Tag Archives: English writing

The moon in colors

71wjr9Kv-JL._SY355_What would it be like to have the luminescent Moon all to yourself in your room? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have it in your hands glowing, strobing, and flashing in rainbow colors? But I know the feeling of how it’s like to be part of the Universe in physical sense because I have it: the Moon, the Queen of the nightly sky, the symbol of goddess Artemis, my favorite goddess of the Greek mythology in the form of  a  new  Moon Lamp 3D Printing  16 Colors Moon Light.

This Moon Lamp is a lovely novelty both in design and in functionality. It is a pretty lamp that bears a striking resemblance to the real Moon with what seems to be lunar swirls and craters on the surface that feel pleasantly soft in touch. It is about as big as a cantaloupe and light into the bargain, so I can move it around in any place. The lamp comes with a cable cord, a small wood stand, and a remote control With which I can change the colors and the intensity of the light as well as set a timer for the moonlight show at night. It’s also relaxing and pacifying to look at the glowing light of the Moon when I read and write at my desk. The mysterious luminance fills the room with serenity and beauty that translates my earthly dwelling into a small universe of my own, part of the mythological world of gods and goddesses, with bestowal of sacred ability of prophecy like a Sybil or Pythia.

I am glad that my choice of this Moon Lamp chimes the bell of my love of mysteriousness and want for calm pleasantness at night when I am home. I glory in the novelty of it all, and it also seems to entertain my mother who likes the most when the lamp turns into a lavender color. As poet W.H. Auden compared woman’s love to the soft and gentle light of the Moon he called “this lunar beauty,” I compare my new lamp to this electronic lunar beauty. 

 

‘The Power Of Habit’, by Charles Duhigg – review

The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And BusinessThe Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

William Shakespeare’s convivial axiom of “A merry heart goes all the day” contains a profound secret of the power of the mind. It tallies with the tenets of quantum physics that consciousness is the foundation of the universe. Accordingly, the significance of willpower has always been the subject of philosophy, literature, and science because that is a prerogative of our humanness, our sovereign power and right of exercising the great faculty of mind to the extent possible, just as John Milton in Paradise Lost advised us: “Mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Further back in the antiquity, Aristotle corroborated that habits reigned supreme in connection with our construction of reality: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In the tradition of Milton’s existential observation of the mind and Aristotle’s epistemological truth about the power of the mind, Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit propounds an auspicious argument that explains how habits are formed and how to discontinue bad habits based upon the scientific findings of the brain and factual evidence in lay terms.

In order to give the reader the importance of habit formations and its relation to the neurological functions of the brain and the physiological effects on the bodily functions, Duhigg first avers that subconscious mechanisms that impact the numerous choice that seem as if they were the products of sound logics are actually influenced by habits of thinking. This habit formation results from the evolutionary progress of the brain’s mechanism for saving efforts, so that we can stop thinking constantly and redundantly about basic behaviors to devote mental energy to inventing irrigation systems, letters, waterwheels, printing machines, and other technological artifacts.

Then how are these habit formations programmed in our brain? Duhigg provides the reader with the simple but potent secret of 3-step loop as follows: (1) Cue: a mental trigger that commands the brain to go into automatic response and which habit to use; (2) the routine: physical and mental response to outward stimuli; and (3) a reward: feedback from the brain to parse if this particular loop is worth the remembering for the future. It is also quite reassuring to learn that even the smallest shift in the routine stage can upend the pattern and that every habit is malleable and fixable, however complex it may seem. Once the entire loop is established through a steady period of time, the brain stops fully participating in decision-making, letting an action put in auto-pilot mode. Hence, a habit is born. This also means that we can take control of the loop if we learn to create new neurological routines to overpower our less desirable or undesirable habits as long as cues are present.

