Neil Gaiman reimagines Hansel and Gretel, and it’s stunning

hansel and gretel

 

 

Neil Gaiman doesn’t believe in ‘happy-go-merry’ children stories. Particularly after visiting a refugee camp in war-torn Syria, Gaiman got his inspiration to create a darker version of one of the world’s most favorite tales, Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’. With a stygian touch by Italian graphic artist Lorenzo Mattotti, Gaiman wants to introduce his horror-induced tales to children, but with an obvious message: fear of ghosts will not match fear towards far greater things in life when people grow up, especially when it comes to facing the authority.

His personal thought about why some elements of cynicism should be included in children’s stories:

 

I think if you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up. I think it is really important to show dark things to kids — and, in the showing, to also show that dark things can be beaten, that you have power. Tell them you can fight back, tell them you can win. Because you can — but you have to know that.

And for me, the thing that is so big and so important about the darkness is [that] it’s like in an inoculation… You are giving somebody darkness in a form that is not overwhelming — it’s understandable, they can envelop it, they can take it into themselves, they can cope with it.

And, it’s okay, it’s safe to tell you that story — as long as you tell them that you can be smart, and you can be brave, and you can be tricky, and you can be plucky, and you can keep going.

 

Read the full article in Brain Pickings.

Humans of HKUST – Life and everything within the campus

 

hkust redbird_sketch

 

 

(my personal request to everyone reading this blog)

 

Why you should visit this website: I, and four other friends studying in this university widely known for the ‘stress and tension’ it carries over, are making this project, modeled on Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, to give everyone an elementary understanding about life, ideas, opinions, experiences, and stories that HKUST students, staff, or whoever contributing to this great university, want to share to the public. There may be sad stories, there may be mind-provoking ones, but there are also silly, quirky, and inspiring ones. Every person has different perspectives about life, and of course there are no ways we can enforce our own towards theirs. Therefore, as a sign of appreciation towards diverse mindsets, we create this platform to let everyone know more about what really is happening in this campus.

Link: http://humansofhkust.tumblr.com/

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/humansofhkust

Profiling John Green

john green

 

With The Fault in Our Stars released today, let us today take a deep insight into the life of the 36-year-old author behind this best-selling book, and in particular, dealing with his personal experiences of ‘being nerdy’.

Read the full story in Intelligent Life.

 

Excerpt:

 

All his novels draw on these awkward beginnings, but the most autobiographical is the first, “Looking for Alaska”, in which the hero, Miles, asks his parents to move him from high school in Orlando, Florida to boarding school. Green made the same request at 14 and was dispatched from Florida to his father’s alma mater, Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Alabama. “I was a big nerd, so I was struggling socially at school. But I was also struggling academically, to a point where the course of my life was going to be set in a troubling direction.”

Boarding school is rarer in America than Britain and carries less of the class baggage. Both Green’s parents worked for non-profit organisations, his mother as a community organiser and his father for an environmental group, and they hoped boarding would offer him more security. “I don’t think they stopped worrying about me until I was married,” he says. “Seriously. In high school they were worried because I was petulant and smoked in the house, and was just awful.”

He was being bullied and the transfer request was an act of desperation, “a moment of self-awareness” that boiled down to “90% privilege, 10% good decision-making.” The elder of two boys, he was pegged as the clever one and became “exceptionally good at seeming smart without trying hard.” His brother, Hank, “went to public school, got a full scholarship to college and was working constantly. A hard-driving, intelligent person. He’d grown up with really bad learning disabilities and as often as I’d been told that I was smart, he’d been told that he was stupid. That shaped him in important ways.”

Indian Springs, Green says, “changed the course of my life”. For the first time, he was popular: “not basketball-player popular, but reasonably well liked”. He was funny, erudite, and hung out in a Dead Poets’ Society clique that read Nietzsche (“not well”) and would resurface in his fiction. In “An Abundance of Katherines”, the hero is a social misfit who eventually learns to integrate. In “Paper Towns”, two teenagers wreak small acts of revenge on those who have excluded them. In “The Fault in Our Stars”, the heroes, Hazel and Augustus, find themselves alienated from their peer group through illness—the condition of adolescence made noble through suffering. The point Green makes is that however cut off you feel, somewhere out there your community awaits.

