‘Am I in paradise or on the moon?’ George Bernard Shaw famously quipped from the top of Mount Lovćen in Montenegro. Adriatic sea stretches to the horizon to its west and on a clear day you can see Italy; to the south is Skadar Lake, beyond it – the dark, mysterious hills of Albania; in the north is Bay of Kotor, Europe’s southernmost fjord…
To get to Kotor Fjord from the historical capital, Cetinje, once the only way lead through the mountains, up the steep, narrow and oddly curved road… When you look at it from the top of the mountain – a capital letter M is clearly seen, it seems to be engraved into the landscape by the road… The legend is that French architect commissioned to oversee the construction in this way declared his love for beautiful Montenegrin Queen Milena – and had ran away from the country for his life! Whether the story is true we can not know, but Montenegrin women are known for their beauty – King Nikola and Queen Milena’s daughters had married into the most influential European dynasties and our King will be nick-named “the father in law of Europe”!
Elena of Montenegro (born Princess Jelena Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro) was wife of Victor Emmanuel III and Queen of Italy from 1900 until 1946; by Italians she was named “La Bella Elena” – beautiful Elena.
Two of our other princesses, with keen interest in the occult, Milica and Anastasia, had married into Romanov dynasty and it was them who later on introduced mysterious Rasputin to the Russian Court.
If you read serious historical sources – you’ll learn of False Tsar Stephen the Little; for my thesis i studied carefully archives of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic correspondence exchanged between two courts – Montenegrins were fully aware that their ruler had a false identity; but did they care? Not the least – he was a great ruler and that was the only thing that mattered; where he came from and who he was in reality – nobody knows until today.
The longest war in history , Montenegrin – Japanese war, lasted from 1905 – 2006; when Russia declared war to Japan, the teeny kingdom sided with its ally and also proclaimed war to the Country of the Raising Sun! Albeit the answer was never received – Montenegrin gesture was not merely symbolical – the best warriors chosen from the most reputable of the tribes, along with Russians went to war, fought bravely, won victories and received medals! Again, all of it is documented in the archives of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the names of these people who fought against Samurai and the awards they received are meticulously listed!
Then super powers got busy with their own business and it’s only in 2006, when high representative of Japanese Government traveled to Montenegro to recognize our regained independence – that the truce was signed!
Montenegro is one of the oldest countries in Europe – Principality Doclea, the great-grand mother of Montenegro, was formed in 9th century; it shall have a turbulent personal history, like many outstandingly beautiful and rebellious princesses did … In 1042 it shall run away from what once was considered her home – the mighty Byzantine empire, in 1421, it shall get kidnapped by a Serbian Despotate; princess by birthright would renounce its nobility by joining the working class family of Yugoslav people and shall remain quite happy in its new home, as long as her inborn sense of human dignity was not jeopardized and her honorable name brought down to dirt. That’s when the princess decided it was the high time she hit the road and became a sovereign queen. (In 2006. Montenegro has regained its independence.)
In an earlier essay, Death by chocolate, i’ve written on Montenegrin cuisine.
Favorite entrée is Njegushi cheese stored in oil – let alone that goats and cows are fed freely on the nearest valley on herbs and grass typical of this region, the cheese is later smoked at home and the village of Njegushi is unique for its blend of sea-air with the air from the mountains; two climates intersecting in that very spot give the food a taste that’s impossible to second.
After the cheese is imbued with this unique aroma – it’s stored in olive oil and that’s a story unto itself, because the oil is hand made by monks in the monasteries on the coast; at the end you get a a small piece of cheese that’s threaded with history of this magical kingdom of Black Mountains. The cheese, it seems, is served mostly to go along with the story of our rulers, Petrovic Njegos dynasty, and their tribe of Njegusi; the monks, while making the oil – read prayers and these prayers give you the strength of a tiny rebellious nation, which resisted its numerous oppressors for centuries and never in its history was enslaved.
As you would be snacking on the cheese, you would get served Montenegrin brandy – Prvijenac, which is made by unique technologies and in limited quantities; it comes in numbered bottles, like a part of a collection – which basically it is.
