Sunday, November 28, 2004

german

I've set about learning German, using only free online courses... And whatever programs I can scrounge off ebay... Actually I was pleased to find there are a number of places on the internet which have free language courses, and German is one of those languages which seems easy enough to find... I don't know how far I'll be able to get using only these courses, but I've decided I'll see just how far I *can* get before I spend a single dollar on actual classes... Except of course for what cash I use to scrounge-around ebay with... You see, I took 3 years of French back in school, and 2 years of Spanish, and I remember next to nothing from either one... Or actually, I *thought* I'd remembered next to nothing: until I started trying to learn Czech, and finding that, when I was unable to remember part of a sentance in Czech, my mind would automatically pop in with the missing word or phrase in French. Guess I learned more French than I thought. Actually, I think that learning German at the same time as Czech has been the most helpful thing for my Czech... The only downfall is that German is so much more easilly accessible than Czech, that my German-learning is going leaps and miles faster than my Czech now... oh well. Being on the continent where these are spoken for a while, and having studied Czech but nothing else for the trip, I felt actually a fool for not knowing at least simple things in German. It kind of drives me nuts when English-speakers tell me I won't "need" any other languages, elsewhere in the world. After having been where English isn't the primary language for the first time in my life, and feeling for the first time what it's like to not understand voices in the background, or signs on the wall, or people talking directly to me, I began to sense an extraordinary desire to get at least a working grasp of as many languages as I can, before I return to the EU... German, Russian, and Italian are on my list... Czech started out at first as just a sentimental wish, I guess... It's hard to say where my desire came from in the first place to learn Czech, except that it's kind of a family-language; my great-great grandfather was from that country but we've long since lost the language... But then there were people who told me that there was also an academic weight to studying it: one said that it would be an even more valuable language, in terms of literature, than French. But in any case the desire had already started growing in me, towards this language. The only immediate way in I could find was to get a used Pimsleur-program from ebay and listen to the tapes. Very useful, actually; since Pimsleur is based exclusively on a language's sounds, rather than its' written aspect... I'd be so lost at this point if I had started trying to learn Czech from a book; the pronunciation is totally alien to anything in English. I would be so stunned every time: the program teaches you how to hear and say a word first, and then it lets you see the word printed, and I could not believe, when I saw it written, that it was the same word as the one I'd just learned; the spelling looked just so gnarly. I got a few smiles in the Czech Republic when I was trying to use what I'd learned; who can tell if it was appreciation or amusement... But anyways I wonder how many foreigners they get who know even remotely how to actually say their words for "do you speak" and "goodbye" and "what is that", which is sadly just about all i was able to get from the few lessons on those tapes... Yes, when it comes to more "esoteric" languages, Pimsleur is good, but not enough. I found myself wishing that there had been twice as many lessons in those tapes... If not more... And then there came my desire to learn German; or a sudden inexplicable awareness from out of the blue, something telling me "i'll need to know German... Somehow I'll be needing German... And Russian too but let's go one at a time..." Really I don't know where these bizarre-seeming desires come from. They could be just residual study-aholism, leftover from my bitterness at having to graduate and leave my college education behind... the possibility has not excluded itself from my mind... But onto my to-do list "learn German" went, me not knowing exactly how I would go about it... Thus I was extremely happy to find Deutche-Welle, an online radio program from Munich with a free downloadable German course, and also free lessons in all the most popular languages on the BBC online... Also the Rosetta Stone's website has like half the program free for the sampling which is a good resource in itself... Yes, I enjoy the fact that many language-software programs often have free samples online; and that they each tend to teach different words and take a different angle... So I get the feeling that I'm chipping inwards into the iceburg, corner by corner... As I entered the continent for the first time I thought to myself, of my language education thus far: I'm so sick and tired of knowing only the tips and corners of all these languages; isn't it possible to go in deeper and grasp the inside, the middle of a language, to have a hold on it like the kind its own natives have, even if it can never be as deep? Right now I think about how the only language I've ever known that deep, or deeper at all than its bits and corners, is English; and I really wonder what it must be like, what it would feel like, to have one's feet in two languages; it would be like living in two minds; at least I imagine it would be... The Czech have a saying that goes, you are as many people as the languages you speak... I feel that by knowing only the English language with any depth, I am standing on a small and lonely island, no matter how popular or commonly-spoken a language it is.

Monday, November 15, 2004

excite

i was so happy to find a non-starbucks place where my computer is able to actually get online (it's finicky for some screwy reason... i'll need some time and patience and fiddling to figure it out) looking forward to exploring more of the Coast of Champaigne and to getting to know how my machine works a little better.

a pause....

........

