Impromptu Untitled 27/04/2016

Broken melodies fall from a sky of doubt

like chaotic rain strings, weak to wind.

Distorted noise shatters this dreamer’s mind

into shards of glass, harmful only to itself.

 

The remnants hide in their own reflections.

Identity escapes through its own backdoor.

Confusion and Self-loathing sing and dance

along the falling broken melodies,

among these meaningless words of nothingness.

 

27/04/2016 © Waseem Sherif

 

Future

I see his figure, ghastly and appalling.
He stands tall and sharp like an obelisk.
His face pallid, only hollow eyes distinguished
as if they carry the core of gravity
eyes like endless tunnels, I can’t find the light.

Like the gloomy days of a cold winter,
he trudges his way to me.

He stretches his arm, an invitation to days unlived.
“Take my hand” he says,
a voice as destructive as an earthquake.
shaking, I rest my palm on his.
An arcane cold takes home my hollowed chest.

 

26/02/2016 © Waseem Sherif

Materialism and the Myth of Happiness and Well-being (1/2)

Okay, I thought this might need to be headed by a disclaimer of sorts! I don’t want anyone thinking this is a blog where I post serious articles and such! this is still a personal blog. It just happens that this was my first attempt at a long serious article. I was kinda proud of it at first but not so much now. I’m work in progress (especially in English).

This was a sort of an article I wrote a while ago in another blog. I was supposed to write a second part soon after but I got side tracked by other stuff. (maybe I’ll get to it soon.) 

I just copy pasted this ’cause It’s a long entry and a pain to proofread again! :p 

 

Introduction:

In this article, I am going to talk about the concept of materialism that has been dominating the modern world. It is a concept that I am greatly interested in and I believe that it largely constitutes the root of the degradation of modern society. Regretfully, I can’t go into much detail as this is not an academic paper (even if it does sound a bit serious!). There is only so much that I can mention here. I will only define the concepts briefly so I can focus more on the aim of this article which is the role of media in promoting material values and the negative effects of materialism on modern society.

Materialism

To put it simply, materialism is everything that is physical or has to do with matter. It is the belief in the value of the physical. Oxford defines it as “the belief that money, possessions and physical comforts are more important than spiritual values”. In our relevant context, Russell Belk (1984) defines materialism as “the tendency to view worldly possessions as important sources of satisfaction in life“. This doctrine teaches that happiness and well-being are only reached by material values such as possession, wealth and social status and not by spiritual ones such as self-actualization, religions and social interaction. However rewarding the promise of wealth is, it is not free of cost. Many studies shows that the cost of such a belief is more harmful than it is healthy. Moreover, the promise itself is in question. It is a promise that has been sold to us.

Materialism and Consumerism

Just a quick idea here that materialism and consumerism are tightly connected in socio-economic context. Consumerism might be both cause and consequence of materialism and vice versa.

Emergence

Materialism came to be very prominent in modern society to the point where some even call it the new religion. I believe that it became this pervasive due to capitalism’s free-market system and the advancement of communication technology. by an interchangeably-beneficial relationship,  The total freedom of economy and the sharing of information allowed by communication technologies (e.g radio, television, internet..) increasingly and gradually let loose modern society’s material side. And especially nowadays, we can easily see and witness how the media works in ways as to ensure more sells and consumption.

Part One

The Role of Media

Media plays an important part in cultivating the consumer aspect of our society. As it is the case with the material aspect, since materialism has always been present throughout history but only in modern age that it was enhanced tremendously. The rigid, pragmatic capitalist system of modern world has been and the ultimate platform for materialistic values, including consumerism, to thrive. However, consumer-oriented media encouraged the materialistic characteristics of modern society.

Mass Media at work

Mass media are diverse in our society and some of them are more influential and widespread than others. Anyone can see that the image is practically everywhere in our lives. It takes many forms ranging from a simple picture in a magazine or newspaper to a long film shown on the big screen. Its purpose varies as well. The image can serve as an ad you see on billboards or an audiovisual commercial in television; it can be a source of entertainment or simply a work of art. In this section, we will see how all those forms of audio-visual media influence the audience into consumerism and instill materialistic values.

