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The Sunday Papers "Tolstoy-Scriabin-Molotov mystery" edition.
It has been long observed that people for some reason on their non-banking days readily absorb shite about Dangerous Places, Famous People, Sensible Saving Options, Holidays, Interesting facts, Sport results, Media, gardening and health as well looking ahead at “democratic evolution” or looking back at "how history was made". We will assume dear & attentive reader that you are one of those who has passed directly from Saturday to almost Tuesday with the sort of crumpled Sunday Papers a person uses to mop up spilt things like milk. Maybe you didn’t absorb your interesting facts & didn’t want to absorb more Dangerous places. We all have a limit of absorption, like that point where credulity ends & credibility is lost. This edition I will consider the mystical progress from Tolstoy's "War & Peace" and his accompanying anarchist beliefs to the composer Scriabin & his experimental music & then his nephew a.k.a. Comrade Molotov, Soviet negotiator with Hitler & daddy of the "petrol bomb".
Train our revolutionary offspring !! for Peace now War is ended!! practise your scriabin!!
First off we begin with Leo Tolstoy . He wrote a short novel called "War and Peace" which if you are in university you really must make a point of mentioning you've read ( twice from cover to cover). It wasn't his first book though, unlike some his contemporaries who struggled with their writing career because of the inordinate difficulty of finding a peasant or petty bourgoise with decent enough secretarial skills to record each page - Tolstoy had got around these problems by being born into a stinking rich family. At first he didn't do much writing though, prefering to buy drunken sex as much as possible instead. Which considering the social conditions of the mid 19th century meant he had to use a lot of harsh soap & really was lucky he didn't die a blind swarthy syphilitic.
Tolstoy went to war as a comissioned officer in the Tsar's army. This means he quite probably didn't do much getting dirty or anything exciting or dangerous. But it certainly had an effect on him & gave him the first subject he use whilst charming women apart from "how much?". This really is when he started writing and by himself. Most of the soldiers who took orders from him would not have made good secretaries because they were illiterate & so flackey with syphilis you wouldn't let them lick your envelopes. The Tsar got word of young Leo's dilema perhaps on account of him being already quite famous for his "french pronunciation". Tsar Alex the second spoke french as did all posh Russians of the time & probably misunderstood the jibe suffering as he did from the heriditary "Romanov" family condition. Tsar Alex the Second was as thick as packaged shite. It made a difference to his predecessors who had been thicker but cruel. He proved by this being the first autocrat of his noble line to consider giving in to the reformist demands of his subjects instead of just torturing them and sending them to Siberia. His subjects wanted things like self-rule, independence, self-determination, flags, languages which sounded anything but french & of course the most radical demand of all - "the right to indulge students & have young people following your ideas". Without distracting the reader too much, Alex 2 got upset when people didn't think he had conceded enough especially if he thought he had really given them too much. Only the Finnish seemed to do well out of Alex the second and if you mention his name there on holidays they'll give you a free drink. Eventually he was assassinated after quite a few failed attempts by members of a small group with big effects using the "light the fuse & throw a few metres hollow iron ball stuffed with chordite and powder bomb! ". The group claiming responsibility was fighting for the recognition of the Polish language and an independent homeland for the Poles so that they wouldn't be a mocked migrant community any more. (footnote 1)
Tolstoy had begun to grow up a wee bit by the 1850's. It happens to most well balanced people. Quite often they are completely different in outlook, expectation and temperment at 30 to what they had been at 18. He had started keeping a journal which is still extant and mostly not written in a code, which shows he was a happy open type. From this diary we learn a lot about his personal development and the things that worried him, and tellingly we don't learn much about his worry for unpaid bills or new darned socks such as the meagre testaments to the others mentioned in the Sunday Papers series. But he had developed a conscience & a sense of ethical responsibility & possibly the ineffective cures for syphilis were beginning to make him more cautious. Thus it is no surprise that he is arguably the first of the long list of Anarchists who started a school. & a simple little school it was. Not an institute nor an academy, no sophist masters cited their sources no malignant mediocrity choked the potential of the peasant children whose parents accepted Tolstoy's invitation to let them learn at Yasnaya Polyana his mansion. His effect was as great as Ferrer i Gaurdia but certainly not as widespread as Montesorri. Within a few years the bourgoise of Moscow and the other great cities began to joke at how erudite the serfs (peasants) he had taught were. We ought note by then peasants were enjoying their emancipation - or freedoms which included the right to travel over the horizon and beyond without getting shot for it. & not all landowners were happy about this, and so decided to ask all their serfs to go over the horizon especially if they were jewish to somewhere else called Pogrom. Anyone who had ever gone there never came back so it must have been well busy with loads of work).
