in English quotations

Luzhai / A Letter to Agnes DeMille

Video: A Poem Reading with Meryl Streep and Cello with Yo-Yo Ma

There seems to be no one
on the empty mountain
and yet I
think I hear a voice
where sunlight entering a grove
shines back to me from the green moss

There is a vitality
a life force
a quickening that is translated through you into action
and because there is only one of you in all time

that expression is unique
if you block it
it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost
the world will not have it
it is not your business to determine how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares to other expressions
it is your business to keep it yours
clearly and directly
to keep the channel open

You do not even have to
believe in yourself! Or your work!
you have to keep open
and aware, directly, of the
urges that motivate you

Keep the channel open!
No artist is ever pleased
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time
there is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and keeps us more alive
than the others

( “Luzhai,” Wang Wei +
“A Letter to Agnes DeMille,” Martha Graham)

in English quotations

Don’t Play it Safe

Don’t stand idle
at the side of the road
don’t hold off on happiness
don’t love with half a heart
don’t play it safe now
or ever
don’t play it safe
don’t fill up with calm
don’t take cover from the world
in a quiet corner
don’t let your eyelids come down
like a weighty sentence
don’t forget you have lips
don’t sleep but to rest
don’t ignore the blood in your veins
don’t think you have no time

but if
in any case
you can’t help it
and hold off on happiness
and love with half a heart
and play it safe now
and fill up with calm
and take cover from the world
in a quiet corner
and let your eyelids come down
like a weighty sentence
and dry up without lips
and sleep not to rest
and ignore the blood in your veins
and think you have no time
and stand idle
at the side of the road
and play it safe
in that case
don’t hold on to me.

Mario Benedetti via HN

in English quotations

About helping

suomeksi: Auttamisesta

If we wish to succeed in helping someone to reach a particular goal, we must first find out where he is now, and start from there. If we cannot do this, we merely delude ourselves into believing that we can help others.

Before we can help someone, we must know more than he does, but most of all, we must understand what he understands. If we cannot do that, our knowing more will not help. If we nonetheless wish to show how much we know, it is only because we are vain and arrogant, and our true goal is to be admired, not to help others.

All genuine helpfulness starts with humility before those we wish to help, so we must understand that helping is not a wish to dominate but a wish to serve. If we cannot do this, neither can we help anyone.

Olli’s note on Oct 4, 2011: Actually, this strangely resembles the cognitivist learning paradigm.

Søren Kierkegaard 
English quoted from How do People Learn? by Don Elkington (bottom of the page, below the heading “Poetry as summary”.) More quotations from Kierkegaard

Swedish below.

Om att hjälpa

Om jag vill lyckas att föra en människa mot ett bestämt mål, måsta jag först finna henne där hon är och börja just där. Den som inte kan det, lurar sig själv när hon tror, att hon kan hjälpa andra.

För att hjälpa någon måste jag visserligen förstå mer, än vad hon gör, men först och främst förstå vad hon förstår. Om jag inte kan det, så hjälper det inte att jag kan och vet mer. Vill jag ändå visa hur mycket jag kan, beror det på att jag är fåfäng och högmodig och egentligen vill bli beundrad av den andre istället för att hjälpa honom.

All äkta hjälpsamhet börjar med ödmjukhet inför den jag vill hjälpa och därför måste jag förstå, att detta med att hjälpa inte är att vilja härska utan att vilja tjäna. Kan jag inte detta så kan jag heller inte hjälpa någon.

Søren Kierkegaard 
(Svensk från TrollmammanMer frân Kierkegaard

in English quotations

Reveal yourself so I can be something different

suomeksi: Paljasta luonteesi, jotta voin olla jotain erilaista


Don’t impose on me what you know, I want to explore the unknown and be the source of my own discoveries. Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery. The world of your truth can be my limitation; your wisdom my negation. Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together. Let my richness begin where yours ends. Show me so that I can stand on your shoulders. Reveal yourself so I can be something different.

You believe that every human being can love and create. I understand, then, your fear when I ask you to live according to your wisdom. You will not know who I am by listening to yourself. Don’t instruct me; let me be. Your failure is that I be identical to you.

Source: Humberto Maturana quoted in Zohar and Marshall 2000: 290. SQ: Spiritual Intelligence: The Ultimate Intelligence. via Marketta Yli-Hongisto

in English quotations

Tongue twisters in Finnish

Tongue twisters in Finnish. Couple of times I have been asked if Finnish has tongue twisters, and I have failed to remember any.

  • Mun mummoni muni mun mammani, mun mammani muni mun = My grandma hatched my mom, my mom hatched me (song)
  • Appilan pappilan apupapin papupata pankolla porisee ja kuohuu = Appila vicarage’s assistant pastor’s beanpot is steaming and boiling on the stove

I find the kind with lots of declinations (declensions) particularly interesting (I found the translations on the page rather poor):

  • syyttämättäjättämispäätöksestään = of his/her decision to refrain from accusing (this is real Finnish, probably used in official documents and news with bureaucratic language)
  • epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkään ~  even with his quality of having a lack of having been made disorganized OR even with his state of having a lack of having disorganized* (something, object not mentioned; no Finn understands this intuitively and most even not after trying)

* According to Yahoo! Answers, alternative translations include “even with its quality of not being possible to be made irrational.” and “not even when taking into account his/her/its way/ability/tendency of not disorganizing” but I think they are wrong.

(Stopped using Flock after realizing YouTube does not work in it, although other Flash videos do.)