Advertising

The first and most important tool for that process is advertising as it is the direct medium between the producer and the consumer. By nature, the purpose of advertising is materialistic. Ads make you believe that you can only be happy and satisfied if you acquire the product. Nevertheless, advertisers use many methods that are based on studying the audience’s psychology and sociology to increase the persuasion rate as much as possible. Most of those methods also involve materialistic themes. That overdose of material themes added to the repetition and the amount of ads that invade our streets, magazines, television, internet and even movies tip the balance greatly to the materialistic side of the audience. It is so widespread and pervasive that it is bound to influence the audience, consciously or unconsciously. Being vulnerably open and receptive to that massive amount of materialistic input partly shaped the modern society into the consumer and materialistic society we know now. One of the methods used extensively in advertising is sex appeal.

Sex sells!

Similar to the connection between consumerism and materialism, the fact that the purpose of ads is to sell products is enough to see that it encourages materialism and so is the use of sex appeal in ads. The exploitation of the human body for the purpose of selling products has been the mark of modern advertising. This exploitation is used in many ways such as nudity/partial nudity, the subtle allusion to the private parts of the human body (sexual embeds), sexual behavior, physical attractiveness, and sexually-evocative images and slogans (sexual referents) (Limbiase and Reichert, 2003).

However, sexual appeal is used not for itself but for the sake of the product which is mostly depicted as synonymous with a naked body (mostly a woman’s). The product is humanized yet the human is objectified. This is shown in the way many ads shape their products in the form of a naked body part(sexual embeds). An example for that is a placement of two burger sandwiches as to look like breasts (see images below). That shows that sex in advertising is not really sex as much as it is an artificial desire for consumption that replaces the real desire and numbs the audience’s feelings. In this respect, it is dangerously materialistic for it erases the spiritual and sympathetic parts in the human, thus objectifying the human. What are we if all we are is dead inside?

Advertising adopt a very materialistic and harmful approach to deliver what could have been a very simple and harmless message. The result of such an approach has not only turned the whole world into consumers but also trapped them into an unending cycle of an illusionary happiness and stripped them away of ethical and spiritual values. (more of this in Part Two)

Aside from advertising as direct link between producer and consumer, there are other forms of media such as TV shows, films and music industry which are outside the producer-consumer circle, but play an extremely important role in calling out to and cementing the materialistic values in modern society.

Television, movies and music industry

It is far from exaggeration when I say that these forms of media are the ultimate tools for spreading and widening the scope for material values. If every one of us would just take a look at their own immediate entourage, they would notice, for one, how attached we are to television. A bowl of popcorn, a bottle of coca cola and a couch in front of a TV is pretty much the simplest modern image. But because it is simple, it makes my point for me. It is so ordinary and common in modern society that it begs the question: why is it so? It is so because we have been conformed to that image.

Similarly, scripted shows deliver to the audience a drooling, materialistic image of a lifestyle. TV series, for instance, portray wealth in an exaggerated manner that is not in accordance with reality. The same kind of portrayal can be applied to violence and crime. Clearly, there is a discrepancy between what is shown in television (in media, in general. Television is just an example) and what is real. The reality created by media imprints on the viewers in a way that they believe that that reality is real and that it is what they need in their lives. Ultimately, their behavior conforms to everything they watch on a screen.

Keep that idea in mind while we consider television, cinema and music industry and the various themes that they portray and promote.

Television

We will not talk about commercials here since it’s been covered as Ads above. However, even more important types of audiovisual programs have their share in promoting materialism such as TV shows and TV series.

There is so much materialistic content in TV shows. For instance, celebrity news shows and fashion shows keep the consumption cycle going by creating new trends seasonally. Besides, since their main focus is fashion/celebrity news, they play a part in glorifying trivial matters. For example, many of these shows rank what Hollywood celebrities wear in Academy awards and whatnot as well as rank the “hotness” of celebrities!

Much like celebrity news shows, scripted drama also portrays materialistic themes and values. As we have mentioned above, TV series depict a fake reality; one that inflates wealth (e.g, among middle class). This inflation feeds the audience an imaginary extravagant lifestyle which eventually they would long for. Cars, houses, clothes, etc… even if they can’t afford it, they would take loans so they could.

