‘The horror of that moment,’ the King went on, ‘I shall never, never forget!’
‘You will, though,’ the Queen said, ‘if you don't make a memorandum of it.’


Sun Feb 19 16:32:50 2023

«  remodelling

Some four-five years later: I cannot sleep, because they are remodelling our building: pickaxes, jackhammers, power-drills, etc.

So I compose grandiose speeches (see TED ), eg.


I started my life with just one big advantage: IQ 142, and did nothing with it. Maybe not quite nothing: it got me USA citizenship – if that is an achievement. So I really must tell everyone about myself, since everybody is obviously interested, and will hang on my words with at least as much passion as for the words of Shakespeare, Pushkin, the Jahwist or the Elohist.

Now whatever I say should be taken as literature. That is, should not be taken as a technical writing, e.g. a manual or a cook book. Technical writing tells you what to do with what tools and what materials. You can consult it if you forgot or missed details, and it gives essentially reproducible results. The style used there may seem clumsy and repetitive; in many cases this is done by design, so the same ideas appear in the same words, for added clarity. In any case, style does not matter; the one criterion is what you get by following the instructions. In some cases, the recipes are simple enough for a computer to follow – we call that programming. It can be interesting, or brilliant, although this is certainly not the reason why it exists: only the results count, as for any technical writing.

Literature, on the other hand, is not there to inform. Rather, it uses words to direct thought to something else than death and taxes. It won't give definite answers, or specify what to do; it is just fun for people who enjoy that. And it exists for the only reason of creating fun – or, if you want an elevated term, art – with language.

Now, it turns out that language is a very efficient medium for creating fun. We all have the "native speaker's" knowledge about what can be said and how, and this certainty of what is "meaningful speech", or "everyday usage" coexists with a feeling for "special" usage.

My daughter, before she could speak, kept repeating "kika-kooka". Something that nobody told her, as it did not belong to any of our languages, not even baby talk. My belief is that she said it precisely because she never heard it, as an affirmation of creativity. Notice: rhythm, rhyme from a babbling baby. So the skill for "unusual" language is inborn, and quite active. Unusual speech, e.g. puns, or rhyming slang, is the kernel of literature. I chose intentionally unwritten forms for examples, because the oral tradition is fully comparable in extent and sophistication with what we usually call literature (the word meaning: that which uses letters).

It seems to me that literature differs from other varieties of language mostly by its unusual forms. If you have to communicate, just make your sense clear, without worrying about rhythm, rhyme, or figures of speech. And yet, these artifices may supercede communication:

Black ladders
Lack bladders.
This snippet is poetry: it does have a clear rhythm, rhyme and cross alliteration. Therefore it is enjoyable – not only for me, I hope – and, since it means nothing, how far from death and taxes!

I will not go at length about meaning and form; if the piece has meaning, and you happen to like it, so much the better:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And poisons cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live. 
My thoughts exactly! But how much enhanced by the perfect rhymes and tight, repetitive form.

So in conclusion:

Do not despise the artificial: fixed forms, "poetic diction", etc. Artificial is art, and art frees you.

Next, a huge exageration: all education is there mostly to free you, that is to allow you to escape – only mentally, alas – from the trouble of real life. Of course education has practical applications; but sincerely consider how much of what you learnt actually connects to what you routinely do, even more so if you have had a lot of education.

And finally: It is everybody's sacred duty to be exactly like me.

Thank you



Beloved wife worked as a physician for over 35 years, which I never could stop criticising. I think I understand why she did it; now I should say a few words about my point of view.

In the following, "you" always means the patient, "he" means the doctor, including beloved wife, and "I" am the all-wise judge who can consider the situation, distinguish right from wrong, and supply directives.

My idea about why anybody would want to be a doctor is that he feels that he can actually improve some patient's life, sometimes permanently. Of course, a very worthwhile and admirable reason. In good old fashioned times, he could also make some money (plus social prestige, if you care about such stuff). Nowadays, alas, medicine won't make you rich, never mind famous; but the real reason not to be a doctor is : one shouldn't throw one's life to the dogs.

Let me explain: you, as a patient, are sick twenty-four hours a day, untill, eventually, you get well. Unfortunately, your doctor is also expected to take care of you 24 hours a day. Consider the extreme case: a psychiatrist with a bipolar, but functional, patient. The doctor should be ready to answer the patient's phone calls (assuming that the therapy is not purely drug based) at any time, and there are cogent motives: interpersonal bonding, interest in the case, up to date understanding of the illness evolution. Consider also the fact that the typical hour for anxiety attacks and depresion crises is 3 AM. When will the doctor sleep? This is something that no-one can do without, although it seems to be the fashion.

Beside pitying the sleeples doctor, would you trust him professionally? Truck drivers are supposed to drive no more than 10 hours a day. The lawmaker decided that their reflexes deteriorate if they work longer, and their driving becomes dangerous. Aren't tired doctor's reflexes dangerous? And we are actually talking about reflexes, say in emergency cases, or surgery. However, brain surgery taking 10 continuous hours is not unheard-of, and medical trainees are expected to work 36 hours shifts, and that went without saying (till 2003 at least, in the USA). What about plain decisions, even common ones, of perpetually tired doctors? How many wrong? How many harmful?

Then, you might be the "informed" patient, who searched the Internet or noticed something on TV, so you certainly know everything better than the doctor. And most patients don't trust the doctor anyway – he is just after their money, like everybody else, and should be sued, if possible.

In addition, it is often the case that a physician treats patients who will not get better, with the certainty that they will only suffer longer and more. All the physician can do is basically hold the patient's hand; some are good at this, and some patients need badly their hand held, but – at least to me – the doctor's position is untenable.

I know about this because not only beloved wife, but my parents and father in law were doctors; my mother in law was a nurse. From my parents I learnt very early not to be a physician: whenever they needed to get rid of me, they would leave on "home calls." There were indeed home calls in those happy days, and my father used to go and visit patients as long as he practiced. But I decided I would rather stay at home with my children.

Little did I know...

Thank you

«  Plain history

So, I was born. That much probably you guessed; also that I'm still alive as of Sun Feb 19 16:32:50 2023 . Actually that's wrong – the timestamp is Greenwich meridian time, and by the local time Sun Feb 19 16:32:50 2023 in the far west, who knows...

I was born Liviu Radu Lustman, in Bucharest, Romania on 3/27/47. My parents were both physicians, my father a general practitioner and my mother a dentist.

I started school early, before age 7. I also learnt French , starting maybe even before school, and violin , from age 8 or so. My parents, noticing how little I moved of my own accord, got me a special instructor for gymnastics, who also taught me how to swim during one summer.

In 1958 we applied for the permission to emigrate to Israel. Eventually, we got the official approval , and arrived in Israel in September 1961 – with 70 kg of clothing . However, my parents started working right away – my mother had her private practice as dentist, and my father was an employee of Kupat Holim. We never lacked anything, and by 1964 we had bought an apartment, which was paid off before 1980. My parents also bought an apartment for me, and later another after Nomi was born.

By November 1961 I had joined a class of newcomers, all from Romania, in kibutz Maabarot . At the beginning we learnt Hebrew, then the normal school curriculum. After classes, we also worked three hours a day, and during the vacations we also worked (I think full time, 8 hours a day, as we were old enough – younger kids worked less). Great holidays! But we also got a few weeks each year to go home to our parents.

I left Maabarot in the spring of 1964, to prepare for the final high-school exam. That was necessary for college, and I could go straight to college in the fall, because I was too young to be drafted. I passed the external exam in the summer, and got accepted to Applied Mathematics , at Tel-Aviv University. I studied there till 1969, when I finished my master in math; I was also employed by the University, from 1966, getting a small salary for correcting homework .

In the meantime I got drafted, into the Atuda , and started my military training. I failed, of course, all the military courses, except boot camp. After my master, I started my military service, as a warrant officer in the Signal Corps. What I did was program computers for 4 years, the last one actually paid. I even got one day free each week for my studies, but didn't do much about that. In the meantime, I also married Liliana, in 1971. However, she was studying medicine in Italy, and I was in the military in Israel, so our marriage started in small doses – whenever she had a vacation and came home, or I had a vacation and could go to Italy.

In 1973 I got discharged and went to Rome, where Liliana was waiting for her last exam . As we reveled in Rome, the Yom Kippur war started in Israel; however we returned only after the war, because the embassy advised Liliana to stay till the completion of her course – she would be much more valuable as a physician than a student. I spent a few weeks with my military unit, still programming, then returned to Tel-Aviv University as an instructor, working on my Ph.D. It took a long time, and was even more disappointing than the master. In the meantime Nomi was born in December 1974. Eventually my thesis was ready in 1978; a few days afterwards Mike was born, on March 19.

I got a post-doc at MIT, and we stayed in Boston from 1978 to 1980. Then I got a job at NASA Langley , in Hampton, Virginia, where I stayed till 1986, with a break at UCLA during the academic year 1983-84. All this time I worked in research, publishing one or two papers each year. Liliana had much more trouble, as she was a foreign medical graduate. Finally she succeeded in getting an unpaid internship (still 25 hours a day) in Virginia, after which she got her license. But nobody would take her for a residence, as she was a foreign medical graduate. Finally, during our stay in Los Angeles she found out that the military accepts foreign physicians, even to residences, so she joined the Army in 1984. In 1986 she got her residence in Neurology at in San Francisco, so we moved there, living on the Presidio in military housing. I found a job with NASA Ames – some 45 minutes commute each way, but much fun, supercomputers, no need to publish.

But then Liliana finished the residence, and got transferred to Fort Ord, so we moved to Monterey. Although it looks near on the map, the commute to Ames grew to two hours each way; so I transferred to NPS , then to the Navy Research Lab. Eventually Liliana got assigned to Wuerzburg, Germany, so we stayed there 3 years, 1994-1997. After which she did not get promoted , so she was discharged and in the fall of 1997 we returned to Monterey – big, big mistake.

In Germany I had taught for the University of Maryland, which has a special overseas branch for the military. But on return I decided to be a programmer, and, after some unwelcome delay , found a job with Household in Salinas. That was so stressful that after 6 months I changed to Jeppesen – where I remained till September 2007. Liliana first found work for a few months in Minnesota , and because I had just got my Household job we did not move there – big, big mistake. Then she started working for the California prison system, and kept working for them, more and more and more. In the meantime we moved to San Jose, to be nearer to work – I could walk to my office, and she drives one hour instead of two (each way). Eventually I got fired, and started enjoying my golden years – brass.

And then, very unexpectedly, I unretard. Why? Just to show I can? Anyway, I'm again programming furiously, and don't notice time passing, except when I finally get home and flop like a jellyfish on Broadway.

A little more than one year later, got fired again – let's say it's the recession – but I am old enough to get Social Security, which, God willing, will start at the end of September. Maybe this time it's for real.

Glory Hallelujah! I actually got a check from them, unbelievable. Born again on 9/23/2009 – should I celebrate the date or the Equinox? problems, problems...

Even though I couldn't believe it, Liliana actually retired on June 1st 2011. Now let's see... But at least we started with lots of champagne.

Well, this time I was right: she could not stay retired. She tried her hand at insurance and real estate, at which she just lost money, Then worked again as a part-time psychiatrist, then retired, then restarted the same job... Plus the Covid 1920-1921, still going on.

I, on the other hand didn't notice the epidemy, because I never leave my seat by the computer uncompelled.

A chronological table can be found here. Unfortunately it's incomplete, because I don't have the energy anymore to resurrect the EXCEL, which by now is conserved in a mysterious combination of files, generated in ancient times, when I first converted EXCEL to HTML.

«  species

I had to copy text from allthatsinteresting.com , because the direct link has problems.
By all means connect to it, then answer "yes" to "do you want to continue?" till it has enough.

Peter Freuchen: The Real Most Interesting Man In The World

By Katie Serena -- Edited By John Kuroski Published November 15, 2017 Updated June 4, 2021 Whether exploring the Arctic or fighting the Nazis, Peter Freuchen did it all. The shortlist of Peter Freuchen’s accomplishments includes escaping an ice cave armed with his bare hands and frozen feces, escaping a death warrant issued by Third Reich officers, and being the fifth person to win the jackpot on the game show The $64,000 Question. However, the life of adventurer/explorer/author/anthropologist Peter Freuchen can hardly be contained in a short list. Freuchen was born in Denmark in 1886. His father was a businessman and wanted nothing more than a stable life for his son. So, at his father’s behest, Freuchen enrolled at the University of Copenhagen and began to study medicine. However, before long Freuchen realized that a life indoors was not for him. Where his father craved order and stability, Freuchen craved exploration and danger. So naturally, he dropped out of the University of Copenhagen and began a life of exploration. In 1906, he made his first expedition to Greenland. He and his friend Knud Rasmussen sailed from Denmark as far north as possible before leaving their ship and continuing by dogsled for over 600 miles. On their travels, they met and traded with the Inuit people while learning the language and accompanying them on hunting expeditions. The Inuit people hunted walruses, whales, seals, and even polar bears, but Freuchen found himself right at home. After all, his 6’7 stature made him uniquely qualified to handle taking down a polar bear, and before long he had made himself a coat out of a polar bear he’d killed himself. In 1910, Peter Freuchen and Rasmussen established a trading post, in Cape York, Greenland, naming it Thule. The name came from the term “Ultima Thule,” which to a medieval cartographer meant a place “beyond the borders of the known world.” The post would serve as a base for seven expeditions, known as the Thule Expeditions, that would take place between 1912 and 1933. Between 1910 and 1924, Freuchen lectured visitors to Thule on Inuit culture, and traveled around Greenland, exploring the previously unexplored Arctic. One of his first expeditions, part of the Thule Expeditions, was embarked upon to test a theory that claimed a channel divided Greenland and Peary Land. The expedition involved a 620-mile trek across the icy Greenland wasteland that culminated in Freuchen’s famous ice cave escape. During the trip, which Freuchen claimed in his autobiography Vagrant Viking was the first successful trip across Greenland, the crew got caught in a blizzard. Freuchen attempted to take cover under a dogsled, but ultimately found himself completely buried in snow that quickly turned to ice. At the time, he hadn’t been carrying his usual assortment of daggers and spears, so he was forced to improvise — he fashioned himself a dagger out of his own feces and dug himself out of the cave. His improvisation continued when he returned to camp, and found that his toes had become gangrenous and his leg had been taken over by frostbite. Doing what any hardened explorer would do, he amputated the gangrenous toes himself (sans anesthesia) and had his leg replaced with a peg. From time to time, Freuchen would return home to his native Denmark. In the late 1920s, he joined the Social Democrats movement and became a regular contributor to Politiken, a political newspaper. He also became the editor-in-chief of Ude of Hjemme, a magazine owned by the family of his second wife. He even became involved in the film industry, contributing to the Oscar-winning film Eskimo/Mala the Magnificent, which was based on a book written by him. During World War II, Peter Freuchen found himself in the center of political drama. Freuchen never tolerated discrimination of any kind, and any time he heard someone express anti-Semitic views, he would approach them and, in all his 6’7″ glory, claim to be Jewish. He was also actively involved with the Danish resistance and fought Nazi occupation in Denmark. In fact, he was so boldly anti-Nazi that Hitler himself saw him as a threat, and ordered him arrested and sentenced to death. Freuchen was arrested in France, but ultimately escaped the Nazis and fled to Sweden. During his busy and exciting lifetime, Peter Freuchen managed to settle down three times. He met his first wife while living in Greenland with the Inuit people. In 1911, Freuchen married an Inuit woman named Mequpaluk and had two children with her, a son named Mequsaq Avataq Igimaqssusuktoranguapaluk and a daughter named Pipaluk Jette Tukuminguaq Kasaluk Palika Hager. After Mequpaluk succumbed to the Spanish Flu in 1921, Freuchen married a Danish woman named Magdalene Vang Lauridsen in 1924. Her father was the director of Denmark’s national bank and her family owned the Ude of Hjemme magazine that Freuchen would ultimately run. Freuchen and Lauridsen’s marriage would last 20 years before the pair split. In 1945, after fleeing the Third Reich, Freuchen met Danish-Jewish fashion illustrator Dagmar Cohn. The pair moved to New York City to escape Nazi persecution, where Cohn had a job working for Vogue. After he moved to New York, Peter Freuchen joined the New York Explorer’s Club, where a painting of him still hangs on the wall amongst the taxidermied heads of exotic wildlife. He lived out the rest of his days in relative quiet (for him) and eventually passed away at the age of 71 in 1957, three days after completing his final book Book of the Seven Seas. His ashes were scattered over Thule, Greenland, where his life as an adventurer began.
Katie Serena
         Katie Serena is a New York City-based writer and a staff writer at All That's Interesting.

«  Succes in viata

Life achievements

Long story number one – it begins at age eight and ends around twenty six, when we were visiting an acquaintance of Liliana's from Italy, then living in Jerusalem. A lady of our parents' generation, educated and erudite, but also somewhat bohemian – a single mother. Her son, himself a psychologist who studied with Piaget, had sent a picture with a strange breed of cattle – with a horn-like hoof, protruding and curving upwards like medieval pigases . At which I had to butt in: "That's no breed, just selenium poisoning!" Because, on vacation after second grade, I had so much bothered my parents, till they bought me "Appealing Geochemistry" by some Soviet author, which I read cover to cover, finding all kinds of tales about ytterbium, yttrium, erbium, terbium, and discovering pictures of pigased cows (is that where Pegassus comes from? Or maybe pig-ass). And I did not forget the stuff either – at any rate not till twenty six.
What's her name in Jerusalem picked up the Britannica – how admirable – to check me up, and actually found a reference.

No other success like this.

Long story number two – age sixteen to forty. Sometime in Maabarot , at one of the music lessons we learned (or were taught – it's not the same) about dodecaphony. So I immediately composed a dodecaphonic piece – for flute and guitar – which I hoped somebody would play, which of course did not happen.


H   C# C  A  A♭ G  F# D  F  E♭ E  
B  A  C  H  A♭ G  F# F  C# E  D  E♭ 
C#  E♭ D  H  B  A  A♭ E  G  F  F# 
C  H  D  C# B  A  A♭ G  E♭ F# E  F  
G  F# A  A♭ F  E  E♭ D  B  C# H  C  
A♭ G  B  A  F# F  E  E♭ H  D  C  C# 
F# F  A♭ G  E  E♭ D  C# A  C  B  H  
A  A♭ H  B  G  F# F  E  C  E♭ C# D  
F  E  G  F# E♭ D  C# C  A♭ H  A  B  
E  E♭ F# F  D  C# C  H  G  B  A♭ A  
E♭ D  F  E  C# C  H  B  F# A  G  A♭ 
D  C# E  E♭ C  H  B  A  F  A♭ F# G  

That particular series, and that particular tune stayed with me, and developed, as I found out more and more about music – not that I ever could play any instrument, or read notes. I kept composing versions, plinking with one finger on stray pianos; then I bought a melodeon , then Liliana bought me an electronic organ , then...

So I had some idea about how my composition sounded, but I never heard the stuff, unless you allow for one tape painstakingly patching my one-finger organ interpretation. In the meantime Shmulik had convinced me that I must go on, to harmony and polyphony and orchestral writing – actually why not? Can't sound any worse than Schoenberg.

Well ... eventually we all got into the computer age. I had already used mainframes to compose canons (optimize harmony over offsets and transpositions) but dawn really dawned when I got my first PC, a Commodore of blessed memory in 1983. It really played on three voices with several tolerable, variable timbres! All I needed was a free TV.

So I beat on the computer, and after years? months? of joyful creation I could enter the whole gavotte from Bach's French suite no. 6 (after the final tinkering of a scale algorithm !KY 4# ) and then listen to it! Glory! After some more years? months? of joyful creation I finally heard my compositions, played correctly in tempo (the damn fugue takes about three minutes, and I never found a pianist to waste those three minutes for me).

I progressed (progressed!? can that really be? but computers are the only known thing that becomes better and cheaper with time, so maybe, maybe...) from Commodore to Mac to IBM PC+Soundblaster, and had I not lost my programming knack, I would probably by now be working on the Perl/Java/Prolog version of the music editor. And, thank you Shmulik, I have my orchestral piece, with harps and timpani – all fake and sounding awful, but what a nice routine for harp glissando on the Soundblaster.

So I have actually fulfilled my dream, should stop whining.

And I remember yet another success in life. When I started my military service as a programmer, the whole unit had just one room for some ten people, so all the non-essential personnel got exiled in an apartment outside the base, where we had the time of our life. So, until they finally got space for everybody on base, I could impress a few kids, right out of high school, with my masters degree, my exalted military rank and my knowledge of bridge. Of course, I was just as impressed by the fact they were impressed. As my words passed for the wisdom of ages (I was 5 years older), one of them repeated at home my favorite saying:

.קשה להיות יהודי, לעומת זאת לא כדאי
It's hard to be a Jew, but, on the other hand, not worthwhile.
And his grandfather the Rabbi heard, and had a hissy fit! A corruptor of youth – Socrates and me!

«  Then I thought some more about Orwell, Dickens, idleness

A longer quote from the essay:

... He has an infallible moral sense, but very little intellectual curiosity. And here one comes upon something which really is an enormous deficiency in Dickens, something, that really does make the nineteenth century seem remote from us – that he has no idea of work.

With the doubtful exception of David Copperfield (merely Dickens himself), one cannot point to a single one of his central characters who is primarily interested in his job. His heroes work in order to make a living and to marry the heroine, not because they feel a passionate interest in one particular subject. Martin Chuzzlewit, for instance, is not burning with zeal to be an architect; he might just as well be a doctor or a barrister. In any case, in the typical Dickens novel, the deus ex machina enters with a bag of gold in the last chapter and the hero is absolved from further struggle. The feeling 'This is what I came into the world to do. Everything else is uninteresting. I will do this even if it means starvation', which turns men of differing temperaments into scientists, inventors, artists, priests, explorers and revolutionaries – this motif is almost entirely absent from Dickens's books. He himself, as is well known, worked like a slave and believed in his work as few novelists have ever done. But there seems to be no calling except novel-writing (and perhaps acting) towards which he can imagine this kind of devotion. And, after all, it is natural enough, considering his rather negative attitude towards society. In the last resort there is nothing he admires except common decency. Science is uninteresting and machinery is cruel and ugly (the heads of the elephants). Business is only for ruffians like Bounderby. As for politics – leave that to the Tite Barnacles. Really there is no objective except to marry the heroine, settle down, live solvently and be kind. And you can do that much better in private life.

Here, perhaps, one gets a glimpse of Dickens's secret imaginative background. What did he think of as the most desirable way to live? When Martin Chuzzlewit had made it up with his uncle, when Nicholas Nickleby had married money, when John Harman had been enriched by Boffin what did they do?

The answer evidently is that they did nothing. Nicholas Nickleby invested his wife's money with the Cheerybles and 'became a rich and prosperous merchant', but as he immediately retired into Devonshire, we can assume that he did not work very hard. Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass 'purchased and cultivated a small farm, more for occupation than profit.' That is the spirit in which most of Dickens's books end – a sort of radiant idleness. Where he appears to disapprove of young men who do not work (Harthouse, Harry Gowan, Richard Carstone, Wrayburn before his reformation) it is because they are cynical and immoral or because they are a burden on somebody else; if you are 'good', and also self-supporting, there is no reason why you should not spend fifty years in simply drawing your dividends. Home life is always enough. And, after all, it was the general assumption of his age. The 'genteel sufficiency', the 'competence', the 'gentleman of independent means' (or 'in easy circumstances') – the very phrases tell one all about the strange, empty dream of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century middle bourgeoisie. It was a dream of complete idleness.

But I think that this is just another version of "and they lived happily ever after" from the fairy tales. The novel has to end somewhere – a formal requirement that turns it into a work of art, rather than a newspaper column – and the total stasis "nothing ever happens" is the equivalent of a musical full cadence. It is quite clear to me that in order to live happily work has to be banished, because, after all, work is what you don't want to do, but must. It's not that Dickens has no idea of work – he has my idea of work.

The same, more geometrico:

AxiomHappiness is the state which you don't want to change.

AxiomArt must contrast with real life.

Theorem.  A story must end.
–  Why must a story end?
–  Because of
practical considerations. Besides, it is a work of art.
–  So?
–  A work of art must contrast with real life. In real life there are all kinds of things happening haphazardly. Since the story deals with somewhat plausible "real" events, it needs an obvious structure to contrast with life. So it has
a beginning, a middle and an end.

Theorem.  A story cannot end unhappily, unless everybody dies (your typical tragedy).
–  Why can't it end unhappily?
–  Because happiness is the state which you don't want to change. So if there is unhappiness, and somebody can do something about it, there will be change, and the story cannot end, but should go on describing it.

Theorem.  If a story ends happily, it shows " ... the spirit in which most of Dickens's books end – a sort of radiant idleness ... "
–  Why idleness?
–  Because this is precisely what happiness means: a state you don't want to change, and don't have to change, so nothing is done.

Now here is a possibly original idea, expressed twice, first in 100 words, then in 200. I thought I had something to say about the oyster bed, and I would have written an essay myself, if I could. But all I can do is explain my idea till it is clear (read: clear to me) then write it down. Basically, the text just gets shorter, certainly not an essay.

How I killed myself

At ripe old age, but after deliberate preparations. Because a long time ago, at the arts and crafts shop,
I had found some wood-carving tools, which I deemed just perfect for cutting one's wrists. So I bought the pack, and kept it for a few years, should the occasion arise. The basic project was to go to a hotel, get drunk for courage and vasodilation, and bleed in a hot tub, leaving a note "Sorry for the mess".

But the real stuff was simpler: enough to remain in the car, somewhere on a countryside road, and instead of bathtub I can turn on the heat, if needed.
I bought a bottle of Hennessy, which I thought was whisky, but turned out to be good cognac, and I filled the gas tank. I would also take some money from the ATM, but I couldn't manage the prompts. So I left, and drove 100 miles, to get somewhat lost; I was considering on the way that if I could find a good reason to wake up tomorrow, I can return.

After which I stopped, gulped some cognac, and opened my suicide kit. Surprise! all the cutting edges sharp as grandma's arse! With great effort and supreme will ( and surprisingly little pain ) I slashed both wrists at the pulse. I even think I saw the blood splashing — not just pouring — as a cut artery is supposed to do. I also tried to cut my carotid, but the blunt gadgets didn't even scratch my skin. I got an intimation that the suicide will succeed like all my other enterprises, but — hope springs eternal! — I drank some more cognac, sat at the driving wheel, with the hands down and the feet up. I was expecting to lose consciousness, and to be eventually found in some state of putrefaction.

Nothing of the sort! At some moment I slipped into a more comfortable position, fell asleep, then woke up, no longer bleeding, the world to come yet to come.

Incomplete suicide is merely another method to beg for attention, as any silly baby or pet does. Where shall I take self-esteem from, if I am unable even to kill myself, after planning and preparations! But our mistakes teach us. Next time Liliana gets fed-up with me, I'll dispatch myself more efficiently.

Let's now go on with the story, with life successes — as death eludes me! As I slept, the car battery emptied, so it was cold and dark — not quite, there were lights from Hwy 101, too near my remote hiding corner. I had a gizmo to restart the engine, that I had used before, but I could not remember at all how. I decided to wait till morning, so I could see, but could not stand the cold. So I started fitting the gizmo to its cable, by touch, and surprise! it has a prompts window, which even gives some light. So I opened the hood, found the connections and started the engine. Full of pride, I turned on the heating and went home. All the way I asked myself what the time might be, as the car panel did not light up and the nightscape is the same at 8PM or 3AM.

The whole escapade took 12 hours: I left home at 6PM and return at 6AM. Since noon, and for the whole duration, I ate nothing, and only drank cognac — maybe a cup. I felt no hunger or thirst. When I started back to San Jose, I was completely sober: while sleeping and pissing a few times, the alcohol had left my body. And its calories fed me. On my return road, I pondered about drinking same coffee and eating something — maybe it's one AM and I don't want to fall asleep while driving. But, had I found something open, I couldn't enter, all splattered with blood, so I would have to use take-out, if they had it, too complicated ...

As for feelings, I had a clear, focused mind, fully knowing what I want to do, even doing that (which counts as joy or play in my philosophy). Plus the euphory that it's finally over, there are no more responsibilities, nothing to be done. I can dirty everything with blood, wreck the car, nothing matters (now I have to wipe inside and out the damn car; however beloved wife took us to a car clean).   Plus the comfort zone I fell into when I realized I'm exactly in the same familiar situation that I got accustomed to and I hate so much: try and don't succeed ( unheard of! )

Now for the expert opinion: Beloved wife says that the insensibility to pain, thirst and hunger is an effect of adrenalin; and even the mental clarity and desire of action. Il Duce ha sempre raggione! For myself, I am always on guard against adrenalin, what I want is ataraxia and free will each and every moment, never ever "fight or flight". So I had a very uncommon experience.

And all cavillers will say that I slit my wrists just to have a neat tale to tell afterwards.

So I started again to walk "for my health" but mainly beacuse this summer was really cold, so I wouldn't end as a grease stain. And this time I have a camera, so I took a lot of pictures, and then tickled them as much as possible, and added text...

All about profound philosophical questions:


Follow the intrepid explorer


These are my basic itineraries.

The red one gets to a nice park, passing through a region of villas on Margaret and 16th streets. It's the default for when I'm not in the least adventurous. At my crawling pace, about 30 minutes.

The green one is the "South" itinerary. Not much to see there, except the trees in Kelley park. That park is very nice, with a lot of shade, a Japanese Koi pond, etc. There is also a kids' amusement park, where I think I took Rhys once.

This is the adventurous route: I went south to Keyes, and then took a path through the fields, to see where it might lead. Eventually it goes under Rt 280, ending in another small park in the center of some development. On the way I passed some bums encamped in the shade, with their treasure bags, etc. Afraid?

Basically, I had seen the path, a bridge over the local ravine (the green meander in the map) and wheel tracks, so I knew it could not be too savage. The biggest danger would be a deadend, and having to go all the way back.

This is an unclosed path, from the south tip (home) to SJSU library at the north tip. I walked it a few times, mostly to hide in the library when our aircondition was dead. Beloved wife came later, after her sports and shopping, to take me home.

Here I walked a little on 9th street. The point being that I crossed 10th and 11th, which have really bad traffic; I can't decide which way is worse, cross on foot or drive across. Maybe on foot it is a little safer, the drivers worry more about pedestrians and estimate better their motion.

Most of these walks start (and end) with crossing Rte 280 under the bridge, where you can usually find a hobo with his shopping cart. The houses around have low value, because of the noise and the pollution from the highway, and look accordingly. It's the right place for garbage, low maintenance, and lots of tenacious plants which thrive, and even look pretty. Then, the whole region away from 10th and 11th is peaceful, manicured, sometimes manorial. Almost no traffic – some streets have islands to slow down cars – and very few people, with two exceptions: gardeners/trashmen and students walking to SJSU.

Still, one day I met with blinking police cars, armed SWAT people lying among the roses ... all in an eerie silence. I went on, it's beneath me to notice reality; it was just an exercise, and of course they had picked a pleasant and calm neighborhood.

« Dreams

I was, of course in my house in Bucharest. Then, with my mother and Mike, in a tram going towards my school. But I only had my pajamas on, so I had to take the tram back home, to get dressed. Mike got down and I followed, although it was before our station. Also, somehow I was on the wrong side of the street, left – the trams ran on the right side. Never mind, I can go the rest on foot, carrying a suitcase on wheels. Mike walked in front of me, very fast and soon disappeared completely.

Finally I got to our station, which was across a plaza from my house. I was surprised I did not recognize the place – I told myself I had never seen it from that perspective in 60 years... Then I had to cross the plaza. It had all kinds of traffic islands and green spaces being built , so I started to find my way – with my suitcase – in a really bad traffic; I found myself twice on top of a bare plot, which was being prepared to become a park, but I could not cross it, just went around, and it kept getting higher – I could not get off either. There were also lots of huge trucks carrying asphalt and cement for the construction, and quite likely to run me over, or dump their load on me. Finally I got on the sidewalk, still across the house, and as I stopped for a moment my suitcase rolled over and hit some people. I apologized, and walked around the square, with big problems of crossing two streets, till I finally got home – the building had been changed, and I could not recognize it well, except by the address. Finally I got in and was telling my mother what an adventure it was to cross the square – when I found myself outside again, pulling the suitcase over hot, freshly poured asphalt. At which I woke up, very hot.

In reality, there was a square in front of my house, and that tram station was on the opposite side. There was not much traffic, but four tram lines across the square, so one had to walk around. There were indeed three streets to cross.

As for the meaning of the dream, alas, too clear: danger, danger, cannot, cannot.

«  ... won't be taken to the military, even if I return to Israel...

...so I was with my friend Bibi in Bucharest, on his terrace, and I had just got a call for a stress test of the Army – basically for a run. But I cannot run, I had a heart attack etc... I rushed to my mother to get a medical exemption, very vehement: "Don't you know what they want to do to me?!" But even the doctor's note did not help – the commander insisted that I must run, even sick, even sixty... I woke up very upset.
I dreamt this quite recently, a few months after writing I'm no longer afraid of basic training.

Yesterday I was arranging some the South-America pictures, including some folk dances :

nicaragua dance

Although the pictures – newimproved, of course – look decent, I was not impressed in Nicaragua. So I arranged a much better performance in a dream:

We were visiting a music and ballet school, where the students started as small children, continuing till adulthood. They were having a big presentation, in a strange auditorium, with a tilted scene.

tilted scene

I told myself that just climbing to backstage top would certainly keep them in shape. There were hundreds of dancers, and lots of instructors, whispering "Keep your head up! Chest straight!" Colorful costumes and great choreography (ha! ha! by ME !! unless the dream is truly a message from above)

Now it is possible, in a dream, to tell yourself "it's wonderful!" and enjoy, without actually supplying wonderful items. But I remember (vs making up now) details:

  • a complex turning maneuver (each dot a dancer)


  • a big shawl, black on one side, white on the other, that the dancers carried to change color in mid-dance

The dream was, of course, much more complex: at one point we were viewing the show from balconies, which had no guards and I was afraid to fall; I picked one of the costumes and was worrying where to return it; there were also student orchestras...

So I found one more thing to boast about : dream talent.

«  ... contorted numeral systems just make me livid.


Real life is what kills you. Reality is public enemy number one. So there are actions, or attitudes, specially contrived to assist the spirit (duh!) in its struggle against reality. For lack of better terms, and with characteristic modesty, I shall call that livity – not levity, although the former often leads to the latter. Maybe lividity : being enraged; furiously angry...

Livity has a venerable history. Just think of the Norse god with nine mothers, visualize his coming out – in bits and pieces? – out of nine cunts... Or the wonderful ingredients for the chain to hold the wolf Fenrir:

So it is not my invention, but what are my contributions? Or at least some of my techniques for my own life (do I have a life?)

«  could I tell everything my father did right?

Where I made a long pause, till I finally noticed that today is Father Day, so maybe I really should...

First, a big splotch of greasy schmalz: when I think of my father I get an immediate association with Mozart's c-minor concerto (tell that to the Marines! all fine Mozart connoisseurs). It starts with abrupt, furious music in the orchestra; the piano's answer is an unrelated melody, conciliatory and appropriately melancholic. This is how I would begin my rants about the universe, which, as always, had failed to satisfy my heart's desire. My father would talk about anything else, but he did talk with me. For instance, a diatribe against noisy neighbors and rug beating housewives evolved into a detailed discussion of sonic insulation. So with him I knew I was not alone in the world, and after our discussions felt much better.

And he had made all kinds of experiments for me and Justi, when we were small. For instance, a swimming fish – see the picture.

It's just a thin cardboard cutout, and, as it floats on water, you put a drop of oil in the hole H and the fish moves by reaction, as the oil flows along HT. But my father made the fish tail asymmetric, so it will move in circles! He also made us an apparatus to decompose water, using one of my mother's novocaine tubes and a battery. After a while enough gas gathered in the tube that we could light and explode with a neat pop! And many other simple tricks like skipping pebbles on a pond or blowing soap bubbles full of cigarette smoke.

But his specialty was shadow play: cut a silhouette, bend it a bit and glue it behind a sheet of paper. Then, when you move a candle behind the silhouette, its shadow moves gracefully on the paper. Very appropriately, he made such a Turkish belly dancer as our train was entering Istanbul, on our way to Israel. How? did we have scissors with us? And for one of my birthdays he had built a whole ballet of shadow dancers, after a photo from the opera program of "Lakme".

And I think that he enjoyed these games at least as much as we did. So, much later, I bought for Mikey by mistake a car model, which had over 200 pieces to be assembled in the right order, using some poisonous glue (adult supervision required! Mike was 3 or 4 at the time) So clearly, that was reserved for my father, when they would visit that summer, but he died in the spring – more ore less on Israeli Independence day, making Freud grin in his grave.

And yet... maybe I protest too much. A long time ago, when I was seeing a psychiatrist along with beloved children, I had also been talking a lot about my father, at which the doctor asked for one of his photos. Which I did not bring to the next meeting – I had completely forgotten. I was rather shocked when I realized what had happened, but the psychiatrist said nothing – had he also forgotten? Only in books you say "Hello!" and the doctor instantly replies with a lengthy and insightful analysis of your character, fate, and place in the overall design of creation. By the way, I had bought "What do you say after you say hello?" with the plain expectation to get some practical answer, because I always have had huge problems with small talk.

        years later...

I realized that even in these memoirs there is no picture of my father... Well, now there is:

«  my parents still had their medical offices
parintii mai aveau cabinet particular – adica doua camere la noi acasa,

This is a plan – not accurate , but representative – of our apartment in Bucharest. My father had bought it, and my mother came to live there when they married. It was part of a big house, with yard and garden and a few smaller buildings attached. This is where I was born, and where I lived till we left for Israel.

Nothing special about my first home, except that I dream of it almost every night. I very seldom dream of my parents' house in Israel, and practically never of any other house I lived in.

So, a lot of details:

(1) is the entrance hall, a big empty room at street level with a decorative cement floor. Probably supposed to be a shop, but, as far as I remember, was always just an empty room. The rest of the apartment was on an upper level, connected by the curved stairs.

(2) was my grandparents' room.

(3) was my father's medical office. That was a truly fascinating place, with an X-ray machine, an ob-gyn table and a desk with bookshelves full of thrilling medical books. On the desk there was a microscope, that my father sometimes let me look through. He also used to show us kids the skeletons of our hands on the X-ray screen – they were not so afraid of radiation in those days. And, as a testing device for X-rays, he had a neon tube which he made shine for us.

(4) is where we lived. This was the bedroom – my parents had their bed in one corner and I had mine in the other corner; I also had a desk to do homework. In addition, it was the main entertainment room, with a big extendable table, fancy upholstered chairs and a big fancy chest of drawers. It was a particularly big room – we had our new year's parties there with about 20 people around the table.

(5) was the waiting room for my parents' patients. In the corner, near the door to (4) was the coat rack I used to climb on .

(6) was my mother's dentist office. Of course there were joy rides up and down on her adjustable dentist chair, a glass cabinet with lots of mysterious stuff , and the lure of gold (they made gold teeth in those ancient days). From time to time, the internal revenue people came and sealed my mother's office – they did not trust her bookkeeping , or were actually suspicious of her gold accounting; that made me even more curious. One day I even asked her: "I won't tell anyone, please, tell me mommy, are you a gold trafficker?"

(7) was another hall, connecting to the kitchen and bathroom, with an exit from the apartment at the end. It had windows all over, towards the yard; actually there were other parts of the building across.

(8) was the kitchen

(9) was the bathroom and toilet

(10) and (11) we used as pantries and storage areas, although they had special equipment: (10) had a sink, so it could be used as a kitchen, and (11) a toilet. Somehow the idea of two toilets in the same house did not fit – we never used (11), just waited for the main bathroom to be free.

Now I should mention that under communist law, the house did not belong to us – although my father had bought it – but to the government. So, when my parents had to close their private practice, two rooms became "available". I moved to my mother's former office, and grandma moved to my father's former office; the farthest room (2) was given to some other family. In order not to fight over the kitchen, we also gave them room (10); however all of us still shared the same bathroom/toilet.

«  in Brussels during my grand tour .

The Grand Tour was a European travel itinerary that flourished from about 1660 until the arrival of mass rail transit in the 1820s. It was popular amongst young British upper-class men and served as an educational rite of passage for the wealthy. Its primary value lay in the exposure both to the cultural artifacts of antiquity and the Renaissance and to the aristocratic and fashionable society of the European continent. A grand tour could last from several months to several years.

says the Wikipedia.

So in the spring of 1968 we had an unexpectedly long vacation – 4 weeks or so, and I decided to see the world. On my own earnings – that was what my salary could be used for: enough for fun, sadly insufficient for any serious purposes. I got the permission from the military, bought cheap student tickets and set on my second international trip – the first had been leaving Romania, 7 years before. All the necessary information I gathered from "Europe on $5 a day" – not quite practical even then.

Our plane was antiquated enough to have a breakdown between Tel-Aviv and Basel; I remember seeing the propeller in front of my seat stop in mid air, but was not particularly impressed. Then we landed in Athens, and waited till they fixed the plane. I found everything so exciting, because unexpected. We never moved from one waiting room, where I tried to read the Greek signs (I knew Greek letters from math). For instance, "grammatokivotos" – something to do with writing, "gram-" like grammar or graphics, and "chivot" in Romanian is a closet for precious things. So, clearly, "grammatokivotos" is a mailbox – as may be verified by inspection.

Eventually we got to Basel. The hotel that "Europe on $5 a day" recommended matched the price: a few beds in a room where some stinkingly unwashed people slept. Talk about the aristocratic and fashionable society of the European continent. But who cares! across from the hotel there were houses from 1528! In the museum, douanier Rousseau! etc. etc.

Then I took the train to Brussels to my uncle, and from there took a few trips to Holland, Paris and London. I went to all the recommended places: Bruges, Louvre, Place Pigalle, British Museum, tulips in Holland at Keukenhof, the Grand Place in Brussels, etc. In London I got to see "The importance of being Earnest", and in Paris got "Faust", at the old imperial opera, the one with Chagall on the ceiling. On my $5 budget, I sat in absolutely impossible places – e.g. at the opera in the back of a private box third tier by the stage, where all I could see was the four people in two rows in front of me. There was, however, a plush bed – opera was not just for the show. Eventually the people in front of me got fed up and left, so I moved to their seats, right above the timpani. I had a great desire to drop a coin on the drum, just to hear the boom – but wisely refrained.

I also tried every exotic and non kosher thing I could: mussels and snails and puppy dog's tails, Parisian crepes and raw oysters. In London I tried a Chinese and an Indian restaurant, because, as the guide explained, "there is no English cuisine".

Come to think of it, this was the only time in my life that I was on my own, which of course added to the exhilaration.

«  ... Papina could speak some Russian

My knowledge of Russian is perfectly summarized by the poet:

Да помнил, ведь не без греха,
Из Энэиды два стиха.
which should have been:
Да помнил, хоть не без греха,
Из Энэиды два стиха.
I can remember (not without mistakes, as you can see above) two verses from Onegin. Actually, a whole stanza:

Мой дядя самых честных правил
Когда не в шутке занемог
Он уважать себя уставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
Его пример другим наука;
Но боже мой, какая скука
С больным сидеть и день и ночь
Не уходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживотным добавлять
Ему подушки подставлять
Печално принести лекарство
Вздыхать, и думать про себя:
Когда-же черт возмет тебя!?
Babel Fish thinks that means:

My uncle of the most honest rules 
when not in the joke fell ill 
He to respect himself set
And it could not better invent. 
Its example to others science; 
But God is my, what boredom
With the patient to sit and day and night 
departing not to step away! 
What low insidiousness 
By half-animal to add 
To it pillows to substitute 
[Pechalno] to bring medicine 
to sigh, and to think about itself:
When however features it [vozmet] you!?

Again, it should have been:

"Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог
Он уважать себя заставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
Его пример другим наука;
Но, боже мой какая скука
С больным сидеть и день и ночь
Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживого забавлять
Ему подушки поправлять
Печално подносить лекарство,
Вздыхать и думать про себя:
Когда же черт возьмет тебя!"
Babel fish a bit cleaner
" My uncle of the most honest rules,
when not into the joke it fell ill,
It made it necessary to respect itself
And it could not better invent.
Its example to others science;
But, God is my, what boredom
With the patient to sit and day and night,
moving away not to step away!
What low insidiousness
Half-dead to amuse,
To it pillows to repair,
It is sad to bring medicine,
to sigh and to think about itself:
When features takes you! "
My uncle, a man of the most honorable principles,
When he fell seriously ill,
Set himself up to be estimed.
He could not have contrived anything better.
Let his example be a lesson for others.
But, oh my God, what annoyance
To sit with the sick man night and day
Not moving even a step away!
What base cunning it is
To amuse the half-living,
Arrange his pillows,
Mournfully bring his medicine,
While sighing and thinking for oneself:
When will the devil finally take you?!

Surprisingly, Babel Fish is about as wrong as me, although it has a much better lexicon. I know enough grammar to recognize "ni shagu" as a negative genitive with the less common ending u, but I can't, for the life of me, distinguish between zastavil/ustavil/vystavil or dobavljatj/zabavljatj – these prefixes carry the meaning of "under" in understand, although the experts are of a different opinion. Sometimes it doesn't matter much, like "podstavljatj", which is the usual verb for "substitute", and also means "put under", but "dobavljatj = add" and "zabavljatj = amuse". Then I mangled some cases shutku/shutke zhivotnym/zhivotnomu, not to mention that I brought in "animal=zhivotnoe" instead of "living=zhivyj". And I misspelled vozjmjot. And God knows what else. However I probably wouldn't mix up the devil (chjort) with the genitive plural of "cherta = feature, trait", mostly because I just found out about cherta.

Now the very interesting question comes up: how come that , ignorant as I am, I can enjoy these verses so much? The verses hooked me to Pushkin, just like

In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind
convinced me Goethe really was all they said. I don't know German either (except two poems by heart) but the sound seemed to me outstanding – is it outstanding to a German, or just a regular phrase, not particularly suggestive of wind or dry leaves?

«  ... 99% feus adolescents a la trique

Just say this in French, to convince yourself of the imbecility of the language: four twenty nineteen (Four score and seven is a flower of rhetoric, acceptable or admirable because of rarity; quatre-vingt-dix-neuf is the only way to say it in French, unless you're a reasonable Swiss: nonante-neuf )

But of course
There is worse
On peut compter a rebours: here are the Hindi numerals. Notice the formation of 19, 29, 39, ... 79 from the next multiple of ten, and how the pattern breaks at 89, 99:

units ten, teens twenty+ thirty+ forty+ ... seventy+ eighty+ ninety+ hundred
1 ek
2 do
3 tiin
4 caar
5 paanc
6 che
7 saat
8 aaTh
9 nau
10 das
11 gyaarah dah=teen
12 baarah
13 tayrah
14 chaudah
18 aTThaarah
19 unniis ← twenty
20 biis
21 ikkiis ← twenty
22 baaiis ← twenty
23 teiis
28 utthaaiis
29 unatiis ← thirty
30 tiis
31 ikattiis ← thirty
32 battiis ← thirty
33 tayntiis
38 uRtiis
39 unataaliis ← forty
40 caaliis
41 ikataaliis ← forty
42 bayaaliis
70 sattar
71 ikahattar ← seventy
72 bahattar ← seventy
73 tihattar
77 satahattar
78 uThahattar
79 unyaasii ← eighty
80 assii
81 ikyaasii ← eighty
82 bayaasii ← eighty
83 tiraasii
88 uTThaasii
89 nawaasii ← eighty
90 nabbe
91 ikyaanawe ← ninety
92 baanawe ← ninety
93 tiraanawe
98 uTThaanawe
99 ninyaanawe ← ninety
100 ek sau

As for the crazy phonetic variation, e.g. : three = tiin, tay~, te~, ti~, tir~ this is par for the language, remnants of the dreaded Sanskrit sandhi; all these forms may come naturally to the native speaker.

Then there is vigesimal Welsh, with additional tidbits at 15, 18, 50 ...

0 dim
1 un
2 dau (m), dwy (f)
3 tri (m), tair (f)
4 pedwar (m), pedair (f)
5 pum(p)
6 chwe(ch)
7 saith
8 wyth
9 naw
10 deg, deng
11 un ar ddeg ("one on ten")
12 deuddeg, deuddeng
13 tri/tair ar ddeg
14 pedwar/pedair ar ddeg
15 pymtheg, pymtheng("five-ten", unlike 14 or 13)
16 un ar bymtheg ("one on five-ten")
17 dau/dwy ar bymtheg ("two on five-ten")
18 deunaw ("two nine")
19 pedwar/pedair ar bymtheg ("four on five-ten")
20 ugain
21 un ar hugain ("one on twenty")
28 wyth ar hugain
29 naw ar hugain
30 deg ar hugain ("ten on twenty")
31 un ar ddeg ar hugain
32 deuddeg ar hugain
40 deugain ("two twenty")
41 deugain ac un ("two twenty and one")
50 hanner cant ("half a hundred")
51 hanner cant ac un
60 trigain ("three twenty")
61 trigain ac un
70 deg a thrigain ("ten on three twenty")
71 un ar ddeg a thrigain ("one on ten on three twenty")
80 pedwar ugain ("four twenty")
81 pedwar ugain ac un
90 deg a phedwar ugain ("ten and four twenty")
91 un ar ddeg a phedwar ugain (" one on ten and four twenty")
100 can(t)

Somehow the folk-wisdom of these folks did not realize that the usefulness of numbers is in their individuality and uniformity: no number is equal to another number, and except for that, they are not only very much, but completely the same. (It applies to people, too: "Be proud, you're unique. Be modest, so is everybody". And in general people feel offended when they get assigned an identity number; but in fact nothing has more individuality than a number, and this is all it has) These properties of numbers should reflect in their names, and contorted numeral systems just make me livid.

«  ... my Neanderthal programming style ...

I am at heart an Assembler programmer – I go for total control. You know a repertory of about 100 instructions, you know precisely what each of them does, and the program does what you tell it to do (not what you meant, alas!) You can look at any bit in the memory, and, if the Assembler is reasonably decent, you can follow it step by step – no surprises possible. But, of course, there ain't no such thing anymore. And it couldn't be, when every computer executes instructions from any other computer, with data from any other computer, while interactively waiting on your pleasure.

But suppose all you want is a plain filter: you tell the computer to start, then, unsupervised, it does something to input items to produce output items, then stops. That should not be longer than:

 tr /OoIi/0011/
without defining variables, includes, etc. It's nice to have interactive GUI, structured programs, objects and libraries, but it's not nice at all to be always forced to use them.

Anyway, while swimming with the trilobites, I started beefing about PL/1, with compound statements starting anywhere and ending just as anywhere. So I invented my code beautifier that shows the limits of compound statements, to which I stuck forever:

sub compare {##____________________________________________________compare
    $na = @a;
    $nb = @b;
    my $s = 0;
    my $i;
    if ($na < $nb) {##______________________________________________ a < b
        for ($i=0; $i < $na; $i++) {##_______________________________Block1
            $s += abs($a[$i]-$b[$i]);
            }##_______________________________________________END 0F Block1
        }##__________________________________________________END 0F  a < b
    else {##________________________________________________________ b < a
        for ($i=0; $i < $nb; $i++) {##_______________________________Block2
            $s += abs($a[$i]-$b[$i]);
            }##_______________________________________________END 0F Block2
        }##__________________________________________________END 0F  b < a
    return $s; 
    }##_____________________________________________________END 0F compare
So the forces of evil created Python, where the only statement limits are indents, so I cannot beautify without a complete syntax analysis, and I would have to count/measure blank space! Give me a break!

Since the beautifier is the only way to create a semblance of divine order in the mess I write, I favor primitive (preferably one statement per line) languages, mostly because they are easier to tidy. Just try to split a c file into individual functions, to see what I mean.

Then, as the dinosaurs were dying, I got a Mackintosh, to be programmed in Pascal (another straightjacket) and I still remember the shock at having to define a window before I could print a line! The Mac was aware that there may be lots of windows, each doing its own thing, but not aware that there should be some default, if you just want a "Hello world" program.

Then there are objects, e.g. Smalltalk:

send a message to object 3 to add object 1 to itself
The numbers 1 and 3 are no more objects than I am the Queen of Sheba. Besides, ideally I would use objects only if this were as easy as using numbers or strings. Which of course ain't so – see my rants about java.

«  de-a valma

Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once. On this occasion, time didn't function.

To get unemployment payments, I kept answering job offers and contacting employment agencies. I got to a company that makes newimproved Diesel catalytic converters – by computational modelling, not experimenting, and I was supposed to do the programming, because their own programmer leaves. They even accepted my music and language stuff as artificial intelligence (none of the natural kind, alas!) so I was really attracted. I went to an interview, and, guess what, they want me.

Of course I immediately started contriving escape plans. In the meanwhile, I also had scheduled a lot of medical exams, so I told myself: some infarct, or cancer, and I'm off the hook. Thursday, coronography – nothing. Friday, colonoscopy – rosy as the future (I saw my guts on the screen, even got a few pictures to go, which only with difficulty I abstain from putting on my site) So I still got to start work on Monday.

In the same meanwhile, the employment agency was nagging: they want to see my passport and Social Security card at their office in San Francisco. Not the socsec number, but the original card, that I got in 1978 and lost long ago. So, from the proctologist in Salinas we ran home to Monterey, maybe the card is still there. It isn't, so we ran to socsec office to San Jose (there isn't any SS in Monterey, nobody works there). But SS has the 1978 data, I don't appear as a citizen. So I show the passport, then:

– Why do we have your name as Liviu Lustman, and the passport has Levi Lustman?
– I changed my name when I become US citizen.
– We need proof.
No proof, no card (anyway, they only mail it within two weeks). Beloved wife, who was with me since I could not drive because of the colonoscopy medication, seething and fuming ... I vaguely remembered that the naturalization papers mention the old name – the papers still in Monterey, we had seen them that morning, but left them there. We call Mike in Monterey to look – he cannot find either name or Social Security number on it. I call again the agency, now they want the naturalization and any other document I have, and don't sound too convinced they will trust me. Well, if they don't I stay retard!

Eventually we get home, it is too late to try San Francisco. Beloved wife, proactive as ever, calls Immigration to see if we can get some certificate from them about the name change. Response: Maybe, in 18 months... In the third meantime, the only document for Liviu that we have around is the Israeli passport, but will they like it?

Finally, today (Saturday) Mike brought the papers, and I discovered on the back of the naturalization act "name changed by court order from Liviu Radu Lustman".  Ugh !!   Let's see what surprises await us on Monday.

I still phantasize how I will make a scene at the employment agency and bang the door behind me, and spend my life retired at home sweet home (retirement home!?). Sweet dreams...

«  As a doctor, I thought, he should be able to provide a cure

I was quite shocked that he did not do more – one of the few faults I can find with my father. In this case, he did not take me seriously – if he had told me "cannot be done" or "the cure is worth than the problem" I would have easily accepted.

Later I saw in my own family why one should not treat anyone near. My mother started complaining of abdominal pain. She was a doctor, my father was a doctor, my father in law also, and even Liliana was already a doctor, after her internship. So everybody decided it was nothing, and nothing it remained for a week, till she could not stand it anymore, and was taken to the emergency room. There the first intern immediately diagnosed acute gall bladder infection, and sent her straight to surgery.

But in my case, there was nothing really bad to fear, no urgency... (on the other hand doctors know about many more horrible diseases than the average person, and have better reasons to hide their head in the sand).

So I understand that Liliana doesn't want to know about my problems, although it annoys me enormously to go through the delays and the expenses of using other doctors. I got accustomed to the idea that they don't particularly care about me – a doctor who really cared for all his patients would die of heartbreak. But I would expect some more professional curiosity, or willingness to take a challenge – the doctor might ask himself: can I fix this complaint? can I fulfill his request? Except they don't listen to complaints and requests, at most check analyses results. And my requests are not particularly reasonable; however a doctor who thinks they go against medical ethics could tell me so – but that takes time and is personal involvement, and the poor guy doesn't want to die of a broken heart. Besides, the professional attitude and the patient's attitude don't fit: all the poor sick man wants is the cessation of pain, but the doctor won't sedate him, because he needs a conscious patient.

All of which being said, my attitude still is: you are sick, you go to the hospital and return healthy. Strangely enough, it even fits my experience. One of my happiest memories is being told "Now you'll feel a bad taste...", passing out, and then waking after the operation was over, all the chopping and hacking done. This is how life should be lived – don't be there when there is pain.

So, as long as the doctor doesn't say otherwise, if you are sick, follow the treatment and get healthy. It wouldn't cross my mind to treat myself, or question a doctor's decision – basically he knows and I don't, and I don't even want to know. I still expect the doctor will be decent enough to tell me "cannot be done" or "the cure is worth than the problem". In fact they do go through the show, threatening you with death before any anesthesia, but maybe they will be truthful on the real occasion.

Another interesting question, which is mainly my pet peeve: is it possible for a doctor not to hate his profession and his patients after the misery of a medical training?

A dream that explains everything, so well that I woke up at 3 AM to write it down, before I forget. Written in my blood, evidently. But alas, no EditPlus, it was "free trial" and they meant it: dead after 90 days. Till I remembered what's the name of NotePad ... and, of course, it won't work on the laptop, I always press the fake mouse too much or too little, so I get every program, except what I want.

Euphoria gone.

The dream:

I exercise (because of the military?) Walk on Coşbuc in Bucharest, till I got to Switzerland, still walking, even running – in my dreams I can run. On my return way I entered a windmill, i.e. I got inside its machinery, all kinds of wheels, rods and axles, all of wood and all quickly sliding across each other. I worried about being caught by the moving parts; there was an engineer who could stop the contraption, but decided not to. Left there to get hacked, I found a door and just got out. Arriving home, I explained to my parents why I was so late – Switzerland, etc. ; my father acquiesced, but my mother was very upset: she lay on the bed, Gea-Tellus, and would not talk to me.

The child travelled far, braved perils, overcame them and returned a hero. So a new child appears, Mikey; I have to help him with literature homework. About some other Oddity (which one?) I knew the work well enough, I had read it and maybe lived it through during my trip on Coşbuc. But when I checked Mike's literature manual, there were some comments I would never think of: the mystical sense, the search for God, finding him. Obviously, with the kindly assistance of two flaky computers, I long ago forgot what precisely – it is 5 AM now.

The child travelled far, braved perils, overcame them and turned into a hero (turnovers are tastier). A run of the mill story, but then, I am not generic folklore, I am the hub of the universe, which I love to see confirmed, if only in dreams. In particular, I enjoy performing the impossible: I usually fly, sometimes run, very seldom dream that I am in the military, but I do well. Of course, in my dreams I change personality; but usually I remain a child: with my parents, at school in Bucharest etc. Since Mikey appeared, I was finally a grown-up, and even Liliana appeared, I think – not only my mother.

After which I started comparing beloved wife with Ulysses' Penelope. Molly Bloom was a professional soprano, so is beloved wife very professional. She cannot be accused of hanky-panky with all the suitors, still has a tiny shortcakecoming: she creates as many problems as she can, then is very proud it's her, not me, who takes care of these problems, then requires thanks for protecting me and organizing my life. Oh well. But she really protects me: I sent poor wife to the other bedroom – which she inhabits anyway, since there is a bed and a TV – when I concluded the laptop was unusable and I really needed the bedroom computer. She turned on the TV and promptly fell asleep.

And then? What's the big deal ? Just the impression that I knew something, and then forgot it because the computers didn't cooperate. Quite common in dreams (hogamus higamus) And to wake up for that! Really won't do, Sir! The sensation that my brain is working, maybe creating... just an illusion.


«  ... ca pina la urma tanti Ada
«  Ma gindeam la tanti Ada si la cultura...
I was thinking of tanti Ada and education ...

Nee Hadasa Vyrtikovski, somewhere in Bessarabia (Ungheni?). Her father was a Hebrew teacher, and spoke Hebrew to her and her brother Aminadav as children. Then, after WWI, Romania occupied Bessarabia, so she came to study law in Bucharest and eventually married my uncle, daddy's younger brother Avram, also a lawyer. Tanti Molcuţa always told how Avram, who was quite handsome, kept saying he would marry a beautiful blonde, but – tanti Ada was red haired and no great beauty (and a little older than him – I wouldn't have known any of that, except for Molcuţa, who adored her brothers, but not their wives).

Anyway, at a certain point Romania forbade Jews to practice law, so the only employer tanti Ada found was the Soviet Embassy – she spoke, of course, Russian as one of her mother tongues. The embassy also found a job for my uncle, with the net result that at a certain point – I think when Romania attacked the Soviet Union – they both got arrested and confined to the political concentration camp in Tirgu-Jiu. There – language again – tanti Ada became Russian teacher to Gheorghiu-Dej, the future communist dictator of Romania. So, finally, after the war, suitably Romanized as Ada and Miron Lupan, Hadasa and Avram Lustman became ambassadors! (they could speak French too).

In Ankara, presenting their letters of accreditation. If you look carefully, just by the lightbulb lines,
you can see the crescent with the star above it, the Turkish coat of arms.

They served in Yugoslavia, and ran away at the last moment, just before Tito purged his opposition. Then they went to Turkey, and then Vietnam. They met Ho Chi Minh, and told me how he drank every morning from a jar of alcohol with pickled poisonous snakes. When on vacation in Bucharest, they brought me chocolate from Turkey, kumquats from China, a tangram from Vietnam and even a bike. That bike I never used – I still can't ride a bike – but we sold it when we left Romania, with the prospect to get a camel in Israel.

Our decision to emigrate put an end to their careers. After that, they never met with my family in Romania – too unsafe – although they would invite me from time to time. Later they visited us in Israel; there was no family falling out, just communist circumstances.

One interesting point – why is she more prominent in my thoughts than my uncle? It's always " tanti Ada si nene Miron", and I find much more to say about her than about him. Maybe she was more attracted to small children (das ewigweibliche)? For instance she played tablanette with me (and won, which chipped another bit off my reliance), she told me the story of Yak Tzidrak , also about the ugmaeetz incident...

«  when I was ten ... I would forbid smoking and soccer"

Just because these were the most popular enjoyable passtimes in Romania – I did not have then, as I still don't, any health consciousness. But I had, at age 10, the unchecked reaction to the idea of power: power is used to make others suffer, so you can be sure that they don't maybe do what they like, but what you force them to do. Later, I found this written explicitly in "1984" ; I did not remember my own association of power with cruelty, although now I shudder when I see how fully natural it is. By the way, Orwell had this knack of bringing unpleasant facts out of the blue :

«  Sometime in Maabarot ...
«  By November 1961 I had joined a class of newcomers, all from Romania, in kibutz Maabarot.

I remember we got there in November, because Lenin's portraits were still in the dining-hall, in celebration of the Great October Revolution – November 7th.

Maabarot belonged to Hashomer Hatzair – Mapam party, obviously, quite to the left. Our teachers could still tell us with a straight face what a pity it was that the Israeli Independence War did not evolve into a socialist revolution (come to think of it, you can hear similar stuff here, in various colleges, if not in school). I always kept arguing about socialism with everybody – without anyone changing opinions. I, for one, don't change my opinions, because then I'll have to answer the question: when was I an idiot? before or after the change?

Socialism, of course, goes with irreligiousness: on holidays (which are mostly religious: New Year, Purim, Pesach, etc.) we ate pork chops as festive meals ... yum! And the holidays got translated to agricultural celebrations, which no doubt they originally were. Those that wouldn't fit – like Yom Kippur – were passed over.

Another sore subject – about which, however, I kept quiet – was work. I never could find anything positive to say about work, it's just a necessary evil. I take the biblical view – work is punishment; but I am innocent! You can imagine how nicely my ideas fit with a socialist build-the-fatherland ethos.

Practically it meant that we worked 3 hours after school every day, and 8 hours a day during school breaks. I probably was as bad at work as I was good at school. However, high school was not geared towards college, and did not prepare for the high school finals – whoever wanted to take that had to study on his own. As for our classes – tolerable level, with some good English and very good music – they would teach about sonata form and dodecaphony; also many kids played various instruments.

In Maabarot they expected that our group would remain there as members – after school and military service. This was actually the way their population was built up: groups which started together in the youth movement, and joined the kibutz together. In general, you could not join as an individual, or as a family. But the plan did not work with us: our parents saw Maabarot as an opportunity to learn Hebrew, then the children should go to a real high school; also, socialism was a bit much for people from Romania. The kibutz also expected us to rebel against our parents, even told us so, but... Anyway, about one half left after one year, then another such leftover half from another kibutz joined us, then another half left the second year, etc. About 5 remained through the military service – we started around 30.

I stayed to the end of the last high school class, but I left to study – that was the clear plan from the first moment, and it seemed perfectly reasonable to everybody – they helped me with the preparation and the formalities for the external exam.

«  ... disappointed, because it was not exotic enough

What we did not partake of:

Not to mention fried scorpions (black and yellow), cockroaches, etc... Beloved wife didn't let me approach street stalls, even when they seemed tame enough.

Nor did we buy these magnificent Siamese rubies,
mainly because they belong to the Queen of Thailand. As for all the other treasures of the Orient...

Neither did I find anyone to discuss chinoiserie, e.g. how to translate my name. In Chinese, usually one matches the sound of a foreign word, picking auspicious characters. But there are lots of constraints, because a Chinese name has, in general, three characters – the first is the surname, picked from a definite list of traditionally admissible family names, and the other two chosen as a given name – again auspiciously.

Finding characters by sound is easy, this is the standard procedure in any dictionary, but the sounds of my name do not exist in Mandarin: neither v of Levi or iu of Liviu (the written Pinyin iu is actually read yaw, and the written yu is read yü) Fortunately there is a Lu surname, for Lustman.

So I patched various versions, but who can tell how they sound to the Chinese, and what associations they create.

Lustman Levi
錄樂白	Lù Lèbái
錄  lù	to record 
樂  lè	happy; laugh; cheerful 
白  bái	white;bright;clear

Recording bright and cheerful stuff – not quite.


Lustman Liviu
鹿靂霧	Lù Lìwù
鹿  lù	deer, surname   
靂  lì	clap of thunder 
霧  wù	fog; mist  

This Lu for Lustman is in honor of my father. He was called Baruch Tzvi, where Baruch means "blessed" and Tzvi is "roebuck", a male deer or antelope. The custom was to give children an animal name, so if the angel of death (God forbid) would look after them, it would kill the animal instead. Or one might call a baby girl Alte (the old one) so the angel of death won't find her at all.

The thunder in the mist refers to my birth date, at the end of March, during the last wintery bad weather before spring actually begins. I have no idea what the weather was when I was born, but it was late at night, why not a dark and stormy night...

But alas, the Chinese consider 2 fourth tones one after another ugly, and this name has three!


鹿禮嫵	Lù Lǐwǔ
鹿  lù	deer, surname   
禮  lǐ	manners; courtesy 
嫵  wǔ	to please; enchanting
This means "enchanting manners" – I wish!

鹿唳鵡	Lù Lìwǔ
鹿  lù	deer, surname   
唳  lì	cry of a bird  
鵡  wǔ	parrot

This one comes straight from Nabokov:

What is translation? On a platter
A poet's pale and glaring head,
A parrot's screech, a monkey's chatter,
And profanation of the dead...

    Tetrameter, Vladimir Nabokov:     On Translating Eugene Onegin
Maybe when I picked the "parrot" character, it was a subconscious comment about translating names, especially into an unknown language.

鹿麗呦	Lù Lìyōu
鹿  lù	deer, surname   
麗  lì	beautiful 
呦  yōu	bleating of the deer 

This name doesn't make much sense, but it has a triple reference to deer – my father, again: the first character means deer, the character for "beautiful" contains the deer radical, and the last is deer bleating.

When we got home from China we had to go to San Francisco to sign – both me and Liliana – some papers at the Israeli consulate, to sell my mother's house in Israel. So they took the papers and told us to wait for the consul, but it turned out he had left. So we went and had lunch, did some shopping and came back – but the consul had not yet finished his lunch. Which reminds me of the song :

Lied des Danilo aus 'Die lustige Witwe' von Franz Lehar

O Vaterland du machst bei Tag
mir schon genügend Müh´ und Plag´.
Die Nacht braucht jeder Diplomat
doch meistenteils für sich privat!

Um eins bin ich schon im Büro,
doch bin ich gleich drauf anderswo,
weil man den ganzen lieben Tag
nicht immer im Büro sein mag !

Erstatte ich beim Chef Bericht,
so tu ich´ meistens selber nicht.
Die Sprechstund halt ich niemals ein,
ein Diplomat muss schweigsam sein!

Die Akten häufen sich bei mir,
ich find´, es gibt zu viel Papier.
Ich tauch die Feder selten ein
und komm doch in die Tint´ hinein!

Kein Wunder, wenn man so viel tut,
dass man am Abend gerne ruht
und sich bei Nacht, was man so nennt,
Erholung nach der Arbeit gönnt.

Da geh ich ins/zu Maxim,
dort bin ich sehr intim.
Ich duze alle Damen,
ruf´ sie beim Kosenamen:
Cloclo,Margot, Froufrou,
sie lassen mich vergessen
das teu´re Vaterland!

Dann wird champanisiert
und häufig cancaniert,
und geht´s ans Kosen, Küssen
mit allen diesen Süßen:
Lolo, Dodo, Joujou,
Cloclo, Margot, Froufrou,
dann kann ich leicht vergessen
das teure Vaterland.
Danilo's song from 'The merry widow' by Franz Lehar

O fatherland, by day you cause me
Enough strife and troubles.
Every diplomat needs the night
Mostly for himself, for privacy!

Around one I am already in the office,
But soon I am out elsewhere,
Because one cannot the whole day
Stay in the office!

I file reports with the boss,
But mostly I don't.
To the discussion meetings I don't go:
A diplomat must be silent!

The documents accumulate by me,
I think, there is too much paper.
The pen I rarely dip (in the inkstand)
Yet nevertheless get in trouble (lit. 'get into the ink')

No wonder, if one does so much
Then by evening one gladly rests,
Which may be called
Enjoying relaxation after work .

I go then to Maxim,
There I'm so intimate.
I call all ladies 'du', (vs the formal 'Sie')
I use petnames:
Lolo, Dodo, Joujou,
Cloclo, Margot, Froufrou,
It lets me forget
The dear fatherland!

Then we drink champagne
And often dance the cancan,
And get to cuddles, kisses
With all these sweeties :
Lolo, Dodo, Joujou,
Cloclo, Margot, Froufrou,
Then I can easily forget
The dear fatherland.

But the highlight of the text is the "fatherland" stuff. I was familiar with the "Merry Widow" since age ten, when my mother took me to see it at the Operetta theater. But when I heard the German song, in Germany, I couldn't believe my ears. That was just me at ten – imagine singing about how nice it's to forget one's fatherland, in communist Romania.

«  ... our recent trip to faraway lands ...

«  2007 Far East vacation

The trip was organized more than one year ago, a cruise from Thailand to China, with stopovers in various ports and countries. Unfortunately, we also caught two typhoons, so we did not stop in Vietnam, Taiwan and Okinawa. On the other hand, the stormy sea rocked the ship, and we felt like babes in a cradle, and slept wonderfully (Liliana has some sleep problems, but had none on the ship – and when she did not sleep, she was at the casino, so she fully enjoyed the voyage)

Even so, we got to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Shanghai and Nagasaki, before the final stop in Peking. There were organized trips in each of these places – otherwise there is no chance to function in the local language and the local traffic. All the cities are huge – 10 million people, 20 million and the only way to get somewhere is on bike or motorcycle – the cars mostly stand idle and pollute. Or maybe by elephant – on the country roads, besides bus stations one could see platforms 10 feet high, for climbing on top of elephants. On a motorcycle, however, you can see the whole family riding, father mother and children, plus whatever they bought.

Local colour is rather hard to find among the enormous city buildings, some very fancy and modern, but none east Asian, IMHO. On the other hand, nature is precisely as shown in their paintings, which are quite realistic, not stylized. The harbors, with their rocks, islets and mountains are remarkably scenic.

We saw a few shows, rather Hollywoody for my taste. But we also got to the Peking opera, which – as far as I can tell – looked authentic and satisfactorily exotic. Besides they give you tea, nuts and cookies for the show – just like popcorn at the movies; originally this was popular entertainment.

But, of course, the main tourist attraction was shopping – we went to some bazaars and some shops with museum quality pieces. I have expensive taste, so I really admired Siamese rubies, jade, pearls and coral – as for buying... Still my business sense improved in the Far East. When we came home, I had to restart the unemployment procedure, because one cannot get money when on vacation, and I could not fill the forms in time anyway. After a few days on the phone, when all I got was the recording "We are getting more calls than we can answer. Try later. Goodbye!" I finally called the number for Mandarin (there is one for Cantonese, too), and got a human, and he even spoke English, so maybe the papers will start coming again.

«  So I had great doubts about our recent trip to faraway lands

Dubito ergo cogito

I doubt, but I don't try to solve my doubts by thinking – too often my conclusions are wrong. Instead, I mitigate my uneasiness by studying – maybe I'll get certain this way. So I find the right sources (how did I manage before the Internet?) and I learn, and then immediately forget, and then I doubt even more, so I keep being.

For example, the Korean alphabet. And I don't mean the Korean language, or the Korean grammar, just the alphabet, which is a brilliant feat of logical design: all tense consonants are written twice, all aspirated consonants have an overbar, ya, yo, yu etc are a, o, u plus one dash, etc. Compare, for instance, the Korean:

to Devanagari (Sanskrit), where the similar sounds p/ph, k/kh, etc. have strikingly dissimilar letters.
And it still doesn't stick to me!

Or another example: we went yesterday to 'Lucia di Lammermoor' and I wept like a cow at the bell' alma inamorata – not at all for the romantic tragedy, but of envy – when will I do anything even remotely like that, all the schmaltz and imbecility made true by a few well chosen notes? So then I went home to find out the the text, especially 'ne congiunga il nume in ciel'. Wept again, etc., and ten minutes later had no idea about the text (the melody holds itself better) all I could say was 'ci unisca Dio in ciel', which, of course, is no operatic Italian. The real stuff is (at least to me) unbearably fancy:

Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali,
o bell'alma innamorata,
ti rivolgi a me placata,
teco ascenda il tuo fedel.
Ah! se l'ira dei mortali
fece a noi si cruda guerra,
se divisi fummo in terra,
ne congiunga il Nume in ciel.
       explained to God ?!


ne not ci ?!
       You who have spread your wings to heaven,
oh beautiful, beloved soul,
turn towards me serene ;
let your true love ascend with you.
Oh, if the anger of mortals
brought us such cruel strife,
if we were kept apart on earth,
may God in heaven unite us.

Besides, I think it should be "spiegasti gli ali", just as "del Egitto sei lo splendor!" After all the effort I made memorizing Italian articles! They still don't come naturally to me, just because I know that I will have to choose among il/l'/lo and doubt my choice, and have to think about the rule, and keep being.

«  ... Romanian vacations

For instance, Slanic. BTW, there are two of them, Slanic-Prahova and Slanic-Moldova. This was Slanic-Prahova.

There were a few salt lakes to swim, and a lot of therapeutical black mud; the children (of course) and everybody else painted themselves black as devils. The whole region lay above a salt mine, which one could visit. The salt – they say – draws water, on the principle that an open salt cellar becomes moist; and it really rained regularly every day, but only for an hour or so in summer. Justi was with us, and two families with girls, all in a big house with a well and an outhouse (no plumbing, one family per room, who cares; one time the doorknob jammed, so we had to jump in and out through the window). When we weren't at the lakes, we passionately played "Go Fish" , "Old Maid" and Rummikub, and my father even taught us bridge – I think I play at the same level ever since. He was actually one of the kids, went with us on walks and snail hunts, built a swing on a tree in the yard and even led us in an expedition on the salt mountain.

That was an actual cliff of hard salt, that had been mined inside, so it had an open top. Water had accumulated in the bottom, and one could enter by a tunnel and see the pool below, full of timber from the mining, and a round patch of sky above. But the daring climbed on the salt face, to look at the lake from the hole rim.

My father thought that was too unsafe, so he took us all to the hill, to the other side of the cliff. But we got bogged in mud, and lost our sandals, which then could not be distinguished from any other mud lump. A big adventure, and satisfyingly dirty, except that we didn't get there. Later on, when my parents weren't watching, I climbed the usual way, over the salt to the top. Rather risky, because the outside was all cracks and sharp ridges, made by running water from the rains.

My father also took care of my education: bought me Schweik – what a revelation, "shit" and "arse" on the first page – and had me practice my violin and stenography.

The legend goes that my family met once in Slanic with Liliana's family, so we know each other since age eight, although we two don't remember the event. Slanic, of course, we remember well, and beloved wife plans to see it on our trip to Romania. But witout sploshing in the mud, much charm may be lost.

«  Mehmet II, cuceritorul Constantinopolului.

On his accession as conqueror of Constantinople, aged 21, Mehmed was reputed fluent in several languages, including Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek and Latin.

His father, Murad II, was recalled to the throne to lead the army into battle. Murad II refused. Angry at his father, who had long since retired to a contemplative life in southwestern Anatolia, Mehmed the Conqueror wrote,

"Father, if you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan I hereby order you to come and lead my armies."

