February 22, 2003

Writing on the Wall Somehow

Writing on the Wall

Somehow I missed this terrific profile of Robert Conquest that appeared in last week's Guardian. (Airstrip One and Cinderella, once again, have come to the rescue, bearing links and comments.)

Many details I hadn't been aware of, particularly regarding his literary activities, and some familiar items that can never be quoted or celebrated enough. One of these last, which I first remember seeing as a carefully inscribed graffito on the wall of a UC Berkeley library men's room, is what has to be the greatest non-pornographic limerick of all time:

There was a great Marxist called Lenin
Who did two or three million men in
That's a lot to have done in
But where he did one in,
that grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.

Below it had been written, in another hand, "conquest = nazi," which had been utterly incomprehensible to me at the time, and "FMLN," only slightly less so. Only much later did I realize just how perfectly this tableau encapsulated the admixture of poetry, gibberish, misdirected erudition, wit and witlessness, crudeness, nostalgia, dogma, and stench which characterized the pseudo-political culture in which I found myself. Memories...

Posted by Dr. Frank at February 22, 2003 02:08 PM | TrackBack