To illustrate, the case of Travis Leach is the most compelling and realistically substantive in proving the power of habit formations fueled by willpower. Leach dropped out of a high school aged 16, wasn’t mentally strong enough to withstand criticisms and indignities, resulting in his frequent changing of odds-and-ends jobs. Then goddess fortuna must have winked at Leach when he got a job as a barrister at a newly established Starbucks store that made him turn over a new leaf in life. At the age of 26, Leach became the manager of 2 Stabucks stores overseeing 40 employees. He never got upset by irate customers or felt utterly powerless in a drip of criticism due to the company’s education of empowering willpower to their new employees based upon the science of habit formations. To dismiss it as a tactful advertisement for Starbucks’s business umpire is to discredit Leach’s hard-won triumph of will over his sociological disadvantages and psychological scars as a result of his unhappy childhood.

Duhigg’s vastly informative and highly entertaining guide to the habit of success does not bestride a vox populi bestseller list of common self-help books. With his thorough research of evidentiary neurological impacts on habit formations and use of everyday examples thereof, Duhigg marshals his knowledge of the subject and willingness to help people in plain language that is accessible to the initiated and the uninitiated. He then delivers a burst of scintillating pep to the reader with steadfast belief that the right kind of habit formations supported by willpower will transform the raw material of the mind into its Excellency through a process as mysterious as a “caterpillar transforming mulberry leaves into silk,” as his like-minded intellectual Ralph Waldo Emerson agreed two centuries ago. This is not a self-help book per se, but a modern day version of Aristotelian principles of ethics examining the nature of and relations between virtue, the mean, pleasure, and happiness that can make your life different.

dead or alive

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They saw him struggling and being done. He seemed to stop breathing with no vital signs of being “alive and kicking” any longer. They saw it all, they thought him dead up there on the scaffold, suspended for 50 good minutes on a sturdy rope tied around his neck on one cold November afternoon of 1740. Then this presumably dead man came to life as soon as a penal surgeon put a surgical knife on the body laid on a slab for anatomical dissection. This really happened, and so it did. Hence the phrase, “Dead or Alive.” The subject of this incredible case was 16-year old William Duell, condemned for the rape and murder of a servant girl.

This incredible cheating of death spawned doubts on the effective way of enforcing deference value of the penal law, religious musing on a possibility of divine intervention, and dilemmas of what should be done with this resurrected convict. It was concluded that Duell was to be transported for life to North America discreetly lest his survival should stir up any public imbroglio that would result in a call for abolishment of execution by hanging deemed to be ineffectual and thus inoperative in enforcing authority of the capital code in society. Accordingly, there are no known records of Duell’s transportation to North America and his after-life therein. What a chance of life he was given despite his cardinal sin!

Then how did it all happen? It was due to a miracle of our human body that will make the reader’s head swivel in wonderment: the fact that the execution was carried out in cold winter increased Duell’s chance of survival because the brain must have triggered the body’s survival mechanisms when in traumatic comatose. That is, the body in its own biological defense against such trauma lets the brain reduce the temperature and keeps the heart and lungs alive by maintaining optimum oxygen levels to prevent major brain damage in a trauma, such as Duell’s being hanged in the winter cold.

It’s a cracking case of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,”which is worth the knowing if the reader is keen on uncanny things. But then nothing is more wondrous than our own human form. To the agnostic skeptics, it’s science of the body that works a divine feat of miracle in the sense that it can fight back threats from the outside and even death, such as being manifested in Duell’s incredible dead-alive illustration. On the other hand, as not all hanged men did return to life, it would be supercilious to conclude that only science rules in this strangely curious case, for there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our modern rational mode of reasoning.

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‘Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild’, by Dav Pilkey – review

Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild (Dog Man, #6)Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by Dav Pilkey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Half humanoid, half canine guardian of justice and humanity in league of his unforgettably formidable allies saves the city from evil villains set out to plague it in as much annoying way as fleas on a poor dog’s body. Hip, Hip, Hooray for Dog Man, our unlikely but likable hero that deserves of our heartfelt hoot and hollow. To contradict the usual glorification of hero-worshiping façade, Dog Man is none of your familiar super heroes in Marvel Comic Strips, nor is he like Batman, Superman, or even Iron man who seems to possess vulnerable human traits, and yet is equipped with wondrously technological gizmos or alien superpower. Contrariwise, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man wonderfully embodies all things related to our unfavorable human tendencies that cloud our wondrous potential abilities – insecurity, disappointment, loneliness, and diffidence as deeply felt by Pilkey himself as a child diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD at school.

