On keeping a journal

99200c36127f0bc3abd6452ca892b451
Frau am Schreibtisch (Woman at writing desk ) by Lesser Ury

Keeping a journal is, I believe, a vehicle for creating myself, my sense of selfhood. Every page of my dairy is to be breathed with my heart that does not have to entertain anybody but myself.  It’s also proof that I have lived situations which today would seem uncertain and fretful, that I have climbed up the paths of my life thus far to reach the peaks so ambitious, so adventurous. Above all, I want to bring out every treasure that is buried deep in my heart. So writing day in and day out in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook is my daily ritual to remember what it is to be me, which is always the whole point of doing it.

I carry about my traveler’s notebook  everywhere I go to write my journal and reading pointers from books I read, and some occasionally attempted drawings for practice. There are three notebooks: One is used categorically for my freedom of thoughts, feelings, and just about anything that is to be kept only for myself. It’s not to be shared by anyone, so my soul can rest herself there. Another one is for notes I take from reading that I need to refer to when I write book reviews. And the last one is reserved for jotting down anything out of brainstorm, from devising storyboards for my short stories, to scratching some images of my poems, to making bullet lists to do, and to practicing my newly inspired drawings for more balanced nourishment of my soul. Most of the times – that is 5 days a week – before heading into my job, I usually go to a coffee shop and write in my beloved Midori. It is during this writing time when I feel creative and special out of the melee, out of the existential horrors of every day, and out of the humdrum of daily life.

I love combining drawings and a variety of crafting to my writing to heighten the expressions of feelings and deepen the depths of thoughts in the way I want them to. The only obstacle I have to huddle is drawing. As someone whose aesthetic standard is as high as that of Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel,  I only wish I could draw things I see to its exactness with fine details. But then I always remind myself of the adage: “A flower does not compare itself to other flowers. It just blooms.”

SAAM-1929.6.52_2
In the Garden by Celia Thaxter

Therefore, keeping a diary is a veritable record of myself, a personal treaties on the breadth and depth of being who I really am. It sounds grandiose, but writing in my Midori gives rise to the elevation of my weltanschauung in reflection of contextualizing concepts and beliefs kept in me and also helps me unearth hidden treasure in the realm of unconscious mind. And by creating a kind of work relating to the crafts of the arts, I like to think that I am fulfilling my purpose of life to live a meaningful life, for the sake of ego qua meaningfulness. That said, I like to cherish Kurt Vonnegut’s advice that the arts are what makes the human life bearable and livable in dealing with existential matters of daily lives, for practicing any form of the arts – however clumsily or amateurishly done –  is a noble means to attend My Secret Garden of Mind full of Begonias of Fancy, Roses of Beauty, Tulips of Passion, Lavenders of Devotion, all blooming and bountiful around Spring of Eternal Youth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

저장

Ditto to ‘On Writing’, by Stephen King

Camille_Pissarro_-_Flowering_Plum_Tree,_Eragny
Flowering Plum Tree by Camille Pissarro –

I have been writing profusely and religiously almost on a daily basis since I created the blog a month ago. I love the process of writing my thoughts and feelings publicly in hope of communicating with the people who can share them and appreciate my writing. Although I don’t have a huge fan base, nor do many people leave comments on my posts, I am not dispirited because even David Hume, the author of Human Understanding received a total lack of recognition upon publication, nor did Athony Trollope’s The Macdermots of Bally Cloran gain any readership. Nary a one bit. What a comfort.

While reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, I have been getting many invaluable tips on how to write a story, what to write, and what to possess to write. King’s advice is down to earth, straightforward, honest, and friendly. Also, he is very humble to share his own craftsmanship in reference to his own personal experience which I am greatly appreciative of. Before I read the book, I felt a great distance from the contemporary American writers and their works because they seemed to belong to another world where I could not find myself comfortable with and connected to. However, King with his book On Writing has kindly and warmly invited me to the world of modern American literature and his personal/professional world in a very American way.

His writing style is precise, perspicuous, scintillating, and personal. There are no belle lettres, no plum words, no grandiloquence, no priggishness, and no platitudes therein. Just a straight story-telling as truthfully as possible. It’s both intellectual and entertaining. Besides, the facts that (1) he went to a state university; (2) he’s not from an affluent or a typical middle class family; (3) his writer wife, who also went to the same university as he did, worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts’ to support their family; and that (4) he plays the rhythm guitar in an amateur rock band consisting of his fellow writers have drawn me closer to appreciate his world of literature, his brilliant creations.

