Islam and Science


Youtube link of the BBC documentary, Science and Islam: [link]

After watching this BBC documentary series, I realized that I have really underestimated Islam and the Muslims. I am not proud of this but I thought they were just a group of people that liked to bomb and terrorize things. Little did I know that “algrebra”, “algorithm”, and “alkaline”, were Arabic words, and that the Hindu-Arabic numerals (although it’s already obvious) came from them. I was also amazed that their religious belief that “God did not send down a disease without also sending down its cure” led to their intensive research in medical science; since most of the time, science is thought to be not compatible with religion or spirituality. Another thing that I liked most in their discoveries shown in the documentary is about the four kinds of fluid in our body and the four temperaments that correspond with each bodily fluid. Too much blood in our body makes us sanguine, too much phlegm makes us phlegmatic, too much yellow bile makes us bilious or angry, and too much black bile makes us melancholic. I just like how they approach science as interrelated with other fields of knowledge, because science, as I see it nowadays, sees itself as its own institution.

I was also very interested with their art of alchemy and astronomy. I am not a fan of chemistry, but these ancient practices including astrology, which I try to study in my college years, are very intriguing since they were associated with black magic or the occult. These ancient sciences also are not as snobbish as the modern science, because they relate their sciences with the divine. Planets, comets, moons, and other celestial objects were named after Greek and Roman deities and that, for me, speaks a lot. They were even endowed with the personalities of these deities as if they were the gods themselves. Today we hear about mercury retrogrades, galactic alignments, another earth which is fourth dimensional – and if only ancient scientists would examine this, they would not be biased whether this would be seen as only superstitious and non-scientific. I love astrology – be it western, Chinese or Vedic; and I love the fact that it relates to science, history, and literature (Greek and Roman mythology).

I think I did well in mathematics and science when I was in elementary school; but when I got into high school, I started to hate them both. I couldn’t see their importance, and how they make us appreciate the universe, because they seemed to me as snobbish bodies of knowledge that only geniuses could understand. That’s how we were conditioned anyway. However, as I watched this documentary, I started to appreciate those hated subjects and I just accepted that I wasn’t meant to be in those fields but it doesn’t mean that I have to have aversion to them. Also, most of the time, the ones who discover things are Asians, but the Westerners are the ones meant to be in the spot light. It is sad that the credits go to them, and that the world only recognizes them, when in fact they owe a lot to the Asians. If only colonization did not happen to Asian or non-western countries, maybe we still have a chance to be at par with the first world countries now. I think science is also responsible that there are hierarchies among nations – because science and money go hand in hand. And science is nowadays is being held in the neck by the western world. 

Religion and Anti-Semiticism in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice"

Shylock

As I was reading this play, I have somehow discarded some parts of it because I noticed how this was mostly about Jews and Christians, how Christians are better than the Jews, or how Jews experience discrimination from almost the whole world. At this time of my life, I get exposed to different literary works that have anti-semitic elements and I just wonder why the Jews get so much hate around them. I just cannot see a “clear” reason why they have to be exterminated, discriminated, and hated so much because as far as I know, they haven’t committed a grave crime to the world; but they always play the role of victims in history. Of course, this kind of thing affects me, because I (as well as most of us) have been treated as an outcast and hated for no valid or deep reason. Plays like this only confirmed by belief that religion may be needed by some people to have something to believe in, or be guided in some way, but it is more useless, dangerous, and harmful that it is benefiting humankind. Religion was beneficial, maybe during the ancient times – but speaking of spirituality, I think the humankind is already ready to graduate from the “kindergarten” stage which is religion. We can break free from it if we want to, especially if it does more harm than good.

The “Merchant of Venice” definitely had funny elements in it, like the flawed suitors of Portia, the Gobbo father and son, and the disguises of Portia and Nerissa – but overall, the play was not very entertaining or amusing for me. Instead, I regard it as a kind of revolutionary work, a play that uses too much discrimination perhaps not for the sake of encouraging more anti-semiticism but to call for revolutionary action to stop the sufferings of the Jews. It was too much. And just like what Shylock said:

“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what would his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.”

