Broken Will, Lost Soul

RE: 8/12/2018 article of “Broken Guy goes down with plane” from the Los Angeles Times

However bleak and and fatalistic his views on Death of God and Nihilism might be, the one definitive thing German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche knew was this: “Anyone who has a why to live can bear also any hows.” How reassuring it is because it means that even if life presents you anything but shattered dreams, aborted hopes, and clipped anticipations for whatever you try to work out, as long as you still hold steadfastly onto a sense of purpose – that is a why to continue this so-called “life”- your life will not end in nil, or in crash such as the man I read about in the newspaper today.

His name was allegedly known as “Richard Russel,” according to his bantering with an airport controller during his audaciously precarious aerial heist of an passenger aircraft he had stolen from Sea-Tac Airport in WA. He was reported to be a 29-year old former ground service agent at Horizon who had also run a bakery with his wife until 2015. It is reported that he died in crash on a wooded area on Ketro Island south of Seattle, WA by saying, “I wasn’t really planning on landing it.” The plane did not hit any structures nor did it cause any collateral damages to private properties, since the island itself is underdeveloped. The whys and wherefores of Russel’s quixotic joy ride have not yet been manifested in the course of the current FBI investigation, but judging from his communication with the controller, he might have been suffering from existential vertigo in which he had lost a sense of purpose, a why for continuing his life in dealing with demands of tasks that everyday life had imposed on.

In case of art imitating life, Russsel on the passenger aircraft reminds me of Don Quixote who, on his beloved Rocinante, gallops toward the huge windmill to vanquish it, a stereoscopic symbol of pompous hypocrisy of life that generates nothing but the ills. Foolish, yes, needless to say. But heinous or even insidious? Hardly so. Stealing is one thing, but ending his life out of emotional distress is another thing, as they are apples and oranges in the sense that he meant no fatal harm on anyone by using the stolen aircraft as a weapon of mass destruction as in the case of the terrorist carnage of 9/11. I wonder what might have gone through his mind in the cockpit of the plane as he was nearing to the end of his life: a phantasmagorical display of his memories that he had collected through life, willed or unwilled? Perhaps, being a pilot of the plane might have given him a tactile sensation of being capable of piloting his own life, that ineffable stupendousness of capability, which would have given him the equal dose of confidence at the spur of the fateful moment.

Playing a pseudo psychiatrist is not my forte, but it is viable to think that Russel ‘s contemporary strains of life and postmortem malady that anesthetized his Reason and thus emboldened him to do such a foolhardily venturesome act at the expense of his own life are something that we can feel pathos at the least. And that is why I find it hard to criminalize him by putting him into a moral/ethical Procrustean bed, which also brings me back to an act in Macbeth:

“Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage; and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

The Ills of Gentrification

RE: 8/10/2018 article of “A Home for Homeless Vets” by Teresa Watanabe of The Los Angeles Times

It has always been the case that those who who have suffered from afflictions of life appear to give helping hands to the bearers of the suffering. In Vigil’s Aeneid, when Aeneas and his people arrived at the shore of Carthage after the fall of Troy, the beautiful queen Dido welcomed the refuge with open arms and provisioned them with food and shelter and told Aneneas, “because I was once a sufferer of the affliction, I know how you and your people feel.” Now the time and space is translated in modern day California, and this very noble act of humanity in the figure of an old veteran solder continues.

A certain Japanese-American WWII veteran campaigns to provide affordable housing for veterans as well as low-income individuals and families at the risk of homelessness. He has even gone out of his way by establishing “Go for Broke National Education Center” in order to develop a five-story building on leased city land that would house the center and as many as seventy affordable housing units for the aforesaid applicants who find themselves between a rock and a hard place on the threat of eviction from their homes by landowners.

The article in fact brings light to the increasing number of homeless population that results from urban gentrification by which private developers plan to evict low-income residents from their newly acquired properties, so that such reworked properties will accommodate to the level of comforts required by those who can afford high rents, and thus create a totally new residential and commercial environments commensurate to the economic levels of the gentry.

The projection of building a low-income housing complex should be put into action forthwith without fail; it’s not about creating Skid Row, pace the popular opinions on such project in fear of tainting the atmosphere of communities and affecting the economic activities adversely due to the substantive presence of exiguousness incarnate.

I firmly believe that there should be more consorted efforts of fellowships of humanity as aforesaid to actively, substantially and tangibly help people in need to the extent possible by providing them with many more supportive “permanent” housing programs, not ad-hoc homeless shelters. It makes my head swivel in wonderment why politicians do not champion such existential programs, instead of hackneyed willy-nilly metaphysical ideologies that only divide this nation built upon liberty and justice. For if people are ruthlessly kicked out of their abodes just because they are undesirable in the eyes of the businessmen, where can they find liberty and justice to live their sovereign lives as resonated by the Gospel?

Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” – if you don’t give them the necessities of life? (James 2:15-16)

Writing is Ego Qua Meaningfulness

“Hi Stephanie, wow what a great and well-written review. Thank you very much for posting it on your blog! We will share it on our Facebook page and have also retweeted it!” 

A very well-written and comprehensive review of our new book on Marie Antoinette. Check out the blog post and discover more about this controversial queen of France.

MILKCARAMEL.BLOG

 

My book review of Marie Antoinette: A Captivating Guide to the Last Queen of France Before and During the French Revolution, Including Her Relationship with King Louis XVI by Captivating History was posted on the publisher’s Facebook today. Although I held no intention of being publicized by the publisher of the book when writing the review, it’s certainly good to be recognized by such a credible, esteemed establishment.

I write not to impress anyone, but I simply like doing it out of sheer egotism and aesthetic pleasure, both of which strike the chords with George Orwell’s reasons for why he writes. Writing is in fact an act of fulfilling my creative and experiential values that chimes the notes of Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotheraphy, a third Viennese School of Psychotherapy based on existential analysis focusing on ego qua meaningfulness, i.e., will to meaning as opposed to Adler’s Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure.

Kurt Vonnegut’s immutable, timeless adage should resonate with bells and trumpets to remind us of the nobility of being a creator of art: “To practice art, no matter how well or badly, is to make your soul grow. So do it.” That’s so patently true. Remember the ever popular catchy advert phrase? Just do it. Think Nike.

 

Marie Antoinette: A Captivating Guide to the Last Queen of France by Captivating History

Marie Antoinette: A Captivating Guide to the Last Queen of France Before and During the French Revolution, Including Her Relationship with King Louis XVIMarie Antoinette: A Captivating Guide to the Last Queen of France Before and During the French Revolution, Including Her Relationship with King Louis XVI by Captivating History

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

History is a branch of literature made by artificers and artists with stories full of events, people, and places woven into a timeless stereoscopic tapestry of humanity, which in a succession of ages lays bare truths unjustly condemned in the circles of Treachery, Heresy, and Wrath by the winners of the epochal changes. In this regard, Marie Antoinette by Captivating History is a viable account of one of the most arguably scandalous figures in the history of civilization written without prejudice but with facts based upon the extensive collection of historical evidence of letters, small notes, and other written records that is testament to the veracity of the characters and historicity of the events concerning with the lachrymose last queen of France and her family swept in an indomitable whirlwind of epochal changes.

The book delineates the humane sides of the Bourbon couple, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI with an ample provision of personal aspects of the king and the queen in the context of regarding the historic accounts that give the reader new insights to the last dynasty of France and the bellicose retribution of the revolutionaries. Maria Antonia became the famous “Marie Antoinette” at the wedding with Louis XVI, an academic introvert who was into locksmith work and carpentry with a generous soul and deep love for France and the people. The young couple was bounded by spirit of charity and benevolence and exemplified the epitome of nobless oblige: To illustrate, Marie Antoinette told the French not to pay “Queen’s Belt Tax,” a customary tax that the subjects must pay when a new queen ascended the throne because she had heard the woes of the impoverished states of the people. Also, both Marie and Louis founded the Maison Philanthropique and hosted evening meals at Versailles and built cottages for the needy, which the French willfully forgot and forced themselves to remember the ridiculous price of bread when they later invaded the palace and demanded the lives of the Bourbon family.

With respect to the monumental achievements of Louis XVI, the promulgation of Edict of Versailles, also known as the Edict of Tolerance, permitted the French to practice their own religions and marry without converting into Catholicism. In addition, he abolished for the first time servitude akin to serfdom and slavery in France and did cut back the personal budgets to the extent possible by funneling the money into a multitude of charity organizations, all of which was willfully overlooked or ignored by the demagogic revolutionaries and vengefully ambitious bourgeoisie and their populace whom they used as minions to overthrow the monarchy by force.

The book leads the reader to a kind of Eureka moment of light to see the souls of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI in their captivity at the Temple, an ancient royal prison where the family was incarcerated and unjustly tried, during their numbered days before the executions by the mob. We see Marie’s hair turned completely white a day before the execution, which is now known as “Marie Antoinette Syndrome,” as was in the case of Thomas More prior to his execution, and feel her fear at the kangaroo trial where she was arbitrary and intractably accused of (1) stealing French money and sending it to Austria; (ii) planning the deaths of revolutionary soldiers; and (iii) abusing her youngest son, which was patently manipulated by the perfidious revolutionaries to make her a scapegoat for the social ills of the past monarchy because she was a naïve foreigner with soft manners and cultural sophistication, which was an ad hominem embodiment of aristocratic refinement that must be annihilated in a new brave world of the middle class and its peasant class as their henchmen and women.

