Tag Archives: Romanians

History writes history.

Awesome Romanian research stuff:

According to many sources, the pastoral ballad Miorita encapsulates something essential about the Romanian soul.  In the story, three shepherds tend their sheep on the same plain: a Vrancean, a Transylvanian, and a Moldavian.  Since the Moldavian is the wealthiest, the other two decide that they are going to kill him and steal his flock.  The Moldavian’s favorite lamb, Miorita, overhears them, and goes to warn her master.  The Moldavian only wishes to be buried on the heath with his flute, and tells Miorita to tell all the other sheep and his poor old mother that he went away to marry a princess “at Heaven’s doorsill,” that the sun and the moon came down to hold his bridal crown, that the mountain was his priest, the stars his torches, and the birds his fiddlers.

Such stoic submission is totally incomprehensible from an American standpoint, and yet it is undeniably beautiful, and contains its own kind of strength.

Do not piss off Vlad the Impaler.  If you are not sure why, see name.

An uncanny number of consorts of Romanian heads of state have my name.  It’s a little spooky.

Medieval Wallachian king Michael the Brave owed the Ottomans a whole bunch of money. So he was like, “yo dudes, come get your money.” And then they showed up, and he was like, “see that building? Your money’s in there.” So they went in. And then he set the building on fire.

Huh. Think I could pull that off with student loan people?

1858

The Ottoman Porte allowed Moldavia and Wallachia to each elect heads of state, but did not allow them to unify as a nation. In response, the two principalities both elected… the same guy.*

Ha! Well played, Romania. Well played.

* married to one of the Elenas.  Yep.

In ancient times, what is now Romanian territory was inhabited by a people called the Dacians, who were eventually swallowed by the Roman empire.  Very little is known about them–what is most interesting about them is how Romanians have chosen to fit them into their national narrative over the past couple of centuries.  When they wanted to belong to western Europe, they surmised the the Romans had entirely eradicated the Dacians–essentially making modern Romanians descendants of Rome only.  When they wanted to separate themselves from western Europe, they instead cast Rome as the outside oppressor, making modern Romanians plucky Dacian survivors.  In the unwinding years of the Ceaucescu regime, it was affirmed that Romanian is such a heavily Latin language not because Dacians were romanized but because–hang onto your pants–Romans were dacianized.  According to this theory, the Latin language was in fact descended from Dacian, and the origin of western civilization can be traced back to Romanian soil.  The truth is, of course, that the Dacian language is completely lost–its only possible remnants being a small collection of modern Romanian words that are neither Latin nor Slavic.

The truth is that writing down what happened also erases what happened.  The truth is that history writes history.

I don’t know how yet, but it will.

I drafted a short story! It’s been a loooooooong time since I’ve done that. I tend to forget that when you write something, it doesn’t have to be 300 pages long.  I’ve also been doing lots of research, reading up on Romanian history and lore.  I’d forgotten how much fun research can be, how some interesting factoid can lead you onto another interesting factoid then another then another into palimpsestic infinity.  Must have been part of why I pursued academia, back in the day!

For instance, I just learned today that there was a terrifying 7.3 earthquake in Bucharest in 1977 that killed over 1,500 people and hugely damaged the city.  Which created an opportunity for the erection of lots of gigantic stolid Socialist architecture.  And displaced so many people (even more were subsequently displaced to make way for aforementioned gigantic stolid Socialist architecture) who abandoned their dogs that said dogs formed packs and this is why the city had a big stray dog problem up until this decade.  Whoa.

All this research was prompted by my pained realization that In the Red is supposed to be in the third person.  Which in turn made me understand that the novel has to be bigger than just Irina’s story.  So I am pursuing a sort of collective unconscious type of angle.  And let me tell you, the Romanian fairy tales I’ve been reading lately are perfect for that, because they are WEIRD.  They are like a Jungian’s wet dream.  Not to mention the great boon of being able to exploit the tremendous richness of fairy tales that don’t happen to be familiar to a western audience.  No, I should say, “known by a western audience,” because it is the hallmark of fairy tales that they are always familiar.

All this background stuff is going to give me the structure.  I don’t know how yet, but it will.

a malcontent wearing new shoes

Today I wrote a flash of sex in my novel, just a bitty 200-word scene.  Yet I am completely drained, I think I may have to step away from the book for today.  I don’t know why this story–especially the sexy parts–is taking so much out of me, like my brain has to make this incandescent effort to extrude a mere paragraph and then it is done.  It needs a glass of warm milk and a nap.  And a hug.

The novel features a bad, bad man from Romania.  Why are evil Eastern European dudes so extremely hot?  I must have watched too much Cold War agitprop growing up.  Or maybe it’s the accent.  Nom nom nom that accent.  Anyway, I can tell this guy is going to be great fun to write because I find myself wondering aaaaaah why doesn’t he exist so that I can have sex with him?!  (Of course if he existed I would never have sex with him; I always wind up with soft-spoken intellectual types.)

So, like most of America I filed my taxes yesterday and I must say SELF-EMPLOYED TAXES = OW.  So much for all the bullshit about how our pioneer nation favors a spirit of independent entrepreneurship.  What pisses me off isn’t so much the amount, though the amount is substantial.  I wouldn’t be nearly this irritated if my money didn’t go towards bank bailouts and troup surges.  I wish I could earmark my tax contribution for our crumbling social safety net and educational systems.  And goddamn universal health care, but what kind of crack am I smoking?

Also: if I were some trust fund baby who’d “earned” that money from interest and dividends, I would have gotten to keep a lot more of it.  This gets my goat like nobody’s business: our nation likes to pretend that there’s no such thing as social class while ridiculously favoring the idle rich and blatantly screwing the working poor.  Seriously, I would walk around humming L’Internationale for a few days except my fury has been soothed by the arrival of the festive purple sneakers I ordered (even though with all the money I coughed up yesterday, I could have purchased about 250 pairs of those suckers).  I’m sure Marx would chide me about the weakness of my convictions, but I am no revolutionary.  Merely a malcontent wearing new shoes.