Just Watching…

Just a few passing observations:

Have you ever read something and immediately something bothers you about it? You can’t place your finger on it, of course, and on the surface it seems innocuous, but it’s still wrong. That’s what this tweet is to me.

“Invisible and neglected.” What do these words even mean? As a general rule, Sikh’s tend to stand out in their communities. So they’re not invisible. And neglected by whom? I don’t see anyone in the United States who’s obligated by law to look out for and cater to the Sikh community. Or the black community. Or the gay community. It’s almost as if you’re responsible for looking out for yourself.

But “representation matters,” right? Everyone (except whites/men), must be pandered to and catered to. It’s not enough that you be allowed to live your life; no, you must force others to see you and celebrate you, even if they’d rather do neither. Even if, for all intents and purposes, you’re irrelevant, you must make people look at you and your causes so you can feel special.

So, trans representatives and Sikh mayors: that’s great, you achieved something, be proud of that. But let’s not pretend that “representation” is what everyone is so happy about. It’s vain narcissism, coated in layer upon layer of feel-goodism, to the point that we no longer recognize it. A Sikh mayor in Hoboken or a trans representative in Virginia doesn’t make a difference, not on its own.

It is not what they are that matters. It is what they will do with their power.

~ It feels like Dr. King’s dream is all but dead these days. All everyone ever talks is what folks look like on the outside. No one cares about “who” anymore; it is all about “what.” Black? Trans? Atheist? Hispanic? Gay? Muslim (in the most reductive, meaningless way)? It does not matter if you are an utterly awful person, as long as you fit the mold of being an Oppressed Minority™, you have a place in “society.”

Meanwhile, if you’re white (and especially if you’re white and male (and triply especially if you’re white, male, and Christian)), you’re pushed to the back. You’re assumed to be racist. You’re automatically a monster who needs to literally kiss the ass of every “minority” on the street to begin to make up for something you can’t help.

It is almost as if segregating and slandering people on the basis on that which is uncontrollable is a bad thing. It’s almost as if there was a whole movement to end this sort of thing….

~ Periodically, Shannon and I will talk about the old days of online conservative activism back in 2012. We talk about the comradery, about the joy of finding like-minded individuals across the nation to connect with. And we talk about how it slowly sort of fell apart. How we saw the reality of certain individuals and groups. How what was once an alliance of happy warriors descending into vain infighting and back-biting. About how far too many people were invested in keeping things as they were rather than trying to build (or rebuild) something.

A year into the Trump era and things seem to be only worse. Plenty of people and commentators who I’ve liked and respected over the years have revealed themselves to be hateful and spiteful and petty. They hate Trump so much, they’re willing to sabotage him rather than fight for their supposed values.

For all of his faults, Trump is still better than Hillary, and certainly supports more rational policies than the left. Indeed, there are plenty of Trump policies and acts one could point to as objectively good things. Yet apparently hatred of Trump has eclipsed these facts. Few people out there anymore are actively promoting conservative values if they hate Trump; they are just hating Trump.

Welcome to the brave new world, where everyone fights for their own stupid egos.

~ It has been a century since the Bolsheviks turned Russia into a hellhole. Yet people, especially the young, act as though there are no lessons to be learned from this. Only if we tried it ourselves, the socialist dream would be fully realized and we would have perfection. Will it really take coming face to face with actual famine to understand what it means?

~ I guess I shouldn’t end this on a sour note, so have an arrangement of one of my favorite pieces of music:

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The Music of Stormblood

Spoiler warning: Though it has been about a month since Stormblood’s release, it feels prudent to place this here….just in case someone reads it.

It actually took a long time for me to warm up to Final Fantasy XIV. It’s not that I thought the game particularly bad at the outset (around 2.1), only that it didn’t capture my imagination. It was the music that turned the game from something of a slog to a joy. Sure, I had enjoyed music in the game prior, but it was the introduction of “Tricksome” for The Wanderer’s Palace HM that triggered something in me.

This was followed by the phenomenal soundtrack for Heavensward, which prompted me to start a playlist of my favorite tracks from the game (many thanks to Mekkah Dee for these uploads). Now, with the release of Stormblood, there’s a whole new soundtrack to enjoy.

Rhalgr’s Reach

The first major settlement the player reaches after entering Gyr Abania, the Reach is the home of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. For an organization that has only met with minimal success after two decades of occupation, I must admit that the theme is far more upbeat than anticipated. On the other hand, it instills the player with hope; great change is coming to Eorzea and we are at the forefront. One cannot help but be encouraged listening to this.

