Bàn về ngây thơ

Nhân vừa nói chuyện với bạn tôi về sự ngây thơ và thuần khiết, nên tôi đào luôn về chủ đề này. Tất nhiên đây cũng là câu hỏi chung của rất nhiều người.

Từ hồi nhỏ, tôi đã từng bị coi là “thật như đếm”. Lớn lên thì bị lừa rất nhiều lần, và cũng có những lần tôi cố tình lợi dụng kẻ khác. Cán cân đó tất nhiên không đủ để mô tả sự sống động của những tương tác xã hội, vì bên cạnh động cơ rõ ràng, tôi cũng từng tiếp xúc và chứng kiến những hành động xả thân một chiều, hay phép màu của những yêu thương có thật.

Tất nhiên, ta không thể ngây thơ mãi. Đến 1 lúc nào đó thì những sự kiện trong cuộc sống cũng sẽ đả phá nó. Khi 1 kèo quá tốt xuất hiện, ta thường bảo nhau:

“It’s too good to be true”

Thế nhưng những người chọn sự không-ngây-thơ và tự cho mình là sành sỏi cũng đã tự bỏ lỡ rất nhiều những tương tác đẹp của cuộc sống, mà nếu ta thả lỏng hơn, mọi chuyện đã dễ dàng hơn biết bao nhiêu. Ngay tại thời điểm viết những dòng này, tôi là một người như vậy. Tôi không thả lỏng bản thân và chỉ cần 1 tên nào đó nói vài câu ngu dốt, tôi sẽ không ngại ngần bỏ đi. “Thật phí thời gian”, tôi nghĩ. Hoặc khi ai đó muốn kết bạn, tôi liền hỏi ngay:

– Cậu muốn gì?

Và nếu hắn không trả lời được, tôi cũng cho out ngay. Tất nhiên tôi cũng cho out luôn rất nhiều người tốt không hiểu mình đã lỡ nói điều gì. Tôi nhận ra mình không ngây thơ mà cũng chả khôn, vì nếu khôn thì sẽ cân bằng chứ không nghi kị một cách cực đoan như vậy.

Mọi chuyện sẽ thay đổi nếu đến lượt tôi có ý tốt và gặp phải 1 tên nghi kị không kém. Tôi sẽ phải toát mồ hôi hột để chứng minh là tôi không có ý gì đâu. “Hử, không có gì á? Không thể thế được”.

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The 4 agreements

I know about “The 4 agreements” around 3 years ago, in a cab. I was leading a private tour to Ha Long bay and on the way to airport, I asked my guest:

“Can you tell me what is the book that changed your life?

He smiled at that question and suggested me one and only book. “It sounds so simple”, I thought. I was looking for something more sophisicated so I decided to ignore his book recomendation and never actually read the book beyond a summary.

Until today. :). It’s still a simple book that can’t compare with the philosophy shelf, yet there’s nothing I can oppose.

Below are some extracts from chapter 2 – “Don’t make assumptions“.

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On Travel writing

Compared to other forms of writing, travel writing has less inherent value. The internet is redundant with travel content and one can easily find 100 articles or more about the same destination. It just does not root from necessity or a call to tell stories. Travel writing can inform and evoke sensations but normally does not go any further than that. In modern time, travel writing can be grouped in the same category with content marketing, sustained by good cashflow of tourism. And don’t talk about SEO writing. It’s just the worst.

Nevertheless, there are many levels of travel writing. At its worst, it’s full of cliches. At it best, it will be a delicate and in-depth look to a certain destination, done by savvy professionals. It will blend some cinematic elements with personal experiences and succinct analysis. This is a small, niche market, employed by high-end hotels/ resorts, travel column of big magazines and travel guidebooks.

There’s also another type – travel operators who write about their own products in a personal, authentic tone. Currently I see this rising in Instagram cause this platform allows people to tell instant stories in a personal way. Travel bloggers like Nomandic Matt is also shifting his focus more to Instagram than this website.

Despite all of its lures and problems, travel writing is ultimately a skill. It’s a sustainable skill to build cause there’s always a market to use and implore. Travel writing is also an excellent excuse to polish descriptive craft that I wanna dive in a bit deeper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to best share what happened

Everytime a friend joined an interesting event and simply said “it’s cool”, I get frustrated.

