Mr. Cincinnatus

I have pretty weird opinions about books most of the time, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share them (nice logic there, isn’t it?)

This About page gives a pretty clear idea of what I’m going to do with this blog. In short, I’ll review books in connection with movies/TV-shows/plays that they remind me of. Not the movie versions of said books, obviously. I’ll just point out the parallels I see in the plot, characters, themes etc.

I hope it turns out well.


Book: Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov

10/10

Movie: Mr. Nobody directed by Jaco Van Dormael

10/10

Recently we had to read Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading for literature class. And I must say, it was an amazing experience. I was used to the Nabokov who wrote Lolita, the rich poems and short stories I know and love, not the Nabokov I saw in this particular work. It was originally written in Russian and first published in the 1930s. Those were pretty dark times thanks to a bunch of off-the-rocker dictators, which is why many critics assumed he was writing about this period of history.

The book tells the story of Cincinnatus C. who is accused of ‘gnostical turpitude’ and sentenced to a beheading. He is unaccepted by the society he lives in because he is ‘impervious to the rays of others’, producing ‘a bizarre impression, as of a lone dark obstacle in this world of souls transparent to one another’. The whole book is virtually him waiting for his execution while interacting with the apparently lifeless, will-less inhabitants of the world. Continue reading

Life Advice from Alexei Venediktov

I love my university. And not only for its curriculum, amazingly crazy teachers and diverse student body, but also because it has given me the opportunity to see awesome people working in the sphere of journalism every other Saturday of the year. Among them were the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova (most of the time), political scientist Dmitry Kulikov, radio host Anna Shafran, Aleksandr Gurnov (Russia Today), etc. But journalist, radio personality and simply an incredible person Alexei Venediktov has to be one of the most interesting ‘lecturers’.

He was our guest today.

When he walked into the lecture hall in a ‘Hear Me Roar’ Lannister House T-shirt, I knew I was going to like the guy. And I did. He told us quite a bit of funny stories that had happened to him at work, the most memorable being an incident with Condoleezza Rice when she was interviewed by Venediktov on the Echo of Moscow and a funny question to Putin during a press-conference by a journalist from Echo of Moscow. Continue reading

Déjà vu, Hodor, and Ramsay is a Bastard

Sooooo, most of my May exams are over and I finally got enough time to sit down with a lot of popcorn and chocolate and enjoy Game of Thrones Episode 4 and 5. Enjoy is a very relative term here…

Since I didn’t have the time to review the episodes right after they came out, I’ll just point out the few things in both episode which really impressed/shocked/disappointed me.

A bunch of potentially deadly spoilers dwell below. You have been warned.

Continue reading

A Never-Ending Cycle

The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day.

Proust
Samuel Beckett

This short animation is basically… life. Existence. The endless process of creation. The universe and everything.

I remember being astonished back when I first watched this video. Since then I’ve watched this God knows how many times and it never ceases to amaze me with its simplicity and sheer beauty. One living being creates another, rediscovering the secret of true life, not just physical existence, and so on and so forth. This ‘cycle of life’ is infinite, and although neither we nor these rabbits can appreciate its beauty from an immortal viewpoint, it’s greatly fulfilling to make even the smallest impact on this world — if it has a visible result.

Exams = Evil

I was about to start doing something useful like preparing for the exams I have in June when I stumbled upon this video.

So true. Which is why I’m delighted that most of my university exams are oral.

In any case, this basically means I’m watching a video about how bad exams are and bitching about the fact that I have exams instead of preparing for them. But that’s normal right?

*nervous laughing*

My Love for Science

My love-hate relationship with science began when I was ten years old.

My aunt gave me an encyclopedia for my birthday and, having read it, I begged my mom for another one. I got a three-inch thick book with a dictionary to go with it, and I was happy.

Then my relationship progresses — let’s fast-forward to seventh grade.

My local school here in Russia has a wonderful physics teacher — but I realized that much, much later. In seventh grade, while studying physics laws and haunted by equations I couldn’t understand, everything that had to do with physics (including my precious encyclopedias) now embodied everything bad there was in the world.

Eighth grade — hello, chemistry.

My only solace was biology, and even in that field I didn’t have that much enthusiasm.

So, how did I get to the point where I watch PBS SpaceTime every other day?

It all started when I got a C in my term grade for chemistry. That pissed me off big time. I was by no means a straight-A student, but I’d always managed to keep my grades relatively high. So I took my textbook and spent six hours trying to figure out why this happens:

4P + 5O2 = 2P2O5

Seriously, I couldn’t get it. And that was after a year of studying chemistry.

When I finally discovered the truth, I actually taught myself to love the subject and even got an A on a chemistry exam in ninth grade. I made an effort in physics. I learned to solve simple and not-so-simple problems.

All was well. Until Voldemort came in the form of a science professor in the first semester of university.

The whole department of International Journalism first-years wondered why we had to have science when we were supposed to be doing creative work, why the professor made fun of us and downright humiliated us when we displayed complete lack of knowledge in elementary physics/chemistry/biology, and most of all why anyone would be forced to have an exam with this man when there were stories of people retaking it 16 times. That’s a bit harsh, no?

Professor Schitz’s class was first on Monday, and every Monday my fellow students would agree — Schitz happens.

PUN WHOLEHEARTEDLY INTENDED

I did nothing the whole semester. I’m a bad, bad student.

When it was time for the exam, I felt like a million violent chemical reactions were happening in my veins. I was worried, nervous, scared, no, terrified, and I took all useful information I could find while preparing and placed it into one Word file, which turned out to be 85 pages long. I still remember the profuse thanks of my friends when I shared it with them.

But we still felt really deep in shit.

I remember the dark corridor, the cold classroom, the sheer joy I felt when I got a question pertaining to physics and not biology (as I hadn’t studied it that well). Having written everything I know about cosmic background radiation, I awaited the verdict. Professor Schitz invited me into the room, and, after a pleasant chat about space and the creation of our universe, he asked,

“Are you satisfied with 61?” (any grade below 60 means you fail)

YES, DAMMIT, I AM! shouted my consciousness.

“Yes,” I squeaked and exited the room with a stupid grin on my face.

Only nine people passed, including me, in our group of 26 students. The rest made it through the arduous retaking process.

Shit ceased.

But then… The second semester started and first thing on Monday is now my favorite subject, History, and I… miss science. And Professor Schitz. I miss his funny way of explaining things, I miss him implying that our intellect is lower than that of a third-grader, I miss the parts of his presentation when he would interrupt his speeches about science and show us not-so-well-known-but-still-masterpieces of famous artists — and proceed to mock us for not knowing even that.

So I find myself today watching YouTube videos about physics, reading Steven Hawking and musing about the expansion rate of our Universe.

Life is weird but fun.

Elias – Revolution

let’s start a revolution
how beautiful
it is

Sometimes, I’m tempted to start a revolution in the world of music and urge people to listen to songs like these.

Unfortunately, great non-mainstream songs are often overlooked unless they’re featured in a trailer of some popular movie, game or whatever. I don’t remember how I found this song, but since that day I listened to it countless times and I have no regrets. The lyrics are so… tender. They’re simple yet meaningful and can be understood differently.

Personally I interpret the song differently depending on when or where I listen to it. For me, it’s been as simple as severing ties with the past and as complicated as a love story in a war-torn world.

How beautiful it is, isn’t it?