“Laughter, actually, saved me.”

On the subject of the Sochi opening ceremony, I’d like to quote from one of Nabokov’s brilliant short stories, Tyrants Destroyed:

The festivities were spreading outside my window, the sun transformed the blue snowdrifts into sparkling down, and one could see playing over distant roofs, a new kind of fireworks (invented recently by a peasant genius) whose colors blazed even in broad daylight. The general jubilation; the Ruler’s gem-bright likeness flashing pyrotechnically in the heavens, the gay hues of the procession winding across the river’s snowy cover, the delightful pasteboard symbols of the fatherland’s welfare; the slogans, designed with variety and elegance, that bobbed above the marchers’ shoulders; the jaunty primitive music; the orgy of banners, the contented faces of the young yokels and the national costumes of the hefty wenches—all of it caused a crimson wave of tenderness to surge within me, and I understood my sin against our great and merciful Master…

This time the music was elaborate and the symbols complex; there was far greater variety and elegance; the wenches were supple and the young men no yokels; for the show was designed to bring tears to the eyes of sophisticates.

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