Introduction.

ESSAYS ON ACTIVISM FOR A SHIFT OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Featuring essays by contemporary activists for social change

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FROM THE EDITOR: MY LIFE AS AN ACTIVIST.

My own activist career began when I was a teenager, and – in spite of both my parents being careerists in the United States Air Force – I became an anti-war activist (Vietnam War) and conscientious objector. That activism had many expressions: from silent Quaker vigils to anti-war marches and rallies to getting thrown out of the courtroom of Judge Julius Hoffman (famous from the «Chicago Seven» trials) for civil disobedience while supporting a draft dodger. My activism has including working as an employee of organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker social service and peace education organization), the Partnership for the Homeless, Amnesty International Norway etc., working for the Norwegian government in support of the unemployed, immigrants, the disabled etc., establishing my own activist organizations in Norway in support of immigrants, artists/authors/dancers/actors/filmmakers, and also representing organizations that lobby for the rights of persons with HIV/AIDS. Being an activist has required me to constantly weigh whether my own convictions and interests are best served by working for or representing an existing organization, political parties, agency or institution OR working alone so that I may set my own specific agenda and choose my own methods of working. The latter has given me special satisfaction. In that regard I have used my talents as a speechwriter and public speaker, as a book author, as a musician, as a linguist, and as a visual artist to promote my ideas and my support for those who do not themselves have the possibility of getting their voices heard publicly. In 1994 I arranged Norway’s first World AIDS Day art exhibition (a tradition which I kept going until 2009), I have promoted the rights of immigrants and of performing, literary and visual artists, and debated with top politicians in Norway on television, radio and in the tabloids, I have represented persons with HIV/AIDS on behalf of the Norwegian government and otherwise at UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session – Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS) as well as at international conferences in Norway and in other countries, I have initiated one-man protest demonstrations against individuals and government agencies that I felt abused the dignity or rights of the disabled and persons with HIV/AIDS, etc.; and I have been critical of other individual activists, government institutions, politicians, and also of activist organizations in the media. At times I have also worked within the «system», and as an advisor and cooperative partner to the system, and publicly defended specific government policies, and I have held office in a major political party. All this after personal analysis of the best ways to bring my activist ideas into government and organizational policy frameworks.

All my formal education and life experience comes into play in my activism: including my master degree in international and developmental public administration, my years of working for the government in Norway and as a university administrator and corporate writer/editor in the United States, and even my college bachelor of arts thesis (on the legal rights of minors {young persons} to consent to acquisition of contraceptives and to psychological counseling) which resulted in my own draft legislation eventually becoming state law in Vermont, and then later in Ohio.

I have also served on the board of directors of several organizations in Norway and in the USA which work in the areas of LGBT rights, the rights and needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS, the arts, and religious expression. And finally, I have organized international conferences for persons working in support of persons living with HIV/AIDS, as well as international and bilingual authors. I have held many speeches and been a high-profile spokesperson at conferences and in the media, and my visual art exhibitions and my authored books often address themes related to my areas of activism.

My most current expression of activism involves supporting and informing others through social media and the internet, as well as in my visual art and in my work as an author and editor – herein encouraging the voices of contemporary activists through literature.

Adam Donaldson Powell
Oslo, Norway 2011

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE NEGRO WORKER FALLS INTO LINE.

THE NEGRO WORKER FALLS INTO LINE
By Robert H. Hardoen

In accord with the historic tendency of a wide-spread group sentiment to crystallize into organized effort, it has long been expected that the general discontent among the American colored people would sooner or later express itself through militant bodies with the broad general object of emancipation by any or all of the means that other peoples have always employed to rid themselves of oppression.

The great danger attendant upon all the movements for group emancipation is that they may become purely nationalistic or racial in their aspects, rather than built along lines that take into consideration the economic foundations of society. This, as every class conscious worker knows, accounts for the strange anomaly that so many workers (most of them in the craft unions and some few in industrial unions too) have never lost their nationalistic tendencies, as witness the Polish workers who loaded ammunition for Wrangel, and that strange creature whom we encounter now and then, the Zionist radical.

Two points explain this anomaly: first, all of us have been thinking as races and nations for a hundred centuries, and only a very few are beginning to think as workers; secondly, the well known campaign of the capitalistic class to assiduously cultivate every line of working class division possible, which just now during the present economic crisis is being kindled into a fury of veritable nationalistic madness never known before, evidenced by anti-English, anti-Japanese, anti-Catholic, anti-foreigner, anti-Negro, anti-Russian, anti-Jew and especially anti-everything that portends social change.

Out of this pandemonium of shrieking, clawing class war, with its variegated false and real issues, from “white supremacy” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the miner’s insurrection in West Virginia, have emerged three distinct types of Negro sentiment and lines of action. The oldest of these is represented by the National Association for the Advancement of colored People. This is an organization comprised of Negro scholars and business men, together with quite a number of white journalists, liberals, philanthropists, etc. The official organ of the association is The Crisis, of which Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois is the editor. Its activities are confined largely to awakening a wide-spread sympathy for the Negro’s problem. A well managed publicity bureau endeavors to investigate lynchings, riots, etc., and carries on a ceaseless campaign against Jim Crowism, and all legislation aimed at depriving the Negro of his rights as a citizen. Further than this, the Association does not attempt to go.

By far the greatest Negro organization in the world is the Universal Negro Improvement Association, at the head of which stands a full-blooded Negro publicist of the British West Indies, named Marcus Garvey. The aim of this society organized only three years ago and now numbering two million members is a free Africa. They have adopted a flag and racial emblem comprised of red, black and green stripes, running parallel. A steamship line, made up of six vessels, all named for colored writers or poets, and called the Black Star Line is already plying between New York, Liberia, Jamaica and the northern coast of South America.

Approached with a discussion of the class struggle, the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association insist that no mere change of social structure can be expected to eradicate a century-old race hatred overnight in America and points to that almost solid wall of opposition which the Southland offers to every progressive idea, and Garvey himself, while recognizing that the race question is basically economic, maintains that an ethical superstition forms another important factor that no possible rearrangement of society can eliminate, not even education, that is conventional education, for educated folk and educators are often prejudiced.

Of course the flaw in this reasoning is not that they seek a free Africa; all peoples desiring freedom should have it and no one can dispute Mr. Garvey’s reasoning that racial antipathy will, like every element of human consciousness, live somewhat longer than the conditions that gave rise to it and have kept it alive. But just as the decapitated serpent without its head must die and the engine that has exhausted its fuel must stop, just so the race problem bereft of its economic basis must vanish from American life.

The same danger lies hidden in the Garvey movement that is to be found in the Sinn Fein movement or the Zionist movement, namely, that in fleeing the claws of a lion in the form of foreign capitalists they may rush pell mell into the jaws of a tiger in the form of capitalists of their own group.

The third division of Negro sentiment, and by far the most prominent of all so far as vision and perspective of the true nature of their problem is concerned, is represented by a rapidly growing group who call themselves the “New Negro,” in contradistinction to the black man with the vestigial slave psychology, whom they contemptuously designate as an “Uncle Tom” or an “Old Negro.” This “new Negro” is at once the most interesting as well as the most intelligent of colored folk. The type is that of the awakening millions of toilers of the changing world, done in blacks and browns. The leading mouthpiece of this section of the race is the Messenger, a magazine published in New York City by two young Negro socialists, A. Chandler Owen and Philip Randolph who, in spite of the fact that they have gone far in putting the economic question before their people, have, nevertheless, all the shortcomings of political socialists of every race the world over.

