An Incomplete Eloquence – a pretty interesting article on the use of marginalia, and a reader’s relationship to a book.
I don’t agree with all the points made by the author. After all, it is quite possible a person who defers the use of marginalia, isn’t necessarily failing to build a “relationship” with the book, nor is guilty of not having “used” it well. Simply, the book may just be boring, inciting no particular inspiration in the reader. It may also be a personal preference of the reader, who in reality, may enjoy an interesting read, and find the necessity to pause, and collect their thoughts rather distracting.
The article was a pleasant coincidence, as I’ve spent the past month raking in a variety of book purchases amidst the summer sales at Chapters (the bookstore), and been recently debating between either using marginalia in those books or to document my thoughts in a separate journal! For now, I’ve decided to use a separate diary to compile my ideas, and analysis of the passages on the books I’ve read.
Nevertheless, I must admit there is “An Incomplete Eloquence” in the extensive use of marginalia that I myself utilized to a great extent throughout the course of my undergraduate studies.
Apart from being excited about the influx of likes, and new followers (to all of whom I give a hearty welcome to The Pensive Reverie), I have been busy the past week compiling the latest of results that I will have to submit in my Masters thesis. It is a killer, but it has been an enjoyable experience so far, and I can’t wait to continue on towards PhD studies in Robotics!
Leina, and I, along with our close friends also had the chance to enjoy some beautiful fireworks by Saskatchewan Drive, last weekend, as we celebrated Canada Day! It was a beautiful evening, despite occasional mosquito bites, and the eventual downpour of rain.
Having tackled “Constructing an Identity,” I’ve now decided on a second topic to post. It has been cooking in my mind for a few weeks, particularly after a highly encouraging, and ridiculously cheese-vegilicious Make-Your-Own-Pizza session at home!
Oh yes, I love cooking! I tend to liken my approach to cooking with that of a creative activity, allowing me to mix the right ratio of spices, and broths of my taste, to help stimulate my mind, as well as satiate my hunger. In that creative vein, I found a suitable candidate for the next topic I would like to address in this blog, regarding the notion of peace as a euphemism for power.
I intend to once again use a medium of my choice, in this case a brief book review of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, and a good dose of reference to the extended universe of the franchise, to guide my discussion of the topic.
Though I haven’t finalized a date on when I will publish the post, I’m hoping to complete it, and have it up on the blog within a week or so. In the meanwhile, I will post short messages on my daily adventures, and on anything interesting that catches my eye.
It is a question that everyone asks at some point in their lives, and characterizes an individual’s struggle to define their identity, relative to themselves, and the world. Understanding this allows one to examine, as well as recognize, their own potential, and qualities as an individual. It is also highly influential in one’s decision on who they choose to be, particularly in relation to their social circumstances.
I’d spent the past week wrestling with this concept, that incidentally suffers heavily from the bias of vague, and open-ended statements. It is also an onerous task to maintain a degree of impartiality in discussing the various facets of a concept that is implicitly co-dependent on the individual, and their environment. Thus, for the sake of brevity, and a measure of focus, I will abstain from a generalized mode of approach, and inject a dose of my personal experience, as a third culture kid (TCK), to guide my review of this subject.
What is a TCK?
A third culture kid is a term used to describe children who were raised in a culture, or an environment outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their years of development.
Self-identity is a measure of an individual’s growth, and is paralleled by their personal intelligence. Self-knowledge is the understanding of oneself, and one’s motives, or character. Personal intelligence is the exhibition of this self-knowledge, allowing one to correctly evaluate oneself, and others. Possessing personal intelligence also allows individuals to acknowledge their own limitations.
Altogether, it could be said that this triad of elements, and their dynamics in an individual define his/her personality. An analogy can be made to the form of ideas, and their subsequent expression via actions. The question of identity is a sponsoring thought, precursor to the ideas that form the foundation of our self-knowledge, to ultimately result in the growth of our personal intelligence exercised in our ability to adapt to our environment, and our decisions.
In constructing one’s identity, an individual confronts the objective of maintaining a balance between these three elements, while remaining open to an assortment of external influences that pervade one’s environment. This balance exemplifies the ideal “perfection” that every individual may seek as dictated by the boundaries of their life.
An Identity Crisis
An identity crisis is not so much a crisis as it is a natural consequence of life. One may experience such an issue at any point in their life, and at times, repeatedly.
In my case, the root of the crisis was in the difference of my views, along with the influx of conflicting “agents” that set about the expansion of my world. It was a process that eventually led me to acknowledge my status as a TCK.
These so-called “agents” were the structures about which my life revolved, and a casual listing of a few would include: culture, religion, family, education, and personal experience. My identity crisis originated from a combination of these factors, and had a significant influence in my mental, and physical maturity.
