Nguyen Chien Cong

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A Passion for Tranquility

Short story by THĂNG SẮC.

Translated by NGUYỄN QUANG DY.

Photography by NGUYỄN VŨ PHƯỚC.

 

Her husband was arrested and imprisoned by the French regime on the far away island of Poulo Condore. Both her son and daughter-in-law had died, leaving her with a small boy, now her only true grandson. It goes without saying that she faced untold hardships raising the boy on her own, giving up so much of herself that, over time, she became thinner and smaller and developed a hunchback.

Her grandson grew into a healthy boy who loved his grandma, working hard at school and at home. But, he also loved flying kites, something he did much better than anyone else in the village.

When the kite season came, as the sun went down, the village boys would converge in front of the old woman’s home waiting for him to come with them for kite flying sessions that would last well into the night. While the boy went off to play, she could finally settle down into her bamboo bed in the front yard and enjoy the cool breeze after a long, hard day, with some peace of mind. She would listen to the kite flutes humming in the wind, be able to recognize her grandson’s flutes among all the others, because it whizzed with a clearer and higher pitch. The sound would soon lull her to sleep.

When she awoke, she would hear the sound of splashing water and she knew her grandson had returned, taking a noisy bath at the well. By now, the Morning Star was twinkling merrily in the clear sky. She would scold him albeit in a loving tone, “Bố tiên nhân anh! You’ve been out all night. I’ve left some cooked sweet potatoes in the pot for you, if you’re hungry.” He would laugh heartily and this ritual would repeat again and again almost every night during the kite season.

***

In 1965, the war came to the North with bombing raids. Almost everywhere, young men were in a rush to join the army. Her grandson was no exception, and getting restless, but she knew he was reluctant to leave her home all alone. She thought, “this boy has his grandfather and father’s blood. It’s going to be hard to keep him home.” But the village recruitment board didn’t call for him. With each passing day, he grew more restless watching his friends go one by one, which filled him with frustration and sadness. The old woman felt so sorry for her grandson that she decided to go straight to the district recruitment board to try on his behalf.

“Please take him!” she pleaded. “People say men are good for war, women are good for peace. Now, I can take care of myself with a few bowls of rice each day. There’s no reason to worry about me.” Anyway, that is how he was recruited.

Before he left for the frontlines, he asked his friends to come and help him fix the leaky roof of his grandmother’s house, clean up the well and plant a row of custard apple trees in the garden. Then, he gave the kids of the village his collection of kites. He kept only the largest one which had three flutes, for himself. He put it away in a kitchen corner and told his grandmother, “Don’t give this kite to anyone, grandma. I’m going to fly it when I get back.”

She replied with a sigh, “Bố tiên nhân anh! A grown man about to go to war, yet you still play like a child!” She looked at him with loving eyes, yet inside felt a somber pain. She knew his world would soon include something more than staying with her and flying kites.

***

Ten years slowly passed. In those long years, she tried to carry on with an uneasy longing, waiting for her grandson to come home. She grew weaker and weaker. Her memory faded and she became forgetful. She would forget the names of those around her. Sometimes she would confuse the afternoon for the morning. In her mind, there was only one thing she would never forget – to keep her grandson’s kite safe, tucked away in the kitchen corner. During those war-torn years, the kids continued to fly the kites just like before. Every night, she would sleep in loneliness, in the same run-down bamboo bed. The sound of distant kite flutes echoing through the darkness reminded her of her grandson’s absence and made her pain grow deeper.

She kept that three-flute kite like a treasure. It was now a part of her life. The people of the co-operative had repaired her house and fixed up the front yard. But, she would not let anyone lay a finger on the old kitchen where the kite was kept. Sometimes during the night she would suddenly wake up, stumbling into the kitchen and light a match only to make sure the kite was still there.

The custard apple trees in the garden had started to bear fruit. When they were ripe, the old woman picked and sold them at the market. She stored everything she made away in clay piggy-bank that she had hidden at the head of her bed. The neighbors said she was becoming weirder as she was nearing death.

No, she never thought about death. Death was a luxury she could not afford so long as her grandson had not yet come home. But, her forgetfulness would get worse and worse. And, as time went on, she began mumbling to herself all day, trying to recall the memory of long lost days, which were so often full of hardship and sorrow. In these moments, she would imagine her grandson coming home, just like before, like a shadow, so vague yet so real, always laughing heartily. She would call out his name, scolding him, “Chien ơi, Bố tiên nhân anh…”, as if he was still standing right in front of her.