A smaller but more dynamic force among the colored radicals is the Crusader, official organ of the African Blood Brotherhood, edited by a militant, class conscious man named Cyril Briggs. The African Blood Brotherhood is an organization that was originally formed to protect the race from armed attacks by its enemies and to prevent lynching, in accord with the world-old law of self defense. The Brotherhood educates its members in the class struggle and at the same time functions as a underground answer to the Ku Klux Klan. Their motto is, “Better a thousand race riots than a single lynching!”

Lest anyone think that this is only race-consciousness, we hasten to append the following from their manifesto issued at the last convention held in New York City, August 1921. “Negroes of the World, the day the European workers rise in armed insurrection against the capitalist exploiters of black and white toilers, we must see to it that Negro troops are not available as ‘White Guards’ to crush the rising power of the workers’ revolution! On that day, Negro comrades, the cause of the white workers will be the cause of the black workers, the cause of a free Africa, the cause of a Europe freed from capitalist control.”

In no organization is the colored worker made to feel more welcome or given a better chance than in the Industrial Workers of the World. Throughout the West and Southwest as well as the docks of Pennsylvania ports such as Philadelphia, great headway has been made in lining up the colored worker. The I.W.W. tolerates no race lines, plays no politics, discriminates against no groups because of color or creed. The program is industrial organization of all the workers of a given industry into job or city branches which, in turn, are part of the One Big Union built to fight the battles of the present and so organized that at the collapse of the dilapidated old structure of capitalism the workers may assume control of industry and administer it to serve the needs of humanity and not for profit as at present.

In this program lies the greatest hope for the solution of the Negro problem, which is in reality only a special phase of the international labor problem. That this is the case cannot be disputed by any black man who will but reflect that wherever colored people live in small numbers as in France or Canada or New England, no race problem exists, but as soon as black men come in sufficient numbers to become a factor in the labor market, the race problem appears.

In conclusion, let us note this “New Negro” has completely exploded the ancient fallacious doctrine of Booker T. Washington, by showing their people, through practical demonstration, that merely getting educated, learning a trade, going into a profession or becoming a petty bourgeoisie would not solve the race problem, but on the contrary it only intensifies it. They do not hesitate to show their brethren that if the young colored medical graduate takes the patients of the white physician, the white man will not love him for it, but on the contrary is likely to join the Ku Klux Klan; that the white tradesman and white business man will hate him for taking away “their” job or patronage as long as the present competitive system stands.

They point out the folly of Du Bois’ continual petitioning of Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill which must result in allowing the spirit of revolt to grow among the cotton workers and so curtail the profits of the Southern planter.
They point to the economic roots of the World War that centered around colonies, most of which lay in Africa, and try to tell the Garveyite that without the Social Revolution a few million poverty-stricken black men cannot hope to establish a free Africa with the combined armies of the whole capitalistic world waiting to crush them.

Indeed, this “New Negro” is a force to be reckoned with in the class struggle. Already he is causing those that have used him so long as a strike breaker many a sleepless night, and the authorities are steadily “investigating.”

The writer who is one of them wishes to say to our white fellow workers: “Move over, fellow workers, move over. We’re coming in. We’ve heard that the water’s fine!”

Originally printed in “Industrial Pioneer”, October 1921. This essay is also included in Peter Cole’s book “Ben Fletcher – the life and times of a black wobbly”, 2007, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company.

Left to right: Robert H. Hardoen, Margaret W. Hardoen, Ernest Powell, Martha Anne Hardoen Powell
Left to right: Robert H. Hardoen (1895-1958), Margaret W. Hardoen (1896-1989), Ernest Lee Powell (1925-1986), Martha Anne Hardoen Powell (1928-1991)
Robert Hammond Hardoen
Robert Hammond Hardoen
Margaret Watkins Hardoen
Margaret Watkins Hardoen
Clara Watkins
Clara Watkins
Clara and Margaret's Graduation Class - The Illinois College of Chiropody
Clara and Margaret’s Graduation Class – The Illinois College of Chiropody

Robert H. Hardoen (1895 – 1958) was a black research chemist with several patents to his name (Electronic rectifier (US 1815909 A), Protective Coating and Process of Producing Same (US 002812298), and Rustproof material and process (US 2275223 A)). He spoke several languages, and was – in his youth – an activist for industrial worker rights and the rights of Negro workers. He was married to Margaret W. Hardoen (1896 – 1989) who (in addition to her sister Clara Watkins, 1893-1962) was one of the first black chiropodists in the USA. Robert H. Hardoen and Margaret W. Hardoen are my beloved grandparents.

Bryt lydmuren med kunsten / Break the sound barrier with art, by Anette Trettebergstuen (Norway).

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Bryt lydmuren med kunsten, skrevet av Anette Trettebergstuen

Det å leve med HIV/Aids blir formidlet svært ensidig. Med skremsel, sorg og som noe som ekskluderer en fra selve livet.
Det er ikke sant. Man dør ikke av Aids, man dør med Aids. Og
i mellomtiden lever personer med HIV/Aids like forskjellige, mangfoldige, gode og dårlige liv som alle andre. Men HIV-­‐positive møter en risiko de fleste av oss aldri trenger frykte: det å bli ekskludert på grunn av fordommer mot sykdommen du lever med. Både i den offentlige og i den private sfæren. HIV-­‐positive må oppleve å bli satt i samme bås. Som dødssyke. Farlige. De opplever å måtte “være” sykdommen.
Bære dens navn som et mellomnavn sammen med sitt eget. “Den HIV-­‐ positive”.

Kunnskapen om HIV/Aids er fortsatt forsvinnende dårlig. Et stort forskningsprosjekt fra 2009 viste oss at svært mange tror viruset spres ved deling av tannbørste, eller ved å sitte på samme toalettskål. En for stor andel nordmenn svarte at de verken ønsker at en HIV-­‐positiv passer ungene deres eller det å ha en HIV-­‐positiv side ved side på samme arbeidsplass. Med middelaldersk kunnskap om smitte er det ikke rart fordommene gror videre. Av fordommer vokser det igjen stigma og aktiv og passiv diskriminering. Fra enkeltpersoner og myndigheter. Tilfeldig og systematisk. HIV-­‐positive nektes for eksempel innreise til en rekke stater. Kun fordi de er smittet. Resultatet av slik lovgivning er intet annet enn at folk fortsetter å reise, men uten medisiner, og velger bort åpenheten om diagnosen. Lovgivning basert på gamle og foreldede holdninger og kunnskap skaper ikke, men tvert imot hindrer, det FN peker på som det viktigste virkemiddelet i kampen mot smitten: åpenheten.
Norsk lovverk skaper også slike hindre.

HIV-­‐positives sexliv er fortsatt i realiteten kriminalisert i Norge. I 2013. Akkurat det er noe av det flaueste i norsk politikk, men enda verre: den såkalte HIV-­‐paragrafen i straffeloven er en av de direkte årsakene til at åpenheten taper, og at arbeidet mot smitte går trått. Men svært få vet. Og enda færre gjør opprør. Og lovene består.

Å leve livet igjennom med diagnosen blir derfor for svært mange ikke bare en vanskelig, men en hemmelig reise. Åpenhet koster for mye for mange. Koster venner, koster arbeid, koster familie, koster deltagelse i fellesskapet.

