zenpundit.com » russia

Archive for the ‘russia’ Category

Recommended Reading—Summer 2016

Monday, July 11th, 2016

[by J. Scott Shipman]

Storm of Creativity2017

wright-brothers-biographyserendipities

Paradisejssundertow

white horsewashington

 

The Storm of Creativity, by Kyna Leski

2017 War With Russia, by General Sir Richard Shirreff

The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough

Serendipities, Language and Lunacy, by Umberto Eco

Paradise, Dante Alighieri, translated by Mark Musa

Undertow, by Stanton S. Coerr

The White Horse Cometh, by Rich Parks

Washington The Indispensable Man, by John Thomas Flexner

This list starts the first week of May, so perhaps the title should be Spring/Summer. Most of these books are quick reads and all are recommended.

I picked up Ms. Leski’s book at an MIT bookshop on a business trip in early May and read on the train ride home. Books on creativity are ubiquitous, but Ms. Leski takes an interesting approach by describing the creative process using the metaphor of a storm. Several ZP readers will find of interest.

2017 was recommended by a friend. The author was the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the book focuses on a Europe/NATO response to a Russian invasion of the Baltics. Written in a Tom Clancy-like style, the plot is fast-paced even though the good general provides sometimes provides detailed insights into the inner workings of NATA and the North Atlantic Council (this is one of the values of the book—bureaucracy writ-large).

David McCullough’s Wright Brothers delivers an approachable and human accounting of the first men of powered flight. Some reviews on Amazon complain McCullough lifts and uses too many quotes to tell the story. At times the quotes were distracting, but not enough to prevent the enjoyment of the story of two brothers who changed the world. This book was a gift otherwise I probably would not have read.

Serendipities is a short book, but was a long read for me. Eco explains how language and the pursuit of the perfect language has confounded thinkers since time immemorial. He refers to Marco Polo’s unicorn (also used in his Kant and the Platypus which is excellent) explaining how language is often twisted to meet a preconceived notion or idea. The first couple of chapters were quite good, chapters three and four did not hold my interest or were over my head. The closing chapter was good enough to convince me I’ll need to read this little book again. (My Eco anti-library has been growing of late.)

Eco’s book led me to reread Musa’s excellent translation of Paradise. My son gave me the deluxe edition with parallel Italian and English, plus commentary. Eco referenced Canto 26 and 27, and I enjoyed the break so much I read the whole thing!

Undertow is my good friend Stan Coerr’s second book of poetry.  His first book Rubicon was a moving collection of poetry of men at war. Undertow deals more with the heart and is quite good, too. You won’t be disappointed.

White Horse is also a book by an old friend, Rich Parks (we’ve known each other since the mid-80’s). White Horse is self-published and in places it shows, but the overall story is quite good for a first book (I’ve already told him his book would make an excellent screenplay.). The plot is quick and entertaining even if a bit unbelievable, but the story is fiction. Rich is following up with a sequel in August in 2016 and I’ll be reading it, too.

Mr. Flexner’s Washington was a gift, too. In this quick biography Washington is made approachable and human. And when I say “quick,” I mean quick…Trenton and Princeton took one chapter compared to David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing which took up a standalone book. If someone were looking for a first Washington biography, this would be a good place to start.

This isn’t the conclusion of my summer reading, but a pretty good start.What are  you reading this summer?

Christianity, ready for the stars

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — the Russians were first with Sputnik, can Orthodoxy in space be far behind? ]
.

lift off

Unfinished TV tower in Yekaterinburg may be turned into St. Catherine Church:

Yekaterinburg architects created a concept of the highest church in the world: they suggested combining in one project a cult building and the notorious unfinished construction, Yekaterinburg TV reports.

“According to the concept, they are going to combine the unfinished construction and the cult building in one cosmic-shaped construction, though it is far from architecture of Orthodox churches,” the TV channel reports.

According to the authors of the idea, they wanted to suggest an alternative to “the church on water,” which was voiced among others projects of Yekaterinburg church.

Church or TV? What’s your preference?

**

Then there’s that enchanted phrase, “the church on water”..

Well, there’s the church of Our Lady of the Rocks in the Bay of Kotor, off Perast, Montenegro:

Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, Montenegro
photo: Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

It’s supported on water, to be sure, though it doesn’t appear to walk on it —

More explicitly, there’s the church that seems to be actually named Church on the Water in Hokkaido, designed by architect Tadao Ando

Church on the water, Tadao Ando ,Hokkaido (1)

**

In what might be seen as an interfaith move, Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando also designed the Water Temple in Hompukuji, on the island of Awaji, Japan:

Water Temple

Wikiarquitectura tells us:

The Water Temple is the residence of Ninnaji Shingon, the oldest sect of Tantric Buddhism in Japan, founded in 815.

