nici nu-i nevoie de recitire

Jurnal de bord, intrarea 9999. E dificil către imposibil pentru posesorul temporar al Auryn-ului să stabilească în vreun fel care este jumătatea drumului dintre cine era și cine urmează să fie. Spre liniștea lui mentală, își poate spune că parcursul din lumea reală nu este încărcat cu aceeași valoare plus-spre-minus a direcției. Această poveste este și nu este despre pierdere. Este, ca totdeauna, despre studiul meta al unei stări de între-lumi, în care, de data asta, suprapunerea tranziției lumilor interioare pe tranziția înspăimântătoare a lumilor dinafară are loc simultan, cu consecințele pe care acest proces de destructurare a reperelor îl poate avea pentru otolita producătoare de rău de mare.

Înainte de Paște, cu disciplină, am vopsit ouă și am făcut ciorbă cu leuștean. Ancorele ritualice au refuzat, de data asta insistent, să se agațe oriînce. Copiii nu au participat la vopsit, fiindcă au găsit între timp ceva mai bun de făcut (de plantat semințe pentru o grădină de legume, ceva de altfel util, haios și, în fond, educativ). Ciorba a mirosit grozav, fiind apoi legumită împotriva voinței de majoritatea participanților. Eu însămi, înainte de a le pune tuturor sub nas cele de mai sus, am avut un moment de plutire a coiotului dincolo de marginea prăpastiei, simțind că (știu că) alerg de vreme relativ îndelungată dincolo de sol, dar că a înceta să fac efortul înseamnă o trădare implicită, de dimensiuni și mai mari decât până acum, a pachetului de lucruri neesențiale, dar esențiale, pe care-l am de predat. Ca și cum în lanțul de oameni care-și predau găleata cu apă, îi văd cu oroare pe cei care predau găleți fără să schimbe nimic la conținutul lor, fără să le verifice critic zeama, chiar și atunci când dau mai departe numai forme, și ca atare, în operația de a testa migălos funcția a tot ce dau mai departe, mă trezesc că găleata mi s-a golit pe jumătate, fără să fi avut timp s-o umplu cu altceva.

Nu e vorba neapărat de ritualuri aici, deși ele sunt punctele unde mitul se atinge cu suprafața și deci se vede mai clar că nu ți s-a cristalizat narațiunea alternativă. Nici nu cred că sunt singură în proces, sau mai dezrădăcinată decât alții – cred că multe din cele ce se întâmplă de jur împrejur sunt reacția otolitelor colective la zgâlțâitura muchiei continentale dintre miturile personale și/sau societale. Dar acesta este alt meta.

Apoi, în dimineața de Paște, am stat într-un petic de soare și am jelit-o, poate pentru prima oară altminteri decât în vis. Am repetat, în buclă, în cap, „Hristos a-nviat!”, iar la telefonul imaginar s-a recompus, încă audibilă, vocea ei încălzită de răspunsul convins, iar în fața ochilor s-au scurs seri după seri de întoarceri cu palma încinsă de lumina apărată de vânt, turele de împărtășanie și forma de chec cu chestia aia care n-avea de-a face cu drobul , dar pentru noi era. Fanatismul perceput în radicalizarea ulterioară din jur mi-a furat-o treptat, și pe ea, și întreaga trăire ritualică creștină. M-am delimitat de bunăvoie, radicalizându-mă în raport cu forma, în măsura în care forma nu mai acoperea, pentru mine, adevărul școlii de credință. M-am luptat cu erdoganizarea, entuziast și plin de speranță, până când am descoperit că am încetat să sper. Încetul cu încetul, acasă încetează să mai fie acasă, deși sunt dispusă să prind rădăcini pretutindeni și mi-s dragi oamenii în varii constelații. Prețul pentru a-ți menține mintea-n scaun, în tăvălug, este că lași să se spargă, placă fotografică cu placă fotografică, bucățile pe care nu le poți lua cu tine dintr-o lume care n-are răbdare să le conserve în mod structural. Mai salvezi un vierme plângător, mai distrugi o palmyră, în același gest. Ende are și n-are întru totul dreptate. Nu atât a dori, cât a trăi pur și simplu e o continuă despărțire de tine însuți, acela care face ciorbă.

soylent green and the locked-in syndrome

We need to talk. And I’m gonna do this one in English, because we all need to talk and, for now, this is the lingua franca.

