We are finally at the end of our torturous journey through the Inferno of Modern Russian Culture. With Lyttenburgh playing the role, both of Virgil, and one of Satan’s Little Lashers. (You know, those little demons, who poke and lash people who totally deserve it.)
Before turning the mic back over to Lyt, though, I must rudely and inexcusably abuse my editorial power to make one further point of my own; and this is reply to Lyttenburgh’s own comment which he posted this morning, to the effect that Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky will not be bent by the censorship of the mob. Lyttenburgh wrote:
I reiterate once again. These shockingly life-like stuffd animals, hanged around famous paintings in a way that would make any fan of BDSM and animal mutiliation proud and salivating – this is “art”. People who come to the Hermitage museum, who pay rate steep price for the tickets, who usually come from the backgrounds of those, who are willing to come and appreciate the art in the first place – they are “the crowd”.
Despite all this controversy, the exhibition won’t be closed – that’s the power of Piotrovsky. It will continue no matter what till April 2017.
I started to reply to Lyt’s remark in the Comment section, and then decided to put my reply way up here, at the top of the blogpost. Why? Because I can. So, here is my comment. I have an idea what to do about all this nonsense. My modest hope is to rally the “thinking-tariat” to rebel against this faux art. But not in the nihilistic, or a violent way. I do not condone attacking exhibits (however bad), nor tossing urine on Jock Sturges photographs which I do actually think are quite good, and do constitute real art, but that’s just my personal opinion. No, my friends, as an ethnic Russian it is my duty to propose an alternative solution to the perennial Russian question: “Well, what should we do about it?” A two-pronged attack, namely: (1) Hire that little boy who pointed out that the Emperor is not wearing any pants; and (2) Find a few REAL artists somewhere as allies, who can point out what it takes to actually be an artist, namely studying for many years, learning to draw and paint, obtaining a degree and/or serving an apprenticeship, mastering the craft, etc. Recruit some of these artists to turn against the fake artists.
Here is the plan:
(1) Those people out there who have the ability to go to the Hermitage: Do go there, and see all the good exhibits, and then stand in front of these stuffed animals, point at them (preferably in a group), and say the words: “This is not good. This is not real Art.”
Он управлял теченьем мыслей
И только потому страной.
Why will this form of protest be effective? Because it undercuts those who seek to “rule our minds” by totally confusing us, as to what is good, what is bad.
(2) There are easily identifiable metrics which denote a good painting, or a good sculpture. Metrics include: Complexity of style, use of angles, shading, perspective, skill of brushwork, etc. These stuffed animals do not display any of those characteristics of Good Art. Hence, they are not good, and the people should make it clear that this attempt to “baffle them with bullshit” has not succeeded in its goal! But in order to do this effectively, they need to, like I said, recruit allies from among the ranks of the artistic intelligentsia. Find the good ones, turn them against the bad ones. Reward the good ones, ignore the bad ones.
And now, having rallied the masses to battle with my “cunning plan”, I hereby drop the mic once again and return it to Lyttenburgh, for his final words on the matter:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”
– W. B. Yates. “The Second Coming”
Culture is a sum of all material and spiritual values of society. And Russian culture is sick. Saying that “meh, the whole world has the same problems” does not change the fact that it is wrong, that our culture is sick, and someone else’s problems do nothing to normalize an obviously unhealthy situation.
In previous chapters, I described the current state of affairs, sides of the conflict and its general trends. The proverbial gyre is turning in the more widening circles, faster and faster thanks in no small measure to the wondrously abhorrent social media. The center cannot hold any longer. Or, if you prefer – ordinary people do not want to live according to the previous rules and norms, with which the artistic intelligentsia saddled them, while the kreakls do not want to change anything in either their lifestyle or the artistic method. The only question is the following – will it be Revolution from the Top, controlled and initiated by the state, which will curtail most of the excesses and do the damage control – or will we end up with the Revolution from the Bottom, bearing all the telltale signs and characteristics of Russian Revolt.
