Friday, 31 August 2012

Tiếng Việt: bảo, nó, sao, không, đến

Hoán đổi vị trí 5 chữ "bảo", "nó", "sao", "không", "đến" và cắm dấu câu, ta có thể xếp được khoảng 46 câu có nghĩa, hiểu được và chấp nhận được như sau:

1/ Sao nó bảo không đến?
2/ Sao bảo nó không đến?
3/ Sao không đến bảo nó?
4/ Sao nó không bảo đến ?
5/ Sao? Đến bảo nó không?
6/ Sao? Bảo nó đến không?
7/ Nó đến, sao không bảo?
8/ Nó đến, không bảo sao?
9/ Nó đến bảo không sao.
10/ Nó bảo sao không đến?
11/ Nó đến, bảo sao không?
12/ Nó bảo đến không sao.
13/ Nó bảo không đến sao?
14/ Nó không bảo, sao đến?
15/ Nó không bảo đến sao?
16/ Nó không đến bảo sao?
17/ Bảo nó sao không đến?
18/ Bảo nó: Đến không sao.
19/ Bảo sao nó không đến?
20/ Bảo nó đến, sao không ?
21/ Bảo nó không đến sao?
22/ Bảo không, sao nó đến?
23/ Bảo! Sao, nó đến không?
24/ Không bảo, sao nó đến?
25/ Không đến bảo nó sao?
26/ Không sao, bảo nó đến.
27/ Không bảo nó đến sao?
28/ Không đến, bảo nó sao?
29/ Không đến, nó bảo sao?
30/ Đến bảo nó không sao.
31/ Đến không? Bảo nó sao?
32/ Đến không? Nó bảo sao?
33/ Đến, sao không bảo nó ?
34/ Đến bảo nó sao không?
35/ Đến, sao nó không bảo.
36/ Đến, nó bảo không sao.
37/ Đến, nó không bảo sao?
38/ Đến, sao bảo nó không ?
39/ Không sao, bảo nó đến.
40/ Không! Sao bảo nó đến?
41/ Đến nó, bảo không sao.
42/ Đến, nó bảo: không sao
43/ Đến, nó bảo: không. Sao?
44/ Bảo nó đến, không sao.
45/ Bảo nó đến không? Sao?
46/ Bảo! Nó đến không? Sao?


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

On stereotypes

I've seen here and there people write "Stereotypes are wrong". My question now is: Are they? And should we say "Don't stereotype"? 
Let me clarify right from the beginning: My purpose when writing this entry is not encouraging or supporting stereotyping, but, by looking at it from a slightly different angle, I simply want to make another approach to it, as stereotypes are unavoidable. 

- Individuals are individuals. You are unique. But at the same time, whether you want or not, your worldview, way of living and thinking, habits, religious view, political view... are shaped by the society and environment in which you grow up and the language you speak. 

- A stereotype is an empirical generalisation, which shows it must come from somewhere. Saying "birds can fly" isn't entirely correct- there are flightless birds such as ostriches, penguins, cassowaries, kiwis... But the existence of these exceptions doesn't mean the statement "birds can fly" is entirely wrong and therefore should be disregarded. The fact is, the majority of birds can fly. 
One doesn't have to meet all the individuals of a certain group to have a stereotype of that group and to see whether it's valid. If 8 out of 10 people from a particular group fit the stereotype, there's some truth in it. 
In short, to say "stereotypes are relative" is better than to say "stereotypes are wrong". 

- Stereotyping isn't necessarily synonymous with racism, sexism, discrimination or other forms of prejudice. 

- Having a stereotype doesn't mean one believes that it's true for every single person in that group. 
Many people who make a particular generalisation are, at the same time, also conscious of counterexamples.

- People have no trouble overriding a stereotype when they know a person, and stereotypes don't blind people to individual traits. 

- Stereotypes can help avoiding culture shock and knowing how to behave.  
For example, before travelling to France you might be told that the French are irritated when you ask them something in English, so you should try 1st in French and afterwards they will reply in English. The truth is, not every French person gets irritated, but if you actually come to France you can see that it's true to some extent and knowing about it does help you during the trip. 
Or, say, Americans are generally friendly and easygoing (I know, it's a stereotype), so when coming to Norway they might face culture shock if not knowing beforehand that Norwegians are generally cold and distant with a rather blank face, so they might think Norwegians are unfriendly, whereas Norwegians simply don't express much emotion on their faces. 

