Through a fen to the pit

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December 3, 2017 by AK

I’ve never listened to AC/DC, but let’s say I grew up with it. At school and at college, every other desk bore a semblance of their logo – carved, scratched, inked, penciled. (I’m talking about late-Soviet Moscow, to be clear.) Everybody pronounced the name IS-sy DIS-sy or EES-sy DEES-sy – I still don’t know why. There was something demonic, forbidden about the band: someone had died among them, whispered kids in the know.

Come Perestroika, AC/DC and other hard and heavy groups were soon heard on the radio and seen on TV. I remember “young pioneer” Angus Young doing a duck walk, and one line still rings in my ears, muffled now but piercingly half-yelled, half-squealed then.

While I suspect that AC/DC’s best-known song establishes Russia’s current direction pretty accurately, the country’s pitward path is more of a long and winding road. Of the “ordinary Great Russian country road,” Vassily O. Klyuchevsky wrote in his History:

What in all the world could by more dilatory and tortuous in its progress than it? Yes, try to go straighter than it does, and you end either by losing your way altogether or by finding yourself back in its sinuous windings.

There will be hope-inspiring twists and false reversals, like dead cat bounces in the stock market. Some things have actually improved along the way: lower inflation, better public transport, online tax filing and internet banking. After all, no one can say with perfect certainty where it will end, nor whether Hades’s Trans-Scythian regions will be immediately recognized as such upon arrival. At least my foes are gonna be there too.

Much better to lose our way altogether.


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