Tag Archives: history

The bio of seventeen weeks old Tabby Tom

Hi There. Nice to meet you!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. How rightly so. Despite my sixteen weeks of life thus far, my feline instinct feels that there are unpathed waters and undreamed lands within me. So I deem it high time to unravel the mystery of Me.

My name is Toro, the co-editor at large of this blog with Stephanie. I am sixteen weeks old. I am a domestic short-haired tabby tom, but Stephanie believes that I am of an Egyptian Mau, admired by ancient Egyptians and the divine cat of Ra, God of the Sun, as portrayed in the Book of the Dead. I think Stephanie’s hypothesis of my suspected heritage is due to my beautiful turquoise eyes and dainty figure. She also seems to want to liken her and me to Cleopatra and her beloved Mau. (Wow!) Well, no one can blame her for regaling herself with such lofty imagination of my elated pedigree because – in all honesty – I look like one. What can I say? Seeing is believing, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Then the truth is to the end of reckoning, as the Bard chimed in.

As is the queen, so is the subject.

Despite my regal appearance, my biological and family background is that of an orphaned pauper, lesser than the pauper who exchanged his identity with a prince because he had mom and dad. When I was born, my mother left me alone, so a passing old lady took me to a nearby shelter where I met my sister Stephanie. I followed her because there was something that connected us from moods to tendencies and personalities. We share our peculiarities in mutual solitude shared by orphaned patronage of love and care.

How’s the writing going?

Because I was left alone to tend myself at so young an age, I am prone to frequent mood swings from high and low, which often makes me frantically run around the room back and forth, up and down, and left to right without stopping. I know this strange behavior of mine startles poor Stephanie, but I can’t help such impulsive pulsing as it is part of my irrepressible feline nature. However, one thing is sure that when I see Stephanie returning home from work, my whiskers are moving all withers, my tail rises to fortune, and my little feline heart fills with meows and more meows.

This much is the bio that I dictated to Stephanie for my new career in publishing. As I am excited about this new adventure with Stephanie on board, I hope readers will join us in our one of a kind literary enterprise in joyous spirit! Meow.

I am done with my share. So, I am taking a break.

Minor Earth, Major Sky

As a hobbyist dilettante writer, I have been writing this and that on my beloved blog for four years. Despite English being my Second Language, I dare to write in it against criticism of solecism regarding all the prescriptive rules of the most popular language of the Indo-European linguistic superphyla. The reason I continue to and love to write is no more than the justice of my meek self, smothered under the mask of exoticness that has become my sole identity, and a written touchstone for the neural activities of the mind. I sometimes wonder affected by the progress of neurological or physiological maladies as I slowly walk toward the end of the mortal journey on earth. So, I want to leave the mark of my existence. Welcome to My Invisible World, the Minor Earth.

The provenance of today’s post comes from my reading of a Saturday edition of the Guardian subscription on my Kindle two days ago. It featured a book review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li, exultantly described as a cracking read written by a Chinese-American woman writer deserving of the commendation. The article began with her illustrious academic background as an immunologist and a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant bestowed on geniuses. While such introductory curriculum vitae is undoubtedly relevant to denote her intellectual brilliance, I wonder if such a decorative prerequisite is necessary for the book’s worth. What if Li were just an obscure Chinese writer delving into English writing without the decoration? Such a hypothetical question might be regarded as nothing but an incoherent rambling of a jilted would-be writer. Yet, I have noticed that ordinariness is off-putting, unglamorous, and unworthy of recognition. Call it a groundless presumption or jealous subjectivism even, but it’s the truth. Charlotte’s Bronte’s author’s tenet of faithful allegiance to truth and nature seems to apply to the otherness of the Far-Eastern writers whose ordinariness is merely invisible and regardless. That is, they exist in an invisible habiliment of mysteriousness from Shangri-La.

The review analyzes Li’s literary reality of uprooted sentimentality in the background against America’s wilderness, so to speak, in which her existential question of who she is based. Li also rides on the crest of the waves of cultural identity, as is the principal thematic element of most Far-Eastern writers. Rather than striking the chords with the universality of human life, they tend to focus on the egoistic litany of alienation with their selfsame egoist emphasis on otherness. In this regard, Far-Eastern writers themselves foster this strangeness, this otherness, these less-than-ordinary images based on their literary tenet they believe truthful and appealing to selective, not universal readers. That is why I, who is also from the far east tend to eschew their stories, void of the common ground of empathy, no other than the shared physical reality.

Enter Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, whose literary world is not limited in his racial and cultural backgrounds. A good writer is capable of travel and metamorphosis beyond the existential terra, where the vision becomes a reality of its own. Ishiguro wants to be all that he can be away from his physical context to manifest his views on human nature, which aims to chime the bells of universal emotions. However, such transfiguration of physical reality into the universal realm of consciousness does not betray Ishiguro’s ascribed biological characteristics because creative force, in conjunction with desire for aesthetic values of literature, is mightier and higher than physical reality. In this sense, Ishiguro gloriously triumphs over racial barriers, and splendidly demonstrates that what you look like and where you are from cannot confine you who you want to become.

