mardi 29 janvier 2008

Intro: We are starting!

Hi, this is the blog for the creative writing classs at the Ecole Polytechnique in Lozère. It will include some sample work, so please enjoy!

Best to you all, and thanks to the students whose wonderful work is part of this blog!


1 commentaire:

Polytechnique Writing Class a dit…

I am a Russian

I am sitting at the chessboard, trying to think my way out of a maze of variations.
My name is Mikhaïl Ivanovich Tupolev, like the great Alexeï Andreïevich,
the inventor of the aeroplane that matched the Concorde and exceeded Mach 2.
I am Russian, and I play chess.

Slavs were converted to christianism by Cyrille and Methode
and their followers created the Cyrillic alphabet.
I am staring at the various reproductions of paintings
by Dali and Picasso

that cover the walls. The vast hall in which we play pretends to be modern and trendy,
but it is a pity that there is nothing from Kandinski.
I like Picasso and Dali, though they have little to do with Russia, but Vasily Kandinski
is another modern artist, and he is born in Moscow, which makes him one third of a Russian.

Sometimes, when I enter an Italian restaurant to have a pizza, a cunning waiter notices my slight Russian accent and asks with a subtle expression on his face : “You are Russian, aren’t you?”
It is somewhat pleasing to be recognized as a Russian , because

I am proud to be a Russian, but all the average Westerner knows of Russia is at best
Garry Kasparov and Kalinka,
at worst Maria Sharapova and vodka.

Russia exports 7 bbl oil a day and 7 Tcf gas a year,
produces 65000 thousand metric tons of cereals a year,
but I am still struggling to make a meagre living
in the West out of my modest chess talents.

It is the last game of a rapid tournament
in Spain. If I win it I will finish first and grab a nice
USD 1000 prize. I will eat a paella in a typical Spanish restaurant and travel to Paris to play
in a team championship.

At the same time Gregory Perelman is hiding in Siberia and refuses the
USD 1000000 prize that the Clay Foundation awards him for his proof of Poincaré theorem.
There is no word, neither in English nor in Russian, to qualify such a thing.
The ticking of the clock is a strange lullaby.

I am still a Russian

I have lost my game, something I still can not believe, because
I am still a Russian and my opponent was only a Latvian.
When we are sad, people say in our deep blue eyes one can see
the infinite plains of the East and the cold and empty sky.

I currently read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”,
by Kundera. He is the writer I enjoy the most. He had a fairly good level at chess,
but wasn’t Russian. Nevertheless, Russian literature is immensely rich.
Bulgakov (1891-1940) is said to have been a favourite

of the Soviet regime. Yet he wrote the unforgettable
“Master and Margharita”, and shares his first name with no less than
yours truly and Botvinnik, world chess championship
from 1948 to 1957, from 1958 to 1960 and from 1961 to 1963,

who lost his title twice and stroke back in return encounters.
One day, I will have my revenge for today’s loss too.
“War and Peace” was translated in more than 10 languages ;
it is the novel which depicts the Russian soul the best. I was born

in Poltava and grown in Volgograd, two places where
the Russian Army won crushing victories.
Russia was never defeated, or those were not real defeats.
I finished shared third and got a tiny

USD 50 cheque. Tonight, I have a quick
menu in a meaningless fast-food restaurant, and my Spanish
girlfriend comforts me. She thinks I am just
slightly overconfident when it comes to

concluding something. After Kipling, I should say
“Triumph and Defeat, those two liars”. Oil still pours
in Russia and cars roll in the US, it is the middle of the day
in the Arctic, night falls in Sevilla, and I have not been to

Siberia yet. St Petersburg and Moscow are 650 km apart,
but Russia is only 64 km away from the US,
over the Behring Sea (it would be funnier if, as in Gibraltar,
the West of Alaska belonged to Russia and the East of Chukotka to the US).

But I, the most faithful Russian, wander in
the tiny Western Europe like a fish in its tank.
Not much regret though, the whole world would still be too
narrow for me : I shall always be a Russian.