Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tiresias & 'Fools'

In Greek mythology, a man of Thebes blinded by the gods and given the ability to predict the future.

According to the Roman poet Ovid, Tiresias saw two snakes mating, struck at them, and was changed into a woman. Seven years later, in a repetition of the same scene, he reverted back to manhood.

Later, he was called upon to settle a dispute between the two gods Zeus and Hera on whether men or women enjoy sex more. He declared for women, and as a result Hera blinded him, but Zeus gave him the gift of foresight.

After the defeat of Thebes, he either fled with other refugees or was led away in captivity, but on the road he drank from the spring Tilphusa and died. He was believed to retain his powers as a seer in the underworld.

We have read many stories and literature works about characters who are characterized as fools. What does the word fool symbolises? Are they really facing mental disability or just make wrong decisions in lives which lead to their reversal of fate?

Fools are a mythic staple of literature and film in western civilization. The same goes for western politics, where folly comes to the fore in times of trouble for ordinary people in the politics of their everyday lives. The main kinds and devices of folly are seen as a set of political practices which are even more potent and popular today than when they began to be invented in ancient Greece. There are arguments which features the resonance between Shakespeare’s courtly fools and the fortunate fools prominent in recent popular films and works of literature. It distinguishes seven sorts of fools prominent in Network (1976), Being There (1979), Amadeus (1984), The Fisher King (1991), The Remains of the Day (1993), Nobody’s Fool (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2001). Not forgetting the play we are currently doing "Oedipus Rex" where King Laois is seen as the Fool in this play because he believes the oracle so much that he is willing to sacrifice his son to ensure his place on the throne. Alas, the Fool fails to run away from the prophecy and thus faces the death in Oedipus's hands. Also, Oedipus is seen as a fool here because he has been so ignorant and there has been countless ironies in his earlier statement which foreshadows his downfall as a king to a blind beggar.

To comprehend western politics without appreciating fools can be like learning to cook without attending to spices. Fools have become literary, cinematic, and political figures for the ordinary people, the common folk, the average individuals, especially as they confront troubles that bring out their enormous political incapacities and surprising political resources. Especially they are the mass publics that surface in electronic democracies. These figures were anticipated by the Eirons in ancient Greece. They were defined by the traditional practices of folly that reached from sacrificial fools of the Roman Saturnalia and sharp quills of the Roman satirists through the minstrels, mock kings, and boy bishops of the middle ages to the jesters for early modern courts and domestic fools kept by the bourgeoisie.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Do you believe in FATE?

Oedipus is pronounced as "Ee-di-purse" and it's the name of the main character in the famous literature nameed Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. "Rex" means the King. This story is about the tragedy that befalls a clubfoot baby who became a king and the reversal of fate has him wheeled down as a blind beggar. In short, the prophecy which was so feared by King Laois came true.

Quote Oedipus "Apolllo said through his prophet that i was the man, Who should marry his own mother, shed his father's blood, with his own hands."

Oedipus could not forgive himself when he realized the man he accidentally murdered on the road was actually his father, and the queen he re-married was his mother. His wife committed suicide because she could not accept the sin she had just committed. Due to the unbearable guilt, he gouged his eyes using his wife's brooch and became blind.

This tragedy could be reflect on our lives. How many of us hope we can change the fate? Even the King who sent to order to murder his son could not prevent the fate from coming true. Life, should we really give it ALL in to fate? Or should we stand up and fight for the things we desire in life? The fate is our hand, how far do you agree with that statement?

As for me, I do believe in fate. However, I think as long as we strive for the things we want, go beyond the yardstick, even if we did not achieve it, at least we know we tried. People who just leave everything to fate are just lame loosers, they just do not not dare to face the reality in life. On contrary, they should move on with their life. For example, if King Laois did not send the order to murder his son, he could raise him up and treat him like how a father should love his son. By the time Oedipus grows up, surely he will know that Iocaste is his mother and there will be no reason for him to marry his mother!

In short, this is an interesting read! Though I do not really understand the underlying message of certain deep level phrases at first, after Dr. Edwin explained, it all make sense. Indeed, we have to really understand the underlying message in order to appreaciate literature!

Monday, February 9, 2009

My first Silk Fan Dance on Stage

It’s 3:54am in the morning. Suddenly woke up from my sleep, maybe too excited for the interview later so couldn’t get back to my dreamland. So here I am, with a sudden gush of ideas and stories to blog about regarding the topic assigned by Dr. Edwin last two weeks “Traditional Dances”.

