Posted in Miscellany

2021 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Abdulrazak Gurnah

The great writers are capable of metamorphosis and travel across a gulf of time and a hiatus of cultures and continents because their narratives speak to the sentiments and reason common to all humankind. Enter Abdulrazak Gurnah, this year’s Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, in this celestial constellation of great writers. The following is what I think about Gurnah based on reading his interview with today’s Reuter.

Gurnah, born in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) in 1948, went to England in the 1960s as a refugee fleeing from the political turmoil and social unrest of his native country. Then began his migrant’s song composed of multiple strands of his experience, thoughts, and feelings that became polyphonic acapella in variant notes and rhythms. Unlike many other laureates of prestigious literary awards or esteemed recognition, Gurnah is a champion of underdogs who were not expensively educated in private institutions and, above all, who were not born into the surroundings of English as mother tongue. Working at the places where his privileged literary peers would not think of, Gurnah wrote in English as Second Language as his Lingua Franca literary tool. The result is his enchantment of readers to a fantastic maze of his inner world. His narratives become Ariadne’s thread that guides his readers to the world that seems so unfamiliar yet oddly universal.

Gurnah seems to be the kind of writer I sincerely respect and dare to emulate who have lived among ordinary people like a sun in evening declination with the soft but radiant scarlet hues covering the earth, reflecting its magnificent face in shining waters. I am delighted to confirm that you don’t have to be born into a culture that speaks English if you want to become a good English writer. It is not about the Perfect mastery of language but about articulating thoughts to become a great writer. Although the media emphasizes Gurnah’s being the second black African author to have won the award since Nigerian Wole Soyinka in 1986, I don’t think it’s about his race that draws attention to his books. His being a writer supersedes his race because writers are different kinds of the race with a unique eye to look at the world and show it to readers, standing together in the collegiality of human spirits.

Posted in Miscellany

The Rambler on the interview

In a post-industrial age, when the mingling of classes in streets is a norm, and social mobility is a reality in a society, the stories about royal families become reality period dramas that seem to give them a status that fuses the capriciousness of greek gods with the glamour of Hollywood celebrity.

When I saw twitter’s promotion of Oprah Winfrey’s Harry and Meghan interview, I thought no wonder they were sought-after media darlings, living Romeo and Juliet, and something to talk about when things looked bleak and boring. And I honestly feel no qualms about them being a subject of gossip or the tabloid because they live in public eyes, albeit they most clamor for the privacy of their lives. Otherwise, what is the absolute need to broadcast their stories on a central television station at prime time? (No YouTube, please, in respect of their royalty.) Oprah Winfrey, who now seems to have replaced Barbara Walters’ seat, looks fit to the royal couple pleading for upscaled sympathy from the American public unfamiliar with the constitutional monarchy and possibly slightly partial to the name and images of monarchy without knowing them well.

To put the wedding story of Prince Harry and Actress Meghan Markle on a par with Cinderella story is to ignore the fact she is from a privileged class in the States with expensive private education and parental support. Despite Princess Diana’s aristocratic family background, people sympathized with the lonely Diana because of her doe-eyed, ever muliebral innocent beauty that looked impossible for debauchery. By the same virtue of beauty fused with sensualness of exotic charm, the American actress/model Meghan charmed Prince Harry, who would even venture to Hesperides’ garden to bring her a golden apple should she request. And now Harry lives in the Golden State, the land of his Helen, with a face launching waves of media coverages.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that beauty tames the savageness of brutes and allays the hardened souls of criminals. Oscar Wilde added that a beautiful woman is the subject of conversations wherever she goes. The lovely Meghan beaming with sparkling amethyst eyes adorned with apricot cheeks reminded me of a modern-day Helen of Troy. After all, Helen’s prodigal beauty saved her from her first the ireful sword of her first and lawful husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta to whom she betrayed the slain Paris’s brother Deiphobus, her third husband. Despite vehement feminist catchphrases brandishing anti-sexism, beauty is still a woman’s privilege to achieve social escalation in work and an undefeatable power to purchase indemnity for all faults and foibles.

In addition to the claimed blackness of Meghan’s heritage, the media seems to shoehorn it to fit her estrangement feeling in the procrustean bed to a histrionic degree because one cursory glance at her wouldn’t strike her as a black woman at all. I honestly think that if a woman is beautiful, then where she comes from does not matter. In fact, I feel something is not quite right when someone in her position keeps playing a race card as a chance gambit to muster her retinue against the criticism raised by her unwilling participation in royal attendances and cavalier attitude towards learning the royal manners, which appear antithetical to her carefree American spirit hard to domesticate.

Call it an acrid narrative of a woman who juggles the daily affairs of life with what she has. Or you may say it is the usual cynical delusion of reference to those who got it all out of passionate envy burned in a fury. Yet, the interview appears to be nothing but their formal excuse for their present life, public proclamation of their still regal sovereignty warning people not to speak ill of them, which is probably directed to the ordinary whom they regard as meddlesome. Well, then let them be whoever they want to be. Playing Romeo and Juliet’s roles in a public theater in long-run shows will only lose favor with the audience, especially with Romeo now being well-stuffed, looking like a rich American, and Juliet still looking fabulous like a luxurious Beverly Hills demimonde.  

Posted in Miscellany

Paid forward by a Stranger

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Satre was a cynic when it came to the milk of human kindness. He smirked by saying that generosity was more or less a feelgood giveaway of the doer in the self-contentment of magnanimity. The intention is ego-driven, not altruistic. Satre may be a brilliant intellectual in the post-modernistic world, but he was essentially missing something, obviously not knowing it for the following reasons. 

