divine rhyme

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

shen yun

extraordinary dance of colours, elevating orchestral traditional music, full bodied ecstatic content and a total harmonious feast of senses. as if there is no gravity to bound to the ground and there is no bone to limit the movements, the performers were dancing so smooth and gracefully that could mesmerize any living beings. exquisite costumes extended and complemented the flow of bodies.

the name shen yun means divine rhyme and according to ben freed it can be translated as the beauty of divine beings dancing, which relates to what you were witnessing during the show. shen yun dance performances were choreographed based on the 5000 years of chinese civilization, and were carried out chronologically.

founded in 2006 in new york, shen yun is associated with falun gong spiritual practice and throughout the performance there were a lot of hints of falun dafa practitioners being abused by the chinese communist government.

there were also solo music performances by chinese tenors and sopranos.

the show was a complete spectacle and is strongly recommended.

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naked names are all that we have

October 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

the name of the rose is a historical novel that takes place in a wealthy franciscan abbey in northern italy mountains. the text is full of different layers and like the library of the abbey it has a lot of secret chambers and hidden corners that correspond to different people with different levels of consciousness and understanding. the-seems-to-be-the-main-plot murder mystery which demonstrates the extreme censorship in the middle ages, surrounded by a course of historical medieval events including the origins of different christian sects and alleged heretical movements, philosophical points here and there, psychological notions, and the most outstanding layer which is the exquisite literature of the book.

the murder mystery plot was a very well orchestrated detective story which is not like a sherlock holmes or agatha christie types of stories that depicts the detective as a superhuman with extraordinary level of semiotics and smartness, it is much closer to the real ones, the ones with a real smart detective who seems to be always very close to finding the murderer and even though he is on ‘a’ right track, he cannot save anything or anybody, and at the end there is no hero. the battle is only between good and evil, or in this case between better and worse, like how the real world is.

one of the reasons the book is very professionally written, well plotted and informative to an inquisitive mind is that eco breathes in the atmosphere of the book, he is the master of the trade. he is an italian philosopher and literary critic who has numerous non-fiction books on medieval culture and history, semiotics, and apocalyptic literature. this makes the book, the plot, the abbey, the monks, their ways of thinking, and even the mystery believable. at some points through the story you feel that everything is real, you are living the story, you are living in the abbey together with monks, fear the same fears, meditate to the chants, take part in the ceremonies, walk in the spaces, and at the same time try to solve the riddle. also numerous latin phrases help build up the medieval abbey atmosphere for the reader, and the fact that neither the author nor the translator translated them in a footnote or an appendix makes it much more interesting. i searched and researched a lot on these passages and texts as well as different sects and ideas. the book guides you to “learn” how a medieval knowledgeable person lives and what sorts of ideas and thoughts he may or may not have.

perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth

at the first glance the title of the book does not relate to the content, but at the end of the book eco gives a hint: “stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus” translated into english as “the ancient rose remains by its name, naked names (are all that) we have”. rose in christian iconography is a symbol for different concepts; god, jesus christ, martyrs, holy mary, love, season of spring, beauty, fleetness of life, death, etc. it is the inspiration of ceremonies and rituals in ancient rome, and all in all, it has a vast amount of meanings that make it an empty-symbol incorporated into christian history and “you can no longer grant it any specific attribute, determined merely to persist, like a rock or the river, it is as literal as a phenomenon of nature whose meaning can be questioned to infinity but whose existence is incontestable” (roland barthes). perhaps eco wanted to imply that the human brain is not able to grasp the essence of god or lost the ability to comprehend it – “gott ist tot” and we are only left with the mere name. perhaps as he narrated in the book, the origins and the path of different sects and whether they are heretic or not is all decided by the politics of pope and the emperors of the time, and this is how the name is being exploited economically and politically to gain benefit. perhaps the concept of good and evil is not defined by any supreme being as there is a fine line between the antagonist and the protagonist of the story, between the love and the hatred of flesh when it comes to michael’s desire for death.

but if love of the flame and of the abyss are the metaphor for love of god, can they be the metaphor for love of death and love of sin?

inventing a story or telling lies?

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

life if pi by yann martedi finished the life of pi by yann martel a month ago, every time i decided to write something about it, i got stuck in the ‘so, what was it really about?’ state and procrastinate. i still don’t know how to interpret the book but i try writing something anyway.

i believe you can read the book hundred times and each time get a new idea. however, the book is very hard to read even twice because of its lengthy descriptive passages and in my opinion unrelated stuffs such as list of survival tips on a lifeboat, detailed zoological references, etc. (to be honest, i skipped a few of these overly emphasized paragraphs here and there) although i think those were there to fill the scientific portion of the book in order to show balance between its scientific and spiritual perspectives.

anyways, the book is about an indian boy who is interested in the core of most religions, god, and tries different paths of different religions to approach it. he is a son of a zoo keeper and has a lot of zoological hands-on experiences. past the few introductory first chapters, the story takes its major turn when he and his family emigrate to canada with a japanese ship. the ship sank and the boy is allegedly the sole survivor of the incident when he reaches to mexico after more than 200 days in a lifeboat with a tiger!

throughout this seem-to-be-simple story of survival, the reader goes through a lot of happenings. the story is told in first person form, by an adult person who is telling his life story using his childhood memories, which are now mixed with his adulthood believes (confusing, isn’t it?). underneath the simple story is a vast ocean of ideological, philosophical, spiritual and psychological hints that come in riddle form and need a puzzle solving mind to unravel them. reality and imaginations are so intertwined that the reader has to decide one by one as to which is which.

the best part of the book in my opinion is towards the end of the book, in the later chapters when pi is explaining his story to japanese maritime minister. the reader is in for a surprise, a huge turn that makes you question your whole understanding of the book, makes you review or even read the book again, just to be at peace with your mind. it has a deep philosophical essence which i relate it to hermeneutics. something very close to “big fish” or “the fall” movies, as the writer says, it’s all about how you like  to hear a story with animals better than one without. the dilemma of believing your past days being your best days or feeling bad about every minute of your life. positive versus negative perspective. you want to call it lying, you want to call it inventing, the writer’s idea is:

isn’t telling about something – using words – already something of an invention?

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