Debug Your Mind

Archive for the ‘Romanian realities’ Category

Here you can find out about things that mostly don’t work in Romania, the country I am from and all sorts of specifics designed to make you understand better. It is likely that all external references would be in Romanian. I recommend using Google Chrome with the translation plug-in activated.

Imagined Mirrors of the Absolute

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on June 20, 2012

Motto: “What is it about me, that attracts people?”

I am sure, with no doubt, that any person has asked, at least, once in life, this question. Well, I just had an insight, based on a dream. Now, honestly, I don’t believe in paying too much attention to dreams, especially since my subconscious has a very weird sense of humor 🙂 . But this time, what matters more is not the dream itself, but the ideas it led me to. And it highly relates to the question in the beginning. Not as a question the I myself am asking, but as one everyone is asking. Please consider this article as a mirror. It will help you find better its signification.

Ana-Maria Iana [ro, blog] has asked the question at the end of this article [ro, blog].  I have answered to it. The answer came as an insight. Now let me tell you about a dream. Please pay attention, this is going to lead in a very precise point.

I dreamed myself about 5-6 years ago, when I was more unsure of myself than I am now. I perceived the dream as rather long. Certain situations appeared, which made me wonder and seek answers. Ana-Maria appeared in my dream at least 2 times, the last time being more relevant. I was in a tram with her, she was going to work and we stopped at, what was in the dream, a common friend, Tom [en, php]. Ana interacted with Tom, talking about daily routine stuff. I dreamed both of them as I perceived each of them in real life. Ana was especially firm, strong and encouraging. After the meeting, Ana and me went back on the tram, at which moment I said to her:

Stefan Alexandrescu: “I know what I’m looking for in you”

Ana-Maria Iana:”You did?”

Stefan Alexandrescu: “Yes. I’m looking to be more sure of myself. And you came with some answers to my questions”.

Somewhere around this moment, the dream stops. Now, the weird thing is that, to my conscious  knowledge, Ana and Tom don’t know each other. BUT Ana, in the dream, looks very much like a common friend me and Tom had, during gymnasium, where, by the way we met and became friends. The common friend we actually had,in opposition to Ana’s attitude in the dream, was totally unsure of herself. I dreamed of her the way I would have liked her to be: more confident. In the same time, in the dream, this strong source of confidence for me was Ana. But, as Ana would certainly say in real life, she doesn’t have the answers to other people’s questions. That’s why she essentially asked in the quoted article [ro, blog]: “What is it about me, that attracts the people?” – a question about herself, in relation to others.

Now let us think a little bit on this question, which is a better version of the classical transactional analysis question: “why is this happening to ME?”. Many of us, have this question, as it satisfies a pattern, and a quite disempowering one. So I asked myself the question: “why is that happening to people?” 🙂 . Also, from the standpoint of NLP, it’s classified as an psychological search pattern, opposed to “how”. I pause to pay a little attention to the difference here. The bipolarity of “why?” vs. “how” was, to my knowledge, first asserted by Alfred Korzybski in 1933, in the greatest epistemology treaty “Science and Sanity [en, html]” and was further developed into a metaprogram [ro, blog]. The “why” orientation asks for a causal argumentation for a link between the past and the present , an explanation of content . It is a driving question in psychotherapy. “How” on the other side, focuses on a process, and is a driving question in coaching. Each of them are appropriate in certain contexts. And the difference is relevant here. I have invariably met more people asking the “why is this happening” than people asking “how is it happening”. It is my assertion that if I had more customers asking me the “how” question, I would have made a lot more money from people that are focusing on active solutions rather than simple passive understanding (which is not so simple, as you will see).

A possible answer came to me from Harry Potter – the cinema series. I offer you here a short moment from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, directed by Chris Columbus. If in time it disappears from youtube, it’s the scene with the Mirror of Erised (anagram for “desire”).

Many people are unconsciously looking for this kind of mirrors, which would answer to the question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me what I’m looking for”. That is natural. It’s also a good strategy for people with money, which pay consultants not only to give them answers, but especially  find the right questions for them (which, in some case, may be “how” questions rather than “why” questions). Psychologically, people look into mirrors to find an information which is external to them. Sometimes, people do the same when they go looking for zodiac, horoscope, palm reading, signs in the sky or superstitions. These claim to provide a qualified answer from an authority. This kind of belief in a magical, superstitious form of knowledge, is based on the very subtle belief that there is something else, outside of our power, which controls our life. This a very current belief in Romanians especially and in Balkanics particularly: that there is a kind of driving force in nature, which makes their life go into one direction or the other. This kind of thinking implies an external locus of control, tragically often combined with an internal frame of reference (I have written more on this topic in Romanian, in the article “Ce este şi ce nu este cadrul de referinţă [ro, blog]”).

Personal & professional development use a different conviction: “You are the master of your life. Everything that happens in your life is your responsability. You have the free choice to opt for one option or another.”. This kind of thinking may very well be misunderstood, especially for those seeking understanding, for/from the inside/the outside.

Now let’s go back to the Mirror of Desire. Like all the symbols in “Harry Potter”, the mirror has a satanic, occult signification [en, CFML] To quote the commenter of this blog post[en, blog], “magic is simply science that has yet to be understood. Before one could log onto a laptop and read the news report or Hollywood Illuminati and before the invent of the tv and radio, there was a crystal ball or a black mirror that allowed the occulist to see and read about events all over the world […] Magic is the use of unseen forces to manipulate either mental, emotional or physical.”. These “unseen forces” are called in Christianity “demons”, and they have the knowledge of everything which has happened and is happening, and they have the power to read gestures and especially deep desires, in everyone. This kind of knowledge can be presented in such a mirror. Please correlate with the wiki entries for the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter:

Now back to me. Like Ana, I had this question, about myself. But first, I gave the answer to Ana for her question, and just now, I have realized the answer for myself. it was easy for me to give the answer to Ana, for two reasons:

1. My job is to know (and explain to others) how people’s mind work. In marketing, I am paid to explain how consumers think, in order to promote a certain product/service/organization. In human resources, I am paid to explain employers and (potential) employees how their mind works, how it doesn’t work and how to make up for the gap between what is and what would actually work better, within an organizational framework. Therefore, some people think of me that I have the answers, when in reality, all I have is the questions. And a little bit of sense of observation. But asking a good question is sometimes more than a good answer, in my opinion, because it empowers the client to find his or her own answer.

2. For those people which see in me “the Mirror of Erised”, I seem (or, in their perspective, I “am deemed”) to have a set of magic tools – magic which is nothing else but science that has yet to be understood. For these persons, I am seen as a “guru” or as a “magician”. It is this kind of belief system that I want to discredit, but, to a certain point the status of  “magician” can be flattering. But let us remind ourselves of what St. Paul is writing in the Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 12: “For now we see through a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I am also fully known.”. In this verse, “now” refers to the earthly life and “then” to the eternal life, the after-life.

I have an exercise I have written about here [en, blog] and in this article: “Who Are You and How Do You See Yourself in the Mirror” [ro, blog]. There, I used the mirror as a metaphor of the fact that we are all looking, in others, for mirrors of ourselves, and each of the people we ask about ourselves will provide a mirror for themselves as well – beacuse we all like about others what we like about ourselves or what we aspire to, and we all dislike about others what we dislike in ourselves or what seems so foreign to ourselves. Now, this is not the kind of thing you usually get confronted to, but it’s also not something you haven’t heard before. I myself know it because I have learned it from  two other men. First, Ana sought a mirror, at the end of this article [ro, blog]. I provided one for her. Then again, in my dream, I was looking for a mirror, and that was Ana for me. A mirror of believing in myself (“a avea încredere” in Romanian), which is semantically similar to “trust” (“a crede“).

Before ending, I subject to your inquiry(to be read: “insight”), the classical mirror scene from “Lady in Shanghai”, where Orson Welles delivers this line: ““One who follows his nature, keeps his original nature in the end, but haven’t you heard of something better to follow?”

I end, not with my words, but with a reflection of Ana-Maria Iana’s article, “De la viata, cu dragoste” [ro, blog]:

<<You are searching for security, safety, a certain creed, a certain “ism”, a place to belong to, to rely on. You have came here out of fear. You want a sort of beautiful prison, thus you can live without acknowledging something. I want to make you more unsure, more unstable, more uncert […] I don’t want you to trust me, I want you to have courage in front of  me.>>

PS: What is your favorite mirror of the absolute?

Posted in Religion, Romanian realities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Priveste înainte cu mânie / Look Forward in Anger (1993)

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on September 30, 2011

I have always considered that sharing with foreigners documentaries about Romanian realities is an act which helps me understand better my own culture by watching their reactions to the Romanian content.

This is not a documentary. It is a fictional story, inspired by reality. Considering this Romanian picture was done about two decades ago, I would say that everything the trailer says is true: it is a film about current day Romania. The profetic nature of the film lays in its first 5 minutes. This is one of the films that any foreigner should see in order to understand what happened to Romania after the 1989 Revolution.

Starting from the drama in the small universe of a family, extending it to the whole city and then to the whole nation, the structure is very powerful. Here we have all the typical characters, but not in a stereotypical manner. They make sense and they do create rage.

The magistral ending tells the story of those who cannot tell their story. Their story, the drama of the survival is only to common for those who are already half dead inside.

I remember I was watching with a friend of mine from Belgium Alexandru Solomon’s Kapitalism, and she was surprised to find out some things which seemed very natural for me.

My rating: 8 / 10 (Masterpiece)

Posted in fiction, Must See, Romanian realities | 2 Comments »

Manusi Rosii / Red Gloves (2010) by Radu Gabrea

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on September 1, 2011

Together with Cel mai iubit dintre pămînteni / The Most Beloved from the Earth by Şerban Marinescu and Binecuvântată fii închisoare/ Bless You Prison by Nicolae Mărgineanu, this is the best non-documentary feature I have ever seen about the Communist jails. Inspired by a real fact, it dramatizes the real story of a young student in Cluj Napoca, in the late 50s and early 60s.

The historical set is this: in 1956, the Hungarians were encouraged by CIA to start a Revolution against the Russians. The Americans backed down on their intentions and the Russians entered Budapest with the tanks. The leaders of the movement have been jailed or killed, and a period of opression started against all the Magyars and the Szekelys, including those living in Transilvanya, a region of Romania with a special status. The Communist regime in Romania has been the toughest from all the Socialist countries in the Central Europe during the Cold War. As a Romanian, when I saw Das Leben Der Anderen I really didn’t understand why those people were complaining, compared to what happened in Romania during the Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceauşescu regimes.

“Red Gloves” is the adaptation of the journal written by the main character, condemned and tortured for a crime he never commited, forces through torture to condemn people to jail. The film really presents the heart of the issue from a human perspective and helps us understand the system, the opression and the conditions then. The music is absolutely superb.

Radu Gabrea is one of the most talented, yet less known film directors in Romania, especially since he preffered doing films in Germany during communism. Unfortunately, you wonţt find a great deal of information on the Internet Movie Database about those.

I have fortunately participated, two months ago, to the official launch of the picture in Cluj-Napoca, where the film director, the author of the book and the main actor participated. The hall was very warm. One of the most impressive things was that one of the participants at the launch has confessed it is the most realistic depiction of the jail conditions he also has experimented, as a political prisoner.

If you want to read further on Romanian communism,  there are a few non-Romanian recommendations I would have:

Les espions russes de Staline à Poutine : Les dossiers secrets by Patrick Pesnot & Monsieur X, chapter about Romanian Revolution
Revolution 1989: Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebastyen, chapter about the Romanian Revolution
The books are also available in Romanian, from Litera International.

and the documentary Videogramme einer Revolution, directed by Harun FarockiAndrei Ujica.

“Manusi rosii” can be seen in cinemas across the country.

My rating: 8 / 10 (Masterpiece)


Posted in Books, Must See, politics, Romanian realities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Metrobranding. A Love Story Between Men and Objects (2010)

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on June 19, 2011

This is one of the best Romanian economic documentaries. It tells the story of a series of excellent products Romania used to produce during communism. Romania was exporting tennis shoes, bycicles, mattresses,  lightbulbs, motorcycles, and great other products which, compared to the present day product, are way better. This is the story of how consumerism destroyed a great production which would have made Romania competitive on the worldwide markets. As Romanian, I feld deep sorrow watching this documentary. It is a definitely must see, to understand communism, consumerism and Romanian history and culture.

The documentary offers a very natural and creative approach, solidly investigated which make you understand both the economic perspective and the historic perspective.You may watch it and take notes about how to make a proper documentary on a complex issue, even with low budget.

My rating: 9 / 10. A perfect documentary.

Enjoy watching it! See it in Romanian cinemas if it’s still available.

Posted in economy, Must See, Romanian realities, well-known documentaries | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »