Movies That Inspire

As a (formally) international relations student, I have always been interested in discussing ‘power’ as a concept. I believe that Indonesian females are (mostly) Renaissance women by nature, who see ‘power’ and ‘influence’ as two different things. According to Forbes’ 11 Most Powerful Women, power is something that you earn over time, (like) getting a better seat in restaurants, the ability to set agenda, and most important of all, the opportunity to be able to help others. I myself define power as being hierarchically higher but horizontally equal and contributive–with the relationship of students and teacher in a class as the best example in particular. As you might have understood, I’m an aspiring professor, mainly inspired by these two scenes from my all-time favorite movies:

1. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)


Betty: What is that?
Miss Watson: You tell me.
Class: [silence]
Miss Watson: Carcass by Soutine. 1925.
Betty: It’s not on the syllabus.
Miss Watson: No, it’s not. Is it any good?
Class: [silence]
Miss Watson: Come on, ladies. There’s no wrong answer. There’s also no textbook telling you what to think.
Class: [silence]
Miss Watson: It’s not that easy, is it?
Betty: All right. No. It’s not good. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it art. It’s grotesque.
Connie: Is there a rule against grotesque art?
A girl: Aren’t there standards?
Betty: Of course there are. Otherwise a tacky velvet painting could be equated to a Rembrandt.
Connie: Hey my Uncle Ferdie has two tacky velvet paintings. He loves those clowns.
Betty: There are standards, technique, composition, color, even subject. So if you’re suggesting that rotted side of meat is art…much less good art, then what are we going to learn?
Miss Watson: Just that. You have outlined our new syllabus, Betty. Thank you.
Class: [silence]
Miss Watson: What is art? What makes it good or bad, and who decides? Next slide, please.

2. Dead Poet Society (1989)


Keating: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. The Latin term for that sentiment is ‘carpe diem’. Does anyone know what that means?”
Meeks: “Carpe diem. Seize the day.”
Keating: “Very good, Mr…?”
Meeks: “Meeks.”
Keating: “Seize the day. Why does the poet write these lines?”
A student: “Because he’s in a hurry?”
Keating: “No, No, No! It’s because we’re food for worms, lads!”
Keating: “Because we’re only going to experience a limited number of springs, summers, and falls.”

Being a professor gives you the fullest authority to drive people’s minds, to startle them (and be startled) with (their) new ideas, as well as the scary risk of turning them as world’s most vicious haters. Most of us wouldn’t prefer the last point, but it’s just one of those calamities that might happen. Still, having watched the abovementioned movies, having known Mr Nurhadi/Mbak Evi, and having tried the blackboard-thrill myself, I’m convinced that I was born to join their league. One day. Amen.

Quote Unquote

Although massively used and majorly ubiquitous, words would never, never rust or become obsolete. If we treat words as stocks, their graph of growth would most likely be close to that of my life: unpredictable. Some words may vanish, extinct ones may rise after some time, and a certain group of them can always have higher value than the rest of their folk. The main key is to have it well-structured and carefully-composed, thus powerful enough to send a chill to the readers’ spine. I write this post as an additional archive to complete this one, also to the fact that they’re all too beautiful to waste:


“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys–to woo women–and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” –Dead Poets Society (1989)

“The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane: each sentence we produce, whether we know it or not, is a mongrel mouthful of Chaucerian, Shakespearean, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Dickensian and American. Military, naval, legal, corporate, criminal, jazz, rap and ghetto discourses are mingled at every turn. The French language, like Paris, has attempted, through its Academy, to retain its purity, to fight the advancing tides of franglais and international prefabrication. English, by comparison, is a shameless whore.” –Stephen Fry in The Ode Less Travelled

“So I kept reading, just to stay alive. In fact, I’d read two or three books at the same time, so I wouldn’t finish one without being in the middle of another — anything to stop me from falling into the big, gaping void. You see, books fill the empty spaces. If I’m waiting for a bus, or am eating alone, I can always rely on a book to keep me company. Sometimes I think I like them even more than people. People will let you down in life. They’ll disappoint you and hurt you and betray you. But not books. They’re better than life.” –Marc Acito

“There they were, two highly analytical mind, presumably immune to irrational infatuations—but somehow, while they sat there discussing linguistic morphology and pseudo-random number generators, they felt like a couple of teenagers—everything was fireworks.” –Digital Fortress

“Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology, and the fundamental equations of physics.” –Stephen Hawking

Iactura paucourm serva multos. Sacrifice the few to save the many.” –Deception Point

“I do not want a husband who honors me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.” –Queen Elizabeth I

“A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.” –Winston Churchill (Didn’t know he could be that hilarious!)

