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

Theodore Tom’s Virgin Maid – ‘How To Be Owned By A Cat’, by Kate C. – review

How To Be Owned By A Cat: Simple Action Plan For First Time Cat Owners Who Have NO Idea What They Are Getting IntoHow To Be Owned By A Cat: Simple Action Plan For First Time Cat Owners Who Have NO Idea What They Are Getting Into by Kate C.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cats remind me of whimsical and capricious Greek gods and goddesses. Sometimes, cats are like Baroque European aristocrats with sophisticated finickiness. They are like spoiled children with no regard to manners in the sudden pulsing of stalking and jumping, rigidly dominated by their blindly unchecked ego. Whatever of the feline nature it may be, there is undoubtedly more than one of it; cats are convincingly intelligent, bracingly artless, and surprisingly affectionate with a display of individualities particular to each cat. No wonder there are celebrity cats as follows: A Cat in the Puss walking around as if he were man, Tom outwitted by Jerry, Garfield as laid back as his lookalike master, Felix the Car becoming a timeless icon of the style, and Theodore the Cat, who likes to challenge, “Who’s the Boss?” in this amusing read.

With an imposing name associated with a man of outstanding achievement, Theodore likes to think himself as a lifetime resident of a presidential suite attended by his matron-in-waiting Kate, a virgin cat owner without prior experience of raising a cat. Her meeting with Theodore, whom she happened to adopt from a pet shop, is a match made on earth, orchestrated by time and chance, aka Fortune. Or it may be the stars that shine brightly above their heads. The journey both Kate and Theodore has thus far embarked is akin to a real one of a road trip by a small caravan, consisting of bumpy drives, drive-ins, park-ins, give-ins, give-outs, etc. Kate’s relationship with Theodore parallels that of the Chef and his stray gourmet cat named Apollo in John Steinbeck’s “The Amiable Fleas” regarding the narrative’s realistic atmospheres illustrating the significance of ordinariness in daily life. Both works celebrate the values of simple pleasures that give a fresh hold upon our problems and different perspectives on life.

This charming little book also attests to Emerson’s tenet that thinking is the function, and action the functionary. In other words, the understanding of truth results from the successful union of knowledge and practicality on reality. Kate comes to the A-HA moment by realizing that her knowledge about cats from books and the media is not complementary to its applicability to tending her cat, Theodore.

I picked up this read because in reading its summary, I felt related to the author’s case for being a first-time cat owner without initial interest in cats. Her daily interactions with Theodore has taught her that there are no bad cats but only misunderstood cats due to a lack of patience or a deficiency in compassion on human parts. What will happen when what you read from books and watch from Youtube about cats contradict the realities of your Toms and Mollys at home? Just as lawyers do not learn their trade at law schools till they practice, pet owners will not know about their flurry fireballs till they clean their poops. In light of the above, this book is a lightheartedly vivacious and entertainingly down-to-earth read that makes you emphasize with her experience as a first-time cat owner.

Furthermore, for those who criticize the author’s poor writing style as posted on Amazon reviews, I want to tell each of them that being a purist regarding English Underfiled does not guarantee that you are not an ignoramus. Good writing means not in immaculate grammar but in the richness of sentiments and of thoughts. Therefore, I regard this book as an excellent read to read; especially, if you are a virgin cat owner like we are.



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Posted in Poetry

After Rain

A night’s serenade ends
In a mist of morning rains
ere the golden chariot shows
as the sunflower becomes
alive, anew, aglow -as ever
radiant with the eternal desire
for the indifferent charioteer
reflected in the drops of dew
shimmering in petrichor.

Posted in book review

treason of fate

the-solitude-recollection-of-vigen-limousin-1866.jpgLarge

The stupendousness of darkness

In a vortex of chaos in treason

Against sovereignty of ambition

By divine immaculate conception

From the union of Psyche and Eros

In the spiritualization of sensuality

thru the enslavement of the Sense

into the ecstatic hands of desire

for absolute adoration evermore

touching the soft tissues of delicacy

of the latticework for the casement

of the soul thru which her majesty

is seen spinning a wheel of mystery

with an eagle telling her the world

he has seen, diffusing the wind of

wisdom to his beautiful solitary queen

whose heart thrilled, reason satisfied

defies her freedom of Love and Reason

and keeps her in his cellar of isolation.

 

P.S. What has happened to the departments of the cerebral control tower? Common Sense is falling out; Cogitation is shaking; Memory is debilitating; Imagination is trying, and Estimation is fumbling. Is this case of Aphasia? Or in the worst scenario Dyslexia, even? If so, then let it be. But memento this. Writing is not a prerogative of the pedantic. You can be boastful of writing excellent prose with a talented assistant of the brain, but never be full of yourself of touching the more excellent tissue of the heart with passion. Shakespeare was of small Latin, less Greek. 

Posted in Miscellany

thank-you from author Ian Mortimer

Although Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition,” it’s always delightful  to hear when a writer whose work you value highly and like very much appreciates what you have done in connection with the work. For recognition is a great motivator for a dilettante, especially an amateur hobbyist writer, to keep it going in the awareness of her abilities that are in many times smoldered, undervalued, and simply ignored.

So naturally, I am pleased to find my review of The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer gets noted and even quoted on the author’s Twitter today.  Mind you, my dear reader, that I am not an autograph hunter, chasing that usual Thank you- I really- appreciate-your -kind -reviews- on-my-book facade, which I find conceited and empty even, nor do I canvass any such vain cajolery from authors of books like a destitute attention-seeker. Rather, I am glad to know that there are people who appreciate my works however humble they may be, and the happiness becomes twice when such recognition comes from those whose works I like. So it’s a mutual respect between a Reader and a Writer, and vice versa.

On writing, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling advised in harmony that a good writer requires disciplines and perspiration. True that some of the best writers are natural with their craft bestowed upon them by a supernatural being. But I also believe that many of the great writers work hard by writing continuously and reading copiously. That gives me a ray of hope, and so should you.