SOUNDTRACK: CHUMBAWAMBA-Anarchy (1994).
Long before Chumbawamba were Tubthumping up the charts, they were a bunch of squatting anarchists. In fact their history as a collective is fascinating in and of itself (they had even started a record label called Agit-Prop).
This album was their sixth, and the cover was not the only controversial thing about it. It opens with the supremely catchy “Give the Anarchist a Cigarette” which features the delightfully sing a long: “Nothing ever burns down by itself/ Ever fire needs a little bit of help.”
From this disc on (their previous albums were a mish mash of samples and dance beats) they set about writing catchy electronic rock songs. Simple beats that you could dance to, but with subversive lyrics up the wazoo. They tackled Homophobia: “homophobia the worst disease you can’t love who you want to love in times like these.” It’s an a capella track with an arr. trad. melody and (like “Tubthumping”) it was also set in a pub: “In the pubs and clubs and burger bars, breeding pens for pigs Alcohol, testosterone, and ignorance and fists.”
I’ve enjoyed this disc for as long as I’ve had it. It’s a catchy mix of different styles with a surprisingly strong sounding multi-voiced chorus. (For all of Chumbawamba’s ups and downs, their harmonies have always been spot on).
The disc also features a number of 30 second snippets of TV (one is called “D’oh”) and commercials. Songs also reference The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as well as local politics and general awareness: “open your eyes, time to wake up, enough is enough is enough is enough” (from the song “Enough is Enough,” which is decidedly not a cover of the disco hit).
Because I have the sense of humor of a five-year old, I have always loved the lyrics of the wholly danceable “Mouthful of Shit” “Can’t hear you ’cause your mouth’s full of shit, do something about it. ” Also like “Tubthumping,” it features a solo female vocal coming out of the din, delicately singing, “You think you’re Gods gift, you’re a liar. I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire.” It’s fun to sing along to, just be mindful of where you are when yo do it!
[READ: Week of June 25, 2010] Letters of Insurgents [Third Letters]
The hardest thing about writing up posts about this book is trying to limit my quotes! There are so many good ones, and ones that so encapsulate what I want to say that it just seems easier to use his words. So, Insurgent Summer readers, I apologize for all of the blocks. Fredy writes too well not to share it.
And so begins the third letters:
Yarostan seems somewhat chastened as he opens his third letter: “Your letter was comradely and I’ll try to answer in the same spirit” (109). Of course, he doesn’t concede anything: “But I don’t agree with you” (109). However, he makes light of the previous letter by addressing Mirna’s accusations:
She’s still convinced you’re the ogre who caused my arrest but she now considers you a rather pleasant ogre. She even expressed a desire to get together with you and Sabina if circumstances should ever allow such a meeting (109).
Mirna has lived in a world of threats or a summons: “Mirna saw your letter as an omen…those were the only types of messages she had ever received” (111). But Yarostan assures her that he was arrested for activities that he and Jan were engaged in. Thousands of people were being imprisoned for being hostile to the state. Sophia’s letter just coincided with what was happening.
But despite that, he is still critical of Luisa and her viewpoints. Late in the letter, Yarostan tries to explain, again, why that is:
You’ve intoxicated yourself with that experience and you’re offended by my attempt to understand its nature. But if we refuse to see where it led us. we can hardly avoid reproducing the same outcome over and over again. If we’re to avoid that outcome, we should confront the elements that led to it, expose them, uproot them and bury them (123).
And yet, Yarostan himself feels somewhat guilty about himself and his attitude:
At one point in your letter you said I had given you the impression that I considered myself more observant and more insightful than you. The opposite is true. I held on to conclusions similar to yours in the face of experiences that completely undermined those conclusions; I was neither observant nor insightful; I was blind. I’m unravelling the significance of those experiences only now, almost two decades later; many of my insights are being formulated for the first time only in response to your letter (133).
So Yarostan is chastened that it took Sophia to see what he did not:
Your letter angered me because it reminded me how long and how stubbornly I held on to that commitment. You confronted me with attitudes I had only recently rejected. I had never before coupled that rejection in words. You weren’t far wrong when you said I was carried away by my rhetoric. I was putting into words for the first time what I had just learned and I made it appear that I had always known it (136).
And yet, despite that call to awakening, he still thinks that Sophia is wrong.
The first thing that Yarostan writes is that he’s surprised that George Alberts wasn’t arrested, because he thought that Alberts was arrested before everyone else. He says that Alberts was accused of:
sabotage, of being a foreign agent and of representing a danger to society’s productive forces. I know he wasn’t the cause of our arrest but I was sure he had been arrested. Are you sure about this? (110).
