One fat man invented a way to lose weight. And he lost it. The ladies began pestering him, trying to pry out his secret. But the thin man replied that it becomes men to lose weight, whereas it does not become women at all; that ladies, on the contrary, ought to be plump. And he was absolutely right.
by Даниил Иванович Хармс [Danill Kharms] (Mid-1930s)
Translated by Eugene Ostashevsky
Madam, avoid beef.
It brings your stomach wall to grief.
It lays its seal onto your intestine.
Eating it will make you squeal from strife internecine.
Not so with rabbits. Their caloric play
Recalls a sunny summer day.
– by Nokolai Oleinikov (1932)
– Translated by Eugene Ostashevsky
If ships sailed on the motorway
And potato crisps were blue,
If football boots were made of silk
And a lamp-post wore a shoe;
If motorbikes ran upwards
And milk floats really floated;
It beds were full of boulders
And peas were sugar-coated;
If flies wore army jackets
And eggs laid little chickens;
If spacemen had a panther each
And insects studied Dickens;
If babies’ prams were motorised
And you listened to your conscience,
If life was always back to front
You wouldn’t be reading this nonscience!
– by John Rice
‘What is a Bongaloo, Daddy?’
‘A Bongaloo, Son,’ said I,
‘Is a tall bag of cheese
Plus a Chinaman’s knees
And the leg of a nanny goat’s eye’.
‘How strange is a Bongaloo, Daddy?’
‘As strange as strange,’ I replied.
‘When the sun’s in the West
It appears in a vest
Sailing out with the noonday tide.’
‘What shape is a Bongaloo, Daddy?’
‘The shape, my Son, I’ll explain:
It’s tall round the nose
Which continually grows
In the general direction of Spain’.
‘Are you sure there’s a Bongaloo, Daddy?’
‘Am I sure, my Son?’ said I.
‘Why, I’ve seen it not quite
On a dark sunny night
Do you think that I’d tell you a lie?’
– by Spike Milligan
Ladies and jellybeans,
Reptiles and crocodiles,
I stand before you
And sit behind you
To tell you something
I know nothing about.
There will be a meeting tomorrow night
Right after breakfast
To decide which colour
To whitewash the church.
There is no admission;
Just pay at the door.
There will be plenty of seats,
So sit on the floor.
– by Anon
Oh to be a broken leg
In plaster white as chalk.
And travel everywhere by crutch
While others have to walk.
– by Mike Griffin
16. Today I wrote nothing. Doesn’t matter.
Daniil Kharms,The Blue Notebook, 9 January, 1937
23. To have only intelligence and talent is too little. One must also have energy, real interest, clarity of thought and a sense of obligation.
25. Enough of laziness and doing nothing! Open this notebook every day and write down half a page at the very least. If you have nothing to write down, then at least, following Gogol’s advice, write down that today there’s nothing to write. Always write with attention and look on writing as a holiday.
Daniil Kharms,The Blue Notebook, 11 April, 1937
So I didn’t update for a few days due to my cat dying and issues at work. Over the next few days hopefully I will be able to knock out a few reviews of some DVDs I watched recently. Now I made the effort to type something it should hopefully come back into motion again.
Daniil Kharms (Russian Дании́л Ива́нович Хармс; 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1905 – 2 February 1942) was an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist..He came to be known for his children’s literature. Not too much of his work is available in English, or at least it doesn’t feel like it is as so much of it was composed of notebooks, letters, etc which were passed around as he was deemed to be in direct conflict with the state approved and enforced Realism movement in the arts. Kharms was arrested on suspicion of treason in the summer of 1941. He was imprisoned in the psychiatric ward at Leningrad Prison No. 1. and died in his cell in February 1942—most likely, from starvation, as the Nazi blockade of Leningrad had already begun.
If you are at all interested in Russian literature or Absurdist/Surrealist writing I would recommend hunting out some of his works as, despite their fragmented style, they are amusing and an insight into the repressed counter-culture of Stalinist Russia.