- Stereotypes can help when you, for instance, walk through part of the city with which you're unfamiliar. By recognising certain established patterns of the typical criminal you can become more careful and save yourself. 

- Can we stop stereotyping? Can we stop generalising? 
No. As human beings, we are not omniscient. We are limited. As written above our thinking is shaped by our culture and society, by our surroundings and the people around us. We might realise the limitations of stereotypes and manage to see individuals as individuals, and if we try, can see and accept exceptions, or counterexamples, of a stereotype we've held, but the idea of having no stereotype at all is (almost) impossible. There are always some stereotypes existing somewhere in your brain. No one is 100% neutral, objective and unbiased. 

- The problem is not to have a stereotype, but whether it's so fixed that you only see what you want to see, and whether it leads to serious, disastrous, inhumane... acts. 
In conclusion, what we have to do is not to deny the existence of stereotypes. We 1st must be aware of the stereotypes we're having, and then aware of their limitations, then try to get rid of the tendency to only look at the individuals that confirm it and and ignore those that don't, whilst trying to see individuals as individuals. And don't push it to the point of sexism or racism and such things. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

"If men could menstruate" (Gloria Steinem)


Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.

Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes "womb envy" more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.

But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, "and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It's probably the first real thing that's happened to this group in years."

Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a "superior" group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and "inferior" group has will be used to justify its plight. Black me were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "stronger" than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "weaker." As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, "Oh no, that's women's work." Logic has nothing to do with oppression.

So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.

To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- "For Those Light Bachelor Days."

Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.

Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat ("You have to give blood to take blood"), occupy high political office ("Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priests, ministers, God Himself ("He gave this blood for our sins"), or rabbis ("Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean").

Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights ("Everything else is a single issue") or self-inflict a major wound every month ("You must give blood for the revolution").

Street guys would invent slang ("He's a three-pad man") and "give fives" on the corner with some exchange like, "Man you lookin' good!"

"Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!"

TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)

Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.

Medical schools would limit women's entry ("they might faint at the sight of blood").

Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics-- or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?

Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.

Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly)

In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here's an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)

The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.

If we let them.

Gloria Steinem 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

1 vài bài viết của Nguyễn Hưng Quốc về tiếng Việt

1 đặc điểm của tiếng Việt
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (1)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (2)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (3)
Tính chính trị của ngôn ngữ (4)
Tiếng Việt nào?
Tây nói tiếng ta 
Tôi học tiếng Việt
Giữa cọp và chó
... và những con khác
Con cặc
Tiếng Việt: mày, tao, mi, tớ... 
Tại sao cần học tiếng Việt? 
Chuyện dạy tiếng Việt như một ngôn-ngữ-một-rưỡi
Việc dạy tiếng Việt như 1 ngôn ngữ thứ 2 trên thế giới
Dạy tiếng Việt trong môi trường song ngữ: sự tương tác giữa gia đình và học đường (1)
Dạy tiếng Việt trong môi trường song ngữ: sự tương tác giữa gia đình và học đường (2)
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (1)
Dạy ngôn ngữ thứ hai / ngôn ngữ cộng đồng lại càng khó
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (3)
Dạy tiếng Việt: dễ hay khó? (4)
Dạy đọc (1): Dễ hay khó?
Dạy đọc (2): Đánh vần hay không đánh vần?
Dạy đọc (3): Lấy học sinh làm trung tâm
Dạy đọc bằng cách đọc (4)

Some questions regarding language and linguistics

Oh hi.
I'm alive. Still.

As 1 of my subjects is linguistics and today I've just borrowed a book on English morphology (besides, I've been reading some articles/ essays... about linguistics as well), there are several things I'm wondering about:
1/ What is 1st language? Is it the 1st language a person learns (from parents) or the language that person speaks the best?
Let's say, a girl with Vietnamese parents is born in Norway. The 1st language she learns is Vietnamese. As she grows up and goes to school, Norwegian becomes her dominant language, she feels truly herself when speaking Norwegian and expresses herself best in Norwegian. So is her 1st language Vietnamese or Norwegian? Is 1st language the same as mother tongue? And is it the same as native tongue? Can we say her mother tongue is Vietnamese and her 1st language Norwegian? Or does her 1st language have to be Vietnamese whether or not she can speak it well?
The case of Vladimir Nabokov, he was 1st taught both English and Russian, and even though his parents were Russian, he was able to read and write English before Russian. At age 5, he started to learn French. And in his household 3 languages were spoken, so Nabokov used all 3 languages throughout his childhood till he became an adult and spoke all 3 languages perfectly for all of his life. So can we say he had 3 1st languages, or was it only Russian?

