Posted in Poetry

dum spiro spero

Light and dark, full and empty – how mysterious!
Spring of Words is now elusive – how tantalizing!
To the secret seeker with no pity – how heartless!
And no more spirit so festive. – how agonizing!

Midnight and moonlight and shining stars – so beautiful!
Angles and fairies and ghosts – so ethereal!
Come to my aide before I lose sight of it! – Yes, quickly!
And possess me with the best of your powers – by all means!

Is Tree of Knowledge going to become sere? – How unthinkable!
Has Tree of Knowledge already become sere? – How miserable!
Let nothing dishearten my spirit still pursuing, still trying
With hope, while I breathe, even if it seems impossible. How beautiful!

Posted in book review, 미분류, Miscellany, Poetry

Beam Me Up, Scotty: Admiral Kirk’s onboard

The skies were clear blue, and the wind mild and agreeable. The day was ripe for the moment the star returned to the galactic heavens in rejuvenated buoyancy of jubilee that he would be out to the extraterrestrial world again. “Beam me up, Scotty,” the man said as he boarded on New Shepherd, treating it like his beloved ship USS Enterprise. It was art imitating life in the former captain’s bright eyes; it was life imitating art in the old star’s beady eyes. For William Shatner, aka Admiral Kirk of Star Trek, it was a one-of-a-kind experience, equivalent to an out-of-body experience in which you fly from your corporeal vessel and wander in all whither, floating weightless, groundless. It was his very Real McCoy galactic trip to outer space.

On Wednesday, October 13th, Blue X, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos-owned spacecraft enterprise, took off from its launching site about 20 miles away from Rural Texas town of Van Horn with civilian passengers who paid astronomical sums for their space trip. But not Shatner, who spent nothing at the courtesy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said to be a long-time Trekkie and something of a billionaire with a flair for space cowboy. The motive for a publicity stunt to outshine Blue X over entrepreneur rivals, Elon Musk’s Space-A and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., is impossible to ignore, yet why not when it also produces positive effects of provoking the imaginary in the real? Shatner, at age 90, seemed no longer the dashing brilliant, just young Admiral Kirk any longer. Still, his spirit beamed up as he experienced overview effect outside the orbit, profoundly mesmerized with the deep fragility of Planet Earth, the Galaxy Blue. Shatner articulated the face of the Earth as so ethereal and impossibly gorgeous vis-à-vis the blackness of outer space that he had a eureka moment of what distinguished Light (Life-Earth) from Darkness (Death-Outer Space). Methinks that such pareidolia of the overview effect has something to do with his nonagenarian age, the last age in Seven Stages of Man, one foot closer in the grave. However, when I watched him in the news, overwhelmed by the ineffable emotions, Jeff Bezos removed his shades and embraced the old actor; all looked genuine, not an act staged for a post-trip publicity event. And even if it so, then it is a likable sort of entertainment that does viewers of all kinds good.

Criticisms on the expensive space trip only the haves can afford are worldwide and understandable amid the unequal distribution of wealth makes earthlings live and die or live and suffer. Yet the veteran movie star reminds me of an old soldier who has lived through the vagaries of life. Overall, the 90-year-old Shatner’s space trip materializes the earthling voyage of the USS Enterprise, boldly searching for new life and new civilizations into the galaxies.

Captain Kirk coming home
Floating under a parachute
Touching down on Mother Earth
in a soft haze of excellent dust,
Calling it home, Roger out.

Welcome back to Earth, Admiral Kirk.

Posted in Miscellany

education is not a status symbol

Education is not a prerogative of the fortunate who have been born into comfortably well-to-do socioeconomic families or, if deprived, sponsored by goodwill fairylike patrons for splendidly expensive private higher education. It is not a status symbol to distinguish the fortunate from the melee in ostentations display of their supposedly high intelligence, dazzling scholastic aptitude, and a means to continue such expensive education as a symbol of confidence, competence, and cleverness.

But Joshua Angrist, an Israeli-American Nobel laureate in Economics of the year 2021, doesn’t think that way, not least because those who enter expensive elite schools are already brighter than their ordinary or troubled peers. The Nobel-Prized theory of education in the context of the selective admission process has become a concrete, incorruptible credo for the elite academic institutions and enflamed the already swelled up egos of the diploma holders doing well in their lives. When I read about him from today’s newspaper, I had to re-read his saying that “the reason graduates of those schools tend to do well has more to do with selective admission than education.” I understand his intention to demystify social legend that an Ivy-league diploma will guarantee you lifelong flowery roads to financial security and commensurate social status. However, it has more to do with his defense of continuous selective criteria to muster a pool of academically, and usually economically affluent, prospective students than anything else. What he argues is, “Don’t mess with the elite schools’ admission processing, for they select only the smartest ones!” Therefore, his argument calls for changing social agendas for changing such selective admissions to improve public education.

