from high olympus

recently restarted the schedule of attending public lecture after lecture after lecture (averaging two-a-week now, together with two-a-week social and one-a-week alone time schedules that I seem to fall into for optimal wellbeing)

last week (04/10): The Rule of Law in a Post-Truth Era by Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs

  • realised afterwards that I had no idea how the rule of law came into all of this
  • also realised that law lectures are frequently near-impossible because of all the jargon that lecturers don’t bother explaining; discourse that I can’t follow (tried to explain “discourse” to someone else the other day and failed, the word “discourse” is itself part of another discourse)
  • learned more about contentious matters in Australian society, namely Australia’s policy of mandatory immigration detention & juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. both echo the difficult themes in Australian civil society and history — racism / xenophobia & the relationship with the Indigenous people of Australia
  • alluded to the powerlessness of international law when not enshrined in domestic law; call for action to create a Bill of Rights in Australia
  • another call for action: go on record with the truths you know to counter the slew of falsity

last week (05/10): Holding states and corporations to account for human rights abuses by Richard Hermer, Keren Adams, Shen Narayanasamy

  • for the first time pretty much ever, my acrimony towards the legal profession as a whole waned
  • incredible scope of cases, from establishing the right of the domestic court over military conduct overseas (arising from atrocities committed by the British army in the Iraq war), to fighting for compensation from corporations wreaking environmental havoc and destroying communities in developmental nations (a lot of heartrending stories here)
  • generally work to make it such that corporations are tried before their home courts rather than the courts of the countries where subsidiaries are located
  • emphasis on the need to be creative in the absence of legislative frameworks, both within and outside the legal domain, but also on the beauty of using simple models to argue a case
  • acknowledgement of the limited role of the Lawyer and the need for judicious use of the law — you can actually cause more harm
  • similarly but separately, often the most meaningful outcome for clients is having their stories acknowledged and reconciliation (striking example:
  • heard from someone actively involved in work to end offshore detention. fantastically interesting strategy to target investors in the corporations that are making these detention centres tick. but of course, this strategy cannot work alone. highlights the overarching point of a multi-prong approach.
  • stimulating discussions on why human rights lawyers have had more success in the UK than in Australia and on the pros/cons of confidentiality (more generally, the concessions one makes to achieve settlement)
  • links to the previous lecture: again, a call for a Bill of Rights, in this case especially to compel investigation and follow-up action; lack of human rights discourse in Australia because of the ongoing political commitment to mandatory immigration detention — unwillingness to open this can of worms

this week (10/10): Dark Times: The Road from Hurt, Hate and Disaffection to the ‘Promises’ of Radical Fundamentalism by Dr John Boots

  • exploration of the question ‘what makes a fundamentalist?’ from a psychoanalytic perspective, though it seemed like a pretty generic psychological perspective as compared to insights from the analytic school per se.
  • framed terrorism as “actions to create reactions”, rather than the more common “actions to spread fear”. makes explicit the implication that overreaction begets further extremism.
  • extensive formulations of different routes to radicalisation that reminded me of history lessons back in 2012. haven’t yet pieced it all together — I’ll come back to this
  • also really interested in the theme of intergenerational transmission of trauma — gave example of two of the perpetrators of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo Paris Attacks, who were from a French-Algerian background. here there is particular historical resonance because of the recent trauma of French colonialism of Algeria.
  • touched on the fundamental emotion of humiliation, together with marginalisation and disenfranchisement. interesting question from someone about how the humiliation of colonialism lives on in SEA (not sure though), which led me to think about the potential of risk coming from the Indigenous population — probably lower, but that is always this Elephant in sociopolitical discourse here.
  • as I have heard for the nth time, the call to action has to do with opening dialogue (but that is difficult difficult difficult, even for the best —or most average— of us)


via Daily Prompt: Memorize

nicer ways of saying the same thing: to learn by heart, to commit to memory

I am trying now to be more present and make the most of every ticking day, but at the same time I’m not sure I have processed everything that has come before and are there only so many things I can hold at any one time?

