Первая страница
Наша команда
Контакты
О нас

    Главная страница


Бреус Е. В. Основы теории и практики перевода с русского языка на английский: Учебное пособие. 2-е изд., испр и доп




страница17/18
Дата15.05.2017
Размер2.34 Mb.
1   ...   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18

Today we are witnessing the emergence of "another", "alternative" literature. It is opposed to the "old" literature chiefly by its readiness to communicate with any culture — even the most remote in time or space. Its aim is to create a polysemantic and polystylistic structure, a structure that would draw support from Russian philosophy of the turn of the century, from the existentialism of world art, from the philosophical-anthropological discoveries of the 20lh century that Soviet culture preferred to ignore. Moreover, this new literature also draws strength from adapting to the conditions of free self-expression and rejecting opportunistic political journalism.

Soviet Literature was burdened by a social commitment of either the official or dissident nature. It has come to an end and {his in fact offers an opportunity to revive the ethnic literatures throughout the former Soviet Union, including, of course, Russian Literature. The first roots of this "alternative" literature give cause for hope however modest they may now be.

193


13 Зак. 101

"ENEMY SYNDROME": THE ANATOMY OF A SOCIAL DISEASE

Question: Why are so many people in this country bent on creating "enemy images"?

Answer: There are several reasons, I guess. One of them is that for centuries the peoples inhabiting this country lived under an authoritarian state.

Authoritarian rule is seen as a salvation when people are poor and the state is poor. Poverty is the thing that makes people seek "monolithic" unity. They need it to survive. This tendency is also the result of a low level of education, the lack of information and the state of confusion created by the nature and scale of problems that require prompt and resolute action. It is also the awareness of an external threat, real or potential, and the need to be ready to rep'el an attack.

Russia, for instance, was always either besieged by enemies, who tried to tear her apart, or herself conquered new territories, seeking access to seas and oceans from Moscow to the Baltic and Black Seas, the Pacific and the Arctic. It often nearly disintegrated as a result of internecine strife or social upheavals, but later pulled herself together. She has had so many enemies to fight against. And all those wars have remained in people's memories. They have molded our national consciousness and our national character. You may lose and you may win, but the fight stays in your memory anyway.

Russian history has always had a lot of this. Psychologically, it is our crippling heritage. The same applies to the decades of Stalinism, when millions of people were forced to seek out and destroy "enemies". A great many people perished in that grisly hunt for dissidents and many more became spiritually impoverished as a result of the constant hatred, spying on one another and struggle for power. Fear turned many into cynics or cowards.

Such is the price we paid for that witchhunt. It still drives on those who hope to turn the clock back and regain power, honours and privileges. These people have no principles or morality. They are like autumn flies that bite you fiercely before they go to hide in the snow. However, the wave of reaction that is now trying to clear the way for a rightward shift will ebb away in the end. It will end up in farce.

Time is cruel and merciless, unfortunately, for all. Yet, it is also beneficial because the human memory along with time itself records people's behaviour, exploits, betrayals, intelligence and ignorance. It remembers the petty intrigues of nonentities who harassed their contemporaries. They did it out of envy and servility. That was in the last century, and during the past 80 years we have been fighting all the time: in the absence of an enemy, we invented one.

These are genetically inherited factors. But there are also subjective factors, such as hatred, inordinate ambition and vanity. One should also add to

194

these stupidity, ignorance and arrogance. Against this general historical and social background one should see absolutely concrete things, such as the actual relationships between different people, who can be mean and dishonest, kind and honest, emotionally involved and indifferent.



Such is reality. And reality molds consciousness. Consciousness may be destructive sometimes: it may create social groups and forces who need an enemy, no matter who it may be. Such consciousness cripples the soul of the new generations, which under certain circumstances may also feel the need to create some sort of an "enemy image".

