Guardian-Mixmag drug survey

Guardian-Mixmag drug survey

Drug research is rarely impartial and media articles on drugs are rarely more than judgmental, biased official PR against drugs with little in the way of fresh or even useful information.

Which is why I sat up when I saw this Guardian article on young people and drugs. Guardian and Mixmag have teamed up to produce one of the larger international drug surveys last year with over 15,000 respondents on a range of questions about consumption habits, attitudes etc.

The most important ‘finding’ here, one that most drug users and their friends already know, is that your average white middle-class drug taker is highly functional: holding down jobs, having family and friends, hobbies, relationships, using drugs in order to enhance their lives rather than to destroy it. Many people already know this but I haven’t really seen this published and stated anywhere before, I usually see the opposite, drug takers always depicted as depraved deprived dysfunctional and usually clueless. For many the opposite is true: young professional drug takers are often smart, live very productive lives, make careful and complex decisions about drugs and know both the risks and the benefits.

Still, bowing to mainstream pressure, the Guardian highlights a much more predictable ‘finding’, which is that up to a fifth of drug users will, at some point, knowingly ingest something unknown. The article calls this high risk behaviour and it sure is, wouldn’t we all want to know exactly what is in a drug? Without decriminalisation however there’s no chance anyone will know for sure what they are taking, let alone calibrations and impurities. The logical answer to this is not to condemn risk takers but to ensure we can help minimise the harm. We do this with bungee jumping (safety testing the ropes etc) and flying across the world (safety videos, testing etc) yet why not offer the idea that we could safety test drugs before ingestion, or, even better, manufacture it in a lab so that consumers will be sure of the purity and potency or the product.

But harm minimisation is still a dirty word and as a society we still prefer to simply judge and condemn others who do not share our habits and lifestyle. However there are some good signs: out of this research a phone app was developed that gives judgment free advice to drug takers based on their individual habits. Perhaps this is a first baby step towards true harm minimisation, let’s hope it is (though I’m inclined to be very cynical!)

Day of Poetry

21st March is Intarnational Day of Poetry. Hungarians take this seriously and here’s a wonderful offering of Horace’s Ode (Book 3, Poem 9) to/with Lydia. Yes, they sing in Hungarian. The gorgeous voice of Bea Palya resonates so beautifully while on guitar you can see/hear Janos Sebõ. The band is the Sebõ Band. Original Hungarian translation by the (there famous) Sándor Radnóti. I find the Hungarian version sweetly erotic and beautifully deep (with far fewer Roman names and formalities :P).

I grew up with the Sebõ Band and many other folk bands in Hungary. Lovely to see them still around (this was a concert on Sebõ ‘s birthday) and to know they uphold some lovely poetic traditions…

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC)

Odes 3.9

While I had power to bless you,
Nor any round that neck his arms did fling
More privileged to caress you,
Happier was Horace than the Persian king.

While you for none were pining
Sorer, nor Lydia after Chloe came,
Lydia, her peers outshining,
Might match her own with Ilia’s Roman fame.

Now Chloe is my treasure,
Whose voice, whose touch, can make sweet music flow:
For her I’d die with pleasure,
Would Fate but spare the dear survivor so.

I love my own fond lover,
Young Calais, son of Thurian Ornytus:
For him I’d die twice over,
Would Fate but spare the sweet survivor thus.

What now, if Love returning
Should pair us ‘neath his brazen yoke once more,
And, bright-hair’d Chloe spurning,
Horace to off-cast Lydia open his door?

Though he is fairer, milder,
Than starlight, you lighter than bark of tree,
Than stormy Hadria wilder,
With you to live, to die, were bliss for me.

Horace. The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace. John Conington. trans. London. George Bell and Sons. 1882.

Dr. Nol az idõ sodrásában

Dr. Nol az idõ sodrásában

Úgy döntöttem, hogy magyarul írom ezt a bejegyzést/cikket. A téma is magyar, a forrás is magyar, és jó végre egyszer magyarul megszólalnom a saját blogomon.

Video – Dr Nol az idõ sodrásában

(nem akarja idetenni!)

(yes, my dear English-speaking friends, this post is in Hungarian… the topic is Hungary’s relationship with its own history and how current developments keep it from processing its past. I won’t produce an English language version, however you are welcome to engage me in the topic in English!)

Dr NOL fontos témára csapott rá: mi a különbseg a nosztalgia és a retró között? Miért akkora probléma a magyar társadalomnak feldolgoznia a múltat? Van-e veszélye annak, hogy a magyar társadalom megint egy gyûlölködõ csapdõába esik?

‘Nálunk minden egyes váltás azt jelentette, hogy újraírták a történelmet”, mondja Réz András, filmesztéta és reklámszakember. Ez pedig nem vezet jóra, mert becsapjuk önmagunkat és elkerüljük azt, hogy végre feldolgozzuk a történelmunket (amiben aztán van feldolgozni való!). Minden népnek megvan a saját démona és azzal kell megküzdenie, azt kell értelmeznie. Viszont a magyar identitás és kultúra sajátja, hogy valahogy képtelen erre a feladatra, ez a törtenelmi feldolgozás egy gyötrelmes feladat.

Erõs Ferenc szociálpszichológus azt mondja, hogy 15 éve elég sok jele van annak, hogy Magyarország a gyûlöködés csapdájába eshet. A mai politikai vezetõk nagy része személyiseg zavaros. Sok emberben benne van a vágy, hogy vezessék, legyen valamilyen eszme, útmutatás, határozott identitás. Erõs szerint szerencsére a mai idõk gyorsabban változnak, minthogy egy bezavart politikai személyiseg igazán magával tudná ragadni az egész nemzetet. Hát remeljük is!

Én, mint szociologus, ehhez még hozzátenném, hogy sajnos a magyarországi gazdasági helyzet nagyon sarokba szorította a magyarok egy nagy részét es nem sok a remény hogy az idõsebb generacioknál ez valaha is jobbra fordul majd. A szegénység, a nélkülözes, a társadalmi különbségek növekedése, a félelem és biztonsághiány a magyarokban gyûlölködést, mások iránti gyanút, irredentizmust, tekintélyelvûséget idéz elõ ami semmiképpen nem kedvez a múlt feldolgozásának és a demokratizmus fejlõdésének (természetesen mas népeknél sem vezet mindez jóra, csak nekik megvannak a saját beidegzõdéseik, társadalmi reflexeik). Mindez esetleg még a békés együttélésre és az eddig kivívott fejlõdésnek a megtartsára sem elég.

A történelem, a nemzeti pszichés sajátosságok és a társadalmi, politikai és gazdasági helyzet szerencsétlenül fonódik össze, megerõsítve egymást, meggátolva azt, hogy a helyzet jobbra tudjon fordulni.

Hol a kiút? Valamelyik résznek meg kell moccannia: vagy a világgazdaságnak kellene jobbra fordulnia, vagy a politikának mérséklõdnie, vagy a társadalmi empátiának és békességnek elõtörnie. De egyik sem valoszínû/lehetséges a másik nélkül, ezért ilyen nagyon nehéz, elszomorító és frusztráló ez az elveszett (ördögi) mai magyar helyzet.

Szívesen várom a hozzászolásokat!

A separation

A separation

Iranian cinema is showing its wondrous colours again in Western cinemas.

The latest one is A Separation, a subtle yet emotionally complex masterpiece from Asghar Farhadi. There are many reasons to see this film: it’s won major awards in Berlin and elsewhere, and it’s doing wonderfully with the critics for its clarity and depth. But best of all it provides a rich experience for connoisseurs of quality cinema.

We find ourselves in the middle of an intricate, gradually unfolding family drama that is as complex in its implications as it is simple in its cinematic depiction. Beautiful clear film making guides our attention to all sides of the drama, subtly showing elements of repression, oppression, class and gender. Imperceptibly we are drawn into the moral and emotional depths that eventually culminate in an explosive series of events.

Farhadi is carefully negotiating the limits of censorship in a culture of film making that has mastered the art of addressing issues indirectly. I’m quietly hoping he won’t be winning any more Western awards as this may lead to his censorship or imprisonment in Iran and we would lose yet another Iranian talent.

This film is a masterpiece of both in how to weave rich cinema in the face of adversity and in how to express so much with so little. Wonderful.