Chiaroscuro

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1
: pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
2
a : the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
b : the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)
3
: a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also : a print made by this technique
4
: the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface
5
: the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow

For some reason, I really like the sound of this word. Why? I can’t really put my hand to it, but the sound of it when one says the word — it is ethereal. Otherworldly.

Now, I have to admit that I have not heard it used once in everyday conversations, and I have seen it in literature for only a handful of times with the majority of these being in one novel (that I have reread). However, every time I read/listen as it goes by, I feel that the word has a personality. Mind you, if it was a person, it would probably be a bit too pretentious — but as a word I would really like to know it better. I would like to use it… but not too much.

For the etymologically inclined, it would seem that the root of the word is Italian — the words chiaro and oscuro, light and dark. Maybe that Romance heritage is what gives the word some charm in an English sentence, although it could be something else.

It could also be that if I knew what made me like this word so much, I would not like it any more. So I shall let this mystery be, at least for today…

Narrowsightedness on Democracy

The case for democracy is a moral one, not an economic one; but if democracies can’t handle responsible governance, either on economic or more general policy issues, then governance will gradually become less democratic, and the moral case will make little difference.

The above quote is from a The Economist blog post and illustrates what I believe to be an extreme case of narrowsightedness. A quick Google search on “the case for democracy” brought up the following quote: “The moral case for democracy is based on the apparent degree of fairness that it offers…”

I would very much like to hear what the author of that blog post has to say on such apparent democracies like the United Kingdom, Spain, or similar countries, which are decried not to be democracies by their republican fanatics but which offer a degree of fairness that is comparable to “the greatest democracies” on Earth (or in a singular form, “the greatest democracy/country”, as the US politicians love to call their land). Comparable, I say, though it would not be wrong to call them fairer than the United States.

So, does the author actually mean something more in line with the so-to-say republican fanatics that we see all around the place these days, or does he also accept the possibility of a fair monarchy/autocracy (Singapore anyone?) which does provide an “apparent degree of fairness” and a far more effective political governance (though it would be fair to say that no democracy can or should be effectively governed given that means that debate is being smothered somewhere along the line)?

What is the worst about this approach, however, is that the author has refused to accept that the same moral values might exist in a non-democratic society if the tradition and principles for it were there. Fairness of people does not need to mean governance by people.

“Blood and Oil”

Today I walked in the dark cold forest. I went to one of the finest places I know here. I regret that it is a cloudy day. The moon could have made it an amazing sight. It was still great, but it could have been better.

It can always be better? Perhaps. Perhaps. And no. There will be something that is the apex of greatness. I do not know when, I do not know what it will be. I do know that it will be magnificent.

I have looked into the eyes of Muammar Qaddafi. If the people succeed against him, he has indeed lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Individualism.

I gave out good advice today. I wish I followed the advice that I so readily share. I know it’s correct, I know it’s the way I should do things. Yet, I find it easier to say so to others than to do it myself. A pity it is that single topic which always fails me.

I have imagined I’ll reread this all again someday. I do not know when. I do know it will be a great read, an interesting read. I hope I’ll be able to listen to all of the music pieces while I read it to make it even better.

Trylogia

Just finished the masterpiece of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Trylogia (composed of three books, ‘With Fire and Sword’, ‘The Deluge’, and ‘Fire in the Steppe, or Pan Wolodyjowski’), a grand total of 1781 pages in the Estonian translation (since the original was written in Polish, it made sense to read the Estonian translation which would likely be more truthful than an English one).

I do believe that Sienkiewicz, by writing this book, has managed to capture the spirit of patriotism as well as anyone ever could. I can’t really very well describe what it is about the book (or rather, the series of books) that’s so captivating, but there is something in it. Some commentator described the book as capturing the Polish spirit — perhaps this would be true (when we are speaking of the historical Poland, which would encompass modern Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belorussia, Kaliningrad, the majority of Latvia, and other territories), especially when we consider what the great nation actually had to go through — a century of war unlike any other European power, and yet it managed to retain it’s greatness and momentum.

Would it perhaps be that the liberties so valued by the szlachta (election of a king, and liberum veto to name a few) are the very essence of a democratic nation, making Poland (after United Provinces of the Netherlands, or whatever it’s official name was) the first democratic nation (especially considering the large number of szlachtices in the realm)? It might indeed be so, especially since no modern democracy manages to (at least from what I have read and experienced) — possibly with the exception of the autocratic democracy present in Singapore — portray to their own citizens what these szlachtices see as their God-given rights that can not be taken away by anyone wishing to rule without the power of law.

It can only be imagined where Poland would be now, if the spirit of patriotism had continued, and Austria, Prussia and Russia had not intervened constantly in its affairs…