Featured
Posted in book review

Transatlantic review of my book from the UK

One of my blog readers, “Dark Tales,” read my short story and gave shining 5.0 out of 5 stars in Amazon UK! Thank you so much! It’s such a great encouragement and supports out of the blue! I have quoted the delightful description of my book herein:

“A dreamy, engrossing short story well worth the read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 January 2021
Thoroughly enjoyed this short story from an author with a unique and characterful style that lends her prose an almost musical quality. Fans of folklore and mythology, in particular, will enjoy the host of references from a writer with a clear passion for fables and a talent for weaving them into her work.”

Posted in Miscellany

Becoming the Ancient Mariner

Think. What do Kubler-Ross Model of Five Stages of Grief, Spinoza’s Amore Dei, Nietzsche’s Amore Feti, and Logotherapy have in common? That it is all about how to accept fate as it is, the stupendousness of truth, the veracity of suffering as a way of finding meaning in what you have to endure. Religion is a poetic way of describing the suffering, a burden of life, another intuitive interpretation of looking at the pain and yielding to it as a destiny. But it is easier to be said than to be done when your spirit is plunged at the lowest tide of life and sees no hope of descrying a land of opportunities in the doldrums. And it betrays your noble hope and begins to shoot albatrosses then become like the Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. Or so it seems.

All the wise in the civilization of humanities told their progeny the reason for bearing the unbearable because they all knew about one thing: that’s what life was about. It is what it is and will be as long as humans exist. In his theory about Amore Feti, Nietzsche posited that evil was what prevents us from striving toward our goals and that power to affirm what we have is the only way to move on in the sailing of life, however terrible it would be. Knowledge and its pursuit are a must-have to shape an essential feature of our consciousness to keep sanity in contextualizing the whys and wherefores of struggles in life with an active mind. It is indeed a noble psychological philosophy, but what about people who are not intellectual as the renowned philosopher but just ordinary earthlings stuck in the existential backwaters of the rut? Did Nietzsche, Spinoza, or Kubler-Ross have to worry about livelihood? Well, Spinoza was a watchmaker, so he should have known something about making a living, but still, he was autonomous in pursuing his intellectual Elysium without having to worry about the burdens of daily life.

I had not known what the darkest night of the soul until now, and the fear of losing myself has finally descended upon me. C.K Charleston said madness is when you lose yourself except for your reason. Shakespeare quipped when nature, being oppressed, commands the mind to suffer with the body, and you would become derailed from norms of behavior and faculty of cognition. I prefer the latter version of madness because if I lose myself, then it should be all or nothing for the complete liberation of my spirit from the chains of enslavement. From insidious dominion of gaslighting to dreadful ascribed duties that I didn’t choose, to endless sadness, and cursed estrangement, I now know why the Ancient Mariner killed the sacred albatrosses whom seamen believed to be the souls of the dead sailors. Ire for the delusion of hope, retribution for the betrayal of faith, and freedom from the pain of unrealized dreams drove the Ancient Mariner to execute the birds and then become one of them, never returning but always wandering.

If only. I long for a sign, omen or augury, that can show me what to do or if I can break this vicious circle of unhappiness that has been cursed on me. No Ouija Board. Why? I don’t trust bargaining with the Devil because he, as a henchman of Satan, is like an angel of God in reaping as many souls as possible to build their armies or populate their cities of the Beyond. Then why do I find myself pleading to God by default while writing this for not ignoring me when he prefers the beautiful and the pleasant? Spinoza and Nietzsche, I beseech you to persuade me with your best reasonings of why I should believe that life is still worth living!

Posted in Miscellany

why she wrote

Like muffled drums in rains of thunder and lightening, her heart was still beating as the intuitive leap within her was on the verge of falling into the crevice of darkness. She hoped that life would be better or that if life wasn’t unresponsive to her hope, she could seek an elbow room in her writings blog, her glass castle of the soul. In this regard, her purpose of writing and that of George Orwell agreed that it was for sheer egoism of being an individual and recognizing it. For all she had read and seen, her spirit wanted to record it in writing before leaving the world without a trace. How pathetic it would be!

