Day 70: A Nonism Dictionary

General abstention from activities and substances regarded as damaging to one’s health or well-being.

The above is a dictionary definition of the term “non-ism.” I, in fact, did not know about the existence of this term until a few years back when my colleague asked me whether or not my name had anything to do with the doctrine. Well, it’s a surprise so I looked it up and found that the etymology of term had to do with the Latin word “non,” meaning not (surprise, surprise). So, non-ism is, in essence, minimalism (those who have read my post on minimalism would probably understand this right away).

I like the term “non-ism” for two reasons: My name is in it (duh), and that I think it’s the way of life by which from this very day I would like to live my life. Let me be “super” honest with you here (despite the fact that I am always honest with you), the original idea of this post is simply to lay out some of my thoughts in an aphoristic way (for those who may have forgotten what aphorism means; it means an expressive and poetic observation that contains a general truth).

But then as I’d gotten myself on the plane my seatbelt fasten, I had felt as though, physically and emotionally, I was not going anywhere for a while; hence, something in the back of my head was pushing me to think beyond writing a few aphorisms to writing a post that lays out, in its entirely, concepts that matter to me.

I then thought to myself, these concepts, then, should have an umbrella; and what would be a better conceptual container of the many different concepts I was about to write than an “-ism?”

So, here you are, a lite version of my conceptual dictionary.

A sketch of my portrait wearing Harvard Ph.D. gown by one of Thailand’s most respected architects Dr. Khiensak Saengkrieng. I can’t thank him enough for this wonderful sketch which I will definitely frame and put on my wall.

Architecture: A profession whose primary concern lies in the thinking, planning, and building of humanistic built environment for all, or an edifice that combines such humanistic sense with the understanding of the laws of nature and their phenomenon.

Anthropology: A useless field of study if one is to study it with the sole purpose of preaching it to others, but the most useful form of liberal knowledge if one is to study to enhance “how to be a human” in a society all thanks to its primary concern on how we human beings are more similar than we think.

Anthropology#2: “A comparative study of common sense.” — Michael Herzfeld

Argument: An exchange of diverging or opposite views that could end with an agreement to disagree.

Anxiety: What you cannot avoid when coming to terms with yourself.

Be: The marker of existence that should — and must always — precedes essence.

Belief: An unfortunate result of an often irrational thought process commonly known as a “leap of faith.”

City: A physical place where strangers have to try to live together without killing each other.

Communication: The only thing that which must be effective because the failure to do so is the true cause of almost all problems we have in the world.

Critical Thinking: Often an oxymoron since the only acceptable form of thinking is that of critical (also see Thinking).

Culture: A practice of everyday life that has been repeated so much by a community that it has become both a sensible norm by which the members of such community would like to live their life and sensuality of which those same members would like to make sense of their life — regardless of whether or not they know the origins (often multiple) of such practice.

Design: The process with which all great works and everything that is truly meaningful to our existence begin.

Education: One highly flawed way of getting anyone to learn anything, but, alas, is still one of the few reliable solutions to the problems that we are facing in the world today.

English: The language that one should pretend to use when getting any forms of services in China to avoid being treated like shit.

Enlightenment: “Man and mankind emerge from their own self-imposed immaturity.” — Immanuel Kant

Expectation: The one and only true cause of disappointment.

Existentialism: An admirable way of life focusing on being aware of the strange nature of “conventions” around us and true to oneself by letting your existence precedes the socially-prescribed “conventional” essence.

Freedom: The ability to act by your own moral codes.

God: Often a symbolic entity we human beings create to conveniently explain things for which we do not necessarily want to go through the difficulty to find out the answer.

Grammar: “The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.” — Anonymous.

Humility: Often the best mechanism in protecting yourself against senseless attacks.

Harvard: A for-profit company in Massachusetts that is authorized by law to act as a single entity that thinks of itself as an educational institution designed for learning named after a square in the city in which it is located.

Idiosyncrasy: A mode of behavior seen by the society as peculiar to an individual but is not, in any ways, harmful to the society.

Joke: A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter because there is some truth in it.

Knowledge: A body of ideas that personally matter to you. If it doesn’t matter to you that way, it’s just data.

Law: A form of distant control mechanism that has the aura of actuality in preventing human beings from directly killing each other but does not necessarily prevent them from doing so indirectly.

Liberalism: An ideology building on the false belief that human beings can be good to one another if each of them is driven solely by his or her own (broadly and vaguely defined) self-interests.

Life: A biological process that is a reverse of hiccup that, spoiler alert, always end in death and for which there is no cure. Life is like a reverse of a hiccup because, while a hiccup only goes away when you stop thinking about it, you will never get to live a life if you keep thinking about how to live it.