I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally. Usually this oscillation between faith and skepticism serves me well, with faith giving reason its moral bearings, and reason keeping faith, well, reasonable.” –David Hazony


“I think my ideal man would speak many languages. He would speak Ibo and Yoruba and English and French and all of the others. He could speak with any person, even the soldiers, and if there was violence in their heart he could change it. He would not have to fight, do you see? Maybe he would not be very handsome, but he would be beautiful when he spoke. He would be very kind, even if you burned his food because you were laughing and talking with your girlfriends instead of watching the cooking. He would just say, “Ah, never mind.”” –Little Bee


New York I Love You (Who Doesn’t?)

After Paris, I think New York is the second most romantic city on earth. Not because of the people, nor of its vibrant streets, but more to the fact that it’s harder to find a true love there. You know, scarcity always results in a higher value. A perfect place for pragmatic individuals who are only prepared to freely fall for their challenging job and not an unexpected partner, but end up to encounter the latter somewhere in their story.

So today, I stumbled upon this image and was helplessly distracted (I actually still have 4 articles and 1 paper to submit, dear God). Without further ado, here goes the product of my thorough investigation (read: Wikipedia searching) of New York’s (Selected) Most Popular Date Spots:

1. Strand Bookstore

Publisher's Weekly Celebrates The Strand's 80 Years

Expected scene: A guy and a girl simultaneously laying hands on the same book, which is–apparently–the last copy available in the store. (Cheesy. Sorry.)

Strand Bookstore is an independent bookstore located in East Village. Its slogan is “18 Miles of Books”. The store is famous among New Yorkers for its giant collection of publishers’ overstock, used, rare, and out-of-print books, as well as the chaos on and around its shelves.

2. Rubin Museum of Art


Expected scene: Two geek couple gets struck on a glass cube of a Himalayas heritage, what else?

The Rubin Museum of Art is a museum dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, especially that of Tibet. It is located at 150 West 17th Street between the Avenue of the Americas and 7th Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood.

3. Carnegie Hall



Expected scene: Most plausibly, a violinist dating a pianist who has always been dreaming to have a recital there on their graduation day.

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music. Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments, and presents about 250 performances each season.

4. Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory


Expected scene: A future baker brings his kind girlfriend to taste the best chocolate bar in town?

In the world of chocolate making, there’s the easy way, and there’s the Mast Brothers way. Unlike many chocolatiers who use couverture—discs of pre-made chocolate that can be remelted for confections and bars—Rick and Mike Mast are one of a dozen or so American chocolate artisans who hand make chocolate from cocoa bean to bar. Right now, they make about 200 bars a week in a 200-square-foot commercial kitchen in Williamsburg, ready to be witnessed!

5. Chelsea Market


Expected scene: I give up. Any volunteer?

Chelsea Market is an enclosed urban food court, shopping mall, office building and television production facility located in the Chelsea neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan. Built in the former National Biscuit Company factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced, the 22-building complex fills two entire blocks bounded by Ninth and Eleventh Avenues and 15th and 16th Streets, with a connecting bridge over Tenth Avenue.

I’m so dying to visit these places next year, and I believe that Nico would have the same excitement quo eagerness! New York, wait for our second visit!

What Makes a Princess Queen?

This thought came accross my mind during the trip back home from HNMUN training earlier this afternoon.

To my limited knowledge, outside the philosophical realm, you’re a queen when you’re either: a) regnant: an official female heir (daughter) of a King inheriting his land and people, or b) consort: a normal citizen who weds a member of the royal family who is or, later, becomes the King.

But then, does a little girl deserve the prefix of queen as soon as she’s institutionally engaged (read: married) to the man with throne, or shall she not be entitled to such powerful jargon before she could prove to people in her country that she does possess wisdom, trained by the merciful teacher named ‘experience’? Does a princess need to acquire certain qualities, traits, or level of tangible skills in order to be a queen? In a world with meritocracy system, what can justify her higher position in the societal structure?

