Category Archives: Miscellany

Anything that’s on my mind.

Beautiful Santa Barbara

 

 

To see the pretty summer sky is poetry breathing life. The world outside books provide the optical pleasure that sparks up otherwise monotonous landscapes of everyday life. Indeed, it was such a beautiful morning that would make you forgive your persona non-grate with the love of mankind. It was a kind of jolly morning that made the whole world seem kin.  So Tuco took a lovely jaunt in the beautiful historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse this morning. He went there alone in the bliss of solitude that always flashed upon his inward eye for creative inspiration. One casual glimpse at Tuco might give you an impression of an ordinary guy with beer-belly spending his evening time and Sundays in front of a TV set. Contrary to his embonpoint, avuncular physiognomy, Tuco is an artist, a poet, a thinker. He is, what Edgar Allam Poe would call without hesitation, an intellect with passion.

 

Tuco chose the Santa Barbara Country because its Spanish colonial architectural style reminds him of the familiar civic landscapes of his childhood hometown. The Courthouse, located at 1100 Anacapa Street, in downtown Santa Barbara, California, is famous for the Spanish Colonial Revival Style building designed by Charles Willard Moore and completed in 1929. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005 for its beautifully distinctive colonial-style respective of the Spanish cultural heritage harmoniously attributing to the aesthetic character and history of California.

img_1982While strolling around the Courthouse, Tuco’s eyes were suddenly fixed on a white doll attached to the palm tree. It was a tawdry but scary-looking doll that gave him the creep down on his spine. ‘Did someone who had a beef with the court’s decision put this voodoo doll here as a curse to the Courthouse?’ Trepidation for the unknown terror began to spring from his tactile sensory organs, making him momentarily delirious. He was becoming unsure of whether it was a wise decision to take a picture of the evil doll or even to come to the Courthouse. Was it an omen? ‘Oh, come on. Are you kidding me? It’s just a doll, more or less. No need to waste your energy on contriving meaning to the ugly voodoo doll.’ With this sudden forceful exercise of affirmation, Tuco wended his way toward the beautiful scenes of the earth, the sky, and the view of the world.

 

Tuco exclaimed, “How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!” The sky was high and blue, the lawn was full and green, and his eyes filled with pleasure. Today was the end of his vacation, and he lamented about returning to work for livelihood. However, the beauty of the scenery made his otherwise grim and dreary Sunday lovely, and Tuco thought life was not supposed to be all that hard and unbearable.

 

 

 

Dokkaebi: the gullible goblin

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Ireful old woodcutter castigating a not so menacing Dokkaebi

The Dokkaebi is a mischievous, playful fairy-like spirit that is equivalent to the western counterparts of leprechauns in capricious temperament and of goblins in formidable appearance. The legend says it that an old broom made out of dried bush clover with bloodstains on will turn into a Dokkaebi, who will hold a spell over the mind of an unfortunate passer-by at night in the field or on the mountain. Befriending with a Dokkaebi can bring you a fortune at a house that he has lived as your protective spirit, but you must live there for precisely ten years only. Otherwise, the Dokkaebi will leave you with the ruins of your fortune and health. There are still people in Korea who believe this belief tradition by offering the Dokkaebi buckwheat cakes, spirited beverages, and steamed pork when they open businesses and move into new houses. Some people even report seeing them when walking alone in the thoroughfares or any lonely path where lights are dim at night between midnight and 4:00 am.

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A Dokkaebi likes to challenge a passer-by with a wrestling match.

The Dokkaebi may seem to possess the caprice and whims natural to fairy-folk. However, it embodies the human characteristics of compassion, selfishness, naivety, shrewdness, durability, and formidableness. The Dokkaebi reflects the pathos of life indelibly embossed in the collective consciousness of the Koreans. They have endured the anfractuous national tragedies and yet maintained their unique language and culture.

Faerie tales often belong to the days of yore before the advents of industrialization, and the fairies are either imaginative creatures or exaggerated figures of fashionably esoteric religions in the west. Still, the Dokkaebi is a living spirit in the minds of the Koreans and has wept and laughed with Koreans.

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A tiger is a Korean totemic animal that can mimic human voices.