The winter of 1976 was bitterly cold and dry. Frost had made the banana leaves brittle. The custard apple trees shed and littered the garden with leaves. Neighbors who came to see her found her coughing heavily and thinner than before, like a bag of bones. Thinking it would be impossible for her to survive through the cold winter, they decided the least they could do was to make a good coffin for her.

She would mumble curses at the carpenters, now noisily working on the coffin as if they wanted her to die. She wished her grandson would come home now to punish them for taunting her. Those who knew her felt so sorry for the poor woman in a tattered cotton jacket, like a ghost, and for her grandson who had failed to come home after so many years.

It was a miracle that she survived such an unkind winter, but she did. And as spring settled in, the garden was awash with the scent of fresh flowers. She hobbled over to the grapefruit tree and drew a deep breath. For a moment, she had the vague yet ironic sense that this might be the last time she could enjoy the tranquil scent of the countryside that had accompanied her through the better part of her life. But the thought of her grandson endured in her mind, like a searing flame, and instinctively, she drove off any thoughts of death. Now, the scent of the grapefruit flowers and the fresh spring air at once became healing, helping her to regain some of the strength she had lost.

***

One morning, they brought her a letter. Folks in the community came and sat around her, very excited. Hai, the teenage girl who lived next door shouted in her ear, “Look! You’ve got a letter, from Chien!”

She stared at the envelope for a moment and asked, “Chien who?”

“It’s your grandson, who else? Are you so confused that you’ve forgotten even your grandson?” Then, the girl opened the envelope and read it aloud for the old woman to hear,

“Dearest Grandma, I feel so guilty, writing nothing to you for so long. But deep in my heart, I’ve missed you so much and worried for you without me there to take care of you when the weather changes. But let me tell you right now. I’m coming home soon. Maybe by the time you see this letter, I’ll already be on my way to Quang Binh. I love you so much and can’t wait to see how you are. I’ve bought a betel mortar for you as a present, Grandma.”

Everyone listened to Hai with compassion as she read, some even with tears in their eyes. But, the old woman was quiet, as if nothing happened. Suddenly, she said pointedly, “You’re fooling me, aren’t you? How can you fool a poor old woman. If it’s really from Chien, he would have asked me about his kite!”

Nobody knew what she was talking about. What kite? But, the villagers ignored her. They did not want to hurt such a confused old woman.

When Chien finally came home, she would not accept him. As Chien embraced her, she momentarily tried to push him away. “This was not her grandson, not this big grown man with a scar on his face”, she thought. Chien was in shock, getting down on his knees to beg her, tears running down his face. But she remained indifferent, pushing him away while mumbling something to her “true” grandson, now a pale shadow of more than ten years ago.

With a heavy heart, Chien looked after his grandmother, whom he loved so dearly, even as she continued to see him as a stranger. Sometimes, she would stare at him for a moment or two as if to search his face for something she recognized. Then, she would withdraw and become still again. For the first few days, Chien was saddened and worried, but with time, he reluctantly accepted the fact that his grandmother had become so confused and forgetful over the years that she may never again recognize him.

Finally, the kite season had returned. One day, when she was sitting on the old bamboo bed, Chien came home with a good strip of bamboo. “I’m going to make a new kite, Grandma. I haven’t made any since I joined the army.”

The old woman, with her poor eyesight kept staring at the bamboo strip, and for a long moment looked back at Chien. Then, like a splash of cold water, she sat stunned and shaking. Something in the far corner of her memory came rushing back, telling her that the vaguely familiar shape of the big man sitting there making a kite was, in fact, her real grandson. She slowly approached him, reaching out to touch his head, then his shoulders. She asked softly with a trembling voice, “Is it you, Chien?”

He threw aside the half-finished kite frame and embraced her, overcome with a surge of painful and loving memories for his poor grandmother who he had waited to see in those years.

Still trembling, she dragged Chien to the kitchen, pointing up at the corner where the kite was tucked away, “That is your kite. See it? I’ve kept it there for you!”

There he found the three-flute kite frame, now blackened with kitchen soot. He then remembered how he had told his grandmother to take care of his kite over ten years before.

