Urban Lucubration

Observations on misanthropy, anonymity, and the value of silence.

August 7, 2011



July 20, 2011

On Grief

I don't have many friends.  I never have.  The ones I do have are few and far between, and inevitably, they last for a handful of years at most.

Sometimes I think about how my life must look to others.  Transient?  Nomadic?  Flitting from cause to cause, friend to friend as if the very thought of permanence is damning.

An old friend - an old best friend - once told me that I was unknowable.  Unknowable, he said - screamed - in my face.  I never really thought about how I must come across to those who know me.  Those who enter into any sort of relationship with me do so with the knowledge that reciprocity is not in my nature, and that whatever profound sharing of thoughts and minds occurs - it will be temporary.  Invariably one day, I'll leave and I won't come back.  I'll move on.  Because that's just what I do.  I imagine that few individuals would be willing to enter into a friendship with someone who has already seen its end from afar.

I suppose I can understand why many are reluctant to embark upon something so transient.  Short-lived.  Unknowable.  How difficult it must be for an individual to share affection with someone who shares so little of themselves.  Those I leave behind think me cruel.  That once I have moved on, I no longer care.  That I am utterly dispassionate toward the trail of grief I leave behind.


Aaron died yesterday.  Accidental overdose.  I always told that fucking kid to quit mixing his highs.  Never did listen to me.

He is - was - a few years older than me, but that doesn't stop me calling him kid.  The way he looks - looked - at the world was really a league of its own.  Naive.  Fascinated.  Every breath he took was a wonder.  Granted, he was the only person who thought so - his mother was kind of a bitch.  We used to run together, and not in that 6 am-Kelloggs-healthy living way, either.

I don't know exactly what it was that we had, but it was good.  This rather fucked up mélange of anger and alienation and desperation, expressed platonically like friendship was the only way out.  It's funny, because for most people friendship is the goal, not the means.  I think we were just both pissed off kids looking for some artefact of society to rip apart.

I was a fucked up kid, and this fact will never change.  What's even more fucked up is how utterly un-fucked up the world thought I was.  This was perhaps more damaging than any successful charge of juvenile arson or vandalism or animal cruelty could ever be.  There's only one thing worse than an angry, destructive kid - an angry, destructive kid who got straight A's and was teacher's pet all the way through junior high.  One is easy to fix, another utterly impossible.  I'll let you figure that one out.

If I ever had to pick a past friendship that I will likely always remember, it would be Aaron.  He was the only friend I've ever had who understood what it is to struggle.  To genuinely struggle.  To struggle against one's own nature.  The two of us got up to some awful shit, but it was always honest.  We never felt to the need to hide anything from each other - the sadistic gleam in our eyes; the utter power upon knowing that you are the sole cause of another agent's suffering.  We never felt the need to conjure justifications for our actions whose sincerity was intended only for the recipient.  We were both fucked up, but we were honest about it.  For perhaps the only few short years in my life, I felt vindicated.

I think that this sensation in the pit of my stomach is grief.  Granted, I would hesitate to label Aaron anything even remotely resembling conventional friendship.  Regardless, I think that what we had was the closest degree of genuine affection either of us were capable of.

In the end, maybe that's all that matters.

June 25, 2011


This song gets me every time.

Linkin Park is a band that will always be something significant to me. I think it's because their growth as a band so perfectly mimics with my own maturation and developmental trajectory, both chronologically-wise and content-wise. They're not my favorite band, and very few of their songs are actually on my "repeat" playlist, but there is something there that will always resonate with me.

I first jumped on the Linkin Park bandwagon in 2001. I was still in elementary school at the time, when Linkin Park released their first mainstream success - Hybrid Theory. Needless to say, Hybrid Theory was a gigantic, concentrated, repository of adolescent anger and "fuck you, fuck me, fuck the world!" sort of mentality. The subject matter was dark, the lyrics depressing, and the premise rather juvenile. It was the musical equivalent of an angry 11-year-old's diary, lashing out against the dismal cards that life had dealt him. The album dealt with everything from drug addictions to societal alienation, child abuse to self-injury, interpersonal drama to straight-out violence.

