Posts Tagged With: Alan Furst

Chaotic Thoughts, Enduring Friendships, Change, Unlocking The Shackles Of Home, Spies And The News, Or Happiness Found…

By Kiki Keane

My thoughts have been chaotic lately. I fly from one lame thought to another, never staying long enough to get comfortable, which is kind of how I live my life and is a core part of who I am. You could probably call me a quitter. I mean how many novels and stories have I left unfinished, movies half watched, books unread? How many colleges and universities did I attend and how many majors did I have? How many friends have I happily let drift away because to keep them was to much work? How many places have I left because to stay was to be shackled? Why shouldn’t my brain work the same way? That is a long-winded way of letting you know that the following post will be about whatever things my brain chooses to vomit. You have been warned.

I was talking to my oldest friend about a week ago. We have known each other for ten years, which is no small feat considering my commitment phobia and that my longest previous friendship lasted maybe two years. One reason our friendship has endured is because I feel no real pressure to keep it going. For example, I know that I could (though I wouldn’t want to) go for a year or more without speaking to her and it would be no big deal. And if we should see each other again we would treat each other the same. Time and distance is nothing, really. Anyway, we were talking about how much we’ve changed over the years. She has seen me turn from a shy, rainbow scarf wearing, romantic, heart-on-my-sleave idealist complete with rose-colored glasses and a penchant for falling into one unrequited “relationship” after another and into the somewhat jaded, snarky, emotionally unavailable, relatively assertive, decidedly unromantic, eye-rolling, soon to be adventurer that is before you. And she’s changed just as dramatically. So, I guess it’s change that I’ve been thinking about. Not just how we change or that we change, but how we don’t. I’m still an idealist, I just understand moral ambiguity and grayness and impossible choices now. I still want a grand romance, I just don’t need it. I’m still nice, but I’ll be damned if I let you dismiss me.

We also talked about our nomadic lives. Neither of us can stay in one place long without experiencing depression, anxiety and, at least for me, physical pain. We even experience a kind of claustrophobia on behalf of others who have never experienced the freedom and happiness that comes from leaving behind “the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many cares and the Slavery of Home” (Richard F. Burton). Don’t get me wrong. I envy those who are content in their lives, those who don’t feel shackled and enslaved by obligations, family, friends and their local physical boundaries. I envy those who have never wondered what it would be like to ride a camel through the Sahara, or never needed to touch the Pyramids for themselves, or experience first hand the wars we see on TV and all that comes with it, or require nothing more than a picture or a travelers words to experience the greater world, or those who do not need to know for themselves why the wonders of the world are so…wonderful. I like to pretend that a nomadic life style is one of true freedom, but the truth is that every nomad is slave to the wind. Whenever it blows we are compelled to follow it to wherever it may lead us.

On a different note, I have also been thinking great deal about spies. Why? Because they are fascinating people and because I could never be one. I prefer fictional spies though, especially the outlandish ones, like 007. Of course, 007 may have been based on a real person. Geoffrey Gorden-Creed claimed to be the inspiration for Ian Flemings, James Bond. If he is to believed, I would say that my previous statement was wrong, or at least not entirely informed, as Gorden-Creed was perhaps more fascinating than his fictional counterpart, certainly a less discriminating seducer (if what he said is true than he would make Casanova look chaste). Here is The Daily Mail‘s article on him. Here is Alan Furst’s @Google talk. Lastly, here is Jennet Conant’s C-Span talk/reading about Julia and Paul Childs time in the OSS.

And not to disappoint, here are some news stories I’ve been keeping an eye on.

1) Richard Engel just got back from a trip to Syria and shared what it’s like there at the moment and also some analysis of what Clinton’s criticism of Russia means if anything.

2) Some DRC news

3) Libyans vote

4) New commitment to Afghanistan 

5) I may have shared this and this before, but the destruction of historical sites really angers me. I especially have a fondness for Timbuktu and grieve for the destruction that it has suffered the last few weeks.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Unproductive And A Few Thoughts On The Looting Of Antiquities…

By Kiki Keane

As I have stated many, many times before, I am currently unemployed. You would think that I would use all this extra time in a productive way. Read more, perhaps. Study Arabic. Learn a little French. Maybe write a novel (why not, right?) or a short story or an essay. Sadly, I have not left my bed today except to make popcorn and get a cup of coffee. I watched CSI and then Bones and then Frasier and now Golden Girls. That is my life. One long parade of crime dramas and sitcoms.

Okay. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. I did do a little reading today. A few days ago I got a bee in my bonnet. The bee is stolen artifacts and archeological looting. I went to library and got a couple of books on the subject (Stealing History and Loot) as well as the memoir of Egyptologist, Donald P Ryan, Ph.D, called Beneath the Sands of Egypt.

I’ve only read about 30 pages of Stealing History, but I’ve already learned a lot, though most of it is depressing. As someone who values history and believes that the only way to understand who we are is to understand where we came from, I’m disgusted by the looting and damage done to historical sites, by those who buy and sell looted pieces and the governments and agencies who do little to stop it. However, I can kind of, sort of see why the looters do what they do. I mean, if I lived in a country in which the average person lives on less than a dollar a day and I saw how willing the wealthy are to pay thousands of dollars for a tiny statue I could dig out of the ground, I might risk being a grave robber too. Also, I find myself strangely drawn to the argument one seller made about how antiquities move those who collect them and are therefore better able to take care of them than the elitist archeologist who hoard them away where they collect dust. Don’t get me wrong. I will always be on the side of the archeologist, elitist hoarders or not. I’m just saying I understand the various reasons people have for looting antiquities. I can understand the need to feed one’s family and the pull of “easy” money ($50 for a days work in a place like Mali is an awful lot of money). I understand how a piece of history–of art–can move a person. When I was a History grad, my professor gave us photocopies of letters written by British writer Stella Benson. My knees went weak when I saw her actual hand writing. And that was over photocopies! I can only imagine what it would be like to actually possess a piece of the past, particularly the ancient past. But I’d rather have my history lesson. History belongs to everyone.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now.

I also started The Foreign Correspondent, which is a historical suspense novel by Alan Furst. The first few pages feature an affair and an assassination. Pretty exciting stuff.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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