In the Trail of the Forbidden Fruit: Part I – The Apple

In the Trail of the Forbidden Fruit: Part I – The Apple

Feeling a bit snacky late last night, I found myself in the kitchen. Once lingering inside still unsure about whether to go for some crackers or a chunky cookie, my eyes fell on the singled out apple on the counter that tempted me with its perfectly smooth, polished crimson skin promising to quench my thirst while filling in the tiny void in my stomach about to be reborn as hunger. After the first bite, I felt so good as if I was in heaven… or… wait… now the confusion started settling in… wasn’t it the apple… the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in paradise?… didn’t a bite out of an apple put in motion the events that led to Adam and Eve to be cast off the garden of Eden? 

How could this marvelous fruit be the cause of the first sin, especially when it’s never been stated explicitly to be the culprit in the holy books or the ancient writings? I decided to dig in some more… both to the subject and the half-bitten apple in my hand… It was time to consult the holy texts, starting with the Genesis.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Genesis 1:29

Seeds? Guess what! Apples have seeds! Fruit with seeds are safe! The answer seemed to be clear… the forbidden fruit couldn’t be the apple… Perhaps the moment when Eve was tempted into taking a bite off the forbidden fruit by the talking snake needs to be explored a bit more.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”

Quote from King James Bible
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Still no direct mention of the apple here, but a fruit that can kill you by contact should hardly be even considered an apple. Perhaps, it’s some kind of poisonous fruit with no seeds within, but we’ll explore other options in another post. Wondering why the belief that apples were the cause of the original sin was so widespread, I dug in some more, and I could see the confusion and why it was to blame. Here’s a very condensed version of why:

  • Malus is the Latin name for both apple and evil… It is very well known today that the first impression is crucial and image is everything, so you wouldn’t expect your child whom you named “Devil” or “Hellby” to be accepted with open arms amongst others and live in peace even in today’s evolved society. This was misfortunate on behalf of the apple as in fact, “malus” was the generic name for any kind of foreign fruit except berries, and nations across the world named all the strange fruits in their language in relation to that fact… e.g: tomatoes: love apples or golden apples, potatoes: earth apples, oranges: Chinese apples, datura: thorn apples…
  • Although the homeland of the apple is scientifically proven to be Kazakhstan (hence the former name of its former capital city Alma-ata meaning father of apples), it is mostly agreed that the apple traveled through to the west from Syria and ancient Persia via the Silk road in reverse. Zoroastrianism, which was the religion of the pre-Islamic Persians, had a belief system based on dualistic cosmology of good and evil… a belief system that favoured the balance of opposites. Apples, having both sugar and sour taste perfectly represented this harmony through balance. Sounds just like the alleged fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, doesn’t it? Perhaps, this chunk of the belief had travelled with the apple to the new lands.
  • After the widespread of apples in Western lands,  ancient artists often used it as a model in their works of divine art depicting deities and events of significance. The ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, the Norse deity of fertility Idunn, and many other gods and goddesses were often painted holding, hurling or just looking at apples, which was basically why it was considered as the fruit originating from the heavens. Moreover, mythology frequently suggests apples to be closely linked with deities in stories like the apple of discord which started the war of Troy and the twelve labours of Hercules in which he had to retrieve golden apples from the garden of Hesperides as one of the tasks. So, seeing apples in divine art and reading or listening about them in mythology is more than enough to place them in paradise.
Golden Apple of Discord by Jacob Jordaens (and just look how the angel at the back looks terrified by the sight of the apple!)
  • Apples were often linked with immortality in mythology like the golden apples of Hesperides (or apples of immortality) that Hercules was tasked to retrieve and that Idunn in Norse mythology was the keeper of magic apples of immortality. Immortality is the one thing that separates man from god. Unlike gods, mankind can’t live forever. Well, ok, but Eve didn’t achieve immortality after eating the apple, so how does this work?… Remember it was the fruit of the tree of knowledge that was forbidden to touch or eat, and with apples symbolizing immortality, can it be something in the lines of what Dalai Lama once said: “Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  • Let’s leave mythology behind and fast forward to the time when Christianity was flourishing among the Celts and Romans in eternal conflict. Originating from Dionysus paganism, the Roman Catholics loathed the Druid faith influenced Celts. Just as grapes and wine were favoured by the Roman Catholics; apples and cider were the favourites of the Celts. The conflict started rising even more when Celts started calling the Catholic grape “corrupt”, while the Romans spread the belief that apples were “hellish”. The battle of throwing dirt on each other was clearly won by the Roman Catholics, as stories about how evil the apple was, linking it to the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden and from that moment on, it spread like wildfire. These stories became beliefs in short time. For instance, to prove that the apple was the devil’s fruit, one could slice the apple vertically to witness Eve’s vagina embedded in the core, or when sliced horizontally the apple core revealed a pentagram; the symbol for the devil, engraved in its centre.
From Left to Right: Eve’s Vagina and the devil’s pentagram

Ancient stories about apples being the forbidden fruit and symbolizing evil, immortality, and knowledge have seeped into our souls as it continued inspiring more modern beliefs, art, literature and culture not very different from the ancient versions. From Snow White munching on a poisonous apple… all the way to Apple Inc. adopting a half-bitten apple as its logo symbolizing a bite (or a byte) taken out of knowledge… At least, the apple isn’t as sinful as it used to be… So, go now, get an apple and bite into it. You’ve earned it!

For “In the Trail of the Forbidden Fruit: Part II”, I am planning on featuring the tomato!

