[[ On the erstwhile Soviet Union, its communist ‘colonies’ and its breakdown ]]
We were afraid even to take a deep breath, lest we set off an explosion
“Hows life?” I ask the most banal and idiotic question, just to keep the conversation going somehow.
The granny straightens up, leans her hands on the broom handle, looks at me, smiles even, “Kak zyviom?” she repeats thoughtfully, and then in a voice full of pride and determination and suffering and joy she offers in reply what is the crux of the Russian philosophy of life – “Dyshym!” (We breathe!)
Stalin ordered a road built between Yakutsk and Magadan [[ in Siberia ]]. Two thousand kilometers across the taiga and the permafrost. They started building it simultaneously from both ends. Summer came, thaws, the permafrost melted, water underran the soil, turned the road into a quagmire, it drowned. Together will the road drowned the prisnors who worked on it. Stalin ordered the work to start anew. But it ended the same way. Once again, he commanded. The two ends of the road never met, but their builders perhaps met in heaven.
Five songs - Judith und Holofernes, by Gustav Klimt, 1901 (detail) I've written before of my struggle to appreciate art songs (see "The Songs of Erich Korngold and Re...
2 days ago