Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day 000: New Year's Eve

img_20151231_081845-01.jpegWhile walking our dog this morning, I came across this beetle on its back. Immediately it reminded me the opening scene of Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

Per popular interpretation, we are led to think that the hero, Gregor Samsa, turned into a giant cockroach, but the novel is apparently a little less distinct. The translations have it as "insect" or "vermin." Which led me to look up some more detail on the subject, and I turned up Kafka's Metamorphosis and its mutations in translation from The Guardian.

According to the article, the original German goes:

Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.


Its Google translation is

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself in his bed into a monstrous vermin transformed.


Kind of cool.

The news that Ian Murdock died is all over my news feeds. Ian Murdock was the co-founder of the Debian project, an influential Linux distribution that is the basis for many of the distributions today, including Ubuntu and its variants. The news came as a shock. Apparently (though not reported in detail), he committed suicide. This was after a run-in with the police. From what I read, there have been signs of mental instability. This is just very, very sad.

I am winding down the year. I am purposely taking things slow today, mostly housework and travel preparations. The new year holds some promise. I hope it goes better than 2015, which was a roller coaster ride.

Reading



Hemingway writes of his encounters with Gertrude Stein as of a mentor. It's a relationship that went beyond literary pursuits and on to life lessons. There's a significant passage when they talk about homosexuality, when Stein seems to correct Hemingway's notions.

"Yes, yes, Hemingway. But you were living in a milieu of criminals and perverts." That phrase made me laugh.

The Hemingway here is much younger and much more vulnerable, as if seeking approval and guidance from an elder. But he is also a hard worker, thoroughly involved in his craft. Well worth emulating.

Learning



I have gotten into this language learning groove wherein I maintain my Spanish in the morning and pick up on my Mandarin in the afternoon. I was afraid that the two would interfere with each other, but I don't think that is happening. My Mandarin is still so rudimentary I am only working with individual words. Besides, Chinese doesn't have the same complexity of conjugations and tenses. At the moment, I can read about fifteen ideograms, but am still struggling with pronunciation. So it goes.