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As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securi As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securitate—compiled a massive surveillance file on her. Reading through its 2,781 pages, she learned that she was "actually" a spy, a CIA agent, a Hungarian agitator, and a friend of dissidents: in short, an enemy of Romania. In My Life as a Spy she analyzes her file alongside her original field notes and conversations with Securitate officers. Verdery also talks with some of the informers who were close friends, learning the complex circumstances that led them to report on her, and considers how fieldwork and spying can be easily confused. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.


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As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securi As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securitate—compiled a massive surveillance file on her. Reading through its 2,781 pages, she learned that she was "actually" a spy, a CIA agent, a Hungarian agitator, and a friend of dissidents: in short, an enemy of Romania. In My Life as a Spy she analyzes her file alongside her original field notes and conversations with Securitate officers. Verdery also talks with some of the informers who were close friends, learning the complex circumstances that led them to report on her, and considers how fieldwork and spying can be easily confused. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

29 review for My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ruxandra (4fără15)

    O tânără americancă, studentă la Stanford şi etnograf în devenire, ajunge în România socialistă la începutul anilor '70 printr-un schimb de cercetători, hotărâtă să adune date pentru doctoratul ei în antropologie. Avea doar douăzeci şi cinci de ani şi alesese România aproape întâmplător, din pură curiozitate faţă de lumea nevăzută din spatele Cortinei de Fier. Cum în anii respectivi România părea să se deschidă mai mult spre exterior decât restul ţărilor est-europene, Katherine învaţă încet-înce O tânără americancă, studentă la Stanford şi etnograf în devenire, ajunge în România socialistă la începutul anilor '70 printr-un schimb de cercetători, hotărâtă să adune date pentru doctoratul ei în antropologie. Avea doar douăzeci şi cinci de ani şi alesese România aproape întâmplător, din pură curiozitate faţă de lumea nevăzută din spatele Cortinei de Fier. Cum în anii respectivi România părea să se deschidă mai mult spre exterior decât restul ţărilor est-europene, Katherine învaţă încet-încet limba română şi se pregăteşte pentru cele 17 luni pe care avea să le petreacă într-un sat din sudul judeţului Hunedoara, sub îndrumarea ştiinţifică a profesorului Mihai Pop. De fapt, odată ce ajunge acolo, planurile îi vor fi date peste cap: nu numai că aproape se găseşte nevoită să se stabilească într-un alt judeţ (ce nu avea nicio legătură cu proiectul pentru care venise), dar se şi pomeneşte cu propriul dosar de urmărire, la doar opt luni de la sosire. Totul din cauza unei motorete Mobra, care o poartă, accidental, prea aproape de o bază militară strict secretă. Patruzeci de ani mai târziu, o vizită la CNSAS îi relevă lui Katherine o imagine de sine complet necunoscută până atunci, căci primeşte spre lecturare propriul dosar secret de la Securitate. Se pare că pe timpul şederilor sale în România (căci a petrecut în total, între 1973 şi 1988, 40 de săptămâni aici), Securitatea îi fabricase nu mai puţin de unsprezece dosare, de 300-400 pagini fiecare, dar şi numeroase dubluri identitare: pentru securişti, Katherine e, pe rând, "'FOLCLORISTA' care spionează pentru armată, 'VERA' care locuieşte la Cluj şi face spionaj pentru diaspora maghiară din SUA, dar şi 'VANESSA', spionată acasă, în Baltimore, pentru asocierea cu diverşi disidenţi". Inevitabil, informaţiile pe care Securitatea le scria despre propria persoană o fac să îşi chestioneze identitatea, întrebându-se dacă nu cumva erau, în logica lor, îndreptăţiţi să o considere spioană: "Nimeni nu venise singur să se instaleze într-un singur sat timp de peste un an, aşa cum făcusem eu. Niciunul nu discutase cu aproape toţi oamenii din sat şi nici nu pusese întrebări despre absolut tot, de la istoria satului în timpul Imperiului Habsburgic şi la modul în care românii şi germanii creşteau vaci şi porci în anii '30, până la căsătoriile interetnice din anii '70". Până la urmă, care mai e diferenţa dintre un spion şi un antropolog? Nu era, de fapt, interesul lui Katherine exact cel suspectat de către Securitate, şi anume strângerea "informaţiilor socio-politice" de diverse feluri? Se pare că tocmai asemănarea dintre metodele etnografice ale cercetătoarei şi cele ale Securităţii îi vor determina să o considere spioană. Bineînţeles că, la bază, Securitatea avea nevoie de toate aceste identităţi false pentru a putea supravieţui - căci ce rol ar mai fi avut securiştii fără duşmani ai statului? - dar se poate, de exemplu, nega faptul că un antropolog "exploatează oamenii în scopuri informative", aşa cum susţineau securiştii despre Katherine? În alte cuvinte, "Viaţa mea ca spioană" relevează cercetările autoarei asupra cercetărilor Securităţii referitoare la desfăşurarea cercetărilor ei. Pe lângă interceptarea corespondenţei şi a convorbirilor telefonice, pe lângă echipamentele de înregistrare (audio, dar şi video) care o însoţeau pe Katherine peste tot pe timpul şederii în România, Securitatea a recrutat, pentru alcătuirea dosarului, cel puţin 70 de informatori din toată ţara. Putem doar să ne imaginăm frustrarea autoarei, care pe unii îi considerase prieteni de nădejde şi li se destăinuise în repetate rânduri, doar ca să afle apoi că fuseseră instruiţi special să îi câştige încrederea; apoi, toată viaţa îi pare brusc un teatru de păpuşi când află cât de implicaţi fuseseră securiştii în viaţa sa intimă. Aşadar, parte a cărţii spune povestea şederii ei în România, cu diverse note informative prezentate în paralel, pe când a doua jumătate constă în reflecţii personale, reacţii diverse la citirea documentelor, dar, poate cel mai interesant, dialoguri şi întâlniri atât cu informatori care o trădaseră, cât şi cu aceiaşi securişti care atâţia ani o urmăriseră din umbră. Mi-a plăcut atât de mult cartea nu numai pentru subiectul care anunţa din start o lectură interesantă, dar şi pentru toată organizarea discursului: deşi nu este o lucrare ştiinţifică, am simţit aptitudinile de cercetător ale autoarei din stilul elocvent, curat al expunerii, astfel încât cartea se citeşte uşor deşi abundă în informaţii, nume şi pseudonime; am mai apreciat umorul (de multe ori auto-depreciativ) şi sinceritatea autoarei, empatia şi, bineînţeles, talentul de povestitor - în plus, cartea primeşte puncte bonus pentru bibliografia cuprinzătoare şi pentru indexul extrem de util!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Cretu