The sophisticated types of the cities who had marvelled at his pithy little novels like "war and peace" having read them - really read them - many times - and increasingly having nothing else to do - decided to go visit him. For a few years Leo Tolstoy seemed happy to humour them and is even credited with taking on "disciples" which was once a polite way of saying "he took in paying lodgers with posh habits on the run from their creditors". But in addition to his little entourage who fervountly expounded his ideas of free love, vegetarianism, the Pacifist ideology of Thoureau and a synchretic christian anarchism were the composers Scriabin, Rakhmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov and the writers Chekhov and Gorky. By then Tolstoy had already begun the very serious and long work & possibly his greatest achievement :- growing a manly patriarchal really long beard complete with room for small animals & birds whilst spending more a more time in his garden watching things grow & not being too clever or pomous.
Scriabin was reputedly Tolstoy's favourite pianist. He had attended lessons with the same teacher as Rachmaninoff. Russian music in the Western Classical tradition was a cosy closed and often cliqueish affair. As Scriabin & Rachmaninoff attended to their scales, arppeggios and sought control of their touch - many children of similar age who had not the benefits of a free education starved to death or became chimney sweeps. & they did not do so in any sentimental way. There is nothing melancholic about having no bread. And the stage where they could expect others to have read Dickens from cover to cover & understand them standing with their noses pressed to the windows of the restaurants had not - & would not come. Only in the propaganda movies of the Soviet state or possibly Charlie Chaplin. Even a century later their offspring would still have no bread. Scriabin possibly noticed the reality outside the concert hall. His musical notation (meaning his directions to be read by the musician) sought to encourage them to shock the mediocre audiences who as in their eating habits or their politics sought neither change nor dischord. He told his musicians to play "poisonously," "satanically," or "with a chaste ardour". The last perhaps a nod to Tostoy's influence the grand old man by then finally having given up on his libido. Scriabin tried to present a symphony entitled " glances, perfumes, and caresses". But for the most part he had been a better pianist than composer. If he had noticed the misery of 19th century life in more than sentmental or melancholic terms perhaps he would have turned to another art. Though admittedly he did write the usual crap poetry. Considering he had (like other great pianists) damaged his hand for a while stunting his career (though he did make full recovery)- he wrote the first music for only "Left hand performance". He was one of the European composers who contributed to the theory of synasthasia. Being the most obvious syansthete of modern times. Liszt had already suggested that a minority of musicians "saw colours" in music. Siginicantly however, his colour scheme though psychedelik did not match the colours of others. But in theory - the historic listener was being prepared for LSD culture and even childrens telly programs in the late 20th century when you the attentive reader & I the careful writer came into it the great narrative.
Though an attendent at Tolstoy's sessions and his "favourite pianist", Scriabin had preferred to follow the philosophy of Nietsche and use his vision of the human being and the dirty little U word Übermensch. and concepts of nihilism as an explanation for his life. We all do this to some extent. But it oten changes. Someone may quitepassionately believe something at 20 and not at 40. It may be that reading and believing Nietsche (which involved less pages than Tolstoy) helped Scriabin become a meglomaniac.
Perhaps he had fancied like many of his class, that it was not mere chance that he had sat at the piano every day whilst other kids starved - but somehow the result of his talent & worth or that of his family line. The choice between "proto-Anarchist" & "proto-Nazi" wasn't so stark then. But to be honest it still isn't. If people bother to get past living for a home, meal & some sexual / procreative function - they often without too much difficulty fall for the purpose of classification into the "far left" or "far right" vision of the individual at the level of sentiment. Meaning they "feel" one or other of the paradigms - not meaning they vote for the neonazis or fight for the other extreme or even consciously support them. But they would have been in their time a passive supporter of either Hitler or Stalin.
