Posts Tagged With: language

Upset is Not an Emotion

One of my best friends from college majored in psychology, and while in undergrad she worked in one of the professor’s labs studying the interaction between families and schools and education. You know, totally not depressing stuff at all. Anyway, she spent a lot of time “coding,” which I’m still not 100% sure is what it sounds likes, but senior year she also got to participate in family interviews. Before she did this, she had to practice, and since I was right across the hall I was one of the lucky few selected to pretend to be a six-year-old while she asked me questions about my family life.

I’m sure you’re all shocked to learn that I make an excellent squirmy six-year-old.
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The Monuments Men: Not So Much a Review as a Sketch

It is late o’clock and I need to go to bed, but I just finished watching The Monuments Men.

I think it was a little weak in character development at the beginning–I was still trying to get a handle on who everyone was (beyond “Bill Murray” and “John Goodman”) when [major event around which plot eventually coalesces] happened–the emotional impact of said event was powerful, yes, but with just a bit more exposition/time to get our feet under us it really could have been as gut-wrenching as the later [major event] was.

Which, given that that’s my only complaint, really isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Mostly I spent a fair amount of time with my blanket half-pulled in front of my face, trying desperately to judge the timbre of the scene based on the (fantastically classic) soundtrack, feeling incredibly tense and worried about what was going to happen to everyone and everything. On the one hand, WWII movie; on the other hand, mostly sad and gentle and ultimately triumphant story about old men trying to save art. (There is something to be said here about how Clooney’s restraint in showing gore added to the tension, and the sadness, of the violence. Probably something related to how lingerie is sexy and nudity is not. Another post.) On the one hand, it was a soothing reminder of how important art is to everyone; on the other, it was an urgent reminder of the depths to which the mob mentality can sink.

And how happy was I to see Jean Dujardin? Happier than I could ever possibly express. The Artist is a perfect movie and I would like to see more of him, yes I would.

I cried for art burned and I cried for art saved and the people who were able to view it; I got chills when I saw pieces I recognized, pieces I’d seen, was overcome with the realization that in some ways standing on the beaches of Normandy and standing in front of the Mona Lisa are the same grateful thing.

Part of me was a little broken-hearted for my country, which hasn’t been able to find such a clean fight since.

The message was a bit heavy, perhaps, but so beautifully expressed (both in phrasing and in voice) that I didn’t mind at all.

My parents described this as an adult movie, or a movie for adults, especially in terms of cinematography; I also saw it most in the scenes with James and Claire, which were wonderfully refreshing. Teenagers think one-night stands in Paris are romantic and freeing. Adults understand otherwise.

Writing this is making me miss Roger Ebert.

And bedtime has come, and off I go; this is a movie I would show anyone before they went to Europe.

Oh! And the language barriers! And human communication! And all the little moments of hilarity scattered throughout, telling you that although parts of the story are serious and sad, it’s still okay to laugh; it’s good to laugh, and it doesn’t just have to be gallows humor.

I feel tucked in and safe, at least for tonight; I’ll see y’all in the morning.

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urticaria existencial

I have all the links for a Friday Link Spam collected but not formatted, and a post about thunderstorms hastily scribbled across several pages of a notebook, but this week has been busy with entertaining so instead I leave you this Friday with my New Favorite Phrase:

“urticaria existencial”

or, en anglais,

“existential hives.”

It comes from our very own Papa Francesco, in a interview that I read part of here. The whole interview is here and no doubt says lots of interesting things but tragically I still don’t know Spanish well enough to read the whole thing.

Anyway, thanks to Google Translate/my smattering of French, il papa was here concerned with talking about contemporary portrayals of Pope Pius XII, who was pope during a little conflict called WWII and, as Pope Francis put it, “le han tirado encima de todo.” He went on to say, “También quiero decir que a veces me da un poco de urticaria existencial cuando veo que todos se la toman contra la Iglesia y Pío XII, y se olvidan de las grandes potencias” which, as far as I can tell, means, “Also I wanna say that I get a little bit of existential hives when I see everyone ganging up against the Church and Pius XII and ignoring the Allies,” i.e., ignoring that the Allies made mistakes too.

And OH what a glorious phrase il papa has given to us here. Who doesn’t know the feeling of sitting there while someone says something that’s, at best, technically correct in a very narrow sense sorta kinda but not really OH WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING LET ME AT LEAST EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS ON THIS ISSUE COME ON? If you haven’t been there, probably you should take a moment to read the comments section on any blog (excepting mine). Come back when your fingers are just ITCHING to start typing, and we’ll talk about existential hives, okay?

Of course, as the linked comic implies, it is not always the best idea to scratch our existential hives. If we want to correct someone else for the sake of self-aggrandizement, if someone is proposing an alternative that would require change and effort on our parts, or if our correction veers too deeply towards the ad hominem approach, we ought to practice discipline. Look at the pope. His hives stem from attacks against his Mother Church and predecessor and usually come from people who are seeking to tear down both for the sake of their own historical agenda, rather than to build anything up. That’s worth some gentle correction. (Needless to say, all existential scratching should be gentle. Souls are fragile things, and scratching so hard you draw blood only offers the occasion for festering infections.) (SEE HOW GREAT THIS METAPHOR IS?)

People trying to convince you say that any of the The Hobbit movies are worth spending money on and they really enjoyed them–maybe internally you are screaming NO NO NO WRONG but since it’s subjective (oh and you wince at that because come on) you shouldn’t harsh on their joy EVEN WHEN THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY WRONG–let it go. (People insisting that Frozen is good cinema despite its uneven pacing, confused thematic elements, and subliminal messages that all the movies you loved as a child were stupid DESPITE RELYING ON THE SAME TACTICS–)

I spend a lot of my time suffering from these hives. I am better about not scratching mosquito bites. But now I have a phrase to describe my suffering! Thanks, Papa Francesco. Now, to work on that whole meek and humble thing you’ve got going…

Thanks to Fr. Jerabek for wondering what this phrase meant. Next time on Jo Interprets the Pope: “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism.” It might be a few weeks, folks.

Categories: random thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

I was thinking…

A new series where I jot down quick thoughts because I wrote a giant post yesterday and don’t have the time to do another one today.

 

  • There’s the whole “scare” about “over half the population being Spanish-speaking” or whatever, but I think it ignores that a) the language of the one percent is still English and is likely to remain that way and so if you want to become part of the one percent you’d better speak English and b) as far as I know other countries are still mandating their students learn English.
  • I did that thing where I remembered something I usually don’t think about, namely that Europe is really rather tiny compared to America, and so probably a large part of why they learn so many languages over there is because their neighbors four hours away speak something entirely different from them.  In America, unless you’re along the border with Mexico, four hours away people will still speak English.  We’d be better off trying to learn each others’ dialects.
  • Obviously that doesn’t work as well in a global economy, but think about the languages you had to learn in America.  Latin, if you were a boy, but that was over by the twentieth century; French, if you wanted to be cultured or a diplomat.  And think too about how so many immigrants quashed their native language in an attempt to assimilate and/or show their pride in their new country.  Then English becomes the new language of diplomacy and if everyone speaks it, well, it allows for laziness in foreign-language-learning.
  • We’re also “lucky” that of the two countries with the largest concentration of people, one of them was colonized by the Brits and so the population was more or less forced to learn English.  That’s handy!  /sob
  • Part of me really wishes I had seriously studied linguistics in college, or that I had at least been aware enough of it to take a few more classes on it.  A greater part of me wishes classes didn’t cost so much money.
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