Monthly Archives: May 2021

Suffer little children …

 

 

I am in our living room this afternoon, thinking about going out.

Beautiful day. My wife was out.

A light tapping at the thick front door. Not a knock. Tapping. So faint; rare. Almost never occurs. Usually they ring bell. My wife will knock loudly sometimes if she’s coming home with groceries.

I open door and there are three little girls probably age seven to eight to preadolescent standing there. So cute and innocent looking — true is it not of most kids?

They live next door. A family from Yemen. One of the older girls had a head scarf. The father runs a deli/bodega on the corner that his father started.

There are a few adult women living there whom I rarely see. It seems that Muslim women remain indoors unless business calls them outside.

One day I encountered them standing on the front steps. They had head and face coverings. I thought they might not be willing to speak to me. Instead, they returned my greeting politely with friendly smiles.

The three girls explained to me that they had lost three (!) balls on our garage roof. I often hear them playing (rare with kids in NYC … music to my ears) in our common back yard or in the narrow space between our house and theirs.

Is there any way we could get access to the garage roof and retrieve the balls? I thought we could, but wasn’t sure.

If we can’t do that, they said next — before leaving — if, by any chance, we have a tall ladder, they would be willing to climb up it and get the balls themselves.

I told them I would see what I could do. They said thanks and left.

Except the youngest girl hesitated. She stood there with a fixed gaze, so innocent. Beautiful black eyes. Then she said bye and left too.

The world of childhood. Psychoanalyst Selma Fraiberg called them “the magic years.”

What preoccupies them. Their lack of guile. Their innocence.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 17, 2021

 

забаллотирована

 

 

Если же власть категорически примет ультиматум ‒ то и этот выход не устраняет, а только отсрочивает ее падение. Достаточно будет водвориться начаткам правового строя, появиться одной вольной газете, ослабеть террору… и на другой день власть будет забаллотирована или устранена небольшой группой заговорщиков, опирающихся на общее сочувствие народных масс. Такова трагическая дилемма, перед которой очутилась власть, дилемма, в обоих случаях сулящая ее падение. С той лишь разницей, что в первом случае мы пойдем к ее ликвидации путем, способным при достаточной гибкости власти растянуться на 4-6 лет, во втором ‒ «революционно-анархическим» путем. Только война или какая-нибудь мировая катавасия могут спасти ее…

If the government categorically accepts the ultimatum, then this withdrawal does not eliminate it, but only delays its fall. It will be enough to establish the rudiments of a legal system, to appear in one free newspaper, to weaken the terror… and the next day, the government will be voted out or eliminated by a small group of conspirators, relying on the general approval of the masses. Such is the tragic dilemma that the government faces, a dilemma that in both cases promises its downfall. The only difference is that in the first case, we will proceed to its elimination by a route that can, with sufficient flexibility on the part of the government, be prolonged for 4-6 years, in the second it will be “revolutionary-anarchic.” Only war or some kind of world disaster can save it …

— П. А. Сорокин, Современное состояние России (P. A. Sorokin, The Contemporary Condition of Russia), 1922

 

*****************************************************

 

I was working on this passage today as a co-translator of the above-named work; and I got to thinking what a rich language Russian is. It has continued since my college days to fascinate and challenge me.

 

… только отсрочивает ее падение

only delays its fall

отсрочивает (otsrochivayet) … delays

 

и на другой день власть будет забаллотирована ….

and the next day, the government will be voted out …,

забаллотирована (zaballotirovana) means “voted out” (as in voted out of office) … Russian makes such intricate, complex, often long, words German-style, with prefixes and endings adding complexity and specifying grammatical function and meaning.

 

… при достаточной гибкости власти растянуться на 4-6 лет

… with sufficient flexibility on the part of the government, be prolonged for 4-6 years

растянуться (rastyanut’sya) … be prolonged (passive/reflexive with perfective prefix)

 

And …

Россия ненавидит ее сейчас сильнее, чем старый режим в самые бесславные времена последнего. Да и за что любить ее какому бы то ни было классу! Исполнила ли она хотя бы одно из своих заманчивых обещаний?

Russia hates it [the government] now more than it did the old regime in the most inglorious times of the latter. And why should any class love it? Has it fulfilled at least one of its alluring promises?

заманчивых (zamanchivykh), alluring

 

Она дала вексель на постройку нового идеального общества. Вместо этого в крови и пожаре построила душную казарму, нищую, разбойничью, деспотическую, в которой население задыхалось и вы ушную мирало.

It gave a promissory note for the construction of a new ideal society. Instead, in blood and fire, it built a suffocating barracks, impoverished, thievish, despotic, in which the population suffocated and died out.

разбойничью (razboynich’yu), thievish

задыхалось (zadykhalos’), suffocated (literally, gasped); perfective passive verb

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2021