“Plastics.” – Movie Review on The Graduate (1967)

Any film synopsis would tell you that The Graduate is about a confused college graduate Ben being seduced by Mrs Robinson, the wife of his father’s business partner, but is then haunted by this short affair as he falls in love with the Robinsons’ daughter Elaine, who in the end elopes with Ben. The film is nevertheless much more than a love drama. It is full of contemporary cultural discussion and iconic lines that are often referenced in other films.  The Graduate opens with Ben, a top student freshly graduated from college, returning home to his upper-middle-class parents and their friends in Los Angeles, worried about his future because he looks to be different from the older generation. In fact the older generation has plans and words of advice laid before him. His parents expect him to study in graduate school with his outstanding academic results. Mr Robinson tells him to relax and have fun. Another family friend Mr McGuire says “plastics” is the only word he should keep in mind all time. The adults seem to have already envisioned a world for Ben to live in, and yet Ben does not want to be what the adults expect him to be. He feels uncomfortable with the homecoming party organised by his parents and hides in a room staring at a fish tank. Against his will he has to showcase his scuba diving gear and once he is in water, he dives to the very bottom to hide away from the crowd. He is helpless but not losing hope. Puzzled as he is, before he figures out how to break free from the older generation, he is seduced by Mrs Robinson engaging in a short sexual affair. While dominating and taking the lead in the affair, Mrs Robinson may be more fragile than she appears to be. During one of their stays in the hotel room, Ben wants to start a conversation with Mrs Robinson on art, but she is much reluctant to discuss about the subject. In the conversation she then reveals that her major in college was indeed art. She met Mr Robinson in college and got pregnant. Her reluctance to discuss art seems to be a parody of her conscious attempt back then to move away from who she was, but shifting focus to objects and values that she now comes to regret.  Among his parents and their suburban friends, including Mrs Robinson, they are all the same – “plastics” – artificial people who cling onto worldly constructions throughout their lives. Mike Nichols once commented that The Graduate is not centred on the conflicts between the older and the younger generations, but on how people cling onto objects to such a huge extent that they themselves become the objects they are clinging onto. Ben wants to be different, because he has noticed how the older generation has become the worldly objects themselves, and he does not want to passively become an object under the life designed by the older generation. He starts to breakthrough. The film ends with Ben crashing Elaine’s wedding and elopes with her. The couple hop onto a bus after Ben has literally fought for his prize Elaine at her wedding with another man. Some say the puzzled young man has finally tried to get what he really wants in life. It is a triumph of the heart. But to the audience’s surprise, there is no excited discussion about their new page in life. The delight quickly subsides as Ben turns calm and stares into the emptiness. Elaine’s loving smile retreats into a cold face upon seeing the expressionless Ben. The scene ends with the couple staring ahead in silence. This silence is a restatement of the opening theme song The Sound of Silence  – while speech is in essence shallow silence between superficial people, real silence speaks a thousand words. It gives voice to the uncertain future lying ahead of Ben and Elaine. It poses a question of “now what?” after a youthful rebellion against the older generation. It makes the audience ponder upon if Ben and Elaine are challenging the older generation simply for the sake of being rebellious. It casts doubt between reality and dream – is fighting for what the heart wants practically rewarding in the long run? The film’s ending has never failed to intrigue its audience since its premiere. Such is the power of silence.

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job'” – Movie Review on Whiplash (2014)

Not my tempo” is perhaps the most frequently repeated line in Whiplash by the ruthless conductor Fletcher of an elite music school. An extreme perfectionist, Fletcher is abusively demanding to members of his ensemble. He shouts insults and foul language to push them to be technically perfect.

Andrew is a new joiner of Fletcher’s band. Greeted by Fletcher’s verbal humiliation and hurled a chair by the conductor, Andrew practises day and night. He does not stop with blood oozing from his palm, but put on layers of plaster and even soaks his hands in ice-water to continue with his gruelling practice sessions. While Fletcher strongly believes that positive comments like “good job” on just mediocre cannot bring musicians in training anywhere, Andrew also firmly accepts Fletcher’s methods and will not stop to make himself one of the greats. Even though he is injured in a car accident right before a competition, he still runs to the concert hall in bloody face, because he has earned the core drummer position after hours of intense competition and selection with two other drummers of the ensemble, and he cannot let the original substitutes play his part. However, as he struggles to play with his injured arm, Fletcher stops the piece halfway and tells Andrew that he is “done”. Andrew attacks Fletcher on stage and is subsequently expelled by the school.

Fletcher’s methods do not only cause discomfort to his current students like Andrew, but have allegedly led to a former student Sean Casey’s death. When the lawyer representing Sean Casey’s parents asks Andrew to testify on Fletcher’s abusive teaching, Andrew agrees. Fletcher is then fired by the school.

And yet Fletcher does not abuse students for personal reasons. In his eyes, he is doing so for the sake of the student who can overcome the challenges, and the music industry to nurture the next legendary musician. When Andrew meets Fletcher again in a pub, Fletcher tells the story of Charlie Parker. Parker once played with drummer Jo Jones. Dissatisfied with Parker’s performance, Jo Jones hurled a cymbal at Parker, nearly decapitating him. Having told himself not to be ridiculed again, Parker started practising intensively and made the legendary performance of the 20th century.

So, imagine if Jones had just said, “Well, that’s okay, Charlie. That was all right. Good job.” So Charlie thinks to himself, “Well, shit, I did do a pretty good job.” End of story. No Bird. That to me is an absolute tragedy. But that’s just what the world wants now. And they wonder why jazz is dying.

Fletcher laments at the world’s tolerance of mediocrity and excessive compliments. To Fletcher, pushing students to the extreme is his necessary duty to the industry. He is not afraid of going too far, because “the next Charlie Parker would never be discouraged“.

Fletcher’s mission in life is reached with Andrew’s final performance which parallels with that of Charlie Parker. Fletcher, who already knows it is Andrew who testifies and makes him lose the job, sets Andrew up by inviting him to an important performance without telling him that the concert pieces are those he has not played before. The audience is composed of critics and agents, who never forget about a musician’s performance – if you screw it up this time, you are forever done. As expected by Fletcher, Andrew screws up the first piece – he does not even have a score to follow. Nevertheless, Fletcher is not discouraged. He starts playing another band piece that he has practised hard, that showcases all his efforts and talents. From attempting to stop Andrew, showing disbelief, nodding with satisfaction, to guiding Andrew to perfect his performance, the final scene features the eye contact between Fletcher – smiling and with great enthusiasm – and Andrew – exhausted but blissful. Andrew’s astonishing performance makes the audience wide-eyed in amazement. While for Fletcher, he has finally fulfilled his duty to the music industry.

A legendary performance certainly does not come easy, and the next great artist needs to be pushed. It is also not disputed that the next Charlie Parker will possess the determination to succeed. The question lies in how far should one go in the quest of nurturing the next legendary artist while uncertain if a young musician is really the next Charlie Parker who can withstand the stress and anxiety, or will mentally break down and have his or her future ruined. In the present era where competition is fierce, it is always a doubt as to how far should one go to pursue artistic immortality.

Below is the final scene of the film, in which you can appreciate the unparalleled performance by both JK Simmons and Miles Telller. Damien Chazelle has beautifully transformed the story of an aspiring drummer into a single-directional drumming tension that makes your heart keep racing towards the very end.