Linkin Park has changed a lot since then. But then again, so have I. I moved from a period of identifying with their music, to a place of simple respect. Because while I don't consider myself a moshing, die-hard fan, I respect their artistic merit. The tone of their songs has changed significantly since 2001 - matured, really. What they are now is a band looking back at the short-sighted days of Hybrid Theory from a place of increased self-awareness and wisdom. They've made the successful transition from being a victim in life to that of architect - no longer content to be merely a victim of adversity.

Linkin Park doesn't scream much these days, in stark contrast to their first few years of commercial success. Their fanbase has also diversified significantly because of this. The name "Linkin Park" used to conjure up images of truant, suburban 17-year-old boys strung out on coke and tagging derelict buildings on Saturday nights. Their concerts used to be little more than thinly disguised opportunities to pick fights, drink alcohol in public, and inhale second-hand smoke from the hundreds of pot-licking young men moshing furiously in the crowd.

It's apparent however, when examining Linkin Park today, that while their artistic vision has matured, their fans have matured with them. Because those 17-year-olds are hitting their 30s today, many of them in stable careers and starting families.

Linkin Park today, in 2011, has a specific flavour to their music that draws me. It's not quite adversity anymore. They don't sound like angry, desperate youth who are suffering - lost amid a 21st century globalized society that seems to be the personification of dispassion. Not at all. The Linkin Park of today sounds like men who have lived through a decade of hardship in their younger years, and now look back with a more self-aware, forgiving eye. Their newer songs reek of something their old songs did not: Hope. That's it, I think. The Linkin Park today sounds like hope.

It's a change that has also occurred in my own maturation process. Growth is not about forgiving or forgetting. Growth is about acquiring a paradigm shift - moving away from a place of anger to a place of silence. A place of grace. A place of resignment, and a place of forward motion.

The Linkin Park today is comprised of six men with far quieter minds than they used to have, and that is why no matter how far apart their artistic vision and my own musical preferences may grow, I will always have a copy Hybrid Theory on my CD shelf.

Classical Song (#1) of the Week: Nella Fantasia, performed by PCCB
Composer: Ennio Morricone & Chiara Ferraù

PCCB never lets me down.  I'm not certain as to the date of this performance, but given that I recognize the Head Chorister as Baudouin Aube, it must have been fairly recent (ie. 2010 - present).  The piece itself is very well-known both locally and internationally, hence the initial reaction from the audience.  The Italian lyrics are a bit butchered (not that I can tell), but it's understandable given that PCCB is a French choir.  Nevertheless, I would say that they remain my favorite classical treble choir to date.  There are close competitors, for sure - Libera and Vienna Boys Choir (VBC) to name a few, but I've never really been that interested in the typical VBC repertoire.  And as far as Libera is concerned, while their music is immensely pleasurable to listen to, I would not in a million years throw them into "classical treble" territory.  A good example of this contrast, would be to compare the above performance of Nella Fantasia with Libera's "Time" - complete with EMI music video:

As you can see, it's apparent that Libera is not a classical group, despite many of their songs having lyrics in Latin.  PCCB and Libera run in very different circles.  The boys in PCCB undergo much more formal musical training that typify the "boy-choir sound", where Libera boys seem to be taught a much more "pop" sound.  Libera's strengths are its marketing, its contemporary/New-Age songs, and commercial appeal.  The boys themselves - vocal technique and skill-wise - would be completely out of their league if compared to the larger subset of classical treble choirs and cathedral mixed choirs.  That being said, I'm an enormous fan of Libera.

