February 21, 2015

"What will happen to me — an Americanized Russian-speaking novelist who emigrated from the Soviet Union as a child — if I let myself float..."

"... into the television-filtered head space of my former countrymen? Will I learn to love Putin as 85 percent of Russians profess to do? Will I dash to the Russian consulate on East 91st Street and ask for my citizenship back? Will I leave New York behind and move to Crimea, which, as of this year, Putin’s troops have reoccupied, claiming it has belonged to Russia practically since the days of the Old Testament? Or will I simply go insane?"

From "'Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth'/What I learned from watching a week of Russian TV," by Gary Shteyngartfeb in the NYT Magazine.

(Oh, no. The words "Old Testament" have now appeared in the first 2 posts of the day. That was not intentional, but now I feel challenged, and it will be difficult to step up to the challenge given the subject matter of the next post, already half-drafted.)

19 comments:

Phil 3:14 said...

Less "Americanized" and more "New York-ized".

Why must "intellectuals" show contempt for popular culture, regardless of its origin?

Big Mike said...

The Russians lost a war to the French and English in the middle of the 19th century over the Crimea. Then came the Soviet Union and they got the Crimea after all (and lots of other places). They lost it when the Soviet Union disintegrated, but we're looking at 150 years of effort to get and hold the Crimea to give their navy a warm water port. To riff on the Old Testament theme, the Russians will stop when they have the Crimea or when Hell freezes shut, whichever comes first. Realpolitik suggests we start by recognizing that.

Laslo Spatula said...

" I whip out my laptop and log on to the progressive news site www.slon.ru. (Slon means “elephant” in Russian.) My friends in St. Petersburg subsist on these analytical blogs and news sites, the Slates and Salons of Russia."

The Slates and Salons of Russia.

Oh my.


I am Laslo.

Anonymous said...

An Old Testament theme? You've got a Job ahead of you.

Sebastian said...

"Vladimir Zhirinovsky . . . who is roughly equivalent to Michele Bachmann." That little shout-out to the modal NYT Upper-West-Side lib shows you just how "Americanized" he is.

Conventional disdain for vulgar pop culture aside, it may just convey even to Progressives the Otherness of the Other.

How do you reset that?

Ann Althouse said...

The theme has gone to hell. Other posts have popped up and the one I have in draft, mentioned here, is still in draft. Perhaps Old Testament God is punishing me.

clint said...

I almost stopped reading at the comparison of Zhirinovsky to Bachmann.

William said...

Just now I'm reading Catherine The Great by Robert K. Massie. Catherine was not as salacious as one would wish. She was actually, for Russia, a fairly enlightened ruler. She called a grand assembly of Russian citizens to acquaint them with enlightenment ideas. It came to nothing. The merchant class claimed discrimination because they were not allowed to own serfs. In Russia only the nobility were allowed to own serfs.......That's so unfair. In America at that time everyone was allowed to own slaves. We were so much more egalitarian in our slaveowning practices. Also, the nobility successfully protested an attempt to infringe on their right to beat their serfs to death......That kind of history can cause cultural PTSD. The best bet is to move to America and press the reset button.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Hmmm. News programs toeing the government line and celebrities fawning over the President. Where have I seen that before?

tim in vermont said...

The best bit was the anecdote of the cab driver who wouldn't emigrate to Canada rather than the US because Canada wasn't a superpower. And he got that from an actual visit to Russia.

Kudos to him for getting the Times to pay for his week at the Four Seasons.

As for the Bachman jib, it is almost as if he were unaware that he is part of creating the same kind of bubble in the US media.

clint said...

I wonder if anyone reading this in the Times will pause to wonder what unspoken messages are being conveyed to them in the morning shows and evening news that they consume daily.

Probably not. Honest self-reflection is hard.

YoungHegelian said...

If you want a Russian going anti-Russian, and doing a much better job of it, read Vasily Aksyonov.

And, yes, the comparison of Zhirinovsky to Bachmann makes me wonder if he understands either country.

buwaya puti said...

As an immigrant, I get his bubble.
The great American middle is invisible to people in his position, which is likely to be very insular. He hasnt had to truly interact with the range that exists. Due to my profession(s) I have seen much more of the "real" America, and the world too, and that is these days quite a rare privilege. Ironic. Travel and communications have served mainly to make better bubbles.

Keith said...

Gary Shteyngart has become quite fashionable with the paleo-Lentening alt-conservative (which is as different from an althouse as it is from alt-country) Russophile at The American Conservative, so the Bachman comparison doesn't come as any real surprise.

Adrift Transient said...

Is an author ensconced in a luxury hotel, subsisting on expensive room-service, guzzling booze, popping psychoactive medications and consulting his therapist the best vehicle for a rebuttal to Putin's claims about the decadent and effete West?

Perhaps that wasn't the point of the article. It's possible I missed the point.

Can I decry Putin's influence over Russian television while also admitting the entire television spectacle (as described) is eerily familiar to me as a viewer of American television?

Does it undermine my position to admit that the life-style of the piece's author seems less familiar to me than the spectacle (as described) of Russian television?

I begin to suspect I am not the audience for this article.

Oso Negro said...

I spent a week drinking in a hotel in Odessa in January. It was quite the opposite experience of this fellow's. No Russian TV, but a lot of interaction with people on the streets and I got to hear an actual, no-Brian-Williams separatist bomb blast.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Putin and Orthodox Russians are off of the diversity list. The jackals are assembling.

tds said...

" ... Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an ultranationalist in Russia’s Parliament who is roughly equivalent to Michele Bachmann"

This is quite good illustration of the importance of immigration control. Don't let retarded people in.