Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Thoughts of Russia

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media also has Russia on his mind, unrelated to the new book, Inside the Stalin Archives, I wrote about the other day. Yesterday in a post titled “From Russia Without Love” he wrote:
My three trips to Russia - twice in Soviet times, once in the post-Communist era - were fascinating …but always contained weird overtones of paranoia. Communist and post-Communist Russia both struck me as one of the most brutal places I ever visited. It’s not the kind of country in which anyone would volunteer to live. The Russians aren’t stupid, far from it, but their vision of life is skewed by a projection of their continual struggle to exist…. For that reason, I think, they frequently make decisions that are absurdly self-destructive…. In the Byzantine Russian mind, they are convinced that we are out to get them and they must fight us. Life for them is such a struggle they can’t let go of that simplistic conception, even when allying with us would be so much better for them economically…. It’s quite bizarre really, and sad, sad like Russian music and Russian literature.
Some of the comments are interesting. One person writes: “I don’t find Russian music and literature at all bizarre and sad, but complex and intense. Whatever you can say of War and Peace, or Turgenev’s Hunter’s Sketches, or Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, or even Prokofiev’s score for Alexander Nevsky, they’re hardly bizarre and sad.” [Simon, though, did not call Russian music and literature bizarre; he only called them sad.] Another recommends, “for just one reference, Dr Zhivago.”

R. Balsamo

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