Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Varvalia Lodenko (Excerpt)

A brief excerpt from Jordan Stump's translation of MINOR ANGELS by Antoine Volodine.


Varvalia Lodenko

Varvalia Lodenko laid down her rifle, took a deep breath, and said:
'Oh mindless men! Oh spineless women!'
'Before us lies the land of the poor, a land whose riches belong only to the rich, a planet of flayed earth, of forests bled ash-dry, a planet of filth, a vast expanse of filth, oceans that only the rich can cross, deserts polluted by the playthings and blunders of the rich, we see before us cities whose keys lie in the hands of the multinational mafia, circuses whose clowns are controlled by the rich, televisions devised for their entertainment and our stultification, we see before us their great men standing high atop a pedestal that is nothing other than a barrel of bloody sweat shed by the poor, or yet to be shed, we see before us the glorious stars and all-knowing celebrities, who, for all their much-vaunted dissidence, never once express any opinion that might in any way undermine the long-term strategies of the rich, we see before us their democratic values conceived for their own eternal preservation and our eternal inaction, we see before us the targets they have singled out for our loathing, always subtly, with an intelligence far beyond our folk-understanding and with a gift for duplicitous language that obliterates our poor-folk wisdom, we see before us their fight against poverty, their assistance to the poor, their emergency aid programs, we see before us their free distribution of dollars to keep us poor and them rich, their dismissive economic theories and their ethic of hard labor and their promise of universal riches to come, in twenty generations or twenty thousand years, we see before us their omnipresent organizations and their agents of influence, their spontaneous propagandists, their infinitely expanding media, their heads of family scrupulously faithful to the most luminous principles of social justice as long as their children have a guaranteed place on the right side of the scales, we see before us a cynicism so well oiled that the merest allusion to its existence, condemns you to a place of invisible marginality, close to madness, far from any drum, far from any follower, I stand before all this, in an empty land, speaking words that expose me to insults and condemnation, we stand before all this, which by rights should stir up a worldwide tempest of rage, a pitiless surge of extremism, ten decades at least of pitiless reorganization and reconstruction by our own rules, free of all religious logic, free of the financial logic of the rich, outside their political philosophies, without a second thought for the howling of their final watchdogs, before all this we have stood for hundreds of years, and still we have not found the way to plant insurrection, at the same time and on the same date, in the minds of all the billions of poor folk to whom it has never yet occurred, how to make it take root and finally flower. Let us find the way to do this, then, and let us do it.'
Here ended Varvalia Lodenko's speech.

Minor Angels
Antoine Volodine
Translated and with a preface by Jordan Stump
Published by University of Nebraska Press
2004. 166 pp.

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