Anton Chekhov

I’m often asked to recommend Russian literature.
I’d like to reveal you a famous writer Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904). I don’t want to rewrite an article from Wiki, so if you want to read about him, you’ll do it there. I’ll just say Chekhov was a great dramatist. For example, here you may see his reputed short stories: http://www.eldritchpress.org/ac/jr/ As for me, I was impressed by story №154 “The Bet”.
Yesterday I read one of his stories and I liked it, but I didn’t find it in the list. So I’ll translate it.

Chekhov_1898_by_Osip_Braz

Anton Chekhov

“The Conversation Between the Drunk Man and the Sober Imp”

The former official of quartermaster’s office, retired collegiate secretary Lakhmatov was sitting around a table and drinking the 16th shot while pondering over brotherhood, equality and freedom. Suddenly an imp appeared behind the lamp… But don’t be frightened, dear reader. Do you know, what an imp is? It’s a young man of nice appearance with mug black as a boot and expressive red eyes. Despite he isn’t married, he has small antlers on his head… Haircut a la Capulet. The body is covered with green wool and smells as a dog. A tail with arrowhead end dangles at the bottom of his body… Claws instead of fingers; hooves instead of legs. Lakhmatov became a bit confused after noticing the imp, but then he remembered green imps have a stupid custom to appear for all drunk people and soon calmed down.
– Whom am I honored to talk to? – he addressed to uninvited guest.
The imp confused and cast down his eyes.
– Don’t be embarrassed, – Lakhmatov continued. – Come closer… I’m a person without prejudices and you may sincerely talk to me… from the bottom of your heart… Who are you?
The imp hesitatingly approached to Lakhmatov and politely bowed with bending his tail under himself.
– I’m an imp or a devil… – he introduced himself. – I’m appointed as an official of special missions at the person of his Excellence director of Hell office Mr. Satan!
– I’ve heard of you… Glad to meet you. Take a seat! Would you like vodka? I’m very glad… What is your occupation?
The imps confused even more…
– Properly speaking, I have no particular occupation… – he replied with embarrassing coffin and blew his nose into “Rebus”. – Indeed, previously we had an occupation… We used to tempt people… led them astray… Between you and me, nowadays this occupation doesn’t worth a spit… The way of Good no more exists, there’s nothing to led people astray from. Besides, people became more cunning than we… Try to tempt a person who has studied all sciences in university, and went through fire and water! How am I supposed to teach you how to steal a ruble, if you have already obtained thousands on your own?
– That’s right… But you do perform something, don’t you?
– Yes… Our former appointment now could be only memorial, but we still have a job… We tempt ladies, prompt youth to write poetry, force drunk merchants to smash mirrors… But we don’t interfere in politics, literature and science for a long time… We understand nothing in these fields… Many of us cooperate in “Rebus”, some even quit Hell and entered mankind… These retired imps, who entered mankind, have married rich tradeswoman and now have excellent life. Some of them are lawyers, others publish newspapers, they are businessmen and respectable people!
– Forgive me an indelicate question: what is you salary?
– Our order keeps… – the imp responded. – The staff hasn’t changed at all… As before, apartments, light and heating are provided by the state… We have no salary because we are considered supernumerary and because an imp is an honorable appointment… Generally, speaking sincerely, life is bad, we are almost deprived… Thanks to people who taught us to take bribes, otherwise we all would demise. We make a living by this earnings… While supplying rations for sinners… well… I take some… Satan became old, he often comes away to see Zucchi, he doesn’t take care of reports…
Lakhmatov poured a shot of vodka for the imp. He drank it and got to talking. He told all secrets of Hell, unburdened his heart, cried and Lakhmatov liked him so bad that allowed him to spend a night at his place. The imp was deliriously sleeping in the stove. He disappeared towards the morning.

