June 14, 2008

Blankets

Posted in Readinglights at 8:29 am by qballkubal

“Does anyone have an idea of what we might be doing in Heaven?”

One girl answered, “RELAXING, like on vacation.”

A boy answered, ” Snowmobiling.”

Another boy answered, ” Football.”

Craig, apparently, gave this answer, “Drawing.”

As if the teacher was struck dumb by the answer Craig gave to her, she explained with a faint smile that the new live in Heaven will be devoted to praising and worshiping God: bowing to him; singing Him Songs; and exclaiming His name for all eternity; we will have a beautiful voice in heaven so that we can sing to him for every moment we have there.

Unsatisfied by her answer Craig continued to say, almost barely followed what the teacher were trying to explain to her, “…..draw His CREATION…like trees and stuff…”

The teacher gave him the last explanation, “But Craig….He’s already drawn it for us.”

As I’ve finished reading Blankets, a graphic novel by Craig Thompson, I believe the conversation above was the turning point of Craig’s faith in Christianity. He was obviously unsatisfied with that explanation. Why we are not allowed to draw His creation as an expression of admiration? Why would He only allow us to sing, bow, and praise for Him in the heaven for eternity?

Unfortunately, I am not a Christian. Thus, I don’t have the right to judge anything that is related to this issue. However, I can give you a brief review about the book itself. The story followed the fortune of remarkable character of the author, in the search of the faith in Christian. Ever since a child, Craig had been trying to understand Christian. At first, he believed that this was his way of life and his passion: to be able to understand the Bible and apply it in everyday life. Yet, as he grew up, he found that there were too many things that did not fit with the Bible. He also found that the Bible itself could not give him the answer to his doubts in this life, especially when it clashed with his other passion in life: drawing.

I’m not a fan of graphic novel and yet, I find that Blankets gives me the same thrill with novel. Craig is able to give every meaning in his drawing. You can see the intense feeling and emotional shock in his drawing. In addition, his drawing can give us the same feeling that he had at that time: guiltiness, confusion, fear, and a feeling of fed up to the back teeth. Perhaps, this book can give us another perception about why some people choose to change the religion, why some people choose to be agnostics, and why some people choose to be atheists.

I suddenly remembered a conversation with my friend recently. He said to me:

“I think the whole point of us to believe in our own religion is because we are used to it. Ever since we were born, we are forced to have faith in the same religion of our parents. And perhaps, we have stayed too long in the comfort zone that we will almost agree that changing the religion is an act of heresy.”

I was not offended by his statement. Yet, I was questioned myself, ” Does this mean that actually any religion might have the same value of truth towards the God? If we were raised as a person without religion in the first place, what would we think about all the religions in this world? Would we see all of them as the same, thus there is no point of fighting?” Perhaps in that way we could bring more peace in some parts of the world which have shattered and devastated by the war in faith.

Picture from topshelfcomix.

Sekali Peristiwa di Banten Selatan

Posted in Readinglights at 7:27 am by qballkubal

“Dimana-mana aku selalu dengar: Yang benar juga akhirnya yang menang. Itu benar; Benar sekali. Tapi kapan? Kebenaran tidak datang dari langit, dia mesti diperjuangkan untuk menjadi benar…..”

-Pramoedya Ananta Toer-

Satu kata yang dapat menggambarkan keseluruhan karya-karya Pramoedya Ananta Toer: humanis. Hampir semua karya Pram selalu menaruh berat pada masalah kemanusiaan dan keadilan. Baginya, pribadi yang memiliki nilai- nilai sejati adalah rakyat jelata.

Berlatar belakang daerah Banten pada tahun 1957, dimana pemerintah Indonesia kewalahan menghadapi musuh dari NICA dan pemberontakan Darul Islam. Karyanya kali ini merupakan hasil survei dan investigasi Pram sendiri di daerah tersebut. Hasil investigasi Pram mengungkapkan sebuah kisah tentang keberanian rakyat jelata dalam melawan penindasan dan tirani; pentingnya nilai gotong- royong dalam masyarakat dan bahwa itu bukanlah hanya sebuah konsep atau pelajaran sekolah dasar belaka.

“…..kita memasuki dunia yang sama sekali baru, dunia manusia, Nyonya, yang isinya penuh dengan binatang buas berkulit orang. Kulitnya saja kulit orang, tapi adatnya, tingkahlakunya, semua sama dengan binatang buas. Barangsiapa lengah, dikunyahnya. Barangsiapa lena, diterkamnya…”

Pram selalu bisa membuat metafor sifat-sifat manusia ke dalam personifikasi hewan. Always salute to him and his nationalism!