Samtidig bidrar nettopp fortellingene om hvor mye det koster, og hvor lite folk vet, fortellingene om alt de HIV-­‐positive risikerer selv til å gjøre livet vanskeligere, til å båssette, og stigmatisere. Ingen er like. Alle har forskjellige historier, og liv. Gode og dårlige. Med eller uten HIV/Aids.
Fordommenes verste fiende er kunnskap. Kunnskapen om det å leve med HIV/Aids må formidles mindre ensformig enn i dag.

Det er et stort behov for flere stemmer i debatten. For andre vinklinger, andre formidlingsformer. Som kan bryte lydmuren oftere! Slik at HIV/Aids-­‐ saken får den oppmerksomhet den fortjener i den offentlige debatten. Slik at flere kan forstå, lære, og kjenne hva dette handler om. Slik at politikere kan ta de rette valgene, basert på kunnskap og ikke ubegrunnet redsel.
Kunsten og kulturen som formidler av kunnskap åpner nye øyne, og den åpner øyne på nye måter. Fortellinger om det å leve med HIV/Aids trenger vi flere av. Som viser mangfoldet, oppturene, nedturene, de gode og de dårlige livene.

HIV/Aids formidles i dag mest med statistikk. Med tall. På smittede. Som går opp.
Jeg vil at det å leve med HIV/Aids skal formidles oftere gjennom kunsten. Lyrikken. For å åpne flere øyne, øke kunnskap, skape nærhet. Adams måte å bruke kunsten som middel til opplysning er nok en gang virkningsfullt, vakkert og svært kjærkomment.

Anette Trettebergstuen Stortingsrepresentant Arbeiderpartiet Oslo, Norge

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Break the sound barrier with art, written by Anette Trettebergstuen.

Information about living with HIV / AIDS is transmitted in a very one-sided way. With horror, grief, and as something that excludes one from life itself.
That is not true. One dies not from AIDS, one dies with AIDS. And in the meantime, the lives of persons living with HIV / AIDS are as different, as diverse, as good and bad as those of everyone else. But HIV – positive persons encounter a risk most of us never need to fear: to be excluded because of prejudice against the disease they live with. In both the public and the private sphere. HIV – positive persons are all put in the same box. As terminally ill. As dangerous persons. They thus feel the need to “be” the disease.
And carry its name as a middle name, together with one’s own. “The HIV-positive –“.

Knowledge about HIV / AIDS is still astonishingly poor. A large research study from 2009 showed us that many believe that the virus is spread by sharing toothbrushes, or by sitting on the same toilet bowl. A large percentage of Norwegians responded that they neither want an HIV – positive person to babysit or to have an HIV – positive person as a work colleague. With medieval knowledge regarding modes of infection, it is not strange that prejudices continue to grow. As prejudices grow, so do stigma and both active and passive discrimination. From individuals and governments. Randomly and systematically. HIV – positive persons are denied entry into a number of countries. Solely on the basis of infection. The result of such legislation is nothing more than that people continue to travel, but without medication, and avoid openness about their diagnosis. Legislation based upon old and outdated attitudes and knowledge does not create openness, but is rather a hinder, while the UN points out that the most important tool in the fight against infection is – in fact – openness.
Norwegian legislation also creates such obstacles.
HIV – positive persons’ sex lives are, in effect, still criminalized in Norway. In 2013. And that is one of the most embarrassing things in Norwegian politics, but even worse, the so-called HIV – article in the Criminal Code is one of the direct reasons for loss of openness, and that efforts to prevent infection go slowly. But very few people know. And even fewer rebel. And the laws still exist.

To live a life with this diagnosis is therefore not only difficult for many persons, but it is also a secret journey. Openness costs too much for many. Costs related to friends, to work, family, and participation in the community.
At the same time, stories about how much it costs, stories about how little people know, and stories about how much HIV – positive persons risk can also make life difficult, and can also contribute to classification and stigmatizing. No two persons are alike. We all have different stories and lives. Good and bad. With or without HIV / AIDS.

The worst enemy of prejudice is knowledge. The knowledge of how to live with HIV / AIDS needs to be conveyed in a less monotonous way than it is today.
There is a great need for more voices in the debate. For other angles, other forms of communication. Ones that can break the sound barrier more often! This so that the HIV/AIDS issue can get the attention it deserves in the public debate. This so that more people can understand, learn, and know what this is all about. This so politicians can make the right choices based upon knowledge rather than upon unfounded fears.
Art and culture that conveys knowledge opens new eyes, and opens eyes in new ways. We need more stories about living with HIV / AIDS. We need more stories that show the diversity, the ups, the downs, the good and the bad lives.
HIV / AIDS is today mostly illustrated with statistics. With numbers. Of infection. On the rise.

I wish that stories about living with HIV / AIDS be communicated more frequently through art. Through poetry. This in order to open more eyes, to increase knowledge, to create intimacy. Adam’s way of using art as a means to enlightenment is once again powerful, beautiful and most welcome.

Anette Trettebergstuen, Member of Parliament – Labour Party, Oslo, Norway.

(translated by editor)

(This essay is part of my new poetry book “JISEI — death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”)

Read excerpts from the book HERE!

This is not the Berenstain Bears bedtime story, by Jon Poindexter (USA).

Meditation Intro Still

My name is Jon Poindexter.
I am an artist and a healer; and I am an psychotherapist, an acupuncturist, Reiki Seichim Master and Yoga instructor. I manage a practice in Chicago where I and my staff work with adults, teens, adolescents, individuals, couples and families. I also travel to Oslo to teach yoga and see clients.

There are some ass backwards notions fucking up our relationship dynamics in the Western world. Some of these notions are based on a cultural supposition that men and women are predisposed to want diametrically opposite things in relationships.

Some of the most obvious and common of these ass backwards notions are:
– men are afraid of commitment and women are only interested in commitment
– a man is solely responsible for a woman’s happiness is a marriage (or romantic, committed relationship)
– in order for a woman to be happy in a relationship the man must make sacrifices that will make him unhappy (or vice versa)
– men do not want their woman to think and act independently
– men are not interested in their woman’s happiness

These attitudes create power struggles right out of the starting gate! These ideas are fantastic fodder for romantic comedies and soap operas, but make terrible cognitions for entering a relationship.

One the most common cognitions (thoughts) behind these types of power struggles (mentality) are “ men are intimidated by intelligent/strong women.” This cognition often times points to an underlying reaction and power struggle based upon gender role stereotypes. Additionally, it pre-supposes that
1) ALL men do not want WOMEN to be powerful
2) if a woman is powerful EVERY man will be intimidated
3) in a relationship ALL men do not want their woman to be strong.

Cognitively, that’s trouble. Cognitively, there is very little chance that this thought is going to produce a feeling of safety, well being and trust in the person (people, couple) who believe in that cognition. In other words, purely from the hard wiring of the brain, it is a thought that produces conflict. From the start, the the relationship is set to conflict.

On an emotional level, fear, suspicion and doubt are created. Splash in a little mistrust. That stirs up a little jealousy. And the party gets started from there.

While it certainly is valid to say that SOME men do not like “strong” women (whatever the hell ‘strong’ is supposed to mean. I’ll get to that in a second.) it is not to say that ALL or even MOST men do. When the above thoughts (cognitions) are in play, the position from the woman’s point of view easily becomes that she must assert herself or else she is being “weak.” There is also a chance for a disconnect between what is “being strong” and what is “being stubborn and inflexible.” For men, being “strong” is not the same as being “bossy,” “argumentative,” “loud,” “critical,” or “inflexible.” It’s also not to say that “all” or “most” men dislike “strength” in women any more than any other character attribute. Some men don’t like “quiet” women or “flirtatious” women or “women who snore.” Seriously, its at that level.