Oddly Colourful, Nostalgic, and Courageous – Movie Review on The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Harmonic chorus seemingly remote. Girl approaching a statute engraved ‘national treasure’ and slowly unraveling the book The Grand Budapest Hotel. Through the narrative of the Author, or Stefan Zweig (the ‘national treasure’), whose writings Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl inspired the screenplay of the movie, the adventure between a legendary concierge Monsieur Gustave H. and his loyal lobby boy Zero Mustafa unfolds in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in the 1930s. Because of inheriting a priceless painting from a rich dowager guest of the hotel, M. Gustave was involved in the treacherous scheme of the son of the guest. He was sent to the prison, successfully escaped and inherited everything from the dowager. He was in the end shot at military checkpoint and Zero, his most faithful companion and ‘brother’, inherited M. Gustave’s property accordingly.

What distinguishes The Grand Budapest Hotel from other movies is its directing and production. Colourful scenes that exploit all hues on a palette are harmonic but in fact suggest evil plans. Meticulous design coupled with rhythmic music and acting surprisingly brings spontaneity. Seemingly discreet filming of violence presents unexpected brutality with chopped fingers and decapitated head with haunting facial expression. Literary M. Gustave who is versed in the most adorned manner and speaks in poems often explodes in vulgarities. It is a movie that you will miss out an important detail in the blink of an eye, and this is what keeps it upbeat and exciting.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the carefully constructed miniature of the director Wes Anderson’s world. A world which laments the decadent yesterday, the last aristocratic world preserved in the Grand Budapest Hotel, but slowly slipping away. A world where noble and kind people believe in humanity – ‘there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity‘, commented M. Gustave when an old acquaintance saved Zero’s and his life at the military checkpoint. A world where courage and decency are wronged by the evils, the former reluctantly become prone to vulgarity. Gustave’s world, or Anderson’s world, has long disappeared. Indeed, M. Gustave is himself the reminiscence of the past. Gustave’s superfluous manners that belong to another age are his feeble attempt to maintain the long-lost world: ‘To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it – but, I will say: he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace!‘ Gustave’s life was ended the next time his train was stopped at the same military checkpoint at the barley field – only that this time, there was no more old acquaintance saving him. He was shot by the military men when defending for Zero and his wife Agatha. The movie is an artwork mixed with faint glimmer of hope in humanity and the ironic reality of cruelty.

With camera gliding alongside the actors, Wes Anderson establishes a rare sense of intimacy and reaches out from the antique hotel to the audience in the modern world. He presents to us his impish but oddly practical fantasy in a dark but light way. He also put together the best people all of starkly different imageries in his carefully articulated hotel. He is said to be highly capable in uniting and bringing out the best performance of actors and actresses. Together they allow us to take a peek into Anderson’s wonderfully wired mind. The Grand Budapest Hotel, the quintessence of kindness and courage that shapes one of the most impressive years in recent years.

Just another oscar-winning movie – Movie Review on The Imitation Game (2014)

While success of wars depends on good leadership and sacrifice from soldiers, it is not always a hard battle. Sometimes, it is about knowing what your opponents think before they act, and that is when intelligence comes to play. Obtaining intelligence is more than sending out spies, but includes also intercepting messages for information. Countries are all equipped with the technology to intercept messages, but not the technology required to understand messages encoded by the Enigma machine, one of the most complicated encoding machines ever existed in the world and used by the Germans in WWII.

Winston Churchill once called Station X at Bletchley Park his “goose that laid the golden egg and never cackled”. Mathematicians (mostly from Cambridge), chess players, and linguists assembled at Station X for the highly confidential task of decoding wartime German messages. As a gibberish message processed by the Enigma machine could only be decoded by another Enigma machine, and each day the Germans would change the encoding settings of the Enigma machine, cryptanalysts’ analysis would only be useful for one day. What was more daunting was that there were 150 million million million possibilities for the setting, leaving the top talents exhausted. This all changed when Alan Turing abandoned the old way of manual decoding but successfully designed a decoding machine named Christopher to decipher German messages efficiently. Station X thus became the “golden egg” that could probe confidential information from the enemies. Christopher, or the Turing machine, is now considered a forerunner of modern time computer and formalises the concepts of algorithm and computation.