Further reading and references for this article:

  • “In the Devil’s Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food” by Stewart Lee Allen.
  • “Apple: A Global History” by Erika Janik
  • “Paradise Lost” by John Milton

Resurfacing Obsolete or Old Habits for Post-Covid Life

Resurfacing Obsolete or Old Habits for Post-Covid Life

Whether you believe Covid’s a pandemic or a plandemic, it has been more than a year since our lifestyles were changed drastically in almost all aspects of life. Social calls have been mostly put on hold, education became distanced, travel became more local, and the number of people washing their hands and stockpiling toilet paper has increased tenfold! Some businesses shut down while others used this opportunity to thrive. Corporately speaking, the greedy CEOkind is sure to come up with more new and costly inventions that would ease the transition of overly-concerned people towards a more hygienic, socially distanced and controlled life-style. Some post-covid lifestyle supporting innovations like scented masks that come in a variety of flavours are already on the market. But, the newest inventions, the latest fashion or whatever you may call these new ideas, they will always be too expensive for the general population in the earlier days.

So, what can people with less money to waste do? I believe there’s nothing better than reverting to old ways to fend off the virus in our daily lives and here’s how (listed under relevant topics):

Fashion:

  • Are you a young girl or a woman? Have Victorian origins by any chance? If you can answer both questions ‘yes’, then it’s high time to raid your great-grandmother’s wardrobe to look for a vintage Victorian dress! As most Victorian skirts were supported by crinolines worn underneath which made the skirt actually wider, these special dresses will also form a natural border of personal space around; keeping other people socially distanced while maintaining vintage fashion!
Image Credit: The Vintage News
  • Have access to an ancient armour set? (If not, you can buy cheap, unauthentic sets online.) Not only will you look cooler strolling down the street in armour, but you will also be protected from floating viruses in the vicinity if a matching Corinthian helmet that only has a tiny space for the mouth, is also worn. Much better than plastic face shields, no? If you can also get a crossbow to complete your outfit, you can also shoot whoever violates your personal space. Moreover, you can polish your armour regularly and perhaps you can even become somebody’s ‘knight in shining armour’.
  • Is your digital wrist watch water-proof? Even if you answered ‘yes’ to this question, metal watch straps can corrode quicker when you frequently wash your hands to get rid of the virus clinging onto your hands. If the watch strap is leather, it still needs a viable solution as leather, too, is greatly affected by water. So, why not revert to carrying a pocket watch which would make your time-telling device need less spare part replacements.

Entertainment:

  • When was the last time you went to a proper masquerade party? Probably never. The 16th century renaissance entertainment can easily become popular post-covid, adding class to your fashion by replacing horrid-looking surgical masks with artsy counterparts as well as taking entertainment to a new level. Spread the dancing spirit, not the covid!
  • Imprisoned at our own homes by prolonged covid lockdowns, we got used to spending long hours indoors, improving our binge-watching skills as full time couch potatoes. Since most of us finished whatever they threw at us on Netflix in record times, and the fact that there are fewer productions due to covid restrictions, we are soon bound to run out of things to watch at home. That is unless we rediscover VHS or Betamax video players and loot whatever tape that remains in those old boxes in your storage. Whether it’s your parents’ wedding ceremony recording or a dozen ancient films never digitized, you are in luck!
  • Squash!!! Certainly not the vegetable… but I can’t call this one-person activity a sport either as losing to a wall using a racquet and a tennis ball is not quite the competition. So, I had to list this option under entertainment! Nevertheless, bouncing balls alone will never get you sick and it’s safe to say that squash and your worthy opponent; the wall is not contagious at all.

Healthcare:

  • Perhaps it’s time for the reemergence of medieval plague doctors and their infamous plague masks, which consisted of a long beak strapped to the nose, mainly for preventing miasma (the bad smell which was thought to be spreading diseases at the time) reaching the doctor’s olfactory sense. The beak could even hold dried flowers or fragrant herbs, making the virus work harder to be able to infect the doctor. 
Not a bird…
  • Emergence of witch doctors in less literate societies can be a solution as they can act like organic placebo, treating the sick, or protecting the uninfected with chants and benevolent magic. It’s in human nature to blindly believe people with higher social statuses. We do still believe politicians, don’t we? A respectable witch doctor can shoo away the virus and protect a society. Belief and hope can do miracles!
Which doctor would you prefer?

Transportation:

  • It’s getting more riskier day by day to use family automobiles and public transportation as they put the commuters in confined spaces with others, maximizing the risk of infection. Walking is still great, but doing that in a crowded urban city still poses a threat. So, how can we walk fearlessly amidst a crowd? The answer is stilt-walking, where the walker uses two long wooden poles with foot rests to walk above the crowd just like how some circus people walked. The poles can be cut into any desired height, making it nearly impossible to get infected from bypassing another stilt walker in the street. The sky is the limit here.
Image Credit: Reuters
  • It’s different for longer journeys. Walking or stilt-walking will take ages if we are travelling far. And, since we are limited especially by international travel and the unwanted quarantine times when we reach our destination, the most viable thing left to do is any form of dreaming whether it’s a daydream when you can escape your boss and your mask half-dozing in your office or a lucid dream to escape the reality of these times and take full control of your next travel destination.

Reverting to these old ways will certainly not have the desired affects mentioned above, but they will surely drag us out of this vortex of boredom we’ve been thrown into.

The Energy of Objects: The Inanimate Magic of our Era

The Energy of Objects: The Inanimate Magic of our Era

The idea to write this article first popped up during a chat with a friend on how certain objects not only can change our mood, but also the moods of the people around us. And from there the idea developed into the meaning we give to certain objects. For those who have dropped by for a flash fiction piece or a short story, click on the link at the end of this article to read one of my published stories ‘The Mouldy Loaf’, which happens to be loosely based on what I am going to write in this article…  (You will need to scroll down a little until you see the story.)

Belongings, possessions, objects or whatever we name them, are just like mental luggage constantly carried around…

B Cansevgisi

Even if you have a minimalist lifestyle, living in an empty house with little or no belongings, you might feel a vague connection to some household objects or certain clothes. At least, your grotesque coffee mug or the single wobbly wooden chair, with one shorter leg huddled up in the corner, must have had a certain attraction to be your first selection to make it to your home amongst countless, more supreme other similar items. 

