Tag Archive | females in a man’s world

Love the Girls

I am very much revolted by this document by the ISIS detailing guidelines for the enslavement or merchandize of girls.

I have several other issues to gripe about here*, but for now nothing prompted me strong enough to just break off from drinking my pu-erh + green + peppermint tea to just simply stand here and type away.

Granted that even in the Ten Commandments women are shown in there as among the properties of a man, it doesn’t follow that this topic of using women as so is (unconditionally) sanctioned by any deity in the sense that Greek-philosophy originating worldviews would interpret it from the wording in the text. Granted that you may not have any respect at all for the deity called Yahweh whose name appears in the context, it does not follow that this deity sanctions the “use” of women. (I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by my explicit spelling out of the Tetragrammaton.) The fact that you do not have any consideration for any so-called deity does not follow that you condone the use of women as commodity like you do with salt or toilet paper.

This is how the biblical text Exodus 20:17 goes, per two translations that do not use the archaic term “covet” (which means “to want something (which you do not have) very much”, per Merriam-Webster):
Per GNB (Good News Bible):   “Do not desire another man’s house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”
Per BBE (Bible in Basic English, 1965):   Let not your desire be turned to your neighbour’s house, or his wife or his man-servant or his woman-servant or his ox or his ass or anything which is his.

You may argue that this text came from the very region where ISIS proliferates, the Middle East. It does not follow that this is the way the entire Middle East looks at women: as a property/commodity at par with currency exchanged.**  You cannot tell me that Islam does not respect its women as much as Christianity does because my Muslim blood cousins are very much respected in their households, per my firsthand witness of it being so; on the other hand at the same time saying that Christianity itself has issues against women that are currently trivialized by so-called spirituality, per my firsthand witness of it.

So where does this violence in man stem from? Aha, this is within the realm of the problem of evil. This is a realm of complicated and long-winded arguments. I have hardly begun to step into this arena. But then my question implies the radical ingredient of the problem: the generic man, adam, the one who comes from and will return to dust. This adam decides whether to treat a girl as a form of currency or not, to treat a girl as an extension of lust or not, to treat a girl as a tool for the expression of desire for power over xyz, simply of the desire of being able, of having the capacity to be able to do anything without restraint. This adam chooses. This adam’s choice depends on the array of choices available. If this adam sees a choice that is for compassion, against suffering, for love, against exploitation, but refuses to choose it, then this adam by his/her own actions condemns his/herself. If this adam is not able to see this choice for love, then us, fellow-adam, what do we do about it?

What ISIS is concerned about is appalling to the maximum. Seeing that it is so, then what do we do about it in our own little world? You can speak about and against it. You can do a small or a big thing to fight it. But whatever you do, listen to that gentleness that speaks to you, so that you do not fall prey to the desire to have power over xyz (i.e., power over anything in any form, be it things or individual minds or massive enticements, etc.), to the strong urge to “move things” including the one that you deem “good”. Remember what Jesus of Nazareth spoke of which thing here on earth is “good”***, and start from there.
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Notes:
* A hugely popular actor’s pathetic power trips over desirable women who have been silenced for decades by the prevalent celebrity-worshiping pop culture and who are now gathering their voices together; the world’s incompetence at giving priority for arms race and space exploration over the education of the most vulnerable of minds — girls and children — that now is powerfully put into the limelight through the recognition of the effects of the lives of Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi by the Nobel Peace Prize; the dazed vulnerability of compassionate girls falling in love for ‘hurt’ men, not seeing nor protecting themselves against these men’s myopic self-absorbed tendencies as portrayed by the tragedy of Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius; the stupidity of the powerful few who insist that global climate change has nothing to do with man, and at the same time not being able to compassionately address the devastating destruction of homes and livelihoods and lives at the Pacific rim NOT THE LEAST SMALL (in all sense of the word) NATIONS SUCH AS THE PHILIPPINES; the ongoing exploitation of the richness of Africa in both sides of the Atlantic, both by not promptly addressing the color-divide issue (Those who say that the term “race” is obsolete, speak up!) and by mis/mal-educating Africa toward the temple of consumerism; to the lack of readily available arguments against the all-goodness of modernity, hence consumerism, hence the inevitable response to the need for “servants for the big house”, hence the callous or blind exploitation of the “household” help be it domestic, commercial, coming from the same or from a different cultural background; and for crying out loud, what’s this thing about “measuring” a girl’s morality against her state of so-called virginity as if a girl can by herself devirginize (herself) or that girls get themselves devirginized for the sake of being so??!!!!

** Though not directly in the sense of “currency exchanged”, Professor Christine Hayes of Yale University speaks of Israelite provisions (note: “Israelite” is different from “Israeli”, but I have no time to get into this here now, though I’m sure information on it is readily available in the net) in the Torah (that’s the original term for what is popularly known as the Old Testament) where vulnerable persons in the society, which invariably includes women and orphans, are expressly protected against exploitation, here:   http://oyc.yale.edu/transcript/952/rlst-145. It’s a longish read, but if you’re impatient then you can look over the part within which says, “So it’s also illuminating to compare the Ancient Near Eastern and the biblical legal materials in terms of the concern for the disadvantaged, the elimination of social class distinctions, and a trend toward humanitarianism.”, which is under Chapter 4. Radical, Characteristic Features of Israelite Law [00:29:58]. This is not to pretty-up the Bible here in the apologetic sense, but just to say that Christianity and Islam originated from a way of thinking, among peoples, that took care of systematizing compassion and care for everyone and everything within their way of living.

*** Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19 : “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. […]” (GNB)

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added 18th January 2015:

I’d say something similar for Boko Haram. If you wonder what a monster looks like, a hideous manifestation of evil, then it’s this group’s activities.

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Take care, everyone. Go out and breathe the fresh air. Get out of the shadows and soak in the winter sun. Fall in love. Greet the elderly. Laugh until your stomach hurts 🙂 hasta la vista!

