Love – Human, Basic – Eternal?


Love is a human emotion. It’s one of the five basic ones. But its shapes are numerous: there’s friendship across and among the sexes, there’s love between parents and children and there’s romantic love, as well as bodily love, as the more ancient term has it.

Why would it be considered eternal?

Two very basic experiments and their results come to mind:
There was an ancient king, if I remember correctly, who was part of Greek mythology, although unfortunately his name escapes me at the moment: he wanted to know what babies really need to survive. He put a number of them into a secluded spot, where they were fed and clothed and taken care of – but not loved. They all died.

Now, as a myth, my readers might think, well…

But, in recent decades this has been confirmed in a most sad way: after WW II many babies were orphaned because of the war. Sometimes, just ‘lost’. But the same thing occurred and apparently people concerned found out by sad trial and error:
babies that were kept warm, clean, clothed, well-fed, but unloved, not caressed or talked to, died. Healthy.

Consider what happens to grown-ups: when they feel ready to despair of love; lonely, depressed and devoid of hope, they suffer heart attacks and die. They may, tragically, commit suicide.

Hope is an emotion that is based on the idea that good will come. The confidence and trust that loved ones can invoke.

So, yes, in all the hard times that can be laid on human beings, and for all the hard ones I’ve seen, I still think, and consider myself lucky:

I’ve seen friendship, love, care of parents and relations. I’ve learned what helped me. Close to despair one day I met a person who without any apparent reason smiled at me, a warm smile. And suddenly I realized, what makes the sun rise in my heart:
Love, unconditional, in all its shapes.

The sound of it seems to be captured in the wonderful recording of Antonin Dvorak’s “From The New World”, his symphony no. 9, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay.
An excerpt of the most beautiful parts in the first movement here:

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Distraction – Internet – Productivity – or: Us?

In recent years documentaries and books as well as blog articles tell us how disruptive the internet is to our work ethics, how problematic it has become for people to constantly check their phones and so on social media about their latest ratings, the newest trend, even if only purported, or the most scary news.

Of course, with any new technology, it is added, this means we should be careful, not to say beware: dreadful things are happening, people become dumb, or dumber through the internet, more distracted, less able to focus.

But as I posted before, history can teach us: neither these warnings nor the idea of a new technology or medium being dangerous to the average person’s mind is really new.
When Gutenberg invented printing, the church and other ‘forward thinkers’ predicted dreadful consequences, for minds as well as morals of the population.
When radio came first into being, it was a wide-spread fear that those waves would damage brains or thinking or make impotent or even criminal.
When TV arrived on the horizon and was made available to the masses, the same happened, all over again.

The presumptions in all of this are:

  • There’s an actual average level of the mind of humans that can be damaged or ‘pulled to depths of iniquity’.
  • There’s a crucial point where certain kinds of knowledge or insight might cause the ‘fall from grace’ to happen again, the paradise-situation and first sin all over again: eat the fruit of enlightenment or insight and you will be disgraced.

What all of these prognosticators disregard sadly, are some basic truths of history and humans that are not all nice to look at but still true:

  • For thousands of years dreadful crimes have been committed, cruelty and torture, by the inquisition, an institution of the Christian church, as well as feudal landlords, have inflicted pain and suffering and death on innocent people.
  • Wars have caused actions of killing and torture the average mind shudders at. Rape, hunger, sophisticated torturing, you name it. And most of the time mankind exists, there was no internet, no social media and no radio, books or TV around.
  • People, in throngs, used to visit public hangings and punishment that was institiuonalised torture, many a scary movie these days would shy away from depicting.
  • Women were called ‘witches’ and tortured and burnt at the stake long before any of the abovementioned media were around, again, no radio, no books, no TV or internet.
  • People always have exchanged sensations, told stories, true or false, ‘spun yarns’ and – looked for excitement in an often too boring reality.
  • The ballads that were sung, the shallower of the plays in mass theatre productions, ‘wall newspapers’ that would pay tribute to any of the today’s tabloids, were in abundance long before analogue or digital technology were even thought of.

If anything, in many parts of the world with higher education levels and more well-paid jobs available, cruelties have decreased – except for times of war, which ‘behave’ according to precedent – and according to crimes’ statistical records that cover around two centuries now.

So, I like to put it rather like this, as someone said somewhere a couple of years ago:
‘Smart, educated people will smartly use and become more smart with using media, dumb ones will become dumber.’

