APOLOGIA PRO WEBSITUS SUUS

A personal website is unavoidably an ego trip, and therefore a bit nauseating to others, who prefer to go on their own, but it also remains a remarkably convenient way of making things available worldwide. Why else do we write, if not to share? Additionally a website helps to define the life project and to encourage the ever-striving ego to complete it. Finally, a website distinguishes the real person from a horde of impostors who by a quirk of fate and the caprice of parents bear the same first and last names.

Background—the Cold War, Russian studies, America in political turmoil. Major interests—literature, languages and history, with science, religion and philosophy on the side. Major concerns—individual vs. mass, freedom vs. control, originality vs. convention. Major discontents—the media-entertainment complex, the false multiculturalism of political correctness, the new illiteracy of geekspeak. Moving into old age, trying to conclude scholarly projects, hoping to devote the last years to creative work, philosophy and maybe something mystical.


 

Basic Data:

Born 1938 in Washington DC, the son of a zookeeper. Lived in the capital for the first 25 years. Studied nights (seven years) at George Washington University (B.A.), working days as a photographer's assistant, a messenger, a hamburger man, a taxi driver, a librarian, an insurance investigator. Then went to Manchester Univeristy (M.A.), Princeton University (Ph.D., Russian Literature, 1969) and Moscow State University (a couple of programs for foreigners).

 


Charles Kern and Susie after her escape from the Washington Zoo.

 

Taught Russian and world literature at the University of Rochester, the University of California (Riverside) and the University of Southern California. Afterwards worked in Riverside CA as a writer, translator and radio broadcaster. Readings of Kafka, Schopenhauer and the Gilgamesh Epic were broadcast on KPFK-Los Angeles.

 

High Points:

Discovered unpublished manuscripts of Russian writers (Zamyatin, Gorky, Lunts and others) in London, 1963. Saw my play The Mad Kokoschka produced at the University of California at Riverside, 1982. Worked with a Washington Post reporter to expose a major Soviet atomic spy, Theodore Hall, 1996.


Personal:

Earned blackbelt in Shotokan karate at Ray Dalke's dojo, 1988. Married Zamira, a beautiful belly dancer in 1991 (second marriage). Recorded prior personal experiences in the memoirs Misfortune and Letters From Dwight.

Favorites:

Coffee—Kenya AA (roasted at Batdorf & Bronson); BeerBass Pale Ale (with oatmeal cookies); Food—Mott's apple sauce (goes with anything); Composer—Anton Bruckner (at 3 a.m.); Author—Yevgeny Zamyatin (always smiling a wry smile); Artist—Oskar Kokoschka (somehow magical); Philosopher—Arthur Schopenhauer (Weltschmerz is simply a recognition of reality); religious fanatic—St. Paul/Soren Kierkegaard (on the edge of the unspeakable); God—Shiva (at least he shows his true colors); Goddess—Kali/Tara (especially when green); Heroes and Heroines—Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Darwin, Karl Kraus, Gertrud Kolmar, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Suzanna Arundhati Roy.


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