Languages, Escape Velocity and Bigly Lies

Learning a second or 3rd or 4th language is like escaping the gravity of your native land. You probe about in another way of being, of thinking, of observing. Better still — if you’ve the inclination — learn another tongue via a second or third language. Meet the stranger in a place foreign to each.

I am so grateful for my Palestinian student who decided to learn German via English, without recourse to his native Arabic. He inspired me to do the same — learn Arabic by way of German. “arabisch lernen”

arabisch.lernen

German from the baby steps to fluency. The magic of YouTube brings me teachers who speak their mother’s Arabic in a German-speaking land. I studied in Germany for a year and a half. The other international students joined me to prepare for lessons conducted in German. Japanese medical students already knew anatomical terms, because their forefathers carried it back to Japan — including decades as fellow Axis members. Gray’s Anatomy with German body parts

Some lessons I’ve learned

Iranian students taught me about Savak and their Shah many years before the Revolution of 1979. Krupp established large industrial site in that Persian land. An industrial giant since the 16th Century. A family tradition, Blut und Eisen.

Propaganda relies upon endlessly repeated mistranslations, designed to obfuscate. Weaponized language to serve hidden agendas, to move geopolitical stakes through sabotage, bigotry, racism, straw men, false flags, pacification, liquidation; in other words, chicanery of any convenient kind. Whatever works. No questions asked.

Walls visible and invisible. Sow the seeds of discontent to ignite anger. Divide and conquer. British imperialists deliberately provoked Sunni and Shia rivalries by locating them within an arbitrary borderline. Think of it as double solitary confinement. A technique that works wonders: encourage each to fight the other over differences deep as the empire gathers spoils of conquest, to the victor go the value subtracted.

History remembered is myth created by the most talented liars. Every American recites the same short soundbites: flag-shaded collective memories. Memorized lies to mask disquieting truth. 1,000 memorized lies. Cherrypick and pass on. Manufacture your destiny as something somehow manifest by a deity for your outrageous fortune. Cloying spoilings.

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Kresta and Spencer find a convenient fool

Conduct experiments on war fodder soldiers and increase your “intelligence.” Handbooks written by Chinese military master torturers were translated verbatim and reapplied in Guantanamo — word by evil word.

Accuse Cuba of human rights violations while torturing prisoners on Cuban soil. Announce bounties — turn in someone you hate, an enemy or a randomly selected person, a stranger. Get paid for lying about an innocent neighbor. Extraordinary rendition is spuriously twisted language designed by twisted authority to mask torture by proxy. Look the other way. Justify everything. Celebrate the patriotic art of bigly deals. Endless war for endless profit. Drop MOABS and cut a purchase order for replacement MOABS.

This morning I read a piece from Mark Chmiel’s blog — Mistake. Dark serendipity in the same tone and key. Thank you, Mark.

And

Thanks for reading.

Palestinian Animal League

When you announce your vegan beliefs expect incredulity, perhaps not visceral, perhaps visceral. Make public your support of Palestinians to self-determination and expect raw nerves to flare — it comes with the territory. Or am I tilting at windmills? Why must Palestine be a verboten topic?

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Misunderstanding happens to “the least of these, my brethren” (Matthew 25:34). I mentioned recently that I am the green sheep in the family. Do I hold a lightning rod aloft, inviting impending doom? I guess.

I live in an area of the country noted for its borders — political, racial, climatic, geomorphic, social: there are others.  Our planet does not need more division and more rancor. Welcome the green, the black and the rainbow. Welcome the stranger.

 

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Sudfeh Vegan Cafe

Languages fascinate me intensely. Learning them lightens my spirit and dispels an illusory separation. We are all one. I lived and studied in Germany, a country that knows something of borders — their erection and their dissolution. Loving languages is a joy that requires patience, but it rewards that patience by several orders of magnitude. Or is it a waste of time, a conceit if you already speak THE international language — one dipped in the blood of imperious arrogance. Just saying. Colonialism is not dead. Were that it were.

 

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Berlin Wall

My intense interest in the Middle East began in 1967 when I began to seriously study its physical, cultural and religious geography. Study makes friends of pain and joy. I was living in West Germany in 1972, at the time of an ill-fated Olympics in Munich. Stasi was still going strong in East Germany. That same year I learned about Savak and the Shah of Iran from my fellow exchange students of the University of Tehran — a full seven years before the revolution in their ancient land, one with the longest continuous civilization in history, one that started with Cyrus the Great. Many cool people are Persian. Yes they are 🙂

Perhaps this is an overlong preface to my topic. I hope not, but please accept my apology if it is.

 

PALlogo
Source

Let me meld two curiously similar joys and pains — veganism and Palestine. Mix them together and you have The Palestinian Animal League. That kind group of animal activists knows that “acting like an animal” is an expression to deflect misbehavior of a specie with an overdeveloped ego that imposes their self-righteous “superiority” to the innocent fellow sentient beings possessing inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though it be inexpedient to the self-described exceptional.

We’re not the top dog, we are the arrogant yapping selfish being that always takes advantage. Are we not a part of the cycle of life? Who made us the boss? What is the difference between cannibalism and meatism? I suggest that the difference between eating the flesh of your own and eating the flesh of an other is as trivial as the difference between apples and oranges — both are fruit. Human flesh and the flesh of any other sentient being — both are meat.

Let me now lighten the burden of writing. I yield the pen to The PAL. They know more about themselves than I. Expect joy.

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Arabic public art

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Thinking about Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Gießen and Savak

The culture where I live does not seem particularly interested in learning foreign languages. But the written, the spoken, and the audible become a part of the soul and a blessing to humanity when civilized thought can gain a foothold.
Nelson-Mandela-on-Language

My interest in German language led to an opportunity for study in Giessen, at that time West Germany, from 1971 to 1973. Upon arriving at Justus Liebig Universität I learned German as a second language with fellow students from Iran, Japan, Egypt among others. German was the tongue we shared, so that we could talk to the brain. Then we could join the citIzenry and talk to the heart.

Abteilung der Uni
Just be natural! It’s important when learning languages

Some people take on an alternate identity to ward off conversation. It was common for Americans traveling in Europe in the early 1970’s to attach a Canadian maple leaf to their person. This to avoid conversations about Vietnam. It was convenient to merge into the background. But such maneuvers may lead to a false sense of comfort: ease and convenience have long-term consequences. It is just as convenient to avoid discussions on long festering Middle East issues today. Are the sound bites you hear from a source without an agenda? Unfortunately, the truth can be hidden, often deliberately by perpetuating lies that simply make life more convenient or comfortable for the liar.

Under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah from 1941 to 1979) many Iranians studied at German universities such as Justus Liebig. Our Iranian fellows shared an ability to converse in German about Savak and the Persian experience. Neither Farsi nor English was necessary to bridge a gulf separating us from each other. Who knew that Pahlavi was complicit in dark matters. The Iranian people knew.

Farsi Keyboard
Farsi script is so similar to Arabic!

Guy Wallace explains Savak.

Imagine a monarchy that is 2500 years old, that began with Cyrus the Great and ended with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s deposition. Might a civilization both ancient and modern have evolved a complex history and culture In 2.5 millenia? Might Farsi hint at subtleties in the Persian soul? What about the country name itself: Persia, Iran? Does its religion suggest potential geopolitical significance? Can we question the translation of the colloquial Farsi into English of the conveniently repeated  Death to America (More accurately translated as Down with America).

Farsi speakers use this invocation to express transitory frustration, perhaps at stubbing a toe. In a future post I want to discuss the nature of curse words in Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew. Stay tuned.