Visions of a New Alexandria I

What follows is a series of essays and speeches dedicated to uncovering the parasitic corruption in Egypt. There is no intended sense of progression or chronology past the Prelude.


What happens when a chaotic cesspool of corruption and ignorance meets a highly unstable, mentally dysfunctional pragmatist? That is ultimately the question I wish to answer with this piece. Perpetual turmoil flows in this country’s veins, and so they flow in mine too. Imprisoned in that ivory tower of blissful ignorance, my generation and I are wilting. Fading. Dying.

I have these thoughts so often of a nation where the silent cries for help are heard. I have these thoughts so often of a nation that holds its constituents to the highest standards while simultaneously giving them the respect they deserve. I have these thoughts so often of a nation where I can pursue the truth of myself until the day I find it.

But these are only thoughts. These are only abstract. Theoretical palaces, practical nothingness. All of it is potential, and none of it is current. You can find them in the vast sea of dreams, unattainable and unreachable as things stand. Our potential is dormant, our stories untold, but it’s time to stand up. How long will we have to wait until we are alive? How long until we can reach out to the truth?

This is my nation. I speak for it because I am its future. This isn’t a game for me, nor is it a game for any of us. This is about freedom. This is about the truth.

Written here is the deliverance of those that won’t be silenced.

Written here are the voices of the sea calling for reform.

Written here are the voices of those fed up with your ivory tower.

Written here are the visions of a free nation.

But before things get complicated... I think I have to introduce myself.

The Storyteller

Who am I?

I’m the storyteller. You can think of me however you want, really. All that matters is that you hear and heed me.

We all know about totalitarian regimes. There’s been many a rendition of that sonnet, but most significant to our story is the case of post-revolution Egypt. An unruly sonnet indeed, that one. Egypt has been torn apart by the powers that be. It has been dismantled to its very core, revealing an abyss that no one wants to stare into.

As an outsider, you might not know this, but Egypt is actually nightmarishly Orwellian! The internet? Monitored by the state. Education? All controlled by the state. The media? Don’t even get me started. All avenues of growth are completely ignored; instead, the state reigns supreme, and the continued existence of the state is of utmost importance. When you have government officials coming over to your school to film you excessively endorsing the president’s every questionable decision and whim, including amending the constitution to further consolidate control of the country, you know you’ve got your educational priorities calibrated flawlessly as a government. When every anti-government article is censored by the state, you know you’ve "made" it as a totalitarian nightmare.

That’s just the start of it. Everyone is terrified. I like to think that everyone is terrified, anyway, because they should be. Every word they say has to be carefully filtered so as not to be silenced by the state. The next sentence they say may ruin their career, family, or even life prospects. Everyone should be terrified because this is a living nightmare.

It’s not just what we do or say that’s filtered, but what we consume too. Propaganda shoved down our throats, to desensitize us, to make us feel that this is normal, to make us docile for the slaughtering. The masses have to be fed. The masses have to be satiated before they’re slaughtered. The sheep have to be fattened up before they’re slaughtered.

You’re living in an environment where you have to tiptoe around every issue without ever truly branching out and thinking for yourself... but do you realize this? Maybe the people just don’t know? Maybe they’ve never considered the possibility of an alternative?

No. Surely not. Surely all of you realize it too. Surely all of you see this for what it is, right?

The Multi-headed Serpent of Corruption

Are you still awake? Or did they get you too? Did their frankly obscene propaganda finally get you too? Did they pay you to participate in their pro-government rallies, to aid and abet in their quest to perpetuate their malignant existence?

Maybe I should get more specific. Let’s start from the beginning.

Education is a complete farce in Egypt. I can only speak for my education, that of the "American" schools, but I am certain that others can talk for hours on end about the problems of Egyptian public education, which are numerous.
What I’m here to show you, however, is different. What I’m here to show you is the humiliating, disgraceful state of the "American education" in Egypt.

An Introduction to Corruption

It is no secret to any of the local students, parents, and educational staff alike that the system is corrupt from its roots to its leaves. It would be more accurate to say that the system is a metastasizing tumor that is slowly but painfully suffocating every last bit of academic potential out of its students. This is apparent in many instances, and perhaps the most infamous one is the curious case of the SAT.

Oh, the SAT. How Egypt has defiled you. How Egypt has entirely stripped you of all merit. The current state of the SAT in Egypt may be relatively unknown to the outsider, and said outsider will be nothing if not absolutely, entirely astonished with just how laughable it is. Let’s explain how university applications work in Egypt if you study in an American high school.

The Formula:


But before we dive into this malicious formula, we need first to dive into one of its most cancerous components, the “GPA.”

American schools in Egypt have a reputation for grade inflation, justifiably. This is severely exacerbated by how your GPA is calculated if you’re applying to a public university: see, to calculate your “GPA”, you completely ignore your sophomore year grades, like they never even happened. I am entirely serious; they are simply not counted.

