Tuesday, November 14, 2017

that the world is brutal and coarse

  • Major chapter in William Vollmann's Europe Central. I'm reading it again.
  • The axle character on which all spokes spin is Shostakovich, and this chapter provides necessary biographical and historical background of his relationship with Soviet authorities before then during The Terror, then the Great Patriotic War, then after.
  • The axle theme on which everything Vollmann writes spins is Power: application, resistance to, my complicity.
  • Always topical, some times more than others.
  • Fucker can write but bosses you around, shoves you into Black Marias, dungeons, squeezes your ouchies (in every novel, not just this one, not just this one and the Dreams).
  • I wince and read (I also laugh out loud sometimes).
  • Power, its application, resistance to it, my complicity.
  • Anyway, I've a PDF of the chapter, if you ask nice and I like you I'll send it to you password-free.

  • That's a main character in Europe Central.
  • Akhmatova's a character in the novel too, she's in this chapter, and - Serendipitously - this was posted here Monday.
  • When a colleague of many years tastes power and the entire department's frequencies vrzzt.
  • Dynamite for the People. A history.
  • Jim's Icelandic adventure, part nine.
  • It wasn't me who uhoh-ed the awooga. I knew it was awooga, would never awooga first.
  • This is a main character in Europe Central.


Anna Akhmatova

I drink to our ruined house,
to the dolor of my life,
to our loneliness together;
and to you I raise my glass,
to lying lips that have betrayed us,
to dead-cold, pitiless eyes,
and to the hard realities:
that the world is brutal and coarse,
that God in fact has not saved us.

Translated by Stanley Kunitz


  1. Shos-TAK-o'vich? or Shosta-KO-vich?

    My Vollman is seriously limited, mostly short stories. I dread wading in the way I dread wading into Knaussgard.

    Thanks for the notice, and put a pin in the map. Jokullsarlon eclipses it all.

    1. 1)sound file at wikipedia says the latter

      2)these days i suggest people look at http://whybuddhismistrue.com

    2. 0)i began to read about akhmatova - at wikipedia, and at the poetry foundation


      i could probably get part of the way into the vollman chapter you offer

      0.5)i am reminded again of reading ouspensky and gurdjieff




      1)and speaking of russia, on the politics talk shows they are saying wikileaks is de facto an agent of russian influence - maybe that's true to some extent - assange hates hillary - who doesn't - and hates the u.s.'s role in the world - one can bring to mind reasons why someone would feel that way

      2)the world is brutal and coarse - in some ways, yes - and still i wonder compared to what?

      3)the new firefox offers reading suggestions - e.g. "Ten years of posh burgers – how they changed Britain's dining habits"


      3.3)you could make such burgers with 'beyond meat', a plausible quasi-ground-beef

    3. We eat Beyond Meat burgers all the time. They're terrific. Highly recommended.

      They also make great not-meat crumbles for chili and like.

      Vegetarian at home is easy. Restaurants, not so much.