To experience pure pleasure

must we suffer deep pain?

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

I’ve read that evidence suggests pain may actually enhance the pleasure and happiness we get from life. The argument goes like this: without pain life becomes boring and dull. If we are given all the chocolate in the world, we would soon forget what it was that made our desire for chocolate so desirable in the first place.

By definition a permanent state of pleasure would not be pleasurable. We need something other than pleasure, for pleasure to compare to. But must it be pain? Could it not just be normality?

Must we take the rough to get the smooth…

The free & exploring mind

is the most valuable thing


And this I believe:

that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.

And this I would fight for:

the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.

And this I must fight against:

any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.

This is what I am and what I am about.

Orwell’s 1984

Control is freedom; slavery is liberation.

An apocalyptical codex of our worst fears.

Nineteen Eighty-Four has not just sold tens of millions of copies – it has infiltrated the consciousness of countless people who have never read it.

The phrases and concepts that Orwell minted (coined) have become essential fixtures of political language. Popular ones include: newspeak, Big Brother, the thought police, doublethink, memory hole, 2+2=5 and the ministry of truth.

The word Orwellian has turned the author’s own name into a capacious synonym for everything he hated and feared.



off me mo-fu*kin’ trolley

Radio Rental
Cockney slang for ‘mental’ (crazy).

Mum and Dad
Cockney slang for ‘mad’ (crazy).

Roman Emperors & Madness

Caligula (37-41 AD) chose his horse to be an ambassador, turned his palace into a brothel, in which his own sisters sold themselves and he wanted to be worshiped as an Egyptian-style sun god.

Nero (54–68 AD) killed his mother, then missed her company, executed his first wife to be allowed to marry a second wife, who he then kicked to death in order to marry a third wife — who happened to be a castrated male slave.

Contemporaries describe both as insane emperors who killed on a whim, and indulged in too much sex and gratuitous gluttony. The “last days of Rome” were, according to historians, deliciously debauched. It is said, among other things, that both Caligula and Nero sent troops on illogical military exercises and wasted Rome’s money as if there was no tomorrow.*

  • Around the bend
  • Ballistic (esp. someone who’s angry)
  • Bananas
  • Barmy
  • Batty (+ “gay”)
  • Berserk (esp. someone who’s angry)
  • Bonkers
  • Crackpot
  • Deranged
  • Doolally**
  • Dotty (esp. someone who’s strange)
  • Eccentric (esp. someone who’s strange)
  • Looney
  • Loopy
  • Lunatic
  • Mad as a hatter***
  • Non compos mentis (Latin)
  • Nutter****
  • Odd (esp. someone who’s strange)
  • Off one’s head/rocker/trolley
  • Out of one’s head/mind
  • Out to lunch
  • Potty
  • Psycho (could be medical)
  • Unhinged

Medical terms:

  • Delusional
  • Neurotic
  • Paranoid
  • Psychopath

* The validity of these accounts is debatable. In Roman political culture, insanity and sexual perversity were often presented hand-in-hand with poor government (Wikipedia, 2019a; Wikipedia, 2019b).

** “Doolally” — originally “doolally tap”, — means to ‘lose one′s mind.’ It is said to have derived from the boredom felt at the Deolali British Army transit camp (soldiers were sent to recuperate if they were considered to be under traumatic stress). ‘Tap’ may be derived from the Sanskrit word ‘tapa’ meaning ‘fever.’

*** “Mad as a hatter” is used to suggest that a person is suffering from insanity. It is said to have derived from the North of England where people made hats; traditionally mercury was used in the production process and, mercury poisoning causes symptoms similar to madness.

**** Nutter (as in: she’s a total nutter; he’s a fucking nutter).


Wikipedia (2019a). Scandals. Wikipedia. Retrieved,
Wikipedia (2019b). Decline. Wikipedia. Retrieved,

Priceless Graphite

with a pencil you are totally free


It’s a tool. As is the plough, as are sextants and swords, as is the shovel, as are sickles and hammers, as is the hypodermic syringe (that may carry a lifesaving elixir, an opioid escape or a life saving or a life ending chemical cocktail). Yet, in distinction to those tools, this one, the tool that I talk of now, is by far the more influential. It articulates, crafts, drafts and sketches. It is one that we have all had in our hands at one point in time or more. We use it to colour in shapes etc. as kids at Kindergarten, to spell out words teachers teach us at School. We use it to write shopping lists for trips to Sweihan’s Abu Siraj Supermarket; we use it to organise thoughts and explore our emotions in private diaries. I think it lets is demonstrate we are human kind. It is, as I know you now know, the pencil [take your pick, your etching stick, 9H through HB to 9xxB].

