The Clandestine Banalities of Love

 

Some things need to remain secret in order to remain.

Some things, dragged into the gaze of more than two people, loose their beauty.

Some things, whispered or yelled into the ears of more than one person, become a clanging cymbal.

Some things, smelled by the multitude, turn from fragrance to stench.

Some things, tasted by more than four lips, transform savor into sourness.

Some things, felt by other skin than the familiar, loose the magnificence of touch.

 

These things are the big and little and ridiculous banalities that bring plenty to my life with you, my love to you, and your love to me.

They belong to us – or they are not.

 

(A.K. Sept 2014)

The Closure of the “Eternal” City

Roma eterna. The eternal Rome. So much history, so much life, so much death. Whoever says, New York is the City that never sleeps, has clearly not been to Rome… or simply (and sadly) narrows the meaning of sleeping.

Six months. Six months did I live and study Italian in Rome. Six months did I roam its museums, its parks, streets, markets, and churches (more than 900 are there). Listened to the chatter (il chiacchiericcio) of its students, shop owners, bus passengers, and tourists. A wonderfully unique time, without a doubt. Yet a tense time as well. Increasingly the pressure in my mind and on my heart “to make the most of it”. Considering Rome’s historical, ecclesiastical, political and, last but surely not least, artistic and cultural importance, my relaxed natural curiosity turned quickly into a sheer panting after the city’s glories, the city’s treasures, the city’s character. “Don’t miss a thing! Now you have the chance to see R.O.M.E!” No day was long enough to see enough. There was so much to discover, to learn, to admire, to reflect on, to soak in. And after a short while a subtle feeling of guilt became part of the package.

The nostalgia that came over me whenever I thought back on that time surpassed each “typical” nostalgia that people normally have: nostalgia back to the days where we were younger, or healthier, more free, more spontaneous, or simply in a different country. But this nostalgia was more. A Life-nostalgia. Having become a parable for life in general, these six months in Rome opened up thought perspectives and questions on all areas of life, mostly not offering an accompanying answer. These six months happened Continue reading

Got Wax?

Knabenstatue

When one went to an ancient market place (e.g. Phoenician, Roman, Greek) with the intention to buy little statuettes from one’s favorite god/half-god/idol (in basically old-time merchandise/memorabilia shops), close attention was necessary. Vendors would try to repair cheap and slightly broken statuettes by smearing wax at the chipped spots in order to camouflage the flaw. Experienced buyers would grate around a bit with their fingers to see whether wax was used – and whether they should look for a different statuette, or even a different vendor. Statuettes without wax (Lat. sine [without] // Lat. cera [wax]) would be a sign for an honest, sincere, vendor and a good product: “No wax needed on this one!” (At least that’s how one disputed folk version describes the history of the word sincere [Lat. sincerus: clean, sound, pure]. Even if that’s not how the term developed, the picture it offers still fits the meaning it carries. Some other explanations are here.)

Sincerity can be defined as a virtue or quality of being and acting without deceit, pretense, or hypocrisy. Many of us know it mostly from a conventionalized formula for ending letters:

 

           Sincerely,

           J. Sebastian B.

 

Everybody knows that insincerity in people can take many forms and shades: from the simple lying-out-of-fear-person up to the highly manipulative man or woman which are a pain to live with. It’s no secret that pleasantly (!) sincere people are quite rare. Nor is it a secret that sincere and transparent people are great business partners. There is also the opinion that too transparent people seem to lack humor and are less fun. So, several aspects of (in)sincerity are more or less common knowledge. At this point of the day (right before brushing my teeth and [re]assessing my opinion on God, man, life, and chocolate) I only wonder about two things:

1) How would it feel like if everyone (incl. me) would be truly sincere at all times? (Is it worth imagining? And I am not asking whether it’s possible now or at some point in the future. I wonder how it would feel like…)

2) When I google images with the search term “sincerity”, why do only two things seem to come up: corny memes with “Let me inspire you”-proverbs and… wedding dresses?

Ok, still secrets beyond secrets… *sarcasm off*

 

Sincerely,

me

Learning anew – a new Language

Alfred Eisenstaedt - Left Bank, Paris, 1964.

Last week I decided to intensely study a new language for the next months … to get a good start with it this summer. And since I’ve made this conscious decision, my life seems different. I’ve been there before. It always seems and feels different when I set out to learn a new tongue. Languages are my passion (well, and my profession). As most other people, I think in language (who would have thought? lol). And I think best when I read, write and talk. Mere thinking without expression is half thinking at best. At least for me.

Intentionally diving into a new language is a bit like Continue reading

“Liber liber?” – On the Freedom of Books

book nook

 

Today, April 23, 2014, is the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day. Occasion enough to write a little piece about an obviousness that we, that I, sometimes forget: Books are not free.

Liber liber non est. (The book is not free. Isn’t Latin beautiful?!) A play of words – and a play of double meaning. No, books are not free. Ultimately they can’t. Too many people are involved in the process of their making. Too many people’s water bills, school tuition, and grocery expenses depend on getting something back for the time they – the writers, editors, publishers, printers, and deliverers – put into producing books. No, books cannot Continue reading

Books of my Life… Some. So far.

Reading...

Tomorrow is the UNESCO Book and Copyright Day 2014. Here is a small list of selected books that have influenced me a lot. Enjoy!

TOP THREE BOOKS:

1) The Bible. (Initiated and informs my worldview. Is essentially different than any other book I ever read in my life. Calls me to thank, obey, and worship my Creator; gives energy beyond measure; encourages me to live intentionally and to love unconditionally. Not there yet, but I started my journey…)

2) My Passport. (Only 32 pages. One protagonist. Several supporting/signing characters. Boring plot. Yet the first document I would save if my house catches fire. – Reminds me that I am, after all, not a cosmopolite, but a German. By nationality. Sometimes also by heart; not sure yet.)

3) Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White (The best book – besides the Bible – to get to know Jesus Christ. It’s short, concise, and practical as well as deep. Great for everyone who wants to know for him-/herself what Bible-believing Christians believe about their God.)

 

TOP THREE AUTHORS:

Ellen G. White (The most translated American author of either gender, and most translated female writer in history. Excellent insights on spirituality, Bible, education, health, critical thinking, Christian history, personal devotion, etc. Timeless, yet very timely.)

Stefan Zweig (Sternstunden der Menschheit/Decisive Moments in History. Schachnovelle/The Royal Game and many more. Excellent. For me the Johann Sebastian Bach of German-speaking literature.) Continue reading