2/ What is 2nd language? Is it the language someone learns 2nd, after mother tongue, or the language someone speaks 2nd best? What's the difference between 2nd language and foreign language? If a person speaks a foreign language almost as perfectly as his or her own language, can it be considered 2nd language, or does 2nd language have to be 1 of the languages spoken in that area, or at least, it has to be the language spoken usually throughout childhood?

3/ What is a native speaker? I know a guy who is born in Germany and grows up in Germany, with a German father and a Vietnamese mother, who speaks German to him, besides, he never speaks 1 word in Vietnamese, is he a native speaker of German? When a guy is born in the US to Italian parents, grows up in the US and speaks some Italian at home but speaks English as his dominant language, can he be considered a native speaker of English? Or are native speakers only Americans who speak English both at home and outside home, to parents and to other people? When a girl is born in the US, then at, say, 8 or 9, moves to Sweden, and since then speaks both languages well, can she be considered a native speaker of English? How about a girl who has British parents, lives in, say, France, never spends any time living in an English-speaking country but speaks both English and French in everyday life and speaks them well, is she a native speaker of English?
And a girl born in Norway to Vietnamese parents, who grows up in Norway, speaks (limited) Vietnamese at home, speaks Norwegian as her dominant language, she's a native speaker of which language? Not Vietnamese, but how about Norwegian? Or none?

4/ What is the equivalent of "morpheme" or "morph" in Vietnamese in Vietnamese morphology?

5/ Is the Vietnamese language a suitable language for morphology?
(This, however, might be a stupid question from a person who speaks Vietnamese as a mother tongue and knows it unconsciously without ever studying it the way foreigners or linguists do).

6/ Put the matter of convenience aside, is the Latin alphabet, the abc system, suitable for a language like Vietnamese? 

7/ As far as I understand, Vietnamese is an isolating language, never uses inflection and doesn't have morphological marking of gender, number, tense, etc. And in Vietnamese I don't think I've seen derivation as in English or Norwegian, like "determination" from "determine", "modernise" from "modern", "glorify" from "glory", "teacher" from "teach", "drinkable" from "drink", etc.
So perhaps it means these characteristics become an obstacle in the formation of new words in Vietnamese and make the language quite unsystematic?
(This, again, can be a naive, ridiculous thought of a native speaker. Please forgive me for my ignorance.) 
Do these characteristics have an impact on our way of thinking, our logic?
(Considering Sapir-Whorf hypothesis I think "determine" is too strong a word. Language doesn't determine our thinking, but it does influence our thinking, though I must say it seems more like a 2-way process, since language is a part of culture and reflects the way people perceive the world and the way people think. To say languages aren't significantly different and therefore it's unnecessary to consider whether these differences lead to differences in thinking is also too extreme. For anyone who claims so, I would ask "But how many languages do you speak and what are they?" Someone might call this a fallacy in arguments, and it's true that linguists don't have to speak 5 or 10 languages in order to become a linguist, but if they speak too few, or if the languages they speak aren't very much different, I would say they should be careful when making such statements). 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Khoảng hủng ngư ngỗn

