Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quran 001:002-007

Verses

2. [ro] Laudă lui Allah, al lumilor Stăpânitor
[en] All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe;
ستایش مخصوص خداوندی است که پروردگار جهانیان است.
[ru] Хвала Аллаху, Господу миров,
[ge] Lob sei Gott, dem Herrn der Welten,

3. Cel Milostiv, Îndurător,
the Beneficent, the Merciful;
(خداوندی که) بخشنده و بخشایشگر است
Милостивому, (и) Милосердному
Dem Erbarmer, dem Barmherzigen,

4. În Ziua de Apoi Stăpânul Cârmuitor,
Lord of the Day of Judgement.
(خداوندی که) مالک روز جزاست
(Единственному) Царю [Правителю] Дня Воздаяния!
Der Verfügungsgewalt besitzt über den Tag des Gerichtes!

5. Numai pe Tine Te adorăm, numai la Tine cerem ajutor,
You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help.
تنها تو را می‌پرستیم؛ و تنها از تو یاری می‌جوییم
Тебе мы служим  и  к Тебе обращаемся за помощью
Dir dienen wir, und Dich bitten wir um Hilfe.

6. Pe drumul drept Tu fii-ne Călăuzitor,
Guide us to the straight path:
ما را به راه راست هدایت کن
Веди (Ты) нас Прямым Путем,
Führe uns den geraden Weg,

7. [ro] Drumul celor cu care fost-ai Tu dăruitor, nu al celor pe care Tu Te-ai mâniat, nici al rătăciților.
[en] the path of those You have blessed; not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.
راه کسانی که آنان را مشمول نعمت خود ساختی؛ نه کسانی که بر آنان غضب کرده‌ای؛ و نه گمراهان.[fa]
[ru] Путем тех, которых Ты благом одарил, (а) не (путем) тех, которые под (Твоим) гневом, и не (путем) заблудших.
[ge] Den Weg derer, die Du begnadet hast, die nicht dem Zorn verfallen und nicht irregehen.

Words

- Laudă - Praise - ستایش - Хвала - Lob
- Lumi (pl.) - Worlds (plural of "world"; in this translation "world" is translated as "universe") - جهانیان (plural of "جهان") - миров (plural of "мир") - der Welten (plural of "die Welt")
- Stăpânul ("Stăpânitor" in the verse, "stăpân" is the dictionary form and can be interchengable with "domn", depending on the context) - Lord - پروردگار - Господу (Dative form of "Господ") - dem Herrn (obviously also in the Dative case)
- Ziua de Apoi - Day of Judgement - روز جزا - Дня Воздаяния - den Tag des Gerichtes!
- drumul drept - straight path - راه راست - Прямым Путем - den geraden Weg
- mânie - wrath - غضب - гневом ("гнев", dictionary form, masculine, has no plural) - dem Zorn ("der Zorn" dictionary form)
- rătăcit - (those who have gone) astray - گمراهان - заблудших ("заблу" is the dictionary form, "to lose one's way") - irregehen ("gehen" = to go ; "Irren" = to be wrong ; "irr" = lunatic, mad). 

Meanings

For this section I based my analasys mostly on the commentaries of Ali Unal, Turkish author, member of the Gülen movement. We can look at this Sura as having two parts (could also be considered three), it seems that God, through the prophet said “The half of al-Fātihah belongs to Me, while the other half to My servant”. The first part is composed of verses 1 to 4 and consists of praise to God, while verses 6 and 7 are the worhiper's prayer for guidance. The fifth verse belong both to God and to his servant.

There are a couple of key words and concepts here, including: the Worlds, the Day of Judgement, the Straight Path, the blessed, those who have incurred His wrath and those who are astray. As you can see, in the Wahiduddin Khan edition I have used, the word Universe takes the place of worlds. The reason I chose this translation is because it's easier to understand by most people, although it might diminish its meanings. I say this because, as Ali points out, the worlds mentioned in the Quran are not only limited to our physical universe. Borrowing from Sufi cosmology, he cassifies the levels as: Lahut (the High Empyreon, the region of pure light and fire, the highest heaven); Jabarut (another of the immaterial worlds where the Divine Realities which exist in the Lahut are manifested in their pure immaterial form); Malakut (the world of the pure inner dimension of existence) ; Mithal ("the world of the symbols or ideal, immaterial forms of things"); Shahadah ("the corporeal world, including the visible world and the firmaments"). 

