Mankind's only alternative 8   FEB.   23  
Mankind's only alternative

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Feature Story August 24, 2003
Jesus Ate Their Brains!
By John Dolan Browse author Email
Page 4 of 5
Babel tells his classic revenge-of-the-Jewish-nerd story clearly in "My First Goose," in which the nerd impresses the bullies, his tormentors and heroes, by hacking a goose to death. It's such a healthy, early-Pete-Townsend enthusiasm for killing. Compare that story with Bulgakov's White Guard or Tsvetaeva's Perekop poems and you see how sickly-Christ-like they sound, how they linger over the slow death of the highborn few.

Of course it helps to be on the winning side, as Babel was. But it also helps not to WANT to be a masochistic intellectual -- to want to make yourself from four-eyed nerd to red cavalryman, or (in peacetime) top-echelon hooligan, scourge and deity of the neighborhood. That urge to join the tough guys propels Limonov's finest book, Podrostok Savenko: the embryonic intellectual Eddie is beaten up in class and decides to put his "iron will" to work transforming himself into a hooligan. A good, healthy urge, and one which has kept Limonov well out of Gethsemane. He may be replaying Byron at Missolonghi, but at least he's not doing the pedant-Christ schtick.

Even Solzhenitsyn flares into anger, in his camp scenes, at the Christ-like passivity of the intellectuals when confronted with the rule of the thieves' gangs. The only really happy scene in the GULAG Archipelago is in vol. 3, when the inmates, bolstered by Ukrainian nationalists, finally fight back. Solzhenitsyn had the sense to make the protagonist of One Day... a distinctly un-Christ-like, un-intellectual, ordinary man.

Which brings us to the painful question: is Solzhenitsyn a great writer? It may still be too soon to say. When his polemical context no longer interests anyone, we'll find out. Maybe he was, in the beginning, before the lure of Christ-hood sucked him in. His career shows a simple, fatal progression typical of Russian Christs. His first book, One Day..., is full of magnificent detail, and tells exactly what happened in a single prisoner's simple day. Each novel thereafter tries to swallow more and more characters, details, experience, to incarnate the whole nation, the whole era. He should have listened to Celine, who said, "Beware of anyone who incarnates anything!" In Solzhenitsyn's recent war novels, he has assumed the prophet's job so earnestly that he tries to cover everything that happened to everyone in Russia in November 1916 -- it's a sacred clipping service, not a novel.

Shalamov is likely to age far better than Solzhenitsyn, because his Kolyma Stories never try to "transcend" his topic, the horrors of the camps. There is no hint or echo of Christ on the cross in those stories. Men die like flies and stay dead, their suffering not redeemed by God, or history, or anything else. "Bad is final in [that] light." That's Shalamov's grim lesson. It's not the sort of moral Sir Isaiah Berlin is likely to embrace, but it saved Shalamov from turning himself into a plaster Jesus -- which is what happens to Doctor Zhivago. Pasternak makes the connection between his protagonist and Christ all too clearly in one of the poems at the end of the book:

...My friends and I gather together

And our evenings are farewells

And our parties are testaments,

So that the secret stream of suffering

May warm the cold of life.

So Zhivago's every party was the Last Supper, his every hill Golgotha, every garden Gethsemane, and every sexual partner Mary Magdalene. And you thought you were reading about a doctor's love life.

The list of Christs in Soviet literature is long and depressing. In We, Zamyatin writes brilliant Futurist SF for a hundred pages, then ruins it all by dragging his tech-hero into a warmed-over interview with Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor, who intones: "Remember, a dark-blue hill, a cross, a crowd. Some, up above, spattered with blood, are nailing a body to the cross; others, below, bespattered with tears, are looking on. Don't you think the role of [the Roman soldiers] up there the most difficult, the most important?" What's so dismally typical here is that, like Dostoevsky, Zamyatin instantly becomes an idiot when Christ drags his damn cross onto the pages of the novel. Reread the passage I just quoted and you'll see how truly silly it is: it was the Roman soldiers who had it tough? Yeah, getting crucified is a breeze compared to nailing somebody up in the hot sun!

SHARE:  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author

Horn of Plenty : Adis Ababa in Moscow turns one

John McCain Is: The Gook Hunter : A movie poster

Abu Ghraibi Fever : Lynndie: Making Imperialism Fun
Putin-era condom
Reklama Review: Late-Putin Era Puritans : Where's the sex?


Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442