Homo Deus; a Short Review

It was a chance visit to the book fair held infront of IIUM library that I stumbled on this book, ‘Homo Deus’, written by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian in the History Department of the University of Jerusalem. He gained prominence after his previous book, ‘Sapiens’ that detailed the history of man from the past to the recent memory, which received plenty of praises especially from big names such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Elon Musk and that put him into my reading list.

A Ghost in the Shell?

            ‘Homo Deus’ (Literal for Divine Human) is the companion book to ‘Sapiens’, in which it tried to outline ‘a brief history of tomorrow’, whereas Sapiens covered ‘the history of yesterday’. In other words, it is a historian take on what the future might hold for the entire human race and civilization, by taking clues and insights from our current track record and state of technology. What makes Harari stands out from the rest that discussed about ‘Futurism’ is that rather than repeating on the old narratives of either ‘technology is only profoundly for our benefit,’ or that of ‘technology will bring the destruction to us,’ he took another path altogether…

That is, the changes that the new technology will bring to us will be so revolutionary and ground breaking it is unfathomable to predict fully even in a half a century time, as the changes might affect the way we think; a direct rewiring of the physical brain either through chemical or genetic means meant that the new human species that resulted from it will be unlike we have seen before, either in behavior or in thought.

Three Scourges of Humanity

However, let us not jumping the gun. Harari introduced his book by a brief explanation that for most of human civilization, the species as a whole are often at the mercy of nature; no civilization or political entities that existed before are strong enough to eradicate, let alone control the ‘3 scourges of humanity’ which are famine, plague and war/violence.

That all change with the advent of technological and scientific sophistication in the 21st century, working in tandem with the bureaucratic nation-state and the elaborate interconnectivity between states wrought by globalization and modern diplomacy. Famine and plague were non-existent in the developed and relatively well-off countries (The poorest of Americans are also the most obese, and most deaths are now caused by diet-related diseases and cancer, instead of deadly infectious diseases), for countries that do experience famine and plague, it is often related with the failure of local governance or civil war, instead of ecological failure (because that can be covered by modern irrigation, agriculture and usage of fertilizers).

Modern, bureaucratic and democratic nation states (with a pinch of apocalyptic nuclear weapons at their disposal) partaking in the free market system that in turn made globalization possible also curbed costly ‘total war’ and unnecessary, wasteful conflicts over raw resources, which is the norm for most of recorded history. Now, it is more profitable for China to be called as ‘the world’s factory’ through perusing their countless population for production and trade rather than waging a potentially apocalyptic, nuclear war over silly ideologies or raw natural resources.

The Discontent Man

When all of these scourges are covered, comes the genius in Harari’s insight, in which he postulated that, knowing the inquisitive and never content nature of human beings, they will find another cause or objective to achieve (much like when the US won the Cold War against the USSR as sole superpower, their focus changed from struggle against Communism to that of War On Terror). And with the accumulated wealth of scientific and technological knowledge gained through the pursuit to eradicate the ‘scourges’, they will instead focus it on, as what I understand, attaining (limited) divinity for themselves.

Humanism, Hubris and Steroids

            Harari’s thought that this new focus is the logical conclusion of the humanism philosophy, which is to put Man to a god-like status by taking matter to their own hands. In that vein, he outlined two of the most plaguing aspects of human existence, the first being ruled by a basic pain/pleasure principle and the other being the problem of facing mortality. From an Islamic perspective, truly this is Man’s hubris par excellence.

He said that the current trend of medical technology had already achieve a limited control over some aspects of the two aspects; our pleasure and pain receptors are often modified by psychosomatic drugs and our healthcare science and services have reached to the level that anyone relatively well-off and live a healthy life can live up to the natural life expectancy age of 90 instead of dying prematurely.

Pulling over to the previous point of Man being impatient, discontent creature, Harari predicted that the next logical step for the health sciences would be altogether alter the human body by some means of modifications, that will break the human nature altogether and in its’ place a new species will emerge.

Waiting for (Homo) Godot?