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Move, On

Once a long time ago I meditated on the instances of happy and painful relationships, either between lovers or between spouses. In my country divorce is not possible. The main reason is that it’s predominantly Roman Catholic, about 98% of the population. The other reason is the way we look at marriage as a permanent thing. Of course separation of spouses happen, as well as infidelity. But since the norm is marriage then even co-habitation is frowned upon. For many families it can incur ostracization of the young lovers. Parents who have cohabited for a long time do not generally make the set-up known, knowing that it will earn some stigma and will affect the children. If they have caring friends these will encourage them to officiate their union even if it’s only a civil rite. Also, civil rites are not as respectable as a church or a sacerdotal sanctioned ritual.

As part of our public education we would discuss marriage and domestic issues in school. One question that came up was if we are in favor of divorce being legalized. That question was taken by us seriously, us not having been raised in an environment where divorce is an open option. The sound of the word “divorce” is equivalent to that of “disaster”, “failure”, “destruction”, “insecurity”, “shame”, “secret”, “lies”, and even “outcast”. The challenge of even saying anything for it, for just the tiniest bit, was daunting.

I did not care much about the question until one lazy summer afternoon as I was spending my usual dreamy lounging time in my parents’ bedroom, where there’s always wonderful lighting streaming inside from two adjacent walls, I came to suddenly put my thinking into considering under what circumstances would I be found to agree on legalizing divorce. I zeroed in on my only answer: violence. I concluded then that a person cannot be made to stay in a set-up where he or she (in our context it’s she predominantly) is constantly in fear of being hurt. But I also thought about what if one of the spouses falls in love with somebody else. Ah, this was difficult stuff to answer as I haven’t been there myself. I had to consider this angle because it seems to be a popular reason why partners split.

Is it possible for a committed person to fall in love with another not her/his partner? If I were married and it happened to me what would I do? This part I had also answered for myself, which in turn made me conclude that choosing the mate isn’t a joke nor a thing to be taken lightly. It definitely cannot be based on hormones alone, although at that time I, too, knew little about this side of things. But, hey, rhetorics is free for everyone, even for budding snotty-nosed university graduates.

spring deer

1 Corinthians 13      (click to enlarge)

Of course it’s possible to fall in love with anyone anytime. What kind of question is this in the first place? Is it even a valid question at all? Are emotions and attraction things that can be channeled the way arguments can be tiered one after the other? Is there even a fool-proof theory about loving? I mean, if God is Love, then how does one deal with this phenomenon? All peoples have their own ways of talking about this phenomenon, and does one group of people or language or worldview define the entire humanity, then and now?

For a “love” between two persons who can’t take it to the socially accepted commitment status, like for instance in my country having it labeled as bigamy, which is illegal, then how could this “love” be handled? “If I were married and it happened to me what would I do?” I guess I have to decide and move on. But since I haven’t been married and so have not been initiated into this level of existence, I will not presume that I know anything about it. Therefore, I can’t openly say here anything by way of response to it. Theoretical musings is fine but I would rather show respect to the real circumstance experienced by real people who can’t even start to find words to deal with it, not even in their own private thoughts.

But what if a married man makes me feel loved and I found it honest and genuine and non-restricting, what do I do?

Certainly not go out on a date with him. Certainly not encourage the flirtation. Cetainly not fan my vanity into a blazing ember. Am I nuts? The guy is married. He has committed himself to something that excludes anything else at par with it. As one of my favorite shows would say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.”

But what if I, too, have started to love him? Ah, then that’s another story. To smell the coffee I think I would first and foremost honor his honesty and courage in making me aware of his care for me. I mean, who am I to reject such a wonderful gift? It’s “love” after all, it’s something unfathomable. It’s from God. It’s God’s language.

Then I would refrain from asking too many questions. I won’t even ask questions at all. I would nip all questions in the bud. Here Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies: defining an electron’s state alters its state. I will refrain from putting my finger on anything in order to pin it down, they be descriptions, qualifications, quantifications of this “love”. Any attempt to pin it down, in this context, will result into a failure. Defining it will destroy it. Getting hold of it will cause its demise. I would leave things as they are, without defining them — be they concepts, words, situations. They will not be turned this way and that for closer examination. They will be left as a blur and will not be designated into compartments or categories. Their rawness will be respected. That way they will not be suffocated, robbed of air, and fester for the lack of it.

As this “love” is there, then what could be done with it? Why, celebrate it, of course. It is not “forbidden”, for goodness’ sake. Love is free, is encouraged, is induced, is given, is spread out, is scattered. The world has been constantly suffering because love has been twisted and restricted and deformed and castigated. But since, in the context I’m talking about here, it’s in an instance where care has to be exercised on its behalf, then I would suggest to take this “love” into another plane of existence. It cannot be insisted on the same plane where it will foster suffering, because that’s not its purpose. Love is something that affirms our humanity, it is a life-giving phenomenon, and hence it does not belong to the arena of suffering. Don’t ask me more about how I speak of it here because, my dear, words are not adequate to speak of this phenomenon in this angle.

So maybe I’d say I’d let this love dwell with the clouds, let it float on the calmest of ocean surfaces, let it flit with the wind among the many branches of as many trees that greet me on my way to wherever everyday, let the leaves’ rustle talk of it to me. Let my echoed footsteps be chants of meditation on it. Silent. Abiding. Subdued. Sometimes even forgotten for a while but certainly there, accompanying me, holding on to the tips of my hair as the breeze blows imperceptible strands here and there, sometimes.

So I won’t conjure physical manifestations of it. “Fantasies” and “possibilities” are words not even entertained. I will not “insist” it; will not “force” it into “fruition”; will not “fight” for it — these avenues does not belong to “love”. Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the only way I can show respect to my emotions, by not straining it with emptiness, not feeding it with conjectures the probabilities of which approach zero. This, too, is the way I could love my self in this context, and so lift my self up from the plane of senselessness.

It was a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) that prompted me on this reflection. Here it is:

I cannot live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup

Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down,
You could not.

And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’,
That new grace

Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.

They’d judge us-how?
For you served Heaven, you know,
Or sought to;
I could not,

Because you saturated sight,
And I had no more eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise.

And were you lost, I would be,
Though my name
Rang loudest
On the heavenly fame.

And were you saved,
And I condemned to be
Where you were not,
That self were hell to me.