It means responsibility again, too:
the better we ourselves learn to discern and also teach our children discretion of good or bad or the best media, the more hope is in it, for all.

Talk to – Talk About – or With…?

When we grow up, we learn how easy it is to get into an argument… Start a fight, even if is the better variant, namely a fight with words, which can get heated too, at times.
And how easily we say things we don’t mean in a heated argument. I’ve posted about some of this before.
And then sometimes we hurt people’s feelings, even those near and dear, nilly willy…

The consequence often seems to be, growing up, that we stop ‘talking to’ people about anything that might seem remotely apt to hurt them. Their ideas, their needs, or wishes, or yearnings…
Instead we talk to people around us about the others.
Thus Peter will talk to Jane about Mary and what she seems to be or want – and he talks to Mary about Jane… but he will not talk to Jane about Jane.

And that can be by far the greatest pity of all, because assumptions we make in talking to others about someone else – and the very often wrong images created about those people – not only present a biased outlook on that person.
Not only can they hamper any future contact since we judge people basically by a ‘rumour’…

Assumptions are like the little story about the man and the hammer by Paul Watzlawick, a hyperbole:
the man wants to lend a hammer from his neighbour, starts remembering the neighbour’s recent looks and his own impressions – and ends up knocking on his neighbour’s door, almost yelling at him, when the door opens, he ‘well could keep his hammer for himself’ for all it’s worth!
While the neighbour mildly wonders what has happened.

Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian, famous in family therapy and communication theory, in Europe and especially the US, who published this nice little book called: “Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein”/”The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness”, 1983

Acting on assumptions only, in addition, we may miss out on the most interesting and perhaps most moving aspects and moments in life…

So, I would like to put this here:

  • Talk to each other! Not about
  • Grown-ups may surprise you too: when you believe they are vulnerable and will get angry right away, they may react reasonably and naturally, even interested in your point.
  • Anyone you would deem interesting enough to talk about could be twice as interesting to talk to!
  • Sometimes, just acting on and listening to assumptions – our own or those of the others, will block a broader view and deeper understanding.

Let’s be less daunted – talk to the other!

Athena – the Goddess of Wisdom, War and Craftsmen in Greek Mythology

Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and crafts in Greek mythology, brought to life again…in a manner of speaking.

Why ‘real’ – or ‘true to life’, when talking about ‘mythology’? Which in the tradition of almost all peoples around the globe is a ‘myth’ to begin with, something like a ‘highbrow fairy story’?

Of Greek mythology it can be said particularly well that it was built, based on what was common in the society at the time:
life, love and war or parents and children, brothers and sisters. Kings, queens, gods and peasants, they figured in it, fought, won, lost, loved and hated just as human beings did – and do.

As a child I encountered the German retold stories of Greek mythology ‘en vogue’ then. I didn’t like the style. It seemed cramped and rather bent on trying to provide a sense of blind worship for the old traditions. Typical among those that seem to hold anything of ancient Greece in highest regard without checking twice – or real understanding and a broader view.

Still, recently I came across a documentary about the Greek myths that not only was colourful, consists of more than 20 parts – but also seems true to ‘life’.

The second time after reading Joachim Fernau, historian, of hotly debated, enlightened approach, who yet successfully made ancient history come to life in his books on Roman or Greek mythology and history.
Colourful, too, great fun to read, with real insight.

Athena, the Modern Woman?

Athena is particular to me because she seems to represent a figure as a woman I feel I can relate too:
not perfect, but well-liked, desired even, yet not easily taken in – or had. She fights only in order to make more peace.
She sprang from the head of her father Zeus, reigning god of Greek mythology,  at birth, also a striking way to come to life: a father’s thought or idea…

She failed once dreadfully when killing her sister in a sparring fight, where her father Zeus interfered at the last minute, blinded her sister momentarily to weaken her and thus makes Athena kill her sister accidentally.
A little background here makes it clearer:
‘Pallas’ had been her uncle Poseidon’s daughter in the tales, but both had been raised and felt like sisters. That Zeus would interfere at all, in the tales was due to an old rivalry between his brother Poseidon and himself.

That’s apparently why she is called ‘Pallas Athena’ on most statues or scrolls or in texts: she put the name of her beloved sister in front of her own to remind and be reminded for the rest of her life.

She is protective goddess of all crafts, close to arts and although I am not a craftswoman as such, I like many crafts very well, such as knitting, crocheting, or cooking.