Pace the generalization of the book as being intent for children, this book is inclusive of literature, philosophy, and sociology contextualized in the story and delineated in the characters without gravitas of the academia. Take Dog Man, who finds himself estranged from his colleagues at his police station except his boss, Chief. Dog Man cannot talk for the reason because he’s a dog with a human body used to belong to his K-9 policeman killed in action. As the title “The Brawl of the Wild” adumbrates, Dog Man is in a way reminiscent of Buck, the sled dog in Jack London’s classic The Call of the Wild that comes to term with his fate and even reconciliation with a treacherous human in the person of Thornton. Then there are Petey, who is supposedly a sinister jailbird, but in fact softy inside, his cute young son Li’l Petey, who never gives up on his jail- bound father Petey in his joint collaboration with Dog Man in rescue operation of the city, and stern but benevolent Chief, who seems to defend Dog Man against unjust and unfair treatments from his fellow policeman/policewomen and the pompous judge. Wisecraking and heartwarming, hilarious and sentimental, intelligent and vivacious, each of the chapters is smoothly linked to the next one with amusing in-between intermissions that deserves of the separate theaters of appreciation.

The book is an enjoyable parade of laugh and compassion wrapped up in delightful amusement of vivid colors and elegantly profound dialogues, which can be made possible by an insightful and observant author who stands with the reader and sees hope and goodness mired in the despair of hopelessness and wickedness at the heart of humanity. I recommend this book to all who want to spend their time reading something jovial and funny after a long hard day or just to fill their minds and hearts with a fresh breath of air. This is a scintillating read that evokes a wide arc of thoughtfulness and imagination in the minds of readers both young and old, and the young at heart.

 

The Significance of Unread Books

47def1527c46a0b1c2136d2348a04421To come upon Word of The Day, Tsundoku, as I was checking messages on Facebook during my lunchtime at a regular Starbucks shop gave me a fillip to thinking of my unread books I have piled up, untouched, since my new job became my primary reality. A Japanese word for a pile of unread books, Tsundoku has become something of new word that describes a tertiary group of books  attempted but disinterested, or tried but forgotten. Which is what my tsundoku are comprised of. My books pending my reading speak to me: “Have you deserted us?” Nary a One Bit, My Dear Textual Friends.

In fact, looking at a stack of unread or partially read books imparts me a sense of subtle satisfaction and small wonder: these books of mine indicate that there’s still unknown knowledge of the world I need to know and that my literary vanity is worth the indulgence. They are part of my personal library built upon flotsam and jetsam of sundry interests, which are similar to the Mathom-House in the Shire, inhibited by Hobbits. The Mathom House is basically a museum of paraphernalia, a sort of odds-and-ends things but not to be discarded for what they are worth. The House is ever-expanding as a Hobbit fills it with this and that to his heat’s content. Likewise, my library is ever-expanding as it is filled up with new ideas and fresh inspirations drawn from the world of writers with unique voices but who always manage to express the universality.

Tsundoku, the Mathom-House… they are terra incognita in the mind of any adventurer of knowledge. The importance of unread books reminds us that reading is a never-ending activity but an ongoing process of becoming who we want to be because we become what we read. Reading is not a competition but a creation of a reality of the reader by passing over to the minds of the author and the characters. All books , finished and unfinished, are possible to help you get there too because they are unknown unknowns. Therefore, a sight of Tsundoku is not a sign of a failed literary or academic ambition but a display of a wondrous mind whose intellectual/academic/artistic odyssey is still on.