Who needs all this? What for? This is needed by all who are angry and lazy and jealous, who would not hesitate to trample anyone underfoot for the sake of their own career and ambitions. It is convenient for a money-losing factory to blame suppliers for its own faults. It is convenient for an incompetent or lazy manager to claim the existence of all sorts of "conspirators" and "intriguers". It is convenient for a person to blame anyone except himself for his own failures and incompetence.

True, there are different things that make people behave in this manner. One can make another person's life hell by harassing him or spreading rumors about him. Unfortunately, this desire to find an "enemy" is part of human nature. Many writers hi Russia, especially Dosfbyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol and Chekhov identified this in Man and despised him accordingly.

The authoritarian way of life suppresses human individuality and independence. It has thousands of ways of doing this. The suppression begins at kindergarten and school. This fact has long been the subject of public concern. It continues at university and vocational school, in the army and at work.,All that happened when we were in bad need of democracy. We still do not have enough democracy. We should have no illusions on this score.

As a result a person fails to learn a great deal of what he might have learned professionally and from the point of view of his general culture. If one lacks culture it is the result of lack of skills. No wonder many try to make up for these shortcomings with vanity, arrogance, preoccupation with other people's faults and failures and the search for "objective reasons" and all sorts of "enemies". This is the reason why some people are so fond of lies, abusing others whom they don't like and doing other atrocious things.

Is it possible to change this situations? Certainly. We can change it if we raise the level of general and individual culture of human relations. If we fail to do so, we shall have a lot of trouble, because there are too many pyroma-niacs around who are playing with matches and may set our home on fire.

Question: Why is this social disease getting worse (there are many signs showing that it is)?

195


13*

Answer: Perestroika is a veritable revolution. It has brought about many new and sometimes incomprehensible and unexpected phenomena, which many cannot accept. This agitates people and makes them nervous. They face a choice: either try to understand these phenomena or reject them. The most important thing is that perestroika requires constructive action and many people are unable to take such action, because for many years they have been taught not to.

As soon as it became clear that the old methods and practices were ineffective, it turned out that there were people in all social groups, including the intelligentsia, who were interested, for one reason or another, in discrediting the new policies.

We set out to curb the powers of the economic bureaucracy and encourage independent producers, including the co-operatives, but look what has happened. At first the l.ocal government officials gave the green light to cooperatives that sought to make quick profit by dishonest means. Such cooperatives had more money and were more "compliant". I know of dozens, hundreds of cases when such co-operatives were registered in a couple of days, while it took months for industrial co-operatives to overcome all the bureaucratic barriers.

However, when the first kind provoked a public outcry, the authorities cracked down on all co-operatives, and the industrial ones were the first to go. This is just to show how perestroika was sabotaged by the bureaucrats and also an example of a new search for "enemies".

As soon as things became a little more difficult for the black-market dealers, corrupt officials and the shadow economics and politics, there appeared all sorts of social provocations. All these people and groups need some justification for their egotistic and sometimes criminal interests and actions. They all need an "enemy" and when the situation becomes dangerous, their anxiety to find such an enemy increases.

Meanwhile, normal, honest, hard working people face empty shop shelves and stand in long queues. They have to fight with countless problems and difficulties and live under the burden of red tape, indifference and soaring crime. They must have some explanation or a semblance of explanation. The problem is that the real villain is clever and crafty; he does everything to distract public anger from himself and direct it against perestroika, democracy and glasnost; he does everything to make people nervous and incite unrest, capitalizing on people's credulity.

Lastly, there is the problem of ineptitude, of people who are ill prepared to care for themselves. We say that perestroika has brought us freedom, but freedom is a gift only for those who can use it for constructive endeavour. Otherwise, it may be a scourge;* it can destabilize a person's inner world.

196

Moreover, for the lazy and the weak-willed freedom is a way to social degradation, anarchy and crime.



