Category Archives: ROMÂNĂ

Romanian sights 2017

Standard

 

Exploring (and enjoying) the Carpathian garden! 😉

 

La baltă

Standard

Fierbințeala se scurge peste câmpuri ca șerpii.

Soarele făcut măciucă lovește în moalele capului, pielea se încinge, carotida pulsează ritmic.

Pe luciul apei, pluta undiței nu mișcă.

Vara, feroce, a desenat largi crăpături în sol, cicatricile arsurii.

Doar mușuroaiele de cârtițe par jilave, dar aparențele înșală:  copiii ridică bucăți împietrite de pământ și aruncă cu ele după broaște.

Pe malul opus, vacanța mare chiuie, azvârlind bețe în iaz și ultima zi de școală cu ele cu tot.

O familie de rațe iese de după papură călcând apa. Al optulea pui se prăbușește stângaci din stuf, pedalând grăbit din urmă.

Lișițele se scufundă după pește.

Nu trage. E aproape prânzul.

Miroase a uscăciune densă, vitală. Ierburile înalte se înclină ușor sub adiere, parcă duc întreaga greutate a cerului.

Azuriul e spălăcit, arcuit, fără nori. Ridici pălăria de paie și lași aerul să treacă peste sudoare, răcorind-o o clipă.

Libelulele verzui sunt grase și joacă sârba peste poteci.

Copleșiți de amiază, cosașii zumzăie ca pentru sine, monoton și monastic, mantra incomunicabilă a câmpiei bănățene.

Cât privești împrejur, orizonturi. Doar frumusețea asta simplă, suportabilă, eliberatoare.

Pește ioc.
 

Italy. 15 hours near Pisa

Standard
Italy. 15 hours near Pisa

To even consider a 15-hour drive (round trip) for a measly 15 waking hours in Italy, you must be pretty desperate.

We not only considered it, we actually went. Three weeks of winter in the month of May, all hell breaking loose at work and a nasty throat infection did it. We wanted Italy. We needed Italy. We found a nice bed-and-breakfast near Lucca at €120/night for four (Triolivo, in Guamo), packed a bag, and didn’t think twice.

An ambition that had been simmering in our subconscious quickly developed into a full-blown obsession. We want to see the leaning tower of Pisa! We’ve been to Italy so many times by now, how could we have missed it? I mean, it’s not exactly hard to find. It’s right there, on every children’s atlas, right next to the red Ferrari. Simply had to see it. Simply had to climb it.

293 steps and we were at the top for the noon bells! Was it worth it? Well, our son was crawling on all fours under the large bell to explore the sound mechanism, and was so excited he even forgot to cover his ears in the hubbub, so you be the judge of that.

What else was on the list? The charming little citadel of Lucca (where Giacomo Puccini was born), sun and storm in the Tuscan hills, a seaside view of the Apennine mountains with surfers in the roaring waves, profiteroles, dry soup made of fresh tomato puree and white bread, and the hot sand at Camaiore.

We only spent one night, but came home with a bagful of great memories. I think our son’s exclamation on the way back pretty much sums it up: “But we were there for 3 days!”

Enjoy… 🙂

8 strategii pentru copii echilibrați și puternici

Standard

Am primit zilele trecute o broșurică haioasă din partea Ministerului Familiei din Bavaria (s-au distribuit la grădiniță), mi-a plăcut și m-am gândit s-o împărtășesc și altora.

E despre „buna creștere” – pe scurt, enunţă 8 principii educative de pe urma cărora pot beneficia toți copiii, părinţii şi educatorii. Cu atâtea texte de parenting și păreri împărțite în stânga şi în dreapta, cărțulia asta se vrea un mic sprijin, concis și clar, pentru părinții moderni, ocupaţi, derutați și nesiguri care nu prea mai știu în ce să creadă și cum să acționeze. (Statisticile evidenţiază de la an la an tot mai multe probleme comportamentale la copii.)

Părinții sunt de regulă atât cele mai importante persoane de atașament ale copiilor, cât și cele mai importante modele în viață. Mediul familial și modelele preluate de acolo sunt esențiale (puștimea învață din exemplul trăit incomparabil mai mult decât din vorbe).

Ei bine, broșurica noastră trasează câteva direcții foarte clare și vine și cu 8 cartonașe colorate detașabile “Educaţia înseamnă….” – pe post de remindere. Super idee. Iată care sunt recomandările:

