Rockets and Russian culture

The result of this war is impossible to predict, but one thing is clear: ‘Great Russian Humanist Culture’ has suffered a defeat. Serhiy Zhadan on what the war means for the language of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

Now, about Russian chauvinism: its markers, stereotypes and attitudes. How can a culture be less than its language? The language of an ordinary Kharkiv policeman is Russian, of course. (From now on in Ukraine he will be referred to as ‘policeman’, not ‘pig’.) He is going into bombed out basements and rescuing Russian-speaking grannies who voted for pro-Russian parties and today are being bombed and killed by the president of the country that claims to be the inheritor of ‘Great Russian Culture’.

In a historical context, this policeman is stronger and more convincing than the entire Imperial Tradition with its Golden and Silver Ages. He is saving people. And the Imperial Culture is killing them. Yes, it is culture that is killing them and the entire false toxic framework that props it up, which we all have tolerated for way too long – in name of the ‘Grand Narrative’. In truth, this Grand Narrative was always an excuse for violence and contempt for others. This is true.

In this war, ‘the culture of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy’ has suffered a crushing defeat, but it is unseemly to gloat. In reality, the collapse of culture results in GRAD multiple rocket launchers burning civilians and soldiers.

In the second week of the Third World War, it is hard to predict anything. But no matter how long our beautiful and irresponsible world exists, no matter what the shape European civilization takes (yes – that humanitarian tradition inherited from Athens and Alexandria, which for eight years tried to ignore the annexation of Crimea and the Russian tanks in the Donbas), it is clear that Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky have suffered a crushing defeat. So have: Russian ballet, Russian avant-garde (which to a large extent is not Russian, but Ukrainian), Russian hockey and Russian soccer (which was in bad shape even before the war).

A people who cannot restrain themselves from bombing cities in other countries do not have the right to blame some would-be Adolf Hitler. This is your burden now. You will now be branded – ‘Fritzes’. Before WWII, Fritz was a normal name, right? But to this day it is a horrid brand here. So it will be with your names.

You cannot hide behind Dostoyevsky. ‘Great Russian Humanist Culture’ is going under, like some unwieldy Titanic. And we answer what we said to that Russian warship F**K YOU.

P.S. Maybe in 60 years, some future Tarantino will make a feature film. In it you will be the shameful freaks.


This is a translation of a Facebook entry posted by Serhiy Zhadan on 6 March 2022

Published 10 March 2022
Original in Ukrainian
Translated by Virlana Tkacz
First published by Eurozine

© Serhiy Zhadan / Eurozine



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