Eclectica, 6/7/21 – 6/19/21

New roundup-esque format. A collection of articles found, books read and things done. Issues every other week.

Вы-жившие. Большой террор. Published by Samokat in collaboration with the Gulag History Museum and the HSE Art and Design School, this anthology presents the stories of people who experienced – but often did not survive – the Great Terror. A lot of stark and realistic pencilling but also paper cutouts and avant-garde art turned on its head. Expect a review. Maybe.


Морские повести by Marusya Klimova. Klimova uses a brutal realism to pick apart the marasm of the late Soviet navy. Slimy characters narrate their slimy actions in a quite lively style. Don’t expect a review.

*** Looks to be a less bloated, more private WordPress alternative. Might play around with the free plan at some point to see if the platform is a match.


Recent posts by Irrussianality. Here on whataboutism, here on Roman Protasevich, here on the Putin-Biden summit.


Art Forms in Nature. All eyes on Haeckel 👀


ALTA to receive an Amazon Literary Partnership (ALP) grant. $5k to support the Emerging Literary Translator Mentorship program. Good news.


Is there a future in freelance translation? No but also maybe.


*Snap*. And just like that, my time at the infotrust vineyards is over. It was a pleasure to study with such a talented group of students and faculty.

Featured image by Valeria Boltneva.

20 thoughts on “Eclectica, 6/7/21 – 6/19/21

  1. Gulag and marasm of Soviet navy. Well, yeah. No other topics to discuss about the USSR. The lion is dead but let us kick him one more time in the crotch. La leyenda negra never stops.


    1. La leyenda negra?

      Your frustration with Klimova is understandable, but it might be useful for context to know that Морские рассказы was a product of the pomo literary free-for-all of the late ’90s.


        1. Я думаю проблема здесь вообще в западном и американском в частности восприятии русской и советской литературы. Для них русская литература – это диссидентская литература, а не “Как закалялась сталь” в широком смысле слова.Это результат десятилетий интенсивной идеологической обработки. Другое им просто неинтересно, не укладывается в рамки представлений и т.д. А поскольку контактов между нашими народами очень мало, то публика на западе не представляет себе, насколько ничтожное место в нашей жизни занимает тема ГУЛАГа, диссидентство и все, что с этим связано, все, что они так любят обсуждать, когда речь заходит о России.
          Я подозреваю также, что Россия как таковая их не интересует вообще, а играет какую-то вспомогательную роль во внутреннем западном дискурсе. Возможно Россия, какой они ее себе представляют, помогает им лучше осознавать самих себя – что именно мне трудно понять. Но упорство, если не сказать “упоротость”, с какой эти темы поднимаются раз за разом, свидетельствует о глубокой внутренней заинтересованности именно в таком взгляде на Россию. Мы ничего не можем с этим поделать. Пройдут годы, может столетия, мир изменится. Посмотрим.


          1. Не можно не согласиться с тем, что в частности американцев интересуют перечисленные темы, и есть пропасть восприятия между нашими народами. Также правда, что в университете часто предлагается диссидентская литература. Но советую тебе не рисовать всех нас широкими штрихами.

            Я брала повесть Климовой от любопытства и Выживших от интереса к докукомиксам. К тому же они были рядом. У меня на полке десятки не прочитанных книг, собранных в течение последних трёх лет, и библиотеки ещё не открылись. Всё так просто.

            Повторюсь, не исключаю возможность, что есть непризнанное предпочтение диссидентству в американской культуре. Но не надо превращать мой ленивый выбор книг в вопрос идеологической обработки.


            1. А если не идеологическая обработка, тогда что? Может и надо американского читателя уже обрабатывать, он уже и сам знает, что Россия = ГУЛАГ и самое ценное в ней – это диссиденты? Откуда только он это знает? Ладно, шучу.
              Я сам не знаю ответа на этот вопрос. Что касается постсоветской литературы, то можно предположить, что выбор западных издателей отражает современное состояние литературы в России, которая чуть менее, чем полностью состоит из антисоветских произведений, достаточно посмотреть книги, которые номинируются на национальные премии по литературе и получают их. А можно и по-другому рассудить: не потому ли у нас так много антисоветских, а по большому счету антироссийских книг, что их авторы прежде всего хотят понравиться западу и для западного читателя пишут?


  2. Pelevin in his last masterpiece “Genearation P” wrote about “3 Buddhist ways to watch the TV”:

    1) “Without sound”. Just click “mute” on your remote – easy-peasy! Sure, at first, you’d try to cheat, but, in the end, you gonna accept “silent running”.