In the early steps of infancy, we start getting attached to certain objects whether it’s a book of fairy tales we can’t read, a favourite toy we carry everywhere or a clothing item like a tiny pair of pants with tiny pockets to store whatever strange bug or pebble we may find while playing outside. As young minds, we make deep connections with such objects and become joyous when we are in the vicinity of those mood boosters or get depressed if we lose them. At those ages this is understandable, especially in regards to our favourite toys or dolls as our untrained minds think they’re as much alive as we are. But, why we still feel the same way until we die, is a mystery.

Is it longing for some magic in our boring mundane lives?

An ode to the death of our inner child?

Or

Do objects store some kind of energy that can be traded back and forth?

Let’s grow up a tad and take a peek into our teenage phase:

Before our slightly developed minds are lured into greed by friends, family, movies, computer games or the media, we never even think of owning rare metal objects made from gold, silver or diamond. So, if rarity was the issue, why not collect some of the ordinary stones we pass on the way home, which are far more unique in shape, colour or size than the mass produced, shiny metal trinkets. As for alluring clothing items; I find it a bit weird to consider a piece of fabric worn around the neck as a fashionable tie or a trendy scarf when the loose end is dangling down and see (and fear) it as a hangman’s noose when it shoots up.  Can we say that we give their meaning to objects? Maybe that’s why a worthless old junk for someone might be a priceless antique for another. Perhaps, the difference between the words to describe similar objects is the key. Ok, a piece of ‘junk’ and an ‘antique’ would probably not be the best example, so let me give you another: Second-hand shops in most UK cities label their merchandise as ‘pre-loved’ rather than ‘second-hand’ or ‘used’. It does make one feel good, doesn’t it?

Ok, let’s leave the shop and delve into our youth once more…

Starting from our teenage years, we give meaning to belongings of loved ones, too, like granny’s favourite slippers, uncle’s discoloured walking cane, girlfriend’s star-shaped earrings or similar objects given to us as presents like an old music box inherited from a parent or a necklace given us by ‘our partner in romance’ at our birthday or any other day. These objects we value so much, makes us feel good… until a fight brews up with the relative or a breakup with the beloved occurs. Then, these objects start generating grief and once precious stuff becomes the trigger of awful memories. But, why don’t we remember the good memories with the regarding person even if we are apart now?… without thinking of getting back together. Why do these objects take all the blame? Can’t we just look at them under a different light and at least try to embrace only the good memories and block out the bad ones? Or when a person dies, why are their belongings considered cursed or believed to emit negative energy?  Oh! And I am definitely NOT suggesting you to snatch a dead leper’s toothbrush for your own personal hygiene and think positively. That’s different.

In the end, objects reflect back the energy you see fit for them…so, next time before you throw away an object that is making you relive bad times, try to extract some good memories out of them and rethink. If you didn’t bin it a long time ago, perhaps it needs a reconsideration, another chance! A chance to be good.

For the promised story, just click here and scroll down until you see the title ‘The Mouldy Loaf’

The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place

The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place

From time to time, I create worlds in short prose… invent lore on the go… bear fiction into life; as without imagination and the labour of the mind, we are just empty vessels stuck in their shells…

What if death was not an end, but just a short pause of eternity?

The flash fiction piece below is not based on real events or has no connection to actual living or deceased persons in our dimension. 🙂

“The Underwear Trials at the Fourth Place” by Baris Cansevgisi

“Edwin Arnolds, 27, died on the morning of August the thirteenth after misdirecting his right foot into the gusset of his boxer shorts, resulting in the entanglement of his toes in the reinforced fabric, causing him to lose balance with the wobbly, single footing and-“

“What’s a gusset?” Leonard asked, straightening up a little forward from the chair, stretching his feet down to touch the floor. He hoped Werner was coming to an end reading the report. These reports were getting more boring each time. “Why did he have to read them aloud?” He sighed.

“…fall by slipping in the bathroom and slam his head into the corner of the bathtub.” Werner concluded. “Blunt force trauma, but believe me the emotional trauma will be much worse. What a way to go!” He punched in some keys into the console right in front of him and a video clip showing Edwin’s last moments started playing on screen. It, indeed, seemed like the man was trying to punch a third opening into his underwear while performing a one-legged ritualistic dance on the slippery floor tiles.

“With a little bit of accuracy, the man could have died in his underwear or most probably not die at all.” Werner let out a hearty laugh.

“Isn’t he way old to be here?” The tip of Leonard’s shoes were barely brushing the floor beneath. He pulled his legs up when he felt a sudden cramp.

“Not necessarily, but it’s rare,” Werner took a deep breath. “I was… I am 25. Hey! You are not making fun of me, are you kid?” He winked despite wearing a grim face.

“No.” Leonard said, sliding out of the chair completely. “I just didn’t see any adults except you; here. Not many girls either. This place seems for young male children, that’s all.”

“Well, you sure sound like an adult when you’re not asking stupid questions.” Werner scratched his head and punched in some more keys to change the screen. A pop up screen titled ‘Course of Action’ appeared above the words: ‘Underwear trials: 7199 successful attempts required to proceed.’.

“Hmmmm… that seems a tad much.” Werner commented as he grabbed a tablet and sprang up from his seat. “Come on kiddo, we should be there.”

Leonard and Werner hurried down a long, uninviting corridor with disturbing bright lights oozing out of the walls and entered a room at the end. The man, whom they watched dying on screen was standing totally naked right in front of them with confusion oozing out of his eyes. He opened his mouth, but no words came out.

“Mr. Arnolds! Welcome to the fourth place!” Werner said, extending his hand out for a handshake.

“Wh- where am I?” Edwin’s voice trembled as he shook Werner’s hand in automation. “Am I-?”

