Posted in Miscellany

Playing goddess fortuna

Aristotle averred that man is a political animal by nature. Anyone uninterested in politics is either a divine being or a beast considering his contemporary volatile political situations in city-states due to the Peloponnesian War. He must have noticed that an unstable government naturally spawned the populace’s grunts, usually in matters of economic hardship and arbitrary measures of civil conduct. That was millenniums ago; you might say, at least not in the United States, some might say. Then why are the scenes of the disaffected ancient Athenians overlapping with those of the disappointed Americans now at the end of this Pandemic Year like an army of living ghosts in my mind’s eye?

It all began with Covid-19 that showed politicians’ true colors, which are neither bright nor dark but only gray, grayer, and grayest. To add clarity to the grayness, the current tug-of-war in Capitol Hill regarding the Economic Impact Payment (“stimulus check”). The sudden news of the second stimulus check was a dim light of high hope for low heaven for most people whose livelihood depended on paychecks from work, social services, or other possible aid agencies. Then another beam of hope shone from the Congress that they would push for a higher amount of the stimulus check to be passed in the Senate. Woe betides anyone who believed in human kindness! The big wigs in the Senate thought that the increased amount of the check would be spent inordinately by people who would not need the monetary aid, such as the employed and others unqualified for whatever deemed unfit in the eyes of the moralists confusing coldness with principles.

As the Pythagorean theorem does not formulate life, no one can expect the exact sum of need, subject to individual circumstances. As in other countries, our political leaders do not have the right to measure their political rhetorics with personal egos in the guise of moral rectitude. They should not dictate what people do with the government-issued pittance because that the first and foremost a sign of totalitarianism over individual freedom. Once the money is given, then it’s up to the donee how it is spent, come what may. Besides, the amount of stimulus check is not as generous as the senate majority thinks. It barely covers a month worth of food, transportation, and some utility bills in most households. But then, beggars can’t be choosers. People want it, and they want it now to get by. Does the Senate know about it? I doubt it.

Those who regard folks in need of financial aid as the annoying mendicants mooching off others’ packets should know that the swift is not to victory, the strong not to wealth, but time and chance befall to all. The government should not play the role of the goddess of fortune blindfolded spinning the wheel of fortune, missing the wheel’s lucky compass to those in need of it.

Posted in Miscellany

my life with a cat so far

The period of four months can be long or short, depending upon how you feel it, and to me, it amounts to a long time that has changed my life in every possible way akin to an epoch of revolution. My life with an orphaned kitten named Toro has become a fugue of meows and voices in multiple strands of more meows and voices that has no coda.

During the four months, Toro and I had anfractuous moments made of frequent visits to different veterinarians, displays of whims and caprice on both sides, tears and smiles, frustration and understanding, doubts and hopes, wishes and disappointments, all of which are crystallized into a virtue of acceptance. I still cannot believe that I have a cat when I still have a weakness for more domesticated, more trainable, and more approachable canine breeds. This doubt develops into a sense of guilt, a whirlpool of self-criticism of not being good enough to be a loving owner of Toro, who is particularly in need of love and kindness due to his sensitive nature and suspected traumatic postnatal experience. Those educative textual and visual information on raising cats dissipates into a gray area of reality and stay there amid my trials and errors in the course of being a terrific guardian whom Toro wishes to live with. Does Toro want to live with another owner who can make him happy in a bigger house where he can run like his wild ancestors or cousins in nature with his new playmates? I ask Toro, but he returns me with that pensive glance and grooms himself like nothing more is necessary than licking his legs and rectum.



My mother still wants me to return Toro to the shelter because his burst of pep and temper is unprecedentedly unbridled and insurmountable to be caught up with. Then I read other cat owners’ stories and watch their YouTube channels only to make parallels to their blissful lives with their cats and to descend to the labyrinth of gloom and sorrow without an exit. My previous post about my precipitated proclamation of a mutually beneficiary feeling of dependency becomes a public humiliation, a textual pillory of an incompetent cat owner who has no idea about the animal that does not like to be with her the first place. Or so it seems. Alas, woe to the one whose head is whirled like a potter’s wheel in the vortex of confusion, illusion, and discord in a da capo.

Notwithstanding all of the above, one thing is sure that Toro’s wellbeing, both mentally and physically, is what I care about the most. I have taken him to three different vets so far due to his frequent diarrhea, constipation, and anal pain repeating like Bach’s Toccata. Even if Toro may indeed secretly entertains a wish to meet a new ideal owner, I want to take care of him as much as I can to the fullest extent within my capabilities because I care about him and want to be happy together. His little heartbeat I feel in my hand and when he sleeps at my feet is the most precious thing I treasure that empowers me with a sense of purpose that I have a life depending on me.