So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And prayer,
And that pale sustenance,
Despair!

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There’s an explanation of it here:
http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/close-reading-i-cannot-live-you
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hope-robin-pavitrata-500

I also wanted to explore what I could say in resonance to it, from a different context.

So, I’d say, “I love you, and I must pick my self up from here and carry on, as well as I can possibly do. This is the only way I can show God, and you, how much I honor and value Him, and you.”

I hope that the way I spoke of it isn’t as sad-sounding as Dickinson’s expression here, of her love. Here’s another of her poems, an encouraging sounding one that I copied from http://www.shortpoems.org/emily_dickinson/


Have the best of days, everyone! 🙂



I, learn

!good morning

🙂

I, learn

(click to enlarge)

It is my birthright: not to be “used”.

Still, Like Deep Waters

Recently along my studies of honoring the parents I uncovered a Finnish paper that discusses falling in love among the elderly, a bracket the researcher sets as between 50 to 90 years old.

It was for me like taking a peek into a magical world, something I would not have known existed unless someone who has gone there told me of what it’s like. On the other hand I felt that such a world does perfectly make sense because the elderly, after all, are distinguished only from the rest of the population by the length of experience-years they have already logged in. I would even say that they, when all is said and done, are the ones who know better about most things, especially love, than the rest of us.love found me

That information led me to think of a friend who “fell in love” with a man many years older than her. The time has come to talk about it.

There is, however, a point of contention. By her life story I understood that “falling in love” for her was not a matter of fireworks and hoopla but a going down into the water table. It’s as if her psyche simultaneously absorbs the phenomenon through the pores of her subconscious and lets it dwell deep down among her base components, at the level where her foundational reservoir of soul-existence constantly shift shapes while remaining the same so as to keep her propped up, like the way her skeletal system does.

In that foundational reservoir is her love for God, for family, and her self. The many instances of infatuation in her life is not found in there. Then, again, she (let’s name her here as Firith) classifies her “infatuations”. So I would say that there’s one guy (that is, neither a boy nor a man, and let’s call him Pama) with whom she was infatuated but who became like a favorite cousin to her. Pama is someone whom Firith has a high respect for and she does not classify him now as among her “infatuations”. Infatuation, for Firith, is what she would feel for a face but with whom she doesn’t give a hoot of how they perceive her. She just, uh, finds them fascinating, and that’s where the buck stops. She won’t even care to come up to them to say hello, even for friendliness’ sake, of which Firith always takes with respect, too.

Firith and I have long ago agreed that “falling in love” is a very relative experience. Some speak of it, or even shrill, all the time. Others never speak of such a thing happening to them for their whole lives. Firith spoke only to me of her recent encounter of it and she will remain silent of it forever, so she said, and knowing her I think she could do it, too. However, she herself suggested that I talk about it some time here, as her way of celebrating it with the rest of creation (that’s my way of saying it, though 🙂 ) At least this is something our circle of friends agree on: that loving is life is free is living is freeing is celebrating.

fireworksWhile we were still kids I wouldn’t have known it of her but when we were about to leave college and go our separate ways, when we began to analyze our past in face of the apprehension for our future, Firith related (with great laughter and relief) how she would easily be infatuated with a boy starting when she was 5 years old. She recalled the names (dozens!) with whom she “fell in love at sight” and on average their names started with either J or D. Girls do tend to do this, finding patterns among whom they fall in love with and such, and though I found it a bit silly (really, what’s with J and D?) I now understand that these ruminations are part of a growing girl’s subconscious effort at trying to get to know her own self. And so J and D, and let’s leave it at that, for Firith, haha.

For Firith, however, falling in love does not make her “lose” her head. We’ve heard and read about these things, in novels and television drama series, and the recurring theme is that angst comes along in romantic situations. That is, falling in love almost always presents with it either problems or intrigues. In fairness, though, I can understand a bit how the menfolk in my family can simply exhale audibly and turn their backs on me for a hasty retreat when they see me absorbed in an emotional acting-session on screen. This may be one of the reasons why Firith didn’t elaborate on her many infatuations. She found them insubstantial topics for conversation, except for the few times when it could contribute to our lighter moods.

But one time I became fearful for Firith when I saw her almost losing it, and, unbelievably, to a youth many years her junior (let’s call him Tim). To others’ eyes they were either the very best of friends, or lovers. Firith still would not tell me much about it, for reasons I can only have an inkling on, but the way I know my friend she would never play at “love”. She’s like this: if boyfriends are for the purpose of marrying then why get one with whom one isn’t considering of marrying. Really, she’s as archaic as girls can get nowadays. However, since I haven’t heard of all stories of all girls in the world in the present context, then who knows, there could be lots and lots of girls like Firith out there, living against the mainstream tide that a girl MUST have a either a boyfriend or a husband.

If not for friends who think similar to Firith, and for the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by C. P. Estes, I, too, would have succumbed to this misguided collective conviction. I have nothing against having a mate but I do have something against senselessly hankering after about just any-one (eherm, but sometimes it has to be said like that…) !peace!

I asked Firith during one of the get-togethers that we would insert into our crazy schedules if the thing with Tim is now okay. She had to think for a while before responding, an indication that she was being cautious. We’ve been relating stuff to each other for ages but there are times when you have to let your friend, and even yourself, withhold some, and for legitimately trustworthy reasons but never out of mistrust. I could see then quite plainly that had there been a “man” in her life (aside from the “men” in her family — grandfather, father, brother, nephew) then it would have been Tim. I could see, too, that Firith wouldn’t allow him to be classified as that. She had refused Tim entry into her water table.

When Firith was finishing her grad degree she was already in a prolonged (though suppressed, and that’s how strong Firith is, really) quasi-depression. At that time Tim befriended her and it was as if for her a bud suddenly sprouted in the middle of winter. Though Firith had us around her she also kept within her self-imposed solitude. We never heard much about how it was with her and Tim. Both presented a normal-facade to us and there was no chance to look closer. Gak!! Did Firith fall in love with a winter bud of whom none of us her close buddies are privy to?

