Category: Thoughts

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Why Czech literature is still relevant

Czech literature goes beyond Kafka and Kundera. It can be humorous, heavy, and soul-crushing, but it’s always approachable. The lack of recognition for Czechs makes readers poorer. Czech themes and ideas about art remain relevant, though some of it comes from bleak circumstances. War, social decay, disillusionment, tradition, progress, modernity....

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Old World Illiberalism: The Fall of Schengen

As Sweden introduces identity checks at the Danish border, the Schengen Area has come under threat, along with the liberalism at the heart of what is valuable within the European Union. Sweden isn’t the first. Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Denmark have added checks, controls, and fences to...

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Wild Europe: Perceptions of the Balkans and the East

Travel writing appeals to me because it’s possible to be honest and sincere, yet write something ignorant and vapid. That tension, and the problems it reveals, makes travel writing a sociological lens for perceptions and assumptions about foreign countries. London, Paris, and Rome, for example, have mythical qualities and romantic...

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On Travel Writing and Writing Well

Good travel writing doesn’t come from exotic locations. Any place can spark insight, nuance, or inspiration. Appalachia provides as good material as England, Ukraine, or Thailand. To write well requires a mix of entrepreneurial spirit to act as historian, journalist, tourist, guide, and sociologist. It leads to historical quirks or...

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How to Travel in 7 Steps

Everyone talks about how much they’d love to travel. Ignoring the 90 percent of people who lie when they say it, the remaining 10 percent who want to probably won’t leave the country. So I want to help that 1 or 2 percent of the 10 who might commit to...

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Your Ideology Makes You Lie to Yourself

As we descend into the cave of reality and search for truth, ideology guides our action. Yet, as the mystery in the cave deepens, the ideology we use as a flashlight catches our eyes and blinds us instead of lighting the path. Though I’m skeptical that we can escape the...

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Appalachia Is a Place, Not Just a Backwater

I used to envy my friends with cultural connections to the country their families immigrated from. The traditions, cultural ties, and general identification for a way of life left behind but still valued enticed me. It continued a rare brand of conservatism that reflected Burke’s definition of society as a...