Monday, August 22, 2011

Strange Coincidences

Up to last year, I hadn't really thought about Bulgaria much at all -- ever, in my life, really. I knew something about its history, but only a few superficial things, and nothing about its culture or its people. Then, while pondering a Meditation on Art concerning Christo, I vaguely recalled that the great man had spent his formative years in Bulgaria. A little research led me to a blog post about Christo (link here).

Then the coincidences started to occur. Over the summer, it turned out that an artist I found on Facebook spends part of the year in Bulgaria (his native country), and the rest of the time in Chicago, where I now live. So I interviewed him about his own art and his relation to his natal country (link here).

Next coincidence: during his recent summer stay in eastern Europe, Konstantin ran into Christo's brother at a gallery. They posed for a photograph together in a gallery that Konstantin helps run in V. Tarnovo, an ancient town that was once the capital of Bulgaria:

From left: Stefan Christo; Konstantin Ray
And last night, as I was reading Turgenev's "On the Eve", I came across this description of a Bulgarian character, Insarov:
He has one idea: the liberation of his country. His life, too, has been unusual. His father was quite a wealthy merchant in Tirnovo. Tirnovo is now a small town, but in former days it was the capital of Bulgaria, when Bulgaria was still an independent kingdom.
Until talking to Konstantin, I had never heard of Tirnovo/Tarnovo, either. What does this all mean? Probably nothing much, except that the longer one lives and the more one thinks about the world, various strands of it become knitted together in surprising ways.

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