Sunday, 31 August 2014

Notes from "Varieties of Dictatorship"

Chapter 10 of Principles of Comparative Politics (William Roberts Clark, Matt Golder and Sona Nadenichek Golder).

- Classification:

+ "A monarchy is an autocracy in which the executive comes to and maintains power on the basis of family and kin networks."
+ "A military dictatorship is an autocracy in which the executive relies on the armed forces to come to and stay in power."
+ "A dominant-party dictatorship is 1 in which a single party dominates access to political office and control over policy."
+ "A personalistic dictatorship is 1 in which the leader, although often supported by a party or the military, retains personal control of policy decisions and the selection of regime personnel."
+ "An electoral authoritarian regime is 1 in which leaders hold elections and tolerate some pluralism and interparty competition, but violate minimal democratic norms so severely and systematically that it makes no sense to classify them as democracies. A hegemonic electoral regime is 1 in which the leader's party routinely wins with overwhelming majorities. A competitive authoritarian regime is 1 in which opposition parties win substantial minorities in either presidential or legislative elections. Electoral authoritarian regimes can be contrasted with politically closed authoritarian regimes in which no opposition party is granted a legal space in the political arena."

- Leader succession, 1946- 1996:

- Survival:
+ Military dictatorships are more fragile than dominant-party and personalistic dictatorships, because when the military come to power, they often carry with them "the seeds of their own destruction". Disagreements and conflicts can lead to factionalisation and thus change in government.
+ Single-party regimes and personalistic regimes tend to be immune to internal splits.
However, personalistic regimes usually don't last as long as single-party regimes. 1st, such regimes rarely survive long after the death of the leader. 2nd, the rulers rely on informal and often quite unstable personal networks, sometimes based on kinship, ethnicity or religion, and therefore have a relatively narrow support base. Groups excluded from participation and benefits may want to challenge the regime. Violent overthrow is likely.
+ Dominant-party dictatorships (e.g VN) tend to last a long time.
More details in the essay "What Do We Know About Democratisation After Twenty Years?" by Barbara Geddes.
+ Monarchies are the longest-lived dictatorships. 
Thanks to the monarchical culture, which rests on 3 things: 1st, "there are clear rules in a monarchy as to who the insiders and outsiders are"- monarchies depend on "tightly knit family structures that are reinforced through intermarriage"; 2nd, "monarchies tend to have rules or norms that indicate exactly how regime rents are to be shared among the various members of the royal family"; 3rd, "monarchies tend to have institutions that allow members of the royal family to monitor the actions of the monarch and enforce the norms regarding the distribution of regime rents".

- The selectorate theory:

+ The disenfranchised are those residents who don't have the right to participate in choosing the government (=> most people throughout history).
+ "The selectorate is the set of people who can play a role in selecting the leader."
Members of the royal family (+ the nobility+ some religious leaders) in a monarchy, members of the armed forces/ the heads of each of the military branches in a military junta, etc.
+ "The winning coalition includes those people whose support is necessary for the leader to stay in power."

- Loyalty norm:
"The risk that members of the winning coalition face when they think about defecting is embodied in the ratio of the size of the winning coalition to the size of the electorate (W/S)", which "represents the probability that a member of the selectorate will be in any winning coalition" and which "indicates the probability that someone who defects from the current winning coalition will be in the next winning coalition".
=> When W/S is small=> smaller chance to be in anyone else's winning coalition=> stronger loyalty norms.
=> leaders have greater opportunities to engage in kleptocracy or corruption.
=> incentives for poor public policy.
Large W/S systems such as democracies don't have strong loyalty norms.
=> leaders have to work harder.
lower kleptocracy, lower taxation and state predation, higher economic growth, etc.

Dominant-party and personalistic dictatorships: W and W/S are both small.
=> poor government performance.
Monarchies and military juntas: W is small and W/S is large.
=> government performance's likely to be middling.

- The most interesting part is that, based on everything that has been said, leaders would prefer the system with a small winning coalition and a large selectorate, to stay in power and to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry (dominant-party or personalistic dictatorships); members of the winning coalition would prefer that W is small but W/S is large, for the benefits from the rulers (monarchies or military juntas); and members of the selectorate and the disenfrachised people would prefer that both W and W/S are large, i.e "everyone else prefers to live in democracies".

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Notes from "Democracy and Dictatorship: Conceptualization and Measurement"

Chapter 5 of Principles of Comparative Politics (William Roberts Clark, Matt Golder and Sona Nadenichek Golder)

- "Democracy" used to have negative connotations, till mid-20th century.
"Demokratia" is a Greek word meaning "rule by the demos". The word "demos" is often translated as "the people" but refers more specifically to "the common people" (with little/ no economic independence+ politically uneducated).
The earlier debates surrounding the various forms of regime went back to the time of Plato and Aristotle. Plato believed that democracy would be rule by the poor and uneducated against the rich and educated. The mass would be open to demagoguery, leading to short-lived democracies in which the people quickly surrendered their power to a tyrant.
Aristotle, unlike him, believed that there were conditions under which the will of the many could be equal to or wiser than the will of the few, but didn't think highly of democracy either. He believed that regimes come in good and bad forms: the good forms (rulers govern for the good of all) were monarchy, aristocracy and politeia, the bad ones (rulers govern for the good of themselves) were tyranny, oligarchy and democracy; a corrupted monarchy would become a tyranny, a corrupted aristocracy would become an oligarchy and a corrupted politeia would become a democracy. The least dangerous corrupt form, to him, was aristocracy, the most dangerous was democracy.
However, around this time the concept of democracy didn't involve free elections. Instead, leaders were decided by lot (i.e. drawing names from a hat) in democracies. This notion continued all the way into the 18th century, democracy's therefore seen as obsolete.
- Similarly, "dictatorship" hasn't always been a negative word.
A dictator was "an extraordinary Roman magistrate nominated under exceptional emergency circumstances from about 500 BC to the 3th century AD". Machiavelli argued that "dictatorial authority did good, not harm, to the republic of Rome". "Dictatorship" wasn't seen as synonymous with "tyranny", "despotism" and "autocracy".