When a person or a group fights back for their rights and respect against another person, group or society, there is a backlash or pendulum swing of emotion. (For years in race relations, this phenomena was called “reverse racism”.) In a relationship, when the power dynamic is challenged, the one who is making an assertion to claim power can develop feelings of aggression, animosity, anger or even hate against the one who’s power is challenged.

This is the phase we are experiencing in our feminist and women’s rights movements.

As we (society) began integrating feminist thought into the mainstream culture, we experienced a kind of extremism. The pendulum has swung so that men who assert themselves in a relationship are “trying to put their woman down” and women must “stick up for themselves.”

In a relationship, many conflicts can be analyzed in terms of the power dynamics. Who feels empowered or not; who feels respected or not. And in analyzing the stereotypes and cultural subtexts in the cognitions, many conflicts can then be settled in a “humanistic” way.

In the mix of our cultural conflicts played over in our lives and in our media, no one speaks of compromise as strength. No one speaks of cooperation as a virtue.

Presentations and cognitions of cooperation carry the subtext of “keeping the woman happy/keeping the peace in the home” and “one person wins and the other loses.” In the words of Dr. Phil, “The home ain’t happy if mamma ain’t happy.”

That’s fucked up for mamma, poppa and all the baby bears!

So first, mamma bear is emotionally crippled. She is immediately doomed to either give all of her power of happiness to poppa bear (and by extension to baby bears) and have no impetus to secure her own happiness. Poppa bear has got to shoulder the emotional load, and if he’s unhappy, well that’s just the way it has to be cause its all about mamma bear. If mamma bear is unhappy, well its all poppa bear’s fault cause he’s gotta do it. And baby bears will react to boost up mamma bear: until one day they fail to make her happy. This is not the Berenstain Bears bedtime story.

La création de l’art et la littérature exigent un engagement constant, par Adam Donaldson Powell (Norvège)

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UN ENGAGEMENT CONSTANT.

La création de l’art et la littérature exigent un engagement constant.

MES RÉACTIONS AU TEXTE … DE LA PERSPECTIVE D’UN AUTEUR.

De la part d’un auteur qui utilise activement le multilinguisme comme technique … et également de la part de quelqu’un qui a vécu dans trois pays différents avec trois langues maternelles … je trouve le multilinguisme très intéressant. Bien sûr, je reconnais qu’il y a des problèmes inhérent à chaque langue employée et qu’il faut les surmonter en raison des différences culturelles, afin de ne pas mélanger les mots et les définitions. Parfois j’estime que je n’ai aucune “langue” du tout, entre l’anglais, le norvégien, l’espagnol et le français. Ce serait plus facile pour moi de vivre quelques années en France et ensuite peut-être un été dans un pays hispanophone au lieu de continuer à résider en Norvège en tant qu’expatrié.

Cependant, je ne suis pas tellement intéressé par l’anglais parfait, le norvégien parfait, l’espagnol parfait ou le français parfait dans mon écriture. D’ailleurs, la perfection existe-t-elle, même chez les monolingues? Je suis plus concerné par l’utilisation des langues dans leurs formes intrinsèques, voire expérimentales. Cela exige souvent plus de connaissance que je ne possède, donc je dois souvent chercher l’aide d’autres personnes et d’autres sources. Il y a beaucoup de recherche impliquée dans mon écriture. Ceci est aussi valable pour l’écriture dans ma propre langue maternelle : l’anglais. Quand je fais une analyse critique de jeunes auteurs je leur dis souvent de penser au niveau de la langue qu’ils utilisent parce que le niveau de la langue conditionne la performance et l’exécution théâtrale, à partir des émotions. Les mots rares ou précieux (des mots compliqués, obscurs et intellectuels) ont leur place et les mots plus populaires ou du language parlé, également. Ecrire – tout comme l’art – implique un engagement.. TOUT LE TEMPS! Quel niveau du langage, de la narration est approprié, et quels effets cela aura-t-il sur le lecteur ?

La création de l’art et la littérature exigent un engagement constant, ainsi que des rajustements, dès lors que la création commence à prendre vie et doit se définir vis-à-vis du lecteur.

Mes lecteurs me demandent souvent pourquoi je suis “contre la rime poétique. Je ne suis pas – en soi – contre la bonne rime pour autant que l’on sache ce qui est considéré comme bonne rime. Je crois que c’est la voix de poésie elle-même qui doit définir la forme … la rime féminine, la rime masculine, des variations sur des styles, pas de rime, le mètre externe, ce que je désigne comme “le mètre interne” (que l’on ne repère pas nécessairement en lisant rapidement la poésie, mais qui est bien là dans sa forme), le niveau de langue utilisé (des mots de 5 € contre des mots de 5000 €) est important car ils donnent le ton, la voix, ainsi que le degré de difficulté de la création. La question est alors celle-ci: quelle langue utiliser et quand (l’anglais uniquement, comme langue principale? l’utiliser avec les autres langues afin de créer un environnement multiculturel et multilingue ou une culture dite mondiale, en imitant la vie quotidienne dans toutes les sphères d’une culture donnée, en employant de surcroît des dialectes, ou peut-être le mot français ou espagnol au lieu du mot anglais ou norvégien, afin d’obtenir la plus juste expression – exemple: lorsque l’on dit ‘ciao’ en se quittant, dans plusieurs pays -, etc. Les poètes majeurs jusqu’au 21e siècle avaient un appui plus solide dans l’art de la rime. Rimer est beaucoup plus que la découverte de mots qui paraissent semblables musicalement et où le nombre des syllabes comptent. Le Haiku par exemple est beaucoup plus que le nombre de syllabes strict, car en procédant de la sorte on peut arriver à des résultats ridicules. Non, c’est l’esprit du Haiku qu’il faut respecter et non l’exactitude de son mètre. D’autre part, chaque mot possède sa force et son pouvoir de suggestion; particulièrement dans la poésie et les formes littéraires plus courtes – rien ne doit être perdu des intentions et de la force de l’auteur – parfois nous voulons raccourcir ou allonger des textes pour affecter le lecteur ou prêterau texte une certaine identité … cela vaut également pour l’utilisation des mots difficiles que la plupart des personnes doivent constamment consulter un dictionnaire.

La rime qui ne prend pas en compte les effets la musique du mot originel peut inconsciemment ennuyer le lecteur ou transformer une voix pleine d’humour en poésie plate … ainsi, les mots perdent leur signification première, ce qui par la même occasion, neutralise l’essence poétique elle-même.