P.S. This post is my solipsistic response to #FariytaleTuesday, whose theme for today is the Asian fairies/spirits in folklore. The community is inundated with the wondrous tales of Japan and China but scarcely Korea. Koreans, like the Irish, love to talk and laugh with precious human sentiments, which result in the creation of the Dokkaebi. The Korean culture, as evidenced in the language, is closer to the cultures of the Ural-Altai language family, including the Finnish, the Japanese, the Turkish, the Hungarians, and the Mongolians.  Since there seems to be a scarcity of Korean spirits represented in the tweets, I felt responsible for writing about this playful Korean spirit with human characteristics.

about Emily Bronte

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The 19th century has produced many a scintillating woman writer whose world of imaginations is beautifully interwoven by the gossamer strands of feminine sensibilities and literary sensitivities tinged with a passionate spirit addressing to that of the reader transcendent of times and spaces. Her world is one enchanting realm of the felicity of beauty, the ire of desire, and the tenacity of will in the witchcraft of words. Such a world belongs to no less a writer than Emily Bronte herself, the elder sister of Charlotte Bronte, who was born on the 30th of this month in 1818. This brief essay about Emily Bronte intends to manifest her commendable trait that is deemed inspiring to aspiring writers who feel estranged from the literary cliques that do not see the hidden jewel of their inner worlds.

Educated mainly at home by reading of the books in her father’s library, Emily Bronte was something of an autodidact who was always seen with a book popped open and a notepad on her side while attending her daily chores at home. Her lack of formal schooling due to her weak disposition and introvert nature might have made her a poor speller. Still, her protean imaginations compensated furnished the marvelous world of her ideation carved by alluring latticework for her literary casements to her stories. Her fascinating imaginativeness creates the vivacities of the emotions, real and alive. Emily Bronte is a forerunner of Beat Generation, whose trailblazer Jack Kerouac championed a tenet of a stream of consciousness in writing. Kerouac, whose mother tongue was French, struggling with the English syntax, urged would-be writers to write without grammatical constraints impeding the flow of thought. The editing should come after the birth of an idea, which proceeds the mastery of grammar. In this regard, Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy, who were also imperfect in grammatical aspects of writing, are in the libertine society of Emily Bronte and Jack Kerouac. They prove that imaginations precede imperialism of grammar.

The lionization of Emily Bronte as an austere, astute literary Titaness in our time, obviates her weakness. It gives her a status infused with intellectual solitude of a learned woman writer and egoistic charge of modern-day celebrity writer. It reminds me of the way William Shakespeare, who was also mostly self-educated, is now revered in the grand fortress of the lofty academia as a figure of cultural and intellectual sophistication denoting one’s social status. So many people adulate the greatness of Emily Bronte and her Wuthering Heights in a simulation of her literary style and the romantic notion of solitude while diminishing her human characteristics that they regard dull and prosaic. She attended the household drudgery and took care of her sickly elderly father even in his peculiar habit of firing guns in the air from the top floor window in the parsonage as a warning to the Luddite civil unrest. Besides, she was not an academically brilliant student during her brief school years in childhood.

I believe that Bronte would feel uncomfortable and discombobulated by such a famous rhapsody of blind admiration without understanding her personality and character that may not appeal to the readers and writers who do not see the beauty of doing simple things in daily life. Emily Bronte was neither Sylvia Plath, a woman of a privileged background whose poetry does not touch the hearts of universal readers, nor Emily Dickinson, a voluntary recluse ensconced in the solitude of leisure. Emily Bronte was an extraordinary writer in the semblance of ordinariness. She possessed imaginativeness that eclipses the brilliance of the other fashionable literary women writers of all ages. That is why her literary world is ao appealing to universal readers and writers, professionals, or amateurs.

Gaslighting

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There is no more wondrously enigmatic than a man, as betokened in the Spinx’s riddle about the metamorphosis of a man from a quadruped to a tripod. A metaphysical shapeshifter, an astute apprentice to whatever entity is deemed promising, a man is by nature spiritually tenuous in its consistency of adhering to principles of Reason. Concerning the duplicitous nature of a man, no one but Albert Einstein has perspicacious knowledge about human nature. Einstein himself was a genuinely curious admixture of polarities: mad, smart, indifferent, humane, distinguished, ordinary, failing, and excelling, without a hint of arrogance in a semblance of condescendence ingratiating himself with the populace. Accordingly, I find his wise sayings apposite to the several swings of things I have seen in every spectrum of daily life.

The fallacy of human judgment deprived of sensitivity that is apparent in most of the social phenomena aptly applies to Einstein’s following adage: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” A man knows one thing but disregards the other in the glorified appellation of a lofty cause of elevated human dignity that people are likely to oversee in the ordinary daily landscape. To illustrate, the current campaign against the systematic police brutality in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Michael Brown is indubitably just and noble in its effort of ending the institutionalized racism in the States. However, the people actively involved in the movement – politicians, activists, celebrities, and the rest of the populace – do not seem to include the feelings of others who are socially outcast whom they can see everywhere in the daily landscape.

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The category of the weak and the persecuted should not be limited to people of particular creed or race. Still, it should also encompass those who suffer from daily persecutions by their superiors, peers, and even family members in that relaxed and light-heartedly enforced “Just a job,” “Just a kidding,” or “just a passion of the moment,” which doesn’t mean much. This disguised bullying is an illustration of “Gaslighting,” manipulating someone by callously and sordidly psychological means into doubting his or her sanity when it does not fault the faculty of the mind. The spirit of the victims of gaslighting is only too acute and perceptible to ignore, and the result of the virtuous endurance of socially acceptable bullying is the high rate of suicide and mental illness that people tend to overlook.

