Monday, December 24, 2007

The Reflection

Thursday, November 22nd, Starbucks
"I'm just sitting in my car... waiting for my girl" - System of a Down

It turns out I developed Hepatitis A. the symptoms I was exhibiting were what we commonly call prodromal symptoms, that vague annoying headache/fever/ache/nausea etc...
By far the worst thing was the nausea, food was intolerable. Further, my own clean smell after a shower, would seem like the most nauseating scent ever, the bed sheets were made of cotton shit.
I spent a few days trying to get up doing anything worth while on my trip, by the time I got back to Jeddah things were so messed up, jaundice developed and showed in my eyes and urine. I was admitted for a few nights.
Usually Hep A does not require admission, but I was dehydrated and I guess they wanted to get me back to eating food again.

Just had my Surgery End of Posting Exam a few days ago, things are back to normal. I found the last piece I wrote laying on my desktop, going through it I can see where the ideas were coming from: I've been reading a book called "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance" on and off for about a year now, it's a book that covers many philosophical concepts in a very indirect manner, unlike the book Sophie's World, where the story seems to be giving you not only a philosophy lecture, but a brief history of philosophy as well where credit is given where its due.

Let me go back to what I wrote and reflect upon it.
In regards to the initial step, the metaphor i used was the "brick". any concept in its enormity is a grand tower, when you look at it in its entirety it is overwhelming, but look closer, look at it as the coarse texture of the walls nearly touch your face, you find that it is made of nothing more than a series of bricks. this is the fundamental first step, from here everything is "bite-size" it can be digested and thought about, and once thoroughly understood, the next "bite" can be taken.
The brick itself can be further divided to it's fundamentals. Humans use experience to divide and subdivide, the memory we keep through our senses is the katana that severs and divides. The coarse nature and the color of a brick maybe reminiscent of sand, or whatever material the brick is made of. This concept of breaking down and separating, then categorizing is Aristotle's greatest contribution to mankind. Western Philosophy calls this concept "Scientific Thinking" many people confuse it with logic, where logic is used in the proper creation of a hierarchy of categories, it is not itself logic. the most famous example is the animal kingdom and how it is divided and then further subdivided. in the modern age, the atom has been the subject of this concept. there was a time when many considered the electron, proton and neutron the fundamental constituents of an atom, today we know that the proton and neutron can be broken down to even smaller constituents namely quarks, that may or may not be the fundamental constituents.

It's hard not use past experiences to assess current situations, but it is sometimes essential to forget anything you have ever learnt or experienced to gain that different prospective, instead of waiting for the other opinion, you become capable of creating multiple hypotheses and choose the one you find the most appealing.

My Mac's Dictionary defines Quality as:
1 the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something : an improvement in product quality | people today enjoy a better quality of life.
• general excellence of standard or level : a masterpiece for connoisseurs of quality | [as adj. ] a wide choice of quality beers.

This proves what I as blabbering about! Quality has no definition! It cannot be measured as such! It is not a variable... this definition is very subjective! And I refuse to believe that.
I have always had a fascination for the concept of beauty, why is it that I may find something beautiful whereas my peer may find it unattractive, and why is it that there is a pattern in nature that is so faithfully reproduced by flora and fauna?
I may go into this again later, but what I reached was that although beauty is a subjective matter of "taste" and taste maybe a product of one's culture and society, and even one's own genetics, beauty can be measured! The mathematical phenomena known as the Golden Mean is repeated through out what many call beautiful, even if some disagree on what is beautiful... hence the concept itself retains its subjectivity.

The study of beauty and quality has a name in philosophy.
The definition may be there.

I think i've started to create a certain modality or methodology to aide my current frail thought process.

I shall apply a duality of thought to all my reflections, the solid scientific or "classical" way of thought and that of the so-called "romantic" the subjective side of things.

Therefor quality must be subjective when comparing concepts of the same conception, where as it becomes scientific when speaking of it in seclusion. i do not have the means nor the intellect to find the mathematical equivalent of Quality, that measure that will forever quantify Quality and give it a unit. it may have been found, or maybe someone is searching for it as we speak. it is that mathematical variable that will define quality for me.

