Category Archives: Culture

Inarticulate

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So little left to express.

Spleen? Acedia?

The signifiers have lost their signifieds and are straying.

Ideas, heavy as rock, sink to the bottom of rivers

waiting to be swept away by a sudden flood of effervescence

or settle, with the mud, along the banks of dam lakes

and rot.

Occasionally, some debris resurfaces – a severed head still smiling,

an arm, the fuselage of last year’s vacation… (or was it the year before last?!)

only to be whirled away with the rest of the waste.

March. Sleet.

Pout. Plans.

Hope.

Nothing.

Emptied of meaning, the words denote nothing.

Imponderable, impalpable, floating.

The slightest gale will whisk them up to the barren sky

like balloons (escaped? released?) out of the hands of children.

Never to return.

I don’t really miss them.

There is so little left to express.

Torpor.

Quote of the day

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“Understanding a people’s culture exposes their normalness without reducing their particularity. (…) It renders them accessible: setting them in the frame of their own banalities, it dissolves their opacity.”

Clifford Geertz – The Interpretation of Cultures (Basic Books Classics)

Words of wisdom, cautionary words

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On creativity:

“If too few opportunities for curiosity are available, if too many obstacles are placed in the way of risk and exploration, the motivation to engage in creative behavior is easily extinguished. (…) So, if the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent.”

M. Czikszentmihalyi – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (Harper Collins e-books)

On vice and broadmindedness:

“Human wickedness, if accepted by society, is changed from an act of will into an inherent, psychological quality which man cannot choose or reject but which is imposed upon him from without, and which rules him as compulsively as the drug rules the addict. In assimilating crime and transforming it into vice, society denies all responsibility and establishes a world of fatalities in which men find themselves entangled. (…) If crime is understood to be a kind of fatality, natural or economic, everyone will finally be suspected of some special predestination to it. (…) The seeming broadmindedness that equates crime and vice, if allowed to establish its own code of law, will invariably prove more cruel and inhuman than laws, no matter how severe, which respect and recognize man’s independent responsibility for his behavior.”

H. Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Classics, 2017)

Any opinions?

On migration and diasporas

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“To live “in diaspora” is to reside in one place but to keep in motion an emotional, cultural, or political relationship with another, whether it is the site of one’s nativity that subsequently became a point of departure or an ancestral “homeland” virtually conjured but never visited. (…)

Diasporas (…) are platforms where received notions of cultural affiliation, religious inclination, and political persuasion can come undone or become entrenched and exaggerated. (…) They can be sites of recycling as much as of reinvention. (…)

But (…) all migrants, across a wide range of social positions, nonetheless share the “experience that their movement results in a certain degree of expulsion from their territorial, political, juridical, or economic status. Even if the end result of migration is a relative increase in money, power, or enjoyment, the process of migration itself almost always involves an insecurity of some kind and duration. (…) The gains of migration are always a risk, while the process itself is always some kind of loss.”

S. Illot, A.C. Mendes, L. Newns (eds.) – New Directions in Diaspora Studies (Rowman & Littlefield, London, 2018)

Quote of the day

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“To yield to the mere process of disintegration has become an irresistible temptation, not only because it has assumed the spurious grandeur of ‘historical necessity’, but also because everything outside it has begun to appear lifeless, bloodless, meaningless, and unreal. (…)

Comprehension does not mean denying the outrageous (…). It means, rather, examining and bearing consciously the burden which our century has placed on us – neither denying its existence nor submitting meekly to its weight. Comprehension, in short, means the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to, and resisting of, reality – whatever it may be.”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Preface to the First Edition, summer 1950).

Words that still resonate.

Leave your shadows behind

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that hour.

on the long path to spring,

when darkness clears

and the trees drop their skeletal shadows in the snow

like a bad memory,

like baggage one no longer needs

to carry.

when the frost glistens with a gazillion different suns

in a myriad different eyes

and the crows’ croaking falls

silent

silent…

that hour.

like a letter from someone you love,

a letter you never thought

was coming.

when you

leave your shadows behind

and walk into the light.

that hour.

https://www.instagram.com/andreeasepi/

September reading

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here I am,

sitting on a bench next to autumn

absorbing the last of the scorching sun

and watching the ants

move like clockwork

in a playground we call our own.

here they are,

mapping the maze

with staccato precision.

I am reading a poem,

like every other year.

later, I’ll get up to go home,

pass the picket fence with the tiny

porcelain cats,

walk into a heap of crunchy leaves,

and stomp out

all regrets.

Spirituality, modernity and Brownian motion

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Just a thought…

So many of us feel depleted, drained, stressed out. Our beings flogged from within, our lives – our biggest gift – turned into empty chases. Pursuing a zillion things that we can grab and touch and display, but which aren’t real. We live in societies that prioritize task efficiency, competition, action, and the accumulation of stuff over family, over time with friends, music, celebration, inner peace, or the contemplation of beauty.

The spiritual, once a central component of daily life – that umbilical cord to the divine – has been all but banished, relegated to the periphery, exiled to the realm of the exotic, the archaic, and the ‘oppressive’. The daily recalibration of prayer has fallen from grace and with it we have fallen – literally – from grace. From the grace of communing with the universe and with each other, the grace of transcending and accessing our higher purpose. From peace and vitality.

We bet everything on the card of desire, sleepwalking through life in a state of sterile and destructive arousal, as if remote-controlled via our most basic reflexes and deprived of the light of transfiguration. Do not be fooled that we no longer worship. We do. We worship the idol of self – the crumbling ‘natural man’ – while cutting ourselves off from our spiritual potential – the human person inhabited by holiness, true love, generosity, and joy. 

The unhappiness that brings. 

And how freely available the healing can be.

Old woman praying in the fields at midday, as church bells toll in Rebrisoara, Romania
(Source: infobistrita.ro. Photo taken by Marian Ros in Rebrisoara)

P.S. For more (and better!) on our aimless restlessness, our addiction to illusion and distraction, and our loathing of Eden – take a listen here: https://entitledopinions.stanford.edu/fatidic-power-literature. An episode I stumbled upon today – no kidding – after writing this blog. There are very few coincidences in life.

Discoveries

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Venus – that ancient

goddess of carnal desire – 

has a poisonous atmosphere that might,

just might,

hold the life of a microbe.


Immediately,

the microbes here on Earth

began to show signs

of restlessness.

fighting each other for supremacy

and claiming poison

as their territory.

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

To Belong

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when she first discovered water

she did not go in.

she stood hypnotized. it was too wonderful.

she was, like the lot of us,

gripped by a fear of drowning,

arrested by the vastness and the gleaming.

to discover beauty is to discover

the heaviness of self and the terror

of irreversible sinking.

but look at her now, floating expertly on her back,

swaying with the waves

in her hair,

glistening like a fish,

all serene smiles and joy

and relaxed muscles.

weightless.

she has not mastered water.

she has mastered herself

(the high art of belonging)

and now water buoys her,

offers her up to the sun

cupful by cupful by cupful.

Copyright 2019-2020. A. Sepi. All rights reserved