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

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 book review

‘Writers and Their Cats’ by Alison Nastasi – review

Writers and Their Cats: (Gifts for Writers, Books for Writers, Books about Cats, Cat-Themed Gifts)Writers and Their Cats: by Alison Nastasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If dogs are man’s best friends with their childlike artlessness and uninhibited affection, what are cats? Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, answered thus: “Cats are so nice and selfish.” Writers and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi is a delightful illustration of such a relationship between writers and their cats with peek-a-boo glimpses of the celebrity authors’ unknown personal aspects behind the public façade.

The fascination with the graceful demeanor and graceful capriciousness of cats is particularly intense among the volatile and imaginative writers as the muse of their lettered labyrinths. Edgar Allan Poe wished he could write as mysteriously good as his cat Catarina who liked to hover herself over Poe’s shoulders while he was writing. Mark Twain, whom I used to associate with something of a Dog Father, turns out to be a godfather of cats who rented cats to city dwellers during their holidays in the countryside. Twain also named his cats commensurate with his wicked sense of humor: Satan, Soapy Sal, Lazy, etc. Furthermore, Twain proclaimed that anyone who likes a cat is his friend. The imposing figure of rough and tough Ernest Hemingway may not match the delicate silhouettes of cats’ sophisticated society. Still, Papa Hemingway loved them with the tenderness he rarely showed even to his better halves.

The book also introduces readers to various writers of our digital era whose love of cats takes them to the world outside their comfort zones in selective solitude. Patricia Highsmith, a high-strung, highly opinionated, no-nonsense author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, reveals her Tate-a-Tate moments by greeting her cat, “We are going to have a great day today.” Marion James, who wrote A Brief History of Seven Killings, met Tom the Cat at a café in Brooklyn, New York, who, like the writer, enjoyed being outside among people because both of them thrived on the liveliness of the world around them as a creative force. Then Peeti Shency, the Indian novelist and artist, writes about the experience of sharing a terrific story about her trip to the Kedar-Gouri Temple dedicated to the eponymous goddess with a particular fondness of cats, thus elevating them to the divine status of the immortals. Shency resurrects the legends of holy cats in the temple to our digitalized reality of the world and connects them to our need for their presence for nature’s mysteriousness.

There are many other writers in the book whose love for their cats are touching. They all confess to their odes to cats that only cats can understand what they are and who they are. Whether or not cats have a supernatural sense of reading people’s minds, I have no intelligence. Still, I do know that a cat is good at observing your movement and facial expression from my observation of Toro, a 12-week old male brown tabby kitten, who likes to watch me what I am doing and where I am going. A cat is a curiously interesting beast, and it is this semblance of intelligence that makes a cat so attractive to the imaginative, high-strung writers. If you have a cat at home and a writer at heart, this book will present you with a delightful treat to your mind, packed full of beautiful pictures of writers and their cats not in grim portraiture but natural snapshots. Readers may tempt to show the writers’ photos with their cats to your cats.

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Posted in book review, Miscellany

Why I write

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My very first e-book now available on Amazon Kindle

Dear Readers,

Howdy to all. Thanks for visiting my hermit blog either by happenstance or curiosity. Writing has always been my favorite activity by which I feel meaningful and truthful. It has been a magic marble, an alchemical mode of transforming myself into all that I want to become or capable of becoming via the magical process of words. As Francis Bacon corroborates, reading makes a full person, writing makes a whole person by expressing the self to the extent possible. I am not a great writer, but my passionate volition to express my inmost thoughts and feelings that strive for artistic manifestation exceeds such fear of public derision. This yearning for manifested creativity chimes the bell of Kurt Vonnegut’s benevolent adage: “To practice any artno matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Hence I published my first-time official short fiction on Amazon Kindle that is available now for free. It’s a whimsical story without a complex plot about a young girl unsure of herself experiences a kind of Midsummer Night’s Dream or Rip Van Winkle’s fairy tale. This may sound audacious hyperbole, vis-a-vis the works of the geniuses in Literature, but the semblance of thematic and the author’s affinity for the brilliance of the great literature allow her to make a literary parallel thereto, so to speak.

As some of you may know, English is not my mother tongue but a beloved adoptive linguistic child of mine that I love to nourish and nurture. That said, my first e-book is my attempt at producing a child of labor. This doesn’t surpass the degree of affection for this blog of mine, which is also a labor of love, but writing a book is certainly on a different spectrum of mental efforts.

Solicitation of readership may come across as an aggressive way of forcing people to read what she writes because it may not satisfy the level of expectations that a reader has set as an intellectual or entertaining touchstone, which is why I find it hard to self-promote my e-book. And yet, despite my shyness fused with hesitation, I would like to request that you try my e-book and leave your feedback on Amazon after reading because that’s the way I can grow into and blossom into a beautiful literary rose in the future. Won’t you as a kindred writing pard throw me a rope of hope to climb up the Alpine Path? Many thanks in advance! 🙂

Best regards,

Stephanie

Posted in book review

‘The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England’, by Ian Mortimer – review

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan EnglandThe Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

People tend to make an anachronistic mistake of assuming that their times are more culturally and socially superior to their previous generations’ times, whereas forty years on an evolutionary scale amounts to a million second on a twenty-four-hour clock, the amount so infinitesimal that it makes you smirk. What makes us set apart from the predecessors of our human civilization is not how they looked but how they looked at the landscapes surrounding their everyday lives, which led to the creation of the ethos of society peculiar to the different historical periods of time. This Thucydidean approach to history as a branch of social science as well as humanity strikes the chords with Ian Mortimer’s perspectives on his Elizabethan ancestors in his scintillating book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Rich in details and splendid in descriptions that successfully and naturally resurrect the period, Mortimer’s vividly atmospheric accounts of the era transform the people and the landscapes of Elizabethan England from one-dimensional textual elements to animated figures in his engagingly vivacious narrative that strut in the mind’s theater of the reader, commanding attention in every chapter in a way that looks virtually real, evoking a phantasmagorical display of the periodical images. Mortimer is a knowledgeable and witty guide well versed in the English Renaissance with a practical sense of reality, which makes him something of Dr. Who, who pitchforks his wide-eyed volunteer reader to the subject time and then materializes when the reader is in a pickle. He shows the reader both the beauty and the beast of the Elizabethan society at its core with his wealth of knowledge drawn upon extensive research on the period and general erudition without putting a supercilious air of a highly learned man and stands in awe with the reader of the cultural and social progresses of Elizabethan England that began to define the “Englishness,” with which we tend to associate when the name “England” chimes the bell of literature, religion, and geography, all in the collective image of being “English.” Mortimore does this wonderfully with his engaging narrative skills that will not make you bored and skip a page.

Mortimer as a literary Dr. Who aims to bring the gaps of time and space between the reader and the populace of Elizabethan England to elucidate his stance on the truth about unchanging human nature wrapt in a periodical costume; in fact, history is a branch of literature made by artificers and artists with stories full of events, persons, and places that are woven into a tapestry of time, which also reflects how we have become what we are. In light of this, Mortimer is a cross between Herodotus with his entertaining narrative skills and Thucydides with his objective analysis of the historicity of society and culture. At the end of the book, the reader will find William Shakespeare, one of the most notable figures of Elizabethan England, holding up “a mirror to Mankind and shows people what they really are.” This is a cracking read packed full of interesting tidbits on the ways of life in Elizabethan England which he relates with wonderfully lucid insights into the turbulent but magnificent era that marks an indelible landmark in the history of England, and ultimately, of the world.

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