Category: Eliot


Let’s talk about SEX.

Sex has been in – excuse the pun – in everyone’s mouth. Ever since this book trilogy came out “The fifty Shades of Gray”… SM, role-playing, whips and chains seem to have become fashionable. I myself cannot say that I have read the book because it would simply not be true.

I did read other books, a long time ago and right now I don’t have the feeling that a lot is going on in the literature scene when it comes to erotic literatura, let alone the simple depiction of sex. Everything is either clean & airbrushed, or it gets really down and dirty. And in the second case, we tend to call it porno. So, when “Fifty shades of Gray” came out and it skyrocketed, it must have hit a nerve because so many women went out to buy this book. I can’t tell you which one, as it did not hit me as being a book I would need to read, but there seems to have been a huge public interested – to be fair and square… One must see that, like it or not.

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Women are so tired of the old clichés… And no, we don’t want new ones, new clichés. Neither do we want some book on our bedsit table that some might sneeringly refer to as “mummy porn”. No, but no thanks. I would much rather have some blue movies, sex books, porn magazines, some mental stimulus in an erotic story and please make it good ones which really deserve that name.

Why can’t we women have female porn too? The gay’s lib has been much more openminded about this issue than others care to dream about.

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Why can’t we women have dirty magazines with steamy pictures? I don’t really know if PLAYGIRL is still around. But I very much doubt it. And it is a shame.

When I was 22 (that’s twenty years ago), I bought my first ever PLAYGIRL magazine

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… yes, it did exist, and it is what you think it is, you can check it!!!. It felt gand it was ground breaking. I loved reading it. It was full with nice looking guys, it even had a fold-out boy, and it was a big step in terms of equality of the sexes… as far as I am concerned. Of course, you don’t need to agree with me here, but I do like to look at half-naked specimen of the opposite sex. I am proud to say that. And I don’t think it is depraved or dirty. PS: Meanwhile PLAYGIRL does not seem to exist anymore. What a bloody shame… Here are some back covers to drool over… 😉

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Why can’t women bear sex and the desire for sex with some dignity? We can’t we show it as freely as men tend to do it – without being frowned upon?

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Don’t get me wrong… except for ROB LOWE, who is a sweetie, I am not really into the cover guys… but I wanted to give you some variety, something to get to know, and some food for fantasy… 😉

Isn’t it time that we women had the same right to silly, sexy, and really down’n’dirty behaviour as men? Why are we such awful hypocrites? On one hand do we applaud this behavior with a man, calling him Don Juan, patting him on the back, whereas a woman will be regarded a downright slut if she thinks / talks / acts sexually?

Take an example: How about shagging a secretary…? a male one, hand-picked obviously, half-naked on a sheepskin, in front of a fire-place… Having a quickie with a stranger somewhere in the dark, something like that anyway. Why do we believe that the woman will take control whereas the man and his secretary is an image clichéd but accepted… ??? I don’t get it.

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So… What has happened between 1993 and now?

One would think that we as a species were a bit open-minded and could grasp the idea that men and women basically tick the same way and they both sometimes want to “get down to brass tacks”.

Excuse me. But that’s a literary quote by the way. That phrase was coined by T.S. Eliot.

Why do we women always have to pretend that we’d be interested in flowers, the newest bikini diet, cooking recipes, and shit… Pretending to be bloodless creatures, immune to carnal desires.

I tried… I really did. I wanted to be more like that anemic ethereal being. It simply did not work out. My will to be me, to be alive, to be vital was stronger.

But if truth be told: I could not care less about who may be judging me.

T.S. Eliot (as you might have noticed) is one of my favorite poets. 😉

This is one of my favorite quotations of his

Birth, and copulation, and death.
That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.

Sorry, here is a bit of history on my behalf. I won’t explain what this is all about but this whole day has been so absolutely cool. This is beyond words. A moment of bliss, true and unblemished bliss. I am in awe of what is happening right now. Once the ink will be dry I will also share it here. But for the time being, please pray for me. I could use it.

The mention of bliss is always something that usually makes me twitch since I tend to be soooo ultra cool and postmodern that I sometimes forget what this is. A feeling of untainted, of unblemished joy. Just being. And being with oneself and in oneself for a fraction of a moment.

What is bliss? A bit like an orgasm since it appears to be very volatile and short-lived. Actually, the comparison is not that far-fetched at all. When you think about all the neurotransmitters that flood the system in the moment of an orgasm it is hardly to be doubted that those same transmitters would be there when you have a moment of bliss. You can call it natural high. However, drugs are drugs. Your body will not know the difference.

The mention of death also signifies that all human life is transitory, it is a physical state that will be stopped as if by magic. The heart stops. The lung can no longer bring enough oxigene into the lungs, the kidneys no longer will wash your blood clean. Your body wears out. It is time to go.

