Sunday, April 23, 2017

What Even Is Art

One of my favorite quotes from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is "Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy." I've found that whenever I'm admiring work in an art museum, listening to a new song, or even creating something of my own, this quote comes to mind every. Single. Time. The truth is that art is a puzzling concept the deeper we look into it. As a human race, we feel a need to express ourselves through art because we're intellectuals. We produce art because we're intelligent. With this in mind, however, why is art so ridiculous?

I've always considered myself equal parts romantic and skeptic. I adore art and everything it stands for. I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for all the colors and sounds I've surrounded myself with throughout my life. But even so, I tend to over-analyze, and with each work of art I admire, even if it absolutely thrills me, I still have this voice in the back of my mind questioning- "Why is this even important?" often followed by the flippant conclusion, "This has been done a thousand times before." Every piece of art has been inspired by another. At this point in our timeline, it's nearly impossible for a human to create something entirely original. Austin Kleon brings the point home in his book Steal Like An Artist, which I highly recommend. In the book, (which is very short and ideal for skimmers) Kleon establishes that no, you aren't original, but that by no means suggests you shouldn't make art. And it was this book among several others that proved to me that everything is essentially a collage. This includes who we are as artists, and on a grander scale, who we are as individuals.

A stellar example of a no-nonsense and slightly ironic quote you'll find in Steal Like An Artist

I myself have dappled in art. I wouldn't say I'm incredible. As an artist, I've always thought of myself as 'the jack of all trades but the master of none'. I can sort of draw. I can sort of write songs. The following are just a few collages I whipped together online.

"Those Who Can't Paint Make Collages"

"Everything Is a Copy of a Copy of a Copy"

"Fear of Death // Accepting Mortality"

"You Are Who You Listen To"

"Antisocial Media"

For each one I've made, I was reasonably proud of them upon publishing them, but with every passing day, I've grown to hate them. Honestly, though, in analyzing it further, what really makes good art anyway? What differentiates the good from the bad? In its rawest form, 'good' art is based on personal taste. Why the Mona Lisa received so much attention I'm sure came from the taste of the masses at that time, and moreover from the opinions of those with the most social power. Art gets famous, in my belief, from being at the right place at the right time. Talent plays a significant role of course, but gaining recognition is more or less dependent on happy accidents.

A fun little game you can play when looking at a piece of artwork is asking people why they like it. For some, it will have a profound, symbolic meaning that rings true for them. And for others, they like it purely because it's aesthetically pleasing. And the truth is, that neither one is wrong. There is no wrong way to appreciate art. And that's what's so remarkably freeing and ridiculous about the entire prospect, this need within us to express ourselves through color and sound and language... why do you think it is that humans have this engrained within us? What exactly is the evolutionary need for us to be a race of artists?

We adore art because we need it somehow as a reason to keep living. There is none of us that would want to continue life without any form of saving grace, and for many, that is exactly what art is.

But even still, art is extremely subjective. Wouldn't many agree that even nature in itself is art? Human nature? Even our respective professions can be described as "an art and a science". Perhaps the true definition of art is reserved to things that save us in some way. That save us from the mundane. From reality. From having to explain a thought or a feeling ourselves. Art is whatever object or song or smear or city or person that blows you away, even if only for a moment.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

IQ vs. EQ

Intelligence has always had a very positive connotation. When seeking out a mate, next to having a sense of humor, having half a brain is amongst the most attractive qualities. We pursue higher education, honestly mostly to master a high paying career, but also to gain knowledge in a field. Even in grade school, students are tested at a constant rate, subconsciously reinforcing the idea that you are inferior if you aren't deemed as 'smart' enough. For the most part, none of us have the desire to be associated with stupidity.

