Friday, April 28, 2017

Platonov Quotes from Two Plays

In my previous post, I touched upon Platonov's plays within the context of the Russian war on boredom.  Plotanov's two plays, The Hurdy-Gurdy and Fourteen Little Red Huts also contain themes related to Soviet ideology, propaganda, verbal savagery, and impending violence.  As a playwright, Platonov's greatest virtue may be his strikingly funny turns of phrase.  One sometimes thinks that Oscar Wilde might have written lines that resemble Platonov's one liners if he had been forced to describe human interactions in the inhuman age of Soviet man-made famine.  Here are just a few of the quotes that I thought captured Platonov's ability to capture the absurd nature of Soviet modernity. Probably, most literary critics would compare Platonov's plays with Beckett and other absurdists,because the absurd dialogue usually occurs in rather fantastically abstract social situations. But the insistently clever and almost inevitably paradoxical nature of every line reminds me of Wilde.

Sample quotes:

Miud:  What was if my heart starts to ache for some reason?
Aloysha:  Doesn't matter.  It will be cut out of you, to save it from torment.

Miud:  Aloysha, I've gotten bored of living in the world.
Alyosha:  Never mind.  Soon there will be socialism--then everyone will rejoice.

Aloysha:  As soon as socialism sets in, I will invent you all over again, from square one--and you will be the child of the whole international proletariat.

Alosha:  Sabotage on the part of Nature, Miud.
Miud:  Is Nature a Fascist?

Miud:  Waiting is boring.

Serena:  We want to be with you.  We love your whole bitter fate!

Stervetsen:  Here you have a shock-working psyche.  Enthusiasm is visibly located on every citizen's face.

Stervetsen:  And you--just give us the gift of your superstructure!   What do you need it for?  You have the base, after all--so you can live for the time being on the foundation.

Shchoev:  Where on earth can these bastard birds have sprung from?  Everything was so quiet and consistent with the Plan, the entire apparatus had adopted the Party line for the organization of fleshy crayfish deeps-and now in come the birds!  Try and procure them!

Shchoev:  I myself am a human being.

Shchoev:  Boredom...a tender, decent youth it can lead to developmental complications.

Shchoev:  Oh Yevsei, Yevsei, food is really just a social convention, nothing more!

Yevsei:  No comrade, we procure only uncultured animals.  We love hardships.

Stervetsen:  Nothing should be left untried.  The whole world is only an experiment.

Serena:  Papa!  Are these locusts?  Are they eating saboteur insects?

Alyosha:  You're an uncollectivized egotist!

Shchoev:  All animals, Yevsei, love one another.  But what we need isn't love, it's the Party line.

First female office worker:  Comrade Shchoev, please, let me go off duty now!  I've already spent a whole evening being joyful.

Serena: Papa, where do they keep their superstructure?

Shchoev:  What we need now is containers and packaging, not spirit.

Shchoev:  Do you imagine we keep our superstructure heaped up in a barn somewhere like bales of hay?

Shchoev:  It's all the same.  Once you enter our periphery, you no longer posses a personality.

Stervetsen:  But is your soul really manufactured like some industrial product?
Shchoev:  Our soul is the superstructure, you idiot!  The superstructure rising over the interrelationships of stuff! Of course we manufacture it.

Stervetsen:  ...your hears...are shock workers of joy hammering in your chests.

Shchoev:  O Lord, Lord, if only you truly existed!

Miud:  Aloysha, I'm bored here, I'm all in tears.  Let's get away from here and move on to socialism.

Miud:  All I care about is fulfilling the Five-Year Plan within four years.

Miud:  Don't cry Aloysha.  Just close your eyes tight and I will lead you to socialism as if you were blind.

--Chastise yourselves on your days off!

Yevsei: You are a gift of God--but there is no God...

State collective farm agent:  I am chasing birds and fish back into the economy!  But what's up with you?

Stervetsen:  Deceivers, grasping self-servers, eulogizers of the status quo, impetuous drifters...

Shchoev:  Friendly elements represent the greatest danger, Yevsei.

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