April

1. Long-Winded

When approaching the age of retirement, utmost care should be taken not to be too long-winded in speech lest you annoy the younger.

I’ve found myself in the unenviable position lately to deal professionally with people of advanced age and I’ve discovered that both men and women alike of this category have the tendency to nag a lot and drag out a conversation to the point of being in the situation where you are spending considerable time conversing with your affectionate sweetheart. Just as when you have thought that you have clarified Point A to them sufficiently, they would ramble on about Point B and then revisit Point A with another long and tedious enquiry which reminds me of a crying baby needing to be soothed to the point of being quiet. You know, the one that needs constant reassuring and pampering. Insecurity really freaks me out, people.

But, as the saying goes, “they have eaten more salt than rice” in this lifetime should convince you that the silver-haired foxes should not be individually taken as a trifle. Be wary that you are not taken for a ride yourself.

 

2. Ancient Parable

I’ve known this parable for a long time since the days of the famous Asiapac comic books about Chinese culture and religion and was deliberating about how it could possibly impact our thinking towards our respective jobs.

The story goes like this – during the Warring States period of Chinese history, lived a famous physician who often tended to thousands of wounded men in a day’s worth of battle.

The soldiers suffered from severed limbs and appendages, obscene wounds, mental distress and more.

As a physician during such tumultuous times, his skills were often called to the extreme – but the one thing that massively affected his sanity was the fact that he would often be able to nurse a soldier to combat-readiness, whereupon he would later see the same soldier getting killed when sent to the frontlines again. After repeatedly witnessing his hard work go to ‘waste’, he agonizingly left the service.

The Ancients were a peculiar and single-minded race – when saddled with personal problems, they often seek the guidance of sages and monks (whereas we often sought solace in PS3, complaining to people who would listen over things of no real consequence etc.) and so, he practised meditation on a mountaintop. After months of arduous self-reflection, he came upon an insight and resumed his duties as a combat physician. He simply said to the 4th wall – “That’s because I’m a physician”.

Like, duh…

 

3. April 2011 – Book of the Month

This month, we highlight ‘The Kojiki – Records of Ancient Matters’.

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This was another impulse buy – as in I didn’t read reviews on this book before purchasing.

I’d wanted to buy something ‘refreshing’ – not another book on pick-up artists nor another lengthy discourse on finance and business subjects. I was tracking this book since February and was not best-pleased that it went out of stock temporarily at Kinokuniya. I didn’t bother to try at MPH, though. Such a waste of time.

So, last week, I went over to Kinokuniya @ KLCC and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was in stock. Together with the purchase of another book, the total sum of RM156.00 earned me a nice Kinokuniya book mark, a ‘little set of book plates’ of adorable Japanese design, and some book stamps for discounts on further purchases (if not mistaken, I got three). 

Now, as for the book…

The language used calls for a serious fine-tuning of your regular reading and interpretation habits. I’m not going to lie to you – this book is entertaining in its own right, rich in mythology and fantasy but written like a Han-dynasty official report on the planting of paddy fields which, for the masses, would induce you to sleep.

Once you get past the ubiquitous reference to ‘His Royal Augustness, the Great (insert name of deity)’ for the umpteenth time, however, and trying to make sense on which deity (or Emperor) that they are referring to at the given moment, you would be treated to some of the finest records on Japanese history in a timeline which is quite unprecedented. The translation by Basil Hall Chamberlain is top-notch and scholarly and the flow of events is quite seamless. The early part of the book deals with the mythological aspects of the birth of deities and thereafter, to the Emperor Jimmu and his descendants. The format is usually rather strict – detailing from the origins to the death and burial place of the monarch. Not all references to the monarchs comply with this format, though, so some entries may be shorter than others.

There are also many songs laced throughout the book which are so deceptively cryptic that the uninitiated may lose their concentration; such is the typical reference to geographical subjects (e.g. the ‘Harbour of Yura’, the ‘Moor of Tahiji’, the ‘Pass of Hanifu’)  which are unfamiliar. Regardless, you should be aware that most of the accounts described in the book are fictional and you should really approach this book with a rather open mind. There are lots of footnotes (which sometimes overshadow the main text) explaining what you have just read and they are, for the most part, rather detailed.

This book retails for RM92.00 which is quite a bomb but with a hefty 445-pages of Japanese history and mythology (not very insightful, though) it may be one way to cure your insomnia. Ok, I kid – this book is for serious history buffs only.

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