Dream Car

I have always been fascinated when it comes to cars and car upgrades, even though I don’t know how to drive one myself.  We all have our own notions of what a “dream car” would be like, but mine does not involve going after prerelease hype and buzz that may otherwise leave you disappointed in the end.  Continue reading

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Harry Reacts

Because you can't help but scream.

When I have nothing else to do I watch lots of movies. Last week I powerdisked Harry Potter 1-6.  (Perhaps I should post some snapshots in the future here)

Then  I made this out of pure entertainment (and posted it on my tumblr account).

Anyway, I just dropped by to say I’m excited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 which will be shown in theaters in less than a week.

Fairs!

Recently I just passed by a trade show about fashion stuff made up of indigenous materials.  I find them really innovative and resourceful, not to mention, chic and creative too.   You might think that with the onset of the internet (being able to put on sale stuff on Facebook, Multiply, etc) trade shows might be considered rare nowadays.  But I don’t think so. Continue reading

The Strength of Minor Characters: The Function of Chorus in the Play Agamemnon

The character of ‘the Chorus’ in the play Agamemnon play a very huge role.  The Chorus in the context of the play is a group of elder citizens of Argos who play significant multifaceted roles like advisors, commentators, narrators, etc.

The chorus give us the context and the necessary information as seen in the earlier parts of the play – the background story of the Trojan War, the abduction of Helen and the ten years of war between Greece and Troy (“Ten years the great contestants of Priam’s right / Menelaus and Agamemnon, my lord / … / put forth from this shore / the strength and the armies.”) It also give us either detailed or lengthy descriptions of the important events that didn’t happen within the context of the play, like how Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter Iphigenia in vivid details (“Her supplications and her cries of father / were nothing, nor child’s lamentation / to kings passioned for battle.”) how Menelaus and other Greeks were lost in the sea (“Ship against ship the Thracian storm shattered us / and gored and split, our vessels, swept in violence / of storm and whirlwind, beaten by the breaking rain…”) as well as the lengthy descriptions of the destructive and powerful presence of the beautiful Helen of Troy “so fatally in every way” or “the bride of spears and blood”.  The chorus act like omniscient characters who know everything that is significant for the audience to know and the job is to convey it to the spectators.  Definitely the chorus work like a narrator, but only differs in the fact that they don’t have limited appearances or they don’t serve as mere introductions to jumpstart the actions or the movements of the play.

Another significant role that the chorus play is the fact that they are capable of giving us commentaries about a certain event or a character.  The chorus can also ask the main characters what are their motivations for their actions.  They judge the behaviors of the characters geared in an objective point of view, but nevertheless supplying us with its own biased opinions sometimes.  The chorus tells us first of Clytemnestra (“But you lady / … / What is there to be done? What new thing have you heard? / what report do you order such sacrifice?”) as the chorus demand to know why the queen has ordered sacrifices to all the gods and celebrations throughout the city for the coming of his husband Agamemnon when in fact he sacrificed their own daughter.  Such inquiry to the main character gives the Chorus the respected dominant stance in the play.  Even the chorus have already biased the audience about the title character Agamemnon who only appeared briefly on the play by their own descriptions about him: his tragic flaw in the form of excessive pride ‘hubris’ (“the sinful Daring”) and the lengthy and gruesome information about Iphigenia’s sacrifice.  The chorus are capable of analyzing characters through words as seen in the eyes of others, and this is probably the earliest extant technique of limited or peripheral point of view that is common in some stories or other forms of narratives.

Other functions of the chorus – they give us the sense of foreboding especially when the chorus converse with another character Cassandra and the sense of premonition when the chorus say that Orestes will return from exile to avenge his father’s death.  The chorus are capable of debate, and the chorus can deliberate among themselves what is the best thing to do, as seen in the scene when Aegisthus and Clytemnestra finally triumph to kill Agamemnon.

I feel that in this play the chorus is seen initially as minor character but when I read the text it feels like they play an important role as much as Clytemnestra or Agamemnon did.  The chorus embodies a whole, a oneness in character of the elders of Argos, and stand as a very powerful character for they act like an all-knowing people.  They can debate, discuss, comment, advise, and converse among other characters and most of all, they are the carrier of the narrative string of the play.