Glad to see that Aube is holding his own now as Head Chorister.  Personally, I find him a bit better than his predecessor, but that's largely a matter of preference.  Aube has a much clearer upper register, I would say.  For those of you who are screaming at me to address the serenading elephant in the room, no I am not confusing PCCB with PCSM (Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc), as many are wont to do.  Apparently it happens a fair bit given that both are technically treble choirs, although PCCB is a boys-only choir.

For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, Jean-Baptiste Maunier (or JB, as the rabid fans call him) is most well-known for featuring in Les Choristes, a 2002 movie about a cathedral choir.  I haven't been able to find an English version of the film, so I watched it in the original French given that my French is workable.  Personally, I'm a bit skeptical when boy trebles rise to fame this way given that it inevitably becomes a beauty contest as much as a singing one - ie. Anthony Way, although one exception I can think of in this case is probably Aled Jones.  But I certainly won't argue that Maunier had a phenomenal treble voice (last I heard, when his voice broke he was replaced as Head Chorister by Emmanuel Lizé). The piece for which he's most well known for is called "Caresse sur l'océan".

Classical Song (#2) of the Week: Caresse sur l'océan, performed by PCSM
Composer: Bruno Coulais

March 24, 2011

On Flight

I am looking for a fresh start.

I wonder why it is that people idealize and romanticize the idea of starting anew - tabula rasa; clean slate. They're still the same person, they will continue making the same mistakes, no matter where or how far they run.

One can flee to another city halfway across the world; lost amid the gray, gray canvas of nameless faces going nowhere. But the first night he rests, he remembers that the sky is still the same, and the clouds floating by are the same ones as the night before, and the night before, and the night before that.

Nothing really changes. The only thing that changes is that when you awake in your new life, you add another notch to your bedpost, and run again. Except, you tell yourself, this time will be different.

It never is.

March 5, 2011

On Growing Up

An excellent panel discusses the evident trend among Generation Y's teens and young adults - "Emerging Adulthood". A well-rounded discussion with both economists and developmental psychologists exploring why youth today are taking longer to reach "traditional" developmental milestones, whatever those may be (or indeed, if they're even relevant in the 21st century).

February 28, 2011

On Amorality

Psychopathy has been a longstanding research interest of mine, and it will be a topic which - hopefully - I will pursue into academia, should the stars align. I am not certain if current researchers in the area share my perspective, but psychopaths are - to me - far less deviant and malevolent than they are typically judged to be. I view psychopathy merely as a personality construct which in and of itself is morally neutral.

It is a fairly justifiable assertion that most, if not all, research psychologists were initially drawn to the discipline by a personal connection of sorts. This assertion is one which dangles implicitly; unspoken but assumed among academic circles. Granted, research interests almost always diversify as researchers become entrenched in the ivory halls, but it was always something personal that set ablaze the initial spark of curiosity; of interest, of possibility. The ex-depressed researcher who studies stress and coping, the perfectionist who studies perfectionism, the autistic who studies autism, and the psychopath who studies psychopathy. It is not surprising that one excels at what one knows best.

All but a rare few in my social circle understand my motivation to pursue research psychology. My research interests since then have now expanded to include emotional regulation, consciousness, visual cognition, autism-spectrum disorders, and evolutionary psychology. I also have a great interest in correlated and/or related personality constructs such as antisocial personality disorder, narcissism, and machiavellianism.

To address the serenading elephant in the room: Yes, I have considered the possibility that I exhibit many psychopathic characteristics. No, I have concluded that I am not a psychopath - that is, my psychopathic features are not present at a sufficient level by which to receive the threshold research label of psychopathy.  That being said, I'm not sure if I draw this conclusion out of empirical rigor or wishful thinking. I am aware that, as I am, I am atypical in many regards. I do share an astoundingly high number of psychopathic features, I will admit.

