Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Clarence Brown

July, 2009: I fell in love with Clarence Brown, who edited The Portable Twentieth-Century Russian Reader, a book I borrowed from my sister, that had been given to her by our father. Clarence selected pieces from about thirty Russian writers, and wrote helpful, interesting and sometimes anecdotal introductions for each writer. From the introduction for Daniil Kharms, Clarence writes:

Tyrants would appear to be more comfortable with outright sedition, which they can at least understand, than with deliberate silliness. Autocrats of whatever tendency have one thing in common – the conviction that Truth exists, and that they have it firmly in hand. Their favourite opponents are those that share this conviction, differing only with details of the second part. But the true philosophical anarchists, those who see the world as devoid of reason and order, and who celebrate this vacancy by filling it with gleeful nonsense, violate all the rules of the great game. They strike at the very roots of legitimacy and – ultimate outrage to the sensibilities of puritanical idealogues – they seem to enjoy themselves immensely. What exactly is their little game? The latest refinements in torture cannot elicit an answer (there being none), and thus the practitioners of Terror, itself founded upon unpredicatble illogic, are themselves terrified.

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