Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Balkans

Stari Most in Bosnia

I went through a fairly intense period a couple of years back when I became gripped with the Balkan Wars in the 1990s and the break-up of Yugoslavia. I read everything I could get my hands on, much of it astonishing stuff that I'd still pick up today, even after the fascination with that morbid and intense period of human history has waned... Say what you will about Michael Ignatieff as the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (and truthfully, despite my initial hopes, I don't pay much attention - it's too painful to watch the man pander to the Tim Horton's/hockey constituency), but his book The Warrior's Honour presented an interesting approach to the Balkans war, particularly in the application of Freud's narcissism of minor differences to explain the vicious feelings between former neighbours, friends and family members resonated particularly with me. Through my research I was also introduced to David Rieff, Tim Judah, and a great novel called The Speaking Cure by Montrealer David Homel (here's an ABC Australia interview with him), about the psychological disconnection between Serbian citizens and the battlefield during the war. Some other recommendations on the topic, are the 6 part BBC series The Death of Yugoslavia, which is still making its rounds on torrent sites across the internet, Danis Tanovic's 2001 film No Man's Land, and CBC Radio As It Happens hostess Carol Off's The Lion, The Fox and The Eagle, a portion of which is about the shameless chumminess exhibited by Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie as head of the UN Peacekeeping force in Bosnia in 1992.

The alarming thing, I suppose, was just how poorly people on the Left, in their knee-jerk response got it so miserably and terribly wrong, ending up on the side of Milosevic and Karadzic, acting as apologists while genocide was committed against on European soil against a Muslim population. (Open-shirted French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy apparently tackles the post-Marxist Left's fascination with national sovereignty in his most recent book Left in Dark Times, which I'm eager to read.)

Anyways, on a less tragic note, above you'll find some Balkan songs, and here's an animal rights story about a Macedonian bear being persecuted for being a bear.

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