The same applies to glasnost. For a thinking, creative and independent-minded person it is a great gift. But for those who are wont to take their c.ue from others and trust trite stereotypes, glasnost, which has opened a floodgate of new facts, may become a source of nervousness and irritation. Small wonder so many people write in their letters about "loss of faith" and "loss of ideals" and ask how they should live. They do not always realize that they should live by such simple rules as kindness, honesty and justice and do their work well. Once again society falls under the spell of dogmas, which frequently deceived it in the past.

In other words, as we are dismantling the old structures and practices, while not yet having new ones in place, economic troubles and psychological confusion stimulate this disease at all levels, at that of society and the individual.

Question: What is the cause of the present divisions among our intellectuals, especially writers? Is this division akin to last century's polemics between the Slavophiles and the Westerners?

A n s w e r: It depends on how you look at it. It is only natural for people to argue about nagging social problems and artistic forms and styles. Disputes are vital to science, the arts and literature. And they always lead to division into groups and associations. Each group has its likes and dislikes, prophets and antichrists, banners and slogans. This is natural. Such is reality. It has always been that way.

But this is not what you have in mind. I think you mean the deplorable situation in which people engaged in literary polemics go to seed and begin to form warring factions, report and stick labels on one another and abuse one another. It is disgusting. It is humiliating for artistic intellectuals and their work and turns the public against them. It has a negative effect on the cultural climate in society and offends public morality.

True, not all artistic intellectuals or scientists participate in this fighting.

Gifted people and people with dignity are not wont to do it. But the quasi-intellectual "birds-of-a-feather" spirit does exist. It is acquiring increasingly ugly forms and giving strength to reactionary forces and dark instincts. Pere-stroika makes the trend all the more noticeable and more intolerable than ever before: noticeable — because changes in society's cultural life have brought to the limelight the utter absurdity and moral inadequacy of what seemed to be a "norm" throughout decades, and intolerable — because all these intrigues are objectively aimed against perestroika, slowing down the process of renewal and pulling us back to the past.

197


Intellectual quest and striving as well as differences of intellectual nature are of secondary importance here. The point at issue is not a conflict between pro-Westerners and Slavophiles, but a combination of numerous outrageous distortions and abnormalities — historical, economic and political — which have accumulated and which have enhanced one another over many decades. This does not relieve an artist of personal responsibility for either his position or his moral and civic attitudes. But because we are faced with a phenomenon of social significance, it is essential to study its root causes.

One group of its causes is of historical nature. For a long time the leaders of the party and its bureaucratic apparatus aroused in intellectuals precisely the feeling of confrontation. Many honest and upstanding people, who were considered inconvenient and uncontrollable, were removed from the scene, harassed and, more recently, placed in conditions which did not allow them to work normally. They were labeled dissidents. It is obvious that attempts to streamline creative quest by fiat are destructive socially and morally. This is all the more so if such attempts are made by far from impeccable people. Nevertheless, many got used to this and liked it the way it was. For personal honours and benefits they readily harassed some of their own who dared to have different views.

Even worse than this, part of our intellectuals realized back in the years of the Proletarian Culture Drive that by flocking together, using their private connections and demagogically playing on serious problems it was possible to manipulate the party's position. Unfortunately, the scope of damage this has done to our society is not generally realized. And some manipulators from the apparatus continue to encourage the same attitude.

I somehow can understand why these things happened in the past. But today, in the era of glasnost and democracy, there are still scientists and writers who do not hesitate to send detailed reports to the authorities once they disagree with any of their colleagues ideologically. And there are many of them, I know by experience. They could lay down honestly and openly a different point of view and try to substantiate it with arguments, instead of reporting to the authorities. Some articles that are published often look more like indictments than attempts to establish the truth. And some quasi-intellectual lackeys of stagnation during the Brezhnev years would like to forget what they themselves wrote at that time but are very eager to dig the archives of others. Those who lose their sense of humour and shame have never ended up with anything but embarrassment.

