- You surely remember that story about six blind men and the elephant, don't you ? You know, the one
where they want to know what the elephant really is, but couldn't see him (pretty obviously). One of them bumps into the elephant's side and gets
the idea that "the elephant is like a wall", another feels the trunk ("oh, the elephant must be a sort of snake") and so on, and so on up to the sixth.
But my version of the story doesn't end here as there was also the seventh blind man, a confused one, who managed to miss the entire
elephant. "Gee", he concluded "that elephant everyone brags so much about is really a big piece of nothing!". As you may well have
guessed that's precisely my attitude.
- The above doesn't mean that I disbelieve in elephant (for dummies - God, Outer World, The Essence of Being, Reality, whatever),
it's just I don't think it's possible to grasp it with reasoning. No matter how much brainpower and sophistication is involved, eventually
every theory can be reduced to unsupported dogmas, axioms, articles of faith ie. it reveals itself as a big piece of nothing. The fact I don't
believe in finding doesn't mean I don't believe in searching. As a matter of fact I do think that one can have a hell of a fun out of it, especially
if they don't take themselves too seriously.
- The elephant story is a misquote. I don't even remember the place I took it from. This page is composed of similar overheard stories,
pieces of poetry, my hasty judgements and undeveloped thoughts. Probably you'll find some prevailing moods and common motifs in all this
chaos. In any case you'll find a part of me, the compiler. 28 34
- The following is a verse by a Romanian poet Miran Alexandru. The Polish translation (not mine) probably doesn't match the
original, mine Englishization of the former is surely even worse.
Grzech niecierpienia i grzech niepłakania
Mrozi mnie jak chłód, co warzy jabłonie jesienią
Jak chroniczna choroba trawi mnie myśl bezustannie
Że nic dotąd nie dałem śmierci i nic zmartwychwstaniu
The sin of
not-crying and of not-suffering
Chills me like frost that kills appletrees in autumn
Like a chronic disease haunts me a thought
That I haven't given to death a thing, nor to resurrection
- The art of illusion is in essence the art of deceiving the eye by sleight of hand. Conversely, philosophy is in truth the art of fooling
the mind by sleight of tongue.
- There's that Georgian verse whose author's name I remember not. Forgive poor transcription (I lack Georgian font)
bindisperia sopeli, upro da upro binddeba
ra aris chveni sic'oc'khle chit'ivit
The village took the color of dusk, darker and darker it gets
All what is our life, flies away with the birds
- I was amazed how many of the world's nations are "renowned for great hospitality", in their own eyes, of course. The Turks are,
so are the Iranians. And you must have heard those legends (err... objective statements regarding our widely known respect for guests)
about us, the Poles, right ? This makes me wonder if a tribe exists that wouldn't make this claim. The Scots, perhaps ?
When you think of a dog, get a stick in your hand
- a caucasian proverb
- A poem by Blake, in which he anticipates psychoanalisis (don't ask me, that's what I've read somewhere)
I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end
I was angry with my foe
I told it not; my wrath did grow
And I water'd it in fears
Night and morning with my tears
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft, deceitful
And it grew both day and night
'Til it bore an apple bright
And my foe beheld it shine
And he knew that it was mine
And into the garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree
Caveat ! My wording is probably unexact since I quote from memory
and memory is a frail thing indeed. Remember, watch your head and keep it safe.
- I don't subscribe to any belief system or philosophical tradition, I'd rather keep my thought independent and untamed.
Unfortunately, so many people before me have had similar ideas, that I am by no means original. There's no escape from the footprints
of the predecessors, for the world and the thought are not limitless.
- We are now approaching the voting on entering the European Union. Everywhere one can see the bilboards on which a smiling lady
(or gentleman) says: "YES. I am European". Cute, but makes me wonder about who the Swiss are...
- My projected chart-breaker:
We are the Siamese, if you please
We are the Siamese, if you don't please
- sung in a lazy voice
by a choir of fat Siamese cats and repeated ad nauseam.
- Another misquote in search of its author:
It's only the thought of a suicide that has kept me living
A commentary to the issue, for two voices:
*I don't believe there's any significant difference between life and death
Really ? Then why won't you just kill yourself, huh ?
*Can't you think ? If nothing changes, why should I bother ?
- This time an attributed quote. Taken from "La vida es sueno" by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. First day, second scene.
pues el delito mayor
del hombre es haber nacido
So the man's greatest
is having been born
- Think about it. Think about the Greek tragedy. A hero dies, only because he's meant to die. Take Edipus
(or however you'd like to spell it) for instance. There is no fault in him - his terrible fate had been decided long before he was born and
there's no way to evade it. Don't you feel that your own situation isn't exactly that different ? I mean, you'll eventually, ehm, perish,
and noone is going to ask if you don't mind perishing, right ?
- Also, the world doesn't seem fair. You don't get as much care and attention (not to mention fame, fortune and luxury goods) as you
deserve, don't you think ? Well, luckily, in the new, better world (or otherworld) -some people will tell you- things are going to get fixed for
you. For now, you only have to obey some easy rules... and voilá ! The reward is yours. Sounds familiar, huh ?
