ENGLISH, LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION, LIFE, WORD OF MOUTH

On plagues and other … hopes

This is a long, but rewarding story. It can be also listened to. While you do your walking around your flat, or do something else than watch some kind of … screen.

Every story of an epidemic is a story of illiteracy, language made powerless, man made brute. A plague, says Jill Lepore, the author, is like a lobotomy. It cuts away the higher realms, the loftiest capacities of humanity, and leaves only the animal.

Every plague novel is a parable of the human condition. Albert Camus defined the novel as the place where humans are abandoned to other humans. Lepore goes on saying that in plague novels all human beings abandon all other human beings. She quotes some wise words from Camus, particularly doctor Rieux’ thoughts at the end: “He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good . . . and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

The conclusion is that men will always become, again, rats. If you think that is bleak, think again. I just cut out the parts I wanted from this story so I might be wrong. Plus, there’s always hope in the wisdom of books. And we do change the world as we do our best to survive. Even though Riux “knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of a final victory. It could be only the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.”

Listen or read – there’s no better time as now. And even read “The Plague” by Camus.

ENGLISH, WORD OF MOUTH

Women, science and poetry

I just love Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. I always browse through her newsletter with the curious anticipation of the amazingly interesting connections she offers her readers. For her a constant labour of love, for me an amazingly serendipitous discovery.

As in this announcement of “a charitable celebration of science and nature through poetry”. How does she announce it? Intriguingly:

<“The Universe in Verse” is going West! (April 18, California)

UC Santa Cruz
Quarry Amphitheater
1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Doors: 6:00PM
Show: 7:30–10ish PM
Rain or shine, news-hyped virus panic or sanity. Dress warmly for outdoor springtime, wash your hands with soap, hot water, and critical thinking.>



Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

For someone coming from a culture which does not necessarily appreciate time, except one’s own obviously, giving a time for “Doors” and then another for the actual show hints at profound social differences. The best part, however, is the last – a strong, unapologetic promise that this is a serious event which requires not only passionate love of science and poetry, but also a clear sense of humour and in-depth critical thinking. Lovely indeed.

Happy women’s day every day!

CREATIVE WRITING, ENGLISH, WORD OF MOUTH

Brexit – where to?


Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer on Unsplash

A tragedy, a drama or a comedy – depending on our point of view. Too much has been written on the subject of Brexit. And yet, somehow, this article moved me more than I thought it was going to.

What I find most relevant for myself is what Cohen says about Brexit as being “an act of the imagination, inspired by an imaginary past, carried along by misdirected grievances, borne aloft by an imaginary future. The age of impunity is also the age of illusion turbocharged by social media.” And as if echoing what is happening in many other parts of this world, he continues explaining how the real British problems have been transferred by the Brexiters on the country’s membership to the EU. And if “inequality, poor infrastructure, low investment and inadequate schools” are real problems for the British society what can we say over here, in Romania, about the same issues? The pattern is, however, the same: the blame is somewhere else, not on us, not on our politicians.

And the verses of W.H. Auden written In Memory of W. B. Yeats are so haunting.

 In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;
Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

And yes, do read the Comments. Not all the 402, just the NYT picks.