Posted in Miscellany

On Aristotle and Philosopher’s Stone 💫⭐️✨

Edgar Allan Poe expressed his contempt for readers who habitually flocked to books by famous authors on the sheer merit of their popularity without an individual appreciation of the contents. Likewise, I have a handful of the famous, the great people whose celebrity I hold no regard as I am going to unveil now. I have never liked Isaac Newton, albeit his genius is doubtlessly uncontested. Cantankerous, bellicose Newton was horrible to deal with, especially when you were his servant or maid or whoever he thought insignificant in his Elysium of high intelligence. He was also a closet occultist masquerading with the face of Rational Man with long-faced gravitas adorned in a long wavy wig. So how come Newton became a votary of Aristotle, who took the virtues to be central to a well-lived life? Since I tend to disassociate any such persona non grata (Newton, obviously) from one in my high regard (that is, Aristotle), I wanted to find out the incompatibility of the sullen scientist and the benign thinker.

Aristotle’s ethics, or study of character, is constituted around the premise that people should achieve an excellent character as a prerequisite for living a meaningful life. It is an essence of metaphysics in which Aristotle holds that there must be a separate and unchanging being that is the source of other beings. Only by becoming excellent could one achieve eudaimonia, happiness/blessedness that constitutes the best kind of human life. This philosophical perspective also applies to the ideas of self-sufficiency by Ralph Waldo Emerson and of Amore fati, the intellectual love of life by Friedreich Nietzsche.

Emerson regarded two separate elements as being united to create the world inside of you for the former. They are raw experiences gained from somatic sensory stimulation transformed into ideas and thoughts in the realm of reason, a process akin to a caterpillar transforming mulberry leaves into gorgeous silk. Nietzsche’s Amore fati is theologically conceived in an attempt to manifest the presence of Providence or God’s will with his infallible existence through Immanence by which an adequate idea of simple attributes of formal essence of God is applied to an adequate knowledge of the simple truth of things. It might be akin to the Eureka moment when Archimedes started running naked around the town in the enthusiasm of knowing the weight of the gold in the king’s crown from his water-filled bathtub. Or it could be the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa captured by Bernini as a cherub was mischievously thrusting the arrow back and forth into the heart of the virgin. In sum, Aristotle was right in saying that knowledge isn’t innate or guaranteed prima facie but gained from the reports of the senses and logical inference from self-evident truth.

I still believe that someone like Newton had no regard for moral excellence any more than gaining the knowledge of the universe because studying humanity was anathema to his lofty vision of the world and beyond, such as the alchemical realm. Newton was keen on Aristotle’s theory of the 5th element on top of the earth, air, fire, and water – that is, space of aether. Methinks, Newton was trying to get Rosetta’s stone in manipulating the 5th element proposed by Aristotle. He had not known that it would have become such a magical element to turn stone to gold. Notwithstanding Newton’s beguiled ambition to be a perfect Gargamel with the help of Aristotle, so to speak, my appreciation of Aristotle’s metaphysical school of thought decides that his brilliance is brighter than Plato and on par with Socrate in the constellation of philosophers’ stars.

Posted in Miscellany

law of inertia

According to Newton’s law of motion, inertia refers to a condition when a mass of an object determines a resistance to change. The bigger a thing is, the harder it is to be moved. What a splendid discovery when such truth has always existed! That is a difference between someone like Newton and other mortals who have seen it but cared more or less about it. The gist of my proposition is that inertia fits the state of my mind at present; the more I exert my cognitive facilities on articulating my thoughts, the harder they seem to operate the abilities with all their souls, with all their hearts, and with all their might.

Today I looked into the statistics of my blog posts, realizing my literary fruits were turning sour with the leaves of the knowledge of tree desiccated in the arid land of pitiful ignorance. T.S. Eliot must have felt the same when he yeared for a benevolent pool of knowledge on the barren land of his mind, which is hardly likely to think about because – well, for what he is. No matter how much I try to use a craft of writing that I used to possess until three months ago, I realize the powers are gone with the wind to the ether and then to the blackest black hole in the universe. The words become weightless, and the images are as bleak as the Persian night. It’s like being in the middle of an adumbrating labyrinth with Ariadne’s ball thread missing or forfeited by whimsical divinity. Nothing scintillates, nothing promises, not even with a bluebird that used to guide me into avenues of hope. So whereas I still delve into reading voraciously, the words are flushed into a great abyss of darkness, a slough of despond, leaving me weeping and then crying alone. I wonder if this state of inertia can also be related to the dark night of the soul that St. John of the Cross experienced before his spiritual epiphany. Or I can identify the feeling to the sudden listlessness of Albert Speer, the mild-mannered, brilliant Hitler’s architect friend, during his long-term incarceration in the Spandau prison after the fall of the Third Reich.