Wisdom, last but not at all least of the main characteristics and responsibilities of her as a figure in the tales:
wisdom is dear to me and I try to attain more, as the years pass  by, always have held in it in high regard.

Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing by a long chalk. But experience and a kind heart, as well as knowledge are the best possible bases for wisdom to come – sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

Non-violently ‘fight’ for peace, be wise, do not let them fool you and look your fellow-man – literally and figuratively – squarely in the eye, yet remember also about love or passion, quality-wise, instead of quantity: that’s what this image means to me in a nutshell. Athena.

A Sense of Being – A Being of Sense – or Why to Not Have It All Can Be More

Wealth, fame, leisure, luxury – these things seem to present an irresistible allure. In former times, the most important person was the king, in Europe. Or an emperor. The nobility after that. The craftsmen and merchants also were well respected. Some had even more power, such as the Medici or the Fugger, who as rich merchants either bought kings and emperors by lending them money. Or even were lesser earls themselves, at a later stage.
At the heart of all this is very often the longing for appreciation. I’ve posted about that before.

But another yearning shows itself: what if the appreciation of others has already been gained?
Perhaps, if the appreciation and self-esteem are in place through upbringing or surroundings, the next step in a human life is feeling fulfilled…

The last Austrian empress comes to mind, Elizabeth II., former Bavarian princess and wife of the last Austrian emperor:
contrary to popular belief she was not the sweet and tragic figure who fell in love and then became sick and had to leave family and country for health. Tuberculosis of the lung is so nice and pale and sweet and bitter, it lends itself beautifully to the stereotype of the tragically dying young lady and sweet girl.

But this is the popular image painted in movies of the fifties of the last century, shortly after the war, when people felt a particular need for the perfect, glamorous world of fairy stories.

Most of her life she spent in travelling, and building little, playful kiosks and castles. Sometimes taking on enormous, life endangering risks, such as sailing in storms that could easily have killed everyone on board.

Wrote poems of longing and more or less sad mystery, spent a large amount of time on drilling her body and eating practically nothing in order to fulfill the idea of the most beautiful woman at a European court, she had been purported to be.
She seems to have been sometimes bulimic and anorexia was at the bottom, apparently.

In a way she seems to have been what is called a bird in a golden cage: with education and a comparatively easy childhood in the outdoors she led a life as the completely ‘useless’ wife of an emperor, her whole existence being geared towards producing an heir to the throne.

Once she had done her duty, she was little more than a decorative asset. A life like hers – driven across and around the world, severely exercising morning, noon and night, almost feverishly hunting adventure and dangerous risks – begins to make sense in this light:
a well-educated human being with creative ideas and not the slightest task or challenge to keep her agile mind busy.

So perhaps, not to have everything, may be the height of existence, after all.

The Willow Tree – and the Fight for Life

I like the saying: ‘when you fight you can loose. Not to fight means you have already lost.’

I also remember the principle from jujitsu many years ago, apparently part of its age-long tradition:
‘Be like the willow tree that bends before the storm – and then darts back. Yield in order to win.’

Fighting may sound like: ‘be strong – and hard.’

To me it’s more like this:
‘Persevere – hang in there. And: don’t forget about the breaks!’

Computers, Advertisements and Pop-ups – Madness!

I’ve been around computers and digital devices for over 25 years, actively using all kinds of software, writing simple scripts, editing digital video, audio and images; you name it. As many people around the globe have these days.
If you are used to a certain way of dealing with your applications, have got used to a workflow and focus of your own, the one thing most annoying is to be interrupted at will, without your permission.

Imagine someone coming up to your desk and just wilfully blocking your view onto the screen the second you click somewhere important – and worst case scenario might be a crash and hours of work lost.

It drives me mad with anger at many of the latest product designers and advertisers who think popping up little windows and dialogues in your face at any possible moment is a nice way of letting you know about what they think important…

When I use my computer I rarely sit in front of the screen, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for things to happen…
I have an agenda, if I sit in front of my screen.
If I need to be entertained by ‘moving images’, I go to the cinema, or my TV/video-playback device.

If there’s anyone of the responsible personnel out there reading this, from the bottom of my heart, I implore all of you advertisers, web designers and software engineers, think it over:
perhaps that little window or dialogue could be made to appear somewhere noticeable without interrupting my workflow?

I’m sure you can think of something….