Tolstoy saw that his garden grew - and quite without contrariness knew it grew the same way as the serfs. He had well learned how to hoe (say that in a US accent and it's a pun) he became used to the plough - & liked it. He "could" which is why he "did". Everything he believed had been put pithily into War and Peace: If he had played piano every day as a kid and been sparred opposite Rachmaninoff as a metre stick with whom to be compared - maybe Tolstoy would have played better....."maybe" But simply by changing his food - or running a marathon - or using "sheer will" could he - or anyone become a "superman"? Would they want to? Simply by living his long life which had seen Tsar's killed - Serfs freed - railways and mechanisation arrive - and the crippled scarred veterans of Napoleon's wars die - Tolstoy knew that human nature does not change nor does it need to be changed. There are inate conditions to our existence. Our condition as human means not being super-human. Some will always accept that as granted & as complimentary to the human condition - "it is good" , others will not and see life as something which needs to be "made right". Our political system, be it in Brussels, Dublin, Belfast, London, Pamplona, Donasti, Barcelona or Babylon herself - is always left in the hands of those whose function is the merely theatrical working out of these oppositions. Naturally for no-one else bothers. Not because so long after the emancipation of Russia's serfs whilst the already "free" Irish starved, just as the first steps of anglo-africans to the noose of the lynch mobs - "we individualy became different" or "humanity is better or worse" now. Neither Democracy nor Dictatorship neither the alien rule or independence alter the individual - only the arbitrary actions such options allow agents of the state to take against the individual or the arbitrary actions they provoke the individual to take against such agents. Then there is change. At its most extreme that change is war from which only peace is change. We can not properly say war "gets better" or "gets worse". It is or it is not. Honestly reading War and Peace and spending time with Tolstoy watching him scratch his bollox whilst farming the orchard would have taught more than one general a lesson. For in war - we lose sight of the paradigm of life. The fields are not ploughed, the characters in chekhov's drama have no orchard to look at, plague comes because no new cess pits have been dug. Yet there on the battle field some individuals feel more alive than at any other stage in their lives. War ends when no fighting can be done. When only the children raised on the stories of war wish to continue. I leave arguably one of the greatest novels of history " to nod at and mix up " one of contemporary writing's talents "Gunther Grass" : there was always & will be so - the little drummer boy who even when he saw Napoleon's sledge return from the Russian front at record-breaking speed (he did in days) still drummed for the battle front. He saw only "the man" - he gawks. he points. he tells the soldier dying of frostbrite that he has seen the revolution! "the man"...made god...made satan ...made emperor. Years later he walks in circles insane in the sanitorium or prison yard. With arm thrust in his coat. gone blind. The "man".
Scriabin by the beginning of the 21st century was a serious pharaceutical non-prescripition drug abuser ("for his syanaesthasia") He had dropped Übermensch for Theosophy & Blavatsky and firmly put himself in the proto-fascist leaguge of WB Yeats. He was now becoming popular with nationalists who had scorned him before. The first Revolution occured 1905. He played no part being out of the country & then conveniently for this narrative - he died. But his nephew did play a role in the Soviet revolution..............................................
& his nephew Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Scriabin is the shiney glossy paper bit in your Sunday Papers. Having grown up proximate to the great names in this article - having not only read the books and heard the music of his time - little Vyacheslav thought "christian anarchy" was for girls - and blavatsky for gypsies (whom he didnt like). He did absoultely nothing in the 1905 revolution. But a year later when all the fuss had died down he joined the local section of the bolsheviks. He then chose a nom-de-guerre. (footnote 2) A tradition which stretches down to this day- Even now some people are to be known by their "code names" rather than fight their ideology with their given name. It is indicative of the changes membership of organisations engaged on "subversion" effect in the young as much the great risks that then went with being a bolshevik.
Reader! I ask you to imagine the scene in Russia from 1906 onwards. Everyone joining the Bolsheviks or helping at the newspaper wanted a cool name. But obviously everyone couldn't be "Lenin" or "Stalin" or even "trotsky". Little Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Scriabin being a tough one - who would never give up - had to make do with the russian for the word "hammer". And so he adopted the name Molotov. .
From the October revolution 1917 till his death in 1986 - the exact circumstances of his origin are an airbrushed mystery. Historians are still not sure if Molotov was "the" Scriabin's" nephew or a distant (possibly illegitimate) relation allowed to keep the same name. Because all of a sudden Scriabin was un-popular. Lenin had quite famously called on all artists to rally to the revolutionary cause. He had written to Gorky (who had been a regular at Tolstoy's house) thus :-
I know nothing which is greater than the Appassionata; I would like to listen to it every day. It is marvelous, superhuman music. I always think with pride—perhaps it is naïve of me—what marvelous things human beings can do! . . . But I can’t listen to music too often. It affects your nerves, makes you want to say stupid nice things, and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell. And now you mustn’t stroke anyone’s head—you might get your hand bitten off. You have to hit them on the head, without any mercy, although our ideal is not to use force against anyone. H’m, h’m, our duty is infernally hard! But as the Soviet musicologist Vyacheslav Karatygin put it - "No name in Russian music awakened more passionate or more critical interest during a lifetime. For some, the word Scriabin smacks of fearsome madness. For others, and each year our number increases, he signifies the daring innovations of genius... yet he was a man bayoneted for his novelty." or the first Soviet Encyclopedia :- "No composer has had more scorn heaped or greater love bestowed..." Lenin.
Others weren't scornful merely pointed, Dmitri Shostakovich ( the subject of a previous "sunday Papers" http://indymedia.ie/article/75095 ) said simply "Scriabin is the common enemy we fight against".
No wonder young Vyacheslav preferred his great new name "Molotov". & what else can I tell you?
