The Language of Violence

Like: Vlad, you’ve lost your fucking mind

Putin and Merkel spoke on the phone
They discussed the situation in Crimea and Ukraine
Putin agreed to admit OSCE observers
Kostya writes from Khanty-Mansiysk: I’m always curious about

what they actually say to each other

Well, I say, she’s
Like: Vlad, you’ve lost your fucking mind
I’m an old cunt and I’m telling you, you’ve lost your fucking mind
I also want to fuck people up sometimes, but, Vlad, I restrain myself

Kostya says stop it

And suddenly, three things all at once

One: I’m talking to myself in obscenities
Two: I consider myself an old cunt
Three: I want to fuck someone up

“For instance, me?” the psychoanalyst offers up hopefully. “For not
flying with you?”
Yes, if I ever flew, with or without you
I want to fuck you up because I don’t fly
It’s your job to make me be able to fly

End of session

I talk to myself in the language of violence, just like Putin during his dada press conference
Putin and I understand each other
The rest of the world can’t fucking believe this shit — what the fuck was that? Hey, Vlad, wake up, you don’t own the place,
Angela says. (Aside) I’m not confident that he’s in touch with reality. But
Vlad can’t wake up. And he does own the place. Vlad and I own the place.

I don’t know who Putin’s analyst is, but lately, they haven’t been managing.
I’m better off: I know exactly when violence became an essential
condition of my existence
For instance: I have to go out while the children are with the nanny, but my mother-in-law looks at me, judging. I beg her not to judge me, I tell her that if she judges me, too, I will simply never stop crying

“So you attempt to persuade the rapist not to rape you,” my analyst says.
I clarify:
“I wasn’t trying to persuade him not to rape me. I was trying to persuade him not to kill me. I was offering rape in exchange for my life.”
End of session
The deal still applies
The terms haven’t changed
Tell us, children: how did violence become an essential condition of your existence?


What do they actually say to each other, souls?
“You have such big breasts and such skinny little legs,” he says. “It’s
funny, these little kid legs, together . . .”
You never know what someone else sees.
“You’re golden.”
“Your second mouth is celestially gentle.”
I say nothing. I’m Angela Merkel.
“I want you now,” he says.
I say nothing.


Are you tired?
No
Sad?
No
I’m scared
Waking up to a screaming child who doesn’t want to go to preschool
Having sex when you just want the guy to hurry up and come
American anthropologists collected enough data to come to the conclusion
that Russian women care too much about the male orgasm
“It’s like they want my death,” says the anthropologist, having just narrowly
avoided the final sleep in the embrace of a Russian girl

It’s a little like rape
On both their parts
That’s why we’re just having tea


You need to pay very close attention to stories like this: the mother of
two small children who is also in a complicated romantic situation
is poisoned eating herring out of the refrigerator

no matter when I look, she’s already been in there

Your honor, I request that the court deem this a suicide attempt

Especially considering that the schema of “rape in exchange for your life” is something out of roberto benigni

the internal auschwitz fades in


I dreamed that we adopted a lion and a puma
And it wasn’t until the lion tried to eat a kitten that I realized we hadn’t fed them
in two days
I reach in the fridge again
What do I feed two large free creatures
Beans . . .
I make them some gruel, they eat it, but it’s not enough for them

They need different feed.


Merkel angels sing

Your flabby stomach the scratches from god knows where including
the bite of the vampire queer your big circumcised (culture!) cock and my queer-
maternity with two little white heteronormative
neurotypical clear-skinned girls, whose crying is more precious than the crying
of an African child dying among eleven
million other people in Somalia in the 2010s but not as precious as
the little tear of an American child who had been promised happiness

my intact, uncliterodectomized clitoris, although there are a few stitches after
giving birth twice in Russia (culture!) — you couldn’t have missed them when I sat
on your face yesterday — the sun was shining, and that was the only thing you said in the beginning.

Let’s go back to Pushkin.

It’s too bad I didn’t notice the main general metaphor: the map and the monument come alive.


March 2014. Fifth municipal children’s hospital in Pripyat. Everything
plundered. On the head of the bed it says, “I fucked this treatment in the mouth.” On the wall it says KKKlan and Moschino Love.
Small children cry bloody murder at the mere sight of the nurse.
I’m in a room with two boys.
After lights out, the older one, Pasha, asks the younger one: did you hear that there’s going to be a war?
What, don’t you watch the news? They say there’s going to be a war.

They’re the children of Russian secret service agents. Pasha is into Dmitry Glukhovsky,1 writes stories, and asked to read me the first eighteen pages. It kind of reminds me of the movie Target: after a nuclear strike, the father of the protagonist, who is a little boy, takes him to Altai on a secret train in the secret government subway, from there we’ll get back at the enemy.
Pasha’s ringtone is the Russian national anthem. Before bed, Pasha puts on his
headphones and listens to the Russian national anthem.

All rise.  


I still can’t believe in war. In Ginzburg’s diary of the Leningrad blockade, she says that lovers don’t share bread. Everyone took their rations home, family members were officially, institutionally entitled to a portion — for the elderly mother, the dependents, but if people met to make love, then each of them would still bring their own piece for themselves. For me, this seems like a terrifying metaphor — that love is a luxury and a whim, that war and hunger put everything in its place (I hate this place, where it’s biological and inhuman). You can neither give nor take more than the allotted amount.

Three days pass and I no longer bring you my feed. We’re through. An insane text shows up to the children’s hospital “hows your sweet cunt doing.” When I reply, “again with the Pushkin,” you call me and ask what I’m feeling.

The boy Pasha dreams of a goldfish. His first wish is for lots of money. His second wish is to rule everything. His third wish is for three more wishes.

I act like a hypocrite, and say that everything’s covered in obscenities and the wards need remodeling. The administrator nods politely. I see that he’s been stealing money.

lena I don’t get why you’re so delicate, says my beloved mother-in-law
you had a rough childhood, after all


we come into this world as the red screaming classes
then that’s us in love

every love is born equal in its rights and worthiness

even if it’s just a feeble messianic event

you need to play with it and you need to feed it the other feed

or else love will die of nonlove
it will forget how to speak in a matter of hours
it will never grow teeth
it will die in the psycho-orphanage from deprivation of everything
it has the right to housing and education
to sexual immunity
and, up to a certain age, to nonparticipation in military conflicts

 — Translated by Bela Shayevich

  1. Author of pulpy but decent contemporary sci-fi. [Trans.] 

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