May 19th, 2010

Genius and the Crowd

(From correspondence with Masha U.-B.)

Contesting authority has been a key feature of internet culture from the very beginning. The "Otsesrach" followed this line and was by no means something extraordinary. What is interesting about flame wars in today's blogosphere, it is a combination of aggression with ignorance. People argue that if they don't know something or someone, this something or someone has no value. And, which is even more interesting, they don't want to know.

A good example is a recent discussion about Brodsky and Vysotsky. Some "wermouse" commented on a video where Iosif Brodsky, a Russian poet and Nobel laureate, talks about Vladimir Vysotsky, a popular singer poet. "Wermouse" (who has probably never heard about Brodsky) opined that Brodsky's speech is inarticulate and, therefore, he cannot be a good poet. Another user noted that good writers are often bad speakers, quoted one of Brodsky's poems and advised to read some others to feel the taste of his poetry upon which "wermouse" said that he/she didn't care ("не имею ни малейшего желания"). He said that Brodsky's poetry is bullshit (белиберда) and rattling jelly ("дребезжащее желе") which is difficult to read and even more difficult to understand, and that the poem is written not in Russian but in a mix of "Soviet bureaucratic" and "I don't know what".

Other users contributed to the discussion by calling Brodsky jerk (жлоб), yid (жид) and addressing one another as boor (хам, хамло базарное), etc.

This case is quite typical. An innocent post attracted a few trolls who don't want to know anything but crave to turn everything into shit, and the post's author had to defend Brodsky instead of doing something more productive and having fun in talking to people who understand his words.