Posted in Miscellany

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Is anyone out there? Although I feel like a lonely gauche scientist who incessantly sends a life signal to an extraterrestrial being across the galaxies, I am again sending another life signal in writing to express that I am still alive. So, if any accidental reader stumbles on this blog, welcome.

I once read that magic is the power of manipulating nature without knowing the source of the force. If so, then the magic I once possessed is lost, making me good for nothing. But, as observed by Francis Bacon, I am talking about the faculty of cognition that affects linguistic abilities for speech that makes a ready person, reading a full person, and writing an exact person. The satisfaction of reason, the power of expression aspiring to development of the spirit, which gave me a content elbow room, vanished into the curtains of the past, leaving me to fend for provisional existence of survival in the most primitive way. It reminds me of Viktor E. Frankl’s memories in concentration camps, where many of the inmates dissipated into the hopelessness of abandoning themselves in the stupendousness of tragedies.

I always think of my life as an inspiration fit for a documentary film about a working-class immigrant single woman who painstakingly tries to preserve a sense of purpose in life with a grasp on intellectual aspiration. Doing so makes her compare to the burgeoning careers of her peers, who seem to be of a higher station in life than she. I am not trying to play a typecast role of proverbial fatalist or unreconstructed defeatist caviling at the happiness of others as a result of their hard work and abilities to do wonders. That would be a callous and sordid a priori judgment for her unfortunately cursed life. Didn’t Shakespeare also say that our lives are governed by our stars? Didn’t Cicero believe that our lives can be read by avian augury? Come to think of it, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton also believed in and engaged in alchemy craft. The commonality of the examples described above illustrates that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt in your philosophy about the world, whatever it may be.

Posted in book review

‘The Maid’ by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose is a one-of-kind, touchy-feely novel without collapsed grand narratives and vehement subjective rhetorics about existential vertigoes in life that burdens the reader with a duty to interpret the philosophical, the intellectual meaning of a story, all fragmented and adrift. Instead, the story uses the real to perfect the ideal delightfully blended with a taste of Murder She Wrote with relatively ordinary characters doing the most extraordinary things like you never know.

The Maid is one lonely young Molly Gray. She is a Maid of Maids, taking her job religiously in a hotel that does not quite reciprocate her dedicated service but sees her as a quiet oddball because of her reclusive comportment. But Molly is a swan in a lake of ducklings and geese, a harpist among percussionists, whose feet constantly move beneath reality’s surface. Molly is anachronistically muliebral and incongruously proper. She belongs to a preceding era of decency, saying early Edwardian London as a chambermaid, a coveted position for working-class women. To judge Molly as a misfit is downright callous and heartless because she inwardly craves recognition from those she thinks of as sympathetic souls who use her as a pawn in their game of passion and avarice. The more we learn about Molly as the narrative deepens, the better we know of her as if we were contracted severe strains of Stockholm Syndrome. Hence, our better angels persuade us to forgive and forget the stupendousness of truth that Molly confides to us at the end of the story’s labyrinth.

This fictional Maid by Nita Prose and that real-life Maid by Stephanie Land are stories about working-class women struggling with the realities of life by themselves. The only difference is that the former has a blessing of luck in the form of sympathetic and resourceful supporters who rescue her from a dungeon of hopelessness. It is understanding because, as Charlotte Brontë expressed, one of the reasons she wrote was to be a kind creator for her stories’ heroines otherwise to whom no sweet soft touch of warmth and love would caress their weeping heads. However, Molly, the Maid is not all melancholic, a damsel in distress, a clueless loner succumbing to a subtle form of gaslighting because she is the one who laughs the last laugh with intelligence wrapped in a maid’s hide. Molly Gray the Maid may have a woman’s body but has the king’s stomach and heart in the most magnanimous way. Therefore, don’t mess with Molly – and the likes.

Posted in Film Review

‘Buck and the Preacher’ (1971)

Rousseau’s dictum of “Men are born free and are chains everywhere.” fittingly describes the condition of what it means to be free from slavery after the Civil War. Even so, freedom was recalcitrant to belong to them, and the hardships that came with the price of liberty from the carnage of the war still beset the newly freed along the trail of exodus to the new promised land in the west as articulated in Sidney Poitier’s classic western film “Buck and the Preacher” (1971).

Buck (played by Sidney Poitier), a former Union sergeant turned scout, leads a wagon of freed blacks from Louisiana to the west, where they hope to start their new lives without a shadow of slavery. But alas, the shadow of slavery still haunts them. It is up for grabs in the form of renegade ex-soldiers, probably both of the Union and the Confederates, hired by the former enslavers to bring the migrants back to the chains of slavery. They attack the wagon, rape women, and kill the old and the young, constantly intimidating them to return to where they belong. But the pain of loss and death is even less painful than the thought of returning to the past, and the journey marches on. Buck protects the journey, and the self-proclaimed preacher conman artist (played by Harry Belafonte) a former slave, chimed in, despite his original ulterior motive of money-gaining. This unlikely dup proves to be something of Moses and Aaron, so to speak, in a way that they guide and protect the persecuted people from the sordid bondage to a new promised land even if it takes a nearly decimal lot.

Then there are Indians across the wilderness as gatekeepers to the land of freedom. They are no outsiders to the persecution with their land taken away and their very beings threatened to decimate. The Indians live by the toll fees migrants have to pay when crossing their territories, not the least due to the paucity of livelihood resulting from the government’s confiscation of the land. When Buck implores the tribal chief to help them against the white attackers because they are all brothers, the chief retorts him by saying, “But black people also fought against us with the whites.” The mistrust is natural, as is the confrontation of the two peoples whose rights are put to contests orchestrated by the forfeiter of the rights. The class consciousness between the Indians and the blacks needs a manifestation of shared injustice and empathy, which both of them attest to an objective reality where they prove to be on the same side.