The Day of Judgement can also be found in other religions like Christianity and Zoroastrianism although with greater or lesser differences. Ali Unal writes: "He (God) has included in the 'dough' of our existence certain elements that, however seemingly negative or destructive, will, when disciplined, cause us to rise to higher ranks of perfection."

The Straight Path "is the middle way, having nothing to do with any extremes", "in educating people, it disciplines and ennobles the intellect, saving it from the extremes of demagogy, cunning and stupidity, and so leads to sound knowledge and wisdom". The true importance, difficulty and beauty of this path can not, obviously, be summed up in a simple phrase, it's the first step in our development to reach our potential and taking it requires great responsibility and patience.

Grammar

To understand the meaning of a phrase we should know the cases. Romanian, Russian and German all share a number of four cases, English has only Genitive and Nominative (of what I know) while Persian basically has none.
The Nominative marks the subject of a verb, the Accusative indicates the direct object of a verb, the Dative indicates the indirect object and Genitive is a possessive case.

Reference

Quran versions:
Romanian: - George Grigore
                      - The 5-th edition published by the Islamic and Cultural League in Romania
English:  - Yusuf Ali
          - Sahih International
          - Reformist version
          - Wahiduddin Khan
Persian:  - مکارم سیرازی
                  - مجتبوی
Russian:  - Абу Адель
German:   - Abu Rida
          - Amir Zaidan
          - Adel Theodor Khoury

Links

A great German <> English dictionary

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ORWELL, George - 1984 [Utopian Dystopia]

If you haven't read 1984, you should, it's the novel that gave us terms like "Big Brother" and "Orwellian", in fact, reading and understanding the book is a sign of mental maturity in this brave new world. [Previously] In Equilibrium we had control through religion, drugs, lack of emotions and total submission, in "Brave New World" there was an extreme example of social change, shockingly resembling modern day "homo mallus" in a constant search for mindless happiness and infantile group behavior, now we will be talking about the uber-dystopia.

Perpetual war, perpetual surveillance,  scarcity of basic goods, censorship, lack of any real knowledge, lack of freedom of thought, degradation of human relationships. So which ones do we have?  Anyone reading this on a tablet in a ski resort in Switzerland while drinking Irish coffee will obviously say none, just like the "Inner Party" members in 1984 enjoyed all the blessings of the industrial revolution with little or none of the drawbacks. So it seems that we started with our first and fundamental similarity, one that I have not mentioned above, it's the pyramid of (political) power. I suspect we can easily arrive at a discussion about Communism or at least Socialism but that's not the goal. The way in which humanity deals with these levels in our social structure doesn't eliminate the fact that the levels (or social classes) are here to stay. We can enlarge the playing field with as many levels as we wish but if we are to narrow the field we will get a minimum of two, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the smart and the stupid.

Oceania (in 1984) has the "Inner Party", the members of which enjoy a life of plenty with little to no surveillance and an understanding of "how things work", the "Outer Party" or the middle class, are the ones with the fewest liberties while the Proles which make around 85% of the "1984" population, enjoy a greater degree of liberty because they are perceived as unimportant and inferior. Why does the shortest straw go to the outer party members? Well, it seems they are the prime suspects for starting revolutions even if maintaining a revolution would require involvement from the "lower" class. Some time ago I wrote about an interview between Stalin and Wells, what we need from that now is the following quote from Stalin: "To bring about a revolution a leading revolutionary minority is required; but the most talented, devoted and energetic minority would be helpless if it did not rely upon the at least passive support of millions."

Now that we know who the sparks (middle class) of a revolution are, who are the flames (lower class) and who is the fire wood (higher class), we must know how these three social levels interact.
"There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section--Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak--engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at."
As we can see, what the world enjoys the most now is what in "Oceania" is reserved to the Proles and it is safe to assume that indeed, we have degenerated. Songs composed entirely by mechanical means... who would of thought or films oozing with sex, when? now? neaaah. Oh, and pornosec? Well, we call that the Internet.