That night, as her grandson went out yet one more time with his favorite kite, the old woman tottered to the same old bamboo bed and lied down. Among the humming sounds of many kite flutes, she still recognized the whizzing sound of her boy’s three-flute kite. Now, the Morning Star was once again twinkling above the horizon. The peaceful night was awash with the familiar fragrance of fresh flowers. And the night was so tranquil that the old woman, at last, found peace.

***

When Chien came back, he took his usual noisy bath at the well, but now he didn’t hear his grandma’s stern but loving holler of “Bố tiên nhân anh!”, as he had so many times before. Well, never again… Three days later, when he was cleaning up her bed, he found her old clay piggy-bank. He broke it and found all kinds of small notes and coins, even more than what he had spent for her funeral.

He burst into tears.

Tale of a big hearted toad

 

Once upon a time, in the Maravi kingdom, a great affliction occurred. Intentionally cursed by the great evil witch, the kingdom, led by queen Lizsad, just coming to the throne after the death of her father king was infected by a plague that corrupts the souls of the livings. Society was collapsing and all values were starting to fade away.

 

Hunger’s ravaging land, the suffering plague

Poverty spreading fast, people wearing masks,

Smells of hatred blood putrified from carcasses,

Homes ravaged by accursed earthquakes

 

At that time, there was a toad, likely a descendant of ancient dragons who dreamt to save all the people of Maravi from diseases, hunger and poverty. Endowed with a big heart, she couldn’t bear the condition of others suffering. Her dream, so simple yet so generous and formidable was to bring simple reassurance to all living creatures.

 

I wish I could change the world

But why is it so tough?

I wish I had magic powers

But why am I so useless?

I wish I could walk away

But why can’t I live peacefully?

I wish I could save others

But why are people drowned in plight and poverty?

That’s why I want to change small things first

Can I really do it…

Toad in a pond

 

As a last effort to save her kingdom from catastrophe and the flea, the queen made a call for help by organising a contest to find the most talented builder of the kingdom to rebuild the society. The subject of the contest was to invent a symbol incarnating the most beautiful values of Maravi so people can inspire from to face the curse, acting as a moral repellent to the plague inflicted by the witch. The prize was to become the most renowned creature in the kingdom and will open doors to opportunities that can shamble the whole world. Lions, leopards, elephants and all other majestic and powerful creatures of the jungle took part in the contest. Giant castles, golden statues and other grandiose projects were erected.

The toad, with her persistence and her desire to change the world in a modest and simple way also became involved in the contest. She buried herself down in the meadow at the bottom and took in oxygen through her skin, dug the broken tiles from the pond and brought her up to build a beautiful mosaic. The process seemed quite simple but it happened in a magnificent way. Flows of imagination came out of her, she selected meticulously and carefully each piece of material used in a mosaic called tesserae. Those can be glass, stones, porcelain, seashells, or anything else she could find in the mysterious pond, the same pond where her ancestors used to keep treasures in the old times. Then she gathered the broken tiles into color categories waiting for the right time to put them together when harmony inspired her. Why a mosaic you would ask. Her idea was to assemble, reunite people in times of chaos and division. A mosaic was the mix of ethnic groups, languages and cultures that coexist within society. Such creativity and grandiosity coming from such a small animal and small project.

Near the pond, a black cat was passing by and met with the toad on occasions. They bonded over the fact that they were outcasts in the animal kingdom. They shared little stories about each other and chanted their fears, regrets and dreams. Little did he knew then, but the black cat was drawn to his daily companion. Usually arrogant and over his head, he swore in the past that he would never be attracted to toads due to their lack of ambitions and absence of grace. He used to despise toads because of their usual ugliness and inelegance. He was used to be seduced by swans and peacocks. But somehow, there was definitely complicity and self admiration between them.

The cat had a dream to travel through vast oceans and see the seas, the mountains and the plains of all continents, ideally with a companion that could understand him. He also wanted to change the world on his own. He was a free thinker and a solitary wanderer, adventuring through mysterious lands. That was the reason why the cat made a stroll to the mystical pond and in some sort of destiny made acquaintance with the toad. Deeply seduced by her passion, her kindness to others and her burning desire to make the world a better one, he was determined to help her without hesitation. His passion for her was like a curse from the gods, as an irresistible and violent inclination that cannot be stopped. She reminded him that no matter which animal you are, there is beauty in you. In a sort of way, by inspiring the stubborn cat, the charming toad had already changed the world as it sometimes only take to change one being to impact on the course of things. Day to day, the cat helped the toad to believe in herself as he saw unlimited potential in his salientian companion.

Everyday he miaowed her meaningful melodies and sweet words to keep her motivated in her quest of saving the kingdom of Maravi from self-destruction. He showed her that there was more to life than symmetry and order. Art was his life inclination. He brought her to see and feel the birds singing anthems of life, hoping for her to open her eyes to the invisible beauty of art.

But then one day she was assailed by jackals, sent by the witch and erring around the pond to satisfy their thirst of blood. They tried to rip her apart but she managed to escape. Still the pain was so deep and real…

 

Many wounds in my skin,

On a leaf my body lay still,

I want to bite my tongue and face the pain,

But desolated by the crimson rain.

In each step of agony

Through the pain that shoots through me.

But forward I must go

Even if it’s slow

Wounded, immobilised, flattened down,

Sometimes scared and drowned,

Cold feelings haunt me.

Walking alone, on a path I can’t see.

 

Traumatised by the pain and the suffering caused by her aggressors, she was depressed to be alone in those dark moments while having a big mission unfinished. The black feline saw clearly what she was going through. A touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which he could think of to potentially turn her life around. There was a primal reassurance in being cared, in knowing that someone else, someone close to the toad, wanted her to be safe and to live a blossoming life. There was a constant feeling of security with the knowing of being cared, a silent, reflex-driven affirmation that someone was nearby and always watching for her. It was perhaps what made her realise that she does exist after all, at least in someone else’s mind.

On his own adventure to find the truth, he was used to being carefree and careless. All that mattered was his freedom and how he would change the world. Although during the time spent with his friend, the cat could not eat well, could not sleep well. All sorts of emotions flooded his brain. Love was such a drug to him. He became infatuated with the toad. Even though infatuation could not quite compare to love, but it was something real, perhaps seeds of love were present and it might become something bigger. He had realised that the feeling of love was that moment when his heart was about to explode and his stomach squeezed in pain. He was in different states each minute of a day, from heaven to sinking deep down into dark oblivion. That emotional fluctuation was just unbearable.

 

Strange feelings seems to grace the evening fall.

I want to be free dreaming,

But slave to those feelings…

I wish to know how to caress your soul…

Like a tidal wave in my oceans,

You rise out of nowhere…

The sky darkens when you’re elsewhere…

Forgive me, my toad, you are the only thing that’s present.

The day is tearing now,

The earth is dry and torn.

I know you’re tired from the violent storms.

I do love you, and to thee I bestow.

Without you, I feel tired on my feet.

The look in your eyes has made me slave for eternity.

Without you I am speechless and empty.

I feel you slipping from my reach.

But, but I still wish I could purr in your arms…

black_cat_and_the_moon

 

For the cat, the toad had the greatest soul, the noblest nature, the sweetest, most loving heart he had ever known, and a loving association could only increase those values in him. But was he damned to be one of those thinkers who failed at love? It all started with deep and stellar friendship, but where will it lead to?

Reckless as he was, the cat couldn’t put aside the fact that the toad was engaged to a cobra from the Sahara desert. She waited and lingered for years, remaining faithful to the serpent. She so longed for his arrival to celebrate their union. Yet the cobra seemed to be so deeply involved in his own quest that he sometimes forgot that the toad was still waiting. Would the toad let her heart run free and betray reasoning for a fresh dream, a jaunty moment or a spontaneous kiss?

Days passed, the toad completed her work and sent it to the palace. Again more days went by… Then one day, the mosaic that the toad conceived had been chosen by the queen as the symbol of the whole kingdom, humility and modesty were chosen to be the core values of the Maravi people. Not only the artifact reminded people of its values but it also repelled the wicked malediction of the witch. What a pleasant surprise to her and to the whole kingdom that the tesserae she picked to build the mosaic were enchanted. They were treasures of ancient times kept by her ancestors, the sacred dragons. Its powers made the evil witch trembled with fear and boosted courage in Maravi’s inhabitants. The toad was then destined to become the most famous and venerated builder in the whole kingdom. The witch was never to be seen again in the land of Maravi, people lived in peace and in unity since then.