There is that joke – the proverbial Russian, American and Montenegrin argued whose beverage is the best and , as expected, without having agreed – they decided to conduct an experiment; a group of mice got treated to Whiskey, Vodka and Prvijenac respectively and the effects were observed and recorded.
The mouse who had Whiskey started walking around nonchalantly, with a seductive aura of a western-movie actor, he demanded his own Colt to protect the mice maidens and after a while rode into the sunset.
The mouse who had Vodka started quoting Russian Classics and despairing over the current state of the world’s affairs, lady mice were admiring him while silently wiping off tears with tiny handkerchiefs and praying that this hero wins the duel against the usual bad guy.
The mouse who drank of Prvijenac just stood there.
After some time, he stood on his back paws and yelled out in a human voice, carrying the menace of vengeance high and low: Ladies, back to the hole, you have no business here! Where is the bloody cat?! I’ll do it away with my bare hands! ‘Nuff of this oppression! Come out, you villain, fight as a man!
You get an idea…
Here you can see the gallery of pictures from Kotor Fjord, Scadar lake and other shots of the amazing Black Mountains.
P.S. Just in case you are wondering what’s gotten into me to write on my country once again – it’s that after bitching about FP in how NOT to get freshly pressed, EVER, i do think the guys behind Daily Prompt deserve cudos for coming up with today’s “Local Flavor‘. 😉
Right, it’s as if we aren’t sick of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ outside Word Press, we have this FP thing pushed on us… I must admit i do like most of the entries that do get FPed, but of all the blogs i follow and adore, only Dianne Gray and Rian got FP-ed. Mind you, both are unconventional thinkers with genius writing stile, besides, Dianne is a pro writer who had been published (and popular) long before the Word Press craze, so no surprise there.
What does surprise me is the plethora of excellent and popular blogs that in my year or so on WP got zero promotion. Not to brag, but I am a pro writer myself, involved with all kinds of professional writers’ international activities and even happen to be the president of the national jury for EU prize for literature, so i don’t doubt all that much my own taste in writings; being a doctoral student at one of the world’s top ranked Universities specialized in linguistics, i have some confidence in my intellectual discernment too, and i did wonder for quite a while how come the stuff i love doesn’t get any special attention… Ever.
I went through the list of topics i search regularly:
It’s not that i am looking for something socially unacceptable and on the edge of the good taste, right?
Check out those searches for yourself, there are absolute pearls among them – and by academically recognized authorities too (honestly, those are indeed quite sub-specialized, so very few non-experts discuss them publicly.)
The thing is that we have genius Bonnie Cehovet here on Word Press, a published writer, author of remarkable micro fiction and an independent books and Tarot decks reviewer. ‘Independent’ means you can trust her opinion because she’s reviewing stuff she chooses on a pro bono basis, so there is no way you could invest into a wrong, yet expensive collector’s item because she was paid to promote it; if only for that her work deserves all the praise – let alone that her own taste and, thus, recommendations are indeed exquisite.
Mary K. Greer, worldwide known author and scholar, one of the most respected contemporary experts on the philosophy and history of the occult is blogging on Word Press too.
Among us is Lisa Frideborg Lloyd, famed mystic and Tarot educator.
Amazing Thalassa Therese joined WP recently – she’s the producer of the oldest established Tarot Symposium in the world, founder of the Daughters of Divination, and founder/CEO of Beating the Boundaries Life Strategies and Transformative Arts.
I must tell you all of them are stars with international following and have quite an impact on big group of population with certain buying power. Have I mentioned that all of those blogs are amazingly entertaining and educative too?
One of the coolest and most informative blogs on collections and collecting is that of the famed Le Fanu – My Curious Cabinet; author’s writing style and keen observances on life in a ‘far off land’ would certainly be of interest to a wider following.
Yet, we fall in the uncategorizable category of a sub-culture and while the hard working and smart peeps behind FP selection will risk here and there to promote a post on anorexia or bipolar depression, rest assured they won’t go that far so to press any of us. And it’s absolutely fine, what’s socially acceptable changes every fifty years or so, where as those of us who are into the “obscure” occult disciplines have been around ever since the dawn of the humanity and by now we developed powerful surviving skills, like any other guerrilla does.