Thank goodness that episode of our lives are now over and we can now stop worrying about her heart, so to speak. At least I, for one, know about it and I can assure everyone that our dear girl is fine, heart and all, without getting into the details. There will be time for the telling of all that.

calm seaIt’s because, so she told me, of Keith. She didn’t “fall in love with him”, fireworks and hoopla and all. A long time ago Keith came up to her team and greeted them all, it being an inter-organizational meeting and representatives from all over have come to participate. Keith wouldn’t be someone familiar to us, to our worldview. He inhabits what we’d call a screen-world and a jargon-savvy universe. Belatedly we analyzed him as even an unusual six-footer, someone who does not belong to a single box, limited and categorized. That is, he has two feet firmly planted in three different contexts. Of course we have no way of knowing for sure, and you know how girls can talk together using multi-layered paradigms, haha! 😀 But Keith was, even in that first meeting, friendly to Firith without being needy, helpful without being pushy, generous with his knowledge without being showy. He came across to her as uncomplicated and sincere. However, she never sent him an email like she told him to, for reasons that are non-grave but are of a matter of consequence.

After many more months Keith came to another organizational meeting again. Things were like as before but this time Keith bemoaned why ever did she not write to him. Firith decided right there and then that Keith was a trusted friend. There were other girl-things (it will have to take an entire novel to tell, haha!) she told me about and I became convinced that Firith had kept her head all the while, in this thing with Keith. I mean, this is not a matter of heart-vs-head, but a matter of both working together, as they always ought to.

Surprisingly Firith is happier now. She’s related with Keith for only a few days (inclusive of the first and second meetings, that are far apart) and her understanding of love has already deepened. Much more than what we have read in respectable books and seen from respectable movies Firith has now, to my envy, the capability of loving without needing. Keith had to go away and they will never see each other again but for Firith what Keith gave her, like God’s eternity, is always an abiding present.

Firith’s story made me see that love can be something that is not held on to for fear of losing it. Love is, to say it simply, something that is never lost. When God hides His face from us, like the way it happened between Him and Job, God continues to love. What the Bible says of love banishing fear has become a reality to Firith and I think she’s even more surprised than I am of having seen it first-hand, considering the times she went through with Tim and her other so-called close friends.

Joo Jin-MoFirith had been praying for healing, I know of this, and now she’s proven to herself once again that God answers prayers, loves, supports, and takes care of His children.

I’ve wanted to fall in love, too (especially after reading about Joo Jin-Mo wishing to be infatuated, heheh) but reflecting now on Firith’s love story I therefore conclude that the best thing for me to be dreaming about nowadays is just to finish my school hoopla, and !ASAP 🙂

Hope you’ve been inspired by Firith’s story, too 🙂

Ciao for now!

girl-and-dove art edited from the original by albumsource.com. Thanks loads!

My Journey to Non-Nationality


When I first came to Fangorn I didn’t know what kind of folks Fangornians are. Though I could have consulted the web or the prints still there simply was no time to even think about doing so. At that time I had to function like a crazed morph, having to sprout extra limbs and cerebral lobes. I had to prepare for the take off yet my feet was at a work place that screamed for organization. I’ve been alone on the road plodding for decades already and I’ve built a facade so camouflaged that my family and so-called friends couldn’t see how my internal gauges have been showing erratic fluctuations.

I even told an elder that I just came from shingles and he thought I was telling him that I’m single. If it wasn’t for my semi-‘conservative’ friend Netz I could have gone vegetable over those viral remnants of childhood chicken pox. The presence of persons such as Netz in my life make me think twice about labelling either my own self or other people.

Whether a person is from my gene pool or not the laws of biology and psychology are the same.

When I first came to Fangorn I was not so wistful of my different gene pool nor was I apprehensive of faces that I used to see only on screen. I was actually busy trying to figure out how the heck could I stay standing on the pavement without my brains freezing out before the coziness of the bus comes. I was preoccupied trying to figure out if the room lighting’s luminousity is up to my system’s survival threshold. I was foraging for sources of nourishment, the ones that would make my stomach aware that I have already put some into it.

Later, after having seen for myself that I could survive here, my brain started to grow out calmer dendrites. I started reflecting outside the context of immediate survival. I explored new turf.

I looked at the Fangornians. I couldn’t see much. That was a culture shock that I had seen coming. Even until today I still couldn’t see of them as much as I wanted to although a few have already welcomed me into their homes. I looked at the Flip-Flops. I saw more than I expected. I looked at the Zirconians as well as my fellow Zaps. Then I looked at the entire pulsating planet.

Ipensive contemplative reflective meditative thoughtful arrived at the conclusion that it is greed that has to do with all our woes. But when I talked about this to my classmate Moira he said that he thinks greed isn’t inherent in us humans, but that it’s a function of the environment. We’ve been brought up, he told me, to be greedy.

I still have to take the time to reflect on that. I have to look at original-sin side by side with tabula-rasa, too. I honestly don’t know from which angle to approach the topic with new eyes. I may have to go back to Moira, to pick up where we left it off because we had ran out of walking space.

In this picture are my new friends JDG, RK, and TCD.

Since two years ago when JDG heard me call a colleague “manong” (older brother) he told me that he, too, was my manong. So I started to call him that using the equivalent word in his mother speech, orabeoni. We started to relate to each other more freely than before but calling him manong didn’t take our friendship into a quantum leap, to that manong level. So I think next time I see him it would be more appopriate to substitute “sunbaenim” (respected senior) for orabeoni. I sense old and newly erected fences, all invisible to me, around which I should maneuver and in which in the end I’d possibly be left with a bye-bye to a friendship that could have been really great.

Shikataganai. East Zapians are of a machismo worldview and even fellow Zapians can’t do anything about that, lowering the gaze and clipping the arms by their sides upon meeting the so-called strong ones. But it is the East Zapians who taught me to reflect on loyalty and steadfastness, on endurance and single-mindedness. On appreciating the fullness of silence. Just as Treebeard said I shoudn’t be hasty at my conclusions.

