Sunday, November 23, 2008

Daniel Keyes is fun too, among others (reading blurb, among others)

"Don't misunderstand me. Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knoledge drives out the search for love. This is something else I've discovered for myself very recently. I present it to you s a hypothesis: Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and neural breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis. And I say that the mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain."

-Charlie Gordon

That said, I believe everyone and their mother should read Flowers for Algernon. Wonderful how Keyes manages to stick in equal parts emo, retardation, mush and smartassery and still makes the whole thing cute enough to be an easy read.

Not so much for the other book I'm reading, though. H. P. Lovecraft, I believe, demands a patience and sophistication not for those who want easy (though not necessarily light, mind you) reads. Still, if you can handle the verbosity of it all, Lovecraft's weird short stories are a cute trip back to the times when there was no TV and it was all right to exoticise niggers. Personal favorites: "Herbert West -- Reanimator"," The Picture in the House", "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" and "The Call of Cthulhu"

Funny, I seem to notice that I keep on switching between to phases: a reading phase where I literally devour books and a writing phase where I just keep making new material and saving all my cares for its quality when I show it to other people, and that I can't seem to do one when I'm in the other. Or maybe I really am a "Mood Writer", as Chantielle was always so quick to point out in the past. Ahh, the rite/s of writing.

Oh well.

*goes back to playing Splinter Cell and DotA, downloading indie folk and electronica and post-rock and trip-hop, reading webcomics and finishing the rest of his Lovecraft anthology*

posted by Ocnarf @ 2:35 PM   0 have spoken

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Burn(out) Baby Burn(out)

Still too lazy to go back to school. Still want to enjoy the monotony of a presure-less existence. Still want to procrastinate. Still want to sleep for eleven hours at a time. Still want to go out and drink without worrying what time to wake up the next day. Still ant to enjoy eLBi as a hangout and not as a campus (cue: Take Me Back to Elbi).

Ewan. Burnout.


(taken from

Trying to beat the school burnout

By Angela V. Ignacio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 19:14:00 11/07/2008

NOT too long ago, I was taking an exam when I suddenly found myself staring blankly at the wall. I could hear frantic, frustrated scribbling around me, but I remained motionless, pen poised in the air.

When the proctor chirped, "Five minutes," I was the only one who didn't scream, groan or yell barely disguised expletives. I tried to focus on my exam, but all I could think of was, "Ayoko na."

I calmly handed in my nearly spotless answer sheet and went straight home, not caring that I'd just skipped the rest of my afternoon classes. Classmates kept calling, my family was getting worried, but I just shrugged off their concerned inquiries.

And so I sat in my bed, staring at nothing and caring about nothing, until I finally fell into a deep but troubled sleep.

This wasn't the first time it happened, and a tiny part of me knew something was wrong. Stressed? Definitely. Depressed? Not really, or at least, I didn't think I was. Then it hit me.

"Holy crap, I think I'm burned out."

What it is

Some people have equated it with "being jaded" or "being fed up with the world," but there's so much more to burnout than that. In 1972, American psychoanalyst Dr. Herbert J. Freudenberger coined the term to refer to a subtle, gradual process of becoming physically, mentally and emotionally fatigued in response to prolonged stress.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your strength, making you feel increasingly powerless, cynical and resentful. When you're burned out, it's like you're a walking herald of gloom and doom--problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it's difficult to muster the energy to care about anything or anyone.

The unhappiness burnout causes eventually affects your academic performance, your relationships, and ultimately, your health.

Burnout can happen to virtually anyone whose job or course demands so much from them, or those who have been shouldering too much responsibility since they were young.

Those in the medical profession are particularly notorious for getting sucked into this "black hole" syndrome. An article from the American Medical Association website cites that in the US, an estimated 400 physicians commit suicide each year. Also, a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal found that 50% of approximately 2,200 medical students from seven medical schools reported burnout, while 11% said they considered suicide in the past year.

Stress vs. burnout

Contrary to popular belief, burnout isn't the same as stress, although the latter is a major cause of the former.

Stressed-out people tend to be frantic, hyperactive and highly irritable, but still get the job done.

On the other hand, those experiencing burnout feel empty, hopeless and emotionally detached. They usually think, "I'll just do a botched job anyway, so what's the point?" and abandon their work altogether, not caring about the consequences of their (in)action.

