You know—you are a journalist. Great stuff, this journalism. I read most of your pieces: you always were honest. And when you asked for an interview—first tell me how you found my name?

No? Good! Good—if you told me I would immediately stop. A thief’s code of honor. Backbone. Something those “artists” lack—it is the easiest thing in the world to say what everyone else is saying, just prettier. Is this art? Prettier? Maybe it is? But you won’t find ordinary people reading these magazines anymore: they are for the class, you know. The dude with glasses. The girl with glasses and piercing. The scared philosopher. You don’t see people reading in the parks like they used to ten years ago; if they do, they only read books that are secondhand leftovers, with torn covers from some shuttered company. They read old stuff. Books with value. Nobody reads the new stuff.

Have you ever been to an art exhibit? It is those oil paintings, you know…I went there once, me and Radovan. It was nothing but art students, art professors, and us. The paintings were some weird stuff…like smudges? Weird names, too. I asked Radovan what he felt; he had no idea, he wanted to go and watch soccer or play pool. I asked him if he had one of those oil paintings and it turns out he did; a copy of some Russian painting so, back to the past, to actual art. Art even ordinary people could enjoy.

You know, it lasted for a long time, our group. One time, when I was going around the bazaar and sat at a nearby pub waiting for a client, a man approached from behind and said: “We finally meet, “D’Artagnan”—this was my codename, only Nagin went “abroad”—I worked in Serbia and Bosnia, Nagin went around Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia…

Naturally, I pretended to be stupid—what Slav is called D’Artagnan? But he knew who I am, many people did; there was just no evidence. What is evidence, anyway? Proof? Not always—there are, as we say, “white lies” in society, something we don’t say in polite society: we know for instance, who smuggles Smirnoff—Albanians—but we don’t say it. We let artists say it, or used to, but now they are sophisticated cowards, too, and start sweating, like I was sweating, when discovered. Let me have my drink, I said, without even looking up. But the man pulled out a chair in front, sat down, and when I looked up—it was my philosophy professor Alexander Logikin.

Do you know how it feels when you are uncovered by someone you respect as a fraud? It is very strange—humiliating, but also liberating. Logikin would always stare at me, half-smiling, when some idiot would get interrogated over a term paper I wrote, as I was sweating bullets. The idiot would get interrogated, missing entire concepts; God, some idiots I met…how hard is it to remember that it is Thales of Miletus, not Miletus of Thales anyway? But here he was, my old enemy.

I see you live well, “D’Artagnan,” he said.

Ah, Logikin! My old professor! How are you on this good day? Ah, too bad, I was just to walk out, sorry! Let’s catch up sometime! I said.

And then he pulled out from a briefcase a pile of term papers, research papers, theses, studies, articles, reviews, referrals…and I knew I was fucked.

You have been busy, dear D’Artagnan, these few years…so busy! So busy I could barely see anything but your “signature” on my desk…

What are all these papers, Logikin, I asked. You know I never wrote papers; I never even finished elementary studies! What signature? I pretended even if it we both knew. You just have to make a stupid face, don’t become angry, but also don’t be entirely shocked, there should be some confusion, like you are trying to remember, did you do it? Well, no, I don’t remember…but it just had to be Alexander Logikin, who was actually smart!

You really are talented, young D’Artagnan…so many theses! How many times have you received a degree? he asked.

Oh, I never found myself in those waters, professor…

Really? But all these papers—he was hitting the table with his knuckle, just as back then, scaring the crap out of me—sure are interesting…so diverse, so varied, in style, in form, themes, execution…but strangely similar. Do you know what makes them similar, D’Artagnan?

Why do you keep calling me that anyway Logikin?

…Still pretending? Stubborn, tsk, tsk. Let’s just say you look like a D’Artagnan. Now, look at these papers—what do you think is similar?

Ah, I said, are those some student papers you are grading? Probably philosophy, huh? I don’t know—I was never for studying anyway.

Have you heard of the THREE PIONEERS, then?

Hmm, I do remember something like that?

Oh, you do remember?

Yeah, some research group back in Novi Sad, right?

…Clever little fucker, aren’t you?

You too, Logikin.

You are the THREE PIONEERS. You are D’Artagnan.

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Sure, let’s say it is like that. I just have a question: why?

Why what?