Naturally, intelligence varies in importance from person to person. Most are content with being just smart enough to get by, and in our modern world, that isn't asking much at all. Our day to day lives don't require much more brain power than average unless being put in a situation involving trivia, challenging puzzles, or perhaps a complicated math problem. In our day and age, however, if you don't have the ability to achieve such a thing, you could easily decide the challenge isn't worth your time, walk away, and get back to enjoying a life of simple challenges, such as subtracting money from your bank account to purchase groceries. The demand for superior intelligence is just not strong.

For some, however, to be intelligent -daresay, the most intelligent- is a driving motivating factor in their every day lives. I, for example, fall into this category. Of course, this isn't to say that these people naturally believe they are instinctively bright. On the contrary; my biggest insecurity is that I'm chronically the least astute in the room, regardless of who populates that room. This wouldn't be an issue for me if I didn't care about the value of higher intellect.

In 1904, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed the first version of an IQ test. Finally, there was a way for mankind to measure the abilities of our brains.  All that needed to be done was to answer a selection of questions testing your skills in determining patterns in numbers, letters, and shapes. Your score would be a number between 1 and in rare cases, above 145. It was all so simple.

For years, we would use IQ tests as a trusted tool to determine who amongst us was more intelligent, thus more capable. In some cases, the test would be used in the process of hiring people for jobs. Versions of this test are still around, and for the most part respected. A quick search for an IQ test on the internet will grant you thousands of links to pages with similar questions in patterns, etc., followed by a cute little number that bluntly determines your supposed level of intelligence, and therefore, your self-worth.

Recently, I had Googled 'free iq test' to occupy some time, as I'm the kind who recreationally takes these sort of tests (I'm real fun at parties). Of course, this was the first link at the top of the page. Nothing fancy. If I wanted something more dependable, I may have paid for a result in one of the other tests. But seeing as I'm lazy and consistently poor, there was no way I was going to do that. I took ample time for each question to really reason on which answer seemed the most sensible. I found that puzzles involving patterns were my strong suit, whereas anything mathematical definitely wasn't. It took me about 15 minutes to complete. I submitted my result. The page loaded, and on my phone screen was the number '135' written frankly in red. Naturally, I didn't know whether this was good or bad until I checked charts online. What I had found was that 135 falls in a category of "superior intelligence". Whoop-de-doo, I thought. Not too shabby. (Not forgetting the fact that this was a free test on the internet and that the nature of the test wasn't 100% dependable by any means)

I began brewing on this newfound knowledge, slightly more confident in my abilities than my self-esteem normally allows. I was no Hawking, but I was in a group of 2% of the population that score in such a way. I never discussed it with my peers, because there was no real way to bring it up in conversation without sounding like a cocky narcissist, which isn't me. Later that week, though, as is typical for my family, we stumbled into a used book store, and I ended up in the psychology section in the back corner. I skimmed through a few different books, often rereading old sentiments I've read before, thus inspiring me to keep searching. Among one of those books was "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink. The book suggested (and quite convincingly) that in our modern world, those with high IQ's won't necessarily get any farther in life than those with average IQ's, and that the demand for a high EQ (i.e. Emotional Intelligence) is more prominent than ever. I found Pink's arguments intriguing- in a sense, those who understand the subtle art of getting along with others are more likely to manipulate their environments to gain success. Our world is people-centric. Therefore, if we ourselves understand people, we'll be better off in the world. In the back of mind, I always knew this, but it stung so much more to read it plainly in a book by a psychologist.

So I went home and reasoned that it was only fair that I take an EQ test online just to compare, even if the results weren't entirely reliable. The first link I clicked on Google led me to a set of questions that were all situational and somewhat moral. ('Imagine you have a 5-year old son who has been hypersensitive about new people and places since he was born. What do you do?') I put just as much thought and consideration to each question as I did on the IQ test. And my result, like it was some kind of cruel joke, came out to be a whopping 20. It gave no concept as to what that meant in relation to the rest of the world other than a taunting "Not So Good!" written in green underneath. I laughed to myself and stared off into the distance (probably coldly, consideringmy result) and began to brew over what this meant. In some of the questions, I made a special effort to choose what I thought was the nicer option. I thought I was actually a warm, loving person afterall. But according to this quiz, psssh, nope.

