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Slow train coming

  The space is pervaded with green, with the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of pollen. We are in the countryside of Dordogne, and it would be difficult for anyone to find a more idyllic setting. In general, I try not to read the news, especially here, but whenever I do, that idyllic image is replaced by another one: the slow train, picking up speed downhill. The machine engineers are incompetent and instead of stopping it and repairing the faults with care, they keep on loading it with coal. Its lights are on in the darkness; they illuminate only the small patch in front, so the passengers could see the end, but only in a fashion.  Why are we in a such a hurry to destroy our civilisation? Do we have so much that we are bored with it? There was this boredom in the air before the epidemic in 2020. I had the feeling that people, especially the young ones, were waiting eagerly for something to happen. Anything. Just not that day after day boredom. They were trying to shake it off –

On Lineage and the Art of being Narcissus


When I was young, as I often start my stories nowadays, it annoyed me a bit when Mum and Dad said, ‘We are proud of you.’  It must have been the arrogance of youth, but I felt as if they were congratulating themselves for my victory. I was a rather polite girl and never said anything; I didn’t think much about it either as there wasn’t time for such small thoughts in my schedule. However, annoyance must have been there, as I still remember the feeling.

Since the 70s, this adolescent stance must have grown steadily and by now, I think, it has developed into a perfectly shaped stand-alone monster. People who have such a varmint, poking its ugly head behind their shoulder, are usually called ‘narcissists’. It comes from the myth of Narcissus, who was cursed by the gods for rejecting the nymph Echo’s love, and spent the rest of his life staring at his reflection in the water; he was the only being in the world whom he could notice and love, and as such he was inevitably cut off from past and future. Nowadays, however, narcissistic behaviour has become quite mainstream, and, we can say without a fear of exaggeration, it is the way of a whole generation, or two.

At present, I have a little more time to think, and small musings like that have become a part of my schedule. The years passed and with some help from the outside world I started paying attention to the interconnectedness of things. Once I began to look into it, I slowly realised that I am just a little link in the chain of my family line of the past and that I am here to provide the connection with the future. In one’s lineage, there are all the predecessors who make us proud. There are also those of whom our parents would speak with a whisper and hints in front of the children. They provide the inspiration and the embarrassment.

If we see ourselves just as a small part in our lineage, we would not mind being praised by our family. It will be like praising our whole line of ancestors. And when we are ashamed of our actions, it will be on behalf of the future generations, as well.

That leads to another thought. If we were to remove the shameful figures in our family history, how could we learn from our mistakes? If we make famous people and events disappear from our world history, how could we be certain that someone will not repeat the same mistakes in the future?

Ludwig Van Beethoven dedicated The Third Symphony (Symphony N3 in E Flat Major, Op55), originally titled ‘Buonaparte’, to Napoleon who was a great inspiration to the young generation at the beginning of the 19th century. Later, when Napoleon betrayed his ideas and his followers, Beethoven removed his dedication. I think, he should have kept it. Instead, it should have read: ’To Napoleon Buonaparte — my greatest disappointment.’ 


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