You maybe asking yourself how I reached such an absurd idea. Other than the books i read, i've always enjoyed my music, and I'd like to think that most of my collection is "Quality" music. but what is good music? what makes a song a hit (its Quality?) weather or not it passes the test of time (Longevity, a quality in itself) or something else. i find it very funny how many of my friends shout at me to change the music (I'm usually the resident Dj it seems at our little gatherings) even though the music I'm playing would be by the greatest names in the music industry! forget the labels and charts, I'm talking musician's music, and it would be chosen to reflect the mood of the gathering, chill out and all! yet they fail to comprehend the beauty of it, ask to hear something else, usually arabic (is it the cultural effect on subjectivity?). Bear in mind, that once arabic music is played, they demand the very best!
Hence, most individuals have a "sense" for quality.

It never fails to get me thinking... i've had this title for a piece I would love to write, i've been thinking about it for the past 3 years:

The Architecture of Musical Excellence.

I love Mozart and Pachelbel, I love Oum Kalthoum and Talal Maddah. I don't mind the occasional Pop; and Nine Inch Nails is my auditory orgasm. I can have it any time of the day... just like sushi!

I may have found the tools that would let me write this little essay on the auditory stimulation most of the world enjoys. It perplexes me that there are those who may voluntarily put them selves in a state of auditory celibacy... one day i'll write it, maybe by then I would figured it all out.

Remember kids.... Let your Prometheus unbound!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Machiavelli's The Prince: Blog/Review

before i go back, to the last piece i wrote, and not only reply to you guys but also post the second part of "the feverish mind",
i'd like to share this little piece i wrote around May of last year, when i read Machiavelli's The Prince.
i think my creative block is starting to fade away... or have i found a Muse?


Wed. the 16th of May 2007

As I’ve mentioned in the past to many, I suddenly noticed that I was picking my books in a certain manner to educate myself. It came as a surprise to be honest, For about two years I had such difficulty selecting any book to read, my brain was numbing down. About 6 months ago I was with my mother in the American University of Cairo’s Bookstore where I was scanning the many titles present, most of which were requirements for courses in the university. And this book came into view.

I asked my mother what she thought of it. She simply said that this book described a portion of my current character. Apparently I am Machiavellian.
All I knew about Machiavelli is that “The ends justify the means”. It Turns out this saying was never written by him, but indeed Consequentialism is a very strong theme in the book.

Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Thus, on a consequentialist account, a morally right action is an action, which produces good consequences.

fundamentally this is the most important concept you gain from this book.

I must admit the book is very interesting, the only reason I give it 4 stars is that at times it reads as a manual, which can be tedious. the book itself is in fact a letter or essay written to a new regional Italian prince, with which Machiavelli wanted to gain favor and improve the deteriorating conditons of Italy in his time.

I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but I strongly recommend it to any wannabe leader or decision maker.
Following that theme, I also recommend Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. And over all excellent read.

Am I Machiavellian? I can be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the feverish mind

a note on this entry. it was written over a month ago during my visit to Malaysia, i post it now, as it places the fundamental "first brick" for any subsequent ideas i may have. i usually tend to edit/redraft whatever i write, but this time, i'll leave it as is: Raw. you may get an idea of the haphazard/spontanous thought process i was going through
the 11th of October 2007
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumper, Malaysia

I haven’t written a word since December of last year. Inspiration comes to me in the weirdest situations. My mind is forever ticking; forever turning, churning the entity we call thought. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, it’s not that I forgot how to photograph, I just don’t want to, not willing to, not enthusiastic enough.

The ink is spilling again, and due to my current physical state: I feel trapped in this diseased body, chills to the core, and sweat like a monsoon. This is spontaneous, I haven’t got a clue what I’m about to write next. But it’s a form of release, an escape if you will. Let this feverish mind take it away. I’ll let my Prometheus unbound.

Any concept as a whole is enormous, usually too big to comprehend, therefore an initial point is required, the first step, the metaphoric first brick. Reduce anything and everything into fundamentals, ask a question.

What is Quality?

We repeat what others have said, and done. That is simply dull, what we need to do is “re-see”. People contradict themselves: we want to be unique yet march with the crowd!
And we seek acceptance so badly, even we who have seen the façade and rise above it all, seek to be accepted by our peers, at least I believe so.

