недеља, 05. мај 2013.

Odyssey

Here I am, still in the same old city of Antwerp. The place is the same, that is the space, only its time has changed. It is spring time now, the weather is sunny and everything blossoms. And it is now over 8 months since I arrived. It's seems the right moment for another, perhaps last, reflection on my stay in the biggest city in Flanders; before the pressure of exams comes too close for another blog to be writen.

Today I found myself sitting in an outdoor terrasse of a pub in the centre of Antwerp. It is the same terrasse I had once already visited, just after arriving on my student exchange here. Like some 8 months ago, on the same place, today also I was reading a book. It happens that its topic suits the previous themes of this blog, which without my conscious planing turned out for the most part to be reflections on technology and its relation to our modern experience of the world. The book is called "Cyberspace Odyssee" and the chapter I read  was about literature ondergoing digitalisation, with for example the question whether the traditional paper book will survive this technological "e-book revolution", about hypertext (with this act the text of this blog hast just became a hypertext) and other interesting e-things. However, my intention here is not to further polemize on this subject. For my purpose it is enough to have a notion in your mind that I was reading today about something I have been thinking myself about and what I had wrote on this very web-place, web-site, up to now.

More importanly, and here comes the thought which struck me today, and which led me to write about it: the book was writen in Dutch. Of course, this fact was not anything shocking for me. After all, my studies here are in Dutch, and I was preparing myself for it, I wanted it to be that way. What came as a "shock" was more the idea, the realization  that last time I was sitting on that same place, I could clearly recall, I was doing some homework for my intensive Dutch course.
A much more exciting notion thus develops, namely that at one point in time, at the begining of my Erasmsus exchange, I sat there, struggling to fill in some quite basic things about Dutch grammar and vocabulary, and then at the next point, 8 months later, I read a regular book (as part of one university class, by the way) in Dutch, and I read it with no serious problems with understanding. For me it was an asthonishing thought, and not in the sense of some supreme (subjective) achievement on my part, but in the sense of an objective developement of an ability, of being able to see the world through the lense of another language in such a short time.


This is the image-ination of the book and of "when in Belgium do as Belgians do"- beer, both of which I consumed today. :)


The beer I had this time was a different kind than the previous time. But it was still beer. That way the same me could at one point struggle learning Dutch, and at another point read in Dutch smoothly.

That's how life continues going its spiral way, always repeating itself circularly, and yet, always being changed, positioned at new heights, with fresh offer of life-goodies and new things to be discovered.

Click ,,open in a new window/tab" for background music theme before reading the last paragraph!

With this I would like to slowly bring this blog to an end.  If  I will return to this same cyber place in our brave new cyber space to write a few words in a new blog entry again some time in the future, my body will probably not be in Antwerp any longer; I will be busy doing the same old different things; hopefully I will be able to speak another language I started learning recently; and the same me will have different ideas to share to the new you... in the Space Odyssey of our lives!




Did you know our galaxy is a spiral?

уторак, 19. март 2013.

Jim Jarmusch from the Future


Black screen. I paused the movie to go downstairs and make some tea. On the way there I go through the dark hall, down the stairs, with which I acquainted myself enough not to need the light. I am thinking of the tea I am about to make. It is going to be Zen green tea.
It’s not a brand called “Zen”. It has to do with the way I am going to prepare the tea. I am preparing the tea. Slowly I take out the pot. I set it on fire I just lit. No hurry.
With every move I am more and more close to myself. I breathe knowingly. The water reaches almost the boiling point, so I turn off the fire. Green tea is better when water’s temperature is slightly less than the boiling 100°. I insert the leaves into the cup. The box from which I took out the leaves has a nice design. The brand is Chinese.
Upstairs I go.
I start the movie again and here comes the new scene. So far there were always two people sitting at the table together. They talk, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. Yes, the movie is called “Coffee and Cigarettes”. In the previous scene they talked about Nikola Tesla. I just wrote a poem inspired by reading an interview with him. And earlier today I received an e-mail from a friend from Vienna who asked me to tell him more about Tesla. Since I had mentioned I am his great fan. It seems like Jim Jarmush also is. And I am his, too.

