Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Born to live - Geboren um zu leben, by Unheilig - English translation

This is among the last hits from Unheilig, now away from the Dark Metal scene, poignant and touching: "Geboren um zu leben".
I'm writing about it because today I fell in love with this song, thanks to my best German teacher, and I would like to share my corrected translation, even if probably it can still be improved. I felt I had to write it because I didn't like any other ones and they contained mistakes.
The German version is afterwards, for (students of?) German. At the end comes some interpretation notes (given by my teacher, mistakes by me), for those (like me) who like footnotes to better understand.

Most material comes from these translations, others from my own German:

Born to live

It's hard for me
To live without you
Every day at every time
To just give everything.
I think so often
Back to the past
To each so beloved day gone by.
I picture myself
That you stand by me
And on each of my ways
Are at my side.
I think of so much
Ever since you've been gone
Because you have shown me
How precious life is.

We were born to live
With the miracles of time
Never to forget oneself
for the whole eternity.
We were born to live
For the one moment,
When each of us felt
How precious life is.

It still hurts
To make new way again
To allow some new feeling
While still feeling good.
At this moment
You are close to me again
Like on each so beloved day gone by.
It is my wish
To allow dreams again
To look into future
Without regret.
I see a meaning
Since you've been gone
Because you have shown me
How precious my life is.


Geboren um zu leben

Es fällt mir schwer
ohne dich zu Leben,
jeden Tag zu jeder Zeit
einfach alles zu geben.
Ich denk' so oft
zurück an das was war,
an jedem so geliebten vergangenen Tag.
Ich stell mir vor
dass du zu mir stehst
und jeden meiner Wege
an meiner Seite gehst.
Ich denke an so vieles
seit dem du nicht mehr bist,
denn du hast mir gezeigt
wie wertvoll das Leben ist.

Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
mit den Wundern jeder Zeit,
sich niemals zu vergessen
bis in aller Ewigkeit.
Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
für den einen Augenblick,
bei dem jeder von uns spürte
wie wertvoll Leben ist.

Es tut noch weh
wieder neuen Platz zu schaffen,
mit gutem Gefühl
etwas neues zuzulassen.
In diesem Augenblick
bist du mir wieder nah,
wie an jedem so geliebten vergangenen Tag.
Es ist mein Wunsch
wieder Träume zu erlauben,
ohne Reue nach vorn
in eine Zukunft zu schau'n.
Ich sehe einen Sinn
seit dem du nicht mehr bist,
denn du hast mir gezeigt
wie wertvoll mein Leben ist.

Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
mit den Wundern jeder Zeit,
sich niemals zu vergessen
bis in aller Ewigkeit.
Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
für den einen Augenblick,
bei dem jeder von uns spürte
wie wertvoll Leben ist.

Wie wertvoll Leben ist.

Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben

mit den Wundern jeder Zeit,
Geboren um zu Leben.

Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
mit den Wundern jeder Zeit,
sich niemals zu vergessen
bis in aller Ewigkeit.
Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
für den einen Augenblick,
bei dem jeder von uns spürte
wie wertvoll Leben ist.

Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
mit den Wundern jeder Zeit,
sich niemals zu vergessen
bis in aller Ewigkeit.
Wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben
für den einen Augenblick,
weil jeder von uns spürte
wie wertvoll Leben ist.

wir war'n Geboren um zu Leben.

Interpretation notes

The protagonist speaks because his partner passed away (ever since you've been gone, or seit dem du nicht mehr bist).
The second stanza is about him looking at his future without regrets, and possibly even to a new love, even if it's currently painful to think of something "with a good feeling" (mit gutem Gefühl), that is (IMHO) without feeling it unfair to her.

UPDATE: last update German text corrected (and translation updated) on 26 Dec 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Wow. Best film ever. At all.
At least, that's what I'm gonna think for quite a while.
And the film nerds of IMDb almost agree, ranking it 3rd of all times on the IMDb list of Top 250 movies. Given my taste, I don't like The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption that much - don't get me wrong, they're nice but I demand more from a movie.
At some point, Christopher Nolan will have to disappoint me, but he didn't manage yet to come even close to that - I love every single moving he's done, and this one's beating even Memento for me. And he does such mind-blowing films while still being accessible and understandable, unlike other mind-blowing movies such as Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Well... let's see what happens with what he's working on currently - some untitled Batman 3 movie (which will be the conclusion of the story) and something on Superman (but maybe he won't direct it himself).

But let's go back to this movie.

Philosophers have been wondering about the subject of this movie, what is and isn't reality, for quite a while, and they didn't solve the problem. That's why this movie can exist - we can't know that what we have around is real. The Matrix already explored the topic a while ago (and even Nolan references it, see Wikipedia's page), but this one's far better.

Hey, guess what - Nolan's been working on it for some nine years, and such ideas about dreams have been in his mind since he was sixteen. However, working on a film for so long doesn't mean it has to be good - think to Avatar, first imagined fifteen years before its release (no, I didn't like it, I expected much more). I wonder how he can do better next time.

Of course, Nolan's been doing other work meanwhile in those years - he had to get experience in directing such a colossal, otherwise you just can't shoot such sequences. He interleaves scenes from up to 4 different interacting worlds for a good part of the movie, and he pictures the world surface bending together. Quoting Wikipedia:
He soon realized that a film like Inception needed a large budget because "as soon as you’re talking about dreams, the potential of the human mind is infinite. And so the scale of the film has to feel infinite. It has to feel like you could go anywhere by the end of the film. And it has to work on a massive scale."
And for sure, I'm gonna watch it again and again, until I get the finest details, especially since I've been watching it in English without subtitles - I missed quite a few details and I really want to get them.
UPDATE: I did, the same day :-D!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What if...?

