What in the hell is hell?

You know all through my life my religious CV has read so many different things. Atheist, Agnostic, Idiot, Catholic and irreligious among many others as you can probably imagine. Currently I’m on polytheist agnostic. Don’t ask.
Okay fine, ( I heard your sigh) as the name suggests it means one who believes in more than one religion but of course it’s me so there’s a twist. I only believe in all religions on the things they agree on_the core principles not the superficial glossy rituals and stories about God knows who did what where. For me those are all just fairy tales I just read them to obtain the moral of the story, I’m an African so obviously I’m big on the moral of the story. Moreover, I don’t believe in any of the religions in their entirety, hence the ‘agnostic’ part because and this is important, no one knows who is right about this ‘who is the creator’ business that’s why we call it belief because we can’t prove we are right. And more importantly who cares, just believe and follow the properties of good humanness and you should be well on your way. Right!
So by now I am sure you know I’m as confused as confused gets, in fact I’ve been accused of being an atheist who just likes the wisdom in holy books and to that I’ll say. You’re half right, philosophy is my life and a lot of it is in said holy books so what did you expect, but I do believe there is a God and in the Socratic spirit of knowing that I don’t know, I’m just boobsy (‘ballsy’ the term can’t be used here for obvious reasons so this is what I could come up with) enough to admit that I know there is a God but of course I don’t know what ‘God’ is like. That’s like a computer telling a human he knows what humanity is. Please computer, go back to your binary hell! Why are we so afraid of just saying, ‘shit man I don’t know. Ask the evangelical idiot on TV, just remember to carry an extra thousand, even though the encounter will probably cost you your belief in humanity.’
There’s a saying where I come from, my corrupted take on it, ‘kutojua si ujinga.’ That’s what I mean when I say if you don’t know you don’t know,it doesn’t mean you’re not dumb you just don’t happen to know.
Anyway from the pointless story above, it’s clear to see that I have a true love hate relationship with religion. I am always trying to warm up to it even though my nature is cold to its touch and at the top of my religious kill list is ‘hell’. Every time I think about religion and how warm that makes me I remember oh there’s hell too and I snap out of it.
And the shocker is that my major objection to ‘hell’ doesn’t even stem from the fact that I’ve been reading Dante’s harrowing DC or watching ‘The Good Place’, like everything worth anything it’s from my childhood.
It’s actually from my mom although I think if she knew she’d promptly invent the time machine and return to the past and never ever mention what she mentioned to me, she is always urging me to improve my relationship with God after all and I’ll admit this I do try, even though my spirit is rigid and not really capable of doing any more than I already am. The things we do to please our parents.
Anyway a long time ago she casually mentioned to me that she doesn’t believe in hell. And of course being the curious nut I am I was like ‘why mom why?’ She gave me the most poetic answer I have ever, or will ever get form her EVER, ‘dear daughter because all suffering ends here, earth is hell and purgatory combined.’(She totally didn’t say ‘dear daughter’ i was just upping the ante, it was epic regardless.) Now you have to understand that I wasn’t a very precocious child and I blew past the answer not realizing what it would mean to me.
But the more I grew and evolved and was hit by the bullshit of life I came to unearth the memory of that tiny speech and totally embrace its idea. In fact this is why I am unusually comfortable with the idea of death. Life is good don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying that so that you don’t accuse me of being Sartre’s spirit child (I love his logic but hate his conclusions, again don’t ask, I prefer Camus anyway) but you can kind of agree life is hell and purgatory combined.
So the next question is obviously then what in the hell is hell? For what purpose does it serve exactly?
You know when I think of bad experiences I think of purification. Bad experiences purify us for the good that is to come, just how losing your virginity hurts so you can get to the wonderful orgasms later (although not all vaginas are built the same so don’t quote me) or a less erotic example how childbirth hurts so that you can get to the wonderful tiny human flailing on your breast.
Pain is always just pissing at a rest stop so that you can rid yourself of the toxins before you reached the promised destination, clean and all. And this is my issue with hell, it defies the rule that bad experiences and pain are a means, because underlying the concept of hell is the proposition that pain is an end in and of itself. I can’t reconcile this. God would never do this to us.
And it’s not that I don’t comprehend the argument that hell is what you do to you, if you live badly you deserve it. I totally get that, the thing is, that’s human logic not God logic. We are the ones who torture people who killed our families, enact death penalties, literally telling each other to ‘go to hell’. Not God. At least i think not.
God logic would never do that. (I know, pretty big statement given that I am the very same supposed agnostic from a few sentences ago who doesn’t know God’s nature, well… He lets me know little things like that sometimes, remember this is the same guy(God) who left what 99 sheep to look for one, and it wasn’t even extra fluffy or anything just a regular old dumb arse sheep that did what sheep do best, get lost. So I’m not far off, you’ll see.) To God we are never irredeemable, no matter what we are or what we do. And Christians actually say this a lot, how there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less and hell I believe it! Naive as that sounds.
I am not saying push the limit by doing all the worst stuff imaginable to test this theory, you’ll probably just feel really bad but do you see how if that is true then hell is not possible. The after-life has to be all heaven.
Pain and suffering should always be temporal not ends, Right?
And I know this is not an original idea, in fact just the other day a friend sent me a wonderful video of an atheist defending why he didn’t stay home and instead chose to defend his belief that God does not exist or that he doesn’t believe in organized religion or whatever. He cited that because almost all religions are obsessed with the idea of ‘apocalypse,’ being consumed by death and destruction eventually which is an abomination and I agree, how can you live with that proverbial cloud hanging over your head? And I will say this I loved every bit of his well-articulated coherent thought and his idea isn’t far from the above the main difference being that i am defending theism and he was not… needless to say not original.
But seriously, if there is a God. What the in the hell is hell?