 

“What do you mean when you say it’s interesting ??” I asked

The conversation afterwards soon turned into an interview that, in turn, frustrates my friends. It seems difficult to transfer all those things he/ she just absorbed not long ago into something comprehensible. Details and sensations overwhelm us, and only choosing what to say seems difficult.

In this post, I will share my personal experiences in telling stories. Specifically, it’s a how-to for event journals. I will structure this as a casual Q&A write-up by imagining which questions you might have in mind, but do let me know if there are other questions. 🙂

WHY should we write about an event? Why not just use videos/ pictures?

Ideally, a good recap is a smooth combination of these media tools. Pictures help us have an impression and videos show the whole thing. However,  a succinct write-up will help:

  • forming stories

By choosing to write (aside with using other media tools), we have the capacity to not just presenting what happened, but elaborating it. In the process of being a conduit, we reshape reality and have the capacity to zoom in and zoom out, focusing on details that matter and leave out things that do not. This process is quite close to creativity and will give us a sense of flow, as well as autonomy.

But here comes the difficult part: HOW? Is it difficult? Is it time-consuming? How do we stay as objective as possible? How to we compress so much details into a short recap? What details to focus on? What details to leave out? How to open and end a story?

Writing is the best way to learn

Writing is the best way for us to reflect on certain things and people. Even when we don’t aim to share stories with people, writing will help forming a magnet for lateral thinking as well as archiving for future reflection. In this article in Medium a few years ago, this guy shares quite elaborately about his experience on writing

stop consumption

Personally, I chose to write about events because that process will force me to pay more attention in the first place, as well as fuel deeper reflection in the future. Therefore, even when I don’t care what others think or have no particular audience in mind, I will learn something in the process. A win-win situation based on a selfish standpoint.

Subjectivity versus Objectivity

An event journal resembles journalism, in a sense that we try to capture what happened but in the end, it’s not about us. It’s not only how we feel but how things actually unfold. Let readers/ audience decide for themselves how they should feel about those moments.

objectivity

That task is definitely difficult. I myself still struggle to balance subjectivity and objectivity. Deleting “I feel” is the first step, but we can’t help developing feelings to certain people and incidents. When that happen,  It’s okay to embrace our own perspective and weave that into the structure. In event journal, I balance this by

  • Being subjective about people (how a presenter makes me feel, what do I think about him/her, what do I think about his/her mannerism).
  • Being subjective about the vibe of the event (casual or formal, open or clastrophobic, free-flowing or tight)
  • Being objective about activities (what a presenter says, how audience react).

In the process of journal writing, you might find youself reacting differently. It’s OK.

Is it time-consuming?

Writing is a time-consuming process, but in a good way.  When we are immersed and attentive, time becomes elastic and relative.

When you first start, it might take around 4 hours to properly write a journal. Gradually, this will become a skill/ habit and take less time.

Anyway, don’t do it in the first place if time is a problem since writing can be a pain in the ass literally and metaphorically 🙂

chỉ mục

How should I structure the journal?

Ideally, we should structure a journal. Having this frame in mind will help us gather details more easily even without emotions. I have tried several personal templates and currently, this is what I stick to

journal

By having a certain structure in mind, you can write even when you don’t have enough emotions or even when you don’t have deep understanding of the subject. The frame you prepare will be an anchor to help you gather enough information as well as presenting it in a comprehensive style.

FINALLY – Words 🙂

Don’t worry if you don’t have enough vocabulary. Journal writing is a combination of description and reflection so you only need to have a set of vocabulary on

  • Descriptive writing (adjectives about people/ places)
  • Reflective writing (how you feel about certain things)

Using therasus dictionary is a big help in the process and don’t forget that writing is a continual editing. What you end up after writing will be different (and better than what you have in mind).

For descriptive writing, check out my previous post:

https://maydaydreaming.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/want-a-captivate-descriptive-writing/

For some of event journals, check out my other blog:

https://philosophyinvietnam.wordpress.com/

Thank you for reading. If you feel ready to try writing an event journal, PM me 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wassup my imaginary friend?

How are you?”

He asked. In a moment, I shiver. Of course it’s not a simple “How-are-you“. It will be a certain task to be done, or a query for a listener. And I am ready for neither of which.

“…..”