  1. Dăruiţi iubire.
    • Copii au nevoie de timp, tandreţe şi afecţiune. Au nevoie să se poată simţi protejaţi, iubiţi şi înţeleşi în familie – asta le dă încredere în sine.
    • A dărui iubire înseamnă să accepţi copilul aşa cum este, să-i arăţi asta, să-l mângâi* şi să-i spui că-l iubeşti!
    • A dărui iubire înseamnă să-ţi pese de nevoile sale reale.
  2. E ok să se mai şi certe.
    • Conflictele sunt un element firesc al vieţii. Din ele, copiii se aleg cu aptitudini sociale importante, cum ar fi: asertivitatea, capacitatea de a spune nu, de a face faţă tensiunilor, de a înţelege nevoile altora, de a convinge, de a găsi soluţii de compromis şi de a se împăca. Atrageţi-le însă atenţia dacă se poartă urât cu cei mai slabi.
    • Acceptaţi şi emoţiile negative ale copiilor, luaţi-i în serios, lăsaţi-i să-şi rezolve singuri conflictele dintre ei, iar dacă sunt martorii unor certuri explicaţi-le şi ajutaţi-i să înţeleagă despre ce este vorba, dând dovadă de transparenţă.
  3. Ascultaţi-i.
    • Lăsaţi copilul să vorbească fără să interveniţi imediat cu comentarii ori concluzii.
    • Încercaţi să-l înţelegeţi, creaţi o atmosferă destinsă şi adaptaţi-vă la copil (de la unii scoţi cu cleştele, pe alţii trebuie să-i mai frânezi din vorbit…)
  4. Stabiliţi limite clare.
    • Copiii au nevoie de limite. Limitele îi apără de pericole, le oferă structură şi siguranţă.
    • Fiţi consecvenţi şi respectaţi dvs. înşivă reguli în educaţia copilului.
    • Nu renunţaţi totuşi la flexibilitate.
  5. Lăsaţi-le spaţiu şi libertate.
    • Discernământul copiilor creşte cu vârsta; gestionarea libertăţii se învaţă treptat.
    • Oferiţi-le senzaţie de protecţie şi siguranţă, dar permiteţi-le să exploreze şi să ia decizii proprii.
  6. Arătaţi-vă sentimentele şi lăsaţi-i să şi le arate
    • Permiteţi manifestarea emoţiilor, atât negative cât şi pozitive. Dacă e cazul, criticaţi comportamentul, nu emoţiile.
    • Fiţi un model. Şi adulţii fac greşeli. A recunoaşte greşeala nu e dovadă de slăbiciune, ci dimpotrivă, un bun exemplu pentru mai târziu.
  7. Faceţi-vă timp pentru ei.
    • Faceţi lucruri împreună, folosiţi timpul cu sens, chiar dacă e scurt.
    • Acordaţi-le timp şi atenţie atunci când este necesar; ritualurile de familie sunt foarte importante.
  8. Încurajaţi-i. 
    • Copiii au nevoie să fie luaţi în seamă ca persoană, nu doar pentru performanţele lor, şi se pot descuraja uşor dacă observă reacţia părinţilor.
    • Copiii au nevoie de responsabilităţi (lăsaţi-i să încerce, chiar cu riscul unor greşeli sau zgârieturi). Lăudaţi-i nu doar pentru reuşite, ci şi pentru strădaniile depuse.
    • Copiii au nevoie de experienţe pozitive şi de succese proprii.

* poate părea șocant, dar broșura specifică expres care sunt formele de manifestare a iubirii, pentru că – se pare – uneori părinților le vine greu s-o arate:  îmbrățișări, mângâiere pe spate, contact vizual blând, înghionteli jucăușe, bătut ușor pe umăr….  🙂 Mă rog, fiecare cultură cu punctele ei slabe. 🙂

The Sacred and the Profane

Standard

“Just as a modern man’s habitation has lost its cosmological values, so too his body is without religious or spiritual significance. In a summary formula we might say that for the nonreligious men of the modern age, the cosmos has become opaque, inert, mute; it transmits no message, it holds no cipher. The feeling of the sanctity of nature survives today in Europe chiefly among rural populations, for it is among them that a Christianity lived as cosmic liturgy still exists.”

Mircea Eliade – The Sacred and the Profane (The Nature of Religion) – written in 1956

PS: Could science (or rather, scientism and other isms) supply the new non-theistic religious experience? Certain ideological positions seem to enjoy “sanctity” status, while others are taboo. There is even talk of “brand religion” in marketing, with brand communities built around a consciousness of kind, traditions and rituals (for shared memories, experiences and behaviors), and a sense of solidarity and moral responsibility among members! Can man make sense of his journey and his life without transcendence, and without a higher authority or a fixed frame of reference (the Absolute)? What do you think?

Quotes of the Day

Standard

“When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it. The highest type of man may revert to the animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny. (…) There is danger there – a very real danger to humanity. Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives. The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?”

Arthur Conan Doyle – The  Adventure of the Creeping Man

“- Your life is not your own, he said. Keep your hands off it.

– What use is it to anyone?

– How can you tell? The example of patient suffering is in itself the most precious of all lessons to an impatient world.”

Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger

Arrival: The Gift of Language (A Film Review)

Standard

Is time really linear and sequential like our writing? Or could it be, for a more advanced awareness, circular: a spherical sum of simultaneities? When past and future become perceptible and intertwined, is the present any more tangible than the emotion of a flashback or the knowledge of a glimpse forward? Is a vision, a revelation, any less “real” than what we call immediate “objective” reality?

If we were able to see into the future, would we still choose to live it? Can something or someone, once it has existed, ever slip into non-existence? And if time as we imagine it really does not exist, then are possession and ownership really possible or consequential? Can anything (especially time, loved ones) really be gone and lost forever? Or is everything and everyone just a gift.

