My Sin, My Soul

just a little radiohead to pickle your brain a little while you read (talk about a sweet neck beard!).

Tatlin's Tower

Tatlin's Tower

Since this post might seem pretty lame to some people, I apologize in advance.  One thing I have been fascinated with ever since 10th grade World Cult/World Lit with Mr. Vaccarro is (early) 20th century Soviet art.  Particularly I have always been amazed by a building that never actually constructed called the Tatlin’s Tower.  This constuct would have been about 100 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower, but also much, much wider.  In fact, the inside of the tower would have housed four levels of seperate rotating buildings – the bottom building would rotate once per year, the second building once per month, the third once per week and finally the top would rotate once a day or something like that.  Furthermore it would be assembled with only the “proleteriat” materials: concrete, steel and glass.  I think what I find so interesting is phallic bravado the soviets would need in order to plan something like this – the actual building would have required more steel than the amount of steel in the rest of Russia combined.  Absolutely ridiculous… of course this apex of propaganda was never seen through more than just preliminary modeling stages but still, maybe you guys shoulda spent a little more time feeding your starving masses and a little less time with the legos.

But Soviet posters were pretty cool too.  One reason for their rampant use was that screenprinting became really cheap and easy, hence tons of screenprinted pamphlets, posters and handouts.  Just a few that I liked (most of which came from this awesome blog A Soviet Poster a Day):

lenin portrayed as a badass

lenin portrayed as a badass

good use of facial hair, forearms, and potentially gay embraces

good use of facial hair, forearms, and potentially gay embraces

just a lady running happily from some paratroopres

just a lady running happily from some paratroopres

russian farmer and wife - the russian caption reads there is no escape from the peoples revenge and you can faintly see a man hanging in the upper right corner contrasting the fire

russian farmer and wife - the russian caption reads "there is no escape from the people's revenge" and you can faintly see a man hanging above the man's shoulder contrasting the fire



i know im not the first person to notice the resemblance of the classic Obama poster to old Soviet propaganda… but seriously, this is a hammer and sickle away from the Kremlin.  Just kidding – Barry is awesome.

Besides architecture and posters, Russian Literature has long been among the best in the world.  Two summers ago I began reading the book “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabakov.  Although it was originally written in Russian, Nabakov rewrote it in English himself and I would argue it is still one of the most beautifully constructed pieces of literature in our language.  If you are not familiar with the controversy of this novel, it was written in the 1950’s and was almost instantly banned from any type of institution that supports censorship.  You see, the story follows the plight of an self-admitted pedophile who falls in love with a pre-teen girl named Lolita.  As if this story were not sick enough, Nabakov casts this pervert as the protagonist and convincingly humanizes the traumatized goon.  Several times during the course of this novel I had to stop, but I always mysteriously found myself with the book firm in my mitts again within a few days.  Seen from afar, a story such as this is vile, demented and terrible; the magic of Nabakov is that even if you cant make yourself to like the protagonist, you surely do not wish to see his demise either.  In some ways, you feel like his accomplice by voyeuristically following the crimes and misdeeds of this moral leper, and sometimes even hoping he gets safely through some sort of trouble.  Throughout the novel I kept finding myself thinking “if only this were a justifiable relationship, this would probably be the most beautiful love story ever written”.  But the whole tragic point of this novel is that Nabakov takes the beautiful emotions and love of a confused man and bastardizes it to the brink of disaster.  At some points you find yourself appalled at this mans sickness, but at other times you really feel sorry about his misguidance.  In its totality, the deftness and creativity with which Nabakov writes keeps you in the novel; if it werent the most beautifully written piece of English I had ever seen I wouldn’t have made it much past the first few chapters.  Just a few quotes to show the depth and variability of Nabakov’s writing (just remember,this story is beautiful as an account of love, but the details of the subject reflect a man who has seperated himself from reality towards demented ends) :

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.  Lo. Lee. Ta.  She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks.  She was Dolly at school.  She was Dolores on the dotted line.  But in my arms she was always Lolita.

-Opening sentences

My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style, the sun of my infancy had set…

You should definitely check out Lolita if you get a chance, but be forewarned that it can be slow at times and takes a little will power.


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