So then, in junior year, you have the choice of either taking 3 or 4 subjects. Then, in senior year, you have the choice of either taking 5 or 4 subjects. This gives you a total of 8 subjects. The average of these specific subjects is your GPA. Yes. This is real. They entirely ignore the vast majority of the subjects you take in all of high school, and focus on 8.

This, of course, leads to the natural response of the student to entirely ignore Grade 10, ignore most of Grade 11, and really only focus on about half of Grade 12. The students do not care for their grades outside of the 8 Holy Ones, as I like to call them. For this reason, and the proclivity of most administrations for grade inflation, GPAs are almost always perfect or near it. Let’s not talk about how ridiculous that is for now. Trust me. We will eventually.

So, you might have arrived at the obvious conclusion now. If my GPA is so easily attained, the only part of that formula that really matters is my SAT scores, and most significantly my SAT 1 Score! You would be correct, as this is the main cause of what I like to call “SATmania” in Egypt.

SATmania is the belief that your SAT score defines who you are and you will never live a decent life without a 1400+. This is not unique to Egypt, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s arguably at its worst in Egypt for multiple reasons, such as the non-holistic college applications that place all of the importance on your scores. The other reasons are even more sinister. I guess we have to talk about this now.

The Truth About the Leaks

Egypt is one of, if not the most infamous country for leaking the SAT.

This is no secret, and there are both data and testimony to confirm it. Here is the state of the SAT in Egypt for the past 2 years. I could not get data about leaks from 2016-2017 because I did not witness it firsthand, and so I did not feel it right to comment on it, although I am sure that leaks were rampant even back then.

For 2018: March, October, and December were all leaked. May was also leaked, so they had a makeup test; the makeup test was also leaked. There was not a single unleaked test.

For 2019: May and June (Subject Tests) were both leaked. As for October, it was leaked so widely that the test was canceled for the whole country. March was also leaked, so they had a makeup test; the makeup test was also leaked. The December test went unleaked... learn more about that in NOT FOUND (hey presto!)

For 2020: March was canceled not due to COVID-19 concerns, but because it was leaked. August was canceled not due to COVID-19 concerns, but because it was leaked.

Yes, out of 11 tests (that I have witnessed first-hand), 1 has gone unleaked. Cause for many exasperated sighs, I assure you.

I have to clarify at this point that the reason why it is so widespread is the ease of access. Everyone could get their hands on the leaks simply by calling up rather well-known numbers and paying a sum of money close to around 3,000 dollars at its most exorbitant. Alternatively, you could just wait until someone pays that money and spreads the test everywhere anyway. It’s like an academic Robin Hood... oh wait, no it’s not because Robin Hood wasn’t ruining people’s futures.

If you don’t believe that the leaks have caused massive score inflation over the past few years, then it’s time to go back to our Formula to prove it. We will be tackling the Minimum Cutoff scores to get into Medical School in Mansoura, the major with by far the most demand and most SATmania attached to it (it is, however, second place to Dentistry for the highest overall cutoff). We will be using the previously illustrated formula for public universities.

This is how the cutoff has evolved over the past few years (keep in mind our formula has a maximum of 124%.):

2016 2017 2018 2019
111.188% 114.438% 116.6312% 118.600%

Considering how we already talked about how easily attainable a perfect, or near perfect, GPA is, this is a ghnknjkdfvhbknflsgjnvjnbjkmlvf.

Every year, ts is unsustainable, disgusting, but also comical. It is pure comedy that the administration of the country has let a sizable portion of its future doctors, engineers, and pharmacists get away with daylight robbery.

Oh Egypt, mother of the world. How they’ve defiled you. Wait.

Not Heritage nor Estate

An [unfinished] article on the legacy and history of Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian president.

How do you enslave people when their mothers bore them free?

How do you cope with a world that normalizes, even glorifies brutality and murder? Or do we simply forget?

Are we destined to forever forget the blood that flows through our history? Are we destined to stand and cheer for the tyrant, choreographer of the bloodiest dance? Interminably does the blood of our people surge, easy and cheap. Sold to the lowest bidder: unabashed, inhuman bestiality.

Let’s turn back time, and let us explore the life of the man who ruled me for half of mine. This is the story of the rise and fall of Hosni Mubarak, from modern pharaoh and national icon, to debtor of blood that cannot be washed away.

Born in rural Monufiya, 1928, to an illiterate mother and a courthouse janitor father, Mubarak could hardly be ascribed the title of silver spoon baby. We have to consider the time, the place, and the weight of history upon this tale, for it is only through the realization of past facts that present realities may be reconciled.

The Egyptian citizens were caught in the crossfire of Britain’s colonial rule and the nationalist revolutionaries’ valiant efforts to secure the independence of their beloved homeland long before Mubarak’s birth and childhood. The loveless legacy of our fight for freedom traces further and further back to a paragon, the great Egyptian hero, Ahmed Orabi.