But just wait till he hears why he wasn’t arrested!
Jumping back to Yarostan’s arrest. As he said before, the first arrest didn’t change him. In fact , when he got out he had the same attitude as Sophia does now: resume the struggle! But this resulted in him turning more into a pedagogue than an insurgent. And he shouted and preached every night to Mirna’s family. And yet:
To Mirna’s father I was neither a drunkard nor a thief nor much of a rebel. I went to work on time, drove the scheduled route, didn’t get drunk and never tried to borrow the bus. Sedlak had no trouble at all understanding what I was in his world: a political pedagogue (113).
And it was this future politician that Mirna’s dad was betting on when he encouraged Yarostan to marry his daughter. He was a shrewd businessman and could see the value in the market, but he misjudged the species of person Yarostan was. Yarostan was different.
He was even different from the person he was twenty years ago. During the first week’s letters, I noted that an important question was whether Sophia or Yarostan had changed. Yarostan notes:
When I first wrote you I wondered if you had changed and if I’d recognize you; when I read your first letter I recognized you far too well; I realized it was I who had changed (116).
But so had many other things.
Yarostan revisited the factory where they had worked, which he hadn’t been to in 15 years (since he was turned down for a job for being a criminal). The word “popular” had replaced the name Zagad on the printing machines. It was now spruced up, the machines were fixed, the walls were painted. And yet it looked the same as twenty years ago.
But the big thing is that the workers were on strike. There was a dispute about union reps.
It was the collective decision of the workers in the plant. It wasn’t a decision taken by politicians and transmitted to the workers by union representatives or any other agents of those in power. In fact the purpose of the strike was to oust the union representative. They won this demand immediately: the official left his post as soon as the strike broke out. But the workers remained on strike. They worked out a scheme for replacing the union representative. They wanted the post to rotate among all the workers in the plant, in alphabetical order. Each worker was to occupy the post for a month (117).
Despite this development, Yarostan is disappointed at how quickly they gave in
The manager insisted on a permanent and appointed union representative. The workers abandoned their initial scheme and insisted only on the right to elect a permanent representative, a demand the manager is ready to grant (117).
But Yarostan realizes that they are acting smartly about the strike:
Despite their apprehension and their caution these workers are not the puppets we were. This time the project is genuinely their own (118).
More surprising than any of that is the fact that they invited him to come back to work there! And he accepted! (Although Mirna refused to give up her job when she heard). The workers also knew of some of their former colleagues and they were surprised they he didn’t know about them: Marc, the new kid that neither of them had an opinion of, “is one of the more important bureaucrats in the state apparatus; he has been on the central committee of the state planning commission for several years (119), and Adrian is now a well-known politician. And, Jasna generous Jasna, is a teacher at Yara’s school and lives in the neighborhood.
Yarostan rushed to the school to see Jasna. Before he saw her, he ran into Yara. Now, I can’t tell if this is supposed to be indicative of his character or not, but I took this paragraph very negatively (because I have kids, too):
When Yara came out of school she thought I’d come to walk her home and was pleased, since I had never done that before. I told her I had just learned an old friend of mine taught in her school (120).
Yara is aware of Jasna and is very disappointed to hear that that’s who he knew. You see, she was the last teacher to join the protest that Yara started.
When Jasna walks out, she sees them standing there and she immediately embraces them and praises Yara for her courage. And then she breaks down and apologizes for being such a coward. Yara forgives her. Jasna explains that her life has been plagued by fear. But Yara’s demonstration has broken that fear for her. And she promises to visit soon.
Yaristan later decided to visit (against Mirna’s wishes) the recently formed political prisoners club [I have a hard time imagining how such a club gets started]. It was like the underworld, where everyone looked to see who the next newcomer would be. And even he himself was greeted warmly by an older man that he barely recognized: Zdenek Tobarkin.
When Zdenek was released from prison, he too was cast aside when he reapplied for his old job. But the other workers remembered him and threatened to strike if he was not hired back, and he was!
Zdenek had been rehired as a union rep even though he believed that unions represented the bureaucracies not the workers. So, he made it a point to work only for the workers’ demands and fought to increase wages and
improve safety standards and working conditions; he didn’t take seriously the directives that came from the top regarding work discipline and productivity.” (124).
