Left or write?

Writing texts with the foreseeable objective of analyzing a cultural phenomenon in a given context requires, first and foremost, the crossing of two passageways: a bookish one, paved with anthropology, psychology, sociology, statistics and linguistics, and an empirical one, built out of reality’s bricks. The two paths should normally conjoin and ultimately lead to the land of ‘explanations’.

However, given the fact that their general ‘understanding’ or their deriving conclusions can be easily corrupted by ignorance either through strong, individual biases or by uncanny, collective bigotries, written thoughts can end up imparting and inducing fiery perception-shaping emotions to the reader(s). It is a well known fact that the nascency of a socially disquieting idea is conditioned primarily by the setting of the cultural environment from which it sprouts. For my part, I have always refrained from throwing ‘darts of wisdom’ in written form when the situation was seemingly delicate. In order to make such an attempt, the first prerequisite would certainly require to be well-acquainted with the subject at hand. Simply put, mounting ‘written sieges’ against sensitive areas of thought in times of unrest while possessing no expertise whatsoever is clearly ill-advised, since this kind of acts could easily ripen into more intricated matters that (could) contain and convey too many quizzical undertones.

Sadly, however, I have become aware of the fact that many people garnered the reputation of being experts at ‘Everythingology’. Perhaps unbeknownst to them, this arrogance-laden type of thinking does not confer an openness of the mind but leads, in the long run, to utmost ignorance. In my opinion, true open-mindedness is defined by the process of transforming the questions of our inner world into ‘quests’ through the real world, both geographically and educationally speaking. In other words, we should never let a single day wane without learning something useful, as well as remembering that even though our existence is too brief to know everything, it lasts more than enough to allow us to learn anything.

Therefore, be careful of what you read. And even more careful of what you write. Because words are skilled mental kidnappers.

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Journeys of the Written Thought

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Have you ever wondered why do we always need to ‘pay’ attention? After all, there isn’t any necessity in paying for something that’s presumably free or attainable without cost. Interesting for sure, albeit marginally ambiguous, we really don’t know if we have to pay ‘our’ attention, as in paying a ruthless brain-dwelling landlord, or we have to pay ‘with our’ attention, carefully wrapping it and frightfully offering it as a tribute to some kind of mental god? Who knows…

Either way, rest assured. I will handle the costs.

Since time immemorial, good stories have been some of the finest vehicles of inspiration. Admirably representing these timeless monuments of creativity, their authors have always stood up as enchanting, yet dangerous purveyors of emotions. Pouring down from the crucibles of imagination, their works left countless great characters in their wake. Characters that we identified or fell in love with. Characters we hated. Drawing upon them, some of us ended up with lifelong mentors. Others, with sojourners in our evolution. Needless to say that in many respects, some authors truly deserve to vaunt the quality of their work.

These written worlds of imagination are, however, inhabited by yet another kind of characters… Invisible, yet surprisingly visible. Lurking underneath the beautiful parades marked by the stateliness and grandeur of the protagonists, these little creatures are actually the ones that make us plunge into the depths of every story. Literally (and literary!) overlooked by all and sundry and ultimately overshadowed by the greatness of the first, they depart by saying nothing…yet, in the process, they tell us everything.

They are the vagrants on the alleys of thought.

Nomads, in the valleys of curiosity.

Wanderers, upon the mountains of learning.

They are the vehicles in which our ideas travel and the engineers that incessantly build our bodies of knowledge.

Yet we simply call them… ‘words’.

Metonymy and Child Care: A Linguistic Tale of the Russian Bear

30 years ago, amidst the heated debates of the Cold War and the numerous satellite launches antagonistically carried out by the U.S.A and the U.S.S.R, Sting purposely launched his own ‘musical satellite’, the politically-clad song named ‘Russians’, in which he lyrically argued that the love for our children was a strong deterrent against a full-scale nuclear war. ‘I hope the Russians love their children too…’ constituted a central tenet of the composition and acts in this case as a jumping-off point to the fact that languages can convey much deeper meanings and undertones than most of us even imagine.

This is the case of the Russian word ‘Медве́жьи – Medvéd’ (en. Bear), which, in turn, is the symbol of Russia itself…and actually means ‘the honey-eater’!

Contrary to the (ignorant!) popular belief that the Russians are mindless beasts, this particular example clearly stands to prove otherwise, showing that parental love stems from the use of language as well. Like all great animals, the bear engenders fear. A fear deep-rooted in the Russian soul. This, intertwined with the old Slavic superstition that saying the name of something dreadful would make it appear, led, on one hand, to the creation of a child-friendly term, the ‘honey-eater’, and on the other hand, to some kind of apotropaic ward: ‘Keep the beast at bay by not saying its name’. However, if we dig deeper, the language slowly uncovers itself, pointing us to the fact that the bear’s real name lies ‘hidden’ in its lair, which is why the Russians call it ‘berlóga’, or the bear’s lair/bed.

So watch out, bears hide behind trees…and words!