Most laypeople do not realize that psychopaths do not, in fact, possess a deficiency in emotional understanding. Psychopaths often excel at reading others, adopting another person's perspective to better control the social interaction. Psychopaths are perhaps most aptly characterized by a lack of empathy, but this lack of empathy is of a distinct flavor which is not to say that psychopaths cannot "put themselves in another person's shoes". It is particularly the superior ability of psychopaths to adopt the viewpoint of another that makes them, very often, so dangerous. Psychopathic lack of empathy is more the inability to simulate another person's experience of a given event.  It is coupling of an impressive ability to read the intentions and emotion states of others, with a genuine lack of compassion.  In laymen's terms, psychopaths know but do not care.

This is largely why psychopaths are largely seen as immoral or amoral. To a psychopath, the moral laws and legal laws are equivalent. It is generally accepted in contemporary research that most of human morality is based upon emotional experience. Moral cognition therefore hinges on the experience of emotion. Emotions evolved because they allowed for humanity's ancestors to respond quickly to any given situation. As most individuals today realize, there is no course of action undertaken with such swiftness or vigor other than those we believe are morally right. Emotion provides an incentive - a conviction - to pursue a course of action with as much efficacy and speed as possible. Presumably, these courses of action are those which have proven to be evolutionarily adaptive. For instance, consider the universal moral violation of murder. It is clear even back during primordial times that murdering one's neighbor would result in cultural disapproval. For the early member of humankind, such ostracization and explusion from a society (eg. village) could potentially result in death. Humans function optimally when they operate in societies of other humans, with each individual contributing a unique, specialized skill. Hence, most individuals today have evolved the innate revulsion toward murder. Very commonly when asked why they disapprove of murder, people respond that it is a result of a "gut feeling" or "conscience" rather than intellectual reasoning. Individuals derive positive affect from prosocial behavior, and in that sense, they very much condition themselves to that which they are already evolutionarily predisposed.

Perhaps you may see now, why the moral poverty of a psychopath is problematic but not obvious, nor readily identifiable. I resent the association that exists between psychopathy and "evil". Evil is a word that I thoroughly dislike, both because society tends to misuse it and the fact that I do not believe in moral axioms. Morality will always be, to me, a point of view - a perspective on actions taken, a judgement of propriety. Without moral individuals there is no concept of morality, only action. The universe behaves as it behaves, not as it ought to behave.

For this reason, I often find it difficult to engage in moral discourse. As a vocal member of the secular/atheist movement, I often find myself in debates regarding the prescription and discussion of moral conundrums. These usually take the form of two teams of debaters, with stances determined randomly at the flip of a coin. Such intellectual exercises are useful for evaluating numerous moral truths, but over time I have come to the realization that - despite both parties agreeing to advocate their designated position to the best of their ability - there is always a "correct" answer. It does not matter if an individual is randomly assigned the role of devil's advocate - there is ALWAYS a correct answer which hangs implicitly in the air. There is an unspoken agreement that 1) there is a correct moral stance to take, and 2) regardless of how reasonable "immoral" arguments may be, a consensus will eventually arrive upon this moral truth. Accordingly, I encounter a great deal of difficulty defending this "correct" answer. I do understand the reasoning behind this correct stance, but it is at an intellectual level only. There is no conviction behind my words. There is an entirely hidden layer of moral subtext which I am never privy to. Even when arguing the "right" stance, I experience no emotional conviction. Over time it became abundantly clear that most individuals adopt moral stances because they "feel" wrong to some extent, whereas I am not similarly compelled to distinguish between moral and immoral. The morality of crimes, to me, is a function only of its potential consequences to the self.

This understanding of morality appeared early. As a child, I was bitter and cynical and ruthless. I shoplifted, I set fires, I schemed, I manipulated, I tortured and killed neighborhood cats, I lied indiscriminately, and I saw people only as objects within my environment. For all these actions I regretted and regret nothing.

