When white is not white

So why is white good while black is bad? Why do we say ‘we have seen the light’ when something good happens to us, such as we have ‘seen’ God? And why is everything bad associated with black? Black-hearted. Black market. Black death (the plague). Black period in history. Black Friday. Black sheep of the family. Black eye. Black out. Pot calling the kettle black. Black mark. And so on.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I never know how my days are going to start or end. In fact, while I know how my life started, I really do not know how and when it is going to end either. I suppose that is the spice of life. If everything is laid before us in clear and precise details then there is really no more point in continuing, is there?

It is like how I am going to start this article. I am not even sure if I do want to write any article today. I just opened my Microsoft Word and stared at this blank sheet of paper. Of course, it is not really a piece of paper in the physical sense. It is more like an electronic paper. But then is this not where the world is heading — towards an electronic world?

I have probably four or five bookshelves of books, physical books printed on paper. Since mid-last year, though, I have stopped buying physical books. If I continue buying books I will also have to buy a new house, as there is no longer any room to store all my books. My books from merely two months detention in Kamunting alone are already one van-load. 

Anyway, paper-based books are so yesterday. Today we read electronic books and I have already accumulated almost 1,000 electronic books, which I store on my Kindle, of which I have thus far read maybe only 25 or so. Hence I have a long way to go and I was told there are millions of e-books available. So I am going to run out of breath before I run out of books to read.

The same goes for my music. I am constantly ‘surrounded’ by music, even when I read or write. I start my day quite predictably by booting up my Mac. Then I go to my favourite radio station, Magic 105.4, London’s favourite radio station — or at least that’s what the sweet voice of the DJ keeps telling us.

In a way music influences my mood for the day. Sometimes, when I am in an aggressive mood, I want to listen to rock music. When I feel slightly mellow I listen to Magic 105.4. I mainly listen to the rock stations that play 1960s music by Grand Funk, Uriah Heep, Santana, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly, Jethro Tull, and the 200 or so bands and singers of ‘my generation’. And to make sure I get the best in sound, I play them on my Bose speakers and turn my workroom into a disco minus the flashing lights and fog machine.

Anyway, here I am facing a blank sheet of white paper and still not sure what I am going to write about today. Okay, the ‘paper’ is not quite paper in the dead tree manner of speaking but more like a plain page of my Microsoft Word. Nevertheless, it is still a plain white page.

And why do we call it a plain white page? Well, that is because there is nothing on it. If it were filled with letters, words, numbers, or graphics, then it would no longer be a plain white page. So what does ‘plain white’ mean then? What do we understand by the phrase ‘plain white’?

Plain white means absence — the absence of letters, words, numbers, graphics, etc. When things are absent then we call it plain white. Hence when there is nothing we call it plain white. Hence, also, plain white is what is meant by nothing.

And white can only be seen when there is light. If there is no light we cannot see white and white would become black.

Hence white is white only because of the presence of light. In the absence of light white will turn to black. If you were put into a pitch-dark room with zero light penetration where you cannot even see your hand in front of your nose and you were given a plain white sheet of paper could you see that white paper? The plain white sheet of paper would become invisible although it exists and you are actually holding it.

Hence white does not exist. White is only what you see when there is light. What exists is black. And light also does not exist. Light is merely the absence of darkness. Hence when darkness is absent then light exists and because light exists then white would also exist, which would not exist otherwise if the darkness does not allow the light in.

White, therefore, is what you see in the absence of darkness. Therefore, also, darkness exists while white does not.

So why is white good while black is bad? Why do we say ‘we have seen the light’ when something good happens to us, such as we have ‘seen’ God? And why is everything bad associated with black? Black-hearted. Black market. Black death (the plague). Black period in history. Black Friday. Black sheep of the family. Black eye. Black out. Pot calling the kettle black. Black mark. And so on.

Honestly, black is not ugly. Black is beautiful. So why associate everything bad with black?

Black is beautiful

Anyway, yesterday an insurance agent phoned me and asked for a minute of my time but took 30 minutes instead. This agent wanted to discuss the prospects of me buying life insurance. I am 62 so he suggested I should start thinking of my family’s future in the event I suddenly died.

That got my thinking. What if I bought a RM1 million policy so that if anything happened to me my wife would be taken care of? But then, if I were worth RM1 million dead, would that not tempt my wife to bump me off because I would then be worth more dead than alive? And one should never tempt one’s wife with such notions.

No, maybe a RM250,000 policy should suffice.

The insurance agent then worked out the cost of the premium and because I sometimes smoked cigars the premium would come to quite a bit (even with the one or two cigars a month that I smoked). It seems the brand and quality of the cigars did not affect the premium at all. Now that is downright unjust.

I asked him how much I would need to pay, say, if I took a 15-year policy — and over that 15 years I would need to fork out almost RM150,000 in all. What happens if I survived till way past 77? Well, then that RM150,000 would be money down the drain. I get nothing. My wife can only collect RM250,000 if I died before 2027. And I must not die within the first year. I can only die from the second year onwards.

In other words, if I died next year, then will we make a gross profit of RM250,000 on an investment of only RM9,000. If I did not die, then we lose RM150,000. So the profit would be in dying quick and not in living long.

Hmm… you lose when you win and you win when you lose. I told the insurance agent I would need to think about it first. He then told me they can insure me until age 90 and that there would be a very good chance I will die before I am 90 as most people in England never live past 90.

Ah, yes, but this insurance agent has probably never heard of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Anyway, I if I take a 28-year policy that expires at age 90 and I still do not die till past 90 I would have to blow about RM250,000 or so on a RM250,000 insurance policy.

This was starting to become even more unattractive. Anyway, I decided instead to allow fate to decide what happens and jumped into my car to drive to Liverpool to join my friends for a jam session and to pick up my new (second-hand) drum set.

The problem, now, though, is that I do not feel like writing anything today because I can’t wait to whack my drums to Santana playing in the background.

Sigh…why is life so complicated? Well, never mind, maybe I can go drumming and write my article tomorrow instead. At least today you do not need to read any cheong hei article from me.

My ‘new’ second-hand drum set

The jam session in Liverpool last night