Lecture at the Sorbonne

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A Lecture at the Sorbonne

You should study philosophy, at best,
After fifty. Build a model
Of society, all the more so. First you should
Learn to make soup, fry (if not catch)
Fish, make decent coffee.
Otherwise, moral laws
Smack of dad’s belt or a translation
From the German. You first should
Learn how to lose rather than gain,
Loathe yourself more than the tyrant,
Shell out half your measly paycheck on rent
For years on end before holding forth
On the triumph of justice. Which always comes
At least twenty-five years too late.

You should study a philosopher’s work through the prism
Of experience or wearing glasses (which nearly amounts to the same thing),
As when the letters run together and
The naked dame on the rumpled sheets is once again
A photograph for you or a reproduction
Of an artist’s painting. Genuine love of
Wisdom does not insist on reciprocity
And ends not in marriage
To a hefty tome published in Göttingen
But in indifference to oneself,
In the blush of shame; sometimes, in an elegy.
(Somewhere, a streetcar clangs, eyelids droop,
Soldiers return from a brothel, singing;
Only the rain is reminiscent of Hegel.)

The truth is there is no
Truth. This doesn’t exempt us
From responsibility. On the contrary:
Ethics is the selfsame vacuum, filled by human
Behavior almost continuously;
The selfsame universe, if you like.
And the gods love the Good not for its eyes,
But because they wouldn’t exist were it not for the Good.
And they in turn fill the vacuum,
Perhaps even more systematically
Than we do, for we are
Unreliable. Although there are more of us
Than ever before, this is no Greece:
We are undone by low cloud cover and, as mentioned above, rain.

You should study philosophy when
You have no need of philosophy. When you have a hunch
The chairs in your living room and the Milky Way
Are interconnected, and more closely than causes and effects, than you
And your relatives. And that what constellations
And chairs have in common is insensibility, inhumanity.
This a bond stronger than copulation
Or blood! Naturally, you shouldn’t try
To resemble things. On the other hand, when
You’re ill, you don’t necessarily have to convalesce
Or worry how you look. This is what
People over fifty know. Hence, when they
Look into a mirror, they sometimes confuse aesthetics with metaphysics.

Original

__________

A Russian emigrant student in France yelled at Russia’s top investigator Alexander Bastrykin this week during a panel at the Sorbonne, calling him a murderer and accusing him of launching politically motivated criminal probes.

An unidentified male student was apparently angered with Bastrykin’s evasive replies to questions about the prosecution of Greenpeace activists from the Arctic Sunrise and participants at the opposition rally on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in May 2012, French media and eyewitnesses reported on the Internet.

An eyewitness of the incident, Lolita Gruzdeva, posted a video on her Instagram account late Wednesday in one of which an unidentified male student yells at Bastrykin in French.

In another video posted by Gruzdeva, the same young man yells at Bastrykin in Russian, “You are a criminal!”

The student’s outburst happened after Bastrykin, replying to questions from participants of the meeting, said that the fate of Greenpeace activists would be decided by the court system and that the denial of medical assistance to a hunger-striking suspect in the Bolotnaya trial, Sergei Krivov, was not his business, Gruzdeva wrote on her Twitter account Wednesday.

Source:  Moscow Times 

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We Have a Saying in Russia

In the queue outside the centre, there is little sympathy for Greenpeace among relatives of other detainees, as they wait to deliver packages. “We have a saying in Russia: you shouldn’t go into someone else’s house and try to live by your own rules,” said one middle-aged woman who had bought a parcel of food for her 33-year-old daughter, who had been inside for five months on charges she did not want to reveal. She had been waiting in freezing temperatures since 4am to ensure she was among the lucky few who got to deliver her package.

Another man, waiting to deliver a package to his brother, suggested the Greenpeace activists were paid by western oil corporations to undermine Russia and should be “shot, or at least sent to a camp”. The opinions reflect surveys which show that the majority of Russians support the piracy charges.