Orabi’s Egypt was one of foreign control and little to speak of when it comes to independence, but it was yet a reign not without its benefits. His impact would have been impossible if not for the rule of Ismail the Magnificent, grandson of the pioneering progenitor of modern Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Ismail shared the ceaseless ambition of his grandfather, prioritizing the modernization of Egypt above all else. Ismail’s philosophy of rule is best understood through his educational background: he had received a European education in Paris, an aspect that no doubt influenced his desire for Egypt to ascend to the same degrees of excellence and culture so ubiquitous to Europe at that time, as he stated:

"My country is no longer in Africa; we are now part of Europe. It is therefore natural for us to abandon our former ways and to adopt a new system adapted to our social condition."

Most relevant to Orabi’s ascendancy, however, was Ismail’s devotion to educational reform. Thousands upon thousands of schools were built, traditional and secondary schools were expanded and modernized, and it was all thanks to the gigantic tenfold increase in education budget that Ismail had so serendipitously made.

Even more pivotal than the elite education that was now possible for all thanks to Ismail were his sustained efforts to break down the barriers between the general public and the ruling, military elite in Egypt. Abolishing the classist access to military rankings exclusive at the time to Egyptians of Balkan, Circassian, and Turkish origin, Ismail laid the foundation for an equal-opportunity Egypt. His aim was simple: create the modern, excellent nation of Egypt, a republic where all citizens, regardless of class or background, can earn the education and recognition that they deserved, and this was Orabi’s ticket to ascendancy.

Ascend he did. Orabi quickly established himself in the military and political climate as the voice of the people. Tensions are on the verge of a great crescendo, and our man of peasant background and boundless commitment will soon be called upon. When the nationalist, independent movement needed a voice, our hero more than delivered, for his voice would go on to spark the uncompromising pursuit of freedom that pervades the eternal Egyptian ethos.

Ismail may have been a charitable reformist, but his tale is analogous to that of the son of Daedalus. In seeking to lead Egypt to the promised land of Europe, to seat himself and his nation amongst the elite, he flew far too close to the sun, and in the end paid the price. Education was not his only project of reform — far from it; he was more than happy to invest and invest for the good of the country. His reforms were incredible, ambitious, and propelled Egypt from virtual obscurity to a cultural, industrial, and urban landmark.

But he had to pay the piper.

National debt to the European superpowers increased by 2900%.

You read that right.

"The national debt rose from £3 million to about £90 million, in a country with 5 million population and an annual treasury revenue of about £8 million."

Ismail’s Egypt was unsustainable.

His debt rose and rose, surpassing £100 million. The European superpowers pounced, demanding concessions by Ismail that reinforced racist and discriminatory laws that directly infringed on the rights of the Egyptian people, such as the mixed courts, where Europeans were tried by judges from their own states, rather than by Egyptian and Sudanese judges.

The ineluctable crisis befell the son of Daedalus. It was deemed by the Superpowers that foreign interference in Egypt’s finances could no longer be delayed, and at once was established the Caisse de la Dette Publique ("Public Debt Commission"), a foreign committee headed by France and Britain to supervise the country’s finances. This could be characterized as the beginning of end for Ismail’s modern Egypt.

As more and more investigations were conducted as to the financial state of Egypt, so did the Superpower’s direct control over the country’s financial affairs dominate, culminating in 1878, where the Magnificent Icarus effectively handed over all control of finance and government to Egypt’s new sovereign, the British Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer.

Sadly, this article remains unfinished. It will be finished in the 2nd volume of this series.


Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do? You know, why do we get up everyday, go to school, study, talk to others, socialize, work, sleep? Why are the everyday happenings of our lives, while oftentimes monotonous and dreadful, so important to us that they can’t be challenged or changed in a significant way? The distinctions between tomorrow and yesterday are barely noticeable, and every day devolves into the same cycle of tasks that have to be arbitrarily completed to reach an arbitrary goal of “satisfaction.”

We’re all players in a game we never knew we entered. A game built to paralyze and shape you in a selective modus where you can’t rebel, can’t challenge. We create parameters for what we can’t understand, for what we can’t predict. I’ll give you an example. As students, we are enamored by the idea of perfection. We are captivated, perhaps trapped by the idea of “success,” one that society has fostered in us as “being the best version of yourself possible.” This mantra of self-improvement only goes as far as the school gates.

We are taught to live reactively. We are taught, get a perfect GPA or perfect SAT, and you’re set for success. Success…? Do you know what success is? We spend all our time searching for this target, yearning for the social acceptance granted by going to a better university or having the highest scores, but have we ever stopped to think about what that word means? Success, worth, perfect, good. These words, nebulous bastards they are, trick us. See, if there was one, unifying definition for success, everyone would be the exact same. There would be no distinctions between us, no unique qualities. We would all be square pegs made to fit in the square holes that were preordained for us. The “smart” kids would do mathematics, and the “dumb” kids would do labor.