Alan Turing was a Cambridge Mathematician with immense interest in decoding messages since young. His interest developed due to his strong friendship with another student Christopher, whom he named the Turing machine after. Christopher helped Turing from school bullying and gradually, Turing had romantic feelings for him.

The success of the Turing machine assisted the British to gain valuable information of German warfare. However, not every decoded message would be reported, or the Germans would become suspicious. In one of the movie scenes, a teammate begged Turing to inform the army on a planned attack by the German, as his siblings were involved in that operation. However, Turing refused and concerns were raised over what right Turing had to control the fate of the soldiers. This is the age-old debate between valuing individual life and sacrificing for the wider community. Apparently Station X chose the latter. There was no right or wrong to the question, only that the war did shorten by two years with the help of Station X.

However, Station X remained largely unknown to the public. At the end of WWII, Churchill demanded all records be burnt in bonfire. If not for The Ultra Secret by F. W. Winterbotham, a former British Royal Air Force officer responsible for distributing intelligence, being published in 1974, the secret might still not be revealed to the general public. The cryptologists at Station X were largely a group of heroes who indeed deserved recognition.

Despite his substantial contribution during WWII and to the development of computer science, Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency in 1950s due to his homosexuality. As an alternative to imprisonment, he was ordered two-year chemical castration treatment. He committed suicide after receiving a year of the treatment. He was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II posthumously in 2013 in recognition of his contribution.

The Imitation Game has been both commercial and critical success. It has earned eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley) and Best Director. The movie is undeniably an excellent production with outstanding performance of actors, who have done their very best with their roles. Different time frames are presented – the young Turing in school, Turing during WWII, and Turing under police investigation for gross indecency – and the transits are made smoothly. A movie like this deserves many Oscar nominations, and The Imitation Game does not let its supporters down – it did secure quite a few nominations. And yet maybe the film has been calculated in such a way to receive critical acclaim that it lacks uniqueness. It is just another movie with the ambition to capture as many prizes as possible.

Nevertheless, the movie raises awareness towards the uncelebrated heroes of WWII, that without their hard work, the war might have dragged for two more years with heavier casualties. It also constantly reminds the audience that “sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.

One interesting fact to note – some scientists claim that Benedict Cumberbatch is distantly related to Alan Turing as 17th cousins. Both can be traced back to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset born in 1373, through their paternal lines.

“People do belong to each other” – Movie Review on Breakfast at Tiffany’s

At 5 a.m. in one morning in 1960, a yellow taxi gently pulled up in a rarely quiet Fifth Avenue in New York. Disembarked from the taxi was a lady with oversized sunglasses and layers of pearl necklace in a Givenchy little black dress, holding a bag of breakfast. Being the only pedestrian, she strolled to the shop windows of Tiffany & Co, where she took out a bun and a cup of coffee from the paper bag and stared at the jewellery. The backdrop plays Henry Mancini’s Moon River, while the elegant remains as an enigma.

As the story gradually unravels, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is not a very loveable girl you will expect in any another movie. She is a party girl who lives off by engaging with rich men. She has a list of top 10 richest men in the country on top of her head. She was married at a young age with her real name Lulu Mae Barnes, but abandoned her husband for a new life in New York under the false name Holly. She meets her new neighbour Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a writer who has not published any works in the last 5 years and benefits from his relationship with a wealthy old woman.

To many, life in New York City is thrilling due to its glamour and the possibility of chasing after their dreams. To Paul or the men fascinated by Holly, the thrill of the city is seen through Holly herself. Her wildness and impulsiveness naturally attract them to experience the city through her eyes. However, it is always dangerous to give your heart to a wild thing. “The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.

Although a wild thing is sometimes the one in a cage. Holly is undeniably a shallow gold digger who would marry any man for his money. However, after all, she may just be another poor soul who imposes on herself all those constraints as she chases after something “better”. It is also a struggle between falling in love and safekeeping freedom. Falling in love means obligations. You are no longer on your own, but part of the two-men team against the world. It also means being vulnerable. And yet the more you escape from such possibility, the more you confine your own life by invisible nuisances.