This blog is about the transitoriness of … well of life, but of anything really. You can make a constructivist notion by saying that all pain, all suffering, all illness will cease one day, since it is transitory. That is quite metaphysical. But with the same breath of air, you could easily add that all love, all happiness, all true beauty will decay one day and hence, here you can derive a deconstructivist moment born with the same idea.

Ok, where am I heading? I am dazzled by the possibilities.

The point for me is that as much as you strive to achieve something that you deem to be worth safeguarding, something fit for other people to keep it in mind, you should not squander the best moments of your life, waiting for some dude / dudess to come around and pat you on the shoulder saying “well done” to you. Cos it might never happen. And then again, it might. But that’s not the point.

Why are we always so dependent on being loved by others?

Well, go and ask Giacomo Rizzollatti (he is the guy who found out about the socalled mirror neurons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron) and ask him how else we should start to interact as babies who can basically only cry, feed, sleep and … cry, feed, sleep… ad lib.

In order for a baby to actually make this huge step in its mental and also personality development by trying to interact with its parents by language, the mirror neurons are essential. We smile at them. They miraclously smile back at us. And that, my friends, is an evolutionary trick. A very clever one. Some species actually devour their little ones and by smiling back at us this innocent teethless smile, babies make sure that we don’t see any harm in them and procure to be clad, fed and also taught. Well. Of course, we as mothers and fathers love our small kiddos like nothing else on this world, but evolution just wanted to make sure. 😉

As we grow older we tend to forget that basically we learn through imitation just as much as our primate cousins do.

So what is wrong with that? I mean imitation?

I guess nothing is wrong, as long as you don’t claim this was your very one idea and all that. Plagiarism is being frowned upon. Copying is good as it is clear that this is exactly what it is.

When did we start to want to be loved at all? When did it take off?

I guess that is something, we started off right away. Some of us, have this urge more than others, or they express it differently, but it is something innate in the concept of mankind. Men always go out into the world to be loved. That’s it. As simple as that.

When you look around nowadays, be it at your working life, your school, your health club, your doctor’s or wherever, do you find that people look happy or rather not. This is something I have been looking into a while ago. We have never been this well protected, this well fed, this well prepared for the world we live in, and yet, there is like 80% around us (pareto principle) who make a face like sour apples. Why is that?

Maybe, it is me who is the odd one out. Sometimes, I have to contain myself not to break out into laughter so often because it might look as if I had yet to reach adulthood which seems to be paired with adopting quite a solemn face and appearing to be really serious and sombre.

When they did that class, I obviously was playing truant. I don’t know why people today are so ungrateful. They should be happy for what they have, they should not always look at what other people might have (especially more than you) and feel less of a man because they might be under the average or whatever.

And yet, that is what we are. You and me. Everyone. We all are ungrateful.

Here is Oxford definition of being ungrateful

Definition of ungrateful

adjective

  • not feeling or showing gratitude: she’s so ungrateful for everything we do

 

So, that was quite a leap. Did you notice? I jumped right there from wanting to be loved to the ungratefulness of man himself.  Actually, I do believe there is a connection. A very strong one for that matter. When man had to fight each and every day for supremacy and make sure that sabre tooth tiger did not get him this time, people were very much focussed on essential items, such as getting food, choosing the right kind of women, one that was strong enough to lkeep on working while pregnant, and also after she would have had their children. Picking the right kind of cave so wild animals would not sneak inside. You know, those were the real problems.

When I look at today’s world, I sometimes wonder. And I think what a shame that we are all bitching and moaning about so petty things while there are still people who have it hard. So, then again, I believe the ungratefulness is something very human too. Isn’t it? I would say it is.

When we go back to the top of this article there we still have this nice T.S. Eliot quote, what is the core?

Birth, and copulation, and death.
That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.

I always loved this quote. You might say this stems from being the daughter of a gynaecologist, but I go one step beyond and say, no… This is because Eliot is right. Birth, copulation and death are the three big events in life, where man does not dissimulate, where he cannot act or where he cannot make a complete hash of it.

Birth – the entrance

Copulation – the coupling / the interplay between man and woman

Death – the exit

In between, there seems to be nothing. Is our life really that empty? No, it isn’t. But by stressing these facts out of life as if they were the very cornerstones, we can feel Eliot’s deep rooted fears to really grip life by the short ones and drink it empty, the golden chalice of life.

 

We can only assume that copulation was a very guilt-ridden thing for him. Another blog entry might be Eliot, the sex and the ladies. Eliot, insanity and the battle of sexes. We’ll see.

(To be continued)

Good night! Sweet dreams! 😉

There are several reasons for this blog entry today. One of course is the anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s birthday who would have been 124 exactly today. However, that by far is not the only one. To me, T.S. Eliot has always been a special writer why I also wrote my masters thesis about his poetry (more specifically about Death in the Poetry of T.S.Eliot). T.S. Eliot was, is and will always have a special place in my personal library.