"Baba, eğer ki padişah sen isen ordunun başına geç, eğer padişah ben isem sana emrediyorum gel ve ordularının başına geç"

It was only after receiving this letter that Murad II led the Ottoman army.

Mehmed II amalgamated the old Byzantine administration into the Ottoman state. He first introduced the word Politics into Arabic "Siyasah" from a book he published and claimed to be the collection of Politics doctrines of the Byzantine Caesars before him. He gathered Italian artists, humanists and Greek scholars at his court, allowed the Byzantine Church to continue functioning, ordered the patriarch Gennadius to translate Christian doctrine into Turkish, and called Gentile Bellini from Venice to paint his portrait. He collected in his palace a library which included works in Greek and Latin. Mehmed invited Muslim scientists such as Ali Qushji and artists to his court in Constantinople, started a University, built mosques and madrasas.

Mehmed II allowed his subjects a considerable degree of religious freedom, provided they were obedient to his rule. After his conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1463 he issued a firman to the Bosnian Franciscans, granting them freedom to move freely within the Empire, offer worship in their churches and monasteries, and to practice their religion free from official and unofficial persecution, insult or disturbance.

Within Constantinople, Mehmed established a millet or an autonomous religious community, and appointed the former Patriarch Gennadius Scholarius as religious leader for the Orthodox Christians of the city. His authority extended to all Ottoman Orthodox Christians, and this excluded the Genoese and Venetian settlements in the suburbs, and excluded Muslim and Jewish settlers entirely.

munged from Wikipedia

«  ...read for half an hour, waiting till I could eat.

I get more and more fed up with this kind of prefaced action.

Before I start working, I must timepunch, and before I timepunch I must login, and before I login I must type in my name and password, and before I type in my name and password I must connect the damn laptop, and before I connect the laptop I have to take it from the drawer, and before I take it from the drawer I must unlock the drawer – which stays locked when I am home as a security precaution against the cleaning people in the office, and before I unlock the drawer I have to find the key – which I already dumped somewhere because I cannot stand heavy things in my pockets...

All that assuming that I want to start working... you can supply the amount of wanting. Certainly none is left after the whole procedure – UNIX can read and execute .profiles before each instruction, which .profiles contain statements which need .profiles – but I can't... I can't go on, I'll go on ...

It works just as well in the opposite direction:
I am at the office now, so what next? Take off the rain jacket. What next? start working ... connect the laptop. What next? find the keys ... in the rain jacket pocket? on the desk? Now I have the keys, what next? I wanted to open the drawer, open it, take the laptop out and plug it in its holder. What next? log in. What next? log in again, without typos – repeat until...
I had to look at flight path generation. Wait! first punch in. Start the internet . What next? Wikipedia – no, timepunch first ... Open 'favorites' for timepunch – 'abhorites' would fit much better – then finally Wikipedia! No. What next? timepunch link. What next? log in. What next? log in again, without typos – repeat until... What next?

If not Alzheimer, then Parkinson , which I'm sure to get because I never smoked .

And on top of everything now I use Byetta. It's an injection, half an hour before eating. So now eating, too, is a prefaced action. I can't go on, I'll go on .

"Prefaced action", q.v. , is a technical linguistic term having to do with Greek verb classification. "Postponed gratification" is a technical psychoanalytical term, but if you search it on the net most of the results deal with investments. What I suffer from is acute awareness of postponed gratification, caused by an allergy to nitrogen. So I go around whining , and people either ignore me or educate me. Nobody says "How interesting!" nor "What a pity!".

«  I know of five siblings in my father's family...

On the other hand, my mother was an only daughter, which I think was unusual then. Maybe that says something about my grandfather, Avram Catz – the one grandfather that I knew, because my father's parents both died relatively young, before I was born.

Would you buy a used car from him? Do we look alike?

My family always said that I am physically exactly like him, and mentally too, in all probability. Tanti Pepi used to say " a iesit coinul din tine " – "you show you're a Cohen" when I got furious.

I certainly don't look at all like my father, who was always thin and liked to move. When we finished military basic training, our families got invited to the training base, and he straight-away climbed up the rope on the obstacle course, using hands only, which I never could (I was 19 and he 62). And that just for fun, not to show off or to put me down. It did not chip any of my confidence, because I could not care less about fitness and such goyische naches . My father also had a bit of devil-may-care attitude, which, alas, I did not inherit.

My grandfather was rolly-polly like my mother and me, and a drunkard – which did not prevent him from making good money from some mysterious business. I say mysterious because all I know about him is that he traded in old rags – and how can you make money from that? (but what do I know, especially about making money). Still my mother had had a few houses, and for my birth he bought a cabriolet – a small two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage – for the family! For me to take air? to exhibit me in opulence? the cabriolet joins Cinderella's pumpkin and such legendary stuff. I vaguely remember my grandfather teaching me  אני ילד קטן  which I repeated as babies do. He adored me, of course, as the so much expected progeny – my mother was 36 and my father 43 when I was born. But I did not like my grandfather, because he spat on the floor. I am probably just as disgusting to my grandchildren.

He died of a combination of diabetes (which I inherited, and my mother too) and cirrhosis, sometime when I had just started school. My grandparents were then living with us, and my parents treated him – I was familiar with "diabetes" and "hepatic punction" from a very early age, and quite neutral to that, as a child must be. On the other hand, the first dead person that I ever saw was my father, when I was 35.

«  Pearls of wisdom

«  ... only reality is dangerous – nobody got hurt by dreaming

Important is exactly the same as dangerous.

It is everyone's sacred duty to be exactly like me .

The only answer to "I want!" is "Keep wanting."; the only answer to "I beg you..." is "Of course."

«  Respect is exactly the same as envy.

Love is a literary convention, like a sonnet having 14 lines.

If you come for a visit, leave initiative at home.

What I know fits on a postcard, with space left for the addresses.

In the morning I'm in mourning.

If you see me purposefully striding, it's to the toilet.

The only thing one can do after eating is lie down (see any cat). Possibly talk, preferably nap.

Nothing takes less than half an hour.

People who are driven should be pack mules.

La diatribe est l'attribut de la tribade de la tribu .

The Finnish alphabet goes a,d,e,g,...; no wonder Sibelius was a violinist .

C C Dflat
Do Ut Des (in Italian, French, German).

We are better described as killers than workers .

Work is what you have to do, fun is what you want to do.

Sweat is the dirtiest thing .

Reality is the difference between what you wish and what you got.

Experientia dolet.

Everybody is right all the time .

« Whenever I hear "I did it my way!" , I think of Hitler.

Whenever I hear "Follow your dream!", I think of Hitler.

Fashion is there to be ignored.

80% is subjective.

Preventive medicine is an effort to have the patient not only sick, but guilty too.

Simplicity has nothing to do in the kitchen.

There are hors d'oeuvres, and there are left-oeuvres.

Experience is what we call our failures.

Anything I can do is not worth doing.

All my memory is magnetic.

Only an American would use "aggressive" with a positive connotation.

Only an American would have a son who is fighting leukemia; anybody else might (God forbid!) have a poor leukemic son.

Only an American would have a politician or a journalist as a positive hero.

Much better not to try than not to succeed .

Question authority only if you have all the answers.

Authority that may be questioned isn't much of an authority.

The arms of Man are legs.

«  as opposed to speaking the language anyhow

I mean throwing away all grammar, linguistic universals included. For instance, the paragraph:

And the more I think, the more I believe that the only purpose of speaking a language correctly – as opposed to speaking it anyhow – is purely social: to be accepted as "one of us". Horribly mangled sentences convey meaning quite well. I used to say "poetry is what is lost in translation, therefore meaning is what is conserved in translation", now I would say "meaning is what is conserved after severe mangling".

could go into:

question is speech correct or speech anyhow .
me thought more is me belief more quote purpose one is purpose speech correct is accept society endquote.
much mangling sentence but meaning OK.
ago me saying quote poetry loss because translation therefore meaning is translation no causative loss endquote.
now me saying quote meaning is thing undergo mangling but no loss endquote.

This example uses English words in an un-English way: this is actually my artificial language LAN with English words and no compounds.

Of course, the purist might say the (small?) effort needed to get the meaning is actually learning the grammar: qualifiers follow, "is","or", "but", "therefore","quote/endquote" used to delimit phrases, etc. Or they might say it's just a pidgin.

It is not; although it is not very clear from this short example, LAN does not recognize parts of speech or sentence roles: each word merely qualifies the preceding word, within the delimited phrases – I promised to flaunt some universals. It sounds somewhat natural, and works reasonably well, if kept short and simple.

The choice of English is not really right; grammatical English is just too near the mangled form. I am curious how would it work in, say, Japanese. Would it convey any meaning (while insulting everybody with abrupt forms) or be completely sunk in the flood of Japanese homonyms? Inflection as such is no great barrier – Italian is inflected enough, but the derived Lingua Franca uses one single form per verb.

«  students... in Israel were somewhat different

Other places, other times... most of what I'm talking about was more than 30 years ago.

The basic idea was that that math students were curious about math. That was not true about every student and every course, but was never questioned. So one could teach anything ("one" including me, who was just a graduate student, tending to tenured student). Syllabuses were rarely written down, and there were no textbooks: the teacher would usually provide a list of books that covered the course, and then you had the library to look for more – remember, you were curious. Another basic assumption was that the teacher knows, and the students don't.

Which allowed some very strange results: there were classes where 80% of the students failed, and 50% dropped Maths and Physics after the first year, consistently (didn't they know any better selection procedure? Those that passed the first year usually completed the B.Sc., at least).

On the other hand, you didn't need a life's investment for college education. One year's tuition was one month of my father's salary, and he paid it only for the first year. After that, I had grades good enough to get a grant for next year . That solves to my satisfaction the tricky question "Would I have made it on my own?" In fact, I never thought the money could come from anywhere except my parents, or that I could work, not even during the summer – I felt I deserved a vacation , and in those days even went one hour by bus to the seashore, to swim. On the other hand, when I began earning – quite early, we were paid to correct the homework of lower classes, starting from the second year – it never crossed my mind that the money could go anywhere except to my parents' bank account. It was a big surprise when my mother told me to open my own. Now the whole discussion is purely academic, the highest salary I ever got in Israel was $300 a month – maybe enough for Zambia.

All in all, Israeli universities were not self-sustaining businesses; like all the Israeli economy, they depended very much on the government, public help and of course, Zionist funds from all over the world. The standard joke was: "Drought in Israel? Who cares, USA should have good weather!"

«  not only cause I'm the laziest boy in town

That's Marlene Dietrich in an ancient Hitchcock movie, " Stage Fright" :

...it's not cause I wouldn't,
    not cause I couldn't,
      and, you know, not cause I shouldn't,
        it's only cause I'm the laziest girl in town!

And this is almost what I answered – song, dance, silver fox boa and all – when Shlomo Breuer, one of my professors who died of cancer at 61 , asked me why my Ph.D. takes so long .

I definitely was lazy all my life – never saw why should I make efforts without a visible immediate result. Fortunately I also was the ideal student – I loved learning and enjoyed college as if I were viewing some new, unexpected and incredibly interesting play each day, every day. I made no efforts, and I had great results. Of course I read a lot and spent a lot of time on maths, but that was no effort, it was fun. I should have been the eternal student, even as a yeshive-bokher if no other option was available.

All of which stopped when I had to do research and make discoveries of my own. The story goes that John Nash , whom you can find with me and David in the list of MIT instructors , spent his time at NYU being proved wrong by experts – until he finally got his bright idea about parabolic equations. It more or less happened to me when I exposed my ideas about spaces with the fixed point property to Eliezer Dorembus – but since every failure stays with me forever, the only conclusion I drew from that was to stay away from pure, i.e. wondrous, mathematics. One conclusion – that there is more to learn – I didn't draw. No need to learn anything, didn't I already have 100% average? So if they expect me to discover new exciting stuff, it must be done with what I already have... Or else they would give me many years to learn, before I make my discoveries...

«  I have received a tradition from the house of my father’s father...

My first reaction is: What do I care about your father's father? My father had a father, too! What irritates me is that it did not cross their mind to observe, or measure the length of the month, just accepted what their elders said, because the elders had heard it from their elders, or the elders were wise. Or, the elders had authority. As a modern man, I must immediately ask: Who gave them authority? I can't imagine any source of authority other than a democratic election, or some civil service examination a la Chinoise. Of course, historically this is a very uninformed attitude: the source of authority has, for a very long time, been plain charisma. And most politicians know this full well, or at least feel it in their bones:

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,         
As he landed his crew with care;    
Supporting each man on the top of the tide         
By a finger entwined in his hair.

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice: That alone should encourage the crew. Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."

But even Buddha, who was far from being democratically elected, already warned:
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

How to identify the good and benefit of one and all is left as an exercise for the reader.

Fear and loathing

This is a nightmare, complete with disclaimer for its content. But, as a dream, it shows the real me, so...

We were in ... Holon? In any case I lived in my Holon home with my parents and Q, in two apartments, one for them and one for me.

I had gone to shop with Q. On the street she picked some random paper "Why can't people clean after themselves?" she said. I did not answer "because the sense of freedom it gives them".

On our way back, we passed a bank and noticed an employee who spoke Romanian with her customer. When we got home, she, the customer, and a few other Romanian speakers were there, presumably invited by my mother. So I proposed to make them coffee, and everybody gladly accepted. We all went to the living room, and someone remarked a trigonometry manual. I said "Trigonometry? that's for kids"; then "Excuse my arrogance, I am a professional mathematician, and trigonometry is elementary, although I really enjoyed it in school."

Then I went on to make coffee. As usual in my nightmares, no cups, no clean cups in my mother's kitchen, the coffee machine nowhere to be found. Instead of which, Q had arranged everything as if in a museum hall, with all the knickknacks glistening, and gracefully organized - each room a showpiece of elegance.

Finally I discovered the coffe maker, or espresso machine, but it was on a tall and broad table, hard to reach, at which I started to fume. On top of this, the plugs had been unplugged from their sockets, with the matching connectors well hidden, as they were not esthetic enough. I went looking in my appartment, where everything was just as beautiful, rearranged and unusable. The computer was disconnected, my bed moved to a wrong corner, the window wide open to let the sun and neighbors in. And the decoration, obviously, outstanding. From so much exquisite bric-a-brac on a shelf I picked a tiny statuette, the size of an olive, carved in styrofoam, and still with moving parts.

At that point I was crazily furious: "do you want to kill me? the computer is my life! And this room is my youth, this is where I did all my math at the time when I could still do maths!"

Now this savage hate is why I call it a nightmare.

«  In fact my father was ... up-to-date in medicine

And he was ready to talk with me about it, although I never had any serious intentions – neither did he; he told me that he wanted to be an engineer, but chose medicine so he won't have bosses. You can imagine how well he succeeded, in communist Romania; and in Israel, with socialized medicine, almost all doctors were employees.

My father used homeopathic drugs because they worked, and considered homeopathic approach very reasonable – the disease is the set of its symptoms. Theory he took with a grain of salt: till you know why the wart appeared on the left side of the second finger, and not on the right side of the third finger, just treat the wart. He did believe in personalities: "N'importe qui ne fait pas n'importe quand n'importe quelle maladie" was one of his favorite quotes – "No matter who doesn't catch no matter when no matter what illness". His main theory was that illness is mostly a manifestation of something happening in the central nervous system – you might say a show put on by your brain. If you find pathogens in the lesions, it may just mean that they like it there (this is a clearly exaggerated statement, but with a grain of salt... one scientific fact is the huge variation in the amount of pathogens needed to infect an organism) He told me about Speransky's experiments: put a small bead on the sella turcica, and get physiological manifestations, including skin lesions mimicking erysipelas . I hope it's not another example of Soviet science ...

Anyway, it fits with my experience: in the military, a suppurating rash I had had for years on two fingers disappeared. Obviously, not because I was cleaner and better treated than at home; the brain just couldn't cope with it and the horrible misery of basic training. The Romanians have a proverb "Cui pe cui se scoate" – "A nail is pulled out by another nail" – metal nail, not fingernail – which describes this situation.

«  ...I felt I lived on Mozart or Burgess or Apollinaire...

This one is a good example of intraductible poetry (obviously! poetry is what is lost in translation) but, more interestingly, of language-independent poetry. I mean, what if I succeeded with my language, and built something conveying meaning only, without the possibility of 'date', e.g. 09/07/07, accidentally suggesting the sweet fruit 'date'. Could there be poetry in such language? But of course:

Soleil cou coupé
Any language should be able to say "sun","cut" and "neck", and create a poetical image from the sun, round and red like the severed neck.

Or the verse below:

        Et se déplacent rarement comme les pièces aux échecs :     and they seldom move, like chess-pieces.

perfectly translatable, and language-independent.

On the other hand, here are some untranslatable lines:

Tu regardes les yeux pleins de larmes ces pauvres émigrants
Ils croient en Dieu ils prient les femmes allaitent les enfants
Ils emplissent de leur odeur le hall de la gare Saint-Lazare
Ils ont foi dans leur étoile comme les rois-mages
Ils espèrent gagner de l'argent dans l'Argentine
Et revenir dans leur pays après avoir fait fortune
Une famille transporte un édredon rouge comme vous transportez votre coeur
Cet édredon et nos rêves sont aussi irréels
Quelques-uns de ces émigrants restent ici et se logent
Rue des Rosiers ou rue des Écouffes dans des bouges
Je les ai vu souvent le soir ils prennent l'air dans la rue
Et se déplacent rarement comme les pièces aux échecs
Il y a surtout des juifs leurs femmes portent perruque
Elles restent assises exsangues au fond des boutiques

The point is that Apollinaire imitates the bad accent of the emigrants, so Argentine/fortune and perruque/boutique rhyme (they don't rhyme in French). How to render this in another language... Actually, how to render the cuckoo (coucou) hidden in the "cu coupé"!

«  useless knowledge, art – all weak drugs, but.

If education is not for life, but against it, art is even more so. Its purpose – says Burgess – is to restore a semblance of divine order, of unity in a world split like an abscess (the Duoverse, see below). To which I fully agree – life is chaotic, art is organized, life is meaningless, art comes to a point, in short art is artificial . This I embrace with all my soul: poetic diction, sonata form, sonnet form, aria da capo – all the dirty little tricks that distance art from plain everyday experience. Just as simplicity has nothing to do in the kitchen, naturalness has nothing to do in art. And sincerity very little: I think that a good actor should be able to play, and a writer to imagine, someone very different from themselves. As for the slice of life – quick to the trashcan (or recycling bin, to be politically correct).

Here is a better, and more accurate Burgess quotation . But to get it complete, you have to pay, and I'm damned if I will:

Mr. Burgess likes to portray the universe as a "duoverse," that is, a cluster of contending opposites which agitate against moderation. "The thing we're most aware of in life," he writes, "is the division, the conflict of opposites – good, evil; black, white; rich, poor – and so on." And since living in the center of this conflict is, to use Mr. Burgess's illustration, like trying to picnic in the middle of a football field, we gravitate naturally (and gratefully) toward any ideology which is able to convince us that this conflict is actually an illusion, that in fact there is somewhere an ultimate unity in which all extremes resolve themselves. To this end the Church proffers God; socialism, the classless society; and the artist, his art.

"Art," according to Burgess, "is the organization of base matter into an illusory image of universal order." The artist is an alchemist, drawing on the inherent disorder and dissonance of the human...

«  Dupa clasa-ntii, la Olanesti in vacanta ...

How exotic the Romanian vacations! Lasting about one month – quite unheard of by American standards. My father, as an employee, only could come for 2 weeks, but my mother could take off a whole month or more – she was self-employed. Did she pass her patients to a colleague in the meantime? I don't know. Anyway, every year we used to go to some resort; Olanesti, for instance, had mineral springs, so we drank stinking water at various points, and my mother had hot baths and mud packages. But it was an escape from everyday life in Bucharest: a real village surrounded by a real fir-tree forest with cones, berries and mushrooms, and there were glinting mica-stones everywhere, and lots of lizards. I was trying to catch them, to see if they really shed their tails to escape.

We rented a room from a peasant, on the bank of a small stream where I went bathing. One day, as I was splashing the water turned red: they had slaughtered a cow upstream. I was not particularly shocked, rather regretted not seeing how it's done.

But, by and large, it was really boring – no other kids to play. So I bothered my mother to read to me, till one day she told me: "You can read yourself!" and after first grade, I could, because Romanian has a quite phonetic spelling. So I read my first book, "The adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn" and had lots of fun, even if I didn't get fully the situation in the Southern slave states. Nor could I make much sense of Sunday School – that was anticlerical communist Romania – or Injun Joe. As for floating downstream to Cairo, I knew very well that Cairo is in Africa, not America, and I assumed Jim was simply too ignorant.

Since then I read voraciously, till I suddenly lost the knack a few years ago.

« Erratum

My God! what I write when over control!

«  cinical stories...
i.e. clinical sories, but cynical sounds better.

«  This is a (failed) tour the force , fitting a Romanian word into English rhymes...
It is "tour de force", of course.

«  literature or sylistics ...
Another typo, for "stylistics", but how witty: sillystics! silly sticks! almost פוילע שטיק

«  black and whighte
black and white, but
     wight: A living being; a creature

Poor rabbit! I think that was completely fortuitous – I have found out the meaning of "wight" right now, at dictionary.com. But maybe I knew, and forgot, and the subconscious... On the other hand "whig" is just a British party.

«  The gown should be badly split, obviously craracked like everybody's poor life
This one does look Freudian, a long ripping sound crararak!

«  ... had to take a fool look at "The Tempest" ...
How true! "full look" does not compare.

«  ... impresia ca sint bun de parinte. Si taca trebuia sa treci examene...
"şi dacă" – Probabil ca mai bine taceam la aceste subiecte.

«  ... drept acre a botezat-o ginerele "Furtunica".
drept care, dar daca asta nu-i Freudiana!...

«  ...if he had told me "cannot be done" or "the cure is worth than the problem"
the cure is worse than the problem

«  "the cure is worth than the problem". In fact...
Again?! I think I was too lazy to type and just copied the text from one paragraph to another.

«  ...the cuckoo (coucou) hidden in the "cu coupé"!
Le cul beaucoup plus interessant que le cou (echos du pere Ubu)

«  ... strike is actually "word_stoppage", not "hit", and then ...
That should be, of course, "work stoppage". As k is far from d, reasonably Freudian, a hint from the unconscious to shut up.

«  mintea me

Mama-mea cind m-o facut
Butelcuţa me!
Mi-o legat sticla ghie gît
Butelcuţa me!

«  ... eleplant...

for "elephant". How did l get there? it is far from h, but near to p on the keyboard.

«  Dar macar nay scormonesc prin pozele din New Yorker ...

Asta ar fi trebuit sa fie cuvintul romanesc "mai" . Se vede cît control am pe ce fac.

«  ... weapons and anything else usefuk

useful. Maybe my feelings towards the Qin dynasty.

«  a glass cabinet with lots of mysterious stuff

Besides medicine, my mother kept in her cabinet chemicals for various technical purposes: she used to prepare plaster for dental casts, wax temporary dentures, silver amalgam for fillings. To make amalgam, she had a small vial of quicksilver, which was incredibly attractive to me. I could play forever with the heavy shiny drops, but of course they would not let me, because, besides being poisonous, quicksilver vapor may attack various metals, and destroy the dental machinery.

In addition to all that, the glass cabinet plays an important role in another turning point in my life.
I had been playing soccer with the kids. Too lazy to run, I volunteered for goalkeeper. Being a total klutz, and completely unwilling to move, I let in too many goals, so the other kids beat me.
So I went upstairs to my mother's office: "Give me some poison, I want to kill myself !" At which she opened the cabinet, took out a little bottle with clear fluid in it, and gave it to me. Then she went on working on her patient.
In my twenties, I used to criticize my mother – because she was a conformist, because she was a worrier, because she insisted to clean my room, because... But, in fact, I always knew she was everything one should be: brave, humorous, wise, and she even could take me seriously . Because of the poison from the glass cabinet.

There is, of course, a sequel. With that bottle in my hand, I went to the other room. I thought deeply – didn't even open the bottle. I decided I wouldn't kill myself right then, but at 13 (I knew it was an important age, but was not really sure why; at that time I was 10). Nobody ever mentioned the event; I never played soccer or other team games again, unless I had to at school.


2008 Cruise

«  We left for more than a month, from the end of November to Christmas. The trip was from San Francisco, along the Pacific coast to Cape Horn, then to the Falkland Islands and back along the Atlantic coast to Rio. We had great expectations about Cape Horn, hoping to be rocked to sweet dreams on the stormy seas.

But, as usual, God has his own plans, so our Monterey house caught fire. As we were about to embark on Wednesday, Mike called me Monday at work, telling me that he is rushing home because the house is burning! So I could not remain at work, and I played hookey on Tuesday, too. But we did not get to Monterey, nobody was allowed in the house – possibly unsafe. So we left the whole joy to Mike and sailed the ocean blue.

Of course, the best time in the cruise is the sea days, the ports may be intersting, but having nothing to do is so much better... And if the port is interesting, what can you get to do between 10 AM and 4 PM, at most? I also found out that what I had learnt in school does not fit reality. At the Equator, instead of heat and daily showers, we had the wonderful cool weather of San Francisco. I was exuberant, after sweating buckets in Mexico and Central America. From Antarctica there comes a cold current which cools the shore, just as in San Francisco. And at Cape Horn there was no hurricane or storm, just calm clear weather – probably global warming.

When I got home, I went completely cuckoo about the pictures we took. I stay up till midnight cutting and pasting and blending and smudging. This is all my brain can still do, writing is much less productive. And I'm convincing myself it is art, or at least non-infringement of copyright when I use others' pictures.

Here is the summary:
It's supposed to be annoyingly garish; this shows the general situation in my brain as all the sensations, memories and ideas splosh together.

But try clicking.

There are some more pictures, in the same order.

«  from the online dictionaries for ancient Egyptian

There are quite a few, and a lot of fun they are.

Dictionaries and Word Lists (from the site above)

Searchable online dictionary of ancient Egyptian The Ancient Egyptian Dictionary Project, a division of the BBAW, possesses the most comprehensive lexicographic archive of hieroglyphic texts in the world. This compilation provided the basis for the preparation of the "Woerterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache", published in book form between 1926 and 1963. The complete archive was made available on the Internet for the first time in October 2001.
The Beinlich WordlistThe handlist of Ancient Egyptian words known to Egyptologists as the "Beinlich Wordlist" was announced by Horst Beinlich and Friedhelm Hoffmann in Göttinger Miszellen 140 (1994), 101-3. The raw data of the Wordlist is simply the Egyptian word in transliteration, a German translation, and brief references to the Wörterbuch or more recent publications.
Cooperative online dictionary of ancient Egyptian This dictionary operates very much like a wiki, enabling users to add their own entries.

But, of course, they disagree completely among themselves. Besides, the hieroglyphs in the picture come from yet another source (which I could not rediscover). Anyway, if you really are curious, here are some possibilities for go, shadow, and burn. Enjoy the glorious mixup of English, German, transliterations of Egyptian, and hieroglyph fonts! Besides, the text is read left to right or right to left, depending on which way the images face. E.g., if the chick looks left one reads left to right.

« Bright ideas.

«  Not to mention how cheap it is to violate taboos and break the rules.

"Cheap" is, of course, a great quality, not a defect. But consider:

...It is the basic principle of the market that everybody tries to get as much as possible and to pay as little as possible. There is nothing wrong with this: when I buy something, I try to save money, and everybody does the same. What is wrong is that some students apply the same rule to learning: they seem to think that they buy grades and pay for them by learning. And they try to pay as little as possible...
and much more, to which I wholeheartedly agree.

Then there is the American idea that questioning authority and generic nonconformism is a great quality, not a defect. Obviously, rubs me the wrong way.

In any case, there is always the suspicion that your verse is free because you can't manage rhythm and rhyme, and your painting abstract because you can't draw. Which, evidently, need not be so; Picasso was a master of every technique, but he chose to draw the ugliest imaginable things (far uglier than I could imagine) But then I choose not to look at them – although I'd buy them – purely as investments...

If you do break the rules, the result should be remarkable despite that, not because of that; certainly not only because of that. Somehow, I prefer artists who don't break the rules, but use them naturally like a fish water (not that I know much about creating art; besides, you should pick the right rules, e.g. compose a classical symphony, not a baby Bach symphony.)

Basically, the artist does what he must (so he insists) and I buy what I like. That seems fair to everybody.

signed:    Le bourgeois qu'on n'épate pas           

«  Besides all the familiar places, we also got to some catacombs...

Rubik cube and Rubik cone

Obviously, we went to the Sixtine Chapel. In the sixties, Mme Moretta had sent us there on a gratis weekend, and we had walked to the Vatican, entered, walked around and gazed at the old, faded frescoes. But now! there was a line of thousands waiting all around the palace wall, and, although we were on a private tour and skipped that, the same thousands were already inside, everywhere. The guides communicated by radio only – the noise of people around was enough to prevent any normal level conversation – just immagine everybody yelling to be heard. But at least they had restored Michelangelo's ceiling, at which most critics protested as much as they could.

Still, on one of the corridors, we found some seats to rest. That walls were decorated with XVIth century maps of Italy, which might have even been used sometimes for practical purpse, as they seemed accurate enough. So I noticed on the panel in front of me a river labelled Rubicone. Now Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his troops, meaning that he was invading Italy to seize power. I had always though that the Rubicon must be somewhere near the borders, maybe on the way from Gaul, say near Milano or Torino or Como... the map showed it south of Ravenna, on the eastern coast!

I thought maybe the map was just an artistic fiction, but its details were quite reasonable, as far as I know Italian geography... Maybe another river called Rubicon... As soon as I could I checked – I think they had a big atlas onboard. It is indeed south of Ravenna. So travel really is educational.

Or is it? With this kind of queues and crowding, all the wonderful cultural sites inspire just revulsion, unless you already are a confirmed culture fanatic – or some VIP who can avoid queues and crowding. I can't think of any solution, although the Internet, or even the local library might help.

«  ... we caught two typhoons ...

stolen from: American Heritage Dictionary

     n. A tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans.

[Greek tuphon, whirlwind, and Arabic tufan, deluge (from Greek tuphon), and Chinese (Cantonese) taaifung (equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) tai, great + Chinese (Mandarin) feng, wind).]

Word History: The history of typhoon presents a perfect example of the long journey that many words made in coming to English. It traveled from Greece to Arabia to India, and also arose independently in China, before assuming its current form in our language. The Greek word tuphon, used both as the name of the father of the winds and a common noun meaning "whirlwind, typhoon," was borrowed into Arabic during the Middle Ages, when Arabic learning both preserved and expanded the classical heritage and passed it on to Europe and other parts of the world. Tufan, the Arabic version of the Greek word, passed into languages spoken in India, where Arabic-speaking Muslim invaders had settled in the 11th century. Thus the descendant of the Arabic word, passing into English (first recorded in 1588) through an Indian language and appearing in English in forms such as touffon and tufan, originally referred specifically to a severe storm in India. The modern form of typhoon was influenced by a borrowing from the Cantonese variety of Chinese, namely the word taaifung, and respelled to make it look more like Greek. Taaifung, meaning literally "great wind," was coincidentally similar to the Arabic borrowing and is first recorded in English guise as tuffoon in 1699. The various forms coalesced and finally became typhoon, a spelling that first appeared in 1819 in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.

"Damn," he muttered as he pressed his hand against his throbbing knee. He hobbed to the bathroom, feeling his way with his right palm along the wall. It didn't take expertise in neurobiology to know that photochemical stimulation of the retina was the surest way of waking up.

At home, he was certain of his path: out on the right side of the bed; four steps along the edge while brushing the mattress with his left leg; three steps across no man's land with his right hand reaching for the wall; and then straight on to the bathroom door, left hand finding the washbasin and, finally, right foot cautiously feeling for the base of the toilet. Keeping his eyes closed as he squatted to empty his bladder, he used the time and the darkness to retain the last memory of whatever dream he had woken from. Focusing on the interrupted dream, like not turning on the light, was another step toward resumption of sleep.

(opening lines of "Cantor's dilemma" by Carl Djerassi)

Now that's a slice of life – of my life! Since age 10, I started waking up at night to piss, and I have developed all the dirty tricks, including trying to continue my dreams, to make sure I fall asleep again as soon as possible. The hero of these paragraphs is me – but Djerassi published first! Not that I would publish such stuff, even in a blog, although it makes great reading. But I got shocked, as if I had seen in print my most intimate and shameful secret (which I won't tell you, don't worry).

At 10, I rushed to my father for a solution. As a doctor, I thought, he should be able to provide a cure – and I still think so. But all he advised was a chamber pot, which then I had to carry in the morning to the faraway toilet, because Papina wouldn't. Eventually I got accustomed to the situation. Now I wake 3 times a night, or more – not prostate cancer, alas, just the joys of age.

What I remember from Physics

Ehrenfest urn model

There are some particles in two containers. They have ID numbers: 1,2,3... Maxwell's Daemon calls at random "1172 jump! ... 73526 jump! ..."; then the named particle jumps from wherever it is to the other container.

The daemon calls very often, and there are lots of tiny particles, such that one alone is not noticeable, and they can only be seen in bulk. If at the beginning all of them are in one container, what one notices "in the large" is a flow from the full container to the empty one, fast at the beginning then slowing to a halt as the two containers become equally full. If the containers are tall and narrow, one also sees flow from a high level to a low level, mimicking gravity.

But there is no gravity and no flow, just Maxwell's Daemon commanding the random particle to jump.

To warn you that the model is not the reality – many beautiful explanations will do, and all must be taken with a grain of salt.

Eddington's model

An ichtyologist casts his net in the ocean and studies the catch. He draws two conclusions:
  1. All fish die out of the water.
  2. All fish are larger than one inch.

Now (1.) is a property of the fish, but (2.) is a property of the net.

This is an even deeper statement about models: what we can know is based on our net, i.e. the method of research (mathematics in science) and even the physiology of human thought. This is how Eddington reached the conclusion that the universe consists of precisely 2 292 atoms – or something like that – as he decided that this is what our mind can conceive, or must conceive. They laughed him out of physics, but the poetry...

Non-conservation of parity

This happens every time you put a pair of socks in the washer and only one comes back from the dryer. I remembered this as "Yang-Mills result", but it is actually Lee and Yang; I also mixed up Ehrenfest with Uhlenbeck.

«  ... near my house in Bucharest: a more detailed map .

Actually, the first map of Bucharest that I ever saw was in Rome, in 1973, brought by a Romanian tourist. I think that in my time in Romania the maps were considered military secrets – or there was so little private traffic, there was no need of maps. Anyway, I was surprised to find my house somewhere far in the south – although the main train station, Gara de Nord (North Station) was on the other side of the city, which should have been a hint.

The trams ran on Calea Rahovei, Cosbuc and Uranus, and four lines clanged right in front of our house – which I don't think disturbed me. I could take the tram to the middle school, or walk – about half an hour, which I sometimes did. I had walked to the elementary school – 10 minutes or so.

Another essential detail: one of the streets across from my house was called Vistieri, "treasurers", because the latrine cleaners had lived there – before my time.

And another – on the bottom right corner of the map, you can see a blue spot inside the park : it was a pool where one could hire boats and row. It was also a scene of great heroism.

One winter break, in the first or second grade, our teacher took our class to a trip to the park. The pool was frozen, and the kids started sliding on the ice. Bibi did too, but the ice broke and he fell in. I pulled him out, and accompanied him home. After which I kept boasting how I had saved his life. No matter that the pool was so shallow, that he had stood comfortably on the bottom (and murky enough that it wasn't obvious at all).


This is a dream, complete with disclaimer for its content. But, as a dream, it shows the real me, so...

This time I was in our house in Hampton, doing nothing and enjoying the idea of doing nothing. Then some mating cats started meowing loudly under the window.

Nomi and some children came with a water hose and sprayed the cats, a lot of fun -- for me too. But, of course, everything got wet, and – always educational – I told her "You're old enough to know better! mop it up!" (she didn't) . Nomi was about 10 in the dream.

Then Mike – at his current age – came with a Chinese doggy bag. As we prepared to eat, I noticed some trash by the table, told Nomi to clean up (she didn't) . Then there came in a navy guy with a letter, and I worried it could be some summons. I had to write a mailing receipt, ( on the envelope, but I started writing on my bare foot. Anyway, the handwriting was clumsy and unreadable ). The guy, who was a radioman, encouraged me with some words in Romanian, and I wondered how he knew that, but he said that there are many nationalities at the Naval School. After I finished writing, it turned out I got a complimentary gift from the School, where I actually taught in real life. A few collectibles, not too pretty, a plate, saucer and cup plus a ceramic flamingo.

The radioman congratulated me on my teaching, then left. In the meantime beloved wife came home – Mike and the leftovers disappeared. Liliana was not please with what I had received, and I told her "Can't you be more positive?"

Overall, I could not understand what anybody said.

This is the second time that I dream of Mikey coming home since the big family drama.

«  it turns out one can safely ignore all the Malay prefixes and suffixes, the meaning remains the same

And the more I think, the more I believe that the only purpose of speaking a language correctly – as opposed to speaking it anyhow – is purely social: to be accepted as "one of us". The main purpose of language – communication – does NOT require correct speech! Horribly mangled sentences convey meaning quite well. I used to say "poetry is what is lost in translation, therefore meaning is what is conserved in translation", now I would say "meaning is what is conserved after severe mangling".

How disgusting! My only linguistic insight, and it's sociolinguistics! I kept dreaming of going and actually studying linguistics – say with McWhorter – but first yelling on the rooftops that I won't touch sociolinguistics. In the ancient ballads the lord and the peasant speak the same language – that's the language that interests me; more precisely, the written form of ancient ballads where the lord and the peasant speak the same language. I am a philologist more than a linguist, that is, I would be... Not that I appreciate literature or sylistics so much, rather I wouldn't go into political correctness, or field work.

And I do care for "right" language – even allowing the tyranny of an Academy. If not, if any way of speaking is a valid linguistic phenomenon, then each and every one can each speak some not quite comprehensible idiolect – e.g. the Romanian part of the site. It's fun, but only for the speaker, just as jazz is most fun for the performer, not the listener. So give me the written language of "the best authors", and maybe the written grammar of the written language...

«  ... trams ran on Calea Rahovei, Cosbuc and Uranus

Besides being the planet nearest to you – nearer even than Earth! – Uranus reminds me of my great escape.

One winter afternoon, when I was in first or second grade, I quarrelled with my mother, and decided to leave home. I took my sled – did I hope to find some slopes to slide? – and walked along Uranus. About four or five tram stations, maybe two miles, to the firemen's baracks (which was a historic place with a monument: the firemen had fought the final battle there, when the Turks occupied Bucharest for the last time, in 1848). Then I returned home the same way. It took some time, because I was never fast, and I was small, tightly wrapped in winter clothes and lugging the sled.

In the meantime, my parents had discovered I was missing, so my father went out to search for me. He did not find me, but we reached home at about the same time. I don't remember my parents being angry. Were they really so tolerant? Was I the normal child that erases rebukes or punishment from its mind? I think I remember – but that may be quite false after 50 years – that I was not particularly angry on my way, nor really emotional when I decided to come home.

I did not leave home after that. I wanted to leave when I found out that Liliana was pregnant and wanted the child, but

In Ceausescu's time all the region north of "my" map was completely restructured; recent maps show the current Parliament there, a park and some other fancy public buildings. I certainly cannot now walk along Uranus, in search of childhood.


Well, at least in Romanian I am the proverbial educated native speaker . Or am I?

I insist on the "educated" part. I read in Romanian a lot, but mostly before 14 – then I switched to English (I almost never read Hebrew for fun – it is fair enough to say I never read Hebrew at all, except Ephraim Kishon and "May 35th"). I kept reading French whenever I could – for a long time I thought I knew better French than English. I even read some Italian, and forced myself to read German, hoping to learn the language this way – didn't work.

But let's return to Romanian.
I do enjoy Romanian poetry, but elegant literary language puts me off. Can I really qualify sentences as well formed? I wrote well wormed – what a beautiful Freudian sleep... Freudian slip ... What I am qualified, and what I am qualified only in Romanian, is to express myself to my heart's desire, with reasonable ease. I speak or write in a way that satisfies me, and I can compose doggerel. In Romanian I actually write as I speak, so I can't use an elevated style, but that I don't care about.

And maybe that's not even Romanian, but an idiolect, with bits and pieces of English, French, Hebrew, whatnot... This is why I called it ROMANIAN, ETC. I do believe that the Romanian half of the site is better written than the rest. Certainly more fun to write. But to enjoy it, you must be very much like me, fluent in Romanian, Hebrew, French and everything else. And assuming that you're like me , I omitted most of the diacritics, and left most stuff unexplained.

E.g.:   Bandiera rossală trionferà.

On the other hand, the English part is over detailed, because the progeny might read it.

Indoor recreations

Justi and I were sitting, each on a bed, each throwing a nut to the other. The game ended when the nuts collided in mid-air. That's my kind of athletics, really move only when you missed the nut, a more fitting penalty then losing points.

Some more energetic sports: on the hall outside their appartment, we would play some kind of tennis, Justi defending the staircase, so if he missed the ball he would have to run down a floor or two (I, obviously, wouldn't; making him run was the point of the game). With slight complications, because the neighbors didn't like the idea. We used some small rubber ball, and, as racquets, eggplant choppers. What!? eggplant choppers: as the internet explains:

Salată de vinete
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Salată de vinete (eggplant salad) is a Romanian salad (similar to the Indian dish, baigan ka bharta and to baba ghanoush) made from grilled chopped eggplants, sunflower oil and chopped onions. The eggplants are grilled, unpeeled, until they are covered with ash crust, then cleaned of that crust and mashed with a blunt wooden tool. Then they are mixed with sunflower oil and chopped onions and salt is added to taste.

Actually I searched the Wikipedia in the hope of finding a better expression than "a blunt wooden tool", but... It looks like a Chinese cleaver made of wood, and really is blunt.

At that time we were on our way out of Romania, in hope if not in fact, so I played as the Belgian champion, while Justi was the representative of Israel.

«  Ziua buna se cunoaste de dimineata


I woke at five, and around six o'clock, when I realized I won't fall asleep again, I cursed my life, made my injection, and read for half an hour, waiting till I could eat.

What I want: to sit down, have some cocoa with toast and yoghurt. So I set the pot to boil, and a tortilla in the oven, and I took a cup out of the dishwasher, which spilled some water on the floor. Then...

As I turn to put cocoa in the pot, I slip on the spilled water, fall over the open dishwasher and bump my head (first thought: now I get brain concussion and retire!) My head hurts, I sit on the floor for a while, then I notice cocoa everywhere and some bits and pieces of the dishwasher on the floor. Still, I can at least shut the dishwasher, the landlord will fix it, we'll see... I try to wipe the cocoa off the floor, it won't work, so I bring the vacuum cleaner. In the meantime, the tortilla has caught fire in the oven. I throw it in the sink, the dishrag catches fire. Till I wet them to put the fire out, the smoke detector starts howling. In this harmony, I vacuum, clean up somewhat. When I unplug the vacuum, the cord pulls down again the cocoa box, the kitchen gets smeared again, I vacuum again. But at least the smoke detector shut up.

Finally, I made my cocoa and second tortilla. I even restored the various pieces into the dishwasher, maybe at their right places. I didn't sit too much, but I'm done with eating. As I go to the bathroom to comb my hair, surprise – at the first stroke of the brush, a cocoa cloud. I have to shower and wash the brush.

Neat and tidy, I get to work – ten minutes walk. Woke up at five, start at eight.

«  I also had a few programs for automatic musical composition

Once upon a time...

I got accepted as an instructor to MIT, so I got all kinds of papers from them, among which "HOTOGAMIT: How To Get Around MIT", including the famous FINAL EXAM, including, among others:

MEDICINE: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze and a bottle of scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

PUBLIC SPEAKING: 2500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

MUSIC: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with a flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

BIOLOGY: Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

Now the music part immediately caught my eye, because nobody said that the concerto must have any esthetic value; as for what a concerto is... So I would do it automatically by computer (including performance); anyway I was right in the middle of my dodecaphonic period. This has been, ever since, the goal and vision of my music composition, and, although I did not get as far as a concerto (relatively long, with relatively big orchestra) I have been in many places on the way. Alas, in the meantime I somewhat lost the enthusiasm, for both music and programming, but

I am proud to report that the concerto is now ready.

The first, maybe the only duty of a work of art is to be unforgettable . "Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls." When I read this for the first time, I knew here was something I would never forget (and then, of course, I forgot it, but now there is the Internet). Music or literature must hook you this way; probably visual arts too, but I am less sensitive to that - words fail me . Anyway, in many cases I can tell precisely what the hook was, and I can grade pieces by their memorability. For instance, from whatever I read for the English high school final exam in Israel, two poems struck me as unforgettable: "Do not go gentle" and "Annabel Lee". Musing about changing the first lines:

    It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,

into "a republic by the sea", I decided then that if I write my biography, it will be called "In a republic by the sea" – not very informative, there are few landlocked lands, and some are not republics, e.g. Nepal. But that would not be accurate: I was born a loyal subject of His Majesty King Michael II of Romania and his communist government, whose anniversary was three weeks before mine. In December, before my first birthday, the king left and then we got our republic by the sea. I remember these details not because of teething troubles, but because the dates were commemorated in Romania when I grew up: "March 6th" was the street where all the movie theaters were, "December 30th"... I forget.

Brand new republicans, at their cutest. My mother and me, by my first birthday.

«  ...my father could do no wrong

So let's make complete list of all the things he did wrong – that's easy. Will I be able to tell everything he did right?

Anyway, when I finally had my own room (which had been my mother's medical office), he still would sometimes come early in the morning to piss in the sink. Even if I protested, he didn't care. Now if anybody else woke me up, I would definitely hate his guts forever, but my father...

Much later, in Israel, my parents bought a neighboring apartment and broke the connecting wall, and that was mine. But in the new apartment they put a TV – the great novelty, Israel started its own TV broadcasts in 1967 – and would gather every evening to watch the bad news (almost all that Israel produces is news, and there are no good news by definition). So of course I wanted the TV out, at which my father told me squarely that he won't enter my apartment anymore. Imagine my reaction when someone prefers shitty TV to me! but I gave up. Eventually they bought a second TV, which stayed in their apartment.

Some time before that, when Robert Kennedy was shot, he had to stay on the radio (there was no TV) all night catching foreign posts with parasites, to find out – what? We were still all living in the same apartment, and it drove me completely crazy, till I left for a walk in the middle of the night. I don't think he noticed.

That's all I can think about.

«  a diatribe against noisy neighbors and rug beating housewives

There was many and many a year ago
In a republic by the sea
An Abominable Snowman, whom you may know
By the name of Lustman Levee.
And this monster, he lived with no other thought
– That was his perpetual sorrow –
Than fall asleep one night, in peace and in quiet
And sleep undisturbed till morrow.

But! the hard soled neighbors above
Coveted him a lot,
So they kept going and going and going
With a rhythmical tot-tot-tot,
And the sun never rose, but there was the sharp prose
Of miss Spodik the street nearby,
And the moon never beamed, but some darling child screamed
And a thousand yelled back in reply,
And the stars never shone, but there was the loud drone
Of the radios, or some ring on telephone,
Or some plane wrooming up in the sky,
So poor Lévee just wished he'd die.

Oh, he sighed and he wept
And in winks only slept,
Till one day everything changed, because
He remembered how Abominable he was.

When rugs boomed overhead
He just uttered "Drop dead!"
Stiff on their rugs the housewives then fell;
And to each shrieking shrew
He said "Devil take you!"
And they promptly were taken to hell;
Every cute child he spotted
Like a fly he just swatted,
And, having killed big and small
Silence sweet fell once and for all!

So he could, by night tide
Lie on back or on side
On their sepulchres by the sea,
On their tombs by the silent sea.

«  Ce sa-mi scrintesc limba pe englezeste si alte langues de chats...

Twisting my tongue in English for the benefit of future generations / progeny

I was thinking of tanti Ada and education – she spoke French and German, Romanian as the n‑th foreign language after Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew, which she still remembered after 50 years. She also knew some English, was a lawyer and a diplomat, had played the violin (like me? better?) And, in fact, all our parents' generation: even daddy played the violin – one song actually – but with four flats, which made me feel outclassed and chipped another bit off my reliance. And he didn't play worse than me – or I just couldn't imagine him worse than me. He also used to hum and sing all the time, which I inherited, to the great mortification of my beloved children. I think nobody in the family had any special vocal gifts, but we two hit the notes, without embarrassment, with pleasure even.

In fact, the first time I heard my voice – recorded, not Eustachian – was at MIT where we made a teaching test, and, although I remained confident I knew all about teaching, I hated my voice – too high and strident. For in general I don't like, just adore, myself – and when I see myself in a mirror I wonder why it doesn't crack.

As for teaching, with time I found out I was not quite so perfect, especially after I got knocked at NPS , many years after. I was listening, because there might have been a vague chance of tenure. Actually, I always knew that if something is interesting to me, it is deadly to the student; but teaching is precisely the dialogue with the one (whose existence is axiomatic) who understands you and is curious about what you say. At least I did my duty as that student.

«  I probably was as bad at work ...

Most of our work was on orange plantations – the main crop. There were also apple and bananas. One of the jobs was to cut the dry leaves off the banana trees. At this I excelled – probably because of the Romanian expression "taie frunza la ciini" – cut leaves for the dogs, a proverbial description of inactivity (one would have guessed useless activity, but it is not employed that way). So much so, that I was almost assigned to work permanently on the bananas – till they let me drive a tractor and I promptly took down a fence – another Romanian expression: "oiştea-n gard" "cart axle in the fence" used for great stupidity. How neatly reality imitates (folk) literature.

Eventually I got to the kitchen, washing dishes – not bad, because I could sleep in the afternoon, after lunch, when I worked dinner shift. Everybody was away working, all peace and quiet – except they sometimes mowed the lawn.

But I actually did work a few times at the ideal occupation: watering young orange trees. These had a small basin dug around the trunk, and I was walking around, with a water hose and a spade to repair the basins, filling them from tree to tree. All alone, no hurry, cold water to drink, and the mind completely free to roam.

The worst occupation was one day in the barn. I was supposed to scatter sawdust fom a sack on cow's shit, for fertilizer. Never mind the stench and the flies, the sacks were very heavy and I could not grab them – other workers had a hook to catch the sack, but I didn't.

«  is supposed to be " avrekh meshi", a "silken lordling", i.e. a delicate scholar,

The Viceroy – avrekh is applied to Biblical Joseph, when he was Pharaoh's viceroy.
Avrekh in Hebrew.

Since rekh can mean king (see 2 Samuel 3:39, Radak ad loc.), this word can be interpreted as "father of the king" or "arch-ruler" (Sifri on Deuteronomy 1:1; Bava Bathra 4a; Rashi; Rashbam. See Genesis 45:8; note on Genesis 20:2). It may also be related to the Akadian word abarakhu, denoting the chief steward of the royal house.

Others define Avrekh as "merciful father" (Shmuel ben Chofni). Still others see it as a command, "bow down" (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim; Sforno). It may thus be related to the Egyptian expression a-bor-k, "prostrate yourself," or aprek, "head bowed." Others see it as related to the Egyptian ibrek, "attention," aabrek "to the left" or "stand aside," ap-rekh-u, "head of the wise," ab-rek, "rejoice!" or abu-rek, "your command is our desire."

According to other sources, Avrekh was the public name given to Joseph, while Tzaphnath Paaneach (41:45) was the private name used in the palace (Agadath Bereshith 73). Others interpret the verse, "as he passed [the people] called out, 'I will bow down' " (Ibn Ezra). (from the Internet, of course)

And my interpretation is av-rekh : the father is a king, so prince or lordling (like Avner ben Ner). Anyway, there aren't many viceroys, but every Jewish girl is a Jewish princess, so why not every boy a prince?

«  Giovinezza, giovinezza

Not as poignant without Schubert, but Müller's poetry is quite good. I'm particularly pleased that I can understand the German words – Heine has the same great quality. Because out of Wagner, e.g., I can only, sometimes, recognize ha-ja-ja-ha-ja! Which, in idiomatic German, one says "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof!" = "It's Greek to me!". Geh' weiß.

The Old-Man's Head

Der greise Kopf


The frost had spread a white sheen Der Reif hatt' einen weißen Schein
All over my hair; Mir übers Haar gestreuet;
I thought I had become an old man Da glaubt' ich schon ein Greis zu sein
And was very pleased about it. Und hab' mich sehr gefreuet.



But soon it melted away, Doch bald ist er hinweggetaut, (hin=from here,  weg=away,  ge=German verbs add that to show German origin,   tau=dew)
I have black hair again Hab' wieder schwarze Haare,
So that I am horrified by my youth - Daß mir's vor meiner Jugend graut -
How long still to the grave Wie weit noch bis zur Bahre ! (German Bahre = English bier)



From sunset to dawn Vom Abendrot zum Morgenlicht
Many a head turned white. Ward mancher Kopf zum Greise.
Who can believe it ? And mine Wer glaubt's ? und meiner ward es nicht
Has not on this whole journey ! Auf dieser ganzen Reise !



The comments on the side are just to show how one can enjoy German, without knowing it.

     Man knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest... Yet he seriously believes that these things can, every one of them, in all their tones and semi-tones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary stockbroker can really produce out of his own inside noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all agonies of desire.
                 G. K. Chesterton, "G.F. Watts" , 1904
                           Quoted in J. L. Borges, "John Wilkins' Analytical language", 1941
So Gică thinks that language is impossible, at least for stockbrokers! And yet the solution of the dilemma is plain in the clumsy text: "tones and semi-tones", i.e. not the continuum of frequencies, but a selected finite subset – of grunts and squeals, if you wish. Language is definitely reductionist, and just as it does not use all the available sounds, it does not represent all the soul tints (if anyone is ever aware of all of them), but whatever is socially expedient.

Poetry can indeed suggest above and beyond what words can say, so more power to it! But, remember, poetry is lost in translation, and meaning conserved in translation, and language is primarily about meaning.

And what shall I say about "more numberless"? I have grave doubts it actually refers to unequal infinities, but maybe I'm maligning poor Gică.

Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote, included among his works:

q) A "definition" of the Countess de Bagnoregio, in the "victorious volume" – the locution is Gabriele d'Annunzio's, another of its collaborators – published annually by this lady to rectify the inevitable falsifications of journalists and to present "to the world and to Italy" an authentic image of her person, so often exposed (by very reason of her beauty and her activities) to erroneous or hasty interpretations.

r) A cycle of admirable sonnets for the Baroness de Bacourt (1934).

s) A manuscript list of verses which owe their efficacy to their punctuation.

Now I was always wondering about item (s), but it turns out not to be too exotic, I can easily give an example (no apology to Edith Piaf) :

Le ciel bleu sur nous pourrait bien s'effrondrer 
Et la terre aussi s'écrouler. 
Que m'importe, si tu m'aimes? 
Je m'en fous du monde entier.



The blue sky might well fall down on us,
And the earth might crumble, too.
What do I care, provided you love me?
I don't give a damn.



Le ciel bleu sur nous pourrait bien s'effrondrer 
Et la terre aussi s'écrouler. 
Que m'importe si tu m'aimes? 
Le bilan serait le meme.


The blue sky might well fall down on us,
And the earth might crumble, too.
What do I care whether you love me?
The end result would be the same.


( Clumsy English translation, to stress the sense )


The first three verses differ only by a comma. And when spoken, even more so when sung, one cannot hear the difference.

«  children are superior ... more creative ...

We had recently a meeting at work, where the speaker defined creativity by the following test: they give you a paper sheet with a circle, and you have to add a dot. If you put it inside, blah, if you put it outside, better, if you put it on the other side of the sheet – really creative. So far so good, I would have put it in the center, and I always rated myself low for creativity, as confirmed by my mathematical career. After which she told us how little children are creative, but it gets lost in the educational process... At which I couldn't keep still (usually in such meetings I am quieter than the furniture, not a squeak!) and had to say, "Of course a small child will try anything, but creativity is for Beethoven and such!"

The whole stuff was about Kaizen . I think that requesting your employees to have good ideas is unfair – good ideas are as rare as pearls. Even small ideas – I might have had some neat piece of code, but who else will use it – in general it is much easier to write down your own small programs rather than fitting existing code to your particular task; and besides, many will be shocked by my Neanderthal programming style . As for non programming – the only mentionable thing is writing notes (which I must do, because I forget so fast) on spare sheets of paper, then putting the sheets in order in a binder... Is this really worth mentioning?

And it stinks very much of "all the patents developed while working for COMPANY belong to COMPANY"...

«  Nothing wrong with the Bible – quite readable, even in translation .

And, of course, King's Version of the Bible is one of the feet on which literary English stands (the others being Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland – if you want to make it stabler, the fourth foot is Ulysses).

But here is one of my bright discoveries about Bible translation. The Latin mass begins with

"Introibo ad altare Dei – Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam."
"I will go in to the altar of God – To God, Who giveth joy to my youth."

Not that I ever heard a Latin Mass, but, like everything else, this is to be found somewhere in Ulysses . Anyway, it seemed very fishy to me, because of the youth part – the Bible usually has nothing positive to say about youth. So I looked at the Hebrew original, psalm 43 (or 42, there are various numberings). Here is the relevant line, in Latin, Hebrew and a recent English translation:

42:4 et introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam; confitebor tibi in cithara, Deus, Deus meus.

מג ד    אבואה אל מזבח אלהים אל אל שמחת גילי ואודך בכנור אלהים אלהי

42:4 That I may come to the altar of God, to God, my joy, my delight. Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

The explanation is the Hebrew גיל which means both "age" and "joy"; the Latin translator – St Jerome? – took it as "age", or "young age", but "joy" makes more sense, and the English version has "joy and delight".

«  The real story is even more fantastic...

Somehow, I always found reality much more extraordinary than fiction – it is probably because I lack imagination, and also because fiction is damn hard to do – the only example that comes to the mind is Ursula K. LeGuin. Almost impossible to maintain consistency and flaunt everyday experience, which badly needs flaunting! As for Ruritania, or even Asimov's laws of robotics... but then Asimov wrote the truly remarkable " Nightfall ", serious food for thought once you realize that the first human science was astronomy.

Literature is exactly the possibility "you say so, but I say different" and its value is mostly in how you say it – basically you must convince me I can't say it better. But reality is for real .

And how queer can it be! consider the platypus, or radiolaria and acantharia , or the etymology of "nice", or the Bernadotte dynasty, or the measurable cardinals – princes of the church at the tailor's, being fitted for their robes.

Mathematics is full of such incredible stuff, plus "I say so and nobody can say otherwise, because it's proved". But trying to convince people that math is wonderful is like trying to convince me that basketball is fun (I had to play basketball in school and somewhat know what it is about).

«  the Egyptians say "Everything fears time, and time fears the Pyramids".

But, except for scaring time, what's the use of the Pyramids ? Are they just an eternal monument to indestructible primitivism and imbecility, the general belief about 2500 BC that the king needs an ultra fancy tomb? Are they a show of power?

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
(didn't particularly impress all the conquerors of Egypt) Or, even worse, the ancient version of the Belomorkanal – keep the populace busy, so they won't revolt. In any case they stay there as a big memento that Marxism cannot be 100% right: what kind of ecomomic role can you imagine for them? (The Bible did: the Pyramids were supposed to be grain silos, filled during the seven good years and emptied during the following bad ones).

The other thing that comes to mind is hubris. Now, as a programmer, I should consider hubris a virtue, although Zeus zaps you for it. But not in Egypt – few thunderstorms. Probably this also explains the fantastic buildings and landshaping in the Emirates – few thunderstorms there too. So they did it just to show it can be done, and who knows, maybe someone will actually profit from the very advanced techniques. And, as G B Shaw is said to have said about St. Donat's : "This is what God would have built if he had had the money." Actually, I don't feel any great curiosity to visit these places, till they put them under cover, with airconditioning.

«  ...to the military for my basic training ...

That was the worst thing that ever happened to me (shows what a pampered life I've had. And still I am dissatisfied with it, as I have every right to be, cause this is not mentioned in the Constitution ). I got there after the second year in college, convinced I was a somewhat decent person, not only the best student they had. Then I was completely miserable, hurting everywhere, sleeping three hours a night if at all, and treated like shit. The last probably deserved, because I couldn't do any of the required stuff – like run or load a machine gun, nor could I see why I should. And there was absolutely no respite, they might come at any moment with some new torment and punishment for doing it wrong.

The misery cured some skin sores I had had for years; I also lost a lot of weight. So when I came home the first time, my mother exclaimed "You look so well!". I didn't strangle her, however.

After basic training I remained firmly convinced that Hell is open and waiting. The conviction starts to fade, slowly, about now, after a few years of Prozac and the realization that I'm too sick to be taken to the military, even if I return to Israel – I think one owes military service till 65 there.

«  ... as for the slice of life ...

I have just seen "A long day's journey into night". The first half was just painful – I don't hate these people, seeing them suffer doesn't make me feel better, quite the opposite. But the second half was a big improvement – just because of the operatic ensemble arrangements, with set arias and duets, with a lot of artificiality – how right I am (all the time!) the moment it escapes reality it becomes art, and shields me from misery, instead of sticking my nose into it.

One point I'd like to make. At the very end, the morphine addicted mother appears in her wedding gown – after many lines about how tight that gown had been, how she had held her breath during fitting, etc. The play also opens with her husband complimenting her "how fat you are, how well you look !" in the vain hope she recovered after desintoxication. The gown should be badly split, obviously craracked like everybody's poor life. When I produce the play...

The really macabre part about the play is its perfect realism – not one single gory detail has been invented, this actually happend to Eugene O'Neill. Should he have inflicted it on me? Of course he wrote, and quite beautifully, because he had to, without worrying about me any more than Mozart while writing the Turkish violin concerto . But to Mozart I am grateful. If there were a God, that's what I would thank him for.

«  So I beat on the computer, and after years? months? of joyful creation ...

I was adding the last curlicue to my precious music editor (first version "AMUSED", next version "BEMUSED", then "CALLIOPE", then "ERATO" – but not up to all the nine muses) I was programming the machine to synchronize automatically its three voices. The whole program was 8 bit, and because of integer division two eighth notes might be shorter than a quarter, etc. So I was trying to fix it automatically: whenever two voices would start a note at times differing by two jiffies or less, I would force them to start together. Now a jiffy on the Commodore was 1/60 of a second, so I certainly could not hear the difference – talk about conceptual art! Anyway, I was debugging furiously, when I suddenly discovered it was three in the middle of the night. I had never stayed awake so late, and so easily, for any purpose – not for mathematics, not for fun, not for beloved children or adored motherland. So I understood I was a programmer and this is what I should do, and it lasted a while, but now it's over.

Actually it lasted as long as I felt impelled, or at least was able to add curlicues. When I get the feeling of "not now, maybe later", or "I don't want to break a working program", or "I know how to do it, but won't" or, finally, "what's the use?", the subject is dead and buried. I read the story about a guy with refined Japanese taste , who kept fixing the sounding rocks in his brook.

—Will I ever get to the perfect sound?
—Depends which dies first, you or your soul.

«  ...because the medical shitheads don't trust you

Or "medical establishment", if you prefer. Come to think of it, this is the only class of people I would gladly personally shoot one by one (Liliana too? she is a member of AMA!). No, poor beloved wife is safe, I mean all the people who created VQE and ECFMG and FLEX and boards and requalifications, and all the greed and slavery around this profession. The people who found out that there are enough physicians in USA, anyway, and all the foreign graduates are witch-doctors, anyway. The people who decided that the right medical training is working 36 hours a day, and being picked apart afterwards.

The typical story is when I called (UCLA, I think, to ask about registration for Liliana) and said "Good morning!" and they said "We don't accept foreign graduates." Complete conversation.

Another story – I tried to document this on the net, but couldn't, so believe it or not:
In our times, the immigration questionnaire ran:

without any breaks.

So when I was at UCLA I was fantasizing about putting a big bomb under the medical center, during the exam period – that would make a few places for foreign graduates .

I used to care about things before I took Prozac.

«  Ulysses ' more abstruse passages...
«  like everything else, can be found somewhere in Ulysses .

Myself, when young, did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint...

That is, on my way to courses, I used to read Ulysses. An hour plus in the bus each way, I got quite an education – besides what was supplied by the Doctors of Mathematics. Saints? But now I can't read, period. Although quite recently I found a bit of Ulysses on the net, and was still amazed at the literature.

Also, in the good old times there was a bookstore at the Tel-Aviv University – just one room, but full of treasure. There I got Gore Vidal's "Julian", my first linguistics book (Simeon Potter?) and the history of the Hittites.

How could I exist without their king Shuppiluliumas, the dragon Iluyankas, lalamis and dusdumis, or Ishtar and her attendants Ninatta and Kulita – "Ninette et Colette, Salon de coiffure" !

By the way, I met Ninette and Colette at the Pergamon museum in Berlin.

And when we lived in San Francisco, on my daily drive to Ames, I once noticed a huge placard by the roadside: "Is this all you have time to read on your way to work?" That was supposed to convince people to take the train, but it struck my heart.

«  ...we toured the Mont Blanc and Switzerland

That was the first time we both met with winter driving – only Liliana could drive, I got my driver's license in USA, 5 years later. But we both were nonplussed seeing the car frozen, with half an inch of ice on the window! What to do? Did we pour hot water on? How? we were at a hotel, would they give us hot water? I don't remember exactly what followed, only the strangeness of the situation – I had not seen frost since Romania, some 13 years before.

Then we drove in the mountains, and the passes were blocked by snow; in places the car slid freely on ice, to which Liliana reacted by holding my hand instead of the wheel. And yet we escaped, and quite enjoyed ourselves : ate our first Swiss fondue, climbed to a rotating restaurant on mountaintop, and visited an "ice palace" – rooms, corridors and a balcony carved into a glacier. To that purpose we wore every clothing item we had with us, including pajamas – and it was still cold, neither Israel nor Rome had prepared us for visiting the inside of a glacier.

I should also mention the "paté de choucas" that we sampled at Chamonix in France, at the feet of the Mont Blanc. The choucas is a small crow that flies in those mountains, and tastes like any fowl. But think of eating crow!

«  In the sixties, Mme Moretta had sent us to the Vatican Museums on a gratis weekend

Mia Moretta was our host in Rome. Signor Moretta was your typical European, an Italian born in Odessa, Russia and living in Bucharest, where he published several books in Romanian. Mia had been his secretary, then wife, then they fled the communists to Rome, as he always had had Italian citizenship. In Italy he busied himself with Vedanta and other Indian philosophy, and kept publishing, while she rented rooms in their appartment for a more concrete income. This is how Liliana made her acquaintance, when she transferred to the University of Rome.

The first time I met them, we had just arrived for our honeymoon – I had carried our suitcase on my head (best balanced position) from the railway station. Mia received us with fruit preserves and cold water – a wonderful Romanian tradition, which I had heard about, but not often actually observed. From then on, it only got better. She really was a very charming person, knowledgeable about everything, and a great friend. Liliana staid with her while she completed her medical studies – a few months in Rome, then vacation home, then again Rome, etc.

So, before I forget the horror of that moment, let me make a memorandum.

I was just starting to feel that maybe, maybe, I am not as imbecilic as commonly thought: after the official fjords cruise vacation, I was supposed not to go to work, because my contract had not been renewed (all of which surfaced while I was in Norway, with the corresponding midnight phone calls etc.) But not going to work made me quite euphoric, I even got an idea, I could feel the mental wheels turning... Early in the morning, as the cleaner came, I had to get out, so I had a greasy breakfast at Denny's and was returning to the library. Alas, it only opens at nine, so I had to wait.

I could not come back home, since the cleaner was still there, so I went to the Gym toilet (appreciate the tension building: I went ... to ... The ... GYM(!?) with the appropriate release). When I returned to the garage, I found out that I had forgotten my glasses and keys in the toilet, and climbed back to get them. Then I waited half an hour in the car – but there are Bach records – and finally I got to the library. I even read for a while and enjoyed myself greatly, but had to rush home to  work  play with a new idea. I was at the door when I discovered I had no keys – I ran back to the library and fortunately found them there, but that careless mood of excitement was gone for good.

Actually, when I'm happy I don't want to trouble my upbeat humour with mundane stuff, which I hate in toto, so I become even less practical than usual.

«  ... the biblical view ...

  Genesis 3.

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Where we learn that childbirth is a punishment, and work is a punishment, and a husband is a punishment. But people seem hungry for punishment.

Besides, etymologically, work is punishment: the Romanian "muncă", has a Slavic origin "mo,ka" meaning "suffering, torment", and so does the French "travail". That one derives from the Latin tripalium – an instrument of torture.

The English "work" has no such painful correlations; it is related to Greek "-erg-", which also means work, as in "energy, synergy", which then relates to "orgy".

«  ... toate gugumăniile ...

I am not, of course, the only or the dummest. E.g. :

From: «  Muieti-s posmagii?    Is the hardtack dunked?
Ba ca-i tunsa, ba ca-i rasa    Sheared or shaven

These are two Romanian folk tales, whose heroes always served as my role models. Somehow I could not find a decent source on the Internet, even in Romanian, so here are my versions:

Once upon a time, there was in a village a man so lazy, that the other villagers decided to hang him. On the way to the gibbet, they met a rich, softhearted widow, who told them: "Good people, don't hang him, I'll take him to my house and feed him with hardtack." At which lazybones replied "Already dunked?"

Once upon a time, there were an old man and his wife. As they were walking by an orchard, the woman said: "See, the grass looks sheared!", at which her husband replied "No, it looks shaven!" They quarrelled about it so much, that the man threw her in the river. When the water went overhead, she still lifted her hand out of the water, crossing and uncrossing two fingers: "Sheared!"

The man was then condemned for murdering his wife. On the scaffold, with the head covered by a sack and the rope around his neck, he still passed his forefinger over his cheek: "Shaven!"

ano domini

That's not a typo. I started to think about it, when reading: "I'd noticed a touch of decline here and there, but one puts these things down to Anno Domini..." So I checked to see what 'ano domini' might be:

The form ano has 4 analyses derived from 4 dictionary entries.

anus1— an old woman, matron, old wife, old maid; but ano belongs only if this anus is relegated from the fourth declension to the second; they say it often happened.
ano masc abl sg
ano masc dat sg
anus2— a ring
ano masc abl sg
ano masc dat sg
God's ring sounds like some Wagnerian or Tolkienish tetralogy. And finally, the one we all waited for, the arsehole of God. Quite appropriate; Chaucer explains how in hell one may spend eternity in Satanas' erse; in this world, we are in God's.
'And now hath Satanas,' said he, 'a tail
Broader than of a carrack is the sail.    a great ship of burden
Hold up thy tail, thou Satanas,' quoth he,
'Shew forth thine erse, and let the friar see
Where is the nest of friars in this place.'
And less than half a furlong way of space immediately
Right so as bees swarmen out of a hive,
Out of the devil's erse there gan to drive
A twenty thousand friars on a rout.in a crowd
Canterbury Tales, Prologue to the Sompnour's Tale

«  would not publish... although it makes great reading

So what would I publish? All the news that's fit to print? I hate news, no news are the only good news. I also have a gut feeling against knee jerk reactions: if I'm going to shock my reader, the conscious brain should be involved, not just the reflex arc. Not to mention how cheap it is to violate taboos and break the rules. Much more fun, of course, is absolute sensationalism. Or maybe: startle someone by your wit (I wish), not by boxing his ear.

As for "great reading" it is true that discovering Shakespeare's laundry list would be more pressworthy than discovering some unknown poem of his. But why should I care? I'm not even very interested in gossip, because most people seem so strange to me, I cannot develop any empathy – just astonishment sometimes. And although I like finding out about unexpected and exotic things and facts, finding out about people is not so enjoyable – people are not only totally unpredictable, they are also dangerous. In fact, l'enfer c'est les autres. That is, all my problems have been caused by others, who shall(?) remain nameless.


«  ...a good hint for suicide.
«  That was not the first time – I am quite a precocious suicide .

So is Nomi. One weekend morning in San Francisco, as I was cleaning the house while Liliana was at the hospital, I told Nomi to do the laundry, because it's educational for kids to have chores, etc., but mostly because she could tell apart her clothes from Liliana's or Mikey's, etc. At which she went into grand tragedy:

She:  I don't want to live anymore!
Me:  You're telling me...
She:  Give me a knife!

It so happens, there was a big knife near the washing machine, that I used to stick into the toilet so it won't flush forever all by itself. But that knife wasn't sharp enough!

She:  If you didn't let Mikey use the knives to chop wood for his tree house...
Me:  ...I could let you use them to chop your arteries.

After which she didn't kill herself, nor did she do the laundry.

Nomi went on to a second suicide in Monterey, when she had a girlfriend staying with her, who in the middle of the night woke us up, because Nomi had swallowed some pills... We took her to the local hospital (why not the military one where Liliana was working?) and she remained there a week "under psychiatric surveillance" and then she could not return to school, so she finished high school via a few courses at the Community College, as is traditional in the family.

Le chat est mort, vive le chat! So our old cat died while we were in China, and Liliana was desperate – she wouldn't even sleep in the old bed she shared with her, and spent her call nights crooked on the sofa. Till we got a three month old female kitten, very sweet. We spoil her all we can, and she sleeps in our bed.

Kitty tiptoes over me, little heavier than a dream. Then she becomes a predator, all fangs and claws, must hunt my toes through the quilt. After a few runs up and down, finds a cozy place to curl and purr – good, now we all get to sleep. But in a few seconds, she climbs up to nose my face.

A few months later...

The trouble with a kitten is that
Eventually it becomes a cat

She is grown, quite heavy, not particularly cuddly, but hyperactive. She can cross in one multiple leap the whole room, landing on me on the way, on her claws. Besides, she has shredded all the furniture, including my beloved computer chair, which now scratches from tears in the naugahyde. Even more besides, she loves miaowing at impossible hours, so we have to shut her at night in the toilet in the carrying box (if left ouside the box, she bangs on the glass shower doors).

«  ... desi ma lupt acum cu java

« ... my rants about java.

Didn't anyone notice that at last count java has well over 3000 built in classes, and one must keep in mind the differences between

FileCacheImageInputStream, etc. 
Probably for practical use only 10% of the classes are really needed, still... And the COBOL-fingers you get from typing:
BufferedInputStream in = new BufferedInputStream(
new FileInputStream( inputFileName ) );
And the burden of remembering that in is a BufferedInputStream (or else creating a long name, say myBufferedInputStream instead of in to indicate the class).
And the horrible  Math.sqrt – the square root belongs to Math just as much as the plus sign does!

There must be items that are not objects, and functions that are not methods.

«  arrived in Israel in September 1961 – with 70 kg of clothing

This was all we were allowed to take away; also bedding, kitchenware, and similar stuff – all within 70 kilos. Works of art could not be taken out of Romania – this is an old law, long before the communists. My father tried to take his microscope, that he had bought as a student, but it was held in customs. Books had to be sent separately by mail – a good idea, because books are inordinately heavy, or so they seem to me. That was my job, one of the few useful things I did on the occasion. I sent all the math, physics and chemistry school books, ninth to eleventh grade, so I would have some base before I knew Hebrew.

Besides, we had to leave the house – which was government property – in perfect condition: walls repainted, floors refinished, etc. The furniture – some of it quite fancy – and my mother's Astrakhan lamb coat we sold. The money remained for the care of grandma, who had not got the permit to leave, and came to Israel a few months after us. In any case money could not be taken abroad, but people usually bartered the medieval way – it was given to acquaintances in Romania, to be returned by their relatives in Israel.

«  oprime el pulsante

That's "push the button", although to me it will forever sound like "the opressed masses". Spanish always seemed to me very exotic (among the other Romance tongues):

But that's probably because I don't know Spanish – cannot speak at all, so I try Italian, with reasonable results – and I have to guess much more. I can read Spanish and even Portuguese – i.e. I can get the meaning of a page even if I miss lots of individual words. Unfortunately, I don't enjoy reading Spanish – I tried Borges, whose stories I mostly know by heart in English. As for spoken Portuguese, from a distance it sounds so much like Romanian, it can fool even me.

On the other hand "sounds like" is not a really good criterion. In Germany, I was listening while driving to an opera on Bayrischer Rundfunk (oh the civilization! one might forgive them Hitler for that). It sounded Italian, and I couldn't get one word of it. It turned out to be in Finnish (oh the civilization!). Where did all the umlauts go? It really sounded Italian – in part, of course, because it was opera, still...

«  ... cannot sound worse than Schoenberg.

Famous quotation by Schoenberg:

One must express oneself! Express oneself directly! Not one's taste or one's upbringing or one's intelligence, knowledge or skill. Not all these acquired characteristics, but that which is inborn, instinctive.
                 (letter to Kandinsky, 1911)
I.e., one's creations should be without intelligence, knowledge, skill, taste or upbringing (mal élevé). Of course, his compositions ain't: it would be rather extraordinary to produce by inborn instinct :

And then, maybe not. Considering my musical abilities, and a professional musician's, who can notice, say, that the red D is out of tune, or entered too early, or is not really mp, I am in a very poor position to decide what is extraordinary. Schoenberg also said:

"...if it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art. "

and he was probably right. The way the artist perceives his work, and the way I do, are perfectly incomparable.