Furthermore, King seems to have read my mind in regards to my arrested development of writing stories I want the world to read. To write good, I have to read a lot consistently. Also, setting up a writing routine on a daily basis is highly recommendable. He suggests any aspiring writer write at least 500 words per day. So here I am writing this long-forgotten online journal. And the most important thing to keep in mind is that I should not lower my level to expose my writing to any external feedback by publicizing it in expectation of receiving praise or even the smallest comment, unless my writing is complete and reader-friendly after satisfactory re-draft of the original. Besides,  I will not canvass for readership because I don’t want my blog to be tainted by internet marketers of dubious origins and their ilks. In fact, the satisfaction results from writing a story that is honest to myself, that is easy to write about, and that is vivid in telling a story abstracted in my brain. Thus, I have decided to publish my blog post upon thoroughly circumspect review thereof. And I will keep this journal diligently and write a short story per week.

I will let go of myself in the world of armature writing and see how far I will get to. And if this is not my thing to pursue, then I will toss it to find another avenue in my life. But for now, I will stick to this writing plan.

*Having done this entry, I have realized 699 words were written! There I go! I have already written a short story of mine!

P.S. Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” How rightly so.

The rare equanimity of this Sunday evening (also in celebration of denouement of the senseless Daylight Savings Time in the States) allured me to trace back my bygone days, and hence this entry of my interior monologue I wrote on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015, several days after starting my blog on wordpress.com. I have always liked to write since I could read and write, no matter how amateurish it may be.

Although I can’t imagine myself earning the bare necessities by means of writing, an act of writing emboldens my otherwise timid self under the aegis of anonymity. Well, I have my name Stephanie Suh manifested as the author of the writings on my blog, but other attributes of mine are protected by stealth, and it will remain so in fear of losing a magical sense of writing as a ghost writer. (Or sometimes, I feel like Artemis, a divine huntress who vehemently protected herself from the leers and jeering of mortals in terms of her fierce guarding of noble independence. ) After all, writing is an act of discovery of a self, ego qua meaningfulness, a search for sense of purpose in life. It’s also a sanctuary, an elbow room of a restive, lost soul on a life sea. It’s also a cultivation of  plants and flowers and trees in your Secret Mind Garden. 

 

Isn’t this irony?

Our post-modernist culture is nuanced with anti-establishment of anything traditional and proper, such as decorum, mores, and codes of chivalry. The result of degradation of the values under the pretext of establishing a New Brave World is illustrated  in the following cases of Manifest Grand Irony of Liberalism that is supposed to be synonymous with altruism and niceness.

ima
A Nazi sympathizer? Are you kidding?

According to this week’s edition of The Spectator, an anonymous former British Prime Minister revealed his hatred toward Theresa May by saying that she should be stabbed or done harmed in the most despicably atrocious fashion that reminds me of the gruesome murder of women by the Reaper of Whitechapel in the late Victorian period. Then there is a British conservative party leader named Esther McVey, who was maliciously excoriated by John McDonnell, a British Labor party politician instigating the mass in public to “lynch” her. Also, the First Lady of the U.S. Melania Trump was criticized for her supposedly apocryphal colonial fashion in Egypt by the media which also prompted the subsequent rebukes from the public. And this does not stop in the West. The first female president of Republic of Korea, Keun Hae Park was preposterously ousted by her radical left-wing contender Jae in Moon on the count of accepting bribery from a prominent business conglomerate based on unfounded grounds. Besides, Moon’s myrmidons maligned her reputation with indecent computer-generated photo-ops of her to destroy her political career as well as her personal life in prison because she was a leader of a conservative party.

