Cooler Lumpur 2015

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July 5, 2015 by Wayne.

I did a very comprehensive post on Cooler Lumpur last year, but this time around it was pretty disappointing. I’ve consequently decided to go with a simple summary of my major takeaways from Saturday (I missed most of Sunday).


  • There’s a fear of information amongst Malaysians and a selective bias to filter out all real information that actually makes you think. In essence, Malaysians fear things that could challenge their values and belief system. Consequently, original thought isn’t greatly valued.
  • A black and white education system lays the foundation for a mindset of finding the “right” side of an issue and sticking with confirmation bias from that point on.
  • While there’s a disconnect between a questioning youth and the traditional, older generation (particularly in Eastern countries), there are also young people who lean towards extreme ideology. Reactionary perhaps?
  • Are tribalism and hate innate to us? Paul Bloom’s studies appear to suggest that these traits don’t exist in babies, but babies don’t grow up in isolation. In practice, inescapable societal pressures are fundamentally indistinguishable from innate traits.
  • Perhaps the fear of the unknown, coupled with the evolutionary drive towards in-out groups, are part and parcel of human nature, but societal forces are needed to elevate it to full-on hatred.
  • Fear is often much worse than reality. In terms of writing in fear, what do we really face in Malaysia, compared to other countries? Fear should not stop the pen.

  • There’s not a lot of overlap between the critics and creators of theatre in the UK and USA. In comparison, there’s plenty of overlap in Malaysia.
  • The duty of a critic isn’t to deliver to the creator, but to the experience of the audience. Reviewers act as the conduit between creator and consumer.
  • What are the core principles to have criticism and the underlying art form both move forward? Suggested: the criticism has to be lasting, free of value judgment, and able to add to the conversation between author and audience.
  • Criticism is relative and the benchmarks are constantly shifting.
  • There is a fundamental instinct to describe tastes and interests, and criticism is this need taken to its highest form.
  • The difference between Goodreads/Amazons feelings-based “reviews” and true criticism is that criticism aims to contextualize the work.
  • Each piece of criticism should be written as a good, everlasting piece in itself.

  • Some poems exist best in only one specific form.

  • Fucking hell, the number of pretentious pricks in this room is incredible
  • Cooler Lumpur feels substantially more boring and lightweight than last year’s edition – moderators don’t reign in discussions, a lot of the speakers are very dull, and no one is willing to go beyond the lowest-hanging fruit
  • Delay YNAB purchase until the end of the sale, see if it goes up
  • May Ping

  • No talk of sexuality as a spectrum. Still the best talk though.

  • Revolution in India – see Love Commandos
  • There tends to be focus on gay marriage rather than the broader gay rights. Marriage creates inequality, by giving power to the state to confer visitation rights etc
  • The English-speaking urban middle class is very tiny. The people in this room aren’t representative of the country at large. Our aspirations may be relatively progressive and liberal, but they won’t necessarily be the ones that drive society. So how do we reach people outside the room? Figure out how to mobilize in smaller groups to start conversations, then expand to larger networks to reach across the divide.
  • Are people comfortably talking about sex? Where is the appropriate resource for sex-positive material?
  • No talk of clash between over-sexualization and conservatism until the end
  • Homophobia is not medical, it’s systemic. The patriarchy feeds into homophobia.

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