Quand dois-je me décider quelles langues utiliser et comment ? C’est surtout dicté par la nature et le thème du texte, mais aussi par la culture … ou mieux, par “ma propre perception de la culture concernée”. Dans mon livre “Paradis”, qui est écrit en anglais, en français et en dialecte Tahitien, j’ai essayé de rester le plus simple possible, en m’approchant le plus possible du Tahitien parlé, le français dominant dans ce cas précis, tout en maintenant une certaine distance vis-à-vis des deux autres langues, la poésie anglaise dans le livre est la langue fonctionnelle et descriptive … elle est souvent le fait d’une impatience suggérée et du tumulte interne. Dans le même travail, j’alterne entre poésie et prose afin de créer le sens de la perte du temps et le ‘climat’ du Pacifique. Toutes ces décisions … et d’autres non mentionnées ici … sont consciemment et inconsciemment au travail par le truchement de créations littéraires et artistiques. Plus vous êtes mûr comme artiste, plus vous aspirez à “cette symphonie incroyable”. J’estime être un novice perpétuel … pourtant, je vise toujours très haut en espérant atteindre le paroxysme de la langue que j’utilise, quelle qu’elle soit, allant jusqu’à consulter divers méthodes linguistiques sur Internet, mais là il faut être prudent, car il y a à boire et à manger, et la qualité n’est pas souvent au rendez-vous.

D’autres décisions impliquent le rythme, le cadre, la quantité de détails, la vitesse à laquelle le lecteur entend lire le texte qui lui est soumis : Prenons l’exemple du Candide de Voltaire, ou mon roman “2014 : la vie et les aventures d’un ange incarné” – Il s’agit d’abord d’introduire le lecteur , pour ensuite le laisser voguer dans son imagination en lui donnant l’impression qu’il a écrit l’histoire lui/elle-même.

Beaucoup a été écrit sur règles de l’écriture, particulièrement quant à l’utilisation de la première, la troisième et la deuxième personne. Le défi est grand, car on ne raconte pas la même histoire à la 1ere, 2ème ou 3ème personne, et l’impact sur le lecteur peut être faussé. Un exemple illustre ce que je veux dire: les concertos de piano pour la main gauche seule, comme “le Quartet pour la fin des temps” qui avait été à l’origine écrit pour un violoncelliste ayant seulement trois cordes à son instrument, etc.

Je peux continuer jusqu’à l’infini…, mais il y a une cour de récréation énorme là-bas pour tous les auteurs. Et non seulement pour les auteurs, mais également pour les musiciens, les peintres et les artistes de la scène. Les règles servent à nous donne un contexte et une formation. Nous devons décider, selon nos propres émotions, comment les utiliser (ou ne pas les utiliser), la palette de styles, de formats, des genres étant très vaste, elle permet à certains même de créer de nouveaux genres qui transcendent le seul roman ou la seule poésie.

AMUSEZ-VOUS DONC ! Et si par accident ou si vous n’écoutez que votre intuition en ignorant le plan original, vous découvrez peut-être un nouveau chemin, allez-y, le voyage risque d’être passionnant.

– Adam Donaldson Powell

Autres livres multilingues ou bilingues que j’ai écrit, notamment:

Gaytude, Jisei, 2014, Le Paradis, Three-legged Waltz et The tunnel at the end of time.

Lire des extraits de ces livres à adamangel.wordpress.com

The Nihilism of Dostoevsky, by Vadim Filatov (Russia)

VADIM

(A public lecture given 12.02.2012 at the Arkhangelsk Teachers Training Institute during the interuniversity scientific conference “Philological education: modern strategy and technologies”)

The Russian nihilism of the second half of the nineteenth century enjoyed popularity throughout Europe. In many respects this occurred with the connection of creativity of the Russian writers. The most significant author in regards to the promotion of ideas of nihilism was Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The Russian nihilists maintained that God doesn’t exist, therefore any moral is relative, and the sense of life is concluded in destruction. Thus the political nihilists have thought. The philosophizing nihilists were convinced that life has not any sense, and some of them even denied the reality of life at all. The philosophical nihilism had very ancient history. But the Russian nihilism usually associates with a secondary, political version of nihilism. Now we begin our story about it.

POLITICAL NIHILISM

It is well known that the first Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin hated Dostoevsky’s creativity. “I have no free time for this rubbish”, “This is a kind of moralizing vomiting”, “Re-read his book and threw aside”, ― thus the revolutionary leader characterized Dostoevsky’s works. On the other hand, Lev Tolstoy was called by Lenin as “a block” and “experienced man”, and even as “a mirror of the Russian revolution”. What were the reasons of such opposite estimates? Lev Tolstoy was imposed by Lenin with his withdrawal from Orthodoxy and his demonstrative opposition to autocracy. It is possible to declare that Tolstoy took approximately the same place in public life of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century which was appropriated by Solzhenitsyn on an outcome of existence of the USSR.

Both Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn have loosened ideologically the existed political systems, though Solzhenitsyn circumspectly was engaged in this destructive process being turned out abroad. On the contrary, Dostoevsky has convincingly showed that so-called “Russian revolution” was actually not the revolution of Russian people, but was the revolution of some “active minority”, or revolution of demons. Therefore Dostoevsky was forbidden in the USSR up to the 50th years of 20 century, when he was returned to the school program with his very weak and harmless story “Poor Folk”. Only at Khrushchev’s epoch, when revolutionary demons and their descendants, being worried by Stalin repressions went to their historical homeland — Dostoevsky returned with “Crime and Punishment”.

The word “nihilism” was used in Russian literature for the first time in 1829 by publicist Nadezhdin in his article “The congestion of Nihilists”, to which nobody paid attention. And only when Ivan Turgenev wrote in his novel “Fathers and Sons” (1862) about nihilist Bazarov, who said that any boots were much more useful than Raphael’s pictures, such nihilism made great impression on youth and the word began to be used widely. When Turgenev returned from Europe to St.-Petersburg, there were many fires in the city in which the public opinion accused Chernyshevsky and the youth deceived by him. Thus the various acquaintances spoke to Turgenev: “Look what your nihilists do: burn down Petersburg!” Turgenev in reply has pretended coquettishly that didn’t understand about what there was a speech. And in Dostoevsky’s novel “The Demons” the mad governor von Lembke has desperately shouted: “It is arson! It is nihilism! If something flares, it is nihilism!” Many people really thought so. It is possible to understand these people, because the hero of the Turgenev’s novel, Bazarov, proclaimed that the society together with all its state institutes had to be destroyed.

After publication of the novel of Ivan Turgenev all the young people which have said constantly that they wanted to overthrow the tsar, which derided religion, cut frogs, and also supported female equality and free love, began to be called as “nihilists”. So nihilists (men) were represented in literature in the form of criminals and bandits, who were looked externally similar as tramps, and nihilists (women) as their accomplices, who are externally similar as men. For example, in 1870 Russian writer Nikolai Leskov published the novel “At Daggers Drawn”, as an angry attack aimed at the nihilist movement, which caused Dostoevsky’s sharp disapproval.

Ivan Turgenev, who has composed Bazarov, didn’t share his ideas. But Bazarov started leading his own life independent from the will of the author. The same may be told about the philosophizing nihilists thought up by Dostoevsky. The author wanted to show insolvency of their ideas, but suddenly these ideas became very strong and deep. Dostoevsky sought to consider sore points of human life and a non-existence to the latest limits and even further. Therefore philosophizing nihilists were looked so convincingly in his novels. And his political nihilists are represented derisively and mockingly. In 1866 Dostoevsky wrote to Katkov: “All nihilists were socialists… There were a lot of swindlers and small wreckers among them”.

Dostoevsky quarreled with the founder of an image of Bazarov, Turgenev, when has lost all his money in roulette, and asked Turgenev for the credit. Hard-fisted Turgenev has borrowed only a half of the requested sum and later, tactlessly asked Dostoevsky to repay a debt. And finally the relations between two outstanding Russian classics fell apart. When Turgenev has published the next novel about the Russian political nihilists under the name “Smoke”, Dostoevsky noticed to him maliciously:

― Ivan Sergeyevich, would you like to buy a telescope in order to see better our life from abroad?

