Русская душа: модуль 2
Does the Russian soul still exist in the final decade of the twentieth century?When asked this question, a Moscow psychiatrist answered, «The real Russia isbeing diluted by Westernization and Sovietization. Soviet is not Russian. To seethe real Russia, visit a village, a church. The Russian soul still exists. It is theessence of the Russian person.» Belief in village virtues is still strong — self-sacrifice, sense of duty, compassion, the importance of family, respect for parents, old age, learning. Students hang on the words of their professors. Grateful audiences present flowers to musical and theatrical performers.Before vacating a home where they lived for some time, Russians will sit quietly for a minute or two, thinking about the events they have experienced there. Even in the post-industrial age, Russians demonstrate that emotions and personal feelings still matter.There is a slightly patronizing French expression, I’am a slave (the Slavic soul), which is usually followed by the supplement,» they love to suffer». This is incorrect. Russians do not «love» to suffer, but through their history they have often had to suffer and endure. Their experience has bred in them a serene knowledge that there is a limit to what human beings can understand or change, and an acceptance of everything that life has to offer of both joy and tragedy. This fatalistic view is perhaps best summed up in those two quintessential and comforting Russian expressions which can be at the same time both merry and sad: Vsyo proidyot — «Everything will pass» and Nichevo — «Never mind». Hedrick Smith writes about the «maudlin sentimentality» of Russians. «For the great suffering which they have endured not only toughened them into a nation of stoics but also softened them into a nation of incurable romantics. The outside world knows the stoicism, the phlegmatic fatalism of the common man so aptly captured in the national catch-word nichevo , which literally means «nothing» but comes across as never mind, don’t let it bother you, there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t bother me.»Being kind to others is valued in Russia. If a person is too scrupulous, too cold, people will dislike him. This person will be called sukhar, which means dry like a bread crust — no human touch at all.Publically, sentimentalism of Russians shows itself in their love of the lush melancholy of Tchaikovsky and the fairytale world of romantic ballets like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty (play appropriate musical selection). Russians fell in love with Van Clibura as the handsome young American who played their Tchaikovsky with heart. When La Scala Opera and Chorus toured Moscow, the Russians were literally overcome by the power and emotion of their Verdi» Requiem» and showered the chorus with applause, bravos and flowers.For Russians , flowers are a special sign of admiration and affection. One of their nicest customs is to arrive at someone’s apartment for dinner bearing flowers. Hedrick Smith saw the people at Novodeviche cemetery in Moscow, burial ground of the famous, strolling among the gravestones, laying a bloom here and there where they feel special respect. house their teen-age son who had to remain in Russia attending high school. When Bella Akhmaduiina, the poet, married for the third time, she and her husband were broke, and their friends bought them an entire apartment full of furniture. Let a dissident intellectual get in trouble and real friends will loyally take the terrible political risk of going to his rescue. Ann and I, too, have felt the warmth and impulsive generosity of Russians. A leading ballerina in Leningrad, hearing of our difficulties in finding ballet shoes for one of our daughters, asked her foot size and instantly got up from the table to fetch one of her own pair, especially made for one of her roles. In another home, my wife admired a rather expensive set of large teacups the hostess had just bought and she immediately made them a present to us.»It is true that Russians, especially Muscovites, often come across as gruff, cold, mulish, and impersonal in public. But in private, within a trusted circle, usually the family and close friends but often embracing new acquaintances very quickly if some personal chord of empathy is touched, they are among the «warmest, most cheerful, generous, emotional and overwhelming hospitable people on earth.» Hedrick Smith recalls his conversation with Joseph Brodsky, a freckled, Irish-looking Nobel Prize poet while they were strolling one cold afternoon in Moscow and the latter said,» Russians are like Irish — in their poverty, their spiritual intensity, their strong personal relationships, their sentimentality.»This dichotomy of coldness and warmth springs in part from some deep duality of the Russian soul and temperament forged by climate and history. It makes the Russians, as people; both stoics and romantics, both long-suffering martyrs and self-indulgent hedonists, both obedient and unruly, both stuffy and unassuming, publicly pompous and privately unpretentious, both uncaring and kind, cruel and compassionate.It was Dostoyevsky who had written that Russians were half-saint, half-savage. Wright Miller, an English writer with great insight into Russian character, recalled in 1973 in his book. Who Are the Russians? , that