I still write despite my imperfect command of English simply because I love the act of writing as a valve for opening myself dying for a fresh breath. My book has sold only five digits of a hand. I recently received a comment on one of my book reviews I posted three years ago on amazon with 32 likes that callously slighted my ability to write in general because of minor violations of grammar rules. Yes, I am an amateur writer of Far-Eastern backgrounds with an ordinary job as a legal assistant with a B.A. in English from a state university. Yes, my English is far from the perfection of English Undefiled. Yet, writing is no longer a prerogative of the academically privileged whose selfish seclusion of lettered cases is adulated. Writing is a democratic vehicle in which anyone can morph into whoever she or he wishes without restraints. Take Tolstoy, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and Jane Austen, all of whom put their literary aspiration into reality despite their spelling weakness. No one shall bully my writing skills, nor belittle my volition to write for universal readership. Forget how I look and speak. It’s the heart’s passion and satisfaction of reason letting out of the cocooned physical reality that deserves manifestation. For this reason, I write with or without public recognition with a myriad of likes.

P.S.: I don’t believe that you can follow my blog without liking what I have written. Also, even if you fulfill the requirement above, if you are regarded as a marketing puppet, then I will drive you away. Therefore, I will not treasure your subscription to my blog if you just press the button on caprice and whims. Certainly not for my blog.

‘Major Dundee’ (1965) – film essay

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Ambition, made of sterner stuff, is the solder’s virtue that chooses gain, which darkens him. Bravery, comprised of nobler spirit, is the solder’s honor that elevates the soldier’s merit to the echelon of Homeric virtue of arete, the excellence of man leading to achieving a supernatural feat of heroism. An excellent soldier with arete knows no boundary of political, religious, social, or racial division and transcends the subjectivity of time. Major Dundee (1965), an American western film directed by Sam Peckinpah, cogently translates a balanced, objective equilibrium to test the validity of the soldiers’ virtues on the continuum of the Homeric arete in the background setting of the American Civil War.

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Major Amos Charles Dundee of the Union Army (played by Charlton Heston) is a man of primitive ambition of glory sent to head a squalid prisoner-of-war camp in the New Mexico Territory. There he meets his former friend turned foe Confederate Captain Benjamin Tyreen (played by Richard Harris), who bears a grudge against Major Dundee for his betrayal of friendship. The notable tension between the two always remains even after their uneasy but necessary collaboration. Still, the esprit de corps consisting of unlikely but able-bodied characters sets to take out the Apache War Party in the new territories. Major Dundee sets out for the campaign not of pure divine patriotism but his glory despite his contentions with Captain Tyreen, who is more morally honorable and culturally sophisticated than himself.

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It is Captain Tyreen, the renegade leader of the southern rebels who embodies the model of the arete, combined with moral integrity and soldierly fitness fabulously demonstrated in his effortlessly stylish habiliment. He is a dandy gentleman with decency and learning and an exemplary soldier and leader with justice and bravery. The refinement of civility as incarnate in the figure of Captain Tyreen is vividly contrasted with the rough intransigence of Major Dundee through the exterior appearances and actions of the two opposite characters. Even Captain Tyreen’s attitude toward the colored Union soldiers surpasses Major Dundee’s languid attitude toward his colored soldiers fighting for the same cause.

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“Major Dundee” is a new type of western that abandons its common thematic elements consisting of noble savages, self-righteous lone gunslingers, the arch-villains, and beautiful women in pursuit. It is a new type of western that begins to be aware of the societal changes in the reflection of the nature of humanity with bold actions of likable bravado and admiring characters that are not circumscribed in the extreme ambit of norms and conventions with an artistic touch of vivid realism. Despite the rather unsatisfying commercial success of the film when it first came out, I find this film both entertaining and thoughtful in the historical background of the Civil War, showing true bravery equipped with respectful integrity of a person, friend or foe. There is no better sign of excellence in man than the bare demonstration of the act.

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About ‘Ben-Hur’ (1959)

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A great film with a sincere message about life and human nature transcends a divide of time and a boundary of the territory. I believe that a good movie has a lasting sensory impact on the viewer and cultivates the mind with a visual efficacy of precipitation. In this regard, the epic historical drama ‘Ben-Hur’ (1959), directed by William Wyler, is an epitome of masterpiece cinema not for a time but all seasons. The remarkable triumvirate of the outstanding screenplay, the excellent performance of the cast, the fascinating cinematography produces supreme one of art that resonates with spiritual elements of humanity in the witchcraft of motion picture.

