Chaos through Confusion

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Most of our lives is drab and dreary, with the same endless rattle of railway trains, familiar squeaks of desks and chairs with its sprawling inhabitants, similar voices speaking similar words spouting similar ideas, day after day – and yet every day is a unique challenge, an anticipated undertaking, an exciting prospect. But this post isn’t about being a human thesaurus, that I am already in real life. This is about some of the little things I like to do as a human being, to while away what little time I have on this giant rock hurtling through space at many miles per hour (depending on your point of reference).

You see, the way I try to have fun isn’t by going to parties, eating ice cream for dinner, being an arts student, going to random events or doing basically anything that needs me to go out of my way to enjoy myself; I think of life as a string of experiences, with each experience being a card attached to the string. If you take away one card, it gets replaced with another. (Weird system, I know, but then again I’m a ‘writer’ so I’m allowed to be a little weird.) I’ll have the same amount of cards at the end of the day, so might as well make the most of what I have in the card I’m in. Motivational speakers and Americans would call this “living in the moment”, but I have a more cynical way of looking at it which is closer represented by the words “you’re stuck in the present, you haven’t invented time travel yet, so why not make it interesting?”

This is how writers wash their clothes. That’s right, they don’t.

There are times in your life where you will be pitted against the greatest hazard on the planet not counting literally anything found in Australia; unintelligent people. Often they will say something stupid or, better yet, misunderstand something intelligent. Just the other day I was talking with a group of people, most of them of middling intelligence, when one of them replied “Steve Aoki… oh, he’s the guy who discovered Japan, right?” Everyone in the group being a music aficionado and a champion of a bygone era known as “2012”, instantly berated him for not knowing who Steve Aoki is. But I took the poor lad’s side and argued, straight faced and serious, on his behalf, that yes indeed – Steve Aoki discovered the fuck out of Japan. “The Okinawa district is named after him, didn’t you know? It was previously called Aokinawa till 1872 when the Chinese invaded, and since they can’t pronounce ‘A’ (a fact that everyone in India will have no problem believing due to our inherent racism), they changed the name,” I said to everyone. Spouting other foolish malarkey of similar sort, eventually enough people were confused about their level of conviction that they tried to change the topic. Some of them even ended up agreeing (like I said, middling intelligence). And in that moment I had won. Confusion through chaos.

It’s very difficult to judge good versus evil on a universal level; our spirits in this material world are but fleeting slivers of rhetoric, churned and processed into bite-sized, believable packages of morality and “do this, do that” and you’ll go to heaven/hell/elysium/valhalla. Even Vlad the Impaler was loved by the Genoans for saving their 300 ships from attack. This is a guy who pointed spears up 20,000 people’s arses and had them killed. Don’t laugh, this isn’t nearly as funny as the ebola joke. He literally has ‘the Impaler’ attached to his name, and yet no objective analysis can say his soul was truly evil. Mad and cruel, maybe, but evil?

Insane? No way! He looks perfectly capable of logical reasoning and peaceful diplomacy

Did you notice how bad of an opinion the previous paragraph was? That’s exactly what I love to do, and what you should love doing to people on a regular basis. Just have bad opinions, but back it up with facts that are vaguely true and words that are intangibly impressive and you’ll have people agreeing with you. Of course, I’m not saying the above opinion on my pal Vlad is on the up and up bad, but it’s definitely on the unpopular side of the spectrum of approval. Of course he’s evil! He’s an impaler! I happen to believe what I wrote above, though, about not being able to judge evil objectively, and it might be a cogent thing to believe for many people who read this, but that’s up to the individual. Past experiences, family background, familiarity with things like technology, travel, and education makes everyone’s views unique – but some opinions are ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’. That’s sadly the way democracy, and most of society, works; we favour the majority over the minority, the popular over the unpopular. Funnily enough our acceptance of ideas has been democratized thousands of years before countries’ governments started doing them in the 1960s, which they did, once again, because democracy was a ‘popular’ idea. 5 people shout louder than 2, and hence the 5 will always have their voices heard.

So what do you do with a ‘bad’ opinion? Well, when you’re in the moment and you have your current experience card to go through before you move on to the next one, it’s pretty simple; confusion through chaos. Blurt it out like a retard or a Dota player, and watch the glistening embers of the aftermath.

I have a subject that I’m studying in my first semester known as Foundation of Human Skills. It sounds like a blow-off class, and since words are so good at being the instrument of their own description, that’s exactly what it is. No one really learns anything in a class that sounds like something you’d make up in 2 seconds when your mother is asking you what you’re studying and there’s a blueprint of a building along with a wax statuette of a naked human and the word SKILLS written in big, bold letters on an A4 size sheet in front of you (because that happens to everyone, right?). But since there’s nothing to learn we get to do ‘fun’ activities like what we did. In management there’s a popular concept known as Six Thinking Hats, which was actually published in 1985 as a psychological self-help book by Edward de Bono. The basic principle here is that humans think in six different ways denoted with hats of six different colours, that can be planned and hence challenged. These are:

  • Blue – what is the subject? what are we thinking about? what is the goal? (Managing)
  • White – considering purely what information is available; what are the facts? (Information)
  • Red – intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification) (Emotions)
  • Black – logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative (Discernment)
  • Yellow – logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony (Optimistic response)
  • Green – statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes (Creativity)

Except this is how it was taught to us:

  • Blue (Controlling)
  • White (Science student)
  • Red (Emotions)
  • Black (Negative comment)
  • Yellow (Positive comment)
  • Green (Arts student)

Our activity consisted of getting assigned random chits with words on them and speaking about that word on the spot for a minute or two. Then the rest of the class would unanimously decide which of the different hats they were wearing. I got the word ‘College’. It was a perfect moment to practice chaos through confusion – two minutes isn’t long enough to fully convince anyone of anything, no matter how similar your speaking style might be to Obama’s. The basic gist of my discussion was about how I believe college should be made super expensive to limit the number of graduates that pass out with useless degrees, and instead using that money to set up community colleges, vocational training institutes and subsidizing high school education to provide high-quality, almost free education to everyone. There are 10 million fresh graduates in this country every year – each with their own ambitions and aspirations, but sadly their employability is really low; a result of our weak and ineffective education system, even at the highest levels. Most of the country doesn’t need to be an engineer or know what Double Entry Accounting is. Yet all they heard was my “yes” when they asked, “do you want to make education only for the rich people?” and that was enough for them to close their ears and drop the black hat on me. I don’t think I was cautious or conservative even once in this entire thing, which I think kind of proved my point.

My expression when anyone believes anything I ever say

Chaos through confusion had failed me. It doesn’t work unless you establish a dialogue, which in a public speaking format isn’t really possible. It hadn’t confused them, merely solidified their ideals of having a vision in a country perplexed by its own backwardness and proud of its iPhone 7s and pornography prohibitions. But I’m still not going to stop offline-trolling people, because it’s fun, and I love the way human interaction is so simple yet so difficult to master. So here’s my challenge to you: Every time you internally agree with someone on something, just disagree and play out the debate. You might change someone’s viewpoint through a joke, you might have your own eyes opened, you might even start a religion like Jesus did almost 2000 years ago. Say a few unwarranted, untrue things, because that’s the essence of what we all are, in the end. An integument for our own metaphors, an instrument for our ideas, and intimaters of argument. We are what we portray, and sometimes it’s fun to portray yourself as a mirror.

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Upamanyu Acharya is a writer who doesn't write. Sometimes he's an artist, musician, photographer, physicist or lazy student. His hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is his personal blog where he writes on topics ranging from leadership skills to the consistency of jam.

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