A good movie is like wine. The more you watch it, the more it brews your thoughts – gently, never in excess.

“Everyone is always a little guilty.” – Book Review on The Outsider by Albert Camus

My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know. I received a telegram from the old people’s home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Very sincerely yours’ That doesn’t mean anything. It might have been yesterday.” So begins the indifferent account of Mersault, the honest protagonist whom Camus called “a man who… agrees to die for the truth” and was characterised by the author as “the only Christ that we deserve“.

Shortly after his mother’s death, Mersault has a new girlfriend and goes to the beach for the weekend with his friends, one of whom is targeted for revenge and injured by a gang of Arabs. Later, Mersault returns with a revolver and shoots dead one of the Arabs under the scorching sun – “the sky seemed to split apart from end to end to pour its fire down upon me“. Pausing a short while after the first shot, Mersault fires four more times at the lifeless body – “… and it was as if I had rapped sharply, four times, on the fatal door of destiny.” At the end of the trial, based largely on his indifference towards his mother’s death, the jury pronounce death penalty for Mersault.

Indifference and honesty without compromise

Mersault’s lawyer, when preparing for the defence, raises the issue of not showing emotions during his mother’s recent funeral. Mersault replies, “I undoubtedly loved Mama very much, but that didn’t mean anything. Every normal person sometimes wishes the people they love would die.” His lawyer further asks if he can respond to the prosecution by saying Mersault merely keeps his emotions under control on the day of funeral. Mersault disagrees with the answer and prefers not to lie. His lawyer leaves looking angry. “I wanted to tell him that I was just like everybody else, exactly like everybody else.

The society honours certain moral ideals. However, when such ideals are honoured by individuals without compromise, the hypocritical society that cannot itself abide by such ideals, condemns those individuals. Mersault is an honest man who stays true to his feelings and thoughts. On the day of funeral, Mersault fails to show grief over his mother’s death as a son will usually do, as the high temperature distracts him from concentrating on the ceremony. Instead of conforming to social etiquette, he smokes, falls asleep, and drinks coffee. The arbiters of justice and moral ethos, who are granted the power to adjudicate and uphold the moral ideals, condemn Mersault not for being immoral, but for being true. Mersault’s death penalty symbolises the society’s reluctance to accept individuals unwilling to conform – hypocrisy is not denounced but a surviving trait.

Such indifference is not only exhibited by Mersault. To Mersault, the others are also indifferent. When Mersault is in court, his impression of the jurors is that “I was standing in front of a row of seats on a tram and all the anonymous passengers were looking up and down at the person who had just got on, to see what was contemptible about him.” They are watching Mersault for tangible physical details in the world which is lack of superior significance.

Freedom

During the imprisonment, Mersault once describes the location of the prison – that it is situated right at the top of the town and he could see the sea through a little window. I remember staring out of a small round window in a prisoner’s room in Château d’If near Marseille. The prison was surrounded by vast blue seas, and yet the prisoners were confined to their tiny dwelling space. As expressed by Mersault, it is often through the deprivation that you learn about its existence. This is why the government put people in the prison, and what freedom is for. To quote To Kill a Mockingbird, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

And yet it is easy to accommodate such loss of freedom. After all, one’s thoughts and beliefs are much shaped by the environment he or she is in. “… But that just lasted a few months. Afterwards, I had only the thoughts of a prisoner. I looked forward to the daily walk I took around the courtyard or the visit from my lawyer. As for the rest of the time, I got used to it. I often thought that if I’d been forced to live inside the hollow trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do except look up at the sky flowering above my head, I would have eventually got used to that as well. … It was an idea of Mama’s that people could eventually get used to anything, and she often talked about it.”

