All Sections

How to Buy What You Can't Buy

December 26 / Linus L.

It's been nearly two years since I gathered a ragtag group of friends in a local coffee shop to start a website called Cafe Avant-Garde. Over the last two years, both from here and outside, I've learned more than I ever thought I would. And while I'd love to be reinvigorated to keep looking for writers and keep writing on this site, I also feel the need to move on and look for even bigger, even more exciting ways to try to make something of myself and make an impact on the world. So with this post, I'm closing down Cafe Avant-Garde. The site will be up for the 2017 calendar year, and then I'll do something with it (I don't know yet). But when I do, and on where I go next, I'll try to keep you all updated. In the meanwhile, thanks for reading. You made my year. And with that, here's my last post, on why I find it so important to keep writing, and help as many people write, and become better writers.

How to Fix Polarization in Politics

December 11 / Jongjin P.

There are a lot of negative things that many politicians tried to falsely spew during this election, from crime rates to murder rates to effects of immigration to effects of the Affordable Care Act. And despite all the positive claims that the candidates will unify the nation/their political party, polarization has been greater than ever. According to a July 16th, 2016 Washington Post article, 4 in 10 people in their political party say the other party’s policies are misguided and a threat to the nation. According to the Pew Research Center, “More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them “afraid,” while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party.” The nation is divided...

A Criticism of Christopher Nolan: Characterless Character

Dec 2 / Jongjin P.

Christopher Nolan is a genius in a very literal sense: “a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative.” That statement isn’t my thesis statement or what I’m trying to argue against, but it is a statement that needs to be acknowledged for the sake of the following discussion. These days, every filmmaker is trying to elevate cinema with the thinking that advancing the medium of films is using advanced technology. George Lucas, someone who was helmed as a creative, innovative genius of his time, was harshly criticized for using green screens in subsequent Star Wars movies. James Cameron, the filmmaker known for classics such as Aliens...

The Finite Infinity of Virtual Reality

November 21 / Jongjin P..

Computers, social media sites, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches. The advancement of technology has been growing more and more with the creations of more and more technology being used by more and more people. The question Silicon Valley faces is, “What’s next?” For Oculus and Mark Zuckerberg, the answer is simple: virtual reality (and maybe artificial intelligence afterwards). The goal of virtual reality is simple: to immerse you in a different world. When you put on the ...

Will to Belief

November 12 / Jongjin P.

The will to power is a concept founded by philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. He describes the will to power as the main driving force in humans - our intrinsic need for achievement, ambition, and striving to reach the top. In short, this concept describes our willingness to reach that “state of power.” Some may disagree as to whether or not this will to power is the main driving force in humans, but it cannot be denied that we are all determined to do something or to be in a certain position in life...

Awareness vs. Action

November 6 / Jongjin P.

On April 18, 2016, The Sympathizer*, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, won the 2016 Fiction Pulitzer Prize. To characterize the book, Nguyen himself writes in a The New York Times article, "The Hidden Scars All Refugees Carry,"** Many people have characterized my novel, The Sympathizer, as an immigrant story, and me as an immigrant. No. My novel is a war story and I am not an immigrant. I am a refugee who, like many others, has never ceased being a refugee in some corner of my mind."...

The Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

November 1 / Abhi S.

Nowadays, the media is very pervasive in our everyday lives. They influence what we buy, what we eat, what we wear, and even what we think. Essentially, if you take a moment to step back and think about it they control our very lives and I believe that this control is very dangerous for us and our future. I was just recently reading an article about why some media networks choose to cover certain events or people over other things and one of the main reasons is to generate more viewership and increase revenue...

A Criticism of Harry Potter: Stakes in Storytelling

October 29 / Jongjin P.

Before superhero movies, it were the Harry Potter movies that dominated cinema. It was one of the first instances of intellectual property turning into a multi-million dollar franchise with eight films, between 2001 and 2011, grossing over $7.7 billion worldwide. And this entire film franchise kicked off only four years after the first book was published in 1997, the book series of which, sold more than 100 million copies, standing next to all-time classics such as, Don Quixote, A Tale of Two Cities, The Little Prince, The Hobbit, and Alice in Wonderland. Even five years after what we thought to be the end of Harry Potter, ...

Open Doors Lead to More Open Doors... Right?

October 17 / Jongjin Park

A recent poll by NBC suggests that Hillary Clinton has a 10-point lead over Donald Trump, and most analysts think Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Politics aside, if she does become President, this will be a new benchmark for U.S. history. Jodi Kantor for the New York Times has written that Hillary Clinton’s acceptance for nomination already encourages equal rights for women. Hillary Clinton has already made history by becoming the first female presidential candidate for the ...

On Trump and Discrimination

October 9 / Anonymous

In one of my church gatherings, a 16 year old teenage boy (who I will presume to call Jon for the sake of anonymity) came to visit just for a little time, while he was visiting the United States. He’s originally from South Africa and is extremely slim and speaks with a slightly broken accent. He came with his much older sister who speaks english fluently. After this visit, they were to go back to South Africa, though they hope to visit again because they really enjoy being here in the United States. During the gathering when we were sharing our prayer requests, they asked prayer for two things: safe travels and for the United States to elect the right President. This was surprising to me...

Imagining Reality

October 1 / Jongjin P.

In 2009, Toyota was forced to recall over 10 million vehicles and pay over $1 billion due to claims that their cars were uncontrollably accelerating. But it all started with this 911 call from a man driving a Lexus. The call is extremely harrowing. Mark Saylor, 45. We hear him not being able to stop his car with his family inside it. He struggles to hit the brakes as hard as he can, but the car won’t stop. Eventually, the car jumps off the cliff and crashes. The media went crazy, and thus Toyota was blamed for the faulty manufacturing of their vehicles. ABC News tried to recreate the sudden acceleration ...

Finding Easy Support

September 27 / Jongjin P.

In my debate class, Arjun Ramani (‘17, state champion (‘16), 5th in the nation (‘16)) was giving me along with the rest of the class, advice on research. One of the tips he mentioned was that using Boolean terms, anybody can find any specific evidence for any specific argument they’re looking for. When I asked him further today, he clarified, “you can find anything.” And he’s absolutely right. For example, concerning the Syrian refugee crisis, if I need evidence that accepting Syrian refugees increase terrorism, it can be found easily...

Inner Demons: Confessions of a High School Senior

September 24 / Darren C.

Senior year has continuously represented the pinnacle of secondary schooling. Semiotically, it means the closing of curtains combined with the opening of doors - a time close to freedom, away from parental authority. But with it comes the nasty side (especially if your mantra is Ivy League or Ivy Tech). Competitiveness isn’t pretty. A horde of students, mostly Asian, with pushy parents, vying to get into an Ivy League school (or equivalent) turns into a zero sum game - one where the goal is to guess where your classmate is applying early to...

more...