I appreciate thoughtful literature. Quit laughing! I may look like an imbecile but it’s (usually) an act. Sadly, deep thought sometimes gets unfairly lumped with dour pretentious preachy sermonizers. I will not abide such asshattery. So, unless it’s superlative, it had better have a modicum of levity or I become a pin in search of a ballooned ego. It’s a public service I provide. When you see a guy making fart jokes during intermission at the opera; it might be me. Someone’s got to do it. (Note: I’ve been to the opera and I enjoyed it. No I’m not gay. )
Now that you know how I approach “important” culture, I’d like to discuss Russian literature. It’s my opinion, and my opinion is backed by no credentials whatsoever, that too much Russian literature aspires too hard to be too important. Russia has everything you need for a good story; empires, misery, impoverishment, war, famine, and death. Add in bad weather and a bloody history involving Stalin, war with Hitler, and occasional epic madness which mows down peasants wholesale and you’ve got plenty of chances for heroic deeds and whatnot. Maybe sex it up with a groovy back story involving Mongolian raiders charging off the steppes? I’m just spit-balling here but there’s much to work with.
Good grief, some yahoo yanks a sword out of a rock and you’ve got the skeleton upon which they’ve fleshed out Arthurian legend. A story I just told in nine words can become vivid. That’s what writers are for; to cunningly entice a full story out of naked ideas. Surely Russia can do that? Alas, no. I just can’t grok Tolstoy. The guy needs to lighten up.
You know who else needs to lighten up? Ayn Rand.
Yeah, I said it! You were thinking it too but were scared of her objectivist minions!
The intellectual hero of libertarians everywhere had good ideas. In fact they’re excellent. But she’s chosen to serve teaspoons of spice on giant plates of “duh”.
This is tragic. I’ve tried to enjoy her works. They would appear to be relevant to my life. (I believe I’d “Gone Galt” before “Going Galt” was cool.) I should love it! But the text is like being locked in a monologue factory. It’s stewed spinach and tap water in a world meant for steak and whiskey.
I don’t care how good her point may be… she needed an editor.
Actually she needed an armed editor. With no fear and balls of steel. I suspect that any editor who suggested she change one word would be pummeled to death with a 90 page monologue and then some tall thin woman with icy cold eyes would stomp on his spleen with stilettos. If there were editors who would appreciate such activities Mrs. Rand never availed herself of their services. I blame it all on the circumstances of her Russian youth and think it inexplicably ties in with Tolstoy.
Why am I telling you this? Because last winter, I parked in a comfy chair in front of a roaring fire trying to read Atlas Shrugged and it just plain wore me out. Eventually I thought, “What am I doing? I’m not a college student being forced to read this. Screw it!” I put Ayn Rand down and played a video game. I’m pretty sure I heard a shriek of agony from the afterlife (assuming Rand the Athiest is there…which wouldn’t be pleasant for anybody involved). The earth’s rotation shifted as her body started spinning in it’s grave. Yes…I chose Nintendo…sue me.
I haven’t played video games in decades. Yet her book drove me into the waiting arms of Super Mario Brothers Wii. This is Stalin’s fault for screwing up Ayn Rand’s youth. The bastard!