Life on earth and afterlife

Mersault is an antheist. While other Christian characters in the novella believe that the earthly life is merely a stepping stone to eternity, the existence of ultimate death makes Mersault find life nihilistic. This review does not intend to argue on the validity of any religion beliefs, and yet from this perspective alone, Mersault is not an outsider anymore. He is the only person who believes in the significance of earthly life. The other religious characters are in fact the outsiders, and yet they consider Mersault, who behaves and thinks differently, as the outsider of the majority.

Absurdism

The theme of meaningless life constantly appears in the novella. With the inescapable death, no deeds have long lasting meaning. As a consequence, all lives are the same. When Mersault’s boss offers him the opportunity to work in Paris and help set up a new branch there, Mersault replies that “you can never really change your life and that, in any case, every life was more or less the same and that my life here wasn’t bad at all.

Mersault even commits philosophical suicide by not attempting to fight against the trial which will likely bring him to execution. The transient nature of life makes Mersault think that life is not worth living. Also, as the ultimate death is definitely coming, it does not matter when and how one dies. In this way, one enjoys absolute freedom in life: “… it didn’t matter much whether you died at thirty or at seventy, because in either case other men and women would of course go on living, and it would be like that for thousands of years. Nothing was more obvious, in fact. But I was still the one who would be dying, whether it was now or in twenty years. When I thought about that, though, what truly upset me was the horrible lurch I felt inside at the thought of twenty years of life yet to live. But all I had to do to banish that feeling was to imagine what my thoughts would be like twenty years from now when I would have to face the same situation. If you are going to die, it didn’t actually matter how or when, that much was obvious.

For the first time in a very long while, I thought about Mama. I believed I understood why at the end of her life she had taken a ‘fiancé’, why she had taken the chance to start over again. There at the home, where lives faded away, there as well, evening offered a wistful moment of peace. So close to death, Mama must have felt set free, ready to live once more. No one – no one – had the right to cry over her. And I as well, I too felt ready to start life all over again. As if this great release of anger had purged me of evil, emptied me of hope; and standing before this symbolic night bursting with stars, I opened myself for the first time to the tender indifference of the world. To feel it so like me, so like a brother, in fact, I understood that I had been happy, and I was still happy. So that it might be finished, so that I might feel less alone, I could only hope there would be many, many spectators on the day of my execution and that they would greet me with cries of hatred.

Mama often said that no one is ever really entirely unhappy.” “Although actually, everyone is always a little guilty.

Perhaps to Mersault, death brings freedom from the heavy social chains. Perhaps death brings him true happiness.

Ramen Girl’s Ramen Journey

(Taking a break from the more serious posts of opinions and reviews)

Don’t know since when, my friends have nicknamed me as the Ramen Girl due to my strong enthusiasm in ramen. Here are some pictures showing my ramen journey in Hong Kong and Osaka. I hope looking at these pictures can raise your interest in ramen, namely the best food ever : )

Hong Kong

1. Ichiran Hong Kong 一蘭

2013-11-28 19.21.412013-11-28 03.16.02

2. Hakata Ramen Ryutei 博多拉麵龍亭

2014-03-24 18.51.12

2014-03-24 18.52.333. Aguya Tokyo Ramen Agura東京ラーメン

2014-02-17 18.28.43-14. Ramen Jo 拉麵 Jo

2014-03-20 18.54.355. Butao Ramen 豚王

2014-02-02 18.45.39 2013-11-30 21.58.37 2014-07-15 20.20.346. Gogyo

2014-02-21 17.27.15 2014-06-16 14.37.32

7. Janya Tomato Ramen 醬家

2014-03-25 13.25.49

8. Ramen Kureha 拉麵來

2014-09-01 13.07.51

 9. Betsutenjin 博多拉麵別天神

2014-08-14 19.57.59

10. Nagahama No.1 Ramen 長浜No.1拉麵

2014-08-11 19.23.46

11. Kamitora Ramen 神虎拉麵

2014-05-05 13.19.25

Osaka:

1. Kinryu Ramen ラーメン 金龍

The first time I visited this ramen chain I was 10. The taste of the broth has stayed in my memory all these years.