Another reason is today’s celebration of the International or European Day of Language.

A third reason is the rising atmosphere of xenophobia here in Spain.

When you look at Eliot’s probably most famous work, The Waste Land, a long poem from 1921, one cannot deny that Eliot is “the” Modernist writer of the beginning of the last century. When you read it, you have an eery sense of what he must have felt like as an American in England. But I don’t want to speak about his biography today, nor will I go into an in-depth analysis of one of his poems or plays. But instead I wanted to talk about the use of foreign languages in his work. T.S. Eliot was an English native speaker of course. But in the course of his life and thanks to a rather high-brow education, he learned Latin, Greek, French and even German. So, he was educated and he was polyglot. Back in those days, that was unusual if not somewhat unique. Plus he was an immigrant in England. He had come from his birthplace St. Louis, Missouri, to England. That must have been a bit of a cultural shock for him, I reckon.

Why do I mention this? Because in the Waste Land we have a kaleidoscope of different voices, like a radio, many voices, all speaking in their mother tongues. Eliot was someone eager enough in terms of intelligence and also with his education, someone who would suck up foreign literature as well as culture like a sponge. He was interested and back in those days, foreigners were scarce enough, so they would be pampered and treated rather uniquely well.

Trying to suck up culture and also the language –  That is something I must say that I tried to copy from him. And having said that, I would wish for more people to be much more open minded about culture, language and also people who come to their country to live and of course to learn their language.

I do find that nowadays our cultural and also intercultural digest/menu is rather shallow and the number of educated and well read people is pretty scarce. When I want to talk books, especially ones that have something more to say than 50 shades of Grey or some other book rubbish, I don’t have much choice since given my natural habitat of now 5 years, I won’t do this with a lot of people who are around me. Most of the book friends, of people who actually go out and buy books (yes, people like that do exist!!!) will be my old friends, or some funny acquaintances I happen to virtually meet through the internet or through the traffic on my blogs or Facebook. I don’t like to say this but it is true: A lot of Spaniards do not read very much… Some of them hardly read anything at all which I found extremely amazing but in a way that also scared me a little. That is just books. Foreign languages is even worse.

So many people in Spain do not even care to consider to learn proper English, let alone German, Dutch or French or another foreign language that would be a benefit to them, especially when you think that at least 85% of all the people have in one way or another customer contact and their business will be tourism related. This may only hold true for the Balearics and some place on the Costa Brava, but still. A shame it is.

Ok, slowly but surely, things are changing. Language schools are popping into existence. There are some language schools around, but let’s be honest. The level of education is still far away from where it should be. Of course, in Germany, the things are nowadays also not as culturally focussed as they used to be. The general level of education has been dwindling for the past 15 years I would think. Some Germans don’t really further themselves either, but since I live in Spain, and I get live examples every day I speak about the experiences I make around here. Especially now, when mobility is one of the key assets that today’s laboral market is demanding from us each and every day, I can’t but ask myself: why does it become more and more difficult to integrate oneself in a society as a foreigner? Why – especially now – xenophobia has come back with a vengeance?

That is one of the key questions I have been asking myself the last couple of days. Triggered by the question, what is nationality and what kind of bearings does nationality bring with it, I went one step further and asked myself why I still cannot speak catalan as well as one might expect after two years of steady learning and trying to be around a lot of catalan speaking people?

The answer in my case is pretty easy. Once guiri, always guiri. When we are speaking of the hindrances to move up in society through the so-called glass ceiling, we should add the vertical glass ceiling as well. I, born 50% Greek and 50% German, been raised and schooled and started out going to uni in Germany and then in Ireland, must state: in Germany I felt very much integrated but that was because the 70’es as a whole was a very nice decade to be a foreign kid in Germany. We used to be the exotic children. With the funny names. Which apparently, the little Greeks or Turks no longer are. The climate has changed. Pretty obviously.

And so it has changed in Spain as well. Here, you are being asked your DNI and when you scramble out your huge green certificate to show your a foreigner, there is this movement in the face of many government workers where you note that to them, foreigners are basically a waste of space. We are being asked more and more certificates, it is so ridiculous. We are Europeans. For God’s sake.

Ok, I am a big girl. I can handle the treatment. But what I can’t handle is the slightly more subversive form of xenophobia which is still alive and kicking. Want to read an example? Sure.

When I think about my willingness to learn Catalan. This is really a thing which is optional. As a Greek/German with perfectly good English and a nice professional level of Spanish, I really would have had to bother to learn Catalan. But then, since I am a language person, I did it. It felt good. It felt like a challenge at the time.

Fast forward two years, and now I can only say: You are being left alone. You are a foreigner. And you remain a foreigner. And that is something that I never felt before in my life. It is a weird feeling.