I've always been amazed
how easy it is to traffic in eternity and salvation.
- If you feel like meditating about the weak nature of man, the curse of mortality, the inevitable fate etc. , here's
Omar Khayyam's advice:
Khayyām, agar z-e bāde masti - khosh bāsh
gar bā sanami dami neshasti - khosh bāsh
pāyān-e hame omr-e jahaan nisti ast
pendār ke nisti, cho hasti - khosh bāsh
Khayyam, if to your head goes wine, happy be
if close to your beloved you sit, happy be
for at the end of all the things stands nothing
think you're not here, and 'cause you are, happy be
- Omar Khayyam was an exquisite Persian astronomer and mathematician, yet thanks to a certain Englishman he's the most
widely known Persian poet. Edward Fitzgerald discovered Khayyam for the West, and then for Iran (where his poetry had been
almost forgotten). Fitzgerald's translations often bear only vague resemblance to the
original; this very fact, as you've probably guessed, makes
him my idol. I don't know the Persian version of the poem I quote below (the form used is called
"robayyi" or "four-verse") hence the
translation from Russian.
все цветы для тебя в этом мире
но не верь ничему - все обманчиво тут
поколения смертных придут - и уйдут
рви цветы - и тебя в свое время сорвут
Every flower here blossoms just for you
But trust not a thing, it is all deceitful
Mortal generations having come, will leave
Pluck the flowers now, they'll soon pluck you
- "Love of good" quite often gets corrupted into "hatred of evil". Do I need to explain the vital difference ?
- Remember the poem in which Blake has anticipated psychoanalisis ? Hmm... come to think about it... I guess it was rather this one:
Oh rose, thou art sick
the invisible worm
that flies in the night
in the howling storm
has found out thy bed
of crimson joy
and his dark secret love
does thy life destroy
- A wise man never bites more than he can swallow. This holds true not only for food, but also for books...
Take small chops of words and thoughts, don't forget to chew them carefully - else you won't digest them well and your mind will get no
- Not the first quote from an unknown source:
He who fights monsters must be wary,
lest he becomes a fiend himself
For if you look down into
it gazes back at you.
- This is the motto of Kierkegaard's "Sygdommen til Doden" [The Sickness Unto Death]:
Herr, gieb uns blöde Augen
für Dinge, die nichts taugen
und Augen voller Klarheit
in alle deine Wahrheit.
O Lord, on our eyes veil cast
for things and matters that won't last
and give us eyes of the say-sooth
which will see nothing but your truth
- An eastern poet was, surprisingly, more laconic in expressing similar idea. A short quote from
Sa'di, a poet of Persian common sense
and a storyteller. He earned his living by narrating (with gore and exaggerated detail)
his adventures to any willing audience.
ānche napāyad delbastegi nashāyad
What forever not serves, heart-attachment not deserves
- Nursery rhyme is a fascinating genre. Have you noticed how morbid it often is ? What comes below is just my improvisation,
but I daresay it's very typical:
Little fly, your joyful play,
Now, you may think that it's just me, making up little poems for my own entertainment.
But, think about it, where have you met people whose cruelty and
callousness would surpass the knack for maiming and torture of some of your peers from kindergarten or elementary ?
I sincerely hope that nowhere.
Also, have you forgotten how small children always flock together,
how they harass any outsiders and how much they enjoy it ?
Undoubtedly, there's something very bestial in children. It's quite ironic that one often
hears advices to "let awake the child within yourself"
my skilful hand will sweep away,
little fly, you and I,
I will live, and you will die.
Or this one:
Lady bug, lady bug.
Little lady who's a bug.
If I pull your wings off, lady bug,
how will you fly home ?
Oh, no, you just won't
my little, little bug lady.
Your house is on fire
and your children will burn !
- A French army saying:
Essayer de comprendre, c'est commencer a désobéir
Trying to understand is
the beginning of disobedience
- A quote from Pascal. Not that notoriously famous one.
Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas.
The heart has its reasons, which the reason doesn't know
- The merit of all this quoted wisdom (and maybe of all the printed wisdom, too) lies not in that it reveals some (better, scarce)
pieces of truth about the reality. It most probably doesn't. If it matters at all, it's because it can dazzle you (or me) with mastery of the apt wording, and, even
moreso, because it can be a trigger. A device which all of a sudden starts a chain of associations, impressions and thoughts,
moving back and forth inside your mind, giving life to your own little inner world. If it doesn't force you to think, it's cold and dead. No use whatsoever.
Beauty, they say, is in the eyes of the beholder. Meaning, I say, is in the mind of the reader. Would you agree ?
- Once upon a time, when I was still studying philosophy, one of my classmates accidentally spilt coffee over my notebook
(mundane one, not machine).
-Omigod- his friend said- what if he'd just solved the Riddle of the Universe and now you've destroyed
the solution ?