It was the first food I tried upon arrival in Osaka last summer.

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2. Shitennou ラーメン 四天王

2013-11-28 03.18.10

3. Kamukura ラーメン 神座

2013-11-28 03.25.38

4. (Does anyone know where is this from?)

2013-11-28 03.25.56

5. Ichiran Osaka 一蘭

2014-12-18 23.07.53

6. King Emon 金久右衛門

2014-12-16 11.20.42-2

7. Menya Gaten 麺屋 ガテン

(Not exactly ramen, but super meaty and delicious)

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8. Menya Saisai 麵屋 彩々

THE BEST RAMEN PLACE IN OSAKA

2014-12-19 21.30.38

 The ramen journey is a never-ending journey. I looking forward to trying more ramen!

Meanwhile, I am craving for the RAMEN BURGER:

Some Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo Attack (in French)

Le mercredi 7 janvier était un jour de désolation en France – c’était le jour d’une cible d’attentat contre le journal satirique Charlie Hebdo, que l’a fait douze morts, dont dix employés de journal et deux policiers. Parmi les décédés étaient des dessinateurs Cabu, Charb, Wolinski et Tignous. Le journal a devenu la cible de terroristes à cause de sa publication polémique sur Islam.

La croyance de Charlie Hebdo n’est pas aux religions, mais à la liberté de se moquer à tous par des dessins satiriques. Parmi des organisations de pouvoirs, des groups divers ont devenu les objects de discussion de cet hebdomadaire. Avec le discours controversé, le journal a attiré des ennemis au cours des années. En fait, en 1970, Charlie Hebdo a été interdit a paraître par le gouvernment à la suite d’une publication satirique sur le mort de Charles de Gaulle.

Cependant, la France est une république fondée sur des valuers <<Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité>>. Elle honore tous les religions dont l’athéisme et tous les avis, comme tous sont égaux. It est obligatoire que l’on respecte avec la conscience humaine. Charlie Hebdo continue à être une publication très connue en France. 

Sans doute, les dessins satiriques sont méchants à ceux que discutent. Le gouvernment de la République a accusé Charlie Hebdo pour provoquer la haine. Mais chacun a la liberté de s’opposer aux philosophies, et ce dissentiment doit être respecté. Les faits de violence ne sont pas de moyens d’en exprimer le dissentiment: ils assassinent la liberté d’expression ,et particulièrement, ils assassinent le respect pour le dissentiment. <<C’est l’encre qui doit couler, pas le sang.>> Pour n’importe quelle cause, la violence n’est pas une solution. Elle forme le début des problèmes.

<<Quand on tue des journalistes, c’est pour fair taire. Attaquer un journal, c’est vouloir museler la liberté d’expression dans une démocratie.>>

Mes pensées et toutes mes condoléances de tout coeur avec Charlie Hebdo.

“What Can I Do If All I Can Remember Is One Image?” – Review on The Sea Close By by Albert Camus

“I grew up in the sea and poverty was sumptuous, then I lost the sea and found all luxuries grey and poverty unbearable.” Albert Camus, the Nobel prize-winning French Algerian author suffered from poverty and ill-health when young. He attended Université d’Algers by earning school fees over different jobs, but was forced to leave school due to severe attacks of tuberculosis.

Camus is known to often write in a distant tone in works that explore absurdism, a term and notion coined by the author himself, stating that life has no inherent meaning and any attempt to look for rational meaning in life ensures failure and is thus absurd. The lack of metaphysical meaning in life should not lead one into despair. However, Camus is still widely regarded as a humanist. He believes in human dignity in an indifferent world. The Sea Close By perhaps shows the humanist side of Camus.