This is the idea that is being sold to you, to us. This is the game we’re playing. It’s easy when there are no distinctions. It’s easy when you have parameters, when you have objective measurements that define what the best version of you is. It’s easy when you have metrics that decide whether or not you’re “smart,” “sociable,” “depressed,” or “successful.” You don’t have to think about it if you can just categorize it, do you?

See, we strive to eliminate distinctions. We strive to fit everyone in boxes that may or may not fit them, because it’s easier for all parties involved. It’s easier for you, easier for your parents, easier for society, everyone. Think about this, why is bullying so prominent in society? It’s because we strive to eliminate every distinction that makes others difficult to understand. You don’t have to think about it so hard if you can just label them “nerds” or “sluts” or “dumb jocks.” You don’t have to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, they have something you don’t. That maybe you could learn from them. Because this acknowledgement would mean that you aren’t perfect by society’s standards; it would mean that you admitted your errors and are willing to change; it would mean that everything is unpredictable and we can’t control anyone.

We created these parameters because we’re afraid of the chaos that belies our lives.

We’re afraid to acknowledge that we could just drop dead any second, or have a terminal illness, or our building could collapse, because then all of our work would have meant nothing. We’re afraid to acknowledge that the “stupid” artist pursuing their dreams can end up a multi-millionaire while we work 12 hour shifts so we can feel good that we’re called doctors. We’re afraid to acknowledge that maybe the jock who’s risking his future on football isn’t just a “misguided idiot,” but simply has the courage to take a risk and do something great that we can’t do.

Because that would mean the work we put in trying to control our lives to achieve the best possible scenario of “success” would be completely shattered. It would mean the game has no real winners. It would mean admitting that fear paralyzed you.

This fear of the unknown is what drives us to try to control everything.

Ironically enough, our need to control is exactly what controls us. It’s exactly what shackles, chains us, prevents us from achieving what we actually want to achieve. What happens when you start asking a square peg to fit in a round hole? What happens when you start demanding of someone to be something that they’re not?

In Egypt, you have already been quantified the moment you walk inside those school gates. You’re a doctor, an engineer, or a failure. That’s the problem with words like “success” and “failure.” They hypnotize us into thinking that any of this matters. They trick us into a state of stagnation and ignorance.

We’ve never actually thought about what we want to do, and why we want to do it. We’re trapped. None the wiser, we venture on this path of eventual individual disintegration and homogeneity.

Eventually, the school gates will be a distant dream. Everything we were sold, whether it be the idea of success or legacy, will be revealed for what it truly is: the quantifiable effort we wasted reacting to what others wanted us to be. It is because we yearn to quantify, to control, and to minimize mental discomfort that our GPAs and our SATs are so important to us. I may have gotten a good SAT score, and that may be impressive in a technical sense, but what am I doing? What did I do this entire time? I was reacting. I wasn’t reaching out to who I am. I wasn’t exploring what I actually wanted to. I was living in the world of the arbitrary, and the free world eluded me…

But I think there is a way out.

To be continued.

An Educational Revolution

A message to my school.

We have accepted mediocrity. We have embraced stagnation. Our so-called academic institutions foster environments not of scholarly dedication but of withering talents and inexorable erosion of the mind. When we take ourselves for jokes, we shouldn’t be surprised when others take us the same way. To examine the reasons for why we have devolved as such would be futile, for what was, was. Instead, let us wake up and look to ourselves. Wake up and realize the fragility of this status quo. We are living in denial because we do not yet realize the consequences of our ignorance.

In the short-term, it seems that everything is going relatively well. It seems that nothing catastrophic is developing. But what we are promoting is academic impotence, a pure and unadulterated disdain for evolution. That is not how a business succeeds. That is not how we achieve excellence. There will always be echoes before a revolution, and your job is to notice them. Our goal is to capitalize on the greatest possible resource: potential.

But lest I get carried away, let us go back to basics. The very beginning..

What is the definition of “education?”

The modern definition of "education" could not be more archaic. I do not mean archaic in terms of time, but in terms of obsolescence.

"The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university."

This definition is restrictive, robotic, and most importantly, it is without heart. The mechanical rhythm of education lulls the masses into a peaceful, but rather destructive slumber. It is a process we have seen time and time again: every novel and revolutionary idea is to be diluted into its most efficiently reproducible attributes.

This process is exemplified elegantly by the modern education system, which has completely displaced the original ideals of seeking truth and self-actualization with factory-like mass production. By making education so accessible to the masses, we have forgotten what made us educate ourselves to begin with: individual self-actualization. So when we try to appeal to the greatest possible average with our education system, we end up eliminating individuality and never capitalizing on the full potential of our students.