Posted in book review, Miscellany

The Wings of Writing – on reading Samuel Johnson’s essay on writing

Suppose a brownie or a leprechaun I happen to rescue from a Gargamel lookalike wizard insists what my three wishes are as a quid pro quo (depending upon how friendly the fairy is). In that case, I will say forthwith one of them is the Marvel of Writing, which I have lost somewhere in the course of life. I can turn myself into a great writer with the magical pyramid of power from a hodge-podge reality of indigested letters of reality as black as Persian Night.

Johnson’s essay on the role of the scholar evolves from Francis Bacon’s adage: “Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” It rings a bell with the Nietzschean idea of Superhuman, superseding any mortals known for their erudition perennially enshrined in the history of human civilizations. A truly knowledgeable person I principally associate with a great writer can digest what he reads, explain it to others in facile terms, and substantialize it in writing, a mental Osmotic process that nourishes the mind and invigorates the body.

Although I agree with Bacon as Johnson did, I am more with their ancient Greek teacher Socrates. Socrates warned his pupils about regurgitating what they heard from his lectures without putting it in their own words. That was one reason why the great philosopher disapproved of writing practice that had just emerged in his time. Copying letters of others without understanding them on his own would stun the cognitive powers rather than promote a broader and deeper range of cognition. Reading was not as popular in Socrates’ time as in ours because it was at the beginning of the new intellectual dawn of Greek Civilization. So, Socrates was a thinker, neither a reader of texts, nor a writer of tablets. Does this make him less of his students Plato and Aristotle?

Does the amount of reading necessitate that of writing? Wouldn’t too many words go undigested inside and clog the pipes of thoughts when writing? For example, an ambitious amateur writer wants to write as if she were possessed by the spirit of Patience Worth, who transformed an ordinary homemaker into a brilliant writer. She adheres to a writer’s gospel of “Read a lot. Write a lot,” but it is easy to be said than to be done. The more she reads, the worse she writes. She wants to reason the perplexing reason with frustration and disappointment. She feels lost in the middle of midtown Manhattan where there are many streets and avenues but nowhere is her niche. Yet once she gets out of town, the state, the coast, her mind becomes clear, imbued with a fresh breath of inspiration that moves her hands on the keyboards automatically. Contrary to Johnson’s opinion that grandstands with all other established writers and academics, the amateur writer feels liberated from a siege of letters that intimidated her army of thoughts equipped in her design of armors and shields with her coat of arms sovereign and beautiful. Her reasoning power was buried under a chaos of indigested learning.

Although Johnson’s magnanimous advice of the equilibrium of reading, writing, and speaking on a writer’s continuum is respectful and worth reading, its reality is subject to the individual aptitudes of learning, ways of reasoning, and natural dispositions. One may write better because of reading more, while the other has the opposite consequence. A hermit – let us say more realistically, an introvert – is not always an incompetent, anti-social, sullen loner whose airy petulance barricades against others whose intelligence may seem intimidating to be dealt with. I think to write more is far better critical than to read more because writing is a sovereign act of expressing an individual mind and spirit, free from the comparison of the florid words of others with the writer’s own that would dispirit the vivacity of the creative spirit. To conclude, I thank Thomas Mann for his affirmative saying:” Solitude produces originality, bold and astonishing beauty, poetry.” Truth is truth to the end of reckoning. Then it is yet another truth of others, not necessarily yours.

Posted in book review, Miscellany

Puss in the Boots for Folklore Thursday

Puss in the Boots is an ingenious trickster of a good sort. Who helps his impecunious master left with none but the Cat himself bequeathed by his father. The Cat’s goodwill to help his good master launches a creative series of playing the Game of Fortune:

bagging rabbits and presenting them as gifts from his Marquis master, turning an Ogre into a mouse and eating it, and commandeering its castle to the marquis’s own, all of which lead to the blissful marriage of his master to the king’s lovely princess.

Of course, the brilliant booted puss becomes a great lord in dolce vita. Who knows? Your molly and tom at home may be a puss in the boots at night when you are asleep. So, be nice to them. They know who you are.

Posted in book review, Miscellany

‘The Twelve Months’

The Twelve Months is a Russian fairytale about good-hearted Marushka meeting the spirits of the months led by the elderly January while hopelessly searching for violets, summer strawberries, and fall apples in the middle of winters as presents for her stepsister’s b-day. Alas, what a cruel task!

The evil stepmother’s wicked demand for such a task exacts terror and inflicts pain on Marushka. But, the sprits help her and punish the wicked stepmother and sister as January Elder brings forth the mighty force of Winter upon them by the following incantation:

“Winds, gales, storms, Blow as hard as you can, Rage the whole night long. Whistle in the chimneys, Drum in the skies, Twist and turn over the earth, Like a great white snake.”