I’ve written before on subcultures in Skinny Bitches & Russian Ballerinas and, to be honest, i’d be utterly desperate if we suddenly became mainstream, so take this for what it is – not a rant, merely a stream of thought.
Other than that, there is this amazing blog on Russia – let alone all the ‘world’s being your oyster’ of the internet – there are still very few great blogs about Russia in English and From Russia With Love is definitely one of them.
It’s not that there are too many famous public personalities from Armenia writing in English – yet Arlen is around and at his blog you can read (among else) rare stuff on this exotic country, which is hardly available anywhere else.
That being said, mine too happens to be the only Word Press blog in English where you can read genuine stuff on Montenegro, another far off country on which culture and traditions still little is known.
And here is something else i thought of. Rian of Truth and Cake came up with the genius idea to Freshly Press yourself, hope she won’t mind mine borrowing it (ehem, well, snatching would make a more appropriate wording, but anyway ;))
So, let’s do it here as well, if you feel so inclined:
1. Pick one of your posts you take pride in;
2. Link to it in the comments section below, while adding couple of words on the content;
3. If you choose to do so – promise you’ll check out and comment on at least one entry by another blogger who linked to their respective post too. There is no FP police involved at this time, but karma is … well, mean, so make sure you do it ))
4. Comment directly on their blog and, please, don’t spam.
I got up at dawn and for last five hours or so i’ve been researching the (scars) info on the owner of the amazing house number 53 in Bolyshaya Morskaya street, St. Petersburg. I got there by chance, the meeting i attended was held there – and i almost felt my jaw hitting the floor from utter amazement! I am posting the pictures for you to see – this is definitely NOT something you expect to get at some Chamber of Commerce!
As you would imagine, being a life-long student of humanities, i am not impressed with commerce in the first place.
But, it’s a long story and feel free to skip the stream of consciousness intro to follow…
If you are striving to be anything like a (presumably) independent person trying to earn the living by writing as honestly as possible on reasonably intelligent topics… You are standing right there on the edge of the slippery slope, like Tarot Fool does.
Studying arts and humanities is generally considered quite futile, given that you are not a royal offspring, with nothing else to do – whereas all the subjects related to consumerism, all kinds of marketings and similar idiocies, are considered to be a feet-on-the-ground and pragmatic course in life… But is it?
Could be due to my growing up in the times of planned economy and all kinds of market deficits – but i really see no worth neither in advertising nor in any of it sick cousins. If the product is good & needed, it will sell, the rest… Well, it’s mostly ‘ol good greed that brought upon us the global economic meltdown and all stemming from it gruesome consequences.
Mostly peeps choose to turn the blind eye and do something , without overthinking it, but – if they do think for whom they are working and why, chances are they are in for quite an unpleasant surprise.
Octogenarian former Canadian Cabinet Minister Paul Hellyer, with a long and varied career is still active and still deeply engaged in a wide variety of world issues.
Hear him out: “The world financial system is a total fraud. It is one gargantuan Ponzi scheme, no better than the one Bernie Madoff used to swindle his friends and neighbors, and thousands of times worse if you add up the total number of victims it has ripped off over countless generations.” (Adopted from globalresearch.ca)
Then there is a lengthy and credible explanation of how it happened – which makes sense even to my mind, alien to all kinds of conspiracy theories; there is even a plan how we could make it work. The things is that i had several ideas myself – and have worked for decades to implement them, i lived to see them sprouting and… decaying.
Be it a religion or a political doctrine, something happens to it instantly upon human interference – it gets corrupted beyond recognition.
There is usually a fool or two (i think idealist would be the appropriate euphemism) in the beginning and then the opportunists take the matters into their hands… From there on – it’s all downhill.
Anyways, we as humanity seem to be duped and after the active “Confucianist” phase where i actively sought to change things, i’ve pretty much given up and resorted to – minimalism. (And i’ve written on that too, in The Tao of Ruth.)
