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Look with thy mind, not thine eyes

Dear Reader,

Hey, there! Thanks for visiting my blog and reading my post. And if you express it by pressing the Like button into the bargain, my spirit will surely be uplifted from the rut of my so-called life. Also, if you are further intrigued by my e-book recently published on Amazon Kindle and drop just a few lines of your thoughts about the story upon reading (but no words of derision or sarcasm), I will feel like a millionaire without the actual sort of money in my bank account.

Well, it’s been two weeks or so since I published the e-book on Kindle, but a reception reminds me of the frightfully cold winter of New York City I have experienced. No one seems to read even the first page thereof according to my Kindle Direct stats. Surely, a good book will find its readers without eye-catching promotions or pitiful solicitations for readership based on sympathy. But honestly, I don’t feel comfortable canvassing readership by either of the means. And yet, since I am a girl of contrasts, my ambition for wide recognition of my work refuses to be humble and thus commands my unwilling spirit to write this letter to you.

It’s only 57 pages in total, so the book won’t take much of your precious time. And I must admit that the formatting of the book may seem obtrusively arcane and dense, but Reader, look not with thine eye but with thy mind. For the story is worth reading amid flotsam and jetsam of textual wonderland. Just click on the below book cover with one touch of your fingertip, and it will lead you to the place where the story begins via wondrous witchcraft. Many thanks for reading with my whole heart!

Best, Stephanie 

bohemian, ballad, zeitgeist

EcIlkUNUwAILhRe

On the day she left the gallery 

Of the faces ancient and agelast

She went to the shop of curiosity

And bought a new perfume fragrant

Of Rose, Acacia, Lilac, and Bergamot, 

From which a Sylph floated up to her

Thru the dusty air of a city street

Wrapping her in the perfume of love

Undressing her in the nature of love. 

Majestic, Tepid, Light

woman-with-a-parasol-monet

The dome of the spirit

The palace of the heart

Her sovereign realm is

Locked in the darkness

of the madness of loneliness,

casting the eternal spells

of sadness on the queen

unwanted, unseen, unheard,

betrayed by false courtesans,

courtiers, father, mother, all,

till the light of love casts over

the weeping queen’s head softly

with a gentle touch of the sun

in all sweetness evermore.

‘A Journal of the Plague Year’, by Daniel Defoe – review

A Journal of the Plague YearA Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The biblical cyclicity of history proclaims that what is happening now happened before because there’s no new thing under the sun. In this regard, the ways the civic administration and people response to the current Covid-19 pandemic don’t seem to be a novelty in comparison with the similar precedence of epidemic phenomena as vividly depicted in Daniel Defoe’s nonfiction novel A Journal of the Plague Year, a classic 1722 account of the Black Death that devastated England from 1664 to 1665. In this story of the seismic bubonic plague written in the first-person narrative, Defoe’s recounting of the plague successfully resurrects the spirit of the epoch as his narrator guides the reader to the places and scenes of the seismic event in the capacity of a charitable and knowledgeable guardian of posterity, making them surprisingly similar to those of ours.

The journal is narrated by an intelligent Londoner named “H.F,” a merchant of hosiery and a man of Christian principles and analytical mind, who decides not to take refuge in some remotely safe area away from the pest-ridden city, and instead to take pen to paper as a witness to the human tragedy for posterity. It is a literary eye-witness account of what happened during the resurgence of the bubonic plague that had ravaged Europe hundreds of years earlier in the semblance of a nonfiction narrative. Although it is asserted as fiction by many, the narrative reads all the more truthful because of the verisimilitude of the conditions of the plague in the context of the realistic descriptions of the symptoms of the disease and the subsequent influences on the lives of the people surrounding his daily lives.

Despite the fact that Defoe was only five years old when the plague swept England, in the peculiar alchemy of literature doubled with his vivid imaginations, his fictional narrator feels very real and the account telltale as though it had been written it in the spirit of Veni Vidi Vici. So much so that the story seems more veritable than the counterpart of Samuel Pepys whose narrative feels comparatively prosaic without the personal charm of the narrator. The reader will also learn that the 17th-century modus operandi of dealing with a pandemic is not that far from the current 21st-century preventive measures of social distancing, personal hygienic disciplines, and other relevant systematic societal restrictions.