    Lectura a fost tare plăcută. Am văzut câteva comentarii că ar fi prea lunga sau ca ar fi putut să scrie totul în 150 de pagini, dar nu le dau dreptate. Cartea are dimensiunea potrivită, pentru ca trece aceleași fapte prin mai multe filtre, atât acelea de urmărit, cât și de etnograf și sociolog. Mi-am putut face o idee mult mai bună despre ce înseamnă un ofițer de securitate, un obiectiv, surse și obiective. Plăcut interesat, încât să îmi doresc să aflu și despre viața altor persoane urmărite de Lectura a fost tare plăcută. Am văzut câteva comentarii că ar fi prea lunga sau ca ar fi putut să scrie totul în 150 de pagini, dar nu le dau dreptate. Cartea are dimensiunea potrivită, pentru ca trece aceleași fapte prin mai multe filtre, atât acelea de urmărit, cât și de etnograf și sociolog. Mi-am putut face o idee mult mai bună despre ce înseamnă un ofițer de securitate, un obiectiv, surse și obiective. Plăcut interesat, încât să îmi doresc să aflu și despre viața altor persoane urmărite de securitate (exista recomandări chiar în această carte), dar cu atât mai mult, să-mi doresc să aflu dacă tatăl meu și tatăl lui au avut dosare la securitate și dacă da, în ce fel de calitate. Urmează să aflu de la CNSAS, dar să se termine odată cu pandemia asta.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A powerful combination of personal history and testimony (the author started spending ethnographic research time in Romania in the 1970s and speaks Romanian fluently) and academic engagement with painful questions (the effect of the surveillance state on social relations especially when they are deliberately manipulated). She’s not afraid of honest self-evaluation which is partly what makes this so compelling, nor does she avoid accepting the system’s inevitable complexity rather than a binary ‘ A powerful combination of personal history and testimony (the author started spending ethnographic research time in Romania in the 1970s and speaks Romanian fluently) and academic engagement with painful questions (the effect of the surveillance state on social relations especially when they are deliberately manipulated). She’s not afraid of honest self-evaluation which is partly what makes this so compelling, nor does she avoid accepting the system’s inevitable complexity rather than a binary ‘them and us’ condemnation. This is an excellent companion to Timothy Garton-Ash’s brilliant though briefer The File.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mona Nicoara

