I’m divergent!

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These scripts have echoed in my mind for the last weekend:

“Maybe you are not quite dauntless as you thought you are.”

“You’re right. I’m not. I’m divergent.”

Some may realize the movie that such scripts came from. I’m writing about “Divergent”, the latest movie I have seen and it should be the latest one I have replayed three times to catch all the scripts that coming throughout the movie (the latest but “Divergent” was “About time”). While it may be a little bit difficult to find out common things shared between these two movies that make a not-a-movie-enthusiast like me to watch more than twice, the reasons are quite simple:  (1) The plot is quite comprehensible and straightforward. I do not expend lots of efforts understanding what’s going on the screen but save some of them for thinking about the underlying stories; (2) A great number of ideas has come across my mind and it is by no means an easy task to summon all of them in a brief post.

For ones who have not get to know “Divergent”, the setting of the movie is post-apocalyptic Chicago and people living here are divided into five factions for the leader’s belief in the system’s ability to keep everything in control. Some of my friends, on hearing my strong interest in this movie, have suggested me seeing “The Hunger Games” or “The Maze Runner”.  I may see the movies in the future should I have time and enough patience to expend a night for them. The things that I have made it clear that it is not about the theme or the setting that get me that hooked on the movie (though I can hardly deny that I have been overwhelmed by the devastated and dilapidated buildings in the movie) but the ideas that underlie are familiar yet conveyed in a very original way.

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As described on Wikipedia, “the novel explores the themes common to young adult fiction, such as adult authority and the transition from childhood to maturity” and “probes the place of authority and identity within the youth’s relationship to parents and other social forces”. These above sentences have done a good job at recapping the main ideas that run throughout the trilogy. However, I find the story more resonate with what’s happening at the stage of college graduation when young people have to decide the career they will go for. Every year million of newly graduate get out of university and run crazily in a rat race to get into prestigious firms. They also undergo many types of aptitude tests, simulation tests and so on. Some gets hired and some receives a long letter of rejection to describe the only reason of being kicked out “We find other people suitable for the position than you are”. Some may perceive that there should be something wrong with them for not being accepted at any workplace Some are intelligent enough to fake your own identity (like the way Tris acted as a Dauntless instead of improvising like a Divergent to pass the mental test) and get into the firm. You may be the ones who are incapable of expressing yourselves and become Factionless (I mean Jobless there). For instant, you apply for an accounting firm so you should be careful, compliant, and “promisingly committed” as the way how people define an auditor or a tax consultant. I remember the time when I get an interview into these firms, I do feel that people try seeking in the applicants the desirable “fixed” traits that best describes their current highly committed employees and winnow the ones that express the traits diverging from the checklist. I do not mean to criticize for such method, the recruiters should have considered a lot when deciding to hire an employee and playing safe by choosing the ones with similar traits. The story, of course, does not end at the entrance of these “Factions”, it continues even after your “transfer” into these Factions. Some choose to live with the identity that people in their affiliations are perceived to possess. Some struggle if they possess more than one trait and they resist being mixed. Fortunately, the Divergent in our real life is not prone to the risk of being killed anytime by the leaders. Luckily, some will treasured by their colleagues for their unique way of thinking. In some cases, however, a divergent may be stereo-typed by HR officers for ones who have a higher tendency of being a job-jumper and their presence in the offices may not be highly appreciated.

The story also makes me resonate with the ways some young people try to define themselves. While self-defining or self-positioning should be a long process that requires incessant thinking, young people often try to confine the definition about themselves in the narrow or easily put words that used to described the roles in the society like Joe the accountant or Kevin the engineer. They define themselves as woman or man and soon they let these definitions, rather than their own rational senses, decide the way they act. You are women so you are supposed to be more submissive. You are an accountant so it is comprehensible for you to be kind of compliant or stiff. Some may define themselves by the horoscope under which they were born, which results in a great number of statuses on my Facebook newsfeeds trying to defend their actions based on the characteristics deemed for their sun signs, moon signs, etc. And when they try to confine themselves to these lazily put definitions, they confine their ways of thinking as well.