            He named this new phase of human species as ‘Homo Deus’, and the upgrade path will generally follow three routes, whichever reached first: biological/genetic engineering, cyborg engineering or that of engineering of non-organic, robotic beings. This process however, will follow a slippery slope manner; in which what began as a technology or science dedicated to heal or improve the lives of disabled person (like that of plastic surgery to treat World War 1 disfigured soldiers), might end up in its matured state, improving the already healthy and ‘perfect’ human being (cosmetic surgery business boom in South Korea?) The research industry on this field will be fueled by investors and businesses seeking profit on the lucrative notion that one can alter themselves for a longevity in life or something along that line.

With that in mind, he noted that after all the artificially imposed ‘evolution’ processes going on the well-to-do societies, a new kind of species will emerge in which it is so far away removed from the original human nature (to think of it, with no pain sensation, pure pleasure, no fear, always happy, hardworking to fault!) that it is simply unfathomable how these new species of ‘Man’ will think and react to their predecessor ‘Homo Sapiens’.

And with it, come the end of a ‘short’ review for this book. Allah Knows Best.


Persistence of Memories

It has been a while. This semester has seen a lot of my friends, concerned folks all of them, commented on my ‘slow’ moving on process. After all, it has been a year since we had an actual talk, the rest after it were all online chats that degenerated into vitriolic arguments.

I can only respond to the concerned that my business is a matter of my own, bluntly speaking. Though deep in my heart of hearts it is because i still cherish and cling on to the old memories of us…

People often said that i am a good listener that will stay put patiently listening to their stories and problems. Yet, i rarely see that being reciprocated in kind to me. My ideas, concerns and worries are often not the same as most people our age tend to think about…

Yet you, out of all people, do intent to listen and respond to it, through the years before i do the confessional jump. My dear, if only words can describe how much do i cherish those moments….

Now, slowly but surely, i am trying to patch myself up. Ironic that my final year shall end like how i am back in my first year. I value solitude, though the spark of love and emotional/spiritual connection that you gave me will not be forgotten by me.

Not even when throughout the process of knowing you, i see your vices, your shortcomings and fears. That made up what is you and honestly, none of it is a fatal flaw of character. It just shows how human we are, and the point of long lasting relationship is to develop each other through the events that life throw at us.

….thank you for revealing to me my own potential to love, F.

A Meaningful Life

What is it that makes a life worth living? Is it for the pursuit of happiness? Or is happiness a by product of some more substantial and deeper pursuit over a meaningful life. A life driven by the strive to fulfill what is of value, purposeful and meaningful to us, be it for truth, family, friends and earnest love.

Knowing you over 3 years, with this year long silence, made me realize the sheer seriousness of this. Admittedly, you are the impetus for me to seriously think this through your constant hassle. Of meeting your family.

Then, the long silent from you began.

Reflections on Entering Adulthood

It’s amazing how fast the passage of life growth can be if we don’t take a close look at it. What is taken for granted at one time, quickly become obsolete and needed to be assessed at a moment’s notice.

Thus lies the hidden wisdom of actually moving out from the house once you finished high school for college or university, as being totally out of your normal environment and into a completely different setting or society can really give one something to be compared with his life.

And in my case, I’ve noticed how sheltered I am as compared to others of the same age. Being brought by an aged parents certainly have their own perks, especially in terms of financial security and general stability a doting, matured parents can only bring, but it comes at a cost, or perhaps a risk, at the behest of the child, of being left with no sense of responsibility and preparation for the adult life down the pernicious road of life.

Plainly speaking, the child growing up to be a man-child or spoiled.

And why is this so? There are couple of reasons I can think of. The matured parents can be so accustomed with their habits and responsibility that passing it down to their offspring when the time comes (it can also be argued that what ‘the time’ really meant differs for both the parents and child!) is simply too inefficient and cumbersome. The youngsters stumbled, erred, and generally stumped in the enormity that is of the adult life.

Another is that for particularly old parents that is already retired, doing the same habit and responsibility are one of the important facet of life that gave them meaning and activity to a post-employment period in which there is simply too many of free time. Passivity and sedentary life is not necessarily good, especially if you are accustomed to a routinized, but otherwise ‘fulfilling’ work that give you something to yearn for. The problem with that is, the children themselves too are entering the same phase in which employment and self-responsibility is to be expected of them.