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modern woman?

Of all the phrases and terms I have come to know, this has remained the single most cunning one for even after a little over a year of contemplation and research it eludes me swiftly.

Further upsetting me because it is a term I pride my entire life’s existence on. But how could I be a modern woman if I don’t even know what pertains to it?

My trials with this particular definition hail not from ignorance of its substance rather from it indeterminate essential.

Let’s face it we have all at one time or the other, in flesh or by reputation encountered a modern woman of sorts, but what about all these different modern women remains the same? What ties the Rihanna to Michelle to Amanpour?

It has been suggested that a simple definition of the component parts of the term could yield some results so let us get to it. Modern which loosely means a new phenomenon or a new perspective on an old phenomenon tantamount to describing anything and everything that is not encompassed in the traditions of old, and well a woman is basically a female human being last I checked. Therefore using this approach a modern woman should either be the mannerisms of a woman who does not conform to traditions of old at any one point, fair enough, right?

The main problem with this though is that the term being defined in this way lends itself only if we speak of our current times which excludes all ‘modern women’ of the past, who though may not have been labelled as such did very well exist, and therein lies the next hurdle it appears we tend towards a paradox which is never a good way to define anything without the language’s get out of jail free card, poetic license. Lastly it also includes non-modern women because at certain times some traditions will in fact suppress women and therefore the ‘modern women’ of that era will be anti-feminist.

So it goes to show that this is just another phrase whose sum of its part is indeed lesser than its whole.

Another approach is the feminist one, whereby the eternal fight of male versus female is at play. Which is to say that the essential in a modern woman is that she aspires to equate to the male who has been favored since time immemorial, this is not half bad. Modern womanhood has always bore a love for gender equity and the comparison between conditions of the male vis a vis the female have served as an effective way to see how much feminism has grown and spread. The issue here becomes a circular one, in a bid for the girl to catch up with the boy she ends up having to ride on another boy’s back.

This definition kills the independence of women because then modern women cannot exist without men to catch up to therefore leaving them eternal rats in the rat wheel, to run forever but never to catch up which as a matter of principle I disagree with. I am of the opinion that a modern woman can exist in a non-male context because these suppressive mentalities fought by modern women do exist and even thrive without the involvement of men. Therefore again we add to our repertoire of what appertains to a modern woman but not what is essential to her.

