#41 | June 18 - July 1, 1998  smlogo.gif


In This Issue
Feature Story
Press Review
Death Porn
Kino Korner
Moscow Babylon


By Edward Limonov

Fallen Idols They Are

Umberto Eco just visited Moscow. Sort of a living legend, amongst Russian intelligentsia, Umberto Eco in person have disappointed that very intelligentsia. On "Radio Echo Moskvy" commentator have complained that Eco merely repeated same wisdoms already written and pronounced by him for hundred times. "Nothing outstanding," contemptuously said commentator, "five or six opinions on the world and literature that is all contents of Mr. Eco's treasure chest.

Russians live through literary disappointments for already ten years or more. First critical judgement on publication of Nabokov's "Lolita" sounded like child's complaint: "Nothing special, we have expected much more..." Russians, deprived (for a most part of twentieth century) of easy acces to the world literature have cherished sophisticated, macabre and sensual fantasies about it. Now, when all the treasures are delivered, Russians are deeply offended, exactly as children, when promised by adults gifts come to nothing: shining, colorful wrapping papers, appeared have covered few gray, common objects.

Russians have a healthy attitude towards literature. As barbarians they expect it to shake them, to shock them, to thrill them. As it didn't shock them, they throw it away with a deep contempt. The fact is, that Russians are very insensitive people, with a low level of sensitivity. I order to move, to touch them one must hurt their sensitivity, to wound their stone-made Russian souls. That is the task not for literature, but for mass-murderers, for the rapists of children, for the civil war, for the Hitler's invasion. Russians were not moved by "White House" massacre of 1993, they were not touched by Basayev'' assault on Budyonnovsk in 1995. Mass-murderer Chikatilo have winned their interest, yes, indeed Russian punk band call itself "Chikatilo Blues." But Russians were not moved at all by old-fashioned seduction of intellectual Humbert Humbert by teenager Lolita, as it is no shock for them, no big deal. Russians never been puritans, they have wild imaginations.

Having consumed world literature all at once as boa-constrictor, Russians vomited it. In new open Russian society literature is losing to almost every other type of thrill, it goes after war, after vodka and after drugs and of course, after mass-murderers. That is why new writers barely known to Russians and old ones have lost their glory. Spectacular is fall from the grace of Russian people Alexander Solzhenitsyn, formerly an Idol of Russian intelligentsia, Nobel Prize winner, best-selling writer. Only five thousand copies of his new book, "Russia In Collapse," were printed and now on sale in Moscow's bookstores. In comparison with a millions of copies printed all over the world in previous few decades, it sounds disastrous.

Why Solzhenitsyn fell? One answer is already given: he doesn't thrill insensitive Russian stone-made soul anymore, as he did once with his sado-masochistic stories of "GULAG Archipelago." Another answer is that Solzhenitsyn is no use anymore. He is no use for the Western world: in past decades, Solzhenitsyn was extremely helpful in the Western countries' struggle against communism. But now communism is dead in Russia and in Europe. Patriotism of Solzhenitsyn cannot be used by Westerners, it is even hostile to them. So, at best, the West is silent about Solzhenitsyn, at worst the Westerners took mocking attitude towards that fallen Idol of them. Solzhenitsyn's common, old-fashoined patriotism is no use for Russian nationalists as well. It is common, timid, archaical. Also, Russians are reddening from month to month in proportion to the lack of success of beastly criminal capitalism in Russia. So, the fallen anti-Communist idol Alexander Solzhenitsyn is loser, forgotten before his death.

Writers in general as a sub-class of intelligentsia are on the lost side. They are not shepherds of human herd, but they are sheep themselves. All their small dirty secrets are known to the people, barbarian tribe of Russians have seen many times that simple blood is pouring from the writer's body if you hit it with a stone. "They are not Gods, they are just like us"-that horrible discovery was made by Russians. Barbarians even didn't dare to kill their former Idols. They just walk away from them.

Where they gone? They want to be thrilled, so they went to Zhirinovsky, then having seen his blood, abandoned Zhirinovsky for Lebed, who still thrill them. I understood it, that is why I announced that I am not a writer. For now, few of every ten persons recognize me on the streets. One day Russians will come to me for a biggest thrill.

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