There are political causes, in my opinion. Our country has been deprived of normal internal political process for much too long. But life goes on, no matter what. There is no stopping it, as there is no stopping thought.

198


Our science, literature and art are overloaded with social and political problems. In some instances, this is good, but in others, as we see, it is not. If someone is unwilling to call a spade a spade, there appear all sorts of hints, implications, associations, allusions and historic parallels. People who are either very naive or extremely sly take them at their face value, thereby starting a new line of a dispute, discussion or clash.

For decades political life was forced into an outrageously perverted harness; this could not but affect the creative process. Small wonder that this very process developed all the typical features of political intrigue and maneuvering — ideological division, sharp clashes of ambitions, noisy quarrels and all the other attributes which continue to characterize our political culture in general. There were also shameful instances of political destruction. Suffice it to recall the fate of Mikhail Bulgakov, Adrei Platonov, Alexander Tvardovsky, Vladimir Vemadsky, Andrei Sakharov, Victor Nekrasov, Boris Pasternak, Nikolai Vavilov, Andrei Tarkovsky and many others.

Perestroika does change things, but it cannot rectify the situation overnight. I believe, however, that as democracy, normal political life and democratic public movements develop, the situation will begin to change in the direction of common sense. Our cultural life will be cleansed of sickly over-politicization. It will yield to habits of greater tolerance and the readiness to carry out a respectful debate. Thirst for blood will no longer prevail; true ' artists will do what they are supposed to do, and only pseudo-artists will continue their machinations, because they are not trained to do anything else.

It is through the same prism that I would evaluate the extremely sharp debates which are going on among our intellectuals in connection with pere-stroika. Perestroika is a revolution which leaves no one indifferent. It has stirred up passions which are flying particularly high in the intellectual milieu. I am for emotion, for the clash of ideas, appraisals and attitudes. Perestroika only stands to gain by all this. It needs a smart and inspired opponent on the right, on the left and in the center — among conservatives and neo-conservatives and among radicals and ultra-radicals. But only on one condition: there should be no hatred which may lead to violence. A normal democratic process means competitive spirit in everything, including the intellectual sphere, but it does not need a vanity fair or a literary version of Vyshin-sky, chief public prosecutor during the Stalin purges of the 1930s.

In all these discussions, on whatever side they may be conducted, I most emphatically reject attacks on the dignity of the opponent. It is possible to argue from any position and against any point of view. But it is inadmissible to intimidate anyone only because he does not share your views and convictions. It is all the more impermissible to do so by juggling with quotations,

199


labels and concoctions. This is a sign of moral degradation, reviving the spirit of "special conferences", sham trials during the Stalin years.

Some of the recent public meetings too often saw attempts to find a scapegoat rather than ways and methods of solving our common problems. Currents of rhetoric have drowned what each of us should do right away to ensure for ourselves a better future. It is time to understand that this not only leads to hatred and dissociation in society but develops indifference, lack of principle and the absence of any conviction and moral standards. Isn't it time to stop?

Heated debates are as old as the world. It is much later that historians of art and literature exalt them by discarding all of no substance and ambitious and leaving only what really matters and has any artistic value. Let us remember the degree of intolerance which characterized literary debates in Russia in the 19 century. A century and a half later, people finally separated the husk from the grain, and their memory retains only the true giants of literature, thought, harmony and art. When I remember what pains these outstanding personalities had to go through in their search for the truth before they finally acquired vision, my heart starts bleeding at the sight of petty intrigues in our literary corridors: writers trying to bite and outbark each other in order to get into the limelight. I am sorry for them. All this is a sign of moral degradation.

Different people mingle in those corridors, and they are angry for different reasons: some — because they were born angry, others — because they lost the privileges they used to have; and still others — because they either have the inferiority complex or, on the contrary, think of themselves as men of genius.

