Monday, October 26, 2009

I don't believe for a moment that all the clues to character are to be found in childhood. For about three generations Russians have been living in communal apartments and cramped rooms, and our parents made love while we pretended to be asleep. Then there was a war, starvation, absent or mutilated fathers, horny mothers, official lies at school and unofficial ones at home. Hard winters, ugly clothes, public exposé of our wet sheets in summer camps and citations of such matters in front of others. Then the red flag would flutter on the mast of the camp. So what? All this militarization of childhood, all the menacing idiocy, erotic tension (at ten we all lusted for our female teachers) had not affected our ethics much, or our aesthetic--or our ability to love and suffer…
Joseph Brodsky, from Artists in Exile

I just read that while waiting for Nina at the coffee shop. It caught me by surprise because it matched my memories in a way. Maybe I didn't lust for my teacher and my father was not mutilated but everything else about it seems right. Nina and I met in order to discuss something she's been researching and that something relates to our pasts and relationships with our families and language and foreignness. While I was waiting for her I tried to think of what I could say about the past and suddenly I remembered our house in Moscow and it was exactly like in the passage - cramped and no privacy. It's weird to talk about it now or remember the things that happened to me. When I tell someone about them I suddenly realize how long I've lived and the insanity that I went through and how now I'm OK and at a totally different place. That house seems like light years away but I still remember the small details, although at this point I'm not sure whether those detail are real or imagined.

This is what I am reading right now:

So far "Faking Death" is the least exciting one.


Isla Craig and the what not said...

ha! vid always used essays from faking death in our classes!!

Xenia said...

you know what fucks me up is that that place still exists somewhere and some other family lives in it now all cramped and crazy like we did