“what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I am tired”

“Oh, ok. sorry. Take a rest and let me know if you need anything”

“Okay. Talk later”

I answered abruptly, trying to remember the last time I have a proper two-sided conversation. I am trying to remember why I bring myself to this dead-end when I have no one to trust and share deepest feelings with. My friendships are built based on this “engage-and-retreat” strategy when I dig extensively for a while and stop when I feel sated. Needless to say, it’s not sustainable. After a while, humans are the same: a mixed bag of messy emotions. Not always a site to marvel at. Well, okay, sometimes :). Sometimes they are cool but not right now. At this particular moment, everyone is BORING ! BORING !! EXTREMELY BORING THAT THEY SHOULD FREEZE !! FREEZE !!

Yet this feeling churns inside me and in a moment I have this fierce combination of a headache and stomachache. I have to vomit my mental trash somewhere. Yurkkk !!!

How to vomit that mental trash? It must be very gross. yes,

gross, gross, groooossssssss

fear

Haiz. Not quite ….. Not gross enough….

 

 

Các nguồn tìm ebook tiếng anh miễn phí

Dưới đây là 1 số nguồn tìm ebook tiếng anh miễn phí, đơn giản và nhanh gọn:
 

1. Google keyword:

Gõ pdf + tên sách
Gõ torrent + tên sách
Sau đó chuyển sách sang định dạng epub hoặc mobi (có 1 số trang web giúp convert miễn phí, vd: www.pdftomobi.com)

2. Project Gutenberg

gutenberg

Được thành lập năm 1971,  Project Gutenberg là 1 trong những thư viện sách kinh điển nổi tiếng nhất với hơn 40,000 đầu mục ở nhiều định dạng. Chi phí tạo ebook và duy trì web khá khủng song những người thành lập vẫn sống tốt nhờ có các nhà tài trợ.
Về phía độc giả, web được thiết kế rất thân thiện với nhu cầu người dùng, phân loại theo các tiêu chí: thể loại, tác giả, ngôn ngữ. Mảng mạnh của site này là các sách triết học và văn học kinh điển.

3. Social Media

Capture

Hiện tại 1 nhóm khá ổn trên FB là “Hội chia sẻ & tìm kiếm Ebooks“, tuy nhiên nhóm chưa thực sự năng nổ trong việc trao đổi sách mà hiệu quả hơn trong việc mua/ bán/ đổi Kindle. Lượng thành viên ở thời điểm hiện tại (4/2018) là hơn 2000 người.
 
Trong trường hợp nếu không biết nên đọc sách gì, không nên lên các trang chung chung để hỏi vì trình độ đọc của 1 độc giả trung bình khá thấp và kể cả có khá cao thì cũng là những ý kiến chủ quan. Tốt nhất nên kết hợp Goodread Recommendations với 1 số trang như Gutenberg hay Quora để cho mình những gợi ý tốt nhất từ những tổ hợp ý kiến đã phân loại.

 

The looping matrix

After being immersed in the guilt of being indifferent, I opened the door of my broken-arm-housemate
“Hi!”
“Hi?”
“Do you wanna come over and watch a movie?”
“A movie? Sure, just let me know when you are ready”
So at around 8 she came over with a huge casted arm and we started by a movie I quickly come up in mind.
“Do you know Matrix?”, I ask.
“No. What’s it about?”
I hesitated at choosing the right words to summarize. How can I best describe it? Hmm
Uhm, it’s a movie about another world. It’s mysterious, and entertaining”
She seems to be okay with that short sentence and together we cradle inside a big blanket, some snacks on the side. This is my 5th time watching the movie and I find myself pausing every 10 minutes to explain the culture cues that I am able to interpret. The same feeling when a friend from Saigon, reversely, says about Foucault as a matter of fact while I stare at him cuelessly. Feeling the big gap, I stop explaining after a while and exchange plain so-called observations
– He is so fast!
– Yeah
– Is this a horror movie?
– No, it isn’t.
Movies, more than entertainment, can be the gateway to understand culture and complex ideology of another world. Depending on how well a viewer can explore, the effects of a movie will vary. Despite my good intention, the housemate can not share my pleasure, and till my turn,  I cannot reflect on that work as deeply as someone who are more familiar with cyberpunk, Plato’s cave or Simulacra and Simulation which serve as inspirations for the movie’s premise.
Screenshot
However the purpose of a movie is often not to educate. Movies, first and foremost, need to sell. A movie like Matrix needs to be thought-provoking enough to draw viewers’ attention and at the same time, entertaining enough to give us a good time even when we don’t get the deep culture cues. Ignorant audience still feel the pace of action scenes, like the moment Neo raises his hands to stop the bullet flow
Screenshot001
That superhuman power scene with his calm posture and ultimate control to twist a fatal incident to a different turn is enough to leave a long-lasting impression, urging us to want more.
Yet, movies fans after enjoying that, dig deeper and spend hours exploring premises constructed by screenwriters and even create website like this
Screenshot002
When it comes to interpreting fictions or cinematic works, I can’t help feeling we are sheep. My housemate is the ignorant sleepy sheep and the ones contributing to Matrix101 site are passionate sheep who may pat themselves on their shoulders for exploring deeper layers.
Yet, altogether, we are just exploring pieces of a game set up by screenwriters and producers which might or might not make any sense. If that’s the case, I would rather join the second gang.

