This week was the beginning of the next stage in my new life, la vita nuova as an independent author. After a ritual week on the liminal beauty of the Bay of Lorne in South-Eastern Australia, I transformed from a government official, wounded and now retired, to become an independent author.
My latest podcast takes a look at the influence of the Mongol Empire on Russian history, and indeed on world history.
I have published From the Burning Archive: essays and fragments 2015-2022. You can buy it as print or e-book here at Amazon and also at other online retailers. Here is an excerpt of the introductory essay of that collection. It tells how a dream image became a poem became a blog became a podcast and then an author platform.
Something tells me Chekhov and the innovations in drama he bequeathed to us may appear in my podcast series on the gifts of Russian culture.
American elites wag the dogs of war as the post-democratic theatre burns. Liz Truss in Moscow: the disgrace of the British State. Journalists behaving like spin doctors and government propagandists again. Isabella of Castile and the Spanish Empire. The strangeness of the children of Ash and Elm. The uncontrollability of the world, and the true words of John Donne on public health rulez, OK?
A holiday of regeneration. The crisis in Europe, Ukraine, the failure of American diplomacy and the end of NATO. The Siege of Leningrad, Vladimir Putin, Operation Barbarossa, and Dmitri Likhachev on the Russian Soul. Elena Shvarts and the Flora of Ukraine. Russian Ark and the survival of culture in the floating hermitage of the Neva.
Elena Shvarts and the burnt archive. Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob, and the perils of order in history. The Stranger Effect and the charisma of Messiahs. The Coming of the Third Reich. Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil and the ethics of poetry as gathering flowers of the mind.
This episode of The Burning Archive examines tragedy and comedy, the story of the story of stories, the seven basic plots, and how even historians write their histories with these plots. But can the inventiveness of great storytellers really be limited to seven basic plots. Will Scheherazade outwit, outlast and outplay the critics?
Podcast 30 of the Burning Archive discusses the claims of Judaism, Christianity and Islam on the State of Israel and the Universal City of Jerusalem.
In October 1731 there was a fire in the Ashburnham House residence of the Keeper of the King’s libraries in Westminster London. The fire threatened the one and only manuscript of the Old English poem, Beowulf. It was rescued by the librarian and others leaping from the window, clasping manuscripts. Singed but intact, Beowulf was literally saved from a Burning Archive. The episode is available on Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.