Saturday, November 7, 2009


The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.

The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces - in nature, in society, in man himself.

You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.
Leon Trotsky (7 november 1879-1940) statesman, writer & editor

today is the birthday of the bolshevik revolutionary and marxist theorist leon trotsky. these days trotsky isn't particularly well known in the united states. and today, as in the good ol' 1950s, anything or any person that is associated with the "s" word, or heaven forbid the "c" word, is not only shunned but also maligned; so, trotsky hasn't been a household name for a quite a long time.

however, perhaps there will be a new wave of interest in this under-appreciated and misunderstood advocate of class struggle and the "permanent revolution" as a result of barbara kingsolver's new novel the lacuna. on thursday I happened to catch susan page's interview with kingsolver on the diane rehm show. the book sounds fascinating. the book is a historical novel about the life of a fictitious boy/man named harrison shepard. the story takes place in the united states and in mexico where shepard, the son of an american father and a mexican mother, lives. shepard's story intersects with many of the tumultuous events of the first half of the twentieth century and in the telling of shepard's life, kingsolver creates a world where he (and we) encounter historical figures such as trotsky, kahlo, fdr, and even j.edgar.

like many fans of kingsolver's novels I have been waiting a long time of a new book; after listening to page's interview and reading this review I expect the wait will be worth it. I'll let you know later, needless to say I already ordered the book!

even if one isn't a student of political theory, one might know a bit about trotsky from the 2002 movie frida. in the movie geoffrey rush plays leon trotsky. through the film we learn trotsky was greatly admired by diego rivera, who was helpful when trotsky's exile led him to mexico. once in mexico, trotsky and his wife lived in rivera and frida kahlo's blue house. eventually, diego and trotsky had a falling out which resulted in trotsky moving out. less than a year after moving out of the blue house an attempt on trotsky's life was made which eventually lead to his death at the age of 60.

the photo above is part of the amazing set of diego rivera murals at the detroit institute of arts, the series is entitled detroit industry. I put another photo of the work a while back, you can see it here.

those interested in learning more about trotsky, are advised to read trotsky's autobiography, my life which was published in 1930 (the entirety of the book can be found here). then there is bertrand patenaude's recently published trotsky: downfall of a revolutionary which covers trotsky's life after 1930.

a live version of the beatles performing revolution


ArtSparker said...

the character on the right looks a bit Mao-ish.

Dumdad said...

Fabulous mural.

willow said...

Love-love-love Diego Rivera's work.

tony said...

It's A Shame People In The States Know So Little About S******* & C********.America HAD a Proud Tradition & History until Macarthy.Thanks For Throwing Some Light On The Subject.

Alan Burnett said...

Thanks for the tip about the book, I will keep my eyes open for it.

Coffee Messiah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lettuce said...

So glad to hear theres a new Kingsolver out, excellent!

(enjoyed your castle pics. of course.)

Coffee Messiah said...

sorry about the delete:

History is not a strong point anymore, here in the usa ; (

Always liked this song, and the slow version: You can count me out (IN)


mouse (aka kimy) said...

as - knowing diego's propensity to put in the visages of real people, mao could have been in mind when he painted that figure!!

dd - it is amazing - I really need to go back this time with my husband so he can experience it - as it is an experience for one is surrounded by the power of diego's celebration of detroit industry (definitely a thing of the past)

willow - have you been up to detroit?

tony - thanks for appreciating the post!! idealist that I am believe that maybe....these traditions of the past will be renewed.

alan - kingsolver is a wonderful writer if you haven't discovered her yet

lettuce - I can't wait till the book arrives, although I know all the other books on my pile will be shifting down on the reading list. for me some books receive immediate ascendancy

cm - no worries - I'll always be counting you in and out and everything in between!

WAT said...

The original "Revolution" is the slow groovy version on the "White Album." Lennon was happy with this, but the other Beatles wanted a more hard rock version, which is what we ended up with in that clip you posted.

pink dogwood said...

happy to know about the book - she is one of my favorite authos as well :)