(today two people spoke about experiences they thought they had worked through but no, they hadn’t. my firm opinion is that one cannot emerge from any significant event or period in time unchanged, and my less firm intuition is that one will never be completely ‘over’ one’s emotional scars)

at one yoga class I stretched the film over my heart (like gold to airy thinness beat) and experienced an unexpected onslaught of memories: snippet after snippet, moving across years and continents, with no conscious effort or coherent framework to hang them all together. really, the oddest things. it made me realise just how much I have seen and felt over the past few years, and how unable I am to make sense of myself.

also: the futility of most attempt to memorise in the strictest sense of the word…memories that you push into your mind rarely trump the ones that were incidentally lodged.

mochi mochi

I cannot convince myself that there is any reason for me to have a deeper digital footprint than I already have, but the urge to create and to connect also does not ebb.

the approximately eighth round of interviews in my life has begun and it’s back into the swirls of self-doubt. having to convince others that you are a valuable human being is such a bore. having to convince others that you are somehow better than another human being is such a farce.

my self-esteem stands on rickety legs, but for all the wobbling, it has stood. (I have half a dozen analogies flashing through my mind, but I can’t quite figure out which is most accurate — only time will tell? something about dougongs, about crowdsurfing, about rafts held together with luck and love)

I’ve been thinking about what my academic achievement by time graph would look like. for starters, it’s distinctly U-shaped. I imagine this would be true for most of my peers, but perhaps in different ways. for me, it reflects the experience of going through a school system where you could be simultaneously amongst the best and Really Average depending on the lens you put on. and then a decade later, re-entering, y’know, the real world. but my main reflection is that this graph and all that it represents has had such a huge influence on the way I view myself.


have you ever Realised that you’ve been judging yourself by criteria that you never knew you had? a life goal that never made it to the new year’s resolutions because you’d never articulated it, perhaps a wish that eludes your mind’s grasp?

I recently birthed the awareness that I aim to live lightly, by which I mean to live with lightness, to move through the world with grace. actually, let’s put it in a less romantic way — I just want to appear effortless, nimble and assured.

inevitably I find myself leading a clunky sort of existence, full of awkward endings and forced openings, cringey alliteration, unfunny jokes, and jerky movements with unfortunate consequences.


I know that everything takes practice — how much strength belies a weightless jeté?

I know that we are our own worst critic — peek beneath smooth waters and you find frantic paddling

and I know that this is one of those self-defeating goals — an aerialist can only take off with firm supports

and thus: so be it



from my clearly extensive and representative experience, it appears that psychologists identify with perfectionism & neuroticism as shared traits in the profession. (I wonder how clients would feel about this?) it’d been alluded to a few times in class, and it came up while a few of us were chatting in P’s living room, wreathed in warm lamplight, as we prepared to go out.

(I also wondered how clients would respond if they saw us out)

I thought about it and y’know what, I’m really chill about my life. 船到桥头自然直 reppin’ here. but…I clearly remembered identifying as a high-neurosis person at some point not too far in the past??? what’s that about? and then! I realised that this trait manifests most clearly in my belief-formation kind of process & in expectations of EVERYONE (but especially myself) to live up to those beliefs.

(early philosophical / critical thinking training has some pros and cons)

Continue reading “dialectic”


there’s this thing that was floating around Facebook ages ago where people made a quiz about themselves, other people completed it and then entered a leaderboard for ~BFF cred~. doing it, I felt 15 again. how it picked up traction would make for an interesting case study, actually — what made swathes of cynical young adults participate?

anyway, here’s mine:

finish it if you’d like, and then (only then) click read more.

Continue reading “centrestage”

an abundance mindset

means believing that there is enough for everyone 

and space for all, their talents and non-talents, blessing and non-blessings.

to love is to abstain

from judgement, to offer 

the endless capacity of the heart (when properly supported), to remember

it only takes a spark. 

material comforts

there is reassurance from the most mundane of things.

like a water jug in my room, 

something I’ve never had from age 0 until 3 years ago. 

the water sustains me without even trying

how self-contained our rooms could be! (each hath one, and is one) 

watch the melding of mirrored lives, the slow equilibrium form


it’s two in the morning:
the fan spins shadows into the wall, the air breathes warm and silent.
i’m keeping myself awake, a final wretched attempt
to hold on to a different time.

drip drip drop

5.30pm, 4 days before the deadline
(“deadline” if I don’t want to pay more-exorbitant-than-it-already-is printing fees) (why do we have to submit a hardcopy??????) (I don’t think I will meet the deadline) (pigs can’t fly but money can)

writing is excruciating, writing is natural, writing is birthing…
as with any act of creation, really

I’m joining the chorus of people twittering about English weather: it has definitely gone loopy. a weather-dance, graceful transitions between spluttering rain and angry sun and back again; moving through 15 to 5 degrees within the stopped ends of 24 hours.

ah well, it adds some dynamism to a plodding existence
not cool when every day bleeds into the next

where has all the time gone??