What struck my mind earlier was the wonderful past recollection of my personal experience participating in a cultural traditional dance. Yes, do not laugh, I did make it on stage. Not out of natural gift to have dancing bones, but simply because of the reason “C’om, you are one of the rare Chinese in this cohort, we really need Chinese girls to dance for this Cultural Night”. So, as a love-to-try-new-things-out type of girl, together with another few friends, we agreed to take part in the Chinese-Mongolian fan dancing.

The interesting part is that there are 2 Malay guy friends who graciously volunteered to take part in this dance, as in be our partners-of-crime, I mean, partners-of-dance. They are namely Amirul a.k.a. Dramatic Queen and Sean, the tall one. Under the guidance of our Cohort 2 seniors, we have practice almost every afternoon after class. Oh, I forgot to mention, all these wonderful memories took place in our foundation year at Institute Perguruan Temenggong Ibrahim, Johor Bahru two years ago. The song was “Xuan Zhe” meaning “Choose”, it’s a duet song about a love couple who have make the ultimate choice and decision to fall in love for each other and decided not to have any regrets, but only happiness ever since. I find this song simply beautiful, how many of the married couples can actually take the vow of marriage to love each other for eternity. The rising of divorce rate in Malaysia does scare me. Well, I was told that it’s easy to fall in love, it’s easy to get married, but it’s a challenge to stay in love and make the marriage work. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Ops, back to traditional dance. So, what is the rationale of Dr. Edwin to ask us to post a blog entry regarding traditional dance? All I can think of is 1) Relate to our schemata, it’s part of dramatization (to have the courage to be on stage performing a dance is not a piece of cake for me) 2) to enhance integration between races via cultural dance (oh yes, we do have a Baba Nyonya in this cultural dance). 3) to foster the co-operation between team members 4) to instill in us the beauty of cultural dance in which we should learn to appreciate our roots as well as respect other traditions.

Living in a multri-cultural society like Malaysia makes me realize the importance of not being a racist, but loving our friends of different skin colours. Only since I entered IPTI then do I have friends of different races other than Chinese. I had my first conversation with an Indian at maktab. Yes, it’s no joke because Indian is such a minority race in Sarawak. To cut things short, I think traditional dance is great well to help foster integration among races as well as a good idea for stage performance. Just like we should enjoy and appreciate reading literature, I think we should also enjoy and appreciate our culture and tradition. Before I end this entry, I would like to attach some some information I researched about Chinese traditional dance.

Chinese Dance

Chinese dance has its own unique lexicon, significance, and organized fabrication that provide a platform to dance up to its full extent and represents the thoughts and feelings with contentment and elegance.

Chinese Dance is classified into two parts-
Traditional Dance
The art of Chinese dance marks its origins around the 4th millennium BC. A study of ceramic artifacts with dramatized dancing figures foretells that people of the Neolithic Yangshao culture had choreographed group dances.
After the establishment of the Music Bureau during the Han Dynasty in the year 206 BC, continues efforts were made to develop the folk songs and dances in the country. During those days each regional group of China has its own folk dance forms. The Miao also known as Hmong people of southwestern China developed a lively form of submissive, singing and rival dances.
The inhabitant of Taiwan created handholding line dances as part of a harvest ritual. Folk dances showcase the lifestyles and customs of a people, though there are numerous folk dances, every dance is a precious and an ingenious part of China's rich cultural heritage.

Traditional Chinese Dance includes the stalwart Lion Dance with drum music, the spirited Ribbon Dance with long Silk Ribbons fabricating calligraphic designs in the air; as well as the exquisite Fan Dance mesmerized by spectators all over the world. The Art of Chinese Dance convoy the hue, extravagance and splendor of the Chinese culture all over the world.

The Prevalent Dances

The evolution of modern Chinese dance has taken up by zealous talents. Normally, young people undertake study ballet dance and modern dance initially, later on they study the procedure and linguistic rules of traditional Chinese dance.
Slowly the learners take over to the new Chinese style body expressions and movements with a challenging mind for experimentation. Since about 1970, the original and unique synthesis of young dancers has brought a reawakening in Chinese Dance and Drama.

Diversified Chinese Dances
Chinese Folk Dance

XingJiang Drum Dance, Taiwanese Folk Dance, Taiwan Aborginal Dance, Kung-Fu Fan Dance, Yunan Dai folk dance, Dunhuang Aesthetic Dance.

Traditional Chinese Dance

Dragon Dance, Feather Fan Dance, Traditional Chinese Ribbon Dance, Ribbon Dance, Silk Fan Dance, Sword Dance.

Chinese Modern Dance

Chinese modern dance is a unification of Live Music and Dance- The group of small children performs dance of “Nurture” in the age of 8 to 12 years. Dance of "Mother and Daughter" performed with live music.
Calligraphy Dance combined the art of dance and Chinese calligraphy presentation.