The main difference between stress and burnout is the fact that indifference and reduced personal competency are what mark burnout. While stress turns people into water balloons ready to burst at the slightest prick, burnout turns them into prunes, all shriveled up and devoid of motivation.

Four stages

In his popular website, Mark "The Stress Doc" Gorkin lists four stages of burnout:

1. Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

After such a hellish semester, you'd think that a few weeks of R&R would be enough to recharge your body batteries for the next term. But how come you still feel so drained and worn out despite the sembreak?

Burnout can occur when you feel so overwhelmed by your workload that you lose your self-confidence and start making more mistakes. You put in more and more effort, but with less and less favorable results. That's why you feel completely exhausted inside and out, even though there's nothing stressing you out at the moment.

2. Shame and doubt.

Once you start losing faith in your own abilities, it's all downhill from there. Never mind that you were the class valedictorian, or the editor-in-chief of your high school paper. You're not feeling confident about the future, and you're feeling pretty lousy in the present, so it comes as no surprise that you start thinking that your past accomplishments don't matter.

3. Cynicism and callousness.

What do snails and turtles do whenever they feel threatened or vulnerable? They hide behind their hard shells, just like burned-out people do. Because you've begun doubting yourself and other people, you put up some heavy defenses to protect yourself. You become cynical, bitter and indifferent, thinking that as long as you're pushing everyone away, no one will notice what a failure you really are. This is when your relationships crumble and your social life goes completely kaput.

4. Failure, helplessness and crisis.

The old saying "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" couldn't be more appropriate. You know you can't quit school, but if you don't, you'll become worse. Either way, you lose. You start thinking, "I've become like this and there's nothing I can do about it." As you sink into hopelessness, your grades and social life go down the drain as well. Before you know it, you've turned into your own worst nightmare.

Climbing back up

One doesn't necessarily pass through all four stages, but more often than not, they all eventually hit rock bottom. It takes a while to recognize burnout, and sometimes, an even longer time to recover from it. It took me a few months, maybe even years, to realize just exactly what I've been suffering from, and I'm downright appalled by how unproductive and uninspired I had become. But now that I know what I'm up against, I can now look for ways to climb out of this hole that I've unknowingly dug myself in. After all, when you've reached the very bottom, there's nowhere else to go but up.

E-mail the author at

Burnout-busting tips

Burnout isn't something that happens overnight. Because stress plays a big part in its development, you might want to watch out for the things that subject your mind, body and soul to too much pressure. The earlier you recognize the signs and symptoms and address them, the better chances you have in preventing yourself from going into that downward spiral.

Effective burnout-busting strategies include taking care of yourself emotionally and physically, asking for help when you need it, and staying connected to other people.

Stop, look, listen. While you're usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don't always notice burnout when it happens. Hopelessness, cynicism, detachment from others and other symptoms of burnout can take months to surface. If people close to you start pointing out changes in your attitude or behavior that are typical of burnout, you might want to listen to them.

Rekindle the fire. Pessimism prevents you from drawing motivation from the things or people that would normally inspire you. It's good to have something on hand to remind you of the reasons you're still doing what you're doing. On your notebook, stick a picture of the new laptop model your dad promised you for Christmas if you get high grades. Or, place a foreign language book beside your bed so you can dream of the trip to Japan that your mom plans to give you as a graduation gift.

Repeat the words "I can do this" over and over until your nose bleeds if you have to—turn your stress into something positive and use it to rekindle your burned-out spirit.

Take a break. If you find yourself spacing out in the middle of doing homework, get up and find something to amuse yourself with. Have a snack, watch TV, or annoy your little brother while he's playing Warcraft. Distraction may not be the best option for some people, especially when they're neck-deep in workload, but it can help clear your mind so you can better focus on the task at hand. Just don't dawdle too long, or else it'll come off as procrastination.

Change course. If, after months or even years of fighting the good fight and still you feel like you're on the losing end, maybe this is just not your battle to win. You know it's time to give up on your dreams when every waking moment is turning into a nightmare. If you don't like the person you're becoming, choose another career path that you feel will make you happier and more relaxed.

