“The Monochrome of War” was my invited guest column on Snob, a journal and media project published in Russian. Because articles on Snob can expire after a certain time, the full text is also reproduced below.
Meanwhile, an offer to post a piece on Snob has arrived, and was gladly accepted — because a text has been in the making all this time, while I processed the postdoc year spent in Russia. That processing is still not over (will it ever be quite over?), but some contemplations did take shape.
One of the security guards in our building, Leonid, a lively and kindly man of Armenian descent in his late sixties, spent this whole year languishing in his desire to talk Ukrainian politics.
“Beyond Pro and Anti: Monochrome Prefixes and Their Discontents” — my thoughts on the spiral of silence, the inverse echo chamber, and wartime’s semantic chameleons, in “What does Ukraine think?” collection from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ed. by Andrew Wilson).
Nothing big, nothing overpowering. Just a gentle, droning whisper in the back of your mind. What will you really change if you go to that march now, and another passing car leaves you without a leg?
For eight years now, Russia’s oldest and arguably most noble human rights group, Memorial, has been organizing an annual commemoration event for victims of the Great Terror. The ceremony, called Return of the Names, takes place every year on October 29.
Bus number 7 was taking its time. I stood on a bus stop on Shkiperskii Protok, watching the sky for signs of rain, on my way to the Hermitage for a BBC World Service recording. An elderly lady in a purple beret stood nearby, counting change in her hand.
Longer texts tend to be more conclusive. It is just too early for that.
My experience at the March for Peace in St. Petersburg on 21 September 2014.
The shelf life of rumors is longer than their expiration date. The date passes, but no one sighs with relief. Predicted events do not take place, but in expired time, where there is no past, things cannot become the past: they do not depart and die. They get stored inside the mind as if they did happen, as facts. The number of times attacks and takeovers were heralded is the number of times they occurred. — an essay by Andrei Krasniashchikh