Henchman on the Sofa ‒ Vyacheslav Menzhinsky: Poet and Hangman

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Bolsheviks and poetry are not the most likely combination. Lenin even quit playing the piano because he felt it distracted him too much from the revolutionary cause. When exiled in Siberia in 1897, it seems a poetic mood befell him nevertheless. He started with “In the village of Shushensk, beneath … Continue reading

Cats, Old Deuteronomy, …and Sugar Coated Anti-Semitism?!

Cats, Old Deuteronomy and… Sugar Coated Antisemitism?

I have a few confessions to make… The first one being that I’m slightly intoxicated while writing this. I know it’s still only Tuesday at the moment, but my week has started off so much more hectic than I anticipated and I just really needed a drink. When I started … Continue reading

On Blackfaces, Black Faces, and Black Pete

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A look at Dutch folklore and European history So, there has been some controversy on a certain folkloristic figure in the Netherlands for the past few years. What is the problem here? In 2011, an artist called Quinsy Gario accused the depiction of Black Pete to be racist. At some … Continue reading

Hutkippy (Slowly) Reads: The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky (4)

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Part 4: Karamazov takes to the stage. Book 2, chapters 1, and 2. “The only thing that bothers me is that I shall have to share your company, Mr. Karamazov.”1 This week, we find our heroes at the local monastery, ostensibly to discuss the dispute over the family inheritance. Instead, … Continue reading

Hutkippy Reads: The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky (3)

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Part three: an intolerably brief history of Russian Orthodoxy. Book one, chapter 5.   When we last left our intrepid heroes, they were still in the process of being introduced. This week, the introduction is extended with regard to the youngest of Karamazov’s three sons; the dreamy-eyed Alyosha. But before … Continue reading

It is the dawning of the age of….what?

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“Harmony and understanding. Sympathy and thrust abounding. No more falsehoods or derisions. Golden living dreams of visions. Mystical crystal revelation and the mind’s true liberation.” These fuzzy utopian words are an excerpt of the song “The Age of Aquarius” from the 1969 musical Hair. For Dutch people my age this … Continue reading

Hutkippy Reads: The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky

"Vasily Perov - Портрет Ф.М.Достоевского - Google Art Project" by Vasily Perov - kgHBFHS7SpcayQ at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

This is the kind of book everyone is supposed to read at least once in their lives, if only for the literary bragging rights. When placed on a prominent bookshelf, it boldly announces to visitors: “My owner is stunningly smart, and you should be attracted to their giant brain.” Just … Continue reading