jeudi 27 décembre 2012

Dangers of Relativism

Recently I was shocked by a reader's comment on the news on attempted killing of the Afghan schoolgirl by some Taliban elements: for the Islamic extremists there, it's a sin for the girls to go to school. The reader wrote something like that: yes, it was a terrible thing, but still the situation in women in the West is not good either. A quite typical example of where the feminist extremism can lead. Including the redefining of rape (e.g. the case of Julian Assange). I often feel that the post-Christian West has well preserved the protestant masochism, many people of leftist-liberal orientation feel they, and we all in the West, are terrible sinners, we must confess, we must repent, we must expiate. We Europeans, especially the European men are the foremost sinners of the world, our forefathers, the slave owners and slave traders were much much worse than the Muslim slave traders, our pirates were much worse that the North African ones, our expansionism was much worse than the Islamic expansionism, our punitive expeditions, our mass killings were much worse than those of emirs, sultans or kings in Black Africa, the situation of our women, our greatgrandmothers was much worse than that of Muslim women. We have even no right to condemn other people's or cultures' sins, it would spoil our expiation effort. And this expiation demands that we remake everything, revalue all our values, change all social roles, change our language... And we have no time nor interest to see whether people of other cultures or religions are ready for at least some repentance, at least for some recognition of their past crimes, of their piracy, of their genocides, their attitude to women and adherents of other religions. Sometimes I feel it is a relief to read e.g. books by Thilo Sarrazin or Niall Ferguson. Without agreeing with much they write but finally finding some readiness for the self-defence of our culture, of our values, of real human values against the rising tide of murderous fanaticism. That, here and now, is not Western.

mardi 18 décembre 2012

Мои русские стихи в интернете

В русском интернет-журнале "Окно" было опубликовано несколько моих русских стихотворений, подредактированных главным редактором журнала Анатолием Кудрявицким.

Адрес сайта таков:

Есть и отзывы, они такие позитивные, что я польщен и удивлен. Но, конечно, и ободрен.


Анатолий, поэт, Ирландия:

Прекрасные тексты, в них дышит вечность. В России мало кто способен такого уровня стихи написать.

Сергей, поэт, лектор, филолог, Швейцария:

Дорогой Ян,

прекрасные стихи. Конечно, рука тянется их править, но я не уверен, что это нужно делать: легкий, почти неуловимый акцент должен в них оставаться.

Борис, профессор, филолог, США:

Ваши стихи прекрасны, я, признаться, отчаялся увидеть по-русски что-нибудь подобное. В 80-90е было много блестящей поэзии в России, плюс Бродский, но все это аллюзионно, перифрастично, взвинчено или сарказмом, или отчаянностью. По своему академическому опыту я постиг, как бесконечно трудно сказать просто и прямо, от своего имени и своим голосом, то, что хочешь сказать—ведь это настолько сложно, что самому нельзя вполне понять (я почти цитирую Вас); а отпечаток чужих слов и мыслей так отчетлив и устойчив! Насколько труднее это сделать в стихах, страшно даже подумать. Кроме того, русскому стиху плохо дается верлибр, слишком сильна тоническая традиция, а у Вас он получается с полной естественностью. В общем, можно поздравить и русскую поэзию, и русский язык; дойдет ли до них то, что Вы делаете — со временем, несомненно.

Игорь, поэт, Эстония:

Эти стихи великолепны. Обе подборки - в "Окне" и в присланном файле. Отдельные строки теперь звучат в моей голове приятным сопровождением. Это настоящее волшебство! 

Ирина, профессор, филолог, США:

Стихи замечательные, чудесные --  и звук и образ не знакомы, но узнаваемы -- точные, родные, но совсем другие, чем русские стихи. Про язык и не-мысль -- так точно,  и так необычно; и про сны двадцатого века.

Леонид, профессор, философ, Эстония:

Впечатление очень хорошее. Вы поразительно улавливаете неуловимое. Я уже не говорю о безупречности Ваших стихов с языковой точки зрения. На меня особое впечатление произвело то, что Ваши стихи, с одной стороны, вне русской поэтической традиции (о современниках не говорю: для многих верлибр – это мода), но, с другой стороны, это начало какой-то другой традиции.

lundi 17 décembre 2012

Rape or Non-consensual Sex

A lot of discussion and vehemence about this. The radical view predominant in Scandinavia seems to be that non-consensual sex is rape. Period. Some old-fashioned men especially in the US have voiced very different opinions and have been severely castigated for this. I know I risk to be considered a sexist pig, but I have serious reservations about equating the two. I still think the life in general and sexual life of human beings is too complicated to fit into strict yes-no logic. We are willingly or unwillingly a part of animal kingdom and our erotic rituals are quite similar to the rituals of some other animals. And in these rituals, often the female no is not an absolute no but can be a step toward finally saying yes. And besides verbal language, there is the body language too. That is sometimes not easy to understand and interpret. Especially for men who have in general less empathy, are more autistic than women. In my childhood I was a good guy, having grown up among women, and taking over some elements of female world view. And it was a shock to me to discover that men relish talkint obscenities, that in their discourse sex is very much connected with rude force, even with violence. And the greatest shock was to find that girls were more interested in such macho-type men than in good guys as me.