Angrist himself is a product of privileged education that some people wear like fancy hats on their pointed heads. He went to Oberlin College for BA and Princeton University for MA, Ph D. He teaches at Harvard University, which has become the infallibly supreme Ivory Tower in the States and most East Asian countries. Based upon Angrist’s focus on causality and effects on social impacts, it will be natural for him to defend the selective admission process, and I say go for it.

But it irks me to read from the Nobel laureate that supreme education is not for everybody. Since Angrist prides himself in employing real-world empirical evidence in his theory, does he marginalize those who have ambitions and aspirations to receive such quality education but are disadvantaged of the opportunities to learn the skills apt for demonstrating their minds? What about them, and how can he help them to access such opportunities? He’s not a social worker, which I don’t think he will not be pleased to be associated with even, but as an intellectual, he has a social responsibility to answer such vital issues. And if this unequal distribution of privileged educational opportunities is not worth studying, I wonder if those Nobel Prize panels thought his opuses deserve such international recognition. After all, Economics always comes last in the Nobel Prizes, with its being on the criteria most recently in the late sixties mainly begetting Americans.

Posted in book review

‘Hittites: A History From Beginning to End’ by Hourly History – book review

Hittites: A History From Beginning to End by Hourly History
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The name Uriah always fascinated me from British Rock band Uriah Heep to the biblical Uriah, whose beautiful wife led him ultimately to death, willy-nilly, by King David infatuated with her sensuousness. When I learned that the ancestor of Uriahs was the founder of the Hittites race, being the great-grandson of Noah, the biblical patriarch, I had a Eureka moment. Consequently, I picked up this concise but comprehensive book on the Hittites to know a little more about the people whose founder had the great name.

Before the splendor of ancient Greek contributions to our human cultural progress as a collective enterprise, there was the forgotten but enduring legacy of the Hittites, the mysterious Indo-European trailblazers of civilizations at the crossroads of the East and the West in the vast plain of modern-day Turkey. The Hittites were an integral people to solve the mystery of mythological and biblical events anchored in the real world, thus dissolving fact and legend into one another like a genie from an empire that vanished into the dunes of time and comes alive in the calling. The calling of these mysteriously vanished people came first from British Reverends Archibald Henry Sayce and William Wright in the early 19th century. They discovered the artifacts and sites of the Hittites. Their discovery led to more remarkable discoveries. During the middle Bronze age and Iron age, the Hittites were the first to utilize iron from the region of present Armenia to craft tools and weapons. Also, the Hittites were deft at commerce, developing the city of Carchemish as an ancient mercantile hubbub in which they imported products from Phoenicia and exported them to Assyria (the North) and Babylon (the South) in Mesopotamia. In this fabulous ancient city, Israelites of the Old Testament acted as intermediaries in trade between Egyptians for exporting horses and chariots and the Hittites for importing them.

Like all those famous entertainers who sparkled then lost the lusters, the Hittites as a collective empire fell from splendor gradually by outside forces: some pointed the fingers at the Sea People, while the others blamed a certain barbarous Kaska people. But, perhaps, such clandestine ending of the Hittites is what makes them formidably alluring and mysteriously fascinating, blurring the boundary of fact and legend. Suppose you are keen on the history of ancient civilizations other than Greece and Egypt. In that case, this elegant primer for the history of the Hittites will equip you with fundamental knowledge enough to whet your craving for more and more profound knowledge about the Hittites.



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Posted in Poetry

the door of perceptions

My cat sits in front of the door
Like an ancient statue of Basset
And looks at me with desire
To break the spell of the moment.

In the high night
When the only light
is iridescent emerald beams
from his large green eyes,

I open the door
He believes to be
The door of perceptions
When there is only darkness.

But he roams in eager eyes
With a lamp of his cat’s eyes
Searching for the wonder
With neverending hopes.

Alas, my elderly mother stops
His hopeful night’s adventure!
Still yearning, ever curious
My cat tries it always tomorrows!