Word of the Week

Kikubari, a Japanese word, means thoughtful consideration for others. It’s neat that they have one word that English needs 4 to define. I found this while flipping through Discover Japan: Words, Customs and Concepts, M. Matsumoto, ed.

To really understand the word, we need more context. Here’s a bit from Jack Halpern’s  explanation in this book:

On your layout of a Japanese home, you have no doubt noted that the lady of the house has gone to the trouble to arrange your shoes, whisk you left in the entrance hall pointing away from the door, so that they point towards the door. This is just one of many examples of that subtle, rather elusive concept of kikubari, which among others, gives Japanese culture its unique flavor.

According to the dictionary, kikubari means “vigilant attention, care.” But, as is often the case, there is a significant gap between the dictionary definition of culture-bound words and their actual applications. . . . [K]ikubari is to concern oneself, or more precisely, to go to the trouble of concerning oneself, with other people by giving thoughtful consideration to their needs and feelings

How noble. I think serendipity of seeing this word has shown me what my advent practice should be. I should try to practice kikubari as much as I can or at least once a day.

 

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Ordet

If you’re looking for something to watch as penance, perhaps Ordet will satisfy. I saw this listed in the bulletin at the Northwestern University Catholic center and thought for sure they’d have chosen a good film to discuss.

While I’m joking, Ordet is a a heck of a serious film. As Roger Ebert wrote it’s hard to get into, but once you’re in, you’re in. Perhaps.

Set in Denmark in 1925, Ordet’s the story of a family headed by Morten Borgen, a dour pastor in a stark rural town where religious denominations carry serious weight. If you’re not in the “right” one, you’re considered beyond the pale. Borgen’s got three sons, the oldest is married with two daughters. He’s an unbeliever, while his wife is sincere and devout. She’s also pregnant. The middle son is looney and thinks he’s Jesus, which gets on most people’s nerves. The youngest son wants to marry the tailor’s daughter, but her family goes to another church, one known for particularly dour worship services. Her father rejects marriage to a man from another denomination.

I doubt any character cracked a smile in the whole film. Yet after awhile the film does pull you in. It’s rather eerie. The daughter-in-law experiences complications when she goes into labor and this brings the story to a climax. I’m still not sure what to think of the film. I’m curious how the Northwestern discussion went. It’s a well crafted film, but certainly not for everyone. You have to be patient and interested in puzzling out meaning.

If you find the meaning, let me know.

Ordet

If you’re looking for something to watch as penance, perhaps Ordet will satisfy. I saw this listed in the bulletin at the Northwestern University Catholic center and thought for sure they’d have chosen a good film to discuss.

While I’m joking, Ordet is a a heck of a serious film. As Roger Ebert wrote it’s hard to get into, but once you’re in, you’re in. Perhaps.

Set in Denmark in 1925, Ordet’s the story of a family headed by Morten Borgen, a dour pastor in a stark rural town where religious denominations carry serious weight. If you’re not in the “right” one, you’re considered beyond the pale. Borgen’s got three sons, the oldest is married with two daughters. He’s an unbeliever, while his wife is sincere and devout. She’s also pregnant. The middle son is looney and thinks he’s Jesus, which gets on most people’s nerves. The youngest son wants to marry the tailor’s daughter, but her family goes to another church, one known for particularly dour worship services. Her father rejects marriage to a man from another denomination.

I doubt any character cracked a smile in the whole film. Yet after awhile the film does pull you in. It’s rather eerie. The daughter-in-law experiences complications when she goes into labor and this brings the story to a climax. I’m still not sure what to think of the film. I’m curious how the Northwestern discussion went. It’s a well crafted film, but certainly not for everyone. You have to be patient and interested in puzzling out meaning.

If you find the meaning, let me know.

Queen to Play

Queen_to_Play_S_Chess

In Queen to Play, Hèléne (Sandrine Bonnaire), a cleaning woman in Corsica develops a keen interest in chess when she sees a romantic couple playing on the terrace at the hotel where she sometimes works. Eventually, she convinces a curmudgeon Dr. Kroger (Kevin Klein), whom she also works for, to teach her to play chess.

The plot may not sound like anything special, but the film is due largely to Bonnaire’s performance. The film is strong because it avoids the usual choices. Hèléne’s marriage and work suffer because she plays chess, yet she doesn’t burn any bridges. Her husband may not understand her, but he isn’t a jerk and her marriage remains valuable, worth saving. The film is filled with absorbing scenes like when Helene dances with her rebellious daughter.

Netflix has Queen to Play

World of the Week

globaloney, n. – ‘ Nonsensical or absurd talk or ideas concerning global issues.’
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌɡləʊbəˈləʊni/,  U.S. /ˈˌɡloʊbəˈloʊni/
Forms:  19– globaloney,   19– globalony.
Etymology:Blend of global adj. and baloney n. and int.
 orig. and chiefly U.S.
 Nonsensical or absurd talk or ideas concerning global issues.

1943  C. B. Luce in Congress. Rec. 9 Feb. 761/3 Much of what Mr. Wallace calls his global thinking is, no matter how you slice it, still ‘globaloney’.
1950 Jrnl. Amer. Statist. Assoc. 45 346 We must beware of any form of ‘globaloney’.
1984  S. Terkel Good War (1985) iii. iv. 351 Barnes invented the term One World, which he wrote for Wendell Willkie. It was described as globaloney.
1992 Economist 24 Oct. 138/2 For all the ‘globaloney’ to be found in modern management theory, the national identity of the quintessential Japanese corporation is no stronger than that of its European and American competitors.
2007 Wall St. Jrnl. 5 Oct. w11/2 He called the ‘Global 2000’ report ‘globaloney’. Armed with an arsenal of factual missiles, he showed that life on Earth was getting better.
From OED, word of the day email

In a Better World

In_a_better_world

The Danish film In a Better World caught me by surprise. Compelling and intense, it weaves together the stories of Anton, a doctor who works for an NGO like Doctors without Borders in Africa and his family in Denmark and Christian, a boy who moves to Denmark after his mother dies. Anton’s son Elias is a victim of bullying until Christian defends him. The two boys become friends, but Elias is troubled by Christian’s violent streak. Christian believes might makes right and takes pleasure in revenge and plotting. He doesn’t know when to stop or that the unexpected can make a plot go awry in terrible ways.

Anton lives part of the year in Denmark, where he tries to reconcile with his wife Marianne, and part of the year in war-torn Africa where women are sliced open by a Chieftain called Big Man. Anton is a highly ethical man who tries to live non-violently and to teach his son the same.

Lonely and fascinated by Christian, Elias is too weak to refuse and stop his friend from his escalating violence. The film, which gets dark at times, depicts the consequences of missing fathers.

 

I liked the film’s tone and the opportunity to travel to two new settings, Africa and Denmark. Roger Ebert criticized the film for cutting between the two cultures of Africa and Denmark, however, as someone who splits her time between cultures I found no problem with that choice.