Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to tell you that our own Morgan Meis has been asked to be a contributor to The New Yorker, which, as I am sure you know, has been for almost a century the acme of literary publishing in America. Congratulations, dear Morgan!
Here is Morgan's debut essay there:
I will never forget a late-night conversation I had seven years ago, around the table of a modest kitchen in a small town in southern Poland, when an impressively inebriated man—a distant relative—implored me with tear-filled eyes to get the message to Obama, as quickly as possible, that a missile shield pointed east, at Moscow, was a dire necessity. Every morning, this man told me, he looked to the east and expected to see Russian hordes cresting the hill just beyond the outskirts of his defenseless town. Then he pointed his finger at the window. We both looked out warily into the night.
There is a special mix of vindictiveness, paranoia, and persecution complex that can bubble to the surface in countries that have been betrayed too often. The opening line to the Polish National Anthem—“Poland has not yet perished”—gives you a good impression of the national disposition. Many Poles, even twenty years after the fall of Communism, live in a state of fatalistic, half-amused anticipation, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Historically, it’s been the Russians who come to administer the boot. This happened, for instance and notoriously, in the January uprising of 1863, when Poles started a rebellion against forced conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. The rebellion ended, as many did, in misery and mass executions. And don’t even get a Pole started about the partitions of the late eighteenth century, in which Russia, Prussia, and Austria carved Poland up into so many pieces that there was no independent state left.
Tadeusz Konwicki, who died last month, wrote fiction that is steeped in this history, in these agonies and conundrums.