- How, then, do we classify political regimes?
Robert Dahl, an influential figure, made a distinction between:
+ A substantive view of democracy: "classifies regimes in regard to the outcomes that they produce".
e.g as Aristotle did.
+ A minimalist/ procedural view of democracy: "classifies regimes in regard to their institutions and procedures".
Dahl also identified 2 dimensions:
+ Contestation: "the extent to which citizens are free to organise themselves into competing blocs in order to press for the policies and outcomes they desire."
=> freedom of speech and assembly, freedom to form political parties, extent to which leaders are chosen in free and fair elections, etc.
+ Inclusion: "has to do with who gets to participate in the democratic process". 
=> countries that deny voting rights based on place of birth, gender or ethnicity would rank low in regard to inclusion. 
However, Dahl didn't believe that any country exhibited, or could exhibit, sufficient levels of contestation or inclusion to be considered a true democracy. Instead, he used the word "polyarchy" for a political regime with high levels of both. 

- The book lists and discusses 3 measures of democracy and dictatorship, all of which are based on Dahl's ideas. 
+ The Democracy-Dictatorship (DD) measure: 
~ A country's considered a democracy if all of the following conditions apply: 
The chief executive's elected
The legislature's elected
There's more than 1 party competing in the elections
An alternation in power under identical electoral rules has taken place 
The last point is particularly important because unless the incumbent ruler has demonstrated that he's willing to give up power after losing an election, there's no way to know that the country's a democracy or a dictatorship. Without an alternation in power, it's impossible to distinguish between regimes in which the incumbents are always in power because they're popular (but willing to give up power when they lose) and those in which incumbents hold elections because they know they won't lose. 
~ Based on procedural/ minimalist view of democracy
~ Focuses strongly on contestation
~ Ignores inclusion
~ Dichotomous measure
~ Nominal measure 

+ Polity IV: 
~ Polity score= Democracy score (0- 10) - Autocracy score (0- 10) 
=> ranges from -10 to 10. 
=> democracy: +6 to +10. 
dictatorship: -6 to -10. 
mixed regime/ anocracy: between -5 and +5.
~ Based on procedural/ minimalist view of democracy
~ 5 attributes: 
The competitiveness of executive recruitment
The openness of executive recruitment
The constraints that exist on the executive
The regulation of political participation
The competitiveness of political participation 
~ Both contestation and inclusion
~ Continuous measure 
~ Interval measure 

+ Freedom House: 
~ Freedom rather than democracy 
~ 2 dimensions: 
Freedom on political rights: 10 questions (each: 0-4 points)=> electoral process, political pluralism and participation, and the functioning of government=> the score (possible 40 points) is converted to a 7-point scale.
Freedom on civil rights: 15 questions (each: 0-4 points)=> freedom of expression and belief, associational and organisational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy and individual rights=> the score (possible 60 points) is converted to a 7-point scale. 
=> Freedom House score is the average. 
~ Based on the substantive view of democracy (takes into account outcomes: whether there is academic freedom, freedom from war, freedom from socioeconomic inequalities, etc.) 
~ Both contestation and inclusion 
~ Continuous measure 
~ Interval measure 

(All these 3 measures, undoubtedly, classify VN as a dictatorship). 

Top 10 favourite novels [updated]

1/ Anna Karenina (Lev Tolstoy) 
2/ War and Peace (Lev Tolstoy) 
3/ The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner) 
4/ Notes from Underground (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) 
5/ Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) 
6/ Mansfield Park (Jane Austen)
7/ Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) 
8/ Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
9/ The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison)
10/ 100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

(probably better seen as a list rather than a ranking, I'm not 100% certain of the numbers).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thơ (tục) Hồ Xuân Hương

Đánh đu
Bốn cột khen ai khéo khéo trồng,
Người thì lên đánh kẻ ngồi trông,
Trai đu gối hạc khom khom cật
Gái uốn lưng ong ngửa ngửa lòng.
Bốn mảnh quần hồng bay phấp phới,
Hai hàng chân ngọc duỗi song song.
Chơi xuân có biết xuân chăng tá.
Cọc nhổ đi rồi, lỗ bỏ không!

Núi Kẽm Trống
Hai bên thì núi giữa thì sông.
Có phải đây là Kẽm Trống không?
Sóng dồn mặt nước vỗ long bong.
ở trong hang núi còn hơi hẹp,
Ra khỏi đầu non đã rộng thùng.
Qua cửa mình ơi! Nên ngắm lại,
Nào ai có biết nỗi bưng bồng.

Động Hương Tích
Bầy đặt kìa ai khéo khéo phòm,
Nứt ra một lỗ hỏm hòm hom.
Người quen cõi Phật chen chân xọc,
Kẻ lạ bầu tiên mỏi mắt dòm.
Giọt nước hữu tình rơi thánh thót,
Con thuyền vô trạo cúi lom khom.
Lâm tuyền quyến cả phồn hoa lại,
Rõ khéo trời già đến dở dom.

Đèo Ba Dội
Một đèo, một đèo, lại một đèo,
Khen ai khéo tạc cảnh cheo leo.
Cửa son đỏ loét tùm hum nóc,
Hòn đá xanh rì lún phún rêu.
Lắt lẻo cành thông cơn gió thốc,
Đầm đìa lá liễu giọt sương gieo.
Hiền nhân, quân tử ai là chẳng ...
Mỏi gối, chồn chân vẫn muốn trèo.

Hang Cắc Cớ
Trời đất sinh ra đá một chòm,
Nứt làm hai mảnh hỏm hòm hom.
Kẽ hầm rêu mốc trơ toen hoẻn,
Luồng gió thông reo vỗ phập phòm.
Giọt nước hữu tình rơi lõm bõm,
Con đường vô ngạn tối om om.
Khen ai đẽo đá tài xuyên tạc
Khéo hớ hênh ra lắm kẻ dòm!

Hang Thanh Hóa
Khen thay con tạo khéo khôn phàm,
Một đố dương ra biết mấy ngoàm.
Lườn đá cỏ leo, rờ rậm rạp.
Lách khe nước rỉ, mó lam nham.
Một sư đầu trọc ngồi khua mõ,
Hai tiểu lưng tròn đứng giữ am.
Đến mới biết rằng hang Thanh Hóa,
Chồn nhân, mỏi gối, hãy còn ham.

Chùa Quán Sứ 
Quán sứ sao mà cảnh vắng teo, 
Hỏi thăm sư cụ đáo nơi neo? 
Chày kình tiểu để suông không đấm, 
Tràng hạt vãi lần đếm lại đeo. 
Sáng banh không kẻ khua tang mít, 
Trưa trật nào người móc kẽ rêu. 
Cha kiếp đường tu sao lắt léo, 
Cảnh buồn thêm ngán nợ tình đeo. 

Đá chẹt thi 
Cục núi khen cho khéo bất tình 
Thò ra đứng chẹt giữa đường Thanh 
Hai bên khép lại hơi gần tí 
Một dải thông qua chút đỉnh đinh 
Thế lộ có đâu ngăn đón mặt 
Nhân tình ai chịu cản ngang mình 
Bấy nhiêu năm trước nghe còn chẹt 
Mới mở mang ra đã rộng thênh

Vịnh cái quạt 
Một lỗ sâu sâu mấy cũng vừa,
Duyên em dính dáng tự bao giờ.
Chành ra ba góc da còn thiếu,
Khép lại đôi bên thịt vẫn thừa,
Mát mặt anh hùng khi tắt gió,
Che đầu quân tử lúc sa mưa.
Nâng niu ướm hỏi người trong trướng,
Phì phạch trong lòng đã sướng chưa?

Mười bảy hay là mười tám đây?
Cho ta yêu dấu chẳng rời tay.
Mỏng dầy chừng ấy chành ba góc,
Rộng hẹp dường nào cắm một cây.
Càng nóng bao nhiêu càng muốn mát,
Yêu đêm chưa phỉ lại yêu ngày.
Hồng hồng má phấn duyên vì cậy,
Chúa dấu vua yêu một cái này.

Con ốc nhồi
Bác mẹ sinh ra phận ốc nhồi
Đêm ngày lăn lóc đám cỏ hôi,
Quân tử có thương thì bóc yếm
Xin đừng ngó ngoáy lỗ trôn tôi.

Giếng nước
Ngõ ngang thăm thẳm tới nhà ông
Giếng tốt thanh thơi, giếng lạ lùng.
Cầu trắng phau phau đôi ván ghép,
Nước trong leo lẻo một dòng thông.
Cỏ gà lún phún leo quanh mép,
Cá diếc le te lách giữa dòng.
Giếng ấy thanh tân ai chẳng biết,
Ðố ai dám thả nạ dòng dòng.

Quả mít
Thân em như quả mít trên cây,
Vỏ nó sù sì, múi nó dày.
Quân tử có yêu thì đóng cọc,
Xin đừng mân mó nhựa ra tay.

Trống thủng
Của em bưng bít vẫn bùi ngùi,
Nó thủng vì chưng kẻ nặng dùi,
Ngày vắng đập tung dăm bảy chiếc,
Đêm thanh tỏm cắc một đôi hồi,
Khi giang thẳng cánh bù khi cúi
Chiến đứng không thôi lại chiến ngồi.
Nhắn nhủ ai về thương lấy với,
Thịt da ai cũng thế mà thôi.

Đánh cờ
Chàng với thiếp đêm khuya trằn trọc, 
Ðốt đèn lên đánh cuộc cờ người. 
Hẹn rằng đấu trí mà chơi, 
Cấm ngoại thuỷ không ai được biết. 
Nào tướng sĩ dàn ra cho hết, 
Ðể đôi ta quyết liệt một phen. 
Quân thiếp trắng, quân chàng đen, 
Hai quân ấy chơi nhau đà đã lửa. 
Thoạt mới vào chàng liền nhảy ngựa, 
Thiếp vội vàng vén phứa tịnh lên. 
Hai xe hà, chàng gác hai bên, 
Thiếp thấy bí, thiếp liền ghểnh sĩ. 
Chàng lừa thiếp đương khi bất ý, 
Ðem tốt đầu dú dí vô cung, 
Thiếp đang mắc nước xe lồng, 
Nước pháo đã nổ đùng ra chiếu. 
Chàng bảo chịu, thiếp rằng chẳng chịu, 
Thua thì thua quyết níu lấy con. 
Khi vui nước nước non non, 
Khi buồn lại giở bàn son quân ngà.

Đưa đò 
Chú lái kia ơi, biết chú rồi, 
Qua sông rồi lại đấm ngay bòi! 
Chèo ghe vừa khỏi dòng sông ngược, 
Đấm cọc ngay vào ngấn nước xuôi. 
Mới biết lên bờ đà vỗ đít, 
Nào khi giữa khúc đã co vòi. 
Chuyến đò nên nghĩa sao không nhớ? 
Sang nữa hay là một chuyến thôi?

Chơi hoa 
Đã trót chơi hoa phải có trèo, 
Trèo lên chớ ngại mỏi xương nhèo. 
Cành la cành bổng vin co vít, 
Bông chín bông xanh để lộn phèo.

Dệt cửi đêm 
Thắp ngọn đèn lên thấy trắng phau 
Con cò mấp máy suốt đêm thâu 
Hai chân đạp xuống năng năng nhắc 
Một suốt đâm ngang thích thích mau 
Rộng hẹp nhỏ to vừa vặn cả 
Ngắn dài khuôn khổ vẫn như nhau 
Cô nào muốn tốt ngâm cho kỹ 
Chờ đến ba thu mới dãi màu. 

Lỡm học trò 
Khéo khéo đi đâu lũ ngẩn ngơ 
Lại đây chị dạy lối làm thơ 
Bướm non ngứa lợi châm hoa rữa 
Dê bé buồn sừng húc giậu thưa.

Hồ Xuân Hương 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Jackie Chan: 1 kẻ bán linh hồn cho quỷ sứ

Blog nhạc sỹ Tuấn Khanh vừa mới có 1 bài về Jackie Chan (Thành Long).  

Trong đó có đoạn: 
"... Ngày 1/6 vừa rồi, khi nửa triệu người Hương Cảng xuống đường đòi dân chủ và tự do, Thành Long đã nhắc lại câu nói từng làm thất vọng hàng triệu người hâm mộ 'sai lầm của chúng ta là đã để cho Hương Cảng có quá nhiều tự do'. Nhưng đó không chỉ là một lần, Thành Long nhiều lần chứng minh vai trò nghệ sĩ cung đình khi nói những điều như 'Người Trung Quốc cần bị kiểm soát' hay 'Đài Loan bầu cử à? Thật là một trò cười'.
Tờ Epoch Times cho biết danh sách 10 cái tên thuộc hàng cặn bã lừng danh của Trung Quốc do dân chúng bầu chọn trên mạng, có tên Thành Long trong đó. Trong những ngày tháng Giang Trạch Dân cầm quyền, giết và mổ lấy nội tạng hàng chục ngàn người Pháp Luân Công, Thành Long đã né tránh khi được báo chí phương Tây phỏng vấn. Thậm chí, sau khi nói rằng mình không biết gì cả, Thành Long đã cười, nói thêm 'ở Trung Quốc, người ta có thể nghe thấy rất nhiều tin đồn'.
Một người bạn người Hoa gốc Quảng Đông, đi du lịch Hương Cảng từ năm 2009, như một cách về thăm quê, đã kể rằng 'Thành Long bị dân chúng xem như một kẻ khốn nạn, vì lên truyền hình kêu gọi bỏ tiếng Quảng trong trường học, chỉ nên cho dạy tiếng phổ thông, theo ý của Bắc Kinh'. Rất nhiều người Hoa ở Chợ Lớn, Sài Gòn, đã kể cho nhau nghe và tẩy chay Thành Long vì kiểu bám đuôi chính trị của ông ta. 'Không hiểu sao báo chí tiếng Việt lại rất ít người nói về điều này'.* Người bạn này nói.
Thành Long hôm nay khôn khéo và giảo hoạt hơn rất nhiều, không giống những bộ phim vào vai khờ khạo và đáng yêu mà ông đã chiếm được cảm tình khán giả. Người nghệ sĩ tự vẽ lên mặt mình nhiều màu sắc và nhăn nhó, múa may theo yêu cầu chính trị đã bóp chết tài năng của mình, thậm chí tự bóp chết giá trị sống như một người bình thường, để trở thành một bài học đáng nhớ cho đời sau, khi người có học tự bán mình cho quyền lực và danh lợi..." 

(Chú thích riêng của tôi: *: Cả wikipedia tiếng Việt cũng không nhắc đến các câu nói đáng phỉ nhổ của Jackie Chan, không như wikipedia tiếng Anh có mục "political views and controversy"). 

Ngày 14/1/2013, tôi đã viết 1 bài, sau khi Jackie Chan gọi Mỹ là "the most corrupt country in the world" và nói "I said now that China has become strong, everyone is making an issue of China. If our own countrymen don't support our country, who will support our country? We know our country has many problems. We [can] talk about it when the door is closed. To outsiders, [we should say] 'our country is the best'." Những phát ngôn rằng người Hoa khác, không cần dân chủ, HK và ĐL hỗn loạn vì chế độ dân chủ... cũng không lạ. Nhưng 1 người HK kêu gọi bỏ tiếng Cantonese trong trường học, chỉ dạy Mandarin, là quá bỉ ổi; 1 nghệ sỹ, 1 biểu tượng văn hóa chỉ vì danh lợi mà bảo tội ác với Pháp Luân Công chỉ là tin đồn, là quá bẩn tưởi. 
1 kẻ bán linh hồn cho quỷ sứ, cũng như Zhang Yimou (Trương Nghệ Mưu). 
Nhưng nói thì nói thế, người dân HK và 1 số người Việt biết chuyện có gọi Jackie Chan là cặn bã, và tẩy chay film, thì Jackie Chan vẫn vừa luồn cúi, nâng bi ĐCSTQ để được tiền bạc và tiếng tăm, vừa tận dụng quyền tự do ngôn luận của luật pháp Mỹ và sự ngây thơ hoặc không quan tâm của thiên hạ, muốn nói gì thì nói, tiếp tục kiếm tiền rủng rỉnh túi ở Hollywood, với 1 loạt giải thưởng và danh hiệu, được nâng thành cultural icon, có sao trên Đại lộ Danh vọng. Chỉ riêng năm tới, đã có sẵn 3 film đút túi. 
Cái ác luôn thắng. Bọn văn nô thủ đoạn, bẩn tưởi, luôn luôn thắng. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

We need to talk about Leskov

In spite of all the pressure and stress and depression, I choose to ignore it all and continue reading Nikolai Leskov's Selected Tales (trans. David Magarshack).
And I like it. 
Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District is quite an interesting story. Katerina (the Lady Macbeth) is a bored wife (Madame Bovary! Family Happiness! Lady Chatterley's Lover!), expectedly she has an affair, with her husband's clerk (Miss Julie! almost). Now, surprise, all of a sudden, mad with love, Katerina kills her father in law and husband Zinovy Izmaylov and an heir to the Izmaylov family, similar to the adulteress in the Japanese film Empire of Passion, since even though the Japanese woman only kills the husband, she also has an affair whilst her husband is away, she also kills because of the lover and her crime similarly isn't discovered right away also because people don't know that the husband has returned. However, it's not so simple. Whereas the couple in Empire of Passion get executed, Katerina and her lover Sergey are sent to Siberia, and at this point the story takes another turn, because if before we feel horrified of her cold-heartedness and ruthlessness, we now realise that she's less cruel and bad-natured than naive, irrational, blinded by love and incapable of understanding what she's doing. In the end, readers may not find her actions forgiveable or justifiable, but we may, to some extent, sympathise with her and feel sorry for her. She too is a victim. Sergey is much more abominable.
The Enchanted Wanderer is different, it's rich, colourful and fantastic. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Leskov's on the same level as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (as some people have done), but, despite some deficiencies, he could be placed next to Chekhov and Turgenev. Leskov's certainly more fascinating than Turgenev. This story, at least in part, is like a folk tale and has many twists and turns. Summary is not possible. Lots of details and events and actions and descriptions and conversations are crammed into 1 story, which could very well be expanded into a novel as thick as War and Peace. Is this a flaw? Maybe. But it is in its abundance that the story is captivating and wonderful. 
Here is a nice article on Leskov:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

NotesfromZembla on Pnin

Here is an excellent essay on Pnin

"Nabokov is commonly regarded merely as an aesthete; a writer who regarded art as a plaything, a wordsmith so obsessed with his verbosity that he disregarded any political, philosophical or human themes in his works, a writer who eschewed the idea that art had any purpose except to satisfy his own whims, a writer with a jejunish obsession with artifice and deception; “The most enchanting things in nature and art are based on deception.” (The Gift) Nabokov’s books are notoriously dense, full of unreliable narrators and elaborate games, yet the writer who once stated that he had no moral to teach, actually had a strong moral underpinning for each of his works of literature. It is not for nothing that Nabokov stated that great art is based on deception, as he was able to deceive readers into thinking him a mere aesthete, rather than as one of the most morally astute artists of the 20th century, who chose to hide his plain and simple morals behind a dazzling array of beautiful words and images, a writer whose works are resplendent with philosophy and exploration of the human condition. Of all Nabokov’s works, Pnin is amongst the strongest moral ones, one whose protagonist, despite being a kind, erudite and intelligent man, is constantly though of and treated as a bumbling idiot by those around him. Pnin acts as a kind of rejoinder to Don Quixote, a book which Nabokov had lectured on before writing Pnin, a book which invited the reader to delight in the miseries of another person." 