The Importance of Burial in Antigone

The concept of ‘body’ in Greek culture is very holy that the Greeks deemed the physical body as something to be taken care of.  More so of the concept of burial, where it is a belief that without proper ritual or burial or any form of memorial service the body of the deceased will doom to wander in the River Styx in Hades.  The Greek culture puts a higher premium that the deceased should merit solicitous attention from the relatives.

This custom is very much exemplified in Sophocles’Antigone. The main character Antigone buried his brother Polynices “with a little dirt” despite her sister Ismene’s warning not to defy Creon’s orders.  Usually women in Greek culture are expected to mourn over a dead relative but because Creon forbids the burial of Polynices, Antigone must have felt like she was robbed of her duty to pay her last respects for her brother.  And so, the very courageous act of burying her brother Polynices “with a little dirt” jumpstart the first movement of the play.

Antigone’s decision to defy Creon’s orders does not mean that she wanted to be a martyr, or act heroic in any matter, but I think her decision to bury her brother is motivated because of filial love for her brother, the sincere outpouring of her loss.  This act also exemplifies the culture of honoring the deceased, a typical Greek custom.

Odysseus’s Concept of Cunning

One distinct characteristic of the epic The Odyssey is that it is a showcase of sharp intellectual skills of the main hero Odysseus, rather than a showcase of strength and power that is apparent in The Iliad (through Achilles character).  The Odyssey is written in high style, full of landscape grandeur and an incredible journey– it is about Odysseus’ wanderings and adventures into foreign places and lands and meeting fantastic characters like one-eyed monsters, tempting sirens and uncivilized giants.  Odysseus undeniably has the necessary strength to go through with these adventures but most of the time it is through his cunning and strategy that leaves him unscathed.

In The Iliad, Odysseus is famous for his brilliant concept of the Trojan horse – a disguise gift to attack the Trojans, which gave them victory.  But in Inferno this in turn gave the poet Dante to place Odysseus in the 8th circle of Hell because of this treachery.  The kind of cunning that Odysseus possesses is always associated with disguise and dishonesty which gives a negative implication on his character no matter how amazing or heroic he is.

In relation to this I find Odysseus’ character harsh sometimes.  Everytime they went from city to city he and his men always raid the lands for food (“I stormed that place and killed the men who fought / Plunder we took, and we enslaved the women /”, Book IX) or by the time when his secret was revealed by his old nurse Eurycleia, in which Odysseus threatened to kill her if she won’t keep it to herself (“Be quiet; keep it from the others, else / I warn you, and I mean it too / if by my hand god brings the suitors down / I kill you, nurse or not, when the time comes – when the time comes to kill the other women / .” Book XIX).  The latter really shocked me – it is too un-heroic that Odysseus has the drive to threaten his already-old nurse as if without respect.   But in the end it’s as if the epic always calls for a need of trickery to prevail in order for Odysseus to present to the readers his cunning.  Other example of this contention would include his disguise as a beggar when he arrives at his own palace in Ithaca and when the right chance of time comes, Odysseus brutally kills all the suitors and the unfaithful women servants.

But what really moved me in the epic is the unforgettable chapter of Odysseus meeting the Cyclops Polyphemus.  There Odysseus presents his amazing tactics and cunning when he tricks the Cyclops Polyphemus in a clever and humorous way.  But after this lighthearted scene where Polyphemus shouts “Nobody is killing me!” I felt a jolt of sympathy to Polyphemus afterwards because he is just this tragic character who is ignorant of Odysseus’ cunning (and trickery).   And Odysseus seems like he is too full of himself that time (“And I was filled with laughter / to see how like a charm the name deceived them. /).  Even though Polyphemus is brutally violent (as he devours two of Odysseus’ men on the spot), I find him tenderhearted when it comes to animals – “the master stroke each ram, then let it pass…” “Sweet cousin ram, why lag behind the rest / … / Why, now so far behind? Can you be grieving / over your Master’s eye?”

