№ 3. Carly Rae Jepsen, Necropolitics, and the Merits of Big-Picture Thinking

(Every Saturday, a smorgasbord of discoveries made both offline and online will be featured here, to celebrate how the Internet is full of oddities and ideas from the real world.)

1. E•MO•TION: Side B

carly-rae-jepsen-emotion-side-b-640x640For most people, Carly Rae Jepsen’s global fame began and ended with a single single in 2012, despite the almost cult-like following of her 2015 album E•MO•TION. Nonetheless, her love letter to old-school pop music comes at a time when most chord combinations seem to have been overused, when love — “pop’s essential subject” — is no longer as celebrated in the billboard charts as it was before.

The B-side of E•MO•TION was released last week, on the first anniversary of the A-side. Its contents: eight eargasmic tracks that induce 27 minutes of mixed elation and heartbreak. Like its predecessor, the album begins with upbeat, bubblegum-pop sounds. The final songs sound like the stuff that is played in stores during clean-up after closing hours. When the music starts sounding the way Cry or Roses does, there is a feeling of dread because one knows the album is about to end. This is not to demean the quality of Jepsen’s stuff, though; employees in such a store must have one heck of a closing time.

2. Daily Overview

Zooming out is not only a node of convenience on most electronic devices and navigational applications. If one is open-minded enough, the act of zooming out is bound to make one insightful, awed, afraid, and at times, disturbed. Daily Overview is a project by Benjamin Grant that magnifies human perspective through the complete opposite of magnification. It curates satellite images which reveal hitherto unnoticed details of human activity and impact on the planet.

3. A Dark Room

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 5.41.28 PM

Is it a world-building game? Is it an economics exercise? Is it just another app designed to help waste one’s time? Whatever it is, A Dark Room is minimalist and unpredictable to the point of frustration. It is reminiscent of both Ernest Hemingway’s terse writing style and the Choose Your Own Adventure books premise, but with more simultaneity and more complex choices. Events are nonchalantly narrated on the leftmost side, and current options and inventory of resources are listed on the right.

Whether one is in A Dark Room or in A Silent Forest or anywhere else, none of the actions one chooses makes clear sense — which is why the game requires a great deal of free time, patience, and/or curiosity to see it finished. If spoilers are to be believed, the player comes a long way from a simple room and scant pieces of wood at the end of it all.

4. Necropolitics


As the day of Ferdinand Marcos’s controversial internment at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani draws closer, more and more people have been taking sides and voicing their analyses of the issue. One such analysis is by Filipino anthropologist and historian Antonio Montalvan II. In a university forum, he announced that the corpse of Marcos displayed in their family’s mausoleum is actually not his real corpse, but a mere wax replica. He then cites necropolitics, or the politics of death: burying Marcos in a heroes’ cemetery in any manner of speaking has no significant sentimental value to his loyalists, but has more of a symbolic meaning of his enduring mythic status. The veneration of leaders’ dead bodies is not even exclusive to the Philippines, but is found in other historically authoritarian nations.

In contrast, ironically, in his lifetime Marcos was responsible for around a thousand desaparecidos or disappearances, mostly among his critics and political opponents. These people were never found, and were presumably dumped in unmarked graves during the martial law period.

5. State of lawless violence

Last night, a market in Davao City, Philippines was bombed, leaving tens of casualties in its wake and drawing the attention of former city mayor-turned-president Rodrigo Duterte, who promptly declared a state of lawless violence in the whole country. Critics and wannabe critics were quick to condemn the move, saying that it was tantamount to declaring martial law. Piglasapat, a Davao-based socio-political student organization, clarified the differences between the two. Other netizens also cautioned against inserting political agenda into the bombing incident: whatever the impetus for the attack and whoever the culprit was, nitpickers should not forget that human lives were imperiled.

Any situation, after all — whether positive or otherwise — necessitates contextual thinking: that is, taking on the viewpoint that things are rarely ever what they seem at face value, and that therefore the big picture must always be considered.

Contextual thinking, however, almost always allows for relativistic thinking: that is, taking on the viewpoint that if everything depends on its context, that same everything can be justified as specific only to a cluster of people. How, then, can such thinking possibly do any good?

For one, looking at the bigger picture promotes the notion that a uni-faceted view of the world is not enough, for both mental and moral purposes. Definitely, if a person knew how to empathize and put him/herself in another’s shoes before passing any form of judgment, interpersonal relations all around would be all the better for it. These days, technology and free access to information have expanded our channels of communication and learning, but these have also enforced the need to express opinion, sometimes to point of shoving it in others’ faces. Knowing how to look beyond oneself and one’s situation theoretically remedies this; when people understand that tools, ideas, even other people can be more than what they already are, some level of tolerance may be achieved more easily. With any luck, acceptance and respect will follow.