“An old, proven method”

Do I hate him? Do I hate the dictator in the Kremlin (or in a bunker)? Of course I do.

But it’s both an over- and understatement. The dictator is a pathetic little man, old and infirm; a small-minded man of modest talents sliding towards his final dissolution. Too small, too unsubstantial to deserve hatred from people like me.

On the other hand, he’s a criminal. He’s done so much harm to this country and perhaps even greater harm to some of its neighbors. Irreparable, irreversible damage. I grieve for those wasted years, misspent by the whole nation: my feelings transcend hatred – but don’t cancel it.

Then I tell myself: think of the additional, unnecessary damage this hatred is inflicting on you, on top of all the negatives from the past. It’s poison: worst of all, it’s paralyzing poison.

Laughter, actually, saved me,” wrote Nabokov in Tyrants Destroyed. From hatred and despair; from intoxication with popular sentiment; from falling in love with “half-witted torturers of man.”

Laughter, actually, saved me. Having experienced all the degrees of hatred and despair, I achieved those heights from which one obtains a bird’s-eye view of the ludicrous… Rereading my chronicle, I see that, in my efforts to make him terrifying, I have only made him ridiculous, thereby destroying him — an old, proven method.

But it can’t stop the nightmare in the so-called real world, can it? Here’s Nabokov’s narrator again:

This is an incantation, an exorcism, so that henceforth any man can exorcise bondage. I believe in miracles.

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