Moreover, Odysseus taunts the giant as if he is such an arrogant brat.  Although Odysseus only wants to revenge the death of his friends, I still don’t know why I find Polyphemus sympathetic.  He lives there alone in his place, contented and peaceful with a company of rams, and here comes Odysseus in the picture who disturbs him (and probably unleashed his brutishness) and blinded him all of a sudden, poke fun on the stupid Cyclops because he has the necessary tricks and tactics to do so.  Because Odysseus is too preoccupied to achieve his own glory or kleos (he tells Polyphemus his real name so that the Cyclops will never forget) – I feel a certain kind of redemption that is due to Polyphemus when he prays to his father Poseidon because I know his father will do the vengeance for him.

Why I Love Philosophy

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to study philosophy is because of the idea that it treats the problematical that these people may deem as not practical at all.  There is a seeming vagueness and continuous controversy brewing always in philosophy and because of this nature, sme people are easily disappointed and ends up in fields of study that are more practical and profitable – where these people are most of the time in no position to dispute, question, or contrast primary information about things.

But to those people who truly understands the value of philosophy, the excitement and anticipation to seek fuller explanations to vague key concepts is just the start of pursuit of philosophy.  Philosophy demands so much from people who seek for it – those who study it should free their minds from the prejudices and convictions imposed by society.  But in return, those who truly seek philosophy rewards themselves with a sense of woner, a wider perspective on things, and a chance for philosophical contemplation (the latter gives satisfaction as a result of enlargement of the Self).  Philosophy, according to Bertrand Russell, has only values for people who study it and to those who need it.  It is not studied for the sake of any definite answer, as philosophy in nature is grounded in its uncertainties.  Instead, it enriches intellectual imaginations, gives Man a sense of free intellect will and puts a higher premium on the ability of the mind to be one with the universe.

Once we came across with certainties and definite answers that are usually found in fields of science, we find that the knowledge that we derived from them is momentarily satisfying.  It is the next dispute, the uncertainty, the argument, and the ‘unsure’ that really interest us.  These uncertainties we fid in philosophy, designed in the mastery of a particular subject and the acquisition of intellectual virtues as we study it along the way.  There are no practical considerations, only a keen sense of interest for knowledge and anticipation of the pleasure of such possibilities that will enlarge our thoughts, such that we can view the world impartially.

Regina Spektor’s Music

Regina Spektor

I finally got myself a copy of Regina Spektor’s Far album, which I considered as excellent as her Begin to Hope album. Totally unique. It’s kind of amusing that I can’t get enough of her songs even though I play it all over again in my player.

The song The Calculation first appealed to my senses, probably one of the top five favorite Regina Spektor songs in the album. Eet showcases the signature Regina Spektor’s style, that distinct vocal style of hers that’s totally unique. Blue Lips is kind of ambiguous, but there is beauty in that ambiguity that renders the song really appealing. Folding Chair is sweet and romantic, a lighthearted song with a narrative thread, and the distinct vocal style of Regina in the so-called ‘dolphin’s song’. Machine probably renders the darkest mood in the album, the chorus reverberates all throughout the song. I find Laughing With very witty, maybe because of the lyrics, and this instantly became my favorite song. Human of the Year is another gloomy and looming song with searing lyrics. Two Birds where there’s birds images as metaphors, equally works like a poem. Dance Anthem of the 80’s is the probably the lightest song, between jive and dance, the melody carries the beauty of the song. The narrative exploration in the song Genius Next Door is clearly presented, it works like a short story. Wallet is a simple song with a simple narrative of the speaker’s experience of finding a wallet, but it was a powerful song for me. I love One More Time With Feeling, the melody, the message and the feeling that it stirs in me about holding on to love. Man of a Thousand Faces is the last song in the album, another song with a story that’s filled with concrete images, making the song another hit.

It was hard for me to choose favorites among these songs because I like them all. Moreover, they appeal to me in a different way. I love the songs. I love Regina Spektor.

On Stress Responses, Hitting the Brakes and Losing a Hundred

They say bad luck comes in three.  You’ll see.

