Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dank sei Dir

Denn das Schöne ist nichts als des Schrecklichen Anfang, den wir noch grade ertragen, und wir bewundern es so, weil es gelassen verschmäht, uns zu zerstören
Rilke - "Die erste Elegie

And let's also not forget Aafje Heynis' hauntingly beautiful version

Saturday, October 17, 2015

«Мы вас любим. А вы зачем разжигаете?»

Жена Ганболда на идеальном русском вспоминает, как её учили варить борщ в московском общежитии, и переходит от прошлого к настоящему: «Вы, русские, не понимаете, как мы вас любим. Да вы вообще ничего не понимаете. Я смотрю ваше телевидение и схожу с ума: что вы с Украиной сделали? Зачем разжигаете?»
Дети барона Унгерна: Как Монголия проиграла битву с ресурсным проклятием

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"It's that kind of tune..."

Why New York is World City?

If [New York] is a world city, it is not thanks to the Ukrainian restaurants on 2nd Avenue, nor even the Ukrainians who have colonized Brighton Beach: they can be found in many other places from Cleveland to Chicago. It is that cultivated Ukrainians in Kiev read New York’s best-known periodical the [New York Review of Books].
Tony Judt - from his essay "New York, New York" in Memory Chalet

Monday, September 28, 2015

Good Rules of Thumb

If we can often do much less than we pretend, we can do much more than we fear.
Rory Stewart

A good rule of thumb for many things in life holds that things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then happen faster than you thought they could.
Larry Summers

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quotes of the Weekend

Нэг сонин тохиодол одоо ч сэтгэлээс гардаггүй юм. Улс төрийн товчоонд н.Моломжамц гээд өвгөн настай хүн байх. Аливаад их голч байр суурьтай ханддаг байлаа. Зөвлөлтөд 1948 онд сургууль төгссөн сэхээтэн хүн. Залуучууд бид яахав дээ түүнийг нөгөө л марксистүүдийн нэг гэж боддог байж. Заримдаа хүмүүс “Төв хорооны Санхүүгийн хэлтсийн н.Санжаацамц, Улс төрийн товчооны н.Моломжамц хоёр Их тэнгэрийн аманд хурал хураад байх юм” гэхэд бид тоглоом байлгүй гээд шоолдог байлаа. Би 1988 онд Удирдлагын институтын захирал байхдаа Төв номын санд Нагаржунайн 73 бадагтыг үзэх санаатай хоёр гурав хоног суусан юм. Тэгсэн Моломжамц гуай дууддаг юм байна. “Би хоёр гурав хоног чамайг эрээд олсонгүй чи хаачив” гэхэд нь “Ном үзэх санаатай Төв номын санд суулаа...” гээд учраа хэлсэн. Тэгтэл урдаас “Нагаржунайн 150 бадагт гэж байдаг юм шүү дээ ” гээд цээжээр дүнгэнэтэл унших нь тэр [...] Моломжамц гуайн уншиж судалж цээжилсэн нь бол Нагаржунайн филосифийн их хөлгөн судар. Миний үзэж байсан 73 бадагт бол бага хөлгөн нь юм.
Д.Бямбасүрэн баавайн 2014 оны ярилцлагаас

That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness.
David Foster Wallace

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Хууль тогтоогчийн зорилго энэ буюу

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of [legislative body] is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Transcript: Pope Francis’s speech to Congress

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cчастье в сирени живет...


По утру, на заре,
По росистой траве
Я пойду свежим утром дышать;
И в душистую тень,
Где теснится сирень,
Я пойду свое счастье искать…
В жизни счастье одно
Мне найти суждено,
И то счастье в сирени живет;
На зеленых ветвях,
На душистых кистях
Мое бедное счастье цветет.