Every individual we meet in life maintains a unique view of the world, none of them being perfect. At times, we aren’t conscious of this world view, and there is an associated vagueness on the rules that we abide by, or prefer to choose, in leading our lives. Problems in self-identity arise as reason pierces this vagueness that clouds our psyche.
My exposure to a clash of cultures, and my daily interactions during my life at Egypt, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Canada, the differences in religious rituals, and conversations, the changes in family dynamics as well as the choices made in my personal education, and the acceptance of selective experiences allowed for clarity, and a brand new integrated perspective on the rules, and standards that dictated my life.
My struggle primarily concerned communicating my differing views, and perspectives within the conservative habitat of my family. To call for blame was redundant, and the solution followed the simple necessity of an open conversation, but the path to it was fraught with afflictions of self-doubt, and a gradual disintegration of the boundaries that once delegated my life. I often liken it to seeing the two faces of a coin, describing the dual identity I maintained, while in contention with an objective to delineate the appropriate behavioral balance in between.
What is the bigger picture?
The environment contributed vastly to my progress. My childhood was predominantly in India, in a society that constituted a collective form of individuality, where there is a preference for group mentality, particularly surrounding family relationships. As a ten year old, I was not able to critically assess my status in this culture.
The rest of my life was spent traveling from country to country, completing my secondary education in Egypt, followed by my higher-secondary studies in Sudan. While my family would continue in their collective journey to Sierra Leone, I decided to pursue studies at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, and where I am now to this day.
In between these transitions, I slowly confronted the persisting doubts, and questions I had of the various cultures, and communities where I had lived. This led to the conflict between the conservative dynamics of my family, and the open attitude I embraced in my life.
I found the inability to openly discuss individual differences within my culture as a major obstacle in communication. Social interactions would rather become a form of control (abusive or non-abusive), followed by an equally weighted concern for internal, and external judgment. Influence seemed a selective process relegated upon the younger population via the codes of conduct (or ritual) held in high esteem by the older fraternity.
On the other hand, the allure of an open approach towards life, fostered an independent attitude, and relationships. There was an inherent favoritism towards the individual, and his/her actions could reflect along the lines of, “You do what is right for you-haters gonna hate.”
Confronted by these differences, I decided to choose the best of both worlds. It is a choice that I still debate, and contend with. My identity crisis entertains a search for balance between the differing values, and ways of life in the two communities. Neither was perfect, and both had their share of deficiencies, and advantages.
How do we make the right decisions?
It is the final destination. An identity crisis ultimately comes to debating the right course of action. In my opinion, there is no one absolute answer.
The choice of identity is a highly selective, and fast-evolving process. At the end of the day, it really is up to the individual to decide on what they wish to believe in, and the path they choose to pursue.
It would be highly favorable if this decision is made with an open mind that not only acknowledges the compromises that may be made, but also the necessity to remove oneself from an environment that may not be suitable in their lives.
This willingness to separate oneself from their immediate world, can be accompanied by a healthy endeavor to integrate the multitude of perspectives, and views that concern their life.
To what end?
My comments on the prior section may provide an air of selfishness about the individual in choosing their well-being over that of others. In my own life, my choice to follow a unique path was falsely viewed as an act of selfishness. This is very common, as we are after all discussing an issue that pits an individual against his/her immediate environment, and peers. Thus, it is natural to have a difference of views, or a parting of ways among the subjects involved.
Identity is an evolving concept. It is a lifelong transition, and depending on the individual, it may or may not find a resolution. I’m still very much in the process of constructing my identity, and have found my resolve by focusing on my dreams, and aspirations. Compromises have to be made, and is inherent in our struggles to find a place for ourselves in this world.
But, in the end, what matters the most is that we do so being true to ourselves, and who we wish to be. While doubts, and misgivings may persist, it is up to us to keep pushing forward, even when a resolution may not be evident, in this grand adventure that is life, for isn’t that what it means to be human?
To my readers
This post describes my personal opinions on this complex subject. I invite critical comments, and discussions.
As promised, look forward to the first critical article that I intend to post on this blog this weekend! The discussion will focus on addressing, and scrutinizing the psychology, and dynamics involved in the construction of an individual’s identity, as well as the various parameters that play an influence in the process.
I am now officially 25 years old. I’d celebrated the annual turn of my biological clock (yesterday) which culminated in the usual exclamation (courtesy of a close “friend” of mine):
I have a habit, on the eve of my birthday, to recollect, and contemplate upon the memories of the year prior. This year’s celebration came with a twist, as I found myself looking ahead instead to the goals I’ve committed to, and hope to realize by my 26th.
The shortlist would include:
(1) The completion of a new book (as well as the start of a bunch of writing projects spanning various genres such as manga, science fiction, and politics).
(2) The completion of my Masters degree (and the subsequent pursuit for a PhD, in Robotics).
(3) A family reunion in the near future, along with various opportunities for short trips around the world to exotic locations (time-permitting).
It’s an ambitious endeavor, but I’m more than ready to see it through to the end. Having saved up some money to gift myself on this occasion with a portable keyboard (a Yamaha PSRE-W400, to be specific), I’m hoping to play out the melodies of my life of the next year as a beautiful composition,
that I could one day look back to, and just go,
Jokes aside, I’m very happy. I can’t thank my family, and my girlfriend Leina, enough. You have both supported me at every turn. You are the best! So how did I celebrate?
To be frank, it was quite simple. I had a great time with Leina, during our Shakespearean date, to a live staging of Romeo, and Juliet by the FreeWillPlayers at William Hawrelak Park (a show I highly recommend to anyone who is in Edmonton.)
The play was a wonderful reminder of the literature study I had done on the same, almost seven years ago in high school. The project’s requirement was a critical analysis of the play’s major themes, in a report of maybe a few pages. I took things to the extreme, submitting instead, a 50 page act-by-act analysis, along with a personal statement, to my distraught professor.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the show, it wasn’t long until I took a leaf out of Romeo’s quips,
“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
to woo my partner. Rightfully so, I was bequeathed my gift, all thanks to your eloquent words, William!
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the date. Walking back home from the park, against the backdrop of night, Leina, and I had an open view of the sky, bereft of urban structures, and the flickering dance of stars that grace the heavens during the summer season. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
The stars provide a sense of eternity, in their constant appearance. I can’t say the same about my life, always in motion, and inviting change at every window of opportunity. Learning to accept this was a difficult process, and played a significant role in my struggle to come to terms with my identity. But, in the end, I’m well aware that without such a struggle, I would not be the man I am today, nor would I be surrounded by the people who have supported me every step of the way.
25? It is an interesting number. I highly anticipate the adventures that lie ahead.
I’d like to thank my family, my friends, and my partner, Leina, for all their love. You all made my day.
The comfortable silence is apt for inspiration. In my case, it lasted a year. A lot has changed since, so I find it necessary to once again begin by asking the question, “Who am I?”
My name is Ajay Peter Manuel (my pen name is Locke.) I’m a deeply inquisitive individual, with momentous dreams, aspirations, and a great appreciation for life! I currently live at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and am on the verge of completing my MSc. degree in Physics (September 2016, to be precise), at the University of Alberta (U of A)
Having left my hometown at Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, I completed my Elementary, and Middle School education at Cairo, Egypt. A four year stay at Khartoum, Sudan would see to the completion of my High School studies, followed by my journey to the U of A. The culmination of my journey from Sudan to the successful completion of my BSc. degree in Honors Astrophysics was the publication of my autobiography, Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir, and the commencement of my first blog @ourlastsummer2013.wordpress.com
This was inevitably followed by broken, disconnected posts, and eventually after the eve of my 24th birthday, a year-long silence, during which I consciously acknowledged my identity crisis. I struggled to come to terms with myself, my friends, and my family. It was an experience that taught me the price of freedom, and individuality.
I now find myself embarking upon a new adventure in my life, where I could fulfill my deep-seated, far-fetched, and momentous aspirations, and dreams. Broadly speaking, I’m looking at an individual who has integrated his various passions in education, innovation, writing, art, music, science, critical thinking, accompanied with an endless appetite for life. It’s a lot to handle for sure, but I’m excited for the adventures that may lie ahead, and the challenges to be met.
Of course, there is much more to what has already been said, and this is where The Pensive Reverie takes the stage. The title pays homage to my most beloved of all hobbies: sitting down, staring off into space, and thinking about a plethora of things (and at times, absolutely nothing.)
This blog will be an infusion of my personal life, hobbies, and interests. I’m an avid reader, and thinker. As such, the content of the blog may vary between discussions on book reviews, philosophy, science, and just about everything that is fun, and interesting in life. On a weekly basis, I will be posting an extensive review or discussion about a topic that serves to pique my interest. On a daily basis, the blog will be a haven for snap discussions, inspirational quotes, daily news, and the advertisement of my literary works, and activities.
I intend to keep the blog, and my posts open to all for discussion. I invite rational criticism from my fellow bloggers, and readers. This blog will also be linked to my social media platforms on Facebook, and Twitter etc. Currently, much of this is under construction, but the transformation will be soon complete.
I look forward to interacting with you all, and in the coming days, complete the transformation to The Pensive Reverie.