Ivan Turgenev heard this and became very upset, as he always considered himself like the big expert on the Russian life.

Being not satisfied with this, Dostoevsky has represented Turgenev in his novel “The Demons” with image of the vainglorious writer Karmazinov.

In the 19th century the Russian revolutionary populists were nihilists. There were three directions in their movement: the propagandists led by Lavrov, the rebels, led by Bakunin who has proclaimed the nihilistic thesis that any kind of destruction represented a version of creation and, at last, the conspirators, led by Tkachev. Tkachev was one of the first populists who refused to idealize the simple people and began to say that revolution would be the result of actions of “revolutionary minority”, “people of the future”, whom the Russian academician Igor Shafarevich called as “the small folk” later. “Idealization of uncivilized crowd, ― thus Tkachev spoke, ― was one of the most dangerous and most widespread illusions…” But Dostoevsky has idealized the Russian people, with whom he connected the future of Russia. It is necessary to recognize unfortunately that Tkachev’s views concerning the people were closer to truth, than the views of Dostoevsky and Lev Tolstoy. The last one have found rescue from his youthful pessimism, expressed in persuasive reflections about senselessness of life, in unification with the simple people by means of disguise in country clothes. Dostoevsky anticipated Lev Tolstoy’s tragic and comic flight from his estate and his death, when he have wrote about the hero of his novel “The Demons” Stephen Verkhovensky, who also left his house, saw a lot of simple people and immediately died. His son, the leader of gang of the district demons Peter Verkhovensky (according to Dostoevsky’s plan), was urged to serve as a caricature on the well-known nihilist, the follower of Tkachev, Sergey Nechaev, who, in his “Catechism of the Revolutionary” admitted honestly that “any revolutionary is a washed-up person”. As a result Peter Verkhovensky had to become the most banal and belittled double of philosophizing nihilist Stavrogin in “The Demons”. And liberal Stephen Verkhovensky, whether he wanted this or not, brought up unscrupulous and cruel nihilist Peter, just as in 1917 the Provisional Government created conditions for coming to power of Bolsheviks. Actually it is possible to confirm that political nihilism in Dostoevsky’s image has became more or less banal and belittled continuation of nihilism philosophical.

PHILOSOPHICAL NIHILISM

“Right or wrong, it’s very pleasant to break
something from time to time.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky

Now it is possible to notice that not only Vladimir Lenin hated the creativity of Dostoevsky. In today’s Russia the modern demon Anatoly Chubais hates it too. Their positions are quite clear. And Vladimir Nabokov, well-known Russian writer of the 20th century, spoke about Dostoevsky in such a manner: “Let’s agree that Dostoevsky — first of all ― was the author of detective novels, where each character who has appeared before us, remained the same up to the end, with the developed habits and hyphens”. Thus Nabokov wrote in his “Lectures about the Russian literature”. Nabokov has introduced this idea after listed diagnoses of the main characters of Dostoevsky. He summarized that the world of the writer was the world of sick people which is interesting only to those who was sick himself. Certainly, heroes of works of Dostoevsky, having been in the turned world, had to become (or even to ache) on the head for the aim to see all the surrounding in the correct foreshortening. Whether Nabokov, who destroyed stereotypes concerning the settled ideas of Dostoevsky’s creativity, acted as the nihilist himself?

What is the philosophical nihilism? If briefly, without pressing in particular its various versions, the philosophical nihilism approves a non-existence priority (anything, emptiness) above the life, up to the full annihilation (destruction) of life. It is possible to carry out some ethical conclusions from this fundamental thesis. In the received conclusions the philosophical nihilism is crossed with political one, just as Stavrogin and Kirillov were crossed with Peter Verkhovensky. Nevertheless, the political nihilists, at least on the field of their denial of the standard ethical values, acted not as the purpose, but only as means of achievement of other, mercenary and ordinary purposes. So they represented a kind of weak imitation of philosophical nihilism. Friedrich Nietzsche, who has tried to clear the roots of this nihilism, attentively read and summarized Dostoevsky’s novel “The Demons”. Nietzsche considered the must general aspects of nihilism, such as illusiveness of idea of the transcendent God (“God died”), and also insolvency of a religious picture of the world acting as development of the idea of progress. He distinguished compassion, contempt and destruction as the fundamental signs of nihilism, and mentioned the pessimism as a source of nihilism and its classical representatives, such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. According to Nietzsche, they both were obviously inclined to compassion. Nietzsche explained this fact having addressed to the theory about racial fatigue of the Russian civilization and culture. (Other interesting representative of the German culture ― Joseph Goebbels ― also called Dostoevsky among his favourite writers. Darkness of the German soul is a very mysterious subject!) According to Nietzsche the consecutive nihilism is defined by its degree of exemption from behavioural dominants, ideals and values, from all usual moral, just as from recognition of ideal measurement of human existence as a whole. Stavrogin’s scandalous confession in which he told about how he raped the juvenile girl, who didn’t take out such mockery and was hung up ― may be an indicative example of such release. However, Nietzsche, with all his loud appeals to revaluation of values, wasn’t ready to accept Stavrogin’s radical nihilism. The philosopher showed some kind of intellectual cowardice, having said that the original nihilism assumes the sufferings, caused pleasure as an indirect acceptance of reality.

“The nihilism represents the main direction of the development of Western history, ― thus Martin Heidegger declared in the 20th century. ― This movement finds out such depth that its expansion can have as a result only the world accident”. “The absolute knowledge demands the most radical nihilism”, ― thus the representative of philosophy of a postmodern Jean-François Lyotard claimed. And the modern Russian philosopher Chanyshev proclaimed the absolute character of Non-Existence, which generated and inevitably destroyed any being. Everything arises for a while, and perishes forever: the person comes from a Non-Existence and falls into it, without having understood anything.

WORKS

Dostoevsky has showed a problem of nihilism in such a substantial scale, that only radical ways of the decision became acceptable. Whether Existence was eternal, or it was deceptive, and this meant that it wasn’t present and wouldn’t be at all.

“The Hostess”

This is Dostoevsky’s unfairly forgotten early story. The characters of the story lived on the verge of real and imagined, madness and health, which mutual transitions were so imperceptible that any distinction between life and a Non-Existence was erased. Dostoevsky has debuted before this novel with far-fetched and lifeless imitation of Gogol, the story “Poor Folk” (“new Gogol appears!”), which caused unlimited praises of Belinsky. He hoped that the new author would be able to replace Gogol, who was gradually falling into religious obscurantism. However, Dostoevsky, in his novel “The Hostess”, unexpectedly went to the gloomy and mysterious area, having plunged into darkness of soul and opening gallery of mysterious outcasts with the image of Murin. The main hero of “The Hostess”, Ordyntsev, and the hostess named Catherine herself, were absolutely ambiguous. So Belinsky has responded about the story “The Hostess” in the spirit of Lenin’s later statements: “nasty thing” and “terrible nonsense”. Many people thought that revolution in Dostoevsky’s outlook was connected with his stay on penal servitude however the first sources of his latest philosophical reflections could be founded in his story “The Hostess”.

