The Pursuit of Happiness

Years ago, while studying for my US citizenship exam, I paused over the words “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Because I grew up in Europe during the time of popular uprisings against communist regimes, I was used to words such as freedom and justice and equality in revolutionary speech, so the pursuit of happiness sounded like it didn’t belong in a declaration of independence from tyranny and oppression.

The Declaration of Independence (1776) - Wikipedia

The Declaration of Independence (1776) – Wikipedia

It wasn’t the first time I wondered how had those Founding Fathers been so enlightened to consider the mental health of their people at a time of war and disease and superstition. Today we have counselors and self-help and wellness support groups, but they didn’t, back in 1776, yet Jefferson thought it was important to put those fine words in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading

Fact or Fiction? Part 2 (Umberto Eco)

Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and the rewriting of history

 

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Paris)

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Paris)

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco is one of my favorite novels. I read it first in high school, in Romanian, and then spent countless hours discussing it with my desk-mate and fellow-bookworm Iuliana. I read the novel again in English during my MFA program at Goddard. I wish I knew more Italian so I could read the book in its native language. Continue reading

Looking for Vlad (15th Century CE)

“Did you know,” my brother asked me one day, “that an impaled person could live for days up there, on a stake? If the executioner went along the spine, sparing all the vital organs…”

“Wow… so, there were people who were experts at that?” I said.

“Imagine the practice you needed to become an expert at impaling…”

Imagine that. Continue reading