Besides the identity theme that subtly mentioned throughout the movie, I was also impressed at many thought provoking conversations between characters in the movie or the creative situations that Roth put her characters in so that they can fully express their own personalities. The novel has done a good job in telling about the fears, depicting characters’ personalities by the ways they deal with the fears. It also makes me think hard about human nature’s existence, for its goodness that color our lives or for its ugliness that make our lives get complicated. Though the novel has been criticized by some for its oversimplification by setting up a color-coded society, I do think that such simplification makes it easier for us to associate the movie plot with what’s happening in the society.

Perhaps it was too long the post to explain all the ideas blooming in my mind, I may spare the last few words for the movie. I love the way the author chose the settings in her favorite city – Chicago. Such choice of settings surely makes the audiences have a real feeling of the post-apocalyptic era (should it exist), and provokes a kind of nostalgic feeling for the once beautiful yet severely destroyed city (even in one who has not been to Chicago like me). I have been in awe of the author for adding many creative details in the movie like the zip line from the skyscraper or the simulations. For ones who do not take a liking to the sci-fi movies for its unreasonably “creative” stuff, this movie with its creativity based on the real things we may see in our daily life is suitable to my liking.

While the aptitude test of mind on the website of the movie showed me that I am divergent with two most outstanding traits to be Candor and Erudite (Dauntless came out fifth, following Amity and Abnegation, which did not come to me as surprise), I do like the Dauntless for their fearless and freedom (though the Dauntless turns out to be not that ideal at the end of the movie) should I have to make a choice. However, it sounds cool after all to be divergent, doesn’t it?

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2014.09.12.Random thought

I really miss the old days. I usually spend my time regurgitating the past even when I know it does more harm than good. But sometimes I can’t resist replaying all the old songs in the past, the melodies of which hover around my mind and nearly move me into tears. The feeling of time slipping through the fingers and never coming back really makes me sick.

So beautiful the old days.

From the above videos, do you know what drove me crazy tonight!

Back to basics

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During these days, when Facebook gets stuffed with rubbish media products and lousy debates that head to nowhere where both sides in such quarrel even do not know exactly what they are debating for , another trend that comes after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and captures my attention out of these aforementioned rubbish is Book Bucket Challenge. The name is kinda funny as some may associate with the image of ones self-filming themselves standing still and pouring a bucket of books above their heads. Fortunately, all the guys I happen to know are not that mad to take this challenge by doing so or we may read lots of tragedy posted on the tabloid the next days. I came across the news-feed and found myself enthralled at the variety of the books that named. (And I thought what the hell have I read during time at college?) Lots of trendy titles were listed while some titles are completely unfamiliar to me. Some titles were listed along with careful explanation while some makes me feel that they are just casually chosen for presenting on the Facebook.

I do not mean to give further comments about the tastes of Facebook users in reading books or whether these tastes have anything to do with the development of national culture :) I, in fact, was kind of hesitating to press “Like” button at any posts like these for my fear of being tagged and having no idea of the books that come out my mind. This tactic seems to be effective as no one has challenged me so far.

But I really want to read books, to be more exact, good books.

It should be so long time ago when I read books passionately. I remember being overwhelmed with books that presented at the small bookstore near my secondary school and spending time after school being in the bookstore and reading as much as possible. This habit, however, gradually disappeared soon after I got into high school. When your time and effort have to be spared more on learning for university entrance exam, which in turn reduced time for wandering around the book store, you will not have enough time to choose a book of your interest. At the same time, publishing industry bloomed in an unprecedented manner and lots of books have been published out as a result. With your limited time and the huge amount of books coming out, it was nearly an impossible task to select a book that worth reading. Especially when your budget was limited, there was no kind of trial-and-error allowed there. (Well, such a long explanation and I do hope that the whole chain does not have any wrong link supported).

I want to tell about my life these days.