The big cornerstones of life are self mobility, self reliance and self responsibility. Rights should always be tied in with responsibility, just as there is action and an equal reaction. Parents, in their over-protectiveness over their offspring, especially on the youngest ones might overlooked to pass this important realization in their constant strive to basically control the affairs and life of their child….even though the child is already in his or her 20’s….

True, life can be nasty, short and brutish like what Hobbes would have us believed, but in the sufficiently peaceful and predictable modern society and life we have today, the extra protectiveness actually bring more harm than good to the development of the child. In their good intention, what they are doing in the long term is actually a weaker, less resourceful and clueless generation.

And I admit, I feel like one right now.

We are raised from completely two different families, my dear. Yet, words lost me of how you are of such important value to me. Admittedly, my passivity is a legacy of my own upraising, yet this great concern, care and optimism I have for you too, is a legacy coming from it too. I don’t know how else can I express this differently, for I’ve come to truly appreciate your differences and try to fill in the gap that is empty in yours with mine…

What is love but the union between two perfectly imperfect individuals?



On Trust

Trust is an important part in any long-lasting relationship. Some give it more liberally than others, whom might guard it with extreme prejudice and care. I’m admittedly, fell to the first group, rather than the latter.

And in reflection, how much do I suffer personally, because of this temperament of mine.

In team-building workshop or motivational camp or anything of such nature, there will always be some form of trust-building game, most often come in the form of ‘catch-me’ kind of game, where one party willingly dropped themselves in the hope that his/her partner catches their fall.

In some respect, trust is like that, except perhaps, deeper.

Also, trust in this sense is not physical per se, but the willingness to connect, be exposed by sharing your personal weaknesses, worries and deepest, darkest secrets, it is an intensely emotional and spiritual connection, transcending mere physicality. The willingness comes from the understanding that deep down inside, we human beings yearn to be connected and understood by others. Yet, the very act for getting understood is also synonymous with exposing oneself, for true advice needed context, and context can only be seen when one have personal information of the person he seek to help.

Akin to how a doctor can only do a proper diagnosis through honest disclosure from his patients.

Yet, this view leaves a lot to be desired, as I learned it in the last couple of years. While indeed that we desire to be understood, it should be noted that some people can be very unscrupulous and downright cunning in perusing our easily obtained trust. Secrets are by it’s own nature, degrading and disgraceful bits of our own self that we prefer kept to ourselves. These bits of sensitive information, might as well backfire and can leave us both mentally and emotional compromised if being manipulated by others…

Like how they said, the closest of friends can become the bitterest of enemies when the relationship goes south.

And that is how I felt right now. It is as if, all the long night of chats we shared over months, poring out our life-stories, worries and hopes for the future become an empty endeavor. I thought that through the practice of it, we can learn and build the trust to each other. Yet, when I see that you still conceal secrets to me, even if it concerned me directly, I know that you haven’t trusted me yet.

Even if, from my own standpoint, I’ve given bits and details of my life that make me (figuratively) stark naked like a glass to you.

How gullible I am. Granted, you are under no obligation to return the favor, for it is your right. Yet, I feel immensely cheated, used and fooled at the end of it. Can love even retain itself without trust? I don’t know, nor do I care at this moment already.

One thing I know is that, relationship is an altogether different field as compared to intellectual pursuit. Philosophical discussions and theoretical musings might look logically nice and dandy but in respect of human beings, the emotional aspect always throw the best hideous spanner to destroy the best constructed machine.

Maybe, human beings is indeed unlovable.


Comics taken from TheOatmeal

The Price of Regret

It is true that we human beings as a creature, only value something or someone when we lose it. We grow complacent and taking for granted the convenience brought by the item, or the warmth and support the person brought to our life, thinking that it’ll never go away.

And such is the evil that complacency brought unto us. Thankfulness requires a constant remembrance, lest the child inside us will grow spoiled and the roots of ungratefulness taking hold.

The past few months has been one long road of this lesson to me…

Knowing you for the last 3 years has been a blessing in disguise for me. Back then, when I was enamored with another girl that clearly used me, you are there to listen to everything personal I have in mind. Over time, I come to know your story and history better than I know about the other girl’s background. You are a patient and actively aware listener, despite saying it otherwise to me.

