Tuesday, 27 May 2014

One Last Thought about Psycho Single, and Then Complaining

Psycho Single hurt or killed twenty people, causing deep suffering to hundreds more: the friends and family of the hurt or murdered people. He has also frightened thousands of other people, especially the young women of southern California, who will doubtlessly worry about copycat killers, and perhaps his violence had even inspired more bitter men in their growing envy and hatred.

There's not a lot of good in this situation, but to paraphrase the jokey poster, at least his life may serve as a terrible warning to others.

I said yesterday that Psycho Single's hell--if he is in hell, which strikes me as not unlikely, as he committed suicide after attempting to kill dozens of people after knifing three men--might be to continue to have the same thoughts of envy, rage, fear and despair that tortured him throughout his short life. His hell, which he chose, began on earth and will continue elsewhere. In short, Psycho Single will continue to be Psycho Single for eternity. I cannot think of anything worse, and if I hadn't succeeded in banishing the thought, I would not have been able to sleep. If there was any mitigating factor, then perhaps his hell will ultimately be only his Purgatory. But otherwise what we have here is a textbook case of a mortal sin--envy--unchecked and unrepented leading to the destruction of a soul.

I write often about the badness of bitterness, and how bitterness is the Single's worst enemy. It truly is. Bitterness is hard to hide, and I could not believe the crap I read yesterday on why Psycho Single could not get a girlfriend. Someone at the American Thinker had the brass to say he was surprised because the kid was good-looking and had a BMW. He suggested it was because he was short, and women prefer tall men. Excuse me? WHAT?! Could it not have been the kid's bizarre behaviour in high school(which he wrote about, saying that negative attention was better than none) and then, as he got angrier and angrier, his weird smirks to himself, his hang-dog expressions, the dead eyes and all the other clues that a boy or man is a creep? And it is not like he tried very hard to make friends. He walked around Santa Barbara and sat outside cafes waiting for women to come and talk to him. (I am horribly reminded of the day, desperate to meet men, I walked all around Montreal and hung out around McGill campus to... And I actually published an article about this. In the Catholic Register. What was I thinkinnnnng?)

The best thing a Single can do is cultivate happiness, beginning with a big fake smile, if possible. Acting happy can trick your brain into thinking you are happy. And writing down everything you are grateful for works, too. I have a mood disorder, so I know perfectly well this is not enough for everyone, but for everyone who does not have a chronic, organic problem with depression (aka a tendency towards mental flu), there is nothing like looking on the bright side. If Psycho Single had said over and over again, "Girls liked me when I was a kid; girls could like me now" instead of hanging on to the memory of the pretty girl who pushed him at camp when he was 11, his story would have turned out differently.

The idea that you could be yourself as you are at death (or at your last minute of undiminished responsibility) for eternity scares the living daylights out of me. No wonder St. Paul exulted that it was no longer he who lived, it was Christ who lived in him! Do you want to be you as you are right now for all eternity? And what if you spent all eternity thinking about yourself and not about the glory of God? How terrible would that be? It would be like being trapped in a tiny room instead of experiencing an eternal moment of absolute joy. If you have no other reason to think about how delightful other people are, consider that one.

If I were an atheist, I would spend as much time as possible thinking about people I loved, so that when I died my last thought would be of them, love filling my heart. In fact, I remember feeling very frightened before one flight and, after (I hope) saying an Act of Contrition, I filled my mind with thoughts of my nephew Pirate. I immediately felt happier and resigned to possible death. I prayed for Baby Pirate. Now that I think about it, on my last trip to Poland, I was quite frightened again, and prayed that I didn't die right now, as the death of an aunt would be so awful for Pirate and his cousins Popcorn and Peanut at their age. However, I am not an atheist, and it occurs to me that the only way I might be fit for an eternity of contemplating God would be to spend more time contemplating God NOW. And that this may not be as hard as it sounds for anything beautiful reflects the beauty of God and anything wise the wisdom of God.

Well, let's close the book on that young man. The only lesson we can get from his life--he was not a gun nut, by the way--is that envy, if allowed to go unchecked, can destroy you and send you to hell when you are still alive. I have to get on with my life, which includes plans for a new book and, of course, my "Theology of Woman" translation.

Outrageously Polish Pretend Son says I am not allowed just to plug the English of my "Theology of Woman" essay into the online Magic Translation Machine. He says he will correct my work, but not the work of the machine. In fact, at first he said he refused to translate my second third for this reason.

He sprung this on me on the pub where we had Sunday Lunch, and I was crushed. As a writer, nothing frightens me more than the idea that I won't be able to finish something. And here was Polish Pretend Son refusing to help me with my translation, and then my Scottish Authentic Husband chiming in to ask why I was spending so much time on unpaid work anyway. Two men, Pretend Son and Authentic Husband, discouraging me from my already difficult work! Wah! Patriarchy! Wah!

Polish Pretend Son does not talk a lot. He prefers to throw verbal bombs and then sit back and watch with interest as his victim scurries around to find the right words to salvage the situation. B.A., however, talks quite a lot and hates any fuss, and so tries to discourage fuss with an avalanche of words.

I sat there trying to fight a battle on two fronts while Polish Pretend Son (tank) boomed "I will not correct the work of a MACHINE!" and B.A. (machine gun) babbled, "Darling I don't see why you need to do this. Why don't you tell them that if they want the translation they should pay for a translator. It is taking you weeks in which you should be doing something else...:"

Seraphic: Like working in the biscuit factory? This is what I do.

B.A.: ...and nonsense to be calling in favours, so why don't you...

Seraphic (to PPS): I read your thesis three times to make sure there wasn't a single mistake.

PPS (as if he were waiting for this obvious assault): The obvious difference is that my thesis wasn't written by a MACHINE.

Seraphic: My essay wasn't written by a machine! I am just plugging in paragraphs into the machine to be translated faster.


Seraphic: But I'm already correcting the machine! For example, where I want "tak jak" [just like] it puts "lubić" [to like]. So I correct that.

B.A.: But darling isn't there some other Pole you can get to correct your translation. How about...

Seraphic (seeing tactical opportunity, due to B.A.'s lack of knowledge of the battlefield): Well, not exactly because I want a good translation and Polish orthography....(She turns to PPS) Explain to him about Poles and Polish orthography.

PPS (says something about most Poles and Polish writing style he would never admit to saying, even though I would say the same thing about most anglophones and English writing style.)

Seraphic: So you see, it must be Polish Pretend Son! My name is going on this after all. (She thinks:) Oh woe is me!

Damn it, I forgot to cry! Why can I never remember this? The only way to win an argument with a Pole is either to kill him or to admit defeat and cry. And if PPS doesn't correct my translation, I probably will cry, only he won't be around to see it. Maybe I will bottle my tears and send them to London.

Update: Conversation with Julia in the combox has led me to the horrible revelation that Polish Pretend Son has temporarily morphed into Polish Pretend Dad. Uh oh. This means that not even tears will work, and I don't have recourse to a Pretend Polish Mother, so the only solution is abject obedience.

Oh wait. I do have a Pretend Polish Mother! Maryjo, Królowo Polski, módl się za nami!

Update 2: "What Saint Edith was proposing"... Flip, flip... Co św. Edyta proponowujewała... "was a radical departure from"... Flip, flip... było radykalne odstępstwo od..."the arguments around the Woman Question"... Flip, flip....


Julia said...

"The only way to win an argument with a Pole is either to kill him or to admit defeat and cry."

Nailed it!

Seraphic said...

A very important life lesson.

Julia said...

Also, wait a minute...you proofread PPS' 2,000,000-word thesis on who knows what and he won't proofread your translation? And you cook for him and house him? Ouch.

Seraphic said...

Well, it's because of the machine. He seems to have gone into Polish parent tough love mode.

Seraphic said...

Hopefully he will correct my translation if I don't use the machine. Polish adults are really tough on Polish children, and by trying to write Polish, I seem to have become an honourary Polish child. Oh dear.

Julia said...

Is there such thing as Canadian Parent Tough Love Mode? Maybe you could try that on him. He smokes, right? Could you hide an anti-smoking rant (replete with deliberately bad spelling) somewhere in that Polish theology paper? But that would probably just attract snarky comments in the margin...

Seraphic said...

It would get worse than snarky comments in the margin, believe me.

Seraphic said...

Oh the agony! I do not understand how to make participles out of the Polish infinitive.

Seraphic said...

Do you think the active participle of zapewniać might be zapewniaja? Is Babcia around? Can you ask Babcia?

Pearlmusic said...

Did you mean present tense for the third person in plural? Yes,"zapewniają" is correct, mind the diacritic at the end.

Seraphic said...


Seraphic said...

Oooh, no. I meant feminine singular. "Instead of asserting with feminists...Saint Edith..."

Pearlmusic said...

If you wish to replace "asserting" in this sentence you may use infinitive.

As far as I can see, you wish to emphasise Saint Edith's reluctance to support feminists and to share their views. In that case I'd say "sympatyzować z" or perhaps "solidaryzować się z"

"Zamiast sympatyzować z feministkami... św. Edyta Stein..."

I hope I've put it right. I 'm not an English philologist though; I just read Christian blogs in English :)

Claire said...

Not much to add except that I think B.A. and I would get along at dinner parties. PPS would probably ruffle my feathers on a regular basis and as I rarely cry in front of people who aren't my family, I would be toast! Anyway, bonne chance with your translation! ( that's about all the foreign language I can muster up this morning).

Amused said...

Oh dear. I can see PPS's point. I'm sorry, Seraphic, I feel for you terribly, but I can't help admiring his stand on principle--even though it makes him sound a tad arrogant. On the bright side, you'll improve your Polish more than if you used the machine?

Seraphic said...

This is going to take me foreverrrr!

Julia said...

"It would get worse than snarky comments in the margin, believe me."

Far out! What's he going to do, set the house on fire? (P.S. Sorry, Polish Pretend Son! You scare me a bit.)

My Anglo-ethnic mother, early in her marriage to my father, took an interest in learning Polish but was discouraged by my Babcia and other Polish expats ("Oh, it's a very difficult language!") Mum has come to see that response as arrogance, as an attempt to keep the Polish language insular and limited to Poles. "They say it's such a beautiful language", she says, "but they want to keep it to themselves." And now she can't stand the sound of Polish! Pretty much just because of the resistance from Polish people.

Polish is hard, yes. But my mother is a highly-trained, high-status professional in the arts world with a talent for languages, and she would have loved the Polish language and culture if she'd had any encouragement.

Seraphic said...

She should just learn it anyway. Speaking generally, as usual, Poles admire stubbornness. They will tell you Polish is too hard, and then when you ignore them, they help you.