Linguistically speaking, (meaning: to include certain amount of subjectivity) how can the word ‘princess’ so oftenly correlated to an image of a kind yet spoiled girl in a luxuriously spacious room who is obliged to simultaneously study statesmanship and sewing lessons whereas ‘queen’ constitutes a completely different persona of exceptionally sound and sensible woman whose people worship and love?

My first attempt of answer was: time.

Time forces you to age. Time adds extra height and weight to your body, as well as extra wrinkles to your previously smooth face. But that’s not merely it. Time lets you undergo a sequence of problems and unhappy endings from which you can extract big lessons. Time allows a princess’ mind to grow and discover new emotions. Time permits you to be familiarized with different situations, and thence understand different strategies to deal with different issues.

Yet again, can time guarantee that you will be able to rule a country, or be completely relied by the ruler himself?


Dear Queen, what makes you deserve all the respect?

Another contributing factor, I believe, is experience.

I strongly negate the idea that ‘experience’ is inherently embedded in ‘time’. I believe that a 9 year old kid can be wiser than somebody in their 40s, evidently because he’s got through certain calamity or story that gave him valuable lessons.

Growing up with the royal family, a princess has the limited access to broader understanding and information upon all the intertwined problems that her father has encountered in his incumbency. But then again, don’t the other royal staff perceive (see, hear, meet) the same events that she does? Why don’t they deserve the same title?

What’s left on the table now is, per se, marriage with the King.

Simply put, to be married with the King means being his Queen. No matter how reckless or self-centered or obtuse you are, the institution of marriage makes your title as queen official. I believe that this is the saddest way to see queens i.e. relating it to the existence of bigger power, a man, that is utterly external to her own being.

However, this does not mean that queen-by-marriage does not deserve the same respect. Bear in mind that, behind a great man there will always be a great woman, and vice versa. Thus, having gained trust from the perceivably wisest gentleman in the whole country as his lifetime partner, such woman must have a prodigious heart and mind.

The most idealistic way to fathom the gap between princesses and queens is then based on three keywords: wisdom, leadership, and elegance.

If a princess cries over her people’s suffering, a queen takes necessary measures to mitigate her nation’s level of poverty.
If a princess wishes to have some fancy dresses, a queen knows the condition of her country’s tailor industry.
If a princess is admired for she cares about her people, a queen is loved precisely because she’s brave enough to take risk for her people’s good.

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king. Queen Elizabeth I

What makes a prince king, then?

Travel Comma

People remind us to reduce our daily carbon footprint; either by using public transportation, being a vegetarian, or–in a more advanced level–retrofitting our houses. I think, if you really want to mitigate the amount of carbondioxide waste, you should ask the government to simply bomb the entire Jakarta and rebuild it. Put energy-efficient apartments next to environmentally-friendly offices, malls somewhere in the corner, and ban car companies. Voila, almost zero fossil-fuel used everyday! But no, darling, we can’t afford such magic. People will still commute and use transportation to move from place to place.


Alright. That intro paragraph wanders way too far from the main idea of this post. As a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the rest of this article: an experience everyone must have had, travel coma.

I’ve just found the phrase from Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists (Abbey Pinola) as “She drifts back into her travel coma,” and I was like snap! This is totally the term I was looking for! Again, sometimes someone else happens to have a better way to describe concepts that you have in mind.

Let me take the liberty to define this phrase. You know that long state of complete voidness when you’re a passenger in a car, train, or bus from one place towards a particular destination where your mind unconsciously sets itself off somewhere–often memories, ideas, visualization of future, wishes, or simply total black out? While physically, most of us will stare vacantly out the window, to the cloud, trees, or those people passing by.

Somehow, I personally think that is when brains are in their best performance: pure, unopinionated, half-witting, barrierless, and plain. I believe that it’s one of those occasions when it can emit alpha waves:

Such brain waves are often associated with states of relaxation and peacefulness during meditation and biofeedback. Recent evidence indicates that activities promoting alpha waves appear to have positive health benefits.

You see, my mind usually comes up with interestingly debatable thoughts or stories when I’m riding a train. It just happens like that. Being engaged in a conversation might also trigger and develop ideas in a different way, but it’s never completely yours.

Unlike sleeping where you’re in utter unawareness of what’s going on, travel coma allows you to have a leak of concentration in response to certain sounds or voices, but until then, the control over your brain is conquered by the subconscious.

Intriguing how our mind works, eh?