A Public Serivce Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport,,Pres. yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to the very same place and in this way perform the work of all the three. And in this case was it not a prophecy rather than a slip of the tongue for Dostoyevsky to say that “Beauty will save the world.” After all, he was given the gift of seeing much, he was extraordinarily illumined. And, thus, cannot art and literature in actual fact help the world of today? That little which I have managed to discern over the years I shall try to set forth here today. III I have climbed my way up to this lectern from which the Nobel Lecture is read, a lectern not granted to every writer and once only in a lifetime, not just up three or four specially erected steps but hundreds and even thousands of them unyielding, steep, frozen, out of the dark and the cold where I was fated to survive and where others who possessed perhaps greater talent and were stronger than I, perished. I met only a few among them in the Gulag Archipelago scattered over a widespread multitude of islands. And beneath the millstone of police surveillance and mistrust I did not speak face to face with all those who were there. Of some I only heard at second hand and about others I only guessed. Those who fell into that abyss who already had made a name in literature are at least known to us but how many whom we do not know, never once were published! And so very few, almost no one, managed to survive and return. A whole national literature remained behind, not only buried without coffins and graves, but also even without underwear, naked, except for an identification tag on the toe. Russian literature never ceased for one moment! Yet from outside it seemed a desert. Where a thick forest might have grown there remained after all the timbering only two or three trees which missed being cut down. And today, how am I, accompanied as I am by the spirits of those who perished, with my head bowed as I let pass ahead of me up to this lectern others who were worthy of it, how am I supposed to divine and express that which they would have wished to say? This duty has long weighed upon me and I have understood it. In the words of Vladimir Soloviev: “In chains too we must close that circle Which the gods have drawn for us.” In exhausting camp marches, in columns of prisoners momentarily illuminated by serried lanterns in the darkness of freezing nights, more than once we felt in our throats what we would have liked to shout out to the whole world if only the world could have heard one from among us. At that time it seemed so very, very clear that all our lucky envoy had to do was to raise an outcry and instantly the whole world would respond. Our entire outlook, both in terms of material objects and emotional actions and reactions, was precisely defined. And we sensed no lack of balance in that indivisible world. Those thoughts did not come from books and had not been chosen for the sake of harmony and good order: They had been formulated in prison cells and around camp bonfires in conversations with people now dead, hardened and matured in that existence. When the external pressure lessened, our outlook and my own outlook broadened, and gradually, even if only through a peephole, the “whole world” could be seen and discerned. And surprisingly for us, that “whole world” turned out to be something quite different from what we had expected. It didn’t live by what we had expected. It was not going in the direction we had thought. When it came to a swampy bog it exclaimed: “What a divine and lovely meadow!” When it encountered concrete stocks for prisoners’ necks it exclaimed: “What a lovely necklace!” And where some wept unquenchable tears, others danced to light-hearted music. How has this come about? Whence has this abyss arisen? Were we all without, feeling? Or was the world unfeeling? Or was it the difference in languages? Why are people not capable of understanding each other’s speech? Words resound and flow away like water without taste, or color, or odor. Without a trace. To the extent that I have come to understand all this, the content, meaning and tone of my possible speech here, have changed over and over again with the years, that is, the speech that I am delivering today. And it is by now very little like that which I first conceived on that freezing night in the camp. IV From time immemorial man has been structured in such a way that his ‘world outlook, at least when not induced by hypnosis, his motivations and scale of values, his actions and intentions are determined by his own personal and group experience of life. As the Russian proverb says: “Believe not your own brother believe instead your own crooked eye.” This is the most healthy foundation for understanding one’s surroundings and one’s behavior in them. And through all those long ages when our world was so mysteriously, remotely separated, before it was criss-crossed by lines of communication, before it was transformed into one united and tremulously vibrating lump, people were guided accurately by their own life experience in their own narrow locality, in their own community, their own society, and, in the end, in their own national territory. At that time it was possible for individual human eyes to perceive and accept a common scale of values: What was considered average, what was considered improbable, what was cruel, what was beyond all bounds of evil, what was honorable, what was deceit. And even though widely scattered peoples lived in different ways, even though their scale of social values might be astonishingly different, just as were their systems of weights and measures, these differences surprised only infrequent travelers, and wound up described in various journals as curiosities which boded no threat for a still un-united humanity. But then, in our most recent decades, humanity has
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.