“Dead? Well, yes and no.” Werner replied. “You are momentarily wiped out of existence! You see, people are judged upon death and end up in heaven or hell. And, there are those who have not yet earned a place in heaven or have not sinned enough for hell.”

“I don’t understand. Is this Purgatory, then?”

Werner shook his head. “As I mentioned at the beginning, you’re at the fourth place… it’s for those who get to receive a second chance in life, at least until their final destination is booked before their final demise.”

“Reincarnation!” Edwin shouted in partial disbelief.

Werner turned to Leonard with a sudden burst of laughter. “He’s definitely too old for that!” He winked and turned back to the confused man.

“No… no. You will be continuing your life from where you left off after you are… properly trained not to die in the stupid way you did.”

“Time is different here.” Leonard cut in. “You’ll be back where you were even if it takes you years to-“

“This is ridiculous.” Edwin shouted. “I know how to wear an underwear!”

“Think of it as training for the underwear to be more weary of you!” Werner started laughing senselessly again. He was getting closer and closer to the moment of snapping due to the huge amount of time he spent at the fourth place. He quickly started tapping into his tablet and the embarrassing video clip started playing once more. He turned the device towards Edwin and saw the man’s embarrassment materialize in his posture.

“My foot was wet and the boxer was too elastic…” his voice faded away.

“No need to explain.” Werner patted the man’s shoulder. “We are all in the same boat here.”

“Huh!” Edwin exclaimed. “So, this fourth location is for those who have died because of their lack of underwear wearing skills?”

“Haha!” Werner verbalized his laughter and turned to Leonard once more. “If it were so, your question about not many women being here would have been answered, Leonard!” He patted him on the back.

“I don’t get it,” Edwin knelt down and sat on the floor trying best to cover his overexposed bits.

“You see, women’s undergarments are way too small for their feet to get tangled-” Werner suddenly stopped and his face took a serious look. He shook his head, passed the tablet to Leonard and said:

“You go on. You’ve watched me countless times… you deal with this and I’m going for coffee… the horrible muck we have here until a barista shows up.” He hurried out of the door part sobbing, part laughing.

Leonard punched in a code into the tablet, resulting in a secret compartment in the far wall to open with a click. “It’s called the fourth place,” he corrected Edwin’s previous remark. “Not location.” Then pointed at the cavity in the wall housing a large package inside. “And, that’s for you. Any questions?”

Edwin got up, walked to the compartment, took the package and shook it close to his ear. “What’s in it?” He finally asked.

“7199 pieces of clean underwear for you. That’s the number of attempts it takes to return back to your life… to the time right before you died… with no recollection of the time you spent here.”

“This is still ridiculous,” Edwin mumbled as he checked out a pair of white boxer shorts with purple polka dots. Then, he chucked it away into a corner and turned back to Leonard. “Stupid deaths… no matter how ludicrous they are, the causing action that lead to death are rarely triggered by people themselves… like someone ingesting bug spray to kill the bug, he has priorly swallowed… how can you train not to swallow something so poisonous for a countless times?”

“You can’t,” Leonard smiled. “That’s why the fifth place exists!”

On Science, Religion, Lucky Numbers, and our Need to Link Every Unassociated Thing

On Science, Religion, Lucky Numbers, and our Need to Link Every Unassociated Thing

It’s in human nature to subconsciously beat our brains out to make weird connections between unfamiliar people, things and unrelated events before trying to come up with a logical explanation to prove what our minds had falsely linked long before. We all do this as a means of gaining familiarity towards the unknown, as once we make connections that could allegedly explain the scary, the uncertain unknown in any way, our fear becomes beatable, bearable, predictable and later, even prone to manipulation for some to rule others.

When science was nonexistent or still taking its baby steps, we considered lightnings and thunderbolts to be the doings of an angry god punishing us and when we reacted in any meaningless way out of fear and sheer panic, we believed our actions were to take credit in stopping a meteorological event which would have ceased by doing nothing anyway. Soon after, we began performing meaningless rituals, like prayers, dancing and even appointed the first lightning banishers as shamans or wise men to protect our wellbeing in the times of danger. Centuries passed, and science gradually evolved to explain the mysteries of our world, but we still haven’t changed at our core. Most of us still believe a lucky shirt worn on a day expected to turn out bad would help us into changing it for the better. How else could the link between a piece of manmade fabric and a successful job interview be explained other than the shirt being a lucky shirt! The truth simply lies on ‘believing’ being the key that turns the bad day into a good one, but we also need a reference point to do so… to boost our self confidence… to feel smart… to have power upon others… And that’s where the shirt comes in and our logic goes out.

On second thought, don’t wear your lucky shirt to a job interview if it looks like this!

It’s not just lucky objects that dictate our actions in such ways. Sometimes, it’s lucky numbers that decide our fate from picking out a wedding day to jotting them down as the next hopefully winning powerball (lottery) number. How some numbers come to be lucky for us isn’t a mystery either; it has the same working principle as the lucky shirt. When we come across a formerly insignificant figure, and something good happens, the incoherent connection is already up and running in our minds. It’s no wonder that almost nobody’s lucky number is 0 as we don’t see it around much! There are no days in a month starting with a zero, nor there are house numbers we run into in our daily lives, etc. with just a plain old zero. The number ‘0’ is still lucky on its own account, as it’s not labeled as an ‘unlucky’ numeral like the unfortunate ’13’, where our malfunctioning reasoning skills took over once more! The clerical error of an early translator resulted in the omittance of the thirteenth line (law) in the Code of Hammurabi, was one of the incidents tagging the figure as ‘bad’, or ‘unlucky’. And, when two different dinner parties in ancient lore, included a thirteenth guest, the unjust link between the number and it being bad solidified: Judas betrayed Jesus after showing up as the thirteenth guest in the Last Supper and the appearance of Loki (he was evil) in Valhalla as the thirteenth entity at a dinner party, sealed the fate of the number 13. It is surprising how ancient lore still has a tight grip on our reasoning skills centuries later.