Orwell shows us that while Winston (the main character and Outer Party member) hardly has enough to eat, "enjoys" cheap Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes, and is constantly monitored through the telescreen, O'Brien (member of the Inner Party) drinks wine, smokes quality cigars and is able to close the telescreen while also knowing how the system actually works.

Another important element of this dystopia is Newspeak, a new form of English specially created in order to guide and control the thoughts and actions of its speakers. Reminds you of speaking politically correct no? In fact the question of how language influences us is very real, read here.

"Hate week" and "two minutes hate" are easily recognizable in our society, independent of culture, religion, ideology or economic level. It seems to be another way humans can be manipulated with little difficulty. In Romania for example, the majority of TV stations owned by the opposition started a "hate marathon" against the president and many Romanians bought the act, the only clearly prevailing message was hate against that individual. It's a good example to research the controlling of the masses if you are into that sort of thing. Other examples could be the growing Islamophobia (which actually means irrational fear of Islam but is used for describing hatred towards Muslims) in the West and the "Great Satan" (aka America) in the Islamic world.

In another train of thoughts:
There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (ARTSEM, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions.
This reminds me of "Brave New World" (will not get into it again), Communism, Nazism and Canada. In Nazi Germany the plan was called "Lebensborn" and the aim was to create the "master race" while in Communist countries this was not a plan but the result of a number of plans, either the killing of the parents in various waves of mass arrests or due to legislation forbidding contraception and abortion. As for Canada, go here.

The truth is that talking about "Orwellian" measures taken in countries in the "axes of evil" (such an infantile and Newspeak idea) can never compare to the same measures taken in the glorious lands of liberty because this kind of places are the most predisposed to growing rotten. Don't accept surveillance or your kids will grow up with telescreens in their rooms (or chips in their arms), if you don't care then I'm sorry for you.

Read the book online here.

Surveillance links (mostly old news for reference):

1. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/12/public-bus-audio-surveillance/
2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/23/cctv-sky-police-plan-drones
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Assistance_for_Law_Enforcement_Act
4. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2000/02/new-kgb-takes-internet-sorm
5. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/29/280770/wiretapping-an-unscrupulous-act-by-us/
6. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/10/277314/cctv/
7. http://rt.com/usa/news/obama-fisa-faa-signed-143/
8. http://rt.com/news/oliver-stone-us-orwellian-022/
9. http://rt.com/usa/news/drone-surveillance-mesa-colorado-433/
10.http://rt.com/usa/news/rfid-badge-texas-hernandez-269/
11.http://rt.com/usa/news/nsa-government-fisa-inspector-222/

PS. Utopian Dystopia is wordplay.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hesther Van Doornum (visual) and Graveyard (audio)

Graveyard is a Swedish rock band formed in 2006 whose present members are Joakim Nilsson, Rikard Edlund, Axel Sjöberg, Jonatan Ramm. The song presented here is "Hard Time Lovin" from their 2012 album entitled "Lights Out". I absolutely love this album, it's a masterpiece from the first song to the last. It has the classic hooks that make songs go to the top, a warm, bluesy sound and a voice that makes a common front with the instrumental part in overwhelming your auditory cortex. The lyrics are at the bottom of a the article. Enjoy.



Offician site   /    Facebook page

Hesther Van Doornum is a Dutch artist with a captivating "sketch-like" style and adequately used metallic colors.
The compositions, colours and poses personify conscious and subconscious archetypes; they symbolize the search for the inner self and thereby serve as metaphors for the various aspects of life, such as love, sadness, silence and tranquillity.  Emotions, experiences and life stories can be clearly recognized in this imagery.
As you will see, her portraits are created with the intention of conveying a particular feeling or emotion to the viewer, depending on the work.  This, in my perspective, makes her artworks very adapted to the present aesthetic paradigm where most seek straightforwardness and minimalism.

Hesther on symbols:
Consciously and subconsciously symbols feed the artistic creative process. In traditional cultures art often has a purely symbolic meaning and thereby expresses the beliefs and aspirations of communities. This is different in Western cultures; due to the growth of individualism in art, art has lost a part of this more explicit symbolic aim. Symbols, however, have continued to play a role in art in various ways as an expression of archetypal themes, an application of traditional images or a means of giving form to personal messages. 

Official site 

Gallery

Thoughts

Beyond

After Midnight

In the shade

In plain sight

Breeze

Awaking

Muse

Daydream II

Daydream IV

Lyrics

Darling, I'm leaving now,
But it's only for a while.
It won't seem so long once I'm back into your arms.
Each night I go to bed
Wishing I was at home, next to you.

I know you wonder what I do when I'm gone,
'cause, honey,
I know what you have heard
And I know what people say
And sure I've tasted fruit of many kind.
Once I had a piece of you
There was on me for nothing else.

Stay with me and see what tomorrow brings
'cause, baby, I know those days I let you down
We'll make it through, through these hard times.

Oh, baby, you and me are the same,
Slightly used and damaged, that's okay.
I even think it's good, no matter what they say
'cause they got you here today, right here with me.

It was something in your eyes
That made it clear.
I knew that he was right, not a shadow of doubt
When I felt your touch.

I know those days I let you down,
But we're gonna get through these hard times
See what tomorrow brings,
Will you love me and stay with me forever?
The pieces came together,
The point is that the people have failed by last careers,
No more faces passing by.

I know those days I let you down,
But we're gonna get through these hard times
See what tomorrow brings,
Please love me, as they will live forever.
I got no need for no one else, no one else.

Once I got a piece of you, there was no need for nothing else,
No one else.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quran 001:001

Introduction to the series


We will begin learning the Quran in five languages, English, Romanian, German, Persian and Russian (or use the Quran to learn five languages, depends on your perspective).

Why the Quran?


Well, first of all, I am not a Muslim, in the sense that I was not born into a Muslim family and haven't testified my faith in the traditional manner (I'm not saying that I would not, I'm just saying that I have not done so). I was bapthised, this making me a Christian, however I don't actually consider myself a Christian. I believe in the one true God and no matter what I do on this Earth, I will never come close to knowing His true Glory. Another thing I wish to say is that God gave us a mind with which to do a great deal of things, among which to search for Him, to examine every piece of this Universe and know it's laws, and, to understand ourselves. A true believer is a rational believer but because we live in a world where rationality is becoming synonymus with arrogance, very few people will understand the meaning of the phrase. At the moment I am studying the Quran so this is the main reason for starting with it here, with time we will be researching other books including the Bible and various ancient philosophical texts.

 

Why the five languages?

Romanian is my first language and the one I use the most in daily activities while English I use mostly to read, write and think. I started to learn Persian (Farsi) around two years ago and at present I use it to read news from Iran along with poems and various literary and philosophical texts. German is a language I began to learn a couple of years ago but sadly had to give up due to lack of time while Russian... well, I've just began with this one. As you see, this will be a learning experience for me also, that is why I would like this series to be more interactive, let's share knowledge (use the comment box). If some of you would like to exemplify with other languages, please feel free to use the comment box.

Note: By using five languages which can be traced to a common Proto-Indo-European root while in the same time being of different branches (maybe with a small exception regarding English and German) this will offer us the opportunity of not being too unfamiliar with them (even if Persian is nothing like Russian) while in the same time offering the degree of difference needed in order not to confuse one another (which would be the case with learning Romanian, Italian and Spanish at the same time).

Note 2: Get familiar with all of the languages first. At the bottom of the article I will give you some links. The grammar will slowly be discussed here also. 

The verse


Surat Al-Fatiha 1:1
[ro] În numele lui Allah Cel Milostiv, Îndurător
[en] In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
[fa] به نام خداوند بخشنده بخشایشگر
[ge] Im Namen Gottes, des Gnädigen, des Barmherzigen.
[ru] Во имя Аллаха, Милостивого, Милосердного!