In all sincerity, though, both of these tests, although seemingly well-researched, are complete crap. Neither have any power over your self-worth, how smart you are, or how kind you are to others. I read somewhere once that "IQ tests test your ability to take IQ tests". Truthfully, although it may give you a generalized idea of where you stand in relation to others, it's all relative. We really are all intelligent in differing ways. Evidently, I'm a genius at detecting patterns, but I'm a total numbskull when it comes to basic social graces. And really, neither is better than the other. You have just as much potential in this life as the next person regardless of what you score on either of these tests. You neither pass or fail. In conclusion, we need to unlearn the concept that was beat into our minds in school; we are not our test scores.

But hey, there's no harm in letting it quietly boost your ego.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

An Ode to Sadness

There's a melancholy
A gray fog hanging from the ceiling
It can be cleaned up with a broom like twirling cotton candy,
like spider webs
It builds up when I want to feel something
I let it pile up on top of each other when I want something to be touched
and for something to touch me
I like to watch it float around my head space
and I feel an infinite sort of calm,
a purpose
Because why bother making progress
and accomplishing goals
when I have this chronic waiting period to occupy me
This ultimate excuse to lie motionless on my bed
to not even try
Sometimes it isn't heavy, and it's just like the weight of a blanket
and it's oddly comforting

Friday, November 4, 2016

So I Have Synesthesia

When I was little, I liked to play a game. I would collect all my friends' names and recite to each of them what food their names reminded me of. For example, in kindergarten, I told Hayley her name tasted like wheat, and Carly that her name clearly tasted like mushrooms, and my friend Arimi (who had an admirably unique name) tasted vaguely like white grape juice. To me, this was second nature, and needed not be questioned. Of course, to everyone around me, including my own family, this was overtly bizarre, and would often make me a spectacle, a subject for analyzing.

I was no stranger to being ostracized as a youth. In kindergarten (a big year for learning I was odd), I was placed in a higher reading group than the rest of the kids, and would be sent to a first grade classroom for English. In 3rd grade, I was tested for the GATE program and passed, which put me in a category of kids that were put in higher level everything, including science and English; we were even sent to learn Japanese for about a week. This is by no means to toot my own horn, mind you; on the contrary. With all this higher academic treatment came a natural separation between me and all the other kids. I was looked at as some special snowflake by my peers as opposed to a relatable friend. I was something other than normal. So this whole "tasting words" thing to me was just one other way I was different. I swallowed that bitter pill early on.

Throughout the next decade or so, this was just a known fact about me, accepted in the most blase manner possible by my friends and family. I'd bring it up every now and then when it seemed appropriate and then the house would murmur with "Oh yeah, Amelia tastes words." Kind of more of a quirk than anything of particular note, not unlike Phoebe Buffay.

In my junior year of high school, my friend Min (which tastes like having chewed on a big handful of mini M&M's) was starting a new unit in her psychology class  and telling me about what she had learned, because at this point, I had really begun to become fascinated with all things psychological. I really should've taken psychology classes myself, but that's besides the point. She had gone on to tell me about a certain disorder in which people can see colors when they hear music, which I thought I recalled hearing about somewhere before. I listened casually, munching at my lunch. "Oh, and apparently there are some people, but it's like, really rare, that taste words." My ears perked up. "Yeah, I guess like, some people think of different foods when they hear certain words or something. I don't know. But a really small percentage have it." Whatever guy was sitting with us at the time made feign interested sounds. I sat up a bit. "That sounds weirdly like me." I stated, pretending it was no big deal. As I said it, I could tell she didn't believe me, because if this really was all that rare, the odds were good that she wouldn't know one, and that I was probably just trying to be special. So I backed off. But the more she talked about it, the more I related. She said the name, but it was some long, difficult to pronounce word. "Syn"-something.