This film is one of the great Sidney Poitier’s and finest as I have been watching as remembering this brilliant actor who has recently died. Always poised with a commending presence filled with natural confidence and will without being febrile and vociferous, Poitier exudes his irresistibly graceful charisma on screen in this memorable Western about blacks and Indians, who are often seen in the peripheral characters contributing to highlighting main white characters. But this is not a revisionist Western at all to polarize the thematic elements of the genre. Hardly so. Instead, “Buck and the Preacher” is an eye-opening Western film about the peoples who are likely to be cast as outsiders even if they also rightfully belong to, to quote Lincoln, “the family of freedom with a jewel of liberty” called Americans.

Posted in Novellas

Freya’s Chariot and Toro’s Aspiration

Freya rides in her new celestial chariot driven by two Norwegian Forest cats named Bygul and Trjegu. The Norwegian forest cats came from a single-fathered family when their father felt unsure how to raise them after their mother left the family. So the father asked Thor for godly help. Thus Thor gave the kittens to Freya, thinking that they might be helpful to her as companions or messengers.

But the intelligent and beautiful Freya has a better idea: they could drive her divine chariot to travel across the skies and seas, not to mention land given proper training and times of experience. So rather than smothering their natural agility, unfailing alertness, and admirable persistence, all of which are excellent traits for hunting prey, Freya finds the most brilliant way of a beautiful kind to let her cats drive the chariot. There’s no need to goading or hollering to spur Bygul and Trjegu because such application is unnecessary for performance when the cats love their roles with all their hearts, souls, and minds. When in doubt, read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and you will soon believe me. If you have cats, see for yourself, for they do when they like, not what you want them to.

Toro, aka the Curious Tabby, is contemplating joining the team, imbued with high hope of running Freya’s chariot from sunrise and sunset, flying from one end of the horizon to the other, over the ruffling waves of the deep cobalt seas. As one year and three months old, Toro thinks he can apply for Freya’s training school, where Bygul and Trjegu are instructors. At the thought of it, euphoria envelopes his body in a vista of the magnificent chariot, and his spirit now soars up in the garden of ether, intoxicated with the weightless levity. No more boring days, no more need to call the attention of Judy, his human sister, to let him out to the living room, which is always and ever tiresome.

It’s not that Judy lacks care and affection. Hardly so. It’s because of her cantankerous elderly mother, who doesn’t like him to roam around the living room where she usually stays, watching the repeats of talk shows on YouTube. Toro understands Judy’s dilemma between her willingness to let him out and her submission to her mother’s scolding because otherwise, she knows that the mother will discipline Toro with her walking stick. Toro loves Judy, but his curiosity doubles up with aspirations, whetting his desire for driving Freya’s chariot at least just for once. But then it would mean leaving poor Judy alone behind with the horrible old woman. Hence Toro is thinking hard again.

Posted in book review

‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini – book review

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Writing is the most solipsistic and democratic means to make people discover your secret histories or inner world so that they can understand why you are what you are. That is what Khaled Hosseini does enchantingly in The Kite Runner. It is a bildungsroman story reminiscent of the Au revoir, Les Enfantes-Esque ambiance surrounding the narrative of a grown-up boy who wants to reconcile with the stupendousness of mistaken guilt becoming a malady of the heart. But that doesn’t mean it is all too surreal or stark grim to make an accidental reader think it is a wrong choice. On the contrary, Hosseini vividly conjures up the faces and scenes, resurrecting the spirits of the places and times, by putting together the tesserae of his memories in this rivetingly heartrending read.

The book incorporates the sociological theory of symbolic interactionist perspective focused on the relationships among individuals within a society and how political changes affect the lives of individuals and the sense of who we are and our relationships to others. The story’s narrator, a young Afghan boy of the upper-class named Amir Agha, gives the reader a ride to his childhood in Kabul to show the halcyon days of pre-soviet and Taliban reigned Afghanistan. First, you will see him and his best friend Hassan, a Hazara servant boy in his house, wallowing in reading stories and lost in kite flying. Then and thereafter, Hassan becomes a victim of the most horrific act committed by the half-German blue-eyed Afghan boy threatening him to win kite. Amir’s retrospective narrative becomes his public confession and ablation, all of which is a combined act of purging out the painful memories of the past and exorcising his demons tormenting him with the guilt of jealousy, ignorance, and cowardice. The whole narrative then becomes a plethora of pathos and empathy, resulting in a cornucopia of forgiveness and sympathy, drifting it all in a high-flying kite once and for all.

It is a fitting story in this particular time of Afghanistan history and Abdulrazak Gurnah’s winning of 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for his achievement of universalizing human travails transcendent of racial, cultural, and geographical differences. Vivacious at times but dolorous at most, the Kite Runner is synthetic literature that wears habiliments of memoir and novel. There truth and fiction dissolve into one another anchored in real life with factual geographical and historical facts smoothly amalgamated in the individual narrative account, which reminds me of Herodotus’s “Histories.” Or it is an alluringly pioneering memoir-making that resembles Realistic Fiction. For whatever it is, the Kite Runner bestrides the aisles of contemporary literature sections, alluring the public with simple language that magically juxtaposed in beautiful prose style with lyrical quality, all soul and mind in the marks upon pages evocative of the spirits of the memories materializing.



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