With that in mind, here is the definition I propose:

An education is a means to endow students with the knowledge and experience necessary to achieve their full potential in their desired fields.

Let’s go forth with the assumption my definition is correct, and continue breaking it down:

The first item is “The Means”

The means by which an education is carried out can be defined as the tools at our disposal to teach. Be it school, lectures, lessons, or websites not dissimilar to Khan Academy. It is the structure itself that houses the knowledge we aim to enrich students with.

The second item is “The Knowledge and Experience”

The knowledge endowed by an education is self-explanatory. It has to be derived from experts, scholars, academics. We cannot allow students to learn from people who understand less than they do. This is the core of an education. The experience would best be defined as the attitude we instill in our students, one of diligence and strength in the face of obstacles.

The third item is "The Potential"
This is the student’s sole responsibility: to showcase how much they can benefit from the knowledge we provide them; to show the world their greatest strengths, to show the world they can overcome their greatest weaknesses, and above all achieve self-actualization and become a wholly unique, self-dependent being.

The fourth and final item is “Desired Fields”

This simply means our ability to provide our students with the options they choose to pursue. Whatever the field, we should aim to provide our prospective students with the resources they need to achieve their best possible self.

These are the items I have used to judge an education’s quality. The four items, MKPD, can be used as a grade for our Egyptian education. Let’s use a simple grading system of 1-10, where 1 is absolutely dire and 10 is absolutely excellent.

The Means
Grade: 1/10

Our means are deficient. Our schools, classes, and “lessons” foster an atmosphere of severe ignorance and chaotic indiscipline. None of our classes inspire focus, and at this point I fear we are causing more harm than good by letting our students rot in this echo chamber of incompetence.

The Knowledge
Grade: 1/10

Our knowledge is, again, deficient. We derive our knowledge not from experts and academics, but from amateurs at best. Our teachers need not be taught their field of expertise, but they need to be better trained in how to convey that knowledge. All too often, we see teachers who are incompetent in the art of teaching and conveyance itself. It leads to many, too many of our students failing to realize the beauty of academia. The teacher is the greatest method of inspiration. We are not inspired by medicine, but doctors. We need to make better use of our teachers as paragons that incentivize education.

The Potential
Grade: Unknown.

Our potential is dormant. We have no method for recognizing it, no method for growing it, no method for utilizing it. Our biggest objective should be to provide the best possible environment for the growth of our prospective students. We should be giving them the treatment they can’t get anywhere else, because in doing so they will make us proud, and by extension make the school’s name more and more prestigious.

The Desired Fields
Grade: 1/10

This is a country that has turned into a vacuum for non-platitude driven action. We glorify the doctors and engineers and are then surprised when we have a severely deficient work-force. We once again foster an environment of regression by reducing the sciences, arts, athletics, and every other academic field to simply medicine and engineering. In conclusion, this country is now, in effect, a living insult to education and academia. We need to wake up.

Gaze into the Glib

You know what I’ve found? You always sound smarter when you’re asking the questions. There are no expectations of he who asks, only of he who answers. He who answers has a certain duty he has to live up to: he should be erudite, keen, and impartial.

That’s why it’s such a good technique to start an essay by asking a question: you are simultaneously giver and receiver. You are asking the question; therefore, you incite no expectations. By virtue of logical inference that the reader is reading an essay, you plan on answering that question too; therefore, you’re setting up that expectation for the reader while keeping it ambiguous and intriguing. Maybe you don’t have the answers they’re looking for. Maybe you do.

Writing has always been about expectations, hasn’t it? How certain words incite certain expectations, how new paragraphs incite certain expectations, etc. Every letter, sentence, paragraph is a tool by which you can manage the expectations of the reader so as to properly convey your points.

Conveyance. Now that’s what separates the good from the great. Both in writing and speaking, actually. You can talk a lot, and perhaps very eloquently, without having much to say at all. It’s a skill unto itself: the art of the glib. This entire essay was inspired by that very art. Did I properly convey that, or was I too glib? Not glib enough? This is getting ever so tangential. What does this have to do with Egypt?

There’s a certain opiate that is being fed to the masses here. Not a physical one, obviously, more of a mind trick. A rather ingenious technique used by, well, all sorts of institutions that really should not be named. See, these institutions have realized the same thing you and I did: asking questions makes you sound smart. Answering them is too lofty. So, if these institutions are ever asked any questions, their response is to ask a tangentially related question.

Whenever you attempt to question their practices, they always answer in kind with this particular deflection. Here’s an example of an experience I had at school: I was talking with administration about, you know, administering higher level courses to higher level students. Their response: "What about the lower level kids? What are you gonna do about them?"