To be frank, human compassion is not something that comes naturally to me as it does others. Empathy is not something that I was reared to understand. Perhaps I never will, but I do wonder.  Some mornings when I awake, I feel a spark of motivation; a vibrant touch of zeal to attempt to understand what it means to be a good person, but it is fleeting. It dissipates before I can muster the self-awareness to understand what it was.

Other terms I would find myself pondering the universe within a peculiar intellectual paradigm - that of an infinite universe.  I have touched on this before in previous posts, but whenever I find myself contemplating the universe a few million years from now I become apathetic. Most people would think that because I find the human species so insignificant, that I would not hesitate to do as I will.  This is a wary assumption, because my orientation on action and inaction is precisely the opposite.  Because I am aware that my existence is only in this moment - in a few billion years no species would still be living to have any recollection of the human race, and therefore, myself.  There is nothing so infinite as to be understandable.  There is no reason why I must hesitate to, for instance, murder my neighbor in his sleep.  There is no reason to refrain from manipulating others for my own sadistic pleasure.  There is absolutely no reason critical enough as to refrain from destruction for the sake of free-floating morality.

Because I do not believe that morality is intrinsic or axiomatic. Morality, from my perspective, is nothing more than a large, species-wide, generally agreed upon democracy. To that understanding, perhaps the purest understanding of our existence must be understood through the eyes of children. Children who have not yet attained moral reasoning are, by far, the purest method we have by which to make sense of our time here. For children are not immoral so much as amoral.

Perhaps then, those axiomatic altruists who spend their lives and careers defending the well-being of children, were onto something after all.

Classical Song of the Week: Miserere Mei, Deus
Composer: Allegri

Remains my favorite classical choral piece to date.  There are many versions of Miserere, some sung by contemporary groups and others by traditional cathedral choirs.  I do think that the gravity of this piece is best conveyed through traditional church choirs that still employ boy sopranos.  I am not a treble purist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do prefer the timbre of a young boy's voice as the Soprano I soars to an unbelievably clear C6.

This particular performance is by the King's College Chapel Choir, certainly one group that I follow closely.  A very tight performance, as usual.  The theme of this piece is forgiveness and seeking of redemption.  Although I am not religious myself, I find that the song adopts an entirely novel level of enjoyment when one frames it as a lament - a plea for forgiveness to the Judeo-Christian god.  Very nice.

January 25, 2011

On Jerk Skepticism

I just wanted to digress for a moment here, and talk about something that has been bothering me for a number of years now: "Jerk Skepticism".

As most individuals are well aware, religion is something that occupies an enormous niche in contemporary culture.  It has exerted an immense influence on human history, and is the thing from which much of modern morality and social norms originate.  There have always been those who actively promote, as there have always been those who actively dissent.  Individuals on either side of this divide tend to hold rather traditional - and often outdated - stereotypes of their opposition.  It is a mistake to assume however, that either the religious or atheists are completely homogenous groups in and of themselves.

Being an active member of my secular community and attending lectures and seminars surrounding controversial topics (eg. intelligent design, young earth creationism), this notion is something that became immediately apparent.  In the past, I assumed that because skepticism by definition involves rocking the boat, it is a philosophy that is inevitably confrontational.  This assumption is one that I question.

A few months ago, I brought one of my Catholic roommates to a "skeptics" lecture.  The speaker was Dr. Jonathan Sarfati from Creation Ministries International (CMI).  A critique of Sarfati's arguments for Young Earth Creationism is lengthy and well beyond the scope of this blog post, but needless to say it was not a very impressive - or indeed, accurate - representation of contemporary Christian apologetics.  The thing that struck me most about the lecture however, was not necessarily the content.  It was my roommate's reaction to the audience and the intellectual environment as a whole.  Having limited experience with the skeptical community, the primary thing she remarked upon was the hostile arrogance exhibited on part of a few atheists.

