Videogames? Yes Please.

Videogames? Yes Please.

I haven’t been able to make a lighthearted non-analytical post in a while but breaking from the once every Sunday schedule, however, today is “National Videogame Day”. It’s probably not, but its a good day to get some discounts and hold off doing today’s chores (master procrastinator). But despite the fact that its probably not even “National Videogame Day”, in fact I don’t even think that’s a day, I’ll use it as an excuse to write up some of my favourite game games as recommendations for the vetran gamers, N00bs or those who want to dive into gaming. Note that all my choices will have reasoning in them, and whilst none are in any particular order, these are all my personal choices, so they might be high on one list, high on none or completely overlooked. I’ll only really be going in depth with systems that I’ve spent a significant amount of time with, so I’m terribly sorry Xbox owners but…no. Also, If  game is cross platform, I’ll mention it but put it on the platform I first played it on or best prefer it.

So to begin with, we’ll start with the filthiest of filthy casuals. Mobile Gamers

I really have nothing against mobile gaming. When I was in boarding school and deprived of almost all technology besides my shitty phone, I almost felt like drowning. Mind you, I went to highschool in 2010, before smart phones were a regular thing in Malawi. You know, back when we used Mxit (kill me now), and you could see that someone was watching porn on BBM if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a Blackberry or Symbian device (chat shit if you even know what that is). All bants aside however, although my preferred devices are an Android phone and iPad Mini, I’ll include both.

Android
One of my favourite games was Super Monster Ate My Condo by PikPok studios in partnership with Cartoon Network which was a bright and colorful rollercoaster ride of a game. If you like fast and furious swiping and hours on end mindless swiping, this is for you. The ridiculous high scores you can get and crazy multipliers are just further incentives. Another game is Badlands, which is a game best played on a large game and with friends as you control squishy beings through a course. Fun co-op adventures with your friends. Finally, Plague Inc, which is a game where you create a plague, playfully name it and unleash it on the world. If you’re one with little to no sympathy for the suffering and plights for AI, and imaginary worlds, you’ll definitely love this one.

Apple
I’ve owned both the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini and for any naysayers, gaming is delightful on Apple devices, arguably more so than on Android. Not only because of Apple’s top notch specs and craftsmanship, but because they keep a strict eye on exactly what’s on their store, meaning you won’t find 70 clones of the same game, and also if there’s a game on Android, it’s sure as hell on Apple. So kicking it off, we’ll go with two games by Rayark studios, Cytus, and Deemo. These are rhythm music games with incredible art. So think of them as that old school mobile Guitar Hero but 50 times better. The games cover genres from metal, to electro to classical, and you’ll hear original compositions from talented artists making for a unique experience. They’re both on android but I prefert hem on Apple. The second game is Monument Valley, and honestly, if “aesthetically pleasing” is your middle name, this might be your brainchild. It’s a wonderfully brilliant isometric puzzle game that will leave you breathless at it’s beauty, and it’s definitely worth playing if you like getting the brain muscles straining.  For the final entries, I’ll give it to Infinity Blade. A marvel of a game with exciting battle mechanics, a rewarding loot system, replayability value, a continual story and so…much…armour! It was developed using the famed Unreal Engine, meaning the graphics are magnificent, and it’s an IOS exclusive and as far as I’ve heard, has never been on Android. Finally, we have Broken Age, another beautiful game with hand drawn animations. However, what sets it apart is the fact that it is a story driven game directed by Tim Schafer, well known for his comedic writing style and wit. He’s been behind some pretty famous cult hits so, your loss.

