Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Pasternak Again

In his article “Some Propositions” he had presented the image of “the capercailzie engrossed in its mating call, deaf and oblivious to all around it” as the symbol of the defencelessness of literature. He used to tell us how hunters used to kill these birds, who saw nothing and heard nothing in their state of ecstasy, pointblank at a distance of two paces. (Evgeny Pasternak)

Also a symbol for intellectual life: a nice echo to the points made in my previous post.

It brings back images of the Russian Socialists in the summer of 1917 debating whether the current events were proof of Marx’s prophecies. They were uncertain of the signs; is now the time to take charge? Yet the iron laws of history ruled out Russia as the place for the first Communist revolution. All those speeches and debates! And outside Lenin & Co crawl nearer and nearer…

Pasternak’s view of the fragility of literature is a true one, which he learnt through experience – the individual vision crushed by the crude ideologies of Populism and Utility (the two main ingredients of Soviet Communist propaganda).

And today? These same ideologies, but now at the service of the “Market”, rather than the state. Once again literature suffers.

Is there an answer? In the Soviet Union it was reform of the state, a reduction in its power. And today? How you do control the “Market”? It used to be the state, perhaps it still is….

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