Not only that. I should add, he's also a great psychologist. Every time I see a philistine somewhere on the internet say (very often, with conviction) that he must have been a paedophile, I laugh, for it is proof of his genius (though I do wish many people could like him as I do, it doesn't bother much that he's not as popular as my other favourite writers from Russia). 
I should read more of Nabokov's novels. 

The sadness of Pnin

"The elderly passenger sitting on the north-window side of that inexorably moving railway coach, next to an empty seat and facing two empty ones, was none other than Professor Timofey Pnin. Ideally bald, sun-tanned, and clean-shaven, he began rather impressively with that great brown dome of his, tortoise-shell glasses (masking an infantile absence of eyebrows), apish upper lip, thick neck, and strong-man torso in a tightish tweed coat, but ended, somewhat disappointingly, in a pair of spindly legs (now flannelled and crossed) and frail-looking, almost feminine feet.[...] Prior to the 1940s, during the staid European era of his life, he had always worn long underwear, its terminals tucked into the tops of neat silk socks, which were clocked, soberly coloured, and held up on his cotton-clad calves by garters. In those days, to reveal a glimpse of that white underwear by pulling up a trouser leg too high would have seemed to Pnin as indecent as showing himself to ladies minus collar and tie; for even when decayed Mme Roux, the concierge of the squalid apartment house in the Sixteenth Arrondissement of Paris where Pnin, after escaping from Leninized Russia and completing his college education in Prague, had spent fifteen years - happened to come up for the rent while he was without his faux col, prim Pnin would cover his front stud with a chaste hand. All this underwent a change in the heady atmosphere of the New World. Nowadays, at fifty-two, he was crazy about sunbathing, wore sport shirts and slacks, and when crossing his legs would carefully, deliberately, brazenly display a tremendous stretch of bare shin..." 
Pnin is hilarious, from the 1st paragraphs. 
Or, this one: 
"A special danger area in Pnin's case was the English language. Except for such not very helpful odds and ends as 'the rest is silence', 'nevermore', 'week-end', 'who's who', and a few ordinary words like 'eat', 'street', 'fountain pen', 'gangster', 'Charleston', 'marginal utility', he had had no English at all at the time he left France for the States. [...] That autumn he supplemented his Russian courses by delivering a weekly lecture in a so-called symposium ('Wingless Europe: A Survey of Contemporary Continental Culture') directed by Dr Hagen. All our friend's lectures, including sundry ones he gave out of town, were edited by one of the younger members of the German Department. The procedure was somewhat complicated. Professor Pnin laboriously translated his own Russian verbal flow, teeming with idiomatic proverbs, into patchy English. This was revised by young Miller. Then Dr Hagen's secretary, a Miss Eisenbohr, typed it out. Then Pnin deleted the passages he could not understand. Then he read it to his weekly audience. He was utterly helpless without the prepared text, nor could he use the ancient system of dissimulating his infirmity by moving his eyes up and down - snapping up an eyeful of words, reeling them off to his audience, and drawing out the end of the sentence while diving for the next. Pnin's worried eye would be bound to lose its bearings. Therefore he preferred reading his lectures, his gaze glued to his text, in a slow, monotonous baritone that seemed to climb one of those interminable flights of stairs used by people who dread elevators."
Pnin, apparently not liked by the narrator, is described as ridiculous, comical and pathetic, who speaks English with bad grammar and a heavy Russian accent. He's constantly made fun of. We laugh at him, at his "quittance", at his pronunciation of Thayer as Fire, at his CV "in a coconut shell", at his naivete and seriousness, at his pronunciation of Joan as John...
However, let's examine the passage when Pnin gets a visit from his former wife Liza. The narrative goes back to the past, tells us about him and his treacherous wife with her lover and later husband Dr Wind, then goes to the present where Pnin delightedly expects Liza only to realise that she comes for the only purpose of asking for his help. All of this is narrated coldly, even mockingly. Now, look at the next scene:
"She put her bag and parcels down on the sideboard in the kitchen and asked in the direction of the pantry: 
'What are you looking for, Timofey?'
He came out of there, darkly flushed, wild-eyed, and she was shocked to see that his face was a mess of unwiped tears. 
'I search, John, for the viscous and sawdust,' he said tragically. 
'I am afraid there is no soda,' she answered with her lucid Anglo-Saxon restraint. 'But there is plenty of whisky in the dining-room cabinet. However, I suggest we both have some nice hot tea instead.'"
It is both comic and tragic, and it's because the line is so comic, Pnin so pathetic, that the whole scene is so tragic. Even while we laugh at "viscous and sawdust", and later at "I haf nofing left, nofing, nofing!", the scene brings profound sadness.
More importantly, it shows that seeing Pnin as a comic figure would be too simplistic. Nabokov's more well-known work, Lolita, is narrated by the manipulative, calculating paedophile Humbert Humbert and often praised for its language and wordplay, yet it's a heartbreaking novel. Nabokov touches us, moves us, makes us deeply sad. The same goes for Pnin. On the surface, the narrator mocks Pnin, makes fun of Pnin, but now and then there are some little details that give us a glimpse of the true Pnin, his alienation and aloneness, his attempt to adjust to the new life, his sorrows, his longing for the past. Take another scene:
"Directing his memory, with all the lights on and all the masks of the mind a-miming, toward the days of his fervid and receptive youth (in a brilliant cosmos that seemed all the fresher for having been abolished by one blow of history), Pnin would get drunk on his private wines as he produced sample after sample of what his listeners politely surmised was Russian humour. Presently the fun would become too much for him; pear-shaped tears would trickle down his tanned cheeks. Not only his shocking teeth but also an astonishing amount of pink upper-gum tissue would suddenly pop out, as if a jack-in-the-box had been sprung, and his hand would fly to his mouth, while his big shoulders shook and rolled. And although the speech he smothered behind his dancing hand was now doubly unintelligible to the class, his complete surrender to his own merriment would prove irresistible. By the time he was helpless with it he would have his students in stitches, with abrupt barks of clockwork hilarity coming from Charles and a dazzling flow of unsuspected lovely laughter transfiguring Josephine, who was not pretty, while Eileen, who was, dissolved in a jelly of unbecoming giggles."
He's constantly misunderstood, constantly thought to be a clown. By other characters in the book. By the narrator.
However, the part about Pnin and his former wife Liza marks a shift in the book, the 2nd half of which becomes sadder, even painful. The narrator describes Pnin's meeting with his Russian friends, where Mira Belochkin is mentioned, who turns out to be an early love of his that was killed in a concentration camp.
"... He remembered the fads of his and Mira's youth, the amateur theatricals, the gipsy ballads, the passion she had for photography. Where were they now, those artistic snapshots she used to take - pets, clouds, flowers, an April glade with shadows of birches on wet-sugar snow, soldiers posturing on the roof of a box-car, a sunset skyline, a hand holding a book? He remembered the last day they had met, on the Neva embankment in Petrograd, and the tears, and the stars, and the warm rose-red silk lining of her karakul muff. The Civil War of 1918-22 separated them: history broke their engagement. Timofey wandered southward, to join briefly the ranks of Denikin's army, while Mira's family escaped from the Bolsheviks to Sweden and then settled down in Germany, where eventually she married a fur dealer of Russian extraction. Sometime in the early thirties, Pnin, by then married too, accompanied his wife to Berlin, where she wished to attend a congress of psychotherapists, and one night, at a Russian restaurant on the Kurfurstendamm, he saw Mira again. They exchanged a few words, she smiled at him in the remembered fashion, from under her dark brows, with that bashful slyness of hers; and the contour of her prominent cheekbones, and the elongated eyes, and the slenderness of arm and ankle were unchanged, were immortal, and then she joined her husband who was getting his overcoat at the cloakroom, and that was all - but the pang of tenderness remained, akin to the vibrating outline of verses you know you know but cannot recall. 
What chatty Madam Shpolyanski mentioned had conjured up Mira's image with unusual force. This was disturbing. Only in the detachment of an incurable complaint, in the sanity of near death, could one cope with this for a moment. In order to exist rationally, Pnin had taught himself, during the last ten years, never to remember Mira Belochkin - not because, in itself, the evocation of a youthful love affair, banal and brief, threatened his peace of mind (alas, recollections of his marriage to Liza were imperious enough to crowd out any former romance), but because, if one were quite sincere with oneself, no conscience, and hence no consciousness, could be expected to subsist in a world where such things as Mira's death were possible. One had to forget - because one could not live with the thought that this graceful, fragile, tender young woman with those eyes, that smile, those gardens and snows in the background, had been brought in a cattle car to an extermination camp and killed by an injection of phenol into the heart, into the gentle heart one had heard beating under one's lips in the dusk of the past. And since the exact form of her death had not been recorded, Mira kept dying a great number of deaths in one's mind, and undergoing a great number of resurrections, only to die again and again, led away by a trained nurse, inoculated with filth, tetanus bacilli, broken glass, gassed in a sham shower-bath with prussic acid, burned alive in a pit on a gasoline-soaked pile of beechwood..."
Beautifully poignant as this scene is, it isn't as heartrending as the way Nabokov juxtaposes the description of Pnin among his Russian friends with the party of Pnin and his American colleagues in the next chapter. With other Russian expatriates, he's witty, erudite and respectable; when he's with the American acquaintances, he's ridiculous, but his ridiculousness is no longer funny, for in English he's as erudite as in Russian but the people around him fail to see beyond the superficialities, beyond the laughable, clumsy appearance.
In the end, is he forced to leave, or does he escape? Where does he go? 


I've finished reading Pnin, and feel drained, as I always did after reading a Nabokov novel. May write more later. 

Photo from weheartit

Friday, 15 August 2014

Nabokov and football

On the eve of the day on which Victor had planned to arrive, Pnin entered a sport shop in Waindell's Main Street and asked for a football. The request was unseasonable but he was offered one.  
'No, no', said Pnin, 'I do not wish an egg or, for example, a torpedo. I want a simple football ball. Round!'

This passage is funny in itself, but also because of this: 

When saying "football", I mean football, the game that involves feet (running, kicking) and a ball. Not handegg*. 
If you're interested in the origin of the word "soccer", here is a nice explanation:
Also, back to Nabokov, he played football back then at Cambridge, by the way. A goalkeeper.
Who knew. 

*: Just so you know, I also dislike the American date format and measurement systems, for logical rather than personal reasons. But then that's another story. 

Nabokov: good readers

"... So what is the authentic instrument to be used by the reader? It is impersonal imagination and artistic delight. What should be established, I think, is an artistic harmonious balance between the reader’s mind and the author’s mind. We ought to remain a little aloof and take pleasure in this aloofness while at the same time we keenly enjoy—passionately enjoy, enjoy with tears and shivers—the inner weave of a given masterpiece. To be quite objective in these matters is of course impossible. Everything that is worthwhile is to some extent subjective. For instance, you sitting there may be merely my dream, and I may be your nightmare. But what I mean is that the reader must know when and where to curb his imagination and this he does by trying to get clear the specific world the author places at his disposal. We must see things and hear things, we must visualize the rooms, the clothes, the manners of an author’s people. The color of Fanny Price’s eyes in Mansfield Park and the furnishing of her cold little room are important.  
We all have different temperaments, and I can tell you right now that the best temperament for a reader to have, or to develop, is a combination of the artistic and the scientific one. The enthusiastic artist alone is apt to be too subjective in his attitude towards a book, and so a scientific coolness of judgment will temper the intuitive heat. If, however, a would-be reader is utterly devoid of passion and patience—of an artist’s passion and a scientist’s patience—he will hardly enjoy great literature..." 
(Vladimir Nabokov, "Good Readers and Good Writers"

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Laughing with Nabokov- at Dostoyevsky?

