Category Archives: Societate

Questions

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Setting: Catholic religion class at school.

Characters: New teacher – a man. A bunch of 9-year-olds.

Open discussion about covenants. (Based loosely on recollection, don’t shoot the messenger!)


Girl in my daughter’s class, with genuine curiosity: Why are all the priests men? Why are there no women priests?

Teacher, gently: Well, you see, Jesus was a man, and his apostles were men, and…

Several girls in my daughter’s class: But his mother was a woman!

Teacher, full of kindness: Yes, but she could not have brought Jesus into the world without a heavenly Father…

Red-haired girl: He couldn’t have been born without a mother, either.

Teacher, softly: Yes, you’re right… but, maybe, you know, if some priests were women, then the men in church would stop paying attention to God and stare at the pretty priest…

My daughter, mumbling to herself: But the same can be true the other way around. If the priest is handsome…

Boy seated next to my daughter, searching for a solution: Maybe men are just uglier than women!

Red-haired girl: But if the women were really ugly, could they be priests then?

My daughter, musing after class: What if all the priests were women? Then there wouldn’t be any male priests to tempt… 🙂


(Ah, the dilemmas, quandaries and predicaments that arise when children are allowed to think freely. 🙂 Which, thankfully, they are.)

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

River Revival

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Trying to stay in shape during social distancing.

A river, a grove, a few less trodden paths on a sun-flooded morning. Glimpses of real beauty. And a little piece of heaven.

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

 

Ballad

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We’re so fucking great

Masters of our fate

We’ll conquer the stars

We’ll colonize Mars

 

Make a million bucks

Drive SUV trucks

We’ll upgrade our lives

We’ll get trophy wives

 

Your pocket’s your Savior

Be snide to thy neighbor

C’mon, be a winner

The pauper’s the sinner

 

Forget all the ancients

Make profits off patients

We’re so fucking bold

We’re breaking the mold

 

A virus so small

Is breaking us all.

 

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

 

 

The Days

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The Days

Remember these days

these brief days

when we walked in groups of one

we gave thanks to the ones who toiled

and our lives touched each other even though our hands didn’t.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when daddy was no longer at work (yay!)

because people mattered more

than production:

we discovered we had lungs (so fragile)

and the air became breathable.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

with the deafening chants of birds, their speeches, their courtships, their pleas

finally audible,

and how we watched them build nests from our dining room window,

the whole family gathered around the table for once,

the playgrounds locked, quiet,

the streets devoid of the screams of neglected children;

the strange intimacy.

 

Remember these days,

these brief days

when we looked at each other with fear and awe

and doubt and hope and kindness

– but we looked! –

and were on the verge of rediscovering

humanity;

 

A book and a stroll meant the world to us,

we sang on balconies

while deer with unnatural eyes and glistening antlers

wandered into Nara and took the empty metro nowhere.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when the trees stood erect and reached into the sky while the stock markets fell

(not the other way around)

when the river exhaled a soft haze at dawn before the buzz began,

the buzz of a thousand and one insects.

 

Remember the days

when the engines of destruction stood still for a minute

while food continued to grow out of the dark soil

and we were afloat in the poetry of necessity.

 

Remember these days

for they will not last forever

and maybe, one day, who knows,

they shall be missed.

 

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

 

 

 

Kala Alm*

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Panta începe abrupt. Mușchii se opintesc. Se contractă, se întind. Înaintez anevoios în sus: dreptul, stângul, dreptul, stângul… La fiecare pas, talpa bocancului scârțâie, alunecă puțin în spate în zăpada moale, aproape zloată.

Lanternele rămân stinse. În albastrul de cobalt al nopții, doar stelele licăresc, neverosimil de multe. Când lăsăm în urmă ultima casă, ne afundăm în întuneric. Și ridicăm instinctiv ochii spre cer. O explozie de cioburi sclipitoare, scăpărând nestinse, picură încet peste noi, peste spinările înzăpezite de munți ca niște dinozauri împietriți sau, poate, doar adormiți. Deasupra și roată-roată, noaptea, această pânză largă înmuiată în tuș negru, înfășoară planeta. Pe ea stă scrisă migălos, cu scânteieri de lumină atârnată în vid, caligrafia trecutului, a galaxiilor ce poate nu mai sunt.