I have always professed to write for the sake of my sanity, the justice to myself with a tenacious grasp on a sense of purpose that I am not going to disappear without a trace of my existence on earth. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Lucy Maud Montgomery all endured the vicissitudes of life in dealing with the demands of daily life while cherishing their literary ambition and endeavoring to prove themselves as gorgeous writers whose credo was allegiance to truth and nature, using the ideal to make the real perfect and kind that God forgot to bestow upon them. They are my spiritual sisters whom I daresay can relate to due to my circumstances and kindred disposition.

I write not to canvass celebrities for being a top-rated blogger. But then I want people to know that I write however imperfectly or abstrusely. I write because I like it, just as people like to take their selfies and post them on Instagram or make vlogs on YouTube. So while the cold receptions still vex me to my publishing of writing in my blog, my spirit resists giving it all up, which rebels against the law of inertia. Come to think of it, the witch in training Kiki in ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ laments about her suddenly losing the ability to fly her broomstick as she stumbled into a vertigo of existentialist distress, part of growing pain before blossoming into a wonderful full-pledged witch. Maybe I am going through the same thing, too. I like to think that way.

Posted in Miscellany

blah, blah, blah and lord of the flies

Greta Thunberg is an 18-year-old environmental activist who has risen to a child crusader against the corruption of the world, not for incorrigibly persistent unequal distribution of wealth within society and among nations, but for the blahs of the world leaders who irk her nerves for not listening to her pleas to save the earth. In all fairness and recognition of her endeavor to raise red herrings on environmental issues, I applaud her to the very echo. But why is it that I see in the face of Greta talking “Blah, Blah” the faces of the boys chanting “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Or is it that I am a seriously near-sighted adult whom Greta forthwith denounces as politically and culturally blinded conventionalist speaking the Blah only?

It was interesting to read and watch Greta’s speech at Italy’s Youth4 Change, growing more prominent and bolder with a singular air of superiority. It bestowed upon her a right to mock the world leaders, including President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson, in their conference for environmental issues. Her English was flawlessly articulate, with accents that denote her fierceness of character and feistiness of personality. Indeed, such a high level of confidence is highly remarkable and undeniably recommendable. Still, there is a distinction between arrogance and confidence regarding the speaker’s manner of speech and demeanor. The subject brings me back to the wild Boys of the Lord of the Rings, in which the gentle-mannered protagonist Ralph is soon abdicated by the rebellious Jack, who provokes ids in the followers of Ralph to subvert the order and to rule the tribe. Greta’s rhapsody about youth as not being “blinded by realpolitik and the assumption of compromise” sounds like a youth manifesto from Peter Pan. He never gets old to build a society of the young only. But does Greta know youth is wasted on the young?

Also, I wonder what Greta thinks about those at her age and younger underprivileged, mistreated, and malnourished worldwide if she is so concerned about the earth’s well-being, for we are the earthlings. Does her activist profession disavow acknowledging and addressing the humanitarian crisis because it is trivial compared to the lofty environmental ideal? Come to think of it; I have seen fewer youths making substantial movements toward eradicating hunger or preventing child abuse, including but not limited to sexual nature systematically worldwide. It comes to mind that people who use children for their political and social ideologies don’t regard such concerns as being worthy of being mobilized with the child drummer in the front. What is the difference between a child soldier recruited elsewhere in the world and a child activist under a supervision of a master adult activist?

What I feel about Greta and her famous Blah address is probably no different from what Shakespeare must have supposed in Elizabethan England: “Woe to that land that’s governed by a child, tis much when scepters are in children’s hands, there comes the ruin, there begins confusion.” Maybe that is what William Golding envisions in his fictional island where children’s mutiny proved to be as catastrophic as those on the Bounty or even more. So that is my undiluted sentiment toward Greta, smiling, chanting “Blah, blah.”

Posted in Miscellany

the world in my eyes

On one fine day, a tiny Bushman in Southern Africa comes upon an empty coke bottle thrown from the cockpit of an airplane to desert sand. Thinking it is a gift from the gods, the man sets out a journey to return it to them. Along the journey, the Bushman encounters a pastiche of humanity in a kaleidoscope of the events he comes upon till he reaches an edge of a high cliff mysteriously enveloped by the rings of clouds and throws the bottle into the deep, exclaiming, “The Gods Must Be Crazy!” As I see now, I am in the chorus with him on the top of the cliff overlooking the world.