Why would you, okay, “someone,” waste all their talent on fraud?

Well, there are people like that, Logikin? We are honest people—how can we guess what thieves think? Are you a thief? Am I a thief? Then how can we know? I always was scared of that half-smile, because behind it hid honest intelligence, no bullshit: Logikin actually had the courage to say stuff. He called new feminist poetry “IKEA Literature,” fancy stuff, aunt literature for women that want to feel rebellious…and you don’t say stuff like that at a modern university where half the girls write feminist poetry! You get sanctioned! And he didn’t even care!

True, he said slowly, we are no thieves…here…look at some of the papers. Go on. Interesting, right? I saved each and every one over the years…

Strange hobby, Logikin…

Well, I am a strange fellow, a philosopher…look how different they all are! Like they are written by dozens of students!

They aren’t? But this one says Mishkov, this one says Belug…

Incredible, right? A single man could have finished university and didn’t, but his works finished the job for hundreds of others!

What a selfless hero, a saint, Logikin! He is just like your Diogenes then! His barrel is society!

Funny, D’Artagnan. Very clever.

Mother always said i am the brightest.

Tell me—why?

Why what?

Why did you write them. You clearly have talent, you clearly have a good brain, why did you waste it? Why did you never finish your degree?

I stopped caring about my degree, Logikin, a long time ago. Why? Do i need it anymore? I just wanted a good life—I have it now, so why would I need it?

But you could achieve things!

But I did! I have a car, a few apartments…

You know what I am talking about! Logikin went all huffing!


And then he said the strangest, scariest thing i ever heard: come back to University. Become my assistant professor.

See! This is why men like Logikin are so scary: they just jump over pedigree and society, like jumping over a puddle. Anyone else, it would be: credentials, amount of citations, quotations, peer-review, then after ten years, if you prove yourself, maybe, just maybe, you will become something…he just gives you the thing! The thing editors hold over the heads of those artists, dangling carrots, and goes: here. No big deal.

Logikin, I asked terrified, what are you saying?

You already finished three years anyway, he replied, what is two years more?

But I don’t want a degree anymore—I didn’t need it!

But you should have it, he said.

What for?

To score chicks, who cares! Come on, or D’Artagnan might end up somewhere else.

Too bad Alexander Logikin is smart and sharp, but only to a point. As an artist perhaps recognizes an actual artist, a thief recognizes a thief, and Logikin was no thief so he could not understand a thief’s logic, thieves code of conduct. My fear was not actually of being uncovered as a fraud—it was being uncovered by a decent man! I can’t explain it!

Ah, Logikin, my old professor…so stupid.

I will notify the authorities, young man. I am being serious. I am giving you a chance, to make things right, to stop wasting your talent, and to prove your worth to the nation. He went all mystical at this point…pointing that bony finger of his.

A-a-a, prove my worth…like Damur Abdulbegov?


But he publishes in Dissenter?

Dissenter is just fancy commie crap for mommy’s boys who never saw a shovel.

Then maybe like Mihail Štuk, who publishes in Letopis?

What does that primitive nationalist fossil know? He will write poems about the motherland’s swans until he dies…

Then, what worth?

Your inner worth.

Ah, my inner worth. Well—call them. See what happens. I will make a phone call, too.

He called the dean and a bunch of others. And nothing happened. Because I made a few calls, too—and the dean received such shouting and curses and threats that Logikin was lucky he was not suspended for a year. Even “intellectual slander” was mentioned…nobody maintains greater decorum than a swindler—this is why mobsters wear suits. And nobody has more to conceal, and more to display “intellect” and arrogance, than intellectuals of small nations and “revolutionary” editors that rule over content.

See, I told the grumpy old idealist—there goes your inner worth. You have a lot of guts professor—I could crush you like a bug if I wanted to. Half of your colleagues owe me a debt they can never repay—they wake up at night remembering me, terrified the truth will come out.

The truth will come out! He was slamming the poor papers…what the hell was this man, Bertrand Russell? You know very well our academics talk about truth, but don’t actually seek it. They bury it. Because if they uncovered it, there would be less work! They would have to move on. Alexander Logikin…I should have crushed him. But I didn’t and now he is flunking students left and right, battling the University, going against windmills…because I asked about Stavrogin.