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The film follows a history of Judah Ben-Hur, a young Jewish prince whose life is forfeited by a betrayal of trust and corruption of friendship. From the height of his prime to the fall, then to redemption, it is heroic acts of high human drama wonderfully conjoined with a tale of Christ whom Ben-Hur encounters by Providence. His wrath is untamed, and anger is the roaring of a lion. Ben-Hur chooses vengeance as a will to live in the march of death in the desert and the prison galleys on the Ionian Sea. He feeds on ire and utters curse every day until he intends to execute vengeance upon the perpetrator with recourse to the old retributory law of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Who can calm the turbulent vortex of the soul in despair and save him from the night of the soul?

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The film revolves around Christ, and Ben-Hur is another disciple of his teachings through conversion into faith, charity, and hope. The figure of Christ is the central theme of the film, but his face is unseen, and his voice unheard. We can only see his rear, but it is the mysteriousness of the person of Christ that elevates the story of Ben-Hur to the sphere of hagiography. The providential encounters with Christ in the climactic moments of his life lead him to the way of Christ, which mirrors the process of Ben-Hur’s redemption from Wrath to Grace, from Desolation to Hope.benhur-christ-a

Whether or not you believe in Christianity is not a prerequisite to appreciating this excellent epic drama because it would be a loss to any lover of arts to forego the spectacular beauty of the cinematography, not to mention the spiritual thematic of one man’s redemption from hopelessness. The grand epic scale of cinematography that depicts the tale of Ben-Hur in the trail of Christ from the Nativity to the Crucifixion is akin to watching Michelangelo’s remarkable frescoes of the Sistine Chapel that illustrate the story of humanity from the Genesis to the Last Judgment under God’s mysterious plan for mankind. In conclusion, ‘Ben-Hur’ is not a movie about a hero but about a triumph of hope over the desolation that saves a man’s soul from self-destruction, resonating with ‘Dum spiro, Spero,’ meaning ‘while I breathe, there is hope.’

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‘Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History of Lore”, by Thomas White – review

Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and LoreWitches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore by Thomas White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Edmund Burke’s canonical adage of “Superstition is the religion of the feeble mind” fits the American perspective of witchcraft as well as other supernatural views on the world. No wonder literature and media are chockablock with adolescently burlesque images and sensational accounts of the mysterious phenomena in comparison with the European approach to the subject matter in terms of historical and social contexts. However, Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore by Thomas White is an excellent antithesis to the stereotypical American attitude toward the thematic that should merit its place in the history of American civilization. The book is concise in its volume but rich in the spirit that deserves its academic and cultural contribution to the history of the New World.

The book treats the thematic of supernatural accounts of witchcraft and magical folk (the equivalent of the British Cunning Folk) with a sense of respect for the belief tradition held by the Germanic settlers of Pennsylvania and the origins of it in academic approach. Based on his close and observant reading of the multidisciplinary subjects from history to religion, White fills the erudition pages after pages with many unknown historical facts about witchcraft before the infamous Salem witch trial in Massachusetts and the lasting legacy of the supernatural belief still alive among the common folk. The omission of the witchcraft elements found in other cultures, such as African-American and Native-American, is not a supercilious gesture disregarding their values charged with ethnic pride or cultural jingoism. It is to isolate belief tradition in the form of folk magic and witchcraft from a cultural identity of ethnic traits that many people like to associate. Instead, it intends to distinguish it from the established religion that has deeply affected the psyches of the ordinary people, which ultimately has become a folk religion of its own with efficacy.

Whites provides insightful intelligence about the use of folk magic as a sense of control in the world beyond human control. Recourse to supernatural means of relieving the malady of hearts is the last straw a person can think of in a recurring series of losing streaks without jeopardizing his/her self-esteem. The story of Hex Hollow, for example, is the most well-known and representative of the subject matter, manifesting the effects of folk religion on the psyches of the residents in the predominately German-American region. To dismiss the culprits of the case as good-for-nothing superstitious crybabies looking for figures to blame for their unlucky strikes of lives is, therefore, an arrogant display of willful ignorance of the truth about folk religion and its impacts on the psychosomatic functions of individuals. The best illustration of such evidence comes in the form of The Long Lost Friend by one John George Hohman, a German-American Catholic printer, bookseller. It is an impressive collection of herbal remedies, magical healings, and charms that have been known for their potency for years with wide perennial circulation. The book is still going actively available on Amazon.

This book is an excellent read for those craving for academic perspective on witchcraft and magic folk existent in the U.S. without the assistance of parapsychology, paranormal investigators, psychics, and mediums, distinct from the genuine witches, wizards, and hex doctors. It is a collection of supernatural events and narratives recorded in case law and annals of history, told in a plain language comprehensible to eager readers of mysterious knowledge. You will find the book read fast as if you were cast a spell on by its arresting attention and wondrous truths about the existent world we still do not know in its entirety.

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