Ленин Жил, Ленин Жив, Ленин Будет Жить!

Rough translation of the subject line: Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will (continue to) live! While you were running around doing housework, or sat in front of you TVs watching inauguration, Lenin was hard at work. Somehow a post by an honorable John Holbo, who I have to say managed to come out of the battle with some scars but a ton of my personal admiration and respect. Judge for yourself – a short version of the event:

1) John Holbo posts a post.

2) A hell breaks loose. 

Apparently it’s all about Lenin, but really it isn’t – yet at the same time it is. If you are an insomniac, delve right in – there are a 100 200 comments on one post, and 39 on another. Allow me to cite my favorite exchange so far, and I will surely read this again and again, because what else would bring me so much education vis-a-vis blog etiquette:

Adam Kotsko: I also thought it was curious that you were lumping together philosophy and literature.  It’d be like if I were writing this philosophically-oriented theology that really challenged orthodoxy or something, and then I said, “There’s a consensus in theology and philosophy that my stuff shouldn’t be published—both because it’s too theological and because it’s not theological enough!” Or maybe if I said, “There’s a consensus that I live neither in Canada nor Mexico—both because I live too far north and too far south!” Or, “There’s a consensus that I’m neither a dwarf or a giant—both because I’m too tall and not tall enough!” Paradoxes of this kind could be multiplied indefinitely.

Rich Puchalsky: I find this kind of thing interesting, Adam.  I’m defending my ability to read interesting, non-dismissive things written about it, without, say, you pretending to misunderstand obvious points because you’re more interested in a flame war.  For instance, any person as smart as you evidently are would have to understand that Holbo was not really lumping together philosophy and literature, as opposed to illustrating how his work falls between the expectations of two disciplines.  Maybe after someone just goes ahead and recognizes that you want a squabble, you can just get it over with and stomp back to the Weblog.

You know it’s going to be a good read when this is what you get when the thread is barely opened. But lean closer, comrades, there’s more: 

John Holbo: OK, new policy: Adam K[otsko], I’m not going to address any complaints from you about how I don’t have arguments until you have decided it is finally worth your while to tell me what secret thing I have been missing all this time about Zizek. 


But I will add this much: the whole Adam/Rich thing goes like this. Adam disagrees with me but won’t say why; Rich agrees with me. Adam has to say something, so he hints that the fact that Rich agrees with me shows that there is surely some serious problem with what I am doing. How not? Also, when Adam and Rich start tearing into each other, Adam is if I don’t hold Rich exclusively responsible for the results.

Excellent, I feel as though I know all these people – drama! I wish I could sample a bit more of the comments, but then I would have to select the juiciest ones and it is not pretty out there, people. 

And, of course, it all gets to Lenin in the end (or is it in the middle?). Ирония истории – кто бы мог подумать, что кучка молодых интеллектуалов будет так горячо обсуждать кто понял или не понял Ленина…

7 thoughts on “Ленин Жил, Ленин Жив, Ленин Будет Жить!

  1. I can’t stomach Zizekian pseudo-revolutionary pseudo-Leninism tonight, so I’m reading Voloshin instead. It’s great:

    Его мы помним слабым и гонимым,
    В измятой шляпе, в сношенном пальто,
    Сутулым, бледным, с рваною бородкой,
    Страдающей улыбкой и в пенсне,
    Прекраснодушным, честным, мягкотелым,
    Оттиснутым, как точный негатив,
    По профилю самодержавья: шишка,
    Где у того кулак, где штык – дыра,
    На месте утвержденья – отрицанье,
    Идеи, чувства – всё наоборот,
    Всё «под углом гражданского протеста».
    Он верил в Божие небытие,
    В прогресс и в конституцию, в науку,
    Он утверждал (свидетель – Соловьев),
    Что «человек рожден от обезьяны,
    А потому – нет большия любви,
    Как положить свою за ближних душу» …

    На всё нужна в России только вера:
    Мы верили в двуперстие, в царя,
    И в сон, и в чох, в распластанных лягушек,
    В социализм и в интернацьонал.
    Материалист ощупывал руками
    Не вещество, а тень своей мечты;
    Мы бредили, переломав машины,
    Об электрофикации; среди
    Стрельбы и голода – о социальном рае,
    И ели человечью колбасу.
    Политика была для нас раденьем,
    Наука – духоборчеством, марксизм –
    Догматикой, партийность – оскопленьем.
    Вся наша революция была
    Комком религиозной истерии:
    В течение пятидесяти лет
    Мы созерцали бедствия рабочих
    На Западе с такою остротой,
    Что приняли стигматы их распятий.

  2. Thanks, Greg, I think when I think about Lenin, I usually remember Brodsky’s (that has nothing to do with it of course, just a mental association)

    Я заражён нормальным классицизмом,
    а Вы, мой друг, заражены сарказмом.
    Конечно, просто сделаться капризным
    По ведомству акцизному служа

    и так далее, сейчас на память нe припомню…

    What was that one Mandelstam wrote about Stalin? Or am I confused?

  3. It reads to me like one of those movies where good people act in ways that make them not very likable and you end finishing with a sort of “everybody’s a bastard, really” kind of feeling which can be satisfying in a smug way but always leaves me a bit cold (I imagine smokers find this more satisfying than non-smokers as you could take a drag right after saying something bitter – the smoke would cover the bad taste in the mouth – and strike a meditative pose while exhaling).
    But still, thanks for flagging that thread.

  4. Nate, I think there should be a blogging equivalent for “Reasonable people might disagree” but something to explain all the rudeness (my own included, of course) – “Regular nice people could be real bastards when it comes to comments”… Still it is sort of a funny premise vis-a-vis Lenin as a subject of such heated debates – I’m rereading his notes on Hegel’s Logic and it reads as though Hegel posted a blog and Lenin commented on it here and there, some observations are quite insightful and there’s plenty of arrogant “Well said”s and “Ha ha”s…

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