Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pistols at Dawn

It is common knowledge that the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was killed in a duel by the French military officer Georges d'Anthès, who happened to be his own brother in law.  Pushkin accused him of having an affair with his wife, Natalya.

I've always heard the duel framed as essentially a murder - unlike d'Anthès, Pushkin was not a soldier.  Furthermore, the situation has always been framed as something Pushkin had to do to save face. 

Then I found this list.  I think some people just have it coming.

1816. Pushkin challenges his own uncle, Pavel Gannibal to a duel.
Cause:  Pavel "stole" a lady at a ball away from the 17-year-old Pushkin.
Outcome:  The duel was cancelled.

1817. Pushkin challenges Petr Kaverin, his friend, to a duel.
Cause: Kaverin composed some mocking poems.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1819. Pushkin challenges the poet Kondratiy Ryleev.
Cause: Ryleev tells a joke about Pushkin in a salon.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1819. Pushkin challenged by his friend Wilhelm Küchelbecker.  Ironically, Küchelbecker's most famous poem is an elegy on Pushkin's death.
Cause:  Mocking poems about Küchelbecker, specifically the use of his name as an adjective in the phrase "feeling küchelbeckerish and nauseaus"
Outcome: Wilhelm fired at Pushkin.  Pushkin did not shoot.

1819. Pushkin challenges Modest Korf, a civil servant in the Ministry of Justice.
Cause:  Pushkin's servant was drunk and was bothering Korf's servant, who beat him up.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1819. Pushkin challenges Major Denisevich.
Cause:  Pushkin was acting provocatively in the theater, yelling at the actors and Denisevich criticized him.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1820. Pushkin challenges Fedor Orlov and Alexei Alexeyev.
Cause:  Orlov and Alexeyev criticised Pushkin for being drunk while playing billiards and bothering the other players.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1821. Pushkin challenges Avis DeGuilly, an officer of the French service.
Cause:  A quarrel with unclear circumstances.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin is challenged by Lt. Colonel Semyon Starov.
Cause:  Fought over the restaurant band in the casino where they were both gambling.
Outcome:  Both fired and both missed.

1822. Pushkin challenges 65 year old civil councilor Ivan Lanov.
Cause:  Quarrel during a celebratory dinner.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin challenges the Moldavan nobleman Todor Balazs, the owner of the manor where he was a guest.
Cause:  Balazs' wife Maria did not answer a question of Pushkin's politely enough.
Outcome: Both fired and both missed.

1822. Pushkin challenges Skartl Prunkulo, a Bessarabian landowner.
Cause: Both served as seconds at a duel and could not agree on the rules of the duel.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin challenges Severin Potocky.
Cause: Dinner discussion about serfdom.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin is challenged by staff captain Rutkovsky.
Cause: Pushkin did not believe that a hail ball could weigh three pounds and laughed at the retired captain.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin challenged the wealthy Kishinev merchant Inglezy.
Cause:  Pushkin was sexually harassing his wife, the gypsy Lyudmilla Shekora.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1822. Pushkin was challenged by ensign of the General Staff Alexander Zubov.
Cause:  Pushkin caught Zubov cheating in a game of cards.
Outcome: Zubov fired and missed, Pushkin refused to shoot.

1823. Pushkin challenges young writer Ivan Rousseau.
Cause:  Personal animosity towards him.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1826. Pushkin challenges Nicolai Turgenev, one of the leaders of the Union of Salvation, member of the Northern Society.
Cause:  Turgenev denounced Pushkin's poems, especially his epigrams.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1827. Pushkin is challenged by artilery officer Vladimir Solomirsky.
Cause: A certain lady named Sophia in whom Pushkin expressed an interest.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1828. Pushkin challenges National Education minister Alexander Golytsin.
Cause: Pushkin wrote a daring epigram about the minister and in return the minister questioned him extensively.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1828. Pushkin challenges the secretary of the French embassy in St. Petersburg, Lagrene.
Cause:  Unknown lady at a ball
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1829. Pushkin challenges Khvostov, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cause:  Khvostov expressed his displeasure at Puhkin's epigrams, particularly the ones where Pushkin compares Khvostov to a pig.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1836. Pushkin challenges Prince Nicolai Repin.
Cause: Repin was unhappy about Pushkin's poem about him.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1836. Pushkin challenges  Semyon Khlyustin, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cause: Khlyustin was unhappy about Pushkin's poem about him.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1836. Pushkin challenges Vladimir Sologub.
Cause: Unpleasant comments about Pushkin's wife Natalya.
Outcome: The duel was cancelled.