Moving on from the filthy casual to the eccentric gamers, or not so filthy casuals is the realm of Handheld Gaming. Some people don’t see the use of having a dedicated gaming system in their pocket, but people overlook the great titles on these systems for the most part. Nintendo and Sony both have a big market claim to this, but we’ll be covering the dying Sony PS Vita and fading 3DS due to the fact that I’m too poor to afford a Nintendo Switch

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo have a myriad of great titles existing more in the real of franchises, which is how I’ll tackle this gaming beast. I owned both the Gameboy Advance SP and currently have my prized Solgaleo & Luna Edition Nintendo 3DS XL. I won’t cover well known titles like Mario and Pokémon, so my first title suggestion is Super Smash Bros which is a brawler type game which contains many character both within and outside Nintendo such as Lucario, Pikachu, Cloud and Ryu. It’s a great fighting game that is just as fun as Mario Kart and less friendship ruining. The second title for me has got to be Dragon Quest VIII, a little known game first released on the PS2 and rereleased on the 3DS with tons of additional content and the same classic and biting British humour. It’s a charming RPG wrapped in a childish package but peppered with enough obscure adult jokes to draw in all types of players. The third entry which is a franchise is Fire Emblem which has a number of titles for you to pick from though I recommend Fire Emblem Awakening for beginners due to it’s amazing story, great soundtrack and epic anime cutscenes. It’s a turn based strategy game for all you intellectuals who are above boorish brutality. And for all of you who want a good long story with a sprawling open world, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is the way to go. Another RPG, but with great voice acting as well as an intriguing combat system.

PlayStation Vita
The PlayStation Vita is a bit of an odd one. Sony announced this beast in 2012, a beautiful OLED screen paired with dual analog sticks, a touchpad and a touchscreen, it had every means to be a household necessity for gamers. However, Sony dropped the ball quick and it was never picked up again, but that doesn’t mean it has no good titles. It has many, and some that can even go against the best of Niintendo’s. The first for me has to be Persona 4. The Japanese are weird as hell, but this game which is equal part RPG and school simulator blends gameplay and story together so well that it becomes straight up addictive. The second game for me is Soul Sacrifice Delta, which is a crazy RPG where you can sacrifice your body parts or even your soul to gain access to powerful attacks and magics. Besides the great story, theses are gamplay changers that breathe life into the usual run-of-the-mill RPGs. The third game is definitely Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 which is a cross franchise fighting game which puts you in control of your favourite Marvel and Capcom characters for an exciting fighter experience. The final game for me is Hotline Miami. I cannot stress, just how intense this game can get despite its seemingly simple premise. Its a game best known for intensity, difficulty and violence. Active gore seekers, this one’s for you.

Now before we go onto console gaming, we have to cover a section that I’m just getting into, which is PC Gaming. It’s definitely something I wish I had more experience with PCS growing up. However, getting into PC gaming is an expensive venture that is good for the long term for the most part. If you build your own gaming rig, it can last you a decade if you take care of it. With that said, I’ll go through my top 6 PC Games.

PC Gaming
I grew up with an abysmally shitty PC. We already had a PS2 so there was no way my parents would dole out any more money on a powerful PC. However that didn’t stop us from trying to run games on our potato laptops and desktop. The first genre I got into was strategy, and that genre is widely covered and well saturated. However, I would suggest Age of Empires, Dawn of War, Civilisation and the Total War franchises which will count as one entry for the purpose of this blog. The second game, however, is a timeless classic. Half-Life and Half-Life 2 were marvels of gaming that reinvented the genre, showing that storytelling and gameplay were not limitations, but obstacles to be stepped over when making games. To put it into perspective, Half-Life 2 came out in 2004 and people are still crying out for Half-Life 3. Third on the list is Limbo, by Playdead studio. An indie game about a boy who wakes up in a forest and is trying to find his sister. Throughout his journey, he encounters dangerous puzzles and a horrifying spider, however, this is much a story of loneliness and desperation, filled with dark and haunting undertones and a highly contrasting black and white art style. Keeping up with the high expectation, they released a sequel called Inside to critical acclaim. The fourth entry is Left 4 Dead 2, which is a zombie shooter game which released on PC over 10 years ago. It is high paced and got so many things right, and its been a while since gamers have experienced the type of high stakes team based action from a game. Now, the fifth game is a bit of an oddity, mainly because it is something of an arthouse game. Alan Wake is a supernatural, horror, story driven game in which the titular main character arrives in a town and fight enemies with light. It is chilling, depressing and fantastic all at once and a must play for anyone who can get their hands on it now that its been removed from the Steam store. Finally we have Bioshock, the original rendition not the shitty remaster. Bioshock is an interesting game because A) it takes place underwater and B) it contains Orwellian undertones you wouldn’t expect in a PC game. With its iconic enemies and the distinct gloom in the underwater Rapture, the game and its sequals all the way up to Bioshock Infinite will leave you enthralled.