In fact it was he who initiated the strike at his plant. And he was thrilled and energized by the experience until he was ousted from his position by the very workers he fought for,
Zdenek was popular among workers for his consistent defense of their interests as workers,
but he was known as a critic of the government party. The newly appointed plant council then proceeded to elect a new trade union council and voted back the very individuals who had previously appointed the plant council; by this maneuver the status of the trade union council was legitimized as an organ higher than the plant council and therefore empowered to appoint the members of the plant council (125).
And what was worse is that all of the things that he thought he was doing independently were in fact part of the larger union effort after all:
When the strike broke out and almost all plants were on strike when the day began, it became clear that not a single one of these strikes was a spontaneous gesture of solidarity; it became obvious that the decision to strike had originated yet higher, that it was the decision of the general secretary of the organization, who was at that time jockeying for the post of prime minister. The decision had originated at the peak of the state apparatus and by transmitting it, Zdenek had been a state agent (126).
Zdenek had to rethink everything he that he believed. And his main regret was that he never really looked at himself until after he was kicked out of his position.
The Zdenek that Yarostan encountered in the club was a totally different person. Now he rails against even the language that they used. At the prisoner’s club, he got into an argument with another man there. I’m going to quote the salient arguments. In sum:
Zdenek: “The very language we once used has to be demystified; terms like workers’ movement, union, popular will should be abandoned until humanity regenerates itself and knows what it means by them.”
Man: “That sounds like an ambitious project, my friend; it would require organizational resources that are not available to us at present,”
Zdenek “Organizational resources are one of the things we don’t need; that’s yet another mystification.”
Man: “I don’t understand you…. Terms like workers’ movement and union have been transformed into synonyms of the word state. They must be demystified; their real meanings have to be restored. This requires some type of organization, minimally some type of publishing activity.”
Zdenek “Those terms don’t have any real meanings…. Organizations were never useful to workers. Unions as well as councils were useful only to politicians. All the forms you mention are forms which allowed politicians to make themselves representatives of the working people, embodiments of the workers’ movement.
Man: “You seem to want every generation to destroy the language and invent one of its own.”
Zdenek: “Maybe that’s exactly what I want…. For people to destroy the language along with all the other conditions they’re born into, for every generation to shape its own world and invent its own language. How can we talk of a revolution in which people reshape their world if we can’t even imagine people shaping their own language? How can people shape anything if they never leave the world they’re bom into?” (128-129).
Zdenek is pretty hard core with his arguments. And I think they work in theory but in practice I don’t see how he can hope to have people work together if they are so individualized and can’t “organize.” When he argues, “don’t you see that it’s impossible to overthrow a ruling social order with organization and discipline?” (130), I just don’t see how that is a practical way to think.
He may, indeed, be correct when he argues that using that language means “What you’re talking about is the reinstatement of the ruling order, not its overthrow” (130). And yet, without organization, you just have a whole bunch of people doing what they want. Anarchy.
I agree with Zdenek’s argument that “The only thing our struggle for liberation didn’t bring about was our liberation. The police were the only victors.” (132). Yet I’m not sure that his plan can achieve what he wants.
Then Yarostan introduces another character. A person whose name he doesn’t recall but whom he calls Anton. Anton joined the workers in building a barricade. But when the army marched in, he continued shooting: “For him the resistance hadn’t ended” (137). Anton was of course put in prison. He explains: “I was called a foreign agent for shooting at a foreign army that marched in and occupied the city (139). Yarostan admits that without Luisa he would have wound up like Anton.
And yet Yarostan needed Manual to peel off that very layer that Luisa had given him. Manuel is not an invention, he was a prisoner Yarostan met in his second year in prison. Yarostan was discussing an event that Luisa had told him about workers using the unions to carry their struggle. Manuel knew of the event and said that Yarostan was suppressing 90% of the story:
unknown to the workers who had risked their lives all day and had seen countless friends and relatives slaughtered, a meeting took place. It was something like a private meeting between the government that had been discarded and destroyed during the day, the government that had lost its armed force and ceased to function…. The politician of the ousted old order offered these workers posts in the government. Instead of turning their backs to this wily politician and telling him the workers had just destroyed governments and had become their own masters, these union militants accepted the offer. They told themselves that a government with their presence was no longer a government but a mere organ of the workers’ self-government. And they told other workers that they were not a government at
all but a revolutionary committee; they said the state had been abolished. And many workers accepted this. (140).
When Manuel learned of this, he turned in his membership card. He was later arrested for his involvement with the group, but this arrest saved his life because many other members of that union were later killed.
