Sunday, 24 January 2010



At first, I wasn’t very fond of the idea of creating an online blog for everyone to see. That was before I started actually working on it. It presents a great opportunity and a creative way to post my works and also include whatever I want and is of interest to me. An electronic portfolio such as this one tells a lot about its author, or rather creator, due to the fact that it gives the freedom to express oneself the way they want others to see them. It also allows for critique and comments, which personally have proven to be a good way of improving my own writing and also getting in touch with others, interested in what I’ve published.

The idea of getting in touch with a fellow student from Kentucky was indeed a productive and interesting one. It allowed for correspondence with people who live in a different place, have different views, interests, and understandings for certain aspects of life. The whole blog system itself allowed for multiple ideas to be exchanged and we all benefit from this. Having other people reflect on your works is the best way of develop your writing and even yourself to an extent, that is worthy of appreciation and acknowledgement.



Published in 1995, Gene Brewer’s K-PAX in not easy to understand by every reader. It is a science fiction novel, first of its series of four books; elements of the unknown, the mysterious, and features of a fictional world beyond ours are being combined with what is common for us, the earthlings – feelings, emotion, and society.

The author introduces an occult character – “prot”. He is a “traveler from another world”, or that is what he claims to be. He is placed in a mental institution for he is thought to be – simply put in human terms – crazy, and he becomes a patient of one Dr. Gene Brewer. With every session between the two of them, more and more of the puzzle is being revealed. The book is written in first person, presented through the eyes and experiences of the psychiatrist, named after the author himself. He presents a lot of details and actual places and people, which all contributes to the realistic nature of the story.

However, it is far from being ordinary. With each all one-on-one conversation, the “alien” reveals more about himself and where he comes from. The psychiatrist’s thought greatly add up to the doubt and suspicion, left in the reader’s mind. The patient reveals that he is from the planet K-PAX and that his name is prot… simply prot – no capitalization, no first/last name differentiation. It also becomes clear that human customs, like social interaction, family, marriage, and all that we have grown fond of are not present in his civilization. Dr. Brewer’s interest in his patient becomes stronger and he plays along, satisfying the curious nature of both of them.

Their quest of finding out the truth is captivating and intriguing, holding on the reader’s attention, leading on to new views on the world humans live in. K-PAX makes the reader think, makes him realize the important things in life. The author presents those alternatives and observations on what we take for granted with the sole purpose of showing the essence itself of who and what we are – the people of one world.

In 2001 a movie after Gene Brewer’s novel of the same name was released and it allowed for a fairly good visualization of this fantastic story. Having in mind that the movie was greatly appreciated by its audience, this means only one thing for the book it came from – a complete marvel. The whole series is a must-read sequence that fully develops prot’s mysterious origin, life, and even future, as well as the human relations with the outer world.

Do You Ever Wish to be Someone Else?

Chapter 4: “Voluntarily Abducted”

There I was, standing in the middle of the empty city. Why there weren’t any people in Paris at this lovely summer day, you can find out in the previous chapters; at this point I want to focus on the story at hand.

I stood up in front of this gigantic space dish (presumably a ship), using the Eiffel Tower as a resting station. At this time, while I was admiring the view, a big door opened and a little green fella’ came out of the ship. Instantly, the door closed behind him. Moving rapidly, he came to me with a couple of strange objects in his hands.

“Yo! What’s up, Z!?” the little alien cried out loudly with a huge smile of his face. After the fact that all mankind was gone, this situation was the strangest in my life.

“How on Earth do you know my name? And why did you decide to ruin the beautiful tower?” I was kinda angry, but also interested. It still didn’t feel real at all. ‘Why am I the only one here and why, or actually HOW do aliens actually EXIST?’ was what I asked myself, staring at the green – for the lack of a better understanding at the moment – thingy in front of me.

“I can explain all of this,” it was as if he read my mind, “and yes, I just read your mind…”

“Can things get any weirder?” I murmured quietly.

“I know your name because you are the Chosen One,” he continued, “for centuries our civilization waited for the prophecy to come true and finally - here you are. It is such an honor to stand in your presence. We have to go now, follow me.”