I cannot but agree with the assertion that a female no is a no when it is told seriously, not as an element in a play where woman rises the stakes, present herself as a more valuable partner asking for an effort from the male to get access to her favours. But it is not always easy for a male to find out the difference between these no's. Yes, we men tend to be autistic. As I have been explained by women, they always understand whether a man is interested in them. Not so with men. My female friends have told me several times about other women they said were attracted to me. I didn't understand this.

And there is another difference between a no and a no. It's the body language. Even if a man understands the no his would-to-be partner says, there is a difference whether this no is told without or before any kissing and petting, or later when she has agreed to lay with him in bed naked or half-naked. Here, it is not simply a person understanding another person, but a body understanding another body. And a male body tends to understand the closeness of a female body in a very straightforward way. Yes, with an effort, a man can even then abstain from sex. But I think women should understand that such last minute abstention is detrimental to male health. Strong arousal without following gratification, without the possibility of penetration and ejaculation can easily lead to inflammation of the prostate and the lower urinary tract. If it becomes chronical, it can lead to prostate cancer and other nasty illnesses. I have had prostate cancer and following surgery, and I believe one reason of this was the fact that I was too good a guy and couldn't understand that bad guys had more luck with women than good guys. And quite possibly still have. Non-consensual sex is not always a rape, but in any case it is not a good thing. To avoid it, we need more understanding between men and women. We need more understanding of each other's essential differences and similarities, more openness and courage to talk about things in a way that is not always politically correct.

mercredi 12 décembre 2012

О родномъ языке

Мои взгляды на родной языкъ лучше всего выражаютъ слова Петра Столыпина:

... это только инородцевъ интересуетъ, какъ можно и какъ нельзя говорить: мой языкъ, какъ хочу, такъ и говорю.

Цитирую по книге Марка Алданова "Ключи".

vendredi 7 décembre 2012

Russia and Austria, Historical Parallels

Situation in Russia after the Soviet Union lost the cold war and collapsed reminds me of the situation in Germany, but even more in Austria after the First World War. There too, the former empire lost a significant part of its territory and its status as a big power. One of the results of this defeat and the following economic crisis was rise of nationalism and replacement of ailing and inefficient democracy with a conservative dictatorship of Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. It was a dictatorship, but compared with the German Nazi one, a relatively mild one. There were no mass murders or concentration camps in Austria, only a handful of opponents were sentenced to death after an armed conflict between troops loyal to him and rebels. Dollfuss himself was later killed by Nazis, and his successor Schuschnigg pushed aside and imprisoned when Hitler annexed Austria. Without doubt Germany and the whole world would have been a much better place if Germany itself had chosen the Austrian way, replacing the weak and unpopular democracy with a conservative dictatorship with strong nationalist and clerical orientation.

This is - fortunately - something that is happening in Russia. Nothwithstanding the undemocratic manners of the Putin-Medvedev regime, it is, in my opinion, the least of several potential evils. Rise to power of the quite influential Communists or extreme nationalists would be a disaster both for Russia and its neighbours. Following the course taken by the regime I feel that it is making an effort to find a balance between the extremist forces and the liberals both in and outside of the country. But with the rise of militant nationalism in Russia and the Putin-bashing that has become quite a routine in Washington and some other Western capitals, it has made some concessions to the nationalists. AI think there is little chance of Russia going the German way, following the Nazi model as  long as Putin and his entourage are in power. Thus, it would be wise not to weaken their position with unnecessary rhetoric and steps Russia cannot but consider a strategic threat. In the present-day world the West, Russia and China should forget their ideological and even geopolitical differences and form an alliance to hinder the dark forces of religious extremism and chaos to become too powerful. I think the world needs a kind of a consensus between the big powers similar to what was achieved in Vienna in 1815. We need a kind of the Holy Alliance to preserve at least some peace and stability in the world. The world is too small to allow it to be dominated by quarrels between its great powers. And Russia and China must not feel they are considered, first of all, geopolitical adversaries by the US.