In conclusion, I buy what I like.

Lexical functions

In English one says: 'dead center', 'deep silence', 'deep hatred', and the expressions mean: 'precisely at the center', 'much silence', 'much hatred' – nothing to do with death or depth! These are all examples of lexical functions, i.e. the qualifier is a function of the head noun. In other words, the noun requires that particular qualifier for the generic meaning of 'intense', in this case. Such expressions mark one as a fluent speaker, but they contribute little to the meaning ('deep silence'), or are idiomatic, therefore untranslatable.

Some examples of a language codifying lexical functions are, of course, Esperanto '-id' (progeny) and '-ar' (group_of):
    kid = progeny+goat,
    lamb = progeny+sheep,
    calf = progeny+bovine … etc.
    an exaltation of larks = group_of+lark,
    a pride of lions = group_of+lion,
    a school of fish = group_of+fish … etc.
In natural languages they might appear as affixes, e.g. English 'un-' and '-ly' (and the Romance '-mente', very similar to '-ly'). But they are not always applicable and not always carry the same meaning: 'hard work' is not 'hardly working'!

«  did not trust her bookkeeping ... suspicious of her gold accounting

I deeply believe that my mother was honest, not only law-fearing. But, of course, IRS did not think so, not in Romania and not in Israel. So my mother had to present some cooked up accounts, to which they would add something, so eventually she paid more or less what she would have to, under a legal, but trusting agreement. Or at least this is what I believe.
Anyway, since the government does not ask for your leave before it sinks its hand into your pocket and takes whatever it pleases for taxes, it is your sacred duty to cheat as much as possible while staying on the law side, or not being caught.

As for gold... In communist Romania possessing gold (not as jewelry) was a crime. In non-communist Romania, Jews needed some kind of safety – the government did confiscate property, forbade employment and deported people quite unpredictably, so my parents did hide one kilo of gold inside a ceramic bird. My father showed me later the patch in the bottom, made when he took the gold out after the war. That bird had stood in our curio cabinet, for as long as I can remember.

«  ... my father died in the spring ...

My father died a few days before the Israeli Independence Day. I went to memorial services a few times, when the parasha "Kedoshim" is read (always the same, because the Jewish date is fixed by Iyar 5th, the Independence Day):

קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני
Be holy as I am holy
       (God's words to the whole people, LEV 19:2)
How the hell am I going to do that? As holy as God? My idea about Imitatio Dei is to try and be creative – the first and foremost fact we know about him:

בראשית ברא אלהים
In the beginning God created

Now that is already incredibly hard, not to mention

וירא אלהים כי טוב
and God saw that it was good

Most of what I create is very far from good. Although cavillers may say that "holy" merely means "taboo", i.e. respecting some special formal rules and being set apart from everyday life. Even so, a tall order for a whole people. So I gave up, as I always do.

By the way, the parasha before "Kedoshim" is "Aharei mot", i.e. "After the death", and the two are usually read together. I don't think the Bible was designed in honor of my father, although it should ...

And talking about imitatio, what about God taking my example? This is why I give to beggars, so God should learn to give when asked, without considering merit, or what is expedient.

«  As for the second Michael... twice king of Romania

Twice, because his father Carol had to abdicate while still crown prince. So baby Michael ruled for a while, then papa returned from exile and ruled himself, then papa had to abdicate again. All of which makes for entertaining – or boring – reading , and is somehow connected to Carol's Jewish mistress, then wife, Magda Lupescu .

mamere To add to the fantastic story, one night – still in Israel – I dreamed that I was myself Carol's son. In the dream my mother, like every well-to-do young lady should, had been sent to Switzerland to a finishing school, and Carol had become her lover (if one Jewish mistress, why not two? and my mother was younger and prettier!) Which made me prince Hohenzollern , although fully Jewish – only the mother counts for the Jews, and is enough for Hitler, too.

When I woke up, the dream somehow had congealed into a novel "My brother Michael" :

My brother Michael, is very successful: twice King of Romania, hero of the Soviet Union, and moreover, Swiss businessman. Quite unlike me. His only problem: five unmarried daughters...

«  I had never stayed awake so late...
another memorable occasion when I stayed late

So, when did I actually stay awake? I can count the occasions:

But except for that, I very much prefer my dreams to run of the mill entertainment – TV and movies – and unfortunately to most conversation.

«  Worms is an historic city for our family

I actually got to Worms, in ancient times when we dwelt in Germany – about 3 hours drive from home. I ran straight to the Romanesque cathedral, which is in all the art books. I expected to hate it, because I thought all Romanesque too square, i.e. not Gothic. Surprise! It is truly beautiful, in lovely russet local stone, with elegant decorations. Certainly not the box from illustrations.

Then, on the streets, I saw indications for the Jewish bath, and I was curious to see what it might be. A mikve! – the only one I ever went to. A room dug deep under the Rhine, with the ritual running water (the washroom was at ground level, some eighty stairs above). And, since I need the Rhine to go to the mikve, the only synagogue I went to of my free will was "Santa Maria la Blanca" in Toledo. Built with a forest of pillars in graceful Moorish style, it was the town synagogue till it was finally converted into a church around 1400.

Also, when in Worms I went to the Rashi museum, but found it closed (I had come, of course, Friday afternoon). It is a reconstruction, as the whole Jewish quarter was destroyed by the Nazis.

«  a library full of thrilling medical books .

I actually read some of them, dealing with homeopathy and clinical personality. I could not then, or ever, read real medical technical stuff, but the homeopathy books were very much in Oliver Sacks ' style, cinical stories, and full of really outlandish details: e.g. a Colchicum patient cannot stand the smell of cooking.

The personality book described the "alchemistic" or "astrological" personalities: Leo, Virgo, Mercury... Quite interesting, with pictures too: e.g. a "leonine" face.

Now all this looks like a corroboration of the official American policy that all foreign doctors are quacks. In fact my father was a good physician, and quite up-to-date in medicine , although nobody – execept his conscience or curiosity – forced him to.

I also remember being attracted/repulsed by his dermatology manual – I would open it often, and immediately put it back after getting shocked by some color plate of a really disgusting lesion. But if – God forbid! – I had become a physician, dermatology would have been a prime choice: no emergencies!

«  when I got my permanent residence through labor certification
«  ... All that's left from my spectral methods.

The point of labor certification is to prove officially that there is no American capable or willing to do your job – you being an alien, somewhat more gruesome than the one in the movie. So my employer submitted a job offer for someone to do spectral methods for transonic aerodynamics (yes, I actually did that! I don't believe it, either), to be published in the "AIAA Journal", and we waited. In August it did not appear, because the Journal is not published in August. In September it finally did – except that it asked for a specialist in telescreen design. I didn't get a heart attack (then). But I got the certification, because Liliana finally went to the Labor Office in Hampton and wept, so the lady there took pity on us, and called the state Labor Office in Richmond, and the lady there took pity on us, and called the Federal Labor Office in Philadelphia, and the lady there took pity on us, so the papers came within a week, instead of a few months as advertised.

«  ... Orange, motanul roscovan adorat al lui Mikey ...

On the counter in the kitchen, by the microwave, stood a big box of color markers. Long before grandchildren were even plans – as if they ever were! Once, I even asked Nomi to guess what the markers' purpose might be, but she could not. So here is the secret, a dumb involved story such as I love.

In ancient times, Orange the tomcat had not only many supernumerary toes, but also an extra long and somewhat kinky tail. Which he lost in an accident, trying to cross the street. After the surgery (which got repeated twice, because it kept failing) we wanted to keep him in a cleaner environment than the garage, so we locked him upstairs in the library. At which he got crazy, jumped and climbed all he could, and left his shit everywhere. Well, he was an invalid, his ass probably uncontrollable and in pain from the tailectomy, etc. While racing around madly he also knocked off a beautiful Capo di Monte vase, a gift from Coca, that we kept on top of the bookcase (it was too big to fit anywhere else).

The vase broke, of course, but I decided I could fix it, so it would serve as a monument for Orange. So I bought crazy glue, and stuck pieces as well as I could, and bought the markers to disguise some of the raw unglazed broken parts that showed.

«  She was our charwoman – dare I say servant?

charwoman, char, cleaning woman, cleaning lady, woman – (a human female who does housework; "the char will clean the carpet")

servant, retainer – (a person working in the service of another (especially in the household))

chambermaid, fille de chambre – (a maid who is employed to clean and care for bedrooms (now primarily in hotels))

     => maid, maidservant, housemaid, amah – (a female domestic)
     => domestic, domestic help, house servant – (a servant who is paid to perform menial tasks around the household)

So I went and did a search on Wordnet, not only because of political correctness, but also to somewhat match reality: she worked for us, lived in a room in the attic which went with our apartment (and she kept staying there after she stopped working for us), but we were in an egalitarian communistic society, and as a worker she counted more than say, my father, who was just a bourgeois intellectual.

Which word fits best? "amah" fits least, nothing Oriental about Papina. Maybe I should fit some Chinese meaning to Pa-Pi-Na (easily done on the net).

杷枇哪 which loquat?

跁屁吶 ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta

Opus, opera

Senile folly, start writing an opera based on "Macbeth" . The height of folly, I almost have a program to swallow the whole play, and spit out a musical setting of the words, varying with parameters, as all my compositions do. But how to listen to it? There are text-to-word programs, even text to word + melody, but for one voice only, as far as I know ...

Otherwise, do I have time and patience (to say nothing about skill, of which I have none) to actually compose, scene by scene? So I'll probably drop dead on the unfinishred (what a beautiful Freudian slip!) masterpiece, as befits every genius!

Anyway, I play crazily with various ideas, having so much fun that sometimes I can't sleep in expectation of trying some new dirty trick. Oh well ...

So, if you're curious, here are some details:

I'm not going to publish the libretto separately; it is just Shakespeare's text severely chopped down, although Wikipedia says that "Macbeth" is the shortest Shakespeare tragedy.

«  la inmormintarea lui Dorel

It was much too enjoyable for such a sad occasion. I really liked Dorel, he was a man after my own heart, quoting to me "terima kasih" in Malay... And, although I knew he had all kinds of diseases, his death was quite a shock. May he rest in peace! But meeting Justi, and Yolanda, and all the extended Inghel family (tanti Pepi's brothers with progeny) was such a pleasure.

And some of these people were partly mythological – like Desi, whom I knew only from the Inghel legend about "Tzipor andaka". When Desi was in school, she had to memorize a Hebrew verse (tzipora daka? tiny bird?) and everybody in the house, including the Romanian maid, eventually knew it by heart – not Desi. Now she was a grandmother, who remembered me as a little boy that she had met before their family left for Argentina.

Or the cousin, now from LA, about whom I only knew how he started his acquaintance with English: "Clock five"!

So I chattered all day with Justi and Yolanda and everybody. As the literati say, Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

«  ... replace some of the platinum with cheaper metals

At the New Year party, I met some wunderkinder, young enough to come with their parents, amazing enough to...

One brought, with the laptop, some book on myths by Eliade. The other asked me what I was doing, so I told him about our transition metals, computer modelling on ruthenium, rhodium and palladium. At which he replied "Is palladium more expensive than platinum? I don't think so. Besides, it's the only element in group 5 which has no electrons in shell 5" All of which was news for me. Then after some more learned discussion, he asked me – the typical 16 year old question – what would I do if I had the power. My immediate answer: "I don't know. But I can tell you what I thought about doing when I was 10: forbid smoking and soccer". He, however, had some plan, which included a ban on tobacco, and some rule about cutting medical bookkeeping "because that costs the patients most". In addition, he liked the pig-foot jelly that I had brought, and asked for the recipe.

If you didn't notice, I am still green with envy, especially considering the children in the family.

«  English stands on King's Version, Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland

That is, IMHO, you cannot read any English text without finding quotations from, and allusions to these three.

For myself, I was deeply sunk into Alice, and kept quoting it to my beloved children, till it actually stuck. But it is a strictly literary piece – e.g. Disney's movie does not begin to do it justice. Nor do Dali's illustrations, which I saw by chance in Paris – Dali keeps at his own obsessions, and there is no ambition, distraction, uglification or derision, much less fainting in coils (which Dali was the one to actually show, had he wanted to).

As for Shakespeare, I feel strangely unatracted. Mostly because his dramatic poetry doesn't scan to me. I was spared detailed analysis in school, but I stil had to take a fool look at "The Tempest" when Mikey had to. To me it's mostly claptrap, with huge diamonds stuck here and there. For instance, 90% of Prospero - Ariel interaction is just "Well done, my chick!" – I would really love to do the count, and find the real percentage, let's leave that for when I'm retard, but it does feel like 90%. And then:

        These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air ...


...and in fact...

And in fact I don't feel any desire to go on writing this, I'd rather dump it like every other project. Instead of which I keep tickling details, and playing with exotic encodings.

I added with great exertion my divine music to the web page, mostly because everything has been ready for years. And it also was lost for years – the Soundblaster stuff cannot work with multitasking systems, which interrupt my program and sabotage its clock, so I had to change everything from direct sound production to midi file output. Then a browser can play the midi, but it's not quite the same. Or, probably, a few years ago I was interested in this music, but now it annoys me. I certainly don't have the patience to adjust instruments and dynamics, and have no idea how – that's interpretation, and I never could play any instrument.

I also had a few programs for automatic musical composition – reasonably interesting, if I say so myself. Those got lost because their BASIC sources fell between the cracks as I changed computers. There are a few remnants – just the results, no programs – and if I feel sadistic enough I'll put them online.

Well, after a great musical revival while retard, I did put them on line. Many more than I thought.

«  mathematicians don't make money , physicians do.

Physicians are supposed to make money, and play golf on Wednesday afternoons. Liliana didn't – but she definitely earns more than I do.

I was long convinced that people become mathematicians because of lack of business sense (certainly mathematical thinking goes very much against business practice, which is based on hunches and rapid decisions with incomplete information). Every time some college shamelessly listed the ability of getting grants among its requirements, I would think: "If I could make money, I wouldn't be a mathematician . If I could make money, I'd make it for myself, not for you!" Without noticing that around me my colleagues, who were not any less mathematicians, were getting grants and tenures. I'm not too good at noticing.

Then, this summer as I was still babbling about how mathematicians don't get rich, someone mentioned Adi Shamir (I heard him at MIT, as he presented the newly created public key encryption). Cryptologists certainly have an important and probably lucrative share in modern business. All I could blurt was: "But this is not what mathematicians should do! They should produce theorems !"

«  ... some tall acacia trees.

The acacia flowers, besides smelling sweet, have a delicious nectar, and taste sweet too. But they grow on tall trees, with lots of spines. However, below Bibi's terrace there were other buildings' roofs, exactly at the level of the tasty flowers. So we tied a string around my waist, and Bibi lowered me on the roof, and I picked the flowers, but now there was the small problem of getting back...couldn't go either up or down. At the end my father gathered me and my harvest from the roof.

I always loved to climb – probably because it is a slow and deliberate action. I got to tree tops, marvelling how thin were the branches holding me (I was never thin, just small). I got on the top of our iron gate, which had some ornamental spikes, looking quite dangerous. I even got on the roof of our building, three or four tall floors, and sat on the edge with my legs hanging down (I shudder now!) All the people in the yard had gathered – to see me fall? – but I just pulled up my legs and climbed down. I probably did relish the attention.

I can only guess how much my parents enjoyed all this. But they did not punish me, or even scold me for climbing. I still climbed trees in my thirties, but then stopped.

«  she told me ... about the ugmaeetz incident...

Hadasa's father was teaching the children to say "and a smoothing iron" in Hebrew : ומגהץ ; but instead of умагээц they kept saying угмаээц. No use in transliterating into English, or even Romanian. What then? probably nothing, just annoying papa.

But the whole story is so farfetched for me – she told me about Hebrew in Romania, when I had no idea about the language, but of course never could forget ugmaeetz; later in Israel I realized what a revolutionary her father must have been, pronouncing Hebrew the Sephardi – i.e. Israeli – way; typical Ashkenazi Hebrew would be umogeyss. I marvelled about the long tzere ээ and the missing he – in Israel one would say u-mag-hetz; but Russians cannot pronounce H anyway, they only have a very heavy KH sound, and spell Gemingvei (Hemingway) and Le Gavr (Le Havre). On the other hand, there are lots of H in Yiddish, so how come?

Talk about farfetched...

«  academic places where I worked didn't ask for diplomas, ... word of mouth from the right people
«  About 4 years ago I was talking on the phone with David – after about 10 years of silence.

I got to MIT because David put in a good word for me.

David is David Gottlieb , and we were colleagues at Tel Aviv University, and good friends. I remember walking with him on the campus, in the best of spirits, and telling him "Don't you know of something positive to do, like building the fatherland , but easier?"

He quickly finished his Ph.D. and went to MIT, where he published his first book – the first analysis of spectral methods. So his recommendation counted, and he helped me again and again in the States. He got me to NASA Langley , there I met Stan Osher who called me for one year at UCLA; there I also met Joe Oliger, who recommended me for NASA Ames, then I regretably? dropped out of math. Of course, I never returned any favor,
    not cause I wouldn't,
      just cause I couldn't,
        and not only cause I'm the laziest boy in town !

«  doing ... good to others counts.

For instance, at one of our New Year parties, a friend complained he could not really enjoy the stuffed cabbage because of his peptic ulcer. At which Liliana replied: "Have you checked for Helicobacter pylori?" So he did the test, it was the correct diagnostic, and after a few weeks with the right antibiotics, the ulcer was gone.

I have never done anything so positive, nor do I expect to do in the future, unless I raise Nomi's children, which I won't.

On the other hand, you may say that this is an everyday experience for a doctor. But I think an even more everyday experience is knowing full well that nothing can be done, and basically holding the patient's hand. For another instance, my father used to ride forever the bus from Holon to Tel-Aviv, to do Novocaine infiltrations to a friend with chronic pain of unknown origin. Sometimes he took me too, for company. That friend was a rather uninteresting person, but on the other hand was no monstrous criminal, to deserve excruciating pain for life. And in such misery, it would have been improbable for him to remain a sparkling wit.

«  as we were enjoying ourselves in Rome , the Yom Kippur war started in Israel

Well, I had just finished with the military service, and I was a tourist, perfect reasons for having some fun. Liliana in principle prepared for the Forensic Medicine exam, but was not too worried. Besides, there were some of our friends in Rome, so a good time was had by all. We should have travelled some more, but Liliana was waiting for her exam.

Liliana had a friend, Wanda, who worked at the phone central in Rome, and let her talk to Israel for free. At the central they already noticed too much phone traffic to Israel, so Wanda called Liliana, to connect her with her parents. They remarked among other things that there were too many planes flying on Yom Kippur. Bad news travel fast, but we didn't notice. So we went for a Yom Kippur outing – to a monastery, of course, for which the Lord promptly chastised us and all Israel.

«  ... daca vreau sa fac ceva, fac ce pot, cum stiu.

Modal verbs

Most people do what they must, many do what they can, some do what they should, very few do what they will.

The grammar is quite special: these are verbs with present meaning and past form, with "philosophical" semantics: "I know" is litterally "I have seen" (German and Greek, at least) and Latin uses "he has lived" for the meaning "He is dead" . Socrates' saying "All I know is that I know nothing" is actually "All I have seen is that I have seen nothing". The rabbis used to say "I have not heard" for "I don't know", as the only (or let's be charitable, main) source of knowledge was hearing the oral tradition from predecessors.

But let's return to grammar, which is both cleaner and more interesting: the tense anomaly explains the forms I can / he can : these are supposed to be past forms. Although English uses one form for all the persons in the past tense, German has several, but they are identical for first and third person:

I, you, etc... know
present, modal
I, you, etc... go
present, not modal
I, you, etc... went
past, not modal
ich  weiß
du   weißt
er   weiß
wir  wissen
ihr  wisst
sie  wissen
ich  gehe
du   gehst
er   geht
wir  gehen
ihr  geht
sie  gehen
ich  ging
du   gingst
er   ging
wir  gingen
ihr  gingt
sie  gingen

«  ... fiindca Mikey nu vorbea ...

Mike started speaking after age three. Before that he was mostly silent, sunk in deep thought – a real philosopher. I remember him as a baby – we were driving, and he was lying quietly in the back of the station wagon, only remarking "Do" when we passed a McDonald's sign. Always attuned to America, unlike me.

The first time he actually talked with me was on the phone – Liliana had left with the kids to Israel, and I stayed in Hampton. I was surprised how clearly he spoke. Then the family returned, and we all travelled to a meeting at NASA Ames. As we were entering the motel room, Mike saw the alarm watch by the bed, and exclaimed "Daddy, plock!", which has remained a treasured addition to the family lexicon.

Nomi, on the other hand, started speaking very early. We recorded her on her first birthday – a lot of words (that tape, probably, still is somewhere in our house in Monterey). And she was really agile with words: she didn't know how to say "peel the banana" so she said "undress the banana".

«  ...if you believe my resume
«  cum scrie la curriculum

Only Dorothy Parker 's Resumé is fully believable. All the others are mostly bullshit, in violation of the essential command יהללך זר ולא פיך – Let a stranger praise you, not your mouth! Pe romaneste, "Lauda-ma gura, ca ti-oi da friptura!" sau mai succint: "Cucurigu, vită!" (din expresia latina "curriculum vitae", sa nu zica nimeni ca nu ne tragem din Traian)

On the other hand, I abhor recommendation letters even more. So what's left? This is why we have diplomas and lists of publications, and everything is on trial basis anyway. The employer fires at any time, the employee leaves at any time. As for mutual trust and truth in advertising... And being dedicated! "I couldn't live if I weren't an automatic phone programmer"; "I can't conceive existence without managing your sales division!"

I think the whole rigmarole is just for social purposes, to show you're "one of us" , know the ropes, and can use the prescribed forms. Quite important for business, not particularly related to technical skills, especially as USA buys its technicians and scientists abroad.

I always fantasized being brave enough to send "Razors pain you" when asked for a resumé. Or at least:

אחת שתיים
שלוש ארבע
חמש שש
אתה טיפש
שבע שמונה
תשע עשר
אתה פרפסר

«  ...I want to kill myself !
«  ...de la 5 ani ma tot sinucid

That was not the first time – I am quite a precocious suicide . About five, upset with something or another, I told Papina : "I want to die!" and she answered: "Stick a finger in your butt, and you'll die." Some time afterwards I was taking a bath, and thought about the finger in my butt, but did not try . One disillusion avoided!

For some reason, I don't think Papina as admirable as my mother, but people certainly had then a healthy attitude to silly babies.

My last suicide was when I was stuck on a point (quite trivial, believe me) in my thesis. I remember lying on the floor and visualizing ( visualize world peace) how I would bring the gun to my head and press the trigger – I was in the military at the time, and probably could get weapons .

But now I'm taking Prozac, so who cares? And I don't admire people who kill themselves again and again and again, like Dorothy Parker, although she certainly knew a thing or two .

«  So I treated them very politely – I think this is what Adult-Adult means
«  ... desi am fost politicos, sau am impresia ca am fost politicos.

Polite means "treat someone as if he matters" – of course, in the final analysis, the only one who really matters is me.

But some I treated respectfully – remember, that means I could envy them, although I knew math and they didn't. For instance, a woman who was a dispatcher at the helicopter base. I heard her describing how she directed a pilot in an emergency: "Of course I spoke very calmly, the last thing he needed was to hear me getting hysterical!"
In an emergency, I break down.

Some more definitions of politeness:

«  I immediately composed a dodecaphonic piece for flute and guitar

And right now composed something like it again, with all the electronic means I have. In principle, I take a series, stick to it its crab, mirror and table forms transposed, and follow this stream, playing chords. Since some chords don't work on the guitar, notes are left over for the flute. With some random choice of volume, duration, etc., sounds tolerable.

The whole thing is a moderate Perl program; it will make a similar/different composition of a few input integers. I am really curious if the chords I produce are really playable (and I tried for easy playing, minimizing left hand motion and using simple strumming in the right hand). But it all depends if I really understood guitar playing, beyond '6 strings, 4 fingers'. Anyway! it was fun for a few days – in good old times it would have been great fun.

«  I was born a loyal subject of His Majesty King Michael II of Romania

The first Michael of Romania was an able general who, in 1600, ruled for a few months over all the Romanian lands: he was prince – not king – of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. The Habsburg emperor, who had plans of his own for Transylvania, quickly assassinated him. However, he is a great Romanian hero, and a famous historic figure, although this first Romanian union proved ephemeral: Wallachia and Moldavia remained separate for another 250 years, and Transylvania remained part of Hungary for more than 300. Romania in its actual boundaries – more or less – exists since the end of WWI, 1918-1919.

As for the second , he is a very successful person: twice king of Romania , Order of Victory of the Soviet Union, U.S. Legion of Merit, Swiss businessman...

My son Mike is not named after either, although I wish he were a Swiss businessman – no need to be a historic figure, and kings are passé.

Actually I called him Reuben, which is Hebrew for "see, a son!" because I had been threatened with twin daughters – ultrasound was not that well developed then. Liliana liked the name Michael, and Nomi too, so he is Mike, except officially.

Sight unseen

Some places we missed, besides the obvious Nazca, Machu-Picchu and Cuzco :
Chanchan carvings, Peru

Huaca de la Luna, Moon Sanctuary, Peru

Chanchan fishnet ruins

Sanctuary, Peru

Some beasties we missed:

Howler monkey; not seen, not heard

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Another fancy toucan

Tamandua anteater, Costa Rica

Coati (coatimundi is a misnomer) They should be found in trash cans, like raccoons in California.

Just a few more places in Brazil, with sights as extraordinary as Rio and resounding names: Vale da Lua, Roraima – which inspired Conan Doyle to write "Lost world", Chapada Diamantina, Pantanal – try the slide show there. Not to mention Iguassu! But, of course, Brazil is enormous, and many such locations are not accessible to comfy tourists.

What we missed most is the wonderful tribal ceremony


not only it wasn't on the itinerary, but the Selk'nam have been massacred a long time ago. They always went completely naked – the place is called Tierra del Fuego because they had open fires in their boats to keep warm – and at most painted themselves for these ceremonies of initiation into manhood.

«  My grandparents were then living with us...
«  Băbica
«  the coat rack I used to climb on .


Besides grandmother and grandfather, my grandmother's mother lived with us. I remember her as a a very bent, very frail, very old woman. But actually in the pictures she is not so frail, rather plump, like grandma, or mother, or me.

In those ancient times my parents still had their medical offices – i.e. two rooms, and the patients were waiting in the hall. For them, there was a green cast iron coat rack, which was sturdy enough – and I small enough – that I climbed it, like a tree. On top of the coat rack I would hang great-grandma's milk pan – she was the only one in the family that kept kosher, and had to separate milk from meat. Great-grandma was too short to get it down. What fun!

She would not live in the same room with my grandparents, so she slept on a cot in the kitchen. One winter night she caught a cold that killed her.

Later on my mother told me that great-grandma often used to complain to her "A kind muss folgen zane mame!" – "A child must obey his mother!", the disobedient child being, of course, my grandmother.

«  ... as I go on typing this masterpiece (doctorpiece!)
«  ... found out about stream of consciousness.

Doctorpiece – User's Manual

Follow the links! It is, of course, possible to read one section after another, but it doesn't make much sense. In a way, this is a form of realism: life doesn't make much sense either, and there is no obvious ordering, except for yesterday before today before tomorrow. But, certainly, no development and definitely no plot. The random associations, mostly puns, are much better guides from an idea to another.

This is not a book, and relies completely on search for text (made easy by hyperlinks). By all means, if something suggests potatoes, do a text search on "potato". It's a great advantage over printed matter.

Still, the sections have to appear somewhere. They are classified by overall properties, such as language or the dates of the various trips. Within such a category, I just put the longest section first, following the venerable example of the most important religious book. So the text is Coranized, and the place of each section is variable, depending of what has been recently added or erased.

«  Books had to be sent to Israel by mail
«  Probably because I had once been nicknamed Pythagoras.

I also sent Hadamard's Lecons de Geometrie Elementaire, which I had got as a prize at the the math olympiad. That was neatly translated into Romanian from the Russian edition, with all the exercises fully solved, a big hardbound book with lots of illustrations. That I also took with me to Maabarot, and when we unpacked our stuff the first day, the other kids saw it and nicknamed me Pythagoras. Somewhat prophetic – maybe this is why I got into mathematics.

My father finally inherited Hadamard. When he retired, among other things he busied himself with was the construction of a right triangle, given its angle bisector AD and the difference between the hypothenuse BC and the side AB (or something similar). Which may be tougher than it sounds, by purely geometric means. For instance, the very obvious statement that a triangle with two equal angle bisectors is isosceles, was proved only in the late 1800s.

«  ... studying – maybe I'll get certain ...

This quest for certainty is probably why I got into mathematics. Also why I stay away from philosophy – "What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance", says Bertrand Russell, and I think philosphy actually does that. But my attitude to learning is truly primitive and strictly non-adaptive: what's the use of learning something that's not sure, or something that will change later?

I want to learn, then know forever – just the way I don't want to clean the toilet, because in the best case it will stay clean just till the next crap, and I'm not going to clean after every crap! So I am really interested in reading the encyclopedia, but not the newspaper. There is, of course, a huge area where lack of certainty would be extremely beneficial – politics, but that isn't my cup of tea, either. And, since in my youth I learnt very fast, and never forgot, I still have all the prejudices of an 8-years old boy, very superficially modified by life experience.

In the meantime we moved (now we have THREE unpaid houses in California), I had heart surgery twice (both didn't work) and finally I'm on Coumadin, which I had tried to prevent with surgery – ablation, oblation, blablation. Surprisingly, it curtailed my creativity:

"The complete cartoons of the New Yorker", ca 1963

So I just filled my time with the New Yorker cartoons, till I suddenly got inspired:

Worms, Germany, is an historic city for our family, not just the Nibelungs. Both Nomi and Mike were born in Tel-Aviv, in the Vermayza Street Maternity Hospital:
Worms' name is of Celtic origin: Borbetomagus meant "settlement in a watery area". This was eventually transformed into the Latin name Vormatia that had been in use since the 6th century, which was preserved in the Medieval Hebrew form Vermayza וורמיזה

And I was surprised how easy it was to build a cartoon from ready-made images on the Internet. So easy, that I made another:

«  That particular series, and that particular tune stayed with me

My first series

G♭ A A# G A♭ C# C D H E♭ E F
contains BACH, but not by design. I built the series/tune by taking It just happens that A A# G A♭ inverted and transposed yields BACH – I think I discovered that much later, while making by computer listings of all the versions of my series. But the fact that BACH appears twice, is a clear sign from above that the whole venture was blessed.

BTW, I did not know anything about Bach at the time, much less did I divinize him. I was reasonably familiar with symphonic Beethoven or Tchaikovsky, and that's about it – I had heard (mostly about) Brahms, Schubert or Mozart. But I remember listening on the radio, still in Maabarot, to the landler from Bach's violin concerto in E. That was the hook; I liked it so much I could not believe it was Bach when the announcer said so.

«  It is everyone's sacred duty to be exactly like me .

And I am ever ready to throw out of the human race anybody who isn't like me. They may be Uebermenschen for all I care, but I certainly don't want anything to do with them. Some small deviation I can tolerate, but the following are unforgivable sins:

«  the beard of a woman

You can find that in Shakespeare (when not looking for) . Also, consider the Longobards. The name clearly means "long beards". But how did they get it? not by forgoing shaving.

This kind of liberating, extravagant imagination seems to be a nordic attribute; I cannot think of any Classical example. And before the Greeks? The Bible has humor here and there, even boisterous humor:

The sluggard saith: There is a lion in the way; yea, a lion is in the streets.   PROV 26.13   אמר עצל שחל בדרך ארי בין הרחבות
The door is turning upon its hinges, and the sluggard upon his bed.   PROV 26.14   דלת תסב על צירה ועצל על מטתו
The sluggard burieth his hand in the dish; it wearieth him to bring it back to his mouth.   PROV 26.15   טמן עצל ידו בצלחת נלאה להשיבה אל פיו

but never flies in the face of reality.

As for the sluggard, my favorite folk hero is the guy from "Muieti-s posmagii?" Ma indentific cu el suta la suta. Iar pe locul doi, "ba ca-i tunsa, ba ca-i rasa"

«  The golden Horus name is "Sceadugenga"

Who am I? Unix® knows... Some possible anwers:

Sceadugenga – shadow-goer. Applicable to my walking style in the heat of the day, especially in Israel.

Finbad the Failer – yet another high literary pedigree.

Cereal killer – at least should be tried; I'm sure a cereal diet would kill me.


And probably the most relevant, wordsman. I collect words from obvious sources, like schoolbooks: Gaugamela, Honduras-Tegucigalpa, poikilotherme, and some not so obvious: a silly story I read as a kid, had a fish called Rapetipeto. I read a Soviet sci-fi story with some Siberian prehistoric tribe, and the hero maries two women called Anuen and Anuir – short for Anu-enen and Anu-ngirăk (both were actually Anu, so the names meant Anu-one and Anu-two). Lo and behold! after 50 years, I discover that enen and ngirăk (which I never forgot) are authentic Chukchee!

Possibly I collect words as a rug collects dust.

I was not aware of this till Dalia told me so. Thank you very much, Dalia!

What I remember from the military

      (besides the essential horror)

Actually, the army didn't bother me too much; compared with the average Israeli, I wasn't in any dangerous situation, nor did I spend much time in service. The main thing I learnt was just sometime in the fields, where we ate our food with the sand and dust very clearly cracking between the teeth. And nothing further happened. So I deduced that cleanliness can take its place far behind godliness, and there is no real reason to scrub your pots, in particular on the outside, or wash your fruit with soap, as our parents recommended.

Which being said, you are heartily invited: I will be always happy to cook for you, as long as you don't tell me what and how. The invitation is for real: I usually like what I cook, so at least I will enjoy it.

«  ... Mozart, while writing the Turkish violin concerto .

That one is in A major, his fifth, which Mozart wrote at 19. What did I do at 19? what did you?

But more importantly, this was the piece that hooked me to Mozart. I remembered, a few weeks before this essential event, listening to the "Linz" symphony, and to Tchaikovsky's 4th. Mozart was losing badly! so little happened in the "Linz", as compared with Tchaikovsky. I didn't realize that although they are both called "symphony", they are very different beasts. Much less did I know about Bach's "sinfonias", short keyboard pieces, intended as exercises (the three voice inventions).

Then I heard the violin concerto on the radio. Suddenly there was no need of comparison, or explanations, or anything. God had beckoned, and I followed – to my huge advantage. Mozart may well be the best thing that ever happened to me.

So, after many years, I took beloved children to the "Marriage of Figaro", convinced that I was giving them the best thing in the world. At which they behaved as normal children – Nomi was 11 and Mike 7 – and I severed diplomatic relations.

«  A run of the mill story

Which is another subject I was dying to impart my wisdom on: how much banality can one tolerate? How many eternal triangles will they still sell us? How many car chases? In folklore, the plots are very rigidly set, and the alleged lack of pretense makes the story bearable, but I think – probably the only one to do so – that, with the exception of Anon., everybody must shut up if he has nothing original to say. ( As if I respected this precept... how much of the doctorpiece is original? Well, at least I don't sell it. Then I hide under the pretense of dreams, etc. – I am not really the author... )

Anyway, I am firmly convinced that I have already seen all the comercial movies there may be.

With a related question: how much imbecility can one tolerate? Again, tradition and mythology seem the only possible justification, as when Thor baits the sea serpent, which circles the earth, with an ox head. Actually, when nicely overdone imbecility becomes wonderment, like the god with nine mothers or Monkey's jump to the end of the world.


Wojenko, wojenko, cóżeś ty za pani,
Że za ciebą idą, że za ciebie giną,
Chłopcy malowani?
Chłopcy malowani, sami wybierani,
Wojenko, wojenko, wojenko, wojenko,
Cóżeś ty za pani?
War, war, what kind of a lady are you, 
so to you go, so for you die
handsome boys?
Handsome boys, chosen ones
War, war, 
what kind of a lady are you?

My guess is that the song would not refer to war as a lady, if the noun "war" were not feminine in Polish. In Romanian, for instance, it sounds definitely odd, because "war" is neuter, and all females – like "lady" – must be feminine.

And if you get a little deeper in the text, it becomes quite exotic:

«  ... manage in the local language

I tried my best, but nobody was impressed by my Chinese. And it is easy to see why – our guides, who had professional training in English, with a rich vocabulary, had such fantastic accents, vacillating between 'presently' and 'pleasantry'; so what are my chances with tones and aspirates? And I probably read like a first grader – I remember reading signs from the tram in Bucharest, and complaining to my mother that the tram is too fast. I did just the same in China – the buses were not fast at all, mostly idling in a jam ... But I have an excuse, China uses simplified characters, which, as a classicist, I cannot recognize.

For instance, here is the character for 'car', which is used in lots of other combinations:

The traditional picture actually looks like a two-wheel cart, seen from above:

but the simplified one looks like nothing! I am sure they did it just to spite me.

«  I devoured all his books, and even learnt some Malay .

Tuan penulis yang menglipor lara... another gift for Anthony Burgess. (try "lipor lara" on the net)

And the first Malay book I got in Italy, in Florence – I was supposed to be somewhere else at a math seminar, but... And Florence is so beautiful! (although horribly hot and steamy that summer). Besides the teach-yourself book, I also got Stalin's linguistics theory – communism was rather popular in Italy, and may still be for all I know. And anything sounds so sweet in Italian, even Stalin, not to mention Tricomi's partial differential equations – that is pure opera:

Deh vieni alla finestra,
O, gioia bella!
Ti voglio dar minestra,
Ti voglio amministrar!
Purtroppo mi tradisti, oh, ribella!
In vece di minestra,
Se vieni alla finestra,
Ti faccio difenestrar !

Anyway, I have a nice Perl script to translate Malay. It actually works word for word, because the lack of inflexion, and it turns out one can safely ignore all the Malay prefixes and suffixes, the meaning remains quite clear.

«  Models of happiness

When I was small enough, I imagined my own personal paradise as a big library room, with a built in pool. Because I loved to read, of course, and I liked swimming – it was the one sport I could somewhat do, and I was proud I knew something that not everybody knew – as opposed to, say, running.
This idea did not evolve much, which talks volumes about my psyche, till I found out about measurable cardinals (at this point I'm dumb enough to waver between cardinals and ordinals, and had to check ). Anyway, if they exist, they are inaccessible – the perfect model of happiness!

The real story is even more fantastic: measurable cardinals exist or not according to taste (which somewhat spoils the model). The axiom stating that they exist is independent of the other axioms, so you can add it at will, or can add its opposite.

Right now I have no model of happiness. But if for eight years I will wake up after eight, it will certainly change my attitude...

«  Eventually I got fired

So, before I forget the horror of that moment, let me make a memorandum.

About my birthday this year, the fatidic 60th, we had the employee evaluations at work, at which I found out I was the worst, so I didn't get a raise, and the idea – not mine, but the expressed expectation of the top management – was that I shoud leave. Which I didn't, so finally I got announced that there is a reduction in forces. So, after September 6th, I'm officially retard. The same management also expects I should look for some other job, and I may go through the motions, especially if there is unemployment money ... but. Unfortunately, I am not the only one fired, although I may be the only one euphoric.

In the meantime, I discovered I don't have any more CVs, not on paper and not on disk, which is a clear sign from God, as if I needed signs.

So, instead of croaking, I get reborn at 60. As for croaking, there are still fair chances, because any change – even for the better – is a source of stress, and under stress I crumble.

«  Nomi is my favorite daughter ...

Poor Nomi! she will always be the intruder, the one who spoiled my life irreversibly. Of course, all the responsibility is Liliana's, but Nomi probably felt it from the first moment, even though I was polite – or I think I was polite. Not that she ever did anything to fix the situation – we often had this conversation:

—You don't love me!
—What have you done lately, that I should love you...

I did not have these feelings about Mikey – when he was born, the harm had long been done, and it really did not matter much. BTW, one day when Nomi felt overwhelmed by her three kids, she told me

—It's all your fault, you always said that many children are no more trouble than the first.

Anyway, that silly stanza is uncomfortably true. Not that I ever thought myself fit to be a parent, and in any case, if they had parenting licensing tests, I would have taken great care to fail. But I tried, convinced like every idiot that somehow I'll manage, and somehow the misery will miss me. At least I had to try, because the babies certainly were innocent of all the trouble they were making. Not so the teenagers...

«  ... by elephant ...

We had a short walk 'in the jungle', i.e. among the trees, but it wasn't particularly dark or mysterious, and the only exotic animals that we saw were some very pretty butterflies. The elephant also walked into and along a watering channel; we were high enough not to get wet, and I hope she enjoyed the bath (most tame elephants are female; and the heat was horrible everywhere in Thailand, and, of course, even worse in Singapore). I also noticed that most elephants had holes and tears in their ears, like the fringes tomcats get from fighting. I asked why, but did not get an answer.

Later that day we had a picture taken with two tigers.

I had great desire to pull their tails – about 3 fingers thick – but refrained, wisely, even though the poor beasts were chained.

«  My uncle, a man of the most honorable principles,

I should also mention that, as reality imitates art (and quite decent of reality to imitate such masterpiece)...

Liliana's uncle Imre was in hospital, with a heart infection. I obviously thought he would come back healthy, but he would be angry if I didn't visit him, so I went to LA. I spent the whole day watching the poor man delirious in his bed; at a certain point a Russian nurse came by, and I almost started

Ей дядя самых честных правил
but I refrained, wisely. As I was learning Rosetta Stone Chinese at the time, I amused myself by looking out to the street and muttering to myself "Na liang qi-che shi hei se de", "Na liang qi-che shi lan se de", etc. Then after a few days Imre called us and talked with Liliana on the phone – it seemed a miracle to me. But he died a few days later, in the same bed.

«  ... ma cheama Mike la lucru sa-mi spuna ca arde casa,

The fire burnt a hole from the basement through the two floors through the roof. But it did not touch the structural part, so the house is safe. It also did not hurt the building esthetics: the facade, or the fancy living room with marquetry floor and wood panelling. Of course, everything is sooty, and the firemen broke all the windows.

The insurance tells us that they will clean and fix up the house by the end of February – hope springs eternal...

Now every time I talk in English about the fire, I mix up "roof" and "ceiling". Why? even in Romanian the words are distinct. Besides, the Romanian words for ceiling are all exotic:

plafon – from French
tavan – from Turkish (Persian?)
bagdadie – clearly meaning "something from Baghdad"
Very curious, did the locals build uncovered rooms?

«  after I got knocked at NPS , many years after...
«  ... so I transferred to NPS , then to the Navy research Lab.
mi-au facut morala la NPS ...

NPS is the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey. I taught there for a while – and my current boss, who has been a Marine pilot, studied there – ain't I clever. It seemed an ideal place to work, considering the commute to NASA Ames! But the students did not particularly like me , and the faculty would not even mention tenure, so I found a more ideal place to work across the street, at the Naval Research Laboratory. No neeed to teach – I love teaching, but my students don't – no need to publish, so I wrote my C music editor on the Cray (and played the music on a PC, which allowed a C-compiler, even C++ which the Crays hadn't) A lot of fun, but we left for Germany.

The theory of everything

N.B.     By symmetry, you can replace everywhere I or me by you.

«  I also learnt ... violin ,

The main result of which is that I did not get tennis lessons, too. My violin teacher told my parents it would spoil my hand. I was enchanted.

Besides that, I learnt to read notes – that is, recognize them; I wish from all my heart that I could read silently a score as I read a book, but I never made even the first step in this direction. I would sometimes decipher a tune on the violin, as I do now on the computer. I got some feeling for what it means to play an instrument – mostly awe and envy for those who can. I never had enough patience or discipline to actually practice as I should. The crisis came when I reached the second position, and suddenly all the notes I had learnt so hard to play with the third finger had to be played with the second! That I simply could not manage, so we dropped the whole idea.

Later on, I thought that my parents should have sent me to music school. Then I would have done my homework, and could have played an instrument.

«  So I go around telling everybody how my life is just a crock of ...

I don't want to live forever, I want to live well. It's not in the cards, so I projected my death, as follows:

When I got the heart attack in 1999, I said to myself: all the systems break down, one after another, diabetes started 4 years ago, high blood pressure 10 years ago, now the CABG ... So the breakdowns will follow, with the period between them reducing at the ratio 4/(10 - 4). Summing the geometric series, we have all the breakdowns during 18 years. Since this cannot mean there will be no more breakdowns after that – I must eventually die – it means I will die within these 18 years .

The corresponding age is 60, there is still hope, but that would be too easy. I don't trust my modelling so much, although it's cute. In olden days I was sure I would live into my eighties, with wife and children and grandchildren, precisely because that was never in my plans. But after all my illnesses , I'm not so worried anymore.

«  king Carol's Jewish mistress, then wife, Magda Lupescu .

Have you heard of Magda Lupescu
Who came to Romania's rescue?
Such a wonderful thing
To be under a king!
Would a republic measure, I esk you.

This is a (failed) tour the force , fitting a Romanian word into English rhymes. IMHO, the two languages have no sound in common: certainly none of the vowels, Romanian stops are unaspirated, /t/,/d/ are alveolar and so on ad nauseam. This is why I have such a gross accent in English.

We lived in Boston on 62 Union street. Every time I said the address on the phone, it got understood as 63. Why? English t in "two" is near English th in "three", but Romanian t is not similar to either. Then there are oo and ee, both long and clear. It shall remain an unsolved mystery of the universe.

From that time on, I gave up on improving my speech. I decided Professor Higgins was really needed, not to mention Eliza. Reading and writing will make do.

«  ... the Hittite king Shuppiluliumas ... lalamis and dusdumis

See, e.g., C.F. JUSTUS, "The Case of the Missing dusdumi and lalami", Minos, 29-30, 1994-95: 213-238, for the Hittite case of Ukkura, "decurion" in charge of transport of royal goods between Hattusa and Babylon, and his son Great-Stormgod, over missing goods, such as mule-yokes. A cuneiform tablet in Hattusa preserves the oaths of the principal parties involved (the accused, accusers and other witnesses) and reference to administrative recording devices (dusdumi and lalami) that could have had evidentiary value. The lengthy record of effectively "depositions" has as its introduction the formal accusation made to the Queen and her official response setting the investigation in motion and authorizing the taking of sworn statements from the "Queen’s elite chariot fighters, her grooms, Mr. Great-Stormgod and Mr. Ukkura...under oath in the temple of Lelwani".

«  I didn't strangle her, however.

My mother had this talent to say the wrong thing at the wrong moment. Like declaring that we are all tired, just as I was in full verve and talking nineteen to the dozen about subjects dearest to my heart. Another memorable occasion was as I was preparing for the final high school exams, sitting quietly and cramming all kinds of stuff I had never heard of before – a really interesting and advanced chemistry manual. At which my mother came with "Why don't you go for some fresh air?!"

My father, on the other hand, was much better attuned to me. One time, after we returned from to a party by a lady who had decided I was just fine for her daughter, he said: "The girl has a thicker moustache than you!" – just what I wanted to hear... He, by the way, always wore a moustache, because as a child he had been bitten by a dog and had a scar on his lip. So I have a weakness for moustaches, although I never could grow one.

I am surprised how much jewishness there is all over the text; my basic stance being that "I happen to be Jewish", just as I happen to be born in Bucharest or to have diabetes. That is, somehow these are supposed to be accidents and the "essential I" is something else – what? I cannot, as expected, provide any positive answer . Whatever I considered my deliberate choices – mathematics, Israel, music, programming – I just as deliberately dumped, and everything else gets mentioned only to stress how little I fit: American, Romanian, Jew, family man, citizen... What's left? some vague intellectualism, so nobody can stand talking to me.

On the other hand, not mentioning that I'm a Jew would be just as silly as not mentioning my diabetes. Or not mentioning that being a Jew is at least as dangerous as diabetes . (What to do about that is left as an exercise for the reader.)

«  1500 years ago the Peruvians already worked platinum

And so do I, in a very roundabout way. The company I program for produces Diesel catalysts, which are mainly made of platinum. The novel idea is to replace some of the platinum with cheaper metals, e.g. gold. That would be serious savings, as platinum usually costs twice as much as gold. Alas! due to the current financial crisis, there is much demand for gold, so it is not cheaper anymore! So we lost some funding, and work only four days a week – at which I exult.

But one of our possible investors mentioned that they do not worry about the gold/platinum closing gap; they have their own revenue from gold. How? They run ads on TV: "Send us your jewels, and get cash by return mail!" Now, who would be foolish enough to send away gold, hoping for the best? Well, they make about a million a month from those ads.

I hope this is not some undisclosable trade secret. As for pre-Columbian platinum, see here and here.

«  my son ... Reuben

Email from favorite son:

FW: Account Suspension Warning: llustman.com; This is your Web Page account?
From: Ruben Lustman (rlustman@hotmail.com)
Sent: Mon 5/21/07 12:41 AM
To: llustman@hotmail.com

Hi dead, this is your web page you need to pay them it was attached to the British Card.
This is so much fun :/ Keep getting overdue notices.
From: Hosting-billing@cc.yahoo-inc.com> To: rlustman@hotmail.com>Subject: Account Suspension Warning: llustman.com
Date: 16 May 2007 16:51:44 -0700 This is an automated notice. Replies to this address will not be received. If you have questions, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care. For your protection, Yahoo! will never ask you to provide your billing information via email.

Dear Reub Lust,
This is the third notification to inform you that your Yahoo! Web Hosting Starter account is past due.


«  probably visual arts too, but I am less sensitive to that - words fail me .

I can't talk about shapes and colors, so I can't think about shapes and colors.(BTW: Can I talk about music? somewhat, and I can whistle, so music is with me, while painting stays in the museum). But then, nobody can talk about shapes – witness Gray's anatomy that I bought for beloved wife, with all the ridiculous naming of parts – no matter how many words, one still needs the picture. As for colors, would you distinguish "moderate, light, or brilliant violet to moderate or deep reddish purple" (heliotrope) from "strong, vivid purplish red" (magenta)? I'd forget which is which halfway the definition.

«  ... I hope it's not another example of Soviet science...

Soviet mathematicians and physicists are second to none. But Stalin thought he should interfere in biology, with the expected results. Also, any publication had to sustain loudly that absolutely anything was first invented in the Soviet Union, or at least by a Russian: conservation of matter (Lomonosov), balloon flight (some monk in the 1400), rockets (Tsiolkovskiy), telegraph ( Slonimsky ) aviation, telephone... you name it.

About this kind of Soviet science:
At a surgeons' international congress, each was presenting his most advanced technique. The Soviets came with the subject "Tonsillectomy". Everybody was stupefied – any medical student can do that! But the Soviet surgeon replied: "We do it per anum, in the Soviet Union you keep your mouth shut!"

«  About my birthday this year...

At the same time Liliana got the good news that she must also take a qualifying Psychiatry exam at the end of April. Fortunately, she had been preparing for it for a while, so she got to San Diego on full steam, only to discover that she was not registered (the State of California did the registrations, booked hotels, assigned places and dates, etc.) I would have burst a vessel – beloved wife just spent the night at an Indian casino near San Diego.

So the whole fun got postponed to the end of May; fortunately she passed the exam. Which does not mean she is payed like the 'official' psychiatrists, who get about 20% more...

After only two and a half years

One of the places she works started paying the salary difference – for the whole period, it is true, but it took a federal judge decision to do it, and this only because California prisons are under federal supervision after some inmate sued them successfully (Coleman vs California). The other place is still delaying.

«  ... the furniture – some of it quite fancy ...

The furniture was custom-made by one of our relatives, who was a skilled carpenter. I think I met him in Israel, but don't remember the name. My father had even worked for him for a while – as a Jewish medical student he had got beaten too badly, and decided to emigrate to Palestine and be a carpenter there. But he changed his mind, so I lost my chance of being the Messiah. After a similar adventure, Liliana's father left Bucharest and finished medical school in Italy, but, alas, returned.

In any case, I remember our last night in Bucharest. The people who got our rooms had already arrived, so my father had to take one closet away. I remember how he took it apart – in a few minutes the big monster – I had hidden inside and climbed on it – turned into a few boxes, neatly stacked aside. If I remember right, no tools were needed, everything held together on wood pins.

«  Do Ut Des...

This silly stuff, the killer and the tribade were – in my heart of hearts – what I would proffer to Anthony Burgess – how appropriate, arrive bearing gifts! Actually, "do ut des" is the ancient sacrificial formula "I give so you give too", talking to God in Latin . I even found out Burgess' address – 44 Rue Grimaldi (obviously), Monaco – but that's as far as our acquaintance got. I had even more pearls for him : "I am your cheap edition, music, languages, even a wife called Liliana...", but. Besides, they say he was not too sweet to admirers. I saw him once on Public TV – at 11 PM, another memorable occasion I stayed late , and was quite fascinated. But why I really got hooked is one sentence about Enderby, who, in Rome, listens to the Italian conversation "probably full of subjunctives". After that, I devoured all his books, and even learnt some Malay .

«  then I bought a melodeon, then Liliana bought me an electronic organ ...

This one was another marvel of technology, and could play three distinct timbres – one a very sour "reed" imitation. It had its oscillators grouped by three, so you couldn't play, say, C and C# together, or C and B – a severe limitation of my non-existent harmonic sense. Its range was four octaves from the viola C up, so maybe my fugue would fit on two violas? Any takers?
But in Israel, of course, the organ was taxed as a luxury, so after Liliana bought it in Italy I had to wait for some happy event to actually get it – a customs strike, or an immigrant willing to bring it.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with it, as did my friends (organul lui Liviu).

«  ... work only four days a week

Letzte Naies

I just went for a checkup, and I am in blooming health, even lost some weight since last time. Which I cannot explain, since I have been eating like a human all the time after the cruise, not to mention the cruise itself. Unless the reason is that I only work 4 days a week (recession!) As I always said, less work, more health – but I didn't expect to have that confirmed.

Besides, beloved wife gave me for my birthday "The Complete Cartoons of The New-Yorker" where I immeditely hunted for my favorite cartoon

BTW, the cartoon is 20 years old, from what was then a recession. Liliana also gave me "Born to kvetch", which is a very funny book about Yidish, and great reading for antisemites. Then I gathered the energy to ask for the Social Security pension, as I'm finally old enough. Happy birthday!

«  ... bartered the medieval way ...

"bartered" is the wrong word – this was the normal medieval banking system, you gave some money to the Jew in London, and got it back from the Jew in Vienna. And, if you were noble enough, you could also confiscate all the money of all the Jews in London...

Anyway, this is the Marxist explanation of Judaism: why would the Jews, hated and persecuted everywere, hold so tightly to their identity. They were a banking network – this is what our socialist teachers in Maabarot taught. It makes some sense, but is too logical. People cherish their beliefs for very unreasonable reasons, and hate each other just for being other.

«  run away before Hitler takes power

This is a story about my Hebrew teacher at Maabarot. She was born in Poland, and spoke Hebrew from childhood, as her grade school and high school had classes taught in Hebrew, beside Polish and other foreign languages. The whole family emigrated to Chile, where she graduated in history, with a thesis on the possibility of Columbus having been a Marrano. They all survived and could settle in Israel after the war. Somehow, this seems to me more admirable (no, more satisfactory) then the heroic stand of Warsaw ghetto. The latter shows courage, the former intelligence. God, do I stink.

BTW, she could guess at our Romanian, by combining Romance elements (Spanish from Chile) with Slavic (her native Polish).

And then I corrected Chile, which I had spelt chili everywhere. Belly for brain...

«  ...my beloved wife, who... is a board certified neurologist

She passed the board twice, because the medical shitheads don't trust you after you pass, but want a renewal ever 10 years (which, among other small details, involves a fee of thousands). At least Liliana finally got in touch with computers , because by now most exam material and most papers are online. And she got a really fancy framed certificate.

What would I do in her case? I forgot all the math I ever knew, and I cannot follow a paper because I forget the terminology from one page to the next. Would I be brave enough to send them straightaway to hell? Fortunately nobody ever was curious about my credentials, except Jeppesen when they hired me. Certainly all the academic places where I worked didn't ask for diplomas, probably word of mouth from the right people is enough. Or, a Marxist explanation: mathematicians don't make money , physicians do.

«  fitness and such goyische naches ...
«  the eternal student ... a yeshive-bokher

Goyische naches are everything a non-Jew would enjoy, and by implication a Jew shouldn't. That includes, but is not limited to, any form of sport or bodily exertion. A Jewish young man is supposed to be " avrekh meshi", a "silken lordling", i.e. a delicate scholar, to marry at fourteen and be forever sustained by a rich father in law, while he continues being a scholar – no need to continue being delicate, may grow a big belly, must grow a beard and lots of children. All in all, a rather enviable fate, except for the children – but the wife will take care of the brood while the husband studies.
Well, although I am convinced that Judaism is just a one-way ticket to Auschwitz –
see here and here and here – I fully agree with the traditional Jewish attitude to sports.

«  Then she used all her wits to spite us.

The real word is "davka" – untranslatable, but ask any Israeli. "A ose davka le-B" more or less means "A, in order to annoy, does exactly the opposite of what B expects". It fits wonderfully the Israeli national character. On the other hand, it's not quite Hebrew, but Aramaic, and the literal meaning is "precisely", somehow stretched into "precisely the opposite".

The Yiddish term is "of tzeluches", which sounded to me precisely as the Ashkenazi pronounciation of the Hebrew "tzalachot", which means "plates, crockery". On the plates !? Actually, it is a mishmash of German and Hebrew, as Yiddish should be:

of or oyf
German auf : on
German zu : to (the verbal particle, as in to go)
Hebrew lehakh'is : to make angry, to aggravate, to provoke

«  I don't want to live forever, I want ...

«  ... dupa cum am mai spus, vreau numai imposibilul ...

In general I only want impossible things : like not to work, or wake up after eight. I never thought "If I had a bigger TV / a bigger car / a bigger house how happy I'd be!" Not even "a bigger computer", and I'm addicted enough, but it is not speed or bells and whistles that I miss – rather ease. "If I had a paid-for house"... that would make me happy, because it's impossible.

So I had great doubts about our recent trip to faraway lands, as I feared I only would get disappointed, because it was not exotic enough. But I quite enjoyed it, and beloved wife dreams ever since about the next cruise.

«  The Finnish alphabet goes a,d,e,g...; no wonder Sibelius was a violinist .

The strings of a violin are tuned e,a,d,g. The letters b,c and many others are not used in Finnish; g itself may appear only in the group "ng", as a variant of "nk". For instance, the genitive of "Helsinki" is "Helsingin", as in Helsingin Sanomat ; but the word for "Greece" is "Kreikka". The language is quite extraordinary, and remarkably sweet sounding (as opposed to its near relatives Estonian and Hungarian). So it served Tolkien as a model for elves' speech.

As for Sibelius, I like him very much, and I think of him as a descendant of Tchaikovsky, which is high praise, because I love Tchaikovsky, too. Sibelius had the misfortune of living late into the 20th century, and being denigrated by the modernists .

«  Papina
«  ... because Papina wouldn't

She was our charwoman – dare I say servant? on her full name Eumenov Agripina, but I was a baby so it got to be Papina. Actually the name was quite a mouthful, for on her ID card she was Harpina – that clerk couldn't manage Agripina either. She was from Tulcea in Dobruja, and of Russian origin, as her name shows – there had been Russians living in Romania, before the white Russians who fled the communists, because they belonged to some obscure sects not allowed in Russia. Papina could speak some Russian, and taught me жопа, хамно, саки. The rest of my education had to wait till Maabarot, where I found about хуй, залупка and, to my great astonishment, пизда.

«  incit nu pot decit sa laud pronia divina, xebekol dor vador omdim aleinu lekalotenu,

I'm getting more and more fed up with Passover – because of the following verses, sung on a merry tune:

והיא שעמדה לאבותנו ולנו:
שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינו לכלותנו,
אלא שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותנו,
והקדוש ברוך הוא מצילנו מידם.

That means:

"This is what stood firm for our ancestors and for us: as not one alone prepared to destroy us, but in each and every generation they prepare to destroy us, and the Lord saves us from their hand."

Such an excellent arrangement, as if I had made it. And for this we're supposed to thank God!

(The translation is clumsy, especially because of the Hebrew עמד – usually translated "stand" – which means "to stand firm" when first used in the passage, and is an auxiliary "prepare to" after that. But it is a correct translation.)

«  ... on the map ... a river labelled Rubicone.
«  supposed to be somewhere else at a math seminar, but...

Another classical connection: one afternoon I skipped the lecture and took the train to Assisi, hoping to see some monuments, but on the train discovered the station at Trasimeno. Lake Trasimeno was the place where Hannibal had badly defeated the Romans, so I really had to go see. Besides, I was in shorts, and they would not have let me enter the holy places of Assisi. From the station I walked some ten minutes to the lake: nobody there, just rushes and water. It was July, so I took a swim, somewhat historic, in any case eerie: I was enchanted to discover that some of the stuff in my history books was real, and I was alone, so free.
On the way back, some peasants commented on my shorts "Primavera!" at which I answered: "Ma che primavera, gia Luglio! Pien' estate!"

«  ... G. K. Chesterton

Some more Gică

As for science and religion, the known and admitted facts are few and plain enough. All that the parsons say is unproved. All that the doctors say is disproved. That's the only difference between science and religion there's ever been, or will be.
       Michael Moon in Manalive (1912)

could be fixed:

As for science and religion, the known and admitted facts are few and plain enough. All that the parsons hold true is unproved. All that the scientists hold true has not been disproved yet...

The point being that the scientists will dump disproved beliefs.

«  ... I never smoked .

Basically because I did not feel the need to try something new (even then? I was under 19) and I did not feel any need to follow the fashion. My father smoked like a chimney, my mother did not, except for one cigarette on special occasions, like a big festive meal. My grandmother smoked.

Anyway, at 19 I got to the military for my basic training , and there I saw how the smokers – the great majority – suffered when not allowed to smoke by our superiors, or if they were religious, on Shabat. So I decided very consciously that smoking is not for me – I don't need another master.

For the same reasons – fear of the new, being unfashionable – I didn't try any other drugs, although I am well aware that real life is something one mostly needs escaping from. In my case, sleeping, useless knowledge , art – all weak drugs, but

«  Well, at least in Romanian I am the proverbial educated native speaker

That creature is supposed to have linguistic competence, i.e. can judge if an utterance is right (correct, acceptable, "well formed", etc.) or not. I added educated because I am mostly interested in languages that have a large literary corpus, which must be familiar to anyone who passed through school. But just try a net search on "educated native speaker" or even "native speaker" – e.g. here , to see how controversial the whole idea is.

On the other hand, "non-native speaker" is a clear-cut practical classification. I can't open my mouth without being asked " Where are you from ?"

«  ...I enjoyed trigonometry in school.
«  ... learn, then know forever ...

Strangely enough, can be done, if the subject is limited and useless enough, e.g. high school trigonometry. The feeling which I had at the high school finals, that I can solve any trig problem – it is just manipulation, and must end up right – is something that I still long for. No matter that I did not feel much like this since.

This is a good reason of learning all kinds of procedures by rote: they can't take that away from me! They can't, I forget all by myself.

So right now what I mostly say is "I don't know!" with the proviso "I'll never know", because if I ever find out, I'll soon forget.

«  they brought me... kumquats from China, a tangram ...

Called tri-uan in Vietnamese, if I remember right, modulo a few hooks. It had a booklet with translations into French, Russian and English, where I was surprised to see the pronunciation чи-уан, and learned cho=dog, meo =cat. I started right away to memorize the various constructions – it didn't cross my mind I could try and discover them, and in fact I couldn't. However, I had a wonderful memory then.
Eventually, they took the tangram back, to some toy factory, to serve as a prototype for the Romanian tangram. Haven't seen any of those.

«  Molcuţa always told how Avram ... kept saying ...

I know of five siblings in that family:

my father,
his elder sister Roza,
his elder brother
Joseph ,
his younger brother Avram,
and Molcuţa (
Malca) the youngest sister.

I met all of them, except Roza, who was killed during WWII. She, her husband, her son and her daughter Eva were hiding during the last days of fighting, when they were discovered by the Germans? Romanians? and killed – no reason necessary. But Eva escaped "because she was young and pretty", my father said. She lived with my family in Bucharest, and was about 17 when I was born. Soon after she emigrated to Israel, but somehow I seem to remember "tanti Eviţa" since I was a baby in Romania, before I met her again in Israel. My second name, Ross, (or the original Romanian Radu) is after my aunt Roza, as it is customary to name children after dead relatives. Malca's daughter Shoshana is also named after aunt Roza.

«  his elder brother Joseph ,

Joseph was probably the adventurous one in the family. After WWI, he left for France, then Belgium, where he married and had children. During WWII he was taken to a concentration camp, but survived – his family did not.

After the war he remarried and lived in Brussels. When it became clear that the Romanian government won't let us leave for Israel, my father wrote to him, to get "lettres d'hebergement" for Belgium – basically Joseph assumed the responsability for us, should we get there. With these papers, my parents went to the Belgian embassy in Bucharest, where they were awed by being addressed as "monsieur le docteur", "madame la doctoresse". But we could not leave to Belgium, either.

When we finally got to Israel, Joseph and his wife visited us, and I also went and stayed with them in Brussels during my grand tour .

«  The coins at the site top

«  ... poate cind o iesi Liliana la pensie.

Fake Bar Kokhba coinage

These are imitations of Bar Kokhba's coins, the last emitted by an independent Jewish state before 1948. They bore the inscription   "year one of the freedom of Jerusalem/Israel",   "year two of the freedom of Jerusalem/Israel"  – there is no year three. But freedom had the right ring to describe retirement, so my coins bear the text "month/year x of the freedom of Levi/Liliana," in the same ancient script. x is a variable, if you look at it at the right time it will change.

There used to be only one coin, for me, but since beloved wife also retired, I added the second. So I played a little more with Java. Let's see how many years our freedom lasts.

«  useless knowledge , art – all weak drugs, but

I used to boast to my children "I know everything – provided it's useless!". Not too far from truth.

I think the purpose of all education is not to prepare you for life, rather to serve as an antidote to life. Nothing prepares you for real life – nor should it, too painful– but it is nice to have something else to think about besides death and taxes, e.g. Yanaon, Chandernagore, Karikal, Pondicherry, Mahe.

This list I inherited from my mother. She had learned it by heart for school, and never forgot. Then, one day she mentioned it to me, and I never forgot either – we were probably very much alike.

«  ... if she did not sleep at night, Liliana was at the casino ...

One night she was staying late, and hit a jackpot, but the machine did not have enough coin to pay, so she needed a casino assistant to help. Alas, the casino personnel had already gone to bed! She watched that machine all night, so some stranger wouldn't come and cash the winnings, till I decided to look for her in the morning. That's divine justice for you! When she saw me, she rushed to the bathroom relieved, then we took turns watching the machine till the casino workers finally appeared.

«  It wouldn't cross my mind to treat myself...
«  Probabil fiindca am avut destule infectii de piele

Actually, I did treat myself, and even successfully, when I was young and reckless. Also somewhat unwashed, or not enough for the Israeli steamy climate. Anyway, I had a messy fungus infection, which did not go away, even with all kinds of stinking undecyl ointments. So I discovered in my mother's office some silver nitrate and iodine, both standard topical disinfectants, which I unsparingly applied – I figured these cannot hurt too much, and will be poisonous for the fungus. My skin turned brown, dried and crumbled, but it ended my infection. I was 18 or 19.

Strangely enough, I did not remonstrate against my father because he didn't cure me, and I had to do it myself. Not strange at all – my father could do no wrong – or better said, he did so much right nothing else mattered.

«  ... all my illnesses ...

Real horror story follows.

About 4 years ago I was talking on the phone with David – after about 10 years of silence. Finding nothing to boast about, I mentioned my health problems... Which reminded him about our fellow students and teachers – in a few minutes he listed 5 or six dead. My colleagues, about my age – could be a difference of about 3 years, if they did their military service before college; our teachers older, but dead in the early sixties! and what a death, brain cancer with blindness first! On top of that, David himself had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but medication helps...

David died in December 2008.

«  I almost have a program to swallow the whole play, and spit out a musical setting of the words

I have the program, no longer almost. It took a couple of months, and I hate the results. And now I have no idea what to do about music and text, and am deeply depressed ... dump the project.


That was about May 2013. At the end of August, I restarted my opera, and, surprisingly, I finished it by Gabe's birthday, May 10th 2014. It is as ready as it will ever be, in some "short score" form. I cannot check orchestration or interpretation or voices, because MIDI is too coarse for that. ( I could print neat scores )

From what I hear, far from charming. Interesting? Anyway, you can listen to the whole MIDI mess, and the text at least gets shown while the music plays.

«  In the meantime I got drafted, into the Atuda , and started my military training.

The Atuda is the Israeli version of ROTC: instead of getting drafted at 18, you may study, but must go through basic training, NCO course and officer course in the summer breaks. So, after 3 or 4 years, the military gets an officer who is a college graduate; as a reward the officer also has to sign for additional years of service, but that, at least, is paid. In my case it was one year, and I served a total of four. Medical students would sign for six or seven, because their studies lasted six years or more.

Anyway, this was in the good old times. I have no idea what the arrangement is now.

«  ...being a Jew is at least as dangerous as diabetes .

Notwithstanding the official American position, it's unsafe to be different!

So, how come that all my life I never felt the need to be like everybody else? Probably I knew that I can't , and saved myself the effort of trying – but that assumes too much wisdom. Actually, as I got to Israel, at 14, I decided that I must at least go to parties, like a normal teenager. Net result? I went once. In my youth was a fast learner.

Conclusion? – not quite five paragraphs... is a conclusion OK? let's call it

Corollary: If you're different, at least don't advertise it.

«  I can't open my mouth without being asked " Where are you from ?"

That's the American reaction. The French correct me, and Italians don't care. Viva Italia! Romanians that I meet for the first time compliment me on my language, but when Justi arrived to Israel – two years after I had left Romania – he made a lot of fun of my accent. Would I go unnoticed in Bucharest after 45 years? would I go in Bucharest at all?
In Hebrew I thought I spoke like everybody, till I got to the military after 5 years in the country, and all said I sounded like a Romanian.

«  If you cannot follow the arithmetic

Exclude number, and answer this question – How many years old are you?
So that, if number want, you answer all by mummes. How many miles to London?
A poak full of plums.
If number be lacking, it maketh men dumb; so that, to most questions, they must answer mum. What call you the science you desire so greatly?
Some call it Arsemetrick, and some Augrime.
Both names are corruptly written; Arsemetrick for Arithmetic, as the Greeks call it; and Augrime for Algorisme, as the Arabians sound it.
Robert Recorde, 1552


Once upon a time there was a most horrible witch : half lion, half snake and the third half spider. But nobody knew, as she lived in a house with a silver bell; anybody about to enter would ring it, and then she changed into the most charming fairy: half rose, half butterfly and the third half blue sky. Till somebody forgot to ring the bell; when he came in, what could the witch do? She ate him.

Morality: please knock at the door.


A frog heard that it would become a prince, if kissed by a princess. But, living in a stream by a small village, where to find a princess? Then it heard that all Jewish girls are princesses, and there were some Jews in the village (that was a Polish frog). So it made its proposal to a Jewish boy with peyes – frogs cannot tell people's sex any more than we can tell theirs. The boy threw a big stone at it.

Ever since boys chase frogs.

«  Un autor incapabil sa creeze "cu totul altceva" ...

Degas takes you out of reality, Gauguin takes you out more. Even more does Van Gogh, because it is very clear that his painting is only vaguely related to this world, and what he shows is his obsession with color.

On the other hand, Mondriaan does not; it is true you don't meet in reality with such images, but why should you meet them? This is the hardest part: after being creative, the result should be worth creating

וירא אלהים כי טוב
and God saw that it was good

or at least something that I like (is it really "at least"? is it enough for me that God is satisfied?) Anyway, I heartily agree that an artist who succeds at such task is indeed godlike.

Nor am I particularly impressed with pointillism; I would say that technique protrudes.

«  and even could take me seriously .

So I go around telling everybody how my life is just a crock of shit and I am fed up with it. Some ignore me, which I don't find acceptable. Others have to point out that it ain't quite so, for the sake of truth (I can say that in Latin: Amicus Livius, magis amica veritas). I find this even less acceptable: if they can't indulge me that much – notice that I don't ask anyone to fix my life – then let them have their Veritas, or any of the other 7 billion people in the world, and leave me alone.

I always thought maturity means precisely that: can live alone. It is not the ideal life, more managing somehow than living, but if you need others, you're as helpless as a child.

«  When Nomi was a little girl ...

She was about two or three, and we were visiting Justi's parents in Tzfat, on the way to see the snow on mount Hermon. As we were talking, we noticed that the baby was nowhere to be seen or heard... she was in the other room, rubbing vaseline on the furniture, which was somewhat cracked and scruffy, truly in need of healing.

Once we went to a museum, and were looking at a still life with a bowl of cherries. I asked her if she knew what a "still life" was:
—Life is not a bowl of cherries!

Another time the dentist told her she might need a tongue cradle:
—My tongue is too old for a cradle!

Then she used all her wits to spite us.

«  ...no surprises possible.

Dewey thought that one's beliefs or theories are true, if they shield one from surprise. You know what's all about, if your conclusions don't get contradicted by reality. Too beautiful to be true. I'd dearly love to be shielded from surprise – there are no pleasant surprises, since the surprise by itself means I'm ignorant (wrong beliefs and theories) or plain stupid (can't draw conclusions). So I concentrate on axiomatic systems, like programming or math – where knowledge at least has some clear beginning, and there are no wrong beliefs, although my wrong conclusions are plentiful as berries.

«  ...I deserved a vacation

Now, let's not exaggerate. After the first year of college, I really had a full summer vacation. After the second year, I went to hell to basic training. The third summer was the 6-days War, plus an NCO training from which, mercifully, I was quickly thrown out.

Then I started my Master's. The following summer the military took me only for a 2-week refresher, tolerable, so there was some kind of vacation. After the second year, with the Master done, I got drafted for real, starting with an officer's course, from which, mercifully, I was quickly thrown out.

Then four years of military service, another war, work, children, Ph.D., more work ... I still deserve a vacation.

«  il conseguente diploma e in corso di compilazione .

That's Liliana's story – when she finished her medical studies in Rome, in the fall of 1973, we celebrated at our first Japanese restaurant, which she hated, and the next day went to the university to pick up the certificates. As we were standing in line , university clerks passing by called everyone "Dottore" "Dottoressa" – how sweet. But they could not deliver diplomas, because the diploma calligraphers had been on a strike, and were behind with their work. So she got a certificate "the diploma is being drafted" and it kept being drafted till some time in the eighties, when we finally got it.

«  ... asked me why my Ph.D. takes so long

He was not criticizing me – which would have resulted in eternal hate and damnation. He was a particularly nice man – the Romanian expression comes to the mind "bun ca piinea calda" – good as freshly baked bread. And so my answer might have been Marlene Dietrich's number – it was just some mumble.

But I did tell him that my military rank was stable in the sense of ordinary differential equations. That just means "tends to zero with time". I could not be promoted, because I failed officer's course anyway, and would be discharged as corporal.

«  including skin lesions mimicking erysipelas .

Erysipelas is an infectious skin disease – the whole point is that the animal was not infected. Sella turcica is one of the zillion named parts of the brain.

Now I realize I must have read Speransky's book – how else would I remember such technical terms? (I am not sure about the reference, and it looks quite quackish to me, but the book date, 1943, seems right.) Actually now an illustration comes to mind – a poor rabbit with an inflamed, hairless ear. Fortunately in black and whighte , or dull gray, as communist printing was at very low standards – I could not have borne it in color.

Just yesterday we visited Nomi in Santa Cruz, and saw a car with "Free lab animals" I wanted very much to add: "Replace them with humans (Jews if possible – actually, are Jews human?)".

«  Much better not to try than not to succeed .

In my case, anyway. If I remember a few successes, my failures I can't forget; they keep rankling and pester me forever, and each and every one chops permanently a bit of my self-esteem and ability. That's the advantage of being young, you haven't failed much yet and can believe in success.

Francis Bacon is of a different opinion, q.v. , so what shall I answer? Bacon ain't kosher.

Beloved wife, alas, is also of a different opinion, and keeps telling me how I poisoned poor children's mind with such ideas. What can I answer? If our children listened to what we say, they would all be doctors.

«  One of the many gems one can find on the Internet

«                 HOM MANI PADME HOM!

A lotus is pretty enough, but a jewel in the lotus really makes your day. So here are some more jewels from the net:

«  ... mostly because Shakespeare's dramatic poetry doesn't scan to me.

My latest informed guess is that's because English is stress-timed, and Romanian syllable-timed. That means that in Romanian, as in the other Romance languages, all syllables have the same duration, while in English, all words – no matter how long, each word carries at most one stress – have the same duration. This is also why we, poor aliens, find it so hard to understand spoken English, and so impossible to reproduce it. BTW, was Shakespeare's English stress-timed? A nice thesis subject for when I'm retard – but of course has been done long ago.

I found out about stress-timed and syllable-timed a few years ago. There is also mora-timed...

«  way to teach math .

Most people I taught – including at UCLA and MIT – studied math because they had to, not because they were in the least interested (in Israel it was somewhat different ). Certainly all my students in Germany – where I taught for the military – would have never taken the courses, if at all possible. And some had very little ability – like using a calculator to divide by ten.