Sometimes one more is too much!

Speaking of lore, just think how religion evolved from worshipping multiple, more vicious gods derived from nature to its current form of believing in a single, invisible higher power! It’s just that our brains are wired to create links where there are none when we encounter things we can’t explain. One of the mysteries we would never be able to solve, which is what happens when we die is also explained by the concepts of heaven and hell. Do good deeds in life, and you’ll drink wine from the rivers of a breathtaking garden, do bad deeds and you’ll burn for eternity with no cable TV. Wait! Cable TV? There can’t be that in hell, or at least not according to the holy books. Heaven and hell were depicted centuries ago and their appearance seem to have not changed at all, even today. Not one bit. Why? Because the lore says so! And, this happens in the modern world where a five-year-old non-fiction book is deemed as outdated! For me, there’s no life after death, but death after life has been proven. However, it feels good, even for me, to fantasize about an immortal life in a beautiful garden upon retirement from life.

My heaven would be less wild animals, more books and a working wi-fi

Lastly, we love our built-in crooked reasoning so much that we started teaching our ‘linking the unrelated’ method to animals, such as monkeys pushing buttons to get food. Poor primates must be thinking hard to figure out the link between a magic button and a bunch of bananas! Or are they?

For the majority of us, most things we encounter in life are still mysteries. Let them be, unless we can explain the unknown by science.

The Aftermath of Immortality

The Aftermath of Immortality

We are born, we age and we die. In-between the two significant milestones of what we call life, we seek meaning to this long-lasting event fantasizing about what follows. Is death really the end? Or is it just the beginning of a huge unknown? 

What if there was no end to life?

Let’s assume for a minute that the humanity has found the secret of immortality and death is suddenly off the table for the old, the sick and the unfortunate who are perished every day in freak accidents. The perks of immortality would probably be in the lines of preventing ageing after a certain age and possibly through implementing rapid cell regeneration into our bodies to sustain a never-ending life. Surely, the ultra-wealthy would benefit from it first, but then it would eventually be available for all just like how newly found cures are applied to everyone after a certain time, probably pissing off the ones who had paid high prices for the privilege in the first years. Let’s say that an idealistic scientist made immortality airborne before releasing it to the atmosphere so everyone got the cure for death whether they liked it or not. It’s bad news for the ones with suicidal tendencies as the torment would now be eternal. But, what would happen to the rest of us, what would be in the store for us?

At first, people, especially the old and the sick, would probably celebrate the newfound immortality just like in Jose Saramago’s novel “Death at Intervals”, but soon joy would leave its place to sorrow as clergymen, morticians, life insurance providers, homicide detectives, contract killers and murder mystery writers become needless in society. The first signs of unemployment would spread to every profession eventually as the population starts to grow and retirement becomes a historical notion.

All sources of our eternal fear would eventually cease to exist amongst us, turning fear into a pleasant experience where nothing with grave outcomes takes place. Young daredevil wannabes will find new ways of entertainment as they jump off skyscrapers, run into burning buildings after setting them alight and dashing across streets riddled with drivers racing each other, filming the whole thing for the sake of more social media interactions just before finding out that it was only death that disappeared, not the pain and the long recovery times. Hospitals will be overflooded as a result and healthcare professionals would probably riot in a passive-aggressive manner.

Religions would be wiped out of existence or at least downsized to mini fan clubs with the last of the persistent fanatics working to earn a passage for heaven slowly vanish. With immortality in play, humanity would become their own micro gods. We don’t think God has a god, do we?

Breakthroughs in science and technology would be more frequent as brilliant inventors and scientists continue to benefit from their life-long experience to put on top of what they had already achieved. Soon, the whole universe would be our backyard to explore as manned spacecraft consisting of immortal astronauts chart course for distant stars right after the colonization of the moon by adrenaline junkies on painkiller meds and oxygen tanks, building habitats without any protective gear. Remember! The space is freezing, but what is frozen, can be thawed, just like how it works for frozen chicken in a microwave oven, to minimize the efficiency of the lunar workforce.

Image Credit: NASA

Exploration would not be limited just to space. Hard to reach places on Earth like the bottom of the Mariana trench or the insides of volcanoes would be thoroughly mapped and probably be opened for tourism, eventually ruining the last natural beauties of our planet. On the bright side, new life forms would be discovered.

Education would transform into simplicity of teaching the very basic stuff like the language and the culture as there would be no need for a vast number of specialists on Earth anymore other than for the ones that went off world for exploration.

Language is dynamic, so it would certainly change a great deal. Some expressions and words like “death”, “deathbed”, “murder”, “suicide”, “homicide”, “coffin”, “deadly”, “survival”, “survival of the fittest”, “natural” and all related vocabulary items would disappear, while others shift in meaning over time like the word “alone” would probably be used to describe “with few people in the vicinity” as skyrocketing population growth rate would make sure of that. The word “execute” would lose one of its prime meanings, making it used only for computer commands. New words to express new feelings would emerge as well as a new tense to talk about the very distant but experienced past.

New housing would certainly be a major issue. Some lakes would be dried and some mountains would be flattened to make new space for housing and most of us (mostly the poor) would have to live in vast overcrowded underground dwellings. Satellite estate agents would emerge either selling spots on space junk in Earth’s orbit, rent lunar homes, or advertise Martian blocks of flats for the rich.

Finally, natural resources would become so scarce that we would have to leave our scorched Earth to look for a new home across the galaxy. Luckily, being immortal opens up a large number of options that would have never been possible in history. But, some planet where we wouldn’t have to recycle our pee into drinking water would be swell. Not that we would die of thirst or hunger for that matter, but because how it would make us constantly feel. On the bright side, obesity would be gone forever.