All these papers, Logikin, all this crap, I said…it is just reality. It is a product, people need it…but let me ask you, Alexander Logikin, philosopher: why is it that this crap is so easy to get, and a single man like Stavrogin had to die?

That is different!

No, it is not…see, people need my product. Do you know? Some of the young stars going around, you will never guess…all of them are frauds. They talk about Europe, about freedom, about anything…but they are ants, irrelevant. Tell me, I asked—how can all these ants find success and not Stavrogin?

Stavrogin is read. It was unfortunate. But, that is not why I am here he said.

But it is! You just don’t know—because we live in a world without Stavrogins, and full of Pioneers! Pioneers of shit like me! Pioneers of chic, of fancy, pointless nonsense, of safe literature and citations. Dissenter, Letopis, Zvezda, Gazeta—Partisan, New Thought—Revolutionary, National Beat—how could Stavrogin not find a single place? Tell me.

I don’t know. Even Logikin could not figure it out!

But you should, I yelled! Isn’t the editor of Gazeta your colleague, Mayev? Tell me. You publish in Arche, which still publishes only credentialed shit anyway: they only know how to repeat what some European said…

No? Okay, I will be honest: because the world doesn’t want a Stavrogin. The world wants a D’Artagnan. This society feels better with a D’Artagnan, I said. What would an editor do with Stavrogin—he can’t control him. He will go in the press and say something against the politics of the editor! He will be better than academics through raw talent, he will humiliate the strivers, will be despised. Stavrogin was despised, Logikin! They made sure to end him, and now after death, they accept him, because he can’t say anything. And who are you? You are a man that produces D’Artagnans, I said, and kills Stavrogins…

All those journals, these papers? What if a talented man says they are shit? Then they are shit! So kill the talented man, I said. If talented men start becoming nationalists, then nationalism becomes sophisticated: I simply give the poor in talent, a chance to fight…so they can become editors and professors just like you.

You can still go back he went! Talent—fine! You have it! Most of them are useless, but those that have something to say should stick together! Come back to University! Finish your degree and uncover everything! Show us! Show us the truth, then! I will be at your side all the way! Stavrogin? I will write entire articles on young Stavrogin’s life? Do you want a symposium? Then, an anthology? I will do it. Just—let the truth out, he said.

The truth Logikin, I responded, is that Stavrogin died so that the useless can live. And you are wrong, I can’t be like Stavrogin. I am of the THREE PIONEERS—you got rid of us, what more do you want? Truth? It will come out sometimes…but there will not be another Stavrogin. And you know, journalist, truth is only valuable once people want it anyway…

But I had nothing to do with that young D’Artagnan, he said! I had nothing to do with the editorial decisions, I was not a part of Letopis back then, and if I was of course Stavrogin’s poems would see the light of day! How was I to know that mummy Mihail would develop a personal hatred?

Well, he did. And because of him, Stavrogin is rotting, and Shtuk is still an editor and publishes the same crap, over and over again. You made your choice a long time ago. I have my own honor: I don’t hold it against my clients even when they become hypocrites. Better learn to swim in these waters, Logikin…don’t end up like Stavrogin, I warned.

And don’t ever fucking threaten me unless you want to lose everything.

Ahh…it was quite a discussion! Radovan and Petar, the three of us…we did such wild things, crazy things…girls would pay us differently…booze, drugs, sex…we were Gods! All of our clients became hypocrites, all of them became soft-spoken, respectable editors, journalists, politicians, academics. Some of the young girls today writing about that patriarchy stuff and oppression were shaking their tits at us drunk, laughing, had orgies with us. Those respectable patriots made the best joints…

It was not about them being hypocrites; everyone is a little. It is that being so small, so eager to succeed, petty but scared of reality that also reduces everything around them. It always goes that way: ten frauds and all feminism is gone. Ten swindlers and patriotism becomes for fools…but why couldn’t they accept Stavrogin?

And you know I only was rejected once. By Stavrogin.

I still don’t understand art, I don’t really get poetry…I do buy Stavrogin’s books and share them around, to support new editions…too bad he only has two collections of poems and short stories…I would read more but I can’t. Then I open some local crap or international journal and the things I read there bore me to tears.

