Saturday, July 24, 2010

Malicious Masks

The Dream: An image of malicious mask-faces.

I wondered why I had this disturbing dream vision, and then I remembered that I’m reading Orlando Figes’ Natasha’s Dance; A Cultural History of Russia. I’m on the chapter dealing with the Soviet purges of artists. The secret police are everywhere; a poet might read a piece critical of the regime to “friends” only to find out she has been informed on. Figes quotes Osip Mandelstram: “Poetry is respected only in this country. There’s no place where more people are killed for it.”* And from a poem by Anna Akhmatova: “This is when the ones who smiled / Were the dead . . . .”**

*Orlando Figes, Natasha’s Dance; A Cultural History of Russia (New York: Picador, 2002), 482.
**Ibid., 487.

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