Mỳnh đang khủng hoảng, thực sự khủng hoảng.
Đây là tuần đầu tiên của mỳnh ở trường đại học (tuần sau mới học chính thức).
A brief meeting with the unfriendly, unsympathetic, unhelpful consultant this morning confirmed my worst fear: chương trình mỳnh học sẽ là chương trình song ngữ- Anh và Na Uy. And the upcoming compulsory course in Norwegian will be linguistics (và sau này sẽ có triết học- vâng, học triết bằng tiếng Na Uy).
(Hvorfor sa fadderne at undervisningspråket skulle være engelsk og bare engelsk?)
Ai đang học ngoại ngữ, đặc biệt đang bơi với 2 ngoại ngữ (trở lên), đều có thể hiểu cảm giác của mỳnh. Having learned English for a long time, watched English-language films and read novels in English over the past 3 years, with 2 years in the IB programme, I still haven't achieved perfection or even come close to it, I still struggle to read "Ada or Ardor" and still have no confidence that I can write down everything when 1 of the professors speaks like a CNN reporter without using the board or Power Point. Mặc dù mỳnh đạt 5/7 điểm Norwegian B SL trong chương trình IB, với trình độ tiếng Na Uy của mỳnh, làm sao mỳnh có thể học ĐH? (I går, for eksempel, snakket en kvinne om verdensborgerskap. En time og en halv. Jeg satt der og skjønte nesten ingenting.) My biggest problem with the Norwegian language is that my mind sort of picks out familiar words, "Oh I know that!", "That one, that one means...", "Ah I've learned this word...", but can't form a connection between the words and I therefore can't grasp the content as a whole. Thế nên khi không đủ từ, mỳnh có thể cố gắng diễn tả được ý mỳnh muốn bằng cách khác, nhưng đa phần các trường hợp khi mỳnh đã khốn khổ vật vã nói xong cái cần phải nói, người ta nắm được ý mỳnh và trả lời, thì lúc đấy mỳnh lại không hiểu.
Of course, I blame no one but myself. I'm the one who applied. (And it's also my fault that my Norwegian sucks). My stupidity is indeed beyond imagination and comprehension. I am a restless reckless idiot.
Bây giờ mỳnh có khoảng 3 lựa chọn.
Lựa chọn đầu tiên rất mệt, rất cực, mỳnh không thực sự cảm thấy thuyết phục, đi kèm với vài hy sinh.
Lựa chọn số 2 có thể sẽ đỡ hơn phần ngôn ngữ- không hoàn toàn đảm bảo, nhưng sẽ mệt cái khác, và hơi tốn kém.
Lựa chọn số 3 có thể rẽ thành nhiều options nhỏ, nhưng cái nào cũng đều có điểm chung là đường vòng, nhưng đảm bảo, an toàn, ít tốn sức hơn 1 chút.
So......... hva bør jeg gjøre?

(Haizz. Từ từ tính. Giờ đi ngủ). 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Photos of Paris in June 2012 and solution for the out-of-space problem

After thinking thoroughly and carefully considering various solutions with their pros and cons (for a couple of months?), I still couldn't come up with anything, until some hours ago on the verge of madness I did some impulsive things, and with that same madness and impulsiveness I created another google account: 
This will not replace my current one (which is already attached to youtube and several other websites). 
I will not use it for sending emails (I think). 
Instead, it will be used as linking with another facebook account I've just created (yes, this is 1 of the impulsive things I did), which will not replace my main fb account Yi Nguyen, but the secondary account Elyssa Ozog (with a friend list of about 10 people). And, apparently, used for photo uploading. 
The 1st album, of Paris, is here: 
(This same album has been published on my fb Yi Nguyen: The link is currently unavailable because it's deactivated, but will soon be OK). 
More information will be updated later. 
Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Primitive people and simple living


I wrote (on my own wall): 
"Hypocrites, most of those who commented here.
They praise it, they criticise civilisation and say they crave for such a lifestyle, very well, when exhausted and stressed people are likely to dream of a utopia with no worries and no complications. In addition to the things mentioned here, there would be no competition, no stealing, no class, no inequality... But if they could, if they really could, would they really want to give up what they have now and live like this? Would they be willing to give up clothes, machines, electricity, education, science, medicine, culture, literature, cinema, internet, vehicles, money..., basically everything they're having now?
In case you misunderstand my point, no I have nothing against primitive people (or "primitive" if you like).
Some people, after commenting here under this photo, will go back to their lifestyle, will continue their pursuit of money and position and fame and whatever there is to pursue, will continue to use and enjoy all the things they call the causes of complications and problems in society... And whenever having the chance, they'll condemn civilisation and blame everything on it and again say they wish they could live like the primitive people, and so on. And that's it."

