Persecution and the Art of Writing

William: Nabokov equates curiosity with insubordination (in Pale Fire.) Creativity must be equally insubordinate and stifled under a dictatorial regime.

E. Theater was one of the things that was more creative under communist dominion. This is because, before the age of the ubiquitous cell-phone camera, it was possible to subvert the watchful eye of the censor by careful choreography. It was much more difficult to do in film or recorded music, and nearly impossible to do with the written word. But, theater, as the immediate art, was better in Eastern Europe than in the West during the final days of the Soviet Empire.

William: By “subverting the watchful eye of the censor” I am reminded of Leo Strauss’s “Persecution and the Art of Writing” where one has an external, carnal, safe meaning for the masses, and a hidden, secret meaning for the elite who are worthy enough to deconstruct it (e.g. if The Wizard of Oz were really some allegory about economics, government, gold standard.) Some say that The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is an attempt to escape the censors of orthodox Islam by expressing politically incorrect views in the guise of poetry.


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