This is a series of articles written and published in 1996-2000 in Macedonia, in Russia, in Egypt and in the Czech Republic.
How the West lost the East. The economics, the politics, the geopolitics, the conspiracies, the corruption, the old and the new, the plough and the internet – it is all here, in prose, as provocative and vitriolic and loving and longing as I could make it.
From "The Mind of Darkness":
"'The Balkans' – I say – 'is the unconscious of the world'. People stop to digest this metaphor and then they nod enthusiastically. It is here that the repressed memories of history, its traumas and fears and images reside. It is here that the psychodynamics of humanity – the tectonic clash between Rome and Byzantium, West and East, Judeo-Christianity and Islam – is still easily discernible. We are seated at a New Year's dining table, loaded with a roasted pig and exotic salads.
I, the Jew, only half foreign to this cradle of Slavonics. Four Serbs, five Macedonians. It is in the Balkans that all ethnic distinctions fail and it is here that they prevail anachronistically and atavistically. Contradiction and change the only two fixtures of this tormented region.
The women of the Balkan – buried under provocative mask-like make up, retro hairstyles and too narrow dresses. The men, clad in sepia colours, old fashioned suits and turn of the century moustaches. In the background there is the crying game that is Balkanian music: liturgy and folk and elegy combined. The smells are heavy with musk-ular perfumes. It is like time travel. It is like revisiting one's childhood."
How were the articles and essays contained herein – many of them translated and published in local languages – received by people everywhere?
My readers from the Balkans reacted to these essays with an admixture of rage and indignation. They erected defensive barricades of self-aggrandizement and of my devaluation. And they let their ingrained paranoia run rampant (Jewish conspiracies, Western spies, world plots). I asked a resident of this tortured region to write the foreword to this book. People from other parts, from Central and Eastern Europe, were more argumentative and contemplating, though much less passionate. And Westerners – especially those with interest in these regions of the world – reacted with great, cathartic enthusiasm.
In reading this book, I wish upon you the joy and the revulsion, the dark fascination of this region and its surrealist dreams and nightmares. This is what I experience daily here and it is my hope that I succeeded to convey the siren's song, the honeyed trap, the lure and the allure of this tortured corner of the earth.