Defoe holds up a mirror to his posterity that shows what it was like during the epidemic scare and what the people from days of yore did to sail through such calamity as a wise and warm advisor to our current global pandemic situations. In fact, while I was reading the book, I was surprised by how similar the cautious measures decreed by the authority were then to our own now. In this regard, I opine that this book should be a must-read instead of Boccaccio’s The Decameron, the famed officialized book related to the epidemic phenomena, because of its authority of truthful narrative drawn on empirical oral accounts of the plague and its power of reality rendered so close to the lives of the ordinary folk that we can relate to this day.

View all my reviews

the ugly princess

img_1816

Many moons and suns ago when the Nymphs of the West

Tended and guarded the Garden of the Hesperides,

In the city of Alcantara, there lived a king, the most

Loving father of all who loved his only child in spades,

So utterly ugly in every possible variety of imaginations

That her presence made the beholders into muted stones.

They called her Ugly Altamira, but the king called her Love,

Showering her with Bounty of Beauty, Treats of Tenderness,

Telling her how beautiful she was as a magic spell of love.

 

Whereas the princess in her father’s glamour spell drove men away –

Prince Alanbam, the hundred knights in armors, and the barber –

All fleeing with horrors of taking her hand and kissing her lips.

Then the king told the princess to marry the Church in a veil

To which she retorted, “I will not marry the Church but find

A husband in the land beyond the sea where the day never dawns

And the night is eternal, so beauty is seen common in darkness.”

 

Therewith, the princess amounted her beautiful white horse

For departure to the land of equality when the elegant figure

Suddenly appeared at the gate of the castle whose visage was

Beaming with beatific beauty with a voice sonorous and melodious.

Felisberto, the blind fiddler, exclaimed in the bliss of love mysterious:

“Princess, you need not look anywhere else but to behold one

To whom night and day, ugliness and beauty are all but one.

Since all your suitors are too bashful to marry you so beautiful,

Allow me to be of your service as a husband who makes you happy,

For beauty is as beauty does, so is the pleasure of love in all fancy.

 

Thereupon, the princess dismounted her beautiful white horse

walked to the handsome fiddler and touched the beautiful face

of the man with tenderness and love full of passion and felicity

by which the man became ecstatic with the sensuous touch

of the delicate beauty of the princess and kissed her tenderly.

 

Thereafter, the princess and the fiddler married and lived happily

In a castle from the window from which they could see the Hesperides

Water the garden of divine golden apples and dance around the tree always.

 

P.S. The subject matter of this poem comes from a Spanish folktale of ‘The Ugly Princess” who was so homely that everyone except her loving father couldn’t stand the sight of her presence as though she had been a violation against the natural law. The father’s indoctrination of confidence as a positive reinforcement into his daughter is worth noting as a proto-clinical behavioral therapy in relieving the patient’s depressive obsession with her unattractive physical trait. In fact, the king’s therapy was so successful that the daughter’s identification with prime beauty that was deemed too high for the underserved was remarkable and seemed simply magical.

From movies to novels to the profiles of the authors and of the administrators of social media platforms, the social spencersim of the beautiful champions the law of attraction, whether or not you will vehemently disagree with that usual enforcement of the mantra of self-confidence equipped with a feminist armor and a diversity-rule shield. For beauty gives confidence to a woman in a social setting, and that’s the truth. No wonder folklore treats beautiful women as a rewarding virtue that handsome men are worth fighting for. 

Although the ending of the Ugly Princess is unrefutably sweet and happy, I cannot help but relate it to the ending of  ‘Plain Girl’, by Arthur Miller – review in which the not so attractive but intelligent protagonist Janice Sasson ultimately finds the consummate love of eros and psyche in the figure of the handsome blind musician. Does the happiness that Janice so cherished have to be in the form of blindness? Can’t a woman deprived of glamour and the matching social adroitness meet and fall in love with a handsome man full of warmth, tenderness, and understanding?  Does it have to be a blind man to whom nothing is different, hence an absence of beauty is acceptable?  Does love agree at best only at night?