Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Article 58, Section 10, 25 Years!

(That's the old Soviet law sentencing people for "anti-Soviet agitation" or some such--oh, and if you're reading this, you'll either get 58-11, "anti-Soviet organization" for agreeing with me, or 58-12 for "not turning me in", either of which means ten years in Siberia for you!)

Back when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago was still published in secret back in the U.S.S.R., a citizen would get a hand-bound copy from someone else (1930 pages or so), have 24 hours to read it secretly, and then have to pass it on to someone else to avoid getting caught with it.

I find it hard to believe that it's possible to read the whole thing in 24 hours, not because of its massive size or because it's boring, but because it's so damn emotionally draining. One needs to take frequent breaks to remain in any sort of high spirits. I think if I had to read the whole thing in 24 hours, I'd go insane and have to be put in a straitjacket gibbering about 10 and a half ounces of bread per day for those "last-leggers"! As it is, I've been reading it all over summer, and I still feel the urge to punch anybody who tries to make a moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. If Obama ever decides to appoint me education czar to anything, I'd make Gulag Archipelago required reading in college literature and world history courses. But that'll never happen, so I might as well take them to college and maybe loan out individual volumes.

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