The Sea Close By is a distinct prose among Camus’s works. Departing from the distant tone, The Sea Close By, published in 1954, six years before his death, presents Camus as a sensual observer of the sea and landscapes while voyaging around the New World. As an extended metaphor, it is Camus’s and the reader’s summery day-dream.

Few can duplicate the lyrical description in creating a dreamy recollection of sailing experience as Camus does. “The moment we leave harbour, a short, gusty wind vigorously brushes the sea which curls backwards in small, foamless waves.” We begin our journey with Camus. We can almost see the sea waves as how they are in Camus’s expansive yet concentrated language – “a bitter, unctuous foam, the God’s saliva, flows along the wood and loses itself in the water where it scatters into shapes that die and are reborn, the hide of a while and blue cow, and exhausted beast which drifts a long way behind our wake.

Intertwining with the account of the sailing adventures, Camus writes about his meditation on various issues in the splendid language of the sea.

There are times when the world gets ugly. There are times when the boundaries turn murky. “On that day I recognised the world for what it was, I consented that its good should also do evil and its drawback carry benefits. On that day I realised there were two truths, of which one must never be told. Embrace. “Rivers and streams pass by, the sea passes and remains. This is how we must love it, faithful and fleeting. I wed the sea.

There are also times where you conform to the societal norms. “Men see me walk by in fine and learned streets, I admire landscapes, applaud like everyone else, shake hands, but it is not me speaking.” Through conforming you hope to establish linkage with the society, and yet sometimes such conformity further distances you from the crowd. “Since then, I have been waiting. I wait for the homebound ships, the house of the waters, the limpidity of the day. I wait patiently, am polite with all my strength. … Men praise me, I dream a little, they insult me, I scarcely show surprise. Then I forget, and smile at the man who insulted me, or am too courteous in greeting the person I love.” You still feel lonely because conformity does not bring genuine spiritual connection. “What can I do if all I can remember is one image?

You start to doubt your solitude. “There is no country for those who despair, but I know that the sea comes before and after me, and hold my madness ready. Those who love and are separated can live in grief, but this is not despair: they know that love exists. This is why I suffer, dry-eyed, in exile.

Nevertheless, stay hopeful, as one day, our voice within will be caught by another wanderer. “Each cry we utter is lost, flies off into limitless space. But this cry, carried day after day on the winds, will finally reach land at one of the flattened ends of the earth and echo timelessly against the frozen walls until a man, lost somewhere in his shell of snow, hears it and consents to smile with happiness.”

There are also times when death is near. “No commands, the machines are silent. Why indeed should we carry on and why should we return? Our cup runneth over, and a mute, invincible madness rocks us to sleep. A day comes like this which draws everything to a close; we must then let ourselves sink, like those who swim until exhausted. What do we accomplish? For ever, I have held it secret from myself. O bitter bed, princely couch, the crown lies at the bottom of the seas.

And yet to Camus, the sea is the salvation. Death at the sea brings salvation to soul. Death at the sea, means happiness. “If I were to die, in the midst of cold mountains, unknown to the world, cast off by my own people, my strength at last exhausted, the sea would at the final moment flood into my cell, come to raise me above myself and help me die without hatred.

Perhaps we are all yearning to be understood or be able to understand.

A sudden love, a great work, a decisive act, a thought which transfigures, all these at certain moments bring the same unbearable anxiety, linked with an irresistible charm. Is living like this in the delicious anguish of being, in exquisite proximity to a danger whose name who do not know the same as rushing to our doom? Once again, without respite, let us go.”

2014-03-01 17.58.16(Very few know that I worship this prose by Albert Camus fervently – it is my spiritual pillar and source of comfort in times of hardships. By reading his words over and over, I seek refuge and regain inner peace of mind. I remember picking up the book because it is thin in size and costs very little. Sometimes it is funny how random decisions make a change in life. And it is a good change.)

Lastly, please enjoy the indulging clip by Tom Beard with Clara Page reading the first part Logbook of the prose. I often play it as I read the prose.