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Memory and immortality

Hello, readers!
Sorry for no updates during the last couple of weeks. I took a vacation and didn’t attend at work, where I usually write posts.
As always, I’ll be glad to see your replies, questions and suggestions for new posts.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on memory and immortality. How are these two related? You’ll find out below.

According to wisdom I’ve got during my relatively short life, the only eternal things are memories. Everything dissolves: people and relationships, youth and health, money and hobbies. All except memories.These are your only treasures in old age. Sometimes you’ll be able nothing but recalling things from your past. That’s why you must obtain as much impressions as possible. They are the only true things in life. Only they worth your money and time to be spent on.
Impressions could be either positive or negative, it’s not that significant. The difference is that later you’ll recall bad memories as a challenge that you’ve managed to overcome.
Life is all about experience and impressions. They say, the worst possible thing in old age is a situation when you cannot recall memories or have nothing to recall or regret your entire life.

In my case I’m not very lucky in this field. First of all, I don’t like to travel. I’ve visited several countries in childhood and since that days I prefer to stay at home. So, I have much less impressions than other people. Nevertheless, it was said: wherever you travel, you always remain in the same plane – in the plane of yourself.
The second thing is my poor memory. At least, I think so. Well, it’s not sick. I suppose a doctor would say it’s a lower border of normality. Whatever. The only thing I know is that I forget things from my past. Either important or not. And it’s a pity, because it feels like a stolen item that you cannot retrieve. It was there and just disappeared. Wait, was it? Damn…
I don’t remember the most part of my life, entire years. My life isn’t that vivid, though. The first thought of myself that I keep is from age of 6 or so. Then I remember several scenes, perhaps 1 or 2 per year.
This is pretty sad, but it taught me to appreciate every emotion, impression and experience.

Finally we approach to immortality. Almost every person wants to live forever at least because of instinct of surviving. People are deathly afraid of death.
Mankind was searching for immortality as long as it exists, but they mistook it. When you attempt to save yourself for eternity, you focus on word “eternity” instead of word “yourself”. The truth is that no matter what technology you pick, you’ll alter yourself. Perception changes with age. Senior people perceive world in other way. It’s much faster for them and more boring. Once my 93 y.o. grand-grand-mother was asked: “How do you feel this world?” She replied: “I’ve seen everything, now it only repeats again and again”. She meant people’s life, their decisions, relationships, births and deaths. And such changes cannot be explained as a physical process like blocked vessels. As I said, consciousness alters with years. Mind becomes dumb and slow. Do you want to save THIS for eternity? A vegetable brain? No way.
Thus you have to save your personality and memories from you best age. And you don’t need a brand new 9000 Tb HDD for this. All you need is a book or any other tool for expressing yourself. Write down who you are, what principles do you have, what have you achieved, how do you perceive the world. And of course, describe your current impressions. This book will be a true copy of yourself. Anyone who opens it will find true You with clear mind and bright memories.

I believe, the greatest invention of mankind was neither fire nor a wheel, but a book and scripting, because it’s the only true and best way for becoming immortal. A book allowed people to live for thousands of years and it’s marvelous.

History of Russian foreign policy

This post is an exception. As I stated, the blog is free from political issues, but Russian foreign policy is an important thing for understanding our mentality. Many Russian people used to live (and continue) not for their own happiness, but for greater purposes.
Warning: this post is dark and full of terrors.
Entire text is my translation of original post http://mi3ch.livejournal.com/2722323.html You may want to see immersive photos there.

 It used to be a huge problem for Russia that most of its rulers were bored to take care of their own country. Meanwhile the greatness of the ruler was estimated in thousands of square kilometers of conquered lands and millions of victims. We used to fight for anyone’s interests instead of constructing houses, bridges and roads. Constructing for centuries, not for years.

When Prussia wished to take Silesia from Austria, Russia certainly couldn’t tolerate it and fell into Seven Years’ War. We sent 100 000 Russian soldiers to manage Prussia. We took Berlin. Then appeared a menace to Hannover, a possession of English king in the center of Europe. And 30 000 more afoot soldiers went throughout entire Europe to fight for Hannover.