Honestly, for myself, except thinking, writing and NOT buying stuff i don’t absolutely need, for now i don’t see other means of personal resistance.
In an earlier essay i quoted American educator Abraham Flexner who back in 1939 warned of the dangerous tendency to -as Maria Popova puts it – to forgo pure curiosity in favor of pragmatism. (A. Flexner, Usefulness of Useless, pdf)
More than seven decades passed since he wrote those Orwellian words – but, sadly, not much seems to have changed.
… and start reading here:
So, nothing new under the sun, but it is rather strange – given my general aversion to the contemporary economy, that i ended up in St. Petersburg’s Chamber of Commerce. Yet the way of man is froward and strange and once there, i was in awe, literally, its rooms and decorations are a museum material. I asked around whose it was before the revolution and someone vaguely responded the house belonged to some baron, an adventurer who traveled extensively in India and of whom little is known. Well, that sounds like a plot of one of the infamously poorly written Dan Brown’s novels! Thus, this morning i spent five hours trying to get the history of that house in Bolyshaya Morskaya 53.
Chamber’s website teasingly advertises: Don’t miss the chance to see with your own eyes the rooms of the castle of P.P. Golenschev -Kutuzov- Tolstoy, but there is no mention of who the gentleman was. Both surnames, Kutuzov and Tolstoy are big in Russia and from there i dug unto the tzarist archives and old registers so to figure out who on earth could amass such wealth and what for. So, according to Russian State Historical Archive, Pavel Pavlovich, listed as the home owner, was the grand-grand son of the famous field marshal of the Russian Empire, one of the finest diplomats under the reign of the Romanov Tzars – Mikhail Kutuzov, whose name is inscribed in golden letters in Russian history for it was he who repelled Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812.
The noble family of Golenschev-Kutuzov had several branches and if i am following it correctly, named Pavel Pavlovich’s father was the filthy rich Pavel Matveevich, Godfather of Emperor Paul I, the only son of Catherine the Great, who was assassinated only five years upon ascension to the throne. (For a long time, the rumors were spread that the latter was delusional and mad, yet the truth seems to be different – he wanted the nobility to adopt a code of chivalry, had discovered outrageous corruption in the treasury and all in all his policies were viewed as a great annoyance to the “noble class”.)
Another offspring of that famous noble line was Pavel Vasilyevich , one of the conspirators in the mentioned assassination of the Paul I and chief-executor of Dekabrists… Having read that in the trustworthy encyclopedia, my heart jumped. Dekabrists or Decembrists as Britannica lists them, were Russian liberal princes and revolutionaries who had raised against one of the most reactionary rulers in Russian history – Nicholas I, the son of the assassinated Paul I.
There is very little if anything positive to be said of the autocrat Nicholas I, whereas Decembrists were back then what Occupy movement is today. They remained an everlasting inspiration for Russian writers and liberal thinkers of all times and even back in the day, they were supported by Leo Tolstoy, Aleksandar Pushkin and pretty much everyone else intelligent, progressive and patriotic.
Pavel Vasilyevich is known for the blood-chilling note he sent to the autocratic emperor, upon the execution of the princes – revolutionaries he was overseeing and that in my eyes casts a heavy shadow on the merits he had earned as a general and a diplomat. (He had fought in 1812 Russo Turkish War and escorted the Emperor to the Congress of Vienna.)
But, what is the relation between the executor and the owner of house in Bolyshaya Morskaya 53 , who bear the same surname – that i couldn’t find out, regardless of all the materials searched.
While P.P. Golenschev -Kutuzov- Tolstoy’s life story remains a mystery and will eventually become a subject of some future fictional memoir, the times and circumstances in which this amazing house was built seem familiar: occasional progressive rulers were opposed by corrupted nobility – the 1% of the time, there were individuals with noble intention to make it all better, there were intellectuals who supported them, but all in all, the greed and thirst for power dominated and the majority got duped and all of it the history pushed under the rug because this or that war was won… Sadly, i don’t see that much has changed for your average Joe, Jean Dupont, Juan Peres, Jan Janssen and Mrs. Cohen from Hadera, for whose well-being presumably all those wars are fought.