Later, there were some new comments that I think should be posted here:

"No healthcare, no running water, no dentistry, no optical care, no protection against flooding, no police/security from mob rule.
There are good and bad sides to the modern lifestyle. If you really think this is the way to live, why the heck are you on Facebook?"

"From our perspective, that is not exactly true. It is just that we label certain acts as crimes. These societies contain what we call rape, murder, burglary etc as well. So, what we label as crime is completely normal to them. Crime is created by enacting laws for certain acts."

"Let's see; no stress? Doubt it. When you day to day life is survival your life span is less than thirty due to water born illnesses, I would call that stress. No bombs? Replace bombs with every other problem they face and it isn't much different (being killed by wild animals, starving, illnesses we don't face, etc). No homeless- the standard of living would be comparable or worse to homeless in the first world. No crime- ha ha.. Crime exists in these societies too. No prisons, probably, but they do deal with criminals in their own way- stoning, banishment, etc. No junk food- I'm sure they would wish for some during seasons when food is scarce and they are starving. No debt- OK, maybe that one. No pollution- right. Pollution comes in a lot of shapes and when you don't have basic sanitation like plumbing, you create your own pollution daily. No poverty- this is the biggest laugh because by most standards, their daily life would be considered extreme poverty- little food, no access to health care other than what they can create for themselves, constant risks of disease and injury, homes that do very little to protect from the elements, facing a life span of under thirty years, extremely high infant mortality rates- by all definitions it is poverty."

"Where I am coming from with my so-called negativity- my wife grew up in Brasil and saw these 'primitives' first hand and it scarred her for life. Reality is not what you see on TV. Imagine yourself as a child seeing other children with bellies bloated, not from having enough to eat, but because it is full of worms. Imagine seeing other children with septic infections from cuts and having their arm rotting away. Imagine seeing whole families starving because a river changed its course or a rain was late. This is the reality of the primitive lifestyle."

"I find it amusing that so many people in this forum have expressed such a yearning for the entire human race to collapse into total ignorance and barbarism all the while utilizing one of the wonders of the modern world. Sorry, did I say 'amusing'? I meant 'disheartening' and 'obtuse'."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Half full chủ nghĩa

Dạo này trên facebook thấy nhiều người đăng những thứ đại loại như hãy suy nghĩ tích cực, vấn đề không phải là hoàn cảnh mà là thái độ, nên hài lòng với những gì đang có, đừng phàn nàn, hãy nghĩ tới những người không may hơn mình, blah blah blah. Phát ngấy.

