Tag Archives: books

‘Let Me In (2010)’, by Director Matt Reeves – review

71wrP9sh2IL._RI_SX300_Love is really everything except what it is.  In the moments of violent delights of the ecstasy, it creates synchronicity of the two minds by surrendering to each other and becomes inseparable from one another. Whether it is erotic or agapeic, everyone regardless of any biological, social, or existential plane deserves this sweet surrender of love. George Sand, the French novelist whose love story with Frederic Chopin is better than a fiction, affirms: “Everyone deserves to love and be loved.” That is everyone, even if that one is a vampire or a misfit.

“Let Me In” directed by Matt Reeves is a story about this love based upon his Shakespearean interpretation of ‘Love”. It is about friendship that develops into love because the word “Friend” is derived from a Proto-Germanic word “fraendi,” meaning “lover.” As it is a recurring theme of William Shakespeare’s plays, the meaning of friend and love is interchangeably conveyed on screen by the cinematographic recounting of the fateful love in the veneer of friendship between the two main characters, Owen and Abby, who are bound by loneliness and heartaches. In fact, the story of these two very young characters will conjure up the very young figures of lovelorn Romeo and Juliet by the side of the screen lurking in the corner eager to deliver their legacy of love that means to be forever beyond River of Styx. The only difference is that Abby, who is a vampire, never tells her love, but her concealment feeds on her crimson lips by devouring other people’s lives. She only sees Owen, the sensitive boy with a beautiful heart, for none other than a woman’s reason. Abby pines in thought, and with a red and gray melancholy, she watches Owen like Patience on a tree, smiling at grief for what she is.

There is an original Swedish version of this selfsame film, but this Reeves’ version is more intelligently rendered and is hauntingly riveting with its surrealistic imagery and the stellar performance of the cast beautifully alloyed in the alluring alchemy of cinematography. It is an innovative synthesis of  artistic European neo-realism and a burst of the American no-nonsense realistic pep in the straightforward screenplay. This is a kind of film that makes you walk on the borderline of fantasy and reality, revolt and conformity, fear and courage, and doubt and trust, all of which will make you long for everything that love can come by. Forget Fear. This film is at its most compelling when you follow it with your open mind and let it in.

first woman orbits solo in space on 06/16/1963

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Astronaut Valentina Tereshkova

Surely, it must have been the Soviet’s ambitious plan to claim superiority of its scientific advance and social progress over the capitalist imperialists. However, in recognition of its achievement, free from bias and embellishment, we should transcend the subjectivity of the political ideology and reach universal truth and applicability, which is a principle of studying history as championed by the ancient Athenian historian and general Thucydides that still reverberates down to date.

Fifty-six years ago from today was when twenty-six year old Valentina Tereshkova successfully orbited alone in a rocket named “Vostok 6” with her call sign “seagull.” It was two years after Yuri Gagarin had commenced the age of spaceship, and it was the first time of womankind to be in space. Coming from a model proletariat family of a tractor driver father killed in action in the Winter War against the Finns and a textile worker mother, Tereshkova was the “It” poster woman for the Soviet Union’s social and cultural ideological emblem. Raised by her mother, she didn’t go to school until the age of eight and left six years later to work in a local factory. It was during this period Tereshkova discovered a singular hobby of parachuting.

The Soviet authorities were looking for candidates to become the first woman to go into space two years after Gagarin’s space travel. Goddess Fortuna winked at her and inspired her to apply for the candidacy, which was the job to be had only for the asking, because she was the woman they were looking for: (1) there were relatively few she-pilots to endure the rigorous training requiring mental as well as physical strength; and (2) she was the child of a war hero whose life was sacrificed for a patriotic cause with immaculate proletariat family credentials. That is, Comrade Tereshkova was the Soviet’s ideological manifesto incarnate in all aspects.

After fifty-eight orbits lasting more than two days, Tereshkova returned to earth and found herself famous. But she deserved such recognition and respect because she demonstrated courage, go-aheaditivess, and strength eloquent of womankind in the most elegantly powerful way without brandishing a banner of feminist screed that the equality of women’s rights must be also exercised in space by orbiting in a rocket. Moreover, her non-elitist social and cultural backgrounds in comparison to those of famous Western European or American woman notables was worth noting that true equality meant for all regardless of rank and meritocracy because it would reveal everyone’s adumbral talent.

transit of venus

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She flies across the Face of the Sun

Flapping her veil through the stars

with dancing waves of her golden locks

To flaunt her Triumph over Reason.

 

Author’s Note: While I was reading my subscribed magazine on the Kindle Fire during lunch hour, I came upon this subject of Transit of Venus, a cosmic show in which the planet Venus passes directly across the sun in ever 253 years or so. Although I am highly doubtful of witnessing such a phenomenon while I am alive, the idea of it inspired me to write about it as the vision sprang from the mind’s eye. 

 

 

‘The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine’, by Lindsey Fitzharris – review

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian MedicineThe Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One thing that inspires me to utter “Thanks be to God” is to be born after the age of butchering, so to speak,  without the use of anesthesia during an operation or any invasive surgical procedure. And never forget a bottle of Listerine that has become a household name. In consideration of the aforesaid, the preeminent triumph of medical science in the west is arguably the invention of antiseptic methods that has saved thousands of lives. The linchpin of this epochal achievement in the history of medical science is Joseph Lister, an English Quaker surgeon whose dedication to the profession was wonderfully interacted with his altruistic character and diligent pursuit of knowledge in his profession. The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris enlightens the reader about the macabre world of nineteen-century surgery and its progress by advancement in antiseptics pioneered by Promethean Lister.