I’ll end on a brighter note and with another quote by Hon. Paul Hellyer:
“The internet is providing power to the people that they have never enjoyed before. The young people of the world, in concert with the thousands of their parents and others who care about the state of the world can use the power of social networking to effect a miracle on their own behalf and that of succeeding generations.“
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind
Let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change
- Celebrating International Women’s Day in Moscow (indrus.in)
- Express guide for a weekend in Moscow (rbth.ru)
… and those Americans too! I love you guys, being from a tiny nation myself, i am forever fascinated with dynamics of big nations – Russians, Americans, Chinese… to the extent that i learned your respective languages and made an effort to travel and even live in your ‘part of the woods’. (I do know that many of you are equally fascinated with us – opposites attract, what else can i say? ;))
Anyhow, in my unsystematic and off-the-record research of foreign cultures, motivated mainly by quite childlike curiosity about the big world out there – one of the most fascinating phenomena to me is the bilateral relations between the big guys… Let alone state politics – that’s a world unto itself, and quite a predictable and boring one, i am speaking of how your “average Joe” relates to his Russian counterpart and his better half (and the other way around.)
Inter-marrying is blooming and it’s always one of the best indicators, there is huge Russian diaspora in the US and there are numerous Americans living and working in mother Russia.
That being said, i am reading Akunin’s “conspiracy mystery” – The Winter Queen and i am enjoying it thoroughly. After having suffered for years from poor translations of great writers into my native tongue, i am finally having an amazing first-hand experience. Akunin’s Russian is rich and flowing, it feels like warm gloves and a cup of grog in the cold of contemporary global scribomania.
According to The New York Times review, Andrew Bromfield did good work with the English translation, so if you are looking for an awesome and truly Russian read – i wholeheartedly recommend it.
So, earlier today in the laundromat, as i was waiting for the washing machine to finish it’s heavy duty work and skimming through the book’s pages meanwhile – at pages 27-28 i burst out laughing!
Someone Ksaveriy Feofilaktovich (the name sounds funny in Russian too) says: “I read somewhere it’s called American Roulette. They came up with it in America, during the golden fever. You put one bullet into the barrel, you roll it and boom! If you are lucky – you win the pot, if not – bye bye, off you go.”
Akunin uses Russian poker slang expression сорвать банк – it’s when one player wins all the money, but given that i don’t play poker i have no idea what’s the exact English equivalent, i guess ‘win the pot’ will do
Right, he’s referring to the infamous game of chance which the rest of the world calls Russian Roulette! That’s from a novel too mind you; in 1937, Georges Surdez had written a story of the same name for Collier’s magazine:
- ‘Did you ever hear of Russian Roulette?’ … With the Russian army in Romania, around 1917, some officer would suddenly pull out his revolver, put a single cartridge in the cylinder, spin the cylinder, snap it back in place, put it to his head and pull the trigger.
- Except that the linguist in me loves learning where some widespread phrases originated, what did amaze me is that two great nations ascribe to each other this potentially fatal “game”.
- Most interestingly, the predecessor of the roller coaster – so called Russian Mountains, in mother Russia are called… American Mountains, of course.
- Funny, isn’t it?
- Other than that, March 8th is big in Russia, it’s a public holiday and everyone takes it very seriously, almost as seriously as the New Year!
- I’ve written on Communist Calendar before and on this day a year ago i wrote the essay Keep the bloody carnations for yourself, on my own aversion to the “International Women’s Day”… But it’s different in Russia, it does feel like a holiday, everyone is excited, planning outings and looking forward to the (obligatory) gifts they’ll be presented.
- I gave in to the peer pressure, going to the Gorky Park where all kinds of most amazing events will be held – free of charge for the ladies, mind you – and i must admit i am quite excited about it!
- Here is my own early 8th of March gift, a “Brazilian monster” and couple of shots from nearby Starbucks with my gorgeous younger colleagues from Pushkin Uni – Sasha and Zhenya.