Showing posts with label Solzhenitsyn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solzhenitsyn. Show all posts

Monday, August 04, 2008

You tried to tell us, Alexander Isayevich

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn is dead.

That makes one less who will look humanity square in the eye and tell it what's what.

THIS IS SOLZHENITSYN'S diagnosis of what ails the West, excerpted from his 1978 address at Harvard's commencement -- a speech, come to think of it, about as brave as anything that had gotten him in so much trouble back in the U.S.S.R.:

I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times.
THIS, MEANWHILE, is from an article in today's edition of The Sun, the mass-market London tabloid:

Many Ibiza tourists are hardcore ravers who drink, dance and smoke away their nights then spend their days in the baking sun.

No wonder it is known as the island that never sleeps.

But however much fun it may sound, the non-stop lifestyle takes its toll on the sleep-deprived, dehydrated partygoers’ faces, with many needing more than a dab of concealer to cover their facial creases.

But the party girls refuse to rein in the late nights and heavy-drinking sessions.

Instead, they have found the perfect way to revive their looks — Botox.

The latest must-do in Ibiza isn’t a new club night, it is beach Botox — and mum and daughter team, Christine, 47, and daughter Nicole Shenton, 27, are cleaning up.

They moved themselves and their beauty firm, Belisimma, to the White Isle six years ago after discovering there was a gap in the market on the island.


“Business has been non-stop since we started, especially from British party girls.

“A lot of girls admit the most sleep they get is kipping on the beach in the day.”

Mum Christine says: “We find that most of our clients are British girls who have good jobs, money to spend and are here to party.

“Their faces are obviously affected by the amount they drink, smoke and sunbathe. They want to do all those things but still look good.

“That’s where we come in.”

One of Belisimma’s regulars Laura Jackson refuses to get on the plane home looking worse than when she arrived — even though she spends a fortnight partying every night.

Single mum Laura, a jewellery designer from Manchester, says: “I’ve been having Botox out here for the past two years and can’t get enough of it.

“It’s great — the moment I land, I call Christine to get some Botox before I hit the clubs. Then after two weeks of clubbing, she gives me a top-up before I get on the plane home.

“When I tell people I’m 25, they never believe me. It’s amazing considering the kind of lifestyle I lead. It’s non-stop partying from the moment I get off the plane, and I usually come to Ibiza at least twice a year. “This means a fortnight of drinking a lot and getting hardly any sleep.

“Also, when I’m at home I go out drinking every weekend, and spend most Sundays in bed eating a fry up.”
"SINGLE MUM LAURA" deludes herself in more ways than one. Go to the Sun story page and look at her picture.

And I'm quite sure that when she tells people she's only 25, they never do believe her.

Just like -- way deep down where we can see the truth about who we really are -- we don't believe, not really, our own PR about how happy, healthy, prosperous and enlightened we are in our Western, postmodern rave-up.