Yanxia

Before we can liberate Ala Mhigo, however, we first travel east, to distant Othard, to help our longtime ally and friend Yugiri liberate the nation of Doma. A good deal of the music in the east, from Kugane to the Azim, has an exotic feel to it, clearly inspired by the cultures of the orient. However, the theme that most drew me was that of Yanxia’s nighttime theme. A slow, somber piano piece, it almost feels a more fitting theme than the normal daytime theme.  The people of Doma have lost much in the quarter century of Garlean rule, a feeling far better reflected in the night. Yet even amid the ruins of a nation, the music carries with it a hopeful air.

The Temple of the Fist

While I am skipping ahead a bit to cover this one, I prefer the final two tracks of this group where they are. The Temple of the Fist is the former home of the Fist of Rhalgr, the order to which the Monks of Ala Mhigo (and, by extension, any Monk players) belong. If there’s any word that describes this theme, it is adventurous. It’s the sort of music that belongs to a temple hidden deep in a vast wilderness, where adventurers brave many great perils to reach it and the treasures hidden inside.

Actually, leaving aside the matter of Rhalgr’s Reach just below, that is precisely what the temple is. It is a theme that carries a feeling perfectly.

The Lochs

The liberation of Doma finally brings the player back to the Ala Mhigan front, where the Eorzean Alliance takes advantage of the Empire’s divided attention to strike straight for the city itself. At the very gates, we are greeted with this militaristic theme. Looming before the gathered forces of five nations, the imposing silhouette of the most impressive city state in the realm (at least to me). After a long journey fraught with peril and hard-fought battles, the end is in sight as we fight for the future of….

Ala Mhigo

Twenty years: that’s how long the Empire has occupied this part of Eorzea. How long it has been since people like those of Little Ala Mhigo fled from the invaders. Since the Empire erected Baelsar’s Wall, hiding its deeds from the world to the west. Twenty long years since a proud people were laid low by the mightiest nation in the known world.

No longer.

Liberty or death!

The “Othering” of Introverts

 

I wish that I didn’t feel compelled to write this, but after nearly 37 years on this Earth I still feel like a bit of an outcast because of who I am.

I am an introvert.

There are already a lot of people who have discounted this post out of hand because they see introversion as an “internet fad” that people use to feel special. There may be some people who do use this personality type and the online communities dedicated to it as a mask or an outlet. People are complex creatures and they sometimes do confusing or unreasonable things. However, I can attest to the fact that introversion is very real, and I know that we move more freely and comfortably online and it is therefore no surprise that we have found forums in which to congregate and commiserate about how we feel, how we function, and how we are still so misunderstood.

There aren’t many people who truly understand me as a person, or why I do (or don’t do) certain things. I was trying to explain to my children just this morning why I am so exhausted after a weekend that was not terribly physically demanding. It wasn’t the work I had to do that wore me out, it was the fact that my plans, throughout the week, have had to change almost daily, and I have had more interaction than usual with other people, and when I made plans to do nothing (specifically to do nothing) on my day off, I was instead asked to do work things and family things and school club things.

It isn’t that I dislike my job, or don’t get on well with my family, or that I’m depressed (introverts are often assumed to be depressed misandrists); rather, I just require time to recharge from the demands of servicing the needs of other people. Even conversation, however mundane, is a need most people have (hermit exemption applies), and it is not something that we can accomplish by ourselves. Therefore, conversation is an activity that you require someone else to participate in.

The conversation that most people expect just on a daily basis (the chatty woman in the bread aisle, the cashier asking about your shopping experience, the relative who calls with a question, the kids asking if they can go somewhere or do something) can already be taxing for an introvert, but add to that the extra demands of work, special requests of family, needs of friends, and any unexpected changes to your schedule and suddenly you have someone who is already feeling the tank run low but they have no idea when they’ll be able to refill it. You know that feeling… the feeling of anxiety and even panic when the fuel gauge of your car is dipping toward the red, and there are no gas stations in sight, and you’re on an unfamiliar road? That’s an introvert when they have had to deal with people and change and do not know when they’ll be able to enjoy their solitude long enough to recharge. We can usually calm down when we have a dedicated period set aside for doing nothing (which to us is everything – although many people see reading, meditating, or watching a favorite show as merely nothing). We may be puttering along, low on energy, but just knowing we’ll refuel soon is comforting: it’s the uncertainty that really wears on us.

