Tag Archives: English writing

they come to her at night

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The night was a strange paradox of light and dark. It was too dark to invoke images of the bright beautiful things. It was too light to provoke imaginations of the blissful obliviousness. The night was a white heat of the sleepless senses that kept taking in all seen and heard even after the provocateurs were long gone out of sight. This was maddening and becoming madder and striking the notes of all madness. Iris couldn’t sleep as the night was getting deeper and darker, and it was consuming every part of her in a great white incandescent flame like a funeral pyre that once engulfed Dido’s forsaken body and unfortunate heart. The senses that kept her awake besieged her glass castle without mercy and started to screen the scenes of sadness and more sadness as an apparition of the past narrated the story buried in its tomb without an epitaph. She was wide awake at the bewitching hour, and she was helplessly defenseless against the force of the hour.

Since she was a little girl, Iris has been going through the same nocturnal rituals of waking up at 3:00 AM on time, precisely, continuously, as always. Every single night was every single rite of this uncanny performance of sleeplessness – that is, exactly at 3:00 AM. When she wakes up, the electronic digits always show 3:00 AM with glows that seems to grow lighter the more she looks at it in fearful awe. Fearful because Iris has learned that it is the hour when the gates of the underworld, the netherworld, the world beyond are open, and the regions of faeries and wandering spirits roam the earth as witches fly to the devil’s banquets. Hokum it may be, but the bewitching hour also seems to include Iris as a coterie of the supernatural for what’s worth. This secret is hers and hers only in fear of being branded as a weirdo or a witch’s apprentice even. Yet, because Iris’s soft heart cannot bear a secret too long for its painfully tender fullness of emotions and feelings to keep it to herself, it now agonizes her sense and antagonizes her sensibility. And it was this night that got her to a paroxysm of inquisitiveness, inadmissibility, and ineffableness, enveloped in the mysterious veil of incredibility so enigmatically eerie that it almost felt infatuating with the unknown.

The magical hour was now in possession of the waken Iris with wide eyes, and the effect was smeared into every part of her body without a miss like ink instantly and ferociously diffusing in a glass of clear water. She did not like it, but her opinion was useless under the power of the supernatural hour. Iris wanted to break the spell and doing so would require her of facing another unknown mysterious force. Her Catholicism would defy her magical assumption on the incredible symptom, but Iris knew that her religion itself entailed the magical qualities of belief and that it was only natural for her to connect the dots between the two belief systems as a solution to her ghostly malady. That’s it. She can’t take it anymore, she can’t have it any longer. Forget the religion, and think primal. Iris has made up her mind to start her investigation of the supernatural phenomenon that she has been going through to find whys and wherefores.

Poesie – the moon

They whisper lovers’ words

In the soft sweet moonlight

With the bright hues of 

the Evening star quivering

in a delight of a gentle caress

of the commending nightly sky

and its reflection in the waters 

Beneath the visiting lunar beauty

chaste and fair, excellently bright.

P.S.: The moon has been an inspiration for many a writer, ranging from Ben Jonson, who revered it as a seat of chaste goddess Diana, to W.H. Auden, eulogizing it as the one and only lunar beauty. I took the liberty of joining Jonson and Auden by writing this with the image of the moon I have in mind. 

flight of life

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She has seen the strange fear gain

Advantage on the society of citizens

And the panic win of the ghost campaign

Drumming in masks, marching in battalions.

When she has seen the start of the war,

It has asked her once again to wonder

About the cyclicity of history to reflect

Upon the nature of humanity that retains

Its dualism of good and evil ever to resist

The heaven on earth for the glory of heroes.

This thought is as a plague of the fear

That has begun to deter me from a cheer.

Author’s Note: All the locomotion of daily city life seems to have ceased: my regular Starbucks store is operated on a pick-up service only, the security guards at the lobby have gone, the streets are empty, and policemen in tandem are patrolling. The situations also extend to Ventura County, where I live. I tried not to write about the pandemic craze because of its very sheerness of the subject about which many writers are probably writing. But what I have seen for these past four days in my very eyes has fomented me to write about my impression and feelings. Hence this is it. 

 

The Poesie by Titan: poetry in painting

 

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Europa by Titan

Although art is territorial, it’s never divisional; it crosses over the branches of art and begets a hybrid of wondrous beauty that spreads through the mind of the beholder and lingers there in alterations, evoking an arch of endless imaginations and a well of inspirations, appealing to our human faculty that is rather physical than metaphysical, sensual than intellectual. It’s a mating of the Senses, a marriage of Reasons perfected in letters or paintings, all in the mastery of stories, colors, and forms begotten by divine madness of artists copulating with a sensation of the flesh in putting a method of expression to its love bed of paper or canvas. Such a love child of arts results in Titan’s riveting masterpiece the ‘Poesie.’