I’m not making sense am I? I wonder if a feverish mind read this, would it make any more sense? The chills are all over again, let me get my hoodie, before the sweat becomes too cold to bear.

Let’s go back to my random question, “what is quality?” you see quality is a philosophical phenomena; some people like to call it by the philosophical branch known as aesthetics.
Could anybody answer the question? Quality can not be defined, but it is ever present, and most of us, when comparing simple products, be it garments, fruit, cars,even an idea, given all the information required, can tell what is better. But that does not define quality. is it longevity, taste, color, material, content, etc, these are all so-called “qualities” that ultimately do not apply to everything. Why is it, that I cannot scientifically measure quality? Does this make quality a subjective matter?

i think i'm developing more than just a common cold.
i'm too tired to think
salvation in coma.

Listening to: "Attack" and "The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars
Reading: my palm
Watching: a fountain
Playing: Russian Roulette with my health
Eating: nothing
Drinking: nothing

Saturday, December 30, 2006

untitled (30.12.06)

(I warn you, although what I write here is how I feel, this is one of my more spontaneous writings, I may edit it in the future)

It appears that every so often the inquiring mind tends to ask questions that do not have direct answers. Over the past centuries philosophers have asked the very questions that humble us. A philosopher uses logic, and method to analyze such questions, answer them in the best manner possible, but with so many answers we become confused.

What is life, what is it to be alive, what is “human”.

I will not attempt to answer these questions; I have no answers. All I have is questions. This will be my thought discharge.

A very good friend of mine once asked me these very same questions, I didn’t answer at the time, and it’s been an ongoing conversation for about a year now, ever since I started reading some philosophy. He’s answer was “life is life”. And I agree. I also think life is multifactorial. Imagine a huge puzzle, with too many corners, each corner represents a factor or a part of what we call life. What are these factors? That depends on the person. In my case they would most likely be love, self-improvement, studying medicine, spirituality and a few others. This is how I see things: I am on a hiatus, I started putting the puzzle back together from these corners, and not a single one of them is complete.

(This isn’t going the way I planned, may I remind you this is a thought discharge, a form of verbal diarrhea)

What is it to be alive? I see people walking around imitating what our biology books would define as being alive. Yet why is that I can’t believe it?
I want more than just acting out what it is to be a homo sapien. I want more.

I want to feel real, not just act it all out, I want to enjoy whatever I do, I want to feel every emotion I can, I want to experience everything I can. Fools and marionettes: that is what they are. I am not part of a play; I’m not part of the system. I want to leave an impression on you. I want to love and be loved. I will spoil those I love. Create and inspire.

When Death comes, what remains of us?
Our deeds, and the memories we leave behind.
I will not be forgotten.

I am human.
I am man.
But I don’t want to be every other man.
I am youssof

What I write today is desperately deficient. I have so much more to write, but it seems my thoughts cannot be translated into keystrokes. It’s my infamous “failure of eloquence”

I’ll leave you with Jean-Paul Sartre:

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”

“It disturbs me no more to find men base, unjust, or selfish than to see apes mischievous, wolves savage, or the vulture ravenous.”

“Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.”

“One is still what one is going to cease to be and already what one is going to become. One lives one's death, one dies one's life.”

“One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.”

“It is only in our decisions that we are important.”

Just read: “For One More Day” – Mitch Albom
About to read: “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” - Robert Maynard Pirsig
Should be reading: Davidson’s “principles and Practice of Medicine”
Listening to: Beautiful Mine – The Butterfly Effect
And various other songs

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eating Seeds As A Passtime Activity

“Eating seeds as a pastime activity”
I started writing this at 11:36 pm Cairo time

It has been a very long weekend.
I’m in a small restaurant in the Cairo Nile Hilton
The Performers are tuning the Arabic Oud, the Kanoon and warming the skin of the drums.
It’s been a very long rotation.

Rotation (a definition): is the set period cycle of a particular subject taken in the medical field.
My last one was surgery, we literally spent 2 continuous weeks studying for the End of Posting: a grueling two-part exam judged by lady luck her self. We’re all used to the silly written exam no matter how hard it got… but Wednesday was something else.
Basically the exam consists of three variables, two of which are determined by luck.
A. The Examined
B. The Examiners (two of which)
C. And the patient

I could study the whole book, but nothing can prepare you for an obscure case or an insane sociopath in the guise of a Doctor (examiner). I guess I can thank god in the end, after comparing stories and situations my Lipoma case wasn’t that bad.

