I got up at dawn and for last five hours or so i’ve been researching the (scars) info on the owner of the amazing house number 53 in Bolyshaya Morskaya street, St. Petersburg. I got there by chance, the meeting i attended was held there – and i almost felt my jaw hitting the floor from utter amazement! I am posting the pictures for you to see – this is definitely NOT something you expect to get at some Chamber of Commerce!
As you would imagine, being a life-long student of humanities, i am not impressed with commerce in the first place.
But, it’s a long story and feel free to skip the stream of consciousness intro to follow…
If you are striving to be anything like a (presumably) independent person trying to earn the living by writing as honestly as possible on reasonably intelligent topics… You are standing right there on the edge of the slippery slope, like Tarot Fool does.
Studying arts and humanities is generally considered quite futile, given that you are not a royal offspring, with nothing else to do - whereas all the subjects related to consumerism, all kinds of marketings and similar idiocies, are considered to be a feet-on-the-ground and pragmatic course in life… But is it?
Could be due to my growing up in the times of planned economy and all kinds of market deficits – but i really see no worth neither in advertising nor in any of it sick cousins. If the product is good & needed, it will sell, the rest… Well, it’s mostly ‘ol good greed that brought upon us the global economic meltdown and all stemming from it gruesome consequences.
Mostly peeps choose to turn the blind eye and do something , without overthinking it, but – if they do think for whom they are working and why, chances are they are in for quite an unpleasant surprise.
Octogenarian former Canadian Cabinet Minister Paul Hellyer, with a long and varied career is still active and still deeply engaged in a wide variety of world issues.
Hear him out: “The world financial system is a total fraud. It is one gargantuan Ponzi scheme, no better than the one Bernie Madoff used to swindle his friends and neighbors, and thousands of times worse if you add up the total number of victims it has ripped off over countless generations.” (Adopted from globalresearch.ca)
Then there is a lengthy and credible explanation of how it happened - which makes sense even to my mind, alien to all kinds of conspiracy theories; there is even a plan how we could make it work. The things is that i had several ideas myself – and have worked for decades to implement them, i lived to see them sprouting and… decaying.
Be it a religion or a political doctrine, something happens to it instantly upon human interference - it gets corrupted beyond recognition.
There is usually a fool or two (i think idealist would be the appropriate euphemism) in the beginning and then the opportunists take the matters into their hands… From there on – it’s all downhill.
Anyways, we as humanity seem to be duped and after the active “Confucianist” phase where i actively sought to change things, i’ve pretty much given up and resorted to – minimalism. (And i’ve written on that too, in The Tao of Ruth.)
Honestly, for myself, except thinking, writing and NOT buying stuff i don’t absolutely need, for now i don’t see other means of personal resistance.
In an earlier essay i quoted American educator Abraham Flexner who back in 1939 warned of the dangerous tendency to -as Maria Popova puts it – to forgo pure curiosity in favor of pragmatism. (A. Flexner, Usefulness of Useless, pdf)
More than seven decades passed since he wrote those Orwellian words – but, sadly, not much seems to have changed.
… and start reading here:
So, nothing new under the sun, but it is rather strange – given my general aversion to the contemporary economy, that i ended up in St. Petersburg’s Chamber of Commerce. Yet the way of man is froward and strange and once there, i was in awe, literally, its rooms and decorations are a museum material. I asked around whose it was before the revolution and someone vaguely responded the house belonged to some baron, an adventurer who traveled extensively in India and of whom little is known. Well, that sounds like a plot of one of the infamously poorly written Dan Brown’s novels! Thus, this morning i spent five hours trying to get the history of that house in Bolyshaya Morskaya 53.
Chamber’s website teasingly advertises: Don’t miss the chance to see with your own eyes the rooms of the castle of P.P. Golenschev -Kutuzov- Tolstoy, but there is no mention of who the gentleman was. Both surnames, Kutuzov and Tolstoy are big in Russia and from there i dug unto the tzarist archives and old registers so to figure out who on earth could amass such wealth and what for. So, according to Russian State Historical Archive, Pavel Pavlovich, listed as the home owner, was the grand-grand son of the famous field marshal of the Russian Empire, one of the finest diplomats under the reign of the Romanov Tzars - Mikhail Kutuzov, whose name is inscribed in golden letters in Russian history for it was he who repelled Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812.
The noble family of Golenschev-Kutuzov had several branches and if i am following it correctly, named Pavel Pavlovich’s father was the filthy rich Pavel Matveevich, Godfather of Emperor Paul I, the only son of Catherine the Great, who was assassinated only five years upon ascension to the throne. (For a long time, the rumors were spread that the latter was delusional and mad, yet the truth seems to be different – he wanted the nobility to adopt a code of chivalry, had discovered outrageous corruption in the treasury and all in all his policies were viewed as a great annoyance to the “noble class”.)
Another offspring of that famous noble line was Pavel Vasilyevich , one of the conspirators in the mentioned assassination of the Paul I and chief-executor of Dekabrists… Having read that in the trustworthy encyclopedia, my heart jumped. Dekabrists or Decembrists as Britannica lists them, were Russian liberal princes and revolutionaries who had raised against one of the most reactionary rulers in Russian history - Nicholas I, the son of the assassinated Paul I.
There is very little if anything positive to be said of the autocrat Nicholas I, whereas Decembrists were back then what Occupy movement is today. They remained an everlasting inspiration for Russian writers and liberal thinkers of all times and even back in the day, they were supported by Leo Tolstoy, Aleksandar Pushkin and pretty much everyone else intelligent, progressive and patriotic.
Pavel Vasilyevich is known for the blood-chilling note he sent to the autocratic emperor, upon the execution of the princes - revolutionaries he was overseeing and that in my eyes casts a heavy shadow on the merits he had earned as a general and a diplomat. (He had fought in 1812 Russo Turkish War and escorted the Emperor to the Congress of Vienna.)
But, what is the relation between the executor and the owner of house in Bolyshaya Morskaya 53 , who bear the same surname – that i couldn’t find out, regardless of all the materials searched.
While P.P. Golenschev -Kutuzov- Tolstoy’s life story remains a mystery and will eventually become a subject of some future fictional memoir, the times and circumstances in which this amazing house was built seem familiar: occasional progressive rulers were opposed by corrupted nobility – the 1% of the time, there were individuals with noble intention to make it all better, there were intellectuals who supported them, but all in all, the greed and thirst for power dominated and the majority got duped and all of it the history pushed under the rug because this or that war was won… Sadly, i don’t see that much has changed for your average Joe, Jean Dupont, Juan Peres, Jan Janssen and Mrs. Cohen from Hadera, for whose well-being presumably all those wars are fought.
I’ll end on a brighter note and with another quote by Hon. Paul Hellyer:
“The internet is providing power to the people that they have never enjoyed before. The young people of the world, in concert with the thousands of their parents and others who care about the state of the world can use the power of social networking to effect a miracle on their own behalf and that of succeeding generations.“