Now onto my favourite part because nothing warms my heart like a controller in my hand. I’ve been gaming since the PlayStation One and I’ve had every iteration of Sony’s PlayStation ever since. Because of this, I’ll focus on my 6 PS4 exclusive titles/ So without further ado, lets focus on the best PlayStation 4 Title’s

Playstation 4
The PS4 is something you’ll either covet, or overlook. So if you’re the type who only buys a PS4 for FIFA and 2K, then kindly fuck outta here. If not, time to look at our number one pick, InFamous Second Son. The story wasn’t as high stakes as the first game, however, being one of the Flagship games and exclusives the PS4 had during its release, it cemented the PS4 as the top and go to console of it’s generation. With its fantastic open world and destructable environment, InFamous showcased the PS4’s immense power and capability to play beautiful games at 1080p. The second game is undoubtedly Uncharted 4: a Thief’s End. With movie level storytelling, hyper-realistic graphics and action scenes that would put Michael Bay to shame, this is a game that deserves to be in everyone’s library, and one that only PlayStation gamers have the liberty of playing. Thirdly, we have Bloodborne. I’ve spoken about Bloodborne before, but never at length, which I will do some other time. The game epitomises atmosphere, and everything from opening the cathedral doors to defeating a boss will leave your heart pumping like a 13 year old boy’s after his first kiss. The Last of Us Remastered which can be summarised in one word…feels. Honestly, this game had me crying like a little bitch before the first act was done, and by the time the game was over, I was an emotional wreck who was very irritable and brooding.  Go…just go play it. For our fifth entry, we have Guerrilla studio’s very own Horizon Zero Dawn. For a studio that developed only shooters, this was a big departure, and an even bigger payoff as Horizon Zero Dawn was an exciting open world game with a strong, well written female lead and an intricate world with ample lore. It’s best to get this because Guerrilla studios will be looking to raise the bar even higher with the sequel. Finally, we have Atlus studio’s Persona 5 which released only on PS4 and PS3. Style and Life, are the only ways to describe this phenomenal game. Seriously, like go play it and see how addictive it can get. Even answering a question wrong in class affects gameplay. Fuck.

But that was my list for you guys, and I hope you enjoyed it. What are your favourite games to jam? Anything you think is particularly interesting, I’d love to know.
Anyways, never stop playing.

**Persona 5-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tP4UkC6dB0
**The Last of Us Remastered-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4Pz9O2Pts0
**Horizon Zero Dawn-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrxIRk3q-ck
**InFamous Second Son-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gACPlAiFlRo
**Bloodborne-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1iKYjVFigM

**Broken Age-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPfH5AmMVH8
**Monument Valley-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqfytVQlhAM
**Infinity Blade-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56XseC2DBB4
**Cytus-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufxIARGVpuk

**Dragon Quest VIII-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZPa17muTZU
**Xenoblade Chronicles-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY5N5sX5t-4
**Fire Emblem Awakening-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvupmEk1peE
**Super Smash Bros for 3DS-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCbDMwzUPAA

**Soul Sacrifice-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTQKFIZC3Qw
**Persona 4 Golden-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ba8LKmqYxA
**Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_spykdPbu4
**Hotline Miami-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53tfOJwmg9I

**Civilisation VI-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lV2r7kORKs
**BioShock-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp0Tz-qWmM8
**Warhammer:Dawn of War III-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpqvjUslvgM
**Half-Life 2-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxQVP3LHciQ
**Left 4 Dead-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o3_5GmnebI
**Total War Rome 2-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmEp1U9_rG8
**Alan Wake-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWmLj0SN_hY

