A few weeks ago, I got into an email back-and-forth about racism with a male acquaintance who lives in Romania—I’ll call him Alex. We were in the middle of an otherwise pleasant conversation when he quoted the following saying, “You give a Gypsy a finger, and he takes the whole hand.”
It was one of those moments when you see something and you
think, should I say something?
You don’t need to be an immigrant or a minority to know what it feels like to be rejected by a desirable group, or any group for that matter, even a group that didn’t seem to exist until you walked up to it and the circle closed to exclude you. You just need to remember high school, or that sickening feeling you had walking down the street after a breakup and looking at all those couples holding hands as if they were touched by divine grace and you by plague. I do have this feeling of not belonging now and then, but I didn’t think I was going to revisit it when I picked up The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. Continue reading
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
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
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 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
“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
Richard III of the House of York was the last English king to die in battle—on August 22, 1485, at Bosworth Field. Now that the archeologists at University of Leicester have found his twisted remains under a parking lot, there is much revisiting of his story. Continue reading