The most popular scripted shows have crime and violence as dominant themes. The prevalence of violence as it desensitizes the audience is a contributing factor to tuning up material aspects. Such themes are even more dominant in movies.

Movies

Most Hollywood movies have violence as main theme as well as shallow and superficial plots. An example of such movies is the action genre. Action films are by definition action-driven rather than character-driven which means they are more about material themes and less about human relationships and spiritual values.

Moreover, Hollywood movies focus on pragmatism and individualism. They portray loss of life as normal and even justified for the cause of their save-the-day main character. Everything is set up to work in perfect systematic logic that doesn’t leave much room for feelings and faith.

The majority of Hollywood TV shows and movies do not engage the audience’s intellect. In contrast, they dull the mind and make it more receptive and susceptible to persuasion. That being said, there are always exceptions.

Music industry

Talking about the state of music industry and how important its role is in spreading materialism is personally painful. I will be brief on this.

It is needless to stress how materialistic and ethically questionable the music industry has become. Themes of violence, money and sex constitute the majority of the industry’s production in modern times. Promotional videos are almost bordering on pornographic contents. The music itself became hollow.  It talks to the body more than it talks to the feelings or the mind. And it all originates from greed. Commercialization of music had a significant role in raising popular culture, cultivating an audience that glorifies trivialities and erasing every possible path that leads to an awareness of our own true reality.

Conclusion:

Media influences modern society, directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously, to consume and consume some more. And even after being internalized to believe that our desire will only be quenched by possession and consumption, that same belief, simultaneously, is being broken so we would consume over and over again. As a result, modern society is reshaped into easily-guided, empty-shell consumers which ultimately allowed materialism to grow to be as pervasive in most parts of the world as it is today.

As we have seen, it all starts with an empty promise of happiness and well-being achieved by consumption and possession. But it never ends because in reality, happiness and well-being through only material values is a myth. In return, there are only extreme negative effects on the individual, the community and the globe.

References (of sorts):

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – 8th Edition.

Belk, Russell W. and Richard W. Pollay (1985b), “Materialism and Magazine Advertising During the Twentieth Century,” Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 12, eds., Elizabeth C. Hirschman and Morris B. Holbrook, p394.

Lambiase, J. & Reichert. T, (2003). Sex in advertising. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p13-14.

Daily Picks 25/04/2016

These are Picks from yesterday’s collection. I was too tired to post but here it is now.

I wasn’t able to take great pictures, but Daily Picks posts aren’t about great pictures as much as they are about my mood!

I found a few small wild flowers.

 

The wind was really strong. It was difficult to take macro shots of big and long flowers. The strong wind really did a number on them. there was nothing as far as I could see that was not bent. Hell, I almost got toppled!

The sea was obviously raging in return!

Well, the mighty wind did not keep me from taking pictures or even sitting in my usual place to read a few chapters of a decent John Grisham book while it wrecked havoc on everything around! Besides, I love this weather!

I’m only human though! Around 30 minutes later, I started to feel how cold the wind was. And its howling was ringing in my ears instead of my favorite wave sounds! So I packed up and went back home, but not after I took a few pictures again. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the Picks. 🙂

Crimson

Stories, Pt.3

 

Mesteerian Dawn 2

 

I have stories with sunsets and dawns,

crimson lights of ends and beginnings.

the sky is ablaze in a myriad of fire shades.

 

In my mind,  it was me at the center,

not the sun. I was the scorching sphere

radiating fiery flames as I rise and fall.

 

I was no such thing as light or hope.

I burn. I incinerate.

More than anything, I reveled in that thought

that I was in solitude. All alone.

Nothing dared to orbit my flares.

I was at peace.

 

The golden orb was now halved by

the horizon line and I was back to

the man who sat on the hill

to watch mere shades of the lonely color

that he will never be.

 

23/04/2016 © Waseem Sherif

Picture taken: [06:35] 04/08/2009

Two Weeks on WP: Shameless Rambling

So I’ve been on WordPress for about two weeks now. I’m new to blogging. I’ve been pulled to the idea by my recent change of heart, from not wanting to share my writing to ‘excited to share’! That and my girlfriend just made a travel blog here few weeks ago; she encouraged me to give it a shot. and obviously I did.

Besides, I wanted something to keep my mind off of things.