You’ve seen and dealt personally my flaws, yet you still stayed around. Your undying loyalty and constant positive assessments to your best friends is an inspiration to me. When I castigated you for staying put with a friend that fleeced you, you decided to root for her in hopes for a change, and true enough, she did changed for the better.

I understand that through our younger years, we have unrealistic views and expectations on relationships, the mass media and culture doesn’t help either. Knowing you, I’ve come to see that the whole point of it is not actually nitpicking on the details, but actually to be able to connect, reciprocate and build actual rapport and trust to the person. You can have the most beautiful top model or handsomest actor to be your partner, but it is all an useless, moot point if you can’t find that ‘imperfectly perfect’ mental and emotional connection to the person.

It is akin to how one forge a long lasting friendship, where it transcends mere utilitarian uses, but to the point that you actually am willing to stay through and be put with the friend through thick and thin, or summer and rainy days. It is a relationship that matures you to become an adult, instead of coddling you to your childish impulses.

In addition, you’ve made me think more seriously about my life. Gaming slowly stopped being a valid hobby for me, yet my hobby on reading found new vigor knowing that there is you to listen to me talking about my readings and analyses without bore. That connection is found far and rarely in-between, my dear….

And I squandered the chance. Wholly.



A Reflection

The last semester has been one hell of a roller coaster ride for me. What began in a high-spirited, optimistic beginning (just after the wonderful trip to the Balkans) quickly degenerated into a mired-down, messy and downer mid-semester. My beloved phone broke down (and learn how real Nomophobia is first hand), and in its’ place I got a cheap backup phone with the intention of waiting out the warranty claim. That warranty claim ended up into a two months grueling affair, and that blasted phone, when it did finally came out of the ‘repair’ process, went busted again mere two weeks after use.

Academically, it is a mess too. I went to a long, protracted conflict with my lecturer, which taught TWO of my subjects that semester. Bringing a sensitive and polarizing subjects like that of female equality rights and homosexual issues into the class ought to bring impassioned, often extreme supports on either side. I ended up being on the other side of his stance. Made me extremely prickly with the SJW types. And he duly blocked me from taking the two subjects final examination. (The second one being blocked a day before the exam, the audacity!)

To give fair treatment to the issue, I did admit that I skimped some of his class earlier in the semester. He cannot accept my reason of skipping the first week of the semester (despite it being an add-drop period) and even through my reasoning that I did play my part in the classes discussion and group assignments (let alone being the head on some of it!), he rejected it bluntly. After promising him to keep my attendances in check afterwards, the guy still blocked me at the end of the semester. How damning is that?

As if being a huge masochist myself, in that deep mess too I decided to confront the elephant in the room of my months long muse; her silence. I never expected the kind of Pandora box the decision to tackle it was. Yet, for someone I considered to be important and dear to me, swiping that problem under the rug is not an option. There’s nothing worse than a woman in silence, and that silence being one of repressed resentment and unsettled conflicts. And boy, do I suffer for it…

At least, as consolation, I get my answer. There are many questions in this world that I can live with without answers to it, but ‘her’ question is not one of it. She deserved my attention and time, for she has did the same to me in my gloomiest time two years back.

Alas, I cannot do justice to her.

And now, a penitent man, can only ask constantly for forgiveness.

The First Foray

Often it was said that what drives man to finally do something is an incident, a conflict that erupted or a spark. This blog was started likewise for an incident, that left me with the statement, ‘enough is enough, for my sanity hung on a thin thread already,’.

Perhaps so, committing thoughts into a piece of paper, or paperless ‘digital’ website such as this, comes naturally to contemplative, often brooding temperament such as me. It comes without saying that thoughts often imagined in the form of fluid, flexible and malleable ‘thing’, but akin to a  running water that formed a waterfall or river over a long period of time, the same can be said in regards to the nature of thoughts.

Especially recurring, ‘itchy’ ones that bugs the sleep and waking days for no end. For that reason, this blog is made. Committing thoughts to a concrete, readable form is the hallmark liberating aspects of writing, though the nature of language often also meant that what is written can be easily misunderstood by the readers, away from what the writer intended to send across.

That and the fact that writing meant that one is committed to defend what is written, for what is written is a writ unto itself, in law. The nature of the world is such that to gain something, we must willing to part something of ours…

And with that end note, thus begin my first foray to the world of blogging 🙂