In this scene they are drinking tea. So I am sitting with the characters in the movie. Together we are having tea. The three of us. 
For the first time in the movie they are drinking tea.

Now I paused the movie again because I want to tell something about another scene earlier in the movie. 
It is when the two African Americans are in Memphis, Tennessee.
You see, I am going to Memphis, Tennessee. Jim Jarmush knows it.

In his other movie “Night on Earth” people ride in the taxi and lead conversations in different cities. It all happens at the same time, it is one hour during the ,,Night on Earth”. 

The thing is that I had almost visited those same cities in the exact same order of appearance in the movie, before watching it. If only you would swap the first two cities, then I would have had the same chronology with my personal visiting experience as the movie shows them: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, Helsinki. Well, except for the last one. I hadn’t visited Helsinki when I watched it the first time. But I told myself: one day you will go to Helsinki.
  

I was couch surfing in Helsinki and I stayed with a guy, who was an amateur movie maker. He had seen “Night on Earth”. He gave me tips in which part of the city I should go, If I want to recognize some places from the movie. I didn’t really recognize them, but I had watched the movie long ago. I said I’d watch the movie again when I come home. The time spent with Sami was really pleasant. He is a cool amateur movie maker guy. His friends are interesting, and his little chiwawa with a reputation of finding strangers completely repulsive- actually liked me. And when I came home, I did recognize some scenes. There was this orthodox church and the square, where they drive the taxi car in circles. The driver was mad that they were making fun of his unfortunate life story.

Now I take sips of my Zen green tea and I am amazed as to how Jim Jarmush can be such a prophet. He seemed to know where I have been before watching his “Night on Earth”. He then invited me to go to Helsinki to meet Sami and have a great time with his friends and his Chiwawa.

Now he put one of the scenes in “Coffee and Cigarettes” to take place in Memphis, Tennessee. The city where I am going, because I will go on an exchange for a semester there at the University. Just next year.

I start to believe that Jim Jarmush is from the future. He comes back in time, “down to Earth”, and he informs me informally over “coffee and cigarettes”, or tea (because it’s more healthy) about my future whereabouts. I thank him for that. I am his fan.

среда, 06. март 2013.

Lost in the Beauty

Wednesdays are tough in my schedule this semester. They are demanding both mentally and physically. I am sure that I would manage following three different courses with little breaks in between  in one day just fine, but- providing they were all on one campus.

This is how it goes: I first have to go from my part of town (called Berchem) to the city centre, where the city campus is located. That is a bike ride of about 20 minutes. After the first class is completed there, I then need to bike to the second one, biking back the same way, passing by my house, and continuing in that other direction for another decent portion of the road. In total, it takes me about 45 minutes to get from campus A to campus B.
Then, finally, to get to the third class, I go the whole way back to the city campus. I attend the class and ride home. Around 6 hours of classes and more than two hours on the bike. Not bad for a single day, once in a week?

Today was one of those Wednesday days. And today I decided to take a shorter way from home to to this other campus (Drie Eiken). I was on a look-out a few days ago, biking somewhere nearer home, trying to orient myself and figure out which way I usaully take to Drie Eiken, and which way I could perhaps take instead, in order to make my pilgrimage to the course "Bio-ethics" a little less sacrifical. And I thought I found one.

After the first lecture, I stopped at home to get some stuff. Then I proudly went on the new way to Drie Eiken. In the last few days the Spring sort of came to Antwerp, so it was quite enjoyable to bike. I started thinking that this having to bike today was not that bad, since it was an excuse for me to spend some time outside, working on my thesis all day otherwise.

I kept going for some time, and then, when I saw no sign pointing to the campus, I asked an older lady on a bike, who was in front of me, if she knows the way. (I asked her by approaching her from behind, and so when we were moving parallely on bikes, which I found kind of cool). She gave it a thought, while just slowing down, but being still in motion, and then said that it should be to the right, somewhere further down the road. I followed her advise and biked on.
I came up to the crossroad, where I was supposed to turn right, and I did. I knew I was already in the suburbs of the city (called Mortsel), and now I was apparantly going (judging by the signs) to 'Edegem'. I knew I was kind of going the right direction, but I also noticed that the campus is not exactly where I thought of it to be.

Eventually I reached Edegem, and stopped there to ask for directions again. This time it was a younger woman sitting next to her baby car. She smilled and said there is still a long way to go, but that I should just follow the road. Another 15 minutes, she said. I thanked her, and with my student bag tied to the back of the bike, I continued peddaling, just around the corner entering the centre of Edegem. It was really neat and cute: orderly road with a nice bike path, a church, and nice older houses. That was my view to the left side. To the right I could see a row of trees, leading to some kind old castle/mansion. And then... The field.
I was out of the city, slowly leaving even the village of Edegem behind. I looked back to cast a one last look at the cosy small centre, and then,  on both sides, there were only the fields...

I felt really happy, riding unexpectedly throught this piece of Belgian countryside. I was reminded of my experience of riding trains here, going to the Netherlands, or Bruges, or Gent. I have seen something similar through the window then. But now it was different. I was outside. I was exposed to the air and I could see everything around me. Flat fields, like in my Vojvodina, but still with unique set of colors, with a unique mood, reserved for Belgian and Dutch fields. And the Sun, the precious light, making everything so alive, after the long winter.

I knew by then that I definitely didn't take the shorter way to the campus Drie Eiken. But I also knew that I was so delighted to have miscalculated the shorter way... and found a richer one instead. It was not more efficient, but it was more poetic. And it happened to me. I myself didn't look for it, didn't provoke it. It is, as wise man says, precisely that way that the best things in life occur to one.

Soon I arrived at the campus. And I made it just in time.
During the lecture my emotional background was the impression of what I had experienced. The beauty and vastness I saw on my "shortest possible way".

I took the old efficient way back to the city centre and came home after the third lecture was over. I am pretty exhausted now, after all that biking and lecture-attending today.
But the fact that I managed to write all this at the end of it bears a witness to the inspiration I got, when today I was lost.
Lost in the beauty.

среда, 23. јануар 2013.

'Cock Hatches Birds' or 'How I went to the Cinema and got out'

Going south in Antwerp might mean going to the cinema. I am glad that was the exact meaning of me going that direction last week. Not that there were no difficulties finding the place... But once I was there, I was positively surprised.

A very modern-looking cinema, with much fairer prices for <26 than other places in Antwerp with the same purpose. => I will be going to the Cinema South more often.



With my friend Anton, who is soon leaving Antwerp (so let this mentioning be a tribute and thanks to him for being my regular cinema-mate in this city :)), I have seen Hitchcock's "Birds".

It was really much different than what I had expected, and I certainly had a certain image of the movie (the use of an aliterative certainly on purpose), since I heard about it long ago; somehow I was imagining it being very dark and scary. But in fact, it wasn't that scary. And it certainly wasn't dark. Not a black&white movie this one.

I really liked how the shift in the movie is being made in the focus of the main theme. About half of the movie everything seems to be about "whether they will get together", a kind of a romance; and then, there is a transition into something that could be called a "horror", but then a very uncharacteristical one. Birds attack humans.

For me it was interesting to notice how people in the movie were wondering why are the birds doing that.  It seems so strange and horrible, completely impossible to grasp.
I made a connection with this aspect to another element, which is present in the movie: the caged birds. In the begining there is a scene in a bird shop, and in fact that is where the two main characters meet. And then there are also two loving birds in a cage, which are brought as a gift.
From a philosophical point of view the observation is: for us there is nothing strange or horrible about keeping birds, who are creatures able to fly, in a cage, and even making money out of that. Yet when birds get together and attack us, it is something so terrible and we have to ask ourselves the famous 'why?'.
A little bit of good ol' shift in perspectives (perhaps a switch to the "bird's perspective"?) would do us good!

When we got out of the projection room, it felt we we were still in the movie. We headed towards the exit of the Cinema South, and we could see through the glass door an ambulance car in front of the building.
It had a symbol of a bird on it.