The Quiet Heroes

We celebrated Klara’s 7th birthday today. The party went great, the kids clearly enjoyed, even the weather was superb.

Two of the kids at the party – a 6-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister – are being raised by very infirm, retirement-age grandparents. Amazing people. Sweet, a great sense of humor. But still, can you imagine? Being 70 and raising very small, very energetic kids?

I’m seeing this quite a lot. Grandparents stepping in, raising their children’s children. Where did the parents go?

It’s very sad.

The War Update

Once again, there’s a barrage of uninformed bad takes on the Russian war in Ukraine published by the usual suspects, The New York Times, The Telegraph, Foreign Affairs, and the Unherd. They hear something somewhere and are eager to report but are too lazy to find out what’s actually happening.

The main thrust of the reporting is that Russians are preparing a major offensive in the Donbass. 100,000 tanks! 180,000 tanks! 200,000 tanks! It’s like a weird auction where each publication tries to outdo the previous one.

What’s really happening, though?

As usual, Western reporting is several weeks too late to the party. This major Russian offensive that the Western media are anticipating has already been going on for a while. As a result, the Russian losses are back to where they were at the beginning of the war. Between 900 and 1,100 Russian soldiers die daily. This is up from a daily loss of somewhere between 250-300 throughout the Fall. The other day, Russians tried to achieve a breakthrough near Vuhledar and suffered catastrophic losses in lives and equipment, including tanks.

The problem with the vision in which Russians amass hundreds of thousands of tanks and millions of troops and then simultaneously advance them is that there’s no possibility of supplying these tanks or troops. The depots, the bridges and the railroad connections that they used before are 80% destroyed at this point.

As a result, the offensive looks exactly like what we see right now. Heavy fighting over the same tiny village. Russians have advanced by 1-2 kilometres in a couple of areas at the cost of truly enormous losses.

To give an example, Russians have been trying to capture the town of Bakhmut since August. Since the offensive began back in late January, they have stepped up their efforts. Extremely heavy fighting is going on every day around Bakhmut. Ukrainian soldiers built veritable underground apartments, very cute and cozy, to live while they defend Bakhmut. Russians are in a very disadvantaged position because of the geographic specifics of the area. Russians are fighting heroically but they have almost lost more people near Bakhmut than the entire US losses in Vietnam.

But yes, the famous Russian offensive already began. Its declared goals are markedly modest compared with the original declared goals. In the meantime, 78% of the Russian population supports ending the war now and immediately starting an invasion of Kazakhstan. And Prigozhin, the guy who recruits Russian troops out of jails, has announced plans to conquer Italy, France and Bulgaria and make them part of… Ukraine.

Art as a Path to God

People often find it hard to draw a dividing line between the artistic qualities of a work of art and the ideology of its author.

Here’s how I suggest we think about it:

An artistic gift has a huge limitation which is that it has to live in a human being. And a human being can be stupid, nasty, lazy, confused, anything. The gift is from God, and the personal qualities of the individual into whom God deposited the gift can’t touch it. An individual can choose not to use the gift at all or use it for bad purposes. But the gift remains.

Artistic gifts are given in a pattern we cannot begin to fathom. They are our pathways to God. Or to the experience of the sublime, if you are not religious.

I have no idea why God chooses to lead us towards experiencing the glory of creation through people like Stephen Markley and not, for example, through me, a person who has all the right ideas and wouldn’t waste a literary talent on spouting woke slogans. I guess making our peace with the imperfect nature of the vessels of God’s glory is one of the many trials that we keep failing to pass.

P.S. For the non-religious, simply substitute “God” with “nature”, and you’ll understand my meaning immediately.

Talent and Wokeness

I was waiting for the new novel by Stephen Markley, the author of Ohio. He’s very talented, an amazing young author. I highly recommend Ohio to everybody. It can be read as a companion novel to Demon Copperhead, although it’s not aa good.

Finally, Markley’s new novel came out. I downloaded a sample and, God, it’s so woke, it’s almost like a parody of wokeness. The novel belongs to the genre known as climate porn and aims to get people scared of the global warming.

“We are all going to die because evil capitalism destroyed the planet!”

But that message falls flat because there’s something much scarier in the book. It’s the possibility that we are all going to keep on living in a world of unbearable wokeness where small children lecture each other about ‘gender essentialism’ and lovers exchange strings of ‘anti-racist’ slogans in bed because it’s more enjoyable to verbally fellate Ibram Kendi than to make love to each other.

If you read the article I linked yesterday about the woke youth leader Keisha turning a summer school seminar into a cult, this novel is written by somebody who sounds like the graduate of that cult and Keisha’s beat student.

I wouldn’t even mention any of this if it weren’t for one thing. Markley is very talented. His is a unique literary gift that arises once in a generation. With everything I mentioned above, the writing is still painfully enjoyable.

I’ve waited for a Stephen Markley for twenty years, and finally he’s here but he’s been perverted by wokeness. He’s still a great writer. Not great as in “good” but great as in “outstandingly talented.”