Dog Town

by Holly A. Case There is a nice neighborhood in Istanbul called Kadıköy, which means “village of the kadı,” or “judge.” One might as well call it Kediköy, however: “village of the cat.” There are a lot of stray cats there, as there are throughout the city. Once I saw a poster with a photo…

Hidden Meaning

by Holly Case A few years ago I found among my effects fourteen typewritten pages of prose fastened together by a rusty staple. A relic from the summer of 1996, the text was a guide to reading poetry. “It is impossible for me to write anything about the explication of poetry without pontificating a bit,”…

Circus

by Holly Case and Lexi Lerner What follows is part of a collaborative project between a historian and a student of medicine called “The Temperature of Our Time.” In forming diagnoses, historians and doctors gather what Carlo Ginzburg has called “small insights”—clues drawn from “concrete experience”—to expose the invisible: a forensic assessment of condition, the origins…

Behind the Oxygen Mask

by Holly Case and Lexi Lerner What follows is part of a collaborative project between a historian and a student of medicine called “The Temperature of Our Time.” In forming diagnoses, historians and doctors gather what Carlo Ginzburg has called “small insights”—clues drawn from “concrete experience”—to expose the invisible: a forensic assessment of condition, the…

Kurkov’s Cacti

by Holly A. Case The remnants of Andrei Kurkov's cactus collection Cacti don't exactly grow on trees in Ukraine. They need a great deal of light or they become deformed. In winter the air temperature has to be maintained at ten degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), which is neither easy nor fun to manage in…

Somewhere in Europe

by Holly A. Case Demonstration in Budapest in support of CEU, April 9, 2017 On Tuesday of last week, the Hungarian parliament passed a law that seeks to drive the Central European University, founded in 1991, out of the Hungary. Many articles and op-eds have been written condemning the law, and declarations of support have…

Dada

by Holly A. Case Suzi Dada. Budapest, 2014 “plus or minus 8 years” A few years ago someone took a photograph in Budapest of a slight young woman blowing on a street sign that appears to bend under the superhuman force. From a passing car an astonished driver looks on. The woman is Suzi Dada.…

Zygmunt Bauman Lives

by Holly A. Case Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017) The first and last time I saw Zygmunt Bauman was in October 2011. The Polish sociologist had come to Jena where he was one of the star participants, along with the Hungarian philosopher Ágnes Heller, at a workshop on "Approaches to Postmodernity from the East." As the organizers…

Madder than you Think

by Holly A. Case Alen R. (left) and Arkan (right) Is there a relationship between politics and madness? The history of the legal strategy known as the insanity defense offers some clues. One thinker, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, was so haunted by the moral confusion of the insanity defense as to wonder whether there…

Mountain Echoes

by Holly A. Case James Baldwin Dost Mektupları (Letters of a Friend) is a collection of correspondence between James Baldwin and the Turkish actor Engin Cezzar (pronounced Jezzar). Although they were written in English with a spattering of French (Baldwin) and Shakespearean English (Cezzar), the letters have only been published in Turkish. This may seem…

A Matter of Interpretation

by Holly A. Case Attila Kiss Attila Kiss speaks beautiful English. He has been a simultaneous interpreter—from Hungarian to English and English to Hungarian—for various intellectual and spiritual luminaries, among them the Dalai Lama, and for the European Union. When he speaks of interpreting, it is with uncanny precision, betraying an awareness that even speech…

Brodsky’s Method

by Holly A. Case Ares, god of war When Joseph Brodsky taught poetry at Mount Holyoke College, his method of choice was memorization. At the beginning of every class, students took out a blank sheet of paper and wrote out the poem for discussion that day from memory. Every comma, every line break, every word:…