It is sweeter to wander with the wretched and outcasts than to sit crowned with roses at the banquets of the rich
Elisee Reclus

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Worker Knows How To Work, The Artilleryman Knows How To Shoot: War, Revolution, Politics enter the Void

During the fall of 1919, Yudenich attacked.

The defenders of Petersburg were shooting at Strelna from the Petropavlovskaya fortress.

In the smoke, the fortress looked like a ship.

Street barricades were being built out of wood and sandbags.

From inside the City it seemed like there wasn’t enough manpower to resist; from outside the City, as I now read it, it seemed like there wasn’t enough manpower to attack.

Deserters were riding around on streetcars.

And shall bursts – the shell bursts hung in the air like clouds in the sky.
It was civil war and two voids were attacking each other.

There was no Red and White Armies.

That’s no joke. I saw the war.

The Whites stood like a smoke all around the City. The City lay as if asleep.

The Semyonovsky Regiment finally concluded the treachery which it had been preparing for three years…

…The besieged City had only cabbage to eat.
Then the arrow of the manometer slowly moved past zero, the wind started to blow away from Petersburg and the Whites dispersed.

A new winter had come.
I kept alive by buying nails in Petersburg and taking them to the country to exchange for bread.

On one of these excursions, I met an artilleryman on the train. We had a conversation. He and his three-inch cannon had already been captured many times, first by the Reds, then by the Whites. He himself said, “I know just one thing – how to shoot”.

From Writing Desk, Viktor Shklovsky, (1922)

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