Thursday, July 9, 2015


OK, part two. Thanks for being here; read more and, yeah, I gave in and stuck in a tune.

See, we are not ready for a revolution ala 1776. DC is not making rapid overt moves (yet) and we do not have the men and mindset to abandon all security and make the sacrifices our founding fathers made. Perhaps the desperate times requiring desperate measures will come; I hope not, and I do not think it will be. The enemies of our way of life are moving slowly, gradually slipping in unnoticed. There are ways to adapt and make do with any encroachment that do not require bloodshed. I don't advocate a doormat posture, rather a subtle resistance that will effectively deal around any DC oppression. The time might come for open resistance and watering the tree of liberty with blood but in the meantime we all have families and lives.

The Good Soldier Svejk  Jaroslav Hasek

It is a truly great satire (perhaps the greatest of them all) on the most central feature of social life in the past century and a half (at least) in most modern industrialized countries—the ubiquitous presence of huge, labyrinthine bureaucratic structures ostensibly set in place to make modern society more efficient, equal, and fair, but, in fact, reducing life for those who have to deal with them to what often amounts to an incomprehensible and out-of-control game whose major players never tire of announcing in noble-sounding prose and stirring poetry the importance of the structure and its alleged purpose but who, in their daily practice, show no signs of any significant humanity in dealing with subordinates or those whom the bureaucracy is supposed to serve. That target is something we all understand (because we have to deal with it, no matter where we live), and thus the impact of this satire extends well beyond the particular social and political realities of the world it depicts. - Ian Johnston

Back in the early 1900s Europe was involved in some strong Empire domination conflicts, to wit the Austro-Hungarians. Of course this all led to WWI, read about it. Some countries caved in or were whipped into submission and a few countries devised other ways to cope with domination. The Spillers of Soup descended from Teutonic roots and some of the clan got involved with Czechos. It is about the Czechs that I will now discourse.

The Czechs and some other Euros have been contending with Communist oppression for decades and they have found ways to maintain lives under the table so to speak. Black markets, social and fraternal organizations, religious groups, the day to day neighborhood and small town living can exist under the official radar. "Passive aggressive" is a term that might be considered pejorative but when you have a corrupt government it works out fine and dandy for us little guys.

The Good Soldier Svejk pronounced "shvike" or "shwike" if I have that right, is a comedy depicting a subject nationality resisting the oppressors. Primarily an anti-war theme but showing overall resistance to bad government. Created by the true bohemian - as well as anarchist - writer Jaroslav Hasek, Svejk is often impenetrable but ultimately irreverent beneath a simple child-like smile most often mistaken for foolishness. He makes a mockery of his "betters" within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ultimately seeing through the hypocrisies of his day. Almost unintentionally he sabotages a regime already coming apart at the seams under the fiasco of the Great War. His greatest accomplishment: to survive in the face of adversity and absurd situations, which continues to be his legacy for many Czechs...

"And so they've killed our Ferdinand," says Svejk's charwoman, in the famous line that opens the novel, describing the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, 1914.


Svejk, busy massaging his knees for rheumatism responds: "Which Ferdinand, Mrs Muller? I know two. One is a messenger at Prusa's, the chemist's, who once drank a bottle of hair oil there by mistake. And the other is Ferdinand Kokoska who collects dog manure.
Neither of them is any loss."

That, in a nutshell, is Svejk: good-humouredly going about his business, oblivious to the gravity of matters at hand.

To War!

Josef Švejk  The novel's hero: in civilian life a dealer in stolen dogs.
The novel is set during World War I in Austria-Hungary, a multi-ethnic empire full of long-standing tensions. Fifteen million people died in the War, one million of them Austro-Hungarian soldiers of whom around 140,000 were Czechs. Jaroslav Hašek participated in this conflict and examined it in The Good Soldier Švejk.
Many of the situations and characters seem to have been inspired, at least in part, by Hašek's service in the 91st Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army. However, the novel also deals with broader anti-war themes: essentially a series of absurdly comic episodes, it explores both the pointlessness and futility of conflict in general and of military discipline, specifically Austrian military discipline, in particular. Many of its characters, especially the Czechs, are participating in a conflict they do not understand on behalf of a country to which they have no loyalty.
The character of Josef Švejk is a development of this theme. Through possibly-feigned idiocy or incompetence he repeatedly manages to frustrate military authority and expose its stupidity in a form of passive resistance: the reader is left unclear, however, as to whether Švejk is genuinely incompetent, or acting quite deliberately with dumb insolence. These absurd events reach a climax when Švejk, wearing a Russian uniform, is mistakenly taken prisoner by his own troops.
In addition to satirizing Habsburg authority, Hašek repeatedly sets out corruption and hypocrisy attributed to priests of the Catholic Church.
Thanks to Wikipedia

There is something about the illustrations I really like.

The novel was originally illustrated by Josef Lada and more recently also by Czech illustrator Petr Urban.

So that's it for a while. Avoid crowds.

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