Last winter, I started out with two courses in Catalan, a B2 level to kind of brush up the grammar bits, and then the C1 course to move forward languagewise. After a record breaking 160 hours of Catalan I cannot really say that I improved very much… And that is due to what? Due to my constant denial to learn things. No, that’s for sure not the case. I really made an effort here, and I very much doubt it that anyone might have gotten better results given the circumstances. First of all, the course was filled with people my age (end thirties / beginning fourties) since this is the age group of Spanish citizens who were left out of the Catalan revolution at schools. So, there you go. One should think that they would be happy to see some foreigners in their courses. Nooooo wayyyyyy. All the Spaniards are somehow sticking together no matter how hard you try to become acquainted even on a superficial level. Second, a teacher who takes care of what his pupils ought to be taught in terms of grammar…

Well, enter and abandon all hope. After the C1 course I did at the local cultural centre in Ibiza called Can Ventosa (carried out by Institut d’Estudis Eivissencs), I must really say: it was a complete waste of time and also of effort. The teacher always spoke about things, only a Spaniard would understand. His accent was so hard to understand that it took me weeks to adapt. When I finally understood him, I noticed it wasn’t much I was missing out. He was speaking about football stars, the latest funny things the king or Udangarin did and some other really strange conversation topics. Nevertheless, I went there. Week in, week out. I am a fighter and I won’t stop going there unless I have had my chance to really get some more education. Little did I know… I should have stayed at home and tried to listens to TV3 or have watched some Catalan movies instead.

Guess what… At the end of the term, when everyone was preparing for the exams, that was the very first time we started out on grammar. I had tried to talk him into using more grammar bits which he would not do, since that would be a thing for much lower level. Now, having tried and failed the C1 test, which – given a proper grammar exercises – I would have easily passed, I feel really bad having wasted so much time on going to courses, where I did not have proper learning, where I did not have at least some social interaction… To be quite honest, there is one woman which I sometimes see but that is about it. Which is very sad. I mean sometimes it does not happen. But since I am a socially interactive person I really start wondering about xenophobia…

In Germany I never experienced this. Now, after 5 years in Spain, in Ibiza, I noticed that we are looked upon as foreigners. Ok, we have a little circle of friends, but there is not one Spanish family we became acquainted with. All our friends are immigrants like us as well. People from all over the place. England, Denmark, Ecuador, Romania, Israel, France, Germany… but the Spanish people obviously like to keep to themselves. Which is a shame.

And the worst of all. The Catalan thing that really should unite people is in fact separating people.

When I apply this knowledge onto the latest events I saw on TV, I really start wondering, what good can it do to a state like Spain when in times of economic downfall, foreigners are being pushed aside… I very much start to wonder if the Catalans are any better… I tried for several weeks to get some involvement with people who would have been able to correct my long short story or short novel, however you wanna call it, and guess what… There is not one person who wants to do it.

They say, that times like these are hard. I would say that mankind slowly loses the capacity of viewing culture, language and music as a vital keystone that they could go out and share with one another. That is something that makes me funnily enough really sad. When I see all these notices about the day of languages… that is also celebrated today, I get sick in my stomach when I see that I – after three months of searching, putting up papers and don’t know what other stuff I did to get someone – cannot find a nice person to read and correct my story… And that is not about me. That is about society as a whole and the way people tick these days.

Everything is about money. And about “Are you useful to me?”. I feel sickened. Having said that, I really do hope that one day, someone will turn up and just show me that there are still some nice people around who tick differently. Right now, I cannot bring myself to either enroll in another Catalan class, nor to finish my novel without the proper help of someone who could fill in my obvious grammer gaps.

Funnily enough, I did a test today on the internet and found out, that my overall comprehension level is C2 and my level of oral as well as written expression is only B2… And that is kind of telling in my book I would say.

I don’t want to end on a downward note, but right now, I seem to have lost all motivation to really follow that road. Maybe, the idea of writing in catalan was too big a thing. Maybe, I am just an anachronism in terms what I expect from people. When I used to study in Ireland in 1991 / 1992 there was not any internet, but there were people from all over the world in Trinity Hall. And that is the kind of cosmopolitan atmosphere I do not find here. I find it stifling. I find I am surrounded by people who are xenophobic. Worse even: they claim not to be xenophobes, when in fact they are… And they are the worst kind of all… They smile into your face. They keep telling you, how nice of you to learn catalan. On the inside, they have these stupid thoughts, that you are just a guiri, and that you are not worth their while. Like I said: Hidden xenophobes. And that is not a good thing to feel like.

Please… Don’t forget. We are everywhere foreigners. Only in the country where we were born, we are not foreigners. Don’t be xenophobes. That is the most stupid attitude on earth, just like racism or other kinds of -isms.

Never forget… Illegal Immigration started in 1492…

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