But Yarostan notes that the most important thing Manuel taught him, was to
understand the difference between the rebel and the philosopher of rebellion, between someone like Ron and someone like Luisa, between workers and the representation of workers by unions, councils, parties and movements. He also helped me see how easily we delude ourselves and take one for the other, how easily we become carriers of the representation and agents of our own repression (141).
Although during his first prison term Yariostan still didn’t understand that: “Yet after all those experiences I left prison like a new organizer” (146).
Yarostan seems more conciliatory in this letter. He’s still very critical, but he’s less outright dismissive of Sophia. And he’s less hostile to her personally. He ends his letter with yet another sentiment that I (as a reader) am fully behind: “I’d like to learn more about your life. I found your descriptions fascinating and some of your analyses profound and informative” (147). And yet, he can’t leave it on a that pleasant note:
But I won’t be converted to your life’s central project. I was converted to it once, by Luisa, and I’m still struggling to rid myself of my entanglement with it. I can’t honestly say I admire you for holding on to that project so tenaciously and for
such a long time (147).
Sophia responds to his letter with an amusing opening: “You should be happy to learn that Sabina’s comment after she read your letter was, ‘He’s
absolutely right.’” (149). This antagonistic relationship between Sophia and Sabina absolutely fascinates me. And I have to wonder if they are so antagonistic about other things too. For two people who don’t consider themselves a family, they sure fight like sisters!
Sabina hadn’t read his second letter and is thrilled to hear that he married Mirna, “I knew her, she was a marvel!” (149).
Luisa also chimed in about the letter, but all she said (and I have to say she is really abused more than anyone else by Yarostan) is that she’s pleased to hear about Jasna. But she’s very dismissive of all of the “facts” of his letter: about Manuel, Adrian even Marc because, “From here we can’t prove otherwise” (149).
But before we get into the full response, we must look at this revelation, which in many ways is akin but sort of inverse to Yarostan’s (that Sophia woke him up). Sophia reveals that Yarostan’s opinion had meant so much to her:
For twenty years I longed to tell you about myself…. I wanted to tell you about my life because I thought I’d lived up to what you might have wanted me to be…. Until your letters challenged my self-evaluation I’d thought I had done rather well…. Yet now that I can finally tell you about my little victories I feel embarrassed and inhibited. I can’t help seeing myself through the lenses you’re now wearing and I look ludicrous to myself (168).
So what has led Sophia to this revelation?
The four of them argue with each other about different points in the letter until the get to the matter of George Alberts. Luisa says it was obvious that he wasn’t arrested: “It was Alberts who made our release possible! He couldn’t have done that from jail” (150).
They argue some more about other people and incidents. But, when Sophia says, “I was wrong about Ron,” Sabina jumps to his defense. Sophia responds with, “I thought you and Ron had just made love on the beach” Sabina replies:
Ron and I swam together and that was all! Surely you know that now! Ron knew what you’d think. He said if you suspected your best friends without asking them anything, he was through with you (all 155).
Sophia admits that she loved Ron. But when he started hanging around with Sabina, she felt betrayed:
The two of you used me but you didn’t trust me. That’s not the way you treat what you’re calling your best friend (156).
Sophia relates the story that she’s talking about: One night Sabina threw rocks at her window. She asked if Sophia would watch over a couple of bikes for a little while. Half an hour later, with a demonic grin, she said “Thanks a lot.” That’s all.
But the real problem with the incident (aside from the using) was that Ron was in jail and Sophia had to learn that from Luisa.
(There’s a little interlude in which we learn that Tina had been born while Sabina was staying at George Alberts’ house: “The [tiny, shrieking] bundle was you, Tina!” (157). But I’m still not sure if we know the dad yet…?)
Sophia went to Sabina’s house (Albert’s house) and Sabina showed her all of the bike and car parts in the basement. She told her that Ron had been stealing them and reselling them. But Sophia still wonders why Sabina never told her what was going on, “Were you afraid I’d give Ron away to the police?” (158).
Then we finally learn what Ron was arrested for: he had stolen a lens from a movie projector at the school. And he stole it because Debbie had been fired. He just threw the lens away. He was nabbed pretty quickly, although (his lawyer would argue) any fingerprints were from a previous incident in the principles office, not to mention, they didn’t have Ron’s fingerprints on file.
Sophia flashes back to the trial; Ron’s lawyer was convinced that Ron would be set free. In fact, it seemed that Sophia, Ron’s father (Tom) and the judge were the only ones who thought Ron was guilty.
