Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Etymology

Interesting note - One word in both Ukrainian (місяць) and Turkish (ay) means "month" and "moon," even though months are now measured slightly differently with calendars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


St. Andrew's Church

The "Friendship of Peoples" arch - built,  ironically, less than a decade before nationalist movements began to develop across the USSR

Pechersk Lavra

20 Years of Independence

Enormous Soviet war memorial, holding the only hammer and sickle that I've seen left around here

Rumor has it that the statue is a bit top-heavy and could collapse in the future...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scenes from outside Prime Minister Tymoshenko's trial

Anyone who wants to understand the background on the trial of former Prime Minister and Orange Revolution figure Yulia Tymoshenko can do so here.

Tent for Tymoshenko supporter
Flag ceremony performed by Tymoshenko opponents
Opponent camp with signs calling her a thief/liar
Riot police surround a protest camp they had dismantled
"Tymoshenko has been behind bars 31 days - She has not broken"

Tymoshenko supporters demonstrating outside

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And From a Proud Tower in the Town...

A lovely profile of Barbara Tuchman in the Washington Post:

"She does not like being called an 'amateur' by all the 'professionals' who have graduate training, advanced degrees, and university positions. She prefers, she said in a 1981 collection of essays covering her career, to recognize the difference between them and her 'by distinguishing between academics and independents, or between scholars and writers, rather than between professionals and amateurs.' She may not have a Ph.D., but she is as much of a pro as the professors are, and rather more so if making a living by your work is any criterion of being professional. She can communicate with a willing readership, which is more than the professors can do. . . . They really do not know how 'to capture and hold the interest of an audience.' "


Monday, July 18, 2011

Late Communist Architecture

 (Georgian Ministry of Roads, completed in 1975)

I think this should belie the claim that late Soviet and Eastern Block culture was lacking in innovation. These collections of images - 25 WWII memorials built under Tito in the former Yugoslavia and images from the recently published book by French photographer Fredric Chaubin documenting avant-garde late Soviet architecture provide an interesting look at Eastern European architectural developments in the 70s and 80s.
(Palace of Ceremonies, Georgia, 1985)

Friday, June 17, 2011

History, Modernity, and the Masses

"And now back to our first statement: modern man suffers from a weakened personality. Just as the Roman in the time of the Caesars became un-Roman with regard to the area of the earth standing at his disposal, as he lost himself among the foreign things streaming in and degenerated with the cosmopolitan carnival of gods, customs, and arts, so matters must go with the modern person who continually allows his historical artists to prepare the celebration of a world market fair. He has become a spectator, enjoying himself and wandering around, converted into a condition in which even great wars and huge revolutions are hardly able to change anything momentarily. The war has not yet ended, and already it is transformed on printed paper a hundred thousand times over; it is already being promoted as the newest stimulant for the exhausted palate of those greedy for history."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Vom Nutzen und Nachteile der Historie für das Leben/The Use and Abuse of History for Life (1871)

"The war, the Revolution in Russia and the misery of the whole world appear to me like deluge of (Flut) evil, a flood. The war has opened the sluices of chaos. The external and temporary measures of human existence are collapsing. The events of history are no longer borne by individuals, but by the masses. We are pushed, forced, brushed aside. We are suffering from History."

-Franz Kafka to Gustav Janouch,
Das Kafkabuch (around 1920) (translation mine)

"Since the invention of the steam engine, the world has been permanently in an abnormal state; the wars and revolutions are just the visible expressions of this state." -Ivanov to Rubashov

"The discovery of the steam engine started a period of rapid objective progress, and, consequently, of equally rapid subjective political retrogression. The industrial era is still young in history, the discrepancy is still great between its extremely complicated economic structure and the masses' understanding of it. Thus it is comprehensible that the relative political maturity of the nations in the first half of the twentieth century is less than it was 200 B.C. or at the end of the feudal epoch."

Darkness at Noon (1941)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moscow 1954

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism, an early adopter of 35 mm format, and the master of candid photography. He helped develop the "street photography" style that has influenced generations of photographers that followed. These pictures were taken in the first year of the post-Stalin USSR.