The last thoughts of anyone watching the Earth get smaller from the spaceship monitors would be to try to find a cure to undo the damage of not being able to die. Without and end, life is not so precious after all!

Centuries later, we would have the chance to closely observe how human evolution takes place as we would have lighter bodies having to roam in less gravity for a prolonged time. The ones that couldn’t find a suitable planet to settle would have lighter skin colours and their eyes would probably lose sensitivity to light for better vision. In the end, we would lose our ability to reproduce. Why have tiny versions of ourselves to transfer our experience when we could live forever? Never needing to lactate ever again, female breasts would flatten and disappear, leaving behind only the nipples, very similar to how men are now.  

Doesn’t the word “Immortal” sound much better with more appropriate punctuation and spacing, as in “I’m mortal”?

Longing for Belonging: Why we feel the need to Connect

Longing for Belonging: Why we feel the need to Connect

As soon as we are born, we are unconsciously forced to belong to various groups, concepts, people, places or ideas! It only gets worse as we grow up.

It all starts with gender grouping; the blues versus the pinks. Parents decorate their rooms and buy them tiny toddler clothes matching the relevant color code even before the baby is born. The first toys are distinguishing, too; dolls for girls and die-cast cars, squirt guns or soldiers for boys. No wonder neither gender can truly understand the other later in adulthood as they were never let free enough to share a common experience in earlier play times. Just observe the animal world closest to us! Can you figure out the gender of a nearby stray cat or a dog just by watching them play? Both sexes of both animals seem to be enjoying whether they are playing with a ball of yarn or fetching a thrown stick. Shouldn’t we have chosen different toys for our dear pets of opposite genders?

Image Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

When a baby reaches the age of perception, they are told to behave in certain ways in accordance with the set of unspoken norms of the first group they were forced into. Boys are strong! Boys don’t cry! Girls are princesses! Girls must be pretty! Later, the very same gender group also makes an attempt to choose the child’s future profession. Boys are encouraged to be soldiers, constructors and engineers while girls are chased into professions mostly involving interior design, healthcare and culinary arts. Luckily, more and more occupations are becoming gender-less now, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, artists and scientists. Perhaps because education, fighting for rights, arts and science are far more vital to fit into one sex… or a group..

Other initial forced groupings include religion and national identity, which solely depends on the geography we are born into…

All contemporary religions promote one God, yet we have numerous religions constantly at cold war with each other! It’s like living on the same old planet, but believing that we live in the multi verse of a distant star. Sadly, the distance among our beliefs is far more than any distant planet we might one day travel to. Again in our nearby surroundings, we don’t observe an organised army of mice (whose DNA is 98% similar to human DNA) marching to destroy a group of chimpanzees (whose DNA is 99% similar to human DNA) just because they want to make them accept that cheese is better than bananas!

We live on one planet, where we share common resources like the air, the seas and oceans and forests, yet there are over 200 countries ready to go to war with each other if a severe conflict takes place, willing to contaminate or even destroy the shared necessities of a better shared future. Militaristic tendencies, diplomatic shenanigans and narcissistic leaders are directing our planet into a gradual demise, but we won’t even care if the group we belong to, is victorious in the end. Most works of science fiction tells us stories about an alien invasion of Earth. Why are we assuming the aliens are so violent, land grabbing fanatics and resource hunters like us? Just like the rat-chimpanzee example previously mentioned, mice won’t form armies to claim land and resources from chimpanzees. They will coexist provided they aren’t each other’s natural prey and predator. On a small note; we share half (about 50%) of our DNA with bananas and we will probably share less with aliens from distant corners of our galaxy, yet we still assume they will visit Earth to conquer it!

The urge to belong into a group or groups never stops and this time it becomes willingly.

We support foreign sports teams across the globe, we vote for a political party even if we don’t agree to most of its projects. We establish fan clubs for certain celebrities, we become activists or pacifists, flat-earthers, heavy metal groupies, Cthulhu worshipers, hard core gamers, conspiracy theorists and more… We were forced into certain groups after we were born and perhaps later in life, we are just trying to expand our options to connect with others. Otherwise, how can a Muslim woman born in the Middle East connect with a Christian man living across the globe?

The lengths we go, just to connect!!!

Dumbing the Herd

Dumbing the Herd

We search for true love and eternal bliss all our lives…

We seek revenge to give us closure when we are wronged…

We try to find comfort in little pleasures amongst the agonies of life…

In short, we are always in pursuit of what is missing in us… what we lack… what we long for…

and sadly…

over the past few decades we have been searching for extraterrestrial “intelligence“, a concept which is becoming more and more alien to us as we advance in science and technology. Weirdly enough, we are becoming dumber as we become scientifically superior, perhaps just because intelligence is no more a prerequisite for survival for us like it used to be throughout our history.

(SETI does the dishes! But, why are they all facing just one (the same) direction? What if all the aliens are behind the hills at the back?)

Contemporary education has become all about implementing brand new methods of spoon-feeding, preparing our children for the future like thoughtless robotic entities. In response, the younger generation is becoming critical at thinking whereas they should be encouraged for the same concept minus the invading preposition. Possessing sponge-like, egg-shelled minds equipped with distinctive skill sets, each valuable asset is being directed into a single path of development, where fish are expected to climb trees and lions to fly. In this system, the monkey excels and becomes our future: marking the next back-step in our evolution.

(It’s not the teacher… It’s the system that hates us!)

Countries aren’t ruled just by governments anymore! They are merely managed in cooperation with the mainstream media. They show us what they believe, not what actually happens. Reporters do the thinking for us and distort the facts upon their liking. In the end, presented with only one option, we are lead to think we are free in believing what we want. Apart from the global or domestic news, we often come across news articles about what certain celebrities did on certain occasions. Our only strength called curiosity is turned into a weakness, as we start wondering which celebrity ate where or who had been dating who in a world where we shouldn’t really care. Usually the dumbest people are presented as role models and we may find ourselves competing for a life of idiocy. Sadly, our closest friends and family often become micro representatives of the mainstream media, acting as catalysts ready to socially outcast us if we are not informed enough on such vital(!) matters.