Stay connected. Burnout tends to make apathetic loners out of people. The key to overcoming this emotional void is to surround yourself with the people you love and who love you back, instead of pushing them away. Nurturing your relationships with your family and friends can alleviate the feelings of under-appreciation and boost your self-confidence. Make new friends, go out on dates, meet new people—make sure your social network stays up and running.

Seek help. If you think you can't deal with this anymore, it's time to ask for advice. Talking to your guidance counselor, parent or trusted friend can work wonders; don't keep everything bottled up inside, even if you don't feel like sharing. Also, don't be afraid to consult a psychiatrist. Chances are, they'll know how you can deal with your problem effectively, with or without medication.

posted by Ocnarf @ 4:50 PM   0 have spoken

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nostalgic freshman survey

Instructions: Think back to your first semester in college. Let's see how much you remember and how much you regret.

What section were you?
BACA block C5
Who were your seatmates?
Jester and Rochi, at least during the convocation.

Still remember your English teacher?
No English class during that sem.
What was your first class?
Philosophy 1 TTh, Humanities 1 MWF.
Best friends?
Chaba, Jester, Yso (known as Thea back then), Louie, Chantielle. Fate has cruelly pulled so many of us apart from each other.

How was your class schedule?
Weird 6-hour break during MW.
Made any enemies?
They're out there.
Who was your favorite teacher/s?
Probably Hidalgo, because she was really wacky, not to mention that she gave me a 1. Too bad she doesn't teach there anymore.

Aerobic drinking. Only began swimming during second sem.

Back then, did you always buy your lunch?
No stove at the dorm means I had to.
Were you a party animal?
LB Square phase. Drinking until 3:30 am with an 8 am class was win.
Were you well known in your school?
No idea.
Did you get suspended/expelled?
Heck no.
Can you sing the alma mater?
Of course.
What was your favorite subject?
Probably Humanities 1. Literature subjects are win.

What was your school's full name?
University of the Philippines Los Baños.
Where did you go most often during breaks?
Home. Sleep is fun.
What color of pen do you always use?
Recited often?
All the time. Geekiness!
Ever cheated?
Do you bring your own paper and pen?
Were you in the top ten of your class/es?
Topped one or two, I think.

Favorite things to do in class?
Sleep in class, write the lecturing teacher's quotable quotes down.
Classmates you didn't like?
Annoyance doesn't linger long enough for an answer to this question to matter. (In short, I forgot)
Subjects with highest grade?
Humanities 2.

History 2. Rasmfrasm 5:30-7.
Ever had a crush? Who?

What's your theme song for him/her?
Which of your classes was he/she in?
Fave events in 1st year?
Probably the first drinking spree with Chantielle.
What are your favorite classrooms?
Probably HB5. Lotsa memories.
Do you sleep in class?
Yep, especially 8 am (Humanities 1), 2:30 pm (Natural Sciences 4) and 5:30 pm (History 2).
Ever thought of burning your school?
Nah. It'd probably burn itself down sooner or later. The building's ancient.
Ever messed with a prof?
Does getting profs drunk to see how weak their livers are count?
What do you miss most from your 1st year?
Not studying for anything, yet getting Laude-worthy grades.
If you could go back in time and do it all over, would you?
Dunno. Timewarp on?
Favorite PE?
Torn between Swimming and Street Jazz.
Where did you spot the hot girls in your school?
All over the place. eLBi win.
Ever gone on a field trip?
None that sem.
None, but I did work for the school paper for a sem and a half.
Dorm, boarding house or your home?
Dorm. Whee 4Boys.
If you had your way, what was your dream course/major?
This is my dream.
First ever person you knew?
Jester, I think.
First play you ever watched?
Kiko's demo performance during the Comm Arts Orientation, if that counts.
Ever been recruited by a frat or sorority?
They tried.
Is it fun in your school?
Of course.
Ever gone rallying?
Passing by EDSA during EDSA 2 was probably the closest I got.
Did you ever dream of having latin honors for your first sem?
If you weren't studying in your present school now, where would you go?
Ateneo. Only other school I applied for.

What do you remember most about 1st sem?

A lot of drinking and cussing and writing. Next to no studying.

