Parody or Not?

Nearly 2,000 people called for the termination of a New York City professor after she reportedly fell asleep during an anti-racist meeting held on Zoom.

Of course, not. Parody is dead. One can post these stories non-stop all day and one is more insane than the other.

Now let’s discuss how the professor must have totally deserved it because it only ever happens to those who do.

5 thoughts on “Parody or Not?”

  1. You’ve probably seen it but for other readers here, want to recommend and ask what you think of my take on it below.

    Woke America Is a Russian Novel
    The metaphysical gap between mid-19th-century Russia and early-21st-century America is narrowing

    When I saw the title on Rod’s blog, I positively felt envious of Americans leading such sheltered, safe lives that they engage in apocalyptic fantasies for entertainment. Surprisingly, this article by a professor of Russian literture turned out to be interesting both in his analysis of Russian lit and of American realities. It is also very well written. (Put my favorite paragraph at the end of this post.)

    Out of the three Russian novels he discusses, I read only Chernyshevsky’s “What Is to Be Done?” and did it several times with great pleasure. Loved Vera Pavlovna (‘Vera’ means ‘faith’ in Russian) so much that the author’s claim “there is still time to right this ship. The best evidence of this is the absence of any Vera Pavlovnas in America right now” and the characterization of Vera’s story as “weirdly uplifting” made me feel something unpleasant.

    Could not one interpret Vera’s character as a force for progress in the best, healthiest possible way? She doesn’t talk of terror; she doesn’t resemble an ideal (and unhuman) revolutionary in that novel. Rather she organizes a sewing collective and lets its members decide for themselves which degree of collectivization they want to adopt. Then she leaves the seamstresses to live their own lives as they see fit and goes to university to become a doctor which was ‘not done’ in those times. Vera Pavlovna, who “drinks not as much tea as cream ; tea is only pretext for cream, she has more than half a cup of it,” is hardly a bloodthirsty figure.

    Reading PETER SAVODNIK’s analysis, I felt he prefers Bazarov’s failure to create anything positive (*) or Raskolnikov’s confusion – “a metaphor for a country that no longer knows what it is supposed to be” – to Vera’s positive, efficient efforts to build a better world.

    Savodnik says both male characters “would have been stopped had they found love before it was too late.” So is the solution to everything retreating into a private sphere and not trying to change society even if it’s horribly rotten like Tzarist Russia (or Russia today)?

    Would Russia today benefit from more cynical , defeated Raskolnikovs or from more citizens fighting for a better future like Vera? Would America?

    If building efforts are presented in such a negative light, doesn’t it encourage explosion?

    “What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it stink like rotten meat?

    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?" 

    (*) “Bazarov might like to pretend that he’s a radical, that he’s bigger than romantic love or bourgeois convention, that he is a man of History. But he’s not. He is incapable of that. The hope that Turgenev seems to be hinting at is that no one is, or, at least, most of us are not. This is a good thing.”

    Full text of the novel inEnglish is here:


    Self-righteous progressives smirk and shake their heads and say something about white fragility, but one detects—for the first time—just the tiniest glint of fear. The old smugness colliding with the rioters and the airbrushers and those who keep chanting, yelling, roaring that everything they know, everyone they love is corrupt, evil, white, that the only way forward is a permanent contrition. Meanwhile, the angry right, which is most of the right, is watching this, on its screens and Main Streets and in the squares where the old statues used to stand, and it is horrified and scared. It feels disconnected from the same country over which it is said to exercise an overwhelming and all-pervasive racist supremacy. It knows not where to go or whom to look to. It is an acephalous mass. Partly, this has to do with demographics—race, religion, geography. And partly it has to do with the fact that its leader is an incompetent mountebank whose buffoonery has destroyed countless lives. But it also has to do with the new economy, the culture, the technology. The angry right believes, with reason, that it is cornered, that its time is limited.


    1. // the characterization of Vera’s story as “weirdly uplifting” made me feel something unpleasant.

      Because there is nothing weird about it.

      Russians with consciousness retreating into ‘finding romantic love’ will not stop Russian aggression today, will not improve lives of millions there, won’t stop murders of Ukrainians and others.

      Peter’s essay doesn’t present any positive view of fighting for reforms, even when they’re sorely needed, that’s my ideological problem with it.


    2. Very good article, I understand most of what the author discusses. I’m in line with your comments el. I remember thinking even 20 years ago that the USA showed signs of the later Romans. I am not a professional historian or scholar, but sure do appreciate what you write el, and I’m glad I discovered Clarissa’s Blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your kind words, Don Benham. I thought a lot about this article and am glad somebody was interested.

        “I am not a professional historian or scholar” Me neither. I was born in Ukraine, yet immigrated in my early teens to Israel. Clarissa is the best expert here since she lived longer in FSU and read all those three novels.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting point about trust and nationalism:

    // Scholars of government think a great deal about trust, consensus, legitimacy, and other related issues. … High-trust societies tend to be high-cooperation societies and to have high levels of consensus about the direction of policy and few if any questions about legitimacy. Trust is a key ingredient in the secret sauce of the happy Nordic countries and in well-governed places such as Switzerland and Canada…. When that succeeds, it produces a virtuous cycle: Working well creates the conditions for working better; trust and trustworthiness buttress one another; the prestige that accrues to administrative work attracts the sort of people who add to that prestige.

    When trust fails, the virtuous circle turns vicious, and then the state has to find other ways to encourage or compel cooperation in order to function. The spirit of nationalism is cultivated by Beijing and by Budapest to serve that purpose — by emphasizing a common national identity (often with the aid of a common external enemy or a hated internal minority group) and a sense of solidarity and shared destiny, the state can achieve a high level of buy-in and consensus, at least for a time, in spite of corruption or incompetence. The socialist ideology of the USSR served much the same purpose, as a variation on its main theme does in contemporary North Korea.

    From that point of view, it is not surprising that the two poles of American politics have drifted toward socialism and nationalism at a time when the effectiveness and trustworthiness of our public institutions is in decline.


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