It is the 10th of November, 2016. Things look grim to a whole lot of people. Our children have come home from school this year having been explained that a bomb had exploded near mom’s work, what Brexit means and, yesterday, that the smugly grinning gentleman that popped up on every screen in the house whenever one went on is the new (I swear) mayor. Talking about a global village. I have cried every time.

But then again, there really is a to-do list, and I don’t believe it’s entirely Michael Moore’s.

First of all, I do not think the solution is less democracy „ because people are stupid”, as some are starting to ventilate. We are all stupid to some degree, it’s not a +/- value. The solution is better democracy. And for better democracy, we need to fix something vital.

At all times, people have been ill-informed. Nobody knows every aspect of how government works, even while working in government, as hardly anyone even knows how their own appliances work; nobody takes perfectly rational decisions, because nobody sees every angle of a story and we all are prey to tons of reasoning fallacies. In this particular instance, half of the American planet bought into a story of fearing the corrupt left-claimed elite that only preserves privilege for itself and destroys the economy (Romanian friends, does this by any chance sound familiar and have you or have you not voted for pretty much everything except Vadim in order to keep that from happening?), while the other half bought into a story of fearing potential destruction of fundamental liberal values and democracy itself (which, you may tell me, is documented with more on-tape evidence – except it is still a story about fear). Early this summer, but actually over the years, half of Britain bought into a story of a big bad wolf out there stealing their money, telling them how to live and sending them the least desirable of people to drain their perfect system, while the other half bought into a story of becoming completely bankrupt as a result of breaking up (which, funnily, was labeled Project Fear). One could say that these deep divisions are an extreme consequence of political two-party systems. But then again, the two party-systems have existed before, the difference of opinions about how to go about doing things and the balancing of interests has worked before. Why does it seem so final now?

The thing that has grown and that we have not been able to sort out with democratic mechanisms is the toxic combination of internet and media. And the toxic element is the illusion of „ free ” (in both senses).

The things I have read during both these campaigns confirmed each other at an enormous (and, I now realise, alarming) rate. At the same time, every time I have tried to consume media that the other side was reading, it seemed impossible – the degree of disgust when I even opened a site made me shut myself off, try to protect myself. „How can people buy this crap???” was the constant reaction. But the thing is, they don’t. And yet they do. That is, we don’t pay for the information, but we do buy into the content. And while a part of us sit and ponder at the vile untruths written by Murdoch’s media empire, thinking we understand what the end political game is in shaping opinions about climate change not existing, because we can surely follow the money, we conveniently feel less critical of the mogul owning the media we ourselves consume. Or, should I say, that we are locked into.

Because the thing is, as long as we accept that we are the product of the media, as long as the business model is that we have to buy into the story so that advertisers can target us, and as long as the media are not accountable to us (as consumers, market-wise) or to any public good (as a public service, state-wise), but to the money that pays for its existence, we don’t even have the thin film of a consumers protection or of legal action to keep us from the cannibalization. And as far as self-regulation goes, journalism ethics appears to have gone out the window a while ago in much of the big business (while the nonsensical little outlets proliferate without any oversight). As long as we maintain the model of freedom of expression without modifying the financing system and we do not build enough independent outlets that can make sense of data and facts that we cannot make sense of by ourselves, the few poles of influence will continue to play one another with us as dedicated, extremely (though one-sidedly) informed, ever more hysterical and despondent pawns. Our opinion gets shaped and then just mirrored to us with the bits of reality that fit the bill for it to seem consistent with our narrative.

What is the last time you have changed your mind about something? We are increasingly incapable of seeing what others are seeing in their locked bubble, we distrust the competing message to such a degree that we shut our ears (and so do the others, if you are still wondering „how have we gotten here?”). People are not voting in spite of the facts, as it has been said a lot this year. They are voting, and making general life decisions, based on mistrust of anything presented as a fact by the other side, which should feel recognizable. It is not that a side is sane and the other isn’t, although it may feel that way wherever you are positioned. It is also not that one side is informed and the other ignorant, though both cast this accusation lightly. We have probably all consumed more media this year than in the course of entire lives (which proves that the fear and anger stories are extremely lucrative for the established outlets, and politics will surely provide all the necessary puppets for them to go on, because it’s a mutually beneficial deal  – there is little doubt that we can expect more of these rhetoric clashes, and it is probably not because of essential changes in moral standards). It’s that partisan press makes it impossible to tell the truth from the propaganda – both of those being pretty debatable as concepts to begin with, if you take into account the effects of framing, the inflation of communication, trolling as a phenomenon etc. – (EXCEPT for the things you disagree with, where you will conveniently say EVERYTHING is propaganda and your opponents are brainwashed).