Life#2: “What we live when you are not busy doing something else.” — John Lennon

Love: “Something I would do anything for except THAT (whatever that is).” — Meat Loaf.

Men: Often used as a euphemism for jerks who misleadingly believe in the false sense of masculinity expressed through violence. 

Money: What we want to think is a means of happiness when most of the time it leads to the opposite.

Marriage: The one and only true cause of divorce, and “the main cause for two people to be disgusted by each other.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

Minimalism: The way of life whose underlining idea is to cut the lost cost concerning how we human beings tend to be easily distracted to spend time on things that do not really matter to the productive development of our existence.

Morality: The one thing about which none of us should try to too hard to be creative or unique.

Nation: A community whose members must, in order to survive, remind themselves to believe in the constructed sense of unity despite the obvious differences among them.

Neoliberalism: An idea based on the belief that removing “as long as you don’t hurt other people” from the idea of “you can do whatever you want” would lead to a better society. In other words, it’s a system of belief of sociopaths (Also see Sociopaths).

Non-Action: The way of life preached in the Taoist doctrine in which the practitioners believe in doing nothing in order to leave nothing undone.

Old: In humans, it refers to having the characteristics or showing the signs of age because of the consumption of food and water, and the breathing of the air.

Passion: “The driver of reason; without which there would be nothing to drive the reason alone to act.” — David Hume

Ph.D.: An academic degree that consumes years of life and often ends in unemployment.

Philosophy: The practice of, through careful and rigorous reasoning, not taking everything around you as “had been that way, is that way, and will always be that way.”

PQRST: Not an acronym and simply a string of consecutive alphabets that means nothing to no one else but Michael Herzfeld and Cristina Paul.

Poetics: Something that so dearly resonates with our inner consciousness — to the point that we would break rules to achieve.

Pollution: “A substance or thing that understood to be harmful or having poisonous effects because they are understood as not belonging there — rather than their actual harmful or poisonous effects.” — Mary Douglas

Power: What we human beings want to possess in order to compensate for the lack of sex.

Property: A burden that is often being misunderstood as a possession.

Rights: Something morally intrinsic to an individual that I would fight to the death to protect even if it’s not my own.

Ritual: The process by which meanings are systematically ascribed to the meaningless so that some people could feel as though their lives actually have a meaning.

Religion: A system of faith believed by many to provide normative guidances for those who want to live in the world with a purpose, and a pathological treatment for which rationality as such cannot provide.

Religion#2: “What distracts the poor from the real cause of the problems and therefore keeps the poor from mass murdering that cause, which is the rich.” — (a paraphrase of) Napoleon Bonaparte and Karl Marx

Research: An excuse that by saying you have done it prior to taking an action may help in preventing yourself from being  blamed if the consequence of such action is not the undeniable one.

Self: What we would like to think that we have in order to have an excuse to possess other things (if you don’t even have the self, why would you want to possess anything else?)

Sex: The most overrated mundane activity that most of us human beings cannot suppress the need to engage therefore want to learn more about how to better engage, but at the same time always feel pressured to pretend to not wanting to.

Society: An epitome of a structure in which individuals are contained.

Shanghai: A city known as the largest training ground for neoliberalism (also see Neoliberalism).

Sleep: The state to which we exhaust our body to get back daily.

Sociopaths: What most of us are when we do not think or think but not care about the consequences of our action that we will not directly feel.

Suicide: The most preventable form of death.

Suicide#2: “The most important philosophical question: To exist or to not exist in the world.” — Albert Camus

STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases, among which life itself is the most preventable.

Time: The solution of 99% of the non-physical problems.

Thinking: Where skepticism and open-mindedness overlap.

Utopia: My place because it means, in Greek, a “non-place.” Get it?

Women: The one true cause of tears — as in the song “No Women No Cry” by the reggae legend Bob Marley.

Xenophobia: A symptom expressed in the intense dislike or fear of people from other places often as a result of a problematic anxiety that one is having with oneself.

Yet: An adverb that I always add to the end of the sentence when responding to a question concerning my current inability to do things that I see benefitting to my personal improvement and therefore want to happen in the future, such as “I don’t speak Japanese — yet.”

Zen: The way of life focusing on the inner health by reducing worries brought about by the external possessions and desires that are extraneous to us.


Writing this post while eating hotpot in Chengdu. Photo credit: Professor Yang (杨青娟) at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu.

We should have another celebration for reaching, alas, Day 70!


2 thoughts on “Day 70: A Nonism Dictionary

  1. Pingback: Day 71: How to Change the World Part 1 | 100 days of writing

  2. Pingback: Day 73: Tony Robbins’ “Six Basic Human Needs” | 100 days of writing

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