Words


- name (en) = nume (ro) = Namen (ge) = имя (ru) = نام (fa)

This is the word "name" in all five languages. What you will probably observe first is that the words "name", "nume", "namen" are relativelly similar, that is because of their Latin ancestor "nomen". "имя" on the other hand is traced directly to the Proto-Slavic "*jьmę". As for the Persian "نام", the word can be traced back to the Old Persian cuneiform "������" (nam). All the five languages have a common descendent which is from Proto-Indo-European, "*h₁nḗh₃mn̥".

- God (en) = Dumnezeu (ro) = Gott (ge / "Gottes" in Genitive) = бог (ru / "бо́га" in Genitive) = خداوند (form of خدا).

- beneficient (en) = milostiv (ro) = gnädigen (from the noun "Gnade" plus the sufix "-ig" used to make adjectives out of nouns) = بخشنده (fa) = Милостивого (ru).

- merciful (en / "mercy" + "-ful" used to form adjectives out of nouns) = îndurător (ro) = Barmherzigen (ge / "Barmherzigkeit" is the noun "mercy") = بخشایشگر (fa) = Милосердного (ru)

- in (en) = în (ro) = im (ge) = Во (ru) ≠ به (fa) / I want to point out the fact that the preoposition "in" has a different meaning here, it's not like "in the house", it does not indicate a place or a time interval (ex: "in three hours"). This is the reason why in Persian we don't also say ("در" = in) but "به" (usually translated as "to" or "according to" = "به گزارش" / where "گزارش" is the noun "report, story").

Meanings of the verse


This is called the Basmala which in Arabic is "بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم". This phrase is recited before each sura (chapter) with the exception of the ninth. Some scholars believe it to be the first verse of all but the ninth sura while others consider it as coming before the first verse. 


From wikipedia:
"The three definite nouns of the Basmala—Allah, ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim—correspond to the first three of the traditional 99 names of God in Islam. Both ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim are from the same triliteral root R-Ḥ-M, "to feel sympathy, or pity". According to Lane, ar-raḥmān is more intensive (including in its objects the believer and the unbeliever) and may be rendered as "the Compassionate", while ar-raḥīm has for its peculiar object the believer (considered as expressive of a constant attribute), and may be rendered as "the Merciful".

The Basmala has a special significance for Muslims, who are to begin each task after reciting the verse."

Links


Russian grammar reference

Persian Grammar Reference
Also, there are some articles on Thoughts in Perspective

German grammar reference
Basic German Grammar

Romanian language

Basic English grammar

PS: Feeling the enormous weight of this task? That's good, this is exactly what you should be feeling, but don't be scared, it's achievable. If you only know English, try to go through the links above, slowly and give yourself a number of consecutive days to acquaint with each language at a time, if you wish, you can also concentrate only on one or two and then come back to the rest. There will be two weeks in which you should slowly familiarize yourself with basic gramar and phonetics of the languages you choose after which we will continue with the verses and talk a little about grammar using the verses as examples.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MOC, my new music player in Ubuntu

First of all I want to wish a happy new year with accomplishments, inner peace and constant development for all my readers, followers and friends from this blog, my twitter account and facebook, whom I know in person, through the net or don't know at all.

Now let's begin with something new for "Thoughts in Perspective", the first post in a series centered around the Ubuntu/Linux operating system.

I enjoy listening to music, and like me are many. In my years of using Ubuntu I have tried a great number of music players although in the end only three ended in lasting more than a month, with Banshee lasting the longest. The other two are Rhythmbox and Clementine.

Recently I was searching for a more basic yet powerful program and found "mocp", a console audio player. If you are using Windows you might not know what a console audio player might be... hell, if you are using Windows you might not know why you are reading this... except only if you are thinking about switching to Linux in which case I say DO IT.

I absolutely love MOCP, it has everything you need, and for me that's playing the music and the ability to create a playlist and navigate your folders. I have around ten thousand music files and had no difficulty in navigating through them. It also has a mixer, an equalizer, the ability to show lyrics and to play online radio (although I never tried it).

To install write : sudo apt-get install moc (in your terminal). To start the program, also in the terminal, write " mocp ", for help press " h ", happy listening.