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This report is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

The News from Turkmenistan Marius Kociejowski

The news is that Turkmenistan's septuagenarian leader, Turkmen Bashi, has decided to rename the months after himself and various members of his family. Also, he has redefined the Ages of Man, with Enlightenment coming only at seventy, the age he himself had to reach in order to be able to make a decision so wise. There is a slight muddle in his thinking here, because no sooner did he become a venerable threescore and ten than he ordered the reprinting of his country's banknotes, which henceforth would depict him not with white but with shiny black hair. The Age of Endarkenment more like. Turkmen Bashi is the happy author of a book, Rahnama - the Guide, a collection of his thoughts on various matters that, even more happily for him and his publisher (who is Turkmen Bashi, of course), has been made required reading in Turkomen schools. I should not be surprised to learn that he also writes verse. One should not make light of his subjects' miseries, of course, but upon hearing of his adjustments to the calendar, as if time were all he had left to subdue, smilingly I went to bed rethinking the contents of various songs and poems.

Turkmen Bashi is the cruellest month

At some point in the night I awoke, my brain aglow with an idea for an essay that was, as it were, already parboiled and garnished with title. I knew there could be no possibility of ...

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