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 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 Miscellany

blah, blah, blah and lord of the flies

Greta Thunberg is an 18-year-old environmental activist who has risen to a child crusader against the corruption of the world, not for incorrigibly persistent unequal distribution of wealth within society and among nations, but for the blahs of the world leaders who irk her nerves for not listening to her pleas to save the earth. In all fairness and recognition of her endeavor to raise red herrings on environmental issues, I applaud her to the very echo. But why is it that I see in the face of Greta talking “Blah, Blah” the faces of the boys chanting “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Or is it that I am a seriously near-sighted adult whom Greta forthwith denounces as politically and culturally blinded conventionalist speaking the Blah only?

It was interesting to read and watch Greta’s speech at Italy’s Youth4 Change, growing more prominent and bolder with a singular air of superiority. It bestowed upon her a right to mock the world leaders, including President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson, in their conference for environmental issues. Her English was flawlessly articulate, with accents that denote her fierceness of character and feistiness of personality. Indeed, such a high level of confidence is highly remarkable and undeniably recommendable. Still, there is a distinction between arrogance and confidence regarding the speaker’s manner of speech and demeanor. The subject brings me back to the wild Boys of the Lord of the Rings, in which the gentle-mannered protagonist Ralph is soon abdicated by the rebellious Jack, who provokes ids in the followers of Ralph to subvert the order and to rule the tribe. Greta’s rhapsody about youth as not being “blinded by realpolitik and the assumption of compromise” sounds like a youth manifesto from Peter Pan. He never gets old to build a society of the young only. But does Greta know youth is wasted on the young?

Also, I wonder what Greta thinks about those at her age and younger underprivileged, mistreated, and malnourished worldwide if she is so concerned about the earth’s well-being, for we are the earthlings. Does her activist profession disavow acknowledging and addressing the humanitarian crisis because it is trivial compared to the lofty environmental ideal? Come to think of it; I have seen fewer youths making substantial movements toward eradicating hunger or preventing child abuse, including but not limited to sexual nature systematically worldwide. It comes to mind that people who use children for their political and social ideologies don’t regard such concerns as being worthy of being mobilized with the child drummer in the front. What is the difference between a child soldier recruited elsewhere in the world and a child activist under a supervision of a master adult activist?

What I feel about Greta and her famous Blah address is probably no different from what Shakespeare must have supposed in Elizabethan England: “Woe to that land that’s governed by a child, tis much when scepters are in children’s hands, there comes the ruin, there begins confusion.” Maybe that is what William Golding envisions in his fictional island where children’s mutiny proved to be as catastrophic as those on the Bounty or even more. So that is my undiluted sentiment toward Greta, smiling, chanting “Blah, blah.”

Posted in Poetry

meadow at dawn

The first ray of light from heaven dispels
The gray silence of night lost with lusters
With pale hues of the sun in the soft sweetness
Lingering in a lake of shimmering waters.

Iris unfolds the wondrous seven colors
Weaved into an arch of dreams and hopes
Always new and fresh in never-ending grace
That fills with pleasure the hearts of beholders.

Aurora releases dewdrops from crystal buds
Made of moonbeams, stardusts, and starlights
Kept from a visiting moon and traveling stars
Washing the faces of earth with heavenly pearls.

Posted in Miscellany

Toro is back

St. Frances de Sales’s advice, “Have patience with all things but first with yourself.” is no more so than with the three weeks’ heartbreaking ordeal to win back my cat Toro’s trust in me. His traumatic visit to the veterinarian now seems to dissipate across the feline Elysium slowly, or so I want to think. He is not hiding under the bed in my presence, becoming a sweet writing company on my desk once more.

I have recently watched a YouTube that goes viral about an unlikely friendship between a stray cat and a young woman, which makes me think of my relationship with Toro and what it means to build trust between two lives. The woman found a stray tabby cat around her house and began to acquaint him with food. She named him “Tiger,” not least due to his perspicacious tiger stripes and adorable feistiness, giving him a distinct personality and charms that were all the more endearing to the sensitive woman who was also in need of company in her solitude.

Thenceforth, they became complementary to each other for consolation, security, and most of all, love. Tiger is still his feisty self, and the woman is still trying to adjust herself to his whims and caprice. Still, they feel comfortable in their presence and love. The tears welled in the windows of her soul when she said that building trust between two took time and patience. You can’t make someone love you arbitrarily by force. You don’t need a love spell or magic potion to enslave someone into your desire of possessing the body and mind, as the ancient Greeks and Romans used to. Without Psyche, Eros would not/could not have culminated in perfecting the art of love as a primordial god of Love.

Toro is in some way like Tiger: his name means a little tiger in Japanese with his distinctive stripes, and M signature proudly marked on his little forehead. Although not as feisty as Tiger, Toro has a remarkable personality of adventurousness, curiosity, playfulness, and resilience, all affectionately wrapped in his good nature. But I don’t take for granted that wonderful Toro is my cat, and therefore, I deserve his trust and love. Animals, especially pets, also have hearts that pump up the blood and feel the feelings. I regard them as friends, companions to enrich our existential human lives with a touch of sentimentality that we hardly express when we are among our species in fear of being regarded as a sign of weakness. And I am always thrilled to feel his little heart at my feet as a friend.