Again, on the picture are RK and TCD, who are Zirconians. When I first came to Fangorn and was just learning to walk on snow, mustering the fear of my feet being singed through the soles of my shoes, I had thought of how to get out of the thinking that Zirconians, collectively, are responsible for the many woes of the Flip-Flops and of the pulsating planet. The peaceable consequence that I reached at was that whoever was responsible for the mess should be the one to clean it up. Whoever tipped the balance must do something to restore it.

thoughtful CNI needed to see at least one Zirconian who was exactly doing this, innocently and with integrity, without even being aware that there are Flips who think the way I do. Honestly I am vaguely aware that there are many Flips out there who echo my sentiments but that they are faceless to me. I do not personally know of one, and thought trains like these are, well, what can I say, camouflaged among thick forest undergrowths.

Not long after I met CN, a huge Zirconian with clear shining eyes. He and his friends have an ongoing program for ending world hunger. It’s a blatantly naive and gigantic ambition. It’s hopelessly lovable. He has tried to describe how the church could be functioning in our present context.

Like RK he has tried to talk in terms that would welcome anyone who’s eager to participate. Many would call it a post-modern paradigm, similar to several, both named and yet obscure, that are groping in the unchartered multiple-contexts we now find ourselves bewildered in.clear brilliant eyes

Now I know that I shouldn’t take Zirconians as a “people”, a generalized collective, but as “persons”, one individual at a time. There are Zirconians who, like RK and CN, are neither threatened nor limited by labeling.

Back home there was a Fangornian with whom I’d started to befriend. Of the extremely short time I spent with her I was able to ask her of whom did she thought we women should be modelling ourselves after. Her answer was startling to me then: after no-one. It is only now that I’m starting to understand her. It is only now that I’m starting to she what she meant when she said that first and foremost it is my own individuality that I must be looking out for.

As per the conversation I had with Moira, about greed, I tried to put it into a logical diagram and see what I can come up with:

Venn 1 & 2_greedy, people

Without bothering with defining the Universal Set, these four Venn diagrams show the possible relationships between all people and all greedy entities. My musings led me nearer to the idea pictured by Figure 4. Moira’s counter-arguments tend towards Figure 1, although not as how things are but rather as a starting point, when conditioning is taken out of the picture. Moira seemed to be telling me that humans do not have greediness as a necessary attribute, although he did say that he’d be needing all the evidences that he can get his hands on before being sure of this.

Venn 3 & 4_greedy, peopleFor me I just based my conclusion (Moira did tease me, that I have “concluded” already) on the historical events. Empires rising and falling. Countries getting richer and poorer. Parents in a frenzy about giving the A-class education to their children. Young professionals eager to show off the brands of their possessions. I have wanted to look into the machinery that fuels the global dynamics and if I start at the grass roots, at the level of an individual’s needs and wants, then I would pinpoint to the human’s propensity to get hold onto and retain something, incorporate it into the personal space. Of course some can readily recognize when the level of this “acquisition process” is becoming toxic and so it is readily called off. Bastante. This situation may be pictured by either Figure 2 or 3, above. Not everyone is helpless against greediness.

Still there’s something about my Venn diagrams that bother me. I’d like to replace “people”, a faceless mass, with “persons” — attributing now the sense of responsibility to individuals. Yet either way something still doesn’t quite fit. I feel like I’m figuring things out by ossifying phenomena with labels. It’s the same dynamics as when I talk of Fangonians, Zirconians, Zaps, and Flips as groups. Not all Zirconians are alike and I have yet to find a Flip who resonates in my frequency. Perhaps I never will. TCDTCD, a Zirconian whose personaliy I would zig-zag away from back home (chatty, readily friendly, flashy smile) surprisingly has become the first Zirconian I can relate to with ease, without being conscious of the cerebral gap. Because of him, CN, and RK, I now have little use of the label “Zircon”.

I had a Rilkan penfriend for eight years. I’m looking for her whereabouts now and I’m sure she does think of me sometimes. But, alas, we both cannot be found among the social media websites. I had a Shtoi dormmate. Her brother became my student and so we three have become friends. I will search for her home address among my files so that when I go to their country I will be able to visit them, as she invited me to. Now I have Moira a Milesian, and Benga a Huzz. We call ourselves “the three idiots” after that hilarious but enlightening Indian movie. There’s Peth the Fangornian lady back home, happily married to a fellow Flip of whom I am more at awe than friendly.

These non-Flips became friends because we related with expressions that connected persons, not peoples. We did not pre-define each other. We didn’t bring labels into our relationships. We simply faced each other, talked openly, and became one human being to another human being.

I had thought that it is only the word “race” that we should be doing away with. Now there’s national-classification as well. A wo/man’s context does not ‘define’ her/him. Honesty, trust, and thankfulness speak in a language that have nothing to do with culture, nationality, or genes.

Benga & Moira

Benga & Moira

Many Zirconians will continue to be jerks. Many Flips will continue to be clueless. Many Zaps will continue to be mesmerized by anything Zirconian or Deltan. Many Fangornians will remain cold and rude. This, however, is not the only lens with which to view humanity. Any human can equally be a jerk, clueless, impressionable, cold, or rude.

For purposes of conversations Moira and I could still use the Venn diagrams but now it has become clearer to me how all persons are configured by the tracks that they had to run on. Each landmark we pass by morphs us. Had I not found myself abruptly shoved into Fangorn I wouldn’t have started to trust a Zirconian for a long time yet. I relate to TCD as TCD, as himself, and not as someone with a Zircon-labeling.

Now I’m happier.

Scandal: a girl enrolls in Sungkyunkwan

In this light historical drama that I watched a year ago I found myself asking, “So where is the scandal?” Ah, that a mere girl has infiltrated the hallowed halls of Sungkyunkwan is the scandal, hence the title Sungkyunkwan Scandal.

Let’s say I didn’t know that there’s a real Sungkyunkwan University, that I watched this series without knowing beforehand who the actresses/actors in it are, that I was just curious about a centuries ago campus life when school buildings were of wood, foot-walks to classrooms were paved with stone, attendance in the cafeteria was checked, and the dorm looked like the traditional countryside house, what could I say after watching it?

