Leftover Breakfast and a Quote

Eggs, carrots, asparagus, a big of shaved parmesan, and some of my leftover fish jelly after I’d eaten all the fish out of it. Mine is an honest-ass fish jelly, with not a speck of gelatin in it. There are some mini slices of Latvian bread on the side.

As for the quote, what do you think about “globalization is the process of internationalizing the division of labor”? It’s from Caldwell, not me.

Movie Notes: The Little Princess

Oh my God, what a horrible movie. Reader Shakti warned me I’d hate it, and I should have listened. Because I really hated it. The only characters that made sense were Queen Victoria and Bertie, and they are not even in the novel!

The book itself was mangled to the point of utter ridiculousness. The utterly unneeded love story, the idiotic musical numbers – and why, why do there need to be musical numbers in everything? – the fact that the Dad was turned into a hero of the Boer war instead of a shifty capitalist type and a total flake, oh goodness.

The kid was super cute but she’s a stoic British introvert like I’m Maya Plisetskaya. The whole point about Sara being a little princess in the book had to do with the idea that even in the midst of poverty and hunger she preserves her dignity, poise, and a sense of self-worth. She doesn’t run around throwing garbage on people’s heads like a typical American spoiled brat.

The horrible Victorian poverty was completely erased. The exploitation of child labor, the unbreakable class barriers, the snobbery – all gone.

The whole reason I like the book is that it teaches kids about the value of humanity, of imagination, of books. It teaches that you don’t have to be pretty, or rich, or sociable. You can be an awkward, unattractive, bookish child but your intellect and strength will keep you going.

Klara loved it although she didn’t understand a single thing people were saying. But she is a screen-deprived child who’ll stare at a soap commercial on a loop if anybody lets her.

Montessori Update

I have no idea if I posted this before, and there’s no search function on the app. Apologies if I’m repeating myself.

I asked the analyst if he thinks it’s a good idea to put Klara into a Montessori school. He said the following. The Montessori system in itself is great. If the entire education system was like it, that would be awesome.

But it isn’t.

The existing education system was created at the time when the industrial society was born and it aimed to socialize kids into the conveyor-belt, ‘be quiet and do what you are told’ mentality. It sucks but it’s what there is.

Once Montessori ends at the age of twelve, the kids have to go to a regular school. Or if you pay for a supremely expensive Waldorf school that’s similar to Montessori but for older kids, they eventually go to college. And these kids haven’t been socialized into the mainstream model. They start having anxiety. The analyst says he works with such kids a lot. So his advice on Montessori is absolutely don’t do it.

Again, Montessori is a great, probably even perfect, system that exists in an imperfect world. And people do best when they are socialized into the world as it exists and not into a beautiful fantasy.

Book Notes: Alhierd Baharevich’s Dogs of Europe

This is a gigantic novel by a young Belarusian writer. I hated it many times and loved it almost as often. Baharevich is the kind of author who doesn’t give a crap what the readers think of whether they understand the novel. He’s so enjoying the process of writing that he can’t be bothered to care. Which is the number one characteristic of a real writer.

The novel consists of six novellas that are loosely – like in very loosely – connected. To be honest, I’d throw out all of them except the second and the sixth. These were the novellas I read at a maniacal speed while slogging through the rest. And it’s not like the other four are bad. They definitely have a right to exist, especially the third one. But they are quite extraneous to the main hook in the larger plot.

Since this is nowhere to be found online, here is what the novellas are like.

#1. Two male misfits create their own language. Baharevich made up an actual language, complete with a grammar and a two-way dictionary, and inserted large chunks of text in this made-up language into the novel without translating them. This is a deeply postmodernist novel, and he’s playing many literary games at once with this. But hey, if Tolstoy – a writer definitely less gifted than Baharevich – can start his novels with 26 pages of untranslated French text to make sure the hoi polloi know to leave his books out of their grubby monolingualist hands, then what’s the problem? In the end, the male misfits are bested at their game by a young woman who appropriates the invented language as her own.

It’s not a bad novella but I’m about 30 years too old for these language games. The novella also mocks the entirety of literature in Russian in a very vicious way. This is endearing but it also gets a little too dark.

This is going to be a gigantic post, so I’ll put the rest under the fold where I will talk about my favorite novellas in the book.

Continue reading “Book Notes: Alhierd Baharevich’s Dogs of Europe”

Getting Ready for a Movie Visit

I have to fulfill the movie resolution and watch something in a theater this month. One thing I’m absolutely opposed to watching is Little Women. I hate it when 21-century women are stuck into period pieces. I also hate the Oprahesque swooning about how lucky we all are in comparison with those poor bastards from the past. We are but, God, it’s such a boring, shallow idea that’s been expressed a million times already.

The original book was pathetic enough. Judging from reviews, the movie is much worse.

The rest of the movies on offer I never heard of. Maybe they are just as bad but at least it’s not a predictable bad.

Are theaters open tomorrow? Can people bring their own food?

Roque Dalton

Today is the first real day of class in my course on Hispanic poetry that I designed in lieu of a traditional language course. We will be reading Roque Dalton, the great Salvadoran poet.

I can’t believe I developed the whole course, readings and everything in under 3 hours. I’m going to approximate the class environment to that of a bunch of friends getting together to talk about poetry. This is why we won’t even be staying in the classroom.

I’m really excited, and I haven’t been excited about a language course in years. Possibly, decades.

Michael Moore on a Tear

So Michael Moore has a podcast called Rumble. I’m not into podcasts much but I listen to his because it’s the perfect medium for Moore. He’s not much too look at but he’s got a great voice.

And so today’s episode is the bomb, folks. Moore has been really wounded by Warren’s performance at the debate yesterday. So now he’s realizing that he’s seen her lie her head off for at least 1,5 years. And in the podcast he goes through every single whopper she’s told. The janitor father, the Pocahontas thing (his word, not mine), the first breastfeeding mother in whatever, everything.

It’s like an episode of Hannity narrated by Moore’s voice. So much fun.

Hey, there’s got to be some payout from yesterday’s debacle.

RIP Roger Scruton

Sir Roger Scruton died! It’s really sad. He was a great friend to Eastern Europeans when we didn’t have many. Not that we’ve got crowds of them now, of course. But Scruton understood and supported Eastern Europe until his death.

Here’s a great recent piece that’s fairly short for those who don’t know him.