    A painfully honest investigation of the complex relationship between surveillance, political power and cultural privilege, and socially constructed notions of friendship, responsibility, and ethics.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaushalya

    4.5 really. Very very interesting. Changed my perception of Eastern European states and surveillance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book won a Gregory Bateson prize in ethnographic writing. I would say this book is part of the genre of confessional writing about fieldwork. Unlike the typical what went wrong and what went right in fieldwork, this book was made possible due to the discovery or her decision to read her own securitae files from her time in Romania. It now provides a comparative ethnography of her own growth as a person versus what the anonymous security officers constructed her activities. In a way, this is This book won a Gregory Bateson prize in ethnographic writing. I would say this book is part of the genre of confessional writing about fieldwork. Unlike the typical what went wrong and what went right in fieldwork, this book was made possible due to the discovery or her decision to read her own securitae files from her time in Romania. It now provides a comparative ethnography of her own growth as a person versus what the anonymous security officers constructed her activities. In a way, this is a convergence (shocking but not) of what ethnography is or better yet, spying. The Romanian definition is collecting information and being part of the CIA. While she does the former, she is not the latter although it is evident that money for Cold War research heavily funded these types of research and was indirectly supported by the USA. She cannot be that naive about that. This is a book that would greatly be of interest to boomer generation anthropologist who grew up and lived the Cold War. The accounts of fear and surveillance would definitely hit home. Every other generation, including a gen x-er, would find the narrative too long, too confessional and non-inclusive. As Erin Taylor puts it, this is a novel written for the author and not for any other audience. All the cast of characters and her feelings were for her own closure, her own confrontation of her mixed identities. There is little attempt to connect until the last two chapters with her reflections. Otherwise, you easily get confused with the cast of characters that she narrates and why they are important. Once you get through the first half of chapter 2, everything else seems repetitive and of little reader value. You can skip to chapters 3 and 4 for her reflection. However, this is not a denunciation of the securitae officers or informers. In fact, she was castigated by her own informers for getting them off the hook. Instead, she seeks (again) their approval and connection because she needs them this book and the need to understand why they did this to her. Remember this is all about her. Her need to seek their approval for what she does (inside at least). Thus, she offers no position. I am unaware of what her other book Secrets and Truths talks about but maybe what I am looking for is there rather than on this work. The whole book talks about an American point of view and naivety during the Cold War and their place in the world order. Note that the notion of friends, truth, feelings, transparency is very Western values that is not at work in other parts of the world where multiple identities are the norm. It can be off-putting at times. Be ready for the exposure that she reveals her - sex life, love life, her personal growth as a person, her alternate life or ego in the field which is different than when she is in the USA. This is only possible when you have achieved so much - book publication, a full professorship at John Hopkins, etc. She reveals that her persona on the field is so much different than when she is at home therefore approval is very important. Even seeking the approval of her informers and security officers, to become friends is very high and covers even the end. This is a capstone to her long career but underscores how despite all her family and friends and gushing love there, she remains an outsider, with little impact of spying, informing, and working in the security compared to her family and friends that she put in danger. Value of this book: 1. Always good to read a confessional fieldwork account. This is commonly a cited style in experimental writing but I don't see too much creative writing her that would merit the Marcus and Fisher recommendation. Except that it is honest about the fieldworker's own relationship to the data and its production. Only a privileged few will get to write something like this and find an audience for it. 2. Useful for those juniors or those beginning in the field for stories of what to do and what happened but only a portion of it (first half of ch. 2) Otherwise, it offers less value on that front. One can live vicariously and know that others have made similar mistakes and similar reflections on their fieldwork. But for reasons that are not common or advisable when you write your dissertation or journal article. 3. Opening the discussion for concepts of betrayal, friendships in the field, entering into patronage relationships in the field (including academic patronages) and its pitfalls (i.e. what happens when this fails, or what happens when the topic you write becomes disapproved by your informants). she doesn't go quite deep but as I said these are good openings. 4. the last of the classic fieldwork closed settings that are no longer possible in this connected world. there is no more village ethnography in the classic sense. 5. finally, this book is important to those looking into the consequences of betrayal and aftermath of violence committed by one to another. Think of the apartheid, genocide, wars, and other mistreatment. How do people get over it or mend their social relations? While this is not a book that delves too much into it, it offers some insight into Romanian tendencies like in any post-socialist country. It is not per se of what happens to her informants (remember this is a book about her not of her informants) so it is a missed opportunity. At the end of the day, I get why supervisors advise you, that you are not important in your writing (to some extent no confessional boohoo please), it is the voice of the other that needs to be there. This is at best a supplementary reading to any fieldwork or methods but difficult to recommend as a required reading in a class. Fun at the beginning but it is okay to skim through parts of it. I'm still going to read more confessional accounts in the discipline though, this would be a 2.5 stars more accurately.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andra