Nevertheless, this is not a revisionist book on the last queen and the king of France. Rather, it is a book of rare gemstone that is discrete from so many other books on the subject in a pervasively uniformed perspective that does not cast positive light thereon because of the modern complacent intellectual attitudes that discourage an objective scrutiny of historical facts by safely choosing to remain in the political correctness of history. However, truth will come to light at the length; Truth is truth to the end of discreditable reckoning of demotic, partisan views and defamatory opinions on infamously misconceived historical figures that deserve of equitable judgment of the characters and deeds thereof. All this makes this book enjoyable and enlightening read, which is much to recommend it if you are willing to find out facts that lead you to beacons of truths.

The Druids: The History and Mystery by Jesse Harasta and Charles River Editors

The Druids: The History and Mystery of the Ancient Celtic PriestsThe Druids: The History and Mystery of the Ancient Celtic Priests by Charles River Editors

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Stonehenge, which he described as a peculiar juxtaposition of primeval-looking stones that resembled “a group of brown dwarves in the wide expanse,” he was also overawed by its mysterious ambience laced with its ancient esoteric elements woven by the flight of ages and the succession of the primordial Druidic spirit peculiar to the British Isles. In the poetical visions of Emerson, the sacrificial stones of the Druids were a phantasmagorical display of the enigmatic nature of the Druidism and the Druids clothed in their long white robes of fierce mystery. Such mysteriousness surrounding the Druids is still paramount to the image and perennial legacy of the clandestine ancient cult with its formidable ritual practices and influences as vividly related in The Druids by Jesse Harasta.

In this book, Harasta draws up a wide range of historical contexts ranging from a memoir written by Julius Caesar to annals by Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and the Younger, and others, in search of the eyewitness accounts of this notoriously secretive cult and its ritual practices in the context of regarding its social and cultural influences on the colonial Gauls, especially the Britons. According to Caesar in his Notebooks about the Gallic War, which is still arguably the most detailed record of the Druids and their customs written in between 50 B.C. and 40 B.C., the Druids were originally initiated in Britain and that they acted as the grave executors of justice with solemn probity in conjunction with the religious elements to instill respect and order imbued with theocratic fear in people because the Druidism was by nature theocratic. In fact, such theocratic aspect of druidism is evident in Geography published in the 1st Century A.D. by Greek philosopher, historian, and geographer Strabo as follows: (1) the Bards: singers and poets; (2) the Vates: diviners and natural philosophers; and (3) the Druids: moral and natural philosophers. These three strata of the Druid ruled the roost of every aspect of their society with the authority and power tantamount to those of the Supreme Pontiff in later years.

The peculiarity of the Druidic custom is the absence of written records, save other public and private transactions recorded in Greek. Although the Druidic education was heavily focused on memorization of a great number of verses, writing was strictly forbidden based upon Harasta’s viable hypothetical grounds of (1) to make the knowledge of the study inaccessible to the other castes, such as warriors and common people to maintain their social supremacy and dominion; and (2) to improve the faculty of memory to develop cognitive ability, since an act of writing tended to reduce the ability to memorize.

The ritualistic practice of human sacrifice is the ubiquitousness recorded in annals and manifested in archeological evidence. Even before the rise of the Roman Empire, the ancient Greek historian Athenaeus in the 4th Century B.C. recorded the Druids’ sacrifice of their prisoners to the gods, which was subsequently echoed by Pliny in the 1st Century A.D, who confirmed that the emperor Tiberius outlawed the Druids and their murderous types of diviners and physicians, while the succeeding emperor Claudius obliterated the  inhuman cult.

Such ritualistic killing of humans and animals as well as performing ritual cannibalism was the most exquisite act of the greatest kind of piety. To illustrate, diviners stroke a human being chosen for sacrifice in the back with a saber and divine from his death struggle in the presence of the Druids or stabbed the victim with a small knife in the area above the diaphragm. Then they interpreted the future by observing the nature of the victim’s fall, the convulsion of his limbs, and especially from the pattern of his spurting blood in ancient tradition of undivided observation. In another example, the Druids built enormous effigies and filled them with living persons and set them on fire for mass sacrifice. Also, they burnt faithful slaves and beloved subordinates at the climax of the funerals of their masters. All of the aforesaid rituals took place in oak graves, since oaks emblemized sacredness and wisdom as the word “Druid” was originally derived from Celtic word “derwijes,” meaning oak and “wid,” to know or to have a vision.

Pace other reviews of this book as desultory, partisan accounts of the Druids gleaned from ancient historical resources primarily written by the Roman colonials with supercilious opinions on their barbarous Briton colonialists, this book is an interesting read on this delphic ancient cult and its esoteric customs elegantly put together in plain language based upon the scholastic historical contexts. This is indeed a comprehensive overview of the quaint Druids whose formidable mysteriousness still resounds with the modern day revival of the cult in its outer form to the descendents of the Britons. For the reader who wants to delve into the Druidism in depth, this book serves as a decent primer on the subject as a preliminary requisition of rudimentary knowledge of the ancient cult. For all others, this book is an informative read that will bestow another literary pleasure and self-satisfaction on your mind.