Revolution (Quick Recap)

 Romania

Q2_5164[1]uick recap of a Revolution.

I’ve had strong reservations about discussing the 1989 Romanian Revolution, debating back and forth for some time.

Why?

I’m no activist. And tackling political movements is always dicey. Sure, deep down I feel strongly about many issues, but having lived on a continent where “emotions and politics mix like vodka and orange juice” uniting folks only to pull them apart, having had enough of that — frankly — I wanted to show the country, the history, without any conflict. 

But talking about a nation hidden behind the iron curtain for decades without mentioning the fall of communism would be like talking about beginnings without endings.

I can’t do that. So here I go.

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 In 1989 a wave of revolutions against communist dictatorships swept Eastern European countries, including Romania. Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, used his secret police to open fire on the demonstrators. The army joined the protestors and after a few days of violence the regime was overthrown. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on Christmas day.

This, of course, is only a snapshot of the events.

What I remember most is the euphoria preceding those momentous days, followed by anticipation, then bickering between the parties involved, then a new president, then a wait-and-see attitude, then whispers — from the speculating crowd — that the Revolution had been all smoke and mirrors. A coup d’etat.

I’m pretty sure no one in the speculating crowd experienced life in Romania pre-1989 and as such fell prey to the media chatter. The iron curtain truly served to keep the people in and information out.

To them all I can say is: An oppressive government, ruling by fear and robbing the treasury for personal enrichment at the detriment of its people, ceases to be a legitimate government.

A detailed account of the Revolution is more complex than this, but I will attempt a short description here.

Yes, the Romanian Revolution was part of the Eastern European wave of uprisings, sweeping the continent. And it was more than that. After decades of oppression, the populations clamored for freedom, ready to pay any price. Anger had bubbled under the surface, causing the rare spark, but it remained buried there until December 1989.

The Revolution started in the city of Timisoara, and quickly spread throughout the country.

In an effort to control the wave of anger, the dictator gave a speech in Piata Romana, a public square in Bucharest, in front of 80,000 Romanians. People were brought in for a rally to support Ceausescu after the riots in Timisoara. The dictator appeared on the balcony of the Central Committee Building to address the crowd. However, for the first time, the incredible happened. Eight minutes into the speech, people began to chant Ti-mi-soa-ra, Ti-mi-soa-ra.

TV censors pulled the plug on the broadcast. But it didn’t matter anymore. We all knew our countrymen were massacred in the streets of Timisoara and other cities, and anger reached a critical point. The volcano erupted.   

The Revolution changed little in the years that followed. A former Ceausescu man, Ion Iliescu, took power. While we regained certain freedoms, the oppression — mostly economical in the form of widespread corruption — continued.

For years now, Romania has been taking steps in the right direction. And for me, hope springs eternal as I watch the small but significant progress from across two continents and an ocean. At least until my next visit.

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Image: Image: libertarianrepublican.net: hulubei.net; bnreview.barnesandnoble.com; cybex answers, blog.cybexintl.com

 

P is for Painters and Sculptors

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Choosing among favorite Romanian artists is nearly impossible. However, for the purpose of this challenge I’ve put together a short list. Please come along and take a look with me.

1.  The great Constantin Brancusi initially trained as a stonemason. Although influences by Rodin, Brancusi decided to make much simpler work of pure form and basic elements. 

Take a look at the serenity and eroticism of Sleeping Muse above, and The Kiss below.

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2.  One of the founders of the Romanian painting was Nicolaie Grigorescu, his works featured at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris. In 1877 he was called to accompany the Romanian Army as a frontline painter in the War of Independence.

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Peasant Girl, N. Grigorescu

3.  Nicolae Tonitza, was a Romanian painter, engraver, lithographer and journalist. An artist of Post-impressionism and Expressionism, his bohemian lifestyle was the source of his melancholic art.

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Afize, N. Tonitza

4.  Stefan Luchian, co-founder of the Romanian painting, was famous for his landscapes and still life work. He’s been named the flowers’ painter.

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Violets, S. Luchian

5.  Camil Ressu, one of the outstanding personalities of the Romanian art. He studied the human body and landscapes, constantly combining shape and color.

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Potato Corp, C. Ressu

6. Theodor Pallady worked in the studio of Gustave Moreau, alongside Henri Matisse. His fondness for still life shows his desire to capture a fragment of reality.

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Self-portrait, T. Pallady

It’s not fair to stop here, but no matter the length of the list, someone great would continue to be left out.

Thank you for indulging me. 

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For tomorrow’s post, my dear blogging friends, we’re going back to 1989, the year of the Revolution and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Hope to see you then.

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Images: Sleeping Muse, The Kiss, C. Brancusi, WikiPaintings; Nicolae Grigorescu – Portrait of a little peasant girl, watercolor, Wikimedia, CC, source: www.cimec.ro; Afize, by N. Tonitza, agerpress.ro; Violets, S. Luchian, WikiPainting; Potato Corp gatherers, C. Ressu, WikiPainting; Pallady, self-portrait, WikiPaintings.

 

O is for Ovidiu (Ovidius)

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One of the strongest Latin influences on the Romanian language is in the form of names — Ovidiu (female: Ovidia) from the Latin Ovidius/Ovid.  Another great influence: literature.

The most famous Ovid in Romanian/Latin history is the Roman poet himself. It’s been said that to understand Greco-Roman mythology one must be familiar with Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

I’m still working my way though the opus, but at its foundation Metamorphoses is a collection of stories from Greek and Roman legends on divinity, humanity, and the interaction between the two. A tall order, but not for this writer.

Ovid, the poet

Ovidius or Ovid was born a year after the assassination of Julius Cesar, 43 B.C., a time that shaped his views and writing, in Sulmo (modern Sulmona, Italy).  Avoiding the career chosen by his father (politics), Ovid put his education to work in his poetic writing.

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Modern Sulmona, place of Ovid’s birth, and his statue

Ovid as Fluff

John Porter says: Ovid’s poetry is often dismissed as frivolous fluff, and to a large degree it is. But it is very sophisticated fluff …

Maybe viewed as fluff by some, Ovid’s writing influenced Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dante, among others. His passion for writing, his obsession with detail, shows in all his work.

In 8 AD, he was exiled to Tomis, on the Black Sea, for having knowledge of a conspiracy against Emperor Augustus, where he later died. Ovid was celebrated in Romanian literature for centuries with works like God Was Born in Exile, by Vintila Horia.

Among Ovid’s many famous phrases:

Abeunt studia in mores                                                    Practices passionately pursued become habits. ~~ Ovid

 

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Image courtesy: www.theaudiobookstore.com; Ovid in Sulmona, picture taken by Idefix, Wikimedia, CC

N is for Nadia (and Gymnastics)

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Nadia then and now

I blogged about Nadia Comaneci for last year’s challenge, so this is a gymnastics post, which is what Nadia represents to Romanians everywhere. It’s a post of mostly photos and a very short story.

After Nadia’s win at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, every mother in Romania wanted her little girl to be the next Olympic medalist. That included my mother. But unlike Nadia, I had no extraordinary gymnastics talents. For one, I grew too tall. No good gymnast measures anywhere near 5’8”. Volleyball was my sport.

To this day, however, I enjoy watching  gymnastics, especially the World Championships and the Olympics.

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I’m constantly amazed by the young athletes. How incredibly flexible their ligaments and tendons must be to enable them to bend and rotate in ways that people find impossible and painful. How gracefully they walk on that tinny balance beam.

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How they jump, rotate in the air, and after two reverse flips stick their landing. I’ve been around gymnasts. I know it takes a huge amount of time and dedication, not to mention talent.

Every so many years, I sit in my living room and watch, my heart in my throat as the gymnast dismounts, flips through the air — once, twice, even three times — and somehow finds a way to plant both feet on the floor. Mind blowing.

What’s you favorite sport?

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Thanks so much, everyone, for reading and all the wonderful comments. Tomorrow’s post is Ovidiu — the Roman poet, whose influence — from literature to common names — is still felt in Romania.

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Image courtesy: forums.mydigitallife.info; latestnewspics.blogspot.com; http://www.thecouchgymnast.com