But then they were otherwise decent human beings, forced to do something they hated – like me with basketball. So I treated them very politely – I think this is what Adult-Adult means, and it all worked reasonably well. As for professional responsability – just as much as academic freedom. I needed the money, they needed the grades, and the glory of mathematics – which is quite real, although complex – does not depend on them or me.

«  ...so I was with my friend Bibi in Bucharest, on his terrace ...
«  look into the Customs compound from Bibi's terrace.

Bibi, on his full name Strutinschi Valerian, was my friend and school colleague till the fourth grade – then we went to different middle schools. He lived in the same building as ours. His aunt and two cousins moved to stay with them after Bibi's mother died of cancer when we were in second grade. The terrace that I keep talking about lay on top of one or two second floor apartments, so it was quite large, and a great place for us to play.

His family were white Russians, who had escaped the Russian Revolution to Romania, only to be caught by communism one generation later. The family was quite large, I also met some of his uncles who told me some strange stories about the tzar's navy...

«  ... the damn fugue
«  ... my first musical work in progress was known as "Shein ietzire"

Here is the fugue, but, as advertised, the sound is between ugly and unbearable, and that after serious tinkering with instrumentation. By the way, and without implying any justifiable comparison, I found a wonderful site about the Well Tempered Clavier – a true work of love, plus excellent teaching.

The fugue is op.3, here are some more: op.1 (the famous Scheine ietzire ) and op.4 (op.2 is too fishy). These are somewhat longer, and may well tax your forbearance; the numbering is chronological.

«  ... laetificat

... qui laetificat juventutem meam. Cause vetustatem meam nothing can laetify.

From which I quickly jump to vetus – vetulus – vet'lus – veclus – vecchio – vechi. And I remember watching Pirandello in Italian with subtitles at 12 or 13, when I first heard "vecchio" and burst out laughing, because "vechi" in Romanian can only be used for old things, while "il vecchio" meant "the old man" in Italian. And "old man" in Romanian is "bătrîn", a doublet of "veteran".

So, is this all to show off? Is it because I really enjoy divagation? Is it because I search desperately, like Diogenes with his lamp, for someone to respond to such stuff?

«     Ti faccio difenestrar !

Or, if you prefer:

Bella figlia dell'amore,
Schiavo son dei vezzi tuoi;
Con un solo dito puoi
Il mio pene consolar.
Vieni, e senti del mio cuore
Il frequente palpitar.

Alas, it doesn't work in French! PENE, with one or two n-s and various accents on e may mean feather, lock pin, bunch of strings, a beam or mast, and some other technical items, anything but ... Otherwise, "J'ai le coeur en pene" would be the best summary of most French belles lettres and movies.

In olden days, when I found out that Liliana had been accepted to a medical residence in San Francisco, I came for West Coast interviews. From a motel in Palo Alto (that was at least near Stanford – how near was I to Stanford?) I took a taxi to Berkeley. I did not have that much cash, so I showed my credit card to the driver.

– Liviu? that sounds Romanian.

You could knock me down with a feather! An American noticing such stuff must be at least a professor of Romance languages. Of course, he was not American: a refugee from Lebanon, with a Mexican wife... I don't remember if he actually studied in Europe, or East Europe, but that seems quite reasonable, I met an Egyptian student from Budapest at one of my Math summer courses, so why not from Bucharest?

«  complimenting her "how fat you are, how well you look !"

This may sound as a post facto justification, but I seem to remember from my childhood the combination "grasa si frumoasa" – fat and beautiful. Certainly the ideal women were far from slim, e.g. Marylin Monroe in "Some like it hot", with a waist like mine. And "A long day's journey into night" is about the 1910s ...

I also remember visiting the Heidelberg castle, when the guide insisted how the local prince and Winter King was shown much fatter than he actually was – because thin was for the rabble.

«  ... she did not get promoted ,

At that time, the Army was convinced they had too many physicians, and the right solution is to pay for civilian medical services. In any case, while Lilian was in the Army, military medical care got definitely worse, first cutting services for dependents, then for personnel.

Not to mention physicians' conditions. The first time she ever contacted the military was in Virginia, after she got her American licence. As a civilian, she would do calls at Ft. Eustis, because the military doctors did not do calls in those happy times. Not so in her military times...

«  Language expresses what is socially expedient.

How I hate the idea! but that's that. Or, maybe, maybe, I think it's true because I hate it ...

But language is when someone speaks to someone else, so it is a social act. So is sex a social act. Strangely enough, friendship is also a social act, but that does not spoil it for me. Probably because there are imaginary friends, although I never had any. Actually, due to newimproved techniques, there are virtual friends, or at least virtual audiences.

Once, when our mothers were in Monterey for the summer, Liliana took Edith and Fredi (and mainly herself) to Las Vegas, and I remained with my mother – I was probably at NPS and had no vacation. So one afternoon I took her to "Jurassic Park" – I think the second installment. So much fun – as the big monsters romped about devouring everybody, we giggled and cackled like teenage girls.

This was the last time we went to a movie together, just the two of us.

Which reminds me, when I was small, my mother used to take me and Justi to the movies. That was mostly Wednesdays afternoon – we didn't know about golf in Romania, but she did take a break from patients. I was small enough to prefer cartoons, with little birds and flowers – but Justi already was big enough to go for war movies, and there were lots of them, the war had ended about 5 years before.

«  I also have the traditional Muslim attitude about the future

Being a boor and ignorant about the New Testament, I missed James 4.13:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

«  ...that would make a few places for foreign graduates .

On the other hand, when I was at NPS there was a math faculty meeting, where somebody complained that 40% of the math graduate students in USA are foreigners. And what percentage of the teachers and researchers? USA buys scientists, it is cheaper, and anyway the established American native tends towards law or management, much more rewarding. Also medicine, much less rewarding – but maybe actually doing some tangible good to others counts. Even programming is swamped by immigrants: we went with Jeppesen to a baseball game, and one bench enjoyed the play, while another bench – just as long – strove hard to get it: people from Argentina, China, India, Israel, Russia...

«  ... Romanian ... school books, ninth to eleventh grade,

I used to read some of them in Maabarot, especially at the beginning, when it was clear that we were lagging behind school program – we were just learning Hebrew. Then I lent them to a friend who left the kibutz. He, of course, disappeared and the books with him. But in the meantime I could use Hebrew textbooks just as well. Actually, the material required for finals was at a much higher level than my Romanian manuals.

«  ...developed all the dirty tricks

And I mean dirty. I was trying to hit the toilet bowl in the dark, standing, with the results you can imagine. It took me a long time to realize I could sit down.

More reasonably, I covered the toilet window, so the toilet would stay dark. There is light during the summer at 4 o'clock, which I certainly don't want to see. Actually I don't want to be awakened by light at any hour. By the way, in Israel bedrooms had quite efficient blinds, which actually blocked the light, so I didn't have to mess with those windows.

«  ...Liliana got in touch with computers , because most exam material is now online
«  computers... become better and cheaper with time

But also more annoying. My beloved wife, who abhorred computers and never touched one of her own free will till about a year ago, of course keeps cursing the machine, but so do I, not any less, and I am a dedicated professional with more than 35 years in scientific and industrial programming (if you believe my CV ). The damn things of course do much more than they used to, but what they can do is so well hidden under the intuitive interface, the information highway, and whatever, it takes just as much effort to do anything. And probably more frustration, cause I get old, old and stupid ! and I don't enjoy the effort any more, can't even believe that once I did, even if I remember so.

«  ...and Molcuţa (Malca) the youngest sister of my father

Molcuţa had her own words of wisdom:

פֿון ״על חטא״ װערט מאן נישט פֿעט

"Fun "Al-Het" wert man nisht fet" "You don't get fat from "Al-Het", which is the Yom Kippur prayer recited while beating your breast, to confess all the sins; and of course Yom-Kippur is the day of complete fasting. This sounded even better because she was rolly polly, certainly not from breastbeating – she was an excellent cook.

Her other saying is almost untranslatable: "A zis, a spus". Both words mean "he said" in Romanian; while they are not fully interchangeable, they are much nearer than "say" and "tell" in English. The expression usage underlines a sad truth:

—But he said that he will...
—A zis, a spus.

i.e. all you can conclude from what he said is that he said it.

«  ...went to Italy, where Liliana was waiting for her last exam .

Waiting somewhat the way we're supposed to wait for the Messiah... In Italy in those ancient times, exams – always oral – where held whenever the professor had time – no scheduling months ahead. That particular professor had a busy meetings season that year, so he was absent from Rome all the summer and nobody even knew when he would return, much less about examination dates. Eventually the exam was held some time in October. In the meantime we toured the Mont Blanc and Switzerland, then rested for a week in Ischia. Ognuno s'infischia dell'isola d'Ischia!

«  There were also some of our cousins from Jordan or Syria who weren't standing in line.

Arabs are traditionally descended from Ishmael, a son of Abraham, and Jews from Isaac, another son of Abraham. So we are cousins. The fun part is that there are significant genetic similarities between Palestinian Arabs and Jews, which IMHO is odd, because the Jews mingled with (or were raped by) everybody, and Palestine was conquered at least by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines , Crusaders and Turks – assuming that Palestinian Arabs are local, and don't come from Hijaz. But maybe conquerors don't mix with the lesser breeds conquered, and rapes aren't that frequent. Or what we see is the dominant genes of "everybody".

As for biblical origins, I'm curious if my grandchildren will even hear about that.

«  ... word associations ... resonances ...

There are foxgloves, and there are tigergloves: Guantanamera!
"Guanti" = "gloves" in Italian; "namer" = "tiger" in Hebrew.

Which means absolutely nothing, but for me is a straightforward association. I also automatically associate "executive" with "executioner", and "meatballs" with "metabolism". Many words carry these resonances with them, and the more farfetched are lots of fun. The word "farfetched" itself – sounds perfectly Yiddish to me: פארפעצ׳עט

For a long time I had the theory that the more abstruse passages in Ulysses are just Joyce's effort to note all the resonances of all the words – then I found out about stream of consciousness.

And, is ratification the converse of deratization?

«  I'd rather dump it like all my projects

The real problem is that I cannot tolerate failure, especially since I'm convinced I cannot learn anything anymore (certainly cannot memorize anything anymore). So how many times will I lose and restore my precious Chinese characters, before I dump the whole project? And I hardly dare add anything, for fear that it will break what I already have. And, God knows, I broke it enough, and fixed it, and fixed the fixes...


To convince myself that I actually got somewhere else, I have to see what I haven't at home, so exotic animals are a great priority. This time we had our fill of penguins: Magellanic penguins and rockhopers. And on the way to the penguin beach near Punta Arenas we went through the pampas and met a pair rhea / ñandu, the local ostriches. These danced for us: as the bus went by, they rose from the grass, fluffed their feathers and flapped their wings. Later, we saw a condor flying above – too fast for photos, but truly remarkable, huge wings with spread "fingers". They look very much like their Nazca image:

although the stylized beak and tail are too long.

«  ... rush home to work play with a new idea
«  ... my composition

Little Latin and less Greek

In my youth, I was vaguely dreaming of a novel about someone writing nine symphonies to commit suicide. Of course, the symphonies would be composed by computer – that's the other autobiographical part. They would also provide employment to the Russian immigrants to Israel, who were all very musical (the saying was: if he doesn't arrive carrying a violin, he's a pianist). But yesterday I realized that

Δις κραμβη θανατος
"twice cabbage is death", so one could commit musical suicide much easier by playing C A B B A G E often enough, in case twice is not the precise count (bis repetita placent). So I built my program for repetitive cabbage pieces, resulting in, e.g.:

If that kills me, I'll let you know.

«  I am surprised how much jewishness there is all over ...

Just as I was surprised, 30 years ago, how much Romanian lore stuck to me. I was writing my diary in Hebrew then... very different from reading Hebrew, I was put off by the literary language, stinks of the Bible – but my version, or Kishon's for that matter was OK. However, to keep to the point – over the time I realized that what really sticks is just childhood. By and large, not a bad thing, my childhood was lovely, even though in Romania. Not particularly healthy – almost everybody is a stranger almost everywhere, but the majority of people aren't minorities.

«  ...places we missed, besides the obvious Machu-Picchu and Cuzco

There was a possibility of a side-trip to Machu-Picchu, but one has to fly in a small plane to the mountaintop, which beloved wife is very much against. The price was also quite noticeable. But the real problem is altitude shock: unless you take about a week to gradually climb up – preferably chewing coca leaves all the way – the local thin atmosphere will make you really sick, in particular if you already have heart trouble. Not to mention the dreaded HAFE! So I contented myself with virtual travel.

«  Liliana first found work for a few months in Minnesota ...

She was in Duluth, during the winter. In sunny Monterey, I met around Christmas a guy who was a civil engineer, and had worked on drainage, sewage purification, etc. On hearing about Liliana:
— Duluth?! that's where shit freezes solid!

Actually, that was a rather mild winter. Besides, they were so organized, they never had to go outside (maybe for smoking – but these are Californian ideas, hopefully have not spread so far) The three hospitals where she worked were connected by passages, with restaurants, a gym, and the hotel where she lived. And her salary there was more than we had ever earned together.

So, of course, we did not move to Minnesota.

«  Experience is what we call our failures.

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never try to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

                "A Pig's-Eye View of Literature – Oscar Wilde", Dorothy Parker

And he did. The original is:
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
I thought it was my own deeep insight , but... After which I discovered another of my permanent themes:
My experience is that as soon as people are old enough to know better, they don't know anything at all.
Both from "Lady Windermere's Fan."

And even better, and still Irish, a proverb:

Experience is the comb life gives to the bald.

«  ... sa ma spal ceva mai des decit la Bucuresti.

Washing in Bucharest was a rather serious project, one had first to boil the water in the bathtub tank – there was no other source of hot water. That involved lighting a big gas burner under the tank, which I was not allowed to do as a child. As for the gas, it was bought in containers, that we had to lug up and down the hill from the Rond, where the supply shop was. In the winter, the gas container rode on my sled, and, while I was small enough, I rode on top of the container.

«  ... se tinea cu Radu cel Frumos, Vlad Tepes si Skanderbeg

Franz Babinger in his book Mehmed the Conqueror and his Time, asserted that he was attracted to both women and men, basing this upon various Byzantine historians such as Doukas and Chalcocondylas. However these assertions met fierce criticism from modern Turkish historians, including Halil Inalcik pointing out that contemporary Ottoman sources do not mention this.

«  ...Yahoo (search engine, etc.)

Nobody noticed what yahoo means?

Upon the whole, I never beheld, in all my travels, so disagreeable an animal, or one against which I naturally conceived so strong an antipathy. ... Several of this cursed brood, getting hold of the branches behind, leaped up into the tree, whence they began to discharge their excrements on my head; however, I escaped pretty well by sticking close to the stem of the tree, but was almost stifled with the filth, which fell about me on every side.
But of course, some stink helps with publicity.

«  ...few useful things...

I was never good at anything useful or practical, but at that time I was also a child, and none of the clerks and officials we bothered with would have even looked at me.

This did not improve with time. My attitude about all the messy details of real life – and what is not included here? – is: leave that for later. So my parents, and my wife and everybody else dealt with it, just because they could not wait till I would. For which I am not thankful.

The latest example was when my mother got Alzheimer. All I could have thought about is to take her to live with us. The practical solution – finding a senior home, getting her there, undoing her home, renting the house – was done above me, mostly by Edith. All I did was the weeping.

«  ... yesterday before today before tomorrow

Myself, when young, did eagerly peruse Huxley's "Eyeless in Gaza", where the chapters are not ordered chronologically. That annoyed me so much, that I added, after every chapter "GOTO page" (I was learning FORTRAN at the same time). But, of course, it was a novel, with a plot, and it really mattered what had happened before. At the time I liked Huxley enough to read again and again, till it made sense.

«  Which made me prince Hohenzollern ...

Not really.
The Romanian ruling house was deprived of its Hohenzollern title, when Romania fought against the German Empire during WWI (the Kaiser was himself a Hohenzollern). Or so I heard, but then the Wikipedia has Michael bestowing Hohenzollern titles on his sons in law; they also call him Michael I, when I remember silver coins with Michael II, so I don't know what to think anymore, and will keep worrying all night every night.


If you noticed, I'm compulsively quoting. This is because I am never sure that my expressions are quite right. And I am speaking as I write, so certainly many things I say are stilted or just wrong. But if I quote " the best authors "... Besides, that was a poetic feature in medieval Hebrew poetry: bits and pieces of the Bible scattered through the text, a procedure called "shibutz", bejeweling. But it may well be they were just as insecure in their Hebrew as I am in English.

«  ... Liliana got assigned to Wuerzburg,

Wuerzburg is, of course, a beautiful town in Franconia. In addition, at the local university, Roentgen discovered X-rays in 1895. So there is on the campus a Roentgen museum, where you can see all his expriments and diplomas. The loveliest is some honor certificate from 1900, where the clerk started 18.. and then had to correct, with a big crossmark at the bottom of the fancy calligraphed form.

I should try and steal his identity, at least our birthdays are the same.

«  As we were standing in line

There were also some of our cousins from Jordan or Syria who weren't standing in line.

I fully agree with the attitude – waiting in line is a personal insult. At a restaurant or theater or whatever they should wait for me, not me for them.

On the other hand, I learnt Italian standing in line. One day, when we had to wait for hours for some carta bollata , I started reading one of the famous "gialli", meaning "yellow books", meaning whodunits. By the time we got out of the line, I knew Italian.

«  ... in short art is artificial .

Miss Prism.    Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

Cecily.    Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don't like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

Miss Prism.    The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

The Importance of Being Earnest

«  ... partly mythological

Basically, everything I heard about as a child, but could not see, had this kind of aura of irreality; I felt compelled to verify, preferably to see, preferably to touch. It was also very attractive to me – since it was not real, it might be magical. That certainly included the historic past (and the not so historic: all the gossip about people I could not meet) as well as everything abroad – there was practically no chance to leave Romania. Besides, it was quite clear that a lot of stuff I learnt in school was not real either, propaganda or worse, so it also registered to be verified later. This is where I got my tourist instinct: I have to see all that, so I can really believe it exists. And, sadly, unseen stuff remains somehow better.

«  And I misspelled vozjmjot. And God knows what else.

That is, Nabokov. The man was firmly convinced that nobody except him knew Russian.

Actually, I'm exaggerating, my mistakes are probably obvious to anyone, and they could not be considered an improvement, or even a variation, on the original. But in Romanian, I can improve on Eminescu:

Ce mi-e vremea, cind de veacuri
Stele scapara pe lacuri...
The original:
Ce mi-e vremea, cind de veacuri
Stele scinteie pe lacuri...
has a wrong rhythm, at least in my Romanian (Eminescu's language was different, he actually created literary Romanian, more or less like Dante had created Italian 600 years before). And, in conclusion, it's not that I am a better poet, I just like my version of these two verses better.

«  ...and finally I'm on Coumadin

Coumadin is rat poison, generic name Warfarin (make peace, or warfare on rats) It prevents blood clotting, and is dangerous enough to require blood level measuring forever, initially once a week. I was very much against, and beloved wife even more so – she has had pacients with brain hemorrhage from Coumadin. As I am quite accident prone...
Fortunately, there is a new drug, "Pradaxa", which does not need this lab tracking, but is expensive ($150 per month, vs Coumadin at $5 per month) Even more fortunately, our military insurance covers it, so I'm on Pradaxa. May be considered good news, plus a sign of the general progress of humanity.

«  I also have the traditional Muslim attitude about the future

Being a boor and ignorant about the New Testament, I missed James 4.13:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."
But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

«  ... But the students did not particularly like me ,

Then eventually I found out what students expected, and did it, and everything went smoothly. For one trimester I was even popular, and the students invited me to a Christmas party, to which I promptly answered I had a previous engagement. Quite automatically, and completely untruthfully, and not because I had anything against the students in general or that particular group. Why then? Because I am that I am, like Popeye or the Lord of the Universe.

«  ...she wouldn't even sleep in the old bed she shared with the cat

Beloved wife sleeps in the living room when she is on call, so all the phones she gets won't wake me – for which I am infinitely grateful. For that purpose, she first bought a sofa, which proved unconfortable, then a folding bed ; if there were any space, I am sure she would buy some more. From the bed she watches "Law and Order" till lulled to sleep, like a true teenager she is.

«  ... invention of new solvable problems

Anyway, a nice summary of mathematics:

Given the natural numbers 1,2,3 ... , solve the problem:

1+x = 1
Natural numbers won't do; must add zero.

Now solve the problem :

2+x = 1
Must add negatives.

Now solve :

2x = 1
Must add fractions, getting the field of rationals.

Now solve :

x2 = 2
Must add Dedekind cuts, getting the field of reals.

Then solve :

x2 = -1
Must add imaginaries, getting the complex field.

With a parallel expansion: noticing all those x-s define problems about combinations of numbers and x-s ...

I read the above in one of Fraenkel's introductory books, at 17 in Maabarot. This is Fraenkel of the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, who eventually became Dean of Mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was named Adolf, of course.

«  ... to my great astonishment , пизда
«  ... in general imi place sa invat orice

What do you know! "Pizda" is the same in Romanian and Russian, as the Romanian word is of Slavic orgin – but it might well be inherited in both languages from the original Proto-Indo-European! See the venerable Pokorny PIE dictionary, items 831, 146, 819, 829. Prehistoric obscenities, treasured for 5000 years!

And apropos, I thought that "putain" is just some slangy form of "pute". Wrong! "Pute/putain" (likewise "gars/garçon") are ancient forms, from the happy time when French had cases, and for these nouns the nominative and oblique had distinct stems. Live and learn – I have nothing against the latter, the former...

«  bis repetita placent


Numero deus impare gaudet = Le numero deux se rejouit d'etre impair.
This comes up at least from Gide, "Paludes" :
« Tu me rappelles ceux qui traduisent : "Numero Deus impare gaudet", par : Le numéro Deux se réjouit d'être impair, et qui trouvent qu'il a bien raison. Or s'il était vrai que l'imparité porte en elle quelque essence de bonheur, — je dis de liberté — on devrait dire au nombre Deux : mais, pauvre ami, vous ne l'êtes pas, impair ; pour vous satisfaire de l'être, tâchez au moins de le devenir. »

«  Ce nu cade din cer n-are nici o valoare.

Very roughly translated, "If it's not a windfall, it's worthless".

This is something that I believe deeply: if you toil for a thing, if you pay for a thing, you don't become richer when you get it. It's just a swap, like everyday work: I exchange eight hours of my life for money. On the other hand, I am infinitely richer because Mozart existed – and what could I have swapped for that?

«  ... This is what God would have built if he had had the money

I have frequently heard this about Hearst Castle; but Shaw said it – if he did – about another Hearst property, a medieval castle in Wales, which was remodelled (probably) just as furiously as San Simeon. We used to go to Hearst Castle reasonably often from Monterey, but lately – five years? ten years? – we didn't get enough tourists.

«  told me the story of Yak-Tzidrak ...

There were three Chinamen:
  Yak, Yak-tzidrak and Yak-tzidrak-tzidrak-tzidroni.
And there were three Chinawomen:
  Tzimtzi, Tzimtzi-rimtzi, Tzimtzi-rimtzi-lampamponi.
So Yak married Tzimtzi,
  and Yak-tzidrak married Tzimtzi-rimtzi,
    and Yak-tzidrak-tzidrak-tzidroni married Tzimtzi-rimtzi-lampamponi.
And they named their children:

This is a Russian mother goose piece. Try a web search on цидрак.

This is a schematic of the streets around my house in Bucharest. It shows the location of my first schools and, more importantly, Justi's house. I never met Filip in Bucharest, but he used to live somewhere near the "Rond", now renamed "Queen Mary". The region was not very high tone – in particular, Ferentari was where the gypsies (now renamed Roma) lived.

See a more detailed map here. Also some satellite pictures, including street labelling.

«  ... etymologically, work is punishment ...

Etymology is the most attractive part of linguistics. As a sample of its offerings, here is this doughty lady of paradise.

It is also the most useless, as it emphasises the incessant, often startling, change in sound and sense. So it has very little to do with how language is used for communication, with meaning. But, obviously, it was the thing that hooked me to linguistics.

În română, vezi: "a desmierda", "un puşti".

«  ... the Selk'nam have been massacred a long time ago ...

They were warlike and avoided contact with Westerners. The settlers treated them as pests, and organized hunts against them. One (in)famous enemy of the Selk'nam was the "king of Tierra del Fuego" Julius Popper, a Jewish engineer born in Bucharest. Before he got killed at 35, he had a private army in Patagonia and minted his own gold coins.

«  Live and learn – I have nothing against the latter, the former...
«  ... spent everything on useless stuff in the flea market
«  La adinci batrineti, dar cu pregatiri din timp.
A few years ago there opened a little mall near us in San Jose, which I rather like, because there usually is parking and there isn't too much fancy stuff (read: expensive clothing/accessories) Useless stuff I am all for: what other possible gifts? Near the gift shop, they also have an arts and crafts shop, where I quickly bought a sharp blade, officially for wood carving. I still keep it in my briefcase, although beloved wife explained that cutting your veins is very inefficient suicide. Maybe arteries...

«  ... I can even enjoy Spongebob

Actually, some of the latest cartoons are quite clever, although ugly as sin. But in the good old times...

We used to get one Popeye each week on Israeli TV, and I deeply appreciated it, especially the fixed pattern : Olive flirts, Blutto gets fresh, Olive yells "Popeye, save me!", Popeye loses the fight, then eats spinach, then wins. A never changing plot, so you could concentrate on the ingenious details: how do they fight, how does Popeye get his spinach. It seemed to me an art form, like a rondo going AABACA ... Or maybe I was just young.

«  and would be discharged as corporal.

Like Napoleon – le petit caporal! Beloved wife, on the other hand, is a full colonel, like Nasser or Gaddafi or Peron, or the generic member of the generic junta, which might explain some of the dictatorial inclinations.

Come to think of it, do you know of any colonel with positive connotation? Even honorary Colonel Sanders may be accused of sabotaging national health.

Now that's not a criticism of Liliana, she is far from being a negative personnage. But, had I thought about it earlier, that would have been a reason to try for general – the Army sent her the application, but she thought it was too much trouble.

«  ... I was surprised I did not recognize the place ...

How can I be surprised in a dream? all I can dream about I know already, it is stuff stored somewhwere in my brain. But the retrieval mechanism is slow, or maybe imperfect.

Probably this is how God is surprised, although he is omniscient. He could retrieve any information, including the future, but maybe slower than the future happens. No wonder he is mostly angry – I mean Jehovah; classical Greek gods are imperturbable, as you can see:

although their enemies writhe and grimace, the gods' faces are expressionless, ataraxia as I wish for myself.

«  – but all under complete sedation...

Now what sane person would sleep away one month (say) of his life? I would, of course, and much more than one month, but

A normal person would probably count on finding some kind of extra fun, to compensate for the annoyance of dieting. I, however, live at the maximum possible fun (which of course is much, much less than what I want). In any case, I cannot think of any additional fun thing to do – actually I cannot think of any undisgusting thing to do – so I'd rather sleep (and dream, no Hamlet).

«  ... I could not find lutefisk

This is fish soaked in lye, a Scandinavian treat. If successful, it is some kind of jelly, if not it is soap. But I discovered – on the Internet, of course – one better: hákarl, a fermented poisonous shark from Iceland. No longer poisonous, it just smells of ammonia strong enough to gag you, so you should taste it while pinching your nose. Bon appetit!

«  ...like building the fatherland

That was Israel, some of our parents and grandparents had done just that.

"Fatherland" sounds somehow wrong, should be "forefatherland". It's also sexist, and "motherland" no better. The Hebrew word מולדת is even worse in this context – its root is ילד "child" or "birth", and very few of the people who built Israel had been born there.

There are also in Israel, on the way to Jerusalem, two communities מולדת א׳ and מולדת ב׳ i.e. Motherland one and two. Which makes me think of me and Romania and Israel and USA... I had patriotic feelings for Israel, and left it just the same.

«  My mother ... and the other girls at the University

They were girls, and would have been insulted if called "women", because they were unmarried. Only one of my mother's friends married before graduation; but she had always been somewhat of an original, wearing short sleeves to class! Her husband was also from the same student group; they emigrated to Palestine, where he actually served in the British army during the war. Eventually they became wealthy dentists in Haifa. In their house I saw the first Encyclopedia Britannica.

«  what a beautiful ... Freudian slip ...

Actually, as I go on typing this masterpiece (doctorpiece!) I find that the typos are not particularly Freudian, mostly missed letters and anticipated letters – e.g. "withe the". Still, the results are sometimes funny.

Does the anticipation mean anything – except that my mind is faster than my fingers (I should hope!) ? Somehow I expect some terrible brain-disfunction diagnosis, and then it's over ! The missed letters are just that, I don't press hard enough ( oprime el pulsante )

«  ...there is also a "Cabbage waltz" by Slonimsky .

This guy is completely extraordinary: not only did he live to be one hundred, but also composed a concerto for belly-slapping and orchestra. Among many other contributions to modern (i.e. 1920-1930) music, and to my vocabulary: quaquaversal.

Any of his books, especially the autobiography, is fun, the music... I don't think humor can be expressed musically. See (hear!) also here.

«  ...some terrible brain-misfunction diagnosis, and then it's over !

There was a time when I was very interested in Transactional_Analysis , and somewhat a believer. The thing that hooked me to it was the description of death thoughts; there are two options:

  1. Finally it's over!
  2. I feel I'm becoming God!

(guess which fits me). It fits so well, that I accepted the rest as probably true, especially the very consoling idea that your fate is sealed by the age of five. I tried to be somewhat nicer to my children (under five at the time) and use mostly Adult-Adult interaction – which is probably a sane way to teach math .

«  I certainly could not hear the difference ...

Except for that, it was remarkably simple to debug my editor just by listening. Certainly classical music will easily let you spot wrong notes, even if you cannot distinguish chords – my case. Now modern music is something else, but then, who cares? By the way, my dodecaphonic music has almost Palestrinish harmonies – at that time I thought that any interval of 1,2,6,10 or 11 semitones is a definite no-no! Hadn't found out about V7 and vii7♭ yet...

«  Is palladium more expensive than platinum?

Palladium costs less, although it is rarer, as you can see in the brown spot below:
          with translation for the chemistry challenged:

         Au – gold
         Ag – silver
         Pt – platinum
         Pd – palladium

«  apropos models

Actually, apropos the scientific method.

A scientist trains a cricket. When he says "Cricket jump!" the cricket jumps. Then he pulls out two of the cricket 's legs. He then says "Cricket jump!", and the cricket jumps. He pulls out two more legs, and the cricket still jumps as trained. But after the scientist pulls out all its legs, and says "Cricket jump!", the cricket doesn't.


A cricket without legs cannot hear.

Which is perfectly valid, since crickets' hearing organs are tympanic membranes on their knees.

«  Dostoevski

In Romania the Russian authors were, of course, the most and greatest, so when I escaped I decided, very sillily, to ignore them completely. Still I dutifully read through the Brothers Karamazov, because Rozalia had sent me the book, but I was less than impressed. It took a long time till I read any Russian writer, in small doses (i.e. "The Kreutzer Sonata", "The Overcoat", but not "War and Peace"). One day, however, I found "The House of the Dead" on the Internet and devoured it from end to end, even though I cannot read anymore. So there is something to it, probably the lack of soul searching.

«  Not to mention how cheap it is to break the rules.

As profound as:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have vanquished every teacher - we have broken every rule

However, it really happened to beloved wife – her middle school burnt down; imagine the joy coming one morning and not finding it there!

«  I never could find anything positive to say about work

Ce qu'il y a de merveilleux
Ouvrez braves gens les oreilles
Ce qu'il y a de merveilleux
Ouvrez braves gens vos grands yeux
C'est que le travail ne soit plus
dans le monde socialiste
C'est que le travail ne soit plus
Une honte un poids comme il fut. 

          Louis Aragon, Hourra l'Oural

And I almost forgot

«  All the cities are huge – 10 million people, 20 million ...

And now they have one town of 30 million! These numbers are more or less guesses, because although they can count the population officially registered as living in a certain place, there are many more unofficial and illegal residents, plus commuters, especially in the big cities. For instance, our guide said that Bangkok has 10 million inhabitants – but the Wikipedia says that during the day there are 20 million people in the city (we have seen them all crossing the street, while our bus was waiting to move ahead).

«  Everybody is right all the time .

Anyone does what he does for some reason that he thinks valid, and can even state the reason to you. So all people are right all the time , including myself, although I am convinced I only make mistakes, and the less I do the better. Liliana, on the other hand, is convinced that she would do everything she did again, because it was right to begin with. We should agree to disagree, but she won't.

«  ... they are remodelling our building

I always say: till the roof doesn't fall on you, put off remodelling.

And another story: in the ancient days in San-Francisco, we used to go to open houses – beloved wife found it amusing. So we found a one-floor house in St. Francis Wood – with another four floors continuation in the ravine. The price also four floors beyond the expected; then the realtor added: "And think how wonderfully you can remodel!"

«  learnt cho=dog, meo =cat.

About the same time, we got a Siamese cat from some friends, and called her Meo – seemed quite appropriate, like calling a Swede an Italian . She was very beautiful, lean with sharp dark points, loved to climb straight up on our lace curtains, and stole chicken chunks from the soup boiling on the stove. Meo had a few lovely kittens from stray toms in the yard – one that I remember in particular, all black with long, silky fur, so fine that it almost looked flimsy.

«  So we went and had lunch...

That was the epilogue of our far east trip. We were quite near to Chinatown, and went to Kan's for pressed duck – alas, they don't make it anymore! In China we couldn't find pressed duck, just Peking duck, which Liliana doesn't like. The guide said we could buy pressed duck as a staple at the market, but one cannot bring food to US. So God is against!

«  cleanliness and godliness

... the Danes, thanks to their habit of combing their hair every day, of bathing every Saturday and regularly changing their clothes, were able to undermine the virtue of married women and even seduce the daughters of nobles to be their mistresses.
John of Wallingford

«  ... find it so hard ...

‘...and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable –"’
‘Found what?’ said the Duck.
‘Found it,’ the Mouse replied rather crossly: ‘of course you know what "it" means.’
‘I know what "it" means well enough, when I find a thing,’ said the Duck: ‘it’s generally a frog or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?’

«  Tanti Pepi used to say " a iesit coinul din tine "...

And that kept puzzling me for a long time. What Cohen? I am not called Cohen. Till I discovered that my mother's family name Catz – I thought that meant cats – actually is a Hebrew abbreviation for "Cohen Tzedek" – the priestly/royal clan of Aharon and the Maccabees. As befitting such a noble origin, the Cohens are supposed to be irascible and bossy.

I remember the first pages of Genji, how his mother was of such a low rank, that she had to walk in the palace, instead of being carried on a litter. Despite Violetta's famous literary talent, I did not get any further in that book, but this part stuck. So I shocked a few of Liliana's colleagues – she had just joined the military, and everybody was into running – with "Gentlemen walk sedately, or are carried!".

«  In general I only want impossible things : like not to work, or wake up after eight.

What exactly is impossible? It was not impossible to be a tenured professor – it just did not happen. But it was clearly impossible to be a millionaire – I should say a rich millionaire, cause I have been a poor millionaire already: our apartment in Israel was worth a million Israeli lira at the peak of inflation (about $30000).

«  Ciupercuţe saprofite
Care-ncearcă să profite

A saprophyte lives on decomposing organic matter. And in good old times, when I read and listened to music, I felt I lived on Mozart or Burgess or Apollinaire, except that they had to compose, not decompose. I would be glad to be a parasite (that lives by exploiting a living organism) except that most of my life sources are long dead, and no living person would be dumb enough to be parasitized by me. The verses are from my school days, when fungi were plants, mais nous avons change tout cela.

We (editorial we) dislike this world, and hanker for the otherworldly.

Since the otherworldly does not exist, we invent it. An artist invents an otherworld that others can enjoy, although it has been made for the sole purpose of satisfying its creator.

Very naturally, we invent ourselves, too, as part of the otherworldly. Politeness is accepting the otherworldly persona at face value. And why not, if you have nothing to lose, except the magis amica? Politeness is more important than truth.

As I was blossoming at my corruscating prose, beloved wife returned from the gym: "Let's do the laundry!" Without any notice that I was in the middle of deep thought, and in the middle of Beethoven's second. I prefer to think she's unaware, the alternative is unthinkable. To keep the illusion, I say nothing. Or keep the illusion that I say nothing.

Besides, on a CD Beethoven is easily restarted. And it may well be that my inability to listen to music is just perfectionism – on the Media Player it is impossible to set the volume once and for all so Beethoven won't be too loud or too soft, and I'm annoyed by the need to attend.

«  limba a nu-stiu-cîta, dupa rusa, idis si ebraica...

Yiddish doesn't count. What do you mean? It doesn't have an army and a navy, but has some great literature. Still it doesn't count, just as Nnapolitanu and Nuormand and Ripoarisch don't count – too ugly, too ridiculous.

«  ... the first dead person

Actually, I saw the dead brother of one of the kids in the yard, who had died as a baby. I was in first grade or so, and it did not unduly distress me. According to custom, the corpse was laid on the table for a while, and people "paid their respects". So we get the Romanian saying:

     What do beer and mothers in law have in commmon? both are best cold, on the table.

On the other hand, Nomi, at age three, saw a dead bird on the pavement as I was taking her to kindergarten, and went completely hysterical. What could she know about death? How?

«  toti copiii au zis "aviator", asa si eu. Conformist ca mamere .

Unlike Thoreau, my father used to say: "If you march to a different drummer, everybody will step on your feet". Which is a partial consolation for being a conformist, like my mother – she couldn't even imagine a different drummer.

«  Happiness is the state which you don't want to change.

This I discovered under the table, at tanti Matilda's. I was sitting there with Justi and Yolanda, quite satisfied, when I suddenly realized what happiness is. At the time I thought that philosophy should provide the recipe for happiness – well, at least the definition of happiness.

You can deduce my age then, and maybe marvel at my unchanging views. Or I might say that my life experience since has not provided any data which would change my views.

«  diabetes started 4 years ago, high blood pressure 10 years ago, now the CABG ...

CABG stands for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, and is pronounced cabbage. CABBAGE is, of course, a musical theme, used so by Anthony Burgess in "The Pianoplayers" ; there is also a "Cabbage waltz" by Slonimsky . And my composition, too.

«  ... beneficial lack of certainty in politics ...

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
          Oliver Cromwell.

I love this bit, especially the bowels, especially in the bowels. It came from a dictator, but should be addressed often to any ruler, body politic, and any kind of busibody – especially to disinterested ones.

I cannot even read silly thrillers – I get too tired, as the characters act and act in action novels. The worse is at the end: I see that the pages get fewer, and everything must soon come to a stop, instead of which the plot usually becomes more and more frantic. So usually I just dump them well before the end and rush to the computer.

The end reversals remind me of the "topologist's sine curve"; but, come to think of it, the curve is a good model for history, or art history. The nearer you get to time zero – the present, the faster and more violent the changes.

«  ... got accepted to Applied Mathematics , at Tel-Aviv University
«  ... it got me USA citizenship

In Hebrew מתמטיקה שימושית "matematika shimushit". With obvious associations to בית שימוש "beit shimush", "a house for use", i.e. a toilet – the word "shimush" merely means "use". So when I got my permanent residence through labor certification – my employer proving that it has to hire me because there are no qualified U.S. citizens available to fill the position – I could say: מצאתי שימוש למתמטיקה שימושית "I found a use for applied mathematics!"

As for other uses, see Hardy's opinion – that was a real mathematician, although too fond of cricket.

«  ... idei despre fizica , arta , tragedii , misticism si filozofie profunda.

Just a random list of people, whose lives are true Greek tragedies, or operas waiting for my inspired pen.

Which also shows how Jewish I am, although tragedy is attracted to Jews.

«  La diatribe est l'attribut de la tribade de la tribu .

Four "trib"s with three etymologies! But I'm sure there are profound minds who will assume the phrase has something to say about life, or the sociopolitical situation, or the universe.

«  depend on them or me.

Still, to still my conscience, I showed every class the proof that the square root of two is irrational. And I told them that it was the only bit of mathematics in the course.

Probably because I had once been nicknamed Pythagoras. Which profound philosopher, beside his brilliant insight about reality and proof, originated by square root two, also believed one should not eat beans. Me, I love beans, they're good for your heart...

«  ... some ungodly hour ...

Against the pearl-grey dawn
I ask myself, How come
that the whole cleanness of the world
holds in a few chords,
and none is left for me?

This verse fell out of nowhere one day I woke up too early in Rome, on our way to the postdoc. It's cleanness, not cleanliness – that would be too easy. And I'm very much against the pearl-grey dawn, i.e. so early that the sky is not yet pink, let alone blue. Had I lived without seeing that, I would have considered myself a great success.

«  ... I tried to read the Greek signs ...

The magic of Greek – besides polyphloisboio thalasses – is that you can enter a restaurant in Athens and request a trapeze for two atoms – i.e. a table for two individuals. This one I found in Slonimsky.

And on the streets there are lots of cars labelled "metaphora" – merely means transportation, I have actually seen some in Athens.

«  as far as I can tell the Peking opera looked authentic

So how do I know? As part of the local immersion program, I read the newspaper (supplied by the hotel) and even turned on the TV in our room. And I caught a Peking opera channel, so I knew more or less what to expect. The interesting thing is that it had Chinese subtitles – maybe the sung language is not understandable, like any opera, and certainly it is the wrong dialect for some people.

As for news, I got the following:

«  After a similar adventure, Liliana's father left Bucharest and finished medical school in Italy

He was my mother's colleague, and the same age. There had been talks about them marrying each other, but it did not work (otherwise I would have been my wife). This is why our families kept apart in Bucharest; but were really glad to meet in Israel, where we lived one block apart in Holon.

I always taunt Liliana – "Think what a great husband you could have found, had you looked farther than the next block!"

«  Maabarot belonged to Hashomer Hatzair – Mapam party

Here are some references; like everything concerning Israeli politics, the real story is incredibly complex – at any time there were between 15 and 30 parties and political movements, at daggers over minor theoretical points and major power issues.

MAPAM : former party
Hashomer Hatzair: youth movement

And then, I don't like Israeli politics because I know something about it; only politics that I don't know about doesn't stink.

«  "twice cabbage is death"

One of the many gems one can find on the Internet, when not looking. I was puzzled initially, because I like cabbage, and cannot imagine it as bad as to be lethal. There's ancient literature for you – and a good hint for suicide.

«  grades good enough to get a grant for next year

And, of course, this is what I expected from beloved children (in my dark little heart I believe they could)

No inkling that American higher education institutions give grants on need, not on merit, and their main interest is to get paid.

«  ...don't do what they want,

And I also realize why I always do the most useless things I can think of: to make sure that this is my own free will, and I don't do what others want, because it certainly couldn't be of any use to others.

«  ... in nici un caz n-o sa ma citeasca.

Souls are like arseholes,
  everybody has one,
    nobody (except professionals and perverts) is interested in someone else's,
      and few have looked into their own.

«  ... Liviu? that sounds Romanian.

Here is the secret: any name ending in u (and Latin sounding, i.e. not Maddhu or Sabu) is usually Romanian, e.g.:

Alexandru Claudiu Corneliu Dinu Doru Dumitru Flaviu Horatiu
Iuliu Laurentiu Liviu Nelu Nicu Octaviu Ovidiu Petru Pompiliu
Radu Sandu Septimiu Sergiu Silviu Tiberiu Valeriu Virgiliu

«  A story ends for ... practical considerations.

That seems almost obvious, but, e.g., Lady Murasaki probably never intended to finish "Genji's Tale". Besides, there are all the comics, cartoon strips and movie sequels and prequels – but maybe that ain't art.

«  I started my life with just one big advantage: IQ 142

Actually, IQ 142 was measured when I was 55, and, if it is true that IQ reaches maximum around age sixteen, and then decays... just imagine the wunderkind. And, is this an advantage? One of the things the psychologist who measured it told me (unsolicited - unprompted, as far as I remember) was:

Don't be surprised by loneliness. Who would you talk with? People at this level are fewer than 1% of the population.

«  finished high school ... the traditional way in our family

None of us finished high school by staying to the end. I took "external" final exams, and so did Liliana when she found out how that worked for me. Mike also took some exams and was done with high school by sixteen, and, being bugged enough by us got his associate degree before 18. Even though we kept bugging him, for the bachelor's il conseguente diploma e in corso di compilazione .

«  ... perfect for cutting one's wrists

Quite surprisingly, there are no simple words for "wrist" in Romanian or German:
rom.      incheietura miinii
ger.      Handgelenk {n}; Handwurzel {f} [anat.]

The Romanian, and obviously the German "Handgelenk" are literally "hand-link" ; the other German is "hand-root" . I also thought there is no French for "wrist", but just shows I could not retrieve "poignet" from my brain.

«  If you don't know what that means, shame on you!

Maybe "Shannon on you!" . Information theory, which was Shannon's invention, says that a sure event gives no information, and the information is maximum if all the outcomes have the same probability.
In this case "pupil prefers cousin Rosa to Latin" is almost sure ...

«  If not Alzheimer, then Parkinson , which I'm sure to get because I never smoked.

As I gathered from Oliver Sacks , Parkinson's disease is this inability to start an action. Don't take my word for it, see the net.

On the other hand, my beloved wife, who, among her many accomplishments, is a board certified neurologist tells me that smokers do not get Parkinson. The one case I knew, tanti Pepi , fits: she did not smoke.

«  Orange jumped and climbed all he could, and left his shit everywhere.

After poor kitty healed, I cleaned the room – i.e. what I could see. Liliana remembered about the shit on the top of the closet a few months (years?) later, one day when we had guests from LA; so I vacuumed it off then.

«  ...eating, too, is a prefaced action. I can't go on, I'll go on .

And in Israel, Samuel Beckett was considered humorous enough to be broadcast on Purim: I remember one evening of "Happy days" – minus the Fonz – on the one channel of the national TV.

«  This is a plan – not accurate ,

Suddenly, at age 59, I realize that room(1) was actually beneath room(2) ! The building was supposed to have shops at street level, and living quarters above. Under (3) there was a tailor's shop, under (4) a pharmacy, etc. There was no zoning in those times/places, and people would live where their business was.

«  protruding and curving upwards like medieval pigases.
«  incovoiata si ridicata-n sus, de parca poarta vaca conduri .

One picture is worth a thousand words; here are two:

http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/004/X6512E/X6512E18.htm    Fig. 5

«  Tare ma intreb cum poate fi utilitatea arbitrara.

Asta deja nu mai stiu pe romaneste:

The expression bothers me because I would dearly love not to be driven by circumstance. No matter how useful, or urgent it would be to do something in the circumstance, my action would still be arbitrary. I only want to be God, what's the big deal?

«  ... and the program does what you tell it to do (not what you meant, alas!)

This is why I was addicted for such a long time to programming. The computer is the only thing in the universe that does what it is told! Anything else exists just to spite you – buttered toast always lands buttered side down – and everybody else knows better, and must argue, and must object, or at best just ignores you.

«  The hero of these paragraphs is me – but Djerassi published first!

Which is quite in keeping with the rest of the novel, which quickly evolves from the bathroom to the problems of scientists of the Nobel caliber.

As for me, I neither published nor perished, but then I am no scientist.

«  Fashion is there to be ignored.

In Hebrew there is the expression לפי צו האופנה for "fashionable". Literally it means "according to fashion's command". What's the fashion, that it should command me?

Giovinezza, giovinezza

So I'm eighty three! I fully agree, I feel just as tired and dull. On the other hand, the right honorable IQ = 133 it gives ( 83/62.2 in percents ).

«  We are better described as killers than workers . From:
«  Nu ca as fi un ucigas ...

That is, in Semitic morphology. The root QTL = kill is much more regular than P`L = action. In Hebrew, the roots produce qotel="I/you kill, he kills, killer" and poel="I/you work, he works, a worker". Traditional grammars use P`L for Hebrew (and the related F`L for Arabic), but QTL would be simpler.

«  The vase broke, of course, but I decided I could fix it

In contradistinction to beloved wife, who cannot stand anything even minimally damaged, and throws it away on the spot. She inherited this from her mother.

I always make big noise: "First have the replacement ready, then throw the thing away!" Which helps like all the noise I make.

«  At that time we were on our way out of Romania ...

In order to prepare for the expected Israeli climate, one day Justi and I lay in bed covered with all the thick down pillows we could find. I should mention it was August in Bucharest, as hot as August gets.

«  ... comments I would never think of

Not only am I no Sherlock, but I also take everything in the literal sense. I read, with difficulty, "Erewhon", without any inkling about what the musical banks might be. Just one oddment among others, why not? I consider these assets by default, as they escape reality.

«  the Hebrew literary language – stinks of the Bible

Nothing wrong with the Bible – quite readable, even in translation . I tried it at 13, in Romanian (or French? can't remember... that is Freudian) Bibles were not readily available, the whole idea of religion was not quite kosher in Romania. Anyway, I preferred the New Testament – it seemed better written then; but there were enough strange stories and exotic stuff all over. However, when I knew Hebrew, I quite enjoyed the literature.

«  Dear Reub Lust,

"Reuben Lust" is rather profound biblical exegesis. Reuben, the first-born, lost his primacy because he bedded Bilha, his father's concubine (Gen 35:22). But then Robert Graves comes with the theory that in good old matriarchal time men became kings by bedding the queen, so maybe it was not just lust, he wanted to be the patriarch. See also the story of Absalom, the son of King David (2Sam 16:22).

«  "shit" and "arse" on the first page

Palivec byl známý sprosťák, každé jeho druhé slovo byla zadnice nebo hovno.

And when we got to Prague I think I saw some of of the taverns from the book. BTW, these are called "pivnice" , which in Romanian became "pivniţă" sounding almost the same, but meaning cellar or basement.

«  Positive thinking.

If I say "I will succeed", then fail, I'm a stupid failure. If I say "I may fail", then fail, I'm a wise failure. There is also the possibility to succeed, but why worry?

«  ... we caught two typhoons, so we did not stop in Vietnam ...

For my part, it seems much more fitting for Vietnam to get typhoons rather than American tourists.

«  ... if they exist, they are inaccessible

which is just a technical term: they cannot be obtained by arithmetic operations on smaller cardinals.

«  "Na liang qi-che shi hei se de", "Na liang qi-che shi lan se de", etc.

that car is black ... that car is blue

That is, if you also supply the correct tones – maybe you can, I can't. By the way, I found this pearl on the net: "Chinese tones are child's play" ; indeed you must be a child to get them, for an adult (me) they are both imperceptible and inimitable.

«  Blatant lack of interest in food .

Eating is the only thing about which I feel adventurous. It is clear to me I should never try new things, except new food – maybe not cockroaches as street snacks, as they do in Thailand, still... If anybody asks me what I want to eat, the answer is "something I haven't tasted before", so I never get taken to a new restaurant .

«  the pampas

I keep talking freely about jungles and pampas, but probably the terms are all wrong – there is Atlantic forest, cloud forest, steppe, Magellanic subpolar forest, cool semidesert, God knows what.

«  ... something that I believe deeply

Deep, sincerely held belief in something does not make it true or right.

«  conquered at least by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines , Crusaders and Turks

Yes, Byzantines count separately from Greeks and Romans, e.g. they had Slavic troops and Viking mercenaries. There is a Bedouin tribe originating from Vlach slaves sent by the emperor in Constantinople to St. Catherine monastery, on mount Sinai! Vlach only means "Romance speaker", but they might have become, just as well, Romanians.

«  ... reality is for real
«  - Parca n-am destule probleme si fara epistemologia mă-sii!

Epistemologia mă-sii. Ba nu, tontologia.

How real is the absolute thruth of mathematics? Some of its most beautiful creations exist only by definition; the Banach space without a base exists because a long involved proof; you can't stumble upon it like a boulder which exists because it broke your toe.

«  as a Jewish medical student he had got beaten too badly...

My mother had a similar story: she, and the other Jewish girls at the University would go as a group, escorting one male Jewish student to the tram station, then return and pick another. This way the men would not get beaten – the hooligans were that much gentlemen. Actually they were no hooligans – the Law students beat the Jews in Medicine, and vice versa.

«  On a motorcycle, however, you can see the whole family riding, father mother and children...

In China there is the one child policy – per family, not per motorcycle.

«  The first, maybe the only duty of a work of art is to be unforgettable .

This is why all the muses are daughters of Mnemosyne.

Peter Freuchen, wearing a coat made out of a polar bear he killed.
Notice that in his species the male is much larger than the female.

«  We were still all living in the same apartment...

There were three rooms: one was my mother's dentist office, the largest served as waiting hall for patients by day and bedroom for my parents by night, and in the last one I dwelt, with my grandmother. When I fussed about the arrangements, one of my colleagues at the university said: "You know, we don't have grandmothers". She was from Poland, most of her family had been wiped out in the war.

«  sôle a l'amiral

That's a classic fish garnish of mussels, oysters, crayfish, and mushrooms in sauce normande, enriched with crayfish butter. And the mushrooms must be ciselled, and the mollusks served in elegant little patés, and sauce normande is a fish veloute with mushrooms and oyster liquor, thickened with egg yolks and cream, and enriched with butter... as I said, simplicity has nothing to do in the kitchen.

«  Don't let them tell you anything about 2+2, you know already all there is to know about it. ,

You might not like the result, you might want it to be 3 or 5 or 237502, but it won't ever be anything but 4.

See? I told you something about 2+2. Happens to be true and you know it is true. But a poet may , e.g. Victor Hugo, Dostoyevsky, etc. A poet does not tell you facts, only stuff to think about, presumably pleasantly. Not that I am a poet (a little, sometimes)

«  ... was returning to the library

This is the San Jose public library, combined with the University library, on the same block with our appartment. When we first moved, I considered that a big attraction, but I very seldom get there – the computer is at home. Still, from time to time, there are some unexpected finds at the library.

«  ... some are not republics, e.g. Nepal

Nepal became a republic, more precisely a Maoist republic, as everybody longingly desired. But recently, the Maoist-led government was toppled, as everybody longingly desired ...

«  Sweat is the dirtiest thing .

I got this as a revelation when I was 15 or 16 in Maabarot, and we were doing some pre-military training. It dawned upon me that I want to spend my life in comfortable clothing, without sweating. Somewhat succeeded.

Yet another profound thought: you don't have the option not to shit, but you do have the option not to sweat.

«  ... not only because of pickaxes, jackhammers, power-drills ...

At which I discovered that I don't know how to say jackhammer and power-drill in Romanian. In fact, I don't know how to say that in English either, but I can use Wordnet and look at hyponyms of "power tool"...

«  so our marriage started in small doses

Fortunately, the academic year in Italy was brief: starting in October and ending in May, with nice breaks for Christmas and Easter. So we did not pine and languish overmuch. It has rather contributed to the stability of the marriage.

When your life is on the go — take your life with you. Try Windows Mobile® today

When your life is on the go — take your life, period.

Zau ca n-am umblat la poza !

Callipygian (qv) gaseste un cur lat.

«  ... corrugated iron buildings

Valparaiso, Chile
Punta Arenas, Chile
Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina

This last one is from a poor region in an Italian quarter of Buenos Aires. They used corrugated iron because it is cheap, and painted it with left-over paint bought from ships. But that particular street, Caminito, has been turned into an open gallery, which all the gaudy colors just make happier.

«  Sorry for the mess

That should actually, be my epitaph. But I don't want to be entombed, or remembered in any physical form. As I won't be remembered in any mathematical form either, posterity should rather consider this site, aere perennius monumentum.

«  There is also "carta libera" ... give me liberty

During his European stay, Mike had this to say about Freiburg and Fribourg: One for freedom, one for McDonalds!

«  I passed the external exam

«  I was trying to hit the toilet bowl

Inscription over the fountain:

We aim to please
You aim too, please!

«  ... because I love Tchaikovsky

A listener asks: Is it true that Tchaikovsky was homosexual?
Radio Yerevan answers: Yes, it is true, but this is not the reason we love him.

«  ... the microscope ... was held in customs.

The Bucharest customs was right next to our building. It was surrounded by a tall brick wall, and had a gated entrance, with military guard. But we could look inside from Bibi's terrace. Down there were the customs building, including a railway spur; there grew some big acacia trees. The only time we went into the compound was when we left to Israel.

«  ... various versions of my Chinese name ...

It turns out that none of the "Lu" that I picked are actually used as a family name (although the dictionary says so). Xiaoyin Zhou, a colleague of Liliana picked some others "Lu" for me, which I proudly deciphered from her handwriting (try it sometime). Here they are:

«  then I bought a melodeon ...

That was about one foot long; you could blow at one end and push keys. Each key had its own vibrating hole, so you could even play chords – maybe you could, but I couldn't, my technique being strictly one fingered. Very maybe, one finger each hand; and then, which chords? Even the cat walking on the keyboard outvirtuosos me, as it uses all its fingers (and toes).

«  ... telegraph ( Slonimsky ) , telephone... you name it.

This Slonimsky was the grandfather of that Slonimsky.

«  the opera... turned out to be in Finnish

When I can catch by mistake a Finnish opera on the radio, I will become an ardent American patriot.

«  All I could blurt was: "But this is not what mathematicians should do! They should produce theorems !"

אז ארצח מישהו – סוף סוף יהיה משפט לוסטמן

Unfortunately, this only works in Hebrew: "I'll kill somebody, then there will finally be a Lustman trial". The same word משפט is used in Hebrew for trial or theorem, so I'd get my theorem, at last.

«  ...with the traditional Jewish attitude to sports.

I also have the traditional Muslim attitude about the future: it belongs to Allah. If I mention some prospective goal, it's just a challenge to God to spoil my plans, and what do you think, will he succeed?

«  Bach's French suite no. 6... a scale algorithm !KY 4# ...

And I expect you to rush to the Bach French suites score, to discover that the 6th suite is in E-major, so it has 4 sharps in its key.

«  ... ma lupt cu toate cacaturile

I don't have the energy to fight with all the imbecilities; I save myself for certain select ones.

Rejoice, rejoice greatly!
(שישו ושמחו)

This masterpiece doctorpiece is already novel size, over 50000 words. And I counted words fairly, after discarding HTML stuff.

Of course, nobody reads it.

«  I was in the military ... probably could get weapons .

Nowadays all Israeli military carry a weapon when off base, and many civilians too.

«  ... like a museum hall ...

As I always say, my house is not a museum, it is a home; it need not be beautiful, but must be confortable. And by confortable I mean that when I need a thing, I just stretch out my hand and pick it up. No searching, no shifting of stuff, no rearranging.

And another immortal saying: if your home is not more pleasant than anywhere else, you wasted your life.

«  ... The computer was disconnected ...

What computer ? Although I programmed tirelessly at my job, when I lived in Holon home computers were very much a thing of the future. All I knew were the huge IBM machines, with their hateful JCL, and the somewhat nicer CDC at the university. And they communicated via punched cards or clinking teletypes.

«  Shoshana is also called after aunt Roza.

Shoshana is "rose" in Hebrew.

No it ain't! Shoshana is "lily" in Hebrew, so the right English translation is Lillian, or Susan, or the Spanish Azucena. Rose would be Varda in Hebrew, for a girl, or Vered for a boy.
Anyway, my full "torah" name is Levi Shoshan ben Baruch Tzvi; shoshan being the same lily/rose, but also a nail head (did I get hit enough?).

«  Written in my blood ...

That is, I cut my finger on a peas can, and it still bleeds after three days, including on the keyboard. Actually, all over the house; soon Law and Order will be around with fluorescent light, to get an account about all the blood. I can't do the dishes – how I miss that – and have big trouble wiping my arsenal.

«  waiting for some carta bollata ,

That is, a document on stamped paper. There is also "carta libera", paper without stamps, give me liberty , or give me death, or a tuna sandwich (hold the taxes).

«  Nomi ... ramine agresoarea
«  Poor Nomi! she will always be the intruder

Which reminds me of the Falashas – wretched and opressed, but the name means "invader".

Wikipedia translates "exiles" or "strangers", but "invader" is "polesh" in Hebrew, and that's the same word: vowels don't count, and F is a variant of P.

«  or radiolaria and acantharia , or the etymology of "nice",

If any of this makes you curious, you have my heartfelt blessings – go and find out, it is truly Alice's trip through the looking glass! You will also find me, young, bright and hopeful.

«  brought me to NASA Langley
«  Then I got a job at NASA Langley , in Hampton, VA

«  Poetry is what is lost in translation, therefore meaning is what is conserved in translation...

Now this is a neat example of mathematical thinking. To justify that "therefore", at least a paragraph of proof is needed, and philosophers would write volumes. But as literature it can stand as is, leave the reader to his wondering and wonderment.

supreme achievement As delicately hinted – see highliting – the supreme achievement is toilet paper.

Which reminds me an old cartoon:

– Do you think that all my achievements are behind me?
– Don't say that while coming from the restroom...

«  It's always " tanti "

"Tanti" is a kid's way of addressing an adult woman in Romanian. It means auntie and is pronounced just the same, to a t.

from the very lovely Handbook to English Heraldry, on Project Gutenberg.

«  See the Sixtine Chapel; the fresco is entitled "Creation of the Sun and the Moon".

«  and later a house after Nomi was born.

«  Sincere, deep belief in something does not make it true or right.

Here I must quote Mencken (qv). He was a journalist – i.e. automatically beneath contempt, still:

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

«  ... reading the encyclopedia, not the newspaper...

The composition of feldspar won't change, nor the athematic Sanskrit verbs.

«  ... and telling him "Don't you know of something positive to do...

The fact that I was so open shows how intimate we really were, because usually I shut up like an oyster. Not very apparent, however; if the subject is myself, I cannot stop chattering – in particular to an abstract Internet audience.

Both Argentina and Uruguay display un-heraldic flags: the rule of tincture is broken, with a sun or (yellow) on a field argent (white). So here is a newimproved Uruguay flag, if this is what you meant.

Sir George's aptronym. (XXX rated)

«  ... when my father retired ...

He was over 75, I think. But then, he had his first heart attack at 74, and I started at 52 ... I don't know if his mind was getting weaker – I could not tell, and he did not believe it, certainly did not say it. Unlike me.

«  Nothing takes less than half an hour.

That was my (very silent) response to orders in the military "You have 15 seconds to be on top of that hill!", etc. Currently, nothing takes less than 45 minutes. For instance, if I take a lunch break, I never remember to timepunch before 45 minutes, even if the break lasts less.

«  Friday, colonoscopy – rosy as the future

But what misery to get such rosy guts! One day of transparent liquid diet, plus 32 – thirty two, count them! – proctoscopological pills, some to be taken at 4am !

«  the ancient sacrificial formula "I give so you give too", talking to God in Latin .

When Nomi was a little girl , somehow I mentioned Latin, and she asked what it was:
   —An old language.
   —Does Mimi speak Latin?
Mimi was her great-grandmother.

«  ... the other bedroom ... there is a bed and a TV

Somehow I succeeded not to have a TV in the bedroom – otherwise I would never sleep. Beloved wife trully cuddles me! But both bedrooms have computers, and mine is in the main bedroom: most privacy and most quiet, i.e. far from any TV.

«  for correcting homework .

For instance, in the second year I was checking the first year students' exercises. Strangely enough, the same mistakes I had made just one year before now seemed glaringly obvious, as if already marked in red. Maybe that's professional maturity.

Or the same exercises every year.

«  I would think: "If I could make money, I wouldn't be a mathematician .

I am not.

«  records in some apartment in Jaffo ...

«  the written language of " the best authors "...

«  ... I proposed to make them coffee...

This keeps recurring in my dreams, and I cannot find assorted cups, or they are all in place, but dirty inside.

«  (no apology to Edith Piaf) :

L’amour, c’est l’infini mis à la portée des caniches et j’ai ma dignité, moi!

Besides, she lifted the text from Chicken Little.

«  ... sa fii tata

Vater werden ist nicht schwer,
Vater sein, dagegen, sehr.

Nice exercise on werden/sein. Means: becoming a father is not hard, but being a father really is.

«  ... so I got announced that there is a RIF (reduction in forces) ...

Which reminds me how I found out what a riff was, in the military bookstore in Wuerzburg – I was looking at a jazz guitar handbook.

«  I couldn't do any of the required stuff – like run ...
«  ... in my dreams I can run.
«  ... alergind... in vis pot sa alerg

The only part of me that runs is the nose.

«  and when I see myself in a mirror ...

I took great care not to say "I look in a mirror". I don't, but sometimes, unwillingly, I see my reflection in one of the many mirrors ambushing me – even outside Versailles.

«  ... rhea / ñandu, the local ostriches.

The fact that there are ostriches in Africa, rheas in South America and emus and cassowaries in Australia suggests that the three continents were once united in Gondwana.

«  Felix Hausdorff

A modest proposal :

Everytime the name "Hausdorff" is mentioned, mathematicians ( Jewish mathematicians? ) should stand silent for 3 seconds and consider his fate.
On top of which he was called Felix.
See also.

«  ... Mondriaan does not free you from reality ...

I should say, "squarish Mondriaan ...", because many early paintings succeed wonderfully. For instance: this or this. Even the very abstract Apple blossom, once you learn its title, shows everything, better than it should be.

«  ...no central character ... who is primarily interested in his job. His heroes work in order to make a living

Why else ?

«  ... the electric plugs had been unplugged ...

Now, in real life, Q would never do such a thing. But the dream exagerates wildly.

Abou ben Adhem

So we invited my best friends, and they arived by 2:30 and were gone by 5. We meet each other every 2 or 3 months. My fellow men, the joy they give me – moichel toives.

«  it means I will die at the end of these 18 years .

If you cannot follow the arithmetic, it means you're still in primary school, or an ignorant boor. Or so it meant when/where I was in school.

That's the insane way to teach maths, and does it feel good!

«  Nee Hadasa Vyrtikovski, somewhere in Bessarabia (Ungheni?). Her father ...

During the war, Ada's parents and the whole local Jewish community were gathered in the synagogue and burnt alive.

«  ( visualize world peace)

I was very hard put to translate "visualize" into LAN : "pretend see" ? "do as_if see" ? Still pending. As for world peace... You need the Aleph .

«  .... the Pokorny PIE dictionary, items 831,146,819,829.

PIE here is Proto-Indo-European – simple as pie. But I remembered listening to a MacDonald comercial in Spanish ; when the speaker got to "pies" he pronounced "piés" – "feet" – then burst into laughter.

«  ... there was no chance to leave Romania

This is why I believed in God as a child: only God could take you out of Romania. And once he did his job, we parted ways.

«  Nu ca as fi foarte singeros,

Nor is Professor Comrie so bloody-minded; in another book, "The World's Major Languages" he changes "ubila" to "poceloval", for the same syntax example – word free order.

«  ... Genji ... Despite Violetta's famous literary talent...

The name of the author, Lady Murasaki, translates as "purple".

«  ...si nene Miron"...

"Nene" is a Hawaiian goose – not quite, it's "uncle" in Romanian; this is how a child will call a male adult.

«  every Jewish girl is a Jewish princess...
«  the other kids ... nicknamed me Pythagoras. Somewhat prophetic...

Every Jew is either a prophet or the son of a prophet.

«  ... after some unwelcome delay , found a job

«  I cannot ... provide any positive answer .

Actually I can: the essential self is the sum total of all prejudices. Tat tvam asi .

«  Won't sell 'im to anyone ...

...unless they give me 27¢ in stamps.

«  if I quote " the best authors "...

I also keep quoting myself.

«  ... in the fall of 1997 we returned to Monterey

«  After which she didn't kill herself, nor did the laundry.

After a few such experiences, I gave up on her. I fully entertain the illusion that I'll never ask her to do anything for me.

«  ... I learn, and then immediately forget ...

see "learn, and know forever"

«  – quite appropriate, like calling a Swede an Italian .

I'm quoting here. Whom? I do expect you to search the Internet.

«  old and stupid !

I can say that in Malay: lama tua lama bodoh. "Bodoh" even sounds stupid.

«  7 billion people in the world...

There were 4 billion when I was in school. Sounds ominous!

«  the king's communist government

The Romanian communist government was first installed on March 6th 1945.

Oops! this is Thailand! Maybe you meant Costa Rica...

«  the first time I heard my voice...at MIT

«  From:
... I am the Queen of Sheba

with emeralds

Aetate sua LXV


Aetate sua paene LXXVII

«  About some other Odissey – which, exactly?

«  Pete

Spre vesnica amintire a fostului aragaz. Era alb, si toate petele se vedeau asa bine si atit de colorate. Tot fotografiam aragazul si ma jucam cu rezultatele.
Unde apar pozele in perechi, jos e pata originala, sus eleborarea.
De ce Bach? Quaerendo invenietis.

Crow nest.



Cal de mare cu perla



Merge si pe negru. Asta e aragazul nou, cu raze de cacao


Here the original is actually more interesting than the elaboration. On the left, she is just freckled — on the right she is half human, half mineral, like some Max Ernst frottage .

Fugi cu ursu, ca sperii copiii!

            Odette — Odille

            La belle

Pete de borş – de aia e roz.

Am facut si poze cu ceasca de cafea. Diferite nivele se aranjau ca cercuri, sau portative.
Muzica gregoriana.

       Sage and beast
Or, monk and monkey. Just a tall glass, after I finished the coffee.

Negrillon reprimandant sa mangouste, sur fond de gratte-ciel

I-am aratat nevestii:
  - Uite ce sopirla!
Si mi-a raspuns:
  - Ce copil esti!

Daca nu eram copil, eram mort si ingropat.

Golden youth

Rainbow dancers

Before Santa leaves

Unicorn, ba chiar o turma.



        King Kong
The original still looks better.


         compare with the original.

The golden goose



The same as "Vision", from a blurry photo.


Merele de aur


A classic text – http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/myths/texts/classic/dialoguepessimism.htm – with my Romanian version.

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– Quickly! Fetch me the chariot and hitch it up. I want to drive to the palace.
– Drive, master, drive! It will be to your advantage. When he will see you, the king will give you honors.
– O well, slave I will not drive to the palace!
– Do not drive, master, do not drive! When he will see you, the king may send you God knows where, He may make you take a route that you do not know, He will make you suffer agony day and night.

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am
– Quickly! Fetch me water for my hands, I want to dine!
– Dine, master, dine! A good meal relaxes the mind! ...
– O well, slave, I will not dine!
– Do not dine, master, do not dine! To eat only when one is hungry, to drink only when one is thirsty is best for man!

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– Quickly! Fetch me my chariot. I am going to hunt!
– Drive, master, drive! A hunter gets his belly filled! The hunting dog will break the bones of the prey! The raven that scours the country can feed its nest! The fleeting onager finds rich pastures!
– O well, slave, I will not hunt!
– Do not go, master, do not go! - The hunter's luck changes! The hunting dog's teeth will get broken! The raven that scours the country has a hole in the wall as a home. The fleeting onager has the desert as his stable.

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– I want to set up a home, I want to have a son!
– Have them, master, have them! The man who sets up a home ...
– How could I set up a home!
– Do not set up a home; otherwise you will break up your father's home!


– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– I want to lead a revolution!
– So lead, master, lead! If you do not lead a revolution, where will your clothes come from? And who will enable you to fill your belly?
– O well, slave, I do not want to lead a revolution!
– Do not lead, master, do not lead a revolution! The man who leads a revolution is either killed or flayed, Or has his eyes put out, or is arrested and thrown to jail!

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– I want to make love to a woman
– Make love, master, make love! The man who makes love to a woman forgets sorrow and fear!
– O well, slave, I do not want to make love to a woman!
– Do not make love, master, do not make love! Woman is a real pitfall, a hole, a ditch, Woman is a sharp iron dagger that cuts a man's throat!

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– Quick! Fetch me water for my hands and give it to me. I want to sacrifice to my god
– Sacrifice, master, sacrifice! The man who sacrifices to his god is satisfied at heart. He accumulates benefit after benefit.
– O well, slave, I do not want to sacrifice to my god!
– Do not sacrifice, master, do not sacrifice! You will teach your god to run after you like a dog. Whether he asks of you "Rites" or "Do you not consult your god?" or anything else!

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– I want to invest in silver.
– Invest, master, invest. The man who invests keeps his capital while his interest is enormous!
– O well, slave, I do not want to invest in silver!
– Do not invest, master, do not invest! Making loans is as sweet as making love, but getting them back is like having children! They will take away your capital, cursing you without cease. They will make you lose the interest on the capital!

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– I want to perform a public benefit for my country!
– So do it, master, do it! The man who performs a public benefit for his country. His actions are exposed to the circle of Marduk!
– O well, slave, I do not want to perform a public benefit for my country!
– Do not perform, master, do not perform! Go up the ancient tells and walk about. See the mixed skulls of plebeians and nobles. Which is the malefactor and which is the benefactor?

– Slave, listen to me!
– Here I am, master, here I am!
– What then is good? To have my neck and yours broken, Or to be thrown into the river, is that good?
– Who is so tall as to ascend to heaven? Who is so broad as to encompass the entire world?
– O well, slave, I will kill you and send you first! –
– Yes, but my master would certainly not survive me for three days!...

cu versiunea mea in română:

Un domn isi cheama sclavul si fac proiecte:
– Poate ma apuc de politica?
– Buna idee, zice sclavul.
– Dar n-o sa-mi fac dusmani si mizerii?
– Nu merita politica, zice sclavul.
– Poate umblu dupa cocoane ...
– Ce minunat si-ncintator!
– Dar daca umbla ele dupa mine sa-mi puna coarne si tapete si ...
– Lasa cocoanele, zice sclavul.
– Poate filozofia ...
– Foarte profund, zice sclavul.
– Parca n-am destule probleme si fara
epistemologia mă-sii!
– Nu-ti pierde timpul ca alde
Gîgă, zice sclavul.
– Si atunci ce sa fac?
– Rupe-ti gitul si sari in Eufrat! (culoare locala)
– Stii ce? poate incerci tu intii, zise stapinul.

unde urmeaza clou-ul cuneiform: sclavul raspunde "Crezi ca ai sa-mi supravietuiesti trei zile?", ceeace cere interpretare. Era Oblomov? moare de plictiseala? ce stiu eu...


«  ... my uncle and aunt became ambassadors to Vietnam

Pe urmele lui tanti Ada

Am ajuns si eu in Vietnam, direct la Hanoi. Intr-un loc foarte central, linga orasul vechi. Vizavi de un parc, in care multimea facea Tai-Chi pe la sase dimineata (eram cu orele foarte bulversate, si cu data schimbata, dar nu stiu in ce directie. Mai tirziu, intr-o Miercuri la Şanhai, am descoperit ca e Vineri, si, surpriza, au servici local de sfîntu Şobăs!)

Vazind ca e inorat si se poate iesi pe strada fara sa te topesti, am pornit ca nebunii pe jos – vre-o sase ore in prima zi, de capul nostru. Pe strada e ceva de necrezut: trotoarele sint cam 3 metri latime, din care 2 sint ocupate: vinzatori, oameni la taifas, la masa, la afaceri, la rugaciune, spalind vase, etc. In spate, sint pravaliile, cam tot trei pe trei metri: nu cred ca se intra, dar folosesc la inchis marfa noaptea. Printre astea trec femei cu cobilite (barbatii mai curind stau jos si discuta afaceri?) cu tot ce vrei si ce nu vrei, fructe si legume frumos aranjate, sau pesti vii intr-un lighean, care plescaie si te improasca cu apa. Cine are vre-o taraboanta e grangur.

Iar daca te dai jos de pe trotoar, vin o suta de motociclete si biciclete, care nu se opresc in nici un caz, toate claxonind. Principiul e sa mergi inainte cu viteza constanta, si ei te ocolesc. E un balamuc absolut, fara eleganta sau armonie sau serenitate dar plin de viata – exact ce-mi place mie. Dar am gasit o casa muzeu, undeva tot pe asa o strada. Pentru 5000 dong (25 centi americani) intri, si direct in paradis: la tout n'est qu'ordre et beaute, camere linistite, decorate, curte interioara cu flori, scari de acaju, ba chiar si o cocoana cintind la guzheng.

Ne-am invirtit in cartierul vechi, si dupa asta ne-am dus – dupa harta – la cartierul oficial, mai ales fiindca era acolo templul literaturii, ceeace mi s-a parut admirabil. Pe drum, de-o data, s-a facut pustiu: o alee lunga, pariziana, cu acoperis de copaci, complect goala! Am facut si o poza, ca nu mi-am crezut ochilor:

Pare-se ca e o regiune pentru stabi, securitate, etc, unde nu circula nimeni afara de doi turisti zapaciti. Daca tin bine minte, mi s-a intimplat asa ceva ca virgula copil la Bucuresti, cind ma invirteam de capul meu pe linga muzeul Antipa. Continua cu multe ambasade, palatul prezidential (in care Ho Chi Minh n-a vrut sa stea), mauzoleul sus-mentionatului, toate cu multe steaguri rosii, incit ne-am simtit de Unu Mai, desi era Intii Aprilie. A doua zi am fost tot pe-acolo, in excursie organizata, la care mi-au aratat si ambasada Romaniei, la cerere. Iar cind ne-am asezat la fintina sa ne tragem sufletul, au venit niste fete de scoala sa se fotografieze cu noi, fiind exotici. Am ajuns si la templul literaturii, care e de-adevaratelea: vietnamezii au invatat de la chinezi sa faca examene de calificare, si se tineau acolo in templu. Listele premiantilor – care urmau sa devina mandarini, inalti functionari, ministri, etc. – stau inca acolo ca decoratii, sculptate in piatra si purtate de broaste testoase. Dar ghida ne-a tinut o prelegere despre confucianism, nefiind incintata ca barbatul e stapinul femeii (celelalte stapiniri: regele e stapinul nobililor, tatal stapinul copiilor). Tot acolo am aflat ca templele au praguri inalte, sa nu treaca duhurile rele. Pare-se ca toate pragurile in orient sint inalte, si cred ca intr-o zi tot imi rup gitul, dar inca nu.

Dupa care am plecat la Ha-Long Bay (baie d'Along) care e un loc de pe alta lume. Intr-o ceata romantica, care e acolo cam 100% din timp, citeva mii de insulite si stinci, toate nelocuite si decorate de plante salbatice verzi si inflorite. Printre care mergi cu barca, printre multe alte barci, in buna parte decorative, vopsite in rosu cu dragoni la pupă ( mă-n ... ) sau proră sau. Am dormit o noapte pe vapor, si am reusit sa fac si bai de mare, in apa rece tare, dar nu chiar ca la San Francisco. Intre timp, cine putea vizita pesteri si se catara pe deal la pagoda, dar pe mine nu m-a lasat nevasta, ca scria la intrare ca inimosii sa nu-ncerce.

Dar partea cea mai interesanta a fost pe drumul la Ha Long. A durat destul, si am tot citit vietnameza, ca doar se scrie cu litere latine. De inteles numai O TO (automobil) dar cititul cred e automat. Fiecare a doua firma e restaurant: COM BO, COM GA ( foarte potrivit: BO e bou si GA gaina, asta stiam de la restaurantele de acasa, precum si PHO : supa; COM e orez, sau, mai general, mincare) Exista si alt PHO, care e strada. Dar procedind de la BO si GA am ajuns la THIT BO si THIT GA, care mi-am zis ca e carne de vaca sau pui, si de-odata incep sa apara THIT CHO si THIT MEO (ceeace , evident e ţîţă de mîţă). Ba chiar cu poze: pe o firma, o vaca, un porc si o pisica! Sa-mi verific deductiile, am intrebat-o pe ghida: chiar erau macelarii de ciini (CHO) si pisici (MEO) si nu una sau doua, ci destule sa ma-nvete vietnameza. Asemenea firme n-am mai vazut in alta parte. Alta descoperire: fiecare a doua firma era RUA XE, cu unele linga garaje, sau mormane de roti de masini. Concluzia: spala vehicole, ca la San Jose in toate closetele publice scrie RUA TAY printre alte versii de "spala-te pe miini!"

Dupa are am zburat la Hoi An, ceva mai la sud. Am stat intr-un hotel foarte de lux – adica avea doua closete pentru noi doi, dar nu numai asta. Camere enorme, mobila eleganta, balcon unde nu se putea sta, mult prea cald. In schimb era pe malul marii (fara crocodili si serpi) asa ca ne-am dus la plaja, eu sa plescai si nevasta chiar sa innoate. Apa era grozava, tocmai buna sa te racoresti de clima locala, bine insuportabila. Iar de acolo am mers tot spre sud, incit devenea din ce in ce mai cald si umed – un infern pitoresc. Hoi An e un oras mic, cu cladiri istorice, printre care o pagoda intemeiata de nobilimea chineza Ming care a trebuit sa fuga, fiind cucerita de icrele de Manciuria care le-a terminat dinastia. Ca dovada, dragonii din templu au cinci gheare, sa stie toata lumea ca e si imparatul (Ming) implicat. Pe de asupra, era luna plina, adica Pastele evreiesc ( a cuşărăm peisăh! ) Vietnamezii sarbatoresc luna plina, si tot orasul era decorat cu lampioane colorate. Lumea buna pune luminari sa pluteasca pe riu, si am pus si noi, dupa care ne-am dus la restaurant pe terasa sa admiram iluminatia. Asa Seder zic si eu.

Vinzatoare de lanterne. In spate, lanternele in deriva pe riu.

Riul din Hoi An se revarsa odata pe an. Am vizitat o casa traditionala, mare si eleganta, cu coloane cu dragoni sculptati, totul in lemn rosu. Unele camere aveau un al doilea etaj, unde se ascund mobilele cind se umple casa de apa. Cu coloanele n-ai ce sa faci, dar trebuie curatate cind scade apa, in fiecare an. Mi s-a parut ca arata foarte bine dupa asa tratament. In China, inundatiile pe Yangtze erau bineinteles mult mai rele: intr-un an la Wuhan au omorit 33000 de oameni (ce conteaza in China? dar pe vremea aceea orasul avea un milion de locuitori, adica s-au inecat unul din treizeci! Acum sint opt-noua milioane) Digurile sus in munti (la care toata lumea protesteaza c-au distrus ecologia, istoria si frumusetile naturii, plus omorit cine stie citi sclavi) macar au oprit inundatiile.

Dar, de fapt, pe vremuri Hoi An era in Vietnamul de Sud, unde tanti Ada n-a mai ajuns. Asa ca ma opresc si eu.

Chiar m-am sinucis

La adinci batrineti, dar cu pregatiri din timp. Ca odata la magazinul de arte, am dat de niste unelte de scobit lemn, care mi s-au parut ascutite si tocmai bune de taiat artere. Asa ca le-am cumparat si pastrat cu sfintenie citiva ani buni, in caz de. Proiectul initial era sa ma duc la un hotel, sa ma imbat bine pentru curaj si vasodilatare, si sa singerez intr-o baie fierbinte, lasind un biletel "Sorry for the mess".

Versiunea actuala ceva mai simpla: destul sa ramin in masina, undeva pierdut pe-un drum de tara, si in loc de baie pot sa pun incalzirea, daca e nevoie. Mi-am cumparat o sticla de Hennessy, care credeam ca-i whisky, dar s-a dovedit coniac bun, am pus gaz in masina, ba chiar am incercat sa scot bani din bancomat, dar nu mi-a mers. Si am pornit. Am condus cam o suta de mile, sa dispar cit de cit, si ma gindeam ca daca pe parcurs gasesc un motiv bun sa ma scol miine, ma intorc.

In fine m-am oprit, am tras citeva guri de coniac, si am deschis trusa. Ce sa vezi, toate cutitele si daltile alea erau taioase ca curu bunicii ! Cu mare efort si multa vointa (dar uimitor de putina durere) am reusit sa-mi tai incheieturile la puls, si la stinga, si la dreapta. Poate am si vazut singele ţîşnind, nu curgind, cum cred ca stiam ca face o artera taiata. Am incercat sa-mi tai si carotida, dar n-am reusit nici macar sa zgirii pielea cu sculele alea boante. Am avut presimtirea ca sinuciderea o sa-mi reuseasca ca toate proiectele mele, dar — hope springs eternal! — am mai baut ceva alcool, m-am instalat la volan, cu miinile in jos si picioarele in sus. Ma asteptam sa-mi pierd cunostinta, si sa ma gaseasca, eventual, in vre-o stare de putrefactie. Da de unde. La un moment dat m-am pus intr-o pozitie mai comoda, am facut nani frumos, si m-am sculat, fara sa mai singerez, tot pe lumea asta.

Sinuciderea nereusita e doar o metoda de a cere atentie, cum face orice copil timpit sau animal domestic. De unde sa-mi iau self esteem, cica "stima de sine" pe romaneste, cind nici sa ma omor nu sint in stare, dupa indelungi planuri si pregatiri. Dar din greseli invatam. Data viitoare cind se satura nevasta de mine, ma sinucid mai eficient.

Acum sa continuam povestea, cu succese in viata — daca moartea nu mi-a iesit! Cit am dormit, s-a descarcat bateria masinii, si era frig si intuneric; nu chiar de tot, se vedeau lumini de pe autostrada, tare aproape de locul meu ferit. Aveam un aparat de pornit motorul, si il mai folosisem in alte ocazii, dar bineinteles ca uitasem deja totul despre procedeu. Mi-am zis sa astept dimineata, sa vad macar ce fac, dar n-am rezistat la frig. Am inceput sa combin aparatul cu cablul lui pe intuneric, prin Fundătura Pipăilă, si surpriza! are un ecran cu instructii, care face si ceva lumina! Asa ca am deschis capota, am gasit conectiile, ba chiar am dat drumul la motor. Foarte mindru de mine, am pus incalzirea si am plecat acasa. Tot drumul ma intrebam cit o fi ceasul — panoul din masina ramasese stins, iar peisajul nocturn e la fel, la 8 seara ori 3 noaptea.

Toata afacerea a durat 12 ore, am plecat de-acasa la 6 seara si m-am intors la 6 dimineata. De la prinz, si in tot timpul asta n-am mincat nimic, si am baut doar coniac, poate o litra. Fara foame, fara sete, fara dor de codrul verde. Si cind m-am pornit spre casa eram compect treaz — cit am mai dormit, cit m-am mai pişat pe afara, a iesit alcoolul din mine. Iar caloriile din alcool m-au hranit. Tot drumul inapoi ma tot gindeam ca ar tebui sa beau cafea, sa maininc ceva — poate e unu noaptea, si nu vreau sa adorm la volan. Dar chiar daca ar fi fost ceva deschis, tot nu puteam sa intru insingerat de sus pina jos, si trebuia sa comand la take-out la fereastra, daca au asa ceva. Prea complicat

Cit despre sentimente, aveam o minte clara si concentrata, stiind precis ce vreau sa fac, si chiar facind ce vreau — dupa definitia mea, ma distram/jucam. Plus euforia ca se termina dracului, ca nu mai am responsibilitati, nimic necesar. Pot sa ma minjesc cu singe, pot sa dau in gropi cu masina, nu mai conteaza (acum trebuie sa sterg singele din si de pe masina, boarfele probabil trebuie aruncate) Plus sentimentul caldicel, "comfort zone", cind mi-am dat seama ca de fapt e aceeasi situatie bine cunoscuta, cu care m-am obisnuit desi protestez cit pot: incerc fara succes, ca sa vezi draga!

Opinie experta: nevasta zice ca lipsa de durere, foame si sete sint pe baza de adrenalina. Ba chiar si senzatia de claritate, dorinta de actiune etc. Il Duce ha sempre raggione! Eu ma pazesc cit pot de adrenalina, vreau ataraxie si liberul arbitru in fiecare clipa, in nici un caz "lupta sau fugi". Asa ca am avut o experienta neobisnuita.

Gurile rele o sa spuna ca m-am sinucis numai ca sa am ce povesti dupa aceea.

Bine-am ajuns, sa bocesc la nunti. Cica nu din sentimentalism, de prea multa cultura: ceremonia se termina cu un pahar spart, spre amintirea templului din Ierusalim, distrus si nu inca reconstruit. Cu o referinta directa la psalmul 137:
Daca te voi uita, Ierusalim,
Sa-mi uite dreapta
Sa mi se lipeasca limba de cerul gurii daca nu-mi voi aminti de tine
Daca nu voi pune Ierusalimul deasupra celei mai mari bucurii.
Cu citeva minute inainte se binecuvinteaza Domnul "care bucura mirele cu mireasa". Ce mi-a dat lacrimile este textul complect al psalmului (doua trei linii pe ecran in ebraica, noua versuri):
Pe riurile Babilonului, acolo am sezut si am plins amintindu-ne de Sion.
De salcii ne-am atirnat harfele
Cind cei ce ne-au inrobit ne-au cerut muzica, cei ce ne-au distrus, veselie: Cintati-ne din cintecele Sionului!
Cum sa cintam cintarea Domnului pe pamint strain?

Daca te voi uita, Ierusalim,
Sa-mi uite dreapta
Sa mi se lipeasca limba de cerul gurii daca nu-mi voi aminti de tine
Daca nu voi pune Ierusalimul deasupra celei mai mari bucurii.

Tine minte, Doamne, Edomitilor ziua Ierusalimului,
Cind spuneau: Darimati, darimati pina la temelii!

Fiica Babilonului pradata! Fericit cine o sa-ti rasplateasca dupa cum ne-ai facut!
Fericit cine va apuca si sfarima pruncii tai de stinca!

Originalul e mai complicat decit pare, de asta am adaugat si o traducere oficiala (bineinteles ca a mea imi place mai tare) De exemplu: "sa-mi uite dreapta" e foarte ciudat, findca in ebraica complementul direct e obligatoriu "maninca piine" si nu "maninca" singur. Aici verbul sta gol, si chiar cu alte forme posibile, de exemplu "sa fie uitata" tot straniu suna. "Fiica Babilonului pradata" e o alta curiozitate. Forma verbala e participiul trecut, ca si in romana : "care a fost pradata", "care e pradata", desi referinta e la viitor, ori optativ "fire-ai pradata", ceeace de altfel nu exista in ebraica. Si in fine "ne-am atirnat harfele de salcii in ea" care "ea" nu se refera la nimic precedent – genul si numarul nu se potrivesc. Poate "ea" e Babilonul, ţarile sint feminine, ca si cuvintul "ţara" sau "pamint".

Dar toata filologia nu acopera ferocitatea si primitivismul tribal, si, deasemenea, pasiunea si poezia. Dupa care vine rabinul politically correct sa explice ca pentru cei doi insuratei, paharul spart de fapt inseamna ca s-a terminat viata veche si incepe alta ... ideea americana ca religia e ceeace ti se pare, daca-ti convine. Ei bine, nu; daca are vre-un sens (ceeace eu nu cred) e exact sfarimatul pruncilor de stinca.

Dar daca deja, sa trecem la ceva mai vesel: cintecele de nunta sint in buna parte inspirate de "Cintarea Cintarilor", care e de fapt o prelucrare poetica a obiceiurilor populare: musafirii se adunau si cintau lauda mirelui si a miresei si alte cintece de dragoste:

Ape multe nu pot stinge iubirea, riurile n-o clatesc...

(nu o spala, si in sensul "a clati = a zdruncina". Intimplator cuvintul ebraic din versul asta e chiar cuvintul comun pentru a clati vasele, dar inrudit si cu "inundatie" ). Dupa care deodata mi-am dat seama ca pot spune asta in bască:

Amoria ...
Suiak bano gaizkiago erra diro gizona ;
itxasoak ez iraungi eratxeki dadina.

Amoarea ... mai rau ca focul arde omul; marea nu poate stinge ceeace arde.

Nu ca as sti bască; nimenea nu stie bască. Legenda spune ca dracul a incercat s-o invete, dar s-a lasat dupa sapte ani. Carmen, in schimb, o rupea binisor, cu care i-a intrat in gratii lui Don Jose, Navarro fino. Toate astea fiindca Merimee, ca si mine, era nebun dupa limbi (vezi, de exemplu, Lokis) si chiar a terminat "Carmen" cu o discutie despre cuvinte de origine tiganeasca. Mult mai elegant decit amor, Amor, AMOR!!! – in general nuvela e chiar mai buna decit opera, care e stralucita.

«  ... ma invirteam in bucatarie ...

Man Bobă

Adica bunica mea. Cred ca nici macar nu-i corect, ar fi trebuit sa fie "mane bobă", dar se potrivea mai bine cu cintecelul:

Mambo, mambo
man bobă
mambo, mambo!
Si in orice caz eram convins ca idis se poate vorbi oricum.

Cind o birfeam, era boboroanţă sau babiornis. Dar ii cintam si

Man bobă klein
Man bobă şein
Man bobă mexicană!
Man bobă şein
Man bobă klein
Man bobă mulă hein!
ceeace, nu stiu de ce, ii placea ("mulă hein" e idis/ebraica biblica, in romana eleganta "plina de har").

Double, double toil and trouble...

Printre bunici, doar pe ea am cunoscut-o bine, cind eram si eu matur(?). Cind a murit, aveam 22 de ani. Parintii, bineinteles au stat cu ea, dar eu m-am ascuns in apartamentul meu. Mi-a simtit lipsa? Parintii mi-au spus ca ma binecuvinta pina in ultima clipa, dar nu m-au chemat, si singur nu mi-a dat prin cap sa ma duc s-o vad. Pe de o parte, ideile mele juste ca daca esti bolnav, are doctorul grija si te faci bine. Pe de alta parte, tinar si ferice, nu vroiam sa aflu de batrinete si moarte.

Pe de a treia parte, cit a trait, daca ajungeam in vre-o soţietate buna, ma retrageam zicind ca trebuie sa ma duc acasa sa fiu bobă-sitter.

Pina nu mi-au cumparat un apartament, am stat cu bunica in camera, si, desi nu m-a incintat, nici revolutie n-am facut. Dar mi se pareau cutremuratoare toate obiceiurile de om batrin – mai ales ca isi lua o bonboana pentru noapte, dar trebuia taiata in doua! Ca alte tabieturi, ce avea? Vroia sa asculte stirile, si sa spuna dupa aceea – "Numai pace sa fie!" iar eu pe loc raspundeam: "Imposibilul, nici lui Dumnezeu nu-i poti cere" si citea cu sfintenie ziarele si revistele romanesti din Israel, la care eu strimbam din nas. A citit toata viata tot ce gasea, desi avea exact doua clase de scoala primara.

Cind eram mic de tot, mergeam in vizita la bunici pe strada Iepureanu. Dupa aceea s-au mutat la noi. Nu numai ca ma invirteam tot timpul la man boba in bucatarie, dar imi si povestea tot felul de povesti, mai ales cu Mariţa care avea o suta de pisici (mai departe?... inventa ea ceva, nu mai tin minte, poate nici nu urma nimic dupa Mariţa cu o suta de pisici). Cit am fost mic, ne-am inteles perfect, decit ca mai tirziu ma trimitea la piata prea des. Asta a continuat si in Israel. Cit a putut, a gatit – si gatea foarte bine; de cite ori gatesc si eu, si-mi iese cu gustul de la man boba, sint tare mindru. Dar la bucatarie isi mai aducea aminte ca-i mai trebuie cite ceva, si ma trimetea sa cumpar, la care faceam tare urit.

Eu ascultam la radio muzica clasica, si daca era de fata neaparat spunea "Ce bine cinta vioara!", indiferent de piesa. Tot la radio, intre stirile in romana si in idis, erau si stiri in araba marocana, "arbia mughrabia". Man boba le asculta cu sfintenie, ca nu cumva sa piarda inceputul programului in idis, "cind se termina grobianul". Eu bineinteles faceam zimbre, desi toate aceste programe durau un sfert de ora fiecare.

Cea mai frumoasa poveste a fost cind au ajuns americanii pe luna. Eu pe loc mi-am scris in jurnal "S-au urcat pe luna si si-au lasat acolo steagul si cacatul..." dar man boba s-a uitat pe geam si a zis: "Nu se vede nimeni pe luna."

Dupa care am ajuns si eu bunic. Mi se potriveste tot ca nuca-n perete, desi e mai usor decit sa fii tata – doze mici. Pe de alta parte, acum ma distrez tare bine cu ultimul nepot, jidanul Rhys Williams, ca e asa dulce si mai ales adoarme in brate, ca un pisoi. Dar mai are toata viata inainte...

Fise care mi-au cazut tare de curind:

«  my father had me practice stenography.

Printre alte idei de-ale lui taticu, era sa invat stenografie. Mi-a vindut ideea de cod secret, ceeace m-a atras, desi n-am folosit-o asa niciodata. In schimb, mi-a placut chiar partea serioasa: scrii repede si pe scurt, mai ales toate polologhiile care ni le dicta tovarasul invatator, sa le copiem curat acasa din maculator (Mai stie cineva ce-i aia? Si, in mod uimitor, tovarasul invatator a avut intelegerea sa ma lase sa stenografiez, desi eram in clasa a doua sau asa ceva, si toata ideea era sa-ti deprinzi mina la scris)

Ce scriam eu era metoda Stahl, creata special pentru româna. Henri Stahl a fost stenograful oficial al parlamentului, iar fiica lui Henriette Yvonne Stahl a devenit scriitoare (n-am citit nimic de ea; dar si papà a scris un roman stiintifico-fantastic, "Un Român in Luna"). Român ca mine: erau elvetieni impaminteniti.

Stenografia era bine inteligenta: economisea ne-scriind vocale, si folosind semne simple pentru combinatii de consoane comune: TT (tot, toti, atit, ...), DD (dadea, dadu), FC (fac, foc, ...), CER (cer, cere, cioara ...), FR (fara, afara, fur ...) , etc.

Si, deasemenea folosea acelasi semn pentru (S, Z, Ş) ori (T, Ţ), dar deosebea (C, K) si CE.

Mai erau si o multime de prescurtari:

si exercitii de neuitat:

Cind a dat potopul, peştii, fireşte, nu s-au inecat.
Asta foloseste un semn special pentru EŞTE in cuvinte ca moaşte sau Bucureşti.

Oaia aia e a ei.
Cum il scrii fara vocale? pentru asta exista un sistem de puncte si sageti pentru diftongi, pe care niciodata nu l-am stiut pe dinafara:

Desigur, e foarte rar sa ai intr-adevar nevoie sa specifici vocalele, intr-un text normal sint usor de ghicit. Dar... Taticu mi-a comunicat odata ca are o pacienta pe nume Aieroaiei; ca sa intelegi de ce, chiar trebuie conectia cu stenografia Stahl. Iar eu ma gindeam la un roman despre colectivizare – gen "Setea" – intitulat "Pasiunea si pamintul":

Din cauza ca existe prescurtari pentru -ţiune/siune, -ment/mînt, super/supra-, circum-, -ism, etc., încît pasiune si pamint sint litera P cu codiţe jos si sus.

Scriam stenografia rezonabil, desi nu la viteza profesionala ( cica la fel de repede cum vorbesti, 150-200 cuvinte pe minut ), poate 50 de cuvinte pe minut. Dar problema serioasa e cu cititul: mult mai incet decit textul normal, chiar daca citeam ce-am scris eu. Probabil tot de asta n-am citit niciodata literatura ebraica – prea incet, prea multa munca sa complectezi scrisul. Iar ebraică vocalizata nu pot sa citesc deloc – prea multe semne in toate directiile, limba are 6 vocale si se scriu 14. Spre deosebire de engleza cu 15 vocale plus, scrise cu 5 litere.

In alta ordine de idei, nu mai pot sa stenografiez. Literele se deosebesc prin marime, dar in loc sa scriu linii lungi si linii scurte, scriu tot felul de marimi intemediare. Nici scrisul normal de mina nu prea merge: daca n-am ochelari, sau stau in picioare, sau hirtia nu e pe o baza plana si solida, ies niste rezultate de groaza, chiar daca textul e doar un cec. cam tot ce trebuie scris de mina sint cecurile, ca avem computer! Beţele alea sint "pe de alta parte", vide supra ; decorativ, nu?


M-ar fi invatat taticu si sah, dar era prea bun si eu tare rau pierzator, cum am si ramas. Dupa ce am jucat de citeva ori cu el, m-am lasat de-a binelea. Iar table n-am invatat niciodata, fiindca trebuie sa deosebesti stinga de dreapta, ceeace nu-mi iese (Liliana, in schimb, joaca bine table).

«  ... dreams about the next cruise.


Croaziera 2008

     «  Am plecat pe o luna plus, de la sfirsitul lui Noiembrie pina la Craciun. Plimbarea de la San Francisco pe toata coasta Pacificului pina la Capul Horn, si apoi insulele Falkland si coasta atlantica pina la Rio. In special ne-am dorit sa ajungem la Magellan si Capul Horn, ca acolo sint furtuni, si aveam mare pofta sa ne legene nani-nani cu vaporul.

Apropos de Tara de Foc, a luat foc casa din Monterey. Plecarea era Miercuri; Luni ma cheama Mike la lucru sa-mi spuna ca arde casa, si e pe drum spre Monterey. N-am mai reusit sa stau la lucru, am tras chiulul si Marti – a quelque chose malheur est bon. Iar pe de alta parte, nu era nimic de facut, nu se putea intra in casa fiind riscant. Asa ca i-am lasat bucuria lui Mikey cu asigurarea, si am pornit in larg.

Croaziera e usor de rezumat:

Cu mincarea
Treci marea.
Sau "cu putoarea". De altfel, cel mai placut e oricum intre porturi; chiar daca portul e tare interesant, tot mai bine e sa zaci si nimica sa nu faci. Iar daca portul e interesant, te doare inima sa stai acolo intre 10 si 4, cel mult.

Principala invatatura de minte in excursia asta a fost ca nu se potriveste ce stiam din scoala cu socoteala din piata. La ecuator, in loc sa fie cald si sa ploua zilnic, o racoare ca la San Francisco. Am fost foarte incintat, dupa ce m-au trecut toate sudorile in Mexic si America Centrala. E un curent rece din Antarctica pe acolo – partea asta ori n-am invatat-o, ori am uitat-o. Si combinatia curent + Anzi impiedica precipitatiile, asa ca in loc de ploaie e desertul Atacama – pe asta il tineam minte. La capul Horn, nici un fel de furtuni si uragane, ci calm si senin – gurile rele zic ca asta e global warming.

Dupa ce ne-am intors, am intrat in fandaxie cu pozele. Stau pina la 12 noaptea sa retusez si sa fac colaje, dar nu cu fotoshop, ca costa parale. Mi-am gasit altele pe gratis, inclusiv un program GNU, care se cheama GIMP, si ar trebui sa faca minuni, dar inca nu stiu cum. La asta ma duce mintea, ca literatura e mai greu. Si imi zic ca pozele sint arta, sau cel putin ne-violare de copyright cind lipesc si imaginile altora.

Dar, totusi, m-am pus pe scris. Cu ex-memoria prezenta si viitor de sanatate, tot pe poze ma bazez – au cel putin data atasata, si, impreuna cu programul croazierei, pot identifica ce unde. Dar daca nu-i poza? De exemplu tin minte un parc unde-am vazut o statuie cu un car cu boi, reprezentind pionerii locali. Tin minte ca dansau tango pentru turisti, tin minte ca nu ne-am luat o sticla cu apa, ca era scumpa, tin minte un porumbel care s-a instalat pe mina vizitiului din statuie ca un şoim de vinatoare, dar in nici un caz nu tin minte unde a fost asta. Chile? Uruguay? habar n-am, fiindca desi tare vroiam sa fotografiez porumbelul, a zburat.

Mi-am zis ca cel mai simplu e in ordine cronologica, din nou folosind programul croazierei. Dar repetitia " ... apoi am ajuns in Mexic ... dupa aceea in Nicaragua ... dupa aceea in Costa Rica ... apoi in Panama " nu-mi suride.
Asa ca mi-am aranjat aceasta poza in culori tipatoare – daca nu chiar strigatoare la cer. Reprezinta mintea mea, cu toate amintirile, imaginile si gindurile talmes balmes.

Clicati, va rog!

Mai sint si alte poze, la fel de tare organizate.

«  Eu, cu atitudine studioasa din totdeauna: "Cind ti-e lumea mai draga, hop si madam!"

«  Alte sclipiri

Nevasta mi-a facut copíi, nu cópii – nu-mi seamana destul sa-mi placa.


Ce nu cade din cer n-are nici o valoare.


All things shall be well
You shall see for yourself that
All manner of things shall be well  --  Julian of Norwich
...şi la vară cald.


ישעיהו (שייקע) ספיר - מראשוני רמת-גן ומיסדיה. תאר את הוית בנית ארצנו ביצירותיו ״מָקֶבֶת״ ו-״המֶלֶט״


ימימה, קציעה וקרן הפוך
שלא השתמשו בוו ההיפוך,
אף על פי שהיו בנות איוב הצדיק,
קבלו בספרות בלתי מספיק!


ימימה, קציעה וקרן הפוך
שלא השתמשו בוו ההיפוך,
נמנעו מאות שש
בכל הזדמנות
ותקבלנה חמש


Realitate: cind ti-e lumea mai draga, hop si madam!

Exista mai mult ca perfect si exista mai putin ca perfect. Care din astea se aplica ...

Nevasta mititea : dacă era mare, era vastă, dar fiind nevastă...


Chanson du brame Shastasid:

Ma-nsurai luai nevasta
De la noi a treia casta
Tinerel m-am insurat...


Baba isi facuse amniocenteza, dar mosul nu-si facuse amniocintezoi.


La noi domneste ordinea si curatenia. Dar e monarhie constitutionala – nu domnesc chiar de tot.

Garantat dam in mintea copiilor, da' ei cind dau in mintea noastra?


Ciupercuţe saprofite
Care-ncearcă să profite.


Mîţa vietnameză: fuga, fuga, ca daca nu, toccata.

             La Marseillaise annotée
Allons enfants de la Patrie,      
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !      
Contre nous de la tyrannie,      
L'étendard sanglant est levé !      (mal élevé!)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes      
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?      
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras      
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes.      
Aux armes, citoyens !      
Formez vos bataillons !      
Marchons, marchons !      
Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons !      (quelle notion!)



Mon Dieu
Ton Dieu
Son Dieu
Leurs Dieux a eux
Qu'ils sont odieux!


la vie est rose
comme une virose
la vie est belle
comme une poubelle
la vie me plait
comme une plaie


כל יום שבת.

כי כל יום הוא היום,
והיום הוא
et aujourd'hui c'est le jour de hui,
et le jour de хуй c'est
יום זיין,
כלומר שבת קודש!


Hai la moara hatulenţa-flatulenţa

Mîţa caţă se rasfaţă
Si pe dos ca si pe faţă
Caţa rea cu rautate
Toate ghearele isi scoate
Mîţa caţă mititică
Sau pisică
Mîţa cu ferocitate
Gheare scoate
Scoate cu ferocitate
Scoate cu gherocitate
Toate ghearele isi scoate, gheare scoate, gheare scoate ...


Intii Ianuarie. Mamere e acasa.
Taticu nu-i, a trebuit sa faca garda de Anul Nou.
Cind se intoarce, o sa-l intreb ce face,
Ca nu-l vad cu zilele,
Si unde?

N-o sa raspunda, ca a murit cind aveam 33 de ani. Ba 35 (acum am 65)

Nu mai pot nici visa despre el?

Un copil vrea in bratele parintilor. La inceput visam despre ei noapte de noapte, toate in casa de pe Calea Rahovei 204; Mamere a murit cind aveam 52 de ani Sau 53? Dar pare-se ca in vise ea e de fapt nevasta, Ca asa vrea Papa Froid.

La inceput ii visam noapte de noapte, Si ma mincam – in vis – fiindca stiam bine ca sint morti Si totusi eram cu ei, un copil vrea in bratele parintilor. Ma-ntrebam "Sint nebun? Nimeni nu observa?" Poate apareau numai cind noi trei eram singuri

Odata, l-am visat pe taticu venind de la lucru Se urca pe scara insurubata (nu e un epitet, scara chiar facea o curba in trei dimensiuni) Si fredona ceva, ca de-obicei. Si eu stiam ca e mort Dar mi-a spus "Esti mult mai mic decit crezi." Adica, iluzia e ca a trecut copilaria, Ca m-am facut "om", perd de famille, American... Macar!

Dar in visul de azi noapte nu eram pe Calea Rahovei In tot felul de case care n-au existat niciodata, dar apar consistent in vis Ca sa vezi cum evoluam! Sint toate inchiriate (totdeauna am fost contra cumparat case, Promisii pe 30 de ani – nu se potrivesc, Planurile mele pe doua saptamini, cel mult) Azi noapte, poate la Wuerzburg, intr-un oras cu riu si catedrala Undeva sus pe deal, noi stateam la parter, Si proprietarii deasupra, plus inca o cladire in unghi drept. Uneori vizitam si casa lor. Inchiriam parterul pentru vacanta de vara, de citiva ani (numai in vise, niciodata n-am facut asa ceva)

Nu stiu unde plecasem de-acasa pe-ntii Ianuarie, Nu stiu de ce caram si un scaun pliant cu mine Si eram multumit ca am facut miscare pe ziua aia. Vremea foarte placuta, mai curind Mai Ca altfel nu m-as fi pornit pe jos. Ma intorceam de departe, si nu prea stiam drumul In loc sa merg pe strazi, nimeream prin curtea oamenilor Si, ca sa trec gardurile, zburam. De sus am vazut si niste vulpi rosii Cum n-am vazut niciodata in realitate. Poate le-am vazut, ca fugeau tare repede, dar sigur erau rosii. In afara de ciinii care alungasera vulpile Curtea era plina de rate si gaini Poet la poiata.

Am vazut chiar si o nevastuica (a trebuit sa caut cuvintul Din "hermine" la "ermine" la "weasel" la "mustela" Si probabil tot Papa Froid nu-i da voie nevestii in visuri) Desi e un simbol al puritatii, Nevastuica ar omori imediat orataniile, Chiar fara interes sa le manince. In orice caz, nevastuica n-am vazut niciodata in realitate. Nevasta ...

Tot zburind am dat de catedrala Foarte mare si incojurata de statui Si eram multumit ca am un reper sigur Cind mi-am dat seama ca, de fapt, ar fi trebuit sa ajung la casa din Virginia Casa de vis din Virginia, Tot pe riu, fara catedrala. Acolo stateam intr-o multime de camere, la care se tot adaugau altele, Camere si intr-o cladire vizavi Majoritatea nefolosite, dar mari si elegante toate. Si cum dracu se chema riul? (Riul Charles era la Boston Unde chiar statusem la parter, cu proprietarii deasupra)

James River – tot de pe internet.

«  ... Roti dinţaţi

Iar rotile erau unul dintre putinele mele talente tehnice – adica reuseam sa schimb roata de rezerva.
Prima data in tara Sf., cind alergam cu nevasta intre oficiul de turism si facultate, sa ne aranjam prima vizita la o conferinta in America. Mai si ploua, dar tot am pus roata.

A doua oara, in America, la Boston; o duceam pe Nomi la gradinita, si a pocnit roata. Convins ca sint in stare, m-am apucat s-o schimb, ceeace a luat o multime de timp, la care nevasta acasa fierbea, inchipuindu-si cum am decedat amindoi – cel putin. Mai ales ca sosise un dric, fiindca chiar murise o vecina noaptea aia.

A treia oara, in Virginia. Incep sa desurubez, dar de data asta n-am mai tinut minte care-i dreapta si stinga, si am rupt toate suruburile. Dupa care ma miram cit de usor se invirtesc ... Nu stiam proverbul:

«  dar tot am visat sa devin chimist ...
«  "What about hibernation?"

Ce vrei sa faci cind o sa fii mare? Vreau sa hibernez .

Asta am descoperit la adinci batrineti, poate dupa 40. Dar prima data cind m-au intrebat, in clasa intii sau asa ceva, am zis "aviator". De fapt, ma invirteam toata ziua la man bobă in bucatarie, si vroiam sa fiu bucatar – cred ca mai vreau inca – dar toti copiii au zis "aviator", asa si eu. Conformist ca mamere .

Sau, poate, fiindca româna e o limba de conformisti

Eu zic
Ei zic
Eu merg
Ei merg
Si eu sînt cum sînt ei si fac exact ce fac ei.

Mai tirziu, ne-au intrebat ce vrem sa fim la olimpiada de matematica. Eu am zis "inginer naval". De ce tocmai? cu gindul la plecare? Dar pina la urma am facut hidrodinamica... Gura dobitoacelor adevar graieste.

Si chiar de ce n-am intrat la chimie? Probabil fiindca aveam deja multe patalamale la matematica, si la chimie nimic. Si de la Maabarot oricum nu aveam note, iar lucrarea mea de acolo tot matematica. Mi-am zis ca pot sa schimb oricind – in orice caz, o decizie inteligenta, cum n-au mai fost multe.

La si mai adinci batrineti, chiar am reusit sa hibernez: am dat drumul la aer coditionat, si am dormit bine mersi de la zece seara la zece dimineata. Ba am si visat un vis relevant:

Trebuia sa merg undeva cu nevasta, dar ea a intrat in masina si s-a dus singura. Am incercat sa ma tin dupa ea, fiindca eram intr-un loc cunoscut si ma asteptam s-o gasesc, dar era cam greu la deal. Am gasit masina parcata, si am deschis-o, dar era a altora; in fine am intrat intr-o masina si am pornit cu ea, dar am dat de ghetus, si pante pe care nu puteam avansa, ca aluneca jos. In schimb la doi pasi era o sosea mare pe care se circula perfect. Cum de n-am ajuns acolo? Tot cautind intrarea, am dat in mintea lumea copiilor. Acolo plozii domneau, si daca nu le faceai mendrele, se lipeau citiva de tine ca marca de scrisoare. Si nevasta avea citiva din astia, dar a disparut prea repede si n-am reusit sa dau de ea. In fine, am ajuns intr-o cladire cu ascensoare, cu care se putea iesi din lumea copiilor. Decit ca nu se opreau cita vreme erau lipiti de tine. Dupa un timp, probabil ca mi-am ispasit vina, si au cazut de pe mine. Liftul s-a oprit, am apasat pe un buton, dar am ajuns la cazinou. Cistig?

«  ... everything ... happening at once

De-a valma

Deci, ca sa iau bani de somaj, am continuat sa raspund la anunturi si sa iau legatura cu diferite agentii care-ti cauta de lucru. Ba chiar mi-au si gasit: o companie care inventeaza un nou material catalitic pentru gaze de esapament la Diesel. Ceeace se face prin calcule si modele , nu experimental, iar programarea mi-ar cadea mie, ca chinezoaica lor pleaca. Foarte interesant, si ei toti sint tinerei si indo/chineji/coreeni afara de sefu, deci ne potrivim perfect. M-am dus la interviu, si ce crezi, ma vor...

Pe loc am inceput sa planific cum sa scap. Intre timp, aveam si o multime de examene medicale la inimaţ – adica coronografie si colonoscopie. Macar descopera vre-un infarct sau cancer si scap de lucru. Joi inimioara – nimic. Vineri colonoscopia – totul roz ca viitorul (mi-am vazut maţele la televizor, ba mi-au dat si poze, care cu greu ma abtin sa nu le pun pe Internet) Dar scutire nu mi-au dat, asa ca adio vacanta! Luni la lucru.

Intre acelasi timp agentia de plasament, care de fapt e stapinul – ca la lucru o sa fiu consultant – incepe sa ma bata la cap sa le aduc la San Francisco pasaportul si buletinul de la Social Security. Nu numarul de Social_Security, ci fiţuica pe care am capatat-o in 1978 si de mult am pierdut-o. Dar vezi ca le trebuie originalul! De la proctolog (Salinas, linga Monterey) am plecat acasa la Monterey, poate a ramas cu multa alta hîrţogărie acolo. Nu-i. Agentia continuie sa biriie. Ne intoarcem la San Jose, la oficiul de Social Security, sa cer alta. Ăştia in schimb au datele din 1978, si nu apar ca cetatean. Le dau pasaportul:

– Da de ce esti la noi Liviu Lustman, si pe pasaport Levi Lustman?
– Ca mi-am schimbat numele cind m-am facut american, sa poata citi si americanii.
– Ne trebuie dovada...

Nu-i dovada, nu-i fiţuica. Cu nevasta fierbind si mai tare – era cu mine, ca n-aveam voie sa conduc in ziua aia din cauza medicamentelor de colonoscopie. Eu tineam vag minte ca apare numele original pe documentul de incetatenire, care îrtie sta la Monterey si o vazusem dimineata, dar n-am luat-o cu noi. Îl chemam pe Mike sa se uite, nu gaseste. Chemam agentia, vor sa le aduc Luni toate documentele care le am, nu par convinsi c-o sa ma creada. Eu imi zic ca daca nu ma cred, macar scap de lucru. Acasa, diferite fandaxii – unicul document unde apare numele Liviu a pasaportul israelian, dar o sa le placa?!

In fine, azi (Simbata) Mike ne aduce incetatenirea, unde scrie (pe verso) ca numele a fost schimbat din Liviu.  Uf !!   Sa mai vedem si ce alte surprize Luni. Eu imi fac iluzia cum am sa-mi ies din pepeni si pina la urma o sa le trintesc usa-n nas, dupa care stau cuminte la mine acasa, de cinismu si de lene – visuri, maica, visuri.

«  tanti Pepi

Ce vorbe de neuitat avea tanti Pepi:

(Justi slabise) "Te ascuti ca lupta de clasa!"

Sa-l puna la punct pe Justi " Pastreaza distanta legala !"

Ii cinta lui nene Jean:

Ce-i al meu al meu ramine,
Iankl, sa-mi traiesti!

Dupa o masa buna, stateau toti culcati, la care tanti Pepi: "Hai sa batem cu pantofii in podea, sa creada ca dansam!"

"Banii nu aduc fericirea, dar calmeaza nervii."

"Raci umpluti cu moţămeil" – culmea gastronomiei, unde eu as fi spus sole a l'amiral.

"Corbeille de fruits" – adica un mar ca desert.

La o stire proasta: "S-o punem pe jazz!"

La stiri si mai proaste: "A cazut Salonicul "

Si, dupa 75:
Ce fac eu cel mai repede? Obosesc!

Drept care ce face bunul Dumnezeu, mult prea repede? O binecuvinteaza cu Parkinson. Multi ani, cred ca din 1985, n-au mai iesit din casa, ea si nene Jean care a ingrijit-o cit a fost in stare. Iar eu i-am vazut ultima data cind a murit taticu, in 1982. Dupa aceea, cred ca nici n-am mai vorbit cu ei. E adevarat ca tanti Pepi se ferea de lume, dar...

Asa ca bine-mi sta sa ma pling ca nu alearga nimeni dupa mine sa-mi faca bucurii . Ca si eu sint un ingeras cu suflet de aur – tot ce ma duce mintea e sa dau cite-un dolar la cersetori in drum prin San Jose.

«  Twisting my tongue in English for the benefit of future generations / progeny

Ce sa-mi scrintesc limba pe englezeste si alte langues de chats...

Deci... Ma gindeam la tanti Ada si la cultura – franceza, germana, româna ca limba a nu ştiu cîta, dupa rusa, idis si ebraica, pe care o mai tinea minte dupa 50 de ani, ceva engleza, era avocata, diplomata, cintase la vioara (ca mine? mai bine?) Si de fapt toata generatia parintilor – macar si taticu cinta la vioara – ce-i drept, un singur cintec, dar cu patru bemoli, la care eu m-am simtit outclassed si mi-am mai pierdut ceva incredere. Si nu cinta mai prost ca mine – sau nu puteam eu sa mi-l imaginez mai prost ca mine.

Iar din gura cinta tot timpul, ceeace am mostenit, to the embarassment of my beloved children. Cred ca nimeni in familie nu avea vre-o voce speciala, dar cel putin nimeream notele, fara rusine si chiar cu placere.

De fapt, prima data cind mi-am ascultat vocea – imprimata, nu pe trompa lui Eustache, Ianke si Cadîr – a fost la MIT cind am facut un "test de predat", si, desi am ramas convins ca tot eu stiu mai bine cum se preda, vocea tare nu mi-a placut, prea inalta si stridenta. Ca in general nu ma plac – doar ma ador – si cind ma vad in oglinzi ma-ntreb de ce nu crapa.

Cit despre predat, cu timpul m-am convins ca nu-s chiar asa perfect, mai ales dupa ce mi-au facut morala la NPS , peste multi ani. Stiam eu din totdeauna ca daca e interesant pentru mine, e mortal pentru studenti, dar predatul e exact conversatia cu acela (existenta axiomatica) care te-ntelege si chiar e curios ce spui. Macar mi-am facut datoria pe postul acestui student.

Tanti Matilda

E un subiect foarte potrivit, mai ales ca sint in plina degenerare.

S-o luam deci de la coada. Ultima data cind am fost impreuna, era in Israel. Venise sa-si viziteze familia, si a stat mai ales la tanti Pepi la Ţfat. Dar a fost si la noi la Holon, vre-o doua saptamini. Eu eram inca la facultate, dupa tironut si bine ingrozit de ce urmeaza. Plus pesimismul si antisocialitatea, cu ştelul de 20 de ani. Ea, in schimb: plina de viata, totul i se parea minunat, totul interesant. Nu-i vorba numai de birfe – tinea condicuta absolut oricui, cu detalii – ci in mod evident se bucura de orice, ceeace mie niciodata nu mi-a iesit : dragoste de viata. Si, slava Domnului, trecuse prin destule – era de virsta mea actuala sau mai mult, si urma intoarcerea in Romania Ceauşista. Dar fara griji si fara frica – dupa cum spunea de avion: "In aer nu ramin!"
vraja marii Vraja Marii: tanti Pepi, eu, Justi, mamere, tanti Matilda

Atitudinea asta mi s-a parut asa extraordinara – atunci si acum – desi, desigur o cunoscusem foarte bine in Romania; nu-mi inchipui ca se schimbase ea mult, dar probabil ma schimbasem eu. Din Romania stiam ca e tare descurcareata, gateste grozav din tot ce nu se gasea (reteta de tort Matilda: "iei un picior de scaun..."), are tot felul de povesti extraordinare si casa model. Tin minte servetelele brodate de pe pereti (ea le brodase la scoala:)

Curat si bine aranjat
Faci din coliba un palat!

Bucate bune am gatit
Pentru sotul meu iubit.
Dupa clasa-ntii, cind eram cu mamica si cu ea la Olanesti in vacanta, m-a invatat sa fac doua salate de rosii: cu brinza sarata si piper, si cu brinza de vaca si usturoi. Chiar bun. Si facea niste cornulete cu rahat, la care stringea caimac cite-o saptamina pentru aluat. Iar la Holon ne-a gatit o gaina – la care eu in principiu strimb din nas – dar ce gust avea!

De cind eram mici admiram cu totii "metoda Matilda" – la masa intii dai la copii, si-o sa-si tina botul! Alta metoda: daca intilnea o familie cu un plod pipernicit si antipatic, ii complimenta "E vioi!"

In Romania, cind ne adunam cu totii puneam o perna pe telefon – cica asculta securitatea, nu-i total imposibil. Mai ridicam perna, exclama tanti Matilda: "Vai ce frumoasa e "Valea Cucului" ! Iar la toata propaganda cu dezvoltarea industriei, cu pivotul ei industria grea, zicea : "Roti dinţaţi!"

Dar toate astea nu m-au pregatit, cind ne-am revazut in Israel, pentru valul de euforie – desigur, era fericita sa fie impreuna cu tanti Pepi, si fara bucuriile din Romania. Dar, la baza, era un optimism care mi se pare de necrezut si-l invidiez (adica respect) cit pot.

Ce vrei sa fii cind o sa fii mare? Vreau sa fiu Tanti Matilda. Pofta-n cui.

Dumnezeu (mic , egiptean) la picioarele mele.

Un vis care explica totul, asa de bine ca m-am sculat la 3 noaptea sa-l scriu cit nu uit. Scris in singele meu, bineinteles. Dar vai, EditPlus a murit. Pina sa-mi aduc aminte cum se cheama Notepad... si desigur, nu merge pe laptop, ca ating pseudo-mouse prea tare sau prea usor, si apar toate programele, afara de ce-mi trebuie.

S-a dus dracului euforia.


De armata,sau din alte motive, fac miscare. Am plecat in jos pe Cosbuc, dar am ajuns pina in Elvetia – pe jos, ba chiar alergind... in vis pot sa alerg. M-am si intors; pe drum am intrat int-o moara, adica in mecanismul ei cu roti, bare, pirghii si alte angrenaje, toate de lemn, care miscau repede si imbricat sa ma sfarime. Era si un specialist (Lulu?) care ar fi trebuit sa le opreasca, dar a decis ca nu se poate. M-a lasat acolo, sa ma toace masinaria. Eu insa am gasit o usa si am iesit frumos afara. Am ajuns acasa, explicind parintilor de ce asa tirziu. Taticu n-a zis nimic, dar mamere era foarte ofensata: statea culcata in pat Gea Tellus si nu vroia sa-mi vorbeasca.

Copilul a plecat departe, a trecut prin pericole, le-a invins, se-ntoarce erou. Drept care apare un nou copil: Mikey, trebuie sa-i fac lectiile la literatura. Tot despre un fel de odisee( Care?) O cunosteam destul de bine, ca o citisem – poate o si traisem in plimbarea pe Cosbuc. Dar cind ma uit in cartea de scoala, niste comentarii care nu mi-ar fi trecut prin cap niciodata: sensul mistic, cautarea lui Dumnezeu, gasirea (gaselnita). Si bineinteles ca de mult am uitat exact ce si cum, cu ajutorul binevoitor a doua computere cu meandre – acum e 5 noaptea.

Copilul a plecat departe, a trecut prin pericole, le-a invins, s-a-ntors pe dos erou. O poveste banala, dar eu nu sint folclorul international, sint buricul pamintului, si-mi place confirmatia, macar in vis. Si mai ales, sa fac imposibilul – de obicei zbor, uneori alerg, foarte rar visez ca sint la armata si reusesc... Desigur, in vis sint altcineva, dar deobicei ramin copil: cu parintii, merg la scoala la Bucuresti, etc. Si a aparut si Mikey, semn ca eu am crescut, ba chiar si nevasta (parca) nu numai mamere...

Dupa care am inceput sa compar adorabila nevasta cu Penelopa cea casta. Cum era aia soprana profesionala, si nevasta profesionala cit se poate; nu s-ar putea spune ca se tine cu toti suitorii, dar un mic defect are totusi: isi face cit mai multe probleme, e tare mindra ca se ocupa de ele ea si nu eu, si vrea sa-i multumesc ca ma protejeaza ba si viitoru-mi aranjeaza. Oh well. Dar intr-adevar ma protejeaza: am trimis-o, saraca, in celalalt dormitor – unde oricum locuieste ca e si pat si televizor – cind am dedus ca nu pot sa ma descurc cu laptop si imi trebuie computerul adevarat din dormitor.

Dar de fapt... doar senzatia ca stiu ceva tare important, foarte comun in visuri. Sa ma mai si scol pentru asta ... m-am prostit di tăt.

From :
«  ... les procédés logiques, de nos jours, ne s’appliquent plus qu’aux ... problèmes d’intérêt secondaire.

"de nos jours" e pura mîrlănie. Ce legatura are perioada istorica, sau prezentul, cu logica? Ce-ar fi trebuit sa spuna, e ca dintotdeauna logica se ocupa, si uneori rezolva, numai probleme irelevante. Un exemplu din matematica, la care cit de cit ma pricep(eam) :

Cui ii pasa daca √2 e ratia a doi intregi? ( nu-i ; demonstratia e artimetica de scoala, dar in schimb are cam 2500 de ani )
Matematica e inspirata de realitate ( geometria a inceput ca masura ogoarelor ) dar e independenta de realitate ( adica nu e fizica ) si imediat sare intr-un domeniu ideal. E adevarat ca daca un patrat are latura 1, diagonala e √2, dar asta nu se poate dovedi desenind si masurind patrate pe hirtie sau pe cimp. Si ce e un patrat? printre altele are laturi egale. Dar nici asta nu se poate dovedi masurind, fiinca totdeauna exista greseli la masuratoare, pe cind definitia e cu egal, fara nici o aproximatie. Etc., etc. Deci aceste obiecte elementare nu fac parte din realitate, ci sint ideale cum i-ar fi placut lui Platon.

Ca sa nu mai spun ca matematica, ca si logica, incepe cu citeva axiome, bine definite. As vrea sa vad si eu o problema relevanta, de exemplu "Sa-mi schimb masina?" care incepe cu supozitii bine definite.

Sau un exemplu avansat ( 3-4 ani de facultate ) :

Suma a doua variabile aleatoare e normala, daca si numai daca amindoua sint normale.
Si cum te convingi ca o variabila e normala? ( sa zicem date adunate de statisticieni, cum ar fi inaltimea tuturor barbatilor dintr-un sat ) Sint teste simple dar toate sint bazate pe aproximatii, si toate dau numai o probabilitate sa fie variabila normala. Nimic nu poate sa spuna : da, e normal cu siguranta. Dar matematicianul umbla cu obiecte ideale : dat fiind ca suma e normala, urmeaza ...

Cui ii pasa? Pe vremea cind ma bucuram de matematica, ceeace apreciam cel mai tare erau paradoxurile, relatiile neasteptate, creatiile incredibile — la vigilia de la razón produce monstruos. Dar acum sint batrin si timpit, daca ma ating de matematica ma doare memoria si uitarea si incapacitatea, si fug.

Ca cum zicea poiata:

Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure.


Am cunoscut-o prin tanti Ada. Era fata de general, si fusese sotia atasatului militar al Romaniei la Ankara, cind unchii mei erau ambasadori. Cu care ocazie a invatat turceste, si cind s-a intors la Bucuresti incerca sa lucreze ca instructor de turca la Universitate, sau cercetator in folclorul turc, sau macar sa publice ceva – dar vai, originea nesanatoasa ... Era mai tinara ca parintii, si de cind ne-am cunoscut insista sa nu-i spun tanti. Venea din cind in cind sa ma vada – poate de doua ori pe an, si astea erau mari evenimente pentru mine.

Cred ca lingvistica mi se trage de la ea. O data, nu stiu cu ce ocazie, i-am zis ca n-am nevoie sa stiu indiana, la care mi-a raspuns "Macar sa stiu vreunul din dialectele indiene!" si mi-a si explicat ce-i un dialect: la Bucuresti spunem "cartofi", in Moldova "barabule". Mi-a povestit basme turcesti pe care le culegea – mai tin inca minte "ihtiyar püf yaptı" ( "moşul facu puf!" ) – cred ca scotea fum de tigara pe nari pretinzind ca-i balaur. Altadata i-am aratat o poezea care-o scrisesem si mi-a spus "Poeta nascitur". Nu numai asta, dar odata mi-a adus o traducere dintr-o poezie Çagatay, zicindu-mi s-o stilizez – bineinteles ca a trebuit si sa-mi explice ce-i aia.

Vazind ca aveam o cutie in care tineam citiva bani vechi, chiar si vre-o 2-3 kuruş adusi de tanti Ada din Turcia, mi-a adus o multime de monede de la ea din casa, printre care si una din 1700 si ceva, de nepretuit. Si mi-a spus ca nu sint monede, ci monete – in latina moneta – ceeace n-am mai uitat. Moned/tele astea le-a mostenit Michiduţă, cind am plecat in Israel.

Intre timp dadea meditatii, asa ca a fost invitata la serbarea de sfirsit de an, si m-a luat si pe mine. Am inghitit tot "Luceafarul" cu o nu prea frumoasa fata, si ca sa ma consoleze, m-a dus in vizita la profesorul ei de Osmanlı. Hruba lui Ali-Baba ! Chiar o hruba, o camera una la subsol, dar tapisata de carti, care de care mai exotice: araba, ebraica, chineza, mongola scrisa vertical, pe linga toate textele turcesti. Am apucat sa discutam cum in ebraica sint 3 de 'h' – deci eram pe la bar-miţva, 12 sau 13 – si mi-a aratat o carte cu semnaturile sultanilor.

«  I collect words as a rug collects dust.

Cum colectionez cuvinte, consider  javră, potaie, jigodie, şarlă, cotarlă  un tezaur pretios. In schimb, in ebraica  rojec, xotef, mediaj, notel, jofef, koves, mekabes  (toate inseamna "spală")  mi se par o aberatie. Probabil fiindca a trebuit sa le invat, tocmai cind aveam mare nevoie sa simt ca stiu deja ebraica. Tare nu se potriveste, ca in general imi place sa invat orice. In cazul asta nu mi-a convenit ca  trebuie  sa invat, ca oricarui scolar normal. De ce n-au simplificat ebraica, pe care cam toata lumea a invatat-o ca limba straina, mult dupa copilarie.

Dar poate poate e istetime lingvistica: toate astea sint lexical functions, adica verbul e functie de complement:

se spala pe fata רוחץ פנים rojec panim
spala vase שוטף כלים
מדיח כלים
xotef kelim
mediaj kelim
se spala pe miini נוטל ידיים notel iadaim
shampoo – se spala pe cap חופף ראש jofef rox
spala rufe מכבס כביסה mekabes kvisa
Desi pe vremea ceea (la 15-16 ani) habar n-aveam de lexical functions, ideea m-a deranjat intotdeauna (ca si in engleza, a gaggle of geese, a school of fish, an exaltation of larks, sau in franceza: salaire, emolument, paie, remuneration, solde)

Pe deasupra, in ebraica verbul nu poate sta singur. "Mekabes" inseamna "spala rufe" dar forma corecta e totdeauna "mekabes kvisa", trebuie adaugat si kvisa=rufe. La fel, "jofef" se aplica numai la spalat pe par, dar e incomplect si trebuie spus "jofef rox" folosind rox=cap. Toate formele sint pleonastice, o multime de cuvinte noi pentru nuante de care, de fapt, nu-i nevoie – un singur cuvint ajunge pe romaneste. Iar javra, cotarla, etc. macar sint de sine statatoare, si toate inseamna cam acelas lucru.

Dupa care mi-a cazut fisa, ca virgula ca copil, desi stiam doua limbi (romana si franceza) si invatam alte doua (ebraica si engleza) credeam ca toate limbile trebuie sa functioneze la fel. Mai mult sau mai putin ca la 5 ani, cind am aflat cum e broasca testoasa pe frantuzeste, dar spuneam "grenouille tortue".

«  ... idei despre fizica, arta, tragedii , misticism si filozofie profunda.

Ce sens are sa inveti fizica, mecanica analitica, elecromagnetism si relativitate (le-am facut pe toate, cu note bune – nu ma laud , e chiar adevarat ) ca dupa aia sa apara o varza calita in lupte sa-ti explice despre energiile rele din univerz, si mai ales cum le absoarbe pisica?
Sigur ca-mi place sa doarma motanul linga mine, poate cel mai mult cind sint trist si pleostit, dar...

Ca eu stiu de la Landau ce e energia: ceea ce se conserva daca Lagrangianul nu depinde de timp.

Ca sa nu mentionez momentul (din mecanica):

Last week’s actions demonstrate a significant increase in momentum for the protesters since last November’s day of action in New York City and subsequent strikes in other cities.
... cause the wheels of justice to finally begin moving, increasing momentum until the fraudulent election results are overturned.
  —  De altfel, ăla e moment cinetic (angular momentum) , fiind vorba de roti.
Increasing Momentum and Dramatic Growth in ESG Investment Across Asset Classes Among Asset Managers; New Index Industry Association Global Survey
Increasing Momentum for Student Success: Developmental Education Redesign and Student Progress in Florida

Din pacate, la fizica, nu mai pot sa scriu ( sa zicem ) ecuatiile lui Maxwell, si nu sint nici macar sigur cum il cheama.

Cit despre chimie, tare imi place cind dau de "organic broccoli". Tare as vrea sa vad "inorganic broccoli". Iei niste carbon, hidrogen, oxigen, azot si alte citeva elemente, si faci din ele toate chimicalele din toate celulele zarzavatului, si le pui impreuna, pina chiar iese un buchetel de brocoli. Cine e in stare de asa ceva, e nu numai premiu Nobel galactic, ci chiar Dumnezeu in persoana.

Toate cuvintele de specialitate nu sint flori de stil, cu atit mai putin zorzoane la reclame. Sint cit de precise se poate, si ar tebui folosite numai in sensul tehnic strict. Cine face altfel, n-are habar de stiinta — ori e poet.

«  Suiak bano gaizkiago erra diro gizona
    itxasoak ez iraungi eratxeki dadina
«  Cioclopedia mea, Britannica 1966

Asta din Encyclopedia Britannica, care mi-a luat-o Jack cadou de nunta – multumesc din suflet! Am tot citit-o (cit nu era Internet) si m-am bucurat de ea ani de zile, atit in Israel cit si in America. Acum mucegaieste undeva in pivnita, impachetata cind a ars casa si inca nu despachetata – poate cind o iesi Liliana la pensie.

In cioclopedie am citit despre limba basca, si cele doua versuri erau date ca exemplu. Faptul ca le mai tin minte e un terminus post quem la fosta mea memorie. M-am apucat sa caut "etchasoak" pe net, si uite ce-am gasit:

Dar am gasit si poema complecta, pe care nu ma pot abtine sa n-o adaug:

Amoria ezin zenzuz ezin daite goberna,
anhitzetan honesten du guti behar duiena ;
arnoak bano gaizkiago ordi diro persona ;
sarri estaka, berant laxa, hark hatzeman dezana.
Amoria itsu da eta eztazagu zuzena
eztu uste berzerik dela, lekotmaite duiena ;
Suiak bano gaizkiago erra diro gizona ;
itxasoak ez iraungi eratxeki dadina.

cu profunde observatii:

Cine-i curios (tare as vrea sa-l intilnesc) poate gasi mai mult. Si, in fine ne intoarcem la nunta: poezia se cheama Ezkonduien Koplak ("Poema celor casatoriti", "koplak" e versia lor pentru "cupluri")

«  Life achievements
«  Succes in viata


Poveste tare lunga, incepe la opt ani si se termina pe la 26, cind vizitam o cunostiinta a nevestii din Italia, care statea la Ierusalim. Tot din generatia parintilor, educata erudita dar si boema cu copil din flori – single parent avant la lettre. Care copil, si el psiholog pedagog perindat pe la Piaget, ii trimite o poza cu o rasa ciudata de vaci – cu copita in forma de corn, incovoiata si ridicata-n sus, de parca poarta vaca conduri . La care eu, cu istetimea care ma caracterizeaza, sar: "Nu e nici o rasa, e infectie cu seleniu!" Fiindca in vacanta dupa clasa a doua atit am batut parintii la cap, ca au dat opt lei pe "Geochimia atractiva" de vreun autor sovietic, pe care am citit-o din scoarta-n scoarta aflind tot felul de povesti despre iterbiu, itriu, erbiu, terbiu, si descoperind si poza cu vacile incondurate. Ceeace nici n-am uitat – si la 26 de ani mai aveam memorie. Madam din Ierusalim – nu mai stiu cum o chema – scoate pe loc cioclopedia ( ce admirabil! ) sa ma controleze, si chiar gaseste o referinta.
Asa o reusita n-am mai avut.

Succese la 70 de ani.
Cu introducere: prin Octombrie am fost in croaziera cu prieteni. Drept care toata lumea mi-a organizat existenta, drept care m-am intors cu depresie clinica. Dar pare-se ca-mi trece, ca intr-o dupamasa am simtit mare nevoie sa gatesc pasta puttanesca, ba chiar si antipasto. Iar cind am pus anchois cu ulei cu tot din conserva in ulcica, si chiar s-au dizolvat la gatit, am intrat in mare euforie. Citisem de multe ori prin retete ca asa se-ntimpla, dar chiar sa vad cu ochii!
In loc de stiri bune.

«  ... il me prend une grande envie de considérer avec indulgence la rêverie scientifique si malséante en fin de compte, à tous égards.

Dupa care pasajul:

Les sans-fil? Bien. La syphilis? Si vous voulez. La photographie? Je n’y vois pas d’inconvénient. Le cinéma? Bravo pour les salles obscures. La guerre? Nous riions bien. Le téléphone? Allô, oui. La jeunesse? Charmants cheveux blancs. Essayez de me faire dire merci : « Merci. » Merci…
Cred ca asta e proza suprarealista, din care e putin in Manifest, in afara citatelor literare. Amestecul la intimplare:
Les sans-fil
La syphilis  — cit traiesti inveti, n-as fi ghicit ca-i feminin
La photographie 
Le cinéma 
La guerre
Le téléphone 
La jeunesse
unele create de stiinta, unele combatute de stiinta, unele fara nici o legatura cu stiinta ...
Cum spune si Orwell despre Swift
At the end of the book, as typical specimens of human folly and viciousness, Swift names ‘a Lawyer, a Pickpocket, a Colonel, a Fool, a Lord, a Gamester, a Politician, a Whore-master, a Physician, an Evidence, a Suborner, an Attorney, a Traitor, or the like’. One sees here the irresponsible violence of the powerless. The list lumps together those who break the conventional code, and those who keep it. For instance, if you automatically condemn a colonel, as such, on what grounds do you condemn a traitor? Or again, if you want to suppress pickpockets, you must have laws, which means that you must have lawyers. But the whole closing passage, in which the hatred is so authentic, and the reason given for it so inadequate, is somehow unconvincing. One has the feeling that personal animosity is at work.


Ziua buna se cunoaste de dimineata

M-am sculat la cinci, si pe la sase, cind am vazut ca nu mai adorm, mi-am blestemat zilele, mi-am facut injectia si am asteptat jumate ora (citind) sa pot sa maninc.

Vreau: sa stau jos si sa beau cacao cu toast si iaurt. Deci pun ibricul la fiert, si tortilla in cuptor si scot o ceasca din masina de spalat, la care se varsa ceva apa pe jos. Dupa care...

Ma-ntorc sa pun cacao in ibric, lunec pe apa aia, cad peste masina de spalat deschisa, ma pocnesc bine la cap (primul gind: acum fac comotie cerebrala si ies la pensie). Doare capul, stau nitel pina imi revin, vad toata bucataria plina de cacao si diferite bucatele din masina de spalat cazute pe jos. Totusi se inchide, o s-o repare proprietarul, om mai vedea...

Ma apuc sa sterg cacao, nu functioneaza, aduc vacuum. Intre timp tortilla a luat foc in cuptor. O arunc la chiveta, ia foc cirpa de vase. Pina le ud si le sting, incepe sa urle smoke detector. In aceasta armonie, trag cu vacuum, se curata cit de cit... Cind sa-l scot din priza, snurul iar trage jos cutia de cacao, iar se umple bucataria, iar vacuum. Dar macar s-a calmat detectorul. In fine, reusesc sa-mi fac cacao si a doua tortilla. Ba chiar am restaurat si bucatelele in masina de spalat, poate la locul lor, si Dumnezeu cu mila. Jos n-am prea stat, dar am terminat sa maninc. Ma duc la baie sa ma pieptan - ce sa vezi, cum dau cu peria, un nor de cacao. Mai trebuie sa fac si duş, si sa spal peria.

Curatel si spalatel ajung la lucru - zece minute pe jos. Sculat la cinci, incep la opt.

      Grava ca o rugaciune
      Si posomorita ca o
      Figurina de carbune
      Cu nuante de cacao;

Intre timp ne-am mutat (acum aven TREI case neplatite in California), mi-am facut 2 operatii pe inima care n-au iesit, am ajuns pe Coumadin... Ceeace mi-a daunat oarecum la creativitate

                          stolen from New Yorker cartoons, 1963 or so

Dar macar mai scormonesc prin pozele din New Yorker – slava Domnului, nu se termina desi se repeta – la care deodata mi-a venit inspiratia:

Worms e un oras istoric in familie, ca sa nu mai spun la Nibelungi. Si Nomi si Mike s-au nascut la Tel Aviv, Rehov Vormaiza (wikipedia zice Wermayza, si probabil are dreptate, ca vocalele oricum nu se scriu in ebraica, si e pe ghicite) Noroc ca nu-i Rehov Borbetomagus, desi poate de asta se chema Mike Borbolici.
Worms' name is of Celtic origin: Borbetomagus meant "settlement in a watery area". This was eventually transformed into the Latin name Vormatia that had been in use since the 6th century, which was preserved in the Medieval Hebrew form Vermayza וורמיזה. Many fanciful variant names for Worms exist only upon the title pages of books printed when Worms was an early centre of printing: for instance William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was printed at Worms in 1526.
Si mai ales, ce comod e sa compun desenul din imagini virtuoase virtuale de pe Internet. Asa comod, ca mi-am mai facut unul:

«  ... sint in plina degenerare.

Ce fac? Nu pot sa dorm, ca nenorocitii construiesc: sfarma piatra, naruie ziduri, sfredelesc gauri in beton si-n creier. Mintea, de altfel, nu merge chiar daca nu sfarma piatra sau naruie ziduri. La programat – mai ales cu Javra n-am rabdare, si nici pe Internet nu gasesc nimic. Asa ca tot ce sint in stare e sa gidil la limba mea, si sa compun cuvinte din altele, mai simple. Unul cite unul, mii de cuvinte, trece timpul si IQ scade.

Consider what I do. I cannot sleep, because they are remodelling our building: pickaxes, jackhammers, power-drills, etc. I cannot think, not only because of pickaxes, jackhammers, power-drills, etc. Of course I cannot program, I get fedup with Wikipedia browsing, so I tinker at my language.

I have a long list of words that I try to replace with periphrases and compounds. "Girlfriend" is "friend+female", but "friend+female" might also be"friend of a woman". Then "westernizing" could be "causative+alike+person#west", and "strikebound" "strike+causative+no#work" but I must remember that "strike" is actually "word_stoppage", not "hit", and then "word stoppage" could be probably periphrased, and so on and so forth. Can you immagine anything dumber?

But of course: I can watch Spongebob and even enjoy it while the grandchildren busy themselves around the house – till I must intervene for the sake of bodily and material integrity.

«  ... tot felul de elucubratii

Stenografia Stahl: Oaia aia e a ei.

Roman in trei volume:

DL DL – DL si DL – DL DL (hellhounds)

La al doilea deal de Efim Trofimovici locuia Agafia Filofeevna, si, dupa ce s-au intilnit la pîrîul dintre dealuri, se iubeau cu pasiune. Dar, din gelozie, locotenentul de husari Timofei Pafnutevici Haritonov l-a provocat pe Efim la duel si l-a impuscat. Dupa un lung doliu, Agafia se razbuna pe intreaga familie Haritonov.

Alt roman, cu gladiatori:

Nu poti deosebi intre:

PST si PST (dar amindoua de PST)
NR si NR

Liberalism american:


Studii avansate:



NC o NC, NC? NCul meu NC, NCul, se NC cu NC.

Nu poti deosebi:


Philosophie dans le boudoir:



Tot cu dieta?

SPTS si-l SPTS sa SPTS ...

Conformism – oda de adio

D D, D D D.

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In alta ordine de idei, azi e 2 Noiembrie, ziua lui taticu . Totdeauna imi explica ca s-a nascut de sfintii Cosma si Damian din Asia, anargyroi (sfintii doctori fara plata). Ceeace i s-a potrivit perfect. Dar Wikipedia zice ca sfintii sint sarbatoriti de intii Noiembrie! sau am uitat deja ziua lui taticu? In orice caz destul de aproape ca sa functioneze atit partea cu Asia , cit si cu plata – bani n-a facut niciodata.

      Ca saraca Zoe cind l-a cunoscut
      Era fara slujba si dator vindut!

Adica mamere povestea ce plin de datorii era cind s-au casatorit, ceeace ea, ca si mine, n-a putut suporta. Fara slujba n-au fost niciodata, nici el nici ea, si nici chiar eu, desi la asta visez din scutec:

      Da! cistigul fara munca! Iata singura pornire...

Mamere era mai priceputa la bani, si in Israel a cistigat mai mult ca taticu, ca dentista. A facut si tot felul de economii si conturi, cred ca mai bine ca oricine din familie. Drept care ce face bunul Dumnezeu? O binecuvinteaza cu Alzheimer, ca sa-si incurce conturile, s-o fure cine poate, si sa-si piarda din bani inainte de-a intrat la azil si cica eu faceam finantele.


De pe vremea cind mergeam cu trenul... Cum asteptam in gara, apare o cocoana, si incepe sa se machieze. Vine trenul, intram, continua sa se machieze. O statie, se machiaza, a doua, tot asa, pina s-a dat jos – greu de crezut, chiar era o diferenta!


In ultimul timp ma opresc sa beau cafea la "Starbuck", imediat inainte de lucru. Asta se aranjeaza cu jumate-ora care trebuie sa astept dupa injectie pina maninc, si imi da si un obiectiv placut cind in fine se termina condusul – spre deosebire de ajunsul la birou. Cu care ocazie am remarcat de citeva ori un june prim, care se instaleaza la masa cu cafeaua, scoate o foaie cu patraţele si-si face lectia: copiaza caractere chinezesti pina umple patraţelele. Si eu pocnesc de invidie.


In tren m-am instalat linga alt june prim, gutunarit, cu belciug in nas si cercel de jad. Dar macar avea un caiet mare, in care tot scria notite, si un manual pe banca din fata.
Fara ochelari n-aveam nici o idee ce studia, si l-am declarat avocaţă. Dar mi s-a parut ca vad cuvintul "consommé", n-am mai rezistat si mi-am pus ochelarii, desi nu erau de distanta – ce sa vezi, chiar un manual de bucatarie, cu "clear soups" si "thick soups" si "simmer" si "rolling boil" si... Pe loc l-am stimat, adica invidiat.

«  Ho Chi Minh drank ... alcohol with pickled poisonous snakes

Mincarea in Vietnam a fost foarte buna oriunde am fost; mai ales salate si supe, dupa care nu ma omor de loc, dar mi s-au parut exceptionale. Chiar intr-o gaura de sarpe pe Mekong, absolut nicaieri si fara aer conditionat, ca li se oprise electricitatea, tot ce-au pus pe masa era grozav, mai reusit decit ma asteptam, n-as putea spune cum (deobicei spun ceva, ca doar si eu gatesc.) In plus mai aveau si niste pisoi, scapati din oala si foarte dragalasi.

Exista si animale "de companie" dar toate arata mici si slabe, ca altfel ajungeau tocana. Sa nu mai spun de serpi conservati in alcool (pentru virilitate, am gustat si eu, spirtul e tare si alt gust nu e)

precum si alte lighioane lichior: scorpioni, zice-se si pisici salbatice, maimute, mai stiu eu. Astea se ineaca in spirt de vii, ca tot "elanul vital" sa se pastreze. La un alt restaurant, ne pregateam singuri frigarui pe un aragaz in centrul mesei (perfect pentru 40 de grade si 99% umiditate, desi era deja noapte) si ne-au adus niste crevete infipte pe băţ, care inca zvicneau. Tota lumea buna şocata; eu le-as fi pus pe jar, dar n-am indraznit. Noroc c-a venit vietnameza si le-a fript. Am facut si scoala de bucatarie; mie mi-a iesit sa prajesc spring rolls, tot pe 40 de grade si 99% umiditate. Dar scoase direct din tigaie au cu totul alt gust!


Inainte de excursie am studiat cu asiduitate prin Wikipedia toate mincarile locale, desi uitam cum le cheama in citeva minute, si, cu optimismul care ma caracterizeaza, imi ziceam ca oricum nu ajung la ele. Dar am avut mai mult succes decit ma asteptam.

La Lima am fost la un bufet, unde am incercat Papas a la Huancaina, Causa Limena, Papas rellenas, Ocopa – tot felul de cartofi, puree sau bucatele cu sos. Cartoful e, desigur, inventia lor, exista cartofi albi, galbeni si albastri, zeci de varietati indigene, ba chiar au si centrul international de cartofi la Lima.
A doua specialitate nationala e Ceviche: pesti sau alte animale de mare crude in sos de lamiie, care le coace oarecum. Asta e mult mai reusit decit pare, mai ales o combinatie de caracatita cu sfecla, cu o atractiva culoare violenta si gust tare bun.
A treia specialitate sint cobaii, pe limba lor cuy (pe cui se scoate), dar pe astia i-am pierdut. In schimb am vazut la catedrala "Cina cea de Taina" de un pictor local, si pe masa, bineinteles, cobaiul fript. Ca sa nu mai spun cît de cuşăr.

Iar la Rio am vizitat un restaurant tipic – Churrascaria – unde, pe linga toate carnurile fripte aveau si o multime de salate, printre care si vinete ca la mama acasa, si mi-am tot luat. Totusi specialitatea braziliana cea mai speciala se prepara la vama:

curried currency

Pe asta, zau ca n-am retusat-o.

From :
«  L’intraitable manie qui consiste à ramener l’inconnu au connu, au classable, berce les cerveaux.

Eu as fi zis : ramener l’inconnu au connu, au classable, c'est ce que fait le cerveau.

Cit inteleg eu, actiunea creierului se compune din mesaje de la neuron la neuron, iar daca un mesaj a folosit un anume traseu, acest traseu capata o probabilitate mai mare sa fie din nou folosit. Cel putin asa functioneaza retelele electronice simulate pe calculatoare. Desi sint ridicol de mici in comparatie cu creierul, programele astea pot sa invete, de exemplu, dupa multe incercari si esecuri incep sa identifice fete omenesti fara greseala. Deci ghicim ca si creierul face cam la fel, conecteaza trasee vechi, care au probabilitate mai mare, cu alte branse ( ramener l’inconnu au connu ) si clasifica.

Daca fiecare senzatie noua — "fapt" — ar fi surprinzatoare, fara nici o legatura cu nimic altceva ( tout reste inconnu ) poate ca unii s-ar distra, dar mie nu mi-ar place. Desi, ca oricare, sint unic, ba ma si cred nemaipomenit, nu cred ca sint singurul cu aceasta opinie.

«  imi zic ca e arta

De exemplu:


Dar genul asta de fotografie – mai adaugi, mai stergi pe ici pe colo, si anume in punctele esentiale – imi aduce aminte, evident, de "Amintiri din casa mortilor" de Dostoevski. Adica ce scrie el despre puscariasi tare nu se potriveste cu ce-mi povesteste nevasta. Nimeni nu se-njunghie. Si, daca mai stii cite ceva pe linga ce nu-i scris (poti citi printre rinduri? nu eu) e clar ca de cenzura nu se mentioneaza nici sexul, nici faptul ca nu erau acolo fiindca-si omorisera nevasta, ci fiindca incerasera sa omoare ţarul. Asa ca desi e o piesa de literatura care mi-a mers la suflet, valoarea documentara...

