Towards the peaks

From this article, about the Russian satirist Vladimir Voinovich, the entirety of which I recommend the reading for the other little tidbits of his wit that are included, I can’t resist posting a little excerpt, since my brother was elsewhere talking about the mixture of the sacred and profane. In this case it’s more like the learned, the poetic and the profane in sublime satire, which to me recalls nothing so much as Le Neveu de Rameau (Rameau’s Nephew), by Diderot, which I also greatly recommend, with its erudite jokes about in stolchim regit (not sure about the Latin, since I don’t have the text with me) and an arrogant ecclesiastical prelate sitting come un maestoso cazzo fra due coglioni. Anyway, here it is:

“Naturally, in these little sheds (the younger generations perhaps cannot even picture this) on both the M side and the W side the wooden floor was embellished with a dozen or so large holes in a long row and soft heaps deposited haphazardly around them….

The visitors squatted in a row, like sheaves of wheat standing in the field, and I recall with particular sympathy the old men suffering from arthritic joints, constipation and hemorrhoids, who strained until they turned blue, wheezing and moaning and groaning as if they were in a nativity home.

[The narrator’s friend] used to say that if it was up to him to decide what monument to erect to our Soviet era, he would not have commemorated Stalin or Lenin or anyone else, but the Unknown Soviet Man squatting like an eagle on the peak of a tall mountain (Mount Communism) deposited by himself.”

p.s. The title of the post is the title of an old Vladimir Vissotsky song about mountaineering, which is also about communism in a subtle way.

addendum 7/12: now that I actually have a copy of Le neveu de Rameau in front of me, I can provide the passages from Diderot in full (translations mine):

“On s’enrichit à chaque instant. Un jour de moins à vivre, ou un écu de plus; c’est tout un. Le point important est d’aller aisément, librement, agréablement, copieusement tous les soirs à la garde-robe. O stercus pretiosum. Voilà le grand résultat de la vie dans tous les états” (“One enriches oneself constantly. One day less to live, or a dollar more; it’s all the same. The important thing is to go easily, freely and copiously to the bathroom. Oh precious manure! That’s the major result of life in all its forms”).

“Comment, l’abbé, lui dis-je, vous présidez? violà qui est fort bien pour aujourd’hui; mais demain, vous descendrez, s’il vous plaît, d’une assiette; après-demain, d’une autre assiette; et ainsi d’assiette en assiette, soit à droite, soit à gauche, jusqu’à ce que de la place que j’ai occupée une fois avant vous, Fréron une fois après moi, Dorat une fois après Fréron, Palissot une fois après Dorat, vous deveniez stationnaire, à côté de moi, pauvre plat bougre comme vous, qui siedo sempre come un maestoso cazzo fra duoi coglioni” (“‘How now, priest,’ I say to him, ‘are you presiding? That’s all well and good for today; but tomorrow you will descend a seat; the day after tomorrow, another seat; and so on from seat to seat, whether to the right or the left, until you come to the seat that I once occupied before you, and Fréron before me, Dorat before Fréron, Palissot before Dorat, and you will finally stop beside me, poor little bugger that you are, sitting like a majestic penis between two testicles'”).

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