I tried not to overthink it this time (I tend to do that). in that respect, I settled on the blog title on the first try. whatever came to mind first! Mesteerean Winds. Mesteer is a name of a place that I was thinking about at the time (always thinking about it)!

I had trouble choosing a theme. none of the free ones meet my demands but I guess I can’t do anything about that. Today, I changed to Hemingway Rewritten. slightly better but not satisfying. I think the problem is that I’m unable to customize the layout with free plan. I created a simple new header and have plans on working on several new ones.

I don’t like the writing space here too. Well actually, it’s only one problem. The spacing between lines is too freaking long! I call that ‘anti-poetry spacing’! I tried looking for a feature to shorten it but I can’t find it! anyone know a way to deal with that or go around it, please tell me! >_<

 

Good thing about WP is that there is interaction between bloggers and easy access to blogs with similar interests and orientations. To be honest, I’m not doing a lot of interaction so far. I’m not good with dealing with people, even online. but I’m getting there.

I have no plans on making this a magnetic blog and establish a following and all. I’m a private person (relatively). All I want to do is share some of my writings with whoever’s interested in reading it. I’m content with taking the time to post a few entries each day in order to help me cope with whatever I’m dealing with. and that’s the end of it.

However, the pull of the experience is quite strong. I can’t seem to hold back in putting myself out there through my writings! I don’t see this as a bad thing though. I think it’s a step forward for me. I only need to take it slow. and no one can deny, that getting more reach is a big part of what makes blogging enjoyable and worthwhile.

Speaking of reach in WP, I’m at a disadvantage since I’m Tunisian writing in English. And based on my stats, my top visitors are from the US. The problem is the difference in time zones, from 5 hours to 7 hours.

 

Well, I’m okay with the status quo, for now. I am certainly enjoying my stay here. I still have a body of writings that yearns to be shared and read and a prolific quill that longs for stygian ink. (not too prolific :p )

Yesterday, my girlfriend told me after reading my posts that I seem to be enjoying and I replied: “Yes, I am.” 🙂

 

Daily Picks 22/04/2016

Continuation of the last Daily Picks. Stories Pt. 2

various picks accompanied by impromptu poetry. The writes do not describe the pictures; they are simply inspired by them. 

made_of_colors_02

P1170261

 

 

I have stories with flowers.

They sway and dance,

oblivious to my eyes

staring at their

peculiar moves and the blend of

undetermined colors.

 

Flowers are beautiful, everyone says.

I guess despair is also beauty

for flowers know the inevitable

“A storm is coming.”

They seize the day.

 

P1200852

P1190726

P1190281

I have stories with trees

and their wisdom of old

the decades and centuries of

arcane earthen tales and

the scarred history engraved

on trunks for us to see

 

Ridges of our lives run across

the surface where ants and cicadas

have their share whereas

humans set their chainsaw

and write the end of the earthen tale.

 

22/04/2016 © Waseem Sherif

I’m enjoying merger post between photography and impromptu poetry. It’s even cathartic for me. So I’m making a post series out of it. I hope you’ll enjoy it (at least, the pictures. I know my poetry is depressing). 

Trauma’s Aftermath

I crave the void that I hate
for life hurled me to darkness
and its prolific pain dyed
my coral core pitch black.

I crave the void that I hate.
my bed is like a dungeon
of bittersweet horrors
and stunted defeated dreams.

I crave the void that I hate
for trauma tainted me so.
The warmth I once hosted
is now a cold void – my host.

 

29/03/2016 © Waseem Sherif

Daily Picks 21/04/2016

No pictures today either.

Instead, here are some Picks from winter 2013 accompanied with on-the-spot poetry.

P1210203

I have stories with the sea

told by no one,

known only to

my decaying memory.

In the end, all is left is grey.

 

P1210364

P1210414

I have stories with winter

and its shapeless clouds

wandering the skies

like I did

around the blurred borders of

dreams and reveries when

reality is shattered.

P1190295

P1250428

 

P1190299

I have stories with leaves

once green and lush

now pale and pallid

like my complexion when

feelings retreat from my face

and hide in shyness of

their nature only to

defy on when a quill

is in my hand.

 

21/04/2016 © Waseem Sherif