Relieved and happy by the outcome, the cat was so delighted for the toad. Nevertheless, burden too much by the thought of being rejected by his own admiration, the cat decided that it was time to go away to continue on his lone journey to find the meaning of life. The only thing he could hope for was that he had achieved to take a tiny corner in the toad’s heart that could sparkle someday, somehow, some feelings for him… Before leaving, he whispered gently into the ears of the toad words that he will undoubtedly never say to her again…

 

“Would you like come away with me? Que Sera Sera…”

 

NCC

 

Images credit:

Żabka – Michael Garfield

 

Waltz of a half a trillion stars

In a mystery, we were thrown into this world, a mystic unknown that has always drawn us to find significance, perhaps significance for our own existence. Over our crib is a stream of stars, staying fixed throughout our survival in this harsh world, a sign of permanence and immortality, hovering over us when the light shades. Humanity is like a baby purposely abandoned on the doorsteps of a church without any note to explain our origin or who we are. Without all this, we figured something out by ourselves. Still many questions are still unanswered but we are learning to walk.

As a human being, I would prefer to die in space as dust flying around and witnessing the movement of the universe. Some people prefer to be buried into the grounds of mother Earth but that’s not who I am. I desire as my nature commands me. We are all made of star dust, you, me, we are made of stars. Wether you stay on earth or on space, we are all made of the same substances. My dream is to witness the dance between Andromeda and the Milky Way. The waltz of a half a trillion stars. A billion years long light show…

 

NCC

Shoot for the moon!

It’s 1 AM in the morning, clouds are pouring tons of liter of water. The breeze is fresh and you know it’s Hanoi. There is an awkward silence among the sounds of the rain. It makes you feel so calm and peaceful. The heavy rain in Hanoi sometimes can make trees fall, it can make a lot of noise due to the heavy drops impacting on every type of material, from concrete to tile.

Yet somehow I felt free, I felt ok to do nothing. Thinking about what other people might be doing, hurrying to get home before it rains heavier, hurrying to get home because other people might be waiting for them, or some other just dancing on heavy music somewhere else, and perhaps somewhere there are people staring at the monsoon raindrops just like me?

It’s been more than 2 years that I’ve been back to Hanoi. But I didn’t really live with the city, I separated myself, I isolated myself in order to not get distracted and be more focused on my startup. But life is perhaps just projections of meanings that you want it to be. So why burden myself? Life is life and it is perhaps just projections of meanings that you want to give to it.

Sometimes in life, you have an opportunity to gain something that you really long to but the odds of you getting it is extremely low.
You even try the first time but in vain. You sacrificed other opportunities just for this one. But in the end, no matter what you do you still can’t manage to seize that opportunity.

Now a question that everyone of us have already asked ourselves: should you try harder or should you focus in getting the next opportunity?
It is a really tough decision to make as you have to answer a question that is linked to the meaning of your life. Should you stop wasting your time pursuing something unreachable or should you try to reach it no matter what and by any slim chance you might have you will take the risk to get it?

In my case, in the beginning it was really tough to get the VCs (Venture Capitals) I wanted to have on our board. No matter how hard I try I didn’t have their attention. “Carpe Diem!“, you may say. I seized the day but the day rejected me. Maybe the night will like me better… right? One simple advice for other entrepreneurs, get over it and move on to the next opportunity. Life is too short to be obsessed by someone/something who is not interested in you. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you want to find what you deserve. I’m strange and I know it. I am different and I know it. And not only I know it, I also love it because that makes me unique. It’s much cooler to be unique anyway. And if people can’t see it, then they should not be accompanying you on your path. For the people who don’t know me well enough, when I like something you’ll know it. Go straight to the point with me and don’t play with me.

“To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.” – Charles Dickens

Whether they are investors or any other relationships in your life, don’t let people who don’t share the same vision as you destroy yours. Just as in life, something easy to get is not interesting. when it’s hard it’s like a challenge that you want to take. And sometimes, taking the challenge is more enchanting than the result itself. I myself think that it’s more satisfying to go after something fresh, new and adventurous rather than to choose a secure and easy path. Sometimes you just want to settle due to the simplicity it procures.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

But also don’t be stubborn, be open to what people can bring to the table, listen to their advice or their vision not their criticisms. Sometimes, something being too similar is a hard match. Complementarity is better than similarity. Complementary might create a better complicity. Thinking about past, present and future relationships, every relationship arrive at a critical moment, a juncture between moving forward and moving on. Choose your companions wisely.