Later on, around senior year, I stumbled upon the disorder again. Synesthesia. Oh my god. I have synesthesia. I started looking at little videos about what it is and started googling what it meant. This wasn't just some signature Amelia thing. This was a real thing. And apparently, this was one of the rarest kinds of this particular disorder.

What I have, I've discovered, is lexical-gustatory synesthesia (yikes, that's a mouthful). According to Wikipedia, "Approximately 2%- 4% of the population has some form of synesthesia", which in my quick research, I've noticed a majority of those people are famous musicians who see color when they hear music. And being a musician myself, I can see where they're coming from. I have playlists on my iPod separated by colors they sound like, primarily blue, purple and red. But it's not nearly as distinct as some celebrities have described. "An even smaller percentage," Wikipedia goes on, "around 0.2% or lower, have lexical-gustatory synesthesia." Whaaaa...? When I read that, I had to take a moment to stare blankly off into space and let that sink in. 0.2%. That's freakishly low. Thus making this a much less relatable condition. Of course it doesn't sound like a real thing when I talk about it. Of course I've never met a single human being who understands this firsthand. I can talk to people about how a G major sounds blue and how a B flat sounds dark yellow, but how can I begin to get on common ground with people about how the word "language" tastes like a turkey sandwich?

The only other person I've heard word of having this condition as well is the actress Tilda Swinton, who I know nothing about other than her clear artiness. Evidently, Swinton has explained her case to others using the example of "word" tasting like gravy to her, and "table" tasting like cake. I can tell you firsthand that this isn't the case for me. "Word" has a more sweet flavor for me, like frosting, and table is more like lunch meat. *Shrugs*

There aren't any real benefits to having this other than having something to say when someone asks for an "interesting fact about you". It's a good conversation piece. It's  good excuse for overeating (naturally after listening to lectures and hearing hundreds of words, I'm always inexplicably starving). It's a way for people to think you're cool without expending any effort. But other than that, it's more something I keep to myself, as it doesn't at all effect others. But there you go.

I AM THE 0.2%!

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Nothing makes me happier
than to wake up at 10
and get up at 11

to drink earl grey
to listen to music
loud enough for the neighbors to hear
and to just


And I take these days as my own
golden little private delights
and I grow contented
as I know there's no way to verbalize them

So when my family comes in
one by one
and ask me
"How was your day?"

I smile and mutter

"It was fine"

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bad Poems

The Sentimentalist

You daydream of things you do not know
from a time you do not come from

As if life would be so much better
if only you were a little bit older

Or maybe if the earth had spun
a few times less

And the hands on the clock
were spun back

Maybe then you'd know
the true taste of happiness

But what if, perhaps,
you were forever a child

Free from the unfortunate
knowledge of this world

Free to play, free to cry
without ever knowing

of war
of hate
of death

Maybe then life would be sweeter

Just maybe

Morning On the Field







I went for a walk
The sky was pink
The air was brisk
The clouds glowed overhead

The sky was pink
Ducks quacked by the lake
The clouds glowed overhead
Cars passed me by

Ducks quacked by the lake
The grass is green and moist
Cars passed me by
Street lights slowly turned on

The grass is green and moist
I went for a walk
Street lights slowly turned on
The air was brisk

William Carlos Williams Impression

Sorry for
being so
to school

I got up
but I was
very sleepy
this morning

Forgive me
but I love my bed
so soft
and so warm

 Haiku Hiccup

Write this line with five.
Now on this line, write seven.
Can't go wrong with five.