I decided to get back to the basics. I try to revive my old hobbies. Just like finding myself wandering in a bookstore near the Old Quarter, picking some books that I longed for when I was at seventh grade and I have left them somewhere in my mind when I was busy growing up. I spent more time learning Chinese grammar and found myself stunned at the wonder of the language as I was 6 years ago when digging at English grammar.  I spent some evenings watching English movies of these old days (“Old days”, as defined by me, is the time of 10-20 years before:) ). I thought of buying an acoustic guitar to realize my dream of mastering guitar when I was a kid. I just wonder how I could be separated from these old habits for such a long time.

The journey back to these old habits is not always smooth as it seems. I admit that the advent of the Internet is a troublesome for some times (You know). But I will try to make things different in the good way day by day. Let’s see!

Simply Glee

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Of all American TV series  I have ever seen in my recent 3 years (I can easily name some as I have rarely spent time watching a TV series since I started university), Glee should be the one that I like the most for its simplicity (especially for ones who hardly find times following the development of the screen plot) and its comprehensibility (for ones who often find it difficult to make sense of all the lines on screen). After long time at work, the most relaxing activity of mine is to turn on the television and watch Glee. I  love the way they refresh the old songs and make even seemingly disastrous songs (or kind of “too popular”-to-listen songs) become enjoyable. Though sometimes I get fed of the bizarre triangle love stories in the show, it is still okay when the characters start to raise their voices. Though Rachel seems to be a much more important character, who are spared with much more slots in the screenplay, the show is still about a group in which people, possessing divergent characteristics yet, shared the same passion with music. It’s just wonderful to imagine that you can live in such artistic atmosphere where the main language is beautiful verse with pleasant melodies.

About my favorite characters, Rachel and Brittany may be these ones. While  I found myself sharing with Rachel some streaks, Brittany’s unconventional characters is something that interests me.

I will not write about the friendship or kind of messages that conveyed. All of these, while may be mentioned somewhere in the Internet, may trigger criticism from ones who scared about the negative effect of the seemingly dilapidated teenage life that presented on the TV shows. It is the music of the shows that makes sense to me. Here below are some of my favorite songs from Glee:

 

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2014.08.24.Random thoughts

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August may be not a good month for writing. I found it difficult to summon all the ideas and translate the chaos in my mind into a decent writing. I had a nice hangout with my friends two weeks ago, in which we shared a lot about our personal stories after graduating or our upcoming plans. After this peaceful weekend, I suddenly fell into the state of disappointment, which have been written in my latest posts. Suddenly I felt upset about all the things around me. I am not sure about the next steps, about the long days coming without finding efforts paying off.

Some beautiful things, however, lightened up the seemingly gloomy month of mine, beside the hangout with my old friends. It was a promise of a friend from Taiwan of a book about Taiwan traveling and lots of Chinese books I have bought recently to serve for my Chinese learning. As I have mentioned many times before, I am kind of fickle people with my mood swinging all the time.  I found the peace filled between these uneasy moments and I am learning to make sure that these uneasy moments, not the peaceful ones, will be the ones that get embedded between the peaceful ones.

Hope that things get better in the last four months of the year.

2014.08.13.Random thoughts

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After the story of the unconventional dots, it takes me another couple of weeks or longer to get inspired again.
And I start myself getting trouble with things that surround.
When you find it difficult to describe your current status, when things on the agenda seem to head for nowhere, when social media gets you bogged down several times for witnessing not-so-desirable stuff…
When you thought that you have already figured our your own life preference, when you thought that you will be ok in the long run and you feel kind of envious when looking at other’s success. You know it is not good but you just can’t resist thinking about it…
When you get mad at starting a debate with someone and finding out that you two even cannot find a common ground for that debate to be kicked off…
When you do not know what to talk during the team lunch…
When someone tries playing down your own efforts…
When you want to start with lots of personal stuff but do not have any clue about the way to get into it…
When your life is filled with fears. You cannot even sleep well at night…

Serendipity or an ordinary story about an unconventionally inspiring dot

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I received a message from a friend of mine on a random weekend in July 2014. “I am about to take a graduate degree in Finland for the next two years. Let’s have a hang-out!”

