West Lake, Hangzhou, China. Taken by me.
Well, it's been a while, which is par for the course. Life goes on, with me feeling like butter scraped over too much bread. Welcome to modernity, eh? But, overall, I'm as content as a clam doing what I'm doing. Life is continually interesting, and I've no complaints. (And what good does complaining do, anyway?)
New article up on Monster Strongholds in Breath of the Wild, which leaves me with just two (???) more articles left. I realized the other day that I've been writing about that game for SIX YEARS now. That's sobering. And Tears of the Kingdom (a name I don't love) comes out very soon, which means even more content about which to write. I was hoping to have one game done before the next came out, but that's highly unlikely, given that I still need to write a probably-vast article about Hylian architecture. But, first, Lodges!
More and more I feel like these three absurd apes building a trestle table: I have vague pretensions to understanding or knowledge, but then I realize my primate fallibility and wonder just what my trestle table is for: is it a firm foundation for understanding, a platform for greater knowledge, or just a nice place to sit and eat bananas? Ultimately, it's a bit of all three. I really do view humanity and its work as important (at least for humanity, and perhaps also for the universe), but I also think we need to remind ourselves of our apish history and sensibilities. This has the happy result of achieving two things: it allows us to laugh at ourselves while simultaneously bringing us a sense of true awe as we witness just what we've accomplished in spite (or perhaps because?) of our limitations. We seem quite jumped-up little creatures, and yet we've managed skyscrapers, DNA, and depictions of three apes building a trestle table. And, really, is there more we could do? Probably not.
Why this little reflection? Well, I am a reflective person, I suppose, and lately I've been particularly perplexed at the state of human knowledge and epistemology. We seem to simultaneously know so much, and yet so precious little. We also seem to not know how we know what we claim to know. Questions like these seem to trouble few people, likely as they open the floodgates of bottomless skepticism or aimless navel-gazing, but they are worth thinking about. Buddhism holds that ignorance is one of the Three Poisons, and this valley of confusion might be a necessary journey for most of us. As we get along our path, it might behoove us to remember the above image. "What am I but an ape building a trestle table?"
This is all to say: I've completed a new article on the Great Fairy Fountains of Hyrule, and it is . . . as vibrant as the Great Fairies themselves. And I will say no more. Good night, sweet dreams, and happy waking.
Long Ways to Go Yet . . .
"I was . . . delayed."
A Rough Guide to Riddling
Thanks to a Tea-brick
“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”
– Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living [Author's note: please consider reading this book.]
Well, it finally happened. The 1999 tea-brick finally yielded a pot of tea. I thought it'd never be touched. My roommate had it sitting on the shelf for years. Years. I tell you this not because it was an incredible cup of tea (although it was, and if you're familiar with pu'er, you'll know that it tasted like a deep pile of semi-wet hay in an untouched barn, in the best sense possible), but because it finally got me thinking about Zelda architecture again; things had been in a dry-spell since I began to apply to grad school last year, worrying about this, that, and the other thing. But now that I'm just waiting on responses (with only the "normal" exigencies of life), the tea breathed life anew into me, just as the water breathed life into it after so long a time. Wonderful the serendipity, the parallelism, no? Teakind, humankind; so the leaf, so the man. Thus, an article on the Rito is in the writing. I have gathered and collected what I could find, and now I shall begin the lovely process of word-putting.
On another note, if you haven't already, please, under the "Recommended Readings" section of this website, check out the stories written by my friend Steffen Schmidt. I was reading and editing an alpha-version of a story he's currently working on today (concerning Zelda, of course), and it was so beautiful as to knock my proverbial socks off. I cannot highly enough recommend you to it. And I know it would mean the world to him.
Fat snowflakes fall outside, but the inner world is warm. I hope you're all doing well.
Looking toward Baochu Pagoda over Hangzhou's West Lake
"Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." -- Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring
If there's a quote that's been in my mind of late, it's that one. How deep in my heart do I feel that same stretched quality that Bilbo spoke of after too many decades of comfort in the Shire — and of his need to "see mountains, again, Gandalf, mountains . . . ." To an extent, all humans likely feel this way at certain times and in certain moods; and this has indeed been one of my prevailing moods for the past few months. I feel involved in nearly everything from work to coaching to relationships to personal projects, and, due to the nature of my own mind, my involvement must always be meaningful. I fear a life not well-lived, not fully-experienced, not fully-understood, and a life in which I do not live deeply. In fact, this is likely my greatest fear. So when I commit to something, I like to truly engage with it. Inexorably, then, I'm stretched very thin in terms of mental resources. As we say in English, I've got my fingers in too many pies. Part of this stems from my generalist's temperament and lifestyle: I'm interested in so very many things, and want to try my hand, at least while "young", at most of them. Of course, this is a young person's folly, but it leads, ultimately, to Bilbo's plight. It's a very simple equation, really: more activity, fewer resources; fewer resources, lower drive. So, if I know this, why do I persist? Well, first, it's not easy to part a fool from his folly. Secondly, I like to tell myself that, once I've tried these things, I'll eventually focus on those few that outlast all others. And this is to some extent true: I've jettisoned a lot from my life, heeding Lin Yutang's advice.  But, sometimes I also pick up activities in the process, like poetry or meditation. And some things that I know I would love I've already written off: calligraphy, music composition, and the Japanese tea ceremony among others. Unless I suddenly inherit great wealth, time, and energy, these things are likely phenomena I'll always simply have to admire from afar, yet knowing that I could have easily fallen head-over-heels for any of them. That, then, is my dilemma: with such varied interests and skills to be developed, how does one live? I'm afraid I don't know; or, rather, I'm afraid that I do.
New years should be born in intention, or at least a vague hope towards change or its continuation. And while I've no particular resolution, per se, I do hope to stay the course I've already laid out for myself. I hope you're all equally resolved towards something positive.
Happy New Year, everyone.
 "Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials." — The Importance of Living
The Road Goes Ever On and On . . .
A still from Studio Ghibli's 2010 "The Secret World of Arrietty"
Good morning to all of you, wherever you may be.
I just thought I'd spend a few minutes on a brief update, for those of you that are interested. I am still alive, just quite busy. A few months ago I began writing an article on the Rito from Breath of the Wild, but it hasn't gotten very far, I'm afraid. Dividing up my time between teaching in-person and online has produced a fair amount of work, and my additional duties have only just begun; in addition, I'll be undergoing the lovely stress of applying to graduate school programs until December, so my free time is somewhat limited. And, when I have it, it is usually spent in composing poems, reading, or passing whiles with friends. (Of course there are other wee things here and there like video games, movies, and the like.) That said, I did just upload quite a few new riddles to each riddle page; a couple of friends and I send riddles to one another regularly, and one of my students has produced more than a few of them, even! If ever you feel like you've got a good riddle, don't hesitate to send it to me! There are few things I love more than a well-crafted riddle hidden amongst my emails.
Thank you to those of you who have reached out lately with such kind words. My inbox is always open, and I love getting to know you all.
Ever my best, and stay warm as Autumn comes into her own in the northern hemisphere,
The universe of The Legend of Zelda is replete with multifarious architectural oddities, beautiful and resonating structures, and ineffably-mysterious temples hidden in the remote corners of the world. It is my hope to explore said places, shedding light upon some of their salient features, and fulfilling the goals laid out by the introduction, the main goal of which is to help people understand and appreciate the unspoken, yet deeply-felt, allure of these locations and structures.