Interesting addition: Throughout much of 1926 Tsvetaeva kept up and intense correspondence with Rainer Maria Rilke and Boris Pasternak. The above poem was sent to Pasternak while Tsvetaeva was in exile and had moved from Prague to Paris thus increasing her distance from her homeland. She grew increasingly isolated amongst the other emigre community as she had praised the works of Mayakovsky which got her mistakenly branded as endorsing the Soviet system which eventually led the editors of the important journal The Latest News to stop publishing her works which, via her literary earnings, had allowed her to support her family through her contributions.
of his hump – let me tell about my orphaned state.
Behind the devil there’s his horde, behind the thief there’s his band,
behind everyone there’s someone to understand
and support him – the assurance of a living wall
of thousands just like him should he stumble and fall;
the soldier has his comrades, the emperor has his throne,
but the jester has nothing but his hump to call his own.
And so: tired of holding to the knowledge that I’m quite
alone and that my destiny is always to fight
beneath the jeers of the fool and the philistine’s derision,
abandoned – by the world – with the world – in collision,
I blow with all my strength on my horn and send
its cry into the distance in search of a friend.
And this fire in my breast assures me I’m not all
alone, but that some Charlemagne will answer my call!
by Марина Ивановна Цветаева (Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva)
translated by Stephen Capus
Fun facts: This poem was a favourite of Varlam Shalamov, according to Irina Sirotinskaya (she was a close friend of his and the holder of his works’ publication rights). It’s very likely he may have referenced this work in his poem Roncesvalles.
Tsvetaeva is referencing the romanticised tale of the historical figure Roland‘s death as retold in the eleventh-century poem The Song of Roland, where he is equipped with the olifant (a signalling horn) and an unbreakable sword, enchanted by various Christian relics, named Durendal. The Song contains a highly romanticized account of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass and Roland’s death, setting the tone for later fantastical depiction of Charlemagne’s court.
A child should be seen and not heard. Introverts are rarely the first to get culled in times of group conflict.
Today’s real life lessons for little children: You know when the teacher asks the class a question and you don’t put your hand up to volunteer an answer? That’s instinct and it is what ensured the survival of many a species over the course of history. ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ eliminates the most visible first not those who keep their heads down and who keep their personal agendas to themselves. You can still excel past your peers but you will not be as recognised as others in your lifetime. It has happened many a time in the sciences most notably between Thomas Edison, the extrovert showman of science, and Nikola Tesla who has now become semi-mythologised.
But where in real life history did this apply? Stalin’s purges of course! When he got rid of the best and brightest in Russian society because he considered them a threat to him! Some intelligentsia survived through the sheer instinctive ability to lay low and not promote themselves in such a way that attracted his attention such as the curators at the Hermitage. They protected it’s abstract art collection, which was of course in storage, by citing that none other than Lenin himself had commended the pieces as examples of exemplary art (and thus it was beyond question to consider destroying them in line with the social realism expected of Soviet artwork as Lenin’s opinions were a quasi-deified ‘law’ in the early Soviet society). An extrovert would be unable to do this and ultimately would have ‘disappeared’ under their own power to foreign lands in exile or through government agencies’ enforcement for a sojourn in a Siberian gulag they would never return from.
“But I didn’t come here for lazy generalisation about the Soviet Union” I hear you cry!
Of course not, but it demonstrates a situation where behaviour associated with introversion aided survival albeit via ‘blat’ i.e. blackmarket dealing and knowing the right people in positions of authority (which you could argue required charisma usually associated with the extrovert of society). Ultimately knowing who to trust and not betraying others intentionally, or by having a big mouth, was key to many affiliations. Also it should be said Russians, and perhaps Slavs in general, are not all stony faced xenophobes but, due to their histories, need their trust gained first but then will stick with you through thick and thin. Tough exteriors with a soft centre. Like a particularly luxuriant caramel chocolate bar. Or an egg… yes, they’re good eggs.
Time to do the bullet points as you probably skipped reading the paragraphs…
• Introverts will put up with you shit and laugh at your crap jokes – just what everyone wants in a partner though they only ask for world travelling adventurers on dating sites.
