Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Brodsky quoted from Less Than One:  Selected Essays.

"The past doesn't radiate such immense monotony as the future does.  Because of its plentitude. the future is propaganda."

"The real history of consciousness starts with one's first lie."

"A one-syllable word can't do much in Russian.  But when suffixes are applied, or endings, or prefixes, then feathers fly."

"Four years in the army (in which men were drafted at the age of nineteen) completed the process of total surrender to the state."

"There isn't a Russian executioner who isn't scared of turning victim one day, nor is there the sorriest victim who would not knowledge (if only to himself) a mental ability to become an executioner."

"In a centralized state all rooms look alike:  the office of my school's principal was an exact replica of the interrogation chambers I began to frequent some five years later."

"...along with all the complexes of a superior nation, Russia has the great inferiority complex of a small country."

Still, according to the seven veils of secrecy that blanker almost everything in Russia that has to do with heavy industry, the factory had a code name, Post Office Box 671."

"In a sense, there never was such a thing as childhood."

"I have always envied those nineteenth century characters who were able to look back and distinguish the landmarks of their lives, of their development."

"A school is a factory is a poem is a prison is academia is boredom, with flashes of panic."

"They all got various sentences.  The Jew, naturally, got capital punishment."

"The same idiotic lot befell millions and millions.  Existence as such, monotonous in itself, has been reduced to uniform rigidity by the centralized state."

"I remember once standing behind his chair, thinking that if I killed him all his books would become mine, since he was then unmarried and had no children."

" the puritanical atmosphere of Stalin's Russia, one could get turned on by the one hundred percent innocent Socialist Realism painting called Admission to the Komsomol."

"...Russians--at at least in my generation--never resort to shrinks...Psychiatry is the state's property."

" the country where I spent thirty-two years, adultery and movie-going are the only forms of free enterprise.  Plus Art."

"The formula for prison is a lack of space counterbalanced by a surplus of time."

"If the standard of living during that period amounted to 15 or 20 percent, the improvement in weaponry production could be expressed in tens of thousands of percent."

"If there is any reason for pride in my past, it is that I became a convict, not a soldier."

"Bikes were old, of pre-war make, and the owner of a soccer ball was considered bourgeois."

"This country, with its magnificent inflected language capable of expressing the subtlest nuances of the human psyche, with an incredible ethical sensitivity (a good result of its otherwise tragic history), had all the makings of a cultural, spiritual paradise, a real vessel of civilization.  Instead it became a drab hell, with a materialist dogma and pathetic consumerist groupings."

"You cannot cover a ruin with a page of Pravda."

"There were no supplies, there was sheer demand."

"Also, the more one remembers, the closer one is perhaps to dying."

"At least its been my impression that any experience coming from the Russian realm, even when depicted with photographic precision, simply bounces off the English language..."

"History, no doubt, is bound to repeat itself:  after all, like men, history doesn't have many options."

"I merely regret the fact that such an advanced notion of Evil as happens to be in the possession of Russians has been denied entry into consciousness on the grounds of its convoluted syntax."

"...a map with who hemispheres, of which only one is legal."

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