Saturday, April 2, 2011

Because I remembered she was dead.

It's probably weird for me to return to history after my last polemic effort, but I still feel connections to these people whose voices I've sought to hear for the past four years. My heart just broke when I read this letter from Vera Mukhina, two years before she died, when she was sent to a southern medical resort:
I've been in Barvikha for two weeks already, since August 24. I've already been lying down for twelve days, lying eternally, never standing, only to get to the table in my room for breakfast and lunch. [...] The doctors are closed books, and it's hard to engage them in an open conversation about one's health. It might be that it's necessary to do that; after all, why should a sick person know when he's going to die? But sometimes it's worse [not to know]. [...]

I can find no peace, I'm parched for life. I love life, I love the air, the sun, the earth; I love humans, I love actions. It's that which is killing me. It's obvious, this inactivity so necessary for me has torn me from my typical equilibrium, and I'm crawling up the walls. At the same time I understand why I must rest, I can't stop myself from reacting. They told me to lie down again today, and it upset me to tears - it didn't even upset me - and somehow stupidly insulted me. Can it be I'm already an invalid, can it be I'll never again climb into the woods for work... No one ever told me that I've become an invalid, but I can hear it in their words. I don't want this!
I still feel connections to these people whose voices I've sought to hear...

That seems like such a paltry understatement. What I mean to say is that this whole venture has been an attempt to reconstruct an imaginary analogue of these people -- but then I become sentimental when I succeed.

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