Monday, September 14, 2015

An Old Communist's Digression on Mongolia

So, in Moscow, in 1942, I was in prison with a commissioner from the Ministry of Health in Mongolia. He described Mongolia to me. Today Le Monde or even the American papers still express surprise and joy that Mongolia is on Russia's side, that it hasn't let itself be talked around by the Chinese, that it was admitted to the UN in return for Mauritania. That was some deal. Independent Mongolia and independent Mauritania. The next day Mauritania voted against the West and America, and Mongolia became a go-between for the Afro-Asian camp. What kind of place is Mongolia? (I'll make it fast because we might not come back to this later, and it's interesting.)

He was a commissioner in the Ministry of Health. What does that mean? It turns out that collective farms were not introduced in Mongolia, they didn't touch the majority of the monasteries, and they left the old Mongolian customs alone, they were so old. There were ministries, and the ministers were Mongolians. And in every ministry there was a security commissioner with his own secret office. The Mongolian minister had a limousine, a villa, servants, and girls, and, besides that, as a doctor, my friend the commissioner would supply him with hashish or opium--I don't remember which. He could do anything if it was connected with health. He'd been in power, my cell mate, but there was also the NKVD where all the strings came together, in a little building, not interfering, the NKVD outpost for Russians sent from Moscow. They had orgies there every night in the NKVD building, he and those NKVD people. Well, but then he tripped himself up. At that time no one was permitted to travel to Mongolia, but a group of French communists or progressives arrived there. They took a picture of a cemetery where dogs were ripping apart the corpses that hadn't been buried deeply enough out of sheer slovenliness. The ground was stony. The delegation of progressives returned to Moscow with that photograph, and there was a scandal. He probably had other things on his conscience as well. For example, he was also accused of stealing a beautiful and very ancient ivory sculpture from a monastery. He described that sculpture to me: it was of a monastery with a great many monks. He said, "All right, but we all did that, all of us: I went to that monastery with my friends from the NKVD." Of course he said that he had sent the sculpture to his wife in Moscow, and his wife was supposed to donate it to a museum but hadn't gotten around to it yet. They all stole. And that was a People's Democracy. Without collective farms, where the customs and the religion had been preserved.

And so I thought Poland would be a sort of Western European Mongolia.
from "My Century" by Aleksander Wat, p. 114-115

Monday, August 24, 2015

The most resilient skill in the modern world

The most resilient skill in the modern world is argument. We are all sophists now, or should be [...] What unites the elite professions in any international city is their command of sophistry. Barristers and management consultants, political advisers and advertising executives, public-relations strategists and even certain types of investment banker: all trade on the same skill. It is the ability to frame any given problem on your own terms so that your conclusion is irresistible to the client (or jury, or investor, or politician, or reader). To be clear, this is not the same thing as being right. What matters is being persuasive [...] Learn to code, runs the received career advice of today. It is shrewder to learn how to argue.
"We are all sophists now — or should be" by Janan Ganesh

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How Cities Vanish

Another man, dressed in a white t-shirt and shorts, waving a fan to cool himself, added heatedly, “Look over there. Those tall buildings? That’s what the city wants to build here.”

I looked into everyone’s eyes. “But there’s nothing beautiful or great about those boxes,” I said. “Moreover, those types of buildings have nothing whatsoever to do with Chinese traditions. Or Peking traditions.”

One of the residents was a tall goofy-looking guy who wore horn-rimed glasses, a button-down shirt, shorts, black socks and black plastic “penny leather” shoes. He patted me on the shoulder and gave me a lop-sided grin. “Exactly right! To make money, the government wants us to give up our homes so they can make Western type skyscrapers. Peking will have nothing distinctively Chinese about it anymore.”

The residents could not even look forward to preserving their community. Each family was assigned to different apartment blocks far away in north Peking. Instead of spending summer evenings gossiping with old friends on the street corners, they will be locked away in tiny cubicles of Western invention, not knowing their neighbors and having to ride elevators simply to go out to fetch a bottle of beer or yogurt.
from Michael A. Aldrich The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages p.166