Nov 13, 2022Liked by Justin Smith-Ruiu

This is really brilliant, fascinating, hair-raising, and fun to listen to and read. Love the fluidity of genres melting between accounts of “voyages” and 1001 nights, between ethnography and geographic expedition, between horror and science... and one cannot miss the deep notes of love and concern for a wild, beautiful, multifaceted, raw yet human “ocean of earth” that asserts its indomitable independence, whatever history may throw at it. Keep writing like this!

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Nov 16, 2022Liked by Justin Smith-Ruiu

Beautifully written! There seems to be much too little awareness in the West of Russia's weird hybrid "national" "identity" as a multiethnic country from way back. It's hard to figure out the implications in the current situation. It's been (morbidly) fascinating to watch Putin tout Russia as a kind of mulitcultural utopia at the vanguard of anticolonialism, while Russia's ethnic minorities seem to be bearing the brunt of recruitment. I follow some alternative Russian media like Meduza and have been reading different views on how popular this approach is likely to be, and with whom. I find myself wondering to what extent the recruitment of minorities is a conscious strategy to ensure a clash of ethnicities at the front, with Buryats and Chechens marching into Ukrainian cities. And then, when Ukrainians refer to the Russian soldiers as "orcs", in what way this response is also a racialized one.

A tragic irony is that Ukraine's "national" "identity" is also, a different way, multiethnic - Ukraine literally meaning a border area, where cultures meet, and with the mythos of the ragtag band of Cossacks, etc. The German historian Karl Schlögel has argued that this gives Ukraine the potential to serve as a bridge and develop a special kind of cosmopolitanism. Of course, that was before the war.

And now we have two bewilderingly complex "national" "identities" at war with each other, and in Berlin, where I live, the streets are full of refugees from the Donbass switching fluidly between Russian and Ukrainian. One can only hope that these complexities and ambiguities can survive and achieve some kind of peaceful coexistence. And for now, that everyone can get through the winter with a minimum of death and destruction. I hope your friends in Sakha are ok!

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Nov 30, 2022Liked by Justin Smith-Ruiu

This is fascinating and well-written.

> a mare usque ad marem

This should be "a mare usque ad mare", or perhaps "a mari…", unless the grammatical error is intentional (in which case I have missed its point entirely).

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It’s autocorrect’s fault, though I can’t imagine what autocorrect thinks “marem” means. (Autocorrect is a far greater threat to the future of Latin than it is to other more distant languages.)

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As always brilliant!

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There is a neat story about how Olga took revenge on the home city of the Drevlians.


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