My corporate job, insomnia and Noam Chomsky…

This is a post-birthday self-reflection inspired by a recent Twitter game:

Post a picture of you from 2012 and 2017 and see how much you’ve changed.

While for privacy discretion I couldn’t participate, it did bring back some fond memories from back in 2013/4, that’s some time after I left Kyoto for a return to the standard civilian course of life…

In a hope-filled April, my first corporate job started.

I fought tooth and nail for that placement and envisioned in a life ahead as a devoted corporate warrior – a strong, powerful career woman. There is something I’ll always remember like it was yesterday: choosing my first suits at T.M.Lewin (I still have them). I felt so empowered and strong like never before in my ‘power woman uniform’. It was one of those moments that brings such clarity and purpose; a moment when you are so sure in your life about who you are, what you want, and how you plan to achieve it.

Six months later, I quit.

My headspace at that moment was busy trouble-shooting on my plan board trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work. Big corporate job had its moments (and reinforced my belief in hard work and consistency), but it is not a lifestyle that lifts me (or arguably anyone around me) up as a person.

Amongst those stress and confusion, I started to lose sleep. My mind was locked up in a silent room, and the only way to get out was to solve a math problem with perfectly demonstrated evidence to prove the answer. In that sense, it was self-induced torture from a weary perfectionist beaten down by the discrepancy between her ideal and the reality.

That’s when I started to listen to Chomsky’s talks and debates on YouTube. His style and wisdom aside, Chomsky has this magically sleep-inducing voice, even in his very early recordings when he’s young. For me, for a long time, in that state of deep stress, Chomsky has been the only way I could relax and sleep. The downside of that was I never got the end of those long videos, because his voice and what he says was so logically smoothing like a drug, I felt safe and that it’s okay to rest a little and sleep.

A couple of videos I recommend if you’re losing sleep at the moment:

On Propaganda:

On The Political Economy of the Mass Media:

I revisited my affection for Chomsky recently with a Swedish-American gentleman watching his documentary on Netflix: Requiem for the American Dream. It hit me really hard I dug up all his interviews and debates some of which I recommend if you have a background or interest in American Studies (media, history & politics )…

With Lawrence Krauss (2015)

With Christopher Hitchens (1995)

1985 Lecture Introduced by Bernie Sanders

* it’s also interesting to look into the small ‘feud’ between Chomsky and Sam Harris about the Just Cause and problematising the value of intentions 😉

Although Laurence Krauss, the Hitch, Bernie, and Sam Harris all have a special place in my heart, Chomsky is someone I keep coming back to as I grow older – each time I learn plenty of new things… especially when I watch or talk about him with other people, it helps me understand the person in front of me, unlearn the good/bad binary and put every idea in a multidimensional map in relation to all the rest we know… Each of their stances is good at understanding a particular spectrum of things and can be problematic elsewhere; just like our own very limited self…

At the end of this rambling reflection, I’m feeling grateful and humbled by the turbulence happened so far in my life, and the connections it brought me in meeting like-minded people and having this particular situated position where I am. It’s about 2 am now, I’m still up, but this is the happy kind of insomnia 🙂

* American history and politics aren’t the most familiar waters for me, my home field is East Asian history and politics, who are your favourites? 😉


Until we meet…

One thought on “My corporate job, insomnia and Noam Chomsky…

  1. Jeff says:

    It takes courage to leave the corporate world, the insecurities of not having corporate benefits, career options and so forth.

    But you strike a chord, as someone who envisaged being an artist but ended up an engineer, it’s rare that a corporation lifts you. They only lift you to extract more, expect more and then cadence you as to why you are not meeting higher expectations. They oust people when share prices don’t meet street expectations, bring in new people who know less than those ousted, and start the cycle all over again.

    Corporations these days are fast becoming revolving doors for careers, which are diminishing by the day as logarithms replace many professionals in the rise of the machines

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