Tuesday, April 19, 2016

5 Tips to Become a Guitar Pro

I started playing the guitar in about September 2008 at a very young age and since then I have garnered some wisdom through calloused fingers and the wrath of musical melodies that the guitar gods have bestowed upon me. The gods I worship in this instance are David Gilmour, BB King, a plethora of random blues musicians and David Gilmour once again, because he’s just that good.

Upamanyu Acharya's Acoustic Guitar

1) Keep practicing

It sounds really simple and stupid, and perhaps quite like a butterfly telling a caterpillar that the only way to get pretty wings is to wrap yourself up in your own saliva and digest yourself inside your own cocoon. And that’s just till you learn your first scale, or if you’re a butterfly, grow your first scale. After that process comes the inevitable monotony of practicing the same thing over and over till you’ve got it down to a literal science (not a figurative one like they teach in school).

The truth is, the first year of playing the guitar is really rough, if you practice regularly for about five hours a week, which you should to become proeficient enough to play songs and not end up being the bass player in your band. Your fingers will hurt quite a bit and you’re going to have to spend money replacing strings every month when the B string breaks for no reason when you try to bend little E (which will happen atleast 20 times in your lifetime) .

2) Recognise when to make a fool of yourself

The bane of every guitar player’s existence is the violent fervour at a semi-drunk party when you’re the only guy with a guitar and there’s 17 girls and 133 guys telling you to play Wonderwall. Oh, damn, you think. You’ve never even heard Wonderwall, though you know the song has something to do with Coldplay or something like that and your other guitar-playing friends hate it.

But hey, there’s still a chance that that one girl who smiled at you for two seconds at the bus stop last year might like Wonderwall, and she’s here at the party, so you might as well. At this point it would really be helpful if you whipped out your phone from your heavily pocketed cargo shorts and looked up the chords for it. “Sing along, guys, I’m not very good at singing,” is what you say, before you play E minor and G major really loudly, bleeting the lyrics at the top of your voice. At that point you have gotten approximately 67% of the party to sing Wonderwall so your job is just to look good and ocassionally strum a not-discordant chord.

3) Learn to read music

A lot of guitarists I know can’t read tabs. So that’s the first place you should start because it’s really easy. The number = the fret, and the strings are visually represented. Once you get a feel of what playing using tabs is like, you can imagine the rest of the song in your head when reading a few numbers, which on the coolness spectrum is somewhere between building an ikea desk yourself and painting a raven using brown paint only.

Classical musical notation is very helpful too, though it’s not used that much if you’re not playing… well, classical music. If you know any good piano players you’ll be good to go for a collaboration since the only thing piano players can do is read sheet music. Also they can only play either Fur Elise or London Bridge, so impressing them with your knowledge about the next point will be easy.

4) Engross yourself with music theory

If you’re an entry level guitarist like a Micromax mobile then you probably have no clue what music theory is, but sadly to get really good you need to understand some arbitrary words invented by either literally prehistoric people or Catholic priests in the middle ages spreading propaganda across Europe through choir recitals. Knowing the ‘Circle of Fifths’ is the key to knowing which, uh, key to play songs in. You can then move on to the Cycle of Fourths, and no, these are not demonic cults or Black Sabbath albums.

Upamanyu Acharya's Electric Guitar

The way I got around to understanding a little bit about music theory was motivating myself to create new music. In the back of my mind I knew that Pink Floyd sounded good and that David Gilmour loved playing in the key of B Minor, but if I wanted to compose my own song in that key I would end up having to learn some theory to understand which chords go well together, and where I can ensconce things like harmonics. If you’re playing lead guitar knowing music theory is vital to understand the different modes, which is a prerequisite to reach school band level playing.

5) Form a band (and find a drummer)

Nothing screams bad guitarist like not having bad guitarists around you to call your collective selves a ‘band’. Saying you’re in a band is a lot better than saying ‘me and my mates know some chords so we get together on Saturday afternoons and strum some stuff before we give up and watch football’. A band is instrumental in becoming good at a musical instrument. More so for a guitarist, because it helps them boost their ego by not being the worst at guitar (that’d be the bassist).