Then comes the Madonna approach, the rebel of establishment. That the modern woman is Madonna and not a Madonna, the only woman to single handedly change the meaning of a word that meant pure, holy and chaste to the exact opposite and then some and in so doing open up an entirely new door of acceptance for women and their liberties.  Though this iconoclastic rebellion, namely suffrage, is an epitome of the modern woman’s bible. Is every modern woman a rebel?

I think not, and as quickly as that definition rose so did it collapse in on itself, the essential simply cannot exclude a single modern woman who doesn’t fit the bill.

So after all that I did put myself to task to decide on what definition I will ride on because as you can imagine it is terribly urgent seeing that this is basically the blueprint of my life.

I happen to feel that what all modern women have in common whether they are rebelling against establishment or tradition or inferiority to men is that they are not empowered to soar, to rise and be their best selves. They feel chained and pressured by traditions, rituals, male-preference as well as gender roles because in reality no one trusts them with their own lives, they fight the reality that their lives are at the behest of some other’s.

To put it simply they fight to self-actualize, that they be able to determine themselves with all the rights and respect accorded to others. This is the one similarity I have found in all the modern women I have met, because through their decisions they are freeing themselves from the bondage of foreign determination.

Therefore, for me ‘a modern woman’ is not just the mannerism but rather the infrastructure needed the community attitude and the modern woman herself to actualize herself as best she can without fear of punishment whether she is a housewife, Madonna and everything else in between.

What’s your definition of a modern woman?

Of the intimacy, what I have come to learn.

I’m not quite sure if I speak for the majority or not but it has really always perturbed me and for a long time if I may say so why it is we give honour to people who do things well, I mean exceptionally well so well they cause the rest of us to swell up in anger a.k.a bitter envy.
For sure when someone does something well that’s out of their comfort zone that is commendable but these Einsteins, Taos, Newtons and what nots , why should they get any credit? Why must we reward someone for being themself , isn’t that easy?
The rest of us are ourselves every day as well why don’t we get rewarded?
And I think this very question is what revealed the answer to me. Being yourself, a mastery of living your own life as it is , as it was always meant to be is possibly one of the hardest things there is out there, in fact the alternative, the choice to be a puppet in someone else’s world is really as easy as it gets.
And to further console ourselves, we always isolate these people by formulating terms like ‘genius’ or ‘exceptional’ or ‘special’ or ‘magical’ and going further to idolize them and live in their world . But really if you think about it there is nothing any more special about them more than the ‘common’ me and you.
I mean sure they have a disposition to do what they excel at but that’s really just 2% (I think) of it they have to hone it time and time again and that is always a thing of courage and probably so do you if you only gave your passion the time or day.
First and foremost they are brave enough to find out what they are good at which most of us at times give up on or for a second but let’s say for a second the thing that they are good at just happened upon them without much effort from them but still they are bold enough to chase the thing that allures them and mold it into their being.
They are able to unleash their intimacy into the visible world, bare their souls for all to witness its majesty which in itself is quite frankly a thing of magic. In this instance when I speak of the intimacy I attribute to this term the meaning of ‘the inner-person who could be.’
What I mean to say is that everyone has an intimacy and this is not their life force in fact if I may say so it is their ‘unique value force’, the potency of the being they could be given only their extremely unique circumstances. For me and again I do not know how many I speak for this is a terrifying facet of my being’s makeup, it’s a part of me I try to avoid as much as possible because it’s quite intense ,like a marriage to self with all the pressure that comes with it.
Now I am not entirely sure if this ‘intimacy’ is a matter of our creation/manipulation or if it as a matter of discovery, that which always was, always will be, and always is but shall be unseen until revelation, but of its silent existence now that I am fairly certain of.
And this is why we admire these remarkable geniuses because of their ability and constancy in the pursuit of their intimacy because now we too can see these otherwise hidden persons and yet there is still more to come. This courage to pull the rug from within yourself and view the truth of your self combined with the constant tugging and pulling to keep the ‘self’ open to yourself, like say hacking yourself is what is so remarkable about them, such an alien concept to the rest of us despite its obvious rationale and necessity for happiness especially.
And I think the main cause of Acedia, particularly self-loathing and envy of these persons is usually contingent if you lose interest in unlocking yourself because the truth is that it is normal to want to find one’s unique purpose, some may call it ‘vocation’ or ‘hearing the calling’ wherever from but the alternative is Pandora’s box which incidentally is also an available choice that has in fact been chosen many at times.
And maybe the beatings the world dishes out to each and every one of us daily are the catalysts for this horrible decision but we can really always just be brave and go for it, Can’t we?
That never seemed to stop anyone before so why should it now?
And it made me stop to think that if humans really are two-tier with a known part that is to discover the unknown part what richness of being we have, and what a disservice it is that some of us hardly ever focus on the ‘other one’ hopefully not a Hyde-Jekyll situation, what a social outrage that is. Although the irony is that though the unleashing of these ‘persons’ would add the much needed vibrance to our social landscape it is this very landscape that generally prompts to the neglect of these ‘persons’ with its unnecessary idolization, trends, faux pas, must haves and other puppeteers thence leading to the indefinite imprisonment of these unusual beauties.
The what if this phenomenon offers is especially unsettling.

