07 May 2007

A Poem

Here is some pronunciation.
Ration never rhymes with nation,
Say prefer, but preferable,
Comfortable and vegetable.
B must not be heard in doubt.
Debt and dumb both leave it out.
In the words psychology,
Psychic and psychiatry,
You must never sound the p.
Psychiatrist you call the man
Who cures the complex, if he can.
In architect, ch is k.
In arch, it is the other way.

Please remember to say iron
So that it'll rhyme with lion.
Advertisers advertise,
Advertisements will put you wise.
Time when work is done is leisure,
Fill it up with useful pleasure.
Accidental, accident,
Sound the g in ignorant.
Relative, but a relation,
Then say creature but creation.
Say the a in gas quite short,
Bought remember rhymes with thwart,
Drought must always rhyme with bout,
In daughter leave the gh out.

Wear a boot upon your foot.
Root can never rhyme with soot.
In muscle, sc is s,
In muscular, it's sk, yes!
Choir must always rhyme with wire,
That again, will rhyme with liar.
Then, remember it's address,
With an accent like possess.
G in sign must silent be,
In signature, pronounce the g.

Please remember, say towards
Just as if it rhymed with boards.
Weight's like wait, but not like height,
Which should always rhyme with might.
Sew is just the same as so,
Tie a ribbon in a bow.
When you meet the queen you bow,
Which again must rhyme with how.
In perfect English make a start,
Learn this little rhyme by heart.

English as she is worst spoke

Rummaging through my old piles of paper, I've found this treasure. Check it out!

The English language has been taking a terrible pounding, according to an EC investigation reported in the Wall Street Journal. The report provided a charge list of grievous bodily harm inflicted on the Queen's English by hotels and other businesses. A notice in one Japanese hotel told guests: "You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid." In Paris, visitors were posed with an ethical problem, "Please leave your values at the front desk", while diners at an Acapulco hotel had their thirst slaked by a notice saying, "The manager has personally passed all the water served here". Visitors to a zoo in Budapest were exhorted not to "feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty." In Hong Kong a dentist extracted teeth "by the latest Methodists", and in Copenhagen an airline office promised to "take your bags and send them in all directions". The laundry industry fared no better. A Bangkok dry cleaner extolled customers to "Drop your trousers here for best results", while a Roman laundry was equally brazen: "Ladies," it declared, "leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time".

Source: Unidentified. If anyone knows where this excerpt is from, please let me know.

Food for Thought

  • All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.
  • Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  • Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
  • Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
  • Drink 'til (s)he's cute, but stop before the wedding.
  • Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?
  • If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
  • A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.
  • Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
  • He who hesitates is probably right.
  • No one is listening until you make a mistake.
  • Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
  • To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.
  • Two wrongs are only the beginning.
  • You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
  • Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of bad memory.

06 May 2007

The Fountain

At last ... at last ... I've found appropriate time to review The Fountain, the film that we saw last month in posh Paragon Cineplex. (My personal choice would naturally be Apex but this film was at the time on screen in Paragon, weirdly enough!) If there're any wrong details posted here, please blame my busy schedule, my students, my workplace, my dream for a good condo, my dysfunctional family, and my meagre salary, etc., as they drew me away from this blog. :)

Well, what should I say about this film? It's beautiful and philosophical, dwelling upon the themes of death, rebirth, and the meaning of life. Hugh Jackman plays the role of Tomas or Tom Creo and Rachel Weisz the role of Queen Isabel or Izzi Creo. With the parallel universes of the period of Spanish conquistadors and the modern-day science lab, the film makes us think about the meaning of our life. By juxtaposing the Eastern and Western systems of philosophy, the film is able to portray two distinct outlooks towards life and death. While the Western man might wish to find the elixir to extend human longevity, the Eastern counterpart may consider an alternative path, by embracing unavoidable death and considering it as a way forward.

The film seems to foster the second outlook as it points out the nullity of human struggle against death. But what I don't understand is the notion of desire that lies under everything. Tom Creo in the end chooses death so that he can live with his wife Izzi forever; desire is thus the main reason that drives him to find a way to overcome human limits. However, if we look deeply into Eastern philosophy, especially Buddhism, desire is something obnoxious and needs to be eradicated. If Tom Creo truly understands the Eastern philosophy, he should reach the point whereby the desire for Izzi no longer counts. To overcome human limits means to surpass human desire. The concept of nirvana in Buddhism is therefore usually portrayed as the state of nothingness -- no me, no you, no identity.

I've been pondering why such a conflict happens. It perhaps has something to do with form. The Fountain is basically a romance, a genre that entails the love between two people and that its ending promises the unity of the two. The elements of longing, desire, and fulfillment that belie this genre is thus in deep contrast to its philosophical messages. Perhaps Eastern religion is not essentially a romance as there's this sense of ultimate restraint from desire, emotion, and all sorts of sensibility, which are trademarks of the genre of romance.

PS. Some might say Mayan religion is not Eastern. But postcolonialism taught me that this film uses the categorisation of the West and the Rest. If Spain and the modern-day US are the West, the Mayan is naturally the Rest (i.e. the East, which is probably everywhere but Western European and North America). Believe me -- it's so obvious. Oh, by the way Tom's surname -- Creo-- is the Spanish word for 'I believe'. Hope this helps with your interpretation.

03 May 2007

The White Castle

The White Castle is Orhan Pamuk's first novel. Part of the reason why I was interested in it was its beautiful cover. Another reason is its first page suggesting Pamuk's affinity with Kafka, Borges, and Calvino -- all of whom are my revered authors. It's a story set in the exciting Renaissance world of new knowledge and frontier transgressions. Reading this book is like enjoying good poetry -- beautiful sentiments and landscapes are conjured up.

The theme of the double is the main focus in this novel, with its Italian protagonist captured and sent to Turkey to meet his Turkish double. Both learn the culture and way of life of each other. Of course Pamuk plays upon the notions of the East and the West here with the spatial symbolism of Turkey and Italy as two distinct geographical spaces. (Of course this might remind some of Mann's Death in Venice, in which Italy is perceived as 'the Other' of the West -- so it must be emphasized here that all these geographical differences are relative, depending upon the eyes of the beholder.)

Desire, gaze, and projection all are influential and vital to the development of the main character and his double. One depends upon the other, so much so that if there's no double, one's own identity is cast into doubt. So the concept of static, unique identity which can stand on its own is severely questioned in this narrative. I read this whilst we're on Songkran holiday in Petchaburi and of course it was a good read by the beach.