The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 12, 2013

November 12, 1927

Literature and Revolution was first published in 1925. Thus this text was written before the author,  Leon Trotsky lost the power struggle for control of the Soviet state, an event dated to November 12, 1927, when he was expelled from the communist party, and soon to be deported from the USSR. Leon Trotsky (November 7, 1879 to August 21, 1940 ) is widely assumed to be less tyrannical than Stalin, but his hands are bloody enough.  Percentages in the magnitude of thousands differentiate the number of people dying in Tsarist prisons, compared to those killed at the hands of the people's revolutionaries. And you still find modern intellectuals who say, well, they had to be tough, to make the revolution successful. We need to stop thinking that way. 

Trotsky wrote: "The nightingale of poetry is heard only after the sun is set. The day is a time for action…all through history mind limps after reality. " This is a verbal formulation of a common modern confusion. I don't know who originated that point, but Husserl certainly echoed it. The error is hard to elucidate, because there is an obviousness in man's experience that does support the phrase, "mind limps after reality."  The confusion rests in assuming 'mind' means:  verbal reality.  Yes 'words' traipse after external action--- but the mind contains a percipient talent that is more than 'words.' The point is made about the time Trotsky was writing Literature and Revolution, by a emigre then safely in France: Georges Gurdjieff. His method of self-observation was just that-- having the mind, attentive at the current moment, not after any action. This is a non-verbal feat, and is not utterly impossible. The mind need not always trail external events. This is the difference through out history between saints and academic smart-alecks. That latter phrase is another of Gurdjieff's, and he could have had Trotsky in mind, though probably not. 

We have a quote from Trotsky:

Can it be that the Revolution, the same one that is now before us, the first since the earth began, needs the seasoning of romantic outbursts, as a cat ragout needs hare sauce? Leave that to the Bielys. Let them chew to the very end the philistine cat ragout with anthroposophic sauce.



That would be Andrey Biely, (October 26, 1880 to January 8, 1934), the poet whose book title can  give us a clue to Trotsky's disdain-- Gold in Azure (1904) . The soviets, like the ordinary everywhere, cannot bear a glimpse of real complexity, and can only accuse their betters of their own weaknesses.  Trotsky exemplifies that of which he accuses others: the ordinariness of the petty intellectual thug. 

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