    Pentru început: cartea asta nu cuprinde în nicio manieră regimul comunist ca întreg în Romănia, ci doar tratează propria experiență cu Securitatea. Cartea este foarte bună, fapt de o veridicitate de neclintit, întradevăr, oarecum lunguță și uneori greu de digerat ( e o carte care are nevoie de un oarecare nivel de concentrare, am observat ), însă captivantă și care merită mult mai multă atenție decât pare să primească. Pe de o parte, cred ca ar trebui citită pentru simplul fapt că e scrisă de o Pentru început: cartea asta nu cuprinde în nicio manieră regimul comunist ca întreg în Romănia, ci doar tratează propria experiență cu Securitatea. Cartea este foarte bună, fapt de o veridicitate de neclintit, întradevăr, oarecum lunguță și uneori greu de digerat ( e o carte care are nevoie de un oarecare nivel de concentrare, am observat ), însă captivantă și care merită mult mai multă atenție decât pare să primească. Pe de o parte, cred ca ar trebui citită pentru simplul fapt că e scrisă de o străină care ajunge în România ca o tânără energică și aeriană, dar pleacă cu un gust amar al trădării și al neajunsurilor. Pe de altă parte, trebuie citită pentru că există. Eu nu am trăit experiența comunistă, așadar mă bazez în procent de sută la sută pe informațile procurate fie de părinți, fie de cărți, așadar, fiecare acces la informație este o ocazie de neratat de a mă lumina din anumite puncte de vedere. Katherine Verdery nu e doar o antropoloagă strălucită, ci și o povestitoare pe cinste, deci această carte poate fi, după părerea mea, doar o experiență fericită. 5/5 ⭐️

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    Katherine Verdery could have written a very straightforward history of her years as a researcher in Romania and later discovery that she had been under surveillance by the Securitate (Secus) the entire time, informed upon by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and secretly followed, filmed, and photographed. She does all that, but at the same time she turns her anthropologist's lens onto the situation and begins to ask questions. She doesn't merely wonder why she was viewed as a spy; she ask Katherine Verdery could have written a very straightforward history of her years as a researcher in Romania and later discovery that she had been under surveillance by the Securitate (Secus) the entire time, informed upon by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and secretly followed, filmed, and photographed. She does all that, but at the same time she turns her anthropologist's lens onto the situation and begins to ask questions. She doesn't merely wonder why she was viewed as a spy; she asks herself, "Did I, in fact, behave like a spy?" She draws parallels between the work of the Secus, who cultivated relationships and relied on informers, and her own work as an ethnographer, in which she, too, sought key informants through developing relationships. Fascinatingly, Verdery actually interviewed acquaintances who informed on her as well as some of the Secus who reported on her. She concludes that the people and the Secus had developed a symbiotic relationship, where in exchange for information, the Secus served as fixers of a sort, helping people with their everyday difficulties. Verdery managed to step outside of her own outrage and sense of betrayal to take a longer view of the entire Securitate infrastructure and its role in Romanian society after the 1950s. This book is a page-turning thriller that keeps us reading, eager to see Verdery reveal another layer of the onion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Romanul este unul biografic dar are puternice accente antropologice, Katherine Verdery fiind o antropoloagă americană, venită în România în perioada comunistă, care a fost urmărită de securitate, suspestată că ar fi fie spion CIA, fie spion maghiar (datorită faptului că numele ei pare maghiar, chiar dacă nu este). Katherine transcrie , oferind și context, notele securității despre ea, dar, cea mai interesantă parte mi s-a părut cea în care descrie întâlnirile ei (după anul 2000), atât cu informa Romanul este unul biografic dar are puternice accente antropologice, Katherine Verdery fiind o antropoloagă americană, venită în România în perioada comunistă, care a fost urmărită de securitate, suspestată că ar fi fie spion CIA, fie spion maghiar (datorită faptului că numele ei pare maghiar, chiar dacă nu este). Katherine transcrie , oferind și context, notele securității despre ea, dar, cea mai interesantă parte mi s-a părut cea în care descrie întâlnirile ei (după anul 2000), atât cu informatorii, cât și cu ofițerii de securitate, pe care încearcă să-i înțeleagă și față de care are o perspectivă destul de îngăduitoare. Ca un antropolog, ea își pune întrebări atât asupra asemănării meseriei ei de antropolog cu cea a unui ofițer de securitate (în care amâdoi observă, intervieviază și iau notițe despre oamenii întâlniți), dar și asupra rolului Securității în societatea românească, asemându-i cu pisica din povestirea cu leul, pisica și șoarecele (un leu aduce în casa lui, la căldură, o pisică, pentru că era deranjat de un șoarece, iar pisica nu îl omoară, preferând să îl țină la distanță, știind că, dacă șoarecele nu ar mai fi, și ea ar fi alungată din casă).