You must know the petrol bomb was named after him. It is a cheap and effective short range defensive weapon. It served the bogside which it got a graffiti. It was more user-friendly than the
lit fuse throw a few metres hollow iron ball stuffed with chordite and powder bomb which you, the very clever (much respected for getting so far & getting the allusions) reader of the Sunday Papers remembers killed Alex 2nd "after a few tries". True it was not as effective as Gustav Princep's revolver. Granted the Red Army Fraction / Baader-Meinhof Group who are the only terrorist organisation in the news today prefered proper guns and explosives. But young people could almost always get their hands on a bottle and fuel. Oh yeah he signed the deal between Stalin and Hitler.
If you're curious about what happened to Molotov, he stuck close to Stalin. Which not only explains his amnesia and its place or void in the records but justified it. Details of a family somewhere else far and distant from the first free school for serfs in Yasnaya Polyana were left. He was so close to Stalin he can be considered as taking part in the purges of close colleagues. He was in many ways a war criminal. in 1953 Stalin died or was murdered. We don't know nor can we know. & quite honestly we don't give a damn. I don't think any one of us would have sought charges. "oh yes is that the guards!?!? well I want to tip you off - Beria killed Stalin". But those who believe he was murdered cite Molotov. Who claimed Beria had claimed responsibility. By then of course Beria had himself been killed. (and no.one called the cops) Molotov was present for the death of Stalin (if not in the room), he was in the inner circle - but within the short time it took to organise an empire with literally a hundred million subjects to pay homage & go into mourning - he began his slow departure. Stalin lay in state in the Trade Union palace whilst only 5 of the inner core took their place next to the coffin. in suitable make-up (to emphasise their harrowed grief for the cameras) Molotov had to queue to pay his last respects as a good atheist and gawk like millions of others at "the man" - to know he had seen the revolution! "the man"...made god...made satan ...made emperor. I believe it was a very special moment for a lot of those ordinary Russians, who for the first time saw their emperor in the flesh even if it was painted. Stalin thus buried (or rather installed next to Lenin) all those too close to him had to go. Molotov as his uncle Scriabin before was to become "un-popular" not for having been a meglomaniac (none would have survived next to Stalin) but instead for having been his acolyte. By the 20th congress of the Communist Party in1956 (when Kruschev told a stunned audience that really really honestly and truly no one had ever liked Stalin (Napoleon....."the man".....Emperor......Satan.....god) but that he had done absolutely nothing about his insanity and evil....... because no-one would believe them.).........
........." you wouldn't have believed us." ........."standing ovation 10 minutes"
the emperor is dead - long live the emperor!
........." we had no choice. Stalin had made us incapable of doing the right thing so we just lied to you."
the divil is dead or did he rise agin?!
[ "Molotov was denounced in the summer with Malenkov, Kaganovich and Voroshilov, as part of an "Anti-Party Group" which had plotted to restore Stalinist methods. Molotov was expelled from the Politburo and the Central Committee, and banished as ambassador to Mongolia. In 1960 he was appointed Soviet representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was seen as a partial rehabilitation. But after the 22nd Party Congress in 1961, at which Khrushchev carried his anti-Stalin campaign to a new level, Molotov was removed from all his positions and expelled from the Communist Party. In March 1962 it was announced that Molotov had retired from public life."...."Molotov was partly rehabilitated during the Leonid Brezhnev years, and was allowed to rejoin the Communist Party in 1984 under Konstantin Chernenko. He died at the age of 96 in Moscow on 8 November 1986, only five years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At the time of his death he was the last surviving major participant in the events of 1917. He was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow. A collection of interviews with Molotov, Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics, was published posthumously by Felix Chuev. At the end of 1989, two years before the final collapse of the Soviet Union, the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev's government formally denounced the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, acknowledging that the annexation of the Baltic States and the partition of Poland had been illegal."]Because oh yes! As well as inventing the petrol bomb - Molotov signed a pact with Hitler for Stalin. One of the few men in history to serve two Devils.
it was all so mundane.
Obviously it is not complete. Sad as it may seem, even in western Europe in the last 10 years both writers and journalists have been assassinated for their political or ideological standpoints. In addition to the usual targets - cops, politicians & capitalist pigs. This is because of the easy availabilty of the 9mm pistol which when pointed at the nape of the neck and fired adds one more name to your list. But I'll tell you about automatic pistols another day. This week I'm just talking about petrol bombs. So back to Tolstoy. We don't have all week. I really hope you didn't skip all the text just to read a very short list of killed people which only includes "important people" already on wikipedia. Lots of people get killed for writing. very few get killed for playing Scriabin which is strange. Scriabin is so much more offensive. I hope that if there is ever an united Euskal Herria or a united Ireland, there will be no scriabin. Not even if people can't agree how many hours of gaeilge or euskera get taught in the unitary states. La la la. It took Tolstoy a lot of paper to write that book. There should be no plastic bullets either. lalala,