However, even if Shylock was permitted by Shakespeare to say that in the play, he was still in a very inferior position, and it was portrayed that his only way to salvation was to be a Christian, just like what Jessica, his daughter, said: “I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian.” Religious dominations are very evident in the play that it somehow overshadowed other interesting aspects of it like how Portia’s challenge to her suitors was very Grimm’s fairy tale-ish and so on. If I am permitted to be very honest here, this is very maddening. I do not like the idea that the proliferation of most religions in the world was fueled by the resistance to hell and punishment. It is not religion that can save us but our own selves. Religion has its good aspects, but it is mostly used to control people, historically speaking. Bad people can have a religion and still be bad; and good people can choose to not have a religion and still be good. And from what I see, religion, as portrayed in this play, divides people instead of unites them. Every single one of us, even a small bug or a blade of grass, came from one Source. We all are essentially the same – only that each of us chose a different physical expression in this world. The separation that we see or feel from each other is basically just an illusion. We are interconnected. Therefore, if what religion teaches us is to be in enmity with other people who do not share the same religion as us, then we are being told lies. Whether you be a Jew or a Christian, you have a soul and innate divinity within you as a result of coming from a divine source. 

Sudden Surge of Lust


My eyes are drooping, my body feels heavy, and the full moon set my bloody cycle today. I desire being alone at this time because I feel a surge of carnal lust within my small frame. Tonight I just want someone to hold me naked. I want to know what nirvana really is, since my womb has not yet permitted a foreign object inside ever. I want to feel that kind of intimacy. I want to be held by a man and be entered and be assured that he loves me. I want someone to caress my hair and tickle me gently. I want to be in the dark forever, alone with the man who can make me feel heavenly and not break my heart. I just badly want a piece of flesh on mine, and a set of pretty lips to be wetly kissed. I want my breasts to be licked and my femininity penetrated – until it reaches the seat of my soul and my soul integrates with its masculine counterpart. I want that someone to be head over heels in love, addicted, obsessed, with his saliva drooling like a mad dog. I want to know how it feels like to be penetrated again and again – for eternity, if possible. And I feel like this is the right time for me to spiritually connect with someone, under the blessing of the full moon. 

Yearning


I keep talking to statues
That cannot look me in the eye
Smiling in their own little world
And taking no notice of me.

I keep reaching the moon
In its celestial throne
That I stare at in the night
And not stepping down for me.

I keep longing for the prince
With his radiant smile
Preoccupied with princesses
And just passing me by.

-- A. C.

Birheng Maria

                                            
Dream Nude by Arthur Braginsky

Mahinhing lumalakad si birheng Maria
Na laging nakayuko at matipid ngumiti
Kung saan patungo ay isang misteryo
Isang lihim na tinatago ng nakatikom na bibig.

Sa oras ng paglabas ng buwan at mga tala
Ay kasabay lumalabas si birheng Maria
Pati ang apat na mga bulubunduking
Humuhubog sa mala-sedang katawan.

Kasabay ng pag-aalulong ng mga lobo
Ay pag-ungol ng babaeng gabi-gabi’y may kasiping
Maaaring sa umaga ay nahihiyang sumayaw,
Ngunit saksi ang gabi sa kanyang paggiling.

Sa itaas may sumisipsip,
Sa ilalim may labas-masok
Kung minsan pa’y may sinusubo
Sa ibabaw ng malambot na kutson.

Sa araw-araw na pamumuhay bilang birhen,
Sa dilim na lamang naghahasik ng lagim
Sapagkat kapag naibunyag sa buong mundo,
Tiyak aalipustahin ng mga kapwa hipokrito.

Mandragola by Machiavelli (commentary)

Madonna Lucrezia

          To be honest, but not trying to offend anyone, this play does not seem like a comedy to me at all. I do not even know why some people find it funny because reading the play, I only got exposed to the ugly realities of the world that I am deliberately avoiding my focus on. And I admit that I am a pretty serious person, because I really pitied Messer Nicia for being made a fool by everyone around him. This is a masterpiece, as most people say, but I find Peace by Aristophanes funnier because of its vulgarity, disgusting elements (like poo or dung beetles), sexual jokes, and lots of idiotic characters. It was just so crazy. Mandragola is a comedy because it ended happily, but maybe it just hit an open sore in me because I am a pretty jealous person and I loathe infidelity in all forms. But it’s good nonetheless; it’s just that this is not my type.