“Notes from Underground”

“The whole work of man really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano key”― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

This program story of Dostoevsky was conceived by the author as a lampoon, having directed against political nihilists, and turned into apologia of philosophical nihilism. The Underground Man became one of the most spiritually powerful characters of Dostoevsky. He showed his willfulness long before Kirillov. Also he denied any attempts of creation of a rational picture of the world, both bourgeois and utilitarian, and socialist. (In “The Demons” Kirillov has cherished his main idea, lying on a floor at the American slum, and destroying mentally all intolerable and disgusting reality. So Kirillov’s thought was also directed both against demons of chaos, and against demons of a petty-bourgeois order). Thus, the main targets of sarcastic criticism of the Underground Man were the banal evidence, and the Nature: “Upon my word, they will shout at you, it is no use protesting: it is a case of twice two makes four! Nature does not ask your permission, she has nothing to do with your wishes, and whether you like her laws or dislike them, you are bound to accept her as she is, and consequently all her conclusions. A wall, you see, is a wall … and so on, and so on”. The Underground Man (according to Dostoevsky) had to destroy rationalism from within, bringing its logical preconditions and opportunities to the consecutive end and coming to absolute denial of reality. He, like the ancient philosopher Diogenes, has rejected society, which at the same time was necessary to him. Thus splitting of consciousness was symptomatic and peculiar to many talented and not so talented people. The petty-bourgeois world didn’t accept the philosophizing nihilist and this was the normal order of things, because “a person is silly, is silly phenomenally”. The Underground Man, being started “communicating” with the imagined interlocutor, tried to achieve his sympathy and favor, but very quickly made the very unpleasant impression on him. However, this contradiction was the seeming one: he has wanted freedom not so much from the world, but from himself ― thus was the basic criterion of a solvency of the person which related the Underground Man with Stavrogin. “I am not present”, ― such hidden signal was send by Underground Man to nonexistent world, and so his idea sounded even more loudly, than Kirillov’s shot. The General Law of the “strengthened consciousness”, having opened by the Underground Man, excluded absolutely any possibility of the termination of reflection even if it conducts to denial of the world and general destruction: “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

“Crime and punishment”

“Break what must be broken, once for all, that’s all, and take the suffering on oneself.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

The main character of this novel ― Rodion Raskolnikov ― was in spiritual relationship with the first nihilists of the Russian literature. But Raskolnikov had a serious advantage ― both before Bazarov, and before the hero of “Notes from an Underground”, because unlike them he has not only talked and swore, but passed directly to practice. According to Dostoevsky’s plan, verification of the theory by the direct action had to put Raskolnikov to awareness of insolvency of his own nihilism. Thus the author gave to the hero the chance of repentance with the help of deeply religious prostitute Sonia Marmeladova. By reading the Bible she persuaded Raskolnikov to repent and admit his murder. Vladimir Nabokov pointed fairly to obvious artificiality of the theatrical scene when “murderer and loose woman united during reading the eternal book”.

In the ending of the last Russian screen version of the “Crime and Punishment” impressively created by director Dmitry Svetozarov, Rodion Raskolnikov has been repented about his recognition and didn’t refuse his idea. He has regretted that he remained a kind of a shivering creature, but not about the murder. This ending didn’t correspond to the text of Dostoevsky’s novel, but quite coincides with logic of development of outlook of the main character. Another hero of the novel, Svidrigaylov, appeared much more consecutive nihilist then Raskolnikov. He showed that, being the nihilist, it was optional to kill people by an axe, but it would be more important to realize his own willfulness as fundamental value.

“The Idiot”

“I do not exist now and I know it; God knows what lives in me in place of me.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

This novel narrated why the idea of remaking the world by means of Good is a kind of madness. The world is initially evil, so everything represents various, sometimes rather deceptive and freakish forms of redistribution of the same Evil. Sometimes Evil pretends to be good for the aim to overcome its competitors. If somebody attempts to imagine the world which is building on the basis of the final celebration of Good, it would be real idiocy. Thus is the reason of the name of the novel and the name of the main character, actually, the idiot. Prince Myshkin has tried to create Good, and, for the aim of the purity of experiment, Dostoevsky gave him financial leverages in the form of unexpected receiving inheritance. As a result of altruistic feeble efforts of the idiot, the inevitable process of prompt increase of the cash evil has began, which reached its apogee with Nastasia Filippovna’s flight from the kind prince to angry Rogozhin and her death.

The main character of the novel “The Idiot” actually is Hippolyte ― the young man, who realized himself as “being who denies everything”, and who “had to die inevitably”, especially just as all the people were sentenced to death. So he decided to take execution of the sentence in his own hands. However, when Hippolyte has learned that he was fatally sick, he decided to postpone a suicide. He wanted to look as the self-satisfied and fateful world would painfully suffer, redistributing its Evil. Hippolyte’s interest to the world was a curiosity of very metaphysical plan, so “Hippolyte’s Confession” became the strongest text created by Dostoevsky, which, due to a misunderstanding, was put into the weak and far-fetched novel “The Idiot”.

“The Demons”

“If Stavrogin believes, he does not believe that he believes. And if he does not believe, he does not believe that he does not believe.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons

The main character of the novel “The Demons” Stavrogin has denied the world and, according to the nihilistic principle of willfulness, rejected any obligations and relations with other people. Throughout the novel the fateful world with its stupid puppets danced and wriggled round the lonely thinker, but he kept absolute tranquility, which was similar to the well-known apathy of ancient philosophers. Sometimes Stavrogin showed some easy activity with a great deal of boredom, which reminded the fuss of Bazarov with frogs. In reply the provincial bog started croaking and letting out loudly the putrefactive gases, being pleased that it was noticed and, therefore, it existed. Thus the quantity of the cash Evil increased with the geometrical progression. Then Stavrogin came back to his usual loneliness and apathy, having satisfied his metaphysical curiosity.

“There is only one rather serious philosophical problem ― a suicide problem… to solve to live or not to live means to answer a fundamental question of philosophy”, ― thus Albert Camus wrote in connection with the novel “The Demons”. So Dostoevsky, being the ingenious writer, gave the honest answer on this last condemned question. The engineer Kirillov has declared his wish to commit suicide, as “such was his idea”. And Kirillov’s idea was a kind of overestimated ideas, because for the aim of its realization he was quite ready to die. Kirillov knew that the God didn’t exist, but the God had to be. If the God didn’t exist, then Kirillov became the God himself. But the God didn’t exist all the same, so Kirillov had to kill himself for the aim to become the absent God. And Kirillov (from positions of his potential divinity), indifferently looked at various demons, which were fussing round him: “I defined that night that everything was indifferent for me now”.

Kirillov has become convinced that Jesus was deceived, like all ordinary people, “laws of the nature also forced him to live among lie and to die for lie”. Therefore the tragedy of each human life was embodied in Jesus. Each of us would be crucified and deceived like the Christ. The shot from the Kirillov’s gun has sounded as a signal for the beginning of nihilistic revolution, which would be directed on destruction of lie and deception. As fairly Camus noticed, not despair, but love to the Mankind, has pushed Kirillov to death. Before finishing bloody and unprecedented act of spirit, Kirillov said words so ancient, as all human sufferings were: everything is ok!

While Kirillov committed suicide for the aim to declare his own willfulness as a man who has became a God, Stavrogin realized the God as the Non-Existence and directed himself to his God.

Albert Camus, when has been discussing a problem of suicide, spoke that it was easy to be logical, but would be hard to be logical up to the end. The history of philosophy knew, at least, two examples of honest philosophical suicides:
In 1876 ― the philosophical suicide of Philippe Maynlender, who has understood that the cooling-down Universe was a body of died God. He didn’t wish to live in a corpse of the God after that.