 

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Justice as a Fallacy in Death Note

Justice as a Fallacy in Death Note

*Spoilers for the Death Note Anime and Manga*

I watched the Death Note Netflix movie so you didn’t have to. So don’t especially if you’re not into Young Adult teenage dramas, a lackluster lead and not enough use of the amazing Willem Defoe. That being said I’m not here to wail on this movie which was, truth be told, entertaining enough for a casual watch but not good enough to be the next dark cult hit, which I’m sure Netflix was aiming for. No, I’m here to discuss the original, and frankly amazing concept that is Death Note, which is written by Tsugumi Ohba with art by Takeshi Obata. First serialised in December of 2003 in Japan’s weekly Shōnen Jump, it was given a critically acclaimed anime adaptation in 2006 after the manga had finished its original run and this was one of, if not the first anime I managed to seriously explore before I was ten, and I cannot overstate its important. Back when most of my friends were only concerned with playing the next game of football, WWE or which girl they had a crush on. Not that I wasn’t interested in those things, I would especially make sure to never miss out on a WWE match, however, I was also sneaking out at 4 AM to catch the early morning viewings of mature or adult anime that very rarely aired during the day and only appeared in the late hours of the night. That was also the time I would indulge in other enlightening anime like the original Hellsing, Black Lagoon, Gantz and other shows besides them, but those are tales for another post. The ritual of sneaking out with senses on full alert to the dark living room gave every second watched a weight that I can’t really describe. I wasn’t just watching for enjoyment’s sake, I was hooked utterly and would absorb every concept, theory and philosophy that I could even barely understand, and Death Note was rife with them.

You see, Death Note has a very interesting premise, and I’m talking both within and outside of the crazy world of anime. Light Yagami, a highly intelligent 17 year old student with a promising future is living an average life. His family is well to do with his father the chief of the National Police Agency, and apart from being adored by his peers and family, he is expected to go to a top-tier university and enter a prestigious job, continuing the family tradition of excellence. On an uneventful day however, a notebook, the titular Death Note falls from the sky and Light picks it up. With the Death Note comes the power over life and death. One can kill whoever they please as long as they write their names in the pages. And while there are many technicalities in the series, we won’t go into them. So Light, our protagonist now turned anti-hero decides to take the role of “saviour”, dispensing justice in whatever way he sees fit. Criminals who are often broadcast on TV begin dying mysteriously at a rate unheard of and rumours of a god-like entity begin circulating and the internet dubs this new figure of Justice, “Kira”, which is the Japanese version of the English word “Killer”, a name Light finds befitting and adopts wholeheartedly. One of the things that makes this show so great is the characterisation of all the various main, side and recurring characters. Not only do we get their personal feelings and emotions, but also their motivations, fears and even glimpses into their daily lives. There are no typical ubermensche as found in most other Shōnen Jump manga at the time. It is a constant game of cat and mouse like an old-school detective movie between Kira and his adversary, L, the enigmatic genius tasked with bringing Kira to “Justice”.

And the quoted “Justice” above is not only quoted, but capitalised because the concept of justice is not universal. We are not put in L, the “good guy’s” shoes for a reason. Even though he is on the side of Law and Order, he is not portrayed as a hero, nor does anyone say he is. He is flawed, and rather selfish, and in his pursuit of Kira, he will often resort to underhanded, unorthodox and even dangerous methods to catch him, not because Kira is necessarily evil, but because that’s his job. Its the task he has set out for himself and the one he intends to fulfill. Kira on the other hand, truly believes what he is doing is right. Kira has the power to kill practically anyone, and whilst most would kill world leaders and use that power for personal gain, Kira does otherwise. He is taking out the trash for lack of a better word, which many people support because they perceive him as a god-like figure doing the work that god isn’t and using his power for “good”.  While this only manages to fuel his hubris even more, giving him a despicable god-complex that oft-times leaves him villainous. However, this serves as a good contrast to the virtuous nature of Kira, planting him down in the eyes of the reader as simply a man and nothing more.

