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Sunday, 23 December 2012

ABOUT EVE ON CHRISTMAS EVE…


The word ‘eve’ in English indicates two things alike: the name of first woman in the world and the vigil of some important day. In Poland both these meanings meet on 24th December, as it’s Christmas Eve rich in traditions (f. ex. non-meat dinner consisting of 12 dishes and ‘shepherds’ mass service at midnight), among them also ‘name day’ of all people’s parents, Adam and Eve.



This custom of celebrating ‘name day’ as particular saint patron’s feast day comes from Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox calendars of saints. ‘Saint’ is the key word here but Adam with Eve aren’t saints! Hardly could they be, considering their disobedience to God’s injunction... He forbade them to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil but our furthest ancestors broke the Creator’s command and as a result were expelled from the paradisiac Garden of Eden...

There were other consequences of ‘the first fall’ too: Adam, Eve and all their descendants became mortal, born in original sin, in need of baptism to erase it, guilty of actual trespasses, hardworking to stay alive. Moreover the entire natural world was corrupted as animals divided into prey or predators with all the effects of pain and death... What a crude punisment for eating one small apple!

When I heard this story as a child I felt fury: how could the first human couple be so careless and reckless? Then I read for numerous times it was only Eve’s guilt and that’s why all women should be duteous and obedient to men – as it has been (and still is) in patriarchal societies. That made me even more furious, cause in my opinion if Adam hadn’t wanted the prohibited fruit, he wouldn’t have taken it and males shifting whole responsibility to females on that basis are simply immature. Until now this narration from Book of Genesis constantly gives me food for thoughts.

Today I agree more with psychological explanation: paradise is our childhood, blissful and serene under parental supervision, while expulsion from this heavenly garden begins with small naughtinesses against them. In teenage years it continues with bigger insubordinations and – I believe – finishes with first sexual intercourse (forbidden fruit!) as a symbol of total disconnection from ones’ mother and father cause it means possibility of conceiving a new human being. In ideal world it should be an act of the biggest maturity...

In this context ‘first sin’ understood as becoming independent and fully grown is just the evidence of adolescence and should be perceived as a positive phenomenom! Without rebellion against authorities there’s no psychical progress! According to psychology each natural crisis in human life is the occasion to development. Life is a series of lessons and challenges which help us to grow (Erikson); In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity (Einstein).

So... let’s not blame Eva or Adam for evil’s existence in universe especially on their name day... I personally choose to accept my human nature with tendency to making mistakes but also ability to improve. I believe we are all light’n’shadow, black’n’white, angel’n’serpent...

Monday, 10 December 2012

"WHAT IS LEFT WHEN THE PASSION HAS GONE"


I probably wouldn’t have watched that film if it hadn’t been the 2nd class students’ suggestion for the Teachers’ Day. And I need to say I would have been poorer of some warm-hearted feelings and discerning thoughts – so let me thank you, my 18-year-olds, for ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’!

We could say it’s another tale of love and war, based on the award-winning book by Louis de Bernières, but as simple as it sounds, the story is truly unconventional. Situated on a small Greek island called Cephallonia, begins with depiction of everyday life of dr. Iannis, respected though unofficial doctor of medicine. He lives with his only daughter Pelagia, beloved and educated by him, preparing to be his work-successor. When Pelagia (authentic role of Penelope Cruz) falls in love with a local fisherman Mandras, her father warns it’s only lust but anyway accepts her choice. The young couple engages and that’s the moment when the Second World War breaks out. Mandras decides to go fighting despite his fiancée’s will and disappears for a long time, never answering Pelagia’s numerous letters. When he finally comes back he confesses his illiteracy and behaves wildly. The woman tries her best but she cannot respect him anymore.

In the meantime Cephallonia is being occupied by quite unordinary conscript soldiers – the Italian Acqui Division entirely consisting of opera singers and musicians. They’re not interested in warfare at all, instead fond of wine, good food and willing women. They wholly fullfil stereotype of Apennine Peninsula’s inhabitants and the biggest ‘Italiano vero’ of them all is their captain Antonio Corelli. Nicholas Cage is not my favourite actor but I cannot imagine anyone else playing this character. He is so brisk & vigorous and has so stunning accent! Yes, he's got Italian background, Aunt Wiki just showed me he’s Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew...

OK – you could comment – we already know where it leads to – Pelagia and Antonio fall for each other, war ends, they live happily ever after... Well, not that quick! There are other protagonists in this movie too! Firstly, the historical links between two great ancient civilisations, Grecian and Roman. Even when Italian soldiers are allies of Nazis they tend to get on better with their Greek enemies than Aryan friends. Music, dance and plain lifejoy unite them so much that in September 1943 it becomes rather easy for whole division to refuse to surrender and fight the Germans for nine days before running out of ammunition. I had no idea that almost 10 000 of Italian soldiers died there – either in the combat or after it, massacred and drowned in the sea by former fascist partners... Secondly, there are also amazing shots of nature, beautiful, spectacular as well as powerful...

The writer himself descibed his novel to be about "what happens to the little people when megalomaniacs get busy." To me these ‘little people’ grow bigger and bigger as they prove devotion, sacrifice, self-restraint... And no, I’m not going to reveal the story ending here! Curious? Find it out for yourself! I wish you a nice watch:).