Reflection on Moscow

 

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(continues from Leaving Moscow and Beyond Moscow)

Jack’s personality can be summed up in a few word: ‘on the look-out for a quick buck, an easy fuck and a violent ruck‘. In view of this, I thought that it would be illuminating to take Jack out of his comfort zone and place him, along with his mate Barry, in Communist Russia – specifically Moscow Yaroslavskaya railway station, just to see what he made of it. And what a jolly jape arose!

It’s useful to establish a couple of things here. Firstly – I am a pantser, not a plotter. This means that I ‘don’t plan out anything, or plan very little’. Secondly – Jack is not usually prone to helping people out – not even mates.

So, picture the scene – I am in the Golden Ball in York at a Writing Meetup. I have just been dealt a succession of devasting blows: the pub cannot give us a private (quiet) room to write in, they do not have WiFi and, worse of all, they do not serve chips! This was the venue for me to write the epic battle between Jack the misanthropist and the might of Soviet Russia, and I had just an hour to do it in.

First things first – Jack had to travel back in time. How would he cope with this? Surprisingly well actually! In fact, I don’t think he really noticed the year, so intent was he on figuring out how to get food and shelter in a hostile environment. His ethnic origin (half Polish) helped him a little with the language, and his inherent brutality helped him with the attitude of the ubiquitous soldiers towards himself and the general populace.

Secondly – how would he react to his friend being in danger? This is where the setting had the first effect on Jack. Instead of reacting with disdain or disinterest, as he would have at home, some element of the nurturing nature of his mother came to the fore. Without hesitation, or thought for his own personal safety, he set out to rescue his mate from a one-way trip to Siberia. Perhaps the thought of being alone compelled him to do this, or perhaps it was the thought of his mate being alone? I think this unlikely, though – that would be a step too far for Jack.

Lastly – what would his reaction be to rescuing his mate? The whoop of joy and wild laughter that ensued as a result of the rush of adrenalin and the feeling of having won against steep odds would not have happened at home. But in this setting, I feel that this was very appropriate. Jack is the kind of person that seeks out conflict and embraces danger, but he would have found nothing as challenging as this at home. In this new setting, he truly found himself in his element, and the raw feeling of power and accomplishment played to his deepest nature and consequently brought him much joy.

In conclusion, Jack found his true spiritual home in the Soviet sphere and his personality blossomed accordingly. Yay for Jack.

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14 thoughts on “Reflection on Moscow

    • Such a terrifying question you ask me, Dolly! I’m almost too afraid to answer. The reason is that you expose prejudices in me that I was unconscious of and I am ashamed.
      When I wrote that, I did it in a rather unthinking way. It was a flippant phrase that sprang from my brain and was in the story before I had properly thought about it. My intent was to write something that made a link between a man with a Polish father and an Italian mother. In my mind, his father would have grown up in Poland at a time when it was under the influence of the USSR. He would not have enjoyed some of this and inevitably his character would have been altered by that experience even to the extent that many of his son’s traits would have been unknowingly passed on to his son, and these traits (in my imagination) are the ones relating to suppression of freedom and the feelings of betrayal (by the ‘state’), anger, distrust of authority and, as a result, a certain tendency towards expressing these trait as violence, truculence and a certain brutishness that he probably was not able to control or even understand. So you see why I say prejudice – yes? Because I do not really know what a man’s experience of a communist / soviet regime was like. I have grown up listening to propaganda about the USSR – mainly spread by ‘the west’ from a point of view of a way of life (democracy / consumerism) that was to a large degree opposed to the systems in the soviet bloc. You have exposed my small-mindedness, Dolly, and if I have offended you in any way – I apologise. I now that many people would react to oppression and suppression in very different ways and would retain a kindness and love despite those influences. I think that perhaps you are one of these people.
      The word ‘spiritual’ bothers me when I read it back. I did not really intend it to have religious or metaphysical implications, but I can see now how it could be interpreted that way. I meant in more in the sense that Jack is like his father who grew up in the Soviet sphere and so he felt that link back to the behavioural and cultural roots of his father.
      Having said all that, I’d love to know what prompted you to ask this question, Dolly. Hope you’re having a great day when you read this. 🙂
      Kindness – Robert.

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      • I thank you for a very detailed (and very insightful!) explanation. You did not offend me at all, but the use of “spiritual home” to describe communism and the Soviet satellites is such a contradiction in terms that I felt compelled to ask what you meant by it. I understand that by “spiritual” you mean cultural and idealistic, rather than religious; however,the idealism of the first few post-revolution years was murdered together with people who carried it. Soviet Union became a spiritual desert. Starting in mid-1920’s and all the way to the end, there was only one belief and one motivation: survival at any cost, even at the cost of friends’ and family lives. Therefore, your protagonist will not feel any links to his father’s roots, but hostility and resentment towards the “giant machine” (I am quoting Lenin) that suppressed his father’s culture. This is especially true in the case of Polish people. I was expelled from the Soviet Union as “The Enemy of the People” for making efforts, however small, to fight against the “dictatorship of communism” (Lenin’s term). That’s why I felt I had to ask. I hope I did not offend you with my question and my comments. Be well,
        Dolly

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      • I think we both understand each other very well now, Dolly and I’m appreciative of the time you gave me to bring me to this point. I intuit that my protagonist has taken on his father’s resentment by a process similar to osmosis but without really knowing or feeling where it came from. Thus his resentment is directed to all around him. I’m still trying to understand why he would feel such concern for Barry and why they both reacted with such mirth when he was saved.
        Thanks again for your sweetness.
        Kindness – Robert.

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