Monthly Archives: August 2018

Who’s the Real Ripper of Whitechapel?

My Review of  9/1/2018 BBC History Magazine article of “The Ripper of our Nightmare”

It was a diabolical killing spree of the late 19th century that made the residents of Victorian capital shudder with visceral fear, and swivel their heads in incredulity. No one dared to venture the nightly labyrinthine streets of Whitechapel in London’s East End between August and November 1888 when five women were found dead and grotesquely mutilated with surgical precision in a ritualistic fashion. The unfortunate victims of this heinous crime were all prostitutes in the slums of the East End into the bargain. With the evasive killer still forever on the run in the wings of imaginations of many to this date, the stupendousness of the crime and its phantasmal committer still egg the inquisitive minds on coming up with zany theories as presented herein.

The turpitude of the extraordinary epochal net murder case has gripped the minds of many with journalistic bent who often go to extremes in search of novelty in what is established now as its own field of study. They are called “Ripperologist,” the individuals, as it were, with mission to provide the most feasible cue on who-done-it. Naturally, these Ripperologists have often looked for their suspects in a group of outsiders in the time of the era who were regarded as misfits, introverts, loners with hints of eccentricity because they are easy to be gorged out of the melee without much strains of their cognitive faculties and mental exertions. Yet, out of a pile of idiosyncratic mugshots of their suspects come some profiles I think are worth the noting by sheer dint of ingenious entertainment .

The Likely Suspects

  • Francis Thompson: A poet with radical religious views was posited as the killer on account of the fact that all of the crimes were committed on Catholic saints’ days. However, this theory is hamstrung by the fact that those days are the feast days of the particular martyrs in celebration of their sacrifice of their lives to the Faith.

 

  • A Mad Midwife: In 1939, a certain author named William Stewart posited that the killer was most likely a bloodthirsty deranged midwife. But then anterior to Mr. Stewart’s theory, Frederick Abberline, an inspector investigating the kills, had also suggested that it could also be a woman’s act of crime on account of a witness who had seen a female figure leaving one of the victims. Yet, the inspector later concluded that it’s more likely that the killer was a man dressed in a woman’s clothing as a way of quelling his potential victims.

 

  • Lewis Carroll: Of all other suspects, I think this eminent writer of Alice in Wonderland stands all alone in his prodigality of literary fame and notability. In 1996, an author named Richard Wallace suggested that the Ripper was, in fact, none other than this famous writer and Anglican deacon into the bargain on the ground of the anagrams in his novels which indicated the carnival of killings in 1888. Surely, positing Carroll as the Ripper may be regarded as ludicrous and beyond the pale and even defamatory. However, Wallace must have exerted himself on interpreting the anagrams to decode the messages that Carroll had left as an act of contrition for his mortal sin. Otherwise, he would not have published his theory, knowing that doing so without any factual grounds might have incriminated one of the most renowned English writers and his descendants.

It is always interesting to see how people become fascinated with crimes and criminals of the most wicked and bestial beyond the pale. Maybe it’s because of the ignoble, recalcitrant horse that we have in the soul, always inclining to a raw, precarious stimuli to our senses, spurring the other noble, reasonable horse toward such pleasure. But why not so when our minds wonder when they spur our imaginations on devising brilliant theories such as the aforesaid? The theories will only remain possible in the domain of poetic justice and in the wings of our imaginations so long as no substantive facts surface out of the mists of the eerie past. And I defy any of the Ripperologists not to come up with any such ingenious theories to that end – all for the Truth of who-done-it in deference to the victims.

Chariot and two horses

 

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The soul of man has its own chariot

With a driver and two horses:

The one eager for honorable praises;

The other intent on becoming corrupt

That only flogging and bawling can quell.

With the driver’s free rein to the mares,

The noble horse will go AWOL,

The ignoble will head dominance.

Joan of Arc strikes again with logotheraphy

Joan of Arc: A Life From Beginning to EndJoan of Arc: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

They condemned her as an irreparable heretic, apostate, idolater, and witch and then burned her at stake even though she saved them from their enemy. And yet, in spite of such egregious treachery of her own countrymen, she knew no surrender to fear with stalwart faith in the Cause she intransigently believed to be her divine mission from the greatest man above as the flame rose to her nose, and then engulfed her therein, turning her to ashes. She was no less a figure than Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, the Virgin of Lorraine, whose bravery and belief – be it ever spiritual or psychological- epitomizes existential will to meaningfulness to live a purposeful life, as is vividly and elegantly related in this book.

Each chapter draws up on the substantial aspects of Joan’s purposes, acts, and achievements rather than illustrates religious or spiritual overtones in anecdotes or legends to glow her in a halo. The narrative takes us to where Joan of Arc witnessed the English occupiers’ hectoring of her village folks, including little children by beating, and we feel her indignation at the perpetrators of such violence on her soil. We also come to know that the divine messages she received were not directly from God but through St. Michael, the archangel, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine as the messengers of God with the three divine missions. That Joan of Arc had three cardinal missions of (1) taking up arms; (2) rallying the French to defeat the English occupying army; and (3) putting the Dauphine Charles on the French throne betokens her guiding lights of her life, her purpose of life that constantly reminded her of a “why” to live for. So we follow Joan, a tall and lean girl with her raven hair cut in bob attired in shining armor that weighted about twenty pounds to the frontlines of hand-to-hand combats fighting against the English army without her helmet on to boost morale of the French soldiers and got her neck pierced by an arrow. Then the narrative puts us forward to the dark cell of Joan harassed by five lewd English guards and to the heaps of stake where her body was consumed to ashes.