I hope you have seen The hedgehog ("Il riccio"). Not in Germany: here it's called "Die Eleganz von Madame Michel", and it's a deeply horrible title. I feel it's against the spirit of the movie and the book.
Because Madame Michel is a hidden wonderfully wonderful person. She can't be in the title. And it's hard to get to know her.

And what if...

... what if in our lives we were surrounded by many Madame Michel, but we were too fool to notice them? Don't we do the same as the rich people in her palace? Don't we just ignore, in our daily lives, porters (like Michel), secretaries, any job which is "inferior" to ours? Wouldn't we ignore an office clerk? Say, Albert Einstein before publishing his theories.
Our world is probably full of many small hedgehogs right there, waiting to be met. And maybe they're not so much thorny, maybe it's easier to get to know them. And we just can't, because of barriers.
This is the moment to think to Evangelion, and the fusion of all human beings proposed and refused in the end, and think really hard of it, before saying that well, yes, each of us wants to keep one's identity and still try to get in contact with each other, being careful to our thorns. Thanks to this post (in Italian) for inspiring me with the connection between people, roses and thorns.

[EDIT: fixed the spelling of Madame Michel - I previously wrote Madame Michèle.]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

[Per i lettori italiani: non è per spocchia che l'ho scritto in inglese, e se me lo chiedete cercherò di tradurlo, anche se penso sarà difficile.]
Have you ever had the idea to have lived your whole life waiting for something, and that moment finally arrived? If yes, I would really like to hear your experience, because that moment of enlightenment must be wonderful. Meanwhile, I will tell you mine.
To be frank, claiming I have lived such an experience would be an exaggeration; let me say that my philosophical life has been waiting for this. Even if I was not aware. I realized I was searching for this enlightenment only after finding it.

A big friend of mine recently gave me this book as a birthday gift, with enthusiastic comments. I know his taste, so as soon as I found the conditions to read it well, I started eagerly.
And halfway it was a revelation, an enlightenment.

  1. It was an enlightenment because it embodies and gathers the issues of the time in which it was written, and of this time. Homeopathy, alternative medicine, the debate on genetically modified organisms, the debate on the limits of science, and so even part of the debate on stem cells, are all connected to this, and who has read the book will notice that this claim actually understates the importance of this book. Because it's actually about the battle between the scientific and artistic views of the world, on the whole fight between rational and irrational. This shows that identifying irrational with ignorance is stupid, because not only a purely rational reason is a limited tool to observe the world, but also because the scientific method itself cannot be explained in a fully rational way. In fact, explanation of this method tend to avoid explaining where hypothesis to test come from.
  2. It was an enlightenment because a big part of my view of the world is connected with this book; it actually completed and explained to me some of my ideas, and a course I attended last year taught me something that completes and gives a rational root to the thesis of the author.
  3. It was an enlightenment because this book showed how the oriental philosophy faces this in a much better way.

Now, trying to adequately summarize this book is a huge challenge, so I admit my failure in advance; I will try nonetheless to summarize the points I need to use in my discussion.

Halfway through the book, we discover that the reasons for our perception of what is good, nice, and so on, i.e. of what has Quality, cannot be defined rationally and in general, while these reasons do exist. For example, mathematicians often claim that a proof of a theorem can be nicer than another, but they do not try to give a proof for this better aesthetics; they can just agree (or disagree) on that. While Quality cannot be defined rationally, and even if a rational view of the world negates the existence of what cannot be defined, it does exists, and we can perceive it.

Where does it come from? It is something we perceive in the moment we perceive an object. That moment creates our perception of that object in our mind (this is intentionally wrong for the purpose of simplicity, strictly speaking, sorry for that). And only after that moment, we can perceive that object consciously. And that perception of that object is influenced not only by the object, but also by our previous experiences, and that is why scientists usually give up trying to make sense of what is beautiful, claiming this is "irrational".

Now, what I can add on this, thanks to having attended a course in Neuroinformatics, is that beyond being a philosophical argument, it matches quite well with our current understanding of how the brain works. Our brain is modeled by our experiences. And logical reasoning is not what happens deep in our brain, unlike in computers. The fact that perception and analisys of the world in the brain happen before our logical reasoning and are heavily shaped by previous experiences has been observed in nature, even if we analysed just the early stages of it.
While I cannot strictly say that such an high level model of the human brain has been tested, there is a lot of evidence pointing in this direction (for instance, the early stages of vision processing already do this in part).

Another reason for which I was stricken by this book is that it goes along with my old idea that "Mathematics is too simple". It is too simple because every statement is either false or true, while reality is far more complex than this. So, what I mean is "Mathematics is too simple to describe reality", but the former way is more paradoxical and funny.
This book goes much further, saying that science and even rationality in general, is too simple to describe reality. Classical reason is too simple to describe the reality of Quality, for instance. One wanting to understand this reality has either to embrace the author's thesis, or to switch to the eastern viewpoint and abandon and overtake rationality altogether.

And finally, this book analyzes the importance of loving one's work, even for manual works. This develops an idea that also I learned in my life, like many others. You can learn it more easily when you realize that the bricklayer building your house did it wrong, because he was not caring about what he did, and there is a number of ways a simple bricklayer can make mistakes. L'Aquila is currently an example of this, too: it's surprisingly easy to mix concrete the wrong way if you do not care. It suffices that you add water to keep it from drying in the concrete mixer, as almost everybody does. It's damn wrong! And those are the result (I am ignoring what is done on purpose to save money).
And this applies to any work, including programming (what I do), and maintaining motorcycles (hence the title of the book).