Recently, I started to like taking photographs and there’s one thing that I realised: Who cares of what other think of you ; just smile naturally without worrying about what other people would think of you and you’ll have the most beautiful photo. People who truly appreciate you will like you for who you are, and they will love to see you blossom into greatness.

I myself intend to go to space or at least near space. I will be among the first customers of Virgin Galactic if they manage to launch their project for space traveling. Dream the impossible, be daring enough to imagine things. Only through imagination, mankind will realize itself.

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Crazy enough for you? Not for me anyway…

“Nothing is more tragic than meeting an individual at the end of his tethers, lost in the Labyrinth of Life.” – Martin Luther King

Because the moment I stop dreaming is the moment I die, the moment I’ll be a slave to the labyrinth of life. The Labyrinth that will predetermine the rest of your life for you. Don’t be that person, be someone else, the one who does not enter the labyrinth, the one who chose a different path, a path that he decided on his own. It does not matter if you travel on boat, by walking or by flying, the point is : you will feel the pleasure of making your own meanings. And if sometimes, the harsh reality of life might try to interfere, try harder and wait for a new opportunity, don’t be discouraged.

I don’t know if I’ll reach the moon someday but I will surely land among the stars.

 

NCC

L’Attente

L’attente.

Idiot! le jeune et confus,
Idéaliste mais ingénu.
Tiraillé par le regret
Entre le temps hélas perdu
Et les réponses qu’il promet.

Amitiés et confidences,
Désirs et amours denses,
Ces moments, O, instants uniques,
Qu’il tente d’exhumer le sens
Des souvenirs tant magnifiques.

Et un jour, il s’épuisera.
Las des ambitions d’au delà.
Tes épaules et tes genoux,
Quand il se sentira très bas,
Lui serviront d’appui si doux.

Ces mots du coeur lorgnent tes yeux.
Franchissent-ils les frontières des cieux?
Jambes devenant engourdies
Par la longue attente et le creux.
Seront-elles donc attendries?

NCC.

The pursuit of art.

In a world where I’m quite fluent in programming and speaking to computers with numbers and words like “if-then-else-each-for…”, I feel sometimes like a barbarian, not speaking the language of life but rather talking to machines. Also, on my previous blog, talking about startups and its problems all the time can be boring, so I decided to take a different angle by approaching another topic today: Art.

Art or the language of feelings.

Talking about Art we should mention Nietzsche as he made some pretty awesome writings on the subject.

 “We have Art so as not to perish from the truth.”

We are each individually 1 person out of more than 7 billion people, on 1 planet out of 8 planets, in 1 star-system out of 100 billion star-systems , in 1 galaxy out of 100 billion galaxies…

At first, we should be thinking how insignificant we are, but thinking backwards: We are enormously significant as we are each individual unique on our own. Each of us is capable of producing unimaginable, awesome creations. Whether it is music, scientific discoveries, pyramids, satellites…

We, Human beings shape the universe through languages and ideas. As far as we know it, we are still the only species able to find meanings for our lives. We live our lives not only to survive but to “do” something with it. All of this to say that, our lives are burdened with daily tasks in order to fit in either nature or society. But through artistic creativity, Man can justify its existence. Art sustains life. Art is what makes life bearable. Art is what makes life worth living.

Last year, I tried at one time to learn to play the violin. But I was so burdened by “life” and its daily problems that I gave it up. It was a big mistake for me, I was weak, I was not patient enough, I admitted defeat too quickly to the struggle. Things that I handle better as an entrepreneur and not as well when trying to be an artist wannabe. It can be because of the lack of time, of the pressure of other tasks, of the relationships’ problems…? Maybe it was more difficult for me, as I did not at that time have the courage to surpass those difficulties. In no way, I can say I was pursuing Art as I was not competent enough to say those things. But when I do something I like, I do it with heart and it desolates me if I have to abandon it, whether it is because of weariness or laziness. No excuses should get in the way if you are passionate enough, right…?. Perhaps the only explanation for my case might be that I wasn’t passionate enough…?

