what is nhac?
nhac (pron. en-hack)
1. vietnamese word for music
2. acronym for 'never had a choice'
When I was 19, I wrote an article about free will vs predetermination. The basic premise was that you always have a choice - every decision you've ever made, every tiny little thing that you ever did was something you chose to do. Under duress possibly, but until you physically didn't have control of your limbs, you were responsible for it, and thus in control of it. Even with a gun to your head, you've still got the last say. You always have a choice. But at the same time, any decision that you made, you made based on the entire sum of your experience. If you follow your experiences back far enough, you reach a point as a baby where you don't have experiences to call on, and it's purely genetic instinct. So that first decision you made that paved the way for every other was, to a certain extent, inevitable and outside of your control. So are we really ever responsible for anything we do? Yes, definitely. Each of us made all of our decisions, it's just a moot point that the decisions you made with your independent free will were also completely inevitable, based on the state of the universe when you entered it. Free will and predetermination are not mutually exclusive - they are complementary. One exists irrelevant to the other.
But looking closer at the decisions you had to make from a higher layer, looking less at what you are physically that caused your initial decisions, and more at who you want to be, who you've chosen to be. It becomes a matter of principle. Every day we're presented with the opportunity to do things that betray ourselves, the idea we have of ourself and of where we want go with our lives. It wrapped up making the point that 'never had a choice' in that instance wasn't so much about being denied the ability to choose, and more the removing of making a choice that went against who you were as an option. When presented with a chance to do something unconscionable, there was no decision to make - you already knew it wasn't an option. Not never having a choice, so much as not allowing yourself the opportunity to fail by even asking the question.
I'd spent my life in punk bands, preaching freedom from a position of power. It was easy to do, just have an opinion and share it. It's far more difficult to accept the hard truths of life - that we screw up. We make bad decisions. We fail, and hurt people. When I finally ran out of chants, I found myself at home with a guitar and realised that if I wanted to continue to make music, it would have to be more honest, more revealing, and could no longer come from strength. True honesty would have to be born of weakness.
Faced with this lack of choice that would be my own decision, 'never had a choice' seemed to fit the bill, but I'd long shortened that to "nhac". When I found out that the word meant 'music' in Vietnamese, that seemed perfect.