Aside from being bassist racist, you should be looking for a drummer, because that species of musician is more rare than a proper poet in arts college. Drummers will help you keep the beat and play an instrument called the drums, because at this point I’m done with the article and just wasting words on describing what a drummer does to fill an imaginary quota.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

No Matter What Pinterest Tells You, Humans Are Not Visual Creatures

Little Timmy stood within the white walls of the test lab where three overworked and underslept college students poked and prodded him with wires. He didn’t enjoy that process, but it wasn’t so bad. He was going to McDonald’s later so it was #worth. The underenthusiastic and overreaching college students showed him a screen with numbers from 1 to 15, in random positions on the screen, flashing for a second and then turning black. Timmy was tasked to identify where the numbers had been and what the number was. He had been able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the number 4 in the top right corner, so he pointed that out to the underpaid and underfunded college students. They hmm’d and ahh’d and noted down their findings with scribbly handwriting. This was a good study, they thought. Turns out they thought wrong, because they didn’t have a control group.

Humans are visual creatures
Most of us, when put in Little Timmy’s position would falter and fumble when presented with a similar situation. We can identify information; we can look at a fence for a second and tell approximately how old it is based on how the paint has chipped, and we can look at mountains and surmise that they indeed, are tall. But what humans struggle  with is taking in a whole lot of information at once. Listen to a song once and you won’t remember the lyrics, but listen to it fifty times and unless it’s Alt-J or Radiohead you’ll probably understand a few words and be able to place them in your memory bag.

Thom YorkeWill somebody please cheer him up?
When setting up Pinterest accounts or trying to optimise websites for imaginary robots crawling through your pages, people tell you to keep in mind that humans are “visual creatures.” I don’t think they are.
Humans are the least visual creature in the animal kingdom. Well, except for animals that are literaly blind, and plants because they can’t see. And a lot of other animals that are counted out for the nature of their being. And also animals who are many times stupider than humans like Dodos and California Turkeys, who were literally too stupid to survive. So basically pretty much every animal is not counted in my statement where I say ‘Humans are the least visual creatures in the animal kingdom.’ But pretend this isn’t a parliamentary debate and allow me to make my point.

Hey it's me ur monkey typewriter
That gif was on the front page of reddit and it’s what forms the basis of this post, mostly. Aside from the fact that chimps are amazing at remembering positions once they’re taught the concept of numbers, a lot of animals exhibit remarkable mental fortitude in various tasks. Crows remember the faces of pretty much every person they see, so they know exactly whose head to peck on when they inevitably formulate a grudge. Birds and flies and bees can see identify millions more colours than us because it helps them tell which flowers are the prettiest. And there are probably animals aside from elephants that have insanely long memories, just by statistical probability, and if not that then because of the fact that remembering things is probably a useful trait to have evolved in a world where many things can eat and kill you.
Cute Dog Eats Lime

Humans are decidedly non-visual creatures. We can do derivatives and integrate imaginary constructs called numbers to slingshot robots to pluto – centuries worth of human time would have been spent doing the required mathematics for that to be possible. Centuries worth of time would have been spent refining the English language to the point where Shakespeare could write plays with it while inventing words such as ‘scuffle’ and ‘marketable’. I’m sure if you give a chimp an infinity to create the complete works of Shakespeare, it’d just try to eat it, atleast that’s how I imagine it would go. We can enter a trance listening to a man half a planet away create interference in a copper wound magnet by plucking a few strings. We can spend hours reading a book without any pictures; just soaking in knowledge from swiggly lines invented by old men hundreds of years ago that is somehow able to communicate almost the full range of the human experience. That’s like the opposite of visual.

Principia Mathematica Example from Isaac NewtonLiterally what humans invented in their free time

If we were truly visual you wouldn’t be reading this, you’d be watching it on a piece of paper with moving pictures. Oh wait… That seems to be very close to reality. Nevermind, I guess we are visual creatures after all. We just haven’t had the technology to replace squiggly lines and imaginary numerical constructs with tumblr gifs and Friends reruns.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Are Basically the Same

 

Blogging about Donald Trump is like listening to Nirvana right after Kurt Cobain’s death. People do it to pretend to be cool, or if you’re on the other side of the producer/consumer gravy train, for ratings. I’m doing it for both.

Or as he's known these days, Drumpf.

What caused this Trump phenomenon? And why is it not a bad thing?

Here’s a man who we see on TV saying things that establishment politicians would never dream of saying, even if they may think it, and when they’re slugged at with the weight of his 10 billion dollar “I’m great with words” insults, it leaves them stunned like a vegan in KFC. Let’s be honest, he says some pretty crazy things. He’s gonna build a wall across the border. He’s going to ban muslims. He’s going to make American muslims wear identification. He’s going to do a lot of blatantly racist things that regular people find infuriating. But why? Surely out of 300 million people there’s enough rational people with a sense of post-Medieval empathy; people who don’t want to kill muslims and spit on Mexicans.

Well, first of all, let’s dispel with this notion that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. (Rubio-bot joke. Had to do it.)

This is what happens when Windows updates in the middle of a GOP Debate

Bernie, on the other hand, is basically Larry David (((gone political))). He connects with young voters, knows his issues and has reasonable stances on things. He believes in getting rid of the middleman in healthcare thus reducing its cost, free college education, and to top it all off, he’s not even racist! Seems it would be great to elect a President Bernie Sanders. And KFC would be pretty happy too.

America is a Centre-Right country.

The United States is a centre-right, or by some standards, far-right country when it comes to politics. UK policies would make Ted Cruz weep into his bible, and according to the rest of the GOP, Europe is positively communist. If Obama ran in the UK he wouldn’t be in the Liberal Party, because Democrats in the USA align somewhere between a coalition of Lib-Dems and Tories in the UK. The establishment GOP, which includes familiar names like Mitt Romney and the Bush trifecta would be further right than the Tories with some UKIP peppered in. And then you have Donald Trump.

The idea behind this right political leaning probably lies in the strong beliefs of things like working hard to make money in a capitalist society, protection of the Second Amendment to protect from government uprising and protecting Christian religious beliefs. Most Democrats, despite their beliefs, would appreciate that these ideals hold a great deal of value in what makes America the country that it is. And that’s where Bernie Sanders with his free college education starts making waves. Because when people hear, for the first time in many election cycles, about a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist advocating what in their minds is Communism – giving things for free to everyone – it rattles the cage of American politics. This is a country where the NHS would be labeled commie propaganda.

Why is Trump such a hit?

Trump isn’t popular with 47% of the country because of his racist stance on things. Most people are racist, and that’s fine. Most people aren’t smart enough to know the difference between China and Mexico, and how enacting tarrifs go against fifty years of trade policy and will crash the economy. He’s not going to build a wall across the border if he gets elected in the same way he’s not going to ban Muslims. If saying racist things helps him get elected, he’ll say it, in the same way he’ll point to Jeb Bush and say “your brother let 9/11 happen.” You don’t do things like that unless you follow up with “it’s just a prank bro.” I believe he secretly doesn’t even care about these issues, because all Trump cares about is Trump.

Wait a minute. You're not Larry David!

What electing a President Trump would do, though, is make the American people look themselves in the mirror and reevaluate the entire political system. It’ll make every politican who had hopes of not having to say nice things about this man pull a Chris Christie and endorse him because he’s rich and brash. They’ll wonder if a man like that can get elected President then they really need to change the way their election system, corporate influence, Super PACs, media coverage, and politics in general works. Right now he’s playing the game like a reality show because that’s how the game is played. It’s all about public attacks, sensationalism, and ratings, not about the policies. They’ll need a makeover, Princess Diaries style. I fully expect a President Trump to not bow down to the establishment once he’s in office. Though I wouldn’t know what kind of power the Illuminati has. I’ve only ever been to one of their meetings and never got past the meet and greet with the cucumbers.

That’s the thing. Trump and Bernie aren’t that different.

The reason Trump and Bernie are similar is precisely that, but they approach it from very different angles. Bernie Sanders reportedly has a networth of less than $500,000, which in politics is below poor people – it’s serfdom. Bernie wouldn’t be affected by the establishment either because his entire journey so far in his 40 years of politics has been going against the centre-right grain. If there’s anything this election campaign is proving is that America is finally noticing the effects of corporate influence in politics and is looking to support candidates who are willing to change that. And that’s where Bernie and Trump are similar; when Exxon, Pfizer or Monsanto offer them millions of dollars to change policies in their favour, neither of them are going to accept. One of them because of his values, and the other because he’s too rich to give a damn.

Monday, November 16, 2015

On Paris and Syria

 

So last night the French retaliated over what happened in Paris by dropping 20 bombs over the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa. It’s going on right now as well, for the second day in a row, as I write this. Air strikes over Syria are extremely common and this news normally wouldn’t be something as widely reported as it was, except for the fact that France was involved in this. For a few months now American forces have been routinely bombing oil trucks, which form the main monetary supply for ISIS forces in the region. However, the French government felt the need to retaliate, as they rightfully should, in some way against the Islamic State and hence these air raids to destroy their command centre aren’t entirely surprising, if a bit unforeseen due to the French being… well, French.

Le Rafale

I’ve seen the pictures of Paris. ‘The Battaclan Massacre’, as it will be known decades from now. Dozens of bodies strewn across the floor – men and women in bloodstained clothes with limp bodies lying in different directions, some in each others’ arms. Swathes of red sweeping across the floor from where the bodies were moved, glowing amidst bright stage lights and empty concert chairs. It was indiscriminate killing. Haphazard butchery on a level rarely seen. Truly goes to highlight the mindset of these brainwashed barbarians for whom life is simply a game, I assume. Except it isn’t.

The terrorists themselves are just bags of meat to the ISIS leaders. Their casualties don’t mean anything, and they probably shouldn’t if we’re not to idolise actions like that. I’m not eve going to talk about ISIS’s barbaric ideology because we probably share the same views, so let’s look at it from the French perspective. For five years the major superpowers of the world have pretty much let the Islamic State fester and grow, spreading their ideology through force and desultory cruelty. Now it’s a major problem, with Syrian refugees, people with jobs and families and kids, not wanting to be a part of a place ruled by these monsters being forced to seek refuge elsewhere in Europe. Obviously the conservative class in most of these countries like the UK, Germany and France won’t be very happy about hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing into their country, but that’s again a failure of their media, and politics taking advantage of this failure for far too long. Refugees are people who come to places like Paris to avoid things like Bataclan. One refugee said, “What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years…”

There are people who think refugees are the problem, and I don’t blame them for that. They’re different people from a different country, and it’s very easy to lose perspective about the atrocities committed by ISIS and other militant regimes when you see a horde of refugees seemingly invading your country. Which is what’s different about the Paris attacks – there’s been a very direct refugee crisis indicating the level of devastation that takes place daily in Syria. Just last year we had the Je Suis Charlie thing, and with 11% of France being Muslim, it’s also a very volatile place for a terrorist attack; an attack like this can easily sway public opinion into an aggressive furor at the wrong people. Refugees and Muslims aren’t the problem, or the cause of the problem. It’s the Islamic State.

So is bombing their headquarters the right move? Well, France hasn’t invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty yet, which created the NATO, which states:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

It’s a very difficult move. If France calls in the United States under Article 5 and the agreement is ratified, NATO, which includes most of the EU and the US, officially enters into war with ISIS. This, however, makes the previous US attacks on Syria illegal (as they technically were), which makes Article 5 not so insignificant. The US invoked the same after 9/11 for Iraq, and the two situations have obvious similarities.

There’s a very slight possibility that this whole thing goes nuclear, because as far as we know, ISIS doesn’t have access to nukes (they’re too busy chopping off their own heads to think about fusion reactors). ISIS will (hopefully) never big enough for countries to drop ‘cruel bombs’ on them. Which is for the better, in the long run. This situation will escalate as it always does, and insurgents will keep spawning here and there with the occasional terror attack. ISIS will fade away into irrelevancy, like most terrorist cells before them have. But these airstrikes, right after the massacre in Paris, are a sign of aggression from France that basically tells the world, “don’t fuck with us.” And I’m onboard with that.

Note: everything here is personal opinion and I’m happy to be corrected if any of my facts are wrong.

Monday, October 26, 2015

edgar7

 

Part 7 of a series of 8 unrelated short stories, simply titled Edgar, written by me back in April 2013. I feel like releasing them now after being entirely untouched and mostly unread for two years.

Edgar and Albert were reminiscing. They were reminiscing about the amazing, heartfelt rejoice, gladness and mirth they experienced when they left their senior high school. Quite contradictory to the property of days, those days were very dark, according to them.

“Remember having to put our cell phones in a plastic bag every morning?” asked Edgar.

“Yeah, and once it started ringing, and the accounts teacher got rather exasperated trying to search for my phone. He went through the bag and eventually dropped it on the floor, causing more than a month’s salary worth of damages.”

Edgar and Albert sat comfortably in Edgar’s breakfast room, where they were enjoying dinner. Unfortunately, the sun rarely managed to stay awake at the same time as Edgar. Although they were well acquainted - the sun and Edgar - his tendency to dine in his designated breakfast room was negligible, like a writer’s true vocabulary or the happiness of a public speaker. He instead preferred to drink liquids, mostly mildly harmful in nature, in the comfort of his tables and chairs and his well adjusted curtains.

“Let me guess, it was in your pocket all along,” said Edgar.

“Naturally,” Albert replied.

Albert and Edgar discussed boundaries and limitations; how seemingly irrelevant lines are drawn across borders, between nations and teacher-student relationships, between respect, between hedgerows in a garden. Lines are arbitrary distinctions. Rules, more so. “Push the envelope and watch it bend,” Edgar would say.

“When you’re young, the consequences of breaking rules are much less severe,” said Albert.

“Agreed, my friend,” said Edgar. “Break a rule in school and the worst that can happen to you is getting scolded by a fellow human being. Or having a human being call the people who gave birth to you and explain your mistakes, or some other silly punishment of the sort. But it’s all relative, isn’t it?” he asked, leaning back his chair precariously.

Albert agreed. “To a child, the principal of an institution is this devious monster; the paragon of authority, of Orwellian proportions and distinctive hatred. Reveling in misery and fueled by sadness, like an unwilling software programmer, but less likely to bite off your head.”

Proportional with age do the consequences magnify. But even then, there’s always something worse. There’s always the next level in the video game of life. There’s always a new power-up, or a challenging mountain to climb. And once the mountain is conquered, the only way down is a fall, and the taller the mountain, the more dangerous the fall.

Albert could attest to this quite easily, as he had fallen down a flight of stairs the previous Tuesday. He attributed his sprained wrist not to his clumsy fall, but to his guitar playing, which he claimed was ‘going on quite well, except for the playing.’

Eventually the conversation blossomed into more liberating things such as involuntary imprisonment in North Korea and price increases in the local chip shop, after which Edgar and Albert retired for the night, leaving the tables and chairs and the well adjusted curtains to be. They got up, exchanged pleasantries and agreed to see each other soon, as most friends do but don’t follow through unless absolutely necessary.

Edgar joined Albert for breakfast consisting of coffee and cereal the following morning and discussed alphabetical patterns on the wings of East Asian butterflies and the viscosity of marmalade. Eventually the conversation died into a calming silence, like that of a chess match between two old people.

“Do you  remember that English Olympiad you won?” asked Edgar. I think you came first in all the country for not answering questions like the average Indian, or worse, someone from Essex.”

“Haha, yes. I remember that. The best part about that was -”

“You weren’t even there. You were in Sweden,” completed Edgar.

The two had a good laugh for half a minute or two. Edgar’s clamorous laughter hid the fact that his deep insecurities still cut him like imaginary knives everyday. He should have won that olympiad, he thought. He was the one who was supposed to be proficient in the language.

“You weren’t there either,” said Albert.

“Had I been there we wouldn’t have laughed for the better part of half a minute or two.”

Albert nodded. The nod was not a full fifteen degree nod - it stopped just short, at about thirteen and a half. He, like most of Edgar’s best friends, knew of his self approbatory tendencies and was used to leaving it at that.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eton Mess

 

I stare, forlornly at my shadow,
After years of words and cups shared together,
Among other immaterial essences of life;
The flamed ochre dawn unweaves
An orange blob that rises from the west.
Tree leaves attach themselves up to their branches
And I limp home backwards.
 

You iron creases into my shirtsleeves
Before walking back to me, half tired
Half dressed, half calling across to me,
With that look of ravenous hunger as
Atoms fritter into formation.
Feelings flow into being – into physical existence
In the line that draws itself between us.
Ravenous hunger:
It crumbles into imaginary fragments,
As we saturate ourselves
With each other’s totality.


Insatiated nights of sweetened sunrises
Breathing darkness in daydreams​​
As I sit here clobbering keystrokes
Reminiscing infinite counterclockwise reprises
Of dreams, and dreams within dreams​;​
Of blurred past​s;​
Of concretized futures with ossified memories​;​
Of invisible humour in the seams between
The make vague mesne of our everything​.​


Your lips leave mine as you say my name​,​
It still sounds silly to you, but you like it​.​
Like my hobbies or my colourless shirts​.​
Multitudes of snowflakes stir before
lifting into the sky, unfurling, as I
pull my hands away from your hair
And allow the air
to sit still between us.


And the last time I saw you
Alone,
In a faceless, branded, peach-seated restaurant
I peered into your infinite eyes.
The ones that spoke to me,
“Never leave”
I didn’t know whether I listened to them,

But for my sake, (and for the sake of this poem)​​
I hope I did.​

 

-Upamanyu Acharya

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chaos through Confusion

 

Most of our lives is drab and dreary, with the same endless rattle of railway trains, familiar squeaks of desks and chairs with its sprawling inhabitants, similar voices speaking similar words spouting similar ideas, day after day – and yet every day is a unique challenge, an anticipated undertaking, an exciting prospect. But this post isn’t about being a human thesaurus, that I am already in real life. This is about some of the little things I like to do as a human being, to while away what little time I have on this giant rock hurtling through space at many miles per hour (depending on your point of reference).

You see, the way I try to have fun isn’t by going to parties, eating ice cream for dinner, being an arts student, going to random events or doing basically anything that needs me to go out of my way to enjoy myself; I think of life as a string of experiences, with each experience being a card attached to the string. If you take away one card, it gets replaced with another. (Weird system, I know, but then again I’m a ‘writer’ so I’m allowed to be a little weird.) I’ll have the same amount of cards at the end of the day, so might as well make the most of what I have in the card I’m in. Motivational speakers and Americans would call this “living in the moment”, but I have a more cynical way of looking at it which is closer represented by the words “you’re stuck in the present, you haven’t invented time travel yet, so why not make it interesting?”

Actually my cards look more like credit cards but I'll let this one pass because I can't be arsed with photoshop. Plus no one hovers over text anymore so I can say anything I want here.

This is how writers wash their clothes. That’s right, they don’t.

There are times in your life where you will be pitted against the greatest hazard on the planet not counting literally anything found in Australia; unintelligent people. Often they will say something stupid or, better yet, misunderstand something intelligent. Just the other day I was talking with a group of people, most of them of middling intelligence, when one of them replied “Steve Aoki... oh, he’s the guy who discovered Japan, right?” Everyone in the group being a music aficionado and a champion of a bygone era known as “2012”, instantly berated him for not knowing who Steve Aoki is. But I took the poor lad’s side and argued, straight faced and serious, on his behalf, that yes indeed – Steve Aoki discovered the fuck out of Japan. “The Okinawa district is named after him, didn’t you know? It was previously called Aokinawa till 1872 when the Chinese invaded, and since they can’t pronounce ‘A’ (a fact that everyone in India will have no problem believing due to our inherent racism), they changed the name,” I said to everyone. Spouting other foolish malarkey of similar sort, eventually enough people were confused about their level of conviction that they tried to change the topic. Some of them even ended up agreeing (like I said, middling intelligence). And in that moment I had won. Confusion through chaos.

It’s very difficult to judge good versus evil on a universal level; our spirits in this material world are but fleeting slivers of rhetoric, churned and processed into bite-sized, believable packages of morality and “do this, do that” and you’ll go to heaven/hell/elysium/valhalla. Even Vlad the Impaler was loved by the Genoans for saving their 300 ships from attack. This is a guy who pointed spears up 20,000 people’s arses and had them killed. Don’t laugh, this isn’t nearly as funny as the ebola joke. He literally has ‘the Impaler’ attached to his name, and yet no objective analysis can say his soul was truly evil. Mad and cruel, maybe, but evil?

Vlad the Impaler
Insane? No way! He looks perfectly capable of logical reasoning and peaceful diplomacy

Did you notice how bad of an opinion the previous paragraph was? That’s exactly what I love to do, and what you should love doing to people on a regular basis. Just have bad opinions, but back it up with facts that are vaguely true and words that are intangibly impressive and you’ll have people agreeing with you. Of course, I’m not saying the above opinion on my pal Vlad is on the up and up bad, but it’s definitely on the unpopular side of the spectrum of approval. Of course he’s evil! He’s an impaler! I happen to believe what I wrote above, though, about not being able to judge evil objectively, and it might be a cogent thing to believe for many people who read this, but that’s up to the individual. Past experiences, family background, familiarity with things like technology, travel, and education makes everyone’s views unique – but some opinions are ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’. That’s sadly the way democracy, and most of society, works; we favour the majority over the minority, the popular over the unpopular. Funnily enough our acceptance of ideas has been democratized thousands of years before countries’ governments started doing them in the 1960s, which they did, once again, because democracy was a ‘popular’ idea. 5 people shout louder than 2, and hence the 5 will always have their voices heard.

So what do you do with a ‘bad’ opinion? Well, when you’re in the moment and you have your current experience card to go through before you move on to the next one, it’s pretty simple; confusion through chaos. Blurt it out like a retard or a Dota player, and watch the glistening embers of the aftermath.

I have a subject that I’m studying in my first semester known as Foundation of Human Skills. It sounds like a blow-off class, and since words are so good at being the instrument of their own description, that’s exactly what it is. No one really learns anything in a class that sounds like something you’d make up in 2 seconds when your mother is asking you what you’re studying and there’s a blueprint of a building along with a wax statuette of a naked human and the word SKILLS written in big, bold letters on an A4 size sheet in front of you (because that happens to everyone, right?). But since there’s nothing to learn we get to do ‘fun’ activities like what we did. In management there’s a popular concept known as Six Thinking Hats, which was actually published in 1985 as a psychological self-help book by Edward de Bono. The basic principle here is that humans think in six different ways denoted with hats of six different colours, that can be planned and hence challenged. These are:

  • Blue - what is the subject? what are we thinking about? what is the goal? (Managing)
  • White - considering purely what information is available; what are the facts? (Information)
  • Red - intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification) (Emotions)
  • Black - logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative (Discernment)
  • Yellow - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony (Optimistic response)
  • Green - statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes (Creativity)

Except this is how it was taught to us:

  • Blue (Controlling)
  • White (Science student)
  • Red (Emotions)
  • Black (Negative comment)
  • Yellow (Positive comment)
  • Green (Arts student)

Our activity consisted of getting assigned random chits with words on them and speaking about that word on the spot for a minute or two. Then the rest of the class would unanimously decide which of the different hats they were wearing. I got the word ‘College’. It was a perfect moment to practice chaos through confusion – two minutes isn’t long enough to fully convince anyone of anything, no matter how similar your speaking style might be to Obama’s. The basic gist of my discussion was about how I believe college should be made super expensive to limit the number of graduates that pass out with useless degrees, and instead using that money to set up community colleges, vocational training institutes and subsidizing high school education to provide high-quality, almost free education to everyone. There are 10 million fresh graduates in this country every year – each with their own ambitions and aspirations, but sadly their employability is really low; a result of our weak and ineffective education system, even at the highest levels. Most of the country doesn’t need to be an engineer or know what Double Entry Accounting is. Yet all they heard was my “yes” when they asked, “do you want to make education only for the rich people?” and that was enough for them to close their ears and drop the black hat on me. I don’t think I was cautious or conservative even once in this entire thing, which I think kind of proved my point.

Milkman please! Milkman please! A glass of your least expired milk.

My expression when anyone believes anything I ever say

Chaos through confusion had failed me. It doesn’t work unless you establish a dialogue, which in a public speaking format isn’t really possible. It hadn’t confused them, merely solidified their ideals of having a vision in a country perplexed by its own backwardness and proud of its iPhone 7s and pornography prohibitions. But I’m still not going to stop offline-trolling people, because it’s fun, and I love the way human interaction is so simple yet so difficult to master. So here’s my challenge to you: Every time you internally agree with someone on something, just disagree and play out the debate. You might change someone’s viewpoint through a joke, you might have your own eyes opened, you might even start a religion like Jesus did almost 2000 years ago. Say a few unwarranted, untrue things, because that’s the essence of what we all are, in the end. An integument for our own metaphors, an instrument for our ideas, and intimaters of argument. We are what we portray, and sometimes it’s fun to portray yourself as a mirror.

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Upamanyu Acharya is a writer who doesn't write. Sometimes he's an artist, musician, photographer, physicist or lazy student. His hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is his personal blog where he writes on topics ranging from leadership skills to the consistency of jam.