Lessons from Auschwitz: The power of our words – Benjamin Zander

 

This TED-Ed video is extremely brief (just a little more than one minute), but it offers us a very powerful lesson: be careful, and be wise, for all the words we use, as illustrated by this concluding story of an Auschwitz survivor Benjamin Zander, a musical composer, gave during his 2008 TED talk.

Watch it, and let us try to realize how words, for all their seeming simplicity, carry such a power we can’t ever take for granted.

MH370

mh370

 

 

It was supposed to be a normal flight like any other do. Families waiting for their beloved ones after a few days’ travel, couples to meet their relatives back in town, students taking a long break after that enduring, oftentimes excruciating, series of school activities, employees taking their short break to release their stresses, and myriad stories to go. They boarded one of the world’s most excellent airlines, having – despite occasional minor incidents – excellently, and safely, brought more than 12 million passengers worldwide, putting on themselves normal expectations on what to do after their arrival back home.

But the flight, taking place from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had never arrived ever since. On March 8, deep down in its early dusk, the plane’s signal disappeared. So do the passengers. And up to this moment, the day this post is published, despite intensive efforts by numerous countries to track the aircraft – going so far as involving more than 40 jets and up to 30 ships, none of the attempts has resulted in any definitive answers for its mystery, though. As long as the search goes, rumors, speculation, and even conspiracy theories color the ongoing conversations, in particular social media. We heard stories from Vietnam authorities that the plane has crashed at seas – the source was obscure. The rescue teams discovered slicks of oil thought to be that of the aircraft – these slicks were from tankers. Other teams had discovered what was thought to be parts of the aircraft – they turn out to be random items discarded at sea. Two mysterious passengers, having boarded the flight using forged passports, who were once suspected of a possible terrorism plot, were no more than hopeful Iranian migrants looking for a better life in Europe.

The mystery remains at bay, and frustration escalates into deep anguish, and anger. The passengers’ families in Beijing unceasingly storm the Malaysian Airlines officials regarding their relatives’ fate; as long as the search results in null-and-void, there is nothing much the company can do. They are being shouted at, yelled at, and even thrown water bottles, by some of the family members. Still, though, without any valid results from the search-and-rescue teams, there is nothing much the company can do.

With things remaining in limbo, I can only hope for one thing, though: whether it will be good news, whether it will be bad news, let there be light for the families left behind. May all their beloved ones be allowed to gain the truth, even if it means they have to prepare for the worst consequences. Let there be light for everyone.

 

The Straits Times has compiled some of the stories from Malaysia Airlines MH370’s passengers, and some of these may be heartbreaking. Read the full article, titled ‘Faces of MH370’, here.

Lonely writers

loneliness

 

 

A novelist, and also a writing teacher, contemplates back on her past, as seen from her student’s lonely attitude. Read her full story on Rabbit Room.

Excerpt:

I couldn’t, in that room full of a hundred children, run to her and throw my arms around her. And I doubted very much that she was the only one who harbored such a question in her heart. So I answered her as simply and directly as she had asked: “Yes. Yes, I was lonely. I was so shy and quiet that boys would tease me in order to see who could get me to talk. And yet in my books I found friends. As I read and wrote stories I became other people, I went on adventures, and I found out more about who I was.”

I wanted to tell her: The loneliness will end. You will find your place.

I wanted to tell her: The world is full of lonely people, and someone else is looking for the friend that only you can be.

But those are only half-truths. It would have broken my heart to speak the whole truth to her or to the nine-year-old version of myself that I saw in her eyes: You will continue to be lonely for a long time, and your loneliness is the furnace in which fine metal will be forged, and out of that place of inner fire will rise your art. For you will be a writer someday, and words will come from those places in you where speech is muffled and still.