What the aforesaid ladies have in common is not only their conservative affiliations but also their social defenestration from their societies that show neither sympathy nor solidarity among the members of the parties and of the humanity in general. But then, woe betides anyone declaiming against the faults of the demagogues! Criticism of a political rival on different stances with courtesy is countenanced and actually encouraged in democracy, but contextualizing it in the egregiously violent words toward the women amounts to terrorism and therefore should be publicly deplored in full force and effect. Besides, however strong-willed and imperturbable the aforesaid women might seem in public, they are “ladies” deserving being treated with courtesy, for none other than being women because they are women. Where has all the honorable, respectful chivalry gone? It’s a code of honor, civility, respect toward womanhood that is transcendent of geographical, cultural, and racial boundaries. Just because they are conservative does not give anyone a license to harass them with malicious verbal remarks or gestures marshaling a mass prompting for the behoof of their political hegemony.

To top it all off, the aforesaid betrays the usual faux-pas of declining against their contenders ad hominem, not on the ground of substantive factors or evidence, as Shakespeare corroborated thus: “Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?” So it’s not altogether based on the standard of Reason but the manifestation of appetites, the raw emotions, the unbridled egos. Sounds antiquated, abstract, or even priggish? – Maybe so, but the men speaking about the women in the aforesaid manner are beyond the pale because it IS a violence of men in power against their women peers in a form of sordid verbal harassment. And it makes me wonder why #MeToo tweeters seem to connive at it, doing nothing to mobilize the supporters for pillorying the guilty men as usual.

저장

A travesty of some things

I’m thrilled to read good stuff- I mean a real good one!

Oscar Wilde, the wonderfully strange writer with a keen eye on the panoply of human behaviors, knew about voyeuristic streaks on human nature when he said thus: “One must keep a diary when traveling anywhere by train or coach to read something sensational.” Maybe that’s why people like to read the lives of others. Maybe that’s why the memoir, which I regard very much as a diary written backward in time, always bestride the bestselling list of nonfiction of The New York Times Book Review, which has become a formidably profitable genre of American literature. Admittedly, it’s awe-inspiring to read a success story of one whose hardscrabble background is a fortiori certifiable and renders a kind of feel-good sentiment with something of a vicarious experience to the reader sharing similar constraints of life in one way or another, or it may seem so. Frankly, any of the best-selling memoirs can hardly be less a modern version of Cinderella story than it seems to me, which is nothing but a proud exhibition of achievements by a select few (“The Chosen”) in the melee.

I might be cruel, only to be real. I am all the more respectful of anyone who has risen above biological/social inhibitions in his/her own fashion. But this topic of Triumph of Will over difficulties has become a literary fad, as though anyone who had rough and tough times in growing up somewhere in the backwater of downtrodden south or mid-western regions were suddenly in a zealous Olympic competition of writing the most heart-wrenching personal story on one cardinal condition: that the writer must have a very good career that provisions him/her with a nice place to live and loving, understanding significant other into the bargain. That is, unless a would-be writer of memoir is well-established in society, it’s not worth the writing of the story because after all, who’s gonna read your story if you still live among the melee with some ordinary, if not nondescript, job with meager income to barely get by despite your noble resilient spirit and evergreen hope to better yourself?

It’s all derivative of one model!

For example, the October 7, 2018 issue of The New York Times Review carries an elegant book review of “Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction”, a newest memoir of a certain popular illustrator-writer of children’s books named Jarrett Krosoczka, hailed as another survivor of economic and social determinism. The review presents the book as a courageous live-to-tell account of his childhood shadowed by his mother’s drug addiction and of his triumphant accomplishment as a successful artist who can presumably inspire many kids unfortunately mired in disadvantaged surroundings through no faults of their own. The spirit is commendable, but the gist is visceral. According to the elegant summary of the book, Krosoczka was better off than many other kids in his station because he had lumpish but loving grandparents who took care of him and encouraged his artistic inclinations, plus a cast of odd but good characters that complemented the other void of affectionate attention needed for a child. Back in our real nonfiction contemporary life, how many kids are fortunate to be endowed with the luck he had, and what if a kid struggling to escape from the plight with his intelligence and industry turned out to be just an ordinary adult still laboring to make the ends meet, while still secretly entertaining the thought of becoming somebody in his solitude? Would you think that his life is a failure? The memoir of this kind is more of a resume of individual experiences and achievements that, in a twist of irony, provokes a sort of catharsis in the reader as if he were watching a television drama that would made him feel like living in a holistic virtual reality.