Another Monday Morning

I am so tired
My throat's in pain
I'm in a mood I can't explain

The world floats upside down
as far as I'm concerned
based on all the things I've learned

I can't decide
whether I'd be satisfied
with a God or without

I Don't Know Why

Every day I watch the sun fall
and I don't think to shut my eyes
until it rises up gain
and then I sleep when others wake

I don't know why
I don't know why

When I'm low, my tears go in a glass
and when it fills it shatters in
my hand away from others sight
I let it bleed so no one sees

I don't know why
I don't know why

An Apology/An Explanation

Look at me as I stare into space
I'm the definition of vague

My presence is weak
but my passion is fiery

I'm a splatter of paint
meshed on a blank canvas

I'm a leaf on a tall tree
enjoying the view

I am a mountain
washed away into the sea

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Musical Discoveries of Early 2016

As a forward, I'd like to express that I'm constantly on the hunt for music, and I'm usually impartial to specific genres. In this post, I'd like to share the most interesting songs, artists and albums that break through the standard 4 chord progression the music industry spits out constantly today.

(Did that sound bitter?)


This band is definitely not brand new, as they've been active since 2002, but they're really not as popular as they deserve to be. Known mostly for they're hit Stillness Is the Move, these artists go for complicated key signatures, phrasing, and unusual choices of instruments. Every song you hear from them is different from the last, and just as intriguing. Listen whenever you want to be kept on your toes and be provided with something intellectually stimulating without being classical.

Stillness Is the Move
(the hit)

Two Doves
(more obscure)


Other recommendations include Temecula Sunrise, No Intention, Swing Lo Magellan, Useful Chamber, Remade Horizon, Cannibal Resource, Fluorescent Half Dome, and Bitte Bitte Orca


This band kills it for the entire indie rock genre in my opinion. These guys can do anything from "we will make you want to run down the street and scream at 3 in the morning" to "we will make you want to fall asleep on a cloud floating to nowhere", which I'll tell you is an achievement I never knew I needed in a band.

Meet Me In the Basement
(we will make you want to run down the street and scream at 3 in the morning)

Guilty Cubicles
(we will make you want to fall asleep on a cloud floating to nowhere) 

Other recommendations: KC Accidental, Sweetest Kill, Fire Eye'd Boy, Major Label Debut, Lover's Spit, Looks Just Like the Sun, and Pitter Patter Goes My Heart


Ever heard of chillwave music? Neither did I. Prepare to wish you had sooner. The man behind the band, Ernest Greene, is stellar at arranging spacey noises into song that aren't just awesome, but also make you feel the most chill you've ever been.

(probably in my top favorite songs ever)

Feel It All Around
(snobbish laughter from Portlandia fans heard from the distance)
Other recommendations: The Great Escape, New Theory, Entrance, A Dedication, Within & Without, It All Feels Right, All I Know, Don't Give Up, Falling Back, and You & I


I first discovered Courtney like most have; in an American Idol audition. Initially, my first impression of him was that he was another indie wannabe that wouldn't offer much new to the table that hasn't already been mass produced by The Lumineers. But as soon as he opened his mouth, I was genuinely impressed, which isn't common for me in these sorts of TV shows. Unfortunately, he was soon sent home after about a week of the competition- probably because America wasn't ready for how "scary" his performance style is. I didn't think much of it for a while until I got the song "Black Sun" stuck in my head, and I decided to look up the performance. That was when I found out that he had his own YouTube channel, his own band called Goodnight Neverland, and that he had written several of his own songs. And I freaking loved them.

Black Sun
(American Idol audition) 


Fall Fell Silent

Other recommendations: Winter Nights, Mental Illness and Old Tree by Goodnight Neverland.


Before I promote the band, I have to promote how I found them. David Dean Burkhart has a YouTube channel that edits old footage from classic movies, etc. to new underground music, and each video of his is honestly a masterpiece. So as you can imagine, he created one to a Radio Dept. song called Domestic Scene, and I absolutely adored it. With some further research, I came to learn I adored most of the rest of their songs as well.

Domestic Scene

Heaven's On Fire



by Le Couleur

So Insane
by Discovery

You're Driving Me Crazy
by Squirrel Nut Zippers


The Other Side of This Life
by David Byrne


Jaan Pehechan Ho
by Mohammed Rafi

by The Last Atlant

by The Foreign Exchange


Age of Consent
by New Order

I hope I helped you discover something you liked- I'll keep on the lookout for anything new.