(Taken from Brian and Peppy)

posted by Ocnarf @ 7:06 AM   0 have spoken

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My turn for a sembreak epiphany

Sembreak has officially sunk in, mostly due to the lonely feeling of going back to everyday drudgery that comes each time people visit the house. Add to that the fact that we (Karize, Ilia, Charet and I) had to go and spontaneously write a song that has 'I miss eLBi' written all over it. Sure, I don't have as much a right as the graduates to rant about the whole 'I miss the laid-back life in the mountains', but something tells me this last sem will be over before we all know it. Hi thesis, how're ya doin'? Don't say bad words.

Life is currently one big routine of waking up late, going on the Internet and reading and playing my ass off until the wee hours of the morning, with a bit of reading here and there. I feel static. But they say that there is no victory without defeat, no beauty without ugliness, no happiness without sadness. Difference, as Derrida said. Not even a sameness without the idea of difference itself coming in to change everything.

Change. We all thrive on it. See the philosophies of Plato and Kierkegaard, which state that humans really are programmed to not be pleased with the mere finities it understands. This makes us trapped within a vicious existential pit, to forever desire what we may never be able to achieve. This, in turn, fuels our libido, and not only in the sexual sense. Libog, as they say. Passion. The force that drives us to keep striving for things that border (only border, mind you) on the infinite and the unknowable. Thus we are set apart from every other species on this planet (and probably those on other planets, if we are to follow the Fermi paradox). There is no escape from this angst; even saying 'sucks to be human' simply makes you fall into the same paradoxical pit.

So we wallow, the only cure for which is other people's attention, since let's face it: everybody is an attention whore. Cue Locke's 'man is a social animal' which is probably really cliched by now, but what the heck it's true. As heck. Without attention, people simply wither away and die in the midst of wallowing in their own misery. So people turn to more desperate methods, like the Internet and all its time-consuming pseudo-attention outlets (I think I'm looking at you, Plurk. You're even more extreme than Facebook), which make our real lives feel even more worth less. Throw in the amount of miscommunication potential (nonverbals count, after all, for about 93 per cent of our communication), and you've got one big mess of an interpersonal interaction going on.

Nobody needs chat buddies, everybody needs real people to hang out wih, to talk about anything (no matter how disjointed the associations between discussion topics end up) over a cup of coffee (coffee is my hang-out-for-a-long-while-and-talk drink) and a Go Nuts donut or two (Krispy Kreme if you like them better). Sure, staying home and staying 24/7 online is wayyy cheaper. If you want artificial attention, that is.

Trying to write, not coming up with anything new. So, trying to revise old content. Problem is, I stare at the screen and eventually end up reading something else on the Internet (if I'm connected) or playing (if I'm not). Think the problem is that there isn't enough happening with my life. It's a delicate balance, in my opinion: too little happening in your life, and you're stuck imagning things up, and people know how dangerous leaving somebody to rely solely on their solitude's imaginings is. Too much, and you simply do not have enough time to rite. Yes, that was a typo, but a fortunate one. Because writing, I believe, requires the sort of preparation and attention to detail similar to what one undergoes when doing any sort of ritual. Put extremely, we have to be in the so-called 'writing mood' which may not differ that much from the trance people enter when doing a ritual, sacrament, pot session or whatnot.

Stasis is scary. Silence is scary. Because it makes you think things. Things that you don't think of because they're impossible to think of while you're moving and noisy (in short, living your day-to-day life). Things like the future, and how extreme, inexplicable, and at times extremely inexplicable, it is. How, like Neil Gaiman and every other fantasy writer who figured out how to kill a god, it is so much worse to be forgotten than to simply die; to leave this planet without having realized (as in, made real) or passed anything of value on to those of the future. And from this basic anxiety other anxieties rise, culminating in the most superficial of paranoias (paranoiae?), the most basic of which may be the paranoia over the future itself. 'Damnant quod non intelligunt' after all, and what concept out there is less intelligible than the future?

No, love doesn't count. Too complicated (but not untelligible enough) a thing to talk about; just ask every 'It's Complicated' out there in Friendster and Facebook.

posted by Ocnarf @ 8:34 PM   0 have spoken

Sinfest is an absolute emo-trip at times.

(Taken from


posted by Ocnarf @ 6:03 PM   0 have spoken