Din când în când, coboară sănii în viteză, chiuind. Copiii se aruncă demonstrativ din calea lor, în zăpadă. Apoi se face iar liniște. De-o parte și de alta a drumului: pădure. Brazi uriași, un soi de zgârie-nori vegetali, urcă și urcă și urcă amețitor spre boltă. Dar nori nu sunt de data asta, ca să rămână agățați în vârfurile lor. Fuioarele de ceață se plimbă leneșe peste satul din vale; aici aerul e clar, iar deasupra uriașelor trunchiuri de brazi planează doar, bine ascuțită, lama de secure a unui sfert de lună, înfiptă la baza cerului. Iată și Carul Mare, un Venus orbitor, Andromeda…

Respir. Buzele tale sunt neașteptate. Sărutul tău umed în aerul rece și ionizat al nopții miroase ca acum 20 de ani: proaspăt, dulce, ca promisiunea unei beții ușoare și de durată. Totul miroase la fel, miroase ca atunci, miroase ca România. În mine se trezesc amintirile, ies amorțite din cotloane, de sub plăci de mormânt, ca vârcolacii, năpădesc gardurile pe care le-am construit ca să mă apăr. Peste noi ninge cu stele; îndărătul pleoapelor închise plouă cu lacrimi pe care ți le ascund.

Cât de fericiți eram atunci! E oare cu putință? Să-mi amintesc cum se simte fericirea? Libertatea? E ceva ce mă zguduie. Mă zguduie și mă schimbă. Pășim unul lângă altul sub cer. Insignifianți în Universul infinit, dar suflete înviate, palpitând! Iată esențele; pe ce le-am vândut? Hai să umblăm așa, la lumina nopții, la nesfârșit, îmi vine să îți zic.

Dar până să vorbesc, ca mai mereu în viață, drumul cotește. Iar în spatele curbei pândește deja primul felinar: scuipându-și peste potecă aura portocalie, împrăștiindu-și convenabila orbire, mâzgălind înălțimile.

Magia nopții se sparge. Cerul se îndepărtează, stelele pălesc, redevenim mari, centrali în nimicul lipsit de acum de orizont și de vrajă. Ancorați în pământ. Umbre pe drum.

Comuniunea cu cosmosul se destramă. Iar pentru fiul meu miop, cu ochelarii lăsați acasă, ea nici n-a existat. Și mă lovește realizarea: copiii ecranelor și mall-urilor, copiii micilor piese de Lego risipite pe covoarele unor camere închise în orașe ce viermuiesc sub capace de smog și iluminat artificial, N-AU VĂZUT, POATE, NICICÂND ADEVĂRATUL CER .

Și n-au simțit niciodată ispita aceasta, ziditoare de suflet, de religii și de romane, a căderii în sus.

 

*Alm (germ.)= pajiște alpină

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved

(Post)modern obsessions

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Have you noticed how the following themes keep popping up, almost obsessively, in contemporary discourse – in the media, in the public sphere and increasingly in ourselves?

This obsession with sex – and complete devaluation of love and tenderness and commitment.

This obsession with doing – and complete devaluation of being.

This obsession with the intensity of fragmented experience – and complete devaluation of profoundness and resilience and eternity.

This obsession with work and maximization – and complete devaluation of contemplation and spirituality. Of the time it takes to realize that you have a soul, that you are a human being capable of transcendence, not a machine plugged in to churn out as many objects as possible per unit of time.

We treat ourselves and each other as equipment, as products. We apply to beings the logic of machines. We have transferred the maximum efficiency mantra of the technological sector to human life. We have internalized the algebraic depersonalisation, the callous disregard, the flattening subjugation of being to efficiency and utility present in our discourses. We find it OK to behave and to be treated increasingly like predictable robots or like working animals. Like mammals, all dapper and happy to be allowed to act out their basest instincts.

This obsession with Darwinism, with us as little more than physical organisms in biological evolution, this bench-marking against apes, not against angels or saints. This devaluation of angels and saints as melodrama and cheap esoteric – or, even, as oppression. This talk of our “natural instincts”. Nature, our nature, as a new goddess. But should we always make way for our natural instincts? Will that improve us? What will build more character and more goodness and a deeper path to the absolute we secretly yearn for?