Nevermore than now have I witnessed the epic moments of history that appear to be atavistic in terms of nature, motive, and consequence. A convenient way of relating the human tragedies to the scourge of gods and God will only put me on a par with Pangloss, the ever-positive pious philosopher who thinks all is God’s will for the best in the best of all possible worlds. The Taliban chanting the name of Allah in their will, Christians taking pride in being a new chosen people, and other zealots of any religion all have had recourse to their deities and used their belief systems as weapons of dominance over others. From the Coronavirus pandemic that forever changed our ways of life to the collapse of democratic Afghanistan by the Taliban and the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, I see a phantasmagorical display of people’s faces in sorrow and distress in my mind’s theater.

Following the news about the current situations of Afghanistan and its people links me to the Trojan War, which lasted about ten years with the Greek allied powers destroying Troy in the end. From the burning city of Troy comes Aeneas, a royal warrior who escapes the mayhem with his family, carrying his elderly father on his back, holding his little son’s hand besides. That image is always particularly heartfelt because of the Trojan hero’s humanness, unlike his more glamorous Greek victors. What happened in the past happens now and will always, such as the images of parents passing babies to soldiers across the sharp razor wire two young, Afghans falling from a plane climbing high in the sky, and the lifeless bodies of the young and the old, women and men strewn over the dusty ground outside the airport in the aftermath of suicide bombing.

Back in the States, Hurricane Ida ravaged Louisiana, leaving thousands of people stranded, homeless without power (for about a month from now), and sufficient supplies of sanitation, clothing, and food. They lost everything, and nothing is what they have now. I cannot erase the image of a woman from a news interview who said the hurricane took everything from her family, then breaking into tears. Then there is news about an elderly man viciously attacked by an alligator in a flood presumed dead while his wife took a little boat to get help outside their flooded isolated community. Would the man have been swept away by the rapid stream of the flood? Would the alligator that had attacked the man have returned to him for more? Or would the man knowing or believing that was his end have let himself dissipated into the murky waters?

Is this the same kind of significant feeling of epic moments I am experiencing as what George Orwell should have felt when witnessing the death of a Burmese condemned man on his way to the gallows, the carnage of WWII, and the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War? Orwell posited that one of the reasons he wrote was to record historical moments he was living with his own perspectives and feelings, not necessarily popular or compromising. My intention to write this essay is similar to Orwell’s but more with sheer egotism of getting the heartfelt sorrow off my chest and tears away from my eyes. But I am not so sure if that proves effective with the images still vivid in my mind.

Posted in Miscellany

St Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

I have recently read an article about how the prosperous presence of wolves reduces the number of deer road-kills because their very predatory sense intimidates their prey, one of which is the deer. Fewer traffic collisions mean fewer government funds to spend on the aftermath of car and traffic accidents from animal crossings. So far, so good. But what about the resolution about protecting livestock from wolves, which has become an economic issue disturbing the farming community? So here are my small suggestions that I deem mutually benefitting people and wildlife by virtue of Charity, Faith, and Hope.

The article continues to support recolonization that the reduction of traffic collisions resulted in economic gains, which outweighed the costs of livestock losses by nearby cattle ranchers whose livelihood feels threatened by their lupine marauders. I remember reading newspaper articles and tweets about ranchers in Washington that the multiplication of wolf population engendered their livelihood and that clamoring for lupine rights outright disregarded human rights to make a living. When I commiserate with the woes of the ranchers at the same time, and also hope best for the great grey wolves, my mind’s eyes see the visceral images of the Maasai in Tanzania and African lions living in co-habitation. The Maasai find the most cost-effective and nature-friendly way of guarding their livestock against the lions by establishing chain-like fencing supported by the thorny African myrrh trees. I am sure the American contemporary can take cues from the Maasai and adapt them to their environment.

I like wolves for their commendable fidelity to spouses and respectful sense of a society that emits from their majestic composure. I also admire the fortitude of cattle ranchers who are vigilant of the livestock their families subsist. Both beasts and men have reasons to live for and kill for. Yet, there should/must be a way of satisfying the needs without losses. Indeed, the medieval Italians knew exactly about the problem, but no more understanding and effectively than St. Francis of Assisi in meeting with the Wolf of Gubbio. Francis admonished him for his terror of fear over the people and made a pact with him publicly at a popular marketplace that if he ceased his predations, people would feed him from their very doors. The Wolf put his paw in Francis’ hand as a gesture of agreement, a sort of beastly hand-shaking. Can I make a wish for the miracle once again in my time? I believe I can, if they or we want to, for sometimes we as part body and part spirit can do beautiful things together.