As a hobbyist dilettante writer, I have been writing this and that on my beloved blog for four years. Despite English being my Second Language, I dare to write in it against criticism of solecism regarding all the prescriptive rules of the most popular language of the Indo-European linguistic superphyla. The reason I continue to and love to write is no more than the justice of my meek self, smothered under the mask of exoticness that has become my sole identity, and a written touchstone for the neural activities of the mind. I sometimes wonder affected by the progress of neurological or physiological maladies as I slowly walk toward the end of the mortal journey on earth. So, I want to leave the mark of my existence. Welcome to My Invisible World, the Minor Earth.
The provenance of today’s post comes from my reading of a Saturday edition of the Guardian subscription on my Kindle two days ago. It featured a book review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li, exultantly described as a cracking read written by a Chinese-American woman writer deserving of the commendation. The article began with her illustrious academic background as an immunologist and a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant bestowed on geniuses. While such introductory curriculum vitae is undoubtedly relevant to denote her intellectual brilliance, I wonder if such a decorative prerequisite is necessary for the book’s worth. What if Li were just an obscure Chinese writer delving into English writing without the decoration? Such a hypothetical question might be regarded as nothing but an incoherent rambling of a jilted would-be writer. Yet, I have noticed that ordinariness is off-putting, unglamorous, and unworthy of recognition. Call it a groundless presumption or jealous subjectivism even, but it’s the truth. Charlotte’s Bronte’s author’s tenet of faithful allegiance to truth and nature seems to apply to the otherness of the Far-Eastern writers whose ordinariness is merely invisible and regardless. That is, they exist in an invisible habiliment of mysteriousness from Shangri-La.
The review analyzes Li’s literary reality of uprooted sentimentality in the background against America’s wilderness, so to speak, in which her existential question of who she is based. Li also rides on the crest of the waves of cultural identity, as is the principal thematic element of most Far-Eastern writers. Rather than striking the chords with the universality of human life, they tend to focus on the egoistic litany of alienation with their selfsame egoist emphasis on otherness. In this regard, Far-Eastern writers themselves foster this strangeness, this otherness, these less-than-ordinary images based on their literary tenet they believe truthful and appealing to selective, not universal readers. That is why I, who is also from the far east tend to eschew their stories, void of the common ground of empathy, no other than the shared physical reality.
Enter Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, whose literary world is not limited in his racial and cultural backgrounds. A good writer is capable of travel and metamorphosis beyond the existential terra, where the vision becomes a reality of its own. Ishiguro wants to be all that he can be away from his physical context to manifest his views on human nature, which aims to chime the bells of universal emotions. However, such transfiguration of physical reality into the universal realm of consciousness does not betray Ishiguro’s ascribed biological characteristics because creative force, in conjunction with desire for aesthetic values of literature, is mightier and higher than physical reality. In this sense, Ishiguro gloriously triumphs over racial barriers, and splendidly demonstrates that what you look like and where you are from cannot confine you who you want to become.
I still write despite my imperfect command of English simply because I love the act of writing as a valve for opening myself dying for a fresh breath. My book has sold only five digits of a hand. I recently received a comment on one of my book reviews I posted three years ago on amazon with 32 likes that callously slighted my ability to write in general because of minor violations of grammar rules. Yes, I am an amateur writer of Far-Eastern backgrounds with an ordinary job as a legal assistant with a B.A. in English from a state university. Yes, my English is far from the perfection of English Undefiled. Yet, writing is no longer a prerogative of the academically privileged whose selfish seclusion of lettered cases is adulated. Writing is a democratic vehicle in which anyone can morph into whoever she or he wishes without restraints. Take Tolstoy, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and Jane Austen, all of whom put their literary aspiration into reality despite their spelling weakness. No one shall bully my writing skills, nor belittle my volition to write for universal readership. Forget how I look and speak. It’s the heart’s passion and satisfaction of reason letting out of the cocooned physical reality that deserves manifestation. For this reason, I write with or without public recognition with a myriad of likes.
P.S.: I don’t believe that you can follow my blog without liking what I have written. Also, even if you fulfill the requirement above, if you are regarded as a marketing puppet, then I will drive you away. Therefore, I will not treasure your subscription to my blog if you just press the button on caprice and whims. Certainly not for my blog.
2 thoughts on “Minor Earth, Major Sky”
”Forget how I look and speak. It’s the heart’s passion and satisfaction of reason letting out of the cocooned physical reality that deserves manifestation.” I applaud you for these words, Stephanie! Please, continue to write despite what anyone says. Every great writer is subjected to criticism and rejection, yet those few brave ones who can continue despite the judgemental voices deserve all the praise in the world!👏
No matter who we are and where we are from, each of us deserves respect and recognition for what we bring into life.
You wrote that being ”ordinary” is off-putting; well, I to disagree twice:
1) Many people are drawn to familiar, simple things because we are all, deep inside, relatively unsophisticated beings with a need for love & rest. Many of our secretly beloved works of art come not from Nobel Prize Laureates but from those to whom we can relate.
2) You are FAR from ordinary! If anything, your works are a one-of-a-kind experience – and that’s why I love your writing so much. Drawing inspiration from literary masterpieces, you have mastered a recognizable, personal style – and I can see both glimpses if your culture and the universal allusions in your works. In this respect, you remind me of Kazuo Ishiguro, one of my favourite authors, whom you’ve mentioned earlier.
Forgive me if this is too much for a single comment – I am just going through your exquisite book, and I wanted to let you know that your way of thinking and feeling
reflects my own heart – it is a rare moment of deep connection, which I will remember forever, Stephanie. ♥️
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Dear Veronica, your theartfelt comments on my essay illuminates the jewel of your person,, oustshining the brilliance of other comments on any of my writings I have read thus far.
Yes, I agree with you that “Many people are drawn to familiar, simple things because we are all, deep inside, relatively unsophisticated beings with a need for love & rest. Many of our secretly beloved works of art come not from Nobel Prize Laureates but from those to whom we can relate.” There’s no denying of the beauty of simplicity synonymous with ordinariness. As the French painter Jean Francois Millet said “To treat the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime is that gives to art its true meaning.” I myself also try to write based upon my observation on things I see and hear in daily life.
However, I have also noticed that the literarti or people who have professional academic credentials tend to belittle people who are would-be writers at heart if they don’t have the mastery of English. I see it on social media where people with their faces masked are comparatively honest with their opinions without that conventional norms of polite conversation. Nevertheless, as Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any form of art is to grow your soul however good or bad. So just do it.” It’s my maxim of writing. Hence I write.
And thank you so much for comparing me with Ishiguro! Yes, I want to be as a crafty writer as he is. capable of communicating to the minds of the universal readers! And you are one of such readers and writers! Many thanks, Veronica! 🙂
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