Sunday, October 16, 2005


The etymology of the word "enthusiasm" is interesting. It literally means "to be filled with (G)god, from the Greek "theos" (god) and "en" (in). In other words one is carried away with excitement, inspired by a higher power which is literally pouring down and out through you, and you are almost a mere channel or conduit for this power. You are almost in a veritable ecstasy - or ecstatic, literally outside the state of "stasis". "Enthusiasm" is a word with many connotations and associations. One can call to mind other such words like "Dionysian" which means "being of a frenzied or orgiastic character" which is the opposite of Apollonian, which means "logical, calm, harmonious, measured, ordered, or balanced in character." Another related word that comes to mind is "Bacchanalian", the adjective from the Roman festival of Bacchus celebrated with dancing, song,revelry and even orgy!!!
Why am I going on about the etymolgy of this word anyway? Well, I think it applies to some people's work style, to certain persons' way of being in and living in the world. We might also call these people "intense". They seem to live life at a high octane level and literally burn with the power of enthusiasm. I remember having an enthusiastic Irish teacher years ago, Micheál Ó hEaráin was his name, and you could hear the blackboard vibrate in the adjoining room when he was working at it. I also remeber the spittle flying as he spoke with great passion. His classes were alive. I've also seen people who hold the pen rather too tighly and write through a page rather bthan on it! Probably both people here are over-doing it. Are nervous breakdowns around the corner in these cases? Perhaps. Anyway, Micheál never burned out through breakdown - he retired a tired man at 65 and is still going strong at 75!!
Enthusiasm is important, indeed, though it can be over-done. However, enthusiasm that is properly expressed and balanced and not taken to extremes can communicate the magic of a subject or of a topic to others. Enthusiasm is catching. It will inflame others, inspire them, provoke them, lead them on to discover the creative side of their personality etc. A teacher without enthusiasm is a very sad, and I should say a very ineffective teacher. When enthusiasm is gone, such a teacher is a bore, a poison in the education system and should retire before he or she becomes burned out or cynical.
Is é an focal ar "enthusiasm" i nGaeilge ná "dúthracht" nó "díograis". Ní féidir aon teanga eile a fhoghlaim gan a bheth díograiseach agus dúthrachtach. Caithfidh tú titim i ngrá le fuaimeanna áille na teanga. Caithfidh tú iad a bhlaiseadh ar do theanga agus iad a chaitheamh amach le díograis i gcomhrá le daoine eile atá i ngrá leis an teanga sin.
Imparo l'italiano questi giorni d'inverno. 'E una lingua bellissima con una musicalita' simile alla musicalita' del Gaelico. Gli italiani sono amichevoli come gli irlandesi. Mi ricordo durante La Coppa del Mondo nel calcio - faccio allusione a Italia 90 - che gli iltaliani chiamavano gli irlandesi "gli italiani del nord"! Possiamo adesso chiamare gli italiani "gli irlandesi del sud!!" Vado in Sicilia per una settimana dopo il natale e spero di mettere in pratica il mio italiano con entusiasmo.