Why? It is testimony and belief, from persons unknown in honor of the nine travelers who died so cruelly, that is why we do this. We - most of whom were not even born that fateful day - insist that they deserve more than an epitaph of lies and a hasty grave. They were PERSONS, they were HUMAN, and they deserve a gentle and somber history of the TRUTH of what happened, and for this we explore here. If I am ever in Yekaterinburg, I shall bury in a small box a copy of the book in Russian, a tasteful distance near their graves in Ivanovskoe and Mikhailovskoe Cemeteries, for they deserve to be buried with the truth, at the best that we can find it now. The book is not sacred, but the effort to speak the truth of the dead, is.
Before that time, a character in Koestler's Darkness at Noon stated the following brilliancy:
There are only two conceptions of human ethics and they are at opposite poles.
One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units.
The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality.
Whoever is burdened with power and responsibility finds out on the first occasion that he has to choose; and he is fatally driven to the second alternative.
So he speaks, is that true?
I do know that we all
walk with one foot in the province of the zek
, and one foot in the province of Beria
. We pretend that this is not so, but it is all too easy to slip into puppetry, playing a game of the Dyatlov corpses, moving these poor meat puppets hither and yon, crushing a skull with a rifle but or blasting a chest with explosives or avalanches or such, and we risk profaning the sancrosanct, our brothers and sisters who died in such undeserving ways.
What I completed in my own heart was not solving the ultimate riddle
- that will never be done, for every riddle solved brings on the next. I was done, to the point that I could lay these poor souls down to await their eternity. I no longer feel quizzical about them, just unbelievably sad for these poor children. Whether it was God's hand or man's that snuffed them out, whether they died where they lay or were dragged about indifferently by selfish men after their demise, that now lays in the hand of justice other than mine.
I most emphatically endorse and support those who look for the sacredness implicit in justice and truth, for that struggle does honor to these men and women. Carry on! But for me, it no longer turns toward the province of the zek, but that of Beria and Stalin. I must not sport with them any more. That is my truth, my conscience, not yours. I wanted to add this because I do not drop these poor souls as though I am bored with them. It is time for me to bury them in reverence, that is why.Darkness at Noon,
Arthur Koestler 1940. Also read a remarkable writer, Yevgeny Zamyatin, whose book WE
inspired lesser efforts from George Orwell in 1984
, Aldous Huxley in Brave New World
, and various writings of Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, graduate of Petrograd State University who wrote as Ayn Rand.
Joy upon all who come here, and gratitude to the writers of 1079.