    2) “Without visage”. Technically more complex, but still doable. I can attest that at any big Russian family feast/get-together (yes, they still happen!), the omnipresent and constantly running TV set fulfills more role of a radio, than of a “picture box”, adding it’s cacophony of sounds to the communal dialog and filling in any silent pauses.

    3) “Both without sound and visage”. AKA – don’t watch it at all. Understandably, only most enlightened could afford that, what with them having a direct communication channel to the Universe via regular consumptions of certain Nepalese pinecones, or rare ‘shrooms, or by applying Shambalan écouvillon to their Third Eye (Cavity).

    These 3 Sacred Ways are shared with both us, the readers, and the protagonist Vavilen Tatarsky by a charming rural drugdealer and dried Amanita muscaria connoisseur. To showcase the ordinary human trait to fail way, waaaaay too short from the various ideals and commandments, he, personally, invented a “4-th Buddhist way to watch a TV” – upside down.

    It’s been ages since I first read “Generation P”, but this parable about “Buddhist ways to…” could be applied to a great many other things (as a set of rhetorical means to deliver your point). Heh, just recently and way, way elsewhere, I’ve used it in the discussion of the PostApoc as a genre. So, as you can see, the diversity of potential uses is overwheliming!

    [A little entracte commences, during which all low and sundry among the Russia Reviewed readership should notice that in this particular comment section there were already enough Russian users from Russia more-or-less expressing Dastardly Things in the Dastardly Manner, for which Poor Lytt is usually infamous]

    Aaaaanyway… I’m looking forward to that new review, J.T.! Surely, it will enrich our communal human learning and creativity!


  3. “Okay, okay, no review! Gyah!”

    Now-now, J.T. Here I come all smiles and sunshine and what’s your reaction? You make it sound as if a bunch of Russians had a temerity to engage in walrusing “seelioning”, as if we, disembodied virtual voices from across the Ocean, possess any kind of power over free individuals, their opinions and ideals.

    Besides – we’ve been there before, haven’t we? You will post either here on Twitter something, then I (usually it’s just me, but this comment section showcases that my views are hardly unique or rare for a typical Russian) would proceed to post a (Thought-Provoking)-Lengthy-Piece-Of-Content, and you’d… clam up. Yeah, that way you avoid an “irritant” in the form of “Even-More-(Thought-Provoking)-Lengthy-Pieces-Of-Content” emanating from Yours Truly.

    The undeniable fact though, that this has happened numerous times before and this is happening right here right now demonstrates, that in the future you’d still come across this particular genre of the consumer pieces of literature, you’d still read them only without announcing a fact to all low and sundry. Just to avoid certain “irritants”.

    But why sweep it under the rug or shy away from something that you like, enjoy and/highly appreciate? I am a firm supporter of having open and frank exchange of opinions aimed at furthering interpersonal communication in the name of furthering mutual understanding and cross-cultural dialog. I think that we, being educated, cultured adults, can maintain a businesslike tone of conversation.

    So, by all means, J.T. – I’d rather have you bring up these things here and review them, offering your own opinion. You are the owner and proprietor of this blog and no external agent can supposedly hold a veto power over your decisions.


    1. All categorically correct, but consider “mistakes,” not “irritants,” the things I’m trying to avoid.

      I don’t want people to be frustrated with what I read. I don’t want scribblings here to result in tense exchanges. I don’t want to offend or upset anyone (there’s already enough irritating stuff about Russia out there). On the contrary – I want people to like what’s posted here. It’s a feedback loop of sorts: I write about something that I only partially understand; people leave critical comments (entirely within their right); I feel like I’ve made a mistake, distance myself, and don’t return to that topic for awhile. It doesn’t matter if it’s a link in a Monthly, the Siberia review or that accursed Petersburg reflection. I’m all for the exchange of ideas but also react strongly to my own missteps.

      So yeah, Выжившие… One commenter expresses frustration. A second introduces the perception gap and ideological conditioning. A third comes in citing the sacred texts Pelevin which might be ironic… Time to close the oyster’s shell!

      But also… The Terror is a well trodden, controversial topic. I don’t have anything novel, insightful, and entertaining-yet-still-respectful to say about it. Especially now that I’ve finished the anthology – the art gives food for thought, but the storylines are repetitive (with the protagonist often being shot).

      Still, I certainly could handle exchanges like these (and Siberia, and Petersburg) better.