If only. The girl hoped to articulate her thoughts to the unseen public somewhere out there. But above all, the girl used her writing practice as an autodidactic exercise to improve writing skills in the language she fell for. She loved the English language so much that she was ready to forsake the native language if she must choose one. She would have wished to possess the art of English Writing if a benign fairy had asked about what gift she would want. Perhaps she would have made a Mephistolean pact for the craft. Yet her love was alone because she loved the language more than it reciprocated the appreciation to her. How cruel it was!

To pure lead into an open wound, the girl realized her brain was not as alert as it used to be in the locomotive of thinking. As thoughts shape language, she reasoned that a slowly deteriorating neuroplasticity in her brain might have contributed to her difficulty in reading and writing. Something ominous was happening to her, and it was gripping her spirit under its diabolic aegis for the sheer pleasure of tormenting the soul in hopelessness. Words she saw refused to make a coherently complete sentence and enter a faculty of thinking. The circuits to the control center of the brain felt blogged or damaged to the point of making telegraphic phrases swiveling at a vortex of frustration. It had never happened until last year. But why was it happening to her? Alas!

She tried to find reasons for the ghastly maladies and self-diagnosed the following:

  1. Moving to California
  2. Demanding nature of her roles and tasks at the workplace
  3. Attending her elderly mother
  4. Approaching her end with no security for future

She further decided that the existential frustrations were exhausting her will to essay her creative and experiential values in fulfilling her meaning of life to be expressed in writing. All of it was tantamount to the enormous boulder Sisyphus had to roll up on a steep hill in Hades as punishment for his trickery on gods. But the girl was more akin to a Caryatid, a sculptured female figure used as a pillar supporting an entablature of a building on her head. 

But what then was her solution to untangle the web of the menacing spider? She had nothing but her will and resilience born of eruditeness and level-headiness. It helped her sail through some of the difficult adventures between the Scylla and Charybdis in her life’s odyssey. Like an earthling who never gives up hope on getting a signal from an extraterrestrial being via radio transmission, every day, she would write even if it would receive no response. Thereby hangs a tale told by a mad girl in hopeless love with words, full of words and madness, but signifying something.

Posted in Poetry

how it became a fallen angel

A dreamer’s shadow in search of the star

It had seen falling over the mountain

Met a stranger’s shadow with a star

It held in the hands, brilliant golden

And asked it wherefrom.

“Over the mountain, and nowhere else.”

The head collapsed, the heart shattered,

A dreamer’s shadow at one fell swoop

Flied to a stranger’s shadow in heartbeat,

Grabbed with its hands the star, brilliant golden

and swallowed it in pride of lions anon.

The star entered its heart’s chamber,

And the shadow became a fire demon.

Posted in book review

‘Leonardo and the Last Supper’ by Ross King

Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I still remember an excellent replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in a tapestry form decorated on the wall of our family living room when I was in elementary school. It was vast and expansive, nonetheless magnificent with the profoundness of the scene and the expressions on the faces in it – all wondrous and curious. Now a stream of time has flown, but the first impression of the art still has become one of the stars in my heart’s constellation. “Leonardo and the Last Supper” by Ross King has added to the star the brilliance with telling stories resurrecting the atmosphere of the time and vividness of the people surrounding the creation and the creator of the art.

The book is an alluring admixture of the biography of Leonardo da Vinci and the history of religion, politics, society, and culture; all skillfully swirled in Ross’s skillful narrative account of the person of da Vinci and his work of the Last Supper. The narrative becomes more intriguing as the chapters replete with entertainingly informative tidbits about personal accounts of people related to da Vinci and involved in creating the Last Supper are ascending. The story’s construction follows how Samuel Johnson, the 18th-century English essayist and cultural critic, narrated the lives of poets in The Lives of the Poets, composed of a brief biography of a poet, personal accounts of the poet, and professional criticism of the works. The reader will first be acquainted with da Vinci’s biographic backgrounds: parents, a well-to-do lawyer father, and a middle eastern slave mother owned by his father’s household. Da Vinci’s struggle with spelling and even harder Latin education, his fabrication of engineering work experience in his curriculum vitae to obtain a military commissioned engineer post when coming to Milan from Tuscany, and so forth. All the information is a telltale factor contributing to da Vinci’s rise to celebrity in his and our times, which is refreshingly informative to learn that the perennial polymath also had feet of clay with colors of contrast.

