The Balloon Story

About American Angst, Chinese Spies, and Russian Poets

Published in
4 min readFeb 4


The Answer is Blowin’ to the Wind. (Reconstruction with MidJourney)

How often does it happen? A ridiculous experience, a glimpse that is about to be forgotten by World History after another second of the evolutionary chronometer. And yet — so prominent in the media, at least now, these days, hic et nunc.

At this time, it’s about


A roundish funny thing appeared on the horizon this Thursday, the 2nd of February. Annoying by its presence like the Alien from “The Dark Star” and ominous like “The Prisoner’s” Rover, it entered the Area of the United States of America. Without any warning or MS Teams invite.

Left: Alien from “The Dark Star” (source) / Right: Rover from “The Prisoner” (source)

Like a UFO. Yet, US Defense officials identified this Flying Object as a Chinese surveillance balloon. The US felt threatened. Well, it’s obvious, after decades of spying our the world with their sophisticated NSA tools and after surrounding unfriendly (and preventively — friendly) countries with military bases.

But now their area was penetrated by a balloon.

Chinese Government replied with something like: “We are investigating, but you don’t panic. We don’t spy, but don’t like all your media buzz about our balloon [and let us keep spying; we still haven’t gathered necessary data]”. (The latter was surely rather thought as said).

What is to be done?

This is not only the title of Lenin’s pamphlet but also the question that you will sooner or later face in such a situation.

No, the balloon is not to be shot down, as officials said.

  1. The Chinese government asked to leave it alone.
  2. The assumption in 1 is wrong, but shooting it down might harm all the people on the ground.
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Anyway, while all the ado, another Chinese Baloon entered the stage.

And here I have to think about Daniil Kharms. Russian poet and avantgardist, who lived as a Dadaist and died in the Stalin prison, wrote a poem about balloons 90 years ago (1933).

Left: Original (Source) / Right: Translation (Source PDF)

The absurdity of every day was the main topic, his focus — and that’s why Kharms’ works are pretty actual. And as you might guess, he is not welcome in current Russia. Even one year ago, before the Ukraine war began, in the early February 2022, a Russian teacher was fired for reading with kids poems by Kharms and other writers who were killed in Stalin’s times.

Kharms knew things.

30 years before the Berlin Wall was built, Kharms wrote following story:

A certain engineer made up his mind to build a huge brick wall across Petersburg. Reflecting on how to accomplish this, he does not sleep nights, and studies it. Gradually a circle of engineers-thinkers forms itself and a plan for building the wall is worked out. It is decided to build the wall at night, in such a way that everything will be built in one night, so that it will be a surprise to everybody. Workers are called together. The organization is planned. The attention of the city authorities is distracted.
Finally the night when this wall is to be built arrives. Only four people know about the building of the wall. The workers and the engineers receive precise instructions where each is to be stationed and what he is to do. Thanks to the exact plan, they succeed in building the wall in one night. The next day, a partition exists throughout Petersburg. But the inventor himself is dejected. Even he himself does not know what to use this wall for. (

This absurdist piece metaphorically foretold the building of the Berlin Wall (even if the real wall was built, not such cluelessly).

There is so much reality in absurd works.


I’ve got to know that the Baloon was shot down.

La Commedia è finita.




Futurist. AI-driven Dadaist. Living in Germany, loving Japan, AI, mysteries, books, and stuff.