In this highly entertaining and informative book, Fitzharris guides the reader to Lister’s medical path with fittingly concomitant case history of surgery, hospital care, and germ-theory, all of which essentially contribute to his advocation of antiseptic methods in post-operative treatments. The author’s vivid illustration of the horrifying surgical procedures before the advent of anesthetics is not surely for the faint-hearted, but it is an axiomatically effective means to introduce the reader to the staging of a young medical student named Lister, who was solemnly determined to prevent a patient who endured such demonic pains from dying aftermath due to the persistent infection caused by putrefaction of germs in the operated area. Fitzharris’s employment of in-between vignettes about his contemporaries, family members, and others who influenced Lister both personally and professionally also intends to provide the reader with a variety of causes that led Lister to his dedication to the championing of antiseptics in the applicability for precluding unnecessary deaths of patients. She does it all with her consummate narrative skill that grabs the reader’s attention on every page.

Although this book is about Joseph Lister and his benevolent medical munificence to humanity, it is hard to strictly categorize it as biography because it does not purport to deify him with an Olympian laurel wreath. Rather, the book is focused on the magnificence of scientific triumph over human frailty, which is achieved by a collective effort to find the sine qua non thereof on the principle of betterment for humanness. Fitzharris does an excellent job of delineating this collegiate endeavor to make human life better by reconstructing Lister as a practical idealist with a vision to match in his revolutionary invention of antiseptic methods based upon a scientific theory and his zeal for continuous pursuit in learning of knowledge. Drawing on a wealth of research on the subject and her erudition, Fitzharris creates polyphony that intelligently interweaves multiple strands of her learning. This is a scintillating read that educates the reader on the history and science without a bore.

swept away – chapter two

Hector was wide awake in the middle of the night. His bare chest was covered with beads of sweat, and his lips wet with drops of water from the jar beside their bedside. Hector looked at his wife sound asleep: Moira’s pretty face looked lifeless in the moonlit darkness, and her silhouette of the slender frame even more soulless against the luminescent lunar beauty from her celestial abode in the nightly sky. Maybe it was that moon, the Full Moon in the midsummer night that filled his heart with a tempestuous desire of a dangerous liaison, of violent passion, of primitive instinct, all of which was a forbidden play for a man like Hector whose status and condition could move heaven and earth, as it were, whose valiant beauty also matched the sweetness of his mind. He was indeed a curious conflation of innocence and worldliness, an enchanting consilience of Platonism with Eroticism, in the manifestation of those thousand actions, those thousand expressions that flew from his own person, fascinatingly interacting with his irresistible manhood.

Hector was looking at the lunar beauty at the terrace, hypnotically infatuated with an indescribable yearning for a secret escapade from the confinement of his conjugal life. No, it wasn’t just one of those whims and caprices that a married man bored with his marriage usually craved. Moira was a loyal and dutiful wife with a practical sense of the world who bore him two beautiful daughters. She was a daughter of a well-to-do merchant in Rome, assisting her father at his shop where Hector used to visit for his trade. Pretty as she was, she wasn’t exactly a Helen whose faces launched thousands of ships. Yet her sensible words and lively actions were what prompted Hector to pursue her as his would-be wife who could settle into his way of life. Funny that, my dear reader. For someone like Hector had remained unattached for long despite his beauty, talent, and character. No, he wasn’t a shameless cult of sybaritic Bacchus, nor did he attempt to, nor was he inclined to cross over the boundary of Eros in any mode of preference. He was rather an idealist, a romantic follower of Apollo in search of endless love consummated by Eros and Psyche. Call it cloddish, vagarious, or hokum even, but that was what he was, really. That was how he kept his wild horse of desire in him, still. That was why he wanted to release it from its rein, now.

The story of Eros and Psyche was his favorite, reverberating down to the bottom of his heart. But then it was more of Eros that sparked his dormant passion locked into his mind’s cabinet. For he was a man after all whose sensory organs would react to the stimuli of the seen, the beautiful, the enchanting, the mysterious, and the fatal. He’s all up for it, waiting for it, and going for it. The moon was still high above all the lives of the nightly world, and as its soft white luminescence was glowing and glowing harder, and penetrating his Olympian body deeper, Hector’s desire of a dangerous liaison was growing bigger, louder, and bolder in an ineffable ecstasy of unknown love as mysterious and adventurous as the ones shared by Goddess Circe and Odyssey and Eros and Psyche. He was in the theater of this solipsistic midsummer night’s ecstasy, swept away by his violent passion that knew no restraints with all his vigor, with all his virility, and with all his vitality.

The phantasmagorical display of the sensual dreamscapes was beginning to fade as Chariot of Apollo was approaching yonder in the dusky distance. Forget Shame. Perish Fear. Curse Fate. Hector wouldn’t let his passion for his unknown love dissipate into one night’s dream, safely ensconced in the complacency of his life. He would look for her, wherever she might be. As the dawn finally broke, Hector’s eyes sparkled with brown marbles, so beautiful that they could be sinful to look at. He decided to go to travel to Cumea, where there was his studio of paintings and sculptures. But first, he was going to tell Moira that he’s going to stay at his studio alone until he finished creating his new work of art. And he knew it would be a magnum opus following his unstoppable heart.