Siege Diaries 3/16/2021


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Do I appreciate this mind I have been given?

Every. Damned. Day.

I am so grateful for my innate sense of curiosity, for the ability to think and analyze and find meaning in places where once I found pain, to be able to learn and never, ever, ever stop learning.  For my apparent endless capacity for knowledge, for the joy of finding connection and connections, for the lessons that taught me to be kind and seeking to understand.  For the gift of hearing, and listening.

Every. Damned. Day.


Finished up Stalin’s Music Prize today–which was interesting far beyond the Shostakovich insights it brought.  To me it was a perfect demonstration of what you can learn from official records that and how they can prove or dispel rumours of all sorts.   The most fascinating bit was regarding the 1948 conference that branded six composers (including Shostakovich) as “formalists.”  It’s always been presented as a kind of unopposed steamrolling, when, as it turns out, there was all kinds of dissent–dissent that may have actually forced the need for Shostakovich’s supremely uncomfortable mea culpa speech, as he was the only one of the six who actually sat there during the proceedings and took the verbal thrashing in person.  And in the years afterwards there was a lot of behind-the-scenes mockery of the decrees that came out of this conference and the kind of crappy compositions those who benefited from the decrees were producing.

An interesting bit of all of this was that the title for the recipient of a Stalin Prize was “Laureate,” which is one of the newer alternate titles for a member of the Order of the Laurel in the SCA, which in a perverse kind of way makes me want to use it.  They also got regalia, in the form of a medal–and the first-class medals were actually solid gold, with the second-class ones solid silver–and a certificate, in the form of an ID card.  That did get me thinking of the part of my life that is most like sitting on a committee for a Stalin Prize (absent, you know, oversight by a vicious dictator and the state apparatus that supported him): peerage deliberations.   Over the years, I have seen many of the same types in those discussions:  The folks most interested in quality, other folks more focused on character and how the candidates treat others, still others who are focused on advancing their students and friends, and others who regularly chew out the group (gently, or not-so-gently)  for not “doing our jobs” and being informed enough on all of the candidates. I’ve also seen a few of the sort who want mostly to suck up to someone–although at least in the SCA most people in the Peerage orders have usually earned their place, and our leaders change every few months.  I have to suspect those behaviours are universal whenever you have a group of people responsible for recommending others for honours.  And the deliberations were quite contentious–even in the later years, when who the Party wanted you to vote for were obvious;  I was actually surprised how much debate there was despite this.

In other somewhat related news, I ordered a book from the US Amazon on Friday.  It arrived today, which has to be a record.  When it arrived, I realized it had come from the Half Price Books warehouse in Columbus, just down the road from the Quality Inn and Suites I sometimes used to stay in on the West Side.  That made me a little wistful, especially when a friend told me that one of the Half Price Books, the one on Lane Ave., that I always went to in my trips to Columbus had now been torn down in preparation for a new condo development.  (However, plans are to rebuild it on the same site).   You never do know the last time you’ll see a place.  It made me miss my hometown and my ability to go there at will.

Started up on the cat snail embroidery (see above!).  This one will be considerably larger than the last two I’ve done.

And in today’s amusing spam email:  I apparently have discovered time travel.