1836-37. Pushkin challenges French officer Georges d'Anthès .
Cause: Anonymous letter which stated that Pushkin's wife was unfaithful to him with d'Anthès.
Outcome:  Pushkin is wounded in the abdomen.  ies of his wound January 29, 1837

Monday, April 13, 2015

If there is a man on the moon, he's probably an Anti-Semite

By the end of 1909, Zangwill had failed in all of his much-publicized efforts to find land to house an autonomous Jewish polity.  When told that "a politically virgin territory can be found only in the moon," he responded, "Not even there, I fear.  For there is a man  in the moon, and he is probably an Anti-Semite."

[In the Shadow of Zion: Promised Lands Before Israel]

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Gastronomical Perversion, et al.

I dedicate this paragraph to ATBOTH, who runs a blog at the intersection of gastronomy and sex:
Let us approach the matter by asking whether we can imagine anything that would qualify as a gastronomical perversion. Hunger and eating are importantly like sex in that they serve a biological function and also play a significant role in our inner lives. It is noteworthy that there is little temptation to describe as perverted an appetite for substances that are not nourishing. We should probably not consider someone's appetites as perverted if he liked to eat paper, sand, wood, or cotton. Those are merely rather odd and very unhealthy tastes: they lack the psychological complexity that we expect of perversions. (Coprophilia, being already a sexual perversion, may be disregarded.) If on the other hand someone liked to eat cookbooks, or magazines with pictures of food in them, and preferred these to ordinary food- or if when hungry he sought satisfaction by fondling a napkin or ash- tray from his favorite restaurant-then the concept of perversion might seem appropriate (in fact it would be natural to describe this as a case of gastronomical fetishism). It would be natural to describe as gastronomically perverted someone who could eat only by having food forced down his throat through a funnel, or only if the meal were a living animal. What helps in such cases is the peculiarity of the desire itself, rather than the inappropriateness of its object to the biological function that the desire serves. Even an appetite, it would seem, can have perversions if in addition to its biological function it has a significant psychological structure.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Everything's Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!

Great interview!

Friday, February 27, 2015

“In homosexual sex you know exactly what the other person is feeling, so you are identifying with the other person completely. In heterosexual sex you have no idea what the other person is feeling.”
-William S Burroughs
I think there is a fallacy among human beings that just because we have certain physical and mental characteristics in common, we can unerstand how another human being feels and thinks.  I am pretty much convined that it is not so.  I believe human belings can be grouped along certain dimensions, and people in the same group have a better chance of understanding each other.
I cannot understand people who lie.  It's not I've never resorted to lying, but for me it is something that I force myself to do if necessary.  And it drains me emotionally and physically.  But it seems to me that it really comes naturally to many people, and they enjoy it.  Furthermore, there is a group of people, who when they discovered someone has lied to them, seem to take it in stride.  Which I guess makes sense.  If they are liers as well, they understand that it's just part of doing business.  It IS the human condition for them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sidney Morgenbesser, NYPD, and the Categorical Imperative

Morgenbesser was leaving a subway station in New York City and put his pipe in his mouth as he was ascending the steps. A police officer told him that there was no smoking on the subway. Morgenbesser pointed out that he was leaving the subway, not entering it, and hadn't lit up yet anyway. The cop again said that smoking was not allowed in the subway, and Morgenbesser repeated his comment. The cop said, "If I let you do it, I'd have to let everyone do it." Morgenbesser replied, "Who do you think you are, Kant?" The word "Kant" was mistaken for a vulgar epithet and Morgenbesser had to explain the situation at the police station

Friday, February 20, 2015

Some oldies, but goodies

Q: What did Germany inherit from Marx
A: East Germany - the Communist Manifesto, West Germany - Capital.

Q:  Is Communism a science?
A: No, if it were, they would have tried it on dogs first.

A lecturer is saying that Communism is on the horizon.  Someone asks:  What is the horizon?
The lecturer answers, it's an imaginary line where heaven meets earth, and which constantly moves away from us as we try to get closer to it.