Well... what about them? What about them, indeed? What does that... what? Isn’t it quite insane? It deflects the expectations entirely. It flips the game on its head. It is the very pinnacle of glib. Now the spotlight is on me to somehow set up those expectations again. This is what I now dub a "glib-off." Every conversation with a high ranking administrator is a glib-off. They have no interest in conveying any larger points, but have the greatest interest in deflecting your larger points.

These glib-offs almost always end in stalemates. Neither side actually contributes anything of worth as the original questioner is usually sedated in a state of glib-consciousness where they start to question if their question ever had any value to begin with. That’s the opiate that institutions love to produce.

They are ecstatic with these stalemates, but we have to realize this. Smarter, more productive people who pose forward-thinking, proactive ideas fall into this trap and suffer through drawn-out glib-offs born from the very need to silence their proactivity. They get sucked into the vapid vortex until they forget their proactivity entirely. It turns to apathy.

When you talk with these institutional walls, do not engage with them in a glib-off... for whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

And if you gaze long enough into the glib, the glib gazes back into you.

How Many Special People

How many special people change? How many visionaries lose their way? Am I staying true and honest to myself?

What even is “myself”?

I find myself exploring these questions, wondering why I just can’t seem to understand aspects of myself and my dreams.

The environment we’ve fostered in my country has failed my generation. It’s an environment of complacency, mediocrity, and worst of all, isolation. We are victims to these walls we’ve built around each other, ones we built because we’re so scared of ourselves. We’re so scared to learn what is truly out there outside our comfort zones. We’re so scared to realize what we could be missing. These walls have distorted our minds; they’ve made us terrified of what we don’t know, terrified of the possibility of failure.

Lost in the distorted landscape of these ideas, where fear and ignorance reign supreme and none of us know the “right” way to go, we struggle to reconcile aspects of ourselves and others that seem alien to us, aspects that could make us fly above everything we thought impossible a moment ago. We are all resigned to our minds, isolated from that which could elevate us. I may not know much, but I know one thing.

I know that there is a light that never goes out. I know that no matter how supreme ignorance reigns, no matter how high these walls get, no matter how terrified I am of failure, there is a light that never goes out. Beyond these walls, there lies this light: the light of truth. There lies the light of understanding. I have to reach out to that light. Not just I, we have to reach out to that light. We have to break down the walls. We have to show people that it is not only okay, it is human to be flawed. It is human to fail. We cannot truly understand ourselves and those around us if we fear the truth that might evolve us. I know that no matter how dim the light of truth gets, I still have to reach out to it with all my strength. I know that no matter how many times I fail, I will wake up the next day and reach out to it again.

That is what I want to inspire. I want to show to the world that no one is alone in their pursuit of understanding. No one is alone in their pursuit of that which will outlive them. No one should have to be broken down to pieces, to be reviled for their identity. Mental health and personal growth are inextricably linked, and therefore the progress of society is thusly bound; our world hasn’t been paying attention. Our world hasn’t been paying attention to the schizophrenic, the depressed, the bipolar, the cyclothymic, the anxious, the traumatized.

Isolated, reviled, stigmatized for their conditions, they are left to suffer alone in their own pursuit of understanding, and this neglect will have consequences: it results not merely in the extinguishing of individual potential, but it impairs the flowering of a society as a whole, for ‘a nation is only an individual multiplied,’ as Mark Twain so astutely observed.

The perception of mental health has to change, and we have to start paying attention. We have to start the conversation, to reach out to what we don’t understand. I won’t stop until these walls have been torn down. I won’t stop until the mentally ill are no longer vilified. I won’t stop until I understand myself, and until my fellow man can understand himself no matter his identity.

We do it together. We start the conversation on the human mind, on identity, on progress together.

Where will you be when we tear down the walls?

Cognitive Dissonance


The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

As people, we tend to strive for internal consistency. We thrive on routine, and we wither in chaos. When our actions are at odds with our thoughts, it leads to dissonance, a feeling of mental discomfort. As such, man strives to actively engage and attack his dissonance using any number of tools at his disposal: if he feels a sense of ontological dread, he might take up a new religion; if he feels a lack of social validation, he might reshape his personality or appearance to fit the mold around him…etc.

The crux of the matter is that it is how cognitive dissonance is addressed that determines the direction of the individual’s psyche and society’s direction. That is, if the dissonance (say, between a believed "fact" or a position held, and the encountering of starkly conflicting information) is resolved by changing one’s belief to comport with reality, progress is made in a healthy way; this requires courage, a sturdy self-image, an open mind, a willingness to be perceived as imperfect or (wrongly) weak.

If, on the other hand, one of the many non-rational responses is deployed, such as willful blindness, feigned ignorance, active denial/lying, attacking the messenger, subject-changing, evasion, goalpost moving, etc., the immediate conflict is "resolved," but one step has been taken down the path to both self-destruction and societal regression.

