I have recently read an article about popular instapoets from one of my subscription magazines and been appalled at the author’s dyspeptic raillery on the poems of the known poets and brazen-faced mockery on the literary merits of the works by playing a role of agent provocateur following the instapoets just to mock their works with malice.
Just because one does not like another’s work doesn’t ipso facto endow the person with right to desecrate the work and to insult the author by putting him/her in the pillory and, thus dispiriting the mind and the heart that are indeed “noble” and respectful. As a hobbyist writer of my blog who has the temerity to write in English, I am now indeed in more sorrow than in anger that there might be agents provocateur or double agents in hides of followers intent upon deriding my amateurish but sincere writings.
The instapoets, bloggers and anyone dabbling in the craft of writing are the cult of Knut Vonnegut’s maxim: “To practice any art, how well or badly, is to make your soul l grow. So do it.” I hope the author and his likes will understand it with magnanimity of the learned literati who will not use their learning to reason against these noble spirits.
The Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt might have been destroyed eons ago, but public libraries in every continent across the seven seas are going strong both as municipal assets and cultural repositories. Libraries are no longer elite academic institutes for the esoteric religious and the moneyed echelons of society whetting their intellectual vanity and superiority. The democratization of libraries as a public institution of shared and exchanged knowledge has made it possible for every class to access the symbolic fortresses of universe knowledge.
According to Stuart Kells, author of The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders and Shakespeare’s Library, libraries are “civic infrastructure,” which functions as pathways to literacy and social engagement where an exchange of information and propagation of knowledge occur voluntarily. In fact, a library is something of a public educational enterprise without expensive tuition, which provides various kinds of educational programs for all ages and all classes and of administrative services (e.g., passport service). That is why a government should fund its public libraries to encourage and fortify communal integrations and progresses instead of grandstanding on its discordant political vitriols to manipulate the number of constituents.
People might deem the future of public libraries to be rather bleak because of the advent of electronic books and online libraries. Yet, as time has been changed, so have libraries with modern resources, catering to the needs and interests of today’s library users. Public libraries have become democratic forums of learning and exchanging knowledge and information. They are vibrant cultural atriums in which the abstract and the physical become wondrously and liberally consummated. For this reason, I think that the future of public libraries is reasonably auspicious.
Author’s Note: This is my thought on a new radio interview with Stuart Kells on the future of public libraries. The subject is universal beyond Australia. Readers are encouraged to listen to the interview and to visit their local libraries.
This is how a Kumiho appeared before the eyes of an enchanted man
I came across the article “Fantastic (Medieval) Beasts” from my subscribed magazine the other day on the train with delight and want to introduce readers another phantasmal beast from Korea called “Kumiho,” meaning a “nine-tailed fox” living in the heart of mountains.
The Kumiho conveys syncretism of totemism and shamanism in which the characteristics of humanity (Intelligence, Beauty, Ambition, Greed, Love) are fantastically intertwined with spiritual beings of natural creatures. Originally born of the spirit of a dead fox, the snow-white, gray-eyed Kumiho with the voice of a baby lives up to a thousand years with a blue magic marble possessing the knowledge of all things in the world.
The Kumiho is also an excellent shapeshifter, often in the figure of a beautiful young maiden to lure a man for marriage, so that it can fully become a human on the 100th day of the marriage. However, if any mortal sees it devouring the livers of livestock or corpses at night before the 100th day, the Kumiho can neither become a human nor will ascend to the celestial kingdom of eternal bliss, but will live another thousand years on earth until it achieves the intention. In fact, there have been accounts that several hikers have sighted the Kumiho deep in the mountains of South Korea…
Father Christmas might have waved goodbye to us, but that’s not the end of the Christmas Season yet. According to the liturgical calendar, we are still in the month of Nativity with the Nativity scenes and the accompanying decorations around the altars still ubiquitously present in the churches across the seven seas and seven continents, resounding with Christmas hymns at masses until the second week of January. Choirs still stage their grandest and liveliest concerts, just as their counterparts in Victorian Britain did, with the customary repertoires, ranging from the popular “Silent Night”, to “Joy to the World”. Above all these oldies but goodies, Handel’s “Messiah” chorus chimes the bell of Nativity most exultantly and reverberates with the sublime impression on the harmony of human voices that perks up the senses and uplifts the spirit of man.
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), a German-born British Baroque composer who is also called “Mother of Music” wrote “Messiah” in 1749 as an anthem for a Charity concert in the chapel of the Founding Hospital, a foundation truly close to his heart created for the guardianship and scholarship of the abandoned children and contributed the munificent largess from the subsequent performances to the hospital. Messiah’s majestic Hallelujah chorus was so impressive that King George I, the queen, and the congregation rose during the performance. Further to the royal impression, Mozart and Beethoven were said to compose similar pieces in reflection of Messiah because of its magnificent musical scale and instrumental composition superbly blended with human voices that gave a spriteful jolt to the senses and soul of the listener.
In addition to the musical excellence of “Messiah”, its significance lies in its democratization of music being accessible and doable to all pace its conception as being the prerogative to aristocrats and the proprietary to professional musicians. Out of stuffy music halls reserved for the high, Handel’s Messiah was performed in churches where the public could also enjoy it. Also, thanks to the popularization of the Hallelujah chorus, fueled by the Industrial Revolution, many an amateur choral society came into being, inviting any one to actively participate in musical activities.
Handel himself conducted or attended every performance of “Messiah” up until his death. Handel was said to riposte thus when “Messiah” was called noble entertainment: “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.” Now, that’s the true spirit of an artist who touches upon the hearts and minds of all human creatures. No wonder has the chorus given lumps in the throats of the gobsmaked audience of the world. Hallelujah.
Leisure in nature finds good in everything with time to stand on the top of the hill and stare the world under with thrill. Nature indeed requires her times of preservation, so that it will be a free luxuriant spa for all who labor and heavy laden with the existential needs and those who are in the crossroads of spiritual quest for truth. For you will find books in the trees, sermons in streaming brooks, and music in every sound that the earth produces.