Dear Reader,

A warm hello!

By way of introduction, my visible roots known as heritage: I was born in Yerevan, grew up in Moscow, and am spending my twenties hopping around Los Angeles (where my family and I immigrated to) and New York (where my heart does its most ardent fluttering).

What this newsletter is: A curated selection of literature reviews, musings on the world within us and around us, and an invitation to go beyond the script, whatever that may mean for you.

The reason I started a Substack newsletter is threefold.

(1) As an individual, I am subscribed to reading, travel, mindfulness, and deep thinking. As a researcher, I am subscribed to international relations, foreign policy, history, and philosophy. If I am at all any good at this most holy and fulfilling of vocations—Life’s calling to be a writer—I hope when I put pen-to-paper-to-keyboard, one of these interconnected threads from my life resonates with you, too. That is all one as a writer can hope for, anyway, yes? The connectivity sparks that in moments of darkness illuminate a shared thought, a mutuality of respect, at best our collective humanity. The earnest “I understand you” bit when we feel most misunderstood.

(2) Substack is a platform that allows me to live out the ‘writing is that without which you cannot live’ sentiment to the fullest. I write long captions on Instagram. (My emphasis on long-form didn’t start through social media: as an Opinion columnist for UCLA’s Daily Bruin, my first assignment to write up a blog post ended up looking more like a ten-page policy paper, to the likely dismay of my then-editor, dear Loic.) On Substack, I can write even longer “captions.” :) My aim here isn’t word diarrhea. It’s curating content that reminds us we shouldn’t fear deep thinking or sitting with opinions for a while before jumping into the ring. We shouldn’t, for instance, cut ourselves short with word-limit tweets or catchy “This is a 5-minute read” pieces that pedal superficial brevity, short attention spans, and lack of substance and then think we put in the work to get to know something. We can do better.

(3) I fear how algorithms in social media operate and their implications. I don’t want to disconnect from Instagram, as I have met lovely humans on such avenues. But my worry stems from this observation by Robin Sloan:

In addition to sending several email newsletters, I subscribe to many, and I talk about them a lot; you might have heard me say this at some point (or seen me type it) but I think any artist or scholar or person-in-the-world today, if they don’t have one already, needs to start an email list immediately.

Why? Because we simply cannot trust the social networks, or any centralized commercial platform, with these cliques and crews most vital to our lives, these bands of fellow-travelers who are – who must be – the first to hear about all good things. Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere – and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties.

How exactly this newsletter here will evolve, I do not know. But I say this with optimism.