Sunday, November 14, 2004

out... or away... or something else...

i really have a sickening feeling in my stomach, at this point, about this place i live in. i really want out of it... i hardly like to think about sleeping here another night... i just don't want to touch anything... to linger with the people here, into whose sluggish manners i am swiftly seeming to be blending in... i feel the compulsion to be alone, and to drift far, far from here... this feeling has been with me for a year now, but i can't tell really if it comes from anything logical, anything i ought to listen to... i can at least hear music from elsewhere, through the internet connection, which i have to go a distance to touch into... i suppose there comes a time, when you have to figure out, or figure out how to figure out, what parts of your desires come from reason, thinking, yourself; and which are the stupid pre-disposed, ongoing brainless naggings of voices from another life...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

times....

times are strange these days. charlie nightengale got a message on his car last night from the american communist party, declaring that bush is not their leader. we discovered it flapping on his windshield this morning...

... i hardly know what to say, although i am here... something stumps me... something is getting in the way, of freely-flowing speech...

Friday, November 05, 2004

a new world...

Wow, so how is everyone faring, now that we see what tuesday nov 2nd has brought us?

I expect to see a great many blogs such as this on the web, with quotes from Revelations and end-times and Nostradamus, just like there were, coming into my email in-box, after the result of election 2000, and the war which followed 9/11... I've already begun recieving a few... Actually, that dialogue began even before the election was even close to being decided...

But then, i live with people with imaginations.

Let me tell you something, about that happy little time we refer to so fondly as "the end."

Back home, in foxtown, one autumn i drove home and found that a new building had popped up only a few blocks away from my house. Or actually, it was an old building which had been there for a while, but which no one had ever had reason to notice before, which suddenly now boasted a huge sign which read "Church of End Time". Above the door of this shoddy and shed-looking craft was now a massive sign, on which was spray-painted an extremely gross and badly-rendered image of Jesus on the cross, with a mushroom cloud ballooning up in the background, and the words "End Time" scrawled in huge tasteless black letters, hanging gorilly above the scene. There was a chain-link fence around this church, the gate of which was open on rare days, with a sign hanging on it which said "church parking" in crudely spray-painted letters and an arrow, pointing to a dirt lot within, although there was hardly ever a car or truck to be seen there most such days. There would occasionally be what appeared to be yard sale in front, with a few stray racks of old farm clothes hung out in the sun, but no people to be seen, either buying or selling, in the building's shadow. Then, two years later, i returned home to find that the church had abruptly dissappeared without a trace. An antique store was now occupying the shack in which the End Time church had carried out... Whatever it was that it was there to carry out.

Why do i bring up this strange tale of the mysterious End Time church? Perhaps to somehow describe the gripping impact which the expectation of a soon-to-occur apocolypse has had, during my entire life, and likely those of many others. Whether or not it is all paranoia, whether or not "The End" has "always" been something right around the corner, and we all know it's no closer to reality now than it was two hundred years ago... Even if it has all been a story to scare people into going to church; it has still, been like a point of reference: people have expected it, anticipated it, and almost looked forward to it, as long as i have lived. And no matter what you believe, that gets to one after a while. It starts to feel like waiting to sneeze: and all the recent events, each followed with a chorus of people recounting similar fears of similar stories every time... One almost wants to say: will the damn End get on with it, already?? How long can we endure this cosmic foreplay with death??

So I'll be a soap-box-blogger for a moment...

Bush believes, so he says, that God appointed him as president. That God wants him there. It is strange, but i am inclined to believe him on that one. for who else would be so perfect, who else would be the one to make this world an ideal kind of place, for that Biblical expectation to finally take place? Who else could save us from this constant state of suspense, and finally bring it all to culmanation? Already people who had always been skeptical, always been level-headed, are starting to be the same people to talk of insurrection; of the end of a "United" states. Normal people are starting to talk about revenge. Surely there will be two Americas who look back on his presidency; one which will see him as a savior in a time of terror, and another which will see him as a terrorist in a time of hate. Either way, the wrath we breed leads to more occassions for disruptions, and more disruptions lead to more opportunities to interpret, one way or another; always interpreting-- but the edge is still feeling closer, feeling sharper than it ever felt from the mouths of madmen on the street-corners... Now it is as though the president himself has been siezed by the crazy talk; and with him has been swept the half of the country... On the TV; before my very eyes; I can hardly believe either my eyes or ears these days; in this way the heard and seen world itself, starts to resemble a story about an improbable event.

These days, these crazy days, are the kind that feed new journeys: new movements never possible before... I think we will suprise ourselves...
I think the Powers that Be work in mysterious ways and that we transform in stranger ways; ways that begin as a dark tunnel with no light at the end. We invent light, one way or another. Beliefs like these are those which keep my head above water, these bizarre days. It is this kind of hope, this kind of light, strangely to be kindled in a far-off time, after the onslaught of much worry, so much more turmoil than we can possibly imagine, that the break of light promises itself; the impossibility to follow impossibility. I must believe in it, I must look forward to grief in the light of this one final expectation; for you see, i find it hard to look into tomorrow, and see it absent of the kind of strive and hardship which i only ever read in books before, and not feel that i am lying in my heart.