Because the people, narod, won’t back down. It’s fed up with inconsistency and hypocrisy. It’s sick and tired of the fact that things held dear by it are routinely belittled, offended, smeared with dirt, laughed at and hated by the ones, who deem themselves socially, culturally (and, perhaps, a little bit racially) superior than them under the uncaring gaze of the State. The same State which, finally and to the people’s approval put on a shield of traditional values and other thing held dear by most of Russians, but which does nothing to defend them, instead either allowing – or deliberately organizing and funding – things and events, running contrary to the proclaimed ideals.
The very moment when the feudal class absconded itself with the obligatory service to their feudal liege and the country, and began living life of privilege and excess, at the expense of their peasants, the whole system become doomed to extinction. It was probably most shockingly visible in the XVIII century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, aka the Rzeczpospolita (“Republic”), with its quarrelsome szlachta, all-powerful magnates, powerless kings and masses of serfs, whom their betters called bydlo, i.e. “cattle”. By the end of the century this state ceased to exist, partitioned among its less all-permissive neighbors. Or one can recall French aristocracy in years previous to the Great French Revolution.
Old feudal order was thoroughly trashed, but some of its ideals proved to be progress- and time-resistant. Ideas generally are very hard to kill, so its no wonder that centuries later we now see a significant number of people proclaiming their superiority before both the state and the “commoners”, who bitterly hold onto their rights and privileges (and ask for more), who deny that they should be judged, but who judge others –who deny responsibility, and demand compliance. Naturally, ordinary people (and, sometimes, the State) disagree with that.
Self-proclaimed Aristocrats of the Spirit must learn about responsibility. They must learn, that whoever “orders the music, also dances the girl”. Use whatever term you like – either “producer’s meddling” or “censorship”. It doesn’t matter – they must realize, that, no, they are not a new nobility or the new priest caste. They are just a tiny strata of service experts, who, as it’s been always the case, must fulfill the (social) order of those, who pay them money. If they disagree with this approach – they are also free to go and find themselves a rich patron of the art, who would be willing to cover all of their expenses, while asking for nothing in return sans the chance to behold a True Art. After all, it’s said, that the prospect of the death by hunger tend to concentrate one’s mind wonderfully. What is surely no longer deemed acceptable, is for the state’s (i.e. people’s) money to be squandered on those, who either despises both the people and the state and/or fails to comply with the conditions of the societal order.
Right now artistic intelligentsia, thanks to its well publicized views and actions have lost all respect among the people – and, hopefully, it will soon lose any power as well. People view them as alien and hostile element, and the state grows doubtful of the necessity to furnish these parasites (and we know that parasite creatures both harm the host body, feed from it, but can’t live out of it), especially in such testing times. Respect and moral authority are things not to be taken for granted, or inherited from one’s parents – they must be earned and maintained by diligent and constant work plus a healthy degree of humility.
The great Russian poet A.S. Pushkin wrote, that there is only one other contemporary poet in Russia, of whose work he is genuinely jealous – N.M. Yazykov. Yazykov worked in a different epoch with different ideals, worries and concerns. And yet, isn’t it a sign of a true talent and genius, when words can still reverberate most powerfully across the centuries and into the present day? In his poem “К не нашим” (“To those who are not one of us” – 1844) Yazykov writes:
О вы, которые хотите
Преобразить, испортить нас
И онемечить Русь, внемлите
Простосердечный мой возглас!
Кто б ни был ты, одноплеменник
И брат мой: жалкий ли старик,
Её торжественный изменник,
Её надменный клеветник;
Иль ты, сладкоречивый книжник,
Ты, легкомысленный сподвижник
Беспутных мыслей и надежд;
И ты, невинный и любезный,
Поклонник тёмных книг и слов,
Чужих суждений и грехов;
Вы, люд заносчивый и дерзкой,
Вы, опрометчивый оплот
Ученья школы богомерзкой,
Вы все — не русский вы народ!
Вам наши лучшие преданья
Смешно, бессмысленно звучат;
Могучих прадедов деянья
Вам ничего не говорят;
Их презирает гордость ваша.
Святыня древнего Кремля,
Надежда, сила, крепость наша —
Ничто вам! Русская земля
От вас не примет просвещенья,
Вы страшны ей: вы влюблены
В свои предательские мненья
И святотатственные сны!
Хулой и лестию своею
Не вам её преобразить,
Вы, не умеющие с нею
Ни жить, ни петь, ни говорить!
THE END (OF ALL CULTURE AS WE KNOW IT?)