But in the end I was tired, and I had to sleep, and sleep I did. These past 2 days have been mostly sleep during the day, and an increasing nocturnal habit.
Yesterday it became so bad that I couldn’t sleep, I actually stayed up till my departure time from Jeddah.

Well anyway I wont bore whoever is reading this, but the most peculiar thing happened when I got to Cairo. I pride myself in the fact that I get things done when I “want” to. Well today was supposed to be one of those days, I was getting the luggage from that very familiar airport conveyer belt, and I got all out pieces as soon as they appeared…I knew them all, had the image burned in my memory.

The fact is, no matter how unique your piece is (we’re talking about my Delsey, the one that traveled everywhere with me) there must be someone else who has that same item.
And if you add Murphy’s Law into the equation:

"Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong"

… Well, obviously I think you all know what happened. After viewing the amazing view from our room I decided I had to take some late night photos. These required my trusty Tripod, which was not there. Not only was it not there, I had the wrong bag!

All the way back to the airport in the maneuverable gas ovens they call taxies here, the driver promised to wait for me, so I agreed and on our way back and whilst chatting he swerved suddenly and stopped at a roasters to get a selection of seeds and peanuts… an excellent pass time and spectator sport in some instances (especially if you’re fond of sarcasm and ridicule as I am). Come on! Peanuts I can understand they’re healthy but the seeds are roasted with huge amounts of unrefined salt…. some one is asking for hypertension! But in the end I reached my hotel (again) and haggled for the price we both agreed on, but being too kind hearted and sympathetic for the Egyptian average man, the fare seemed to agree with him more than with me.

So I’m back where I started, it’s been a long weekend, I’m tired, and I just finished my chicken shawirma and strawberry juice…. And I’m smoking a cherry Hookah (shisha, arjila, mu3asil etc etc)

Surgeon generals warning, smoking is addictive, blah blah, don’t smoke if you're pregnant, blah blah blah…. I know I know, I study frikin medicine you don’t need to tell me. I don’t know what it is, I occasionally get bouts in which I require intoxicating fumes, something like a smoke binge, and I hate it and yes I regret it and I know what I’m doing to myself. But sometimes even when u have reasons to be happy.. You’re still kindda sad, or depressed and somehow you tend to do something destructive… it’s better if I hurt myself than hurt others…right?

Its 12:22 and the band has stopped playing… I wonder if they’re going to start again, I don’t like the faceless, hypocrites’ voices.

Just Read: "The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
About to Read: "The Algebraist"
Just watched: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Listening to: nothing specific, my FiveStar Playlist

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I have to start somewhere

I've always wanted to write my thoughts down, something about getting it out of your system I guess.
But I was never able to start one, I don't know why.
Actually I guess I do, I wanted it to be meaningful, but that doesn't make any sense to me now.
I'll write, someone out there will read, comment, and I'll answer back.
The basis of all, there is no such thing as a one sided conversation,
Those are called lectures.

Where to start.

It’s 3:00 am, Toronto time, most of the guys are already asleep, and I’m just too damn bored (and cool) to go to sleep.
It’s a pretty silent night, well it was until a very heavy down pour started.
I love rain.
In fact I love most massive bodies of water, and I’ll include rain.
I have a silly habit that I occasionally do. When it rains, I step out semi-naked in the rain.
This rain, this 3:00 AM rain is cold. You know how when the shower suddenly turns cold for a second?
or when you turn the temperature to cold? That’s the feeling; your heart pounds for a bit, and all you can hear is the loud roar of the rain. Let me tell you a little secret, your mind is playing tricks on you. The rain is cold, but it's not roaring, and its much lighter than you initially thought. Close your eyes, and let your mind escape the boney cage known as the cranium. don't direct it, let it lead you.

Reading: Fermat's Enigma by Simon Singh (3rd time round)
Just watched: Kill Bill Vol. 1
Listening to: The Diary of Jane [Acoustic] by Breaking Benjamin