[This cross-posted piece is by Brother Francisco writing as Galtisalie for Anti-Capitalist Meetup at Daily Kos.]
“Resist much, obey little.”
hello cruel world. take that. and that. and that. leftists look injustice in the eye then look for a stick to poke it with, find lonely leaves of grass, and injustice blinks or maybe winks.
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
by the end of 1877’s Virgin Soil, Turgenev’s sixth, final, and longest novel, Nejdanov has taken his own life, unwilling to go to prison in Siberia for a cause that has taken everything from him and will not, in his own mind, accept his desire for the beautiful, culminating, like Whitman, in a desire to write poems. ironically, by dying, his most stalwart comrade, the hopelessly in love Mashurina, is deprived of the one thing, Nejdanov, to which she is devoted other than the revolution. desperate for any remembrance of Nejdanov, Mashurina spends a few moments at the end with the blowhard but equally lonely socialist hanger-on Paklin. Paklin, desperate for conversation and relevance, tosses out stupid questions. Mashurina slams the door:
Paklin pulled himself up.
“Why, of course … do have some more tea.”
But Mashurina fixed her dark eyes upon him and said pensively:
“You don’t happen to have any letter of Nejdanov’s … or his photograph?”
“I have a photograph and quite a good one too. I believe it’s in the table drawer. I’ll get it in a minute.”
He began rummaging about in the drawer, while Snandulia went up to Mashurina and with a long, intent look full of sympathy, clasped her hand like a comrade.
“Here it is!” Paklin exclaimed and handed her the photograph.
Mashurina thrust it into her pocket quickly, scarcely glancing at it, and without a word of thanks, flushing bright red, she put on her hat and made for the door.
“Are you going?” Paklin asked. “Where do you live? You might tell me that at any rate.”
“Wherever I happen to be.”
“I understand. You don’t want me to know. Tell me at least, are you still working under Vassily Nikolaevitch?”
“What does it matter to you?” “Or someone else, perhaps Sidor Sidoritch?” Mashurina did not reply.
“Or is your director some anonymous person?” Mashurina had already stepped across the threshold. “Perhaps it is someone anonymous!”
She slammed the door.
Paklin stood for a long time motionless before this closed door.
“Anonymous Russia!” he said at last.
in some ways, we all have had the door slammed in our face and are left anonymous. more sadly than Mashurina, who at least was on the clearly ascending side of history, we are more like the pathetic Paklin, trying to piece together our own relevance. the oppressors are desperate too, to make us feel that we are on the descending side of history, and oh how it feels that they are right when that door slams yet again.
perhaps tiny is the measure of your impact after so much dedication and sacrifice. perhaps it is a lost job. perhaps it is a beating by yet another dirtbag you feel forced to tolerate because you have no place else to go (you can leave, we will try to help). perhaps it is deep loneliness at the loss of someone good that you loved so much and will never see again. perhaps self-medication has become part of your problem, and those who love you couldn’t take it anymore.
maybe you pull yourself up, and try to reach out:
perhaps it is “just” a diary that few read. perhaps it is a diary that many read but which is soon lost in the vapors before discouraging objective conditions. perhaps it is … you know, and maybe no one else does, your personal objective conditions and how you feel standing before a lifetime of closed doors of one kind or another.
“O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?”
sometimes all you can do is get up in the morning.
“My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”
but please do get up in the morning. please. we love and need you tender comrade.
we are penniless. we are broken. we are shattered. children shot. bombs are bursting on our homes. but we shall not be defeated.
Who troubles himself about his ornaments or fluency is lost. This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body. The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is already plow’d and manured; others may not know it, but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches—and shall master all attachment.
on a personal note, when i decided to join you my comrades and become an anonymous covert socialist agent for humanity, i chose for my middle name Turgenev’s fictitious Nejdanov in honor of all our fallen tortured comrades who could not find the ability to keep living, and
I chose for my first name my own fallen tortured comrade-in-spirit great-great-uncle Francisco, (here’s his photograph, and quite a good one too)
who, within a few years of a heroic stand for the workers and nearly being murdered for the cause (see the end of this diary referencing “the Milian Affair”), in most awful fashion lost a war with depression and capitalism that destroyed his immediate family and that my extended family still bears in its bones,
and i chose for my last name Turgenev’s fictitious Solomin, the practical tender-hearted socialist engineer who stood by Nejdanov to the end and who would have loved and done anything he could to help Francisco.
please forgive the presumptuousness of this diary. i cannot sort out the clinical from the non-clinical in my own life much less anyone else’s. i am not a medical or psychological expert. i am just one of the few, the proud, the deep democrats. but we either know or want to know how hard your struggles are tender comrades. we are each here for each other. send someone else in this group a message and, if you want us to, we will try to help in some practical kind way. you are not anonymous in our hearts and minds.
til the rivers all run dry. nourish the roots of your leaves of grass. (mine are partly in country and western music.) protect your inner Nejdanov.