Ross is a scholar with a novelist’s magic wand to wield his writing power, casting a spell on facts and knowledge with the beauty of language and ease of words, captivating readers of all life paths with gripping narrative skills. Another book of his “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling,” which I enjoyed with great pleasure, is a helpful companion to this book because both Michelangelo and da Vinci were contemporaries, working under their aristocratic patronage the recalcitrant spirits of creative souls in reins of livelihood. It would also be an excellent reference to the social statuses of artists at that time. Contrary to our images of free-spirited artists, artists worked for their royal, ecclesiastical, and wealthy employers. Therefore, they were not free to choose subject matters for their works because their bosses wanted their power and fame to become works of art, as it were.

Upon closing the last page of Leonardo and the Last Supper, I reminded myself of Plato’s aesthetic definition. Art is a copy of Form, the perfect, pristine Beauty. It exists only in Idea because da Vinci was also a scientist and an engineer who found perfect beauty in perfect numerical and astronomical elements of nature. However, da Vinci’s Last Supper is filled with pathos, contrasts of human emotions, paradoxes of light and dark, good and evil, constantly changing, never-ending. Da Vinci was a humanist, finding beauty in nature as it is, regardless of perfect Form, the unattainable ideal that is out of touch. One thing right about Plato’s Aesthetics is that art is at best entertainment and at worst a dangerous illusion. That says it. Leonardo’s Last Supper is a soul’s entertainment, and so is Ross’s “Leonardo and the Last Supper.”



View all my reviews

Posted in book review

’24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There’, by Philip Matyszak – book review

24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There by Philip Matyszak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Edgar Allan Poe once declared that the great was Greece, and the grandeur was Rome. Rome was not built a day, and it lasted from Before Christ to His After for one thousand years. All roads led to Rome, and foreigners, colonials, and slaves from the foes all wanted to become the proud citizens of the Roman Empire. So, what then was it like living in Rome at its glorious prime? 24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of People Who Lived There by Philip Matyszak comes and carries off the reader in a time coach to Rome’s grandeur and invites to the daily lives of people there with magic of words.

In terms of residential mode, there were more apartment buildings than villas and detached houses in Rome. Apartments called Insulas had 3 or 4 floors with no bathrooms, which means the residents dumped their bodily wastes in buckets out of their windows to the ground any time of day or night when unfortunate passer-byes would have unpleasant surprise showers from above. The apartment residents were city dwellers whose livelihood was arranged from a fish-stroll attendant to a nightguard, an unlicensed independent prostitute, and primarily others diligent and savvy waiting their time and luck to come.

Rome was a practical society with shrewd politicians and powerful merchants/tradespeople. For instance, baking was a highly respectful and lucrative trade because not many people had well-equipped kitchens to cook or bake at home. Bakers had their representatives in the Senate who would lobby for the increase in the price of bread. Still, the Senate often rejected the proposal because the Senate knew that keeping the price low would maintain social stability lest the mass should not cause riots for a change of living cost.

On the other hand, unless they were aristocratic or wealthy mercantile families, women had not many choices of working with desirable pay or respect. They worked in shops or stalls densely concentrated outside the walls of Circus Maximus for long, arduous hours, wrestling between the demands placed upon their tasks at work and home without due respect. Slave women’s employment was mainly hairdressing and doing domestic chores. It was less rewarding and more demanding, contingent upon the mercy of their lustful masters and the whims and caprice of their mistresses, who often inflicted cruel punishment on their slaves if they irked their temper and nerves on a bad day.

Rome was undoubtedly splendid in its dominance and influence consummate with the longevity, but only a few privileged basked in the sunshine of grandeur. Matyszak puts together tesserae in the mosaic of ordinary Ancient Roman lives in this leisurely entertaining and academically stimulating narrative of his part-fictional and part-actual characters. It becomes each vignette comprising a collective story of human life that still rings true to our modern life. Matyszak is an unlikely, uncommon historian whose erudition and humor put him on the same pedestal as renowned historians, such as Tacitus, Plutarch, Herodotus, and Paul Johnson. His narrative styles are engagingly knowledgeable but surprisingly personable, collapsing a great divide of time between the people of the past and the present reader.

Rome was no fun when you had none. Nevertheless, for all that’s worth, Rome was a great city rich in ethnic and cultural diversity. The energy of urbanity made Rome all the more vivacious and vibrant, bustling with businesses and people, and created opportunities for better lives. It is no surprise that Poe thought highly of Rome.



View all my reviews