This hostile flavor of skepticism is what I have come to term "Jerk Skepticism".  It describes a particular subset of the atheist community which treats skepticism as a position rather than process; a conclusion of truth rather than an orientation toward truth.  Having attended her first skeptics event, my roommate commented on the blatant vocal intolerance toward religion at the lecture.  Throughout the presentation, she reported that she continually overheard whispered comments of a vicious and spiteful nature toward both religion and religious individuals.  The question and answer period following the lecture was also peppered with accusations, profanity, and ad hominem insults directed toward the lecturer rather than the lecture.

I attempted to offer some justification for the things that she observed, but I fell short.  This observation is something that I, quite frankly, felt ashamed of discussing.  What could I have possibly have said to defend the integrity of the skeptical community?  Individuals in skeptical communities are continually trying to discredit religion, but given the status quo orientation of many atheists today it is understandable why many religious people view skepticism as a negative presence in society.  Ultimately, despite the fact that religion is both empirically and logical flawed, it demands certain features of conduct which I find is missing among jerk skeptics.

In many ways, this skeptical hostility undermines exactly what it is trying to achieve - attempting to demonstrate the foolishness of religion to believers.  This negative, confrontational attitude adopted by far too many atheists, is in actuality fueling religious observance.  Intentional or not, skepticism is represented by skeptics.  A religious person who steps foot into the secular community will immediately note the people who practice it.  It was disheartening to realize that, had I been my roommate, I would have similarly come to regard skepticism as a force which resorts to personal insults and arrogant intolerance.

Many skeptics today have lost touch with the origins of skepticism: Humility.  I myself am often guilty of this.  Various practices of the skeptical community have now become similar to practices of religious communities.  In this sense, many skeptics are hypocritical in their intolerance to consider the possibility of error.  Religion is often criticized for failing to seriously contemplate alternative explanations.  However, this criticism is - in my experience - rapidly becoming also applicable to the skeptical community.  The bottom line is that religious individuals seem much more welcoming of atheists than atheists are welcoming of religious individuals.  Being non-judgmental, socially supportive, and welcoming are features of the religious community which many jerk skeptics do not share.  This observation worries me immensely, because it is a strong motivator for religious individuals to reject atheism without having actually considered skeptical arguments.  Jerk skepticism allows for religious individuals to take the moral high ground.  It is a relatively valid concern, one which unfortunately is based upon accurate descriptions of many atheists.

On the other hand, I consider myself an "Olive Branch Skeptic".  I do believe that true skepticism should be incredibly humble.  Skepticism is a perspective which does not purport to know or prove anything - it only requires that any claim be supported by evidence.

I have observed that, for many skeptics, skepticism is equated with actively attacking another person's point of view.  This is a dangerous practice because attacking religious individuals allows them to argue that skepticism is exactly what its practitioners demonstrate - spite, intolerance, and arrogance.  Too often, skepticism becomes a position to be defended rather than a tool to seek truth.  Any skeptic should bear in mind that by practicing jerk skepticism they are indirectly strengthening their opponent's conviction.

January 1, 2011

On Fresh Starts

I have never understood the jubilation surrounding January 1st.  For most individuals, New Years Day is a moment of renewal; of new years and new starts.  Of course, one can endeavor to seek new beginnings - shedding those extra pounds, quitting smoking, applying themselves more rigorously to their studies and so forth - but people do not change.  Change is a steep, guttural, uphill climb which, even when conquered, is not a moment of freedom.  You see this demonstrated quite aptly, for example, in ex-addicts.  Even after he has triumphed over his demons and put down the needle, once he has succeeded in climbing the hill, he can never really get off.  It is a paradoxical but established fact that ex-addicts can never really use again, recreational or otherwise.  He dares not.  It has taken him every fibre of strength to reach the top, and he dares not descend lest he be confronted with another hill steeper than its predecessor.  Despite his triumph, he is perpetually confined to the peak of his successes and will never move forward.

My friends have been regaling me with tales of their New Years resolutions lately.  They have all taken pacts to better themselves somehow.  When they then inquired about my own resolutions, I replied that I had none.  Many of them were taken aback at this.  "Is there really nothing about yourself that you wish to change?"

