Latest Articles


04.09.2015
Anna Wójcik, Alison Wolf

Work-life balance, or success?

A conversation with the economist Alison Wolf

The extent to which working women are now creating a new society is unprecedented in human history, says Alison Wolf. And yet, the uncomfortable truth remains that everyone tends to take care only of his or her own social group. [ more ]

03.09.2015
Eurozine News Item

The future of politics

02.09.2015
Eurozine News Item

The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015

01.09.2015
Timothy Snyder

Commemorative causality

01.09.2015
Sofi Oksanen

A lion in a cage

New Issues


Eurozine Review


12.08.2015
Eurozine Review

Still outraged and seeking alternatives

"Kultura Liberalna" discusses the new industrial revolution; "Blätter" predicts that the European divide will keep growing; "Samtiden" says Europe should count itself lucky; "openDemocracy" says the Greek crisis is all about Germany and France; "Soundings" seeks European alternatives; "La Revue nouvelle" considers why the wealthy hate the Greens; "L'Espill" asks whether Podemos and Catalanism can hook up; "Osteuropa" sets the record straight on Russian gas; and "Dialogi" celebrates the power of the documentary.

29.07.2015
Eurozine Review

Something has to give, soon

15.07.2015
Eurozine Review

Life after debt

01.07.2015
Eurozine Review

In search of eutopia

17.06.2015
Eurozine Review

If Greece falls



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |

From harem to brothel

Artists in the post-communist world

Jaan Kaplinski's 1992 allegory of transition casts doubt on the reputations of artists and writers after the collapse of the USSR...

Making art, writing, painting, making music is like making love. It is something that can be hindered, but not stopped, even less can it be ruled and controlled by somebody, be it kings, popes, or party secretaries. These people have often been jealous of artists as well as of women. They want to keep beautiful women and gifted artists for themselves, to deny them freedom to make love to whom they will and write and paint what they will. They confine the women and artists in harems, restricted areas where they are taken care of, where they have nearly everything except freedom. In a harem you must make love to your lord and you can't do it with anybody else. A harem is a restricted area you can't leave.

Literary perspectives


Eurozine's series Literary perspectives provides an overview of diverse literary landscapes, describing the current literary climate in specific European countries, regions, or languages.

Carl Henrik Fredriksson
Introduction: The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

Read all articles in the Literary perspective series
The Communist world was such a harem for most of its inhabitants; artists were no exception. The party and KGB jealously guarded them from dangerous Western influences, and only the most loyal and faithful got permission to visit the "Capitalist world". Even there they couldn't easily escape the Big Brother's watchful eyes. Mostly they could travel abroad only in groups that obligatorily included some KGB officers and their informers. It reminds one of the way women from the Sultan's harem were able to leave it and go to the town, accompanied and guarded by eunuchs.

At the same time, paradoxically enough, the artists felt they were important. The meticulous censorship, the special attention the KGB, the Party, and other bureaucrats paid to them, was a clear sign that they were important. The writer's pen and artist's brush had some power: otherwise the mighty state wouldn't have mobilized its secret police and many officials to guard them. The well-known bulldozing of an unofficial exposition in a park in Moscow was a big event, the artists whose works were destroyed nevertheless felt comforted by so much attention. The harem ladies knew that they had some influence on the Sultan and his dignitaries.

With the collapse of communism everything changed. The doors of the harem were suddenly left wide open and every woman could leave it. In fact, they were forced to leave, because nobody cared for them any more. The powerholders couldn't afford to have harems and they had to send the ladies away. Where could they go? Some happier ones had knowledge of something other than the art of love, they could earn some money with handwork or music. Some had relatives who took care of them. Some simply became beggars. Many became prostitutes. It's not a long way from the harem to the brothel, or at least the way from the harem to freedom is much longer and harder.

In the past we were forbidden to make love to the rich men from the corrupt West. Now we compete for their favour and gifts. We go and sleep with them when we get a telephone call. We call girls and call boys of the Western world are the luckiest of the post-communist prostitutes. Many of our former harem-mates envy us. We are quite busy, we have to make love to many people, life has become much more expensive and insecure. Sometimes, waiting, exhausted in a big airport of the brave, free world, we ask ourselves what freedom is, where freedom is to be found, the freedom we believed in and some of our comrades died for. We ask ourselves, what is really the difference between a harem and a brothel, an odalisque and a call girl? Isn't the world that opened itself to us just a much much bigger harem with many sultans and emirs who want us to make love to them? After all, there is one difference: they now have much more freedom of choice.


1992

 



Published 2007-06-30


Original in English
© Märt Väljataga
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

The politics of privacy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/privacy.html
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Victor Tsilonis
Greek bailout referendum, Euro Summit, Germope

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/
Victor Tsilonis of "Intellectum" (Greece) comments on recent developments in the Greek crisis: the short-lived euphoria of the 5 July referendum, Alexis Tsipras's subsequent "mental waterboarding", and the outlook for a German-led Europe. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Neda Deneva, Constantina Kouneva, Irina Nedeva and Yavor Siderov
Does migration intensify distrust in institutions?

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/does-migration-intensify-distrust-in-institutions/
How do migration and institutional mistrust relate to one another? As a new wave of populism feeds on and promotes fears of migration, aggrandising itself through the distrust it sows, The Red House hosts a timely debate with a view to untangling the key issues. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Felix Stalder
Digital solidarity

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-02-26-stalder-en.html
As the culture and institutions of the Gutenberg Galaxy wane, Felix Stalder looks to commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks as a basis for remaking society in a more inclusive and diverse way. The aim being to expand autonomy and solidarity at the same time. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net