So that brings us to the main point of this post, the idea that “Justice” is nothing but a lie. It is something constructed  by those who wield power as a means to further their own goals. In Kira’s case, he seeks to create a “perfect world” free of crime, but full of fear that an omniscient figure will get you for misbehaving. On the other hand L serves law and order. He believes in the rules and in the way they are systematically upheld and executed, suffering no vigilante as someone above the law itself. A good way to summarize both L and Kira’s personalities is when L states, “Kira is childish and he hates losing… I’m also childish and hate losing.” This easily cements the way L views the case to catch the most prolific serial killer in human history. L never takes cases for justice’s sake despite being one of the most intelligent detectives alive, he only takes cases that hold personal interest to him, like the Kira case. Each of the main characters has their own idea of justice, but none are necessarily right. Kira views himself as Just, but not evil, and so does L, but that means that there is no right or wrong justice, just the one that prevails in the end. Kira plainly states at the start of the series, “If we catch Kira, he is evil. If he wins and rules the world, then he is justice.” This has forever been one of the most important lines in manga and anime history. It is a truth reinforces the Fallacy of Justice. That Justice is not a virtue, but a tool, and one to be used by the winner, and the strong implement their will in the world.

And as the series progress, one can see this in Kira’s actions more often than not. He strives to achieve his “Justice” through nefarious means, killing anyone who stands in his way. He becomes more ruthless, willing to sacrifice those close to him in order to keep himself safe and carry out his goals. This shows that even if one claims to be just, that might amount to nothing if the means don’t justify the end, and this is another thing that lends weight to the meaning, and meaninglessness of Justice in Death Note.
Death Note was something that opened my eyes to the possibility of different philosophies and ideals. How what can be considered “good” can be twisted and warped by the person’s personality. I learnt to see the world, not in black and white or right and wrong, but in shades of gray. That opened my eyes to a wider world. One of strong writing, opposing ideals, and the use of art to channel them, and I’m immensely happy that I had the chance to start my journey with something as phenomenal as Death Note.
As L so eloquently said, while in my own opinion defeating the point of Justice, “there is no heaven or hell. No matter what you do while you’re alive, everybody goes to the same place once you die. Death is Equal.”

What it means to be part of Generation Z

What it means to be part of Generation Z

Juvenoia; which is the hostility, or fear directed by an older generation towards a younger one. The general belief that the current generation is better than the one to come. Remember this, ‘cause it will come into play later on.

But for now, you must be asking yourself, what is Generation Z? How do you know what generation you’re in? Well, I trust that you people are smart enough to do your own research, but Generation Z, for simplicity’s sake, is the generation following the Millennial Generation. You know, most of our parents and uncles, and some cousins. It’s a generation that is conservative in nature, being involved in major political affairs, such as the Cold War and the Iraq-Iran War. For Africans, it’s also a period associated with freedom! Independence! and the subsequent rise of incompetent, ruthless, and corrupt leaders. It’s no wonder many people are so mad at the Millennial Generation, they appear to have successfully fucked things up, almost to an irreversible state.  If you were born sometime between 1997 and 2004, good news, you’re part of Generation Z! As cool as it sounds, it doesn’t seem to be going well for us. I jokingly often write in my journal that we are the “Generation of Fear”, primarily being the ones scared. Before many of us could even experience fear…boom! The Columbine Massacre, which shocked the world, the Y2K scare, which many thought would end the world, the horrific 9/11 attacks, and the Great Recession. As we grew older, we witnessed the Iraq War, and more terror attacks than had ever been seen. And not just terrorism from Islamic factions, but gun violence and mass shootings too. The Garissa University attack in Kenya leaving 150 people dead, the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram, the Paris bombings, and most recently, the possibility that a racist and misogynist like Donald Trump might become president of the most powerful country in the world.

