Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:52 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Chapter Ten – News from Yalta 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5364
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1897
Thanked: 1821 times in 1382 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Chapter Ten – News from Yalta
MM10 News from Yalta


In this chapter, the theatre director Rimsky (named after the Korsakof composer) is utterly befuddled by Satan’s tricks. The black magician Mr Woland (the guise into which the devil has slipped) had successfully arranged his series of theatrical performances in the main theatre of Moscow, and as his first trick, had spirited his theatre contact Likhodeyev a thousand miles away to Yalta, instantaneously.

The fact that Likhodeyev organised black magic performances, and then is not on hand to discuss this rather strange event, naturally puts Rimsky in a bad mood. Then as the telegrams arrive from Yalta, Rimsky must deal with the impossible. After rejecting all possible explanations, such as planes and trains and so on, Rimsky is left in a difficult state of cognitive dissonance, given his communist commitment to evidence based reason as the only explanation for anything.

Again, this chapter serves as a satirical parable for life under communism. Bulgakov has a deep anger at how the Stalin regime does things which Bulgakov considers morally impossible. The Ukraine deliberate famine could be an example.

He uses Rimsky’s sense of dissonance to illustrate the discomfort produced for traditional morality by the ghastly amoral actions of the Bolsheviks. Our assumptions reject things out of hand, such as black magic, but when such things actually occur, as enabled in the suspension of disbelief in a novel, the confrontation with our sense of reality produces interesting emotional, political and psychological responses.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:05 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Better Thread Count than Your Best Linens


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 632
Thanks: 476
Thanked: 269 times in 222 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter Ten – News from Yalta
Robert Tulip wrote:
The black magician Mr Woland (the guise into which the devil has slipped) had successfully arranged his series of theatrical performances in the main theatre of Moscow, and as his first trick, had spirited his theatre contact Likhodeyev a thousand miles away to Yalta, instantaneously.


I can't help thinking that the choice of Yalta is not arbitrary - not just any popular beach town. It seems to me Bulgakov is suggesting that the piece of theater that was the Yalta conference was not only devilish and stupefying, but a bit of a trick as well. True, Stalin had the tanks and the refineries to run them, but the troops were exhausted and full of rage. Does Bulgakov think that if the Western powers had resisted, Eastern Europe might have been free? And perhaps even the internal rule by the Communist party might have been vulnerable? If so, I think his imagination was overactive.

The machinations in the party, and even in the Inner Circle, fascinate us and distract us from the real issues that made communism appealing, indeed that still make communism appealing to some today. It is a brand of populism - simplistic, nihilistic in rejecting rule of law and process concerns generally, feeding on anger. I am thinking that Bulgakov is doing a bit of black magic himself in his story. By going straight to the top with Lucifer himself as the stand-in for communism, he is directing us to look at the ways it used, even preyed on, human fallibility so that we will infer angelic innocence to the predatory behavior of the regime it was a response to.

Robert Tulip wrote:
He uses Rimsky’s sense of dissonance to illustrate the discomfort produced for traditional morality by the ghastly amoral actions of the Bolsheviks. Our assumptions reject things out of hand, such as black magic, but when such things actually occur, as enabled in the suspension of disbelief in a novel, the confrontation with our sense of reality produces interesting emotional, political and psychological responses.

I agree that this cognitive dissonance and the response is interesting. In fact I think it is the masterful part of Bulgakov's novel. The most striking part of his portrayal, to my mind, is the believability of the way the ordinary characters turn to trivial matters of humdrum life despite the fantastical matters occurring around them.

Although we may experience this reversion to an artificial normality as a kind of comic relief, we also can't help feeling that "life goes on" is much of how the ordinary citizens dealt with their totalitarian government and its horrors. And of course the same feeling is present, to a less horrific degree, in our willingness to accept the results of a political outcome we disagree with. Life goes on. This too shall pass. As if there were not consequences worth confronting.

I am experiencing something like it here in Africa, where the shrug of the shoulders is the best many people can do to respond to the bizarre and incessant shoddiness of the work being done around them. Not only do they not really know any better, but they couldn't afford it if they knew the better options. One novel our group has read refers to the stupefaction of poverty - the poor cannot afford to envision a better life. I am trying to convey to a young visitor how this cycle of resignation works insidiously to hold them in poverty.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:18 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5364
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1897
Thanked: 1821 times in 1382 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Chapter Ten – News from Yalta
Harry Marks wrote:
the choice of Yalta is not arbitrary - not just any popular beach town. It seems to me Bulgakov is suggesting that the piece of theater that was the Yalta conference was not only devilish and stupefying, but a bit of a trick as well. True, Stalin had the tanks and the refineries to run them, but the troops were exhausted and full of rage. Does Bulgakov think that if the Western powers had resisted, Eastern Europe might have been free? And perhaps even the internal rule by the Communist party might have been vulnerable? If so, I think his imagination was overactive.
Hi Harry, nice theory, but with just one small complication. While The Master and Margarita was published in 1966, well after the Big Three met in Yalta at the end of the war, Bulgakov completed writing it before his death in 1940 from complications of communism, and his wife kept the manuscript a complete secret for the next quarter century until she adjudged it safe to publish.

I looked at the Yalta Wikipedia entry, which surprisingly was last updated in 2009. I would have thought all the Russian propagandists slobbering over the internet would have taken the opportunity to mention the glorious reunion with the motherland, but no.

