Red History Archive

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The Thirst to Become

The Thirst to Become – food for thought during confinement. Few people know the ‘Russian Socrates’, the Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili (1930-1990). Merab was born in Gori, Georgia. He called his teaching ‘Socratic’ in the sense that it was composed of dialogues. In his life only a few books were published, his lectures (for his style of lecturing he and others called them “conversations” or “dialogues”) were taped and published after his death. One of his teachings focused on the thought that life was in the self-realization and “in fulfillment of oneself as a human being”, that is the fulfillment of the possibilities of one’s character or personality. Some of the most known phrases coined by Mamardashvili are: “consciousness is an experience of inexperiensible experiences”, “phenomenology is the accompanying feature of all the philosophy”, “loneliness is my profession” and so on. I recently came across a short video in which Mamardashvili tells about the Thirst to Become, and about the self-realization “What have I undertaken in order to be born in thought, to become a human being?” which I found particularly interesting during this long period of confinement To watch the video the Thirst to become with English sub-titles

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The Gourji Red Fashion Collection

Gourji – is a new Russian brand on the luxury goods market. It is unique and has no analogues. The philosophy and style of the Gourji brand are inextricably linked with the history of Russia. The brand takes a fresh look at the Eurasian cultural and historical context in which Russia is a melting pot of hundreds of cultures. The basic idea of ​​the Gourji brand – is to identify the brightest features of the artistic heritage of the past and present it in a contemporary way. The initiator of the project Dmitri Gourji – “a man of the world”, toured dozens of countries. An intellectual and romantic, a successful businessman, a collector, a man of varied interests. His passion about the country’s history and theories of the Eurasian states, Eurasian culture has prompted the idea of creating his own brand. “No matter what was the ideology of the country,” Dmitri explained to me during our meeting, “each epoch left behind its art and literature which are a part of our history and which we should not forget. It is what I call ‘a business card of the epoch.’ What’s important,” he continued sipping his coffee, “is not to forget this history and learn from it.” The Pen ‘Above the Saviour Tower’ evokes the main tower on the eastern wall of the  Kremlin which overlooks Red Square. Build in 1491 it was once the main enrance into the Kremlin. The earrings ‘Red Stars‘ (18K white gold & 12 rubies) bring […]

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My Mother Paola Volkova -Unpublished Mother Loss Memoir

To see the previous post My Mother : Paola Volkova – Unpublished Mother Loss Memoir  Part 1 March 4, 2013 On Monday evening, the day you were taken to the Izmailovo Hospital, my brother called me on Skype. He said I should come to Moscow. My husband and I were on vacation in Ostend, a Northern Coast Sea resort in Belgium. “Are you sure?” I asked. You had just returned from Rome. In a few days you planned to come to see me in Paris. “Yes,” he answered laconically and nodded his head as if to make sure that I would understand him. The next morning I headed to the Ostend train station. It was mid-March. Europe had registered a record snowfall. Trains had practically ceased to work in Belgium. The departure information board announced cancelations through the end of the day. I could not leave on Tuesday The usual 2 3/4 hour trip to Paris became an impossible journey. Hoping to get to Paris by Wednesday evening, I tried to book a Thursday flight to go to Moscow. But the travel-booking web-site Opodo demanded the number and date of issue of my Russian passport. That was at home in Paris. So the ticket reservation had to be postponed until my arrival in Paris. March 6, 2013 First thing on Wednesday morning I went back to the Ostend train station and bought tickets to Paris. The clerk at the station advised that we leave as quickly as possible. “There is too […]

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My Mother : Paola Volkova – Unpublished Mother Loss Memoir

7.04.2020 Posted in Red Art, Red History, Red Writing No Comments

My Mother : Paola Volkova – Unpublished Mother Loss Memoir Part 1 15 March 2014 Dearest Mom, today is the first anniversary of your death. In the Orthodox religion this date has something to do with the soul finally reaching its final destination. A pivotal moment for your future. Family and friends get together to mark this moment together with the deceased. They will meet in Moscow. I decided that I would not attend. I would stay at home in Paris. I woke up early this morning to spend the whole day with you. From my window I saw the first rays of the rising sun over Sacré Coeur basilica. How to explain my decision not to come? I used the pretext of having too much work to do. The family has probably found my excuse disrespectful. But I could not face going there, to smile and talk. I could not even look at your pictures. ***** Most of all I miss that tenderly-sarcastic look in your blue eyes. It is far away. Somewhere in the skies. Sociable as you were, by now you must have met most of your friends – the poet and screenwriter Tonino Guerra, film directors Andrey Tarkovski and Theodore Angelopoulos, and those you would have liked to have met while you were here – painters Giotto di Bondone, Sandro Botticelli and Kasimir Malevich – to discuss with them the indefinable mystery of great works of art. ****** Your death was unexpected. You were 82. I […]

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Excellent Review of my book about Angelica Balabanoff

Excellent Review of my book about Angelica Balabanoff. I would like to share with you excellent news! Barbara C. Allen, Ph D, Professor at La Salle University, wrote an excellent review of my book “The Strange Comrade Balabanoff. The Life of a Communist Rebel“, McFarland Publishers. The review was published at the beginning of March in The International Newsletter of Communist Studies, p. 179-183, XXIV/XXV (2018/19), nos. 31-32 and is available on https://incs.ub.rub.de/ Dear Barbara, thank you so much for the awesome review! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion and your experience.

