Two days ago, I was lunching at the Writers Union with the eminent historian Tomashevski. That's the sort of man you should know. Respected, charming, hasn't produced a piece of work in ten years. He has a system, which he explained to me. First, he submits an outline for a biography to the Academy to be absolutely sure his approach is consistent with Party policy. A crucial first step, as you'll see later. Now, the person he studies is always an important figure - that is, someone from Moscow - hence Tomashevski must do his Russian research close to home for two years. But this historical character also traveled, yes, lived for some years in Paris or London; hence Tomashevski must do the same, apply for and receive permission for foreign residence. Four years have passed. The Academy and the Party are rubbing their hands in anticipation of this seminal study of the important figure by the eminent Tomashevski. And now Tomashevski must retire to the solitude of a dacha outside Moscow to tend his garden and creatively brood over his cartons of research. Two more years pass in seminal thought. And just as Tomashevski is about to commit himself to paper, he checks with the Academy again only to learn that Party policy has totally about-faced; his hero is a traitor, and with regrets all around, Tomashevski must sacrifice his years of labor for the greater good. Naturally, they are only too happy to urge Tomashevski to start a new project, to plow under his grief with fresh labor. Tomashevski is now studying a very important historical figure who lived for some time in the South of France. He says there is always a bright future for Soviet historians, and I believe him.
Well, the Romanies have been around for five thousand years, longer than any nation. And why? Because we know how to survive. The Aryans tried to kill us, the Persians, the Tatars, the Magyars, the Africans, the Germans, everybody. But we stay together, and we move on, and we keep one thing in mind, to survive, and that is our greatest secret.
Stalin gothic was not so much an architectural style as a form of worship. Elements of Greek, French, Chinese and Italian masterpieces had been thrown into the barbarian wagon and carted to Moscow and the Master Builder Himself, who had piled them one on the other into the cement towers and blazing torches of His rule, monstrous skyscrapers of ominous windows, mysterious crenellations and dizzying towers that led to the clouds, and yet still more rising spires surmounted by ruby stars that at night glowed like His eyes. After His death, His creations were more embarrassment than menace, too big for burial with Him, so they stood, one to each part of town, great brooding, semi-Oriental temples, not exorcised but used.