In 1903 ― occurred the philosophical suicide of Otto Weininger. This Jewish philosopher hated women and Jews. When he found many female properties in his own character, this led him to despair and death.

“The Teenager”

In general, practically all teenagers are nihilists. And some of them will not mature at all. Thus the hero of “The Teenager”, Versilov, spoke: “The real nihilist can’t, shouldn’t reconcile with anything from existing. He doesn’t dare to go on transactions not under any circumstances”.

“The Brothers Karamazov”

“Everyone is striving to unite particulars and find at least some general sense in the general senselessness.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Among all the heroes of Dostoevsky Ivan Karamazov was the same one, who had luck to consider an internal calling infinity of a Non-Existence. Ivan has refused to accept the world, which basis was senseless redistribution of Evil and, as a result of this redistribution, appeared “a tear of the child”. Ivan went further than all the previous personages presented in philosophical novels of Dostoevsky, carrying out his nihilistic revolt. He has approved the radical point of view according to which anything isn’t present:
“… and is there immortality of some sort, just a little, just a tiny bit?”
“There is no immortality either.”
“None at all?”
“None at all.”
“There’s absolute nothingness then. Perhaps there is just something? Anything is better than nothing!”
“No. Only zero.”
“H’m! Good Lord! to think what faith, what force of all kinds, man has lavished for nothing, on that dream, and for how many thousand years. Who is it laughing at man? Ivan For the last time, once for all, is there a God or not? I ask for the last time!”
“And for the last time there is not.”
“Who is laughing at mankind, Ivan?”
“It must be the devil,” said Ivan Karamazov, smiling.
“And the devil? Does he exist?”
“No, there’s no devil either.”
(The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
Thus, the main secret of Ivan Karamazov’s philosophy and ethics consisted on his understanding and apologia of absolute absence. Where everything was dissolved in anything, the original philosophical nihilism has dominated.

CONCLUSIONS

The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not refrain
from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here.
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Thus, our world constantly develops its false reality, following the law of redistribution of the evil. Therefore, as the first Christian eremites, “desert fathers” were convinced very long time ago, the person subordinated to the world, is subordinated to the evil. “Laws of the nature can’t be forgiven”, ― thus Dostoevsky’s underground protagonist spoke. So the nature is such a lie which is necessary to destroy.

The idea of rejection not only the socio-political device of Russia, but also the world as a whole, was characteristic for Dostoevsky’s most intellectual ― powerful, mysterious characters: such as an Underground Man, Svidrigaylov, Hippolyte, Stavrogin, Kirillov, Ivan Karamazov. And this wasn’t casual, because any intellectualism, being brought up to its logical end, would came to an end with the nihilistic revolt. The heroes, which have denying the world, couldn’t win against it yet, but, unlike absolutely artificial, schematic characters, like prince Myshkin and the participants of a circle of Peter Verchovensky, they wasn’t won by the world. Thus was the existential and ontological sense of philosophical works of Dostoevsky.

dostoevsky

NB. This lecture is intentionally unedited, and is presented in the form in which it was received in order to retain the fantastic personality and engagement of Mr. Vadim Filatov in its original presentation.
— Adam Donaldson Powell

Taking the Bull by the Horns, by Michael G. Lloyd (USA)

“The weak find an excuse, the strong find a way.” Leo Louis Martello

Michael_G_Lloyd B&W

I grew up on a farm in the 1960s and 1970s. My brother, sister, and I had a good life. We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination (at least in Western terms), but we lived comfortably and worked hard. We managed to entertain ourselves in the summertime by hiking, swimming, camping, biking, reading, and playing hide and seek and war (this was the Vietnam War era, after all). There wasn’t a lot of extra money, so we learned to make do. It’s a skill that has served me well over the years, both at home and at work.

It never occurred to me that others didn’t have this skill until I entered the adult world and encountered a plethora of people who seemed more content to complain about their circumstances than figure out a way to work around their situation. A case in point was the dearth of Pagan retreats for men who love men in the United States.

Now I had been going to mixed sex Pagan festivals for a few years, and they were great. But I consider my sexuality to be an integral part of my spirituality, and these festivals just didn’t meet that need even when several of us organized programming along those lines at those events. The right atmosphere and mix of people wasn’t present to satisfy the calling that a number of us were feeling.

At that time there were some other events scattered around the country during different times of the year such as Radical Faerie gatherings and the Mid-Atlantic Men’s Festival, but nothing that really called to most of us. What to do? We believed that the thing we were looking for was possible, but were unsure of how to make it happen.

Now some people are content to sit back and complain about the lack of choices, and certainly that was the case in this instance. But Julian Hill and I put our heads together and decided that we not only *should* do this, but *could* do it. We set out to learn the mechanics of how to run a large Pagan festival and, from that, we developed a plan for running our own event.

We got involved with several festivals, volunteering and learning the ropes. Both of us already had backgrounds in business and in risk management. I was in my 40s, and Julian was in his 30s, so we already had some life experience upon which to draw. In a couple of years, we both felt we had a sufficient grasp of what was required to successfully run such a gathering. In 2002, we founded the Between the Worlds Men’s Gathering (BTW). The first year of BTW was rough, but with each succeeding year we built up a trained staff and a loyal following.

By the time Julian and I retired as co-facilitators (he in 2010 and I in 2011), the festival had broken the magical 100-person barrier and had become one of the largest events of its kind and was attracting a wide variety of gay and bi practitioners – Buddhists, the Norse, Druids, Wiccans, Witches, Ceremonialists, Shamans, members of African Diasporic paths, and others – from across North America.

We had initially aimed for persons living within a 500-mile radius of Columbus, Ohio, thinking that people simply wouldn’t travel further than that to attend a small festival like ours, no matter how unique it was. We were mistaken, as it turned out, with one man traveling all the way from Texas to be there in 2002. Since then we have hosted attendees from twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, and from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ottawa. And we have fielded inquiries from the countries of Mexico and France.

We’ve had many men pass through the festival who have become re-energized from their experience. Many speak about the life-changing aspects of BTW. Some talk about how they had given up on the concept of brotherhood or even simple joy in association with other gay men until they had come to this temple in the woods. From my own personal perspective, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the expression of awe or joy on the face of an attendee after coming out of a meaningful ritual, the look of connection and understanding during a workshop, or to watch the connections being formed between men from different parts of the country, different backgrounds, and different paths. Some men have made good friends of the people who they have met at BTW. Some have progressed beyond that point. We had our first handfasting at BTW in 2002, a tradition which we’ve been proud to see repeated twice more in the years since.

I raise these points to emphasize that all of this might not have happened if Julian and I had sat back like so many others, complaining about what didn’t exist and doing nothing about it. Instead, we devised a plan to realize our vision, developed the skills we needed to bring it to fruition, and then executed it. Don’t be that ineffectual complainer. Be the one who figures out a way to make it happen, whether it’s a big thing or a little one. Remember the words of New York Witch, gay activist, and Pagan rights activist Leo Louis Martello – “The weak find an excuse, the strong find a way.”

BullofHeaven

Michael Lloyd is a co-founder and former co-facilitator (2002-2011) of the Between the Worlds Men’s Gathering, one of the largest Pagan spiritual retreats for men who love men. He is the author of “Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan” (Asphodel Press, 2012).