Mânia și greața


Chiar dacă aș avea nervi de oțel și tot n-aș putea citi fără un sentiment de abisal, nevrozant dezgust despre “patriotismul” securistului en titre care a fost Iulian Vlad. Marx a scris cândva că omenirea se desparte de trecutul ei râzând. In cazul de față, ne despărțim cu o infinită, irepresibilă și pe deplin justificată mânie in raport cu un criminal și cu apologeții săi. Dublată de o apăsătoare și cât se poate de legitimă greață…


In memoriam Virgil Ierunca


Why does Virgil Ierunca matter? Because in times of dishonesty and cowardice, he was honest and courageous. Because in times of capitulation, he refused to tremble, to waver, and to bow. Because he had a hierarchy of values which has turned out to have been the right one. He passed away on September 28, 2006. He was a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Cmmunist Dictatorship in Romania. Together with his wife and closest friend, Monica Lovinescu, he was the voice of hour hope. Whenever people tell me that we did not have a Milosz, a Camus, or a Havel, I respond that they are wrong. We had Monica and Virgil. Blessed be their memory and may we live up to their legacies!

In Memoriam Vicky Leorda (1941-1917)


She was born on November 26, 1941 in Kuybyshev, USSR and passed away on September 13, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. She was my older sister and a very close friend. Blessed be her luminous memory…

Faith, Hope, Love: Roses by Vincent Van Gogh (1890) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, September 2017


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Zoe Petre RIP…


Cred că pot spune că am cunoscut-o bine. Am fost oaspetele ei in repetate rânduri, m-a invitat să mă intâlnesc cu studentii de la Istorie pe vremea când, imediat dupa revolutie, devenise decan. Dincolo de divergente legate de perceperea unei personalităti ori a alteia, vedeam lumea post-comunistă in chip similar (nu identic). N-am făcut parte din cercul amicilor lui Emil Constantinescu, dar am rămas apropiat de Zoe, eram prieteni de familie. Zoe a fost devotată celui căruia ii fusese consilieră. Cred că il privea ca pe un ucenic, a preferat să inchidă ochii in raport cu stupefianta-i mediocritate. In răspăr cu multi dintre colegii ei politici, Zoe Petre a scris elogios despre Raportul Final al Comisiei Prezidentiale pentru Analiza Dictaturii Comuniste din România: “Raportul este cea mai consistentă contributie de până acum la istoria celor aproape 50 de ani de dictatură comunistă din trecutul apropiat al României”. (“Ziua”, 5 ianuarie 2007, text preluat, cu acordul ei, pe coperta a patra a editiei Humanitas). A venit anul 2012, Zoe a sustinut puciul parlamentar, s-a situat, cu arme si bagaje, in tabara uselistă. Nu ne-am mai revăzut. Mi-a fost dat să privesc uluit câteva emisiuni anteniste in care apărea alături de personaje abominabile. Aflu acum, cu tristete, că s-a stins din viată. A fost o adevarată profesoara, o persoană de o rară eruditie si un om generos. Să se odihnească in pace…

La Multi Ani, Andrei Pleșu!


He embodies brilliantly three gifts: the gift of friendship, the gift of love, and the gift of wisdom. Happy Birthday to Andrei Pleșu, a noble citizen of the European Republic of Letters!

Image: Launching my book “Fantasies of Salvation” at the Embassy of Romania, Washington, DC, November 1998.

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Stalin’s Willing Executioner


: On August 21, 1940, one year after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Catalan communist agent Ramón Mercader assassinated Leon (Lev) Davidovich Trotsky, Stalin’s nemesis. To carry out Stalin’s order, Mercader hit Trotky in the skull with an icepick. The Old Bolshevik fought back with desperate energy. He passed away one day later in a Mexico City hospital. Mercader was arrrested and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He secrelty received the Lenin Order and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for services to the revolutionary cause. Mercader died, age 65, in Havana in October 1978. Altogether, a lurid story of crimes, deceptions, betrayals, manipulations, misplaced ardor, plundered illusions, espionage, hopelessness, and moral decay…

Image: The definitive Mercader biography that I bought in Barcelona in June 2015


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Soviet Grand Guignol


They were all burnt by the unsparingly cruel sun of the Revolution, the Piatnitskys, the Radeks, the Bukharins, the Yakirs, the Redenses and Svanidzes (Stalin’s in-laws), the Litvinovs, the Tukhachevskys, the Rakovskys, and countless others. Fully deserved congratulations to Berkeley historian Yury Slezkine for this formidable accomplishment! An apocryphal story claims that, during the Great Terror, the genialissimo generalissimo used to watch from his office in the Kremlin how the lights turned on and off in the House on the Embankment–the title of a semi-autobiographical novella by Yuri Trifonov. In a recent conversation, Stalin’s biographer Stephen Kotkin told me that this would have been physically impossible. But the vozhd definitely knew what was going on there, who was arrested, whatever happened to the families of those purged. In fact, not only was Koba in the know, but he was in full control, the utimate mastermind of the social cataclysm…

Many residents and their families were detained during Stalin’s terror in the late 1930s, such that the building was dryly referred to as “The House of Preliminary Detention.” (A play on the Russian initialism Допр, from the building’s original name: Дом прави́тельства.) Fully one third of residents disappeared during the terror. The building was in fact an immense mousetrap serving the vindictive appetite of the Black Cat…

Sheila Fitzpatrick in the London Review of Books: “Yuri Slezkine, a master stylist as well as a first-class historian, is the least predictable of scholars. Still, it comes as a surprise to find that the book he has now produced, after long gestation, is a Soviet War and Peace.”

Bulat Okudzhava: Song of the Black Cat (Песенка про чёрного кота)

He doesn’t demand, doesn’t ask,
only his yellow stare glows.
Every cat brings him his catches,
and thanks him besides.

He doesn’t utter a word,
he just eats and drinks.
His claws paw the dirty ground
like they would scratch your throat.

One does wonder why
it’s so gloomy in our block.
We should hang a lamp in the courtyard,
but no way to collect the money.