Again, I cannot help but notice the sexism in this play. It was normal during Machiavelli’s time, so I will just state them and say a few things but not put any hateful comments. Also, I think that it’s interesting to see women in men’s point of view, especially during the time of this play wherein men were not yet hushed by feminists.

Maybe men just have a need for dominance or leadership, needing women to aid them fulfill their desires, as Callimaco said, “…I would rather not be married if I couldn’t persuade my wife to do what I wanted,” and Nicia, “I’ve done everything your way, now I want you to do it my way. If I thought I wasn’t going to have children, I would rather have married a peasant girl than you.” Also, these men think of women as really inferior to them, less intelligent, burdens, and are only existent because of their duty to men. Siro’s statement, “Women can usually be sweet-talked into anything,” seems like an insult to women’s intelligence, as if they were dummies and flattery is the sacred secret into manipulating them, but women are just emotional creatures and they love anything sweet, loving, and beautiful. Furthermore, Friar Timoteo explicitly commented on women’s brains: “And in the end, women don’t have much of a brain; and if there’s one who knows how to put two words together, it’s broadcast at once, because in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” It saddens me how feminine demeanor automatically equates to being an idiot and how some women need to act masculine in order to be recognized as capable or intelligent.

Another thing that fuels women oppression is using the Bible to justify sexist deeds. The Bible is a pretty patriarchal book, and I very much doubt that everything that’s written there are pure truths. I know that Jesus would not like the concept of women subordination either. As Friar Timoteo was consoling Lucrezia and persuading her to have sex with a stranger, he said this:  “Besides this, you have to consider the purpose in all these things. And your purpose is to fill a seat in paradise and make your husband happy,” – and he even used the example of daughters of Lot having sex with him because they thought they were the only women left in the world. Also, nowhere does it say in the play or in the Bible that it’s a duty of a man to please his wife; and yet a woman is obliged to obey or please her husband like a servant. In addition, Sostrata, Lucrezia’s mother, told her, “Let yourself be persuaded, my girl. Can’t you see that a woman without children has no home? When her husband dies, she is left like an animal, abandoned by everybody.” It puts women in permanent dependence on men and it can be seen that women are “mostly” valued for their reproductive abilities, like pleasuring men during a sexual intercourse and conceiving children.

However, Friar Timoteo said something about women that pleased me:

“Women are the most charitable people in the world, and the most annoying. If you brush them off, you banish both annoyance and advantage. If you entertain them, you end up with annoyance and advantage together. And the truth is that where there’s honey there’s flies.”

As shallow as it may sound, I like how the word “honey” was used to pertain to women. Nevermind the flies, but to know that the female species bring sunshine and sweetness to life is enough for me to appreciate my own sex. Women are said to be very contradictory, but everything else also is. Everything. However, I think that women’s contradictory-ness is more obvious because for thousands of years, we have been trained to be suppressive to appear virtuous and feminine in order to cater to the needs of men. Sometimes our true selves just resurface because it’s exhausting to pretend to be a happy beauty queen twenty-four hours a day. We are just humans.

I only commented about the feminist aspects of the play because for me it is the most obvious – but to sum it all up, this play is mostly about fraud. Fraud in every aspect of life, especially in the Church. Religious authorities mostly have the darkest and ugliest secrets underneath their saint-like personas. For many years, human lives were governed by laws and religious commandments that set the standards for what is acceptable behavior and what is not – that is why most of us resort to underhanded techniques like manipulation, lies, and disguises because we cannot directly get what we want. For entertainment value, I like Peace more; but for moral value, this play wins. 