When this fundamentally dishonest reaction occurs, it is observed by others and implicitly validated as a legitimate coping mechanism and even as a righteous defense to a perceived attack (by the messenger who is, fundamentally, merely revealing truth). When this is elevated to a societal/cultural behavior that is accepted and expected, the society is doomed, as reality always has its say in the end.

This is ultimately a question of how man interacts with the world around him. Our natural expectations of the world are inherently unrealistic, as the universe ebbs and flows with an orderly disorder that goes against the internal consistency we strive to reach as people. The world does not understand nor does it care to understand the nebulous feelings we presume to be “happiness,” “internal consistency,” or “satisfaction.” Beyond reason and comprehension lie the external forces that govern our fates…

And where reason fails, dissonance prevails.

Where a society’s fundamental base is dominated by an obsessive need to quantify that which should be unquantifiable, chaos is the only victor, listlessness runs amok, and an inevitable erosion of thought occurs.

Identifying the Intellectual Erosion of a Nation

An old speech.

In the past decade, there can be no question that our country’s values and standards both for excellence and morality have massively regressed. There can be no question that ignorance, nepotism, corruption, and mediocrity now course through this country’s veins as if a tumor that has metastasized and spread to create an aching body ravaged by the numerous ethical crimes committed by those in power, and the marked preference of the general public to simply let it go as if nothing happened.

Why are we ever so dismissive of the sociological viruses we promote in our everyday lives? Why are we ever so keen to lower ourselves to the worst possible standard? There can be no question that we have failed, and that our societal fabric is completely torn.

Let’s consider as an example the farce that is the SAT business in Egypt. One of the many illustrated failures of our society to quell an ethical crime when we witness it. We have normalized cheating, leaking, stealing illegal documents, reducing our future generation’s future to a piece of paper, but most terribly, we have normalized a complete disregard for quality in our education. We let parents, who are too ignorant and uneducated for their own good, support thieves, who take advantage of the legal system’s complete indifference to crime, and it ultimately leads to a severe academic impotence in our students, who are just as ignorant as their parents.

How do you accept this? How do you let this be the fate of your children, of your future, of your legacy? You, as the parent, actually consider your child so inadequate that you have to buy them a test. You, as the legal system, actually let education devolve into an auction for illegal documents and crime to prosper. You, as the student, actually have so little self worth or self respect that you put your future in the hands of a measly piece of paper. Do you have no shame? Do you have no thought with which to condemn that which is so obviously, malignantly wrong? Not just in front of society, but in front of yourself, you have reduced yourself to nothing by submitting your fate to the whims of a thief.

And we let it slide. It festers, grows, and eventually takes over education and reduces us to a joke in the global landscape. We are the most infamous nation when it comes to test-taking on the global scale, the most ridiculed, humiliated, berated. This is the meaning of a sociological virus. It is an ethical crime that is not stigmatized at its conception, that is not condemned at its happening so much so that it leads to a parasitic devolution of our standards and our system.

Not only is this approach ethically abhorrent, it’s so terribly wrong and shortsighted.

You, as the parent, are setting your child up for perpetual failure by engendering in them a preference for cheating and lack of effort into anything they want to pursue. You, as the legal system, are setting your country up for perpetual embarrassment by letting illegal multi-million pound economies spring up from nowhere and not containing them. You, as the student, are setting yourself up for perpetual failure by accepting your own mediocrity and not seeking to better yourself.

This unethical, ignorant approach bleeds into all aspects of our economy and society. We are promoting the death of thought. We are promoting the death of democratic discourse, intellectual freedom, self-actualization, and prosperity.

Should we really be wondering why our leaders are incompetent and corrupt, why our work force is deficient, why our healthcare is deficient, why our legal system is deficient, why our global reputation is disgraceful... when the root has been staring at us from the very beginning?

Our cultural readiness to accept ignorance and immorality will be the ultimate downfall of our society if we let it continue. We need to start the conversation. We need to identify our cognitive shortcomings and address them. Revolution won’t come through replacing the current system, but it will come through fixing it. It will come through making every effort to reflect and embody the standards we want others to have. We can change: through educating others to the highest possible standard, through promoting freedom of thought and intellectual discourse, through showing the world that this once great country is still what it once was…

What we need is thorough self-reflection of all our wrongs up until now. What we need is empathy and understanding that we have been imperfect. We need to study every possible economic, sociological, political reason that caused this downfall, for this is our duty to our country as its loyal constituents and harbingers of its future. We are harbingers lost in the dark, waiting for Godot. The intellectual walls we have built have shrouded the truth, leaving us to our dissonant demise.

Let’s start asking questions so we can start fixing problems.

Begin with yourself. Hold yourself to a higher standard. You are the reflection of your country.


Have you noticed this trend lately?
Pain is a constant. Self-loathing seems to be a given. A certain apathy pervades our everyday lives: like dead men scrapping merely to experience the same minutiae until their inevitable demise. Our bodies get bigger, but our hearts get torn up.