I still remember a lecture given by a religious sister whose spirituality bloomed in her charity and intelligence about the practice of charity in our daily lives, rather than doing it as a penance after a guilt-ridden confession. For you never know, the one benefitted from your kindness might be an angel in disguise (the mysterious shopper!) or even Christ himself (the Lord of Lords!) So, how will I interpret an act of generosity when a total stranger paid for my sandwich at Subway?

It was a rather gloomy afternoon today because of the disappointment with the general members of humanity that I felt most acutely painful to my glass heart. The things deemed trivial or insignificant matter to me, stay in there until I burn them with candlelight under moonlit tranquility of the mind. Samuel Johnson is right in saying that you cannot will away the unpleasant feelings in full force at once. That is why we object to despotic edicts of stoic austerity to quell the perturbed state of mind. The Sun was high, but the spirit was low, and I could not pretend to be cheerful and optimistic as if there was no word for Unpleasantness in my dictionary.

So when I was in a nearby Subway store during lunchtime, I felt wretched and wished that the time would go fast so that I could go home with the alacrity of departure. But no, the reality bit when a store clerk asked me if I wanted my bread to be toasted. No, I said politely and proceeded to the counter for payment, when the register guy told me that the man before me paid forward my sandwich. Really so? But I didn’t know him. There were two men, seemingly office workers from nearby, coming for some quick bites like me. And I still don’t know which man paid for mine, but what does it matter when both of them are total strangers anyway? Then I checked my reflections on the outside building’s crystal-clear glass windows and saw a woman decently presentable looking in thin figure clothed in a DKNY tweed jacket and Michael Kors jeans, which disqualified me for being a hobo woman. So why did he pay forward for my Tuna sandwich?

Whether he was a confessional penitent doing penance or an angelic agent is still a mystery, but then something is better to remain as it is, I think. The unexpected surprise from the stranger put my emotions on the continuum of low arousal on one hand and high pleasantness, on the other hand, creating satisfaction that my life could be likable and ultimately livable. It’s a small pleasure that keeps my sailing endurable and doable in a wide ocean alone against monsters, thunder and lightning, and doldrums. No wonder the sandwich tasted sweet.

Posted in Miscellany

To readers

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Cat in a hat La Vincent Van Gogh by Olga Koval

Normally, I don’t post a crude litany of woes or untamed outcry of malaise because that’s not what I want my blog to be filled with. However, today is an exception to the rule because for the last couple of days the receptions to which my published posts have been particularly detrimental to my disposition and averse to my sensitivity. Well, I don’t think it really matters to any of you out there who happens to stumble into my hermit blog, but then I don’t really care what you think about it because it’s my sovereign blog, which is my only safe niche, an elbow room amidst this crazy existential daily life constantly threatening my sanity, bullying my sensitivity, knowing that I am distinct for that “Positive Thinking in Thick Skin” facade.

First of all, I don’t understand how people can follow a blog without liking any of my posts. Are they fishing in for their potential followers? I have noticed so many of them out there without liking any of my posts and following my blog, which I find it very insulting and odd. I am not here to foster an online relationship with anyone out there but to practice my writing skills as well as to use it as my creative, intellectual outlets yearning to surface from within because I can’t just will out what I feel and think without letting it out. Besides, I don’t want my existence to disappear into oblivion, which is a great injustice to my sovereign freedom of expression. That said, I don’t want to build up popularity by getting mindless followers either haughtily not bothering to like my writing or stopping to like it for whatever reasons. That breaks my heart to the extent to which it can’t be sawed up or replaced by a steel heart. It’s imbecility to have followers who are unappreciative of what I write.

Secondly, to pour hot lead into my already wide-open gap of the wounded heart and soul, I saw the stats that although people read my last post about 6 movies from the 60s celebration of National Classic Movie Day yesterday and today, only four people voted for likes! Such disastrous comeuppance made me so disappointed and disheartened that I could not but think that writing could also be a Modus Operandi of detecting all about yourself from the way you looked to where you were from. This betrayed my primal idea about being capable of metamorphosis and travel to become all that I want to be, to do, and to go under the protection of faceless stealth. Faceless because your face could be a hindrance to expressing your self in a true glass of the mind. In order to ascertain the cause of such an outrageously heartbreaking result of the last post, I have read my post over and over again, but there appears to be no sophomorically pesky solecism whatsoever.  Further to the attempts, I visited the blogs of others about the same subject, but none of them is hard to regard it as a magnum opus! Do they think my post is inaptly conceived and professionally benighted or just plain average? And they even had comments from their members of the coterie eulogizing how great their picks were! Seeing all of this in my very eyes, I could not help agreeing with Edgar Allan Poe criticizing a clique formed among the New York Literati that excluded any writer outside the league of their own. I don’t think any of them appreciates my writing, and it makes me feel like such a fool that from now onwards, I vow that I will NOT volunteer to do any contributory writing unless I am asked to.

Thus I have reorganized a list of followers because I think it necessary for me to do so for the love of my broken heart and wounded soul. I see writings of others, which are not tours de force but filled with a rhapsody of why their inane posts are great. Jealousy? What hokum! It’s such amusement to see even writings can become a tool for attracting strangers as a social get-together platform. Here I am, a hobbyist amateur writer working 9 to 6 to pay bills and rents but whose literary ambition is as great as Ben Jonson and Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte had been rejected to have her work published many times and was of the same disposition as I am. (Yes, I am closer to her in temperament and sensitivity than any of you out there who likes to think you are or wants to think you are when you are not!). She and I are in agreement in thinking that any appreciation from a considerate and intelligent reader for our writings is highly appropriate and proper as decorum to the author. You know what I mean?