- Suy nghĩ và cảm giác tiêu cực, vượt qua 1 giới hạn, có thể dẫn tới nhiều hậu quả xấu, đặc biệt với sức khỏe. Nhưng khi chưa đến giới hạn đó, nó hoàn toàn tự nhiên và bình thường như những suy nghĩ và cảm giác tích cực, không có lý do gì để cố gắng loại bỏ, né tránh hoặc phủ nhận. 
- 1 đứa bạn NU của mỳnh từng bảo, đôi khi nó mệt sau 7-8 tiết ở trường, về nhà lại đủ thứ bài vở và nhiều việc khác, chỉ phàn nàn 1 câu nhưng ba mẹ lại nói ngay, nên biết ơn vì mình may mắn như thế nào, nên nghĩ tới những đứa trẻ đói khát ở Châu Phi. Thực tế, ca cẩm 1 chút khi mệt mỏi, kiệt sức cũng như buột 1 tiếng chửi thề khi đau, bức bối, khó chịu có tác dụng tốt, làm giải tỏa những cảm giác khó chịu, tiêu cực trong người. 1 người đang đủ thứ trong lòng nghe ai đó bảo nên cảm thấy biết ơn và tận hưởng những gì mình đang có, chắc chắn không cảm thấy thoải mái sung sướng gì hơn, còn nếu tự nói với bản thân không nên tiêu cực nữa, mình thế này là may mắn lắm rồi, chưa chắc đã làm bản thân bớt bực dọc mà, theo nghĩa nào đó, chỉ đang chối bỏ cảm xúc thực sự của mình, trong khi những cảm xúc như bực bội, giận dữ, thất vọng, lo lắng, buồn bã... đều bình thường và tự nhiên. 
- Nói vấn đề không phải là hoàn cảnh mà là thái độ có ý đúng nhưng không hẳn 100% đúng. Tất nhiên, hoàn cảnh là cái mình không thể quyết định, còn thái độ là cái ta có thể hoàn toàn làm chủ. Nhưng cuộc sống không chỉ đơn giản là ăn, ngủ, học, làm việc, chơi, hạnh phúc không hẳn chỉ là có mái nhà, bạn bè...- định nghĩa hạnh phúc rất phức tạp và mang tính cá nhân. Có cơ thể lành lặn, được sống với gia đình và bạn bè, được đi học và làm việc... với nhiều người là không đủ để gọi là hạnh phúc, nên khi chưa đạt được điều mình mơ ước, họ cảm thấy không hài lòng- như thế không có nghĩa là họ tiêu cực, không nhận ra sự may mắn của bản thân.  
- Khi 1 người không hài lòng với cái họ đang có, họ có thể bị những người theo chủ nghĩa biết-ơn-và-suy-nghĩ-tích-cực xem là bi quan, nhưng chính sự không hài lòng sẽ là động cơ để họ phấn đấu và thay đổi. Trong khi đó, sự hài lòng lại có thể là chấp nhận 1 cách thụ động. 
- Trong 1 số trường hợp, sự hài lòng có thể rất nguy hiểm. Chẳng hạn, trong xã hội, có người nhìn thấy nhiều vấn đề và thấy đất nước mình không bằng nhiều quốc gia khác, nhưng cũng có nhiều người "quyết định" hài lòng, chủ yếu theo 2 cách, hoặc so sánh đất nước mình với những nước dưới mình chứ không nhìn lên, hoặc so sánh với quá khứ, để nghĩ "thế này là tốt lắm rồi, tốt hơn hồi xưa nhiều". Đây là cách nghĩ thụ động, làm trì kéo sự thay đổi và phát triển của xã hội.  
- Đôi khi, "tiêu cực" chỉ là từ 1 số người dùng thay cho từ "thực tế" hoặc "nghi ngờ, cẩn thận". 
- Suy nghĩ tích cực và lạc quan khi đưa ra 1 quyết định, đôi lúc, dẫn tới sự tự tin quá mức và chủ quan, không xét đến những hậu quả tiêu cực có thể xảy ra, nên có thể đưa ra quyết định khi không suy nghĩ thực sự cẩn trọng, và có thể gây ra nhiều hậu quả tai hại. 
- Khi thực tế, không quá tự tin, và nghĩ đến những tình huống xấu nhất có thể xảy ra, người ta có thể được chuẩn bị tốt hơn (cố gắng để nó không xảy ra, và đồng thời chuẩn bị tinh thần), nên hậu quả cũng nhẹ nhàng hơn.
- 1 số phụ nữ khi nhận ra chồng mình không tử tế vẫn tiếp tục cuộc hôn nhân và tự an ủi mọi chuyện sẽ khá hơn, chồng mình sẽ thay đổi... Đó có thể xem là suy nghĩ tích cực. Và dĩ nhiên, thái độ không tốt hơn những người suy nghĩ tiêu cực, nghĩ bản tính con người sẽ không thay đổi, rồi quyết định bỏ đi. 
- Những người nhạy cảm, khi quan sát và trải nghiệm, nhìn thấy nhiều bất công, sai trái diễn ra xung quanh, hay buồn và có thể có những suy nghĩ bị gọi là tiêu cực. Nhưng không thể vì thế lại gọi họ là những người bi quan, hoặc nói những câu đại loại như, thuyền chỉ chìm khi nước tràn vào nhấn chìm thuyền, bản thân ta không nên để những thứ tiêu cực chen vào mình, blah blah, như mỳnh thấy trên facebook, bởi thái độ như vậy nghe ích kỷ và rất ngớ ngẩn. 
- Đôi khi, cố gắng suy nghĩ tích cực làm người ta không nhìn thấy mặt trái của vấn đề. 
- Nhiều người theo chủ nghĩa lạc-quan-hạnh-phúc, hay ít nhất trong số những người mỳnh quen, có thói quen né tránh tất cả những gì họ gắn mác là "depressing". Riêng chuyện đọc sách chẳng hạn, 1 người vốn đã quen suy nghĩ tiêu cực, đọc những gì mình thích, có hứng thú, hoặc cảm thấy mình nên đọc, không có thói quen xếp loại tốt/ xấu, tích cực/ tiêu cực, cũng không cần xem nó sẽ tác động làm mình vui hay buồn... 1 người suy nghĩ tích cực, chỉ muốn nhìn thấy the bright side và chủ động né tránh những thứ "depressing", trước tiên phải phân loại, nên khi đọc sẽ thiếu sót so với người kia, và xét mặt nào đó, đang né tránh thực tế. 
- v.v... 

