Survive in the the Flow

Ultimately, all we can do is maintain our borders

Country Tigran Keosayan


It is not obligatory to leave the house to make a discovery, but it’s necessary to go beyond your perceptions on how the world is arranged. In reference to the present, that means –stop, turn off the phone, and turn off the other phone, tablet, laptop, TV and radio in the car. Overcome the fit of panic. Perceive your loneliness. Feel the frenzied speed of the information flow. Deal with a burst of despair and feebleness. Live on. Tigran Keosayan had time to conduct this experience and courage to tell about it.

Life has become faster, immeasurably faster than before. Never before has there been so much news and information coming at us every second — not even every minute, not every hour, and not every five hours as it was some twenty years ago, but, literally, every second. Information is everywhere — it is like air. You breathe it, and it penetrates you — you react reflexively, without thinking.

You’re growing old, you are rushing inside of this flow, you must keep up with time, you must grasp and grind, and you must draw conclusions, taking into account the variables of the news each second. Although you’re always sin touch with tens, hundreds of people, you feel the lack of communication anyway. You can only emerge from that mad flow by turning everything off, by hiding in some yoga or fitness club, in order to be alone, to be quiet, and in order to snatch a little piece of time to be alone.

There isn’t enough normal, human communication. Not the staggering, non-committal, superficial twaddle, but a leisurely conversation with a person whom you trust, with whom you can share something important. There is a ferocious shortage of the full-fledged, human dialogue energy, and there is a terrible lack of intimacy with friends and relatives.

Constantly in touch, everybody is gliding along in some sort of stream, and there is also the illusion that it is a single thread flow, one wave. But generally speaking, we all are scattered atoms, each one rushing about on its own trajectory. Unfortunately, we are not atoms of mercury; they gravitate towards each other. And we run to each other to chat for a half an hour about nothing and depart afterwards in separate directions. A phantom sense of intimacy occurs and suddenly dissolves without a trace. We dwell in loneliness and separation — I envy the atoms of mercury.

There is much talk today about nostalgia for the Soviet Union; some people are annoyed by that. I am from the Soviet Union, and I remember the home gatherings of that time and I think that the nostalgia is for those gatherings, for that type of communication. Back then, friends got together and talked about everything — about life, books, children, impressions; about their problems, hopes and plans. It was sincere and profound; there was something in these domestic kitchen conversations that did not permit lying. Back then there was still present the ancient magic of the tradition that if you invited a person to your house and shared a piece of bread with him, you are no longer strangers to each other. That’s the way my father brought me up. And let it be an egregious idealism; for me it remains the indisputable truth. That all goes away, though — it is almost gone.

Now we hook up at lunches, we meet in restaurants. It’s much easier, less trouble, no cooking needed. And if I suddenly receive someone at home, I’d order catering. Because of this, everything becomes technological in a way, not quite real. And I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It is like talking about global warming. Well, warming it is. It’ll be less cold in the winter. You have no influence on the process whatsoever. That is given. It’s the atomization of society, the epidemic of loneliness. Everyone is looking for his own way to salvation.

Sometimes it seems that everything is simple. My house is my fortress and all that, bringing children up the way you think is right, meet your friends at home not because of some business or etiquette, but just like that. Live by your own rules.

It won’t work, neither at the level of the home, nor at the level of the country. It is impossible to get beyond the information pressure. Everything that happens in the world today affects me, my children, my neighbors, one way or another. You can resist the European liberal values as much as you like, for instance, but they will gradually begin to shape your behavior anyway, issues you are talking about or subjects you are quiet about. It happens not because some liberals impose these values, but mainly because we’re connected sturdily with Europe by millions of threads — economical, cultural and personal.

By the way, we have been using the word «liberal» incorrectly. It is used categorically in a wrong way, because, what causes irritation are not liberals, but liberal socialists, men who share common European values. The political correctness, the endless struggle for the rights of minorities, and the smaller the minority is, the more it’s in need of rights, the multiculturalism to the detriment of one’s own culture — everything which Europeans themselves feel the lassitude from. Everything that comes into conflict with those values, that has been grown genetically and still exists in Russia. Patriarchal mentality, conservatism, the desire to adhere to traditional norms and boundaries — these values remain decisive not only in Russia, but also throughout the former USSR.

When an Iranian who raped a child in a pool in Germany is being released, and the German court explains his decision by the fact that the Iranian refugee did not know the language well enough, therefore he could not figure out whether or not the kid was being resistant, whether or not being sexually abused. That’s a catastrophe. I am a laical man, I wasn’t brought up in the aul, I do not live in the aul, but there are some boundaries. There must be! How does it go in Isaac Babel’s The Odessa Tales? — «Where does Benya end, the police begin? Knowledgeable people said that Benya begins where the police end.» There are no marking flags, or the flags are blurred out already or removed.

Ultimately, all we can do is maintain our borders, our perception of the rational structure of the world. Though, it seems more and more often that these boundaries are made of sand, and that time gradually, grain by grain, transposes them. And one fine day, you stop and you realize that all of the sudden, everything has changed.

Life has become faster, much faster than before. There is a terrible deficit of full-fledged dialogue energy among people. The atomization of society and the epidemic of loneliness are getting more about. Everyone is looking for his own way of salvation.