Compassion for Marxism

If you never felt any compassion for Marxism, you will do now:

Navalny’s Cockroaches

A great thread about Navalny by Kamil Galeev:

I’ve been repeating all this for years. The love affair of Western liberals with Navalny is disturbing. The same people who bleat non-stop about anti-racism are in love with a guy who sieg-heiled at brownshirt rallies and referred to non-white individuals as cockroaches who need to be squashed. It beggars belief.

You need to really lose all touch with reality to find imaginary neo-Nazis around every corner in the US and fail to notice a very sincere and real one in Russia.

Galeev is absolutely right to compare Navalny with the Rwandan Radio Mille Collines. It’s not even similar rhetoric. It’s the exact same one.

Asylum App

This is actually a brilliant idea. No asylum applications should be accepted at the border or after crossing. This creates terrible incentives for illegal border crossings, inhuman exploitation of migrants by cartels, trafficking, abuse, detention facilities. This can all be done away with by moving the application away from the border and into the digital sphere. This is a cheap, intelligent, and humane solution that should be applauded. All that’s needed now is to remove “the port of entry” concept from use altogether in what concerns asylum or immigration.

The app is the first step in the right direction. Now it’s time for the next step of either abolishing these in-person appointments altogether or moving them to embassies in the countries of origin. If you are really into these interviews, do them remotely. Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, whatever.

I see people on social media bitching about this already but their brains are clouded by partisan concerns instead of focusing on solving the problem.

Too Peopley

My father would have loved this. He was one of those individuals who are hugely charming, very personable, the life of the party at a gathering of any size, could talk to absolutely anybody with great ease. But at the same time, he didn’t need people. It was always too peopley for him. I’ll never forget how he’d respond to every suggestion to go shopping with, “But there will be people there!” This was accompanied with an expression of such comical repulsion that was unforgettable.

It’s a common misconception that misanthropes and lovers of solitude are incapable of socializing. I’m hugely charming when I can be assed to deploy this skill, which is almost never.

Not Dickens

Also, some people are put off Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead because they heard it was inspired by Dickens’s David Copperfield, and they think it’s a rewrite. That’s not true, though. Some names are similar, some of the very general plot lines are, too. But as a great fan of Dickens, I can honestly tell you this is not a rewrite. You don’t need to read Dickens or even know he exists to love the novel. At no point does Kingsolver allow Dickens to constrain or guide her writing. This is a novel that’s 100% American and completely true to the spirit of Appalachia. It’s a novel of such profound and painful love, respect and admiration for America that it can make you weep. This is Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser and John Steinbeck type of literature. It’s the 21-century Grapes of Wrath.

It is truly a great culture that can produce art like this and it’s a great honor to be able to read it. I’m sure the novel will be translated into many languages but you need to be able to read it in English because the writing is just so delicious. If you love the English language, you just can’t fail to enjoy it. It’s a novel that has everything – the language, the story, the characters, the setting. It’s both an aesthetic and an intellectual pleasure.

Book Notes: Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead

I know everybody must be sick of me going into periodic raptures over untranslated Spanish books nobody can read. Now, finally, I can share a paroxysm of joy over a novel in English.

People, American literature is back. The endless procession of novels about wealthy New Yorkers experiencing midlife crises and adolescent traumas of boys growing up in mansions has been broken. We can now finally read about things that matter.

First of all, I have to mention that the novel is beautifully written. Almost 600 pages, and you still feel robbed when the book ends. A very unique, extremely funny but also heart-mangling narrative voice. It’s the kind of a narrator that gets into your bones and stays there. To write a character like that is a lifetime achievement for an author.

Demon Copperhead is about family dysfunction, poverty, and the blight of opioids in Appalachia. I sincerely don’t understand how anybody can write about America today and not write about addiction. And now we finally have a big, serious novel about addiction as experienced by people who are not rich, bored dweebs.

I almost didn’t buy the novel because several reviews I read said it’s too political. Kingsolver writes with great love and admiration towards the people whom the more spoiled among us refer to as “deplorables”, and I guess that was the political aspect some readers couldn’t stomach. There’s also a paragraph where a character – a poor, confused, uneducated boy – alights on some silly online theory to explain the immiseration of his region. People tend to confuse the author and the characters, so maybe they perceived that as a political statement instead of an illustration of how desperate people clutch at straws to explain their situation.

In any case, it’s s great great novel. Please give yourself a gift of reading it. I’ve been asked several times if there are American novels of the crisis, and now I can say that finally there is at least one.