Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 2

A native-born Parisian, the polyglot and polymath Francis George Steiner of the sundry academic covens at Princeton, Cambridge,

Geneva, and Oxford in his 1996 essay collection entitled No Passion Spent (Yale) quite meticulously critiques any pretension that anyone might seek to rationally claim in American history and experience for artistic, literary, or musical greatnessany individuals being genuine founts of great creativity (see specifically The Archives of Eden, pp. 266303). Among his instances of devastatingly persuasive refutation and rebuttal to example after example of hopeful claims of persons meriting such of a status are Europeans who obviously do tower over these American Lilliputiansalbeit a cadre of talent beside whom we, the great unwashed, can only cower and fawn. And among those eminent and brilliant Europeans there are a strikingly inordinate number who are Russian. His provocative and utterly stunning exposition takes a remarkably ironic, profoundly bleak, and even black turn as he expounds quite convincingly that in an appalling number of cases the quintessential catalyst and crucible for the transformation of these European (including prominently Russian) authors, composers, painters, philosophers, playwrights, and sculptors of renown were authoritarian and repressive systems of putative political authorities in their home lands that grievously oppressed and literally murdered unknown millions of their own citizens. I eschew the term government from the foregoing characterization and summary in a Pollyanna hope that the concept of government should exclude regimes responsible for such malfeasance, but I fear that the usage paradigm of the English language will rule my gesture as out-of-bounds. Again, ironically, it would require the conservative, ill-liberal philosophy of, for example, either the French or Russian languages in order to accommodate my hunger for a measure of semantic morality and principled justice. But there is counterpoint in human behavior also at play from the mid-18th century as Georg Christoph Lichtenberg in his Sudelbcher wrote: Schmierbuch Methode bestens zu empfehlen. Keine Wendung, keinen Ausdruck unaufgeschrieben zu lassen. Reichthum erwirbt man sich auch durch Ersparung der Pfennigs Wahrheiten. (The scribble-book method is most warmly to be recommended. To leave no idiom, no expression unwritten. We can acquire riches by saving up the penny truths, too). And in 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his Journals: This Book is my Savings Bank. I grow richer because I have somewhere to deposit my earnings; and fractions are worth more to me because corresponding fractions are waiting here that shall be made integers by their addition. Much more recently, in the context of the modern Russian experience, there was in the period 1987-91 a spontaneous eruption of social discourse and debate that moved extraordinarily off of the used sheets of foolscap abandoned in locked desk drawers, out from the intense conversation around the traditional kitchen table but with the drapes firmly drawn, and into a remarkable torrent of new publications beginning with the tiniest of press runs, on to the pages of government sanctioned journals and newspapers, into conversations up and down the sidewalk of every street, all around (and not just in the nooks and crannies of) the work place, and soon those Russians, those speakers, those listeners, and those debaters were self-transformed into the creators of the postCommunist, post-Soviet world, into the decision-makers in new institutions of modern Russian political authority. For the non-Russian speaker, those unable to read Russian, those without access to this trickle of newsprint that became a torrent and then became a veritable flood it was only the media reports of the consequences that had any visibility and little explication

was made of the volume of pent-up human discourse that was the impetus. Or was that all it was? Leon R. Aron and his colleagues at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, have spent an unimaginable number of hours collecting many of these truly disparate sources from what may genuinely be called the hither and yon. Then they painstakingly translated into English these nearly countless conversation threads, these trial balloons, these ineffably articulate and thoroughly well-reasoned critiques of institutional as well as human excesses and failures, these tangible records of vital social debate plus discourse that are then scrupulously digested and rewoven into a fair plus honest record of what Aron has entitled Roads to the Temple - truth, memory, ideas, and ideals in the making of the Russian revolution 1987-1991 (Yale, 2012). Irony strikes yet again, in that there is a generation of Russians who are now adults who neither read nor heard that historic and rich debate plus discourse. Just as it is necessary as well as fitting for English speakers to be edified by the hard scholarship and labor of Professor Aron, there is a crying need for a Russian language version of this great account of the many gathering together their individual penny truths and thereby creating the opportunities of our shared brave new world.