The Long, Long, LONG road to Varna

Content 18+

My wife Liuba is from Omsk, and many hard, frozen, poverty-stricken years there did nothing to damage her health.But all it took was four winters amid the belching smokestacks and poisoned atmosphere of Moscow for her to contract a chronic bronchial infection. During her last two years in the megapolis, often amid endless bleak rains that more and more prevail there because of climate change, our apartment was … Read the rest

Happiness And The Book Of The Dark

Content 18+

I am blessed by the fact that my students and other friends are always sending me interesting things to read. One I got recently was an excellent article by a writer I hadn’t heard of named Cody Delistraty on the theme of what he termed the “relentless, competitive” quest for ‘Happiness” and how people today often make themselves miserable trying to obtain it.

I use the word “obtain” … Read the rest

Shadows Gather

(The eye, altering, alters all) -- William Blake

Content 16+

One of my more engaging and creative young Chinese students (a girl of 13 years) recently started an essay with the following title: ‘Imagine that you are someone’s shadow for a day.’  In the first paragraph, she asks, “Can you choose whose shadow are you or would you just come into existence when someone is born or when the person … Read the rest

The City (And Nation) I Loved So Well

Content 18+

I remember flying into Moscow in 2007 with delicious misgivings. Brought up in America during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was always presented to me as the Factory of Godless Communism, and I knew I would never see the inside of it. But I was curious (a common response to Russia on the part of non-Russians everywhere then and now).

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Then suddenly, after becoming a teacher … Read the rest

What The Coronavirus Has Taught Me

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Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Content 21 + Please note that it should not be treated as medical advice. By now, and so indicative of the world we live in, the coronavirus has seized the public imagination more than anything since A.I.D.S and Charles Manson. It has ‘gone viral’ in ways that YouTube never dreamed of. It is, as the concerned media loves to call it now, a … Read the rest

That Raspberry Face

Content 18+ I can remember my undergraduate days more than a half century ago and sitting with friends until the wee hours having philosophical discussions about things like 'God'. The memory grows fuzzy, but it seems to me that we gave God at least a 50-50 chance of existing. Maybe, mixed in with the residue of an upbringing that took the reality of Heaven and Hell for granted, we were … Read the rest

Incorrigible Jokesters

Content 18+ I have just finished a splendid old book by the famous Czech author Milan Kundera called in English The Joke. Kundera is a master writer, of course, not a pamphleteer or agenda-pusher, and so when I say that I was much struck by the similarities between the characters in the novel and those of the 'postmodern' 'Woke' Society, I am not pushing an agenda either. 

    I mean to … Read the rest