Peter Korchnak

May 292013

[O]ne certain outcome of exile is the creation of a bipolar personal world. Spatially, the world becomes riven into two parts, divided by an uncrossable barrier. Temporally, the past is all of a sudden on one side of a divide, the present on the other. —Eva Hoffman in “The New Nomads”, in: Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language and Loss, Andre Aciman, ed.

May 212013
American Robotnik Going on Travel Hiatus

American Robotnik has been going strong since October 2011, early ups and recent downs notwithstanding. It has been both helpful and inspirational: It has helped process and grow from my immigration experience. It solidified my decision to make writing the focus of my work. It triggered the epiphany that led to my writing and publishing (on demand) of my book, Guerrilla Yardwork: The First-Time Home Owner’s Handbook. The time has come for another adventure. I am joining the love of my life Lindsay on a yearlong trip around the world […] Continue reading >

May 172013

Their home now was a country in which they had not been born. Their place in society they had established themselves through the hardships of crossing and settlement. The process had changed them, had altered the most intimate aspect of their lives. Every effort to cling to inherited ways of acting and thinking had led into a subtle adjustment by which those ways were given a new American form. No longer Europeans, could the immigrants then say that they belonged in America? —Oscar Handlin in The Uprooted: The Epic […] Continue reading >

May 152013

We are come to rest and push our roots more deeply by the year. But we cannot push away the heritage of having been once all strangers in the land; we cannot forget the experience of having been all rootless, adrift. Building our own nests now in our tiredness of the transient, we will not deny our past as a people in motion and will find still a place in our lives for the values of flight. In our flight, unattached, we discovered what it was to be an […] Continue reading >

May 072013

The life of the immigrant was that of a man diverted by unexpected pressures away from the established channels of his existence. Separated, he was never capable of acting with the assurance of habit; always in motion, he could never rely upon roots to hold him up. Instead he had ever to toil painfully from crisis to crisis, as an individual alone, make his way past the discontinuous obstacles of a strange world. But America was the land of separated men. Its development in the eighteenth century and the […] Continue reading >

May 032013

The old folk knew then they would not come to belong, not through their own experience nor through their offspring. The only adjustment they had been able to make to life in the United States had been one that involved the separateness of their group, one that increased their awareness of the differences between themselves and the rest of the society. In that adjustment they had always suffered from the consciousness they were strangers. The demand that they assimilate, that they surrender their separateness, condemned them always to be […] Continue reading >

May 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in May 2013

In Portland, Oregon, in May? Check out these wonderful Central/Eastern European events! All info comes from organizer’s website and is edited for clarity/length. Bulgaria: Horo Dancing with Portland’s Bulgarians, 5/3 Friday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Podkrepa Hall, 2116 North Killingsworth St, Portland, Oregon $5 suggested donation and finger-food potluck Come and join us for a fun night of dancing and learning. Poland: True Life Trio, 5/4 Saturday, May 4, 7:00 pm Polish Hall/St. Stanislaus Church, 3916 N. Interstate Ave., Portland, Oregon Tickets: $10 Band website and Facebook page […] Continue reading >

Apr 252013

Since [Eden], is there anyone who does not—in some way, on some level—feel that they are in exile? We feel ejected from our first homes and landscapes, from childhood, from our first family romance, from our authentic self. We feel there is an ideal sense of belonging, of community, of attunement with others and at-homeness with ourselves, that keeps eluding us. The tree of life is barred to us by a flaming sword, turning this way and that to confound us and make the task of approaching it harder. […] Continue reading >

Apr 232013

I had come here doing what all exiles do on impulse, which is to look for their homeland abroad, to bridge the things here to things there, to rewrite the present so as not to write off the past. I wanted to rescue things everywhere, as though by restoring them here I might restore them elsewhere as well. I wanted everything to remain the same. Because this too is typical of people ho have lost everything, including their roots or their ability to grow new ones. It is precisely […] Continue reading >

Apr 212013
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for April 2013

From the RSS Feed “The Rise of Gay Marriage and the Decline of Straight Marriage: Where’s the Link?” by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, April 4, 2013 “A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map of America” by Robert Krulwich, NPR Blogs, April 17, 2013 – “These are the first maps that are trying to paint us the way we actually are.” The Book Stack Andre Aciman, False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory, New York: Picador, 2001 – BUY NOW Salman Akhtar, Immigration and Acculturation: Mourning, Adaptation, and the Next […] Continue reading >

Apr 152013

[W]anderers to the wide world often yearn toward the far direction whence they have come. Why even the birds who fly away from their native places still hasten to go back. Can a man feel really happy condemned to live away from where he was born? Though by leaving he has cut himself off and knows he never will return, yet he hopes, by reaching backward, still to belong in the homeland. —Oscar Handlin in The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People

Apr 132013
Stereotypes: How to Combat Negative Perceptions

Rather than getting into where stereotypes come from* or how stereotyping operates, let me tackle the problem of dealing with negative stereotypes, since positive stereotypes are much less detrimental to optimal immigration experience. In addition, rather than just coping, which implies an internal, psychological process, let me examine how to combat negative stereotypes. Three basic strategies come to mind. Anti-stereotyping strategy #1: Ignore Ducks spread a waxy coating on their feathers during preening that ensures their underlayer remains dry at all times. Likewise, you the immigrant can build a […] Continue reading >

Apr 052013

Foreigners frequently master the grammar of a language better than its native speakers, the better, perhaps to hide their difference, their diffidence, which also explains why they are so tactful, almost ceremonial, when it comes to the language they adopt, bowing before its splendor, its arcane syntax, to say nothing of its slang, which they use sparingly, and somewhat stiffly, with the studied nonchalance of people who aren’t confident enough to dress down when the need arises. —Andre Aciman in “Shadow Cities”, in: Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, […] Continue reading >

Apr 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in April 2013

When it comes to Central/Eastern European events here in Portland, Oregon, April’s looking a bit slow. I will update the list as I discover new events. Updated 4/19/2013 Czech/Slovak Republics: Hospoda, 4/2 Tuesday, April 2, 6:00 p.m.–close McTarnahans Taproom, 2730 NW 31st, Portland Free The monthly gathering of Portland’s Czech and Slovak community. Guests welcome. The Balkans: Kafana Klub, 4/2 Tuesday, April 2, 7:00 p.m. dance lesson, 8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. live music Al Forno Ferruzza, 2738 NE Alberta St., Portland, Oregon $3-$5 cover Join us for the unbeatable combination of […] Continue reading >

Mar 272013

[T]he change was not confined to economic matters. The whole American universe was different. Strangers, the immigrants could not locate themselves; they had lost the polestar that gave them their bearings. They would not regain an awareness of direction until they could visualize themselves in their new context, see a picture of the world as it appeared from this perspective. At home their eyes had taken in the whole of life, had brought to their perceptions a clearly defined view of the universe. Here the frame narrowed down, seemed […] Continue reading >