Archive for March, 2015

GOLD MINING

March 31, 2015

DSC04992I bought the book  “Zolotyje Rossypi” (“The Gold Mine”) fifty-one years ago – on August 31, 1964 to be exact, which date I noted on the front fly leaf of the book. It’s a collection of aphorisms and maxims told in different times by distinguished personalities, or at least by those whom the compiler believed to be distinguished. The book has the subtitle “Everything in a human being should be beautiful”, which was borrowed from Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” The book is permeated by social optimism reflecting the propagandistic belief in the “bright future”, so characteristic of the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Especially thundering are the quotations from the works and speeches by communist ideologues or leaders – Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and all the way down to Nikita Khrushchev (he was toppled two months later, in October, 1964). It must be admitted that most aphorisms were worth to be armed with – like Plutarch’s “Courage is the beginning of victory”, or Shota Rustaveli’s “Consider as lost what you have hidden, consider as gained what you have given.” As a high school student, I used the book rather often to pick up epigraphs for essays in literature: it was estimated to be a super-duper beginning if you started your essay with a clever quote from a philosopher, a song-writer, or a “revolutionary” phrase belonging to Felix Dzerzhinskiy, a long-deceased KGB head.

I dug up “Zolotyje Rossypi” today from among my other books. I only leafed through that find thinking how naïve we were as children, but the book “The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde” (a much later present from my sister), which was in the same pile, drew my attention, and I got glued to it for the rest of the day. I couldn’t but marvel at Oscar Wilde’s observation of human nature and at his epigrammatic pronouncements. Yes, as a student I studied his works, we even staged a scene from “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  But when I was reading the “Wilde-isms” now, the impression was that I had never really known Oscar Wilde. The incisive and penetrating knowledge of humankind is seen in the quips, like “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”, or “The truth about the life of a man is not what he does, but the legend which he creates around himself.”

It may take decades to grow from the superfluous optimism of youth to Oscar Wilde’s healthy pessimism.  However, this generalization may be too hasty: “Only the shallow know themselves” (my last quote from Oscar Wilde for today :-))

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IN THE MORNING

March 31, 2015

Bild027The snow fell in Kyiv right on the day when the country moved the clocks to the summer time. The winter came when the summer was declared. Funny, isn’t it?

The 6 o’clock morning news said that “the sun rose at 5:36.” Outside, the darkness was hardly breaking away. I understood: the newscaster was reading about the sunrise and sunset from the old text where the winter times were indicated. Hmm… Did the guy look through the window?

The losses in the war were being reported.  Officially, it is no war. It’s the ATO – the anti-terrorist operation. It has been going on for a year already and has taken 6,000 lives. It’s been said that if we call the war a war, we won’t be getting any money from the IMF, or the World Bank, or whatever that money may come from…

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The newsreaders voice was disgustingly saccharine. I hate that Soviet-style voice which is an echo from half a century ago when broadcasters ingratiated themselves with the communist functionaries emphasizing their constant care for the people. This time the voice said that 47,000 Kyivans are already getting subsidies to pay their utility bills, and it’s very easy to get those subsidies because the government has simplified the procedure of getting the subsidies… It was implied that the government cares for the people… Just as it cared fifty years ago.

Another day has begun. A Kafkaesque day…

PULLING OUR WEIGHT

March 30, 2015

2015-03-30Russian goods-bToday my wife and I went shopping to the local supermarket. Among other things we were going to buy a mouthwash. The choice wasn’t rich, and all the available brands were practically of the same quality and served the most general purpose – being antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, reducing the microbial load in the oral cavity, etc.  The cheapest one was “Lesnoy Balsam”  (“Forest Balsam”). It was labeled with a Russian tricolor, and a tag with the words “Produced in the Russian Federation” was pinned below on the shelf. Of course, we selected another brand which didn’t have the digits 460 in the beginning of its barcode. Neither was it marked in white-blue-and-red, nor carried the caption indicating the “fraternal” country of origin. However small, that was our contribution into the struggle against the aggressor.2015-03-30Army-help

With the same feeling, we dropped a 50-hryvnia banknote into a money- box held by a volunteer at the exit of the supermarket. Money was collected for our guys in the East.


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