The river floes break in spring…

Alexander Blok
The river floes break in spring...
March 1902
translation by Greg Pavlik 

The river floes break in spring,
And for the dead I feel no sorrow -
Toward new summits I am rising,
Forgetting crevasses of past striving,
I see the blue horizon of tomorrow.

What regret, in fire and smoke,
What agony of Aaron’s rod,
With each hour, with each stroke -
Or instead - the heavens’ gift stoked,
From the (more...)

Why I am a Dostoevskyan Humanist

An explanation in 5 parts, by reference to the works of those who were not.*

'Lo! I show you the Last Man.

"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

"We have (more...)

Something Amiss

Looks like this curious non-review of the novel Laurus seems to have been referring to "Brahmins" as "Brahman" - I suppose republished to correct the mistake:

​Russian Brahman by Alan Jacobs | Articles | First Things
First Things
Russian Brahman. by Alan Jacobs April 2016. Laurus by eugene vodolazkin translated by lisa hayden oneworld, 384 pages, $24.99. Eugene Vodolazkin's ...


Shadows flicker against the wall
within the cave it is perpetually night
(I find my vision gets dimmer with age
- when we are alleged to see more sharply -
in the low light of a single candle flame
it is getting much harder to read
year by year)
there is a form I barely am able to perceive.
I wonder if it is better here than the open air
where my eyes would surely (more...)


Blown away to get my purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from 10th Planet black belt Alex Canders.

Genevieve, Protectress of Paris

Like a white stone in the depths of a well…

Like a white stone in the depths of a well...
Anna Akhmatova
working translation by Greg Pavlik

Like a white stone in the depths of a well
within me there lies one memory.
I can not - and do not - want to expel
this, my greatest joy and my agony.

I think that anyone who closely looks
can see this recollection reads
as harrowing sadness in a tragic book -
a warning, and a (more...)

Requiem Fragment

Requiem Fragment
Anna Akhmatova
translation by Greg Pavlik

10 Crucifixion

      Do not lament me, O Mother,
      seeing me in the tomb.

The angelic chorus glorified the hour of eternity,
when the heavens convulsed in a river of fire:
He cried to His Father “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
And to His Mother, he spoke: “Do not lament me”…


Mary Magdalena writhed, and wept
as the beloved John froze like stone (or salt).

Lot’s Wife

Lot's Wife
by Anna Akhmatova
an interpretive translation by Greg Pavlik
The righteous Lot heard the voice of God
As if coming from the distant and black mountains.
But his wife,
She saw what was until yesterday her blessing.
Under the beautiful spires of Sodom,
Where she sang spinning cloth -
The empty window of the room,
In which her children were born.
She looked – and her pain died with her,
For she could (more...)

Ancestor Worship

Some profound lessons in how to be human that we can learn from our Confucian friends

Fascinating Lives

There is something, I think, admirable in a quiet life: care for family, constructive participation in community, hard work. But there are times and places (perhaps all times, but not all places?) where simply attending to the simple things of life becomes a kind of impossibility: whether for psychological or moral reasons. I was reflecting on two persons recently who have struck me by not only their intellectual genius but also by the sheer (more...)

Poets of Zen Buddhism


He likes word games
In the way they circle about
   Starlings in flight
   Or Seraphim.

With sweeping gesture
   Left to right
Hands hang with head
Under the pressing of the sun:
   Weight of doubt
   Or will.

Against open air, tumultuous sea
   Turtle green
The division is nowhere more evident
Where sand meets froth
   Stark, blinding glare
Wind balmed
   Until night.

   Next to godliness
The echo of countless schoolmarms
Chiding, chilling - without regret
   Yeah, rather,

What The World Needs More Of

The interview with these two kids - Chris and Camryn Singleton - is available on BBC, but I wanted to pull out this remarkable commentary in a related article:

"People are hurting in Charleston. But for the hundreds who packed into the gymnasium at the Goose Creek High School, it was also a reminder of the importance of love.

Sharonda Singleton coached the girls' athletics team here. As her photo rested on an easel on (more...)

3 film non-meme

Riffing off previous post - was discussing with my wife last evening what we thought the three best "recent" films we had seen were. Here's my list:

1) Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin.

Reason: this is a powerful, powerful film that explores the effects of radical individualism, and economic inequality and of the overturning of normal, local, rooted communities. Banned by the Chinese government, it is as much a critique of the values of (more...)

Top 10 Book Meme

What books have most impacted me? I picked books I have returned to over and over. Yes, I know this is solipsistic to publish, but its a fascinating thing to think through. I'm sure the list will not look right in a few months anyway. But here I go...

1 The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Reason: the best book ever written. Duh.

2 Iob, LXX
Reason: bad things happen to good people, quite often.

3 (more...)


Silence. Sometimes sought after, but in reality almost certainly feared - the absence of not just sound but voice. Silence is often associated with divine encounter - the neptic tradition of the Philokalia comes to mind - but also and perhaps more accurately with abandonment, divine or otherwise. I recently read Shusaku Endo's Silence, a remarkable work, dwelling on the theme of abandonment in the context of the extirpation of Kakure Kirishitan communities in Tokagawa (more...)

Spark: A Discussion

A great presentation, worth watching in its entirety.

With apologies to my Hadoop friends but this is good for you too.

Exactly Wrong

I normally avoid anything that smacks of a competitive discussion on what I consider to be a space for personal reflection. So while I want to disclose the fact that I am not disinterested in the points I am making from a professional standpoint, my main interest is to frame some architecture points that I think are extremely important for the maturation and success of the Hadoop ecosystem.

A few weeks back, Mike Olson of (more...)

Dependent Rational Animals

I wanted to briefly comment on Alisdair McIntyre's lectures collected as "Dependent Rational Animals", but let me precede that with a couple of comments for context: first, as I alluded in my last post referencing Levinas, it is my view that the the ethics demands a certain primacy in any healthy conception of life and society; second, in the area of ethics, McIntyre's After Virtue is the book that has had perhaps the biggest impact (more...)