Perhaps reasons for Yalta in MM include its role as a dream holiday location, the furthest nice place that more polar Russians could go. Stalin used to spend his summers there. I can well imagine Russians thinking ‘if only I were in Yalta’ as they struggled through a bitter Leningrad winter. So Bulgakov has Satan oblige this fantasy with instantaneous and rather dissonant and hilarious effect.

Harry Marks wrote:
The machinations in the party, and even in the Inner Circle, fascinate us and distract us from the real issues that made communism appealing, indeed that still make communism appealing to some today. It is a brand of populism - simplistic, nihilistic in rejecting rule of law and process concerns generally, feeding on anger. I am thinking that Bulgakov is doing a bit of black magic himself in his story. By going straight to the top with Lucifer himself as the stand-in for communism, he is directing us to look at the ways it used, even preyed on, human fallibility so that we will infer angelic innocence to the predatory behavior of the regime it was a response to.
The First Circle is the title of a book by Solzhenitsyn which I have read, using the metaphor from Dante’s Inferno of the circles of hell to explain how the regime privileged certain professions such as nuclear scientists in closed cities.

‘Angelic’ is too strong as a term with any relation to the Romanovs, whose corruption and incompetence and venality opened the Bolshie door. I had the opportunity to visit The Hermitage a decade ago, in Saint Petersburg (Russia not Florida), and what shocked me was the sense of how the aristocracy existed in a faux European life of luxury dependent on heedless exploitation of the vast peasant lands.

There is no question that MM is propaganda for anti-communism. Part of this is how heritage of faith and tradition has an enduring value whose destruction under communism brings immense damage. Stalin may be able to magic up a five year plan, but the carnage behind the scenes has a legacy of trauma that exposes the trick as fraudulent.
Harry Marks wrote:
…"life goes on" is much of how the ordinary citizens dealt with their totalitarian government and its horrors. …this cycle of resignation works insidiously to hold them in poverty.

Yes, I agree this cycle of resignation is a key moral parable in MM. The intimidation of the public by totalitarian policies produces the lesson that discussing politics is dangerous. That psychological numbing of society has a broad impact on the culture of liberty, with a collapse of creative freedom, personal autonomy, interpersonal trust and entrepreneurial risk, generating economic and social stagnation.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:33 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Better Thread Count than Your Best Linens


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 632
Thanks: 476
Thanked: 269 times in 222 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter Ten – News from Yalta
Robert Tulip wrote:
While The Master and Margarita was published in 1966, well after the Big Three met in Yalta at the end of the war, Bulgakov completed writing it before his death in 1940 from complications of communism, and his wife kept the manuscript a complete secret for the next quarter century until she adjudged it safe to publish.
Okay, thanks for straightening me out on that. Just a coincidence, I guess, but it does seem an odd choice of venue for the black magic show.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Perhaps reasons for Yalta in MM include its role as a dream holiday location, the furthest nice place that more polar Russians could go. Stalin used to spend his summers there. I can well imagine Russians thinking ‘if only I were in Yalta’ as they struggled through a bitter Leningrad winter. So Bulgakov has Satan oblige this fantasy with instantaneous and rather dissonant and hilarious effect.

This works as well as any alternative I can dream up. Stalin spending his summers there does suggest some connections I might not have entertained otherwise.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I am thinking that Bulgakov is doing a bit of black magic himself in his story. By going straight to the top with Lucifer himself as the stand-in for communism, he is directing us to look at the ways it used, even preyed on, human fallibility so that we will infer angelic innocence to the predatory behavior of the regime it was a response to.
'Angelic’ is too strong as a term with any relation to the Romanovs, whose corruption and incompetence and venality opened the Bolshie door.
Quite so, but that doesn't stop a propagandist from gesturing in that direction and hoping we make the connection. The more subconsciously the better.

Robert Tulip wrote:
There is no question that MM is propaganda for anti-communism. Part of this is how heritage of faith and tradition has an enduring value whose destruction under communism brings immense damage. Stalin may be able to magic up a five year plan, but the carnage behind the scenes has a legacy of trauma that exposes the trick as fraudulent.
The heritage of tradition, like "Make America Great Again," works best in a gauzy fantasy of nostalgia. The tradition was born in the century that tamed aristocracy, turning the warrior class into a hereditary group happy to live on its privilege and heedless of the cost to the peasantry they had formerly actively oppressed. Of course, there were still agents and mechanisms whose job was to keep the brutality out of sight, but at least a substantial part of the aristocracy was turning from glorification of their domination to contemplation of what that privilege might be good for.

The most terrible part of the domination system that was aristocracy may have been the legacy of secret oppression methods passed on to totalitarian systems. The hypocrisy of the church became the hypocrisy of the party. Bulgakov does not do himself credit by conjuring a story which appears to see the "godless communists" as a diabolical invasion rather than a mutation of the nastiness already in place.
Robert Tulip wrote:
That psychological numbing of society has a broad impact on the culture of liberty, with a collapse of creative freedom, personal autonomy, interpersonal trust and entrepreneurial risk, generating economic and social stagnation.
Well said, entirely.



Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:24 am
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

BookTalk.org Newsletter 



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book

Featured Books

Books by New Authors


*

FACTS is a select group of active BookTalk.org members passionate about promoting Freethought, Atheism, Critical Thinking and Science.

Apply to join FACTS
See who else is in FACTS







BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!



Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2017. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank