Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Lone Art and Depression

23 April 2014 by Rahil

Programming, like writing, is a lonely activity, and since traveling, and since becoming a more social person, something I’ve been unable to do since then, unless I happily spend the entire day socializing, several hours in the sunlight, and then remember to finally sit down in a public social area, such as the durbar squares in Nepal or any park in Taipei or late night in the common room at a lively hostel, to do some work while taking in the culture.

Programming can be fun with a studio of really good friends, but even then, it’s likely a studio full of more programmers whom share the same culture — professional, media consuming, internet-heavy, Pitchfork indie music listening, people. They’re not nearly as diverse, interesting, or inspiring as travel.

This has been my bane during my travels. Trying to balance the two. But why have I held onto programming? Why not do something more direct with the people. Am I, at the end, a lone artist? Do I value myself over any other kind of work? Yeah, I think so.

During the time of Humans of Taipei was at the apex of happiness. I loved every moment. That’s something to remember.

Very recently I’ve entered a depression, not unlike my past winter depressions. I’m unable to wake up, I oversleep, I’m not seeking social moments, I’m not seeking or doing anything really, except writing and programming, alone.

What happened? Why did I suddenly give up on the maintenance of my social connections? Why did I fail to continue consuming? Looking at the precise moment, it was a time where I was cleaning my room, starting a programming gig, both solitary activities. It was also getting a little cold too. It also saw more time in my apartment, as opposed to being outside, trying to consume objects (media) instead of life.

Yeahp. The social aspect is missing. And without it, I go into depression. Well, now I do. Before traveling, I was fine without much of a social life, using media to replace life. Now, media isn’t enough. I need to be with people at all times.

Fuck you, programming. Fuck you, apartment. Both burdens have so much weight. Perhaps being a teacher is best.

Leave a comment | Categories: Personal

Nomadism, Culture, The Quest for Knowledge, and Learning Disabilities

22 April 2014 by Rahil

As a very empirical person, that is, a person who has been taught mostly through empiricism, some important questions arise: How was knowledge [historically] obtained, what is the most optimal way of gaining new knowledge, and how does one create new knowledge.

I take a break from programming for a contract. Rote work. It’s too late to be around people to figure out a way to make this rote task playful, fun, meaningful (learning something, social). Or, recently, I’ve become less playful. As I procrastinate my work, I begin to wonder why.

Let’s ignore my biological problems of low dopamine, ADHD, SPD, etc.

People [should] gravitate toward knowledge.

How did I gather knowledge? Not passively, that’s for sure. I’ve [interactively] explored my neighborhood as kid, watched several films, explored big American cities, and a good portion of Asia. I’ve worked a few jobs to get enough money, but only to get enough, to afford further exploration, further knowledge.

Why has travel been so effective? What is travel? The latter’s common answer is that travel is about culture — language, customs, history, genetic differences that lead to a unique social construct. Another answer is meeting people. But isn’t the only difference between people of different countries culture? Why not travel one’s own country?. The novelty, the differences of my own culture, or more appropriately, the culture I grew around, is interesting, triggering dopamine, just as any new piece of art is. The observation of differences is appealing. But that’s temporary. Novelty fades. The dopamine settles.

What was gained from this experience? Could it have been gained in another way? Say, passively, through a book? Would it have been faster (and cheaper!) to learn through a book? How much is learned passively?

I feel that the meaning of travel, or to a more extreme degree, nomadism, isn’t just the absorption of another culture, but including, the avoidance of having one’s own culture. When one ignores the social constructs of one’s own society, one begins to observe further how people create societies, and when one ignores societies altogether (technology, capitalism, etc.), one begins to enter philosophies, in which lies an expanse of knowledge to explore.

One begins to question meaning of language, methods to maximize life, the meaning of life, the development of cities, the anthropology of mountainous peoples, interactive public art, the future of Taiwan, ubiquitous computing, and so on, because it’s easier to see once one doesn’t live in a social construct. The ability to see this, learn this, is possible without reading the work of Wittgenstein, Alan Turing, and Freud. Furthermore, without reading Tolstoy, Joyce, Dostoevsky, and Kafka; That is, without old and passive medium of books, and perhaps, an old method of learning.

The result: an uneven liberal arts education. So, I guess that answers part of one question, empiricism is, in addition to uneven, inefficient.

But there is a positive notion this lifestyle. It’s original. The sources in which these things were learned are completely original, therefore, hopefully, leading to more creative output.

Also, it’s fun. I was actively participating along the way. Both of which is required for my personality.

Surely there must be a way to make learning completely efficient, fun, social, thoroughly active, and productive.

Why aren’t there any good schools? Good determined by the aforementioned factors.

The internet exists. Why aren’t great classes taught by great professors pervading every classroom. In some good college, someone is teaching in a brilliantly fun way, perhaps teachings the physics through a game that uses physics. But would even that be enough?

Humans do seek a social aspect to life, which leads people to cling together into institutions. It creates relationships, which likely leads to work. Is it simply certain interaction between certain people that leads to learning? What is this magic formula [THINK ABOUT THIS MORE]?

But people aren’t necessary. I think relationships just happens to lead to a more stable life. Artists and philosophers trap themselves in log cabins, or other parts of the world, to create something, which probably involves learning too.

There is much to learn through media, travel, and people (not just smarts ones). Many smart folks are able to inhale books and learn everything from it instantly. Thinking about this, now it seems the need of having fun, to be creative, is a learning disability.

To be efficient, one must be alone. What one knows and and wants to know is unique. No class perfectly cover the domain of knowledge one desires, and because there is more than one person, it will always possess repetition of known things.

An ideal answer: everyone should have a human professor to teach them exactly what they don’t know in a fun way. A real answer: everyone should use online courses fit precisely for what they don’t know. That’s progress. Now the only thing missing is a social aspect. The active part.

I see three ways for early learning:

To take an online course, and give the burden of creativity to the learner, allowing them to create an activity for themselves to reinforce the knowledge immediately, whilst maintaining the fundamental human needs. It would require much willpower to balance this life, but perhaps, the most efficient if done right.

Or did artists always have it right? Wander around until one finds something they like, explore it deeply, and create something from it? Learning, reinforcing, and creating, and repeating this. The most productive life. Isn’t life about productivity anyway? Even at an early age, one can delve deeply. It just would leave the person to stray from the social norms and possibly lead to life problems.

Playful people strive to make life continually playful, keeping within modern social constructs, diverging slightly for the benefit of learning, yet maintaining relationships. It seems to be the most balanced method, but perhaps not straying far enough to explore something deeply enough to create something great enough to further humans or art.

I don’t know. I’m tired. And I’ve got a lot of work to do, which, unfortunately, will not teach me anything new. Certainly, a failure on my part, for not choosing a job that would allow me to learn (or create) more.

Leave a comment | Categories: Education, Life, Personal, Philosophy

Pokemon Snap: People are now pokemon

19 April 2014 by Rahil

People use their phone cameras to find pokemon and take pictures of them.

Choose pokemon based on facial features or body shape or both.
After the pokemon is identified, begin tracking the movement of it
When the human body turns, the pokemon also turns
Track certain parts of human to mirror skeletal movement of pokemon (arms, legs, body turn, head turning)

later possibilities:
upload pictures to a database (in-app and website) where people can rate them for certain characteristics, awarding them with badges

Leave a comment | Categories: Ideas

Playground Maker: The world is now a playground

19 April 2014 by Rahil

Using Second Surface, one can create playgrounds for others to play in the real world. Only doodles for boundaries are needed to create levels.

later possibilities:
walls (thick lines) that can be adjusted
boxes and circles that can be scaled
add rules to the game, perhaps just writing a doodle at the start is enough
colors, rules can define what they do: green for good, red for bad, etc.

Leave a comment | Categories: Games, Ideas

A Foreigner Crashes at the Legislative Yuan’s Slumber Party

02 April 2014 by Rahil

I, the writer, am a foreigner, and I naively write this article from the perspective of one, with a focus on observation and empiricism as opposed to research.

Sleeping at the Legislative Yuan (立法院) for two nights one can come to understand that Taiwan’s autonomous and selfless culture would lead to an entirely technocratic society, if only it weren’t strangled by the fear of China.

Current Status:
Taiwanese students (and politically unaffiliated academia and NGOs) continue to protest from within the Legislative Yuan and its perimeter, boycotting the expedited review process of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA). The uprising is natural and timely, in March, the time of election and past protests. For the past few years Taiwan’s government has been snowballing down leading to an increased connectivity with China, a decrease in President Ma’s (馬英九) rating, and increased anxiety of the uncertainty of the future of Taiwan.

Protest Experience:
Before I jump into my experience, I think it’s important to note that the current protest isn’t a completely new phenomenon. From the Wild Lilly movement, to the Wild Strawberry movement, to 2010 under the table deals with China to the forming of the Black Island Youth Alliance, school associations from top universities have teamed with human rights NGOs to mediate the law. They are the seeds of technocracy. Now trained for non-violent protests, they await any wrongful move by the government to pounce on.

The Autonomy of Taiwan:
One can only understand this by being born in another country and traveling to Taiwan or sleeping at the Legislative Yuan (LY). I arrived on March 30, after the President’s Office rally.

Already, in a matter of days the LY’s main podium has now come to include: An information department capable of handling anything including the coordination of student unions inside, outside, and around Taiwan; A goods department which includes 8 tents that provide food, water, raincoats, blankets, other supplies, outside, and one department inside, located near the back door where on the other side a tent resides, all of which are itemized and operated without money; A translation department where news is reported via social media and replied as requested by foreign reporters; A recycling center; A medical department which includes modern medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and a person at the main hall’s door who checks temperature by pointing a gun at your forehead, rewarding you with hand sanitizer, set near the front door in case people need to be taken in or out.

Built like a well-planned fort, more convenient than a Taiwanese 7-11, the students have created self-sustainable town equipped with its own service sector inside the the heart of government, a mirror of it’s economy, now 73% service-oriented, and its past form of government: martial law.

Such autonomy begs two questions. Does Taiwan need more help? No. They’ve fared extremely well with their current relations and export / import rates. Of course, more entrepreneurship opportunities would be nice. Does Taiwan want more help? Only if they can retain their status quo.

A Microcosm of Taiwan’s Society:
Riot police restrict certain areas. The police wait at the parliament’s entrances. A line of ten Taiwanese TV and radio companies waiting for the next speech by student leaders, 70% of which may be considered pro-KMT. Despite the seriousness of it all, the culture of Taiwan, the “strawberry generation”, causes me, a foreigner, to view it a very unusual and seemingly unserious ordeal that highlights the characteristics of Taiwan’s society: polite, passive, uncompetitive, competent, social, open, and caring.

Outside, students sleep on aluminum blankets, cardboard boxes, and connectable styrofoam puzzle pieces. They eat baozi (包子) and biandang (便當), read books, follow social media, as if it were a college courtyard. Cute handicrafts, sunflowers, and cardboard signs pervade the public walls. Films are played on projectors. Music performances are staged. A 7-11 on the block remains open and crowded. A line of riot police face a line of sunflower-holding students. Government buildings have been cutely reupholstered. Inside the artfully-draped LY their culture concentrates.

The entrance guarded by police without weapons; The only difference between a policeman and a security guard is their uniform. One’s ability to enter relies entirely on perceived disposition of the current guard, foreigner or not, an expression of indisrimination. The front door to the hall is blocked by a Katamari Damacy ball of lay-z-boys and other excess furniture. An extra line of security guards sit and play popular smartphone games — Candy Crush and Clash of Titans — during the day and nap in the same seat during the night.

The main lobby and courtyard are usually empty, holding an occasional interview.

On the first floor there’s a break room with movie theater style seating and a tiny TV playing the news. People discuss democracy and relax, probably similar to the legislatures that normally lounge there.

Upstairs, climbing a ladder over a barricade, the second floor contains: bathrooms with shower supplies, more conference rooms, which is where the most important people meet and make decisions, and entrances to the balcony of the main hall.

The main hall, split into a few sections: the podium full of aforementioned departments, the floor where students and professors sit in circles and discuss sociology and politics, a row of new reporter cameras, and the tables and empty space behind where students live, is a dream.

Handicraft art decorates the walls: handwritten letters and signs. More Katamari Damacy balls of excess things. Cardboard signs were created for each department. More junk is used to make a dinosaur overnight. White tape outlines on the floor depicting places where students sat. A ventilation duct hangs from the second floor window like a giant playground slide.

Taiwanese people are masters of DIY culture. Give them reason and they will competently accomplish any given task, monetarily efficient and with cultural flair.

Tables are littered with packaged food and drinks on the tables, magically cleaned every day just as night markets are. The floor filled with students sleeping at any moment of time, playing smartphone games, using social media to talk to friends, taking occasional selfies. Students sit where legislatures normally do. The most formally dressed person I spotted: a female reporter wearing a suit with a mini skirt and converse sneakers.

People hang out, socialize, sleep, shower, eat, study, and work. The LY is now a workplace and a home. The LY is now the smallest town in Taiwan.

Two Nights at the Legislative Yuan:
Night 1, March 30:
During the Presidential Office rally on March 30, 500,000+ people marched the 10-lane Ketagalan Boulevard with such pleasant conduct that lanes has separate uses: for sitting, walking forward, walking backward, and emergency vehicles. The flow of the march was so smooth that it took a mere fifteen minutes to walk from the President’s office to the Legislative Yuan. The atmosphere akin to a rather corporate music festival, as expected with such a large crowd. As one arrives to the original protest site, energy increases while still retaining harmony, with art, posters, tents, speakerphones, discussions, music, and film.

It’s amazing to see such a diverse crowd, people from all parts of society, act in unison. In comparison, at Occupy Wall St., one can expect schizophrenic beggars dishing out non-sense alongside debt-filled students having heated discussions with big businessmen. It’s clear if something wrong happens, the public will react with great solidarity.

Night 2, March 31:
Bai Lang (白狼) said in a press conference that he and 2000 of his men would come to the Legislative Yuan at 3AM. At 3AM, the students remain unchanged, half asleep. When I asked a NTU student why [students are not stressed], he said, many don’t know, and the others think it’s highly unlikely that anything awful would happen.

I saw fear in the faces of students, not of Bai Lang, but of the government, but they continued with uncertainty with the prevalent reply of, “I don’t know what to do”. An example: my friend, a half-mainlander, encountered a college student who was furious at his existence, but the most she could do was make a half-angry face for a few seconds with an urge to tell other people. Several people I’ve talked to over my past few months in Taiwan also exhibit this helpless attitude, not just for politics, but of anything. Further reinforcement that Taiwanese people are non-violent and selfless, or, in the way my friend puts it, “lacking testosterone”.

Now and Later:
The movement has been, for the most part, and comparatively to other concurrent uprisings, peaceful, perhaps even seen as “weak”, and possibly therefore overshadowed globally by other news. Yet, it’s clear that under Ma’s presidency, China has been slowly ingesting Taiwan, a country with the 19th largest economy, equal to Australia, and double that of Hong Kong.

The students still only ask for one thing, a review of the bill. That’s powerful, as many other protests take on broader ideologies and become criticized because its lack of precise objectives (Occupy Wall St.).

As of now, it’s a passive stalemate.

If Ma gives the bill a rightful review, would everything resume as normal? Or at this point, does Ma even matter? Can Taiwan’s inherently non-violent passive society take further action and further pressure the KMT?

Or will the fear from past government actions (White Terror, Executive Yuan incident) and China in general (1600 missiles aimed at Taiwan) prevent the students from taking further action?

The moment is pivotal.

With an autonomous society lacking political testosterone, one would hope Taiwan will continue in a technocratic way without political affiliations, in the hands of its newly founded elite: the students (academia), begin another Taiwan Miracle, and become a country founded on intelligence, a seemingly perfect government. Unfortunately, a relationship with China continually flaws it.

As for me, a foreigner, there seems to be only two things to do: inform foreign media, and criticize or dominate the core decision-making group to incite action, with very very poor spoken Chinese skill.





Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Travel

Sleeping Problems

23 March 2014 by Rahil

This post is part of a self-assessment II

During my first job, I self-diagnosed myself to have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. The wikipedia article described several problems of my life during school. In retrospect, I now know this is only one comorbidity of a larger problem.

There is a clear division of the times I wake up: delayed, inconsistent, and on time.

This occurs when I am intrinsically motivated, without external factors affecting me, or during which I have no reactions to external stimuli.

It seems if I have a normal social life or daily schedule — a job, personal work, school, I can stick to it, somewhat. I just happen to wake up a little later, perhaps 10:30AM. I’d sleep well, wake up spontaneously, feeling refreshed. I adapted my life to fit my body’s schedule, resulting in a less social, yet extremely physiologically healthy life. It probably netted in more films then real social activities.

During scheduled work — school and my first two jobs, I’d choose to come in at 10:30AM to 11:00AM, which is about when my brain wakes up. I’d start out well, but as my motivation waned I came in later. Perhaps I became less excited about life outside of work — exploring the city, social connections. Or, more likely, my jobs were repetitive, and I failed to find ways to continue being creative in such limits. Eight hours without creativity should make anyone somewhat intelligent mental.

In SF the second time and NY, when I was working on my own things, or things of mutual motivation, I woke up on a delayed schedule. During the summer, I’d often wake up at 10:30AM, but come winter time It would be a lot more inconsistent.

This occurs during winter depressions, or as previously mentioned, when motivation in work — school and work — dwindles.

During winter depression, and even worse, the combination of winter and school or work, the schedule is severely impaired, resulting in Non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder. I’d wake up anywhere between 10:30AM to 4PM, sleeping at inconsistent times, unable to wake up at desired times, advancing my sleeping schedule forward, until I have to reset it.

On time (business hours):
Being on time requires my goals to be attached to some external factor.

During the summers of my childhood, I wake up early because I’d want to go out, to enjoy the sun, to have more time to play with my friends, to have more time to explore with my bike. Also during family trips, I’d wake up alongside my family.

During most of my travel in Asia, I woke up on time. Perhaps this is because most people slept or went home when the sun went down. Or, because I was consistently motivated. Travel is special time where intrinsic motivation is affected by external stimuli.

In an extreme case, in Laos, where there was no light or electricity available, I woke up at 5am. Was it because there was no light, I had nothing to do (no computer, no one to talk to, no light to write), or I wanted to wake up with people the next day? Probably a combination of the three.

In another case, I’d wake early if my current goal or objective involved the interaction of other people whom have normal circadian rhythms:

In hostels, I’d often sleep with others, and, I’d wake up at the same time as they did. The action of people getting up in my room served as a time device. It was quite motivating (Social Loafing?), and socially healthy. I loved talking to others while getting ready. Similarly, many families in India live in a single room, waking up together at 5AM. Another reason maybe because I am schizoid and normally don’t have anyone to talk to in the morning.

During Humans of Taipei, my main goal was to talk to people, so I’d wake up early to maximize work time. At that point, I was so focused on other people I felt there was no reason to be awake at night as there was nothing for me to do that would advance me toward my goal. I’d sleep happily with the sounds of neighbors and people on the streets from a nearby open window.

Being schizoid, it’s possible for me to live without any external factors, leading to a misaligned sleep schedule. Intrinsic motivation and a delayed sleep schedule has had the most prolonged routine sleep schedules. The times I was on time were all very temporary. Being inconsistent usually means I was depressed.

Leave a comment | Categories: Life, Personal, Psychology

The Effects of Weather

23 March 2014 by Rahil

This post is part of a self-assessment II

A surprisingly great factor in my life.

I theorize there’s an association to weather and dopamine. I feel sunlight and heat release more dopamine, exaggerating the input of external stimuli. Without sunlight and heat, external stimuli is blunted.

TODO: Seasonal Affective Disorder, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, one of the probable answers by scientists for why people in Papua New Guinea did not have “cargo” (technology) is “the inhibitory effects of tropical climate (heat and humidity), and on human creativity and energy.” I was unable to Google much about this, but looking at the locations of Global cities, it’s possible.

I will divide my experience according to temperature and amount of sunlight: “summer” (high heat, high amount of sunlight), “winter” (low heat, low amount of heat), and “normal” (temperate heat and sunlight). Quotes are used because the season doesn’t matter, the actual temperature and sunlight do. In addition, I’ve moved several times in my life into different climates.

I am more inclined to go outside, stay in the sun, socialize, and am generally happier.

I want to stay out, on the streets, consuming more information externally by traveling — learning languages, thinking about others lives, anthropology, developing a care for those that struggle (like Tsai-Ming Liang films), seeing the world from the streets, wondering what people do indoors and why anyone would spend time inside. I am actively thinking at all times. Thinking about what to do at every moment, talking to myself (possibly in another language!). In extreme cases, I don’t want to spend any time indoors or alone. I become completely extroverted.

I feel more creative. I spend more time thinking about people. I want everything I do to involve a social aspect: art, school, work, and recreation. I wouldn’t mind taking a job as long as I am outside and social: a postman, a waiter at an outdoor cafe. My art gravitates toward ones that involve my interaction with other people: Humans of New York and Vincent Moon are of inspiration, as it involves with me simultaneously living and producing.

This coincides my love for games, which is also socially interactive. The problem comes when the game is digital, in which the implementation, programming, is not interactive. At most, one can be in a social place (the common room of a hostel, a public park, a social cafe, at a friend’s house, a studio) and do the work alongside others, with little interaction. It is a continuation of striving to find ways to live and work simultaneously.

The con of summer time is that I do less work, or don’t want to do any work at all. Or, perhaps, I do not do work that is not social — programming.

Physically, I drink more water, exercise less, do not suffer from carb-insulin problems, and may happily take a nap after some intense heat.

[link to time in Taipei the second time, travel in Asia]

I ignore the world. Traveling and socializing becomes less rewarding. I’d rather stay indoors, only talking to people for a specific purpose. I’m more likely to consume media — films substitute observation, games substitute interaction). I’m more passive. I can do lonely tasks for a long period of time — programming, writing, etc. I don’t require social feedback. I become introverted.

In San Francisco, the second time, I was able to spend 80% of my time alone in UCSF library, in my room, or in cafes, programming. In New York, I was able to spend 80% of my time in Pratt Institute’s library, programming. During both times, the weather was mild to cold.

Physically, I suffer from the winter blues


Leave a comment | Categories: Life, Personal, Psychology, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Travel

A Self-assessment II

22 March 2014 by Rahil

The extended winter weather in Taipei has caused my mind to become hallow. No feeling for travel or people, or to be social. Now is a good time to self-assess.

Last time I assessed myself, it was objective, written to be displayed to the public alongside my portfolio. It hides subjectivity and psychology, which I now want to explore.

To explore this, I must recall the feelings I had during each point in time of my history, observe it, rationalize it.

A History
A Psychological Self-assessment

A History

School and media.

During summer breaks in school, I didn’t have work, so I’d spend a lot of time biking, exploring nearby neighborhoods.

During the fall and especially winter, I’d barely be able to wake up, sleeping through the first one or two classes. I’d stay up playing video games late night in my Dad’s office.

In college, I’d continue sleeping in. I spent a lot of time watching great films and playing Super Smash Bros. with my friends.

San Francisco:
A new city. A drastic increase in interaction with the public on a daily basis. A life alone. So much time, despite the long working hours and commute. A great leap forward compared to the last 21 years of life.

Yet it was a rat race. I worked for 8-10 hours and commuted for 4 hours. I was self-motivated by external factors: travel and survival. I took the job because I wanted to live in the city. Explore.

I spent the weekends traveling at full-speed. Going to new neighborhoods, eating at Yelp-rated restaurants, attending art events, all scheduled ahead of time to maximize experience. It was superficial.

It was fine for the moment, but I don’t think I could do it again. It lasted less than 5 months.

New York:
Perhaps the rat race conditioned me to have a work-heavy (work-life balance) life in New York. I spent 80% of the time working on my own games in Pratt Institute’s library. Working on something for 10+ hours a day, because I was self-motivated to do so. I thought, as long as I worked as hard as I did at a 9-5 toward work with a much higher standard than any job would I could get would allot; The time would be much more valuable, and therefore, in case I did need money, I would still be able to get a job — a better one. It was my own work. My own ideas. Why not work hard at it?

Turns out it was a failure because I failed to balance work-life. The designs were mediocre. Productive, somewhat innovative, poor execution. I failed to get verification for my work. I should have invested more time in social life.

After the initial exploration day, I explored very little, interacted very little with people. I only attended game events and comedy nights (my friend and roommate was a comedian), especially those related to Babycastles. I volunteered at Babycastles and interned for Zack Lieberman. Otherwise, it mostly involved work and exercise (running outside at night). It was a very narrow lifestyle.

Travel in Asia:
An escape from the rat race, yet I was still racing.

I travelled Taipei for nine days struggling to make a decision for work: teach, volunteer, what am I doing? I thought traveling was a waste of time, unproductive.

I quickly found and volunteered at a school in Taiwan for two months. I assisted in teaching kids English by creating activities for younger students and having conversation with elder students. I also did general work: house chores, cooking, and babysitting. In retrospect, I feel a lot of it was still traveling: eating, learning Chinese, and fighting mosquitos.

I then spent two weeks traveling around Taiwan, using CouchSurfing twice. It mostly involved talking to hostel workers, CouchSurfing hosts, traveling, and eating lots of Taiwanese food. I feel that the expiration of my visa kept me going. I flew to Singapore.

Left the terrible city immediately for Malaysia.

I went to Kuala Lumpur and struggled. It’s possible the heat drove me crazy. The goal was to make a film, but most of the time I wandered, ate, and failed to make film. I had footage of the worship of the three cultures of Malaysia: South India’s Hinduism, Islam, and Chinese Bhuddism. There was a lot of time wasted looking for better hostels.

I then went to Penang. I was fascinated by the traditional craftsmen there. I just love people who physically make things themselves as a living, and a traveller can physically see them all by walking along the streets. I began interviewing them, asking them questions. Then the film went on to cover the current gentrification of Penang and how the craftsmen would disappear. Then, while filming the craftsmen, I chose a delivery man, as the film would be more dynamic, and made a short film of just this single subject. I never bothered to complete the initial film. I also spent a week or so sick with gastroenteritis. The believe heat drove me nuts here too, driving me to see the craftsmen, old buildings, and try new foods.

In Bangkok I struggled again, as I did in Kuala Lumpur. Spending more time than I should have. I didn’t even wander as much. I’d was trying to figure out my next direction. A gritty film about prostitution? Isn’t that overly-exposed already? The heat drove me nuts yet again, leaving me in indecision. I finally decided to keep moving, north.

I spent one day in Chiang Mai, and felt it was completely touristy. I decided to take trip through northwest Thailand via motorcycle. It was an odd experience. I mostly stuck to myself as I did in San Francisco the second time. I’d spend a few hours driving my motorcycle during the day, find a place to sleep, write some game ideas, and do some programming. There was an odd assortment of fascinating places: a town full of Yunnanese people who were part of the KMT and fled, mountain towns, dull transport towns, all full of kind and happy people. It was quick, one town per day, but it felt great. Motorcycle is the definitive way to travel, to consume the most, yet be an individual and make one’s owns observations. There was little to no social interaction as I can’t speak Thai.

After I made the motorcycle loop, I still had two weeks to do something before I go to India. I decided to go to Laos. It was my “Into the Wild”. I took a 48+ hour bus ride to the mountainous Phitsanoluk. I saw a market where tribal peoples from nearby villages barter wild game. I rented a second hand Chinese motorcycle and found mounds of trash. An odd mix of tribal peoples, recent goods lent from China (motorcycles, farm machinery, cell phones, TVs, power lines, packaged foods), and the beginning of giving technology to an undeveloped country. It contained lowest amount of intelligence I’ve encountered. The boat rides down river held the tone of Apocalypse Now, with tribal kids running around naked, parents picking up packages of cigarettes.

I failed.

I had planned to make games, but I just couldn’t spend the time to do it. The warm weather drove me to go outside. Explore. I’d wander through nearby slums, hang out with my Uncle, experience the hugely contrasting social classes of India. The strict schedule of my relatives restricted my exploration. When they left, I began buying vegetables from the local market and cooking myself.

A friend came with the intention to make a game using India as an inspiration. We ended up doing a game development workshop instead. It’s more social.

I finally decided to go through East Asia to empirically decide which city is best to live in.

East Asia:
[link East Asia?]

When I was in Taipei for three months to study Mandarin, I experienced the Apex of my Schizoid Personality Disorder.

Was it self-estrangement? Self-estrangement can be defined as “the psychological state of denying one’s own interests – of seeking out extrinsically satisfying, rather than intrinsically satisfying, activities…”.[32] It could be characterized as a feeling of having become a stranger to oneself, or to some parts of oneself, or alternatively as a problem of self-knowledge, or authenticity.

A Psychological Self-assessment
There are psychological problems in my life. Of them are Being a Loner (SPD, SZD), The Effects of Weather (Bipolar), Sleeping Problems (SAD)…[more?]


Schizoid Personality Disorder:
Not having a normal social life, which also affects schedule.
[think about, create article? see nomadic article]



The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

Abnormally high dopaminergic transmission has been linked to psychosis and schizophrenia.

Studies with sensory deprivation have shown that the brain is dependent on signals from the outer world to function properly. If the spontaneous activity in the brain is not counterbalanced with information from the senses, loss from reality and psychosis may occur after some hours. A similar phenomenon is paranoia in the elderly, when poor eyesight, hearing and memory make the person abnormally suspicious of the environment.
On the other hand, loss from reality may also occur if the spontaneous cortical activity is increased so that it is no longer counterbalanced with information from the senses. The 5-HT2A receptor seems to be important for this, since psychedelic drugs that activate them produce hallucinations.

the acute effects of dopamine stimulants include euphoria, alertness and over-confidence

the main feature of psychosis is not hallucinations, but the inability to distinguish between internal and external stimuli.

Psychosis has been traditionally linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine. In particular, the dopamine hypothesis of psychosis has been influential and states that psychosis results from an overactivity of dopamine function in the brain, particularly in the mesolimbic pathway. The two major sources of evidence given to support this theory are that dopamine receptor D2 blocking drugs (i.e., antipsychotics) tend to reduce the intensity of psychotic symptoms, and that drugs that boost dopamine activity (such as amphetamines and cocaine) can trigger psychosis in some people (see amphetamine psychosis).[67] However, increasing evidence in recent times has pointed to a possible dysfunction of the excitory neurotransmitter glutamate, in particular, with the activity of the NMDA receptor.





Leave a comment | Categories: Life, Personal, Psychology, Schizoid Personality Disorder


06 February 2014 by Rahil

I watched 河流 (The River) in a still funky mood, unable to respond to external stimuli, isolated from the world.

The more films of Tsai Ming-Liang I watch, the more I feel similar to him. Or is it, because my current state of depression that I feel similar to the feelings his films express?

Like Tsai’s other films, it contains common themes: extreme isolation, water leaks, a slow, contemplative pace, and even similar characters. After watching a few of his films, one starts to believe that the main character is based on him, and perhaps the family is based off his own. Maybe his films are the extremes of his family.

When I started traveling, I had fascination with what people do, especially craftsmen that could be seen on the first level of buildings, or on streets of Asia. Similarly, I feel Tsai has this fascination as the processes of a chiropractor, acupuncture, prayers, and other traditional ceremonies are shown. He also has an eye for unseen places: a traditional bathhouse, a temple, old apartments, a river. Tsai sees the world as a traveler, a foreigner, and therefore it is interesting, because everything feels new. As Jenova Chen states in one of the three ways games could effect adults as they do children, the film “intellectually, whereby the work reveals a new perspective about the world that you have not seen before.”

A random note: Media is always shown on the side in his films. It seems he feels media is not real. It shouldn’t affect the lives of people so much.

Kang’s character is selfish, independent, yet needs help, nurture. When near his father he doesn’t feel hungry. He’s not experiencing life during these times. He needs be on his own.

The film is overwhelmingly bleak. Although there are very tension-ridden scenes, I didn’t feel as much drama here as his first two films because of the bleakness. Still there are very strong scenes.

After a male Oedipus Rex plot twist, there’s an image of his father, black and blue hues with a speck of white light in his eyes that haunts far after, which segues into the main character going into the light, unwittingly.

The strongest scene for me was the mother’s reaction after seeing her son in the hospital. She leans in an elevator, pressing the close button and random floors, unable to make her next move. Actually, the scene sums the film. All of the characters suffer like neck pain from extreme isolation, a lack of nurture, and love. Out of desperation, they look for nurture in wrong places, unable to move on, stuck, in an elevator.

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01 February 2014 by Rahil

I coincidentally watched 幫幫我愛神 (Help me, Eros) directed by 李康生 (Lee Kang Sheng) and produced by long-time collaborator 蔡明亮 (Tsai Ming Liang) during a depression.

Similar to Tsai Ming Liang’s films, it’s minimalist, containing four characters, all of whom suffer from city isolation.

Compared to Tsai Ming Liang’s early films (Rebels of the Neon God and Vive L’Amour), Help me, Eros has more fantastic elements. It contains at least one dream, and the sex scene is quite dreamy too. The eccentric costumes of betel nut girls, the neon lights of the stand, the upscale apartments, all add to the fantastic atmosphere.

Yet, it is nearly all naturally shot in some random city in Taiwan. The blend of contemporary realism and fantasy forms a dark reality. The call center and stock market provide a good view of underrepresented occupations at the time. Betel nut beauties are real too [I live in Taiwan]. Technology is included, with the use of instant messaging, even more specifically a situation where the profile picture is used, and even the Asian-necessary selfie. Another great example of the blend: brand printed logos (think Gucci) are shot across the bodies of the characters during a threesome.

The isolation here is possibly even more extreme, perhaps at the sacrifice of realism, than Tsai’s early films. A tub full of eels, an ostrich omelette, fucking three girls simultaneously, marijuana plants, millions of dollars wasted, a carp being scraped alive, an ostrich fetus. Gluttony of extremely isolated people in Taiwan. Something that probably has never been shown before.

Yet, despite the extremes, the characters feel real. Betel nut beauties derived from a marketing campaign in a farming area in Taiwan. At one point the Betel nut girl goes back to farm, crying, missing a moment she had, only to come back and proceed to sell Betel nuts. The chubby character Cupcake is fat because her boyfriend is in the army, and later found dead by poison. The main character is a trope, but even I’ve experienced a few people like him in my life: rich and lonely.

The film plays fine throughout at a familiar pace. I didn’t have to take a break.

Still, for some reason, perhaps it was the fantastic elements, or the lack of dramatic elements, or even my own state of depression, the climax of the film didn’t have a profound effect on me as Tsai’s earlier films have. The characters are there, but I cared less for them. Perhaps it is because the characters are older, already transformed and fallen into their occupations. In Tsai’s earlier films, the characters are younger, the arcade street kid in Rebels… and a masturbating teen in Vive L’Amour are relatable. Help Me, Eros felt more like an observance of underserved people in extreme states. There is little transformation of the characters. Actually, now that I think about it, there is none. All of the positive actions failed; Nothing changes. All of the characters continue on their initial path, deceived by hope during loneliness.

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