Ron’s lawyer had a lot of arguments, but when Tom took the stand, he undermined everything: “I asked him to leave about a year ago, your honor, because I found out he was stealing and storing his stolen goods in the basement of my house” (161). The trial was over.
Everyone was shocked: Debbie, Ron’s brother (Jose), Sabina. But Tom finally had his revenge for the stolen car.
Ron was sent to reform school. When school was over Sabina and Ron stopped by Sophia’s house. Once again, they threw rocks at her window. This time, Ron wanted to talk to Sophia, but Sophia was cold and aloof, and Ron immediately clammed up. Sabina then related Ron’s information: he’d met “the best minds of our time” in reform school. Specifically, there’s a genius who could pick a car lock and get it started in less than a minute.
Obviously Sophia was unimpressed. And when Ron muttered “I hear you’re going to college” it “was equivalent to ‘Oh shit, when the hell did I have anything to do with anyone like you?” (164).
Sophia admits that she chose against Ron, but at the same time, she did not choose “pedagogy” (It is a somewhat unfair dichotomy that Yarostan presents, frankly). But she did go to Universality to learn–at least history and sociology to clarify her own past. (Sabina didn’t need Universality, she had gleaned a wealth of information from George Alberts).
But the university had been transformed. Many professors were in the pay of the armed forces.
Students were brainwashed into believing the state’s enemies were their own enemies. Critics of every shade, even state worshippers of a different brand, were systematically prevented from speaking. Male students were actually recruited directly into the armed forces when they enrolled in the university; (166).
At University, Sophia had moved into a dorm for three months. The only good thing she has to say about it is that she learned how to play pranks. She quickly moved into a co-op with other women. Rhea was her roommate, and she liked her very much. Rhea asked her to tell her life story over and over, and she loved it: she loved the idea that Sophia was a real prole!
But eventually Sophia grew tired of it. Even more so when she learned that Rhea and Lem Icel were friends, and that Lem was responsible for them living together!
The one part of her past that she wanted to get rid of was Lem, but he kept tagging along. And because of the connection to Rhea, Sophia was soon recruited into their organization. The organization had meetings at Debbie Matthews’ house. Rhea was an open member but Lem and Alec Uros (Rhea’s friend) were “secret” members–they would deny that they were members of the organization.
Alec worked on a newspaper, and he saw himself as the muckracker. He was always trying to publish articles about who was fired, or some other incident. And even though the paper always published the authorities’ side of things, Alec didn’t see a contradiction working there. Soon enough Sophia and Lem joined the paper.
She finds it ironic that Yarostan describes her work (with the paper & elsewhere) as “religious,” since many of the newspaper people were “devoted to a counter religion as repressive as the religion we fought against” (169).
But it was the editor of the paper, Hugh Nurava, who most fascinated Sophia. He was always trying to be fair, always presenting both sides of a story. Sophia cites a few examples that show:
The fact that one article flatly contradicted the other didn’t prove to Hugh that one of them had to be false; it convinced him that “the truth” lay “somewhere between the two extremes.” (170).
I’m actually surprised that Sophia doesn’t find this “fair attitude” more reprehensible, as it really has been a major downfall of journalism (but maybe it was less prevalent in the 1970s).
Bess Lach was managing editor. Her sole role was to say No. And Thurston Rakshas was full of himself. He felt superior and was very smug. He wrote a joke column. Sophia found him hilarious, but as a person, not as a humorist. Thurston didn’t see through this and invited her to a dance. Sophia accepted as a way to escape way from the clutches of Lem and Rhea and their organizations.
Lem and Rhea did abandon her but the shock was how poorly Alec took the news (and all this over one dance!). Alec decided to” save her,” and broke off his relationship with Rhea and tied himself to Minnie and Daman, two others on the staff. But this only accomplished dividing the staff into two groups. And, whenever there was a conflict over publishing an article, the groups would split; Alec was the tiebreaker, and he always wanted to be fair.
But while Sophia was getting deeply involved with the paper, one night Sabina burst into her co-op and informed her: “Ron is dead. You and George Alberts are responsible” (175). Sophia is shocked by all of this and when she asks what Sabina is talking about Sabina replies “Air force. He signed up because of you” (175). And then she left as abruptly as she came, with no further explanation.
The story jumps back to the present with Sophia asking Sabina just what the hell she meant all those years ago. She assumed that Ron had left Sabina that night and that she was hysterical. But no, Sabina asserts the same thing: she helped to kill Ron. Tina jumps in and defend Sabina.