Sungkyunkwan S _ep20_ professor takes the blame for the scandal

Prof. Jung Yak-yong takes the blame for the scandal, humbles himself before the king.

Produced in 2010, this is set during King Jeongjo’s reign (Yi San, 28 October 1752 – 18 August 1800, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, r. 1776-1800), when his character in the drama is shown to be already using painkillers and is talking of how limited his time is and so he must speed things up. He secretly visits the campus to watch ball games and is at one time the arbiter of a campus crime investigation that he turned into an examination item.

The meat of this drama is in the dialogues. I was not disappointed in my quest at taking a peek at what elite Confucian students might have been looking into because they do recite here small snippets from the books. Taking note of the dialogues and putting them in a post here will have to be done at another time, though. Like with Tree with Deep Roots here’s another way to get introduced into the high regard for the Chinese classics, which form the basics of a Confucian scholarship.What makes the series interesting for me is the way the students and their mentors/elders make moves one after and against the other around the problems they have to contend with, making it seem like a chess game of wits with integrity at stake. When parts start to drag, like in the romantic scenes, I just fast-forward.

There are many characters here, which is usual. I can speak about the four main characters only for now, and on what makes them interesting for me. They each are from different spheres of their society, from different political influences, making their friendship an object of admiration even by the king. Although the drama moves around their involvement with each other the story starts long before they were born, in the strife between political opponents that got the present king’s father killed.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal _ep20 _King Yi San & Kim Yoon Hee

The king does not disappoint as the scholars’ father.

1.) Kim Yoon Hee sacrifices much for the sake of her family. She takes care of them, being the eldest child of a fatherless household that has a chronically sick younger son. This in itself is not unusual then and now, but what is unusual is her way of doing it: she transcribes books (a bit like “print on demand” type of job) for a bookseller. She has made good use of this skill and talent she has — unconventional for a girl during her time because it was only the men who can get a high level of literacy such as hers, so the bookseller knows her only as Kim Yoon Shik since she comes to the shop attired as a man using her brother’s name. She had a good start at the classics as a little girl when her father, who was a professor at Sungkyunkwan, was still alive. After she enters Sungkyunkwan in guise her schoolmates nickname her Daemul, meaning “big shot”. Sungkyunkwan, being the elite learning institution of Joseon, is exclusive to males and the uncovering of her successful entry comprise the scandal. She is the key, however, as the child of a former Sungkyunkwan professor who was highly trusted by the king, in locating a controversial document that several political bigwigs tried to destroy ten years ago.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal _Ep20 _4 friends, lull before the final storm

Lull before the final storm: four drunk scholars celebrating a coup.

2.) Lee Seon Jun is the child of the Left Minister who is also the leader of the kingdom’s strongest political faction. Hence he is an “untouchable” to the extent that the school’s chancellor is always on tiptoe in looking out for his welfare. He is as upright as can be, a perfect replica of his father in conduct and demeanor, which is consistently emotionless. He struggles with his attraction to his roommate whom he sincerely believes to be a man. Thus, he undergoes an existential struggle concerning an issue that is anathema to the principles he lives by: conservative Confucianism. He, an upright leader-to-be of the kingdom, becomes introduced into a world that is outside the scope of his upbringing and the contemporary norms — and this not only with regards to sexuality but also with the overall worldview, giving him opportunities for applying into deeds the principles written by scholars of long ago, those he had learned in books, on how to live a worthy life. A friend nicknames him Garang, meaning an ideal husband material. He represents the awkwardly fumbling bridge between erudition and the authentic human.

Gul-oh & Yeorim, best friends _Sungkyunkwan Scandal

The Crazy Horse and the Playboy, hidden talents, latent abilities, opposites, best friends.

3.) Moon Jae Shin is the surviving younger son of the Justice Minister. His older brother was a radical supporter on issues regarding the common people — he and Kim Yoon Hee’s father were killed while performing a secret royal order, the transport of a document that was written by the former king wherein stated is his remorse over the death penalty he gave to his own son the Crown Prince Sado, the present king’s father. Moon Jae Shin’s nickname is Gul-oh (also Geol-oh), the crazy horse. He disregards conventions practiced by Sungkyunkwan scholars and his teachers have “failed” him from graduating three times already, though no-one berates him, not even his father. He comes and goes to his dorm room at will, which he occupies by himself, and it’s not unusual for him to reek of alcohol, be unkempt, and be absent from or asleep in class. However, like his older brother he is an excellent writer, and has read all the books in the library. He leads a double life, being a masked vigilante at some nights who drops off from the rooftops to the main roads below seemingly subversive red notes. By these notes the king has ascertained that he’s a Sungkyunkwan scholar and thus wants to protect him from the powers that suspect him of knowing about the former king’s secret document, the recovery of which threatens the current strongest political faction’s hold on power.

Yeorim, Garang, Gul-oh

Yeorim, Garang, Gul-oh, and a ghost. Ep.8

4.) Gu Yong Ha is the son of a rich merchant. They can afford vacation trips to China, is always very fashionably dressed, has a dorm room all to himself that is lavishly decorated — whereas the others have to share up to three persons each, ones that are almost bare of furniture. He is very popular among the gisaeng (the female entertainers) and is nicknamed Yeorim, the playboy. Being not of the yangban (nobleman class), his father bought their status, thus making Yeorim acceptable to Sungkyunkwan and their family respectable. Having a traditionally merchant family has made Yeorim wise in the ways of the streets, making him “at home” not only among the aristocracy but also in the shops. Their wealth makes Yeorim a valuable ally among the leaders-to-be in his school but isn’t a strong enough buffer against political ignominy, thus his bought status is a well guarded secret. Yeorim is the tactician among the Jalgeum Quartet — which is the name given by the gisaengs to this group of four friends, meaning that to the girls they’re four exciting/thrilling young men. It is Yeorim who consistently puts two and two together, enabling him to anticipate happenings and so is never at a loss at any situation. Yeorim is the one who can be depended on to get things done. His shallow-playboy image is a mask that covers an introspective personality. He’s actually a cynic and only their teacher has discerned his propensity at distancing himself from disadvantageous situations. Using their individual means, he and Geol-oh are the most mobile of the four friends, having the confidence and the capicity to roam anywhere they want — Geol-oh using his martial arts prowess and Yeorim using his family’s resources that includes a private army.

