the case for innovation in dissidence or contemporary yurodstvo

– Joseph Stalin, 1878-1953, the pin-up of the purges

They say that I stood too close to power. An optical illusion.

– Dmitri Shostakovich, quoted by Solomon Volkov in Testimony, in Ian McDonald, The New Shostakovich, new edition revised by Raymond Clarke, Pimlico, London, 2006, p. 2

Don’t try to save humanity all at once, try saving one person first. It’s a lot harder. To help one person without harming another is very difficult. It’s unbelievably difficult. That’s where the temptation to save all of humanity comes from. And then, inevitably, along the way, you discover that all humanity’s happiness hinges on the destruction of a few hundred million people, that’s all. A trifle. Nothing but nonsense in the world, Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol once said. It’s that nonsense that I try to depict.

– Dmitri Shostakovich, in ibid.