Queridas in "The Chieftest Mourner" and "Relasyon"

 

“The Chieftest Mourner” and “Relasyon” present the image of queridas in a different light. People may have different perspectives regarding this, but I think “The Chieftest Mourner” presents the scandalous nature of queridas and their “pagiging makapal ang mukha” while the movie “Relasyon” presents queridas as mere human beings, only that their actions are not societally and traditionally accepted especially in the patriarchal system. I think this is mainly because of the perspectives in which both stories are told: “The Chieftest Mourner” was narrated by the niece of a great Filipino poet and her sympathy is clearly on the legal wife, while in “Relasyon,” the protagonist is a querida, played by Vilma Santos who was a great star during her time. It is actually hard to side to either the legal wife or the querida, as they are both victims of men, but this is clearly the result of patriarchy since men were historically permitted to have lots of wives while women were not.

In “The Chieftest Mourner,” my sympathy really went to the poet’s first wife because of the scene at the funeral. The querida was trying hard to be recognized as the real wife, making the first wife look stupid or evil with the help of her acting skills. Yes, she helped the poet during his hard times, but isn’t that what a wife is naturally supposed to do? She makes it seem like she is the one who suffered the most. Whoever suffered the most, I do not care, but was it really necessary to make a scene and accuse the first wife of whatever? The legal wife was just quietly and simply mourning, as opposed to the querida who was letting the whole world know about how grievous she was. And that just looks phony to me. Of course, there would be an air of hostility between them – it’s natural since the first wife felt like she was robbed of her husband. I have some friends who lost their fathers because of mistresses; and from their perspective, the queridas are really shameless because they’d still fight for their sexual desires even at the cost of destroying a whole family unit.

“Relasyon,” however, I think is an attempt to justify the queridas as marginalized beings in the society. The circumstances and the dialogues of the characters explicitly present how queridas are at a really disadvantaged situation especially here in the Philippines. It is especially said by the uncle of Marilou who was a lawyer:

“Wala eh. Kasi wala namang diborsyo sa Pilipinas. Maski makakuha siya ng diborsyo sa ibang bansa, halimbawa sa Amerika, hindi rin naman kikilalanin dito sa atin eh. Hindi pa rin siya pwede mag-asawa. Naku, iha. Talo ka sa sitwasyon mong ganyan. Ang meron lang dito sa atin, legal separation. Ang ibig sabihin, pwedeng maghiwalay ang mag-asawa, pero hindi na maaaring magpakasal na muli sa iba. Iha, mahirap ang pinasukan mong iyan. Isipin mong mabuti ang ginagawa mo. Unang-una sa batas, wala kang legal personality. Hindi mo maaaring ikabit yung apelyido niya sa pangalan mo. Wala kang conjugal property. Maski sa sweldo nya, wala kang karapatan. Yung sweldo ng lalaki, belongs to the legal wife. Kung saka-sakaling mamatay siya, wala kang mana.”

Yet at the same time, I do not think that the movie intends to promote adultery or neglect our morals. It only presents the reality that betrayals really happen during marriages and that only the females are shamed, blamed, or ridiculed for adultery. Most of the time we just tolerate men who cheat because that is “just part of their masculinity”. However, women always get labels such as bitch, slut, or whore even though the men may be the first to seduce them. It also presents the hard paths of queridas in Philippine society because we still hold on to the patriarchal society that our colonizers have instilled in us.

Regarding queridas, I may have empathy for them but I do not personally tolerate their behavior – not because of a bias or being judgmental, but because women who choose to be queridas are not in any way loving themselves and knowing their true worth. A woman who knows her true worth and beauty would not settle for a man who is already committed to another man; instead, she would be with a single man because his singleness is an assurance that his devotion would be completely poured into one woman, unlike married men with mistresses who juggle two women at a time. Also, queridas somehow betray their own sex. If we aim for women empowerment, then we must know that we are all sisters and thus we must protect each other rather than hurt each other. The patriarchal society has pitted one woman against another ever since – and that is not a good way to live our lives as women. Both “The Chieftest Mourner” and “Relasyon” has shown how men collect women like playthings while women get hurt in the process. Women hurt each other, and blame each other, rather than the men and the patriarchal system which started all this chaos in the first place. 