(Is something good or legitimate simply because we were born with it? Because we acquired it? Because it is fun? Because it brings pleasure or monetary value? Are we not supposed to transcend ourselves?)

This frenzy of devaluation… No religion, but brand religion. The branding iron.

What is slavery for theoretically free individuals? According to Simone Weil, the disconnect between one’s efforts and their life’s work. (We work, but we no longer have a life’s work, an opus, an oeuvre. We expect our work to be the foundation of our identity, but in fact, so many of us no longer feel like creators. We no longer develop our being in the process of our work. Work all too often feels like odd life-draining tasks under excruciating time pressure, away from the ones we love. It no longer feels like purpose. Just endless busyness. Our work has control over us, but we no longer have much control over it.)

What else is slavery? In Gravity and Grace, S. Weil goes on to say it is the coercion to accept that “reading” of yourself, that interpretation of yourself, which others stamp on you. Having no choice or having only wrong choices. Allowing yourself to be devoured by exhausting activities, and making all this daily effort simply to stay in your current condition – no horizon, no finality, mere survival. Day to day to day. The arbitrariness of how you are treated. The dependency. The addiction.

Any illusion begins to feel real when enough people accept it and internalize it as “the thing to do”. Repeated, it reproduces, it propagates.

This destruction of the human soul…

We no longer recognize the sacredness of our own and each other’s being.

Will the human spirit ever rise against this flattening iron?…

 

 

Behold the searing wind*

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It is upon us.

Its blistering tongues lurk behind the levee,

They pounce like savage beasts

Mercilessly they wheeze

Blowing the tumbleweeds against my doorstep.

 

A goodbye kiss, crackling dry.

Deserted yards, howling.

 

The yellow earth swelling and swirling,

It is in my eyes, my nostrils, my teeth.

Every time I spit,

I spit grains of sallow sin.

 

There used to be ponds along the river

And fishing nets heavy with fish

The cabins on the lake full of

guffawing and cheer,

There used to be trees and snakes.

The forest playing organ to the gales.

 

It is gone now.

Its birds scattered

like dust from old carpets.

 

The vineyards are dead.

Their grapes, dried up and shriveled,

Won’t be quenching no thirst

Won’t be crowning no wedding

dances

There ain’t gonna be no toasts around here

no more.

Only the sheer shriek of the southerly wind,

Only the curses of the departed still drifting

across the inward-moving sands.

 

*poem inspired by this article: https://www.vice.com/ro/article/9ke3nz/seceta-si-nisipul-au-cucerit-sudul-romaniei

Copyright A. Sepi 2019. All rights reserved

 

Ninge în Rosenheim

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Cartierul e împăturit într-o tăcere mare, albă, stranie;

se afundă în înserare până la genunchi.

Lumea a devenit improbabilă, fără margini:

prospețimea imaculată a zăpezii – și restul.

Copacii sunt gheme încâlcite de bumbac alb,

din cer se deșiră în tihnă pânzeturi orbitoare și reci.

Cărări tăiate mai adineaori în pântecul feciorelnic al iernii,

ninsoarea le-a pansat cu tifon de fulgi moi.

Cicatricile orașului se vindecă.

Din scutul fonic al zăpezii se desprind cu greu: o clipă trecătoare, frânturi de voci.

Acum sunt lângă tine (te întorci și ești singur),

acum se resorb, înghițite de gaura de vierme a spațiu-timpului,

ca să răsară fantomatic într-un cotlon obscur,

departe de trupurile lor.

(Iată, cei doi îndrăgostiți râzând, aproape te-ai ciocnit de ei).

Pete negre, mișcătoare, se decupează din timp în timp de pe fundalul

monoton, de film mut.

Se nasc, apoi se topesc din nou.

Par dincolo de sticlă, par din altă lume.

Lumea aceasta s-a oprit,

urmele noastre se șterg,

(ca vocile),

contururile dure, paralelipipedice ale realității se estompează,

(înăuntrul lor locuim noi),

dispar încet

sub nămeți.

Doar chiotele copiilor se mai aud de pe dig.

Sănii și tăvăleală.