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The slogan of “Black Life Matters’ itself indicates the ignorance of other lives as well in the sense that it only promotes the dignity of specific people. Whereas, many other people are subject to daily mistreatment of individualities and dignities based on personal differences in external elements and dispositions that make them distinguished from the majority. Take the fictional Arthur Fleck, the wretched man behind the mask of Joker. Fleck is a victim of abuses that have stunned his growth into a confident individual finding meaning in life. Instead, because of his timid appearance dubbed in fumbling mannerism, Fleck is a subject of ridicule, a good-for-nothing clown whom all the members of society regardless of race and gender from top to bottom taunt and ignore. His invisibility caused by ignorance of people carries him over the edge of his sanity. However, people love to hate him, accuse him of being a villain to wreak havoc on the innocent people loved by all. What’s appalling about the plenary inquisition of Fleck is that it happens in the reality of life where many suffer from the inward pain of separation and misunderstanding from the society that is supposed to protect them. The community turns its back on the nameless individuals who do not fit into the social category of the Weak.

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The fatuous conception of social equality is then null and void in advocating the well-being of the weak in all aspects of social life. The definition of the weak includes all who feel vulnerable, prone to emotional scars callously inflicted by the brutes of the sense. The Twitter Community, for instance, is the most exclusive of all other social media under the disguise of the magnificent liberality of free opinions. It can hurt the soft-spoken and people of delicate constitution trying to find a supportive community where they can share and spread knowledge regardless of elitist discrimination. The high number of followers is the prerequisite of respectability in the digital social meritocracy. The insularity of each community from within is reminiscent of Salem, the island of the lords of flies, and other subliminal lands of nowhere you are likely to imagine in SC-Fi fictions. The viscosity of educational achievements, social appellation, and physical appearance decides the affability of your tweets, making you endear to the qualification of the followers that your twitter pal has amassed. The more unique tweets are, the less popular they are. Forget the lexical queerness due to different linguistic families. The tweets denoting solipsistic musings or solitude in sadness are not welcome. In other words, tweets should be as delightful as an ascending lark. Otherwise, they will not even bother to read your considerate tweets.

The stupidity of people amazes me in every possible variety of forms and degrees, and the reaction to their reflection is all the more mesmerizing in superb wonderment. I wonder if people know that when they champion one cause, they are also excluding the other, which is closer to where they live and work. On the train, on the bus, in stores, in offices, people are ignoring the weak. All of this is the comedy of errors, the infinite stupidity of humans. Einstein saw and knew it, and I am confident that he continues to see it with his arms folded, looking down upon his posterity from his chair of knowledge of the eternal universe, and say, “I told you so.”

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the image of the war

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from International Archive

When Oberon, the king of Fairyland in Shakespeare’s The Midsummer Night’s Dream, demands that queen Titania yield the human child whose mother is a votary of her order,  she remonstrates thus: “Set your heart at rest. The fairyland buys not the child of me.” The queen is adamantly protective of her human changeling for the sake of his well-being. Then I see one of the famous photos of the war children, which was taken in the wake of the Korean War, as shown above in this post. Where is their Queen Titania in her fairyland? Or more tragically, has she forsaken these little children in their own care? What would have happened to them?

The face of a doleful young girl carrying her little brother before the tank needs no assistance of words with a surge of the pathos of child refugees who were forced to grow fast in the reality of war. Wandering about their whereabouts now in mind conjures up the mental picture of Aeneas carrying his elderly father on the back, escaping from the carnage of the war behind. Both the elderly father and the younger brother are prone to any seismic events because of their weak mentality and physical strength, and therefore require special care at all times. Aeneas, the man destined to become a founder of Rome and the nameless girl, is, in fact, are brought together by the collective experience of war, bound by the familial duty that requires sacrifice.

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Aeneas carrying his elderly father

Notwithstanding the official cease-fire agreement unwillingly made and entered into by and between the Two Koreas, the tension, the disbelief, and the conflict of the political, social ideologies are still in the consciousness of the North and the South, keeping the amber of the war volatile around the 38th Parallel Line. This current unfinished state of the war is arguably akin to the 10-year long Trojan War between the allied forces of ancient Greece and of Troy during which the Trojans continued to carry about living in the semblance of the ordinariness of life.  The compelling, emotive picture of the little Korean siblings attests to the atrocity of war that forfeits the innocence of childhood that every child in the world should have. It pleads in silence that we as citizens of the world should prevent a reprise of the Trojan War not only in the Korean peninsular but elsewhere in the world so that no more war children of their kind will be begotten by the tragedy of war.