Monthly Archives: July 2015

My adventures in learning Esperanto

31 July, L A.S. (2015)

Saluton! Mia nomo estas “Geoff,” kaj mi estas komencanto de Esperanto.

Esperanto Flag

If you know me at all, you know that I love learning new knowledge and skills. WheneverI can, I’m reading books, listening to educational podcasts, and improving my abilities in horseback riding, physical fitness, and money management.

Last Friday, I began learning the language Esperanto through DuoLingo. For about a year, I’ve enjoyed using DuoLingo to practice my French, and on a whim I decided to try Esperanto. I knew vaguely that it was a constructed language, created to foster international understanding and peace.

I proceeded (after a couple of minutes of learning some basic Esperanto words) to look into the history of this fascinating language.

A Polish medical student named L.L. Zamenhof developed Esperanto in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Growing up in Poland, he reasoned that much of the reason for ethnic strife in his region was the lack of a common language. He hoped that if Germans, Poles, Russians, Belorussians, Lithuanians, Jews, and Tatars could all speak in one neutral language, that they could overcome dangerous misunderstandings.

Dr. L.L. Zamenhof

Dr. L.L. Zamenhof

Being already well-versed in many languages himself, (including Yiddish, Russian, German, French, Ancient Greek, and Latin, among others,) Zamenhof got to work creating a regular and easily-learned language. Esperanto would serve as a lingvo internacia: a supplementary, neutral language combining the sounds of many European national languages, but easier to speak, write, and understand than any existing individual language.

The global response to this language has been mixed. On the one hand, about two million people speak the language, there is an annual Esperanto World Congress hosted by a different nation every year, and about 2,000 people worldwide are native speakers. Many books, songs, and poems are written and performed in Esperanto. There’s even a 1966 Horror movie called Incubus performed all in Esperanto! (And starring William Shatner!)

But…despite the efforts of Esperanto enthusiasts to spread a universal language for universal peace, the two World Wars still happened. (In Mein Kampf, Hitler even condemns the language as a tool of the global Jewish conspiracy, and the Nazis persecuted Esperanto speakers.) Esperanto didn’t diffuse the decades of proxy conflict and nuclear tension comprising the Cold War. It has had virtually no effect on countless civil wars and cases of ethnic strife and cross-cultural terrorism. Two million speakers sounds pretty good for a constructed language with no native land or culture to call home, but on a planet of seven billion people, it’s a drop in the bucket. English and French are still the dominant languages of international business and diplomacy.

Taking it back to the individual level: why bother to learn Esperanto? Let me count the ways:

  • You can communicate with its two million speakers, who are spread throughout various countries and often eager to talk to make international connections. There’s even a website you can use to find lodging with fellow Esperanto-speakers or to host one in your home.
  • Related to the above point, Esperanto is easier to learn than nearly any language. It’s certainly easy to learn compared to, say, English, or Mandarin Chinese. An American and a Chinese person would have a hard time communicating with each other in one of their respective native languages. But if they both learned Esperanto, they could speak and write to each other relatively easily. Admittedly, the American (and any native speaker of Western languages) has the advantage due to already knowing the alphabet, and the familiarity with many of the words’ origins, but Esperanto is still a great introduction to Western languages for a non-Western person, and eases communication among any different nationalities.
  • Learning Esperanto helps you learn any other language. It has a regular form which makes it easy to learn, so you are not likely to get frustrated with it as you might with French or Spanish. (Many of you may remember having to memorize all those pesky irregular verb conjugations for a high school language class.) With Esperanto, you can communicate ideas almost right away and with little stress. This will boost your confidence for learning any non-native languages, as you build the basic skills of quickly picking apart, translating, and forming sentences.
  • Esperanto sounds beautiful. When you listen to an Esperanto conversation or song, you hear delightful snippets of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, English, Russian, Polish, and Latin. I hear people say that Esperanto sounds like Spanish, but the people saying that are usually Americans, AKA speakers of a (mostly) Germanic language. I’ve heard Romance language speakers say Esperanto reminds them of German! And you can’t escape the Eastern European-ness of many Esperanto words, either. It truly sounds like what it’s intended to be: a neutral language that crosses national borders. (One that sounds beautiful, and is easy to learn!)
  • You can be a tricky and speak Esperanto with your friends out among the krokodiloj, while no one outside of your group understands you. 😉

 

Use Esperanto to conquer the world!! Mwuhahaha! Just kidding. :)

Use Esperanto to conquer the world!! Mwuhahaha! Nah, just kidding. 🙂

I’ve personally had a blast just learning Esperanto on my own with DuoLingo, and occasionally listening to Esperanto videos on YouTube. I plan to connect with other people to speak with once I’m just a bit better. I already discovered a couple days ago that someone in my social circle speaks Esperanto fluently!

Dankon, kaj bonan tagon al vi!

-G.R. Wilson

I want to watch “The Green Inferno”!

27 July, L A.S. (2015)

Have you heard of this upcoming movie, The Green Inferno?

It looks great. I like what I’ve seen from Eli Roth so far (Clown and Cabin Fever 1 and 2) and this looks at least as good. It’s gotten delayed a couple times, but should be actually coming out this September of 2015.

From what I understand, it contains satire of “social justice warriors.” Such satire is generally a good thing to my mind. Cannibals are scary, jungles are scary, and it looks like this will be disturbing and effective. I look forward to watching it, and will share with you all a review once I have done so. 🙂

-G.R. Wilson

Book Review: “Infernalia” by Michael Rose

25 July, L A.S. (2015)

A thought-provoking and enjoyable collection of Satanic thought.

Click for Amazon link

Click for Amazon link

Ever since Anton LaVey founded his Church fifty years ago, various sharp and diabolic individuals have applied Satanism to their respective lives. Some of those individuals have taken time out of their busy, diverse, and indulgent vital existences to express in written words their observations on various aspects of the world around them. Few diabolists have given us more insightful, entertaining, and refreshingly honest essays than has Magister Michael Rose.

Though I had read a couple essays from Magister Rose on the Church of Satan website, I first read Infernalia only in this Third Edition, and the book did not disappoint me in the slightest. The writing is clear, concise, and clever. The author never shies away from expressing frank and oft-insightful opinions that would confuse, anger, or disturb most people.

A few of my favorite essays were “A Quest for Democracy?”, (because I am a huge history and politics geek and like seeing a Third Side perspective on such things,) “Choose Your Devils Wisely,” (because I liked its concise history of different perspectives on the devil,) and “The Lion and the Child” (because it inspired me and makes great use of metaphor.) The Mass of Saint Francis, inspired by the Hellfire Club, is a great and joyful Satanic ritual.

I finished this book in one sitting, thanks to its engaging style and wit. One of the great things about the Satanic worldview is that different individuals can and will have widely divergent opinions on topics such as music, art, politics, and, well, anything! I did not by any means agree with everything that Magister Rose said, but even when I disagreed with his findings, I still found myself thinking. I like a book that makes me think! If you are familiar with Satanism and wish to read more ideas from a truly Satanic point of view, I recommend this book to you. I can’t speak for previous editions, but I sure as Hell enjoyed this one, including the new foreword by Magus Peter H. Gilmore.

-G.R. Wilson

Scary versions of cereal mascots

23 July, L A.S. (2015)

Remember Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo-Berry?

I originally found these on Bloody Disgusting (a post by Jonathan Barkan). Cool website, check ’em out!

Kids’ breakfast cereal is a great American tradition. Who doesn’t love a delicious bowl of variously flavored and shaped pieces of sugar? And cereal boxes have such memorable artwork and mascots. A few of the most memorable are the General Mills monster-themed cereals.

Artist Mike Burns recently released some artwork portraying scary versions of Count Chocula, Boo-Berry, and Frankenberry. They’re really cool! Check out his other work too, the guy’s got talent.

mikburnscerealhorror1

mikburnscerealhorror2

mikeburnsbooberrybanner

I only learned today from some Wikipedia reading that these cereals are now only available in the Fall, to coincide with Halloween. I’ll have to buy them all this year to celebrate the season!!

My performance of Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena”

21 July, L A.S. (2015)

The Man in the Arena, performed by G.R. Wilson

Good afternoon! I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a great week thus far! I finally got a new job, to work as a certified financial professional. I’ll start the training for that at the beginning of August. I get to wear a suit every day, (I’ll post pictures of the great new suits I bought yesterday,) learn all kinds of fancy financial knowledge, help people, and make bank. It’s gonna be a good time. I even get to stay here in my hometown!

These great past few days come at the end of a month-long period of mostly bad moods. I’ll spare you my life story, but a number of hang-ups and roadblocks have been getting me down,  but, through my own action, determination, and a bit of luck, I’ve gotten to a much better place. The road ahead is sure to be rough but rewarding.

In celebration, I want to share with you a little audio recording I made of a passage from a 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech called Citizenship in a Republic.” This passage specifically is often called “The Man in the Arena.” I have it printed on the back-inside cover of my nifty Art of Manliness pocket notebook. I memorized this passage last year, and remembering it often strengthens my resolve.

Teddy Roosevelt was an amazing man, and is one of my biggest inspirations in life. He was born sickly, but built himself into a physically powerful man. He lived his strenuous life with enthusiasm and determination, achieving great feats of physical ability and bravery, as well as writing well over thirty books and serving in government roles from New York assemblyman all the way up to President of the United States. He was a cowboy, a police commissioner, a naturalist, a historian, and a loving father and husband. He led the fabled charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War, and explored the Amazon rainforest. An assassin shot him in the chest soon before he had to give a campaign speech in Wisconsin, but TR refused to go to the hospital until he finished saying what he had to say. (He opened to the crowd by declaring that it “takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose!”) Teddy is one of the men in history I most admire, and often seek to emulate.

“The Man in the Arena” gives a window into his noble worldview. Below is my own performance of the passage, and below that, its text:

The-Man-In-The-Arena

I have to say, my speaking skills have improved dramatically over the past few years. I’m no Bill Clinton yet, but my breathing technique, tonality, and projection are all better than before. I’ll continue to get better, and share more of the results here, with readings of some of my favorite poems, speeches, and stories. Many of which, but not all, will be Horror. Thank you for listening and reading. Keep on keepin’ on!

-G.R. Wilson