In all fairness of my acerbic and arbitrary opinion on the review of the aforesaid memoir, it goes against the grain not to point out other popular memoirs perching on the best-selling list: Educated by Tara Westover is about her story of how she got away from her bohemian parents to immerse herself in scholarship; Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, another one by a Yale Law School Graduate recounting the struggles of the white working class struggles through the story of his own impoverished childhood; Heartland by Sarah Smarsh, a daughter of a poor wheat farmer in Kansas telling her poverty-stricken childhood into adolescence and the hard lives of the working class in the Mid-West; and finally, Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, revealing her errant childhood and her struggle to be away from the rabble that led her to a gainful literary success. And I suspect that there will be more memoirs to be published in future like new soppy television movies in production.

Am I being too acerbic? But that is how I feel.

As someone who regards Courage, Endeavor, and Resilience as great American drama in three acts, I am all for reading about someone who would continue his/her secret aspiration, while keeping the foot firmly grounded in reality, such as Laura Ingalles Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte, all of whom continued to tend their ordinary daily duties and responsibilities even after their literary success. To say it’s an anachronistic and antediluvian mode of thinking in the 21st century is to depreciate their literary geniuses and modus vivendi peculiar to the ethos of their times. However, the love of the writing must not corrupt into the worship of the hero. It’s the sense of the writer’s spirit that addresses the spirit of the reader, not the pageantry accolades of material successes that seem to be the bedrock of the memoir riding on the crest of popularity of rags-to-riches telltale revelations. We might live in an Orwellian world of reality prioritizing the ostentatious display of wealth or power, but we shall not devalue the truthfulness and value of ordinary life where the meaning of life depends upon whether or not we fulfill the demands placed upon our daily tasks however insignificant or trifle they may seem. For this reason, I don’t subscribe to the popularity of the best-selling Cinderella memoirs in which the sacredness of ordinariness in combination with the peculiar magic of literature is conspicuous by its absence.

Inside American’s Tomb for Illegal Wildlife Trade

RE: July 16th, 2018 article of “On the Grounded in Commerce City, Colo. : Inside America’s tomb for illegal wildfire trade by David Kelly of the Los Angeles Times

Imagine the vistas: a cornucopia of a mounted tiger fetus with its tiny ears, a grand giraffe head, a pair of shiny python skin-made thigh high boots, a black bear’s toes coupled with its gallbladders, and many more artifacts made out of animals that will never cease to blindside your vestige of humanity and overawe your tactile senses. If your mind tells you to think that the imagery is but a visceral affectation of a surreal painting of Salvador Dali, you just think yourself awake in the stupendousness of dreamlike morbidity. They are just a few illustrations of taxidermic animals confiscated in the course of international illegal trafficking of endangered animals exhibited in the National Wildlife Property Repository (the “Repository”) located in Commerce City, Colorado.

My opinion on the report of the Repository as to its existence and nature is threefold: First, I can’t believe that there is such a horrendous and macabre exhibition of the animals killed and stuffed – and in the shoddiest way – open to the public, especially aimed at school students. Second, the grim underworld of a huge illegal trading market where a great demand of the coveted animal products is constantly met with a colossal supply of the dead animals is a stark reality even in this age of technological supernova. Third, it shudders me to think the wantonness of avarice and gluttony for which the sinners would find themselves in the third and fourth circles of Dante’s Inferno. What’s more, the fact that the Repository of such abhorrent kind is located not in the outpost of civilization where the artifacts of the sorts would be regarded as a cultural tradition but in Commerce City in Colorado chills me to the bone.

It is reported that the purpose of the Repository is to educate the public on the gravitas of poaching and trafficking of endangered animals systematically perpetrated in global criminal syndicates of Chinese origin active in South Africa. However, I am concerned about the effects it intends to produce, however noble it may seem, which will likely work at cross-purposes, even counter-productively, pace its original intention to raise social awareness and ethical context of the issue. It might be all over but the shouting that rather than promoting awareness of destruction of the ecological system and its inevitable adverse impacts on mankind as well as the nature itself, the sight of the mutilated dead animal bodies and/or parts may be regarded as a freak show for those who have bizarre tastes of necrophilia and/or sadism emanating from the perceived sensual pleasures of watching animals torn apart from rib to rib, ear to ear, or head to toe in perpetual torture.