Unreal Nature

October 2, 2015

An L-Shaped Manner

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… it’s wrong to view a samovar with an eye to making it pound nails …

This is from Knight’s Move by Viktor Shklovsky (2005):

… the knight is not free — it moves in an L-shaped manner because it is forbidden to take the straight road.

… — don’t think that the knight’s move is the coward’s move.

I’m no coward.

Our tortuous road is the road of the brave, but what are we to do if we see with our own two eyes more than honest pawns and dutiful kings.

[ … ]

… If you take hold of a samovar by its stubby legs, you can use it to pound nails, but that is not its primary function.

I saw war. With my own hands I stoked stoves with pieces of a piano in Stanislavov and made bonfires out of rugs and fed the flames with vegetable oil while trapped in the mountains of Kurdistan. Right now I’m stoking a stove with books. I know the laws of war and I understand that in its own way it reorganizes things, such as reducing a man to 180 pounds of human flesh, or using a rug as surrogate for a fuse.

But it’s wrong to view a samovar with an eye to making it pound nails more easily or to write books so that they will make a hotter fire.


War — privation — reorganizes things in its own way, which is terrible but honest. However, to change the meaning of things, to bore through a door with a spoon, to shave oneself with an awl and, at the same time, give assurances that everything is going well — that’s not honest.




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: