Monthly Archives: June 2015

Socrates and the number 30


Reading Plato’s Phaedo in the light of the Apology, I was struck by the relationship between perceived fate and perceived wisdom. One of the things that captured my thoughts was the symbolism of the number 30. Was that fate, only fate, or was that a more accurate knowledge, the attribute of the sophos? It is related to oracles and dreams and daimones of course and maybe goes beyond these simple facts.

When the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power Socrates almost died, because he opposed unrighteousness and followed the higher moral code of behavior;
In 399 B.C. Socrates is found guilty by a vote of 280 to 220/or 221 (? according to different sources) and he is impressed by the fact that he needed “thirty votes gone over to the other side” in order to have been acquitted;
In his proposal for his own sentence he asks to be fined thirty coins, with his friends being the sureties;
In Xenophon’s Apology (Mem., IV, 8, 2, cf. Phaidon edited in 1994 in my country) the ship sent for the annual pilgrimage (theōria) to Delos took thirty days to return. It was a gift to Apollo. The ship re-enacted Theseus’s mythical voyage.
Socrates obeys to a recurrent dream which always gave him the same advice and first he composes a hymn in honor of the god of the festival. (Apollo’s name does not appear in that fragment). My conclusion is that the number 30 is somehow related to the synodic month, by chance the length of the lunar cycle as seen from Earth. And this is also a kind of theōria/ initiatic travel. Am I right?

Right now, continuing my study, I found that the Theseus’ ship had thirty oars (Plutarch, Thes, XXIII) a thing that was known to Athenians in Plato’s times. I think this is also an important example in this context. Nowadays Christians, whose religion is also based on ancient rituals in its beginnings, know well that Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver…

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midsummer’s dream


my green fairy i’m not ophelia/ i will stay an old maid it’s useless to place lady’s bedstraw flowers under my pillow because whatever i would dream of…it won’t be him/ it won’t be my dear beloved country man/ my lord with entangled beard staring at the summer stars like a charmed beast…

what can i say?
the wheat is still tender i can feel its juicy inside between my teeth
women are still beautiful to me that mean i am still
younger than that barren apple tree
it was a golden apple forbidden to be tasted
it was guarded by an army of ruby cross spiders so scary
for a little girl like me

oh my dear hamlet these are only stories/ even you were dead a long time ago and i/ who am i to know what murky waters will bear my crown above them?

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the prayer of the heart


i pick up the phone to talk for free on Sundays/ on the other end of the line there are no other words/ i skim through my phone numbers agenda/ people i forgot about because they did not want me/ my love for the farther and departed ones/ the biblical kin queuing at the same feast/ sharing and multiplying home bread and onions/ and the man paid to soak the sponge in vinegar

it’s a very quiet day it rains as if in empty honeycombs
people come back from the white church with low spires
sharing their umbrellas

i stick my fingertips to the soil from the pot with a green plant/ i disconnect myself/ i discharge my electricity/ i try to fix the soles of my feet on the floor/ to equilibrate my soul between the two lungs/ this is an exercise without mantras feng shui or ikebana

only a sunflower stays close to the wall like virgin mary in her prayers

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The Portrait of a Traveler


The ashtray of my great aunt P was silver-plated alike the old mirror sitting on the shelf under the window; it was an ashtray with a nude fisherwoman hauling a net for stubs and ashes with her strong arms, and, who knows, perhaps a goldfish would have appeared there to fulfill three essential wishes in everyone’s life.

Aunt P gave up smoking a long time ago. She used to smoke the finest Romanian cigarettes available in her youth. But she was a poor woman all her life, as well as the great majority of my relatives. Then she grew old, going through some interesting transformations for a single woman in the city: her large dark brown face warts went discolored, her legs became hairless, her hair became brilliant white with a tint of blue-violet gentian tincture used by many old ladies, her nails got curved and thickened, even though she still used her precious manicure tools, because in fact my aunt did not forget the way of life she adopted in the hair salon where she had worked. In the last ten years of her life, my aunt gradually lost her sight, but she was still able to wash herself under the shower alone, even though she did not quit for 15 years her room strangely built with six walls instead of four.

