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Absurdism, the Cold War, and the Future

Started by Q. G. Pennyworth, February 14, 2012, 05:54:49 PM

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Quote from: The Good Reverend Roger on February 14, 2012, 07:33:13 PM
Quote from: Iptuous on February 14, 2012, 07:30:04 PM
it really does.
it is my understanding that poetry is significant in their education.  not just like our nursery rhymes, but honest to go poetry.  all through schooling.  in their popular media.  in their religion. in their science.

In my father's day, you had to read Kipling, Frost, Service, etc.

When I was in grade school it was some shit about "A Poem As Lovely As A Tree", which was - I believe - specifically designed to KILL POETRY FOR YOU FOREVER, in the same manner that they KILLED SHAKESPEARE by ignoring Henry V and MacBeth in favor of that tripe, A Midsummer Night's Dream.



My poetry education started with Carl Sandburgh. Blech, nature poetry is some of the most boring shit ever. Our teacher made us write carl-sandburg style poems. It was like, "pick a bird. now write a poem about it."

Quote from: Triple Zero on February 15, 2012, 12:18:06 PM
I've been exposed to some selected bits of Rumi, some of it is really really amazing and beautiful. Didn't know he was Persian btw.

Burns turned me onto Rumi a while back. If you like rumi, you'll probably like Hafiz.

I find that if I'm in the mood to read those guys, I try to find a website with the absolutely worst style ever. You know, where the poetry is typed in pink comic sans. Makes it look like a hallmark card. Except it's a hallmark card written hundreds of years ago in Persia. I don't know why I insist on reading them this way, I just find it funny.

Elder Iptuous

Quote from: Fuck You One-Eye on February 15, 2012, 12:08:22 AM
Quote from: Iptuous on February 14, 2012, 07:59:46 PM
I'd like to get an english translation of some Persian poetry.
you could push it on most people without them even realizing that Persian=Iranian, and if it was really awesome and accessible/universal, it could stick with them.
i imagine it's harder to dehumanize someone that you associate with good poetry.

Au contraire. your revelations about how deeply poetry is ingrained in the fabric of Iranian culture has actually convinced me to join with the rabid wingnuts on the side of being in favor of dropping massive amounts of nuclear weapons on Iran.

you're an exceptional creature.  we could get the majority of people to empathize with the persians by exposing them to their art, (i've heard many ignorant hicks say something to the effect of "them ay-rabs [referring to Iran] havn't ever contributed a durned thing to the world!"), and then the rare bird such as yourself could be swung by rational discourse and appeal to personal interest.


Most Persian music is ABOUT the poetry.  The beats and the melodic parts of their music are disastisfactorally similar.

I'd posit alot of Indian, Arabic and Afghan music can seem the same.

But the words are the heart of the piece, and that's why you'd see a poetry (see it more like freestyle Rap, if you can) ocmpetition as taking the place of one where people sing and dance.  Old folk songs sung by "pop" idols can get a whole audience that 10 years ago might have been fighting in the streets to link arms and cry together, simply because the words to those people are so very beautiful and they identify with them as a culture.

It would be an awesome study, I've thought, as I've been semi-tortured with the Persian/Afghan/Indian genres of music for a couple of decades now, to juxtapose the music the West comes to expect as entertaining, meaningful and emotionally moving to the Eastern traditions of prose-over-notes.

Afghan Idol, by the way, has been on for a while now.  One of the girls who won was threatened with death, so she had to have protection and I think had to leave the country for a while.  And so it goes...

As to the whole Reagan debate, there's a consortium (read: thinktank, etc.) of right-wingers in the US whose sole occupation is not only to rename bridges, libraries and schools after Reagan, but also to change peoples' memories of that time period and reshape the man's "legacy."  Books like the one described in the OP will soon be put on the 451 pile and burned to cinders if they don't continue to get some play.


Quote from: Queen Gogira Pennyworth, BSW on February 14, 2012, 05:54:49 PM
The short version as i understand it is that Reagan *did* have an important roll in bringing the Cold War to an end, but it was more because of his willingness to talk with the Soviets and give them a way out and less the saber rattling. That the biggest problems the Soviets had were self-created through the belief that they needed more control over their people and over the ideological discourse of the nation. By clamping down on their populace, they made western culture look more appealing.