Recognition vis-à-vis contribution

Sometimes the world can be enormous and at any one particular point there is always someone on top of it and many times in fact throughout the course of my life that person is seldom me. And quite frankly as a society we have lost the ability to even celebrate others’ success because of the competitive structure the world has adopted.
It’s hard for some of us to even thing of true collaboration without the underlying motives of sabotage which as I often say is truly tragic because human cooperation is undeniably one of the most resilient forces in the universe.
Life is competitive but never a competition sure there is always a race but not with each other rather with ourselves just beside each other, actually others should help me win the race against myself.
I have always been quite amused, lightly obsessed, with the Nobel prizes and recently I sought to truly unearth its history. Turns out it really does live up to its anagram and was the culmination of very noble objectives.
And out of all Alfred Nobel’s achievements some of which are the invention of dynamite and ballistite, running of a major armaments factory and successful business investment in Azerbaijan not to forget his other 353 inventions that literally turned him into a minter of money. His setup of the Nobel prizes by bequeathing 94% of his wealth to the now Nobel foundation for the running of the great institution of recognition was the one he will forever be venerated for.
And even though it is all about recognizing those of us who confer the ‘greatest benefit to human kind’ it really is just passing a message to all of us that we should try our best to serve humanity. We must contribute authentically then be recognized in that order. Even as I write this post there is always the insecurity that it may never be read, as I try a math problem there’s always the fear that it won’t matter because thousands have done it before me but the truth is, if you honestly contribute an honest gift of self it will always matter. Recognition is just the icing on the cake, it’s not even the main ingredient, however it came to control everything is truly a regrettable shift in priorities.
Many despair and become depressed because of the fear of uselessness which actually doesn’t exist and others have resulted to pretense if only to be recognised which is by far an even worse outcome as you lose the true self. And though this is a simple and familiar lesson, it’s very easy to unlearn it and fall down the abyss of self- pity, which is not a good place to be, it actually has the worst décor from my last time there.
Be yourself and rise to the top of your world because it really is your world for the taking. Even he, Nobel, wanted his legacy not to be of the recognition of the singular feats as an engineer, successive business man or inventor rather he wanted his dying memory to be that of contributing to helping others unlock their own contribution and for him it took a mistaken obituary in a French Newspaper naming him the merchant of death to shake him up and urge him to contribute what will it take for you to do the same?

Why everybody simply must have a diary

In my culture generally for Africans history is such a key piece in the preservation of culture. Relics could decay or be stolen but a story, a metaphor or a song could live forever as long as it is sung and wherever either of the aforementioned is engaged it is like a communion with the Africans of old every single time, a kind of transportation to the days past so to speak and for Africans our ancestors have an especially unique spot carved in our lives and the direction they are to take.
To me this was a perfect system but only then when there were small clustering of populations that were very loyal to each other and intermingling was almost unheard of. But then the world changed, the colonialists arrived and everything became so restrictive, storytelling became harder, ritualistic songs were in some places even banned, the new religion of Christianity made its debut and everything was just harder to contain, the world now expanded over a larger area with larger ideas and other peoples . There was no preparing or even adequately dealing with the remarkable changes that ensued. Then some of the men even went to battle in the western world and birthed entirely new histories from their new experiences, they returned completely transformed, aliens to their own communities, which were by definition already suffocated and repressed.
And by then most couldn’t even communicate this to the others, which you can imagine could have proven very therapeutic after seeing firsthand the spoils of war. Here there was always a middle man, a conduit through which the history could be gifted to the new generation be it the grandparents telling the children the stories or the informal teachings before circumcision, manhood, adulthood whatever it may be, now the conduit’s role had completely been decimated.
Problem is the world had changed a great deal and the old structures that kept the relics and events of the past preserved had long been annihilated and deemed obsolete. Afterwards, the great independence waves wafted through most of the African states around generally the 50’s and 60’s with Egypt being the pioneers of that. This was certainly a beautiful time but because the literate were so few there was such a loss of history by all the recordings that didn’t occur at such a momentous event.
I’ve even read that my particular group, Bantu, was originally from Egypt who then traveled to Congo and further split into smaller groups with each taking their own eventual piece of real estate on this great continent. The great tragedy here is that in those treks and travels there was so much that must have occurred that was just lost because of lack of recording. In fact a significant amount of the African historical literature has been written by the white settlers which I think is so saddening because then so much has been lost in translation and interpretation.
This reinforced in me why we must all write down our stories lest someone write them for us and take their liberties with our truths. Winston Churchill once remarked that history will be good to him because he intends to write it which is exactly what we should aspire to. History isn’t even about popularity or skill in that only the good writers or the ones with impressive lives should write or be written about. In fact historically rich civilizations usually have many historical writings from a myriad of sources which is largely the point.
Having recently read about Brunel, the chief architect in transforming the transport scene in Britain I’ve seen the many publications that have written about him and his invention of the broad-gauge tracks, his engineering of the SS Great Britain, his aesthetic appeal in all his creations be they tunnels, railways or steam ships. But only in his personal manuscripts and biography can you truly see the world as he saw it, his motivations and inspiration for the steam locomotives he helped birth, his dismay when his broad-gauge tracks and steam ship weren’t fully adopted despite their genius and his impressive contribution.
These are moments we all have, given we are not all engineers, or always in the face of some great revolution but with every breath there is always history being made and how we view it, feel about it and get affected by it is really what makes history such an artistic enterprise. And the more we are out there writing the clearer the truth is about that particular time. The best part about writing is that you cut out the middle man and for me it would be like what I said a direct line for our descendants to hear our stories, musings, ideas and thoughts through our own voice.
It saddens me so that only celebrities, presidents and other people in the lime light are the only ones truly encouraged to write biographies because the honest story of anyone’s life story through their own unique eyes should really always be a best seller, at least it is in my book. So write your story because someone needs to tell it or rather someone needs to hear it.

The wretchedness of a love lost.

