Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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English Played Backwards



Some Thoughts on the Craft of the Wise


How do you know when someone is one of the Wise?


My friend grew up speaking Polish with his immigrant grandmother. When, as an adult, he visited Poland, he wondered if people would be able to understand him.

Oh, they understood him, all right. They also laughed hysterically whenever he said anything.

He was speaking Hillbilly Polish.

My friend, a successful professional with a PhD, laughed as he told me about this.

“I never knew we were hicks,” he said, proudly.


I learned Old Norse from a man named Anatoly Lieberman, one of the most brilliant linguists that I've ever met. Born in the USSR, he spoke—not read, but spoke—seventeen different languages, both ancient and modern. He came to America because no Soviet university would give him tenure, so deeply-entrenched is Russian cultural anti-Semitism.

He told me once that the quickest way to get a laugh out of a Russian is to say something in Ukrainian.

Ukrainian sounds like Hick Russian.


To the English-hearing ear, there's something slurred and lazy-sounding about the Slavic languages, as if the speakers can't be bothered to enunciate clearly. To my American ear, at least, Russian always sounds like English played backwards.

It's easy to make assumptions about other people based on how they sound to us.

It's rarely wise to do so.


When you meet someone who is absolutely confident that they've got everything figured out, you can be virtually certain—regardless of what they may call themselves—that you're not speaking with one of the Wise.

The Wise question everything, even their most deeply-held assumptions.

Especially their most deeply-held assumptions.





Maxim Sukharev, Perun


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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