This is certainly part of it.  Although if any leader other than Gorbachev had been in charge, it might not have worked.

The USSR was always going to be suspicious of US intentions and somewhat hostile.  Political paranoia has a long history in Russia...historically speaking, Russia wasn't so much a nation as a transit route for up and coming imperial powers, either from the east (the Golden Horde) or the west (Teutonic Knights, Baltic princelings).  Often these two forces acted in tandem, destroying what little political authority native princes and lords had, at the very least up until the time of Tsar Ivan IV (the "Terrible").

As such, political authority in Russia was always sharply centralized, and often concerned about being "encircled" by foreign threats or being subverted from within.  Before the KGB, the Tsars ran a highly effective and dangerous secret police force, one which had infiltrated many terrorist networks in the country and were responsible for elaborate forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a favourite conspiracy screed of anti-Semitic groups even to this day.

Bolshevism merely updated many of these traditional approaches and trends within Russian political culture.  That almost immediately after the end of WWI, while the civil war still raged, that the "capitalist powers" of the UK, America and France intervened on the behalf of the "Whites", many of whom were almost proto-fascist in their worldview, was not quickly forgotten, even if their contributions were overstated.  And that in the decade before WWII there was an unofficial policy of attempting to use the fascist states of Japan (East) and Germany (West) to contain international Communism certainly awakened old fears concerning encirclement, which eventually became official US policy after WWII, with the concept of containment.

Russia, as a state, was paranoid.  Stalin in particular, literally so.  Recent theories suggest, with some backing, that he had a brain disorder that made him a clinical paranoid, he saw enemies and conspiracies everywhere.  But even without that, the political culture of the Soviet Union, on the bedrock of Tsarist suspicion, worsened by a brutal civil war which led to the formation of an unaccountable secret police force, dragged to the brink of starvation in the 1930s, brutally invaded by a former ally in the had a country inclined to believe the worst of others and mistrust their motives even at the best of times.

The ideology of Communism did not help, of course.  Communism was meant to be an advance on capitalism, a resolution of its inherent contradictions into a higher political state of being.  And while the Soviet Union did manage some astounding economic growth, which likely would not have happened as quickly without Communism, it also capped its potential.

This paranoia also led to the establishment of a vast "counterintelligence state" and massive military buildups, which of course diverted funds which could have been used elsewhere.  Some people credit Reagan with forcing the Soviets to spend outside of their means, triggering an economic crisis and collapsing the USSR.  This is partially true, but not the whole story. 

Firstly, despite certain economic weaknesses, the Soviets still had deep pockets, namely in the form of massive natural energy resources that they could sell for foreign currency or use to underwrite the economies of their Warsaw Pact allies.  However, the Saudis boosted production massively in the 80s, causing the price of oil to crash.  They knew what they were doing, and it worked - the Saudi gambit hurt them a little, of course, but they'd been prepared for it - the USSR had not.  Suddenly, the economy was in a massive contraction, while military costs continued to rise due to Reagan's buildup and the war in Afghanistan.

Gorbachev rightly concluded that this could only be combated by making peace with the West, and abandoning the Warsaw Pact states to their own fate.  In previous decades, native armies had been used to put down uprisings in most states, because it was known what the Soviet Union would do if it had to use its own forces (Hungary 1956, all over again).  Local communist parties preferred to use their own forces to save their own necks.  Army officers further up in the chain of command also knew the score.  But with the threat of Soviet intervention gone....they didn't know what to do.  Should they carry on as before?  Didn't work out well, in Romania certainly.  Hungary flipped sides (due to West Germans calling in their loans) and the border was opened with Austria...given free movement between states like East Germany and the Hungarian Republic, suddenly, many people in the Warsaw Pact could freely move to the West.  Unless states moved quickly to liberalise their economies and their politics, they'd suffer a mass exodus that they couldn't stop.

Hardline elements within the Kremlin, KGB and military saw this as a disaster, and used it as a pretext to overthrow Gorby in a coup.  Only, well, we all know how that worked out...


Wow, I hadn't known a good portion of that. Thanks! That was very interesting.
"I dispose of obsolete meat machines.  Not because I hate them (I do) and not because they deserve it (they do), but because they are in the way and those older ones don't meet emissions codes.  They emit too much.  You don't like them and I don't like them, so spare me the hysteria."