Gul-oh _night smile

a rare relaxed Gul-oh smile but, alas, in the shadows 🙂

My favorite characters in the drama all in all are, briefly:

❤ Gul-oh – he uses academics as an end to something else, and is emotionally engaged in his aim, which basically is upholding the common folk – a value rubbed off on him by his brother
❤ Yeorim – he speaks out, knows his way through situations, operates with certainty while being unafraid of well-calculated risks
❤ Sun Dol, Lee Seon-jun’s personal servant – he’s so unguarded, so sincere in what he does that he doesn’t let conventions check the way he expresses himself: he teases, scolds, nags and hugs his young master
❤ the king (Yi San) – resists political pressures for the sake of the populace; he listens to the opinions of young scholars, trusts them, and gives generous appreciation where due
❤ the two professors – they have integrity and deserve the respect given to them
❤ the school principal/chancellor – always torn between being upright, dealing with the parents, and being on the good side of the powers-that-be — in his funny way manages this beautifully
❤ the school’s staff, including the children who run errands and ring the bell – they are the main keepers of order in campus, cleaning, cooking, and assisting the teachers

Garang at a loss. Gul-oh acts weird.

Garang puzzled, with obnoxious Gul-oh insisting to sleep next to him, replacing Daemul at the center spot.

Daemul and Garang, the romantic pair, are fine in their own way but they’re not the reason why I’ve counted this drama as a favorite 🙂 One’s always too nice and the other’s always too goody-two-shoes, what Yeorim might call “boring” if not for the events that arise because of them. But the way each of the four responded to their unusual friendship is engaging for me, and the dynamics makes the drama worth watching again. Children who have disappointments with regards to their fathers might find this drama interesting despite its obvious commercial attractions — the young men’s relationships with their prominent fathers are given attention in this drama. Considering that the unkempt Garang and the well-groomed Yeorim have been buddies for a decade now, and that the “cheat” Daemul bonds with the irreproachable Garang, the yin-yang concept is seen here. Daemul, who is not interested in the attractive Yeorim, was first found out by the indifferent Gul-oh who is “allergic” to girls — he hiccups when he gets close to one. Garang is also the opposite to Gul-oh, in temperament and in political orientations. Similar to Garang, Yeorim also once had to deal with his strong fascination over another male, Gul-oh, but which does not bother him now. Gul-oh is the most physically capable of the 4 but has to be “saved” by them several times. One thing that I appreciate in this drama: thankfully there’s no fighting among the 3 guys over Daemul 🙂

…that’s all for now… ciao 🙂 (all captures in this post zoom in when clicked on)




Chuno, and those who live only for the day

Good afternoon 🙂 The sun is setting, a golden world ❤

This post is from a scene of the 2010 South Korean fusion sageuk The Slave Hunters ( 추노推奴 Chuno)Chuno _ slave hunters   (1) It was a year ago when I first watched it.  I have no summary here, but I can direct you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Slave_Hunters  if you wish to read one. All pictures here are captures from the drama. A sageuk is a S. Korean historical drama. Fusion because it has contemporary elements, those that are non-traditional to a sageuk such as stylized costumes and background music that does not belong to the period. The period of this drama is the Joseon Dynasty, in the early 1600’s. Aside from the traditional music featured here, which are lovely, there are also pop and rock sound tracks. Chuno _ slave hunters   (2)One of them, Stigma (Yim Jae Bum), will have its own post here one of these days. It embodies what for me the theme of the drama is, which is a chasing after something that cannot be had, in this lifetime at least.

The slave hunters are just that, they hunt for run-away household-slaves. They are mercenary-like in that they can be hired by anyone, or that they can claim rewards from owners whose slaves they have caught. They have a low status in society and are loathed by the slaves especially. They are not an organized body and hence there is competition among the different chuno gangs. They live by brawn mostly, and brains for some like the group in this drama, which consists of three friends who are among the best in the trade:

Chuno _Choi chamgun (1) Chuno _Choi chamgun (2)1.) Mr. Choi, nicknamed General Choi, or Choi chamgun, the oldest in the group and hence the older-brother-in-authority for the two younger ones;

Chuno _Daegil (0) Chuno _Daegil (1)2.) Daegil, about 6 years younger than Choi chamgun, is the originator of the group and has the most know-how on their trade;

Chuno _Wangson (0) Chuno _Wangson (1)3.) Wangson, the ladies’ man and the youngest of these three, lived formerly as what one would call a scoundrel; it was because he pick-pocketed Choi chamgun that the three first met, in a scuffle;

This scene here involves a newcomer to the group, Seolhwa. Chuno _Seolhwa (0) Chuno _Seolhwa (1)She’s only 17, about half the age of Choi chamgun, and maybe about 10 years younger than Daegil. She calls the three men her orabeoni, meaning older brother. Seolhwa was sold into slavery when she was 6 because her family was starving. (At another time I will relate this with Won Bin’s movie Ahjussi, where his character Cha Tae-shik has a small friend Somi who got into contact with children who were abandoned in a similar way by their parents. This is a modern-day setting movie.) Seolhwa was resold into prostitution in her early teens and is first seen in the drama as belonging to a traveling group of entertainers that goes around Joseon. She is a valuable asset to its owner, a nasty woman who has a retinue of private thugs. Chuno _ slave hunters   (3)One particular evening Seolhwa, apparently deciding to abandon her way of living, slipped through her guards and thus managed to come across the three chuno. From then on she has successfully attached herself to their gang. Hence, she has become an unofficial member, taken in by the “older brothers” out of their sense of responsibility for one in such a helpless and danger-full situation. She is a smart aleck but also surprisingly smart. Despite the three’s initial refusal to take her in she eventually gains their genuine acceptance.