Titan (1488-1576), one of the most celebrated artists of the Italian Renaissance, created the ‘Poesie,’ a cycle of 6 mythological paintings inspired by Ovid’s ‘the Metamorphoses,’ stories about famous mythological figures in poetry, which was the very reason that Titan chose it as his subjects. Originally commissioned by Phillip II, the life-sized portrait of whose father Emperor Charles V catapulted Titan to stardom in European courts, the ‘Poesie’ gave him the artistic freedom to experiment with different styles of painting incorporating secular subjects that attracted the welcome attention of intellectually ambitious aristocrats. The ‘Poesie,’ meaning poetry in French, is a hexaptych of human emotions expressed in mythological figures that are all too familiar and universal common to all human creatures. It displays the vagaries of human emotions, ranging from euphoria to anguish, passion to regret, and greed to pain, all the artistry in each of the paintings. Titan wanted to create the visual equivalent of the poetry in which Venus burning in passion for her young object of desire Adonis, Europa ravished by Zeus in a bull’s hide, Actaeon chancing upon Diana’s bath and other divine and mortal beings, such as Danae, Perseus, Andromeda, and Calisto intermingled in sensual pursuits were to be translated by strokes of a brush, plays of colors, and dramas of human feelings and emotions. In fact, it is this Titan’s talent both as a storyteller and a painter that sets him apart from his contemporaries and renders the work immortally enshrined in the atrium of universal arts.

The ‘Poesie’ is currently on display in London’s National Gallery exhibition for the first time in over 4 centuries, following an example of Vatican’s concomitant display of Raphael’s tapestries at the Sistine Chapel. Notwithstanding the thematic and geographic differences, the works of the masters delight the eyes of ours as harbingers of art as artifacts of human civilization consisting of the standard of taste and reason universal in all human creatures as regards the principles of judgment and sentiment common to the eyes and minds of all mankind.

‘The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England’, by Ian Mortimer – review

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan EnglandThe Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

People tend to make an anachronistic mistake of assuming that their times are more culturally and socially superior to their previous generations’ times, whereas forty years on an evolutionary scale amounts to a million second on a twenty-four-hour clock, the amount so infinitesimal that it makes you smirk. What makes us set apart from the predecessors of our human civilization is not how they looked but how they looked at the landscapes surrounding their everyday lives, which led to the creation of the ethos of society peculiar to the different historical periods of time. This Thucydidean approach to history as a branch of social science as well as humanity strikes the chords with Ian Mortimer’s perspectives on his Elizabethan ancestors in his scintillating book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Rich in details and splendid in descriptions that successfully and naturally resurrect the period, Mortimer’s vividly atmospheric accounts of the era transform the people and the landscapes of Elizabethan England from one-dimensional textual elements to animated figures in his engagingly vivacious narrative that strut in the mind’s theater of the reader, commanding attention in every chapter in a way that looks virtually real, evoking a phantasmagorical display of the periodical images. Mortimer is a knowledgeable and witty guide well versed in the English Renaissance with a practical sense of reality, which makes him something of Dr. Who, who pitchforks his wide-eyed volunteer reader to the subject time and then materializes when the reader is in a pickle. He shows the reader both the beauty and the beast of the Elizabethan society at its core with his wealth of knowledge drawn upon extensive research on the period and general erudition without putting a supercilious air of a highly learned man and stands in awe with the reader of the cultural and social progresses of Elizabethan England that began to define the “Englishness,” with which we tend to associate when the name “England” chimes the bell of literature, religion, and geography, all in the collective image of being “English.” Mortimore does this wonderfully with his engaging narrative skills that will not make you bored and skip a page.

Mortimer as a literary Dr. Who aims to bring the gaps of time and space between the reader and the populace of Elizabethan England to elucidate his stance on the truth about unchanging human nature wrapt in a periodical costume; in fact, history is a branch of literature made by artificers and artists with stories full of events, persons, and places that are woven into a tapestry of time, which also reflects how we have become what we are. In light of this, Mortimer is a cross between Herodotus with his entertaining narrative skills and Thucydides with his objective analysis of the historicity of society and culture. At the end of the book, the reader will find William Shakespeare, one of the most notable figures of Elizabethan England, holding up “a mirror to Mankind and shows people what they really are.” This is a cracking read packed full of interesting tidbits on the ways of life in Elizabethan England which he relates with wonderfully lucid insights into the turbulent but magnificent era that marks an indelible landmark in the history of England, and ultimately, of the world.

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