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Looking Ahead to a Russian Centennial

25.03.2016 Posted in Red History, Red Writing 2 Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that  my biography of Angelica Balabanoff The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel will be published at the end of April by McFarland Publishers. To mark this pulication I decided to devote my blog to Angelica, her friends, passtime and recipes. I hope you liked my previous articles within the series “Red Rebels” about her friends Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others, about Angelica writing poems in five languages and the recipe of the only meal she could make – an omelet. No doubt an important event in Angelica’s live was the October Revoltuion of 1917. The first part of her life has been devoted to organising this event, while during the second part of her life she became dissilutioned with it and devoted the rest of her life to fighting it and what was going on in her country. In about 18 months Russia will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution. It will certainly be an occasion  to arouse controversy and emotion. The Revolution was one of the defining moments of the 20th Century. It brought the establishment of a Communist regime, millions lost their lives or fled their homes to go and live overseas.  It is not yet certain how Russia’s contemporary leaders will mark the centennial. During the Cold War, the Soviet government ensured that its revolutionary victory was celebrated as a most important holiday supported by the media and the entire population. Today in Russia many […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Mollie Steimer

26.06.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series “Red Rebels” about Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others. Here is a story of another exceptional woman, Mollie Steimer. As with the previous heroines, I came across Mollie while writing my book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. Due to the lack of space I was unable to write about her in my book. I would not say that Mollie is my heroine. I do not share her ideas. She was an ardent anarchist and some people suffered because of her believes. Nonethelss, her life was most impressive. She stood for her ideas until the end. No matter how hard it could get and no matter where or how she lived. She ended up “creating” her own extraordinary fate, making it a rare and unusual event which so many of us try to do and so few of us achieve. Mollie Steimer (1897 – 1980) was born as Marthe Alperine in the Ukraine. Mollie moved to the US at the age of 15, becoming an anarchist and free-speech campaigner. After aggressive anarchist behavior directed against the US policy in Russia and their support of the Tsarist army during the Bolshevik Revolution she was first imprisoned and then deported back to her native land, arriving in Moscow on Dec 15, 1923. She quickly met a fellow anarchist Senya Fleshin (by then separated with Louise Berger I […]

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Angelica’s pass time – Montreux – Chateau de Chillon

3.07.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing 1 Comment

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite pass time (see previous article Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (varenije)). Angelica was a natural born rebel. Born into a well-off family, since the age of 5 she rebelled against her family and decided to devote her life to helping the unprivileged. However, at first, during her childhood and adolescence she had no other choice than follow her family. Such as travel to luxurious resorts including regular autumn trips in Montreux (Switzerland). The family usually settled in an upscale hotel with a picturesque view of the azure Lake Geneva, cruising boats and Swiss Alps. On the program – walks along the scenic Riviera-style streets with cypresses, palms and flower beds full of lilies and dahlias and shopping. Angelica was unable to stroll idly for days at a time. So she enrolled into a language school for girls. Classes took most of the day which helped her to avoid long lunches on the terrasses of fine restaurants and shopping tours. Among the few escapades she agreed to was visiting the Chateau de Chillon, a medieval castle near the shores of Lake Geneva, made famous by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Lidia Dan

17.07.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series about the “Red Rebels” about Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others. Here is a story of a wonderful woman, whose name is completely forgotten today, Lidia Dan. As with the previous heroines, I came across Lidia Dan, while writing my book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. Due to the lack of space I was unable to write about her in the book. Born in 1878 in Odessa, she was a sister of the leader of the Mensheviks, (who stood against Lenin and the Bolsheviks), Julius Martov, and the wife of a Menshevik Fyodor Dan. All her life she dreamt about a better future for her country first by supporting Lenin starting from the 1900s, a later when she was expelled from Russia in 1922 together with her brother and husband by fighting against him and the Bolsheviks. Though totally unknown compared to other female revolutionaries, she lived a brave and courageous life. She left behind very sweet, naïve and nonetheless most interesting memoires (in Russian, to read click here) about her early years when she lived together with Lenin, her family and other revolutionaries in Switzerland describing their daily routine, how they worked, what they ate, and what they did intheir free time. After leaving Russia she never got used to life in a foreign country leading a lonely and impoverished existence. […]