As a student, I was always captivated by the idea of "perfection": the "model" student, the consistently excellent, the one who does no wrong. My idea was that the model student could never make a mistake: the icon that upheld moral values and represented the far-reaching benefits of academia with a demeanor both effortless and calculated. He was the one destined to change the world with his values and integrity.

But what if changing the world was never about this proposed idea of “perfection”? See, it was easy for all of us to live in a world where academia only went as far as the school gates; where the paragon’s flag rises high from 7am till 3 in the afternoon. It was an established framework with an arbitrary measure for success: a game.

We were told we couldn’t succeed unless we played this game; that integrity meant following steps ABC to the letter. We couldn’t stand a chance unless we fit in our preordained holes.

And yet we stand. We show up everyday to protest this groupthink opiate, this distorted worldview. We show up everyday to explore the strange world beyond these lies. We show up because seeking our own truth is the only thing that matters to us.

And what if that’s what changing the world entails? Not budging on who you are no matter the circumstances, showing up day in, day out? Being there, pursuing your true self no matter how many times you’re told you don’t belong?

So what really is "perfection"? I think that it’s about showing up: this uncompromising pursuit of the world beyond the "everyday,” beyond the obligations of possibility.

I can’t keep my eyes closed anymore. I know there is a world beyond the facade, and that’s where you’ll find me.

Cascade: δ, The Death of Scene Strife

In a word, unquantifiable. We agreed to meet up after she was done with uni for the day, me bringing her the usual green tea and myself a simple water bottle. People would stare at us; I never understood why, but she chalked it up to jealousy at the fact that she had next to her, and I quote, "the most esteemed student in this state’s history!"

I wanted to ask her for advice on my college application essays; after all, no one understood me better. "You always figure something out in the end. That’s what makes you, well, you. I’m sure you’ll be fine. You need to stop worrying so much about every little thing. It’s making you miserable."

"The self-proclaimed next Sylvia Plath shouldn’t talk to me about misery," I replied.

"Yet the self-proclaimed next Mark Twain can obsess over his future and how to control every aspect of it? You know that goes against your ’Twainism,’ right? Truth is stranger than fiction, blah blah, it is unbound by possibilities!"

She had a point. In considering my life up until then, I realized that most pivotal to my actualization were not my plans and my micromanagement of everything around me, but instead the unforeseeable spirals that took me places I never even knew I wanted to go to. What if I hadn’t decided to join that silly book club on a whim? I never would have met her, still in her senior year with me in my sophomore year. She came into my life and flipped everything on its head. All my plans and thoughts meant nothing in the face of the great chaos she represented, the great shift she embodied.

Meeting her was like waking up to the idiosyncrasies of the world and realizing I wasn’t singled out. That people like us existed, so anomalous, so alien, had always baffled me. She had lived her life with an aura of reconciliation: she had accepted her distinctions, not only, she was empowered by them. The free world had eluded me, but it had embraced her. My distinctions had disgusted me, but hers had freed her, unshackled her to reach her full potential.

I knew I needed to reach out to that free world; to reach out to my truth; to show people that anomalies like us exist.

Without her, I never would have reached out to that doctor I ended up shadowing for months.

Without her, I never would have started writing my piece on cognitive dissonance and social corruption in our education and country.

Without her, I never would have bothered with any of this. I had a thought then.

"Now what? Where do we go from here?"

"Can’t you appreciate how impressive this is? The portrait we’re painting, the paths we’re crossing, the truths we’re witnessing. Can you really describe this storm to a stranger?"

"In a word, unquantifiable."

"You’ll be fine. You always find the way out. I’ll catch you later, okay?"

"Same time tomorrow."

By the time I was home, it was 7pm. My mom gave me my pills: risperidone, xanax, and some SSRIs. My body felt heavy, but my head felt light. There was no tomorrow. In a second, my Sylvia Plath with the green tea had faded.

Everything made a little more sense.

Waking up, I felt desolate. With these pills, it feels like the life is sucked out of you as you descend into emptiness. I knew it was the right thing to do, and no matter how much it hurt I had to keep going. I had to find meaning.

I couldn’t live with myself if I stopped the pursuit I started. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t reach out to the truth. The path to my truth may be circuitous, painful, and frustrating, but it is only by surpassing my own limits that I can reach the free world. I will live freely, caught beneath the landslide of chaos.

I didn’t see Sylvia the next day, and that’s okay. I didn’t see her the day after, either.

Truth is transient, and freedom is fleeting, but I always find the way out, don’t I?

The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed...

The silent voice within one's heart whispers the most profound wisdom...

End of Disc 2, Part 1

I can't get my mind out of those memories...

Now time to tell them, "Don't take my dream"...

Still music keeps on turning me from the words that hurt my soul,

Removing doubts from my mind...