• An introvert is not distracted by petty things and can focus on a task. Like a trained army sniper. Like a hypnotised chicken.
• They will value interaction. ’SOMEONE’S ACTUALLY SPEAKING TO ME! I DO ACTUALLY EXIST’ they will think.
• Incredibly naïve due to not learning the unwritten, unspoken, ‘rules of society’ at the school of hard knocks/life. Want to borrow something? Sure, of course, no questions asked! Then you need never return the item. Start little by borrowing pens and eventually you will be borrowing cars and squatting in their house, rent free, eating them out of house and home like a loveable little farting gremlin.
• People love an underdog. Introverts are underdogs by nature. Eyore is the icon of such in children’s literature. People like Tigger in short bursts but often consider him to be an annoyance. Everything ‘a tigger does best’ turns out to be done badly. People adore Eyore and the house at Pooh Corner was built for him by the others as he was so loved by them despite being a sarcastic and bitter old soul.
• If raising an introvert child they will likely not run off and become the subject of news regarding their disappearance. In fact they probably won’t leave your side once their spirit is properly broken and of course due to this they will always fail to have successful relationships as people aspire to partners who improve their station in life which first and foremost requires confidence i.e. extrovert tendencies. Therefore with an introvert child you will have an on hand servant for all occasions for the rest of your life.
• They don’t need to be supervised constantly. Stick them in a cupboard for nine months to work and you won’t hear a word of complaint and all the work will be completed anyway without you contacting them once during that entire period. Matilda, Harry Potter, there are many examples of such noble figures in children’s literature they should aspire to be like.
• An introvert, not actively seeking to have their existence validated by others every single moment of the day, will be able to learn new skills quicker if taught properly in a formal situation. If you say jump they don’t ask how high because they already overheard you say what height you desired in a conversation you had earlier in their presence.
• ‘Good Communication Skills’ means that people don’t ignore what you say because you say so little there must some value to it. Except if you say the building is capable of turning into a giant kaiju fighting robot. Then they will either be unsure if you are telling the truth, as you are not one to make general joking banter, or if you are quietly insane and hence there is a reason why people do not speak to you. No the building does transform. It’s the only explaination for it’s design…
• An introvert thinks first then speaks. They usually make more constructive points compared to extroverts who adopt a ‘throw everything and see what sticks’ mentality because they ‘work the numbers’. However they will also probably say the boring common sense answers too which an extrovert will have not said as it is obvious and thus admonish them for even wasting their time stating.
• An introvert will listen to your problems but there is no onus on you to reciprocate this. Their lives are mostly fantasy in their head, not doing anything actually interesting in the real world as they are so used to sitting in a room alone, so it would be hard to communicate anyway as its all theory. They’re a sounding board for all life’s griefs.
• Ultimate team players. Will listen and co-operate with others. Unquestioning cannon-fodder. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir! Like dunking a hobnob biscuit they just keep going absorbing more and more and want more still without breaking! Challenges are welcomed not moaned about. More, more, more! Masochists to the end!
• Spend so much time imagining all the variables they are over prepared for many things. Introverts are the real world equivalent of Batman!
• Easily fade into the crowd. Super spies are not like James Bond but that person who face and name you can’t remember but you know was there for a long time in the place you used to work at but made absolutely no impression on you. Like Harry Palmer played by Michael Caine in the Ipcress File.
• As leaders they are the type to bring out the best in individuals as they consider others views, even if they do not agree, as they want the best outcome… but then they are so poor at self-promotion they will not be a leader without a senior staff member noticing, while the extrovert is vocally announcing each minute task they have completed in order to be praised, or by being the founder of the organisation.
• To introverts the happiness of others takes precedent over their own desires. They will not be able to communicate this. It is traditionally the Celtic/Gaulish notion of love i.e. if you truly love something let it go / their happiness makes you happy, even if it is with another/ love is free not something to be locked away / etc. Hence the annoyance from locals when all those padlocks were placed on the Pont de Arts Bridge in Paris by foreign visitors. To the locals it was as if the people who did this completely misunderstood the notion of love. Obviously this means introverts are very lonely people who will wind up caring for their parents in their old age as carers while their peers have gone off having families. End of a blood line but then the world is over populated as it is.