After a short pause, asking myself thousand of questions, which I would kindly share with my new friend in the next few hundred chapters of this book, I finally followed his gesture to walk towards the elevator coming down from his ship. We were both quiet, but my curiosity prevailed:

“What are those?” I shook my head downwards, pointing at his hands, which, by the way, had six fingers… that let me thinking of yet another mysterious problem: this guy was similar to the fictional Martians – small and green, but instead of three long fingers, this one had six normal ones… and his eyes weren’t so big, and he had an ugly nose, and looked more humanly than I thought and alien would look like… God, I’m totally confused!

Little Pesho smiled next to me on our way up (yeah, I decided to mentally call him Pesho, at least until I figured out his real name, if he actually had one), probably because he heard the nonplus dominating my head. He raised one of the objects a bit higher, pressed a few buttons and the magic happened: the Seine River widened its channel nearly twice its size, all the buildings disappeared and the surroundings became a beautiful natural scene, full of green trees and wild animals; the view from the middle was just amazing – so beautiful and alive. In a few seconds, all this began to change and slowly disappear. On the old the place of the Notre Dame, a small settlement of a group of ancient-looking people began to build up a living place. As we were going up, we stopped and focused our attention on the process of the formation of Paris itself. However, that wasn't all of it...

Do You Ever Wish to be Someone Else?

Chapter 5: Makes you think, doesn't it?

So, there we were - on the ramp leading up to the ship, having the amazing view of the region in our sight. I was amazed: in only a few minutes, the whole history of the city flashed in front of me, including battles and events, unknown to mankind. This slideshow continued until we reached the present day, occupied of tall buildings and harmful gasses… and even beyond: I guess it was only a few years later or maybe a decade, but the scenery was devastating – a huge blast swept away the whole valley, leaving no sign of human existence, no sign of any existence at all! I just stood there with my jaw open from amusement, but also grief. Yet for another few seconds, the view rewinded itself and we were back on our way to the ship. I turned slightly around and looked Pesho with the same inadequate expression. He probably did all this only to show me how people on Earth destroyed themselves and how our days of coexistence were over; to show me the future ahead… maybe this is one of the reasons for this whole alien invasion, if that’s what it was. Still, this only raised another bunch of questions in my head that waited for their turn to be answered.

“It’s a universal remote control,” he said, knowing that this was my smallest concern at the moment, “I can literally control the universe by just pressing a few buttons… I know it’s hard for you now, but everything will come to its place when the time is right, you have my word.”

Even though I wasn’t too sure what I was supposed to believe in, I continued walking up with the green guy. Man, I got even more puzzled than before, wondering what’s gonna happen once we got into the ship… this entire day has been like a whole new world to me, and I’m sure it won’t be over any time soon. Pesho looked at me again and tossed me one of the other items that he was carrying.

“Open the door, please,” he said with a little smile, forming at the cornet of his mouth. He obviously wanted to make me feel better; I don’t really know how this would help, but I spent a moment exploring the thingy, full with strange inscriptions and buttons on it. Something that caught my attention was a text of smaller size near the bottom of this other remote control. Oddly enough, it said ‘Made in China’. I wasn’t in the mood, but I started laughing, anyway. Did aliens actually have a sense of humor? Having a second look on the object with celestial origin, I found the right button; and guess what - it had a space ship door illustrated on it. I pushed it and the door in front of us opened without making the slightest sound or vibration. Damn, this was really some hi-tech science-fiction alien engineering. I started walking forward, stunned by the detailed hallway, leading to the inside of the ship. “Welcome to your new home, or at least that’s what it will be for the next couple of weeks,” Pesho said with shades of pride and delight in his voice.

This was officially the moment, when the exploration of a new world began.

To be Defined

To be Defined

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have
lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!

As I am an honest man, I thought you had
received some bodily wound. There is more sense
in that than in reputation. Reputation is idle and
most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost
without deserving. You have lost no reputation at
all, unless you repute yourself such a loser. What,
man, there are ways to recover the General again!
You are but now cast in the mood – a punishment
more in policy than in malice, even so as one would
beat his offenseless dog to affright an imperious
lion. Sue to him again and he’s yours.
(ACT 2. SC. 3 – /281-295/ – page 99)