Jose told me about his last days with Ron at least a dozen times before you came to the garage. You were always the villain of his story. I thought of you along with George Alberts and Tom Matthews as the bad people of this world (176).
Sophia doesn’t believe any of it, so Tina explains.
The day that Ron got out of reform school the first thing he asked when Sabina and Jose picked him up was “Where’s Sophia?” When Sophia didn’t turn up, Ron changed. He stole his father’s brand new car and had it dismantled so as to be unrecognizable.
Tom went to Sabina’s house waving a gun looking for Ron. Sabina told him to bugger off. Tom wound up spending the rest of this waking hours looking for Ron, he even lost his luncheonette because he closed it so often. Some time after that he shot himself in the basement of his house.
And now Sabina is able to tie George to Sophia and how they were both responsible for Ron’s death. Alberts, model opportunist, was called a subversive and was fired from his job as a teacher (of course he landed on his feet). One day Debbie Matthews came to Sabina’s house, yelling at her for abandoning Ron and wanting to see what Alberts looked like now that he had been let go.
That’s when Sabina revealed: he’s doing work for the air force. Debbie got hysterical.
“That bastard is doing research for the air force?” she asked; then she shouted, “That low unprincipled bastard! The air force! He’s working for the outfit that killed my son!” (180).
And that’s how they knew where Sophia fit in.
This last line here is dangled in front of us for like 6 pages. It is maddening that they don’t tell her (and us) what she wants to know. And it works perfectly with what they accused her of doing: stringing along Ron “dangling a string in front of Ron and he kept jumping at it” (181).
So first, Tina reveals more about Alberts (which she knows because Sabina blurted out what Debbie had told her one night when she was stoned). Alberts was
a cold-blooded murderer of thousands and maybe even millions of people. And not only a murderer, but the worst kind, the one who doesn’t kill a single opponent in face-to-face combat but who exterminates unseen victims from
the safety of his laboratory (182).
And finally the truth comes out: Ron didn’t want to get revenge on Tom because he sent him to jail, but because he broke up him and Sophia (that night with the rifle). The night he was released from reform school, he went to Sophia’s house to invite her along with him in his new life: “travelling, stealing and camping” (185).
Of course, Sophia responds: “He was crazy! I’d never have agreed to that!” But maybe she’s not so sure. She writes to Yarostan: “I bite my lip until it bleeds. Would I have joined Ron if I had known? (185).
Of course, that’s neither here nor there now. What’s true is that no matter how much they say it is Sophia’s fault, she cannot be blamed for Ron’s actions:
“What do you mean, ‘that’s why he joined the air force’?” I ask her. “Couldn’t he have done thousands of other things? Did he have to become a killer for the state?”
“Maybe he thought he’d communicate something to you by doing that,” Tina says.
“Are you suggesting he joined the air force because he knew I’d hate him for it?” I ask her (185).
And as Sophia closes the letter, we can sense she feels bad for Ron but she knows that it was not her fault.
It’s easy to romanticize Ron precisely because he was such a romantic. But the daily reality isn’t romantic at all (186).
And, like what I was saying about Zdenek earlier, she comments,
Maybe [Ron's] was the goal of a genuine rebel: to live freely, rejecting the constraints of society. But you know perfectly well that this goal can only be realized by all human beings at once, or by none. It can’t be reached by an individual (186).
She ends her letter defending herself once again: don’t call her pedagogical, at most you can say she (and the other newspaper writers were) ludicrous Don Quixotes: “our pens and typewriters were ridiculously inadequate weapons with which to fight the battles we threw ourselves into. But the giants we confronted were real” (187).
And, from the tactlessness of the first letter to Yarostan, Sophia has indeed changed, at least in tone. She signs off this letter with “Please tell me more about yourself and the exciting events around you, and less about me” (187).
Once again, she ends her letter with “Love” (which Yarostan didn’t).
Now that the story is getting fleshed out I am not only more and more intrigued (especially since I know so much is being left unsaid), but I’m appreciating more and more that these letters have to be long.
I’m also appreciating now the diversity of attitudes these two (and more) people share. Sophia’s first letter was quite strident. And yet now, although she’s not conceding that she was wrong or deficient, she is conceding something in her tone. And that makes her more believable to me, especially since she seems to really love Yarostan. I wonder if Yarostan’s barrier will crumble too.
And now, for the first time I’m starting to think about how this can end (for we know it does). In order for it to be dramatically satisfying it must end in a satisfying way. I wonder how he can do that.