To be clear, I love my family and I like my job. I adore my kids and encourage them to participate in activities that help them develop physically and mentally as individuals. I just need to spend time in peace and quiet in order to give the best of myself to them. The need for solitude, and the importance of self-care, is not a malicious or even passive selfishness. You cannot attend to the needs of others efficiently if your own state is precarious. It is no more selfish to assure you are psychologically prepared to handle your responsibilities than it is to insure you are physically capable of doing a task. It is prudent.

So many people see this need for solitude as shyness, or melancholy, or even arrogance. This is why we have our online forums and communities. This is why we write blogs. It’s not that we’re super impressed with ourselves for being “different”. It’s not that we want to be noticed and celebrated. We simply want to be understood. We want to exist without constantly being told we’re broken or that we need to change. Just because we enjoy solitude, and are often quiet in crowds, does not mean that we’re suffering from depression or shyness. It simply means we are observing and are content to interact on our terms. Not everyone wants to speak every thought. Not everyone needs to weigh in on every conversation. We aren’t “too good” to participate, we simply prefer to participate on our terms, in our time. We like to watch and listen and think. We are content with our own company. None of this means that we don’t like to go out and do things, or that we never want to talk. Introverts simply do not feel the need to do those things as strongly as other people do. When we are recharged and ready to participate in activities with other people, we’re a bit like a butterfly breaking free of a cocoon, vibrant and animated! We definitely require our quiet cocoon first, however.

Recently there was a concert listing game making the rounds on Facebook, and it reminded me how very unlike other people I am. There are several reasons why I haven’t attended concerts (money, time, desire), and I am not opposed to the idea of it, but I do not see concert-going as the pinnacle of fun. As a matter of fact, I simply don’t get worked up about music in general. This has earned me censure and a good deal of shocked disbelief over the years. I’ve had people insist that if I’d only listen to this, or try that, or “get out of the house,” I’d suddenly love it. Even if I do enjoy music I hadn’t heard before, I rarely enjoy anything that is blasted at full volume over a crowd of cheering strangers.

It’s not that I don’t like music, and even love some of it, it’s just that I really like silence. I enjoy walking outside without earbuds blasting notes and lyrics into my head, because I like the sound of birdsong and wind-rustled leaves and dogs barking in the distance. I like to hear gravel crunch under my feet. I despise, with a burning passion, unnecessary noise. I hate chatter that simply fills a silence. I bless the silence! I like to drive with the radio off. I like to clean with only the sounds of the fan running and the gentle swish of cleaner being sprayed. I just like hearing the world around me without blasting noise into it every second of the day and night.

There are, of course, times when I want to listen to music, and usually then a very specific kind of music or artist. I do enjoy it! It’s just not something I need to hear every day. Like a book that I can still envision in my mind, music plays in the background of my thoughts even when the world around me is silent. This is perhaps the most commonly expressed aspect of introversion – the “rich inner world”. It’s not that we despise the outside world and all its offerings, but that we can (and do) savor the things we experience beyond their actual duration. It’s often because we are savoring something in our thought and memory (or working out a problem, or pondering new information) that having anything intrude on that can be unpleasant and tiring. Imagine giving a presentation and being constantly interrupted with questions and demands that are largely irrelevant to the topic at hand; that is what it feels like to have the mind of an introvert.

I would dearly love it if I could fall into the blissful embrace of solitude, or sit silently pondering many things, without someone mistakenly assuming that I’m upset, or shy, or down in the dumps. Shyness is timidity, which by definition means lacking courage or confidence. Introverts are not necessarily shy any more than they are despondent merely because they’re quiet. It is much more plausible to say that introverts are simply stoic. All in all, stoicism and forbearance are not bad traits to have, and they are certainly not traits that imply one is dysfunctional. We introverts function just fine, we merely function differently than our extroverted and ambiverted friends, but we all share a commonality in that we as human beings wish to be understood and appreciated as we are.

Golden Sun Resumed

So, while I did say I was going to continue doing music posts, I did not.

I am going to say life got in the way and that’s what we are all going to believe until the end of the internet. To be fair, I have been pre-occupied with major life changes coming down the pipe, meaning less energy to put into the creative parts of my life.

Then again, this is a blog, so who am I trying to fool…

Today, I want to resume my Golden Sun playlist, begun an age ago, but never finished as I gave up on using Blogger. However, I want to change things up slightly. Previously, I was posting one song and one cover from 0rangastang’s Golden Sun Remastered album. However, because the quality of those covers are rather variable, I will instead choose a cover that I just happen to think is the finest, regardless of who made it.