      1. “I don’t want people to be frustrated with what I read.”

        J.T., this past June I’ve accomplished an incredible feat. I, finally, had both the time and the will to watch the second season (2015-16) of the “Madam Secretary” tv series*. Last time I tried to do that I literally could not – I developed a severe toothache (now some dentistry manipulations later I’m much, much better).

        So, I watched this infamous “Russian themed season”. Most of the time I felt… nothing. Like, literally nothing at all. A couple of times though I had this “a-ha!” moment when, say, one master artist sees a painting done by someone, clearly, sub-par and amateurish, but then notices some trademark element that shows that this amateur was a student of another true master whom he knows.

        So, J.T., don’t worry. I’m long past “frustrated”. Besides, over the year’s I’ve become a firm believer in the maxim, expressed by some eager young fella: “There are no experimental failures. There’s only more data!”

        “On the contrary – I want people to like what’s posted here.”

        In my naivety I thought that, foremost, YOU, J.T., would have to like what you post here. Also, if you chose to post nothing at all, then there won’t be anything to “like”.

        “It’s a feedback loop of sorts: I write about something that I only partially understand; people leave critical comments (entirely within their right); I feel like I’ve made a mistake, distance myself, and don’t return to that topic for awhile… I’m all for the exchange of ideas but also react strongly to my own missteps.”

        Then how would you extend your understanding from the “partial” to “sufficient” if not “all-encompassing” if you studiously avoid these things?

        P.S. Oh, you know, there is always “4th way”. I’m pretty sure in the bloggo-/twitto-sphere there are enough local analogs of the, ah, “cozy dissident kitchens” ™ where no one’s gonna judge your choice of the topic. On the contrary – they’d congratulate, encourage you and offer even more of the same content by both well-established and up-n-coming authors or авторки. No tense exchanges, no offenses, positive feedback. Triple win, in short.

        • Granted to me by Allah. Yes, that’s my official version, for it is said: “Allah creates whatever He wishes. Indeed Allah has power over all things” (all doubters are free to check out Surah an-Nur, 45).


        1. Yea, I can see how flawed my approach is…

          The Fourth Way sounds even less desirable than the Way of the Clam or the Way of the Painful but Meaningful Exchange.

          It seems hard conversations are to growth as a specialist-blogger-somethingoranother what mistakes are to learning a foreign language.


          All blogs are public-facing. Most need other eyes to survive. If I wanted to write without anyone else interacting with the results, I’d keep a journal instead. 😉


          1. “All blogs are public-facing…”

            Bah – “public”! What’s that anyway? Most RuNet bloggers consider themselves true Aristocrats of the Spirit* and just ban offending plebs!

            And, because it was not mentioned previously (and to tie-in with the original discussion), here:

            La leyenda negra

            * Unironically and, yes, fully cognizant of everything behind that expresssion


            1. Bah – “public”! What’s that anyway?

              Probably should have picked a different word there…how about “Blogs are intended for consumption?”

              Re: la leyenda negra.

              […] протестантская пропаганда времён Контрреформации, которая стремилась выставить в чёрном свете испанских Габсбургов как наиболее могущественных и решительных врагов Реформации. В результате этого католическую Испанию XVI—XVII веков долгое время было принято представлять как царство изнеженности, косности и мракобесия.

              Yep, never would’ve guessed this on my own. But it makes sense.


              1. Please, watch this:

                IMHO, the same thing also applies, albeit to a lesser extent, to publishers and translators.


              2. Watched the interview.

                “the same thing also applies… to publishers and translators”

                Quote [9:13 – 9:40]:
                “So many people in the American press who write about the world are merely stenographers. They’re sitting down at a press conference, they write down what some government spokesman says and then they go back and print that in the newspaper. You hardly even need to have a sentient human there – you can get an algorithm to, probably, put most of those stories together”



                Yup. Nothing new, really. So what now? Two righteous People of Good-Will spend nearly 40 minutes stating obvious things. Like all other well-meaning cute in the naïve way people of their shared socio-economic background they say loud and clear: “A!!!”… but fall short of saying the rest of the alphabet.



              3. Translators? …stenographers?

                It depends on the nature of the work you do. If you’re translating news from the Russian press into English, I can see the analogy coming into play. You want the English article to read as close to the original as possible. Same for medical and legal translation. But literary translation? If you’re worth your salt, you’re doing something more than just copying down what the author said.

                Can’t vouch for publishers though. Is the main intended parallel that they favor certain voices in Russia over others?


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