Nói tóm lại, nếu phải trả lời half full hay half empty, mỳnh sẽ không trả lời- mỳnh thấy cả 2. 
Suy nghĩ tích cực và biết ơn vì những gì mình đang có có mặt tốt, nhưng, cũng như mọi thứ khác, có mặt xấu. Nên cứ phải nghe nhai nhải những điều đó, như mỳnh đã viết ở đoạn trên cùng, mỳnh thực sự phát ngấy. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Willy nilly a willow

"William saw her home as usual and cuddled her a little in the darkness of the doorway. All of a sudden, she felt that his face was wet. He covered it with his hand and groped for his handkerchief. 'Raining in Paradise,' he said... 'the onion of happiness... poor Willy is willy nilly a willow.' He kissed the corner of her mouth and then blew his nose with a faint moist squizzle. 'Grown-up men don't cry,' said Anne. 'But I'm not a grown-up,' he replied with a whimper. 'That moon is childish, and that wet pavement is childish, and Love is a honey-suckling babe...' 'Please stop,' she said. 'You know I hate when you go on talking like that. It's so silly, so...' 'So Willy', he sighed. He kissed her again and they stood like some soft dark statue with 2 dim heads. A policeman passed leading the night on a leash and then paused to let it sniff at a pillar-box. 'I'm as happy as you', she said, 'but I don't want to cry in the least or to talk nonsense.' 'But can't you see,' he whispered, 'can't you see that happiness at its very best is but the zany of its own mortality?' 'Good night', said Anne. 'Tomorrow at 8,' he cried as he slipped away. He patted the door gently and presently was strolling down the street. She is warm and she is pretty, he mused, and I love her, and it's all no good, no good, because we are dying. I cannot bear that backward glide into the past. That last kiss is already dead and The Woman in White [a film they had been to see that night] is stone-dead, and the policeman who passed is dead too, and even the door is as dead as its nail. And that last thought is already a dead thing by now. Coates (the doctor) is right when he says that my heart is too small for my size. And sighs. He wandered on talking to himself, his shadow now pulling a long nose, now dropping a curtsey, as it slipped back round a lamp-post. When he reached his dismal lodgings he was a long time climbing the dark stairs. Before going to bed he knocked at the conjuror's door and found the old man standing in his underwear and inspecting a pair of black trousers. 'Well?' said William... 'They don't kinda like my accent,' he replied, 'but I guess I'm going to get that turn all the same.' William sat down on the bed and said: 'You ought to dye your hair.' 'I'm more bald than gray,' said the conjuror. 'I sometimes wonder,' said William, 'where the things we shed are- because they must go somewhere, you know- lost hair, fingernails...' 'Been drinking again,' suggested the conjuror without much curiosity. He folded his trousers with care and told William to quit the bed, so that he might put them under the mattress. William sat down on a chair and the conjuror went on with his business; the hairs bristled on his calves, his lips were pursed, his soft hands moved tenderly. 'I am merely happy,' said William. 'You don't look it,' said the solemn old man. 'May I buy you a rabbit?' asked William. "I'll hire 1 when necessary,' the conjuror replied drawing out the 'necessary' as it it were an endless ribbon. 'A ridiculous profession,' said William, 'a pick-pocket gone mad, a matter of patter. The pennies in a beggar's cap and the omelette in your top hat. Absurdly the same.' 'We are used to insult,' said the conjuror. He calmly put out the light and William groped his way out. The books on the bed in his room seemed reluctant to move. As he undressed he imagined the forbidden bliss of a sunlit laundry: blue water and scarlet wrists. Might he beg Anne to wash his shirt? Had he really annoyed her again? Did she really believe they would be married some day? The pale little freckles on the glistening skin under her innocent eyes. The right front-tooth that protruded a little. Her soft warm neck. He felt again the pressure of tears. Would she go the way of May, Judy, Juliette, Augusta and all the rest of his love-embers? He heard the dancing-girl in the next room locking the door, washing, bumping down a jug, wistfully clearing her throat. Something dropped with a tinkle. The conjuror began to snore."