Is conflict (especially armed conflict) anything else than the ludicrous, petty and futile attempt of an inferior understanding to “protect” an illusory here-and-now? What is the meaning of “weapon”?

Under the guise of a sci-fi action movie/thriller à la Independence Day, Arrival is the poetic unravelling of all these philosophical questions. Enigmatic and dreamy – and played beautifully in all its eeriness by Amy Adams – it ditches the fetishization of science for the more ethereal challenges of language – this system of arbitrary sounds and signs that we take for granted and which reflects, shapes, and limits the way we understand the world.

The film provides an almost mystical fusion of spirituality (albeit more understated) and science (linguistics, mathematical modelling) to challenge many common-sense notions and reawaken us to that foundational sentence: “In the beginning, there was the Word.”

The heroine, Louise Banks, a reputed linguist, is required by the U.S. government to help the armed forces communicate with an alien life form that has materialized on Earth, in 12 different locations across the globe. She must figure out their communication system and translate from human to alien and back, in order to understand the visitors’ intentions. The process is complex.  It becomes apparent that language – an element so overlooked by many of us on a daily basis – is in fact the ferment, the connector and the foundation making it all possible – from science to inter-species communication.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is not mentioned for nothing. It states that the structure of the language we speak greatly influences how we think and behave, how we relate to the world and what sense we make of it. Mastery of a language goes beyond vocabulary and syntax. To internalize another language is to receive the gift of that culture’s schemata and scripts, of their way of perceiving, ordering and making sense of the world. It is always a window into a new, richer understanding of what might be out there.

The film raises some interesting questions from semiotics, about signs and how we attribute signification, about how we decipher speaker meaning to get to real understanding (does the human term “weapon” mean the same to the superior conscience and technology of the aliens – an instrument of death and destruction – or does it mean “tool”?).

We cannot communicate (verbally!) that which we cannot conceptualize. That which we have no word, no sign for. That which our brain has no notion for. Language is constitutive. It not only describes and reflects, it creates realities. But to understand fully, we need more than signs and words: we need meta-communication, para-verbal and non-verbal communication. A presence, an availability, a putting-ourselves-out-there, emotions, trust. Successful communication is taking a chance and moving closer to one another. To create that common reality. To enter each other’s understanding and “read” each other without the mediation of filters.

The alien “ships” are indescribable with our scientific knowledge and lexical fund; they are conundrums. They are present, but they do not literally “land”, since they float inexplicably at some distance above the Earth’s surface. They defy gravity, yet there is gravity inside. They emit no radiation and no waste. The creatures’ writing is circular, it would be like us writing with both hands from both directions at the same time and calculating the exact space we need to meet in the middle. This is a powerful metaphor of past, future and present meeting and intermingling in a multi-dimensional continuum, of left and right hemisphere (not only of the brain, but of the planet) collaborating, etc.

The antithesis between the strict authorization procedure by the military of basic word lists Louise wants to “teach” the heptapods and the incontinent, shallow, incessant speculation of news channels (leading to insecurity and outbursts of violence across the globe) are a poignant reminder of the grave responsibility borne by those who deal with and in words.  “If all you give them is a hammer (…) everything will become a nail.” What we consider to be hard facts is often nothing more than an interpretation – namely, our interpretation of our perceptions. Getting to a more timeless truth requires not only interdisciplinarity, but also the simultaneous and collaborative inputs of all points of view within the same discipline, a multi-dimensional piecing together of complex threads, of different angles of looking at the problem.

It is only appropriate that the film allows a variety of different readings, too. As Romanian philosopher and essayist Andrei Plesu once wrote, the largest, most intriguing questions of life – such as what is time, what is the meaning and purpose of our existence, etc. – cannot be answered “geometrically”, because no answer would ever be exhaustive; they require parables, little stories where all facets of the truth can be brought to light without excluding others.

From a European and Christian perspective, the parallelism between the 12 alien ships (and their 12 pieces of the message) and the 12 Apostles is always at hand. As Louise begins to grasp the heptapods’ language and her awareness expands with this new understanding, as she is given visions, dreams and memories that cannot be clearly ordered on the time axis, as she finds herself solving a major conflict and preserving peace without the conscious awareness of what she had said, we are reminded of Pentecost, the glossolalia and the Holy Spirit alighting on the Apostles (as messengers, too, of a new gospel) and the Biblical verse: “… do not worry how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” Louise does not “learn” the language, she acquires it, she receives it like a gift. It begins to flow from within her, it begins to work within her almost below the level of consciousness.

Arrival also touches on the issue of prescience vs. predestination. When Louise receives the gift of seeing into the future – as heptapods do – she is confronted with all the coming pain, yet she never for one moment is devoid of choice. Ian’s question “Want to make a baby?” drives home that point. She could still say no. She obviously still has free will, and she can make her own choice, but the beauty and fascination of life and love, and her newfound sense of the overlapping and bidirectional nature of time make it an almost inescapable choice.

A mysterious, cathartic movie for all those searching for a richer meaning beyond the here and now, Arrival also brings back some of the lost glamour and appreciation for the complexities of being a (good and responsible) translator.