Yes, it seems we are a failed generation despite not having reached our potential. I, for one, am still not in college, yet I seemed to have disappointed the majority of my onlookers and relatives by becoming a rebel and not striving to be an engineer, doctor, or lawyer. I instead have a deep rooted love of quiet, books, photography, and technology. Maybe because of this, the juvenoia directed towards me is rather strong. I feel constantly berated by my elders for my own life choices, choosing happiness, and a little bit of money, over the money alone. Some people might argue that juvenoia is a good influence on us youngsters. It’d do us some good to listen to our elders for once. Wrong! And this is especially true for us Africans, especially considering that our elders are the corrupt and unreliable leaders who have contributed some part to the general state of things on our lovely continent.  I think that their juvenoia is terribly misplaced, considering we are more educated, well informed, and knowledgeable than them. We may not have their wisdom, but the ability to change our destinies and break the cycle of tribalism, hatred, racism and poverty is in our hands. Basically, what I’m saying is, stop giving us so much shit. This isn’t all our faults.

We may not be even near to perfect. The media makes us seem like a bunch of unruly animals, what with all the teen pregnancies, and drug abuse among teenagers, and the thousand other things said about us. But really, who can put all the blame on us? I’m not trying to make us unaccountable, but when you see what we see, you’d understand. Oh the glitz and the glam! The rappers with their jewellery and cars, the models marrying said rappers. The celebrities who sniff lines of coke and win Grammies and Oscars and the reality stars who are able to rise to stardom from saying, or doing things that would ordinarily warrant quite a lot of shame. We are the recipients of a world that has seen the most organised drug trafficking, human trafficking and crime…yet. Not to mention the generation that has been introduced to all sorts of new substances, all at reasonable street prices, and introduced to the worst sorts of radicalism, all accessible through your favourite media platform.

Cyber bullying, ebola, police violence, riots, child porn, drugs, zika, terrorism, radicalism, mass shootings, increasing suicide rate, anxiety, been there, done that. Fear, fear, FEAR stress, stress, STRESS….are you scared yet? Good, because we’re still here.

We’re not only hanging on, we’re becoming better for it. Our generation is the first to, for the most part, be alright with same sax marriage. We are the least racist generation in a long time. We’re independent, wanting to become entrepreneurs and carve our own paths. We’re the generation with the most friends outside of our sex, religion and race. More educated and open minded, we’re very serious about change for the better. At least, those who can manage to do so, even in the smallest ways. We’ve been exposed to the worst of it, and we’re moving forward. “Kids these days,” they say disapprovingly. Yes, kids these days. Us. We may be young, but we’ve got big plans. We dress differently, and listen to, admittedly, awful music(at times) and we think differently. But if we’re fixing some of the messes you made, and some you couldn’t fix, then it might be time to change that tone.

We’re the generation of Crisis, after the Unravelling, and we were born to not be just another statistic to scare the next generation into behaving. We’re the harbingers of change, and revolution, to inspire the next genration. It’s time to start moving.

Alone, but not Lonely

The Friday before last, I was issued a challenge that I could not resist. During a seminal discussion at the African Leadership Academy, we were challenged to give up social media until Monday morning. Well, not exactly, as the challenge was split into four parts. Level 1, no FaceBook, level 2, no FaceBook or Instagram, level 3, no social media, and Level 4 no tech whatsoever. The challenge was to make us realize that we’re never truly alone, even if we’re physically alone. What with all your friends at your fingertips, it’s easy to reach out to them during any situation, whether you’re bored or down. And that puts us in a state of disconnect…from ourselves. We don’t truly know what it is to be alone, and so when we are alone, we equate it to loneliness. We panic, we fidget, and finally reach for the closest piece of tech to help lull us into calm.

But being alone, does not mean being lonely. I for one did the level two challenge, including in it Snapchat and twitter, and even 9gag. In the end, I was incredibly surprised at how little I needed my phone during the three days of the challenge. Being a huge geek, and very tech savvy, I thought I would break down within 5 hours of waking up the next day. However, I was able to go through the weekend with barely a hitch. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Growing up, I was the type of kid who would immerse himself in a novel for hours on end, and growing up, even sleeping at 3am because of it. Whenever I was actually free, and not engulfed in the hustle and bustle of a busy life, I cherished the opportunity to be alone, and with my thoughts. No doubt many people found it utterly strange, but it was a solace for me.