• Introverts will suffer multiple small failures rather than single big failures like extroverts leaping in before they look. Easier to cover up and more forewarning before everything goes to hell.
• You can push and push an introvert but be aware: they may be a ticking time bomb and you don’t want to be there when they explode! But most introverts internalise their anger and so will suffer depression long before expressing their anger outwardly. So you probably shouldn’t worry at all. In fact if you hate them just start the snowball rolling and the rest of it will take care of itself. Win/win situation.
• Very often the heroes in popular stories are introverts with poor communication skills e.g. Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, many of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western roles, protagonists in computer games (although in this case they are supposed to be a ‘blank slate’ the player imprints themselves on) and most other action hero roles. Men of action not empty words.
• Ironically though in real life there is a contrast due to the cliché of ‘he was a quiet man, kept to himself…’ regarding murderers in media reports usually the truth is that the person involved was very socially skilled and highly active in their community thereby gaining peoples’ unquestioning trust which they go on to later betray. The most famous and, in a dark way, ‘successful’ serial killers like Ed Gein or Ted Bundy were highly socially skilled sociopaths not introverts at all but dangerous outsiders in society will always be portrayed as introverts as it goes against the basic nature of Homo Sapiens as a social animal living in co-operative communities.
• They will be prone to sarcasm or constant attempts at humour to express disagreement before stating it bluntly and offending others like an extrovert would.
• More often than not they are likely to have taken the moral lessons learned in childhood and maintained them into adulthood. Stupid things others grow out of like telling the truth, being honest, putting others before yourself or superstitions like not screwing others over otherwise it will come back to you three fold.
• Will work to the best of their ability and take personal responsibility for their actions. In fact to such an extent they will be hyper sensitive to any minor criticism and likely offer to commit seppuku (also known as hara-kiri) at a moment’s notice to retain the team’s honour. Paranoia and an ever present dread of criticism will likely only aid in motivating they to provide only the highest level of service.
• Will work with anyone. Even the most antisocial and aggressive people without uttering a word of complaint. Again may lead them to internalising and self-destructive behaviour but then there are plenty of other people you can employ to replace them aren’t there?
• ‘Hell is other people’ – Introverts can and probably will prefer working alone for the most part but having people to speak to will remind them they are disposable and ensure their compliance. You may be lucky and they actually get on with the people they work with. Anyway you play it it’s a win/win situation with introverts.
If your child is extrovert and you would prefer an introvert child then you need to do a few things. First break their will. Sit them in silence at meals. Isolate them from other children to ensure their social skills are those of an adult and so they have a hard time acclimatising with people of their own age and generation for the rest of their lives. If they rebel use excess force. You only have to do it once as it will be like a nuclear deterrent. Everyone saw what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so the atom bomb only ever had to be used once to make sure everyone knew their place despite and the gesturing nuclear powered nations make towards one another. Occupy the child’s time. Get them after school lessons that ensure not only are they indoctrinated into measuring their live via achievement but also during this time you have a bit of peace and quiet for yourself as they are being baby sat. Don’t do anything deemed ‘child friendly’. They are there to serve you. Go to places that don’t cater to children. Insist on sitting around for long periods of time with no activities for them to do. The boredom will make them use their imagination more and more until it overtakes their social skills and they are like a little pack mule you have trundle along after you though of course, like many mules, if you chose to use your introvert child this way they will likely be for all intent and purposes infertile as they will be unable to form successful relationships so do not expect any grandchildren.
Both have their benefits and their problems. Most people exist somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the two extremes. Isuppose the stereotype is that extrovert are living life to the full while introverts leads a somewhat tragic existance not achieving their potential.
Regarding the ongoing ear ache saga: Keeping a hot water bottle on my ear for hour upon hour until my ear was bright red has done wonders. Not fully overcome the ailment but leaps and bounds beyond where I was yesterday. At least I can sit vertically and use a laptop this evening.