Shaun Walker, “Greenpeace activists await trial among harsh winds, tears and no sympathy,” The Guardian, 18 October 2013

telefon

For some reason, as the country sinks deeper into the Putinist fascist night, this “saying” becomes more and more popular. I’ve personally heard and read it something like six hundred thousand times over the past few years, but it’s hard to remember anyone ever saying such a thing in the nineties. It’s just remarkable how people participate so willingly in their own enslavement and extinction, and with the help of such “sayings.” Yes, “folk wisdom” really does consist in repeating over and over again what some fat cats with soccer teams in England, kids in Swiss schools, and mansions on the Riviera want you to think.

On the other hand, reporters like Shaun Walker wouldn’t have to look that hard for Russians who don’t think this way, even in Murmansk. And it’s pointless, as he does here, and as avid Russian watchers both inside and outside the country love to do, to cite a “public opinion” poll that, allegedly, shows the majority of Russians don’t support the arrested Greenpeace activists. Aside from any other number of methodological and philosophical issues with such polls more generally, not only in Russia, “public opinion” is a nearly meaningless concept in a country lacking all the things that make it a somewhat more meaningful concept in other countries, things like free elections, broadly based political parties, non-astroturfed grassroots groups, much stronger and more militant independent trade unions and, most important, freedom from constant terrorization and brainwashing, in the not-so-distant past and now again, over the past fourteen years, by officialdom, whether in the form of bureaucrats, police or state media.

Why does “the majority” not support the arrested Greenpeace activists? Because they (or, rather, a good number of the people who answered this dubious poll) thought that this was the response expected from them. Why did they think that? Because state and loyalist media have portrayed Greenpeace as the second coming of Al Qaeda, willing dupes of the CIA, and any other baleful thing you can think of. You don’t even have to believe this stuff. You just know that if some “polling organization” calls you up out of the blue, there are strong cues out there in the big media world to which you have access telling you how to respond to such questions. So what’s the point of thinking something different out loud? But then Shaun Walker, hundreds of other reporters, “political analysts,” “sociologists” and so on cite this “public opinion” as if it weren’t obtained under duress. It’s a vicious circle.

The Continuation War

-1Yuri Melnichuk: “If Finland declares war on Putin, I’ll volunteer.”

Things don’t look good on that front, Yuri:

Finnish President Greets Russian President in Russian
Jun 26, 2013

The presidents of Finland and Russia, Sauli Niinistö and Vladimir Putin, met at the residence of the Finnish leader in Turku, RIA Novosti reports. “Very beautiful and pleasant weather. That is a good signal for Moscow,” Niinistö said in Russian when greeting Putin.

“We recently recalled out previous meeting and it became clear that certain results and progress is apparent in the achievement of what we agreed upon then,” the Finnish president continued. Vladimir Putin in turn admitted that since childhood he has known a handful of Finnish words, albeit not enough for conversation. He also pointed out the St. Petersburg and Turku have been closely connected for many years.

Vladimir Putin participated in events honoring the 60th anniversary of the sister city relationship between St Petersburg and Turku, the Kremlin press service reports. In addition, a ceremony was held at one of Turku’s central squares, where a plate with. Mr Putin’s name was laid in recognition of his efforts to protect the Baltic Sea environment.

The President of Russia was also presented with a Turku city medal. The medal is given to political and public figures for their services to the city, as well as the heads of foreign nations who make a major input into developing relations between their nation and Finland on arrival to Turku.

Russkiy Mir Foundation Information Service

Source

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The Lentua Nature Reserve is part of the Friendship Park, which consists of five separate nature reserves. The Friendship Park is the Finnish part of the Finno-Russian Friendship Nature Reserve. The emblem of the Friendship Nature Reserve features two wild forest reindeer, reflecting the friendship between the two countries and their cooperation for the benefit of nature conservation. One of the fundamental goals of the Friendship Nature Reserve is to protect the wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) and its habitats, which makes this animal a natural choice for the emblem.

Source

Thanks to Sergey for the whole thing (or most of it).