(It’s not the “what” that matters. It’s the “how”!)

Lastly, a massive blow comes to our intelligence in the entertainment industry; the silver screen, literature, computer, console or mobile games, and social media.

In blockbuster movies, we are easily awed by flashy visual effects and feel blissful by our celebrity crush just appearing in badly written, plot hole infested scripts with no content. How else could we justify the logic of a TV series plot involving a time travel adventure where the world was hit by a disaster 25 years ago, but our heroes choose to go 17 years back in hopes of preventing the global demise. But, who cares as long as the time machine flashes with colourful headlights, makes a weird buzzing sound (when even with today’s technology, my vacuum cleaner is dumb (silent)) and a hot actor is in the lead, saving the world. Or just like in the movie, set more or less 200 years later, the advancement in technology is represented by modified tanning beds that can cure any disease. Everything else is as it is today. What futuristic vision!

(So, you have terminal cancer, eh? 3 days in bed and you’ll be as good as new!)

In bestselling sci-fi novels, we may encounter a distinctively unimaginable(!) alien race from the tenth dimension, complete with humanoid limbs as their fingers linger on the keyboards and humanly actions and behaviours like wiping the sweat from the forehead. Oh boy, they are purely evil, too. What more could do the readers want, as long as they are not mentally challenged and have to think. Seriously, can you guess the title of this best-seller? (I doubt the picture below will give you a hint though.)

(I always felt alien to this world. But, now I might have solid proof: I have fingers and sweat! I am sometimes evil, too.)

The rise of the smart phones was actually the beginning of the downfall of our intelligence. We started relying on them to remember phone numbers (making no more effort in getting use of our memorisation skills), find our way when we get lost (paying no more attention to our surroundings) and post meaningless selfies online to get appreciation from strangers whom we never met (where fake smiles surpassed intelligent dialogues). We also began using them for quality entertainment(!), like engaging with unintelligent pay-to-play games which are falsely advertised and claimed as nearly impossible to beat games. Moreover, players are expected to spend a good deal of money on a regular basis if they want to advance in the game, like hurrying the game clock to achieve a result that they would otherwise get for free in an hour or so. Rushing everything in games and life, gives us much less time to think about the consequences of our actions.

(These two games above look exactly the same. In reality, they are, too! They are both Candy Crush games that have nothing to do with looting or RPG. Besides, how can anyone fail in the examples above?)

Most popular YouTube channels in this era are either the ones that lack original content such as cut-and-paste compilation videos with horrible background music or the ones that follow the ordinary everyday life of celebrity wannabes talking nonsense. As more and more people are satisfied with the end results, no creator has to worry about making more clever and engaging content.

It is true that we have started living in a fast-forward pace, where everything has become easily accessible and we have less time to do any real thinking. But, still…

Why is dumbness being promoted so much?

When what we want is dictated by others and we have the illusion of being happy, we just stop caring and we become much easier to please, thus to be controlled.

P.S: I am sure if this article were a piece on any celebrity, it would get at least twice the engagement!

(I just love how people can be stupid and self-confident at the same time!)
(Yes, why?)

Transforming Education into a Reflex

Transforming Education into a Reflex

We are born and we die, and in between we live a life cycle where we learn stuff to ensure the longevity and the quality of our survival between the above mentioned vital milestones. Learning starts as early as life and ends only when we die. And in seldom cases, learning goes on even after we die (if we donate our cadavers to medical students where they are the ones who do the learning). That’s one of the reasons why learning is so crucial!

Before we begin to learn any of the serious stuff, we activate our built-in reflexes that ensure our survival as babies, like sucking, swallowing, grasping and crawling. That’s basically how babies can breathe, eat and drink and move (crawl) to their mother’s breasts when placed on their stomachs to hold (grasp) the organic milk dispenser and get (suck and swallow) the milk flowing without needing an external instructor, a whiteboard or any homework.

Then, we develop (or can we say learn here?) more complex reflexes, which are basically motor reflexes acquired by repetitive responses like what chain of actions we follow after learning how to ride a bike, or how we jam the brakes when we see an object on our path while speeding. Why we don’t actually think of hitting the brakes rather than just doing it, is what makes this, a reflex. Just think about walking! It would be insane to think about the every step you take; left foot forward, right foot forward… heels first upon contacting the ground, toes springing upward upon leaving the ground…

First-steps
Image source: Healthline

Weirdly enough, most of the time, we don’t have a recollection of the learning processes that we have mastered and became reflexes, like walking. Perhaps it is so, as the learning process took a long time ago and we tend to have little to less memories of our infancy… or perhaps we have undergone a completely different learning process which is way different from how we are taught in traditional schools following outdated norms that have not changed for ages.

Imagine a classroom of 20 or so infants, each having a different cultural background, interest, motivation and tiny, little distractions crawling next to each other… and just one teacher battling to do her job; trying to teach to the middle ground by putting on educative, audiovisual material on play before the students are saved by the bell they have been longing for.

Perhaps, we should find ways to transform learning into a reflex!

On a personal level, what we intend to learn must be turned into fun, we should also ditch our fears of failure and lose our prejudices for an effective learning process.

But, what can be done on a global level?