There are several things I wish to change about myself, none of them attainable.  If they were attainable then this question would be useless, considering that I would not be the person I am now.  There is no meaning in asking myself such questions.  It would accomplish nothing.  I do admit that this perspective is rather cynical, but then again, I am a cynic.  I have always been and most likely will always be.

Most individuals within my social/professional circles think that I am silent because I am a misanthrope.  This could not be farther from the truth.  A genuine, organic misanthrope would either retreat from humanity in disgust or, conversely, be exceedingly vocal in his distaste toward people.  I am silent because there was a point when I did believe in people.  There was a time when I did not see the world through a lens of rage and fire - both figuratively and literally.  There was a time when I wanted to be a moral person because it was what everyone around me was doing.  After I discovered however, that there was a layer of human experience from which I would always be excluded, I devolved into apathy.  Having struggled to understand morality and conscience for years, it was revealed to me that the world of youth and strawberries and ice cream at the park had always been closed to me.  The world of unconditional love and friendship and intimacy and attachment and family warmth were merely words thrown around by people - abstractions at best.  These were simply not things I would ever be capable of understanding as I see them experienced by others.  Why not, then?  Why not let the world burn?  Why should I keep fighting and struggling tooth and nail for an ideal I could never appreciate even if it was attainable?

Moral action is not in my nature.  Morality for me takes immense, painful effort and self-restraint.  Most individuals in my social circle believe that while I may profess to dislike people, there is compassion underneath the chill.  They observe me as I smile at a young child, as I pay for my goods like every other citizen, as I tell white lies to protect others, as I commit my time to charity and supporting my fellow human beings to the best of my ability, and they assume.  They assume and will never cease assuming humanity in others.  It is a projection of their own goodwill.  Few would understand how it feels to have to constantly restrain one's own nature.  Every individual should be able to live as he is.  Few people see the strain behind every unnecessary kind word, every averted lie, every act of mercy, every modicum of grace.  To resist using my understanding of people to manipulate and hurt and destroy is an uphill climb whose peak I have never seen.  I am beginning to wonder if this effort will ever be worth it.     

Fresh starts are mythical things.  For the past few years I have given quite a lot of thought to the idea of flight.  Changing my name, severing all social connections to pursue a life of anonymity in some other city.  I used to think that it would make me happier.  To more contemporary self-analysis however, I am beginning to realize that the burden I carry is not one localized to geographical location.  It is something that will follow me wherever I may flee.

During these brief moments of doubt, I recall my younger days.  While I have never believed in the value of humanity, there was once that I believed in redemption.  In my youth I did believe that individuals can change themselves if the motivation is genuine; if their will is strong.  I believed that if I behaved morally, that these morals would eventually be internalized.  That I would eventually be rewarded for being a person against which every shred of my nature rebels.  I saw the smiles and happiness in those who profess to be good people, and I sought to emulate their goodwill.

Now at 22, older and more secure in myself, I have long since made peace with this moral void.  The silence I observe today is one not of passion but of resignment.  I hypothesize that most individuals find moral action rewarding because such selfless and prosocial behavior is a reward in itself.  This magnitude of positive reinforcement within the larger system of moral conditioning is not to be underestimated.  That being said, while I may be ruthless I am also a scientist.  I am by nature manipulative and predatory; sadistic, cruel, destructive, predisposed to callousness, emotionally stagnant, and unmoved by the emotional pleas and misery of others, but I am also open to the possibility that, in the long run, my persistence may be worthwhile.

At this point however, I can only hope that by simulating my goal, I can achieve it.  I can only hope that by acting as if I am moral, I may eventually derive some small measure of moral understanding.  Should I fail in this, should I fail to develop some small measure of concern, then speculation as to a major decision in my approaching future may disturbingly progress from thought to pursuit; from will to action.