Happy New Year

Première

Hello and welcome to your favourite new thing on the Internet.

It will go like this. In a scene of High Fidelity John Cusack’s character is showing his record collection to a friend. The friend notices a logical pattern behind the order in which the albums are placed, but he cannot pinpoint it.

‘I guess it looks as if you’re reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?’
‘No…’
‘Not alphabetical…’
‘Nope.’
‘What?’
‘Autobiographical.’
‘No fuckin’ way.’

Culture, in its broadest definition, is intellectual practices of humanity. This blog is an autobiographical account of cultural experiences. Those range from books to music to online advertisements to trying tortilla de patatas in a street café in Madrid. Everything counts.

The name Chance & Physics comes from a conversation I once had at the bottom of Magdalen Tower in Oxford. In a company that had gathered to see me graduate, we started talking about religion. Sam suggested atheism was the logical state of any modern day educated person. I argued against his claim. Warm March wind tickled the gargoyles on Magdalen College. I said:

‘I guess I refuse to believe that everything is just chance and physics.’

I am not limiting my objects of interest. The world is my object of interest. Living in a certain place (Oxford) at a certain time (2016) will influence the topics, but not determine them. I have been brought up by wolves and the Internet. I am, therefore, omnivorous.

Magdalen College from the High Street
MAGDALEN [COLLEGE] FROM THE HIGH STREET. CA 1850S. AUTHOR UNKNOWN / JAMES CHOLMELEY RUSSELL

The spot where the historical conversation took place.

As the 1960s slogan goes, the personal is political. I might be writing about punting on a summer afternoon, but there is a wider context to even that subject. If I am persistent and honest — and, amazingly, even if I’m not — this blog will reflect the social changes to come.

Chance & Physics exists in two languages: English and Russian. The latter is my mother tongue, the former is the one I use to write and to speak most often. No version of the website is a translation; Chance & Physics simply exists in both English and Russian, as do I.

In recent years, with the government approval, stubborn fingers have been working on widening the crack between Russia and the rest of the continent. As many grave mistakes, it is done with a sense of unfounded superiority. There are statesmen who hold the rusty moss-overgrown ideals of Imperialism close to their hearts, and that is not exclusive to Russia or Britain. And that has people die.

I was very lucky to grow up at a time when Wind of Change by Scorpions served as the unofficial anthem. You whistled to it as it came on the radio in the city that was no longer Leningrad. For a while, there was no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There was just us.

Speaking of religion, most of all I believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Speaking of declarations, this is mine:


Current album: The National, High Violet
Current book: Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Current TV series: Wonderfalls, Series 1 (2004)

2 Comments

    1. kottonen

      I loved The Maltese Falcon. It is sharp and full of unexpected turns; quite astonishing that the genre tropes could be transformed so successfully as early as 1929.

      Like

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