I have known her for more than two years since our very first meeting for Ychallenge 2012. (No more to say about Ychallenge. Besides YVS, Ychallenge should be a very important event in my life, during which I have chances to meet lots of surprising people. The appearance of these people in my life has made a certain impact on my own perspective on life, making me believe in the life that made up by the people we met, the stories we shared.) My first impression about her is a small girl coming from the Southern Vietnam, who has just received an offer from McKinsey – my dream at that time (I’m not sure about now).

I have not had lots of chances working with her during 2012 except for couples of time we held conference via Skype. It was not until 2013 when we started kicking off some other projects that I have much more chances interacting with her as well as other team members. Her working style did not leave much impression on me, and sometimes, I really feel kind of awkward when we started conversations as I was not so confident that people paying attention to my own story. Or perhaps it was due to my Northern accent :)), which makes me feel kind of awkward while speaking with the people speaking with Southern accent.

Despite her seemingly disorganized working style, her little bit introvert personality, I find her sharing lots of ideas/ thoughts in common with me, which, of course, are better articulated in her writing/ presenting. I admired the way she wrote about her old schools in her hometown, about the long long ago stories about the little girl discovering the big cities, which made me curious about the sunny Southern land in my country, instilling my desire of living in these faraway lands. I find her ideas of learning for learning’s sake or wisdom itself a form of happiness striking a chord with mine. I have a clearer understanding about the idea of “creating impact” by working with her and other Yplatform members. I used to have vague ideas about this term, and even I can reiterate exactly what I read from books, I know the underlying idea was something that I hardly catch without having time working with her and other members.

Coming back to the Sunday afternoon, where we have a quick meet-up in the favorite coffee shop (the one I have spent lots of time last summer), the conversation, fragmented a lot with few awkward moments or few incomprehensible breaks though, was totally a meaningful one to me. Hardly could I believe that I spent an afternoon to talk about the idea of pure learning or right way of book reading or kind of education or anything related to youth development. The conversation once again persuaded me that she was a very nice person I have ever had the chance to work with for her surprisingly consistent and constant stream of thoughts/ideas that conveyed through disruptive way of talking (as usual). The topics got beyond the ones I have ever had before with my friends, i.e. career, love, or marriage. Or even it is something about career-related, we were forced to perceive it in another way. I was taken aback for sometimes at huge amount of knowledge she acquired. How come does she spare lots of time for reading books besides her busy workloads? How come does she synthesize her findings from books and make the findings her own belongings, building up her own ideologies towards life? I suddenly feel ashamed for my limited knowledge, for my criticism on the uselessness of some seemingly boring course at undergraduate level, i.e. Public Economics or Development Economics when I was still a student (I started regretting about this 1 year ago). If only…if only… these words echoed in my mind yesterday evening and today for many times when I feel helpless when trying to get the subliminal messages conveyed in some articles or writings.

She was also a very nice sister who kept asking us about our next steps, our next plans (she was also among the ones who helped me in finding a job placement after graduating, the effort did not result in a direct job placement but the kindness I received during this hard time would be invaluable) and wondered if my favorite field is research. I remember few times she talked with me about how to have a boyfriend :)) but few few times and maybe the only time I find her a little bit like other people or find our conversation a little bit more like ones shared between ordinary friends.

When we said goodbye to each other, I wanted to give her a hug for being an unconventionally inspiring dot of mine during the last 2 years and wished her all the best for her journey ahead to Finland (But it did not happen :))). I have jotted down with “source” in the first place but it sounds a little bit pompous so I decided to move on with “dot” for its better description of her appearance. A chain of strange happenstances results from a moment of impulsiveness in March 2012.A line of surprising “dots” has been drawn since that point of time. And I know people called it “Serendipity”.