One of the things that is really notable about Moscow and yet not many people outside Russia know about, is how gorgeous the Moscow metro is.
These photos? That’s what the metro stations look like.
They’re called the “People’s palaces of Moscow” or else “Underground palaces,” and they were built during the Soviet era on the Communist idea that art and beauty should belong to the people rather than only being available in the houses of nobles.
These photos show just some of the metro’s attractions. There are many more mosaics, statues, etc, placed throughout.
And the metro is always this clean.
In addition to being beautiful, it is incredibly functional. It gets you pretty much everywhere in Moscow, and the trains run at intervals of every three minutes or less. At peak times, they run every 90 seconds. You never have to worry about missing a train, because the next one will come almost immediately.
Not always of course. In the late evening or early morning hours, you may have to wait as long as five whole minutes for a train. They’re also super easy to navigate.
We Russians are pretty proud of our metro system.
Languages animate objects by giving them names, making them noticeable when we might not otherwise be aware of them. Tuvan has a word iy (pronounced like the letter e), which indicates the short side of a hill.
I had never noticed that hills had a short side. But once I learned the word, I began to study the contours of hills, trying to identify the iy. It turns out that hills are asymmetrical, never perfectly conical, and indeed one of their sides tends to be steeper and shorter than the others.
If you are riding a horse, carrying firewood, or herding goats on foot, this is a highly salient concept. You never want to mount a hill from the iy side, as it takes more energy to ascend, and an iy descent is more treacherous as well. Once you know about the iy, you see it in every hill and identify it automatically, directing your horse, sheep, or footsteps accordingly.
This is a perfect example of how language adapts to local environment, by packaging knowledge into ecologically relevant bits. Once you know that there is an iy, you don’t really have to be told to notice it or avoid it. You just do. The language has taught you useful information in a covert fashion, without explicit instruction.❞
He is taking a course on Marxist ideology.
He says, “The only real solution is to smash the system and start again.”
His thumb is caressing the most bourgeois copy of the communist manifesto that I have ever seen,
He bought it at Barnes and Noble for twenty-nine U.S. American dollars and ninety-nine cents,
Its hard cover shows a dark man with a scarved face
Waving a gigantic red flag against a fictional smoky background.
The matte finish is fucking gorgeous.
He wants to be congratulated for paying Harvard sixty thousand dollars
To teach him that the system is unfair.
He pulls his iPhone from his imported Marino wool jacket, and leaves.
What people can’t possibly tell from the footage on TV
Is that the water cannon feels like getting whipped with a burning switch.
Where I come from, they fill it with sewer water and hope that they get you in the face with your mouth open
So that the hepatitis will keep you in bed for the next protest.
What you can’t tell from Harvard square,
Is that when the tear gas bursts from nowhere to everywhere all at once,
It scrapes your insides like barbed wire, sawing at your lungs.
Tear gas is such a benign term for it,
If you have never breathed it in you would think it was a nostalgic experience.
What you can’t learn at Barnes and Noble,
Is that when they rush you, survival is to run,
I am never as fast as when the police are chasing me.
I know what happens to women in the holding cells down there and yet…
We still do it.
I inherited my communist manifesto,
It has no cover—
Because my mother ripped it off when she hid it in the dust jacket of “Don Quixote”
The day before the soldiers destroyed her apartment,
Looking for subversive propaganda.
She burned the cover, could not bring herself to burn the pages,
Hoped to God the soldiers couldn’t read,
They never found it.
So she was not killed for it, but her body bore the scars of the torture chamber,
For wanting her children to have a better life than she did,
Don’t talk to me about revolution.
I know what the price of smashing the system really is, my people already tried that.
The price of uprise is paid in blood,
And not Harvard blood.
The blood that ran through the streets of Santiago,
The blood thrown alive from Argentine helicopters into the Atlantic.
It is easy to say “revolution” from the comfort of a New England library.
It is easy to offer flesh to the cause,
When it is not yours to give.