In spite of what I wrote the other day, I'm putting Turgenev aside and currently reading Pnin (see how mercurial I am?)
It's hilarious.
For example: 
"... and languid Eileen Lane, whom somebody had told that by the time one had mastered the Russian alphabet one could practically read Anna Karamazov in the original..."
A blogger thinks Nabokov pokes fun at Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, but I think he, on the 1 hand, makes fun of a) people who mix up Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (note: the narrator says Pnin's father treats Tolstoy, but later a woman says he's Dostoyevsky's doctor) or b) translators such as Constance Garnett, who made disappear all the stylistic differences between these 2 authors. On the other hand, the alphabet part seems to be an attack on students and so-called critics who praise literary works for simplicity and sincerity, which Nabokov sees as nonsense and which is indeed nonsense.
[By the way, he also makes a joke about the phrase I've just written: 
"... On the other hand, [...] On the 3rd hand (these mental states sprout additional forelimbs all the time)..."]
However, pay attention to this: 
"My patient was one of those singular and unfortunate people who regard their heart ('a hollow, muscular organ,' according to the gruesome definition in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, which Pnin's orphaned bag contained) with a queasy dread, a nervous repulsion, a sick hate, as if it were some strong slimy untouchable monster that one had to be parasitized with, alas..."
"Dread"? "Nervous"? "Repulsion"? "Sick"? "Hate"? Is it just me, or does this seem like mockery of Dostoyevsky? Such words are all over Dostoyevsky's works!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

On Turgenev (and some other Russians)

I'm reading Turgenev's A Hunter's Sketches.
Turgenev doesn't have a strong personality like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or, another favourite Russian author of mine, Nabokov; nor a sharp tongue like Jane Austen, to whom people sometimes compare. His voice is soft, gentle, which easily gets lost among the thunderous voices around him.
But then, can anyone always be in the mood for writers like Tolstoy or Nabokov or Dostoyevsky? I doubt it. Perhaps if you're a Tolstoy aficionado, or a Nabokov fanatic...., but even then I doubt it. There are times when they depress me, force me to question my insignificant, unremarkable life or intimidate me, make me unable to do anything. There are times when they make me feel so tiny, so boring, so talentless and shallow. There are times when I feel embarrassed of being so frivolous and trivial. There are times when, reading them, I yearn for something greater, only to stare hopelessly at my smallness, and despair. There are times when I simply feel tired of their personalities, their voices, their egos. At such moments, Turgenev is a delight- he is gentle and loving (and has what Virginia Woolf calls "saintliness"), his stories have balance, coherence and objectivity with open, inconclusive, lifelike endings that remind one of Chekhov. He doesn't appear to teach us, to dictate our thoughts and emotions, to tell us to respond in a certain way. He accepts life as it is, and depicts it with calmness and some melancholy. His stories are deeply moving in their humanity, beauty and simplicity. 
An enjoyable book. 
Now I'm going to get back to it. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

My Paris and Barcelona photos

Photos taken by me. 
Fb account not required. If at some point the links don't work, that probably means that I have deactivated my fb account, which I once in a while do. 


I don't think I'll be back in Paris any time soon. This was my 4th time. It's not that I'm bored with Paris- in fact, odd as it sounds, I feel more like home in Paris than in Oslo, but there are many other places I need to visit 1st, especially those outside Europe.  
Doubt that I'll soon return to Barcelona either. A cool place, but with everything overcharged on account of the bad economy, with the rather bad services and long queues everywhere, with the extremely hot and stifling metro stations, Barcelona didn't give me very pleasant experiences and won't lure me back soon, much as I adore Gaudi's works, admire Joan Miro and love the tapas. 

The feisbuk illusion

We all, in varying degrees, suffer from illusion about ourselves.
Feisbuk feeds our illusion even more. On fb, people more often agree than disagree, more often compliment than criticise, more often support than attack. Seeing someone stupid, ignorant, narrow-minded, illogical, pathetic, ridiculous... people most of the time choose to make no remark (because, what's the point of arguing?). Besides, fb has the button "like" but no "dislike", and we sometimes forget that a "like" doesn't always mean "I like this" and "I find this good", but can also mean "I support you", "I sympathise with you", "This is for your efforts" or, worse, "This is proof I've read/ seen your post". These things aren't new, but the thought that a post of ours is so 'popular' it must be good, is so hard to resist. Over time, people who don't have acute self-awareness believe themselves much greater, much more talented and popular than they really are, and this can be harmful. 

But then it may not. If someone remains forever in a bubble, how can they get disillusioned? Even if they do suffer some disillusionment at some point, it may not be too severe- after a long time such a person may very well find a way of consoling themselves. Oh well... 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dostoyevsky's prison reminds me of my schools in VN

1/ From "The 1st month (I)" of Memoirs from the House of the Dead:
"Sometimes the authorities were astonished when some convict, who had jogged along for several years in so tame and exemplary a fashion that he had even been made a 'trusty' for his meritorious conduct, suddenly, without rhyme or reason- as if a devil had entered into him- ran off the rails, 'went on a binge', grew violent, or sometimes simply plunged headlong into criminal conduct; either open insolence to the highest authorities, or murder, or rape, or something else of the same kind. He would be watched with amazement. Yet perhaps the whole cause of this violent break in a man from whom it was not in the least to be expected, was a mournful desire for an abrupt display of personality, a longing to be his own self, a wish to declare himself and his own lowly personality, appearing suddenly and developing into fury, insanity, the eclipse of reason, paroxysm, and convulsion. So, perhaps, one buried alive and awakening in his coffin, hammers on its lid and struggles to wrest it off, although, of course, reason might persuade him that all his efforts are vain. There, indeed, lies the point, that reason does not enter into this: it is the convulsion of madness. We must take into consideration that almost any manifestation of will in a prisoner is accounted a crime, and, that being so, it is naturally all the same to him whether the manifestation is great or small. A binge is a binge, to risk anything is to risk everything, even murder itself. And of course it is only the beginning that counts; afterwards a man grows intoxicated and nothing will stop him. Therefore it is best to avoid driving anybody to this point. It is more peaceful for everybody. Yes, but how?"
This is how schools in VN, at least in Saigon, are: teachers and textbooks are authorities and pupils are not to challenge authorities; teachers are never wrong (even when they're wrong), pupils may remind them of misspellings but never question incorrect information or distorted views; pupils have assigned seats, from which they cannot move, so that they can be easily controlled; pupils might be forced to sit among those they don't get along with, and what they think isn't the concern of teachers; teachers tell any pupil they like to answer questions or to solve a problem on the board, not only those that raise their hands; pupils aren't allowed to talk, nor to eat, in class; it is common that teachers continue talking in the 5-minute breaks and pupils are not to remind them; humiliation is acceptable and common, such as when a pupil is unable to answer a question or to solve a problem on the board, and teachers read out loud all students' test results in class so that everybody knows everybody's results; there's only 1 history book, which supports 1 view (the communists'), and there's no such thing as evaluation of sources, critical thinking; in literature pupils never read a complete novel, only poems, short stories and excerpts of longer works, then the teachers say everything, pupils write it down and then repeat it in tests and exams, they're not allowed to say something totally different from what teachers have said, etc.
To survive, I was tame and meek, followed rules and kept my opinions to myself more or less throughout my years in VN. In class I said and wrote what I expected to, and then went home and wrote my real thoughts in my diary or on my blog. But there were 2 breaks, when I was in 4th grade, and 9th grade. All of a sudden and out of the blue, I went mad and did something shocking, unexpected. Dostoyevsky's description fits me surprisingly.