Learning has to be in the most natural way possible, so we may consider…

… getting rid of prison-cell feeling indoor classrooms with badly styled furniture, as they are not usually comfy enough to keep students focused on the subject matter…

… keeping lesson duration to what’s in focus and shorten or lengthen the duration accordingly. Besides, students lose focus after a certain time…

… having a smaller number of students grouped by their learning styles. It doesn’t take 15 people to change a light-bulb, but somehow educators seem to be expecting the exact outcome. Having less and like-minded students will provide them equal opportunities to actually learn something…

… encouraging students to ask questions. The current education system fails at this as younger students, cooped up in with indifferent peers, often refrain from asking anything, afraid their friends will make fun of them and older students are mostly lectured in giant halls with 100+ other people, where education is always on a tight schedule…

… losing the concept of daily homework, or at least modifying it greatly. As working adults, the happiest and the most productive times at work are when we don’t stay overtime or bring work to home. Think about bringing work home every single day!

… finding alternative ways of rewarding and grading students. In real life, we don’t get grades on our acquired reflexes like walking, etc…

… rewarding creative thinking, questioning and such skills, not having students memorize and copy-paste what the textbook says… Originality denies copy-pasting!


In real life, we can learn a foreign language better when we travel to the target country and immerse with the culture…and weirdly enough what is taught and what is natural can be completely different:

Which line is better when we order a cup of coffee in a cafe abroad?

“Excuse me! I would like to have a cup of coffee, please.” (What is taught)

versus

“Hello! Coffee, please.” (What people actually say)

We can learn about basic math better when we start using money, rather than adding up, subtracting, multiplying or dividing insignificant numbers…

Look at the math problem below that a young student may encounter at school:

“Carol has five eggs and she gives 2 of them to her friend Pedro. How many eggs does Carol have now?”

Math problems at current schools like the one above never work for most students like I was, as I cannot stop myself from trying to figure out other questions unrelated and irrelevant to the real problem such as…

Who are Carol and Pedro?

Why does Carol have eggs in the first place?

Why does she give two to Pedro?

Are they close friends or not?

What will Pedro do with the two eggs he now possesses?

(Perhaps, I am the odd one out here as I have never given or received any eggs from a friend before).

We can learn about world geography better when we start visiting different countries and learning from the source…

We can learn about history better by visiting historical sites rather than reading about them in a textbook accompanied with a crappy image…

textbook
A descriptive image of a place found in an actual textbook!

We can learn about psychology better by interacting with people, and just by listening to them (assuming they would do the same)…

We can learn about biology better by spending some time on farms or by going camping…

We can learn everything better if we live through it! And repetitive, personal experience is what transforms an action into a reflex!

If you think the above methods require loads of money, just think about how much each country annually spends on the outdated education system that doesn’t really teach.

The most under-rated art: Writing (Part 2)

The most under-rated art: Writing (Part 2)

In my previous post, I not only briefly outlined the power of writing, but also raised the question why professional writing is considered so under-rated in every aspect of modern life (I usually get a frown followed by confused looks when I tell people I earn my living as a ghost writer). The misperception towards writers is even worse in the business world.

Thanks to the fruits of the internet and online marketing, brand-new companies are diving into the market every second, but unwillingly maim their newborn brand by having no budget or severe budget cuts in terms of hiring professional writers in promoting their businesses. Of course, it’s much easier to get help from the company CEO’S willing nephew studying at an unrelated department in college or it’s certainly much cheaper to find the resources from the company’s existing work force; an over-ambitious employee who would try anything for a promotion.

However,…

…spending a penny in the right place helps building social branding, having a unique voice and style, being different in a giant pool of competitors…

What’s more?

Implementing SEO into any piece of online text guarantees visibility in search engines and in a way provides free marketing which otherwise can only be bought by excessive expenditure. In the end, companies who hire professional writers save money by spending it in the right way!

Getting professional help in writing related services also helps companies in…

Not becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of their potential or current clients…

chinasub
…and their planes are suspected to be in the sky after taking off!

Professional writers are also expert researchers! Not that this news article published a while ago needs any researching, but still… just imagine what happened to the credibility of the newspaper after a careless reporter writes off such an alluring headline!

Getting their message out loud and clearly…

Even the tiniest flaws like typos, a missing or misplaced punctuation in writing can easily convey your message in a totally undesired way. Just like the case of the missing comma in the sample sentence below:

“Let’s eat Grandma!” versus “Let’s eat, Grandma!”

Imagine the comma-less motto perfectly placed in a poster ad for your newly (de)formed food company!

lets-eat-grandma-zx2kwd
Image credit: Make a meme

Your emerging company would not only be labelled as having cannibalistic tendencies, but it would also bring some unintended mishaps regarding people over a certain age… People get offended for much less…

And typos?

funny_spelling_errors-22
Why sell for less just because of a misplaced letter! Image credit: Pleated Jeans

Giving a unique style / voice to their services or products…

Targeting audience in the right way and making more sales is not an easy task… at least not for those lacking writing skills. Words have immense power and with that power comes great responsibility. And if that power is used in the right way, masses will follow. Any potential customer has the basic ability to correlate product photos with its unnecessary descriptive and factual text regarding its physical appearance that can be seen from the photos themselves. What most production descriptions lack, is that they often fail to convey how that product would make the customer feel. Feelings can hardly be levied otherwise.

Another useful tip about identifying the target audience and writing accordingly is not being compelled to use technical jargon for products intended for kids. It is not the greatest idea although such ads target parents as well… but even so, the parent then has to paraphrase whatever you’re selling to their kid, most probably lacking adequate product or service info.

bears
Product Description: Scoliosis Surgery “Scar Buddy” Awareness 10″ Bear | Handmade Incision Sewn, Spinal Fusion, Titanium, Neurosurgery, Scoliosis Warrior. Image credit and product link: Etsy

I am well aware that the above product and its description is not intended for kids, but still it serves my purpose…

Becoming global and making history…

Did you know that in the original French version of the story, Cindrealla’s slippers were made of fur, not glass? “Vair – fur” and “verre – glass” sound almost alike. A basic misinterpretation of the word still has a huge impact today, but rewriting history does not always turn out to be so positive! (Glass slippers are much more fitting than fur shoes for this story:))

furshoes        glassshoes