Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Camille wanted to know why I consider Lenin motivational. I'm going to answer this question in a very long, round-about way, and I may never actually answer the question. I hate it when people ask me why I study history (even though I do it to others). It's like asking someone why their favorite color is blue instead of green. It just is and I just do. Even though I constantly bitch about what I do, I love it and can't imagine doing anything else. I'm lucky. I'm in a position where I know what I want to do and I can do it. There are certain things we will never know about history, no matter how much research is done. Example: how did Hitler manage to kill 2/3 of Europe's Jewish population? And no, I don't mean the mechanism: we know that. What I mean is: how did he come to the conclusion that beyond just "regular" anti-semitism it made perfect sense to actually try to exterminate a population? How did he manage to gain popularity and finally convince the rest of Europe that it was no big deal? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books about this. None of them will ever be able to adequately answer the question. Also, it's pretty clear that there are evil people in history. Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot instantly come to mind (in addition to those dictators in Africa). But Lenin, he's in a gray area. He was brilliant. And he believed Marxism. Yet he was pragmatic. But was he power hungry? Did he really think Russia would reach communism and lead to world revolution? Would history have been different if Lenin had lived? We will never know. He gave such hope to people. Hope that their lives would be different than their parents and grandparents. Hope that their children would be educated and have living wages. Hope that the future would be heaven on earth. And yet, Stalin happened. How, why? And, would Lenin have actually been any different? So maybe it's not Lenin himself that inspires me as the hope he gave to people. And he had to grace to die before the worse parts of socialism could be attached to his name. He is a mystery in a way the evil of Stalin or Hitler is not a mystery. That's why he fascinates me. Because we will never really ever know.

Sometimes I hate this blog. I've been trying to post pictures for 2 days, but it's not working. Sucks. Maybe I shouldn't even blog. Frustrating. I don't know what the problem is. Finally, I got one picture to post. About time. Anyway, I just e-mailed my advisor a copy of my dissertation proposal. I'm really nervous about that and I hope she likes it: but I doubt it. I miss sharing an office with my friends, so after an event like this, we can sit around and they would make me feel better. And we would laugh. I miss laughing with Tiffany and Nadia and taking walks down State street with Holly. I miss Madison.

I do have a new friend, Stephanie, but she's leaving at the end of November until the guys return in May. That sucks too. I did talk to the captain's wife about crazy Dee. She said I should try to talk to Dee when she's not drunk and just tell her that I was very uncomfortable with her behavior. Then, when I have to get rude the next time I see her because she'll still be insane, I won't feel bad, because I would have already tried to talk to her in a calm and rational manner. Fun times. But please, how many adults physically grab another adult and demand to know "why don't you like me?" Crazy.


Tiffany said...

Good with the advisor and the proposal. I miss you too. You helped me survive the year. Thanks for calling--things are hectic. I will try to return your call soon.

Beth said...

Oh please don't stop blogging! I would miss you!

Also, I have to admit that I'm quite unknowledgeable (is that even a word?) about Russian history. But now you've inspired me to learn more about it! Is there a book you could recommend that would give a neophyte like me a good overview of Lenin and Stalin?

Bart's Camille said...

I'm having a crazy time here - no days off this week. Blah. Please let me know what your advisor says. Thanks for the response on Lenin. Love ya!