“In Art man enjoys himself as perfection.” – Twilight of the idols

For Nietzsche, Art is not imitating Nature, it catalyses Nature itself by being a metaphysical complement that can enable its transcendence. In other words, Art is the ultimate shape of humanity.

But trying to attain perfection is not easy. First of all, let’s be clear we can’t reach perfection as human beings as we do not even know what perfection really is. Everyone has a different perception of it and no one has the right one. We can only hope to attain the nearest form there is of it and just as how we can imagine it. It’s good to try to improve ourselves when trying to reach perfection but it can be really bad to impose perfect/impossible rules to imperfect beings like ourselves.

“Nothing is beautiful, only man: on this piece of naiveté rests all aesthetics, it is the first truth of aesthetics. Let us immediately add its second: nothing is ugly but degenerate man – the domain of aesthetic judgment is there with defined.” – Twilight of the idols

Beauty and Perfection is mankind’s creation, only man judge something ugly or beautiful. Despite multitude tastes and perceptions of beauty, there is only one constant: The truth of aesthetics. Ugly is what leads humanity to its own destruction/degeneration and Beauty is what reflects the greatness of humanity. But how to create something beautiful in Art ? Something that can describe the greatness of humanity or just simply express the feelings of a human being.

In his dichotomy of Art, Nietzsche separate the creation process into two impulses: Dionysus is the god of intoxication, orgies, excess, madness and ecstasy ; Apollo is the god of individuation, form, order, reason and logical thinking. It is through a dialectical interplay of these two opposing – and at the same time complementary – aesthetic elements that art owes its continuous evolution. Nietzsche sees in the harmonious unification of these two elements the genesis of the highest expression of Art. Thus performing something uniquely beautiful requires not only practices and dedication to the form. In order to create a “chef-d’oeuvre”, you have to get out of your comfort zone, you have to approach excess, or in other words you have to be some sort crazy and genius.

But at first, you have to learn the form and the ways of doing it. Learning to play an instrument requires time and dedication. If you want to be able to compose an outstanding melody, you first have to know how to create harmonic sounds. And to be able to create harmonic sounds, you have to master your instruments. It is the same with programming: if you want to create a program you must learn to code first ; the more you become proficient in coding the more powerful applications you can create. If you are not a natural born talent then you have to learn it the hard way, it will make the end result much more savoury as you will earn it through tears and sweats, simply because something easily acquired is most of the times not interesting enough.

But practices, respecting the order, the rules will not make you special. Even though I respect most hardworking people when it comes to mastering a subject, I believe that the Dionysian element has a more powerful aesthetic symbol than the Apollonian because it enables you to create extraordinary, unique masterpieces. It is by Nietzsche’s words “the eternal and original power of Art”.

But why should we follow Art as a way of expressing the beauty of life? To be honest with you I don’t really have the answer. All I know is that in life, there are 3 types of people that I’d like to become when I ask myself the question “Who do I want myself to become?”:

– The artist who is in the pursuit of feelings

– The scientist who is in the pursuit of knowledge

– The entrepreneur who is in the pursuit of power

Each road is purposed to lead to impact on the world, thus leaving our marks as an unique human being. Either way can lead you to happiness or unhappiness. Each path is for a search of meanings. And also each direction leads you to a different experience. We humans, are different from other species because we distinguish ourselves as creatures capable of searching a meaning for our lives and sometimes the meaning is the experience itself.

From time to time, people complaints to me about their lack of decisiveness and direction. I always have the same reply for them:

“It’s good that you doubt yourself, at least you are still in search of what you long to become. The moment you stop asking the question of whom you want to become is the moment you succumb to the harsh reality of life. Your life will be a miserable down-going slope waiting for the day of your death, doing the same things again and again. And that’s neither interesting nor sexy.”

I can’t tell you if it’s the right way of thinking or not, but with all the data I have, that is my opinion about it.

All of this nonsense to say that’s why I decided to learn to play piano starting next week. In order to cultivate myself with a different kind of language: Art – the language of feelings…

And to end it all:

“Life without music, It would be a mistake” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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Image: “Mess of blues” – Unknown author

Hello world!

Welcome to my personal blog! I lost all of my previous posts due to the migration to this new blog but it’s fine as I can start to write new things here. It’s going to be about everything and nothing. Just something that inspires me or a subject I want to write on.

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