Sunday, October 6, 2013


     I've been listening to something that I can't translate into English. Maybe, there it is, - that Russian elusive soul, that even I forgot about while living in the comfortable, convenient West. I also bought into easy stereo-types and the explainable reality that, we think, exists over there, in that place on the map that was just recently colored pretty pale pink. 
     Vladimir Visotsky was far from an angelic personality. But I have a theory that, when God pours talent into someone, sometimes the vessel is too small to handle the terrible gift and responsibility. How many geniuses and idols act like they can't stand their lives? How many of them mistreat the closest family and associates? But when we listen to, watch, look at their creations, we forget all that. We are transformed into better people through their art, even if they are outright jerks.
     The song that moved me to write this is called... I can't even easily translate that! The White Bath - it's the closest, I think. He talks about the sauna-like bath, with steam and birch twigs tied together to whip your body softly to encourage good circulation.           You see, I am further now from the real reason, why that song tears at my heart so much!
    A man who asks the caretaker to prepare him a bath like that is, obviously, someone who just left the Soviet forced labor camp. He says: "For my unconditional faith, how many years have I been in that "heaven"?  I exchanged my limitless stupidity for this hopeless life." I am translating it loosely, to make it more possible to understand: "While swallowing tears, we tattooed Stalin's profile on the left side of our chests, so that he would hear how our hearts were breaking!" 
     A thought struck me that chilled me to the bone. I haven't been betrayed like that man in a song. Or have I? Didn't I spend thirty years believing and trusting someone that now seems to be a con-man, at best? Didn't I many times lay my health, safety, the very heart of me - on the line for that man? Limitless stupidity? I don't know. Maybe it was. Maybe we still did something good for the world. Maybe it's still ahead of me. 


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