These factional fights are sometimes conducted even by honourable and really talented writers, whose books advocate goodness and compassion. They neither look for personal gain nor strive for power. But they are in the grips of a burning and endless pain which has very real roots — an ecological catastrophe, for instance. They are confused, because they cannot find a remedy and ease their pain. In a state, when they can think about nothing but this agonizing pain, they, too, are tempted to search for the enemy. Paradoxical as this might seem, this happens because they are very sincere and trusting people.

Searching for the "enemy" is a social disease. It is especially dangerous at the present period, when we badly need national accord. Such searches are intolerable and immoral, for they are rooted in the psychology of the year 1937. And they become all the more horrible when they are of ethnic origin, when people are harassed because of their genealogical roots and those who do this find sadistic pleasure trying to establish the original names of the 200

mothers and fathers of their victims. A truly Russian intellectual always had a clear conscience, high moral principles, compassion for people in distress and a feeling of internationalism. Today, we rediscover this indigenous trait of Russian intellectuals, reading the great Russian philosophers of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20 century, for whom, to our great regret, there was no room in the former Soviet Union.

As for the dispute between Slavophiles and pro-Westerners, I think that in its current form it is both artificial and too simplified. It is permeated with ideological speculations and animosity.

This outstanding dispute has been going on not only in literature, but in all the other spheres of cultural and social life throughout the history of Russian self-awareness. It emerged and developed because of the very position Russia occupied. I would like to note, however, that these principled polemics used to be conducted at a very high moral and ethical level. Unfortunately, that spirit has been lost nowadays.

The fundamental question was: should Russia develop according to her own, unique pattern, or should she borrow certain objectives, guidelines and patterns of development from the West? Initially, I believe, an answer to this natural and quite sincere question was given by life itself. It was a dialectical answer: Russia should pursue her own way and us* her own judgment, but she should not shun anything that proved of value in the experience of other countries and peoples.

So, what is there to argue about? And, also, why Slavophiles vs. pro-Westerners and not pro-Easterners? We could borrow a lot from Japan, India, China or the other ancient Oriental cultures.

Debates around Slavophilism went on and on. It was classified scientifically not only by revolutionary democrats led by Nikolai Chemishevsky, but such famous Russian philosophers as Nikolai Berdyayev and Vladimir So-lovyov. But Slavophilism of those times meant searches for the truth, not for the people who were to be intimidated.

In today's debates, in my opinion, Slavophilism is just a cover for superfluous disrespectful and base instincts. Slavophiles were decent people and real patriots who sought a special way for Russia. They thought that the West posed a threat to such a way, although objectively they were largely influenced by the West. They sincerely fought for the purity of the Russian language against unnecessary borrowings from foreign languages.

Slavophiles idealized Russia before Tsar Peter the Great but not the "oprichnina", special administrative elite under Tsar Ivan the Terrible. They were keen on Russian, Slavic uniqueness, but they did not provoke pogroms or searches for the "enemy" to protect it. Their views can be judged differently — politically, ideologically and practically, but they can't be accused of

201

advocating anything immoral. They were honest thinkers, chroniclers, collectors and researchers of their country's culture. Their ideas are still of value and some of them are very topical at present. It is sacrilege even to suppose that Slavophilism — a philosophy of love for Slavs and their culture — can be a political base for anti-Semitism. Even Stalin wrote that "anti-Semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous survival of cannibalism".


Каталог: olderfiles
olderfiles -> Классный час «Александр Невский личность нации»
olderfiles -> 1. Основная часть. Изучение творчества Андерсена-поэта
olderfiles -> Контрольная работа по биографии и творчеству поэтов А. А. Блока, А. А. Ахматовой, С. А. Есенина, В. В. Маяковского
olderfiles -> Чернышов М. Р. Жанр молитвы в русской и английской поэзии XIX века
olderfiles -> Программа курса "История зарубежной литературы средних веков, Возрождения, XVII и XVIII веков"
olderfiles -> Биография Августина Блаженного 5 Политические учения средневековья 6
1   ...   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18