Times were spinning around my aunt’s house like a toy globe in a child’s hand, meridian after meridian. In the 60s her third husband died, leaving her to care for the three elder relatives. Her husband had roots among White noble Russians (he was a white émigré), and he found refuge with modest financial means in Romania. Coincidentally, my aunt’s brother was a different kind of adventurer, a former worker in the construction industry and traveler in the Arab countries, who had spent several years in a concentration camp in Russia, because he was a prisoner in the Second World War. Aunt P too had traveled in her youth around the world, as a stage dancer, together with a friend. She had pictures with her in beautiful ballerina white dresses. In addition to the hair salon, she worked as a public servant in a state institution. In the ‘70s the trolley wires circled my aunt’s home, and then they disappeared. In the ‘80s my aunt often walked around the city to visit her sisters and brothers and in the suburbs area too, to take a breath of fresh air and stretch her pretty legs on a lounger in the sunlight. She loved very much herbs of all kinds, to refresh her blood, but she was a perfect hostess for her younger relatives when they congregated around her round and small table for a card game named Ace of Spades, staking on very low value coins. In her later years she began to stitch and make superb needlework and to decorate cushions according to her Hungarian origins traditions, with incredible craftsmanship for the hand of an apprentice.

In the ‘90s, my aunt, aged almost 80, had traveled with some fear on a plane over the ocean in the U.S.A. to attend a wedding of one of her nieces from an elder sister. She was always the same lady with impeccable manners and a small head standing with her curled hair and her pink lipstick on her mouth over her thin and quite tall body, more and more fragile. My aunt’s house was neighboring the government’s building, and on the ground floor they set up kiosks for petty merchandise. Only the framed pictures of my aunt were the same: her husband, brothers and sisters, and relatives from afar.

I visited her from time to time and she joked that she was the doyenne of age in our family. I still have a few old books received from her. In her youth she loved rumors about celebrities, in her old age she listened to the radio sitting on her bedside. When I was young she said about me that I was like Lapusneanu, a Romanian ruler, who said “if you don’t want me, I still want you” and I could not agree to that. I loved my family with all my heart. Before she died, she synthesized the wisdom of life in a few words: “It’s better on the ground floor than in the basement, that’s what I think, and while my Lord still left a living time to me, it should be lived”. This woman was shrouded in a fragrance of mystery, but in reality she was simple like jar pickles. She kept the flavor of times gone by, but she was spiced with herbs and resistant, yet open minded. She has given me a few things before she died, but I only preserved her simple, cheap Romanian coffee cups and saucers. Yes, she had liked coffee and she died on New Year’s Eve, probably as a result of the aggravation of her aorta aneurysm and other age-related illnesses. Because the staircase to her apartment (which she no longer could descend for a long time), was twisted to a maximum, they came down first with the coffin and then with her in a blanket. I thought that’s exactly what her life was: twisted like ivy around some men, twisted, but fragile, rambling on devious paths in mysterious ways, where not all people sleep between four walls. And at the end of her journey my aunt offered once again a proof her proverbial capacity of adaptation. At the graveyard gate it was snowing, it was a very peaceful and thin snowfall, gracious like her ballerina days…

There are many other stories about aunt P which I regret I did not write in time before forgetting them. There are stories about her adventures with unknown men in cheap motels, whose advances she had surely rejected and the memory of her own youth in photos with Greta Garbo looks.

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Amid odds and ends the grass is green


If you want to watch again some camcorder pics and old pics from the village of my grandparents, flourishing in my childhood, deserted and ruined in 2009-2011 when I wentr there. Who knows where the time goes? Some new families moved there in the past years. i warn you: it is too long and I have other better pictures, but on the hard disk of my computer that broke…these ones were on facebook, some are duplicated.

once upon a time

and this is the youtube videoclip/ slideshow:

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