club felt. An average, blue-collar worker with nothing to hope for other than death, taxes and the bland coffee in the office pantry. The same problem: meaningless life created by conformity driven by fear. Emasculated and stymied by the job.

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything,” Tyler says, “that you’re free to do anything.”

And Tyler is dead right. Since the current life is meaningless, it made sense to destroy everything about it. To throw caution to the wind. By taking the bold decision to destroy, you are forced to live as if you have had nothing to lose because you really had nothing to lose. The kick in the butt towards a better life.

After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down.  Nothing can piss you off.  Your word is law, and if other people break that law or question you, even that doesn’t piss you off.

Violence connotes destruction. Hence he chose to fight. Physical destruction of the self is a mirror of physical reconstruction of the spiritual. Let go of the appearance to focus on the substance of being.

Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer…. Maybe self-destruction is the answer.

Screw the cookie-cutter self help nonsense schools and society provides. Do the same, be the same. Who wants that.

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

We value ourselves too much. You are not unique. Everyone dies. Everyone needs to eat and shit. And frankly, opinions are easy and free. Your views don’t matter. That’s a fact. Even though teachers in school tell you otherwise. You are too smart to fall for primary school tricks.

And when we value ourselves too much, we ironically live lives that does not have much value, because we lead similar lives. Job? Check. Wife? Check. Car? Check. Meaning? Oops. Realising the smallness of ourselves allows us to find the immensity of life in each of us. Many don’t. I am one of those. Sadly.

And your friends don’t love you. Who would honestly help you when you are in deep trouble? When you laugh the world laughs with you. When you are kicked in the balls you shudder in pain alone. Friends are overvalued. By extension, humans are overvalued. Start living for yourself because only you matter to yourself. Nobody would care if you are dead or alive, and you ought to reciprocate this attitude to everyone else. Tit for tat, right for right.

Stop placing so much value on human relationships. The more you put in, the more you hurt. Because humans never fail to disappoint.

You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.

We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit.  We have a great revolution against the culture.  The great depression is our lives.  We have a spiritual depression.

How much do we blame ourselves for it? Do we blame society that we are so, ironically, consumed with consumerism? Every time I hear someone gush about laptop prices and hand phone functions I switch off. Who the fuck wants a phone that can email? Or a phone that dances or sing songs? Do we really need laptops? If we really need laptops, we don’t need our brains. Let the microchip take over what we think.

The pure and wholesome idealism that most of us are born with have been infected by consumerism and hopelessly-addled societal concepts of the good life. Inertia kills off meaning in life and most of us are guilty of that. Conformity is the rule rather than the exception, and disillusion is the natural product.

Somehow writing the previous paragraph brought the image of my tutor’s blackberry to my mind. He is probably using it now.

Mix one high school diploma with an undergrad degree and a college sweetheart. With a whisk (or a whip) blend two cars, a poorly built house in a cul de sac, and fifty hours a week working for a board that doesn’t give a shit about you. Reproduce once. Then again. Place all ingredients in a rut, or a grave. One is a bit longer than the other. Bake thoroughly until the resulting life is set. Rigid. With no way out. Serve and enjoy.

I got this off the Gym Jones website. I hope that I am not baking the wrong cake.


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Damn right.

I’ve always wondered, when people write long blog posts, do they bother to constantly reread and edit their writing, or do they let it go?

One day let’s go walk the world together and find what we’re looking for.

Comment by kwok

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