Peace by Aristophanes (commentary)

 

As a 21st century reader who isn’t that much educated about world history, I find this comedy only a little bit perplexing because of some puns and jokes that refer to some ancient Greek figures or happenings. And I think this is only the second time that I have read a classic comedy. The most amusing things for me were how the gods were portrayed, Trygaeus’ arguments with some men like Hermes and Hierocles, and the sexual jokes about women. This isn’t really the time to defend women even though they were subjects of objectifying jokes by the ancient Greeks because this is just for fun anyway, and I guess I will only limit my comments to how the gods were portrayed in the play.

Reading this play, I have noticed that the ancient Greeks may not always take their gods so seriously even though they worship them in their temples. Somewhere in the first part of the play, when Trygaeus asked Hermes the reason why the gods have moved away from their usual dwelling place, Hermes replied, “Because of their wrath against the Greeks. They have located War in the house they occupied themselves and have given him full power to do with you as exactly as he pleases; then they went as high up as they could, so as to see no more of your fights and to hear no more of your prayers.” Somehow Aristophanes may be explaining the reason why the Greeks suffer in war and their prayers are not heard, which is that the gods have “evacuated,” and it is, of course, silly. But when Trygaeus asked further, “What reason have they for treating us so?” Hermes replied, “Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more than once, but you have always preferred war.” It is a good way to justify that not everything bad that goes on in our lives are the result of the whims of some mischievous deity. Most of the time, it’s our own fault. We really do love combating with each other, and yet we hate suffering the consequences afterwards. The human mind is sometimes hard to understand.

Yet, it seems like a comedy is sometimes just a comedy – because another instance of the portrayal of the gods defies any reasonable explanation. The poor and the rural laborers who flocked to the city to seek help, according to Hermes, “nevertheless drove away the Goddess, each time she reappeared to answer to the wish of the country, with their loud shrieks that were sharp as pitchforks.” Now it’s just a fun imagery, and not a realistic one, since a flawed representation of a goddess like that can downgrade her from being a deity to being a mere mortal. But I guess comedies really do need idiotic or unreasonable people in order to make the audience laugh, because these kinds of personalities are not really taken seriously in real life. Serious and upright characters are more likely to be put in tragedies because people take them seriously too. Now I realize that one secret in comedies is to have idiotic, and sometimes helpless, characters – just like Nobita in the Japanese cartoon series “Doraemon,” who is so lazy and always bullied and yet loves to appear cool in front of girls. We just can’t help but be fond of people or characters who show their flaws.

If I had to pick one favorite character in the play, it would be Hermes. He is such a blabbermouth that I’d like him to be my guardian angel. His inability to keep secrets is shown in this part of the play:

Trygaeus: I adjure you in the name of the gods, master, don’t denounce us!
Hermes: I may not, I cannot keep silent.                                        
Trygaeus: In the name of the meats which I brought you so good-naturedly.
Hermes: Why, wretched man, Zeus will annihilate me, if I do not shout at the top of my voice, to inform him what you are plotting.

I study astrology in my free time, and Mercury is the ruler of my natal chart since I am a Virgo rising. Gemini is my midheaven, and Mercury is also the ruler of that. In how he was portrayed in the play, I saw both his Gemini (lighthearted and blabbermouth) and Virgo (strict and critical) traits. Hermes, as a friend, would be beneficial if you want to be updated with all the current news about the people around you – yet he is not to be trusted because asides from being a thief and a liar sometimes, Hermes may also drop your secrets like it’s hot. He cannot shut his mouth. If only every course or division in our college worships a particular god, I think the Division of Humanities would worship both Hermes and Aphrodite since we gather and scatter information, play with words, write creatively, and appreciate beauty in the world of literature.

Moon and Stars


In the presence of the moon
Nobody sees the stars.

Experiencing loss,
The loss
Of the most important
And beautiful moon,
Who kept us company
When the sun doesn’t shine,
Makes us appreciate
The abundant
Little stars
Who are always there for us.

Losing the moon
Is not the end of the world.

The moon
May be like your
Precious diamond,
But it undergoes phases
In this cycle called life.

