Friday, 27 May 2022

memorandum of understanding

Signed in Paris on this day in 1997, the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation was a declaration that included confidence-building measures and a framework for cooperation and disarmament that attempted to strike a balance between security and policy interests of both sides. Agreed upon principles included the renunciation of threat or use of force against any other state, respect of territorial integrity and political independence as well as inviolability of borders, the right self-determination and the right to choose the best means of ensuring their own security to be overseen by a joint council. Russia violated the agreement in 2008 with its war in Georgia, in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and with the current war in Ukraine. In response to aforementioned incursions, NATO for its part has violated its pledge not to permanently station troops in new member states.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

6x6

un robot quadrupede al servizio dell’archeologia: SPOT to patrol ruins of Pompeii and protect the site from looters—also raising a quandary for future archaeologists 

satanic panic: the full 1993 (!) cult awareness pamphlet (see previously)—via Weird Universe  

dans l’ombre du star wars kid: the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary on the internet phenomenon  

entrรฉe: a family-run Tbilisi-based artisanal bakery expands into East London 

the atlantean: after Dallas (debuting on this day in 1978), Patrick Duffy appeared as a merfolk-hybrid hero

intonarumori: Luigi Russolo’s experimental sound machines

Thursday, 31 March 2022

catchascatchkhan

The unrecognised, break-away region of South Ossetia, in northern Georgia on the border with Russia willhold a referendum shortly for the fifty thousand residents of the militarily occupied territory to decide whether or not to begin the accession process to and be absorbed by its neighbour. The other break-away region, Abkhazia, maintains it has no such plans at the present. Declaring independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian forces have held de facto control since the 2008 Georgian-Russo conflict. The last time the Russia Federation annexed the land of another sovereign country was when it took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, incorporating the independent Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol after a much shorter period of transition lasting only weeks.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

to know wisdom and instruction—to perceive the words of understanding

Venerated as a saint in multiple faith traditions, Mesrop Mashtots (ี„ีฅีฝึ€ีธีบ ี„ีกีทีฟีธึ), early medieval linguist, theologian and statesman, passing away on this day in 440 (*362), was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet—the first phrase rendered in that new script said to be the above passage from the Book of Proverbs. Further credited by some scholars as the creator of the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian forms of writing, Mashtot’s contribution first in royal court in service to the king and later after taking holy orders ensured that Armenian literature and identity was preserved rather than being absorbed by its larger neighbouring empires of Persia and Syria. Finalised around the year 405, the Greek-modelled system endured in its original form of thirty-six letters until the twelfth century when three additional ones were added—for f- and o-sounds, the Armenian word for alphabet, aybuben (ีกีตีขีธึ‚ีขีฅีถ) comes from the first two letters, ayb (ีก) and ben (ีข).

Friday, 28 May 2021

tbilisoba

We enjoyed exploring the gallery of the visual essay about the endangered Brutalist monuments and buildings of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi (previously here and here) including a quite arresting 1976 of the city’s vocational college bas-relief (nicknamed the Soviet Batman) that fronted one of the main thoroughfares that was slowly and unceremoniously scavenged for scrap metal and now is no more and
the better looked after and protected Chronicle of Georgia (แƒกแƒแƒฅแƒแƒ แƒ—แƒ•แƒ”แƒšแƒแƒก แƒฅแƒ แƒแƒœแƒ˜แƒ™แƒ”แƒ‘แƒ˜, not to be confused with this other set of pillars), the post-and-lentil colossal structure depicting the culture, history and heroes of Georgia above and Gospel stories and various hagiographies below. Created by Zurab Tsereteli in 1985, a few panels have yet to be completed, the complex commemorates Georgia’s embarking on its fourth millennia and should inspire preservation of all architectural treasures.

Friday, 20 April 2018

แƒ—แƒ‘แƒ˜แƒšแƒ˜แƒกแƒ˜

A committed flรขneur myself, I appreciated the invitation from Calvert Journal correspondent Daryl Mersom to take a wander through the different quarters of Tbilisi to marvel at the contrasting and complementary styles of the city’s cultural influences, with the conviction that architecture is not best experienced with an itinerary or by a windshield tour but rather by walking.
From the Old Georgian for a “warm place,” the city was founded in the fourth century BC around a sulphurous thermal spring, an area referred to as Abanotubani, and the settlement has since been at the crossroads of successive civilisations, often in competition over the territory due to its strategic location, and these waves of influence have let their marks and have informed a rather vibrant cosmopolitan capital.
The iconic Wedding Palace designed by Victor Djorbenadze in 1984, purpose built as a matrimonial venue but now a private residence that can be rented out for special events and the 1975 Ministry of Transportation (now the headquarters of the national bank) by Zurab Jalaghania and George Chakhava were not directly included on the meandering path but are alluded to as component parts of the city’s architectural character.  One encounters a rich mixture of Byzantine, Soviet Modern, Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical styles and there’s a certain allure to this panorama that we would like to see in person.

Monday, 23 April 2012

synaxarion or by george!

Though Germany is one of the few places not wholly under the patronage of Saint George and Germany has another event to mark on this day—the anniversary of the enactment of the Reinheitsgebot, the Saint Day has universal recognition and usually falls (the feast can be preempted by Easter) on a strange amalgam of celebrations that are as varied and involved as his cult and veneration. Aside from beer, literature is also synthetically celebrated on this day, due to it being the anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes’ death and the anniversary of both William Shakespeare’s birth and death (though this coincidence is a bit contrived because of subsequent calendar reforms)—books are a traditional St. George’s Day gift.

For Saint George himself, festivities can range from the civic to national to professional observances for the many places and vocations (including blacksmiths, butchers, farmers, miners and beer-barrel makers) he covers. The historical personage was an accomplished and respected leader of the imperial guard in Roman Palestine, and although a favourite of the Emperor, was martyred for making a spectacle of his refusal to recognize the pagan household gods. Apparently, his faith inspired a revolt among the people and military ranks, overturning the ban against Christianity. Where the bit about the dragon comes in is not so clear. I always felt kind of sorry for the dragon, but it was more than just a nuisance, demanding livestock- or maiden-sacrifices from villagers in exchange for access to their oasis and water supply. Then, instead of taking the act, George slaying the dragon (symbolizing Rome, perhaps) to save the life of the chieftain’s daughter who drew the bad lot after all the sheep and goats had been devoured, as a fait accompli, I prefer to think of it as a continuous battle, a tumbling and constant struggle like the eternal standoffs seen in the constellations.
This fiery perseverance is something internalized, perhaps, as the choices that confront us all the time and the sometimes delayed realization that choices and acts have consequences. I like how this imagery has been propagated and the hero is acknowledged in his homelands and far beyond, and his icons and devotions are spread from the Middle East to the nation of Georgia, to the flag of England and the Arab world because of widespread miraculous acts and visions of the Saint on the eve of battle.