Posts Tagged ‘Russia ’

Russia possesses one of the world’s great literatures, and time spent with its masters is hard to beat. However, I’ve found a few non-fiction books that have been both a pleasure to read and have helped me to better understand this strange land. Here are a few of my favorites. The Russians, by Hedrick Smith (1975) “Hedrick Smith has done…

I love dioramas. The first I ever saw was at the Milwaukee Public Museum, a life-size buffalo herd. When I was a child, we would visit and there was a secret buzzer that you could press to make the rattlesnake tail rattle. I love the idea of losing oneself in another intricately crafted world. Dioramas bring us to places we…

In 1990 I had been studying the Russian language for a few years at the UW-Madison, but had not yet had the chance to talk with a real Russian. That all changed when I received a small scholarship to study the papers of Sergei Witte, the last Tsarist Finance Minister, at Columbia University. I flew from Wisconsin to New York, rushed…

Here are some (mainly whimsical) things that I think Americans would do well to emulate from their Slavic brothers and sisters. 1. Underground tunnels that let you cross the street without stoplights or the dangers of traffic. They are generally lined with kiosks selling flowers, food, shoes, tickets to cultural shows, lingerie, books, and other necessaries. These “переходи” are especially useful…

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    • Winter, 2013: I have been feeling a little creatively deprived in Kiev during my last few visits, so I decided that I would reach out and try to make some connections in the theatrical community here. So I posted a job on eLance (now Upwork), stating that I was looking for…

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    • A few years back, I was surprised to read this story in my friend Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile. He and I had lots of long talks while traveling in the Middle East and also over plates of pickled vegetables and vodka in Kiev, and so this tale must have popped from my mouth…

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    • The holiest hill in all the world is the hallowed Holy Hill of Wisconsin. Upon it stands the famed Shrine of Mary, Mother of God. The twin towers of this cathedral are visible for miles around, and the devout flock there to admire the holiness of the church and the…

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    • I’m looking to hire someone with strong Final Cut Pro X and Mac systems skills to help edit a documentary. The film is about a secret Soviet antenna from the Cold War — the Russian Woodpecker — and one man’s attempt to understand its link to the Chernobyl disaster and…

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    • In The Fear of Insignificance, psychotherapist Carlo Strenger provides a compelling and far-reaching account of the illnesses of modern life. He shows how the human predicament described by Ernest Becker forty years ago has been compounded by technology, globalization, and the ascendance of escapist philosophies that militate against living an…

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    • “Books lift us out of the smallness of the present and into history, out of the smallness of ourselves and into humanity.” – Brian Jay Stanley Ten Great Books: – The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker taught me why human individuals act and feel the way we do. – Escape from…

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    • The day I received my driver’s license, in the summer of 1985, I immediately set out on a pilgrimage I had been dreaming of for a long time: a visit to Walden Pond. I wanted to walk the same woods, amble from Thoreau’s cabin to the cool edge of the…

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    •   I’m planning a philosophical conclave in Venice on December 13th – 20th. Each morning will start with Italian lessons for those who want them, from 9am – 11am, run by a local. During lunch, we will have visiting scholars in art, philosophy, and history. Afternoons are for wandering and shivering…

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    • On a recent stay in Kiev, I had an apartment near the top of Andrew’s Descent. St. Andrew’s dazzling green and white cupolas filled one window and another looked out over the neighborhood of Podil, the Dnieper, and beyond. While gazing across the river, I noticed a large hill nestled…

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