Thursday, December 30, 2010


Having gone to school for science was both a blessing and a curse. In a way, the scientific method and the quest for an absolute truth can be as comforting as a strong religious belief. It's a way in which to view the world. It's believing in something. Science, God. Isn't it the same? The scientific method is to an extent as unreliable as what they call 'blind faith.' Even when all variables and factors have been manipulated or controlled it is still extremely difficult to conclude with utmost certainty that something is so. We've gone for years believing one thing, and then a new method reveals that we were wrong all along. How we look at things and measure things and even how we think about the results we want to achieve can affect what we claim something to be. Although we strive to be impartial, we are not. And neither are our methods.

Now, this is not to say that I don't think science is useful. Of course science can tell us things, and a lot of the time, they are probably 'true.' But what I'm trying to get across is that our world is divided (and maybe has always been divided) into two camps: the believers and the seekers. Those that believe in religion, and those that seek 'truth' in science.

In a world where so many of our problems are said to stem from the apparent disconnect between modernity and religiosity, and blood is poured for the sake of 'rationalism' against 'radicalism' I have come to realize that I identify with neither one of these camps. Although my own scientific upbringing makes it challenging for me to believe certain aspects of faith, the other half of my university education in the arts and my own imagination has made me come to a point where I truly believe there is not necessarily an absolute truth, but rather truth is a combination of perception and 'reality'.

Time is one of these amazing things where the idealist and the realist can duke it out endlessly. One way of viewing time is viewing it as a fundamental universal structure based on the sun and the stars and all those physical things (what's up Newton!), and the other view, suggested by Kant (among others) is that time is a form of our experience. For the idealist, there is no experience independent of the mind. I was raised as a realist. Raised to believe that I can't beat time. Time is money. Time flies. Basically, time will keep going, I will keep aging, things will keep changing and I can't do much about it. And to an extent, I agree. I've experienced how time has mended a broken heart, how time has taken a life, I've gotten marks docked off papers for not handing them in 'in time'. As much as I want it not to be, time is a reality and time makes me get up at the same time every morning to go to work, because I can't be late. Our whole world is structured around time. Time pretty much kicks ass around here. But then again...maybe I can manipulate time. When I'm doing something enjoyable, time does not control me. I don't think about it, I don't care about it and I don't worry about it. But when I'm bored or in pain or stressed, time is the only thing on my mind. When will this day end? When will I feel better? And time has control over me. 60 minutes can feel like a lifetime, or can simply feel like a space where a feeling is experienced, where quantity is irrelevant. It is a where, not a when. It's like being with someone who you connect with. If you're really connecting you can talk or be together for hours on end, and it might not be until the sun rises that you realize how much time has gone by. Or listening to a great vinyl. Sometimes it's unbelievable that it's already time to change the side.

We can manipulate time by doing things that make it irrelevant. And my understanding of time explains how I see the world, and how I see this great divide between the believers and the seekers. I can see both sides. Time reminds me of this. Whenever my habit to use reason makes me question how some people live their lives , I try to remind myself how easily our minds can create realities, and these realities affect every decision we make. Wars are fought based on opposing truths. And if people are willing to die for things they believe in, can we tell them that their beliefs aren't true? This kind of talk can lead me towards the discussion of morality, which is a subject I talk about a little but even though I don't really know where I stand in terms of what is moral or not. My instinct tells me there is right and wrong, but I'm not sure if this is implicit in humanity or something that society has instilled in me. Are we inherently evil? Nonetheless, I believe that religions and belief systems all have one thing in common: belief that they are 'right', and this belief becomes reality.

There are no battles of ultimate right and wrong, but rather battles between worlds with different sets of rights and wrongs. This is why we will always have war, intellectual or physical. If there was an ultimate truth, humanity should have unanimously arrived at it already and we would all believe the same things. But we haven't, and we never will.

*Check out how one person is trying to manipulate time: *

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


For any of those close to me, you know my tendency to be completely enthralled with an album without having any desire to listen to anything else for a while.

There have been many albums that have stayed with me in such a way, and for those of you who have experienced a similar thing will maybe understand how the albums become soundtracks to a certain chapter in your life. I can listen to an album and be taken back to that time in my life. And somehow that album, the lyrics, the sound, it all perfectly complements my life at that time. The world's best music supervisor couldn't have placed it better.

Is this because music effects the way that I behave, or do I subconsciously choose what music I need in my life?

When Is This It? by The Strokes was released I, like the album, was rambunctious, gritty, but at the same time still fresh. I was bouncing through high school parties to the beat of "The Modern Age" and groggily reflecting growing up, boys, and the general malaise that accompanies being an awkward teenager to "Is This It" after a night of keg-stands and beer bongs. I was your regular teenager, doing all the things teenagers have been doing for years, but yet I, and we, the Generation Y, or whatever the new age term is for us kids, were also different than our parents, just like how The Strokes were beginning a different chapter of rock music. They call us the Peter Pan generation, hopelessly trying to delay adulthood. And indie rock, although it had started twenty years before, took a turn when Is This It? was released. The rock and roll lifestyle became our anthem. Next, bands like Tokyo Police Club (who cite The Strokes as an influence) began playing shows here in Toronto and their shows created a kind of scene, the kind of scene that makes you always think about the night before.."last nite".

This is not to say that I only listened to this genre of music. Or that I only ever partied. Of course I listened to many other albums with a completely different vibe in this same period of my life. But other albums make me think about moving away from home, missing my family, breakups, loneliness, academia. My point is how albums can highlight aspects of your past. Almost like a snapshot of every moment that matches the feel of an album.

I've been reflecting a lot about 2010 as of late. It's the last month of the year so I suppose that's normal. Also because I am in the midst of preparing my Best of 2010 list. There have been some amazing albums this year but one album that will make me remember this year will most certainly be the Mimicking Birds LP.

If you haven't listened, you must. It's painstakingly beautiful. Simple, reflective, calm, and intimate. It's been a year of change for me. I've graduated university, thinking about where I'm going, who I am, all that sappy stuff. And this album has been there for me because it can be anything you want it to be. You can listen to it and feel content and calm and it can be wonderful background music, but if you focus on it and listen closely it's also incredibly complicated. And I think that's what this year has been for me. Feeling content at times, and completely absorbed in thought at other times, in such a way that I feel like my brain is an endless ball of thread entangled in knots and coils. This year has gone by so incredibly fast at times, like I'm standing on a subway platform watching the train woosh by me, yet I feel like it's been quite the journey to get here.

But, like this album, I can't deny that 2010 has been beautiful. Sometimes dark, sometimes light, but always real.

"I'm one in six billion no way I'm at fault
I swear it's not me I'm too small
And growing all the time
Can't reach yea such a sweet lie
Hard knowing whatcha gonna be like" - Mimicking Birds