Freewriting in a non-native language


When I practice freewriting, I usually start with listening. Sooner or later a word, an idea, an image pops up in my mind. The first sentences are often useless, but soon a powerful word comes, determining the direction of further thought. Does the same scheme work in my freewriting in English language?

The pale sun is faintly shining through the clouds, looking like a light gray circle, and in the same way my personality only barely shines through the veil of the foreign language. When I was writing this sentence, I was lacking some words like shine through or veil, and without them, there was no hint at the next step in my freewriting.

But there’s also another, much more important problem. I don’t feel the magic of the words in the same way as I feel it in my native language. So my main obstacle is not the lack of vocabulary knowledge, but the lack of physical life experience connected with words in foreign language. The foreign words still have meaning, but are neutral, aren’t charged emotionally. As a consequence, I get much less soul nutrition from my writing in a foreign language.

Paradoxically, I freewrite in English even faster than in my native language. I spend less time on evaluating my writing just because I am unable to detect all the content I could then find unworthy, and that’s good for freewriting, even if there’s more noise in it. In general, there’s less self-criticism and shadow in my English writing at the level of meanings, though there’s more of it at the level of grammar — sometimes I am feeling that I speak unclearly, lack the exact words or correct grammatical constructions. If only there could be a way to recreate in another language my inner map connecting words, meanings and feelings! But my thinking patterns are, like a message in a bottle, contained in the sea of my native language and I can’t get access to them from inside the other language. Or maybe there is a way to achieve it? The question is still open to me.

Searching for manliness


When searching for manliness, a man is actually searching for integrity. He is searching for power, but one of a special kind. It’s a power springing out of inner silence, quietude and wholeness. It’s like the silence of a forest — it’s silent, but not empty. It’s like the silence of Spirit — not ignorant, but knowing. This force is born in the silence of the heart, just like a spring is silently born in the deepness of the earth. It’s like a rock’s silence ready to amplify your voice. It’s like a tree’s silence with the leaves breathing, the juices flowing, the cells growing. The silence of an electrified thundercloud ready to become a fiery arrow. The silence of an age-old pond holding the heavenly abyss.

From Longinus

It was not in nature’s plan for us her chosen children to be creatures base and ignoble,—no, she brought us into life, and into the whole universe, as into some great field of contest, that we should be at once spectators and ambitious rivals of her mighty deeds, and from the first implanted in our souls an invincible yearning for all that is great, all that is diviner than ourselves.

Longinus, On the Sublime

The Ancient Near East on the Culture of Speech


“There are seven marks of an uncultured, and seven of a wise man. The wise man does not speak before him who is greater than he in wisdom; and does not interrupt the speech of his companion; he is not hasty to answer; he questions according to the subject-matter; and answers to the point; he speaks upon the first thing first, and upon the last, last; regarding that which he has not understood he says, “I do not understand it;” and he acknowledges the truth. The reverse of all this is to be found in an uncultured man.”

From Hesiod


Hesiod’s Works and Days is one of my favourite ancient Greek books. I like his collection of rules of life, which are somewhat similar to the wisdom of Proverbs, and his very beautiful description of seasons showing the mode of life of ancient Greeks.

«For the man who gives willingly, even though he gives a great thing, rejoices in his gift and is glad in heart; but whoever gives way to shamelessness and takes something himself, even though it be a small thing, it freezes his heart.»

«He who adds to what he has, will keep off bright-eyed hunger; for if you add only a little to a little and do this often, soon that little will become great.»

«But when the artichoke flowers, and the chirping grass-hopper sits in a tree and pours down his shrill song continually from under his wings in the season of wearisome heat, then goats are plumpest and wine sweetest; women are most wanton, but men are feeblest, because Sirius parches head and knees and the skin is dry through heat. But at that time let me have a shady rock and wine of Biblis, a clot of curds and milk of drained goats with the flesh of an heifer fed in the woods, that has never calved, and of firstling kids; then also let me drink bright wine, sitting in the shade, when my heart is satisfied with food, and so, turning my head to face the fresh Zephyr, from the everflowing spring which pours down unfouled thrice pour an offering of water, but make a fourth libation of wine.»

Hesiod, Works and Days

Longinus on great minds

The largest intellects are far from being the most exact. A mind always intent on correctness is apt to be dissipated in trifles; but in great affluence of thought, as in vast material wealth, there must needs be an occasional neglect of detail.

Longinus, On the Sublime

From Theocritus

Still Life with Apples, Pears, Lemons and Grapes by Vincent van Gogh

…»There we lay
Half-buried in a couch of fragrant reed
And fresh-cut vineleaves, who so glad as we?
A wealth of elm and poplar shook o’erhead;
Hard by, a sacred spring flowed gurgling on
From the Nymphs’ grot, and in the sombre boughs
The sweet cicada chirped laboriously.
Hid in the thick thorn-bushes far away
The treefrog’s note was heard; the crested lark
Sang with the goldfinch; turtles made their moan,
And o’er the fountain hung the gilded bee.
All of rich summer smacked, of autumn all:
Pears at our feet, and apples at our side
Rolled in luxuriance; branches on the ground
Sprawled, overweighed with damsons; while we brushed
From the cask’s head the crust of four long years.»

Theocritus, Idyll VII