Have you ever ponder, what for did Suvorov’s bruisers perish in the Alps? What for did we crush the French in Italy? How did Napoleon appear in Russia? Emperor Alexander was desperately jealous of his glory and afraid of bacillus of revolution. However, France was not a threat to Russia.

He participated in 3 alliances against Napoleon and every time was beaten – both at Friedland and Austerlitz. And every time Napoleon made no conditions to Russia, but released caprtives with respect. Alexander solemnly hugged Napoleon, called him his brother and immediately rallied militia for a new war.

We have desolated our country, lost hundreds of thousands soldiers for the sake of maniacal ambitions of Alexander I. But the thing he was frightened most of all was the case of Napoleon entering Russia and canceling slavery. Consequences would be unpredictable.

We always punished foreign revolutions. Russia saved Austria-Hungary from disintegration by suppressing Hungarian revolution. And only 4 years later Francis Joseph refused to support Nicholas I in Crimean War.

But the reason of Crimean War itself was ridiculous:  who would own the keys from Church of Jesus Birth in Bethlehem, the Orthodox or the Catholics? And when after a long hesitation the Turks conveyed the keys to the French, Nicholas considered himself insulted and deployed troops in Moldova and Wallachia. We suffered the heavies defeat in Crimea, lost fleet and almost 150 000 soldiers because of Emperor’s insulted feelings.

How much did idea of panslavism cost for Russia? Patriarch Nikon decided to unify Church ceremonies alike Greek to stay closer to the South Slavs and take them under the wing of  Orthodox Church. Tzar Alexei I liked the idea of spreading Orthodox tzar’s authority “from sea to sea and from rivers to the end of universe”. In result we had dissidence, distemper and thousands of burnt dissidents over Russia. According to Senate, even in Peter I times more than 900 thousands were in hiding, it’s almost 10% of country’s population.

We lost dozens of thousands of our soldiers for freedom and independence of Bulgaria. During the WWI Bulgaria was an ally of Germany, during the WWII Bulgaria was an ally of Germany. Today Bulgaria is a member of NATO.

After the revolution it went much worse. We used to support communist parties in all countries of the world. We used to fund revolutions abroad and cruelly punish revolutionists inside of the socialist camp. In 1953 our tank forces suppressed rebellion in GDR; in 1956 – in Hungary. Marshal Zhukov got the 4th star of Hero of the Soviet Union for “suppressing Hungarian anti-revolutionary rebellion”. Indeed, our media called people rebellions “fascist sorties”.

In 1968 our tanks entered Czechoslovakia. In 1979 – Afghanistan. We lost 15 000 soldiers there and killed about million Afghans. Our media reasoned it: if we didn’t do it, then both CSSR and Afghanistan would be invaded by Americans.

Our soldiers used to fight in Korea, China, Bangladesh, Laos, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Bolivia, Grenada and Cuba. We supported any cannibal claiming he builds communism. On the 28th (the last) forum of Communist party the declared cost of our aid was 700 billion rubles over 20 years. 35 billions a year. Back then the official exchange course was 1 dollar for 0.63 ruble.

We used to suck all juice from our country. Do you know when all soviet peasants got passports? In 1974. Until then they were avoided to be employed in a city.

What was an average peasant’s pension in 1980? Do you know? 34.80 rubles per month.
Communism was promised to be built in this year.

Our president again says Russia won’t tolerate something and will force others to respect it.
Perhaps, it’s enough to play geopolitics?
Perhaps, it’s time to engage in own country?
Engage in boring and uninteresting job: services, roads, constructing, taxes, creating a good climate in the country.

Our county will be respected when we’ll have the best education and healthcare in the world; when scientists from all over the world will aspire to work in Russia and our senior citizens will have the largest pensions in the world.