Apropos de inchisori ţariste, am dat de o poveste tare lunga de Kropotkin, dar n-am avut rabdare s-o citesc. El, bineinteles avea experienta in materie, fusese ofiter si explorator in Siberia, pe linga atitea altele. Biografia i-am citit-o pina la jumatate, ba, cind am ajuns la St Petersburg, m-am si uitat indelung la fortareata Petropavlovskaia, din care a evadat... Cit stiu eu, Kropotkin era un fel de ingeras cu barba; Bakunin in schimb era antisemit.

«  I dream of our house in Bucharest almost every night.

Dupa aproape 50 de ani, am ajuns in fine la Bucuresti in Aprilie 2010. Cu care ocazie am trecut si pe la casa, dar era o zi ploioasa si n-am putut sa ma invirtesc destul. In orice caz, bine darapanata: usa in fata lipsea, in schimb un dulau latra sub scari. La care a aparut o tiganca la balcon:

–Ce cauti aici?
–Aici m-am nascut.
–Esti proprietar?...
–Nu sint.

Toata lumea mi-a spus ca fi trebuit sa-i spun "Da", dar nu mi-a trecut asa ceva prin cap. Casa mi s-a parut mica si neinteresanta, desi toate cladirile vechi din centru, pe care nici nu le observam ca virgula copil, acum imi ziceam ca sint elegante, istorice si Pariziene. Mai tirziu am descoperit casa pe "Yahoo Earth" si imaginea, de deasupra si de departe, seamana mult mai mult cu amintirile, o casa placuta si prezentabila.

Cu trancavai cu tot, exact cum stiam din copilarie. Casa e in fund la colt, cu firma verde de la farmacie, balcoane si fereastra rotunda din pod.
Aici in schimb se vad bine zidurile cojite si ferestrele cu scinduri. In fata, la stinga e "platoul", intorcindu-se la natura; era pe vremuri acoperit cu asfalt, si uneori se aduna lumea Duminica seara la hora, pe care o admiram de la balcon. Cel mai interesant erau betivii, care se luau la bataie cu aceste fericite ocazii.

«  Worms e un oras istoric in familie... Si Nomi si Mike s-au nascut pe Rehov Vormaiza...

Chiar am ajuns la Worms in trecutul indepartat cind stateam in Germania. M-am dus direct la catedrala, fiind mare monument in stil romanic (in engleza, "romanesque", dar, evident, nu "romanesc" pe romaneste). O revelatie! eu eram convins ca stilul romanic e urit, mai ales fiindca nu-i gotic, exact ceeace se cheama "square" po amerikanski. Surpriza! Catedrala din Worms e tare frumoasa, din piatra locala rosiatica, si elegant ornamentata.

Dupa care, iesind pe strada, vad indicatii de "Judenbad" si tare am vrut sa aflu ce-i aia. O mikve (unica si singura la care am fost vreodata) Dar fiind dinainte de 1200, perfect rituala, cu apa curgatoare undeva sub Rin, la Alberich acasa.

Apropos, daca-mi trebuie Rinul sa ma duc la mikve, unica sinagoga la care m-am dus nesilit a fost "Sinagoga Santa Maria la Blanca" din Toledo, o constructie eleganta in stil arab, facuta biserica pe la 1400.

Tot la Worms m-am dus si la muzeul Rashi (bineinteles Vineri dupamasa, ca atunci aveam liber) si l-am gasit inchis de Sf Şobăs.

Un coş foarte mare, plin de visuri urite, cum injura man bobă "A schwarze hulăm!"

In ultimul timp, adica de vreo doi ani sau mai mult, am o multime de cosmare, ceace nu se mai potriveste cu ideea mea ca dormitul e de fapt o distractie, garantat mai placuta decit filmele si, desigur, televiziunea. La un moment dat mi-am si facut tratament medicamentos – nevasta a descoperit un drog care se da contra cosmarelor, desi e de fapt pentru tensiune – dar n-a ajutat. Eu imi zic ca e o simpla reactie cind mi-e prea cald – cind transpir cit o balta, uneori inainte, se strica visul, e semn sa ma trezesc. Asta de cind nu mai vrea nevasta sa las aerul conditionat si noaptea, fiindca costa parale, si sustine ca i-e frig.

Pare-se ca toate visele sint de fapt acelas: incerc ceva, nu iese, incerc din nou ... ad nauseam. De obicei caut si nu gasesc, sau ma pierd si nu pot sa ma intorc, sau am probleme cu imbracatul: am ceva prea gros pe mine si nu pot sa-l scot, sau sint in curul gol, dar nu nimeresc chilotii. Si cea mai afurista e senzatia ca inca putin si e gata, dar nu acuma... tipic pentru dereticat, care niciodata nu se termina.

La care am nimerit pe DEX :

NĂPLĂÍ, năplăiesc, vb. IV. Refl. (Regional) 1. A se sufoca din cauza căldurii prea mari; a se înăbuși.
La umbră de păr uscat
Cînd mă bag să mă umbresc,
Tot mai rău mă năplăiesc.        ȘEZ. XII 85.
2. A se chinui în somn, a avea coșmaruri.

From :
«  son salut

Adicque :

Viata de toate zilele nu-i place lui Moş Andrei ( avea 27 de ani cind a scris manifestul ) . Nici mie. El se refugiaza in copilarie.

N-o sa scoti de la mine nimic pozitiv despre copii. Nu c-ar fi rai sau timpiti — desi nu lipsesc nici astia — doar ca, nu din vina lor, sint neajutorati, nesocializati, egocentrici si cu o energie nesfirsita sa bîrîie.

Si, mai ales, am fost copil, si n-am observat niciuna din minunile de care vorbeste toata lumea : imaginatie, creativitate, bucurie de viata. Un copil normal dă, desigur, semne de progres, uneori sclipiri, si parintii pretuiesc asta — li se pare o rasplata pentru toata munca si bataia de cap care o au de la copii. Dar care din descoperirile unui copil are vreo importanta pentru altcineva? Asa ca virgula creativitatea copiilor e o bălţare infinita.

Dar ramine imaginatia copiilor, sau imaginatia in general, sau visarea.

Parmi tant de disgrâces dont nous héritons, il faut bien reconnaître que la plus grande liberté d’esprit nous est laissée.
ceeace se poate verifica usor cind te doare o masea.

Dupa care Breton acorda o validitate egala starii de trezie sau visare — de ce ar fi una mai reala ca cealalta? — si iaca suprarealismul.

«  cuvintul răzleţ – nu ca nu l-as cunoaste, dar viata e prea prozaica sa ajungi sa spui asa ceva

Pe de alta parte, tot scormonind in Cioranescu DER, m-am convins ca sint multe cuvinte de care chiar n-am habar, si nici o sansa sa aflu despre ele, decit invatind dictionarul pe dinafara. Un exemplu la intimplare: e ora 3:25, asa ca am deschis la pagina (aleatorie) 325:

1. ferdideu
Băţ pentru batut laptele
2. fereastra
3. fereca
4. feredeu
1. Baie 2. Înfrîngere
5. feregea
Manta orientala de tesatura fina (eu credeam ca e vălul pe fata femeilor musulmane)
6. ferentar
Soldat din corpul auxiliar Lat. ferentarius
Origine latineasca! Eu il stiam ca virgula cartierul cu ţigani.
7. ferfeli
8. feri
9. ferice
10. ferie
1. Masura de capacitate 2. Taxa pentru definitivarea unei sentinte judecatoresti.
Deci, din zece, am dat chix la cinci...

Ori un alt exemplu, sinonimele la "proptea" (DEX online)

PROPTEÁ s. pop, reazem, sprijin, susținere, (rar) sprijinitoare, (pop.) poprea, (reg.) pripoană, proptă, propteală, proptiș, șpraiț, (prin Munt. și Olt.) papainog, (Transilv.) șoș, (înv.) rezemătură, sprijineală, sprijoană (pentru gard).

poprea, proptă, șpraiț, papainog, șoș, sprijoană !!

«  Grand-grandma

Pe linga mama-mare si tata-mare, mai statea cu noi si mama bunicii. O tin minte tare incovoiata, tare firava, tare batrina. Dar in poze nu e asa firava – rotofeie ca mine, sau mamica, sau bunica.

another 3 generations    Trei generatii: babica, bunica si mamica.

Era singura care tinea cuşer, si isi gatea tot felul de mincari, deobicei fara carne, daca nu era de la haham. Facea niste sarmale cu hrusti de malai, grozave (am incercat si eu, dar lipseste entuziasmul).

Pe vremea aceea, parintii mai aveau cabinet particular – adica doua camere la noi acasa, si pacientii asteptau pe sala. Pentru ei era un cuier de fier forjat, destul de mare – si eu destul de mic – ca sa ma catar pe el, ca intr-un pom. In virful cuierului atirnam ulcica de lapte a lui Băbica – si ma duceam sa-i cint:

      Ţi-am luat milăhichiul!
      Ţi-am luat milăhichiul!

Ea, saraca, era prea marunta sa-si ia ulcica jos.

Nu vroia sa stea cu bunicii in camera, si dormea intr-un pat in bucatarie. Drept care intr-o noapte de iarna a racit si a murit.

Mai tirziu mi-a povestit mamere cum Băbica i se plingea: "A kind mis folgn zane mame!" "Un copil trebuie sa asculte de mama!", copilul neascultator fiind bunica-mea.

«  Dar...

Cind te intilnesti cu geniul, tare iti trece pofta de viata. Cind iti dai seama ce rahat este, si ce rahat o sa ramina viata ta, fata de realizarile magistrale care stau acolo ca muntii, pe loc te-ntrebi ce rost mai are sa te scoli miine. Si de fapt raspunsul e imediat: poate mai dau de o realizare magistrala, chiar daca nu-i a mea. Dar poti sa crezi in sansa asta?

Fiindca tot ce-i bun se termina, tot ce-i rau abia incepe.

Poate ca nu-i nici macar nevoie sa descoperi ceva nou, poti sa te intorci de mai multe ori la aceeasi splendoare; intr-o creatie geniala sint destule detalii si aspecte de care sa te bucuri, din nou de fiecare data. Numai ca sentimentul se toceste — poti sa te intorci, dar garantat te bucuri mai putin.

Cu aceste profunde cugetari mi-am pierdut doua ore noapte asta, ca bausem prea multa cafea si nu mai adormeam la loc. Poincare — vezi "Science et Methode : L'invention Mathematique" — daca bea prea multa cafea, inventa functiile Fuchsiene, dar eu ... Numai senzatia imbecila ca misca creierul — roţi dinţaţi in loc de aluat.

«  ... la o plimbare m-a pocnit o masina
«  Nimeni nu zice "Pacat!" sau macar " Ce interesant !".

In afara de domnul psiholog, dar ii platesc pentru asta. Pe de alta parte mi-a spus si ceva care nu cumparasem: ce destept sint ( IQ 142 , pe vremea ceea. Ghicesc ca a scazut vizibil, dar nu mai dau $2000 sa aflu).

La psiholog am ajuns acum cinci ani, dupa ce m-a lovit o masina, cind treceam drumul cuminte pe jos pe verde si pe pasaj – dupa cum au marturisit oficial Vanessa si Samantha . Mi-a rupt umarul si mi-a spart capul, ceeace – încercam sa dovedim judicial – mi-a stricat la control, memorie si bunastare. Dupa vre-o doi ani de psiholog si avocat, m-am ales cu $200000, din care n-am vazut un sfanţ – totul s-a dus pe datorii facute in cinstea viitorului cistig la proces. Ba am si intrat in depresie cind am observat ca nu ies la pensie – ca sa nu mai spun de istericalele nevestii ca inca nu vin banii, dar de plata, slava Domnului, avocat, psiholog, teste, hîrţogărie!

Macar toate gugumăniile care le spun si tîmpeniile care le fac nu sint din prostie... In orice caz, cred ca-i destul de adevarat ca m-a pocnit la intelect – cam asta e timpul cind m-am lasat de muzica si de programat. Ceva mai tirziu m-am lasat de citit. De pierderea memoriei ma pling cel putin de 20 de ani. Cit de depresie – la 5 ani am inceput sa ma sinucid ...

Cum sa fii eu.

Cobora pe Topolog
Dintre munti, la vale…
Si la umbra unui stog
A cazut din cale.
In ce vara? In ce an?
Anii trec ca apa…
      Topârceanu - Balada mortii
Pentru mine, Topolog e cineva care se ocupa cu topologia, si topologia e ceeace mi-as fi dorit sa fie specialitatea mea. Desi, de fapt, am inteles numai elementele foarte bazice, si cind am dat de topologie algebrica, sau topologie combinatorica, sau varietati topologice, sau secvente exacte, sau mai stiu eu ce, pe loc mi-am pierdut busola. Nu-i vorba ca intre timp s-a dus memoria, nu reuseam sa tin minte o definitie de la o pagina la alta. Dar cit eram la inceput, mi se parea ca pot sa rezolv orice problema, si tare mi-a placut.

Dupa care, versul:

In ce vara? In ce an?

ma trimite la limba rusa ( cintind ) : "an" e год, dar genitivul plural e лет, care de fapt e genitivul plural al cuvintului лето, vara.

Toate conectiile astea automat si imediat. Tot asa si obiceiul, de la stenografie, sa inlocuiesc vocalele, pina iese ce-mi convine.

«  ...vietnamezi ... la masa, la afaceri, la rugaciune...

Vietnamezii sint foarte religiosi: pe toate drumurile si mai ales pe trotoare in plina forfota, vezi cite unul supraveghiind cu grija cite-o cutie de conserve din care iese fum. Nu prajesc nimic, ard doar bani falsi pentru spirite si stramosi. Bani adevarati nu-i voie de ars, ca au portretul lui Ho Chi Minh; divinitatile trebuie sa se multumeasca cu Franklin (100 de dolari americani) si Mao. Banii vietnamezi sint tocmai buni de ars: 20000 la un dolar, mare problema cind trebuie dat bacsis. Pe linga mirosul de hirtie arsa, peste tot sint si betisoare de tamiie, iar in temple tot felul de instalatii care ard citeva ore sau zile, in the odour of sanctity Cit despre hanging by their heels, liliecii sint considerati un semn de noroc, si apar ca ornamente prin temple si palate, si in Vietnam si in China. Chinezii in schimb nu se omoara cu religia, in orice caz nu in public: cit am umblat n-am prea gasit betisoare de tamiie, etc.

«  Poor Nomi...

Saraca Nomi! orice-ar face, tot ramine agresoarea, care mi-a stricat ireparabil viata. Responsabilitatea e-a nevestii, dar Nomi m-a simtit din prima clipa, desi am fost politicos, sau mi se pare ca am fost politicos. Nici ea nu s-a scremut foarte tare sa-mi schimbe parerile; de multe ori am avut aceasta conversatie:

—Nu ma iubesti!
—Si ce-ai facut in ultimul timp, sa te iubesc...

Cit despre politete, nici ea nici Liliana n-au nici o idee ce-ar putea sa fie.

Pentru Mikey, in schimb, n-am avut aceste duioase sentimente: cind s-a nascut, raul era de mult facut. Apropos, intr-o zi exasperata de cei trei plozi, Nomi mi-a declarat:

—Tot tu esti de vina, mereu spuneai ca mai multi copii nu sint mai greu de suportat ca primul.

Nu ca as fi avut vreodata impresia ca sint bun de parinte. Si taca trebuia sa treci examene sa te lase sa-ti faci copii, aveam eu grija sa cad. Dar, ca tot prostul, mi-am zis ca mie o sa-mi iasa, ca necazurile n-o sa ma nimereasca tocmai pe mine. Si trebuia sa incerc, ca plozii chiar erau nevinovati (nu si adolescentii) Mai ales ca oricit ii trimiti in ma-sa, nu mai intra, ci stau pe-afara sa faca bucurii...


... am aflat de la Landau ce e energia: ceea ce se conserva daca Lagrangianul nu depinde de timp.

Vezi si Wikipedia. Iar cine stie matematica si are multa rabdare la filozofie, poate sa citeasca inceputul manualului de mecanica analitica. Acolo incearca sa puna baza mecanicii ca cum ar fi o disciplina axiomatica. Nu e, toata fizica e experimentala, dar ce bucurie pentru matematicieni! Cit de bine e sa-ti defineasca cineva energia — e ceea ce se conserva daca Lagrangianul nu depinde de timp — si cu asta, basta.

Legaturile esentiale cu realitatea bine ascunse sub cite un "it is found" ...

Pe de alta parte, cartea e "Landau and Lifshitz: Mechanics", poate astea sint ideile lui Lifshitz, dar preferinta demonstratiei asupra experientei se potriveste cu Landau ( nu ca i-as cunoaste ).

Iar pentru experienta autentica, cititi in ruseste, cum faceam eu la univesitate . Cartile erau ieftine ( fiindca rusii nu respectau copyright) si apareau multe traduceri, pe linga toti autorii sovietici, excelenti. Din care am ramas cu взаимодействие, ba chiar функции Лагранжа невзаимодействующих точек.


O buna mama a pregatit
O torta minunata
Cind dooj de-ani a implinit
Frumosul ei fecior, iubit
De ea si de o fata.

Dar fiul torta a halit,
Lasind tava curata
Ma-sa atuncea l-a pocnit
Si cu-n cucui l-a pricopsit
Dar a facut-o lata
Caci dinsul, miniat cumplit
O omori pe data.

Iubita lui, cind l-a gasit
Cu mama-asasinata
La el cam tare s-a rastit;
Fiul, pe loc, cu un cutit
I-a dat la beregata.

Tac-su, sa afle a venit
Ce-i harmalaia toata,
Insa, cind l-a vazut minjit
In singele de fata,
A dat in fiu – cu alt cutit.

Iar cind in fine s-au pornit
Cu tata-n judecata,
Alta poveste-a povestit:

Cum ca sotia i-a murit
Ucisa chiar de fata!
Iar intre tineri s-a stirnit
O lupta-ncrincenata;
Unul pe altul s-au pocnit,
Apoi, cu şişul ascutit
S-au omorit deodata.

El, fiind un mincinos vestit,
Scapa basma curata.
Nu ca as fi un ucigas singeros, asa sint baladele. Sau, mai curind, un comentariu la sintaxa rusa:

Versurile sint de cind aveam 12 ani, sau asa ceva. Pe vremea aceea eram incintat de poezeaua cu doua rime doua, desi chiar atunci mi-era clar ca astea sint cele mai banale terminatii in romana. N-o mai tin minte complect, am cîrpit-o usor.

«  Zau c-as scrie romînă, o ortografie pe viata ajunge!

Daca tin minte bine, ortografia s-a schimbat tocmai cind terminam eu abecedarul. Cu aceeasi fericita ocazie a dat iarna in Bucuresti, cu doi metri de zapada, incit s-au inchis scolile de tot. Asa ca dupa viscol, cind ne-am intors, pierdusem pe V.I. Lenin si I.V. Stalin – ultimele lectii din abecedar. Cit despre zapada, in drum spre scoala mai erau mormane destul de mari sa treaca lumea prin tunele sapate dedesubt. Putem povesti copiilor cum mergeam la scoala pe zapada, uphill both ways.

Ortografia din 54 mi s-a parut foarte rezonabila, afara de luni, marti, ianuarie, februarie etc. – daca astea nu-s nume proprii atunci care-s? Si, in mod foarte natural, ce se-ntimpla la sapte ani e relevant, ce se-ntimpla la 50 nu-i. Asa ca ignor noua ortografie, si as ignora toate â din a, mai cu seama in "Rominia", dar de ce sa-mi aprind paie-n cap? Sa zicem ca tin la ortografia lui Ceausescu.


Programele mele – de la care nu ma pot opri – exact asa arata: o multime de piese disparate (disperate?) lipite ici-colo cu izolirband si sustinindu-se cu proptele si bolovani sa indrepte podeaua. Si cind una se strica, alti pari s-o sustina... Ca sa nu mai vorbim de remodelat, in caz ca-mi vine o idee mai buna.

Tare mult ma intreb daca genul asta de programat e inevitabil, ori e inevitabil pentru mine, fiindca nu mai am memorie sa stiu azi ce-am scris ieri, sau e o alegere mai mult sau mai putin constienta (UNIX e facut din bucatele, care pot fi innadite cu "ţevi"), sau e pur si simplu o greseala – dupa ce am citit toate polologhiile despre "object oriented", "functional programming", etc... Dar in orice caz nu mai pot sa invat nimic nou. De asta m-am convins urmind un curs de programat fara variabile – uimitor, se poate, ba chiar am si inteles cum intr-o dupamasa, dar a doua zi uitasem deja complect despre ce e vorba, si m-am lasat. Asa ca daca vreau sa fac ceva, fac ce pot, cum stiu.

«  ... am ajuns in fine la Bucuresti in Aprilie 2010.

M-am dus sa-mi caut copilaria, si-am gasit-o, si mi-am pierdut complect cheful de memorialistica. N-am mai scris nimic la doctorpiece pina ne-am dus in Australia, si nimic despre Romania, sau excursia din Aprilie, cam un an (azi e 2 Aprilie 2011, nu-i pacaleala). Probabil ca realitatea strica tare la creatie.

Si pe de alta parte m-am convins ca cei care ar putea sa inteleaga ce scriu sau de ce scriu – din ce in ce mai putini – in nici un caz n-o sa ma citeasca.

In rest, o euforie complecta, chiar eram la paişpe ani si sanatos. La propriu: cum am ajuns la hotel mi-a trecut o gripa scirboasa, care tinuse cam o luna, si inca ma deranjase bine in avion. Plin de alacritate sa ma intilnesc cu toata lumea si sa vad totul, ba si cu multa energie sa circul pe jos, ca se vede mult mai bine ce-i de vazut. Am ajuns si in Transilvania, unde nu fusesem inainte decit o dupamasa cu mămica la Sibiu, in parc cu fazani aurii si argintii.

Cred ca ma mai intorc.

«  ... cum injura man bobă "A schwarze hulăm!"

Rhys, fiind plod minuscul, discuta in familie despre o scara – de ce tocmai? Taica-su l-a intrebat:

Ce culoare?
Neagra! (cu mult aplomb)
La care eu am sarit prin continuul cvadridimensional la Man Boba, care avea expresia: "a schwarze leiter", o scara neagra, ca pseudo-injuratura.

Taticu in schimb spunea "trazni-i-ar Dumnezeu de turci!", nu ca ar fi avut ceva cu ei. Cei care intr-adevar trebuiau trazniti, nu prea se puteau mentiona. Eu sint mare amator de turci, mai ales din cauza limbii, dar si din cauza revolutiei lui Atatürk. Sa faci din Otomani republica laica! De fapt, si Reza Sah Pahlevi a incercat anticlericalismul in Persia – de unde multe povesti cum femeile se simteau goale in public fara hijab – dar uite ce bine i-a reusit.

Alt turc admirabil e Mehmet II, cuceritorul Constantinopolului. Pe linga multe alte mari calitati, se tinea cu Radu cel Frumos, poate si cu frate-su, Vlad Tepes. Astia si-au inceput cariera ca ostateci la Istanbul, capatind educatie aleasa la Topkapi. Ba se tinea si cu Skanderbeg.

«  ... Mike at his current age ...
«  ... the big family drama...

Bucurii de la copii:

Gabi, baiatul lui Nomi s-a mutat in casa din Monterey, cu prietena lui. Amindoi au probleme, incit statul le da ceva pensie, ca nu pot lucra.

Drept care Mike s-a certat foarte tare cu toata lumea, inclusiv doi prieteni de-ai lui, si a fugit in Arizona, cu lucrul la ferma de acolo. Din cind in cind ma cheama, cind stie ca mama e la lucru, sa mai afle ce e cu noi. Zice ca e mai putin nervos fara familie, dar eu cred ca probabil s-a lasat de vreun calmant, de aia e asa pornit contra tuturor. In mare furie cu Nomi, care capata totul, si el nimic – asa i se pare. Sustine ca n-o sa-i ramina lui casa, ca i-o ia Gabi, si ca Nomi i l-a trimis sa aiba Mike grija de nepot, ceeace desigur refuza. Mai dorea si scuze oficiale – de la cine? intre timp i-a mai trecut.

Nevasta e tare suparata si spune ca nu simte nevoie sa mai vorbeasca cu el. Eu sint ala neutru, si fac diplomatie. Deocamdata asteptam ... cica sa-si scoata Mikey ce-a mai lasat, si inchiriem casa aia, din care sa-l ajutam si pe Gabi, si pe Mike, si... Fara sa mentionez ca nevasta scoate 2000$ pe luna ca asigurare, sa fie casa complect platita cind o mosteneste Mikey.

From :
«  Chère imagination, ce que j’aime surtout en toi ...

From :
«  Le seul mot de liberté est tout ce qui m’exalte encore.

From :
«  Ce n’est pas la crainte de la folie qui nous forcera à laisser en berne le drapeau de l’imagination.

From :
«  ... on ne saurait aller si loin, ... Les menaces s’accumulent, on cède, on abandonne

Mare pofta aveam sa-l critic pe Breton, ca si pe toti activistii, care-si inchipuie ca ideile lor sint ale tuturora : "noi" retoric. Ba chiar dau din coate ca ideile lor sa fie ale tuturora. In franceza e si mai si, fiindca "nous" e aproape intotdeauna inlocuit cu "on" , etimologic "homme", adica toata omenirea.

Si intr-adevar sint destule "on" dintr-astea in manifest, dar Breton foloseste la fel de multe "je" si "nous". Ba, fiind un stilist stralucit, utilizeaza si "il", "tu", "l'homme" etc., in acelasi sens general.

Iar eu, daca vreodata scriu un manifest ( ca de exemplu acest site ) am sa-l termin intotdeauna cu

Your mileage may vary.

«  daca trebuia sa treci examene sa te lase sa-ti faci copii, aveam eu grija sa cad

In caz ca examenul era bine construit, cadeam oricum. De paregzamplu

De unde deducem ca sint un monstru marin. Surpriza?

«  ... revistele romanesti din Israel ...

Le-am citit si eu, dar m-am convins repede ca n-am de ce, mult inainte de am stiut ebraica. (Nu ca as fi citit vreodata presa ebraica.)

Revistele erau cu actrite si printese, si cu frumusetile alialei romane... printre care a aparut si Eulalia Ciocîrlan. Dupa cum numele-i indica, o faptura miţologica, drept care mult timp i-am pastrat portretul in portofel, ca pina la urma tanti Ada sa-mi explice ca de fapt o cunoaste, si ar fi oarecum usure...

Cit despre ziare, cred ca aveau ceva Freudian – nici cel mai simplu cuvint ebraic nu aparea vreodata fara greseala. Si totusi, am gasit odata o perla nepretuita, o poveste din Crimeea Sovietica cu titlul "Şase tătari protestatari arestaţi" sau asa ceva. N-am pastrat pagina, dar nici nu pot sa uit: Şase tătari protestatari.

«  La stiri si mai proaste: "A cazut Salonicul "

Asta de pe timpul razboiului, cind ascultau la radio – cu ajutorul lui Dumnezeu, stiri proaste cite vrei. Cind au ocupat nemtii Salonicul, mamere si nene Jean – alarmistii din grup – erau disperati, dar tanti Pepi si taticu, nu. Si nu fiindca aveau vreun motiv sa se simta in siguranta, da-i mult mai sanatos. Chiar e? Nu in sensul literal: mamere a trait mai mult ca taticu, si nene Jean ca tanti Pepi. Care a trait mai bine? cine poate spune...

Cit despre stiri bune in timpul razboiului: la cinema aratau tot timpul glorioasele trupe germane si romane atacind la Stalingrad de la stinga la dreapta. Pina intr-o buna zi au aparut de la dreapta la stinga. La care o voce din sala (in idis, dar nu stiu exact cum se spune) "Slava Domnului, dau inapoi!"
Asta mi-a povestit-o mamere.

«  ... pentru fiert, trebuiau gasite lemne si rupti pari de gard ...

Femeia?... măr de ceartă

Mihai Eminescu

Femeia? Ce mai este şi acest măr de ceartă,
Cu masca ei de ceară şi mintea ei deşartă,
Cu-nfricoşate patimi în fire de copilă,
Cu fapta fără noimă, când crudă, când cu milă,
A visurilor proprii eternă jucărie?
În van creaţi la vorbe şi le-azvârliţi în vânt:
Plodirea este rodul femeii pe pământ.
Priviţi acele râsuri, zâmbiri, visări, suspine,
Dorinţa de plodire o samănă în tine.
Ce vă certaţi cu noaptea şi buiguiţi cu luna?
De-ţi face-o, de nu-ţi face-o... tot una e, tot una.
De nu-ţi fi voi în lume din nou să prăsiţi neamul
Oricare vită şuie, oricare tont e-Adamul
Vieţei viitoare... şi fie-un par de gard,
Femei rămâie-n lume, de doru-i toate ard.

«  ... am capatat patalamale ca am trecut ecuatorul

Bun ramas, prieteni, bun ramas!
Din Polul Nord la Polul Sud fac doar o clipa,
Si Ecuatorul il trec cu-un singur pas...
Asta dintr-un cintecel de copii de pe vremea mea, ce bine se calatoreste cu atlasul. Parca se putea calatori altfel in Romania. Bineinteles ca de asta musai sa ma duc prin toata lumea, sa ma conving ca exista – desi la mine in pat e mult mai bine, si sint perfect capabil sa nu fac nimic si fara croaziera.

Dar! partea esentiala e "un singur pas". Spre deosebire de clipa de la pol la pol, Ecuatorul, fiind o linie, nu are latime, si nu-i nevoie de multa deplasare ca sa-l treci – sa ajungi acolo e alta mincare de peste... Cum sint asa matematician, versul asta ma rîcîie la intelect.

Cintecul continua:

Fiindca-s calator cuminte
Mama mi-a facut placinte
Si ma-napoiez ca se racesc!
Drept care am mincat o multime de placinte in America de Sud – e gustarea cea mai populara. Mai ales mi-a placut o versiune la Valparaiso pe deal, cu priveliste si vinisorul local...

«  L’esprit de l’homme qui rêve se satisfait pleinement de ce qui lui arrive. L’angoissante question de la possibilité ne se pose plus.

Adica in vis nu te intrebi: se poate chiar intimpla asa ceva? Dar eu, adeseori, cind visez, imi dau seama ca e vis, nu-i de-adevaratelea, si urmaresc restul visului ca un film ( nu o carte, ca e auditiv si misca )
Din nefericire, nu functioneaza la cosmaruri, chiar daca apar motive tipice si bine cunoscute. De ani de zile visez ca intru intr-o camera pe intuneric, apas pe șaltăr si nu se-aprinde lumina. Asta-i cam intotdeauna parte din cosmar. Dar cam niciodata nu observ ca nu-i de-adevaratelea, ci trec prin toata frica si mizeria, ca cum injura Man Boba "A şvarţă hulăm !"

Nu cred ca inseamna: in vis esti satisfacut, nu ai indoieli. Ai si mai rau decit indoieli, tot felul de terori nocturne. Desi am iluzia ca pe vremuri, in general, aveam placere de visuri.

Cind te intilnesti cu geniul, tare iti trece pofta de viata. Cind iti dai seama ce rahat este, si ce rahat o sa ramina viata ta, fata de realizarile geniale care stau acolo ca muntii, tare te-ntrebi ce rost mai are sa te scoli miine. Si de fapt raspunsul e imediat: poate mai dau de o realizare geniala, chiar daca nu-i a mea. Dar poti sa crezi in sansa asta? Fiindca tot ce-i bun se termina, tot ce-i rau abea incepe. Poate ca nu-i nici macar nevoie sa descoperi ceva nou, poti sa te intorci de mai multe ori la aceeasi splendoare; intr-o realizare geniala sint destule detalii si aspecte de care sa te bucuri, din nou de fiecare data. Numai ca sentimentul se toceste — poti sa te intorci, dar garantat te bucuri mai putin.

Cu aceste profunde cugetari mi-am pierdut doua ore noapte asta, ca bausem prea multa cafea si nu mai adormeam la loc. Poincare — vezi "Science et Methode : L'invention Mathematique" — daca bea prea multa cafea, inventa functiile Fuchsiene, dar eu ... Numai senzatia imbecila ca misca creierul — roţi dinţaţi in loc de aluat.

«  Sa-l puna la punct pe Justi " Pastreaza distanta legala !"

De unde oare? Nu-mi inchipui ca avea mare experienta la mers cu masina. Nu prea erau masini la Bucuresti pe vremea aceea; tin minte cum am numarat cu Justi pe Bd. 6 Martie – central, nu-i asa? – 6 masini pe minut in 1961, inainte de am plecat (Justi imi explica ce gaura e Romania). Si chiar, cind am ajuns la Istanbul si am iesit din gara, era o problema – daca nu chiar panica – cum trecem strada: un puhoi de masini!

Dar, pe de alta parte, nene Jean fusese jumate ministru, probabil cu sofer. Inainte de razboi avuse o fabrica si un magazin, asa ca... Astea i le-au confiscat legionarii. Linga fabrica – cu timpul devenita "Tricotajul Rosu" – aveau si o casa mare, in care au stat pina au plecat, cu apartamente pentru toata familia: pe vremea mea tanti Matilda si Dorel, inainte de asta si Misu si Marcel, mai stiu eu? Apartamentul lui nene Jean era in total doua camere dind dintr-una intr-alta, cu baie si bucatarie, foarte spartan. Celelalte pe acelasi principiu, tot doua camere, dar aveau vre-un hol sau balconas.

From :
«  son enfance qui, pour massacrée qu’elle ait été par le soin des dresseurs, ne lui en semble pas moins pleine de charmes

Ca virgula copil tin bine minte ca n-aveam pofta de dresura. Mi se parea prea de tot ca trebuie sa spun "Buna ziua" dupa ce atita timp — cinci ani? sase ani ? — traisem bine mersi fara sa spun. In mod foarte contient preferam sa stau acasa si sa ma joc, decit sa merg la scoala. Mai tin minte ca intr-o zi taticu ma invata cum sa maninc cu cutit si furculita, la care neaparat trebuia sa-i arat ca nu se poate, pina l-am scos din sarite si mi-a tras o palma.

Dar nu cred ca mi-am detestat dresorii. Nu e genul meu sa fac revolutii, intr-un fel eram convins ca revolutiile transforma raul in mai rau. Si nimeni nu mi-a masacrat copilaria.

Sint foarte contra la single parenting, mai ales by choice. Mi se pare o crima sa deprivezi copilul de al doilea parinte, desi, poate, din punctul lui de vedere, a mai scapat de un stapin. Si cit e de greu, daca nu imposibil, sa cresti copii in doi, dar mi-te se unul singur. In orice caz nu-mi place cum au iesit copiii nostri, desi nevasta mi-a facut complement, ce bine mi-a reusit ce nu mi-am dorit: viata ca om serios si cap de familie. Orice-ar fi, ma rîcîie ca virgula copiii mai au nevoie de banii nostri – de sfaturi de la parinti nimeni n-are nevoie.

Nu ca m-ar deranja sa le dau bani. Nu cred ca vreau sa-mi iau averea in mormint, sau s-o donez fondului pentru glorificarea familei Lustman (pe numele parintilor, ca eu sint modest). Deci tot la copii ajunge, ce-o ramine. Dar daca e vorba de averea mea... cam cum mi-am imaginat intotdeauna, ca se termina la jgheab – in the gutter. Noroc de nevasta admirabila si productiva.

«  I also learnt French

Ca toata lumea – adica toata lumea care o cunosteam eu – invatam frantuzeste cu "madame", din cartile contesei de Segur. Si de fapt, "Memoires d'un ane" e aici, in fata dv... Saraca madame, avea mari necazuri, ca fiul ei nu putea intra la medicina, din cauza de origine nesanatoasa...

Eu, cu atitudine studioasa din totdeauna: "Cind ti-e lumea mai draga, hop si madam!" – ceeace mai tirziu am aplicat la realitate, dar pe vremea aceea chiar insemna ca n-am pofta sa fiu intrerupt din joaca. Dar de invatat, slava Domnului, si ce inveti la asa o virsta se lipeste. De scris nu cred ca stiu de-adevaratelea, ca-mi aduc aminte de multe exercitii execrabile de ortografie, dar cred ca vorbesc liber, si citesc orice (afara de jargon gros) cu multa placere. Si vorbeam de mic copil. De Festivalul Tineretului am apucat sa discut cu un african din Mozambic, ba chiar am stiut sa-i spun ca Mozambicul e vizavi de Madagascar (fara sa stiu sa citesc? nu se potriveste – si totusi festivalul a fost in vara lui 1953, inainte de am intrat la scoala).

From an Internet discussion about the Jewish calendar:
כך מקובלני מבית אבי אבא: אין חדושה של לבנה פחותה מעשרים ותשעה יום ומחצה ושני שלישי שעה ושבעים ושלשה חלקים.
I have received a tradition from the house of my father’s father: The rebirth of the moon is not less than 29 and a half days an three quarters of an hour and and 73 parts.
BTW, the value is very precise. But it does not mean that the ancients were prescient. Actually, if you count the number of days in, say, 100 months (from new moon to new moon) and divide by 100, you are within 1% of a day (less than a quarter hour) off the exact value, and this without using any shorter time unit than a day. If you can count hours for 100 months the error is reduced to 1% of an hour, and actually hours are needed only the first and last days of the 100 months (when exactly the day starts and when exactly is the new moon are harder questions). Then repeat and average...

«  am ajuns la universitate si chiar am facut laborator ...

Asta cred ca m-a vindecat de-a binelea de chimie. In loc de minuni colorate, faceam experiente plicticoase cu un chestionar lung de umplut. Odata am ajuns la conservarea materiei: cintaresti argint cu balanta analitica, il dizolvi an acid azotic, il precipiti si cintareste exact la fel. In afara de ce-am varsat din solutie, de ce-a sarit afara din eprubeta cind fierbea, etc. etc. Iar numerele in chestionar, bineinteles, perfecte, ca stim cu toti sa adunam – cel putin studentii la matematica. Si la ce bun, ca oricum aveam toata increderea in conservarea materiei .

Altadata, iesind din laborator vad ca trec toti profesorii nostri, plus multi altii, spre aula principala. Era un congres de matematicieni: batrini, strimbi si ologi, cum se zice pe englezeste "lame and halt". Mi-am spus: Asa vrei sa ajungi? si mi-am si raspuns: Inca cum! Aveam 18 ani.

N-am ajuns nici schilod, nici matematician.

«  Nu numarul de Social Security, ci fiţuica pe care am capatat-o in 1978 si de mult am pierdut-o.

Numarul se foloseste tot timpul pentru identificare, cam ca un buletin de populatie. Dar bineinteles, americanii n-au buletin de populatie, li se pare nedemocratic. In principiu esti cine spui ca esti... In practica, carnetul de condus, ca are poza (Social Security n-are). Pentru tipi cu accent, pasaportul – american sau altul.

Pe de alta parte, in ultimii zece ani cel putin, nimeni n-a avut nevoie de document in sine – arata ca o carte de vizita batuta la masina. Printre altele, mi-am zis sa-mi iau una falsa, ca tot mexicanul, dar n-am stiut la ce colt de strada.

«  ... mauzoleul lui Ho Chi Minh

Am circulat si noi in jurul sicriului, purtind din politete mineci si pantaloni lungi, ca umerii si genunchii nu le plac. Cel mai frumos e ca vara dumnealui pleaca in vilegiatura la subsol, unde e mai racoare. Cit a trait, avea un apartament cu Marx si Lenin pe pereti si la batrinete i-au facut o casa pe stilpi, cum stia el de-acasa – si aia e mai racoroasa vara. Astea bineinteles se viziteaza, plus un muzeu separat unde arata ca a lucrat si la bucataria lui Escoffier. Tare ma-ntreb cit de bine gatea, sau daca i-a iesit:

Guverneaza o imparatie mare
Cum gatesti un peste mic.
Mie nu-mi merge, cind frig peste se cam face praf.

From :
«  cum se zicea pe la 1700 : the imbecility of age

Ce sa vezi, "imbecility of age" se refera la slabiciunea corpului la batrinete, nu la slabiciunea mintii in copilarie. Pe deasupra are si etimologie necunoscuta.

Bineinteles ca nu-mi convine, fac eu etimologia populara, de la baculum — baston;  Imbecil e cineva pe care nu te poti baza, de exemplu un copil fara experienta, fara putere, dar cu nazuri. Pe un baston te poti sprijini, pe un imbecil, nu. Si imbecil nu inseamna prost.
Cu citate :

băcŭlum , i, n. ( băcŭlus , i, m., rare, and not before the Aug. period; cf. bacillum )    :   a stick, staff, as a support in walking ( class. ) , while scipio is a staff for ornament, and fustis a stick for beating.
     from Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary

«  Fritz Haber

Asta a inventat o metoda de fixat azotul din aer, pentru ingrasaminte chimice, si a primit premiul Nobel. Se zice ca doua treimi din populatia lumii ( care a ajuns deja la opt miliarde, s-a dublat in timpul vietii mele ) traieste pe baza produselor bazate pe aceste ingrasaminte. Hai sa trecem la balega, e organic!

Dar in timpul primului razboi mondial, a facut arme chimice, clor cu care sa asfixieze inamicul, cu acelas succes. Deci cam toata lumea il considera un monstru, nevasta-sa s-a sinucis, poate fiindca era pacifista, si un fiu si o nepoata chimista s-au sinucis si ei, cu timpul.

Toata familia erau evrei botezati. I s-a oferit catedra de chimie la Ierusalim, dar a murit pe drum.

Chiar fiind geniu, tot e nevoie de noroc. Daca ai noroc, devii Einstein, daca n-ai, Haber. Vezi Wikipedia, Haber (film) , Haber on youtube.

«  ... dupa definitia mea, ma distram/jucam

Nevasta imi spune ca fac totul de mintuiala si de o suta de ori

Il Duce ha sempre raggione! Sigur ca fac orice de mintuiala, fiindca scopul e sa termin dracului, ca orice pute (cum spunea marele filozof chinez Tu Pü ) Drept care trebuie refacut, etc.

Dar presupunind ca nu le-as face de mintuiala, ci cu mare concentratie... abia nu iese, ca fiind atent la ce nu-mi place (totul) devin tot mai nervos si nu ma pot concentra decit pe propriile zimbre. Nu stiu cit e de adevarat, dar mi se pare ca unica sansa sa reusesc la ceva e sa-l fac inconstient, ca-n povestile cu Zenbudismul. Si mai ales, devin american. Imi ziceam ca munca e oricum ceeace nu vrei sa faci – daca ai vrea, ar fi joaca – dar totusi sint in stare sa lucrez. Nu mai sint – pot lucra doar la ce ma pasioneaza, cum scrie la curriculum "I can't conceive existence without managing your sales division!"

«  ... au fugit in URSS ...

Nu numai tanti Ada si nene Miron, ba si socrii mei au incercat sa treaca in URSS, dar au ramas la Galati pe restul razboiului. Jack era unul dintr-un grup destul de mare de doctori la spitalul evreiesc, dar Edit, care facuse scoala de surori, era cea mai sus-pusa: sora sefa! Adica unica si singura, ca si Liliana sef de neurologie – nu prea existau surori evreice pe vremea aceea. La spital, bineinteles, mai intii s-a confiscat tot echipamentul medical, dar a continuat sa functioneze, folosind vechiturile din pod si alte improvizatii. Edit povestea cum fierbeau instrumentele, halatele si pansamentele de trei ori, intr-o autoclava de pe vremea lui Pazvante – dar infectii chiar n-au fost. Cit pentru fiert, trebuiau gasite lemne si rupti pari de gard ...

«  ... mi-am pus ochelarii, desi nu erau de distanta --

De vreo doi ani ma invirtesc cu doi ochelari bifocali, unul de citit si altul de distanta. Fiecare functioneaza foarte bine, dar ce ma fac daca am nevoie sa citesc si ce-i pe computer, si ce-i proiectat pe peretele din fata? Nici unul nu merge. Asa ca acum am si un trifocal.

Problema cea mare e ca trebuie toti carati impreuna. Daca stau in acelas buzunar, se zgirie pina devin de neutilizat, intr-o luna sau mai putin – stiu din experienta amara. Dar camasi cu doua buzunare nu se fabrica, cu-atit mai putin cu trei. N-am inca nici o solutie rezonabila, desi am invatat sa nu-i zgirii. Si, din cauza de diabet, imi controlez ochii in fiecare an, si ochelarii se schimba in fiecare an, spre bunastarea opticianului.

«  Ce-mi lipseste cel mai tare e entuziasmul altora. Eu vin cu propuneri deşuchiate, si nimeni in nici un caz nu spune da.

Zice H. G. Wells:

No human being faces the world in conscious complete solitude; no human being, I believe, lives or can live without this vague various protean but very real presence side by side with the persona, something which says or says in effect, "Right-O," or "Yes" or "I help" or "My dear." That is what I mean by the Lover-Shadow.

H. G. Wells "Postscript to an experiment in autobiography"
"H. G. Wells in love", edited by G. P. Wells

Dupa care dumnealui se tinea cu cîte putea, pe linga nevasta (1 si 2) care le pastra acasa si le iubea. Toate astea pe motive ideologice, ca isi dorea sa construiasca socialismul, excluzind bineinteles si proprietatea privata de soti sau sotii.

Totusi citatul mi-a mers la suflet. Daca nu se aplica la cupluri, se aplica tare bine la prietenii, care nu sint exclusive. Decit ca n-am asa prieteni.

«  I remember watching Pirandello in Italian with subtitles

Si vroiam sa vad daca-i ruda cu Piranda. Poate ca da, dupa etimologie:

PIRANDĂ, pirande, s.f. (Pop.) Ţigancă; nevastă de ţigan. – Din ţig. pirando.

PIRANDĂ, pirande, s.f. ~ 2. Amantă, concubină. ( din ţig. piranó, pirandó, piraní < pirav- (= a săvîrsi actul sexual); cf. si caló (ţig. sp.) pirandó (= adulter) )

pirandă (-de), s.f. – Amantă, concubină. – Var. chirandă. Ţig. piranó, pirandó, pirani (Tiktin; Graur, 182; Juilland 171), din pirav- "a se împreuna", cf. ţig. sp. pirandó "adulter" (Besses 132).
Der. din ngr. "kyra mou" "doamna mea" (Pascu, Etimologii, 49), sau din gr. "cheiranthos" (Bogrea, Dacor., IV, 179; Tagliavini, Arch. Rom., XII, 226; Gáldi 102) nu e posibilă.

                  ( http://www.dexonline.news20.ro/cuvant/piranda.html)

O fi trecut din caló in spaniola si de-acolo in italiana ... Si inainte de etimologie, am dat de "miss Piranda", "Piranda din Timisoara" (qqv)

«  ... au fugit in URSS ...

Nu numai tanti Ada si nene Miron, ba si socrii mei au incercat sa treaca in URSS, dar au ramas la Galati pe restul razboiului. Jack era unul dintr-un grup destul de mare de doctori la spitalul evreiesc, dar Edit, care facuse scoala de surori, era cea mai sus-pusa: sora sefa! Adica unica si singura, ca si Liliana sef de neurologie – nu prea existau surori evreice pe vremea aceea. La spital, bineinteles, mai intii s-a confiscat tot echipamentul medical, dar a continuat sa functioneze, folosind vechiturile din pod si alte improvizatii. Edit povestea cum fierbeau instrumentele, halatele si pansamentele de trei ori, intr-o autoclava de pe vremea lui Pazvante – dar infectii chiar n-au fost. Cit pentru fiert, trebuiau gasite lemne si rupti pari de gard ...

«  Anul liturgic

Vai ce sfîntă-i Sfînta Roşăşună
Din toate sfintele a mai nebună!
Vai ce sfîntă-i Sfînta Roşăşună
Ea merită şi-un premiu cu cunună!
Vai ce sfîntă-i Sfînta Şobăşivă
Din toate sfintele a mai parşivă!

Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Ion Chipur,
Din sfinţii toţi e cel mai lat în umeri.
Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Sic,
este mai sfînt decît pot eu să zic.
Vai ce sfîntă-i Sfînta Simhăs Toi
rămîne-adesea printre noi!
Vai ce sfîntă-i Sfînta Honiche
Ne cîntă la armoniche!
Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Pir
âmi pare sfînt ca şi un borş cu ştir!
Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Pei
să hohotim de sacru ce-i!
Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Lag Boi,
– mă rog, dar face tărăboi. 
Vai ce sfînt e sfîntu Şvis,
E chiar mai sfînt decît îi e permis!
Şi cît de sfînt e sfîntu Tişă Bof,
Sărbătorit cu vai şi of!

«  Pe gard, in soare, o mîţă neagra luceste ca un felinar.

In tineretile mele faceam miscare, adica mergeam cam vre-o ora prin Monterey. Ca sa ma consolez, mîngîiam toate mîţele care le intilneam si se lasau mîngîiate. Odata am remarcat o pisica neagra pe gard – "Luceste ca un felinar!". Si mi-am dat seama ca felinarul se trage de la felina, si n-am rezistat sa nu pun toata istoria pe net.

Tot la asa o plimbare m-a pocnit o masina, la care Nomi mi-a spus "Si mai ai de gind sa te plimbi?".

Cu aceleasi ocazii, iarba uda sclipea în aureolă in jurul umbrei mele, incit stiam cit de sfint sint. Dar mi-a trecut sfintenia, n-am nici o pofta sa mai fac vre-un pas, si acum am si pretext: lucrul plus plimbatul la Redwood City imi maninca tot timpul si energia.

N-am putere de nimic
Nu-s nici mare, nici voinic.

«  ... i-am explicat si eu ghidului

Mi-am dat drumul cu curaj in spaniola, desi era foarte clar ca totul iese incorect. Dar nu si incomprehensibil – ma inteleg ei, exact cum ii inteleg eu. M-am delectat cu versiunea sud-americana, in care S e pe cale de disparitie – scriu "me gusta" si citesc "me gu'ta". Se fac francezi.

In portugheza n-am indraznit. Limba scrisa e usor de ghicit, dupa ce prinzi prinţipul ca intre vocale toate N si L se inghit, plus o multime de R : "populus" a ajuns "povo" spre deosebire de "pueblo", "peuple"; luna, saraca, e "lua" – macar nu lues. Dar de zis n-am zis nimic in portugheza, in afara de "borboleta" – fluture. Ce bine se potriveste. Iar bucuria cea mai mare e frigideira , care nu-i racitor, ci tigaie! Asta din diferite retete culinare pe limba lor, sa fie autentice.

«  Tikun Olam

Ca cum zice Wikipedia:

This article is about the concept in Judaism. For the blog, see Tikun Olam (blog). For the medical marijuana firm, see Tikun Olam (cannabis).

Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם‎, lit. 'repair of the world') is a concept in Judaism, interpreted by some within Orthodox Judaism as the prospect of overcoming all forms of idolatry, and by other Jewish thinkers as an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially.

Adica sa faci lumea nitel mai suportabila, s-o repari. Si mai alea nu pierdeti partea cu cannabis, zic eu ca adevarat patriot californian.

«  I'm getting more and more fed up with Passover

Cred ca m-am saturat de toata traditia mai ales de plictiseala. Pot sa serbez sf Peisăh odata , de doua ori, dar de saptezeci de ori? prea de tot. Si ma bucur cind nu lucrez, dar consider ca e dreptul meu, n-o sa multumesc Domnului in fiecare saptamina, cu exact aceleasi cuvinte.

Si mai ales ma deranja ca trebuie sa cintam, inainte de mincare, la sala de mese la kibutz. Mincare chiar meritam, si capatam in fiecare zi, fara sa ni se ceara nimic. Deci Kabalat Sabat ma deranja, ca orice trebuie facut e munca, si eu sint contra. In plus, mincarea de a doua zi era cea mai nereusita din toata saptamina, cam intotdeauna niste chiftele nici prajite nici fierte, ca nici bucatarii n-aveau pofta sa lucreze de sf Şobăs.

«  ... frigideira , care nu-i racitor, ci tigaie!

zornaie Frigideira se foloseste si ca instrument muzical de carnaval – unul din virtuozi a fost Richard Feynman. In general, brazilienilor tare le place sa faca galagie cu tot felul de mijloace neasteptate. In trenul spre Corcovado au aparut trei cintareti, din care unul zornaia cu un cui pe niste arcuri de metal

Rezultatul nu e neplacut, desi eu ma asteptam la Orfeo negro cu muzica visatoare-surizinda. Apropos, linga statia de jos a trenului – mai exact "trenulet cu cremaliera", a trebuit sa scormonesc mult prin Internet – e si consulatul roman.

Consulatul Romaniei la Rio

From :
«  copiii ... sint nesocializati

Bineinteles ca din punct de vedere suprarealist, socializarea este catastrofa absoluta :

son enfance qui, pour massacrée qu’elle ait été par le soin des dresseurs

il a consenti à travailler, tout au moins il n’a pas répugné à jouer sa chance ( ce qu’il appelle sa chance! )

De fapt, dusmanul de clasa e tocmai societatea organizata, cu legi si obiceiuri, ceeace sociologii numesc cultură. Nu se explica cum ai putea scapa de aculturare, si simultan de puscarie si de casa de nebuni.

Eu, ba chiar cred ca toata lumea, am vrea sa facem exact ce ne trece prin cap. Dar e suficient de greu sa te descurci printre oameni, asa dresati si uniformizati cum sint. Daca ar mai fi si mai imprevizibili, si mai nepotoliti, etc...

«  ... nu se mai putea trece prin Presidio ...

In toata California, poate si prin alte parti din Vestul Salbatic, sint foste posturi militare spaniole, numite Presidio. Au devenit baze militare americane, dar Californioşii fiind antimilitaristi, San Francisco Presidio e parc national si apartine orasului. Cu mare greutate se mentine Monterey Presidio ca scoala de limbi a armatei. Partea doi a scolii de spioni e in iad, in desertul din Arizona.

Din cauza pozitiei strategice pe diferite dealuri, toate aceste locuri au o priveliste splendida, si e chiar placut sa te plimbi, mai ales la Monterey sau San Francisco, unde nu-i niciodata cald sau frig.

«  am ajuns pe coumadin

Coumadin sau Warfarin e un anticoagulant, suficient de tare sa fie folosit ca otrava de soareci. Dar cel putin ajungi Ţarevici... Ca sa nu te omoare de tot, trebuie si analize repetate pe restul vietii, initial o data pe saptamina. Bineinteles ca am fost contra, si nevasta si mai si – ea a avut pacienti care i-au murit de singerari in creier, iar eu, cum sint talentat la cazaturi si lovituri cu leuca... Noroc ca au descoperit alt coagulant, fara laborator. Il cheama Pradaxa ( din care am tinut minte Apraxa; apraxie? acuşi-acuşi) Ba chiar e acoperit de asigurare, desi e tare scump (Coumadin: $5 pe luna, Pradaxa $150) Deci totul s-a terminat cu bine!

«  ... prin Octombrie am fost in croaziera ...

Acum e Martie 2017. Daca nu apuc 27 Martie, am sa va spun.

In alta ordine de idei, am trecut si pe la Roma. Data trecuta cind am fost acolo am mers cu orele pe strazi, in plina intinerire si vioiciune. Sigur ca-mi place Roma si ma bucur s-o vad. De data asta, am facut citiva pasi pe caldura – de la Fontana di Trevi la Piazza Venezia – si mi-am dat duhul. Cind am ajuns la vapor pe la 5, m-am ascuns in camera si am dormit pina a doua zi dimineata.

Drept care am dedus ca nu mai vreau in croaziera, drept care in Septembrie iar plecam – daca nu decedez intre timp. Drept care toata lumea se mira de ce spun ca viata mea e un sir de esecuri.

«  Ce vrei sa faci cind o sa fii mare? Vreau sa hibernez .

Si chiar am toate sansele, sau sper cel putin la sansa asta. Ca ce altceva pot sa fac? Nu mai stiu sa citesc, muzica nu ascult, de programat n-am putere – desi ma lupt acum cu java , dar tot timpul ma intreb de ce. Deci am sa dorm cit am sa pot cind cica ies la pensie – daca nu devin baby sitter sau subreta sau vreo alta oroare. Bineinteles ca intre timp m-am obisnuit sa ma scol la 5, dar am sa iau pilule quantum sufficit, ca virgula claritatea mintii de mult nu mai e s-o pierd.

«  ... faceam miscare, adica mergeam cam vre-o ora prin Monterey.

Asta cerea mare strategie si planificare, ca Monterey e plin de dealuri pe care nu vroiam sa urc. Ar fi trebuit sa plec de acasa si sa ma intorc mergind tot la vale – dupa cum am spus, vreau numai imposibilul. Totusi existau citeve alternative decente, si la un moment dat chiar ma cataram pe dealuri, uimit ca nu-mi dau duhul. A fost. Intre timp, din motive de securitate, nu se mai putea trece prin Presidio, ceeace mi-a stricat marea majoritate a planurilor. Incet-incet – ba chiar mai repede – m-am lasat.

«  ... desertul Atacama – pe asta il tineam minte

In strimtoarea Skagerrak
Ieri am pescuit un rac.
In strimtoarea Kattegat
Era peste, dar sarat.
In strimtoarea Beltul Mic
O platica si-un platic.
In strimtoarea Beltul Mare
Un homar si trei homare.
        Nina Cassian
        (cu mult regret pentru citatul incomplect si poate incorect)
Nu-i de mine, dar ce bine se potriveste. Exact asa arata mintea me, cu liste de cind aveam memorie, si joc de cuvinte in jur.

This is me, but Nina published first.

Now for a harder one:

Noi mohicanii, slujitorii zeitei Atacama...

«  conchistadorii isi taiau unul altuia capul.
«  ... the conquistadors beheaded each other.

Nunez de Balboa a trecut istmul Panama si a descoperit Pacificul, dar a venit Pedrarias Davila din Spania si l-a executat (mai intii ii daduse o fiica de nevasta – ce-i mai ascutit, limba soacrei sau toporul socrului?) Dupa care Balboa a devenit unitatea monetara Panameza, egala cu dolarul american. Asa ca se folosesc si dolari si Balboa, iar monedele sint egale, ca sa mearga pe automate. Wikipedia zice de Davila:

Pertenecía a una de las familias de judíos conversos más influyentes de la España del S. XV. Su abuelo y fundador de la dinastía fue Diego Arias Dávila, "el viejo", llamado Ysaque Benacar, o Abenaça, antes de convertirse al cristianismo.
Jidan scirbos!

Meine liebe Katze
Suferă de maţe
Are constipaţe
Trebuie purgaţe
Şi chiar operaţe!

Drept care Orange, motanul roscovan adorat al lui Mikey a mincat un gopher care n-a mai iesit; cind tragea sa decedeze, l-au dus la veterinar, unde purgatia n-a ajutat, asa ca a ramas sa-l opereze, ceeace s-a terminat cu bine, pe numai $1600. Dupa care motanul se cacă prin toata casa (pina o sa-si refaca sfincterul) dar, deocamdata, nu mai suferă de maţe.

O poezie! (vide supra)

Citeva luni mai tirziu: chiar a murit saracul Orange, tot de maţe.

«  ... mi-am schimbat numele cind m-am facut american ...

Asta e o procedura standard la imigratie, daca vrei te transforma din Preschilă in Lancaster sau York. M-as fi mirat enorm sa treaca fara urme – pe de alta parte imigratia nu anunta Social Security cind devii cetatean, si cred ca nici noua nu ne-a spus sa anuntam.

Iar nevasta, fiind proactive (adica incapabila sa stea in banca ei) s-a apucat sa cheme imigratia sa afle ce si cum cu schimbarea numelui si daca putem obtine vre-un document de la ei. Raspunsul: poate, intr-un an jumate.

P-onoarea mea.

«  germana, româna

Zau c-as scrie romînă, o ortografie pe viata ajunge! Ce ma intereseaza pe mine etimologia – de fapt ma intereseaza enorm, dar de ce sa chinuim sarmanul scolarel, care inca mai numara un i si doi de i si trei! Româna e destul de fonetica – cu mici exceptii ca geamgiu si Giurgiu – si o litera la un sunet e un prinţip mai sanatos ca nepotii lui Traian. Daca deja, Traian era nepotul grecilor – daca nu al bulgarimii: era din Spania, civilizata de romani, civilizati de greci.

«  tanti Matilda ... venise sa-si viziteze familia,

Familia lor era cu totul aparte – 9 frati si surori, daca tin bine minte, si i-am cunoscut cam pe toti: Ionel, Matilda, Misu, Gica, Pepi, Rosu, Dorel si inca citiva care au fugit in URSS si au ajuns in Israel dupa ce am plecat eu. Dar i-am intilnit la inmormintarea lui Dorel. Pare-se ca genele si sprincenele lor erau tare dominante: semanau perfect intre ei, si generatiile urmatoare: toti verii lui Justi si copiii lor arata exact la fel, mai ales barbatii.

«  ... ma trimetea sa cumpar, la care faceam tare urit ...

Cumparaturile erau la madam Nemeş dupa colt. Dar vezi ca tot universul era acolo, intr-un ţrif mizerabil la inghesuiala; si dupa ce-ti venea rindul, si dupa ce gasea madam Nemeş fiecare obiect separat, abia se apuca sa adune preturile cu creionul, odata de sus in jos si odata de jos in sus! Asa ca ma apuca bîţul si damblaua, si uneori mergeam la comparatiuni la supermarket in oras – cam o ora de autobus dus-intors, plus timpul pierdut la pravalie. Ei, si daca man boba simtea nevoia sa ma trimita de doua ori ...

Odata eram toti trei, Justi cu Yolanda si cu mine, si Rozalia ne-a propus sa gasim atribute cit mai nepotrivite. Am ajuns la "un deget stufos" – nu inventia mea, din pacate! Un record neatins de-atunci.

Nu numai ca n-am reusit sa uit vreodata, dar e si unul din visele mele standard: din cind in cind visez ca am vre-o ciuperca sau alta mizerie, si-mi creste un fel de muschi verde pe piele, care trebuie ras... un deget stufos. Probabil fiindca am avut destule infectii de piele in Israel, pina am descoperit ca pot sa ma spal ceva mai des decit la Bucuresti.

Iar ne-am facut vaccinul de gripa si, ca data trecuta, din nou cu frig si tremurici. Drept care m-am culcat devreme si dupa ce am dormit vre-o doua ore, m-am trezit bine mersi, si cu mintea hiperactiva: idei despre fizica, arta, tragedii, misticism si filozofie profunda. Toate amestecindu-se ca macaroanele, fara-ncetare, si nu ma lasau sa adorm la loc.

Daca eram mai eroic, pe loc ma puneam la computer sa eternizez meţia. Dar vai, am luat o pilula de dormit si in fine am facut nani frumos pina dimineata.

Printre colegii nevestei la internship, era si o doctorita cu un soţ tare reusit: titrat in balet de la Universitatea din Norfolk. Dar cum instructorii de balet erau o pereche de romani, i-am invitat. Au sosit impreuna cu mama, o babuta ardeleanca, care graia cu elan: zicea "s-au ţocat" si zicea "horcaie" in loc de "sforaie" – mie horcaitul imi sugereaza patul mortii ... Dar cel mai frumos a fost cind s-a apucat sa vorbeasca englezeste cu Mikey (care era inca inainte de scoala) Tot pomenea de "bordei" ... pina s-a facut lumina: il intreba "What did you get for your birthday?"
La care a ramas codul "baba la bordei" pentru 25 Octombrie, ziua nevestei adorabile – alte babe nu mai e.


Odata, la ora de romana, ne-a intrebat profesoara:
Daca cineva oarecare si-ar scrie amintirile, ar fi interesant?
La care era sa raspund "Desigur!" – dintotdeauna mi s-a parut oricare altul interesant, sau cel putin misterios, fiindca incomprehensibil. Dar vezi ca raspunsul just era "Nu!" ; doar personagiile importante sa-si scrie biografia. Ei bine, nu.

Apropos, tot la ora de romana am aflat ca toate povestile populare se termina cu victoria binelui asupra raului. Mi s-a facut tare mila de saracu rau, si pina in ziua de azi ma poti auzi "Victoria raului asupra binelui!" daca-mi iese ceva.

«  ...intru intr-o camera pe intuneric, apas pe șaltăr

In frageda pruncie — sub 14 ani — eram cu totii la Dorel, ca numai ei aveau televiziune. Vine Dorel de la lucru — era responsabil la un magazin — cu stiri groaznice: lipsesc 8000 de lei din bilant; asta insemna ani de puscarie. Toata lumea s-a innegrit la fata, nici macar nu indrazneau sa dea sfaturi, desi cred ca impreuna am fi reusit sa adunam banii lipsa. Cit de mult erau 8000 de lei? Ar trebui sa-l compar cu un salariu, dar chiar n-am habar.

Iar eu, participind la emotia si nervii tuturor, ma instalez la șaltăr si incep sa aprind si sting lumina, fara sa-mi dau seama de ce. Cam la un minut, odata, de doua ori...

Eventual s-a terminat cu bine, o greseala la contabilitate.

«  Pot sa serbez sf Peisăh odata,

Ca de exemplu primul Pesaj la Maabarot. Mai vazusem eu Seder acasa, dar 500 de oameni impreuna... Si prima data cind intelegeam ce spun. Mai ales ca era mai putin de un an de cind plecasem din Romania, cu adevarat iesirea din Egipt. Iar cind am ajuns la:

Unetaatim al admatam velo inatxu od meal admatam ...
Ii voi planta pe pamintul lor, si nu vor mai fi smulsi de pe pamintul lor...
Asta e profetul Amos, si nu face parte di Seder, dar la kibutz aveau versiunea lor, ca multi altii. Pe de alta parte, fiind socialisti, aveau si piine pe masa – de ce nu? – pe linga moţăs.

In principiu, ar trebui:

Ceeace sint absolut incapabil sa fac. Ori uit toate alea acasa, ori uit toate alea la lucru, ori uit sa-mi iau ace, ori uit sa scot Byetta din geanta si s-o pun in racitor cind ajung acasa – toate astea mi s-au intimplat deja, plus alte variante care vor urma.

Nici macar nu-i de ris.

«  Se suie agale pe parbriz

suyagale e unul din sunetele romanesti cele mai pretioase pentru mine. Pentru cine-si mai aduce aminte:

Suie-n zare argintii
In zori de zi.
Suie agale
Pe albastrele carari
Suie in zari...
Cu care macarale sa construim socialismul... Mult mai tare tehnologie decit
Cu mînuţele-amindoua
Sa cladim o tara noua
Tara noua-nfloritoare 
Pentru clasa muncitoare!

«  ... se imbraca toti cit de elegant pot

In schimb pe Yangtze prin strimtori, barcile erau trase in sus pe riu (Ei uhnem!) de culi in costumul lui Adam. Cocoanele ramineau in cabina, cu perdelele trase. Nu e o curiozitate etnica: apa e asa tulbure si plina de nisip, ca orice haina uda te jupoaie de piele. Culi in general trageau barca de pe niste carari sapate in piatra, pe care cu greu puteai sa pui picior linga picior, dar trebuiau si sa intre in apa din cind in cind sa impinga. O viata de vis. Intre timp s-au mai motorizat barcile, si digurile au adunat apa sa acopere majoritatea pistelor de culi.

«  "Geochimia atractiva"... pe care am citit-o din scoarta-n scoarta ...

Tot de-acolo am aflat cum s-a descoperit fosforul, calcinind urina. Materie prima avem, deci... Pe loc m-am bagat in closet sa fierb urina intr-un bec – laboratorul, de, mai incet. La care parfum si scandal cu familia mi-am oprit cercetarile, dar tot am visat sa devin chimist , pina am ajuns la universitate si chiar am facut laborator , unde am observat in fine ca mirosul de amoniac n-am sa-l suport niciodata.

Pe de alta parte, de cind cu fosforul a ramas limbajul de cod "fosforigen"; ca sa nu mai spun ca intreaga experienta mi-a chizmit-o Neal Stephenson, in "Baroque Cycle", unde Jack Shaftoe fabrica fosfor in India – pe el nu-l intrerupe mamica.

«  Irene Nemirovsky

Fata de milionari evrei din Rusia ţarista. Dupa revolutie, au reusit sa fuga in Franta, dar n-au reusit niciodata sa devina cetateni francezi, ghici de ce. In cele din urma, a fost ucisa la Auschwitz. Barbatul ei, care a protestat cind a fost arestata, a fost si el omorit de nemti.

A fost o scriitoare recunoscuta, si culmea e ca publica in "Candide" si "Gringoire", jurnale care eventual au devenit pro-germane, colaborationiste si evident antisemite.

Cel putin asa o vad eu. Am incercat sa citesc "Suite Francaise" – si inca in croaziera, dar nu mi-a mers.

Vezi Wikipedia.

Si ce frumos am evoluat. Cind eram inca la Universitat Tel Aviv, imi ziceam ce buna meserie mi-am ales, ca nu trebuie sa ma opresc cind plec de la lucru, pot sa continui si acasa. Nu mi se parea imposibil sa ajung odata la teorema Lustman. Numai ca acest odata s-a tot indepartat, si de mult stiu cu certitudine ca n-am sa mai fac nici o brinza.
Every day in every way I'm getting better and better!

«  ...ce destept sint, IQ 142 , pe vremea ceea...
«  ...the answer is "something I haven't tasted before", so I never get taken to a new restaurant .

Pe de alta parte, una din parolele mele la computer era IQ26, sau ailcul26. Mona zicea ca am IQ negativ, si n-as fi reusit s-o conving ca nu se poate – nu de istetime, dar o ratie de virste nu iese negativa. Ceeace intr-adevar am negativ e talentul la public relations: daca cer ceva, garantat obtin opusul, asa ca nu cer – cita demnitate!

«  cum este să te usuci şi să numeri paşii în plin soare, între două petece de umbră

Porecla in renume:

Sceadugenga – in engleza veche "care merge in umbra", un fel de monstru sau fantasma; apare prin Beowulf, dupa cit tin minte ca epitet pentru Grendel sau mă-sa. Se aplica la genul meu de circulat pe lumina si caldura. Vide supra op cit.

Finbad the Failer – tot cu nobil pedigriu literar. (ori: pedigrí, pedigrée, pedigréu – tare greu!) Se aplica pina mi se-apleaca.

Ageamiu cu graţii – sau mai complect, "Tiberiu, ageamiu cu graţii" : gratias agimus tibi.

Istetimea lui
Spuma codrului

predator – ca doar am predat destul

Anatomie si fiziologie

Intii, in frageda pruncie, cu taticu : apa intra in gura, trece prin rinichi si iese pipi. Mincarea inta in gura, trece prin stomac si intestine si iese caca.

Mai apoi, cu Justi. El era la scoala, dar eu probabil tot bebelus; tin minte cum ma învăţa despre "sucuşorul gastric" si "sucuşorul pancreatic". Dupa care am trecut la studii mai avansate: mi-a facut o diagrama a creierului, mare, mic si cu nelipsita pasarica – toti avem o pasarica la cap.

Mult mai tirziu am ajuns la habenula, vagula blandula ...

«  Scris in singele meu, bineinteles

Adica, deschizind o cutie de conserve, m-am taiat la deget. S-a umplut casa de singe, si dupa 3 zile inca nu-i inchis; daca apas cum nu trebuie, iarasi singe pe toate alea, ca o sa vina Law and Order sa controleze de ce, cu fluorescenţă. Nu prea merge sa bat la computer, deloc spalat vase – vai ce rau imi pare – iar de sters la lits et râtures ...

«  Chinezii ... nu se omoara cu religia ...

Cel putin nu pe fata. In mod oficial 80% din Chinezi sint atei. Si tot asa, in Vietnam e numai de dorit (adica nu o lege oficiala) sa ai cel mult doi copii, dar cine are trei pierde toate sansele la avansare si bonus. Plozii lor sint toti adorabili, dichisiti ca niste papusi si giugiuliti cu multa grija. In general se imbraca toti cit de elegant pot, mai ales cind ies la plimbare sau excursie.

Ştii cîntecul cu minorităţi conlocuitoare?
            Pe uliţa armenească
            Trece-o şatră ţigănească...

Da cîntecu cu tunu?
            Tu nu ma mai iubesti ca altadata...

Da cîntecu cu curu?
            Cucurucucu, paloma!

Da cîntecu cu calicii?

From :
«  Les confidences des fous, je passerais ma vie à les provoquer.

Breton a fost student la medicina, dar n-a terminat, fiind recrutat in primul razboi mondial. Atunci a lucrat intr-o clinica neurologica, ba chiar in al doilea razboi mondial a servit in corpul medical.

A studiat psihologie, psihiatrie, psihanaliza si tot ce vrei, dar fara patalama, că de, era suprarealist si revolutionar.

Daca ar colabora nevasta, tare as vrea s-o intreb cit sint de realiste ideile lui despre nebuni — ghicesc ca e tot o libera imaginatiune.

p.s.   Nevasta e de acord.

«  - Nu-ti pierde timpul ca alde Gîgă, zice sclavul.

Taticu avea expresia "o filozofie de-a lui Gîgă". Drept care, fiindca Mikey nu vorbea, si dupa principiul "daca taceai filozof ramineai", a capatat numele de cod Gîgă sau mai eroic, Gagaulf. Alte nume de cod: "Logan" adica baby klotz, si baby borbolici, care face parte dintre plozii mici.

From :
«  Il fallut que Colomb partît avec des fous pour découvrir l’Amérique .

Nu zău !

Il fallut que Colomb partît avec des
      amateurs de grands risques et de gros gains

La adinci batrineti am dat in fine de domnul Breton cu manifeste, si am cazut in cur de ce bine scrie. Fiindca ma asteptam la
sau elucubratii asemanatoare. Cind colo, dumnealui procedeaza coherent, poate chiar rational — retoric si bombastic, dar, ma rog, e un manifest. In plus mi-a mers direct la suflet. Problema pe care o pune e de-adevaratelea, solutia... daca poti crede in Beatitudini sau Calea cu opt brațe — n-as fi stiut sa spun pe romaneste: "the Eightfold Way".

Asa ca pe loc m-am pus pe adnotari si comentarii :

«  nu alearga nimeni dupa mine sa-mi faca bucurii .

Pentru asta trebuie sa fii Shiva: "Everything conspires to my utmost felicity!"

Dupa care m-am apucat sa caut sursa; n-am gasit nimic pe Internet. Citatul e din Gore Vidal, "Kalki", de fapt:

All things conspire to make my happiness complete.
cica ultimul vers din Ramayana. N-am gasit; in orice caz, nu e Shiva, e Vishnu... la naiba.

«  ... 2 Noiembrie, ziua lui taticu

Si azi e ziua lui mămica, 4 Decembrie. Si nu gasesc nimic de spus? Ce-mi vine acum in cap e povestea cum se recomanda cind era mica:

Silvica    "Domnişoara Silvica Catz".
Si o alta poveste cam pe la aceeasi virsta, cind a gasit niste soareci chiţăind pe scara si a chemat-o repede pe bunica, sa-i arate pasarelele.

«  So I go around whining ...

Asa ca ma-nvirtesc bociferind, si lumea ma ignora sau ma educa. Nimeni nu zice "Pacat!" sau macar " Ce interesant !". Poa sa-i ia dracu.

Cit despre critica, e un act de agresiune, daca nu chiar o declaratie de razboi. Stiu si singur ca fac numai greseli, nu-i nevoie sa-mi aminteasca nimeni (uneori mai uit).

From :
«  "nous" e aproape intotdeauna inlocuit cu "on" , etimologic "homme", adica toata omenirea.

In mod surprinzator — nici o limba europeana comuna n-are asa ceva — exista limbi care deosebesc

noi = eu cu tine ( si cu altii )
noi = eu cu altii, fara tine
Formele astea ar fi foarte utile pentru manifeste si alte publicatii politice sau activiste.

From :
«  Les bois sont blancs ou noirs, on ne dormira jamais.

From :
«  Cet été les roses sont bleues; le bois c’est du verre

Codrul frate cu romanul...

Fiind băiet păduri cutreieram...

Ceeace poate se potriveste, pe vremea lui Eminescu, sau inaintea lui. Dar ce legatura poate avea Breton, orasan de la Paris, cu salbaticia silvatica? Pe de alta parte, ce stiu eu de Tinchebray? Sau codrii ancestrali erau Bois de Boulogne?

Pe de a treia parte, de fapt am ajuns la manifest cautind celebrul citat ( tot de-al lui )

Semez vos enfants au coin d’un bois.
care ne invata ca padurea, chiar daca greu de gasit, tot e buna la ceva.

From :
«  La adinci batrineti

Merg pe 75. E singurul mers de care mai sint in stare, desi doare chiar mai tare ca celelalte.

Cit despre suprarealism, stiam cel putin de la 17 ani, cind m-am intilnit cu Mona. Am admirat si iubit dintotdeauna pictura suprarealista, dar textele lor mi-au ramas in git, pina la adinci batrineti. Gurile rele o sa zica c-am dat in mintea copiilor.

«  ... si pat si televizor

Nu stiu cum am reusit, dar nu e televizor in dormitor, ca n-as mai fi dormit niciodata. Chiar ma protejeaza nevasta adorabila! In schimb computerul e in dormitor, mai ales fiindca e locul cel mai privat din casa – afara de privata, si linistit – departe de televizor.