Well ? What if I really did ? I mean it's a tempting thing to think, that the Solution exists somewhere you'd never expect it that you
can find it just like that and lose it just like that.
- It's impossible to be a great Bulgarian poet, as someone once said. Being truly great involves recognition and that comes
not with talent but with publicity. And the limelights are not set on Bulgaria. Therefore all the great Bulgarian poets you've
(or haven't) heard of don't
exist. For sure.
- Here's this famous Polish folk saying I made up recently:
Sam się nie pochwalisz - chodzisz jak opluty.
If you don't praise yourself, you walk as if bespit.39
- I'd like to tell you a joke. No, a parable. A joke of a parable and a parable of a joke. Like almost all good jokes it's a Jewish one.
Two Jewish people are on a walk. One of them notices a bag lying on the pavement, the other one picks it up. The bag is full of money.
They can't agree on which of them should take it. They go to the Rabbi to hear his opinion.
'Rabbi, I saw the bag first, therefore it should be mine' says the first one.
'Yes, you're right' says the Rabbi. 'But Rabbi - says the
it was me who picked up the bag. I think it should belong to me'. 'Yes, you're
right' the Rabbi answers him. 'How come, Rabbi ? - intervenes
one of the Rabbi's pupils - They just can't both be right !'. 'Yes, you're right,
too.' answers the Rabbi. That's it for a joke. Why have I
called it a parable ? Well ?
- A day is coming when I'll put all these Persian verses on a separate page. For now this robayyi of Omar Khayyam is still here.
az āmadanam nabud gardun rā sud
vaz raftan-e man jalāl-o
vaz hich kasi niz do gusham nashenud
kin āmadan-o raftanam az
bahr-e che bud
from my coming the world didn't
and my leaving to its glory not a thing did add
no one, too, my two ears did hear
'bout my life and death - what meaning it
- My sight is good but my eyes are bad. When they look around they tend skip what's right and focus at what's wrong.
At bad things, bad people, bad traits in people. The Persian word for 'pessimism' is 'bad bini' which means 'bad seeing'.
What an accurate word it is. 4
- I have recently discovered Yeats. Lines 1 and 3 of the following I like the most.
I sing what was lost and dread what was won,
I walk in a battle fought over again,
My king a lost king, and lost soldiers my men;
Feet to the Rising or Setting may run,
They always beat on the same small stone.
Man, being reasonable, must get drunk
The best of life is but intoxication
The above - o surpise of surprises ! - despite the suspicion its content may rise, is not a work by Polish poet but
a Lord Byron's one.
- Contemporary Persian poetry remains hidden in the shadow of the sweet-spoken classics. 33 17 I brought one Sohrab Sepehri's verse
into the light only to mutilate it by translation. Just look and compare (don't know Persian ? - learn
har koja raftam, baasham, aasemaan maal-e man ast
wherever I am, or would I be
only the sky belongs to me.
- This is how I remember what Leon Leszek Szkutnik once said
Kto chce zostać świętym, musi być okrutny wobec siebie.
He who wants to become a
Saint must be cruel to himself.
- Lo and behold! Our strictly copyrighted transcultural greeting:
Shalom aleykum !
It's Piotr Krawczyk's and mine contribution to the peace process in
- This page has seen many pessimistic verses. This time - a different kind of fish:
dar nāomidi basi omid ast
pāyān-e shab-e tire sepid ast
During the darkest hours hope gives a lot of light
Even the darkest nights end in a morning bright.
- A XVIIIth century Ottoman traveller writes about Poland:
Ludność Lehistanu dzieli się na trzy grupy.
Now, after WWII, border changes and resettlements, Poland has became a ethnically uniform country. Rusins and Jews live here no longer.
Use your imagination.
Rusini uprawiają rolę, Żydzi zajmują się handlem, a Polacy
piją i oferują swoje usługi ambasadorom ościennych mocarstw.
The population of Lehistan (ie. Poland) is divided into three groups.
The Rusins cultivate the land, the Jews carry on trade and the Poles
quarrel, drink and offer their services to foreign ambassadors.
- I have been wondering... why no one is ever tempted by Good ?. Do you know why only the Evil is thought of
as attractive ?
- As Ayatollah Khomeini once almost said in that famous interview with Falacci:
I am an islamic revolutionary, baby
- The difference between Polish and Russian interrogation techniques is best rendered by the fact that
'pytać' in Polish means 'to ask (a question)', whereas its Russian twin word
'пытать' [pytat'] means nothing other than 'to torture'.
- This is a peculiar fragment. It's number changes but it's place doesn't - it's always the last one. A good place for
farewell. Well then, I hope you've enjoyed your stay here as much as I enjoyed writing all this. Don't hesitate to write me (peterlin -at- jzn -dot- pl) any comments, impressions, thoughts you
do have or might have. Ah yes, and please come
back as often as you wish - there might be new threads of thought waiting for you.
I owe this page, as I owe everything, to K.D. , whose smile makes the impossible happen