Category Archives: Miscellany

Anything that’s on my mind.

Minor Earth, Major Sky

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.

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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