I think a little time for reflection is important in today’s world. To just…disconnect for a bit. Once you’re free from all the background noise, you might be alarmed at the peace, and the clarity of your thoughts…and I don’t think that’s so bad.

My Religion

To put it quite simply, Music, is my religion.  Jimi Hendrix, quite possibly the greatest musician, if not guitarist, of all time, said the same thing. Many will call it blasphemy. Let them call it what they will. I am polygamous, and music is but one of the aspects of my Goddess, who takes the name Art. It was nearly a requirement growing up to be well cultured. That meant reading a copious amount of books, being at least simply versed in painters and artists. This foundation eventually led me on a road of discovery that I am more than happy to still be on.

Growing up with very few role model figures, I was actually left to my own devices. A starting point for music was actually old school hip-hop, mainly consisting of Cypress Hill and 2Pac as well as 50 Cent and Eminem. I wasn’t too into music at the time so I became familiarised with all the greatest Billboard hits from 2003-2005. My mother and her siblings were heavy advocates of much older music, mainly UB40 and Michael Jackson amongst many others. As such, I can comfortably say that I can sing along to Kingston Town and Red Red Wine.

Another thing to note was that I was being slowly influenced to adopt Gospel Music as my staple genre of music. That attempt failed miserably for numerous reasons I’m not quite sure I understand, even now. It is possible that it never reached me on a very emotional level. It was just something to listen to because my mother heaved it on me. I never grew an attachment to it, and that fact still remain

By the time I was seven though, I had become acquainted to rock music, and it was simply love. One might be appalled to find their child listening to System of a Down, Korn, Slipknot and the oh-so-dreaded Marilyn Manson, however these musicians connected with me in a way no other musician had. The raw emotion and nature of the lyrics gave me something to hold onto. A rebellious nonconformity and an open mindedness, as well as a path to pure emotion. As of now I am a lover of music who will as gladly listen to Beethoven’s Fur Elise as I would to as I would to Tyler the Creator’s Tron Cat. However rock is an integral part of me that I will never simply hand over. It doesn’t apply to everyone as it did to me, but I could look past the screaming and harsh instruments and find a surprisingly harmonious cacophony of sounds that in the end preached a much deeper message. Why, you need only listen to Snuff by Slipknot, or Toxicity by System of a Down.

From this rather bland explanation, it still doesn’t seem to account for my taking of Music as a “religion”. But to me, it makes more than perfect sense. You see, Music doesn’t judge, nor does it tell you how to dress or how to act. It makes you feel better about being you. And yes, music may influence you to act, or dress, or be a certain way. But isn’t that a trait of something powerful, as only something powerful can inspire someone to change so much. Music is healing and inspiration. It’s a gateway to the soul and a glimpse of the world. It inspires terror as much as it does reverence. It is the thing which gets me through each day and has kept me alive this long. Such is the power of music to me.

That isn’t to say that music is my only tether. I have fallen into philosophy and art. Goya’s prints show me the fragility of life and Aristotle taught me just a few virtues. Poetry has flooded my mind with beauty and images of war and destruction, and love. Literature, has led me to live a thousand lives, whilst children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Harry Potter series have perhaps taught me more about life than 12 years of school has.  I am a dreamer, and more than half of my waking days are spent exploring deep ocean trenches or mountain caves. Drinking wine with satyrs or pushing back a horde of goblin invaders.

I will never regret my choices on these points. I am as dependent on the arts as the earth is of the sun. And I don’t think that’s so bad. I will always have an ever changing source of wisdom, and laughter. And it may not be a doctrine followed by millions of others around the world, but it is my choice. And if I could go back, I would only recommend Epicurus to myself much earlier.