I once heard a man say that he would and I quote, “murder the world if only to have a chance at saving his daughter.”
Of course I was moved at the poetics alone in the statement and the intensity of love he said it with. At the time it eluded me that it might have been just a symptom of the grievance he was undergoing. The loss of a loved one causes the mutation of love and turns it into an evil thing.
I liken this behavioral mutation to something I learned in finance class, loss aversion, you may be familiar with the rational man assumption that dates all the way back to Adam Smith and this laid the ground work for the general assumption that all investors are risk averse and they aren’t afraid of risk they are just wary of it and require recompense sometimes in excess of the usual for undertaking more risk. But in the face of remarkable investment failure investors at least those in my country happen to display the very opposite behavior to risk aversion. They hold on to their failing portfolios despite the rational risk averse alternative of selling prescribes. The rationale is that in the face of so much loss they are afraid of losing even more and thus mutate their investment behavior entirely and if you think of this in terms of recession when many are losing so much you can imagine what this does to the global markets and their unspeakable after effects.
Anyway back to the application of that verbose analogy, this man who would kill everyone just to have even the slightest opportunity to recover but one life had mutated the very nature of love itself. He was more than willing to kill for love which is not only a moronic idea but love , the truest kind cannot tolerate a horrific means such as murder. But then again it wouldn’t be true to say that in that utterance he was not a loving father because I believe he was, his was just a disorderly kind of love.
Say he does manage to kill each one and get back his child what good is that to bring her back to the land of the dead with you as the mortician. Even in success he would have destroyed any hope he had to ever regain what they had before.
Death breaks our capacity to love because it evokes our disorderly passions such as rage, desperation and revenge. Their damage is of an entirely insidious fashion it doesn’t start off with the aim to destroy the love we can give because it just adds minor alterations to our loving capacities at first but later on it changes the entire landscape and makes us incapable of loving altogether.
The good news is that there’s always a choice and you can always resist these new changes but as a good rule of thumb it would be definitely wiser not to trust or charge yourself with loving others in the wake of death, at least until you regain your old body back.
As a philosophy nut I am super-obsessive with ultimate causes and the principles that accompany them so if ever in your preoccupation to love another effectively tolerate the destruction of some other love remember that all manifestation of love must respect and align itself with other manifestations of love. You can never kill my daughter to get yours back in the name of love.
The temporary insanity that comes with the loss of a loved one is a trial like no other but nonetheless it is still a surmountable one.
In death the only true way to love they who have been lost is to release them, let go of the portfolio of them and set them free. Concurrently this is one of the most difficult human feats to achieve but it certainly beats the alternative. And in all truth when I die, I too would love my living loved ones to be given the gift of forgetfulness and remember very little of me as salve for their injurious sores after my death, I am almost entirely certain that when I do cross that line all of those on the other side will also concur with the latter.

A FRIGHFUL KIND OF BEAUTY.

It just dawned on me the frightening potency of beauty whence I held a baby in my arms and soon enough I realized it in every time I partook to resplendent beauty. I hadn’t excised the feeling before from my experience but once I dissected it I was astonished to find that it was the source of my cowardice a trait in myself I have always found quite distasteful to say the very least.
The thing is perception of beauty of any kind is very similar to comprehension of a poem, there is a surface meaning and there is the more disturbing deeper meaning. Just like beauty for example when you hold your beautiful baby girl for sure she is immaculate, pure and all that can be attributed to such angels but also in that moment you see her potency, the possible evil or good paths she can take, the amazing and horrific times that are to come for her, the bad choices and great decisions she is to make, and suddenly you are juxtaposed between what was mere splendor to the obligation that rests on you to actualize this great present beauty you see in the best manner possible because now you are involved.
Or when you stand at the altar and are about to vow to the love of your life, it is always a site to be seen but as the couple are in that moment the beauty portends all manner of things for them. You see each other bare, you see all the faults you are to discover in the coming days, the nirvana you are to enter, the responsibility you have to maintain and use each other well so as to keep the flame of this beauty alive. It ceases to be just a wedding ceremony it transforms into the declaration of a lifetime with as much gravity as earthly actions can ever promise.
It is this revelation that frightens me so, jolts me at the very thought of it. But like in everything there is a choice to run from the church or to drop the baby at an orphanage or to marry and give it the best you have, to raise the girl and see how it all pans out.
Most of us have become so frightened of the deeper perception of beauty that we no longer even perceive it that deeply anymore, for us handsome people are just like beautiful pictures on a wall, because seeing them for what they really are is frightening and understandably so ,because as they say heavy is the head that wears the crown. To deserve the crown of beauty you must be valiant for where there is beauty, there is always a war ahead and you must be prepared to win it or to lose it entirely even before you begin.