May 24, 2008

Clarity….

Posted in Readinglights at 4:27 pm by qballkubal

The room was empty and quite, save for the towering pillars and arches and high ceiling that made it looked vast and endless. No doors attached. I was there and tried not to look conspicuous, for I was the only person there save for two janitors and their mobs and buckets. The air seemed to lay still. The waned light of sun thrust gently amidst it. The surrounding objects seemed to respect the quiet and calm atmosphere, made this place of great holiness feel more attractive than usual. I was in the mosque. My campus mosque, to be exact.

I used to enter this place on Friday, when there is no excuse to avoid sitting in there and praying. It felt different when I was in there on Tuesday, though. It’s like God appeared himself on Tuesday rather than on Friday. Nonetheless, I was doing nothing except praying, save for reading the novel instead of the Holy Quran. It might be inappropriate, but I couldn’t help myself to use the chance to delve into my deepest mind. I was like inhaled all the words in the book, in the slowest possible pace, bit by bit of their meanings. I remained there for about two hours, almost being heedless about the late hour and the approaching night. People can be skeptical and cynical about my rather impolite behavior, although I believed that at that time I felt as if I’ve gathered little knowledge that I was looking for. A clarity.

The name of the book is After Dark, written by Haruki Murakami. Being one of the most influential Japanese writer in this age, Murakami is renowned for his surrealist style (literary). Never he hadn’t used metaphor to depict the story undergone by the character inside the book. Anyone who reads it will get stunned for sure. He is able to create fantasy inside the reality, reality inside the fantasy. These layers and depths of the story is always fascinating.

Still portraying about life and its complexity in Tokyo, the book tells us about the life of Mari Asai and Eri Asai, two sisters with distinct characters. Somehow, Eri had been sleeping for the past two months, a deep sleep. On the other hand, Mari had a trouble sleeping, forced her to spent the night outside her home. Tokyo in its after midnight appeared to be asymmetrically different. As if it has been made by two different creator, Tokyo in the after dark is filled with different people, different life, different stranger. On that night, something was happened in Eri’s sleep, something odd, something peculiar.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a layer on the story, one linked through another. Between Takahashi and Mari; Shirakawa and the Chinese prostitute and the Chinese big man; between Mari and the Chinese prostitute and Kaoru; Kaoru and the Chinese big man; they were linked each other within the night. It is very interesting to note that Murakami can create a story where we, as the audience, somehow can involve indirectly in the story as if we can touch the character by our hands. You will get thrilled until the end of the story.

Mosque picture from travelblog.

February 27, 2008

The Lord of the Rings

Posted in Readinglights at 3:53 am by qballkubal

Hehehehe, the reason why I haven’t reviewed any books lately is because I’ve been stuck with this one thousand something pages of story about the Middle Earth since October last year. Yup, you don’t read it wrong, it’s more than one thousand pages (including the appendix about the life, calendar, and race description of people of Middle Earth). I bought the all three books of The Lord of The Rings in one volume compilation edition. As it was on sale at that time, I didn’t want to miss that chance.

I think I don’t have to explain what the story about this book, for a lot of people have watch the movie over many times. Instead, I want to tell you about the difference between the book and the movie. Well, it is indeed different in many ways although the plot is still the same. This is probably the only book I’ve ever read so far with so much richness in English literature. Not even Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling or To Kill The Mocking Bird by Harper Lee have the same richness as LOTR. Tolkien are sure one hell of genius who can create such vast imaginary world.

The only thing that bothers me is that I have to open the dictionary every time I read the book. Hehehe, some of the words are not even listed in there. Damn! Is this book that old?

February 23, 2008

Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War

Posted in Readinglights at 5:03 pm by qballkubal

Finally! And oh, I thought I will never find this book (the one with illustrations of course) in Malaysia. I’ve been searching for a long time and almost ridiculously ordered through Amazon.com (which gonna cost me quite a fortune). Another thing that made me happy: it’s cheaper than I expected. It’s really a sheer coincidence that I found this book today at The Borders Damansara (inside The Curve), for I only intended to meet with my friend to grab a cup of coffee.

Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War is book two of Abarat chronicles which are consisted of five parts. I have read the first one and reviewed it in another blog . My friend event looked surprised as I insisted to buy only the illustration edition and not the cheaper paper back (this one is quality paper back in art paper). I told him that with buying the illustration edition I’m not only enjoying the story, but also the illustrations made by the author himself, which I found them amusing. Perhaps, it’s the same feeling you get when you watch Alice in Wonderland. Yup, a world with queer looks and unusual people in it.

Can’t wait to finish reading this book! =)