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November 21, 2006


rara avis

excellent piece. i have often wondered this too.


I love your writing.

Actually, I have never thought of loving with my liver too I often feel (all feelings) culminating from the area slap bang in the middle of my chest, in between my breasts.

Is that a place between the liver and the heart?

Is this a linguistic matter or is it just the different ways people (eastern and western) try(ied) to explain the origin of passion, happiness, hatred and pain?

Points to ponder huh?;-)

You write well!


I knew that I was not the only one who's been wondering about this. I wonder if someone has seriously looked into this - could be a topic for a PhD thesis, maybe? Btw. what are you doing checking out blogs? Aren't you supposed to be busy in view of events over the weekend? All the best for that one!


Firstly, thanks for the kind words.

As I hinted at in the post, the answer to these questions are likely to be much more complicated than it may seem. Experience teaches me that many facets of our daily lives that we may take for granted are actually nothing more than the tip of the iceberg. It's amazing where some digging and exploration of seemingly mundane things can take you. (Ever tried investigating the origins of "sambal belacan"? haha, that could be the subject of another post.)

I've been told that your liver is in the lower part of your abdoment, on the right side. So the "place between the liver and the heart" should be somewhere around your stomach (don't I wish I had paid more attention during those Biology classes...).

Personally, I'm inclined to think that it is not just a linguistic matter. I think the expressions stemmed from actual beliefs and views in how the world - and by extension human emotions - works. Thinking about things like this make me feel "connected" to the people of yore - even if I don't know how they actually thought and felt and viewed the world.


The only emotion I associate with my liver is my cynicism, since I'm assuming that's where my surfeit of bile comes from.

Speaking of bile, has anyone from my workplace contacted you yet? Apparently you got the scholarship and I was told it was a full one, not the pathetic amount you were initially offered.

P/s:- Yay, you're updating again!


Nads: hahaha, given the amount of cynicism that you emit, it must be a large surfeit of bile then!

People from your workplace contacted me but they are quite vague about the terms and conditions of the offer. Sigh. I don't think I'm going to take it up though. Need to decide soon. (What would you advise?)


My advice is get terms in writing first- surely there's a contract somewhere? What were they vague about? The amount or the bond arrangements?

When they spoke to me (in attempting to get your contact details) they said they'd give you the full amount with expenses (they made it sound quite lavish!) in exchange for a semi-flexible bond period, i.e., you wouldn't have to come back immediately, but would have the option of completing your bond any time within 4-5 years post-graduation.

Anyway, with regards to the hati-liver/heart-jantung question, Hamza Yusuf (amongst others) has spoken about the existence of a 'metaphysical' heart and a 'physical' one- the former, I suppose being the 'engine' of your soul which houses your emotions. Perhaps this is what Malays mean when they refer to 'hati' in relation to 'matters of the heart', rather than the liver?


Nads: is that what they told you? hmmm... that's not what they told me! Nevermind. I have not responded to them for quite some time now. Strange that they too have been quiet. Maybe they are not that serious about giving it to me?

Thanks for the tip on Hamza Yusuf. But I think the point is, in many other cultures, the metaphysical heart and the physical heart refer to the same organ i.e. heart. Whereas the Malays separate the two into two different organs i.e. heart and liver. First question is: why? Second question: why liver? Why not lungs or kidney or the stomach or gall bladder?


saya selalu makan hati. in both sense.

(oh, blog balik senyap2 ya?!)

(btw what do you mean, origins of sambal belacan? it's a sambal containing belacan, no?)


Lita: hahaha memang blog senyap-senyap. takkanlah nak palu kompang pulak?

Sambal has chilli. Have you ever wondered why we don't have a Malay word for "chilli" when it's such an important ingredient in our cooking? (Lada is not really chilli). Did you know that chilli came from the Americas? And the question is: did Hang Tuah ever have sambal belacan? He lived before the "discovery" of America.


isn't cili "malay" for chili? (and why is lada "not really" chilli? what is lada then?).

yes i knew chilis came from the americas. the americas were discovered late 15th century. there is therefore all possibility that alphonso and co could've brought some over with 'em and tuah could have had his sambal belacan.

so there.

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