The lucidly vivid descriptions of each chapter in cogently casual narrative are the elemental force of this book that brings the grist to the mill for the visualization of the whole story as though it were played on a screen. In fact, while I was reading toward the end of the book, a song called “Bigmouth Strikes Again” by the Smiths, in which Morrissey sings, “Now I know how Joan of Arc felt” was starting to being played in my mental stereo set with heightened emotions. It also illustrates the canonical facts that many of us may be unaware of: (1) that it was the French, including the dauphin who later became Charles VI wholly thanks to Joan, who sold her to the English; (2) that Joan, for none other reason than being only human, attempted at several escapes which ended in foils; and that (3) it was twenty-two years after her death on fraudulent grounds of treachery and heresy that the Trial of Rehabilitation exonerated her from such preposterously erroneous charges, thanks to the troubling conscience of Charles VI who belatedly endeavored to make it happen.

This is an excellent primer on further study on Joan of Arc with a comprehensive overview of the time as regards the relationship between the Church and the politics, the role of the Church, and its dominance over society, let alone people. It will induce you to look at Joan of Arc not as mythological French virgin whose legacy exclusively appertains to the French as their patron saint only, but as a human who tried to do what she believed was right despite any biological or social inhibitions that she had to rise above. In this regard, Joan is an emblematic figure of courage, hope, and self will to achieve her existential values as someone with purposes in life, someone whom we can identify with in one way or another in our daily struggles of contemporary life. Upon reading this book, you will come to understand what made the American humorist Mark Twain offer such approbation: “Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it.” Indeed, her steadfast attitude toward her firm belief is something we can deem truly inspiring and remedial to apply to our own way of fulfilling demands placed upon our daily tasks in life.

Vet’s long-lost wallet comes home

RE: 8/26/2018 The Los Angeles Times article of “Long-lost wallet’s unlikely return”

For the times passed by, you can just look away and say, “they are gone away” because they are woven by your memories that you have collected through life, willed or unwilled. They become part of you, making you of spirit, fire, and dew, an unique star in a constellation of the universe. Hence nothing could be more pleasingly surprising than discovering that part of you or your beloved kept in photographic images or words of the frozen time, evocative of distant nostalgia that beckons you to reminisce about them, by a happy stroke of serendipity paired with benevolence of a stranger. Something like that happened to Ms. Sharon Moore, a daughter of one former army corporal Robert McCusker.

When Ms. Moore received a “Friend” request from a certain Frenchman named Patrick Caubet on her Facebook page, she deleted it. But then Mr. Caubet messaged her inquiring about the lost wallet of her father Mr. McCusker with the pictures and documents contained therein that he had accidentally found in a basement of his building presumably used as an America officers’ social club. This time she responded and verified that it was her father’s. Prior to Mr. Caubet’s contacting Ms. Moore, he had launched a campaign for locating the rightful owner of the wallet, which encompassed an aid of his English-speaking friend and inquiries to the Pentagon and the U.S. Embassy for help to no avail. Then the help came from a French military office in Paris that located the names of Mr. McCusker’s children in just days. Being a military man himself with a certain feeling of soldierly camaraderie, he was determined to succeed in his campaign, which ultimately came to fruition.

Thanks to this benevolent efforts of one French military man, Ms. Moore and her brother living in Dover, New Hampshire, could reminisce about the lost pages of his Korean War veteran father who had died in 1983. The wallet had pictures of their mother and aunt, military documents, Massachusett Driver’s License, and a Social Security Card, all of which were still kept in a mint condition. Ms. Moore said that since she had her father’s Purple Heart, her brother would be in possession of the wallet that their father had lost on his way from the Korean War to home. In return of her gratitude, Ms. Moore sent Mr. Caubet a lovely basket full of sweet jars of maple syrup she had made herself, some of the candy her father had enjoyed, and a New England Patriots Jerky. Thus, the wallet became their treasure of their beloved father’s memories that they had not known – the terra incognita of their father’s memories before they came to the world -. It became the part of their memories that bound them together to the legacy of their lineage, reminding themselves of their father’s valorous war efforts as a soldier and of his tender loving memories of their mother as a man.

Amid the news of endless politicking, peddling of social media that goes beyond reasonable measures, and a litany of social ills, this article stroke me as a bonanza of altruism that still thankfully kept alive in everyday life, a fresh breath of air that made me feel grateful and hopeful for our future in which so long as we don’t lose a thread of sanity and milk of human kindness, we can make constraints of our lives bearable with a lightheartedness. The kindness of the Frenchman speaks to us that no matter what language you speak, the feelings and emotions that you and I have can strike the chords of our humanness because the principles of reason and of sentiment are universal in all human creatures. The return of the lost wallet as the living record of Ms. Moore’s father attests to the truth.