 

First bad luck.  Being stuck in a scientific forum on stress responses about plants.  Not that it’s really unimportant; of course I knew that the plants get stressed too because of environmental conditions!  Yep, I understood that kind of mechanism anyway, at least, the general idea. But  delving deep on the how and the why of it is really excruciating for my un-scientific brain, encountering weird words like ‘regulomes’ ‘arabidopsis’ RAV1’, ‘protein chaperon’ or ‘irreversible hydro-churva’ I am more preoccupied with the smell of coffee and the sound of biscuit wrappers.  You can’t blame me, I haven’t eaten my lunch – it’s a straight Khareen-you-have-to-listen experience from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.  Plus, other people are nodding, and it made me feel like I am really an idiot.  But I have no choice though, I need to come up with a paper about it and pass it to Mr. Professor for next week.  Considering that I didn’t pass his first exam, need I say I have to comply this requirement? Uh huh.

The bright side: the coffee.

Bad trip: I don’t know what to write about it.

 

Second bad luck. Losing a hundred, when you don’t have any money anymore can be really dangerous. And that is supposed to be my transpo fare back home, but i-don’t-know-what-the-fu—-hell happened but it just dematerialized out of my pocket.  For a moment, I was like really pissed off.  Lucky I’m the photocopy girl – hmmm… I can use the money-which-is-supposed-to-be-for-our-photocopies for the meantime and find a way to nick money out of my –

The bright side:  I’m the photocopy girl!

Bad trip: I’m still the photocopy girl.

 

This is the second time that I’m in the jeepney and a vehicle bumps into us from behind.  The first time, I was with with a friend in the front seat.  I still could feel the creeps whenever I think about it.  It gave me the jelly-like legs (which is supposed to be felt only when your crush had just passed you by).  The second time I was off to Badminton World for that day’s badminton match.  And then, the jeep came into a halt all of a sudden (I felt it right there!) and then something bumped into us – God knows who’s the driver – looked like a rich guy – and I felt like hugging the person on my right (I didn’t know him though).  Now, I am worrying.  Because my friends say that I will die the third time around.  Creeps.  But they are just scaring the hell out of me.

The bright side:  The screeching sound of a brake – amazing.

Bad trip:  That may be the last time I’ll hear that. Ha-ha!

Of Snakes, Moral Lessons and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

The usual misconception about Mr. Darwin’s theory is that it meant that humans are great great descendants of apes.  And I’m guilty of believing that, of course, I thought I have known it by heart all through out high school, my teachers discussed about it, they settled debates in which sometimes I am shunted to the affirmative side and forced to defend Mr. Darwin.  It was only in college that I realized the whole truth that the theory was really about the idea that apes and humans have the same common and one ancestor.  The idea came really as shocking to me, as we have been taught that we really were descendants of monkeys.  But even worse was this idea of mine that Mr. Darwin formulated this theory because of his self-realization that he looked like an ape.

***

Whenever we talked about stories in high school, we never really discussed the story as it is, not in the same way that we discussed it in our major class. We don’t talk about the historical and cultural contexts, the underlying motives or the author’s background.   The main focus for the story itself is not even the plot construction, how the events unfold, but it had always been about the moral lesson.  Yep, I knew how to derive moral lessons out of those stories.  But I remember one time when we were tasked to review a story and surprisingly, I couldn’t derive a single stinking moral lesson out of it. Why though?

I forgot the title of the story and the whole idea, but all I could remember was it was just a reflection of something, a realization of an event perhaps, but I couldn’t categorize it as a moral lesson really.  That disturbed me a lot. Are all short stories required to have a moral lesson? I think not, but it should have an insight to ponder on at least.  And for me, an insight is equally different from a moral lesson.

Maybe that time the moral lesson of the story couldn’t penetrate in my head.  Or maybe I was turning bad.  Sigh.  Either of the two will do.

***

There was a time when I forgot the readings for the next major class. As I can’t concentrate without my own personal readings (with marginal notes and own private scribbles, haha…) I went back to the boarding house which was just a walking distance from school.  The creepy part was that, as I was about to reach the main library, I encountered a snake just a step away from me.  It was a green snake, all through out, and totally gross.  You might puke yourself if you’d see that.  I ran back to school, I could almost climb the oblation statue for help.  Jeez, that snake, when I think about it in my head, it gives me the creeps.  I ran back to school and cried.  Uh huh, the fear of death because of one grossly animal.  Because of that incident, I couldn’t visit the main library anymore (which was actually loaded with more interesting books) and I couldn’t go home without someone to share death in case the green snake will strike again.