2/ The inspector scenario is familiar- I've experienced that before, numerous times.
If in Norway, teachers chilled and behaved as usual, without any stress, when inspectors came, in VN teachers made a fuss about it and prepared for weeks. I remember those days well- usually there was only talk and talk, when inspectors came, teachers added lots of other activities as though we were having lots of fun, and it's imprinted on my mind an incident when I was in primary school, my teacher told all of us to raise our hands, without exception, and those who were confident they knew the answers would budge a finger as a sign. The teachers created the lies, we took part in the lies and I'm sure the inspectors also knew it was all lies, for they must have gone through such acts before, in short everyone knew it was acting and everyone took part in it.
The only difference is that in our case, nobody approached us and asked what we thought.


I finished reading Memoirs from the House of the Dead last night. 
The book isn't very Dostoyevskian- it's more realistic, less 'hysterical', more sane and only once in a while comical. But it's still his work, and already shows his great insight into human nature, especially abnormal psychologies. After a while, I will not remember his characters, who tend to be described with words such as "naive", "simple", "extreme goodness", "like a child" or "comical", "a clown" or "repugnant" and who are not as lively as Tolstoy's characters, but I will remember the philosophical meditations, the passages about what helps one survive in prison and some of the scenes, particularly the haunting bath scene. His descriptions are vivid, the scenes appear before my eyes fully, terrifyingly. 
[At times like this, I can't help finding Jane Austen so tiny, so trivial, so mundane....]
A great work. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Tyranny and force of habit

Another trip- I just got back from Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Würzburg and Rothenburg. Heavenly.... but photos will come later. 


Still reading Memoirs from the House of the Dead. Here is an excerpt: 
"I do not know how things are now, but in the recent past there were gentlemen to whom the power of flogging a victim gave a satisfaction resembling that of the Marquis de Sade or Madame de Brinvilliers. I imagine that there was something in those sensations, at once sweet and painful, that made these gentlemen's hearts swoon with pleasure. There were people who, like tigers, thirst for blood. Any man who has once tasted this dominion, this unlimited power, over the body, blood and spirit of a human creature like himself, subject like himself to the law of Christ, any man has tasted this power, this boundless opportunity to humiliate with the deepest degradation another being in the image of God, becomes despite himself the servant instead of the master of his own emotions. Tyranny is a habit; it has the capacity to develop and it does develop, in the end, into a disease. I maintain that the best of men may become coarsened and degraded, by force of habit, to the level of a beast. Blood and power are intoxicants; callousness and perversity develop and grow; the greatest perversions become acceptable and finally sweet to the mind and heart. The man and the citizen perish eternally in the tyrant, and a return to human dignity, to remorse and regeneration, becomes almost completely impossible to him. Besides this, example and the possibility of such arbitrary power act like a contagion on the whole of society; such despotism is a temptation. A society which contemplates such manifestations calmly is already corrupted at its roots. In short, the right given to 1 man to inflict corporal punishment on another is 1 of the ulcers of society, 1 of the most powerful destructive agents of every germ and every budding attempt at civilisation, the fundamental cause of its certain and irretrievable destruction." 
(trans. Jessie Coulson) 

1/ Reminds me of that time when a classmate asked if we thought Nazis were enjoying what they were doing, or only doing their duties. I believed, and still do, that there were people who liked it, who did find pleasure in humiliating, tormenting, inflicting pain upon other people, in having power and control, in knowing that others feared them, in seeing these people cry and beg for mercy.
2/ I don't believe that human beings all are good at heart. Nor do I believe that human beings are basically evil. 
3/ This passage makes me think of VN. E.g, because there's no law that protects people, there's no limit to what the police can do (unless they want to 'touch' the higher officials), therefore, that people die in custody is common. It can be tempting to have such power, with the law on your side, to be able to do whatever you want to someone else, knowing that nothing will happen to you. A system that has no respect for justice, freedom and human rights gives that power to certain groups of people in society, and I believe, in many cases, wakens up and then develops that desire in some individuals who might not be cruel by nature. It affects them, and shapes them gradually. The monstrous acts they do becomes normal and acceptable, and they change. 
That's just 1 example. 
4/ Much as I want to believe in myself, I cannot say with confidence that, having the same kind of power, I would not abuse it a bit. It's like the way in VN everyone gives bribes- to traffic police, customs officers, officials, nurses...; to be accepted into good schools, to make things faster and easier, to bend rules, to reduce discomfort (especially at hospitals)... I have heard some Viet people, after many years living abroad, say that they find it wrong and therefore impossible to gives bribes, but I'm certain that after a short while in VN they would have to do it, force themselves to conform to the unwritten rule and finally get used to it without a bad conscience. We adapt. 
And people who start to have some power (some position in such a society) initially may find it wrong to receive bribes, but they will change and will expect others to do so, then they will speak coldly and meanly and contemptuously as everyone else in the same position does. We adapt.