Reputation, tribute, honor… unable to be separated from one’s identity, those characteristics are companions in all actions and deeds. In Shakespeare’s Othello reputation plays a vital role in the development of the whole situation. It is a driving force behind the acts of all and regulates the decisions they make. A person is no longer judged for whom he really is, but rather for whom the others think him to be. Iago uses his reputation to deceive Othello and everyone else. Having in mind the consequences that might derive from even the smallest deviation from what is accepted, Shakespeare’s characters have to watch every step of their way. The thoughts of others take over the importance of self and personality:
Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have
lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial… (Act 2. Sc 3. 281-284)
Cassio has been humiliated and hence forward the others think low of him. He realizes that whatever he has done before, he would only be remembered with what is left and what will remain – his reputation. This “immortal part” will be his legacy and once it’s destroyed, he sees no point in moving on… in this world, he is finished. There is no regard to the human part as something as important; it is “bestial” – showing lack of human sensibility. It is this principle of being defined by others that forces Cassio to be subdued under the manipulative skills of Iago.
It is he who talks some reason – as perceived from contemporary point of view – into the already confused mind of his acquaintance:
…Reputation is idle and
most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost
without deserving. You have lost no reputation at
all, unless you repute yourself such a loser…(287-290)
It is also the fear of loosing one’s reputation that drives someone into doing illogical, at first glace, actions. Casio’s view of his life is strictly based on the reputation he upholds and how the others identify him. It is this fright of being low as a person that would motivate him to do literally anything to take back what defines him – the place in the society, the honor, and reputation. Being unwillingly part of Iago’s grant scheme of manipulation and trickery, he is easily twisted to his will. It is the best villain’s ability to swell other into his plans and use them for his own benefit. The scrutiny of the public is the perfect weapon for such reasons.
Convincing Cassio that he is being used as the “offenceless dog” – the weak – beaten down by those in charge with the sole purpose of scaring the “lion” –the strong – those who might present to be a threat in the future, Iago gain the trust he needs. Moreover, it is not an isolated case. It is present throughout the whole play and is a main motif for the characters to follow and be driven by.
Nowadays, though the times are quite different, everyone is still concerned with the opinion of others and the way they see them. In doing something, people always think of how it would reflect on their image and what the common understanding is. Any deviation is still viewed as unusual and, some times, unacceptable. However, the society today is far more lenient and understanding of the individual, their thought and different perspective of what is important, and what life actually is. Shakespeare’s play makes the reader thing of what his/her position is the public is and how he contributes.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Money… is it really worth it?

Money – the currency of the world, the ultimate object of exchange; used by everyone for everything. Nowadays money is accompanied by covetousness and greed with the desire to have more and more, as it is the source of a “good and meaningful life”. However, that is not the case for a great deal of people in the world.
The struggle for success, measured by the amount of money one has, has created a huge income gap between those on top and the ones living in poverty – the ones used for the benefit and luxury of the others. This is a serious social problem that affects every individual. The problem itself comes from the existence of money and even though the world aims for improvement of the standards and way of live, the problem has only gone worse. In 1960 the Income Gap between the rich and the poor was 30:1, while in 2008 it rose to 92:1.
Also, this is a serious political issue, because it’s the people on the top who decide how the whole system operates, how the money is used, and how this benefits everyone and not only a certain number of individuals. The government and the political figures have a major call in determining the benefits for the people. An example would be President Bush’s decision to spare $161.8 billion for the “War on terrorism” (responsible for 1900 deaths internationally per year, 68 of whom Americans), while the funds for the fight against heart deceases (from which 450 000 Americans die annually) are only $3 billion.
It is the understanding of only a small portion of all people that money is not (or should not be) the most important factor in people’s lives. It surely creates many advantages for the ones who are abundant of it, but this profit is with the cost of other people’s misery and suffering. The great difference of classes and living environments is caused exactly by the fact that money is what determines whether one lives “happily ever after”, or has to struggle to “just be”. The world as it is today has the ability to give equality to everyone, but this would mean that sacrifices would have to be made by the ones who control the world, the ones who control the money.
Money should not be a goal that has to be reached, or even surpassed; money should not be what guides people’s lives.

Friday, 30 October 2009

I want to be...

May 1992, Royal High School of Edinburgh – graduation day; as the seniors climbed up the podium to receive their diplomas, they could no longer hold back all the emotions that have so far been kept idle. Some laughed, some cried, but they all smiled and hugged; they were both happy and sad, overcome by the memories of the years that have passed, memories of a careless and joyful life. The last to step on the stage was Ron McZack – the most honored of all students both in social and academic life; a great friend to all who knew him and respected young man to those who met him. He was chosen to represent the class of ’92 and deliver a speech… and so he did. Everyone laughed and cheered as he reminded the audience of the fun they all had together and what a great and unforgettable experience studying at Royal High School has been. Before the finale of the ceremony, President Leeroy Jenkins addressed McZack as he was still behind the microphone:
– “So, tell me Ron, how do you see yourself in the future? What do you want to do with your life from now on? What do you… or wait, let me rephrase that. Who do you want to be?”
A short pause followed; the students kept quiet, wondering what they would have said if they were asked; the faculty and administration had their eyes focused on the boy; the crowd of relatives and friends impatiently awaited the response; and Ron… he simply smiled. He looked at everyone with the same confident expression and without taking the smile off, he replied:
– “What I am and what I become does not have to define who I am and will be. I want to be everything, I want to simply do and experience with no limits. As of Who I want to be, the answer is simple – I want to be myself, and ‘myself’ is to improve and be better, to live a life of no regret, to look back at all the achievements and the fun I had, knowing that they are only the foreplay of what is yet to come.”
Everyone stood up on their feet and started applauding and cheering for Ron as if they were on a football stadium. His best buddies entered the stage and carried him out up in the air; the excitement and mirth completely took over and all the seniors rushed away to get changed and head out to the party… they didn’t even wait for President Jenkins’ enclosing statement.
From that memorable day on, Ron McZack has been living up to his words focused on the only goal he set for himself and it was the same for every single day – to surpass what and who he was yesterday. The next five years he spent in London, studying carpentry and design of all forms. During that time he got fascinated by a game well known and spread throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland – snooker. Before and shortly after he graduated, his projects were mainly connected with the game; he designed billiard and snooker tables, and later on founded a company for materials and equipment, as well as a club in an old building in the center of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, keeping the name – the Crucible Theatre. McZack became a trustworthy and well known figure in the field, and today the Crucible hosts the World Snooker Championship. It was a dream that he pursued and now he could move on.
It was the summer of 1999 that instigated him to a new passion – architecture. He set out on a journey around Europe with Paris, France as a final destination. The structure and design of both the cultural monuments and the modern buildings caught his eye – what he saw was art, and it intrigued him. The newly developing business center - La Défense, was an open playground to all with vision and, of course, resources. Ron had no intention of building or owning any of the mega structures we see there today, though he wanted to leave his mark. He founded an architectural drawing and design company, alongside a beautiful young artist from Paris – Marie Vincent, also known as the future Mrs. McZack.
They got married in Greece and both agreed to settle for a while there. Ron was really found of the idea and decided to open a hotel in the beautiful beach resort of Katerini in the province of Pirelli. As of the hotel – it was a masterpiece, had everything that anyone could need – amazing design, combining the cultural elements with the modern era; a pool and kids’ corner; fascinating restaurant and bar, along with custom-made billiard and snooker tables. Indeed, a wonderful place that changed the course of their lives… Ron and Marie had their first children there – twins, a boy and a girl; and a few years later moved back to England. That lasted until the spring of 2008 when they found themselves living in the villa zone of Paris. That Christmas they had a great party with a lot of acquaintances from all over the world, mostly England and Greece, along with local friends, and as they were leaving the next day, Lisa and Jacky, 7 years old now, went to their father and asked:
– “Daddy, daddy, they are all going home. When are we going home?”
Ron went back with them in front of the fireplace and sat quietly for quite some time. He thought of all the places they had been as a family, all the things they had been through and everything they had done, seen, and experienced. Yes, this was his dream but he wondered if this was the best way for the kids to spend their youth.
– “Jacky, Lisa, I’ve given you a piece of my life. But this does not have to be the way for you to live. I’ve given you a chance to have the world as your home, to learn and see new things every day, to dream with no limit. Soon, you’ll have to decide what to do for yourselves and which path to follow, but know that there are countless opportunities all around you, regardless of where you come from or where you decide to live.” – he said with a tone of a grown man, realizing that it might have been a little too much for the two kids who asked such a simple question…
Their story goes on, leading to new adventures, new chances, and new memories. Ron McZack dedicates all his efforts and love in every initiative he takes on. With a never ending will to learn, do, and experience, he continues to surpass himself and heads on for a new life every day… and that is the McZack legacy, passed on generation by generation.