In this scene the companions are momentarily at a walking-rest pace in the middle of their pursuit of a run-away military-baracks-slave, one whose price is a whooping 500 monetary units and so would be quite a catch to the struggling gang. The dialogue is mostly between Seolhwa and Daegil, who are walking ahead of the other two. Choi chamgun is at the rear, by reason of having the unspoken responsibility of watching his group’s back. Besides, he’s the quiet type. He doesn’t speak in this scene. Seolhwa has chosen to attach herself to Daegil. Wangson was supposedly, by an unspoken rule, be the one in charge of her (has something to do with age-related ranking within the group). But since Wangson is the playful playboy of the group and Seolhwa’s status normally elicits sexual innuendos from men then both continually clash. Daegil, therefore, seemingly grudgingly looks after her now. But the truth is that behind Daegil’s rough facade he’s the most sensitive of the three men, something which, I suspect, Seolhwa instinctively sensed since it was him who actually effected her rescue from her madame-owner and her thugs that night she ran away. The clothes she wears now is the one she ran away on — clothing was expensive, so it’s either they splurge for her or they steal for her or she just goes on with the only set she owns.

In the conversation Seolhwa reveals that she lives only for the day. For one so young it’s such a grave statement, as if she has seen so much already and is now resigned to just embracing what can be had right in front of one’s eyes and not so much as hope for more or for a better situation in the morrow. Wangson and Choi chamgun more or less have this same attitude to life, whereas Daegil thinks differently — but more on this at a later post ❤

It is just a simple conversation but one that I appreciate for its timelessness. For such situations as Seolhwa’s and the slave hunters dreaming of an abundant life is a luxury. Many would deem it an impossibility. I was a bit taken aback by the matter-of-fact way Seolhwa talks about it — this is how her persona is presented in the drama, as someone who has tasted the gruesomeness of life and yet manages not to let it show. Daegil, on the other hand, broods over and nurtures his pains. I’m happy to share with you here a tiny part of the entire story, and in pictures, too (a million thanks to the makers of Chuno). The gallery zooms in when clicked on.

❤ that’s it for this scene … the one that follows is a series of pursuits again, where Seolhwa will surprise Daegil with two more things, that she can ride a horse just as well as they can and that she can be sharp about discerning situations ❤ Seolhwa is basically for comic relief, because the drama is simply awash of heartaches plus it has many instances of sword fight violence — I watched it because my Korean classmate recommended it to me after learning that the plight of the lowest of classes in the old Korean society interests me, by the reason that I have found out that its mechanics greatly helps me understand the everywhere contemporary wo/man, and of course at the same time contemporary Korea/Japan.

The situations of the Chuno characters are, in one word, depressing. But Seolhwa in her role as the silly youngster in fact carries the light that would have been Daegil’s redemption from his perennial angst. Chuno can be spoken of as Daegil’s story but more can be seen within it after just a little more digging behind Daegil’s glaring presence. It is Daegil’s angst that provides the drive for the main plot but Daegil owns only one face of this angst — because it can be seen in the adjacent/parallel subplots as well. Almost everyone here is trapped by circumstances and are striving for some sort of restitution. There are no obvious answers at the ending, so it’s far from the happily-ever-after formula.

This journey with Daegil, this main body of the drama that is within this tiny period of fictional history, is much more value-full for me than any ending the writers would have come up with. Many are upset by the tragic ending and are only compensated by the hope that Daegil’s sacrifice has provided — he dies so that a future government, one that is redemptive, will have a fighting chance to emerge — at least this is the obvious conclusion to the story. For me I look at the entire story, which is the collection of the stories of the characters that I met here, as one of a perennial refrain in human life not so unlike that of Daegil’s at-times-pointless angst.  I was able to meet people whose faces can be replaced by any of us who are of similar dilemmas and aspirations, of waiting for, of giving loyalty to, of trusting, of risking, of giving beyond capacity, of just getting by, of going on despite everything … there is so much packed within this tiny bundle of a story … I am at awe of how its writers accomplished such a tapestry ❤ My only regret is that I do not understand the mother tongue that is the medium for all the conversations, otherwise I could have gained much more than what I can glean from the English translations so generously provided by many people including the one running with the captures above.

Seolhwa is among my favorite characters anywhere. There’s another girl character here that shines as well — a slave named Chobok and is also a favorite of mine. It’s her face, along with that of the young girl whom Daegil has saved, who are featured at the very end of the drama as they watch the sunrise together and is thus a closure to the story. It is a parallelism to the official soundtrack’s Stigma last lyrics “When will the morning come?”. As for Seolhwa, I envy her capacity for springing back to life, for her resilience, her matter-of-fact acceptance of what cannot be changed, and her insistence in ploughing through hopelessness just to get to the other end. Her status as among the society’s dregs does not weigh her spirits down. The drama makes it appear like she’s a potential romantic interest for Daegil, which helps bring in the profits, but is actually something that is obviously impossible to materialize right from the start. This aspect of the relationship between Daegil and Seolhwa, the being there yet not there, is such a delicate layering of interactions that I am very impressed at how the two artists, Mr. Jang Hyuk and Ms. Kim Ha-Eun, have successfully put it across clearly.

Somi and her ahjussi

Somi shows to her ahjussi ( = “uncle”) her nail art because he’s asking her what she’s saving her money for, as he quickly waters his cactus before the two eat a meal with her favorite sausages. A warning, though: this movie has lots (really) of violence and therefore must not be shown to children and the like. But the friendship between Somi and her ahjussi is as lovely as can be, even more touching than that of Alexandria and Roy in The Fall.

Please do not be misled by my appreciation for the drama, interpreting it as a recommendation for just anyone to watch it — it’s because it has lots of violence and I would really caution one to be prepared for this aspect in case (you) decide to take a look at it. It’s not for the “innocent” because it can leave scars to the unprepared psyche. That is, I would not recommend it simply for light-hearted entertainment’s sake.

I recall one scene where Seolhwa was utterly irresponsible, where she sold the gang’s horses and spent the money on drinks — yeah, the lot 😀 but Daegil did the unexpected, by collecting her home without the slightest fuss — and as of now the only way I can talk about that scene is to relate it again with Somi, the little girl in Ahjussi 🙂 . . . ’til next time then 🙂 ciao ciao