This is an excerpt from a fictitious book by Sebastian Knight. Chapter 10, "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight"- Vladimir Nabokov. 
The similarity between Sebastian Knight and Seymour Glass is indeed striking. 

I'm currently reading this book. 
Yesterday whilst walking on Karl Johans gate with my mom and looking at passers-by, I was attracted to a bookstore and came in. It had loads of books. And it's not just the number of books, but the way the books were put on the shelves and the shelves were put beside each other that overwhelmed me really, and I was filled with joy, immense joy, especially when I, to my surprise, found 1 of the 3 books that I had been thinking and talking of buying, "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction" by J. D. Salinger (since reading it last year, I have always wanted to own it), I was, literally, ecstatically happy, and remained so for the rest of the day. 

Edit- 8/8/2012: 
Another passage in the book: 
"...Time and space were to him measures of the same eternity, so that the very idea of his reacting in any special "modern" way to what Mr Goodman calls "the atmosphere of postwar Europe" is utterly preposterous. He was intermittently happy and uncomfortable in the world into which he came, just as a traveller may be exhilarated by visions of his voyage and be almost simultaneously sea-sick. Whatever age Sebastian might have been born in, he would have been equally amused and unhappy, joyful and apprehensive, as a child at a pantomime now and then thinking of tomorrow's dentist. And the reason of his discomfort was not that he was moral in an immoral age, or immoral in a moral one, neither was it that cramped feeling of his youth not blowing naturally enough in a world which was too rapid a succession of funerals and fireworks; it was simply his becoming aware that the rhythm of his inner being was so much richer than that of other souls..." 
Doesn't that sound exactly like Buddy talking of his brother Seymour- the poet, the true artist, the seer? 

I finished the book last night, and no need to say, I love it, and Vladimir Nabokov is indeed a monster and a master. 

Edit- 10/8/2012: 
Milena Jesenska, on Kafka: 

“He was shy, timid, gentle, and kind, but he wrote gruesome and painful books. He saw the world as full of invisible demons, who tear apart and destroy defenseless people. He was too clear-sighted and too wise to be able to live; he was too weak to fight, he had that weakness of noble, beautiful people who are not able to do battle against the fear of misunderstandings, unkindness, or intellectual lies. Such persons know beforehand that they are powerless and go down in defeat in such a way that they shame the victor. He knew people as only people of great sensitivity are able to know them, as somebody who is alone and sees people almost prophetically, from one flash of a face. He knew the world in a deep and extraordinary manner. He was himself a deep and extraordinary world.”
"We are all capable of living, because at one time or another we have taken refuge in a lie, in blindness, enthusiasm, optimism, a conviction, pessimism, or something else. But has never fled to any refuge, not one. He is absolutely incapable of lying, just as he is incapable of getting drunk. He lacks even the smallest refuge; he has no shelter. That is why he is exposed to everything we are protected from. He is like a naked man among the dressed."

Friday, 3 August 2012

"I was born in a land..."

An excerpt from the fictitious book "The Doubtful Asphodel" by Sebastian Knight in "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight" (Vladimir Nabokov):

"What can I tell you of my past, gentlemen, I was born in a land where the idea of freedom, the notion of right, the habit of human kindness were things coldly despised and brutally outlawed. Now and then, in the course of history, a hypocrite government would paint the walls of the nation's prison a comelier shade of yellow and loudly proclaim the granting of rights familiar to happier states; but either these rights were solely enjoyed by the jailers or else they contained some secret flaw which made them even more bitter than the decrees of frank tyranny... Every man in the land was a slave, if he was not a bully; since the soul and everything pertaining to it were denied to man, the infliction of physical pain came to be considered as sufficient to govern and guide human nature... From time to time a thing called revolution would occur, turning the slaves into bullies and vice versa... A dark country, a hellish place, gentlemen, and if there is anything of which I am certain in life it is that I shall never exchange the liberty of my exile for the vile parody of home..."