«  ... ma trimite la limba rusa ( cintind )

Pe vremuri exista programul de radio "Invatati limba rusa, cintind" , iar cintecele erau frumoase, dar asta nu inseamna ca glorioasa Uniune Sovietica chiar trebuie sa ocupe tot pamintul. Si "Lili Marlene" e frumos...

Intr-unul dintre zborurile prin Vietnam, am capatat bilete 23E, 23G. De ce nu impreuna? Ce sa vezi, in alfabetul lor n-au F, asa ca nici la numarat scaune. Sunetul exista, dar se scrie PH, ca de exemplu PHO (supa) care se pronunta fă, exact ca Fă Marghioalo! Avioanele vietnameze pe care le-am incercat sint uimitor de comode, o surpriza placuta.

«  Nu pot sa dorm, ca nenorocitii construiesc ...

Cred ca virgula construiesc socialismul multilateral dezvoltat – cind o sa fie gata o sa va spun, deocamdata doar mizeria. A fost bazin de inot, a fost gradina – acum praf si galagie, de cinci luni deja. Dar cel putin nu trebuie dusi nepoteii sa inoate ...

...dupa citeva luni...

Ce sa vezi, au terminat, ba am si luat puradeii la bazin. Unde s-au jucat complect singuri, pe cind eu zaceam pe chaise-longue la umbra, pina cind tot singuri s-au saturat si au vrut inauntru. Cine ar fi crezut? chiar cresc. Dar cine are rabdare sa-i astepte?

«  ... dumnealui procedeaza coherent, poate chiar rational

Dar vezi ca ratiunea e opusul Suprarealismului, dupa cum se poate observa prin text:

... si la raison objective dessert terriblement ...
SURRÉALISME, n. m. Automatisme psychique pur ... Dictée de la
pensée, en l’absence de tout contrôle exercé par la raison ...
... par tout autre chemin qu’un chemin raisonnable ...

«  Altadata i-am aratat o poezea care-o scrisesem si mi-a spus "Poeta nascitur".

Si cred ca mi-a placut in special poeta, la feminin, ca cum spune domnul Burghez "a blooming hermaphrodite". Fiindca, de fapt, trebuia sa fiu fata, si sa ma marit cu Justi (tanti Pepi a fost dezamagita cind m-am nascut baiat)

Pe de alta parte, de multe ori ma imaginez ca domnisoara – cu graţiile, sexapilu si fashion-sensul care ma caracterizeaza! Motiv de hilaritate, ca altele cam lipseste.

La stinga, cu Michiduţă la bal mascat – peruca de la strabunica. La dreapta, in avatar.

«  ... idei despre fizica, arta, tragedii misticism si filozofie profunda.

Ideea fiind sa te intilnesti cu Dumnezeu.

Ce sa vezi, mi s-a intimplat de multe ori. Mai ales la matematica, dar si la muzica sau arta in general. Dai de cite o minune atit de mare, incit e evident supraomeneasca. Cu modestie: evident pentru mine. Dupa cum eram convins cind aveam vreo 20 de ani, ca virgula concertul de clarinet al lui Mozart e cel mai frumos concert posibil. Acum cind il ascult tot frumos e, insa fara convingeri evidente.


«  ... casa model. Tin minte servetelele brodate de pe pereti ...

O alta poveste cu tanti Matilda si sotul ei, nene Ficu. Eu il tin minte, ca juca table cu taticu. Dar a facut un atac de inima sau un accident cerebral – pina sa ajunga taticu acolo, cam 10 minute pe jos, murise deja.

Tanti Matilda de multe ori spunea cit regreta ca l-a tinut cam din scurt, ca el sa nu deranjeze perfectiunea din casa. Ea era, intr-adevar, ceeace se cheama pe americaneste "proactive", drept acre a botezat-o ginerele "Furtunica".

«  ... lighioane lichior: scorpioni, pisici salbatice, maimute ...

Toate curiozitatile se consuma nu de foame sau nevoie, ci din motive mitologice: beau singe de broasca testoasa ca sa nu transpire, ca sarmana jivina clar ca nu transpira, in plus traieste 100 de ani daca n-o tai. Poate trebuia sa incerc si eu, ca m-au trecut toate sudorile, inclusiv noaptea la hotel cu aer conditionat. Din pacate, toate culturile antice s-au instalat in locurile cele mai calde si umede – pe Nil, Eufrat, Indus, etc, macar si la Beit Şean – asa ca daca umbli dupa civilizatie si istorie autentica ...

«  intr-o zi exasperata de cei trei plozi, Nomi mi-a declarat:

... sau "apelpisita de cei trei plozi". Unul din latina, "spero", celalalt din greaca, "elpis", cu aceeasi structura. Dar ce cuvint sublim! pe deasupra, nu stiu de ce, cu asociatii de "pipit".

Ca virgula copilas dragalas, in vacanta la munte, deodata vad ca sint fara parinti, pierdut in oras. Dar vezi ca eram si bine instruit pentru ocazie: am inceput sa tip foarte tare: "Ma cheama Liviu si stau pe strada X!" Pina m-au gasit parintii, care intrasera undeva sa cumpere cornuri cu sunca.

«  Toate culturile antice s-au instalat in locurile cele mai calde si umede – pe Nil, Eufrat, Indus, etc, macar si la Beit Şean ...
«  the elders were wise...

Beit Şean e un orasel in Israel. Cioclopedia mea ( Britannica 1966) zice ca acolo s-a masurat temperatura cea mai inalta din Asia. Înţelepţii (HAZALEINU, rabinii care au scris Talmudul si alte capodopere) au declarat ca Beit Şean e intratrea in paradis – nu infern, nici macar purgativ! Ceeace ne invata cit trebuie sa credem în ţelepţi.

«  Tout porte à croire qu’il agit sur l’esprit à la manière des stupéfiants

Asta era proverbul meu "Arta e hasis slab". Suprarealistii considerau arta, sau existenta de artist, care li se parea tot aia, ca LSD, sau cianura sau dinamita.

Ca sa vezi ce destept sint eu!

«  La care parfum ...

Mamere avea in vitrina o sticla de parfum, si ma miram de ce-si pune pe miini sau pe fata, care oricum miros bine. Drept care am luat sticla la closet si mi-am pus in cur. Parintii nici macar nu s-au infuriat, aveau numai grija sa nu racesc din asta. Poate eram tare mic?

«  Vezi ca Nomi, adica familia era pudica, se pregatea de America, probabil.

Tot la mare, in 1979 eram cu copiii la Boston pe o plaja, si l-am scos pe Mikey din scutecele puturoase in care-si petrecuse toata viata (sa nu mai spun cit am petrecut eu cu ele, vezi a desmierda ). Nu crezi ca m-au dat afara, ca era plodul fara chiloti !

«  atit partea cu Asia , cit si cu plata –

Iar povestea cu Asia e importanta, nu numai fiindca am ajuns in Israel, dar si fiindca sint trei perechi de Cosma si Damian, toti sfinti, toti doctori si toti fara plata, sarbatoriti la trei date diferite! (tot Wikipedia)

«  ...sa nu mai spun cit de cuşăr.

Pe vremuri, la Paris am ajuns sa stam intr-n holtel la Marais, fara sa stiu nimic de specificul local. Desigur, principalul interes erau restaurantele. Unde, vazind prin vitrine "CACHER" ma intrebam "Qu'est-ce qu'ils ont a cacher? Ce naiba au de ascuns?" Tirziu mi-a cazut fisa, sfintenia nu mi se potrivea deloc cu capitala gastronomiei.

«  ... roti dintati in loc de aluat...

Asta era descriptia lui taticu pentru miscarile mele gratioase, mai ales la dans: "Wie a Baer in die Roschene" : ca un urs in aluat. Toti copiii de la Slanic stiau de dansul ursului in aluat. Iar cind am terminat antrenamentul de baza la militarie si trebuia sa defilam in trei rinduri, m-au pus la mijloc, ca la fel de agil ramasesem, plus oboseala vesnica si bocancii.

«  Fabula

A fost odata o vrajitoare infricosatoare: jumate leu, jumate zmeu si a treia jumatate paianjen. Dar nimeni nu stia, fiindca locuia intr-o casa cu clopotel; cine vroia sa intre, suna din clopotel si atunci se prefacea vrajitoarea intr-o zina fermecatoare: jumate trandafir, jumate fluture si a treia jumatate azurul cerului. Pina a uitat unul sa sune; cind a intrat, ce putea sa faca? l-a mincat muma padurii.

Morala : bateti la usa.

From :
«  les lois d’une utilité arbitraire

Tare ma intreb cum poate fi utilitatea arbitrara. Daca iti arde parul, e util sa sari intr-o balta, cum zice budistul, nu-i arbitrar. Daca te doare o masea, nu e indiferent daca trece. Desigur se poate trai fara ceas si fara mode. Ba si fara computer; chiar eu am trait asa, desi nu pot sa cred. Dar viata produce destule mizerii de care nu-i indiferent sa scapi; zic unii si bucurii pe care nu-i indiferent daca le gusti.

From :
«  aucun ... pouvoir discrétionnaire que de fermer le livre, ce que je fais ... aux environs de la première page.

Asta fac si eu de mult, din ce in ce mai des, cam cu toate cartile si mai ales filmele. Ca sa pot sa le urmaresc, trebuie sa faca la fiecare pas ceva neasteptat, ceva extravagant, focuri de artificii ( de exemplu "Satanic verses" sau "Levantul" ) .
De fapt, ceeace cer de la autori e sa fie mai creativi ca mine, nu cred ca e asa greu. Si, ca mos Andrei, deobicei imi zic ca nu-si dau silinta.

«  Cu un kil de sare

Dragostea de fata mare
Ca fasulea din caldare
Ii pui trei kile de sare
Si tot nici un gust nu are! 
      intelepciunea populara

«  ... glorie si galerie, galera sau guler

Ai galerie, ai glorie. Si uneori gloria e cu efort si mizerie, o galera. Cit despre guler:



«  ... o multime de piese disparate

M-am uitat in dictionar sa vad daca "disparat" se foloseste in romana, si am gasit sinonimul "răzleţ" . Ce sanse sa folosesc vreodata cuvintul asta? Nu ca nu l-as cunoaste, dar viata e prea prozaica sa ajungi sa spui asa ceva.

Dar tot cel mai bine a zis poetul:
Comme la vie est lente
Et comme l’Espérance est violente
Ei, si daca poti sa zici asa ceva, esti dupa chipul si asemanarea Domnului, in stare sa creezi lumi.

«  ... somnuri la seminar

Mai intii am verificat in dictionar ca "seminar", pe romaneste, nu-i numai scoala de preoti.

Mi s-a intimplat cam des sa adorm la conferinte, si tare ma tem ca si sforaiam. Nu atit la facultate, cit la NASA si alte centre de cercetari, mai ales turtit de digestie dupa prinz. Fiindca subiectele nu erau nici plicticoase, nici de neinteles, dar tot trageam aghioase...

Discutam cu nevasta de dieta si cum ramin boarfele strimte, si-mi trece prin cap domnul Celan:

       ... dann steigt ihr als Rauch in die Luft
dann habt ihr ein Grab in den Wolken da liegt man nicht eng

Suferinţa, fără sfîrşit, dar poezia cam puţin...

«  ... pe loc ma puneam la computer

Ce sa vezi, nu merge sa te pui la computer cind te-apuca. Acum, de exemplu, nu e Internet. Sper ca e problema lor, nu a mea. Ca mie mi-e intotdeauna groaza ca am facut nu stiu ce timpenie – asa usor atingind vre-o clapa neintentionata – si am distrus ... totul.

«  N-o sa scoti de la mine nimic pozitiv despre copii

Principalul motiv — sa zicem 'moral' — sa nu-ti faci copii este ca n-ai sa poti niciodata sa-i respecti. Copilul poate sa devina Einstein si poate sa devina Hitler, dar pentru parinti ramine intotdeauna borbolocul care trebuie scos din cacat.

From :
«  תיקון עולם‎

Ceeace-mi aminteste de un plod mic dintre cunostinte, care daca strica ceva, zicea:

! תנו פטיש, אני מתקן
Dati-mi un ciocan sa repar!

«  stenografia ... economiseste ne-scriind vocalele

Ceeace e o idee veche cit lumea: egiptenii si fenicienii scriau numai consoanele. La care taticu si-a zis ca si ebraica e deja stenografie, ca oricum nu se scriu vocale; de fapt scrisul ebraic de mina e foarte incet, fiindca literele se scriu separat,

si scrisul cu litere legate e mai repede – majoritatea timpului se pierde ridicind creionul de pe hirtie.

From :
«  Tant va la croyance à la vie, à ce que la vie a de plus précaire, la vie réelle s’entend

Vede si Breton ca viata de toate zilele e principala ananghie. Stiam si eu dintotdeauna — de la suprarealisti? prin Mona? — dar el o spune mult mai bine.

«  ... comentarii care nu mi-ar fi trecut prin cap niciodata

Nu sint eu tare perspicace, si cam totdeauna iau orice in sensul literal. Am citit – cu greutate – "Erewhon" ( care nu-i radio Erevan ) fara cea mai mica banuiala despre ce-ar putea fi bancile muzicale. Da nici la biserica n-am prea umblat, nici macar la şil.

Menirea artei nu este sa-ti repete stirile, nici sa te bage cu nasu-n cacatx, ci dimpotriva, sa-ti arate cu totul altceva. Un autor incapabil sa creeze "cu totul altceva" are obligatia morala absoluta sa-si tina botul. Pe deasupra, autorul trebuie sa continue sa-si tina botul, daca creatia nu-i originala. Nu ca se respecta prea tare aceste imperative categorice.

x cacat: realitatea.

«  Ysaque Benacar, o Abenaça ... Jidan scirbos!

Dupa care, cautind "sale youpin" pe Internet, ce gasesc?

Ou tu donnes et ou ca creve ... sau cum zicea Mona:    unde Daisetz si unde crapa.

«  Pli-fi- caca !

Nu este o puerila indulgenta in scatologie, ci o sugestiva indicatie a modului de simplificare: din vietate in carne in hrana in excrement.

«  they brought me chocolate from Turkey...

      Tanti Ada

«  ... de exemplu PHO (supa pe vietnameza) ...

Alta versie de supa e XUP KEM. Dupa multa cugetare, si tinind seama ca X se pronunta S, plus traducerea in engleza pe menu, am ajuns la "soupe creme".

Bancul milenar.


Doi chinezi se prezinta:

Asta e de la Festivalul Tineretului. Cind am intrebat-o pe tanti Matilda ce e de ris, mi-a zis "Asa sint numele chinezesti".

«  ... diferite agentii care-ti cauta de lucru

Ceeace pe romaneste se cheama "plasament", dar a trebuit sa caut in dictionar "employment agency".

«  Faites-vous apporter de quoi écrire ...

Il presume une vie ou l'on a des servants pour vous apporter de quoi ecrire. De nos jours, il n'y en a plus. Il presume une vie ou l'on a des femmes ...

Ça fait vieillot.

«  ... Orion iarna

In emisfera nordica, aceasta constelatie este una de iarna, in timp ce in emisfera sudica este vara.

Cine poarta pantalonii la noi in familie? FAXul !

Asta fiindca a ajuns – din greseala sau nu – in dormitor, si nu indraznim sa-l stingem, sa nu se deconecteze de computer. Deci sta aprins si face cu ochiul cu lampa, ceeace noaptea ma baga in epilepsie. Asa ca trebuie acoperita lampa cu ceva, si cum pantalonii sint oricum acolo, si camasa ori chilotii ar fi prea transparenti ...

O explicatie perfect logica pentru o apucatura zbanghie.

«  Trei generatii: babica, bunica si mamica.

Dupa cum spune si poemul:

Linga soba sta bunica
Dupa soba sta pisica...
diferite mîţe/motani au fost totdeauna parte din familie. Aici, cu alte trei generatii, apare Şmuţi, motan admirabil cu care am convietuit prin 1964-1970.

«  think of Romania and Israel and USA...

«  Adica bunica mea. Cred ca nici macar nu-i corect, ar fi trebuit sa fie "mane bobă"...

Toata lume stie de patria mamă. Ce sa vezi, exista si patria bobă

«  Ca sa nu te omoare de tot

Marie si Marioara,
Ia un par de ma omoara.
Parul sa fie de soc
Sa nu ma omori pe loc...

«  Je serai seul, bien seul en moi

Vede si dumnealui ca daca renunti la logica si la conventiile sociale, gindirea ta nu are nici o validitate pentru altcineva.

Nu era mai prost ca mine — cine e?

Lipsa de validitate nu deranjeaza deloc la poezie, care nu incearca sa convinga sau sa instruiasca, ci doar sa faca placere cui ii place poezia. De fapt e Tikun Olam (azi e Sfîntu Iom Kipur, ma dau si eu pe brazda, ! גמר חתימה טובה )

«  que la vitesse de la pensée n’est pas supérieure à celle de la parole, et qu’elle ne défie pas forcément la langue, ni même la plume qui court.

Fereasca Dumnezeu! Gindirea mea adesea nu ajunge nicaieri, dar la fel de inceata ca scrisul ?!

«  dragoste de viata

Sau, mai pe romaneste, Eftimie.

From :
«  il sait quelles femmes il a eues

Il ne sait pas quelles chemises il il a eues. mais il traite ses femmes comme des chemises : on les change de temps en temps.

«  imparatul a decis sa reconstitue jungla la Rio

Ăsta era un personaj foarte pozitiv: pe linga ideile ecologice avansate, in vizita oficiala l-a vizitat si pe imparatul Statelor Unite.

«  ... attitudes, specially contrived to assist the spirit (duh!) in its struggle against reality

Bineinteles ca spiritul e duh.

«  ... idei despre fizica , arta, tragedii , misticism si filozofie profunda.

«  ... exclama tanti Matilda: "Vai ce frumoasa e "Valea Cucului" !

"Valea Cucului" era o comedie realist-socialista de pe vremea ceea, tolerabila.

«  ... un fel de odisee – care?

«  Je dis seulement que je ne fais pas état des moments nuls de ma vie

Adica sa ne pazim de banal ca de foc. Se refera la banalitatea descrierilor din romane, dar "moments nuls" e asa bine spus: toate lucrurile plicticoase de care nu-i nevoie sa vorbesti, ci e nevoie sa taci. Cu un kil de sare : ce-i plictios pentru mine, ce-i plictios pentru altul ...

«  ...cum au marturisit oficial Vanessa si Samantha .

Astea erau doua surori care asteptau sa treaca la celalalt colt de strada si mi-au vazut accidentul. Dar una din fanteziile mele era sa am trei fete: Vanessa, Viveca si Samantha! (asta mai imi trebuia) Ce bine imita viata arta !

«  Dar la stenografie, problema serioasa e cu cititul

Dupa care am descoperit ca nu e o problema, ci o metoda stil OULIPO de zgîndărit imaginatia. Mi-am facut repede un program de sters vocale, am aranjat cuvintele dupa rezultatul cu consoane, si au iesit tot felul de elucubratii, unele picante.

«  ... pesimismul si antisocialitatea, cu ştelul de 20 de ani.

Ştel e idis pentru ceeace se cheama pe englezeste "attitude", that is "in your face attitude". But see attitude.

From :
«  Le seul mot de liberté est tout ce qui m’exalte encore.

Cred si eu. Si ce sansa ai? Poate sa visezi — in sens literar — dar nu e de loc sigur, ci cu un coş mare de mizerii.

Urmeaza viitorul.

«  le merveilleux est toujours beau, n’importe quel merveilleux est beau, il n’y a même que le merveilleux qui soit beau.

Sint suta la suta de acord. Mais kéxé le merveilleux? Totusi, fara nici o indoiala, il recunosc cind il intilnesc. Sau mai popular: Nu stiu ce-i frumos, dar stiu ce-mi place.

O faptura pernicioasa

Nu arata ca o perniţă?

«  ... trebuie sa-i fac lectiile lui Mikey

Ma-ntreb daca ma opresc din visat despre scoala si lectii, ca acum sint mare si voinic – visuri, maica, visuri.

«  ... vezi: "a desmierda", "un puşti" ...


—Şulăm in dem lond!
Imposibilul, nici lui Dumnezeu nu-i poti cere.

Ca doar eram in tara sfinta.

«  Dumnezeu mic, egiptean

Adica mîţa. N-a mai venit de mult in pat, ca e prea cald. Dar noaptea asta s-a instalat, si oricit o inghionteam, si oricite şuturi căpăta, tot acolo. Nici ghearele nu si-a scos. Dumnezeu la picioarele mele, moale, pufos si caldicel, dupa cum merit.

«  Mai putin elegant, boboroanta sau babiornis.

De la cotoroanţă si baborniţă. Dar vezi babiornis.

«  ... I wept like a cow ...

Taticu imi spunea "Rizi ca o vaca!"

«  O poveste banala ...

«  ... idei despre fizica, arta, tragedii misticism si filozofie profunda.

Filozofia profunda am uitat-o – sint citeva luni de-atunci.

«  ... cam cum mi-am imaginat intotdeauna ca se termina

Mult timp viziunea mea era ca stam la coada toata familia, la camera de gazare. La care eu nevestei: Copii ti-au trebuit!
Dar de cind iau Prozac...

«  ...sint si animale, maimute si lenesi

bradypus         Lenesul din Wikipedia

Si eu sint maimuta (evoluata? poate) si lenes, desigur. Mai exista si o legenda – poate de la Borges – ca lenesul cinta do-re-mi-fa-sol, si de acolo se trage muzica...

Ce-mi lipseste cel mai tare e entuziasmul altora. Eu vin cu propuneri deşuchiate, si nimeni in nici un caz nu spune da. Nici nu nu spun, ca ar fi prea simplu – deobicei incep sa se tocmeasca, de mi se face lehamite, sau se fac ca ploua.

From :
«  Pour l’esprit, la possibilité d’errer n’est-elle pas plutôt la contingence du bien?

Seulement si l'on considere l'utilité comme arbitraire.

Poate e nebunia mea personala, prefer sa nu fac greseli — nu c-as reusi.

«  Au ajuns pe luna ...

היום עלו על הירח והשאירו שם דגל וחרא –– כמה סמלי. מחר ילכו לטייל למצבה על הירח, כמו בבת–ים.

Daca nu vedeam cu ochii, nici n-as fi crezut! Dar scrie la Dictionarul etimologic al limbii romane, de Alexandru Cioranescu. Si ritmul perfect:

excremente de albine moarte de dizenterie
Si ca nouri de arama, si ca ropotul de grindini

«  Ce bine imita viata arta !

Aci s-a rupt caruta literara – in forma asta nu poti sa stii cine imita ce, si forma clara "viata imita arta" e asa plata! Domnul Wilde avea noroc ca engleza e strict SVO.

From :
«  ... on ne dormira jamais.

Asta e oroarea finala. Si chiar trebuie sa fii copil timpit — cum se zicea pe la 1700 : the imbecility of age — ca sa ti se para nedormitul un cistig, o aventura.

«  conservarea materiei ...

!שימור התנע, שימור האנרגיה ושימורי "נון" ראוים לאימון

«  ...marele filozof chinez Tu Pü

Nu merge! In chineza standard (Hanyu Pinyin) nu exista pü, numai lü si nü.

Batrina vicontesa deceda adeseori.

«  ... great choreography

La care tanti Matilda avea alta definitie: "Iar o ridica, iar o lasa..."

«  De paregzamplu

Cum zic americanii: roastbeef sandwich with "au jus". Senviciul e bun, desi franceza nu-i.

Ma stupidite s'eleve jusqu'aux nues. Et, comme leur nom l'indique, les nues sont nues. Habillons-les!

From :
«  ... ce ne trece prin cap.

Bula vine in permisie de pe front si se intilneste cu nevasta lui Gheorghe :

Stii, cum stateam cu Gheorghe in transeu, ce crezi ca-i trece prin cap? ... Un glonţ!

«  ... primitivismul tribal

Cintarea Domnului nu se poate cinta in afara Ierusalimului – desi asta facem de doua mii de ani.

Pisoiul circula pe plapuma, doar un pic mai greu ca un vis.

Pe gard, in soare, o mîţă neagra luceste ca un felinar.

N-am putere sa ma lupt cu toate cacaturile. Consider numai unele cacaturi alese.

«  ... colonoscopia – totul roz ca viitorul

Da ce mizerie ca sa iasa matele asa roz! O zi de lichide incolore plus 32 de pilule greţoase.

Eu am scris 'armoniche' doar pentru rima, dar uite ca si altii ...

– Încurajaţi-mă!
– În cur, în cur ...

«  Asa ca pe loc m-am pus pe adnotari si comentarii :

Manifeste du surréalisme

André Breton


Tant va la croyance à la vie, à ce que la vie a de plus précaire, la vie réelle s’entend, qu’à la fin cette croyance se perd. L’homme, ce rêveur définitif, de jour en jour plus mécontent de son sort, fait avec peine le tour des objets dont il a été amené à faire usage, et que lui a livrés sa nonchalance, ou son effort, son effort presque toujours, car il a consenti à travailler, tout au moins il n’a pas répugné à jouer sa chance ( ce qu’il appelle sa chance! ) . Une grande modestie est à présent son partage : il sait quelles femmes il a eues, dans quelles aventures risibles il a trempé; sa richesse ou sa pauvreté ne lui est de rien, il reste à cet égard l’enfant qui vient de naître et, quant à l’approbation de sa conscience morale, j’admets qu’il s’en passe aisément. S’il garde quelque lucidité, il ne peut que se retourner alors vers son enfance qui, pour massacrée qu’elle ait été par le soin des dresseurs, ne lui en semble pas moins pleine de charmes. Là, l’absence de toute rigueur connue lui laisse la perspective de plusieurs vies menées à la fois; il s’enracine dans cette illusion; il ne veut plus connaître que la facilité momentanée, extrême, de toutes choses. Chaque matin, des enfants partent sans inquiétude. Tout est près, les pires conditions matérielles sont excellentes. Les bois sont blancs ou noirs, on ne dormira jamais.

Mais il est vrai qu’on ne saurait aller si loin, il ne s’agit pas seulement de la distance. Les menaces s’accumulent, on cède, on abandonne une part du terrain à conquérir. Cette imagination qui n’admettait pas de bornes, on ne lui permet plus de s’exercer que selon les lois d’une utilité arbitraire; elle est incapable d’assumer longtemps ce rôle inférieur et, aux environs de la vingtième année, préfère, en général, abandonner l’homme à son destin sans lumière. Qu’il essaie plus tard, de-ci de-là, de se reprendre, ayant senti lui manquer peu à peu toutes raisons de vivre, incapable qu’il est devenu de se trouver à la hauteur d’une situation exceptionnelle telle que l’amour , il n’y parviendra guère. C’est qu’il appartient désormais corps et âme à une impérieuse nécessité pratique, qui ne souffre pas qu’on la perde de vue. Tous ses gestes manqueront d’ampleur, toutes ses idées, d’envergure. Il ne se représentera, de ce qui lui arrive et peut lui arriver, que ce qui relie cet événement à une foule d’événements semblables, événements auxquels il n’a pas pris part, événements manqués. Que dis-je, il en jugera par rapport à un de ces événements, plus rassurant dans ses conséquences que les autres. Il n’y verra, sous aucun prétexte, son salut.

Chère imagination, ce que j’aime surtout en toi, c’est que tu ne pardonnes pas. Le seul mot de liberté est tout ce qui m’exalte encore. Je le crois propre à entretenir, indéfiniment, le vieux fanatisme humain. Il répond sans doute à ma seule aspiration légitime. Parmi tant de disgrâces dont nous héritons, il faut bien reconnaître que la plus grande liberté d’esprit nous est laissée. À nous de ne pas en mésuser gravement. Réduire l’imagination à l’esclavage, quand bien même il y irait de ce qu’on appelle grossièrement le bonheur, c’est se dérober à tout ce qu’on trouve, au fond de soi, de justice suprême. La seule imagination me rend compte de ce qui peut être, et c’est assez pour lever un peu le terrible interdit; assez aussi pour que je m’abandonne à elle sans crainte de me tromper ( comme si l’on pouvait se tromper davantage ) . Où commence-t-elle à devenir mauvaise et où s’arrête la sécurité de l’esprit? Pour l’esprit, la possibilité d’errer n’est-elle pas plutôt la contingence du bien?

Reste la folie, « la folie qu’on enferme » a-t-on si bien dit. Celle-là ou l’autre… Chacun sait, en effet, que les fous ne doivent leur internement qu’à un petit nombre d’actes légalement répréhensibles, et que, faute de ces actes, leur liberté ( ce qu’on voit de leur liberté ) ne saurait être en jeu. Qu’ils soient, dans une mesure quelconque, victimes de leur imagination, je suis prêt à l’accorder, en ce sens qu’elle les pousse à l’inobservance de certaines règles, hors desquelles le genre se sent visé, ce que tout homme est payé pour savoir. Mais le profond détachement dont ils témoignent à l’égard de la critique que nous portons sur eux, voire des corrections diverses qui leur sont infligées, permet de supposer qu’ils puisent un grand réconfort dans leur imagination, qu’ils goûtent assez leur délire pour supporter qu’il ne soit valable que pour eux. Et, de fait, les hallucinations, les illusions, etc., ne sont pas une source de jouissance négligeable. La sensualité la mieux ordonnée y trouve sa part et je sais que j’apprivoiserais bien des soirs cette jolie main qui, aux dernières pages de L’Intelligence, de Taine, se livre à de curieux méfaits. Les confidences des fous, je passerais ma vie à les provoquer. Ce sont gens d’une honnêteté scrupuleuse, et dont l’innocence n’a d’égale que la mienne. Il fallut que Colomb partît avec des fous pour découvrir l’Amérique. Et voyez comme cette folie a pris corps, et duré.

Ce n’est pas la crainte de la folie qui nous forcera à laisser en berne le drapeau de l’imagination. Le procès de l’attitude réaliste demande à être instruit, après le procès de l’attitude matérialiste. Celle-ci, plus poétique, d’ailleurs, que la précédente, implique de la part de l’homme un orgueil, certes, monstrueux, mais non une nouvelle et plus complète déchéance. Il convient d’y voir, avant tout, une heureuse réaction contre quelques tendances dérisoires du spiritualisme. Enfin, elle n’est pas incompatible avec une certaine élévation de pensée.

Par contre, l’attitude réaliste, inspirée du positivisme, de saint Thomas à Anatole France, m’a bien l’air hostile à tout essor intellectuel et moral. Je l’ai en horreur, car elle est faite de médiocrité, de haine et de plate suffisance. C’est elle qui engendre aujourd’hui ces livres ridicules, ces pièces insultantes. Elle se fortifie sans cesse dans les journaux et fait échec à la science, à l’art, en s’appliquant à flatter l’opinion dans ses goûts les plus bas; la clarté confinant à la sottise, la vie des chiens. L’activité des meilleurs esprits s’en ressent; la loi du moindre effort finit par s’imposer à eux comme aux autres. Une conséquence plaisante de cet état de choses, en littérature par exemple, est l’abondance des romans. Chacun y va de sa petite « observation ». Par besoin d’épuration, M. Paul Valéry proposait dernièrement de réunir en anthologie un aussi grand nombre que possible de débuts de romans, de l’insanité desquels il attendait beaucoup. Les auteurs les plus fameux seraient mis à contribution. Une telle idée fait encore honneur à Paul Valéry qui, naguère, à propos des romans, m’assurait qu’en ce qui le concerne, il se refuserait toujours à écrire : La marquise sortit à cinq heures. Mais a-t-il tenu parole? Si le style d’information pure et simple, dont la phrase précitée offre un exemple, a cours presque seul dans les romans, c’est, il faut le reconnaître, que l’ambition des auteurs ne va pas très loin. Le caractère circonstanciel, inutilement particulier, de chacune de leurs notations, me donne à penser qu’ils s’amusent à mes dépens. On ne m’épargne aucune des hésitations du personnage : sera-t-il blond, comment s’appellera-t-il, irons-nous le prendre en été? Autant de questions résolues une fois pour toutes, au petit bonheur; il ne m’est laissé d’autre pouvoir discrétionnaire que de fermer le livre, ce dont je ne me fais pas faute aux environs de la première page._ Et les descriptions! Rien n’est comparable au néant de celles-ci; ce n’est que superpositions d’images de catalogue, l’auteur en prend de plus en plus à son aise, il saisit l’occasion de me glisser ses cartes postales, il cherche à me faire tomber d’accord avec lui sur des lieux communs :

La petite pièce dans laquelle le jeune homme fut introduit était tapissée de papier jaune : il y avait des géraniums et des rideaux de mousseline aux fenêtres; le soleil couchant jetait sur tout cela une lumière crue… La chambre ne renfermait rien de particulier. Les meubles, en bois jaune, étaient tous très vieux. Un divan avec un grand dossier renversé, une table de forme ovale vis-à-vis du divan, une toilette et une glace adossées au trumeau, des chaises le long des murs, deux ou trois gravures sans valeur qui représentaient des demoiselles allemandes avec des oiseaux dans les mains — voilà à quoi se réduisait l’ameublement. 1

Que l’esprit se propose, même passagèrement, de tels motifs, je ne suis pas d’humeur à l’admettre. On soutiendra que ce dessin d’école vient à sa place, et qu’à cet endroit du livre l’auteur a ses raisons pour m’accabler. Il n’en perd pas moins son temps, car je n’entre pas dans sa chambre. La paresse, la fatigue des autres ne me retiennent pas. J’ai de la continuité de la vie une notion trop instable pour égaler aux meilleures mes minutes de dépression, de faiblesse. Je veux qu’on se taise, quand on cesse de ressentir. Et comprenez bien que je n’incrimine pas le manque d’originalité pour le manque d’originalité. Je dis seulement que je ne fais pas état des moments nuls de ma vie, que de la part de tout homme il peut être indigne de cristalliser ceux qui lui paraissent tels. Cette description de chambre, permettez-moi de la passer, avec beaucoup d’autres. Holà, j’en suis à la psychologie, sujet sur lequel je n’aurai garde de plaisanter. L’auteur s’en prend à un caractère, et, celui-ci étant donné, fait pérégriner son héros à travers le monde. Quoi qu’il arrive, ce héros, dont les actions et les réactions sont admirablement prévues, se doit de ne pas déjouer, tout en ayant l’air de les déjouer, les calculs dont il est l’objet. Les vagues de la vie peuvent paraître l’enlever, le rouler, le faire descendre, il relèvera toujours de ce type humain formé. Simple partie d’échecs dont je me désintéresse fort, l’homme, quel qu’il soit, m’étant un médiocre adversaire. Ce que je ne puis supporter, ce sont ces piètres discussions relativement à tel ou tel coup, dès lors qu’il ne s’agit ni de gagner ni de perdre. Et si le jeu n’en vaut pas la chandelle, si la raison objective dessert terriblement, comme c’est le cas, celui qui y fait appel, ne convient-il pas de s’abstraire de ces catégories? « La diversité est si ample, que tous les tons de voix, tous les marchers, toussers, mouchers, éternuers… » 2 Si une grappe n’a pas deux grains pareils, pourquoi voulez-vous que je vous décrive ce grain par l’autre, par tous les autres, que j’en fasse un grain bon à manger? L’intraitable manie qui consiste à ramener l’inconnu au connu, au classable, berce les cerveaux. Le désir d’analyse l’emporte sur les sentiments.3 Il en résulte des exposés de longueur qui ne tirent leur force persuasive que de leur étrangeté même, et n’en imposent au lecteur que par l’appel à un vocabulaire abstrait, d’ailleurs assez mal défini. Si les idées générales que la philosophie se propose jusqu’ici de débattre marquaient par là leur incursion définitive dans un domaine plus étendu, je serais le premier à m’en réjouir. Mais ce n’est encore que marivaudage; jusqu’ici, les traits d’esprit et autres bonnes manières nous dérobent à qui mieux mieux la véritable pensée qui se cherche elle-même, au lieu de s’occuper à se faire des réussites. Il me paraît que tout acte porte en lui-même sa justification, du moins pour qui a été capable de le commettre, qu’il est doué d’un pouvoir rayonnant que la moindre glose est de nature à affaiblir. Du fait de cette dernière, il cesse même, en quelque sorte, de se produire. Il ne gagne rien à être ainsi distingué. Les héros de Stendhal tombent sous le coup des appréciations de cet auteur, appréciations plus ou moins heureuses, qui n’ajoutent rien à leur gloire. Où nous les retrouvons vraiment, c’est là où Stendhal les a perdus.

Nous vivons encore sous le règne de la logique, voilà, bien entendu, à quoi je voulais en venir. Mais les procédés logiques, de nos jours, ne s’appliquent plus qu’à la résolution de problèmes d’intérêt secondaire. Le rationalisme absolu qui reste de mode ne permet de considérer que des faits relevant étroitement de notre expérience. Les fins logiques, par contre, nous échappent. Inutile d’ajouter que l’expérience même s’est vu assigner des limites. Elle tourne dans une cage d’où il est de plus en plus difficile de la faire sortir. Elle s’appuie, elle aussi, sur l’utilité immédiate, et elle est gardée par le bon sens. Sous couleur de civilisation, sous prétexte de progrès, on est parvenu à bannir de l’esprit tout ce qui se peut taxer à tort ou à raison de superstition, de chimère, à proscrire tout mode de recherche de la vérité qui n’est pas conforme à l’usage. C’est par le plus grand hasard, en apparence, qu’a été récemment rendue à la lumière une partie du monde intellectuel, et à mon sens de beaucoup la plus importante, dont on affectait de ne plus se soucier. Il faut en rendre grâce aux découvertes de Freud. Sur la foi de ces découvertes, un courant d’opinion se dessine enfin, à la faveur duquel l’explorateur humain pourra pousser plus loin ses investigations, autorisé qu’il sera à ne plus seulement tenir compte des réalités sommaires. L’imagination est peut-être sur le point de reprendre ses droits. Si les profondeurs de notre esprit recèlent d’étranges forces capables d’augmenter celles de la surface, ou de lutter victorieusement contre elles, il y a tout intérêt à les capter, à les capter d’abord, pour les soumettre ensuite, s’il y a lieu, au contrôle de notre raison. Les analystes eux-mêmes n’ont qu’à y gagner. Mais il importe d’observer qu’aucun moyen n’est désigné a priori pour la conduite de cette entreprise, que jusqu’à nouvel ordre elle peut passer pour être aussi bien du ressort des poètes que des savants et que son succès ne dépend pas des voies plus ou moins capricieuses qui seront suivies.

C’est à très juste titre que Freud a fait porter sa critique sur le rêve. Il est inadmissible, en effet, que cette part considérable de l’activité psychique ( puisque, au moins de la naissance de l’homme à sa mort, la pensée ne présente aucune solution de continuité, la somme des moments de rêve, au point de vue temps, à ne considérer même que le rêve pur, celui du sommeil, n’est pas inférieure à la somme des moments de réalité, bornons-nous à dire : des moments de veille ) ait encore si peu retenu l’attention. L’extrême différence d’importance, de gravité, que présentent pour l’observateur ordinaire les événements de la veille et ceux du sommeil, a toujours été pour m’étonner. C’est que l’homme, quand il cesse de dormir, est avant tout le jouet de sa mémoire, et qu’à l’état normal celle-ci se plaît à lui retracer faiblement les circonstances du rêve, à priver ce dernier de toute conséquence actuelle, et à faire partir le seul déterminant du point où il croit, quelques heures plus tôt, l’avoir laissé : cet espoir ferme, ce souci. Il a l’illusion de continuer quelque chose qui en vaut la peine. Le rêve se trouve ainsi ramené à une parenthèse, comme la nuit. Et pas plus qu’elle, en général, il ne porte conseil. Ce singulier état de choses me paraît appeler quelques réflexions :

1°      Dans les limites où il s’exerce ( passe pour s’exercer ) , selon toute apparence le rêve est continu et porte trace d’organisation. Seule la mémoire s’arroge le droit d’y faire des coupures, de ne pas tenir compte des transitions et de nous représenter plutôt une série de rêves que le rêve. De même, nous n’avons à tout instant des réalités qu’une figuration distincte, dont la coordination est affaire de volonté.4 Ce qu’il importe de remarquer, c’est que rien ne nous permet d’induire à une plus grande dissipation des éléments constitutifs du rêve. Je regrette d’en parler selon une formule qui exclut le rêve, en principe. À quand les logiciens, les philosophes dormants! Je voudrais dormir, pour pouvoir me livrer aux dormeurs, comme je me livre à ceux qui me lisent, les yeux bien ouverts; pour cesser de faire prévaloir en cette matière le rythme conscient de ma pensée. Mon rêve de cette dernière nuit, peut-être poursuit-il celui de la nuit précédente, et sera-t-il poursuivi la nuit prochaine, avec une rigueur méritoire. C’est bien possible, comme on dit. Et comme il n’est aucunement prouvé que, ce faisant, la « réalité » qui m’occupe subsiste à l’état de rêve, qu’elle ne sombre pas dans l’immémorial, pourquoi n’accorderais-je pas au rêve ce que je refuse parfois à la réalité, soit cette valeur de certitude en elle-même, qui, dans son temps, n’est point exposée à mon désaveu? Pourquoi n’attendrais-je pas de l’indice du rêve plus que je n’attends d’un degré de conscience chaque jour plus élevé? Le rêve ne peut-il être appliqué, lui aussi, à la résolution des questions fondamentales de la vie? Ces questions sont- elles les mêmes dans un cas que dans l’autre et, dans le rêve, ces questions sont-elles, déjà? Le rêve est-il moins lourd de sanctions que le reste? Je vieillis et, plus que cette réalité à laquelle je crois m’astreindre, c’est peut-être le rêve, l’indifférence où je le tiens qui me fait vieillir.

2°      Je prends, encore une fois, l’état de veille. Je suis obligé de le tenir pour un phénomène d’interférence. Non seulement l’esprit témoigne, dans ces conditions, d’une étrange tendance à la désorientation ( c’est l’histoire des lapsus et méprises de toutes sortes dont le secret commence à nous être livré ) , mais encore il ne semble pas que, dans son fonctionnement normal, il obéisse à bien autre chose qu’à des suggestions qui lui viennent de cette nuit profonde dont je le recommande. Si bien conditionné qu’il soit, son équilibre est relatif. Il ose à peine s’exprimer et, s’il le fait, c’est pour se borner à constater que telle idée, telle femme lui fait de l’effet. Quel effet, il serait bien incapable de le dire, il donne par là la mesure de son subjectivisme, et rien de plus. Cette idée, cette femme le trouble, elle l’incline à moins de sévérité. Elle a pour action de l’isoler une seconde de son dissolvant et de le déposer au ciel, en beau précipité qu’il peut être, qu’il est. En désespoir de cause, il invoque alors le hasard, divinité plus obscure que les autres, à qui il attribue tous ses égarements. Qui me dit que l’angle sous lequel se présente cette idée qui le touche, ce qu’il aime dans l’œil de cette femme n’est pas précisément ce qui le rattache à son rêve, l’enchaîne à des données que par sa faute il a perdues? Et s’il en était autrement, de quoi peut-être ne serait-il pas capable? Je voudrais lui donner la clé de ce couloir.

3°      L’esprit de l’homme qui rêve se satisfait pleinement de ce qui lui arrive. L’angoissante question de la possibilité ne se pose plus. Tue, vole plus vite, aime tant qu’il te plaira. Et si tu meurs, n’es-tu pas certain de te réveiller d’entre les morts? Laisse-toi conduire, les événements ne souffrent pas que tu les diffères. Tu n’as pas de nom. La facilité de tout est inappréciable. Quelle raison, je le demande, raison tellement plus large que l’autre, confère au rêve cette allure naturelle, me fait accueillir sans réserve une foule d’épisodes dont l’étrangeté à l’heure où j’écris me foudroierait? Et pourtant j’en puis croire mes yeux, mes oreilles; ce beau jour est venu, cette bête a parlé. Si l’éveil de l’homme est plus dur, s’il rompt trop bien le charme, c’est qu’on l’a amené à se faire une pauvre idée de l’expiation.

4°      De l’instant où il sera soumis à un examen méthodique, où, par des moyens à déterminer, on parviendra à nous rendre compte du rêve dans son intégrité ( et cela suppose une discipline de la mémoire qui porte sur des générations; commençons tout de même par enregistrer les faits saillants ) , où sa courbe se développera avec une régularité et une ampleur sans pareilles, on peut espérer que les mystères qui n’en sont pas feront place au grand Mystère. Je crois à la résolution future de ces deux états, en apparence si contradictoires, que sont le rêve et la réalité, en une sorte de réalité absolue, de surréalité, si l’on peut ainsi dire. C’est à sa conquête que je vais, certain de n’y pas parvenir mais trop insoucieux de ma mort pour ne pas supputer un peu les joies d’une telle possession. On raconte que chaque jour, au moment de s’endormir, Saint-Pol-Roux faisait naguère placer, sur la porte de son manoir de Camaret, un écriteau sur lequel on pouvait lire : LE POÈTE TRAVAILLE. Il y aurait encore beaucoup à dire mais, chemin faisant, je n’ai voulu qu’effleurer un sujet qui nécessiterait à lui seul un exposé très long et une tout autre rigueur : j’y reviendrai. Pour cette fois, mon intention était de faire justice de la haine du merveilleux qui sévit chez certains hommes, de ce ridicule sous lequel ils veulent le faire tomber. Tranchons-en : le merveilleux est toujours beau, n’importe quel merveilleux est beau, il n’y a même que le merveilleux qui soit beau. Dans le domaine littéraire, le merveilleux seul est capable de féconder des œuvres ressortissant à un genre inférieur tel que le roman et d’une façon générale tout ce qui participe de l’anecdote. Le Moine, de Lewis, en est une preuve admirable. Le souffle du merveilleux l’anime tout entier. Bien avant que l’auteur ait délivré ses principaux personnages de toute contrainte temporelle, on les sent prêts à agir avec une fierté sans précédent. Cette passion de l’éternité qui les soulève sans cesse prête des accents inoubliables à leur tourment et au mien. J’entends que ce livre n’exalte, du commencement à la fin, et le plus purement du monde, que ce qui de l’esprit aspire à quitter le sol et que, dépouillé d’une partie insignifiante de son affabulation romanesque, à la mode du temps, il constitue un modèle de justesse, et d’innocente grandeur. 5 Il me semble qu’on n’a pas fait mieux et que le personnage de Mathilde, en particulier, est la création la plus émouvante qu’on puisse mettre à l’actif de ce mode figuré en littérature. C’est moins un personnage qu’une tentation continue. Et si un personnage n’est pas une tentation, qu’est-il? Tentation extrême que celui-là. Le « rien n’est impossible à qui sait oser » donne dans Le Moine toute sa mesure convaincante. Les apparitions y jouent un rôle logique, puisque l’esprit critique ne s’en empare pas pour les contester. De même le châtiment d’Ambrosio est traité de façon légitime, puisqu’il est finalement accepté par l’esprit critique comme dénouement naturel. Il peut paraître arbitraire que je propose ce modèle, lorsqu’il s’agit du merveilleux, auquel les littératures du Nord et les littératures orientales ont fait emprunt sur emprunt, sans parler des littératures proprement religieuses de tous les pays. C’est que la plupart des exemples que ces littératures auraient pu me fournir sont entachés de puérilité, pour la seule raison qu’elles s’adressent aux enfants. De bonne heure ceux-ci sont sevrés de merveilleux, et, plus tard, ne gardent pas une assez grande virginité d’esprit pour prendre un plaisir extrême à Peau d’Âne. Si charmants soient-ils, l’homme croirait déchoir à se nourrir de contes de fées, et j’accorde que ceux-ci ne sont pas tous de son âge. Le tissu des invraisemblances adorables demande à être un peu plus fin, à mesure qu’on avance, et l’on en est encore à attendre ces espèces d’araignées… Mais les facultés ne changent radicalement pas. La peur, l’attrait de l’insolite, les chances, le goût du luxe, sont ressorts auxquels on ne fera jamais appel en vain. Il y a des contes à écrire pour les grandes personnes, des contes encore presque bleus.

Le merveilleux n’est pas le même à toutes les époques; il participe obscurément d’une sorte de révélation générale dont le détail seul nous parvient : ce sont les ruines romantiques, le mannequin moderne ou tout autre symbole propre à remuer la sensibilité humaine durant un temps. Dans ces cadres qui nous font sourire, pourtant se peint toujours l’irrémédiable inquiétude humaine, et c’est pourquoi je les prends en considération, pourquoi je les juge inséparables de quelques productions géniales, qui en sont plus que les autres douloureusement affectées. Ce sont les potences de Villon, les grecques de Racine, les divans de Baudelaire. Ils coïncident avec une éclipse du goût que je suis fait pour endurer, moi qui me fais du goût l’idée d’une grande tache. Dans le mauvais goût de mon époque, je m’efforce d’aller plus loin qu’aucun autre. À moi, si j’avais vécu en 1820, à moi « la nonne sanglante », à moi de ne pas épargner ce sournois et banal « Dissimulons » dont parle le parodique Cuisin, à moi, à moi de parcourir dans des métaphores gigantesques, comme il dit, toutes les phases du « Disque argenté ». Pour aujourd’hui je pense à un château dont la moitié n’est pas forcément en ruine; ce château m’appartient, je le vois dans un site agreste, non loin de Paris. Ses dépendances n’en finissent plus, et quant à l’intérieur, il a été terriblement restauré, de manière à ne rien laisser à désirer sous le rapport du confort. Des autos stationnent à la porte, dérobée par l’ombre des arbres. Quelques-uns de mes amis y sont installés à demeure : voici Louis Aragon qui part; il n’a que le temps de vous saluer; Philippe Soupault se lève avec les étoiles et Paul Éluard, notre grand Éluard, n’est pas encore rentré. Voici Robert Desnos et Roger Vitrac, qui déchiffrent dans le parc un vieil édit sur le duel; Georges Auric, Jean Paulhan; Max Morise, qui rame si bien, et Benjamin Péret, dans ses équations d’oiseaux; et Joseph Delteil; et Jean Carrive; et Georges Limbour, et Georges Limbour ( il y a toute une haie de Georges Limbour ) ; et Marcel Noll; voici T. Fraenkel qui nous fait signe de son ballon captif, Georges Malkine, Antonin Artaud, Francis Gérard, Pierre Naville, J.-A. Boiffard, puis Jacques Baron et son frère, beaux et cordiaux, tant d’autres encore, et des femmes ravissantes, ma foi. Ces jeunes gens, que voulez-vous qu’ils se refusent, leurs désirs sont, pour la richesse, des ordres. Francis Picabia vient nous voir et, la semaine dernière, dans la galerie des glaces, on a reçu un nommé Marcel Duchamp qu’on ne connaissait pas encore. Picasso chasse dans les environs. L’esprit de démoralisation a élu domicile dans le château, et c’est à lui que nous avons affaire chaque fois qu’il est question de relation avec nos semblables, mais les portes sont toujours ouvertes et on ne commence pas par « remercier » le monde, vous savez. Du reste, la solitude est vaste, nous ne nous rencontrons pas souvent. Puis l’essentiel n’est-il pas que nous soyons nos maîtres, et les maîtres des femmes, de l’amour, aussi? On va me convaincre de mensonge poétique : chacun s’en ira répétant que j’habite rue Fontaine, et qu’il ne boira pas de cette eau. Parbleu! Mais ce château dont je lui fais les honneurs, est-il sûr que ce soit une image? Si ce palais existait, pourtant! Mes hôtes sont là pour en répondre; leur caprice est la route lumineuse qui y mène. C’est vraiment à notre fantaisie que nous vivons, quand nous y sommes. Et comment ce que fait l’un pourrait-il gêner l’autre, là, à l’abri de la poursuite sentimentale et au rendez-vous des occasions? L’homme propose et dispose. Il ne tient qu’à lui de s’appartenir tout entier, c’est-à-dire de maintenir à l’état anarchique la bande chaque jour plus redoutable de ses désirs. La poésie le lui enseigne. Elle porte en elle la compensation parfaite des misères que nous endurons. Elle peut être une ordonnatrice, aussi, pour peu que sous le coup d’une déception moins intime on s’avise de la prendre au tragique. Le temps vienne où elle décrète la fin de l’argent et rompe seule le pain du ciel pour la terre! Il y aura encore des assemblées sur les places publiques, et des mouvements auxquels vous n’avez pas espéré prendre part. Adieu les sélections absurdes, les rêves de gouffre, les rivalités, les longues patiences, la fuite des saisons, l’ordre artificiel des idées, la rampe du danger, le temps pour tout! Qu’on se donne seulement la peine de pratiquer la poésie. N’est-ce pas à nous, qui déjà en vivons, de chercher à faire prévaloir ce que nous tenons pour notre plus ample informé? N’importe s’il y a quelque disproportion entre cette défense et l’illustration qui la suivra. Il s’agissait de remonter aux sources de l’imagination poétique, et, qui plus est, de s’y tenir. C’est ce que je ne prétends pas avoir fait. Il faut prendre beaucoup sur soi pour vouloir s’établir dans ces régions reculées où tout a d’abord l’air de se passer si mal, à plus forte raison pour vouloir y conduire quelqu’un. Encore n’est-on jamais sûr d’y être tout à fait. Tant qu’à se déplaire, on est aussi bien disposé à s’arrêter ailleurs. Toujours est-il qu’une flèche indique maintenant la direction de ces pays et que l’atteinte du but véritable ne dépend plus que de l’endurance du voyageur.

On connaît, à peu de chose près, le chemin suivi. J’ai pris soin de raconter, au cours d’une étude sur le cas de Robert Desnos, intitulée : ENTRÉE DES MÉDIUMS,6 que j’avais été amené à « fixer mon attention sur des phrases plus ou moins partielles qui, en pleine solitude, à l’approche du sommeil, deviennent perceptibles pour l’esprit sans qu’il soit possible de leur découvrir une détermination préalable ». Je venais alors de tenter l’aventure poétique avec le minimum de chances, c’est-à-dire que mes aspirations étaient les mêmes qu’aujourd’hui, mais que j’avais foi en la lenteur d’élaboration pour me sauver de contacts inutiles, de contacts que je réprouvais grandement. C’était là une pudeur de la pensée dont il me reste encore quelque chose. À la fin de ma vie, je parviendrai sans doute difficilement à parler comme on parle, à excuser ma voix et le petit nombre de mes gestes. La vertu de la parole ( de l’écriture : bien davantage ) me paraissait tenir à la faculté de raccourcir de façon saisissante l’exposé ( puisque exposé il y avait ) d’un petit nombre de faits, poétiques ou autres, dont je me faisais la substance. Je m’étais figuré que Rimbaud ne procédait pas autrement. Je composais, avec un souci de variété qui méritait mieux, les derniers poèmes de Mont de piété, c’est-à-dire que j’arrivais à tirer des lignes blanches de ce livre un parti incroyable. Ces lignes étaient l’œil fermé sur des opérations de pensée que je croyais devoir dérober au lecteur. Ce n’était pas tricherie de ma part, mais amour de brusquer. J’obtenais l’illusion d’une complicité possible, dont je me passais de moins en moins. Je m’étais mis à choyer immodérément les mots pour l’espace qu’ils admettent autour d’eux, pour leurs tangences avec d’autres mots innombrables que je ne prononçais pas. Le poème FORÊT NOIRE relève exactement de cet état d’esprit. J’ai mis six mois à l’écrire et l’on peut croire que je ne me suis pas reposé un seul jour. Mais il y allait de l’estime que je me portais alors, n’est-ce pas assez, on me comprendra. J’aime ces confessions stupides. En ce temps-là, la pseudo-poésie cubiste cherchait à s’implanter, mais elle était sortie désarmée du cerveau de Picasso et en ce qui me concerne je passais pour ennuyeux comme la pluie ( je le passe encore ) . Je me doutais, d’ailleurs, qu’au point de vue poétique je faisais fausse route, mais je me sauvais la mise comme je pouvais, bravant le lyrisme à coups de définitions et de recettes ( les phénomènes dada n’allaient pas tarder à se produire ) et faisant mine de chercher une application de la poésie dans la publicité ( je prétendais que le monde finirait, non par un beau livre, mais par une belle réclame pour l’enfer ou pour le ciel ) . À la même époque, un homme, pour le moins aussi ennuyeux que moi, Pierre Reverdy, écrivait :

L’image est une création pure de l’esprit. Elle ne peut naître d’une comparaison mais du rapprochement de deux réalités plus ou moins éloignées. Plus les rapports des deux réalités rapprochées seront lointains et justes, plus l’image sera forte — plus elle aura de puissance émotive et de réalité poétique… etc.7

Ces mots, quoique sibyllins pour les profanes, étaient de très forts révélateurs et je les méditai longtemps. Mais l’image me fuyait. L’esthétique de Reverdy, esthétique toute a posteriori, me faisait prendre les effets pour les causes. C’est sur ces entrefaites que je fus amené à renoncer définitivement à mon point de vue.

Un soir donc, avant de m’endormir, je perçus, nettement articulée au point qu’il était impossible d’y changer un mot, mais distraite cependant du bruit de toute voix, une assez bizarre phrase qui me parvenait sans porter trace des événements auxquels, de l’aveu de ma conscience, je me trouvais mêlé à cet instant-là, phrase qui me parut insistante, phrase oserai-je dire qui cognait à la vitre. J’en pris rapidement notion et me disposais à passer outre quand son caractère organique me retint. En vérité cette phrase m’étonnait; je ne l’ai malheureusement pas retenue jusqu’à ce jour, c’était quelque chose comme: « Il y a un homme coupé en deux par la fenêtre », mais elle ne pouvait souffrir d’équivoque, accompagnée qu’elle était de la faible représentation visuelle8 d’un homme marchant et tronçonné à mi-hauteur par une fenêtre perpendiculaire à l’axe de son corps. À n’en pas douter il s’agissait du simple redressement dans l’espace d’un homme qui se tient penché à la fenêtre. Mais cette fenêtre ayant suivi le déplacement de l’homme, je me rendis compte que j’avais affaire à une image d’un type assez rare et je n’eus vite d’autre idée que de l’incorporer à mon matériel de construction poétique. Je ne lui eus pas plus tôt accordé ce crédit que d’ailleurs elle fit place à une succession à peine intermittente de phrases qui ne me surprirent guère moins et me laissèrent sous l’impression d’une gratuité telle que l’empire que j’avais pris jusque-là sur moi-même me parut illusoire et que je ne songeai plus qu’à mettre fin à l’interminable querelle qui a lieu en moi. 9

Tout occupé que j’étais encore de Freud à cette époque et familiarisé avec ses méthodes d’examen que j’avais eu quelque peu l’occasion de pratiquer sur des malades pendant la guerre, je résolus d’obtenir de moi ce qu’on cherche à obtenir d’eux, soit un monologue de débit aussi rapide que possible, sur lequel l’esprit critique du sujet ne fasse porter aucun jugement, qui ne s’embarrasse, par suite, d’aucune réticence, et qui soit aussi exactement que possible la pensée parlée. Il m’avait paru, et il me paraît encore — la manière dont m’était parvenue la phrase de l’homme coupé en témoignait — que la vitesse de la pensée n’est pas supérieure à celle de la parole, et qu’elle ne défie pas forcément la langue, ni même la plume qui court. C’est dans ces dispositions que Philippe Soupault, à qui j’avais fait part de ces premières conclusions, et moi nous entreprîmes de noircir du papier, avec un louable mépris de ce qui pourrait s’ensuivre littérairement. La facilité de réalisation fit le reste. À la fin du premier jour, nous pouvions nous lire une cinquantaine de pages obtenues par ce moyen, commencer à comparer nos résultats. Dans l’ensemble, ceux de Soupault et les miens présentaient une remarquable analogie : même vice de construction, défaillances de même nature, mais aussi, de part et d’autre, l’illusion d’une verve extraordinaire, beaucoup d’émotion, un choix considérable d’images d’une qualité telle que nous n’eussions pas été capables d’en préparer une seule de longue main, un pittoresque très spécial et, de-ci de-là, quelque proposition d’une bouffonnerie aiguë. Les seules différences que présentaient nos deux textes me parurent tenir essentiellement à nos humeurs réciproques, celle de Soupault moins statique que la mienne et, s’il me permet cette légère critique, à ce qu’il avait commis l’erreur de distribuer au haut de certaines pages, et par esprit, sans doute, de mystification, quelques mots en guise de titres. Je dois, par contre, lui rendre cette justice qu’il s’opposa toujours, de toutes ses forces, au moindre remaniement, à la moindre correction au cours de tout passage de ce genre qui me semblait plutôt mal venu. En cela certes il eut tout à fait raison.10 Il est, en effet, fort difficile d’apprécier à leur juste valeur les divers éléments en présence, on peut même dire qu’il est impossible de les apprécier à première lecture. À vous qui écrivez, ces éléments, en apparence, vous sont aussi étrangers qu’à tout autre et vous vous en défiez naturellement. Poétiquement parlant, ils se recommandent surtout par un très haut degré d’absurdité immédiate, le propre de cette absurdité, à un examen plus approfondi, étant de céder la place à tout ce qu’il y a d’admissible, de légitime au monde : la divulgation d’un certain nombre de propriétés et de faits non moins objectifs, en somme, que les autres. En hommage à Guillaume Apollinaire, qui venait de mourir et qui, à plusieurs reprises, nous paraissait avoir obéi à un entraînement de ce genre, sans toutefois y avoir sacrifié de médiocres moyens littéraires, Soupault et moi nous désignâmes sous le nom de SURRÉALISME le nouveau mode d’expression pure que nous tenions à notre disposition et dont il nous tardait de faire bénéficier nos amis. Je crois qu’il n’y a plus aujourd’hui à revenir sur ce mot et que l’acception dans laquelle nous l’avons pris a prévalu généralement sur son acception apollinarienne. À plus juste titre encore, sans doute aurions-nous pu nous emparer du mot SUPERNATURALISME, employé par Gérard de Nerval dans la dédicace des Filles du feu.11 Il semble, en effet, que Nerval posséda à merveille l’esprit dont nous nous réclamons, Apollinaire n’ayant possédé, par contre, que la lettre, encore imparfaite, du surréalisme et s’étant montré impuissant à en donner un aperçu théorique qui nous retienne. Voici deux phrases de Nerval qui me paraissent, à cet égard, très significatives :

Je vais vous expliquer, mon cher Dumas, le phénomène dont vous avez parlé plus haut. Il est, vous le savez, certains conteurs qui ne peuvent inventer sans s’identifier aux personnages de leur imagination. Vous savez avec quelle conviction notre vieil ami Nodier racontait comment il avait eu le malheur d’être guillotiné à l’époque de la Révolution; on en devenait tellement persuadé que l’on se demandait comment il était parvenu à se faire recoller la tête. … Et puisque vous avez eu l’imprudence de citer un des sonnets composés dans cet état de rêverie SUPERNATURALISTE, comme diraient les Allemands, il faut que vous les entendiez tous. Vous les trouverez à la fin du volume. Ils ne sont guère plus obscurs que la métaphysique d’Hegel ou les MÉMORABLES de Swedenborg, et perdraient de leur charme à être expliqués, si la chose était possible, concédez-moi du moins le mérite de l’expression…12
C’est de très mauvaise foi qu’on nous contesterait le droit d’employer le mot SURRÉALISME dans le sens très particulier où nous l’entendons, car il est clair qu’avant nous ce mot n’avait pas fait fortune. Je le définis donc une fois pour toutes :

SURRÉALISME, n. m. Automatisme psychique pur par lequel on se propose d’exprimer, soit verbalement, soit par écrit, soit de toute autre manière, le fonctionnement réel de la pensée. Dictée de la pensée, en l’absence de tout contrôle exercé par la raison, en dehors de toute préoccupation esthétique ou morale. ENCYCL. Philos. Le surréalisme repose sur la croyance à la réalité supérieure de certaines formes d’associations négligées jusqu’à lui, à la toute-puissance du rêve, au jeu désintéressé de la pensée. Il tend à ruiner définitivement tous les autres mécanismes psychiques et à se substituer à eux dans la résolution des principaux problèmes de la vie. Ont fait acte de SURRÉALISME ABSOLU MM. Aragon, Baron, Boiffard, Breton, Carrive, Crevel, Delteil, Desnos, Éluard, Gérard, Limbour, Malkine, Morise, Naville, Noll, Péret, Picon, Soupault, Vitrac.

Ce semblent bien être, jusqu’à présent, les seuls, et il n’y aurait pas à s’y tromper, n’était le cas passionnant d’Isidore Ducasse, sur lequel je manque de données. Et certes, à ne considérer que superficiellement leurs résultats, bon nombre de poètes pourraient passer pour surréalistes, à commencer par Dante et, dans ses meilleurs jours, Shakespeare. Au cours des différentes tentatives de réduction auxquelles je me suis livré de ce qu’on appelle, par abus de confiance, le génie, je n ’ai rien trouvé qui se puisse attribuer finalement à un autre processus que celui-là.

Les NUITS d’Young sont surréalistes d’un bout à l’autre; c’est malheureusement un prêtre qui parle, un mauvais prêtre, sans doute, mais un prêtre.

Swift est surréaliste dans la méchanceté.

Sade est surréaliste dans le sadisme.

Chateaubriand est surréaliste dans l’exotisme.

Constant est surréaliste en politique.

Hugo est surréaliste quand il n’est pas bête.

Desbordes-Valmore est surréaliste en amour.

Bertrand est surréaliste dans le passé.

Rabbe est surréaliste dans la mort.

Poe est surréaliste dans l’aventure.

Baudelaire est surréaliste dans la morale.

Rimbaud est surréaliste dans la pratique de la vie et ailleurs.

Mallarmé est surréaliste dans la confidence.

Jarry est surréaliste dans l’absinthe.

Nouveau est surréaliste dans le baiser.

Saint-Pol-Roux est surréaliste dans le symbole.

Fargue est surréaliste dans l’atmosphère.

Vaché est surréaliste en moi.

Reverdy est surréaliste chez lui.

Saint-John Perse est surréaliste à distance.

Roussel est surréaliste dans l’anecdote.


J’y insiste, ils ne sont pas toujours surréalistes, en ce sens que je démêle chez chacun d’eux un certain nombre d’idées préconçues auxquelles — très naïvement! — ils tenaient. Ils y tenaient parce qu’ils n’avaient pas entendu la voix surréaliste, celle qui continue à prêcher à la veille de la mort et au-dessus des orages, parce qu’ils ne voulaient pas servir seulement à orchestrer la merveilleuse partition. C’étaient des instruments trop fiers, c’est pourquoi ils n’ont pas toujours rendu un son harmonieux.13 Mais nous, qui ne nous sommes livrés à aucun travail de filtration, qui nous sommes faits dans nos œuvres les sourds réceptacles de tant d’échos, les modestes appareils enregistreurs qui ne s’hypnotisent pas sur le dessin qu’ils tracent nous servons peut-être encore une plus noble cause. Aussi rendons-nous avec probité le « talent » qu’on nous prête. Parlez-moi du talent de ce mètre en platine, de ce miroir, de cette porte, et du ciel si vous voulez. Nous n’avons pas de talent, demandez à Philippe Soupault :

Les manufactures anatomiques et les habitations à bon marché détruiront les villes les plus hautes.
À Roger Vitrac :

À peine avais-je invoqué-le marbre-amiral que celui-ci tourna sur ses talons comme un cheval qui se cabre devant l’étoile polaire et me désigna dans le plan de son bicorne une région où je devais passer ma vie.

À Paul Éluard :

C’est une histoire connue que je conte, c’est un poème célèbre que je relis : je suis appuyé contre un mur, avec des oreilles verdoyantes et des lèvres calcinées.

À Max Morise :

L’ours des cavernes et son compagnon le butor, le vol-au-vent et son valet le vent, le grand Chancelier avec sa chancelière, l’épouvantail à moineaux et son compère le moineau, l’éprouvette et sa fille l’aiguille, le carnassier et son frère le carnaval, le balayeur et son monocle, le Mississippi et son petit chien, le corail et son pot-au-lait, le Miracle et son bon Dieu n’ont plus qu’à disparaître de la surface de la mer.

À Joseph Delteil :

Hélas! je crois à la vertu des oiseaux. Et il suffit d’une plume pour me faire mourir de rire.

À Louis Aragon :

Pendant une interruption de la partie, tandis que les joueurs se réunissaient autour d’un bol de punch flambant, je demandai à l’arbre s’il avait toujours son ruban rouge.

Et à moi-même, qui n’ai pu m’empêcher d’écrire les lignes serpentines, affolantes, de cette préface.

Demandez à Robert Desnos, celui d’entre nous qui, peut-être, s’est le plus approché de la vérité surréaliste, celui qui, dans des œuvres encore inédites14 et le long des multiples expériences auxquelles il s’est prêté, a justifié pleinement l’espoir que je plaçais dans le surréalisme et me somme encore d’en attendre beaucoup. Aujourd’hui Desnos parle surréaliste à volonté. La prodigieuse agilité qu’il met à suivre oralement sa pensée nous vaut autant qu’il nous plaît de discours splendides et qui se perdent, Desnos ayant mieux à faire qu’à les fixer. Il lit en lui à livre ouvert et ne fait rien pour retenir les feuillets qui s’envolent au vent de sa vie.


Composition surréaliste écrite, ou premier et dernier jet

Faites-vous apporter de quoi écrire, après vous être établi en un lieu aussi favorable que possible à la concentration de votre esprit sur lui- même. Placez-vous dans l’état le plus passif, ou réceptif, que vous pourrez. Faites abstraction de votre génie, de vos talents et de ceux de tous les autres. Dites-vous bien que la littérature est un des plus tristes chemins qui mènent à tout. Écrivez vite sans sujet préconçu, assez vite pour ne pas retenir et ne pas être tenté de vous relire. La première phrase viendra toute seule, tant il est vrai qu’à chaque seconde il est une phrase, étrangère à notre pensée consciente, qui ne demande qu’à s’extérioriser. Il est assez difficile de se prononcer sur le cas de la phrase suivante; elle participe sans doute à la fois de notre activité consciente et de l’autre, si l’on admet que le fait d’avoir écrit la première entraîne un minimum de perception. Peu doit vous importer, d’ailleurs; c’est en cela que réside, pour la plus grande part, l’intérêt du jeu surréaliste. Toujours est-il que la ponctuation s’oppose sans doute à la continuité absolue de la coulée qui nous occupe, bien qu’elle paraisse aussi nécessaire que la distribution des nœuds sur une corde vibrante Continuez autant qu’il vous plaira. Fiez-vous au caractère inépuisable du murmure. Si le silence menace de s’établir pour peu que vous ayez commis une faute : une faute, peut-on dire, d’inattention, rompez sans hésiter avec une ligne trop claire. À la suite du mot dont l’origine vous semble suspecte, posez une lettre quelconque, la lettre l par exemple, toujours la lettre l, et ramenez l’arbitraire en imposant cette lettre pour initiale au mot qui suivra.

Pour ne plus s'ennuyer en compagnie

C’est très difficile. N’y soyez pour personne, et parfois lorsque nul n’a forcé la consigne, vous interrompant en pleine activité surréaliste et vous croisant les bras, dites : « C’est égal, il y a sans doute mieux à faire ou à ne pas faire. L’intérêt de la vie ne se soutient pas. Simplicité, ce qui se passe en moi m’est encore importun! » ou toute autre banalité révoltante.

Pour faire des discours

Se faire inscrire la veille des élections, dans le premier pays qui jugera bon de procéder à ce genre de consultations. Chacun a en soi l’étoffe d’un orateur : les pagnes multicolores, la verroterie des mots. Par le surréalisme il surprendra dans sa pauvreté le désespoir. Un soir sur une estrade, à lui seul il dépècera le ciel éternel, cette Peau de l’Ours. Il promettra tant que tenir si peu que ce soit consternerait. Il donnera aux revendications de tout un peuple un tour partiel et dérisoire. Il fera communier les plus irréductibles adversaires en un désir secret, qui sautera les patries. Et à cela il parviendra rien qu’en se laissant soulever par la parole immense qui fond en pitié et roule en haine. Incapable de défaillance, il jouera sur le velours de toutes les défaillances. Il sera vraiment élu et les plus douces femmes l’aimeront avec violence.

Pour écrire de faux romans

Qui que vous soyez, si le cœur vous en dit, vous ferez brûler quelques feuilles de laurier et, sans vouloir entretenir ce maigre feu, vous commencerez à écrire un roman. Le surréalisme vous le permettra; vous n’aurez qu’à mettre l’aiguille de « Beau fixe » sur « Action » et le tour sera joué. Voici des personnages d’allures assez disparates : leurs noms dans votre écriture sont une question de majuscules et ils se comporteront avec la même aisance envers les verbes actifs que le pronom impersonnel il envers des mots comme : pleut, y a, faut, etc. Ils les commanderont, pour ainsi dire et, là où l’observation, la réflexion et les facultés de généralisation ne vous auront été d’aucun secours, soyez sûr qu’ils vous feront prêter mille intentions que vous n’avez pas eues. Ainsi pourvus d’un petit nombre de caractéristiques physiques et morales, ces êtres qui en vérité vous doivent si peu ne se départiront plus d’une certaine ligne de conduite dont vous n’avez pas à vous occuper. Il en résultera une intrigue plus ou moins savante en apparence, justifiant point par point ce dénouement émouvant ou rassurant dont vous n’avez cure. Votre faux roman simulera à merveille un roman véritable; vous serez riche et l’on s’accordera à reconnaître que vous avez « quelque chose dans le ventre », puisque aussi bien c’est là que ce quelque chose se tient.

Bien entendu, par un procédé analogue, et à condition d’ignorer ce dont vous rendrez compte, vous pourrez vous adonner avec succès à la fausse critique.

Pour se bien faire voir d'une femme qui passe dans la rue

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Contre la mort

Le surréalisme vous introduira dans la mort qui est une société secrète. Il gantera votre main, y ensevelissant l’M profond par quoi commence le mot Mémoire. Ne manquez pas de prendre d’heureuses dispositions testamentaires : je demande, pour ma part, à être conduit au cimetière dans une voiture de déménagement. Que mes amis détruisent jusqu’au dernier exemplaire l’édition du Discours sur le Peu de Réalité.

Le langage a été donné à l’homme pour qu’il en fasse un usage surréaliste. Dans la mesure où il lui est indispensable de se faire comprendre, il arrive tant bien que mal à s’exprimer et à assurer par là l’accomplissement de quelques fonctions prises parmi les plus grossières. Parler, écrire une lettre n’offrent pour lui aucune difficulté réelle, pourvu que, ce faisant, il ne propose pas un but au-dessus de la moyenne, c’est-à-dire pourvu qu’il se borne à s’entretenir ( pour le plaisir de s’entretenir ) avec quelqu’un. Il n’est pas anxieux des mots qui vont venir, ni de la phrase qui suivra celle qu’il achève. À une question très simple, il sera capable de répondre à brûle-pourpoint. En l’absence de tics contractés au commerce des autres, il peut spontanément se prononcer sur un petit nombre de sujets; il n’a pas besoin pour cela de « tourner sept fois sa langue » ni de se formuler à l’avance quoi que ce soit. Qui a pu lui faire croire que cette faculté de premier jet n’est bonne qu’à le desservir lorsqu’il se propose d’établir des rapports plus délicats? Il n’est rien sur quoi il devrait se refuser à parler, à écrire d’abondance. S’écouter, se lire n’ont d’autre effet que de suspendre l’occulte, l’admirable secours. Je ne me hâte pas de me comprendre ( baste! je me comprendrai toujours ) . Si telle ou telle phrase de moi me cause sur le moment une légère déception, je me fie à la phrase suivante pour racheter ses torts, je me garde de la recommencer ou de la parfaire. Seule la moindre perte d’élan pourrait m’être fatale. Les mots, les groupes de mots qui se suivent pratiquent entre eux la plus grande solidarité. Ce n’est pas à moi de favoriser ceux-ci aux dépens de ceux-là. C’est à une miraculeuse compensation d’intervenir — et elle intervient. Non seulement ce langage sans réserve que je cherche à rendre toujours valable, qui me paraît s’adapter à toutes les circonstances de la vie, non seulement ce langage ne me prive d’aucun de mes moyens, mais encore il me prête une extraordinaire lucidité et cela dans le domaine où de lui j’en attendais le moins. J’irai jusqu’à prétendre qu’il m’instruit et, en effet, il m’est arrivé d’employer surréellement des mots dont j’avais oublié le sens. J’ai pu vérifier après coup que l’usage que j’en avais fait répondait exactement à leur définition. Cela donnerait à croire qu’on n’« apprend » pas, qu’on ne fait jamais que « réapprendre ». Il est d’heureuses tournures qu’ainsi je me suis rendues familières. Et je ne parle pas de la conscience poétique des objets, que je n’ai pu acquérir qu’à leur contact spirituel mille fois répété. C’est encore au dialogue que les formes du langage surréaliste s’adaptent le mieux. Là, deux pensées s’affrontent; pendant que l’une se livre, l’autre s’occupe d’elle, mais comment s’en occupe-t-elle? Supposer qu’elle se l’incorpore serait admettre qu’un temps il lui est possible de vivre tout entière de cette autre pensée, ce qui est fort improbable. Et de fait l’attention qu’elle lui donne est tout extérieure; elle n’a que le loisir d’approuver ou de réprouver, généralement de réprouver, avec tous les égards dont l’homme est capable. Ce mode de langage ne permet d’ailleurs pas d’aborder le fond d’un sujet. Mon attention, en proie à une sollicitation qu’elle ne peut décemment repousser, traite la pensée adverse en ennemie; dans la conversation courante, elle la « reprend » presque toujours sur les mots, les figures dont elle se sert; elle me met en mesure d’en tirer parti dans la réplique en les dénaturant. Cela est si vrai que dans certains états mentaux pathologiques où les troubles sensoriels disposent de toute l’attention du malade, celui-ci, qui continue à répondre aux questions, se borne à s’emparer du dernier mot prononcé devant lui ou du dernier membre de phrase surréaliste dont il trouve trace dans son esprit :

« Quel âge avez-vous? — Vous. » ( Écholalie. )

«Comment vous appelez-vous? — Quarante-cinq maisons.» ( Symptôme de Ganser ou des réponses à côté. )

Il n’est point de conversation où ne passe quelque chose de ce désordre. L’effort de sociabilité qui y préside et la grande habitude que nous en avons parviennent seuls à nous le dissimuler passagèrement. C’est aussi la grande faiblesse du livre que d’entrer sans cesse en conflit avec l’esprit de ses lecteurs les meilleurs, j’entends les plus exigeants. Dans le très court dialogue que j’improvise plus haut entre le médecin et l’aliéné, c’est d’ailleurs ce dernier qui a le dessus. Puisqu’il s’impose par ses réponses à l’attention du médecin qui l’examine — et qu’il n’est pas celui qui interroge. Est-ce à dire que sa pensée est à ce moment la plus forte? Peut-être. Il est libre de ne plus tenir compte de son âge et de son nom.

Le surréalisme poétique, auquel je consacre cette étude, s’est appliqué jusqu’ici à rétablir dans sa vérité absolue le dialogue, en dégageant les deux interlocuteurs des obligations de la politesse. Chacun d’eux poursuit simplement son soliloque, sans chercher à en tirer un plaisir dialectique particulier et à en imposer le moins du monde à son voisin. Les propos tenus n’ont pas, comme d’ordinaire, pour but le développement d’une thèse, aussi négligeable qu’on voudra, ils sont aussi désaffectés que possible. Quant à la réponse qu’ils appellent, elle est, en principe, totalement indifférente à l’amour-propre de celui qui a parlé. Les mots, les images ne s’offrent que comme tremplins à l’esprit de celui qui écoute. C’est de cette manière que doivent se présenter, dans Les Champs magnétiques, premier ouvrage purement surréaliste, les pages réunies sous le titre : Barrières, dans lesquelles Soupault et moi nous montrons ces interlocuteurs impartiaux.

Le surréalisme ne permet pas à ceux qui s’y adonnent de le délaisser quand il leur plaît. Tout porte à croire qu’il agit sur l’esprit à la manière des stupéfiants; comme eux il crée un certain état de

besoin et peut pousser l’homme à de terribles révoltes. C’est encore, si l’on veut, un bien artificiel paradis et le goût qu’on en a relève de la critique de Baudelaire au même titre que les autres. Aussi l’analyse des effets mystérieux et des jouissances particulières qu’il peut engendrer — par bien des côtés le surréalisme se présente comme un vice nouveau, qui ne semble pas devoir être l’apanage de quelques hommes; il a comme le haschisch de quoi satisfaire tous les délicats —, une telle analyse ne peut manquer de trouver place dans cette étude.

1° Il en va des images surréalistes comme de ces images de l’opium que l’homme n’évoque plus, mais qui « s’offrent à lui, spontanément, despotiquement. Il ne peut pas les congédier; car la volonté n’a plus de force et ne gouverne plus les facultés[15]. » Reste à savoir si l’on a jamais « évoqué » les images. Si l’on s’en tient, comme je le fais, à la définition de Reverdy, il ne semble pas possible de rapprocher volontairement ce qu’il appelle « deux réalités distantes ». Le rapprochement se fait ou ne se fait pas, voilà tout. Je nie, pour ma part, de la façon la plus formelle, que chez Reverdy des images telles que :

Dans le ruisseau il y a une chanson qui coule

ou :

Le jour s’est déplié comme une nappe blanche

ou :

Le monde rentre dans un sac

offrent le moindre degré de préméditation. Il est faux, selon moi, de prétendre que « l’esprit a saisi les rapports » des deux réalités en présence. Il n’a, pour commencer, rien saisi consciemment. C’est du rapprochement en quelque sorte fortuit des deux termes qu’a jailli une lumière particulière, lumière de l’image, à laquelle nous nous montrons infiniment sensibles. La valeur de l’image dépend de la beauté de l’étincelle obtenue; elle est, par conséquent, fonction de la différence de potentiel entre les deux conducteurs. Lorsque cette différence existe à peine comme dans la comparaison,15 l’étincelle ne se produit pas. Or il n’est pas, à mon sens, au pouvoir de l’homme de concerter le rapprochement de deux réalités si distantes. Le principe d’association des idées, tel qu’il nous apparaît, s’y oppose. Ou bien faudrait-il en revenir à un art elliptique, que Reverdy condamne comme moi. Force est donc bien d’admettre que les deux termes de l’image ne sont pas déduits l’un de l’autre par l’esprit en vue de l’étincelle à produire, qu’ils sont les produits simultanés de l’activité que j’appelle surréaliste, la raison se bornant à constater, et a apprécier le phénomène lumineux. Et de même que la longueur de l’étincelle gagne à ce que celle-ci se produise à travers des gaz raréfiés, l’atmosphère surréaliste créée par l’écriture mécanique, que j’ai tenu à mettre à la portée de tous, se prête particulièrement à la production des plus belles images. On peut même dire que les images apparaissent, dans cette course vertigineuse, comme les seuls guidons de l’esprit. L’esprit se convainc peu à peu de la réalité suprême de ces images. Se bornant d’abord à les subir, il s’aperçoit bientôt qu’elles flattent sa raison, augmentent d’autant sa connaissance. Il prend conscience des étendues illimitées où se manifestent ses désirs, où le pour et le contre se réduisent sans cesse, où son obscurité ne le trahit pas. Il va, porté par ces images qui le ravissent, qui lui laissent à peine le temps de souffler sur le feu de ses doigts. C’est la plus belle des nuits, la nuit des éclairs : le jour, auprès d’elle, est la nuit.

Les types innombrables d’images surréalistes appelleraient une classification que, pour aujourd’hui, je ne me propose pas de tenter. Les grouper selon leurs affinités particulières m’entraînerait trop loin; je veux tenir compte, essentiellement, de leur commune vertu. Pour moi, la plus forte est celle qui présente le degré d’arbitraire le plus élevé, je ne le cache pas; celle qu’on met le plus longtemps à traduire en langage pratique, soit qu’elle recèle une dose énorme de contradiction apparente, soit que l’un de ses termes en soit curieusement dérobé, soit que s’annonçant sensationnelle, elle ait l’air de se dénouer faiblement ( qu’elle ferme brusquement l’angle de son compas ) , soit qu’elle tire d’elle-même une justification formelle dérisoire, soit qu’elle soit d’ordre hallucinatoire, soit qu’elle prête très naturellement à l’abstrait le masque du concret, ou inversement, soit qu’elle implique la négation de quelque propriété physique élémentaire, soit qu’elle déchaîne le rire. En voici, dans l’ordre, quelques exemples :

Le rubis du Champagne. Lautréamont.

Beau comme la loi de l’arrêt du développement de la poitrine chez les adultes dont la propension à la croissance n’est pas en rapport avec la quantité de molécules que leur organisme s’assimile. Lautréamont.

Une église se dressait éclatante comme une cloche. Philippe Soupault.

Dans le sommeil de Rrose Sélavy il y a un nain sorti d’un puits qui vient manger son pain la nuit. Robert Desnos.

Sur le pont la rosée à tête de chatte se berçait. André Breton.

Un peu à gauche, dans mon firmament deviné, j’aperçois — mais sans doute n’est-ce qu’une vapeur de sang et de meurtre — le brillant dépoli des perturbations de la liberté. Louis Aragon.

Dans la foret incendiée, Les lions étaient frais. Roger Vitrac.

La couleur des bas d’une femme n’est pas forcément à l’image de ses yeux, ce qui a fait dire à un philosophe qu’il est inutile de nommer : « Les céphalopodes ont plus de raisons que les quadrupèdes de haïr le progrès. » Max Morise.

1°      Qu’on le veuille ou non, il y a là de quoi satisfaire à plusieurs exigences de l’esprit. Toutes ces images semblent témoigner que l’esprit est mûr pour autre chose que les bénignes joies qu’en général il s’accorde. C’est la seule manière qu’il ait de faire tourner à son avantage la quantité idéale d’événements dont il est chargé.16 Ces images lui donnent la mesure de sa dissipation ordinaire et des inconvénients qu’elle offre pour lui. Il n’est pas mauvais qu’elles le déconcertent finalement, car déconcerter l’esprit c’est le mettre dans son tort. Les phrases que je cite y pourvoient grandement. Mais l’esprit qui les savoure en tire la certitude de se trouver dans le droit chemin; pour lui-même, il ne saurait se rendre coupable d’argutie; il n’a rien à craindre puisqu’en outre il se fait fort de tout cerner.

2°      L’esprit qui plonge dans le surréalisme revit avec exaltation la meilleure part de son enfance. C’est un peu pour lui la certitude de qui, étant en train de se noyer, repasse, en moins d’une minute, tout l’insurmontable de sa vie. On me dira que ce n’est pas très encourageant. Mais je ne tiens pas à encourager ceux qui me diront cela. Des souvenirs d’enfance et de quelques autres se dégage un sentiment d’inaccaparé et par la suite de dévoyé, que je tiens pour le plus fécond qui existe. C’est peut-être l’enfance qui approche le plus de la « vraie vie »; l’enfance au-delà de laquelle l’homme ne dispose, en plus de son laisser-passer, que de quelques billets de faveur; l’enfance où tout concourait cependant à la possession efficace, et sans aléas, de soi-même. Grâce au surréalisme, il semble que ces chances reviennent. C’est comme si l’on courait encore à son salut, ou à sa perte. On revit, dans l’ombre, une terreur précieuse. Dieu merci, ce n’est encore que le Purgatoire. On traverse, avec un tressaillement, ce que les occultistes appellent des paysages dangereux. Je suscite sur mes pas des monstres qui guettent; ils ne sont pas encore malintentionnés à mon égard et je ne suis pas perdu, puisque je les crains. Voici « les éléphants à tête de femme et les lions volants » que, Soupault et moi, nous tremblâmes naguère de rencontrer, voici le « poisson soluble » qui m’effraye bien encore un peu. POISSON SOLUBLE, n’est-ce pas moi le poisson soluble, je suis né sous le signe des Poissons et l’homme est soluble dans sa pensée! La faune et la flore du surréalisme sont inavouables.

3° Je ne crois pas au prochain établissement d’un poncif surréaliste. Les caractères communs à tous les textes du genre, parmi lesquels ceux que je viens de signaler et beaucoup d’autres que seules pourraient nous livrer une analyse logique et une analyse grammaticale serrées, ne s’opposent pas à une certaine évolution de la prose surréaliste dans le temps. Venant après quantité d’essais auxquels je me suis livré dans ce sens depuis cinq ans et dont j’ai la faiblesse de juger la plupart extrêmement désordonnés, les historiettes qui forment la suite de ce volume m’en fournissent une preuve flagrante. Je ne les tiens à cause de cela, ni pour plus dignes, ni pour plus indignes, de figurer aux yeux du lecteur les gains que l’apport surréaliste est susceptible de faire réaliser à sa conscience. Les moyens surréalistes demanderaient, d’ailleurs, à être étendus. Tout est bon pour obtenir de certaines associations la soudaineté désirable. Les papiers collés de Picasso et de Braque ont même valeur que l’introduction d’un lieu commun dans un développement littéraire du style le plus châtié. Il est même permis d’intituler POÈME ce qu’on obtient par l’assemblage aussi gratuit que possible ( observons, si vous voulez, la syntaxe ) de titres et de fragments de titres découpés dans les journaux :


Et on pourrait multiplier les exemples. Le théâtre, la philosophie, la science, la critique parviendraient encore à s’y retrouver. Je me hâte d’ajouter que les futures techniques surréalistes ne m’intéressent pas.

Autrement graves me paraissent être,17 je l’ai donné suffisamment à entendre, les applications du surréalisme à l’action. Certes, je ne crois pas à la vertu prophétique de la parole surréaliste. « C’est oracle, ce que je dis » : 18 Oui, tant que je veux, mais qu’est lui-même l’oracle?19 La piété des hommes ne me trompe pas. La voix surréaliste qui secouait Cumes, Dodone et Delphes n’est autre chose que celle qui me dicte mes discours les moins courroucés. Mon temps ne doit pas être le sien, pourquoi m’aiderait-elle à résoudre le problème enfantin de ma destinée? Je fais semblant, par malheur, d’agir dans un monde où, pour arriver à tenir compte de ses suggestions, je serais obligé d’en passer par deux sortes d’interprètes, les uns pour me traduire ses sentences, les autres, impossibles à trouver, pour imposer à mes semblables la compréhension que j’en aurais. Ce monde dans lequel je subis ce que je subis ( n’y allez pas voir ) , ce monde moderne, enfin, diable! que voulez-vous que j’y fasse? La voix surréaliste se taira peut- être, je n’en suis plus à compter mes disparitions. Je n’entrerai plus, si peu que ce soit, dans le décompte merveilleux de mes années et de mes jours. Je serai comme Nijinski, qu’on conduisit l’an dernier aux Ballets russes et qui ne comprit pas à quel spectacle il assistait. Je serai seul, bien seul en moi, indifférent à tous les ballets du monde. Ce que j’ai fait, ce que je n’ai pas fait, je vous le donne.

Et, dès lors, il me prend une grande envie de considérer avec indulgence la rêverie scientifique, si malséante en fin de compte, à tous égards. Les sans-fil? Bien. La syphilis? Si vous voulez. La photographie? Je n’y vois pas d’inconvénient. Le cinéma? Bravo pour les salles obscures. La guerre? Nous riions bien. Le téléphone? Allô, oui. La jeunesse? Charmants cheveux blancs. Essayez de me faire dire merci : « Merci. » Merci… Si le vulgaire estime fort ce que sont à proprement parler les recherches de laboratoire, c’est que celles-ci ont abouti au lancement d’une machine, à la découverte d’un sérum, auxquels le vulgaire se croit directement intéressé. Il ne doute pas qu’on ait voulu améliorer son sort. Je ne sais ce qui entre exactement dans l’idéal des savants de vœux humanitaires, mais il ne me paraît pas que cela constitue une somme bien grande de bonté. Je parle, bien entendu, des vrais savants et non des vulgarisateurs de toutes sortes qui se font délivrer un brevet. Je crois, dans ce domaine comme dans un autre, à la joie surréaliste pure de l’homme qui, averti de l’échec successif de tous les autres, ne se tient pas pour battu, part d’où il veut et, par tout autre chemin qu’un chemin raisonnable, parvient où il peut. Telle ou telle image, dont il jugera opportun de signaliser sa marche et qui, peut-être, lui vaudra la reconnaissance publique, je puis l’avouer, m’indiffère en soi. Le matériel dont il faut bien qu’il s’embarrasse ne m’en impose pas non plus : ses tubes de verre ou mes plumes métalliques… Quant à sa méthode, je la donne pour ce que vaut la mienne. J’ai vu à l’œuvre l’inventeur du réflexe cutané plantaire; il manipulait sans trêve ses sujets, c’était tout autre chose qu’un « examen » qu’il pratiquait, il était clair qu’il ne s’en fiait plus à aucun plan. De-ci de-là, il formulait une remarque, lointainement, sans pour cela poser son épingle, et tandis que son marteau courait toujours. Le traitement des malades, il en laissait à d’autres la tâche futile. Il était tout à cette fièvre sacrée. Le surréalisme, tel que je l’envisage, déclare assez notre non-conformisme absolu pour qu’il ne puisse être question de le traduire, au procès du monde réel, comme témoin à décharge. Il ne saurait, au contraire, justifier que de l’état complet de distraction auquel nous espérons bien parvenir ici-bas. La distraction de la femme chez Kant, la distraction « des raisins » chez Pasteur, la distraction des véhicules chez Curie sont à cet égard profondément symptomatiques. Ce monde n’est que très relativement à la mesure de la pensée et les incidents de ce genre ne sont que les épisodes jusqu’ici les plus marquants d’une guerre d’indépendance à laquelle je me fais gloire de participer. Le surréalisme est le « rayon invisible » qui nous permettra un jour de l’emporter sur nos adversaires. « Tu ne trembles plus, carcasse. » Cet été les roses sont bleues; le bois c’est du verre. La terre drapée dans sa verdure me fait aussi peu d’effet qu’un revenant. C’est vivre et cesser de vivre qui sont des solutions imaginaires. L’existence est ailleurs.

A. Breton. Manifestes du Surréalisme. Paris : Gallimard, 1966, pp. 11-64.

1 Dostoïevski : Crime et châtiment.

2 Pascal.

3 Barrès, Proust.

4 Il faut tenir compte de l'épaisseur du rêve. Je ne retiens, en général, que ce qui me vient de ses couches les plus superficielles. Ce qu'en lui j'aime le mieux envisager, c'est tout ce qui sombre à l'éveil, tout ce qui ne me reste pas de l'emploi de cette précédente journée, feuillages sombres, branches idiotes. Dans la « réalité », de même, je préfère tomber.

5 Ce qu’il y a d’admirable dnas le fantastique, c’est qu’il n’y a plus de fantastique : il n’y a que le réel.

6 Voir Les Pas perdus, N. R. F., édit.

7Nord-Sud, mars 1918.

8 Peintre, cette représentation visuelle eût sans doute pour moi primé l'autre. Ce sont assurément mes dispositions préalables qui en décidèrent. Depuis ce jour, il m'est arrivé de concentrer volontairement mon attention sur de semblables apparitions et je sais qu'elles ne le cèdent point en netteté aux phénomènes auditifs. Muni d'un crayon et d'une feuille blanche, il me serait facile d'en suivre les contours. C'est que là encore il ne s'agit pas de dessiner, il ne s'agit que de calquer. Je figurerais bien ainsi un arbre, une vague, un instrument de musique, toutes choses dont je suis incapable de fournir en ce moment l'aperçu le plus schmatique. je m'enfoncerais, avec la certitude de me retrouver, dans un dédale de linges qui ne me paraissent concourir, d'abord, à rien. Et j'en éprouverais, en ouvrant les yeux, une très forte impression de « jamais vu ». La preuve de ce que j'avance a été faite maintes fois par Robert Desnos : il n'y a, pour s'en convaincre, qu'à feuilleter le n° 36 des Feuilles libres contenant plusieurs de ses dessins ( Roméo et Juliette, Un homme est mort ce matin, etc. ) pris par cette revue pour des dessins de fous et publiés innocemment comme tels.

9 Knut Hamsun place sous la dépendance de la faim cette sorte de révélation à la quelle j'ai été en proie, et il n'a peut-être pas tort. ( Le fait est que je ne mangeais pas tous les jours à cette époque. ) À coup sûr ce sont bien les mêmes manifestations qu'il relate en ces termes :

« Le lendemain je m’éveillai de bonne heure. Il faisait encore nuit. Mes yeux étaient ouverts depuis longtemps, quand j’entendis la pendule de l’appartement au-dessous sonner cinq heures. Je voulus me rendormir, mais je n’y parvins pas, j’étais complètement éveillé et mille choses me trottaient en tête. / Tout d’un coup, il me vint quelques bons morceaux, très propres à être utilisés dans une esquisse, dans un feuilleton ; je trouvai subitement, par hasard, de très belles phrases, des phrases comme je n’en avais jamais écrit. Je me le répétai lentement, mot pour mot, elles étaient excellentes. Et il en venait toujours. Je me levai, je pris du papier et un crayon sur la table qui était derrière mon lit. C’était comme si une veine se fût brisée en moi, un mot suivait l’autre, se mettait à sa place, s’adaptait à la situation, les scènes s’accumulaient, l’action se déroulait, les répliques surgissaient dans mon cerveau, je jouissais prodigieusement. les pensées me venaient si rapidement et continuaient à couler si abondamment que je perdais une foule de détails délicats, parce que mon crayon ne pouvait pas aller assez vite, et cependant je me hâtais, la main toujours en mouvement, je ne perdais pas une minute. Les phrases continuaient à pousser en moi, j’étais plein de mon sujet. »

Apollinaire affirmait que les premiers tableaux de Chirico avaient été paints sous l’influence de troubles cénesthésiques ( migraines, coliques ) .

10 Je crois de plus en plus à l'infaillibilité de ma pensée par rapport à moi-même, et c'est trop juste. Toutefois, dans cette écriture de la pensée où l'on est à la merci de la première distraction extérieure, il peut se produire des « bouillons ». On serait sans excuse de chercher à les dissimuler. Par définition, la pensée est forte, et incapable de se prendre en faute. C'est sur le compte des suggestions qui lui viennent du dehors qu'il faut mettre ces faiblesses évidentes.

11 Et aussi par Thomas Carlyle dans SARTOR RESARTUS ( chapitre VIII : Supernaturalisme naturel ) , 1833-34.

12 Cf. aussi l’IDÉORÉALISME de Saint-Pol-Roux.

13 Je pourrais en dire autant de quelques philosophes et de quelques peintres, à ne citer parmi ces derniers qu'Ucello dans l'époque ancienne, et, dans l'époque moderne, que Seurat, Gustave Moreau, Matisse ( dans « La Musique » par exemple, ) Derain, Picasso ( de beaucoup le plus pur ) , Braque, Duchamp, Picabia, Chirico ( si longtemps admirable ) , Klee, Man Ray, Max Ernst et, si près de nous, André Masson.

14 Nouvelles Hébrides, Désordre formel, Deuil pour deuil.

15 Cf. l’image chez Jules Renard.

16 N'oublions pas que, selon la formule de Novalis,

« il y a des séries d'événements qui courent parallèlement avec les réelles. Les hommes et les circonstances, en général, modifient le train idéal des événements, en sorte qu'il semble imparfait ; et leurs conséquences aussi sont également imparfaites. C'est ainsi qu'il en fut de la Réformation ; au lieu du Protestantisme est arrivé le Luthérianisme ».

17 Quelques réserves qu’il me soit permis de faire sur la responsabilité en général et sur les considérations médico-légales qui président à l’établissement du degré de responsabilité d’un individu : responsabilité entière, irresponsabilité, responsabilité limitée ( sic ) , si difficile qu’il me soit d’admettre le principe d’une culpabilité quelconque, j’aimerais savoir comment seront jugés les premiers actes délictueux dont le caractère surréaliste ne pourra faire aucun doute. Le prévenu sera-t-il acquitté ou bénéficiera-t-il seulement de circonstances atténuantes ? Il est dommage que les délits de presse ne soient plus guère réprimés, sans quoi nous assisterions bientôt à un procès de ce genre : l’accusé a publié un livre qui attente à la morale publique ; sur la plainte de quelques-uns de ses concitoyens « les plus honorables » il est également inculpé de diffamation ; on a retenu contre lui toutes sortes d’autres charges accablantes, telles qu’injures à l’armée, provocation au meurtre, au viol, etc. L’accusé tombe, d’ailleurs, aussitôt d’accord avec l’accusation pour « flétrir » la plupart des idées exprimées. Il se borne pour sa défense à assurer qu’il ne se considère pas comme l’auteur de son livre, celui-ci ne pouvant passer que pour une production surréaliste qui exclut toute question de mérite, ou de démérite de celui qui la signe, qu’il s’est borné à copier un document sans donner son avis, et qu’il est au moins aussi étranger que le Président du Tribunal au texte incriminé. Ce qui est vrai de la publication d’un livre le deviendra de mille autres actes le jour où les méthodes surréalistes commenceront à jouir de quelque faveur. Il faudra bien alors qu’une morale nouvelle se substitue à la morale en cours, cause de tous nos maux.

18 Rimbaud.

19 Toutefois, TOUTEFOIS… Il faudrait en avoir le cœur net. Aujourd’hui 8 juin 1924, vers une heure, la voix me soufflait : « Béthune, Béthune. » Qu’était-ce à dire ? Je ne connais pas Béthune et ne me fais qu’une faible idée de la situation de ce point sur la carte de France, Béthune n’évoque rien pour moi, pas même une scène des TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES. J’aurais dû partir pour Béthune, où m’attendait peut-être quelque chose ; c’eût été trop simple, vraiment. On m’a raconté que dans un livre de Chesterton il est question d’un détective qui, pour trouver quelqu’un qu’il cherche dans une ville, se contente de visiter de fond en comble les maisons qui, de l’extérieur, lui présentent un détail légèrement anormal. Ce système en vaut un autre. De même en 1919, Soupault entrait dans quantité d’impossibles immeubles demander à la concierge si c’était bien là qu’habitait Philippe Soupault. Il n’eût pas été étonné, je pense, d’une réponse affirmative. Il serait allé frapper à sa porte..

«  Pomes and ditties

Mikey is my favorite son
Won't sell 'im to anyone ;
Nomi is my favorite daughter
Give a penny and you got 'er!


Life is long and complicated
And with it I'm fully sated;
Life is just a crock of
And I am fed up with it!


Mahler's first

Babes and sucklings cry no more,
C-am sa va trag cite-un picior,
Spre bucuria tuturor!
Cry no more!


Si j'etais man bobă,
J'aimerais ma robe,
De chambre,
Ou robe des champs,
Couleur du temps!


Foaie verde magheran,
M-am facut american,
Zimbaret si gogoman,
Democrat, republican,
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan,

Yankeu sint, yankeu imi zice,
Iankl sint pe un' m-oi duce...


Progeniturii ii sta bine
Cind se-abtine.
Ca daca se manifesta,
Toata lumea o detesta.


Hahalere guralive
Pe la cuiburi se aduna.
Se ridica stive-stive,
Se ascund prin catastive,
Noapte buna!


Te detest si te abhor
Ca pe-un pui de curca chior.


London bridge is falling down

Sa ne spinzuram de-un pom,
De un pom
De un pom
Poate ca deceda-vom
Dupa ce vom deceda,
De ce nu?
De ce da?
Toate s-or simplifica:
Pli- fi- caca !


Un ban, doi bani,
O caruta de jidani;
Un leu, doi lei,
O caruta de evrei!

Why the sharp price hike? Ethnic pride.


Să-l citim pe Nietzsche
Să vedem tzsche sietzsche...


Picaturi de ploaie

Se suie agale pe parbriz
Cu cozi de spermatozoizi.

«  ... I even got an idea, I could feel the mental wheels turning...

« Fjords – July 2009


Mirror images in the many lakes on the road from Hellesylt to Geiranger. Most of them are called just "long lake". But, as you can see, they are quite pretty, reflecting the cloudy sky, and would have been even prettier if we took the pictures in large format. Alas! we were totally unaware, so the images are, at random , full size or 1% of that (OK, 1.4% to be precise). I enlarged the smaller ones, but the results are rather gloppy. Then I started playing with filters, water color and oils ...





Sailors' statue in Bergen

Rather poor enlargement of small photo

Reasonable as watercolor

Then there was this alleyway in the Hanseatic district of Bergen, which fascinates me. The jagged sky between the roofs, the easel in front of the art gallery, the big planks for pavement... I did not take the photo, but I munged no end the one I got courtesy of beloved wife.

Cape Nord

This is the northernmost point of Europe. Besides the gift shop, where we spent most of the time, it has a museum and a few monuments, with impressive views from the cliff. In good old times, one had to climb on foot – there are historical photographs of the king of Norway and the king of Siam, among other luminaries, on the path to the top. The king of Siam still has a shrine in the museum, decorated with flowers and food offerings. I just got to the museum basement (toilet? they also had a view window) and was quite miserable when I finally reached the upper world on a lot of stairs.


                 This was the best shore excursion, with wonderful mountain views, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, plus a ride on a cute scenic railway.


At the bottom of the fjord there was a drakkar, and they were setting up a viking camp, but it was not yet ready. Besides, Lulu says that a ship would not enter its home port with the dragon head – that was strictly for enemies.


We got the forestage, but the scenery stole the show.




Everybody liked Tromso, although I could not find lutefisk (it's only made for Christmas). The town is well above the polar circle, so it has two months of uninterrupted sunshine in the summer, and two months of night in the winter. During the night there are often polar lights. It is also a students' town – with the northernmost university in the world.

Two Norwegian cats, two!

Tourist trap


River waterfront in old Trondheim

The Cathedral in Trondheim

as watercolor


Near Trondheim, there is an exhibit of old farmers' houses. They have huts with grass roofs and painted cottages, which are now used for weddings and other social occasions. In one of the houses they were baking traditional bread. This is thin, flat and dry, and will hold forever – the custom was to bake bread once a year.                



Two guides in folk costume, just right for watercolor



Each at one's favorite passtime: pillager, vegetation god, or high stakes gambler. I have never seen a royal flush, or a straight flush
for that matter, in my life. But beloved wife played enough to get a few, and cashed one on this trip.


«  We reached Mexico, landing at Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco. Beloved wife was disenchanted, and I caught the mood. I was dreaming anyway of pyramids, or at least Frida with Trotzky; instead it was hot. But at least we saw the cliff divers.



pobrecitos After which we got to Nicaragua, even hotter, not much to see – besides a lot of red-black flags, left over from the Sandinistas. But the school term was ending, so all the kids were parading in uniforms and kid gloves – not quite, but still, gloves in that weather! The pictures are from various churches we saw, I hoping for Baroque splendor, of which we got... as you see.

Actually that's unfair, the church dates partially from 1560, and Pope John Paul II came in pilgrimage and proclaimed it a minor basilica. Only I was underwhelmed...


Costa Rica

Then we arrived in Costa Rica. Pura vida! I was enchanted to take a cable car in the jungle, then a boat on the river, where we saw parrots and crocodiles and other exotics, so I really felt we had arrived. The pictures came out so-so, but I blended them up to decent.

scarlet macaw




Next day to Puerto Amador in Panama. Not on the Panama Channel, which we saw in the distance, nor in Panama City, which was also visible, with lots of skyscrapers. It sounds romantic, but Amador is in fact the name of the causeway that connects two former islands with old Panama, called after some local politician. The causeway endpoint on the island, when eventually developed for tourism, will be Puerto Amador.

We saw some ruins and a museum, where we learned how the conquistadors beheaded each other. ruine

There was obviously the Canal Museum; we found out that, besides political and technical complications, the gratest problem was was illness – over 30000 canal and railroad workers died of malaria and yellow fever. Until the Yankee warmongers came: Major Walter Reed, who convinced the powers that be that the mosquitos transmit the diseases, and Major General W. C. Gorgas, who sanitized the place in 1914 – no more tropical diseases afterwards. The Americans remained until recently, when the whole caboodle was returned to Panama, which had contributed the name.

After which we crossed the line (i.e. the Equator) and got the corresponding certificates.


We continued at sea for two days to Manta, Ecuador. I had never heard of Manta before, but it is an important port in that country, and also a shipbuilding center for the fishery fleet.

ship building

Besides, it is the place where Panama hats originate (the name simply means that they were worn in Panama, especially by bigwigs like Teddy Roosevelt). I had bought a Panama for $10, but the really fancy hats, with a fine and elegant weave, cost $100 to $200. We saw how the hats are made: first, palm leaves get sliced into thin strips, which are boiled with sulphur; then, poor Pilar weaves the hat for a few days or weeks, with that pillar stuck in her chest; then the result – the shaggy hats on the wall – gets sent to a specialist to complete the border.

Panama hat

We also visited the indigenous peoples museum – all in 15 minutes, including an Easter Island statue (model), as Easter Island belongs to Ecuador. But they are very proud of these tribes – the earliest cultures developed there, then spread to Peru. 2000 years ago the people of Esmeraldas already worked in platinum! But then they never discovered iron.


The Viceroyalty of Peru was the original Spanish colony in South America – this is where I expected to see the extravagant baroque and (vice)kingly opulence. And, indeed, Lima has palaces and churches, with curious hardwood balconies – except that our camera batteries ran out, so all the images are stolen. And, of course, before the Spanish there were the local cultures, of which the Incas were only the last. We saw many of their jewels and artifacts in the "Museo de Oro del Peru".

Still, the main attraction of the city is the climate: never hot, never cold, never rain. The humidity is high, although Lima lies in a desert zone, but manifests itself as morning mist with symbolic drizzle – llovisna. It felt wonderful to be able to walk outside – the first time after San Francisco. We visited a holiday seaside residence, from 1900 or so, very elegant and cozy, and we had a buffet of Peruvian cuisine – complete satisfaction.


before dawn Then we sailed for six days along the coast of Chile – "along" being the operative word.

The first port was Coquimbo, where we arrived before dawn, as you can see in the picture. After the tour, we went to the market for cherries and ate empanadas – yummm!

We stopped in Valparaiso for some more empanadas, then toured the Chilean Naval Officer School – it turns out that their Navy heroically defeated Bolivia and Peru, so Chile chopped off two mineral rich provinces from these countries, and got some more seashore. Bolivia is left landlocked and dreaming of revenge.



Later we reached a glacier in the colder southern seas.

Amalia Amalia b

Then followed the most unexpected part of the trip: Magellan Channel, with two cities, Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina. Both rather large, quite attractive in the Monterey/Carmel style, with surprisingly beatiful scenery and penguins to boot! But, since there were few monuments in Punta Arenas, they took us to the cemetery.

punta arenas ushuaia
Punta Arenas

With Magellan, and a Fuegian. I rub his foot for good luck.

La vie en rose – Ushuaia
punta arenas2 5 hermanos
The ships in Punta Arenas Cinco hermanos – a five peak mountain at Ushuaia

After which we continued, via Cape Horn to the Falklands.

Falkland Islands

The Islands are truly nowhere, and only 3500 people live there, 1200 of them in their capital Stanley. This looks very much like a postcard English village, except for the corrugated iron buildings, which are quite popular in the region.

Stanley church

We went by jeep to see penguins – an off-road adventure. The Falklands had no roads until the war with Argentina; now they have have a few, plus some uncleared mine fields.

Could I live in such a place? probably, with the Internet.


We continued to Montevideo, where we started our series of great steak feasts. They say Montevideo is the most pleasant place to live in South America, and as far as I can tell, it seems true. Besides, I have a soft spot for Uruguay from my days in Maabarot. One of my colleagues, Judith G., had passed through Uruguay on the way from Romania to Israel, and brought some school books. Of course I had to read, and was enthrilled by the official name "Republica Oriental del Uruguay". It merely means on the east shore (of the river, Rio de la Plata) , but I had visions of Fu-Man-Chu. And I found out about Artigas, which I didn't forget yet; on the other hand I will mix up Uruguay and Paraguay as long as I live.


During the night we crossed the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires. In addition to some more steaks – the best in the world, as advertised – we got to visit the cemetery, the second this trip. We also got to the presidential palace, "Casa Rosada". It is pink to fall between the two parties they had, the Reds and the Whites, and the color was obtained by mixing bull blood with the whitewash.

dubla I always put beloved wife on a pedestal, but here she miraculously appeared on two ... almost the Triple Goddess


After two more days at sea, the cruise ended in Rio de Janeiro. The view is absolutely incredible, and we stayed three days, so we enjoyed the place much more than the others. Unfortunately, among other local attractions, Liliana sprained a knee, and part of the trip was in a wheelchair – but who cares!

We climbed on the Corcovado and the Pao de Azucar, drove along the famous beaches – the hotel was on Copacabana beach, just cross the street and get to the sand – went to a big samba show, saw the modernist cathedral and the favelas...


moon over rio And, actually, mooning dates at least since Michelangelo.


Besides, while shopping we met the typical local: his family was Jewish from Bukovina, he had grown in Barbados, spent a few years in Israel and then settled in Rio. He remembered Romanian food from his parents, could speak some Hebrew, and certainly better Yidish than me. Probably better English too, as he had been a kid in Barbados – his current job was to bring English speaking tourists to the shop.


Rio is huge enough to have a jungle – in the city. This is artificial, there were coffee and tea plantations, which failed; then the emperor ordered the jungle reconstituted, with the addition of many exotic plants from Southeast Asia. As far as I can tell, it looks authentic, and is certainly pleasantly cool. There should be monkeys and sloths, but these kept out of sight, so we had to content ourselves with purple lichens and Koi in a pond.

«  they took us to the cemetery – we did not remain...

There is the Plaza de Armas, the center of the town, where you can find the Magellan monument and two beautiful villas of the local moguls, Jose Menendez and Sara Braun. These date from the good old times before the Panama Canal, when Punta Arenas was the main port on the Atlantic-Pacific route. By the way, it may return to this position for a while, because the Canal is due for remodelling.

But apart for them, nobody built monuments there, except the mutual funeral societies, organized by nation: the French, British, Spanish, Croats etc. – and this is what we saw in the cemetery, each had a chapel of its own. The Menendez and Braun also have their own chapels. There is also another Fuegian statue; it was meant as a memorial to the disappeared indigenous population, but turned into a local saint: people leave testimonies all around of prayers he fulfilled.

We also got to the main cemetery in Buenos Aires. More or less the same principle, but much bigger, and the chapels belong to various families. Here I am, reverently doffing my hat at Evita's tomb:

Eva Duarte de Peron

Or maybe I was sweating. But anyway, her body disappeared, then reapeared, then reincarnated as Madonna, then... enough of her? Apparently not.

«  and penguins to boot!


There are all kinds of penguins, of which we saw two: Magellanic penguins near Punta Arenas, Chile, and rockhoppers in the Falkand Islands. In the Falklands there is also a King penguin colony, but we did not get there. The biggest among these birds, Emperor penguins, live only in Antarctica; the cleverest live in Brazil and Galapagos.

rock hoppers Rockhopper penguins, on Falkland Islands.
Magell peng green
Magellanic penguins near Punta Arenas, and some bright green – you would expect penguins on ice, but...
rock hoppers A natural bridge by the rockhopper colony.
nest Penguin nest and tourist nest
3 canes They say that the penguins, by instinct, follow one who starts walking resolutely, with the net result:
Quand trois canes
Vont aux champs
La premiere marche devant.
La seconde suit la premiere,
La troisieme va derniere...


The Museo de Oro consists of four underground rooms, chock-full of ancient artifacts, most of it silver and gold. As we ran through it, I really felt like Pizarro with Atahualpa's ransom. But the Wikipedia cavillers say that much stuff there is fake... one bad sign being that there is no "Museo de Oro" site. Still, the exhibition is quite dazzling, as I tried to show below with all kinds of net images:

This last one showing the harmony between gold and silver, sun and moon, day and night...

There is much more virtual gold, e.g. here. And, although I am a prudish p(r)ig, I must mention the famous erotic pottery of the Moche – très moche – to be found anywhere related to precolumbian Peru.

Then one can find, just in Lima, at least three much more famous places: Museo Larco, the National Museum of Archeology, Antropology and History of Peru and the Central Bank Museum. I could spend hours, or days, in each of them. But, as we had at most 40 minutes...

Food, glorious food

«  ... convincing myself it is art



«  Intii am ajuns in Mexic, la Cabo San Lucas si Acapulco. Nevasta n-a fost incintata de Mexic, si cred ca mi s-a comunicat si mie. Ma asteptam la piramide, sau cel putin Frida cu Trotzki, dar era numai zapuseala. Dar cel putin am vazut localnicii plonjind in mare de pe stinca.


Ca virgula cumparaturi – esential! – bijuterii extrem de scumpe. Dar am luat jucarele pentru copii – fluieras de soc, mult zice cu foc, fluieras de fag... Ii vedeam in orchestra, si-mi dadeam peste mina de viziune.
   Cu limba soacrei

La Acapulco, ghidul mi-a explicat ca cactusul se cheama limba soacrei. Si i-am explicat si eu ce e limba soacrei pe romaneste, dar nu cred ca am ajuns pina la "nopal" sau "sabres".

La stînga, limba soacrei romaneasca, la dreapta lengua de suegra spaniola. Si referinte literare:

Soacra-mea, de anul nou,
Mi-a luat un cactus, ca cadou
Si mi-a zis, ca cactusul dumneaei
Sa-mi aminteasca dragostea ei.


pobrecitos Dupa care am ajuns in Nicaragua, tot cald, cam putin de vazut – in afara de multe steaguri negru-rosu, mostenire de la Sandinisti. Pe de alta parte, se termina scoala, drept care toti puradeii erau la serbare, cu uniforme si minusi albe! Pobrecitos. Pozele sint din bisericile care le-am vazut, eu sperind la splendoare baroc, dar asta-i tot ce-am gasit.

De fapt biserica e o mare antichitate, in parte din 1560. A vizitat-o si Papa Poilish, doar eu strimb din nas...


Costa Rica

Dupa care am ajuns in Costa Rica. Pura vida! am fost incintat, ca ne-am dus in jungla, si pe riu, unde am vazut papagali si crocodili si alte lighioane intr-o verdeata care-ti ia ochii, incit chiar am simtit ca am ajuns. In poze au iesit partial, dar le-am combinat pina par decente.





A doua zi la Puerto Amador in Panama. Nu pe canal – dar se vedea – si nici in Panama City – si aia se vedea la distanta, cu multi zgirie nori. Cel putin numele-i romantic; de fapt Amador e o sosea care conecteaza niste foste insule cu cartierele vechi din Panama City. Terminalul de pe insule, dupa ce o sa fie dezvoltat pentru turism, va fi Puerto Amador.

Am vazut pe-acolo un muzeu si niste ruine, si am aflat cum diferiti conchistadori isi taiau unul altuia capul.


Bineinteles ca e si un muzeu despre canal; cu toate problemele tehnice si politice, cea mai mare era sanitatia – au murit peste 30000 de boli tropicale in Panama. Pina au venit militaristii americani: maiorul Walter Reed care a reusit sa convinga lumea ca tintarii transimit boala si generalul W. C. Gorgas, care a fumigat suficient tara in 1914, ca de atunci nu mai au febra galbena si malarie.

Dupa care am ajuns la ecuator, pe intii Decembrie. S-a facut o ceremonie pe vas, de la care ne-am retras fiindca, ajunsi tirziu, stateam departe si nu auzeam si vedeam cam nimic. Dar am capatat patalamale ca am trecut ecuatorul si am continuat pe valuri spre Ecuador.


In Ecuador am ajuns la Manta, de care nu auzisem vreodata. Dar e un port important acolo, si un centru de constructie de vase de pescuit:

ship building

In plus, e locul unde se fabrica palariile de Panama (numele vine de la faptul ca se foloseau in Panama, mai ales de lumea buna ca Teddy Roosevelt). Eu imi luasem asa una pe $10, dar palariile adevarate, impletite fin si elegant, sint $100-200. Am si vazut cum se fac, o procedura lunga si incomoda.

Panama hat

Intii se taie frunza (la ciini) in fisii, care se fierb cu sulf; dupa aceea sarmana femeie le impleteste, cu stîlpul in piept citeva zile sau saptamini; in fine rezultatul – palariile stufoase de pe perete – abia se trimite la specialist sa faca borduri.

Si cel mai important despre Ecuador: au un vice-presedinte pe nume Lenin Voltaire si politica ca atare.


Peru, bineinteles, e centrul istoric al Americii de sud spaniole. Dupa tot jaful, au ramas destule piese si monumente primitive, si destul aur sa-ti ia ochii. Iar partea cea mai incintatoare e clima la Lima: niciodata cald, niciodata frig, niciodata ploaie. Desi sint in plin desert, au umiditate mare, care se manifesta prin ceata dimineata si burnita (llovisna).


Chile e lung, lung, asa ca ne-am oprit in trei-patru locuri : Coquimbo, Valparaiso, ghetarul Amalia si Punta Arenas. Dar probabil ca la un timp li se parea prea scurt, ca au facut razboi cu Peru si Bolivia, si le-au ciupit ceva provincii pe coasta.

Valparaiso e un loc placut, asemanator cu San Francisco, dar cel mai uimitor e Punta Arenas ( si cellalt oras pe strimtoarea Magellan, Ushuaia in Argentina) Sint orase adevarate, cu imprejurimi pitoresti si pinguini, ba chiar au sanse sa (re)devina mari centre economice. Zice-se ca se inchide canalul Panama pentru renovari, si o sa-si recapete importanta pe ruta Atlantic-Pacific. Ne-am dorit sa luam o casa ca speculatie, sa arda si aia...

Pe un perete in Punta Arenas am vazut si aceasta cugetare:

Homo sapiens piens-sa?

Falkland Islands

Insulele aste sint populate mai ales de pinguini – oameni, poate 3500. Ceeace nu le impiedica sa aiba o istorie complicata, cu Spania, Franta, Anglia ba chiar si Statele Unite sustinind din cind in cind ca ar fi ale lor. Argentina a mostenit pretentiile spaniole, plus artagozitatea locala; nu numai ca au facut razboi cu Anglia, dar aveau si mare pofta sa se bata cu Chile pentru teritorii in Antarctica! Drept care Chile e unica tara vorbitoare de spaniola care numeste insulele "Falklands" si nu "Malvinas".

Poza asta, nu stiu de ce, n-am facut-o; e foarte reprezentativa, aratind biserica oricarui sat englezesc, plus falci de balena.




Steakuri grozave!

Dar asta, desi nu-i steak, e mincarea nationala in Patagonia: oaia crucificata pe asador. N-am apucat sa gustam, dar am admirat la Ushuaia prin vitrina:


Rio de Janeiro

Aici ne-am dat jos de pe vapor, si am stat la hotel trei zile. De asta ne-a placut mult mai mult ca oricare din celelalte locuri. Privelistea, cu stinci, paduri, plaji si munti e absolut extraordinara. Ne-am invirtit cit am putut, desi Liliana si-a scrintit genunchiul de prea multa gimnastica pe vas, si parte din excursii au fost cu caruciorul.
munteu tot rio

licheni Rio e atit de mare ca are si o jungla – in oras. Care de fapt e artificiala: au avut plantatii de cafea si ceai, care n-au mers, si atunci imparatul a decis sa reconstitue jungla, plus alte plante exotice din Asia. Pentru cita biologie stiu eu, arata foarte autentic si tine racoare; sint si animale, maimute si lenesi, dar astea n-au aparut, si a trebuit sa ne multumim cu licheni purpurii si pesti in balta.

Cred ca am vazut din autobus si niste papagali verzi zburind pe autostrada, daca nu erau cai verzi pe pereti.

Si dupa aia, s-a terminat! Credeam ca pe loc intru in depresie, dar, spre uimirea generala, inca nu.


«  Chile? Uruguay? habar n-am, fiindca desi tare vroiam sa fotografiez porumbelul, a zburat.

Dar totul se poate afla prin Internet. E parcul Prado din Montevideo, si statuia se cheama "La Diligencia". Mi-am peticit si poza, chiar tine surugiul ceva in mina, desi nu e porumbel, e vîrful stîlpului din spate.

«  poate cind o iesi Liliana la pensie.

Pardon! asta-i Tailanda. Steagurile seamana prea tare, poate cautai Costa Rica...

«  ...ne-am dorit sa ajungem la Magellan si Capul Horn
«  Magellan Channel, with two cities, Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina

cape horn

Pe unde am fost

« Italy and Middle East Tour – October 2009


Ein Gespenst geht um Europa, Afrika, usw. My last spectral method


As soon as we arrived to Rome I became euphoric, so I tried to take Liliana for a walk to the Villa Borghese, near our hotel, and I would have gone to the museum, except she was too tired. I thought I was not, although we had spent the usual sleepless 20 hours on a plane. Probably I got younger (last time I was in Rome in 1996 or so). But then, wisely, we ate something and went to bed. The euphoria continued, I kept walking tirelessly and willingly, for the next two days, although blessed with a Montezuma revenge (Romulus revenge?). Besides all the familiar places, we also got to some catacombs – again very near to the hotel, where in my excitement I spoke German with Austrian tourists (they were looking for the toilet). We saw the galleries, and the pictures, and realized that burial were a Judeo-Christian idea – the Romans usually cremated their dead and would not tolerate corpses inside the city. After the tour, the Austrians remained to pray in an underground chapel.

The third day we embarked at Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, and the first cruise stop was in Napoli. We visited Capri, Sorrento and Pompei. Beloved wife kept the camera, so it is I who appear in most of the pictures.


Perfume alembic on Capri

Arriving at Sorrento.


Typical room decoration from Pompei. Actually, Pompei is the modern Italian commune containing the ruins of the ancient city Pompeii. But I'm clumsy at typing, so I'll save an i.

There is also a Pohnpei, which used to be Ponape in the Federated States of Micronesia.

This used to be a food shop, the circular holes used as stands for jars or pots. Maybe the ancient McDonald's...
Roman crossing. Rain water would just flow down the streets, so they left boulders to walk across dry.

One opulent house, with wall paintings and mosaics.

This pavement is the most uncomfortable walking surface I ever tried, very uneven and slippery. I felt so tired, that when we lost our group I could not bear the idea of some more walking to and fro to find them, and rushed Liliana back to the entrance. The whole distance may be half a mile, probably less.
The Romans had many kinds of brickwork, with fancy names: opus latericium, opus reticulatum, opus quasi reticulatum, opus incertum, opus compositum, opus caementicium etc...

After one day at sea, we arrived at Piraeus before dawn, and made some night pictures of our ship and the harbor. I'm not sure if the "light painting" is the moving camera or actually ships sailing.

From Piraeus we drove to Athens, to visit the Acropolis and Plaka, the shopping zone.

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement...
That is, the U.S. flag, maybe the Greeks have different ideas. But tourists may be exposed to any weather; it was raining and pouring, with big muddy puddles everywhere.
At the Parthenon, which is being fixed.
One more Caryatid. And she Carys! the psychiatric service, the whole family, me included, etc., etc.
From the other side of the Erechtheion.
The lonely hill surrounded by the city is the Lycabettos. As the name indicates, there used to be wolves there – now just a funicular, because on top there is a hotel and an open theater.

The rock is the Areopagus, the hill of Ares, the god of war, where the trials were held in ancient Athens. It turns out that Ares was the first to be tried there. Not guilty – good to be a god! Lots of churches around the Acropolis. Unsurprisingly, in the Greek cross style: the footprint is a cross with equal arms.

Acropolis lions



The next stop was Kuşadası, Turkey, the port for Ephesus. Of course, that region was the historical Greek Ionia, but after Greece unsuccesfully tried to conquer it from Turkey after WWI, the local Greeks were expulsed (or, more elegantly: there was a population exchange between Turkey and Greece). Historical Ephesus was at one time the second largest city of the Roman Empire, although it kept moving around because of its unhealthy environment, malarial swamps at a nearby river mouth.


Ephesus – the gate. It could not keep away the invaders. One of the statues is Hercules with his lion. Below, beloved wife with other felines.

As you can see, no way to stay far from the madding crowd. But the cats, as befits (minor Egyptian) divinities, take it all with serenity and amazing benevolence to mankind. They can be petted, even come to be petted when called, or, perched on some classic pedestal, equanimously contemplate the masses.

The library of Celsus, a beautiful and practical construction – it was designed to catch the earliest sunrays, and had a cavity construction to protect the scrolls. Eventually we got to the even more famous Library of Alexandria.
According to some legends, the Virgin Mary lived in Ephesus with the apostle John. One may see her house, and John's tomb (we didn't). And we also missed the Museum of Efes, with the extraordinary many breasted Diana.

The town in the background is called Selçuk; but it is not the origin, or capital or anything particular related to the Seljuq Turks. It just got a nationalistic name under the Turkish Republic. The Seljuqs arrived from somewhere north of the Caspian and Aral seas, and conquered the Middle East, Iran and Central Asia by 1000 AD.
Medicine in Ephesus Pharmacy in Ephesus
Victory in Ephesus
Public latrine in Ephesus (omul potrivit la locul potrivit)



Istanbul was the most enjoyable point on this trip (although the Pyramids were, of course, the outstanding top attraction). I had been in Istanbul for one week, in 1961, on our way from Romania to Israel. Then, it had been the revelation of the decadent capitalist world. This time, it was pure enjoyment. We visited the Blue Mosque, Ayasofia and The Sultan's palace at Topkapı.


The Blue Mosque – domes, some hairy.

Turkish interiors are happily decorated with colorful tiles and floral designs. No severity or solemnity in the mosques, rather a feeling of solidified garden.

Atatürk converted Ayasofia, which had been a mosque for 450 years, to a museum. He even got some foreign conservationists to restore the Christian frescos from before 1453, when it had been the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom. Very little attachment to Islam, God knows how he could manage against the fully religious population. Atatürk is badly needed in Israel.

By the way, our guide was very proud that Turkey is by constitution a secular republic. But the current government is led by a religious party.

Seraglio court.
The library of the palace school, Topkapi.
Waiting ambassadors in Council Hall. 18th century, Dutch style.

The room reflects on the glass which covers the image - that's the noise in the left lower corner.

Arrival of the Grand Vizier. T. Allom, 19th century.
Black eunuchs – a recreation of a room shared by two, highly decorated and heated by a brazier.

There were also 'white eunuchs', but these were armed guards of the harem, the uncut version.

The entrance to the Harem. Embroidered covers for Sultan's sofas and pillows.

Here are lots of interior shots from Topkapi, mostly the Sultan's apartments.


Topkapi also has the famous sword of Ali. Muhammad is reported to have said "There is no hero but ‘Alī and no sword except Dhū l-Fiqār". It is called Zulfikar, which may mean "two pronged", and is shown as two pronged on a variety of Muslim flags, from North-Africa, Turkey, India and the Philipines.


However, the sword in the museum is straight and broad, unsplit, and richly ornamented with far-eastern motives (or so they seem to me).

Embroidered sofa cover.
Embroidered pillow cover.



My unchained "artistic" spirit. That is, at some point the camera got out of whack and took strangely under/overexposed shots. Those I munged with my tools and filters, or just reduced to black and white. Fortunately Michael reset the camera to some reasonable state.


The Blue Mosque. The story goes that the sultan ordered altın (golden) minarets, but the architect, Sinan, understood altı (six). The six minarets are an unusual number, most mosques of this size have four.
The Blue Mosque as a blue pencil drawing.
The Golden Horn, view from the Harem.
Interior court in the harem, as watercolor.
Simple Ottoman decoration Full Ottoman decoration
The library of the palace school, as watercolor.



Then we returned to Greece, to the island of Mykonos.
Mykonos is famous for all the wrong reasons: cosmopolitan character, intense nightlife, sandy beaches and a gay-friendly resort area. It was discovered by Onassis and wife, and made trendy for the jet set. But from the sea it looks deadly burnt brown, and the many white buildings mostly suggest teeth in a skull.
Next time Onassis recomends something, I'll pass.

Ugly, and this time I don't mean myself. Fine shiny marble, but carved by the local peasantry, who, although devout, somewhat lack the artistic touch.

And, as you can see from the prostrated people in the shade, it was HOT! We were visiting a monastery, which also served as stronghold against pirates, Turks, etc.

These are the famous windmills, and in the town (also called Mykonos) the white houses with gaily painted doors and windows look quite charming.




We arrived in Egypt at Port Said, and rode on buses to Cairo, along the Suez Canal. We could see the ships waiting their turn to pass. There were villages on the way, with some greenery. But at Ismailia we turned west into the dry and brown land, which makes you believe in Seth who was originally the god of the desert, storms, darkness, and chaos. He is very much there, grudgingly allowing a green strip along the Nile.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. A venerable building from the 1890s, which means no airconditioning – except the treasures room, where one can see the gold mask of Tutankhamen.

The museum is definitely one of the most extraordinary places in the world, but in 40 minutes, with the crowd, the noise and the pushy guide, plus the essential visit to the gift shop... Still I saw the Narmer palette, predynastic, that is at least 5000 years old! To take in all the incredible details, check the net for great images or explanations.

On the way from Cairo to Giza, we crossed the Nile to an island, then crossed again from the island to the western shore. Somehow, I expected the Nile to be much more majestic, but it looks (say) like the Charles River in Boston, which has no historical-legendary aura. The islands in the Nile are traditionally used for agriculture, and are bright green. Cairo looks rather depressing – the desolation of the desert is too obvious and too near, and the houses look ruined. Only look, because, by law, an unfinished building is not taxed, so all buildings are left unfinished, if possible: unplastered, unpainted, with iron bars sticking out. Inside, they may be pretty or confortable, but from outside, always an eyesore. They remind me the shabbier parts of Holon, except that in Israel there are ugly haphazard one or two story houses, and in Cairo 10-15 floor blocks (Cairo is the largest city in Africa, 17 million people). And, just as in Holon you can see two synagogues every block, in Cairo there are two mosques every block (finished, but cannot save the scenery).

And suddenly, above the banal, not to say ugly townscape, the pyramids rise on the horizon.

But, before we actually got to the antiquities, we stopped at a hotel for lunch. Quite luxurious, this is where all the VIPs are entertained when they visit the pyramids. Besides, they had wonderful Tahini.

 היינו כמו זוג יונים
 ... ישבנו יחד בגנים

I am Pharaoh! as such, provided with the fivefold titulary. The Nebty name just spells "Lefi" (L F Y) – there is no V in Egyptian, and the vowel e is added by convention. Surprisingly enough, there was no L in Egyptian either: the lion used to be RW, but is used later for L, e.g. on the Rosetta stone for Ptolemy and Cleopatra. The Horus name spells "Louis" (L W Y), much more kingly, with another replacement for V. The golden Horus name is "Sceadugenga", or what I could fit from the online dictionaries: maybe it says "walk in darkness". The praenomen must start with the god Re, the sun. I hope it means sunburn (I don't like hot sun, and this is the only option in Egypt, or Israel for that matter).

Finally, the nomen is authentic Egyptian nefer-kheperu, and was used by the famous Thutmes III. It translates "beautiful shape" – when I was small, they called me שיינע צורה (sheine tzire) which means precisely that. Then, when I started composing, my work in progress was known as "Shein ietzire" – "ietzira" is creation, or opus in Hebrew.



Celeste Aida,
Forma divina...
With a kefia, properly tucked

Sfinxul fara nas
Moare de necaz!

Actually, nobody knows who broke the Sphinx's nose, although everybody accuses some obvious bad guy: Napoleon's army, the Mamelukes, the British... Most reasonably, it was destroyed in 1378 by a Sufi zealot, who thought the peasants were praying to the "spirit of Nile floods". The Sufi was then hanged for vandalism.



After which we took the bus back. For some reason (economy? sadism? local color?) they turned off the airconditioning. I was very miserable, but did nothing , because I had already asked them to increase the airconditioning on our way to Cairo, and it seemed too much, and I thought that maybe I am crazy, if nobody else complains (they didn't). I decided there was something definitely wrong if all I could remember from the splendor of Egypt was just sweat and steamy crowds. So I vowed never to go below 45 latitude, so our next (planned) trip is Capetown to Dubai to Bombay to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.



But the next day we got to Alexandria. The desert was not in sight, and the temperature was reasonable. Besides, this time we had a very good guide, named Hatchadourian. So I thorougly enjoyed that day.


The command room of our ship, with the distant shore of Alexandria and the port terminal.
Alexandria from the ship. You can see the organized bus group – tourists should all ride in convoy, preceded and followed by military vehicles. However, on the way into Cairo our driver took a shortcut. Even so, we didn't meet Osama.
Another view from the ship. On the left, the roof of the tourists terminal, which was pleasant surprise: very spacious and neat.
The Qaitbay citadel, built by the Turks on the place where the ancient lighthouse used to be. In the sea there are so many ruins of the lighthouse and other antique buildings, that they plan to build an underwater archeological museum, to display them in situ.
In our honor, they added a second keep to the citadel ...





... without us, there is a single keep.

The fortification protects the busy boating in the port.
Inner court in the citadel.
The mosque in the fort.
Some new excavations in Alexandria: an avenue leading to a small theater.


The last shots, the straits of Messina. Both shores, Calabria and Sicily, are near, and lots of ships pass through. It was considered the original place of Scylla and Charybdis, but, of course, these monsters have been recently moved somewhere else, the little known cape Scilla in Greece.



...and then, all that's left are photoprints in the sands of time... BTW, the Egyptians say "Everything fears time, and time fears the Pyramids".

bigA Ă
a ă
bigI Î
i î
bigS Ş
s ş
bigT Ţ
t ţ
bigA^ Â
a^ â

oh, l'amour!

La Ciolpani la crucea-nalta (Romania)

Foaie verde, foaie lata
la Ciolpani la crucea-nalta
la Mariţa sprincenata,
bat-o Dumnezeu s-o bata
pe Mariţa sprincenata,
c-a pus circiuma la poarta.

Of, ce chin, ce dor, ce jale,
pe la poarta dumitale!

Vine om cu patru boi,
dimineata-njuga doi,
vine si unu calare,
pleaca cu seaua-n spinare.

De trei zile, de trei nopti,
Mindro, cu minciuni ma porti.
Catelusa ta ma latra
si tu dormi, dormire-ai moarta.
Sa fiu ciine-n patru labe,
de nu ti-oi da doua palme,
doua palme barbatesti,
sa te-nvat cum sa iubesti!

too wonderful English translation:

Green little leave, wide little leave
at Ciolpani by the high cross
by Marica with dense eyebrows
let the God punish her
this Marica
because it´s dive like by her gate.

Oh, what a pain, suffer and sorrow
all is by your gate now
pain, suffer and sorrow
All is by your house´s gate.

A man comes there with four oxes
leaves with two in the morning
another comes by the horse
leaves with saddle over shoulder in the morning.

For three days and three nights now,
you keep lying to me
Your bitch barks at me
and you sleep on; just sleep forever
As a dog on four I walk,
if I don´t smack you couple times
smack you as a man
to let you know how to love!

Zeleny listku, siroky listku
v Ciolpani u vysokeho krize, 
u Marici s hustym obocim,
at' ji panbuh potresta,
tuhletu Maricu,
protoze u jejich vrat je to jako v krcme.
Ach, jaka bolest, utrpeni a zal 
je ted' u tvych vrat,
bolest, utrpeni a zal 
je u vrat tveho domu.
Prijede tam muz se ctyrmi volky, 
rano odjizdi jen se dvema,
jiny prijede na koni,
rano odchazi se sedlem pres rameno.
Uz tri dny a tri noci
mi porad jenom lzes.
Tva fenka na me stcka
a ty vyspavas; spi si treba na veky.
At' chodim jak pes po ctyrech,
jestli ti nedam par policku,
par chlapskych policku,
abych te naucil, jak mas milovat!

As for the Czech, I have no idea. But I'm working on my Czech-Welsh dictionary, I already have the first entry:

a – a
(meaning 'and' in both languages).

oh, l'amour! (bis)


Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 1821-1881

Souvenirs de la maison des morts

C'etait tard dans la nuit, vers onze heures. Je dormais depuis quelque temps, je me reveillai en sursaut. La lueur terne et faible de la veilleuse eloignee eclairait a peine la salle... Presque tout le monde dormait, meme Oustiantsef: dans le calme de la nuit, j'entendais sa respiration difficile et les glaires qui roulaient dans sa gorge a chaque aspiration. Dans l'antichambre retentirent les pas lourds et lointains de la patrouille qui s'approchait. Une crosse de fusil frappa sourdement le plancher. La salle s'ouvrit, et le caporal compta les malades en marchant avec precaution. Au bout d'une minute, il referma la porte, apres y avoir place un nouveau factionnaire; la patrouille s'eloigna, le silence regna de nouveau. Alors seulement je remarquai non loin de moi deux detenus qui ne dormaient pas et semblaient chuchoter quelque chose. Il arrive quelquefois que deux malades couches cote a cote, et qui n'ont pas echange une parole pendant des semaines, des mois entiers, entament une conversation a brule-pourpoint, au milieu de la nuit, et que l'un d'eux etale son passe devant l'autre.

Ils parlaient probablement depuis longtemps. Je n'entendis pas le commencement, et je ne pus pas tout saisir du premier coup, mais peu a peu je m'habituai a ce chuchotement et je compris tout. Je n'avais pas envie de dormir: que pouvais-je faire d'autre, sinon ecouter? L'un d'eux racontait avec chaleur, a demi couche sur son lit, la tete levee et tendue vers son camarade. Il etait visiblement echauffe et surexcite: il desirait parler. Son auditeur, assis d'un air sombre et indifferent sur sa couchette, les jambes a plat sur le matelas, marmottait de temps a autre quelques mots en reponse a son camarade, plus par convenance qu'autrement, et se bourrait a chaque instant le nez de tabac qu'il puisait dans une tabatiere de corne: c'etait le soldat Tcherevine, de la compagnie de discipline, un pedant morose, froid, raisonneur, un imbecile avec de l'amour-propre, tandis que le conteur Chichkof, age de trente ans environ, etait un forcat civil, auquel jusqu'alors je n'avais guere fait attention; pendant tout mon temps de bagne je ne ressentis jamais le moindre interet pour lui, car c'etait un homme vain et etourdi. Il se taisait quelquefois pendant des semaines, d'un air bourru et grossier; soudain il se melait d'une affaire quelconque, faisait des cancans, s'echauffait pour des futilites, racontait Dieu sait quoi, de caserne en caserne, calomniait, paraissait hors de lui. On le battait, alors il se taisait de nouveau. Comme il etait poltron et lache, on le traitait avec dedain. C'etait un homme de petite taille, assez maigre, avec des yeux egares ou bien stupidement reflechis. Quand il racontait quelque chose, il s'echauffait, agitait les bras et tout a coup s'interrompait ou passait a un autre sujet, se perdait dans de nouveaux details, et oubliait finalement de quoi il parlait. Il se querellait souvent; quand il injuriait son adversaire, Chichkof parlait d'un air sentimental et pleurait presque... Il ne jouait pas mal de la balalaHka, pour laquelle il avait un faible; il dansait meme les jours de fete, et fort bien, quand d'autres l'y engageaient... (On pouvait tres-vite le forcer a faire ce qu'on voulait... Non pas qu'il fut obeissant, mais il aimait a se faire des camarades et a leur complaire.)

Pendant longtemps je ne pus comprendre ce que Chichkof racontait. Il me semblait qu'il abandonnait continuellement son sujet pour parler d'autre chose. Il avait peut-etre remarque que Tcherevine pretait peu d'attention a son recit, mais je crois qu'il voulait ignorer cette indifference pour ne pas s'en formaliser.

–...Quand il allait au marche, continuait-il, tout le monde le saluait, l'honorait... un richard, quoi!

–Tu dis qu'il avait un commerce?

–Oui, un commerce! Notre classe marchande est tres-pauvre: c'est la misere nue. Les femmes vont a la riviere, et apportent l'eau de tres-loin, pour arroser leurs jardins; elles s'ereintent, s'ereintent, et pourtant, quand vient l'automne, elles n'ont meme pas de quoi faire une soupe aux choux. Une ruine! Mais celui-la possedait un gros lopin de terre que ses ouvriers–il en avait trois–labouraient; et puis un rucher, dont il vendait le miel; il faisait le commerce du betail, enfin on le tenait en honneur chez nous. Il etait fort age et tout gris, ses soixante-dix ans etaient bien lourds pour ses vieux os. Quand il venait au marche dans sa pelisse de renard, tout le monde le saluait.–Bonjour, petit pere Ankoudim Trophimytch!–Bonjour! qu'il repondait. Comment te portes-tu? Il ne meprisait personne.–Vivez longtemps, Ankoudim Trophimytch!–Comment vont tes affaires? –Elles sont aussi bonnes que la suie est blanche. Et les votres, petit pere?–Nous vivons pour nos peches, nous fatiguons la terre.–Vivez longtemps, Ankoudim Trophimytch. Il ne meprisait personne. Ses conseils etaient bons; chaque mot de lui valait un rouble. C'etait un grand liseur, car il etait savant; il ne faisait que lire des choses du bon Dieu. Il appelait sa vieille femme et lui disait: Ecoute, femme, saisis bien ce que je te dis. Et le voila qui lui explique. La vieille Maria Stepanovna n'etait pas vieille, si vous voulez, c'etait sa seconde femme; il l'avait epousee pour avoir des enfants, sa premiere femme ne lui en ayant point donne–il avait deux garcons encore jeunes, car le cadet Vacia etait ne quand son pere touchait a soixante ans; Akoulka sa fille avait dix-huit ans, elle etait l'ainee.

–Ta femme, n'est-ce pas?

–Attends un moment; Philka Marosof commence alors a faire du tapage. Il dit a Ankoudim: Partageons, rends-moi mes quatre cents roubles; je ne suis pas ton homme de peine, je ne veux plus trafiquer avec toi et je ne veux pas epouser ton Akoulka. Je veux faire la fete. Maintenant que mes parents sont morts, je boirai tout mon argent, puis je me louerai, c'est-a-dire je m'engagerai comme soldat, et dans dix ans je reviendrai ici feld-marechal! Ankoudim lui rendit son argent, tout ce qu'il avait a lui, parce qu'autrefois, ils trafiquaient a capital commun avec le pere de Philka,–Tu es un homme perdu! qu'il lui dit.–Que je sois perdu ou non, vieille barbe grise, tu es le plus grand ladre que je connaisse. Tu veux faire fortune avec quatre kopeks, tu ramasses toutes les saletes imaginables pour t'en servir. Je veux cracher la-dessus. Tu amasses, tu enfouis, diable sait pourquoi. Moi, j'ai du caractere. Je ne prendrai tout de meme pas ton Akoulka; j'ai deja dormi avec elle...

–Comment oses-tu deshonorer un honnete pere, une honnete fille? Quand as-tu dormi avec elle, lard de serpent, sang de chien que tu es? lui dit Ankoudim eu tremblant de colere. (C'est Philka qui l'a raconte plus tard.)

–Non-seulement je n'epouserai pas ta fille, mais je ferai si bien que personne ne l'epousera, pas meme Mikita Grigoritch, parce qu'elle est deshonoree. Nous avons fait la vie ensemble depuis l'automne dernier. Mais pour rien au monde je n'en voudrais. Non! donne-moi tout ce que tu voudras, je ne la prendrai pas!...

La-dessus, il fit une fiere noce, ce gaillard. Ce n'etait qu'un cri, qu'une plainte dans toute la ville. Il s'etait procure des compagnons, car il avait une masse d'argent, il ribota pendant trois mois, une noce a tout casser! il liquida tout. Je veux voir la fin de cet argent, je vendrai la maison, je vendrai tout, et puis je m'engagerai ou bien je vagabonderai! Il etait ivre du matin au soir et se promenait dans une voiture a deux chevaux avec des grelots. C'etaient les filles qui l'aimaient! car il jouait bien du theorbe...

–Alors, c'est vrai qu'il avait eu des affaires avec cette Akoulka?

–Attends donc. Je venais d'enterrer mon pere; ma mere cuisait des pains d'epice; on travaillait pour Ankoudim, ca nous donnait de quoi manger, mais on vivait joliment mal; nous avions du terrain derriere la foret, on y semait du ble; mais quand mon pere fut mort, je fis la noce. Je forcais ma mere a me donner de l'argent en la rossant moi aussi...

–Tu avais tort de la battre. C'est un grand peche!

–J'etais quelquefois ivre toute la sainte journee. Nous avions une maison couci couca toute pourrie si tu veux, mais elle nous appartenait. Nous crevions la faim; il y avait des semaines entieres ou nous machions des chiffons... Ma mere m'agonisait de sottises, mais ca m'etait bien egal... Je ne quittais pas Philka Marosof, nous etions ensemble nuit et jour. Joue-moi de la guitare, me disait-il, et moi je resterai couche; je te jetterai de l'argent parce que je suis l'homme le plus riche du monde! Il ne savait qu'inventer. Seulement il ne prenait rien de ce qui avait ete vole. Je ne suis pas un voleur, je suis un honnete homme!–Allons barbouiller de goudron[32] la porte d'Akoulka, parce que je ne veux pas qu'elle epouse Mikita Grigoritch! J'y tiens plus que jamais. Il y avait deja longtemps que le vieillard voulait donner sa fille a Mikita Grigoritch: c'etait un homme d'un certain age qui trafiquait aussi et qui portait des lunettes. Quand il entendit parler de la mauvaise conduite d'Akoulka, il dit au vieux: –Ce sera une grande honte pour moi, Ankoudim Trophimytch; au reste je ne veux pas me marier, maintenant j'ai passe l'age. Alors, nous barbouillames la porte d'Akoulka avec du goudron. On la rossa a la maison pour cela, jusqu'a la tuer. Sa mere, Maria Stepanovna, criait: J'en mourrai!–tandis que le vieux disait: Si nous etions au temps des patriarches, je l'aurais hachee sur un bucher; mais maintenant tout est pourriture et corruption ici-bas. Les voisins entendaient quelquefois hurler Akoulka d'un bout de la rue a l'autre. On la fouettait du matin au soir. Et Philka criait sur le marche a tout le monde:–Une fameuse fille que la Akoulka, pour bien boire ensemble. Je leur ai tape sur le museau, aux autres, ils se souviendront de moi. Un jour, je rencontre Akoulka qui allait chercher de l'eau dans des seaux, je lui crie: Bonjour, Akoulina Koudimovna! un effet de votre bonte! dis-moi avec qui tu vis et ou tu prends de l'argent pour etre si brave! Je ne lui dis rien d'autre; elle me regarda avec ses grands yeux; elle etait maigre comme une buche. Elle n'avait fait que me regarder; sa mere, qui croyait qu'elle plaisantait avec moi, lui cria du seuil de sa porte: Qu'as-tu a causer avec lui, ehontee! Et ce jour-la on recommenca de nouveau a la battre. On la rossait quelquefois une heure entiere. Je la fouette, disait-elle, parce qu'elle n'est plus ma fille.

–Elle etait donc debauchee!

–Ecoute donc ce que je te raconte, petit oncle! Nous ne faisions que nous enivrer avec Philka; un jour que j'etais couche, ma mere arrive et me dit: –Pourquoi restes-tu couche? canaille, brigand que tu es! Elle m'injuria tout d'abord, puis elle me dit: – Epouse Akoulka. Ils seront contents de te la donner en mariage, et ils lui feront une dot de trois cents roubles. Moi, je lui reponds: Mais maintenant tout le monde sait qu'elle est deshonoree.–Imbecile! tout cela disparait sous la couronne de mariage; tu n'en vivras que mieux, si elle tremble devant toi toute sa vie. Nous serions a l'aise avec leur argent; j'ai deja parle de ce mariage a Maria Stepanovna: nous sommes d'accord. Moi, je lui dis: –Donnez-moi vingt roubles tout de suite, et je l'epouse. Ne le crois pas, si tu veux, mais jusqu'au jour de mon mariage j'ai ete ivre. Et puis Philka Marosof ne faisait que me menacer. Je te casserai les cotes, espece de fiance d'Akoulka; si je veux, je dormirai toutes les nuits avec ta femme.–Tu mens, chien que tu es! Il me fit honte devant tout le monde dans la rue. Je cours a la maison! Je ne veux plus me marier, si l'on ne me donne pas cinquante roubles tout de suite.

–Et on te l'a donnee en mariage?

–A moi? pourquoi pas? Nous n'etions pas des gens deshonores. Mon pere avait ete ruine par un incendie, un peu avant sa mort; il avait meme ete plus riche qu'Ankoudim Trophimytch. Des gens sans chemise comme vous devraient etre trop heureux d'epouser ma fille! que le vieil Ankoudim me dit.–Et votre porte, n'a-t-elle pas ete assez barbouillee de goudron? lui repondis-je.– Qu'est-ce que tu me racontes? Prouve-moi qu'elle est deshonoree... Tiens, si tu veux, voila la porte, tu peux t'en aller. Seulement, rends-moi l'argent que je t'ai donne! Nous decidames alors avec Philka Marosof d'envoyer Mitri Bykof au pere Ankoudim pour lui dire que je lui ferais honte devant tout le monde. Jusqu'au jour de mon mariage, je ne dessoulai pas. Ce n'est qu'a l'eglise que je me degrisai. Quand on nous amena de l'eglise, on nous fit asseoir, et Mitrophane Stepanytch, son oncle a elle, dit: Quoique l'affaire ne soit pas honnete, elle est pourtant faite et finie. Le vieil Ankoudim etait assis, il pleurait; les larmes coulaient dans sa barbe grise. Moi, camarade, voila ce que j'avais fait: j'avais mis un fouet dans ma poche, avant d'aller a l'eglise, et j'etais resolu a m'en servir a coeur joie, afin qu'on sut par quelle abominable tromperie elle se mariait et que tout le monde vit bien si j'etais un imbecile...

–C'est ca, et puis tu voulais qu'elle comprit ce qui l'attendait...

–Tais-toi, oncle! chez nous, tout de suite apres la ceremonie du mariage, on mene les epoux dans une chambre a part, tandis que les autres restent a boire en les attendant. On nous laisse seuls avec Akoulka: elle etait pale, sans couleurs aux joues, tout effrayee. Ses cheveux etaient aussi fins, aussi clairs que du lin,–ses yeux tres-grands. Presque toujours elle se taisait; on ne l'entendait jamais, on aurait pu croire qu'elle etait muette; tres-singuliere, cette Akoulka. Tu peux te figurer la chose; mon fouet etait pret, sur le lit.–Eh bien! elle