Posts tagged ‘Russia’

March 16, 2010


Antanas Sileika (SLS-Lithuania), in an extended online conversation with Kathryn Kuitenbrower, makes some incisive points with regards to the differences between the work done by the new generations of writers emerging in Eastern/Central Europe and in Russia, as exemplified by two recently released anthologies: Best European Fiction 2010, edited by Aleksandar Hemon, and Rasskazy, edited by Jeff Parker and Yours-Truly.

February 11, 2010


From Jayne Ann Phillips, one of SLS’s most favorite people:

Former SLS faculty member Jayne Anne Phillips’ new novel, Lark & Termite, was a National Book Award nominee in fiction, and is also a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award in Fiction (announced in March).  Jayne Anne Phillips is the Director of the Rutgers-Newark MFA Program.

January 31, 2010


Garry Kasparov, the best chess player of all time — and currently, the leading opponent of Putin’s regime in Russia — on “human” and computer chess:

In 1985, in Hamburg, I played against thirty-two different chess computers at the same time in what is known as a simultaneous exhibition. I walked from one machine to the next, making my moves over a period of more than five hours. The four leading chess computer manufacturers had sent their top models, including eight named after me from the electronics firm Saitek.

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January 29, 2010


Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s op-ed in the NYT:

Today, for all practical purposes, we do not have a real parliament, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech or an effective civil society. The hopes for the formation of a new Russian economy turned out to have been misplaced: Our industrial output, other than raw materials, is not capable of competing even on the domestic market. Russia’s international role has changed drastically as well — now we are more likely feared than respected.

He is, at present, Russia’s true national leader.

January 24, 2010


The following quote from the great Russian satirist, whose 90th birthday falls on this year, pertains to some certain famous TV- and radio-personality in Russia with a nightingale-specific last name. Those living in Russia or watching Russian television from time to time will know immediately the indivudual YT is referencing:

— Vasya, what do you think that nightingale is singing about?

— It’s friggin’ hungry, that why it’s singing.

Mikhail Zoshchenko, “Sentimental Novellas”

January 23, 2010


Russians love dogs — in many instances, more than they love other people or themselves. But that doesn’t mean they will take care of the strays. It’s a dog eat dog and whatever else dog can find world out there:

January 23, 2010


Randomly encountered photo of the contemporary St. Petersburg artist Ilya Orlov’s painting “Red Triangle.” The Red Triangle rubber-goods factory, situated on the Obvodny Canal Embankment in midtown St. Petersburg and likely long defunct, is where Yours Truly’s mother worked for many years, as a technologist/engineer. The first eight years of YT’s life were spent in a communal apartment within a few minutes’ walk from that gloomily impressive edifice:

January 23, 2010


Sergey Eisenstein’s Birthday:

January 22, 2010


Fascinating — and to YT, more than a little nauseating — documentary on the contemporary Russian propaganda music:

January 20, 2010


In continuation and small expansion of an earlier post here:

Yes, the entire world has taken note of how pitiably little, virtually nothing, compared to the rest of the civilized world, Russia has done so far to help dealing with the consequences of the Haiti tragedy. Notable, too, is the fact that there have been no clear manifestations of any sense of national shame or even mild psychological discomfort as a result of this utter lack of response from up top in any of the quantifiable segments of Russian society. That, unfortunately, is not a coincidence or some kind of accidental slippage in moral judgment — some temporary eclipse of the country’s collective unconscious, if you will. The all-out cynicism pervading every pore of the contemporary Russian life and largely defining the great majority of Russians’ outlook on the world, is a noxious product of the purposeful, targeted propaganda campaign which has been waged quite relentlessly by Russia’s current political regime for the better part of the oughties decade. Its essence could be boiled dow to the following “argument”: “Yes, we know the people running our country, and those who serve them, are completely corrupt and unprincipled, concerned only with enriching themselves and their friends, making billions for themselves by ripping off Russia’s mineral resources. We know we don’t have free and fair elections, or a real parliament, or freedom of speech on television, or the freedom of political assembly, or the freedom openly to oppose those who run the country. We know all that. But we also know that it’s exactly the same situation everywhere else in the world — in America, and in Europe. Everyone there, in a position of power, also has been bought and paid for. It’s just that they may be little less brazenly open about this, because of the political correctness and all that — and the people in those countries, too, they’ve been a little bit more comprehensively brainwashed about the whole state of affairs, because the propaganda there is more efficient and has been at it for a much longer period of time… and also because those Americans and Europeans, and Americans in particular, they’re just more naive, generally more stupid and narrow-minded, less interested in thinking about what’s what, than we are. So don’t tell us about their precious democracy-shmemocracy there, or about how people there, you know, care about anything or anyone other than their own lives, their own wallets, or about how they don’t steal or cheat as much as everyone does here… Haiti. Ha! Don’t make us laugh. Just a new way of money-laundering for the corporations, and for Obama to boost his popularity with the masses. People are the same everywhere, only here we’re more honest about such things, the real state of affairs, because we’re just more realistically-minded, and because we’re just smarter and more per-spi-ca-cious than they are, to put it simply. Everyone is corrupt, everyone. Everywhere. And everyone. Only we’re capable of recognizing this, and therefore we are able to adjust better to the realities of life — and they’re not, over there.”

Cynicism is Russia’s new Iron Curtain. Cynicism, and the attendant apathy and indifference, and a total lack of respect for a fellow human being. Russians can travel abroad these days, they can watch news on CNN and the BBC, read every newspaper and every political website in the world on the internet — and they do, at least some of them — and this does not make any serious difference, causes no perceptible dent in the way they look at and understand the world beyond Russia’s boundaries. This impenetrable armor of cynicism keeps them safely isolated from the rest of the the world. Everything is known, yet nothing registers, nothing reaches the mind, and nothing stirs the heart.

A very smart, keenly observant, finely nuanced and persuasively argued article on the subject (titled, tellingly, “Where Does the Boundary Lie Between Russia and the Civilization”) –a text much more detailed and larger in scope than this quick post — by the Russian commentator Dmitry Shusharin, can be found here (in Russian only):

One of the many key quotes: “… the boundary between Russia and the civilization is insurmountable, because it lies everywhere.”

YT is sad to say it again: Cynicism is Russia’s new Iron Curtain.