**

Revelation 22.17:

And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The friend of my enemy is my what?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — or to quote the Stones, sympathy for the devil? ]
.

blank 600 Syria Israel Russia

Sources:

  • Kyle Orton, Russia Needs the Islamic State to Save Assad
  • Al-Masdar News, Israeli Intelligence chief: We do not want ISIS defeat in Syria
  • That Bach Chaconne

    Sunday, May 8th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — JS Bach in Palmyra, in the DC Metro, and variously on YouTube ]
    .

    I have to applaud Putin and the Russians for bringing the full orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater from St Petersburg to Palmyra now that the Islamic State has departed, with added kudos for choosing Bach‘s towering Chaconne from his Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 as one of three works to be played there — by the Tchaikovsky Competition winning soloist Pavel Milyukov:

    As I say, I applaud the gesture. OTOH, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, according to Breitbart, called the event “a tasteless attempt to distract attention from the continued suffering of millions of Syrians” and said it “shows that there are no depths to which the regime will not sink.”

    **

    This may not be the greatest performance of that work musically, but the work itself is extraordinary. Johannes Brahms said of it:

    On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

    **

    It was famously this Chaconne that violinist Joshua Bell played — twice — with his violin case open to receive tips, in DC’s L’Enfant Plaza metro station, during a 45 minute anonymous session in which he netted $32. $32 and change, for a man whose upcoming performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at DC’s Kennedy Center (February 11, 2017) is ticketed at $216 or $223, depending on how well seated you wish to be…

    Here’s the poorly recorded, hidden videocam account of the second of those performances, which starts at about the 30’15” mark:

    Gene Weingarten‘s description of the event in the Washington Post, Pearls Before Breakfast, won the Pulitzer..

    **

    For the fullest musical appreciation, here is that same Joshua Bell playing the Chaconne in 2014 in the DeLaMar Theater, Amsterdam:

    Hillary Hahn, also superb:

    The no less beautiful Hélène Grimaud, playing the Busoni transcription for piano:

    And last, violinist Christoph Poppen plays the Chaconne, with added chorale motifs as reconstructed by violinist turned musicologist Helga Thoene sung by the Hilliard Ensemble — the culmination of the group’s celebrated album, Morimur:

    Post-modern adaptation, or quintessential Bach? Either way, I find the entire project enthralling.

    Rome, Rome, or Rome?

    Thursday, February 25th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on Graeme Wood’s latest, the goals of IS, and geographic slippage ]
    .

    Graeme Wood, who wrote the Atlantic piece that broke the apocalyptic side of the Islamic State’s ideology wide open in March of last year, has a related piece out this month: Donald Trump and the Apocalypse, with the subtitle, Is Rome really ISIS’s “ultimate trophy”? It’s a fun read, discussing the confusion that is possible over the use of the word Rome in Muslim prophetic literature — a topic I’ve discussed before.

    Just for the record, then, here’s a screengrab from the Islami State’s magazine Dabiq, issue 4 page 37:

    Dabiq 4.37 We will conquer your Rome

    **

    As a Newsweek item from September 2012 notes, there have in fact been three claimants to the title of Rome:

    When Ivan the Terrible was crowned the first Tsar of All Russia in 1547, the church announced Moscow to be the “Third and Final Rome,” the inheritor of St. Peter’s Rome and Byzantium, and the last bastion of Orthodox Christianity standing up to a Europe mired in heresy.

    Russian commentator Yuliya Latynina quoted..

    Filofey of Pskov’s 1510 claim that “Two Romes have fallen; the third stands; and there will not be a fourth”

    This was in Novaya gazeta, February 2015, and she suggested that Russia..

    many of whose residents view it as the third Rome, may suffer the fate not of the first Rome but of the second, a fate that cannot be reassuring to many of them because in the end the residents of the second Rome in Constantinople “considered that Islam was better than the West.”

    Wood mentions in his piece that the Australian jihadist ideologue Cerantonio argues:

    The Rum of the end-times hadith is not the Rome of Pope Francis but the Rome of the Republic of Turkey.

    Putin might take offense if he knew..

    **

    And then there’s the matter of Quranic translation and the Quranic verse 30.2, as Wood also notes:

    Rome Rum translations

    Arberry, always interesting to read, translates that verse:

    The Greeks have been vanquished.

    The historical commentary in The Study Quran, p 984-85, clarifies that this verse refers to Sassanid (Magian) successes against the (Christian) Byzantine empire — which the following verse says will be reversed — and terming it “the only reference in the Quran to political events conetemporary with Muhammad and his followers beyond the Arabian Peninsula”.

    **

    All things considered, oy veh: it seems that history does strange things to geography, time to space.


    Switch to our mobile site