More often than not, instead of having different opinions about the same issues – based on different values, for instance – we have gotten to the point where we do not even see the same issues as being issues. And we all solve it in our heads in the same way: if only more people saw that the main issue is the one I see, it would be so simple! But, as is the case with talking to one another in different languages, shouting harder doesn’t help. Bombs have never changed opinions towards that of the bomber, and yelling at anyone that they are a racist (or a communist, if you will) will never make them question their position or change their mind – if anything, it will make them dig themselves in. More than that, the things we all consider important will become increasingly invisible, because the divisive model pays better. Basically, it’s as if we all got our information about the world, our future and about our spouses from our respective divorce lawyers who get paid by the hour. As far as the lawyers are concerned, the angrier we are, the more we panic about our potential losses, the better off they are. Screw the kids!

We need to find a way to tell stories we can trust because they come from sources we do not see as intrinsically corrupt, stories that can help with the translation. We need to fix the story-telling, globally.

about language as power

I love the discussions you can have during language classes. Almost by definition, the groups of people taking a language class are quite heterogeneous and, while many of the conversations you are having for the sake of using the language sound artificial and are full of platitudes, once in a while the differences manifest themselves in unexpected and enriching ways.

This was the case today, when, during a brainstorming effort about people’s associations with the word `language`, the sentence `Language is power` came up. And we all agreed that it was true. However, the teacher frowned in all the appropriate ways and asked `What do you mean by that?` in order to elicit more complex sentences and more vocabulary in, unfortunately, still flawed case forms. We formulated struggling answers. The Brits seemed to agree that what they understood by this cliche was that the person whose language is spoken in a room has an advantage and a position of power. That their language was their power. The Slovene girl said that this was also applicable to relationships, that the one who can express themselves in their own language has an advantage over the one who adjusts and speaks a home language other than their own. If the first argument made me snort a bit inside (the absolute cockiness, even when formulated post-colonially, with a bit of an apologetic voice!), the second one made me vocal despite fumbling after Polish words in my mental scrabble bag. I was ready to agree that language was power, but, to me, the power consisted in the knowing of languages, not in the imposing of your own on people who are ready to learn it.

I always thought that in a relationship where one learns the language of the other, the one at a disadvantage is the one who does not understand 100% of all conversation within a family.

In a commercial relationship, the one at a disadvantage is the one who can be cheated because he does not speak the language and therefore did not understand that the two merchant in front of him have just decided among themselves, with a big grin, that the price was, for instance, 10 times the usual – only for him. He can be very cocky, of course, that the merchants feel obliged to speak his (master) language so they can serve him, but he would then favor his ego over his business, would he not?

In a negotiation situation, where a majority group speaks English and no French and a minority French, but no English, for instance, the French-speaking group would be all annoyed at the `power` the English-speaking hold over them and at the fact they have to rely on interpreters and perhaps argue their points less efficiently because they cannot cut in sharply, but this would be power by numbers, not by way of language. The French-speaking would be equally powerful if they continued the debate in French. And all parties involved would be much less at a disadvantage if they could switch between the two languages without fussing about who is holding symbolic power in the situation.

And there it is… I believe being able to DO everything is power. Not somebody recognizing you for it. I admit that humans build a society in which power is bestowed upon you by the recognition of others, which, based upon the current composition of the Romanian Parliament, may well mean that people give power to air bubbles (this should be a concept following the mortgage bubble – the power bubble, inflated with +/-80% people with no intrinsic competence whatsoever – sorry for the aside). However, in a more private way, I am persuaded that, the more dependent people are on what you alone can do, the more power you have. If you get treated like a slave and the other thinks they have absolute symbolic power over you, but they are incapable of feeding themselves without your help, that is your power. If a government steals everything you have entrusted with them in order for them to improve your common life, and you cease to produce stealable money for them or to depend on the money they give you, it is you who have power. If you learn how to write brilliantly for the sake of the writing, not of the school prize, you have earned power – because the school prize/recognition is based on external conditions and enslaves you to them, whereas the brilliant writing is yours and you can take it with you wherever you go.

So, coming back to language, I think I have just figured out that learning languages is my form of control. Accumulating things that are inalienable, present only in my head. `Oh, no, they can’t take that away from me…` Without a they. With, as only purpose, the intrinsic value of the thing done. That is power.