The computer dictates how you do something, whereas with a pencil you are totally free.
— James Dyson, Inventor (1947– )

Put down your pistols, pick up your pencils. Holding them can be therapeutic it can also be fantastically lucrative. As one advertising campaign proclaims, pencils are where it ‘all’ begins – i.e., the ‘it’ is creativity, e.g., the ‘it’ can be influential literature, impressive architecture, iconic furniture (poetic licence permits me to include here other writing instruments such as the quill of the 18th and 19th centuries and the ink pen of the 20th century and the digital stylus/iPencil of the 21st). The pencil, in olden days, was so expensive. Nowadays, it is cheap and everyone can have one. They now come in every shade of the rainbow but for me, I will stick to graphite grey.
The magic ingredient is indeed graphite (a non-metal mineral), but we often call this lead. As do most good things, the word graphite comes from the ancient Greeks ‘graphein’ – in other words it means to write. Pencil is derived from the Latin ‘pencillus’, meaning little tail, to describe the small ink brushes used for writing in the Middle Ages (imagine for a magic moment these writing sticks in the hands of Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, Marlowe and last but not least, Shakespeare). According to J. D. Barrow, the modern pencil was invented in 1795 by Nicholas-Jaques Conte, a scientist working in the Army of Napoleon Bonaparte. I understand from “Guns, Germs, and Steel” that great inventions are results of war. So my humble black and yellow Germany made Staedtler pencil (Norris HB[2] Art. Nr. 122-HB EAN 40 07817 106365) is a child of long past war. My wood wrapped writing stick is born with blood and death on its hands?

Ideas are elusive things so keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, by so doing, you can stab them during the night before they get away.
— Earl Nightingale, Commentator (1921–1989)

The strange thing about graphite is that it is a form of pure carbon that is one of the softest solids known to scientists (is a soft solid, an oxymoron?). Yet if the graphite’s atomic structure is changed just a little bit it becomes a diamond; the hardest solid known to us. Carbon Dioxide is CO2 and as every Emirati high school graduate knows, this is a Global Warming Greenhouse gas. Indeed, we learn from Google/Wikipedia that Carbon makes up 18 per cent of me and, my dear reader, you. Pencils can be square, polygonal or round, depending on its intended use. It is know that vocational people do not much love round pencils because they roll off of tables etc. During the nineteenth century a major pencil manufacturing industry developed in Great Britain where Barrow informs us, “the purest graphite can be found.” The first pencil factory says Barrow was opened in England in the 1830s. I’d like to move to the Derwent brand (I’d love to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum, which a BBC website review say is one of the most peculiar days out in the UK; one that will fulfil the hopes and dreams of pencil fanatics everywhere), but I cannot leave my black and yellow stripped German made digging tool.

Without a pencil in my hand I am not me. If I am not me then I’m blunt and need to be sharper, before my ink runs dry I am now going to ‘pencil’ some sagely advice. According to Alison Nastasi, writers like John Steinbeck and Vladimir Nabokov were pencil fanatics. Nabokov (a user of Faber-Castell Blackwing 602s) outlined his novels and used one to write, “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” Steinbeck loved the Mongol 480 (Faber-Castell again) as it was topped with a rubber. Nastasi says that Steinbeck used 300 pencils to write East of Eden (who, I wonder, counted them). My sagely advice, I hear you ask. Well dear reader, it is this, read these words—written in/by pencil—by Steinbeck: “The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable element in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.”

Inspirations and/or Recommended Readings

Barrow, J. D. (2010). 100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know. London: Random House.

Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: Norton & Company, Inc.

Nastasi, A (2013, August 17). The Writing Tools of 20 Famous Authors. Flavorwire.