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Saslav

    This is a chronicle of an ethnographer from Stanford/Johns Hopkins who traveled to Romania several times in the 70s and 80s, and inadvertently wound up a person of interest to the Romanian Securitate (Communist Secret Service). Several years after the Wall fell, she was able to obtain and read her surprisingly massive Securitate dossier, and this book contains excerpts and ruminations about what she found. The book is recent enough to be able to draw lines connecting a) the human labor-intensive This is a chronicle of an ethnographer from Stanford/Johns Hopkins who traveled to Romania several times in the 70s and 80s, and inadvertently wound up a person of interest to the Romanian Securitate (Communist Secret Service). Several years after the Wall fell, she was able to obtain and read her surprisingly massive Securitate dossier, and this book contains excerpts and ruminations about what she found. The book is recent enough to be able to draw lines connecting a) the human labor-intensive informant/handler network that existed behind the Iron Curtain between WWII and 1989; and b) the more automated data mining and behavior tracking taking place as part of the post-2010 rise in "free" social media worldwide. Highly recommended for anyone interested in covert political uses of social networks, the repercussions of informing on one's acquaintances and coworkers, and the long-term psychological effects on people subjected to surreptitious surveillance.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ana-Maria

    Am început să citesc această carte cu entuziasm, pentru că eram fascinată de ideea de a descoperi modul în care Securitatea se inflitra în viețile personale ale oamenilor. Preț de 150 de pagini am aflat tot ce mă interesa, restul fiind o scriere lacrimogenă și emoțională despre iertarea securiștilor și a turnătorilor. E ca și cum autoarea și-ar fi ficționalizat viața, dedublându-se și evitând să se identifice cu sine însăși, chiar dacă acel "sine" era reflecția din dosarele Securității și nu era Am început să citesc această carte cu entuziasm, pentru că eram fascinată de ideea de a descoperi modul în care Securitatea se inflitra în viețile personale ale oamenilor. Preț de 150 de pagini am aflat tot ce mă interesa, restul fiind o scriere lacrimogenă și emoțională despre iertarea securiștilor și a turnătorilor. E ca și cum autoarea și-ar fi ficționalizat viața, dedublându-se și evitând să se identifice cu sine însăși, chiar dacă acel "sine" era reflecția din dosarele Securității și nu era bazată pe fapte reale. O lectură necesară, însă se putea scrie mai bine, mai ales că sunt foarte multe nume de persoane, pseudonime și porecle în care te pierzi, unele dintre ele dublând pseudonimele Securității.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ted Haussman

    I found this book enthralling -- kind of a self-ethnography of the ethnographer but told largely through the lens of the author's review and study of the file kept by her by the Romanian Secret Police, the Securitate. By later interviewing people with whom she had bonded and trusted but informed on her and by some of the Securitate officers responsible for her "case," she came to a more well-rounded or fuller understanding of the function of secret police and informers behind the Iron Curtain (i I found this book enthralling -- kind of a self-ethnography of the ethnographer but told largely through the lens of the author's review and study of the file kept by her by the Romanian Secret Police, the Securitate. By later interviewing people with whom she had bonded and trusted but informed on her and by some of the Securitate officers responsible for her "case," she came to a more well-rounded or fuller understanding of the function of secret police and informers behind the Iron Curtain (in Romania) in the years after the secret police transitioned from violence and physical coercion to more of a counterespionage function, albeit with a very broad definition of "counterespionage." I found the whole journey fascinating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrei

    Katherine's experiences in communist and post-communist Romania were chilling to read about. This memoir was like watching a drama: to go with her through the years and watch her grappling with her research, her relationships, her (unknowing) targeting by the Securitate and shocking realizations felt like listening to a friend tell a sometimes horrifying story. It's making me reflect on my own connections with others, as well as the effect of the researcher in a different culture than the one th Katherine's experiences in communist and post-communist Romania were chilling to read about. This memoir was like watching a drama: to go with her through the years and watch her grappling with her research, her relationships, her (unknowing) targeting by the Securitate and shocking realizations felt like listening to a friend tell a sometimes horrifying story. It's making me reflect on my own connections with others, as well as the effect of the researcher in a different culture than the one they grew up with. I learned so much more about Romania too, and I'm looking forward to revisiting this book when I've got some experience with being in Romania under my own belt.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elena MtlCa

    She's soooooo shocked. And allegedly intelligent. And provides previous little empathy for locals who were drawn into Securitate's hell because of her ... let's call it ingenuity. She's soooooo shocked. And allegedly intelligent. And provides previous little empathy for locals who were drawn into Securitate's hell because of her ... let's call it ingenuity.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Person

    Pretty repetitive and tried a bit too hard to be deep, but overall enlightening to someone who had no real idea about anything Romanian.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claude Cahn

    Very brilliant. Intellectually and emotionally very brave. A very mature latest chapter from an incisive participant-observer of Romania for over four decades.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laszlo Alexandru

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  18. 5 out of 5

    Mina-Louise

    This was mentioned in the Julia Kristeva biography by quoting the opening line of the book ‘There’s nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are’ which was a good enough opening line to make me want to read it. It followed with ‘Page after page, all your activities, all your motives, are subjected to a reading from an alien position embodied in a logic different from anything you recognise. Events you remember as significant might appear without comment, whi This was mentioned in the Julia Kristeva biography by quoting the opening line of the book ‘There’s nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are’ which was a good enough opening line to make me want to read it. It followed with ‘Page after page, all your activities, all your motives, are subjected to a reading from an alien position embodied in a logic different from anything you recognise. Events you remember as significant might appear without comment, while others you thought unimportant burgeon into grounds for your expulsion from the country.’ Which along with what attracted me to the book prompted some narcissistic introspection. Sometimes there is the the feeling when reading your own words, a diary or old pieces of writing, texts or love letters to someone you used to love--that don’t know that person. Inside jokes you forgot the meaning or origin of, diary codes you can no longer crack. I don’t know who that person was. I don’t recognise myself in her. Sometimes, thankfully, writing has the gift of releasing a part of you. Other times, it feels like you lost a part of yourself. I recently learned that my aunt was under government surveillance / on a watchlist in the 70s for communist organising. I very much don’t think I am under any form of surveillance other than what we’re all subjected to in a society entrenched in surveillance capitalism. But I am a little paranoid because I also relatively recently learned that my (ex) best friend literally stalked all my private conversations for over a year. ...And I recently watched Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Detective Doyle says in Rear Window: ‘That’s a secret, private world you’re looking into out there. People do a lot of things in private they couldn’t possibly explain in public.’ Somewhat unconsciously I’ve been finding myself these past days watching myself from the outside in. Wondering what can be learned about me, how it can be interpreted. Whether a neighbour with binoculars, or a friend reading intimate and private conversations, someone reading my grocery receipts or rummaging through my garbage, friends-lovers-colleagues-enemies… Thinking about how occasionally accurate facebook ads are, but also largely bizarre and to me illogical, I worry about the conclusions drawn. What really is interesting is the invasion of privacy, and how it affects us. Where and how easily we let go of any perceived privacy, for the benefit of intimacy or trust, or convenience and ease when it comes to our phones. How willing we might be to betray/invade others’ privacy for our own curiosity. How despised peeping toms are, when we have given people careers out of sharing every single part of their lives in reality tv shows— whether real or fake, we want it and think we have some sort of right in seeing it. Habits of being. Interpreted. Terrifying. I've resolved to spend less time naked.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Roxana Minciuna

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ioana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mr T

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Cook

  23. 4 out of 5

    Teodora Cristian

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Aissaoui

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dipali

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donna Bahry Bartlett

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vindi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stefana

  29. 4 out of 5

    Boyd

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