I have now cancelled all of my subscriptions. Current Voices Review is on hiatus. The American Reader published its final issue, but it was shit anyway. Dissenter had an anti-Semite on the editorial board. National Beat had a Croatian supremacist who celebrated NDH. Gazeta publishes crap. Arche is unreadable; it has more citations and footnotes than actual text, and the text is always shitty repetition of Westerners anyway, by philosophers nobody heard about. New Thought was found suppressing good conservative writers because for these types, it is all about raw power…if there are more good conservative writers, more people will have the courage to say they are conservative…I just don’t read anymore. I don’t get it—I admit, I don’t get it! Maybe there is nothing to get. Maybe it is all a game people like me are never meant to understand…

And that is the story of the THREE PIONEERS, and of D’Artagnan.

Radovan the Serb is now working as a software engineer: he actually wrote some of the software out there against plagiarism! Ha-ha! Get a thief to catch a thief! The issue is he is becoming too good at his job…he should tone it down a little you know? It is because of Stavrogin, it is vengeance…he claims otherwise, but I know. Stavrogin was the only one who defeated the THREE PIONEERS…

Petar Nagin is raising pigs. Somewhere near the Albanian border. Why the hell he is out there, in those fucking hills…but the meat is great. Nice and lean. Apparently these are some local breed of hogs, those “Mangalitsa,” expensive stuff. He even won second place at a hog competition in England! Well, not him, his hog.

He reads Stavrogin’s poetry out in the open fields, surrounded by these huge herds of pigs. Just gets drunk as sin and passes out. Stavrogin hit all of us differently…we could deal with the immorality of what we did easily but not with him!

As for me? I don’t really do anything…I mean, what else is there to do? I have money! I drive around good looking girls, tip bartenders, sit in pubs bored, with nothing to do. I tried to play slot-machines but it is not for me. Same with movies. I once went to a theater to see what it is all about, and some woman on stage was screaming about how rockets are phalluses? Then a man ran out and started eating a banana. I don’t know, I just rolled my eyes and left…they seemed happy in their little world so I let them be.

I did read something funny—some white American pretended to be a Chinese writer called Yi-Fen Chou. Funny shit! And they only discovered it later. The guy was called Michael Derrick Hudson and had the same issue—under his name nobody wanted him. So he became a D’Artagnan. He even went into an anthology! Ha-ha!

Well, this was fun! Thank you for the opportunity, it feels good to say it! When is the article coming out?

Then I will be sure to buy! Now, I have to leave. There is some writing on Stavrogin in Skopje that I want to go and see. Also need to give old Logikin a visit.

See you, informant of the people! And remember:


*This interview was conducted by our journalist Milosh Petrov Borovich, whom we thank for this interesting article. The “THREE PIONEERS“ are believed to have operated from at least 2008 to 2021, which would mean they were one of the students, possibly in Novi Sad or FON, at least one of them. Some of the information proved to be false, while some we will treat as gossip: we hereby apologize to artist Damur Abdulbegov for the article, and will make sure to veto our sources more thoroughly. However, we are also journalists: let this be considered necessary research, for ordinary people and students.

We also would like to apologize to some of our more renowned intellectuals mentioned, like Mihail Shtuk or Alexander Logikin. We hold nothing but the deepest respect for all expressions of human creativity and are not conducting any “witch-hunts“ or “purges“ on some of the mentioned renowned journals. This was done on the demand of our informant and journalist. The Timely holds no responsibility for the attitudes found in the article, nor does it hold any liability for perjury, slander, “intellectual mockery,” etc.

Recent software analysis conducted by the Hungarian Company LogIon T. did prove there are semantic, literary, and stylistic similarities in hundreds of archived term papers, theses, studies, articles, etc. We will defend our brave journalist Milosh Petrov Borovich and openly say: any calls for his firing, any threatening calls to the office, any interceptions or public harassment of our journalists will be sent to the official authorities. We will not be intimidated. We will also call on the legal expert for human rights of the European Union Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, an expert for freedom of speech for Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, and the European Convention’s opening chapter on freedom of expression: everyone has the right of freedom of expression.

We broke no laws, have not insulted any group or ethnicity. The Timely will always support journalism and we know our work is important.

We hope our readers will continue to support our journalistic deep-dives and articles.

And remember: Timely is now also online!


For all installments of “Three Pioneers: Adventures of a Theoretical Fraud,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1