The moon may go
And never come back.
But in your life,
It’s just a new moon.
After some time,
There will be another full moon,
Or another kind of moon
That will share the same journey as yours.

And yet,
Never forget
That somewhere,
Pretty little stars
Are just up there
Waiting for you
To notice them.

-- A. C.

Disclaimer: Inspired by Amit Kalatri's quote, "In the presence of the moon, nobody sees the stars."

Poo-Poo Struggle


Sometimes we struggle
To get all junk
Off our bellies.

It’s when our faces
Get all wrinkly
And we imagine all hurt
And pain
And all the experiences
We can’t accept –
We tighten our fists
As we struggle to remove
Everything
Every-single-thing
That doesn’t serve us anymore.

Like diamonds,
We seem to undergo
Some hard polishing
In order to be as clean and bright as ever.

Yet it takes excruciating pain
To get all the stubborn dirt out.
And it takes courage
To let every negative thing
In our lives
To be purged out
Of our systems
In a single bathroom session.

Mercury Retrograde Effects on Thea


Today, yesterday, and even two weeks before, I have been feeling a little bit dumb, bobo, or like my brain has gone missing. I cannot concentrate on my school works, I get distracted a lot, my emotions rule my entire being, and I really, really, really cannot count on the left hemisphere of my brain. Just now I really wanted to finish the body of my thesis; and even though an average person would see my thesis as very easy, understandable, and can be finished right away, I CANNOT! I JUST CANNOT! For the last few weeks I have been experiencing intense misunderstandings with some people and although my brain would tell me a logical explanation about why I should not react or get triggered or get angry and act out of anger, my emotions just win over my brain. I cannot do anything – I feel like I’m helpless about the fact that my emotions completely take over my being; and my brain, being just a little servant, seems to have died or not exist anymore. I cannot count on it this time. I just can’t. My brain is on vacation at some fairyland in the fourth dimension of the universe. And I feel like I’m not myself anymore. I thought that maybe it could be the effect of the lunar eclipse of the supermoon, but this could probably be the mercury retrograde which started from September 17. Astrology sites say that it would only last up to October 9, which is six days from now, so my brain better be back after that day. Or else I would be a lunatic. Seriously.

Even my eyes are not very receptive or critical of what I am writing right now. I feel like I am out of body while I am still in my body. I am not fully committed on the works that I should be doing, and I am certainly not proud of it. The normal me finds joy in seeking and imparting knowledge, especially if the learning area is very stimulating and energetically high in vibration. The normal me is logical and over-analytical and critical and that makes me go off into a negative spiral. Just hours ago, when I was trying to concentrate on my thesis, my brain was in a “monkey mode”, jumping from one thought to another and not stopping, so I tried doing yoga. Yet I couldn’t even finish one session of yoga. I was annoyingly distracted. Even right now I that I am writing this, my brain is like protesting through making my head hurt and my eyes unfocused. I feel like this is not a time to concentrate on something because it’s not happening. It’s never happening.

And yet, as much as I hate how dysfunctional my brain now is, I am getting excited now that I am aware that this is a time for mercury retrograde and it pretty much explains what I am going through. I am a Virgo rising, which means that Mercury is very important as the ruler of my natal chart – so I am quite influenced by this Mercury retrograde, as you are witnessing now. What I am just worried about is that while this certainly means a universal time to slow things down and use the right brain hemisphere more with our feelings, imagination, and intuition – university deadlines will not change. The exams are set, the paper deadlines are set; and in this harsh and fast-paced environment, nobody will wait for you while you sink in the clouds of your own reveries. At least, that’s how I perceive things right now. I might not know, maybe lots of people, especially those who are more logically inclined, are also “suffering” because of this Mercury retrograde. Because just this week, some people whom I was not normally close to comes up to me out of the blue to have a little chitchat and then later on say their problems. And while I was not opening up to them completely, they have the same problems as mine! This is amazing, because the law of attraction has brought them to me for some healing chatter sessions. Anyway, I think that’s all for today – I gotta take a bath. Namaste ^_^
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