By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lingering Before Others

Francis gave a recent interview in Spanish in the Argentine media in which he spoke about being happy. One of his points referred to the pace of living our lives. Here is my translation of part of the interview (with the original Spanish version appearing first, with bold emphasis added):

También aconsejó moverse "remansadamente", término que tomó de un clásico de la literatura argentina.

"En 'Don Segundo Sombra' hay una cosa muy linda, de alguien que relee su vida. Dice que de joven era un arroyo pedregoso que se llevaba por delante todo; que de adulto era un río que andaba adelante y que en la vejez se sentía en movimiento, pero lentamente remansado. Yo utilizaría esta imagen del poeta y novelista Ricardo Güiraldes, ese último adjetivo, remansado. La capacidad de moverse con benevolencia y humildad, el remanso de la vida", sostuvo.

He also advised moving "peacefully" [remansadamente--he coins a a new Spanish adverb], a term which he took from an Argentine literary classic.
       "In 'Don Segundo Sombra' there is something very beautiful, about someone who retraces his life. He says that in youth he was a rocky stream that swept everything before it; that as an adult he was a river moving forward and that in old age he felt himself in movement but a movement slowly pacified (lentamente remansado). I would use this image of the poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldesthis last adjective, "remansado." The capacity of moving with kindness and humility, the calming down/the pacifying (remanso) of life," he affirmed.

Read more/Leer más:  Los diez consejos del Papa Francisco para alcanzar la felicidad - La Razón digital .

Notice how the process of translating from Spanish to English leads me to use the English ¨pacifying¨ with the subtle connotation of  ¨being filled with peace.¨ In English, we tend to think of ¨pacifying¨ as the act of controlling another. In grammar, we call this a transitive meaning of ¨pacifying.¨ But in this papal context, ¨pacifying¨ has the more benign connotation of healing rather than of subjugating, with a focus on the effects. We might call this a connotation of the ¨middle voice¨ emphasizing the effects on the one being pacified without the intervention of another individual (e.g., "I am pacified"). We might say: "I have matured."

In Spanish, the adjective "remansado"  comes from the verb "remansar," which according to the Royal Spanish Academy's dictionary means "to become calm or quiet." The noun form "remanso" refers to the effect of being calmed down, but with some other interesting meanings: "the place or situation in which one enjoys something." Here, we are on to something--to be pacified is to be sufficiently slowed down to enjoy something, to enjoy life. to stop, to see, to delight in the other. The Latin root (remansum from remanere) helps us here: to remain or linger (related to the Latin "commoror").

One of the keys to happiness is to learn to linger before others with kindness and humility. That experience should not be delayed until we reach our senior years. By then, we will have bypassed too many things.

(Public domain image)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Alexander the Great's Psychomachia

After an intense and very enjoyable seminar at the University of Florida on the life of Alexander the Great, one quote from a first-century Jewish wisdom teacher comes to mind:

"What is the benefit of conquering the world but losing your soul?"

Alexander's life was a long breakdown of the soul--a psychomachia. I recommend reading about it in The Life of Alexander the Great by Q. Curtius Rufus.