Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lovely Lund

I have been the laziest poster in these past few weeks (!), but the beautiful weather and the fact that I have wonderful friends over prevented me from adding any new ideas to this journal. I feel just so happy that the weather finally turned to warm and sunny (most of the time, this is Sweden after all)! I am weather-dependent, when the sun is up I feel supergreat, when the clouds are on I feel like I should hide indoors until the grey is gone. It felt so good to be in Asia last year, I did not have the smallest worry about the weather report: always warm, always bright!
I have been taking some pics of the city with Tiziana's camera (as we still have no device to take pictures with) and maybe one of these days I will have the chance to post some of them here, to give a taste of how the place I live in really looks like. Overall it feels great to just go to the main square and buy an icecream from GlassKulturen and just sit and watch people :)
On Saturday there will be the largest celebration of the spring, the Valborg - something along the German Walpurgis night as I understand it. Will report from the champagne and bonfire in the park front once it is over!

Monday, April 11, 2005


This past Friday I went to a student play (to satisfy my thirst for theater mentioned previously). It was a vaudeville entirely written, directed and performed by students, very funny and entertaining as it involved lots of songs (and my Swedish is getting better and better by the day, so I can laugh at the right moments together with the rest of the crowd). I was surprised to find out that the "spex" as they are called are indeed a traditional feature of the Lundian student life since the 1700s or so. In those days and now, the plays made fun of university life, of politics and doubtlessly of professors...

In Lund everything seems to have a tradition, it must be one of the most conservative towns in the entire Scandinavia. The spex, the balls, the nations (student unions), the presence of one of the oldest and most sacred cathedrals, all point out to the preservation of the good old ways. It surprised me as I am most used to the revolutionary, irreverent student than to this keeper of memory. But in today's perpetually changing world, perhaps what is truly revolutionary is not to change at all...

Thursday, April 07, 2005


This is for Janelle, although she’s probably the last one to read it…

“Emotions really exist at the bottom of the personality or at the top. In the middle they are acted. This is why all the world is a stage, and why theater is always popular and indeed why it exists: why it is like life, and it is like life even though it is also the most vulgar and outrageously factitious of all the arts. […] the theater, even at its most ‘realistic’, is connected to the level at which, and the methods by which, we tell our everyday lies. […] in a purely formal sense the theater is the nearest to poetry of all the arts. […] The theater is an attack on mankind carried on by magic: to victimize the audience every night, to make them laugh and cry and suffer and miss their trains. Of course actors regard audiences as enemies, to be deceived, drugged, incarcerated, stupefied. This is partly because the audience is also a court against which there is no appeal. Art’s relation with its client is here at its closest and most immediate. […] But the theater must, if need, stoop – and stoop – until it attains that direct, that universal communication which other artists can afford to seek more deviously and at their ease. Hence the assault, the noise, the characteristic impatience.
[…] The theater is a place for obsession. It is not a soft dreamland. Unemployment, poverty, disappointment, racking indecision (take this now and miss that later) grind reality into one’s face; and, as in family life, one soon learns the narrow limitations of the human soul.”
Iris Murdoch, “The Sea, the Sea”, Penguin Books, 1978 – pp. 33-34

Reading this I realize how much I miss going to the theater… Ever since I left Romania theater became a luxury almost always out of reach. Especially good theater. If music and dance were readily available in Boston and in Maryland (thank God for that!), theater was never around, at least not good plays at student prices. And now in Sweden people express themselves on stage in a language I do not yet feel, so…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Politics: The Feminist Initiative

Two days ago, the usually tepid Swedish politics registered a surge in temperature with the official appearance of the Feminist Initiative. Lead by a former Left Party member, Gudrun Schyman, the Initiative is an organization meant to further and protect the rights of women in the Swedish life. If they score well on opinion polls, it is very likely that the FI will seriously consider participating as a political party in the general elections scheduled for 2006.
What is interesting to me is first that it is here, in Sweden, where most would agree that feminists have made most progress in their campaign for equal rights between men and women, that this organization should appear. And then secondly, I am really curious how this FI will fit politically.
Many of my feminist friends are critical against Gudrun and foresee not a strengthening of the feminist movement in Sweden but on the contrary a decrease in the overall popularity of the left, traditionally the political zone where the feminist interests were promoted. By possibly candidating in the 2006 elections, the FI risks to split the left wing vote and to allow a right wing government to take over.
Personally, I see the Feminist Initiative as a protest sign against traditional Swedish politics (which one can safely say is rather boring), and as a chance to revitalize the public debate around many social issues. For example, a "man tax" was proposed, to be paid by all male Swedes, as a mode of prevention (?) or compensation for domestic abuse suffered by women. Of course this is a very provocative thought, and full of flaws, but I thought it was cool to get some wake-up call!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ethical Living

For the longest time I have been wondering about how to live a better life, or be a better person. I have asked myself if my actions cause more damage to the "world" than pleasure to me or my loved ones. And I have tried to change my faulty ways if I caught myself in the wrong (again, being your own moral police tends to be a heavy burden even though it does give you a sense of freedom).
Of course, this does not mean (by far!) that I am not doing harmful things anymore, from being mean to people (hmmmm, sorry y'all), to not donating money to worthy causes. I am constantly wondering though where to draw the line, when it is moral enough, how far should I push it... If I eat eggs, do I still support the industry that keeps the poor chicken in crowded cages? How responsible am I if the bank where I keep my meager account uses my money in oil investments?
At least I am not the only one asking herself about these issues. I have been following Leo Hickman's feuilleton in the Guardian for some time now and I see how on the whole there are thousands of little simple ways in which our lives can be more ethical. I think he's a pretty down to earth ordinary individual who makes an effort to be more environment friendly without an "extreme makeover". Here it is where you can check out his series of articles on Ethical Living:

Monday, April 04, 2005

Film/Music: Festival Express

The Filmstudio here in Lund presents a series of music on film - this is how I got to see "The Last Waltz" and also this Sunday's feature, "Festival Express". In the same vein as Woodstock (which took place in August 1968), the Festival Express of 1970 gathered a bunch of famous artists and loaded them on a private train moving across Canada and stopping every once in a while to play concerts. The film shows both live performances from these concerts and scenes from the bar wagon where the guests were constantly jamming under the influence of ... let's say everything.
I loved to see Janis giving it all on stage, to listen again to The Band playing The Last Waltz and especially to see The Grateful Dead live - they were so good!!!!!!!!!!

Food/ Film: Supersize Me

I finally got to see the famous documentary "Supersize Me", about the so-called McDonalds regime... Not that I was surprised by the effects of daily consumption of fast and fat food, but I must say that the actual amount of sugar and fat that gather in your system after a McMeal really scared me! And even worse was this so called "addiction" to the daily burger and fries that seems to accompany the heavy eater. You get a headache, a bad mood and even physical discomfort if your portion of McDonalds (or I assume any fast food) is missing from your routine... Scary, scary,scary...

On the other hand, I am still not convinced that it is the fault of the company that people get fat. Personal choice and responsibility weights much heavier than commercial appeal. After all, if no one would buy bad fast food, no one would be there to sell it.