Additionally, I’m going to try and keep the playlist as concise as I am able. There are a lot of themes in Golden Sun and it would not be prudent to try and share all of the ones I like. There are still a lot to come, but I will try to be more discerning in the future, to make it easier for me to come up with these posts.

With that out of the way, today’s music: Venus Lighthouse

Venus Lighthouse is Golden Sun’s final dungeon. Much like Mercury Lighthouse before it, it is a lengthy maze full of puzzles, traps, and enemies that culminates in a final showdown with Saturos and Menardi. Everything about this theme, from the vocals to the powerful percussion carries the feeling of finality that the conclusion of a great game deserves. And yet, this would prove to not be the end, but rather a new beginning for Golden Sun: The Lost Age.

That is for the next post, however. In the meantime, enjoy this Venus Lighthouse cover from OC/DC on YouTube. I honestly just discovered this cover today while searching for a video of the normal theme to use. I greatly enjoy its softer sounds and the limited usage of vocals towards the end charmed me.

Thanks for listening!

The Return of the Melody

Alright, so before we get into it, I ought to address the elephant in the room, namely, where this post is located.

Part of the reason I stopped posting music blogs is because I hate Blogspot. A lot. Not only is it a poor service, but I feel like it makes everything posted on it look cheap and small, regardless of quality. The problem is that I have no place else to post these things…except here.

I waffled on making posts here for a long time, though, in no small part because between me and Shannon (the other person who writes on here), we tend to post more serious, politically and culturally minded content here (when we can be bothered). And I honestly am afraid to taint Oseron Phaer with that stink, even if I take the realm of the political very seriously. I suppose no small part of it is knowing that my politics are very different from those of many of the people I know and like online and I fear alienating them, not because I am ashamed of beliefs, but because of the polarization of the culture in which we live.

But very well. I shall bite the bullet and return to sharing the music that I love…even if it’s from video games. Games have some of the most amazing music I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and I must share that with the world.

Final Fantasy XIV Selections

“Apologies”

Ah, Sohr Khai…like The Wanderer’s Palace HM, Sohr Khai is my second-favorite dungeon purely because of its theme. Visually, the dungeon is stunning, of course, as you battle above the clouds in a bid to prove your mettle to Hraesvelgr. The theme is what drives it home, though. With stunning piano work, sparse-but-haunting vocal work, and a fast pace that gives the dungeon momentum, “Apologies” is a theme I can listen to for hours on end without growing bored.

“Ultima”

I honestly had a lot of trouble coming up with a fifth theme for this batch (yes, I know it’s the second, I reordered it), until I remembered this gem from 2.0. Honestly, any content released prior to 2.2 tends to get overlooked by me because of how unremarkable it all feels to me. It was fun, but nothing grabbed me like it should have. Indeed, this fact tends to make me think that the Ultima theme is too good for its fight; the fight does not live up to the weight and power contained within the music. All the elements of the piece combine perfectly to create an atmosphere for a titanic struggle against a foe beyond your ken.

“Exponential Entropy”

This theme was something of a surprise when I reached the Heart of the Creator in patch 3.4. It’s not that there wasn’t precedent for a piece like this; Locus is fairly mellow, despite its harsh-ish instrumentation. But “Exponential Entropy” is a different animal entirely. There’s almost nothing about it that screams “YOU’RE FIGHTING A GIANT DEATH ROBOT.” Instead, it is a calm theme, relaxing in its repeating vocals:

“Forward and back,
And then forward and back,
And then go forward and back,
And put one foot forward.”

Some might find that annoying after a point, but the song is a well-crafted piece and the repetition serves a vitally important role in making it work.

“Out of the Labyrinth”

I’ve posted before on how I believe that the Crystal Tower storyline is one of the best homages I’ve every had the joy of experiencing. Perhaps it is because the music in it recaptures many of my favorite themes from Final Fantasy III. The theme for Syrcus Tower (which is basically the Crystal Tower dungeon from III) is a perfect example of this. It takes a very fast paced theme and turns it into a slower, more epic version which better fits the pacing of the raid.

“Revenge Twofold”

Another theme that surprised me in 3.4, the new boss theme is fantastic. I was never a big fan of “Ominous Prognostics;” something about it felt too hectic, which detracted from many boss fights. “Revenge Twofold” is nothing of the sort. Instead, the pace is slower and the instruments weightier, along with vocals that hearken back to “Imagination.” All the fights that use this theme feel like struggles, even though none of them are nearly as important as ones that came before.

Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll return for more vidya music!