Hidden Figures revealed in Hanoi

It’s been a long time since I came back to American Center, this time, for a short heat and mental escape. Both reasons. I got through the security gate and immediately facing a bunch of Vietnamese high school and undergraduate students talking with each other in loud american english. The charming woman with a stylish dress who has been working there greeted us with a smile.

– Coke & popcorn are outside.

“Free food !!!”, the scarcity mindset that dominated me for nearly a month makes that industrial coke suddenly very attractive. “Hmm, do I deserve it? But it’s free food”, I took a sip of coke without touching the popcorn.

Soon enough we came to the event & movie room, opposite to the library section. An American woman stood up to introduce the movie called “Hidden Figures”, in which the setting is 1960s while black segregation was prevalent. The main characters were 3 bright black women working for NASA, hoping to help US not behind in the space race.

The plot is predictable – the 3 black women are, in the beginning, very talented. They are so talented that NASA cannot put segregation rules on them, eventually. And sure, something’s gonna happen to change racism. A positive vibe is radiant from the screen.

It’s not difficult to see why hordes of teenagers rush here (and will be more in summer). It’s $ from America spent in educational resources that we can benefit, in a regime of instructing a positive image of that country.

Thank u, American tax payers. For your WiFi, books, coke & movie.


P/S: despite all that, the film is quite idealistic. The women there are top notch. They are built to succeed and there is not any moment that they lose faith or spirit, which is too hyped up.

But it’s still a movie to inform I guess. Thank u

Man’s search for meaning

“Man’s search for meaning” was given to our office after a long day. Coming back  after riding in Mekong, I asked Van upon seeing a new stack of books on the table.

– Wow, whose books are these?
– Steve’s. We can read them.

Scrolling through the bunch, I chose for myself the thinnest one for the sake of…fea
sibility. With the cover of a candle lighting in the dark and an ambitious name, the book gave an impression of being overrated, or at least religious. I read through a few pages and put it back to the shell, like what I do with almost anything else in life – abrupt, broken and unfinished.

mans-search-for-meaning-frankl-en-25382_993x520

Not until Paul came to Saigon did I took it out again to discuss over a cafe. “It is a great book”, Mary Croy said. Or at least something similar. Written by a survival in Nazi concentration camp and a psychoanalyst – Victor Frank, the book describes and analizes psychological reactions, emotional turmoil of the author and his friends after being robbed away everything step by step.

They are herded as naked sub-human beings for a long period of time in extremely limited space, lack of food, heavy repetitive workload, no hope and no real identity.

In that particular time of history, how did the prisoners cope to find the meaning in life?

Buchenwald Survivors, 1945

The book is divided in two parts, the later part is less interesting and more focused on logotherapy as a method, yet in general, it is a vivid depiction of emotional battle of normal people in an abnormal context, when all set of values are challenged. How can they, and us, see the meaning of life in a seemingly hopeless and pointless concept?

Despite contrast in the time and context used in the book, we can, for once, imagine ourselves in their shoes and feel a special emotion journey actually experienced by an articulate mind-reader and professional psychologist.

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More importantly, how can we, modern human beings living in peace and fulfillment of basic needs, relate to the “meaning” mentioned in the book? As most of us have every basic things we need, is the void and vacuum of meaninglessness in modern life still relevant to the meaning in the book?

mans-search-for-meaning

How can a normal person like me with music, earphones, ample portions of food, work to do and freedom to do so many things still feel meaningless?

The book has brought me through a special teleportation back in time and get into the mind of another human’s quest for meaning. In a seemingly hopeless and pointless absurd cut of human history.