Ivan the Terrible murdered his own son in a rage and knelt in paroxysms of remorse, or plundered monasteries and then gave them funds.Russians rely on a close network of family, friends, and co-workers as protection against the risks and unpredictability of daily life. In the village commune, Russians felt safe and secure in the company of family and neighbors, e.g. if a Russian woman finds out she has failed to replenish bread and she needs it for supper urgently (or a guest has come unexpectedly), she does not hesitate to ask her neighbor for it or for salt, an egg, a couple of potatoes, carrots or onion etc.From their earliest history, the Slavs always have had a strong clan mentality. Among all the European peoples only they, Icelanders, and a few Balkan clans have preserved personal patronymics. Every Russian, besides his Christian name, bears as a second name — a derivative of his father’s (these patronymics, a distinctive feature of Russian life and a sometimes confusing problem for readers of Russian novels, are formed by adding the suffixvich for a man and ovna for a woman, to the father’s first name). Thus Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin means Boris, son of Nikolay and Yeltsin is his family name.Today in the city, Russians continue to value familiar faces and mistrust those they do not know. It is here in their homes that Russians find refuge from the sterility and hypocrisy of public life and the aggravating hassle of the market¬place. Among family and friends, they become the «wonderful, flowing, emotional people of Tolstoy’s novels, sharing humor and sorrows and confidences, entering into a simple but profound intimacy that seems less self-centered and less self-conscious than what one generally finds in the West».Another most essential thing is that Russians think of themselves as members of community rather than as individuals. The communal spirit helps to explain many of their characteristics — behavior in crowds, for example. Physical contact with complete strangers, anathema to Americans, as Yale Richmond calls it, does not bother Russians. In crowds, they touch, push, shove, and even use elbows without hard feelings. Physical contact by Russians — touching another person — is a sign that things are going well, remarks Yale Richmond, and a degree of rapport has been reached. The degree of physical contact will indicate how well things are going. Placing a hand on another person’s arm, for example, or embracing someone are good signs. Facial expression are also clues to behavior. Americans as well as other foreigners, are taught to open conversations with smiles and to keep smiling. Russians tend to start out with grim faces, but when they do smile, it reflects relaxation and progress in developing a good relationship. Winks and nods are also good signs. If a stony l
ook continues though, you are not getting through, warns Yale Richmond, and you are in trouble.Russia is run on the basis of personal connections. In the workplace and in the private life, Russians depend on persons they know, friends who owe them favors, former classmates, and others whom they trust. The bureaucracy is not expected to respond equitably to a citizen’s request. Instead, Russians will call friends and ask for their help. Precisely because their public lives are still supervised and because sometimes they cannot afford to be very open and candid with most people, Russians invest their friendships with enormous importance. Many of them, in cities at least, are only children whose closest friends come to take the place of missing brothers and sisters. They will visit with each other almost daily, like members of the family. Their social circles are usually narrower than those of Westerns, especially Americans who put such great stock in popularity, but relations between Russians are usually more intense, more demanding, more enduring and often more rewarding.There is an impulsive, reckless, almost sophomoric abandon in the way Russians hurl themselves into the passions of friendship. Suzanne Massie, a talented, emotional writer who is Swiss by birth but Russian by nature understood instinctively that quality of the Russian character,» With my friends in Russia, I talked whole nights away and the talk was of the soul and of destiny. It is impossible to describe the joy and sense of relief that I felt.»Suzanne and her husband, Robert, were drawn to Russia in part because of their struggle to cope with hemophilia, the blood disease that afflicted their son, Bobby, and which had also afflicted Aleksei, the son of Nicholas II, the last Romanov tsar. In Russia, the Massies felt that it was the suffering that so many Russians had experienced in their own lives, their face to face acquaintance with grief and hardship, that made them such «powerful and compassionate» friends. It is also true, as Suzanne observed, that Russians also feel free to pour out their woes to one another — unburdened by the very American compulsion to appear forever young, healthy, beautiful and strong, and to disguise the reality ofsorrow, disappointment or pain. To Russians, suffering is a natural part of life, and therefore find it natural in their friendships to intrude on each other with their problems and to exult in that sharing.
Опубликовано 22.01.2010 | Печать
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