Sunday, March 26, 2006

Found in Translation

Below is a snippet of a poem from Soviet dissident poet Igor Guberman that was mentioned on one of the Belarusian blogs I've been visiting over the past few days. The blogger's server has been down for several hours now. The translation is mine:
Критерий качества державы -
Успехи сук и подлецов;
Боюсь теперь не старцев ржавых,
А белозубых молодцов.

The criterion of the quality of power—
The successes of bitches and scoundrels
Is that I now fear not the rusty old geezers
But the good-old-boys with bleached teeth.
There is certainly something compelling about the sentiment, no? What are we to make of a world where we no longer have to fear the devils of the old regime but the smarmy suits on the street, these indicators of progress?

Now that I have a taste of Russian verse after so many years, I'm itching to translate the rest of the poem. Perhaps a project to be saved for another day.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Revolution in the Wings

Anti-Lukashenko Protest in Minsk
Despite the dwindling number of protestors out in the freezing cold of Minsk since the sham elections, there seems to be at least one more chance that the revolution will come ... hopefully before the next wave of stormtroopers.Belarussian Police

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Holding my breath/Some remarks on Lukashenko

The last travesty of an election in Belarus took place in early September 2001. Nobody seemed to notice, especially after “security” at a few American airports allowed passengers onboard with box cutters. (By the way, those people are still “out there” (in here) … much like bin Laden.) But ever since the election this past weekend, I’ve been holding my breath, waiting for the Revolution. This time, with no smoke rising over lower Manhattan, America and the rest of the West can see perfectly the political climate over Minsk. The times, they are a-changin’. Or, at least, I hope so.

Ukraine has since fallen. Uzbekistan tried to have a popular uprising until the people (and the West) realized that the government was going to continue slaughtering civilians by the thousands until everyone returned home. Which stony path will the White Russians take? Which stony path will the West support? For how much longer will the so-called liberal democracies of Europe allow a dictator at its doorstep? Stay tuned for the answers to these rhetorical questions and more.

In the meantime, enjoy a White Russian and think of the good people of Belarus tonight. The recipe I introduced to Poland in 1995 follows:

  • A shot of vodka (Polish, of course)
  • A shot of Kahlua (Mexican, of course)
  • Fill the rest of the glass with milk (cow, of course)
  • Add ice (how American!)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Waiting to Exhale/Some notes on the death of Milosevic…

Almost immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the media were abuzz with talk of President Bush repealing the ban on assassination in order to deal with (seek revenge on) bin Laden. I, in my pre-post-political state, wrote to the White House expressing concern that justice could not ever be conferred by such an act. Could we not, I asked in my best rhetorical fashion, instead use the Milosevic model and bring bin Laden before a court of law? I’m sure the administration got more than a few chuckles out of my letter. [Or maybe, they took me too seriously and just let the sonofabitch go.]

Is the death of Milosevic justice or just justice deferred? If all men are mortal—as any mediocre logic student can recite—then isn’t there some justice in the expiration of one of the truly evil men? [But, of course, one man does not cause a war: there is an entire system of power and control that articulated this madman’s vision. Are those individuals not somehow just as culpable?] Can we not, he asks again in gorgeous rhetorical fashion, enjoy the built-in justice dispensed by the universe with the death of each individual? There may be multitudes of evil, but they too will breathe their last breaths. To me, that seems much more just than any paltry form of revenge doled out by the earth-bound (so-called) liberal democracies. I mean, rarely—if ever—does the grid of justice line up with the judicial code anyway, so why not just let nature run its course?

All these things might be of some importance to me if I still retained a single political bone in my body. But I’ve renounced all politics and political leanings in this political shantytown of Amerika. I too shall one day breathe my last, and I don’t want to be thinking about such mundane things when I do.

Monday, March 6, 2006

::PreOCCUPATIONS/Aural Fixation::

- dedicated to Dennis Cooper, our Bataille

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 (NIV) :::: “Each poet says the same, which, however, is not the same, is the unique, we feel.” – Blanchot on Artaud, quoted by Derrida in “La parole soufflée” :::: “The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as speaker, yielding his initiative to words, which are mobilized by the shock of their difference….” – Mallarmé, “Crisis in Poetry” :::: “Le vieux Paris n'est plus.” – Baudelaire, “Le Cygne” (read by Eva Le Gallienne) ::::