Smile: Tyche likes idiots

Vladimir Yakovlev, the son of the prominent journalist of the Perestroika years, Yegor Yakovlev, sees no future for himself and his peers in Russia. His advice is sauve qui peut: if you can leave, just do it. Stanislav Belkovsky recommends self-improvement and quiet perseverance. No one will admit to salutary hopes and great expectations. Sergey Dovlatov wrote this around 1970:

There was a conference in Tbilisi: “The optimism of Soviet literature.”

Among others, the poet Narovchatov was speaking. He talked about the boundless optimism of Soviet literature. Then a Georgian writer, Kemoklidze, took the pulpit:

“A question to the previous speaker.”
“Yes?” replied Narovchatov.

“I want to ask about Byron. Was he young?”
“Yes,” Narovchatov was surprised. “Byron died a relatively young man. But why? Why are you asking about it?”

“One more question about Byron. Was he handsome?”
“Yes, Byron had a striking appearance. It’s well known…”

“And one more question about the same Byron. Was he well off?”
“Well of course. He was a lord. He had a castle… Goodness, what weird questions…”

“And the last question about Byron. Was he talented?”
“Byron is England’s greatest poet! What’s the matter – I don’t understand!”

“You will, just wait. Now look at Byron. He was young, handsome, well off, and talented. And he was a pessimist. And you’re old, ugly, dirt poor, and talentless. And you’re an optimist!”

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