With joint forces

It is hard to imagine what a fortunate turn it would be for our life if people finally
gave up dazing and poisoning themselves with vodka, wine,
tobacco and opium.” Lev Tolstoy

(the labels of the four corner tondos: Scholars; Technical development; Rationalization; Arts)

It is very interesting to observe that while in late 19th-century France and Hungary they fought against alcoholism with the rational and visual weapons of enlightenment and modern science, hundred years later in the Soviet Union, which had already had ample time and opportunity to get disenchanted with the efficiency of these tools, they turned back to several centuries old practices: the arguments of proverbs and the visual world of naive folk graphics, the lubok.

The picture book With joint forces against drunkenness, as its introduction writes, was published with the purpose of agitation for Gorbachev’s alcohol ban in 1989. Its twenty-five illustrations were signed by the members of the art school “Soviet Lubok”, established in 1982, V. V. Kondratev (2, 15, 21, 22), I. O. Puhovskaya (3, 6, 7, 9), O. A. Keleinikova (4, 12, 14, 23), V. I. Lenchin (5, 8, 24), G. M. Eskin (10, 16, 19), L. V. Podkorytova (11, 25), Yu. G. Movchin (13), V. P. Lenzin (17, 18) and S. V. Kuznetsov (20). In the “red tail” of the book, still necessary at that time to clear the authors of any ideological deviation, they explained their choice of genre by saying that they wanted to reach back to “the soul of the people”. Whether it was like this or they enjoyed rather the postmodern opportunities of the naive form, the fact is that they created a new tradition, or at least greatly contributed to the legitimation of a tradition which had been getting more and more popular since the late 70s. The influence of this work is to be discovered not so much in a radical reduction of Russian alcohol consumption, but rather in the successful works by such contemporary artists as Andrei Kuznetsov or Vladimir Kamayev.

Igor Rasteryayev: Ромашки (Chamomiles). From the CD Русская дорога (Russian Way, 2011).

…у меня лежит не один товарищ
На одном из тех деревенских кладбищ,
Где теплый ветерок на овальной фотке
Песенку поёт о паленой водке…
…more than one of my mates are lying
here in these village cemeteries
where the hot wind about fake vodka
sings to the oval photo on the tombstone…

“Yefim had a back ache, / so he was sent on sick-leave in the hospital, / and it is for five days that he has been / just drinking rowan brandy in the home.”

“In wine and tobacco there’s no profit and no honor; he who smokes is burning both his inside and his money.”

Scroll: “For sober life – battle against drunkenness!” – To the left: “Reader: Alcohol is poison!” – To the right: “At the table” – Under the picture: “He drinks and tempts other to drinking.”

“He who drinks will also break plates” – Under the picture: “Only he who leaves hop in peace
is really gentle.” – “Life becomes unbearable for the family members of the alcoholic,
and especially the children suffer. Drunkenness leads to the collapse
of families and is a leading cause of several crimes.”

“Alcohol shortens your life. The experts by summarizing the research results of many countries
found that early mortality is twice as likely among alcohol abusers than among the
general population. Alcoholic liver cirrhosis is one of the five leading causes
of death between the age of 25 and 60.” – Label: “wine”

“Various things were already sung about drunkards / but remember only this much from the
drunken songs: / run from this hell, this plague / pull the drunkard out of the
poison. Mayakovsky.” [
Душа общества, 1929] Labels:
“wife, daughter, son, Beetle dog, flower”

“Tatyana could not tell a word when she saw her husband drunken. – Regular appetizers
will make one an alcoholic. They lead to the deterioration of health
and nerves, family and social relations.”

“We can say with a reason that each time the man drinks vodka, the woman and the children shed their tears. – The regular use of alcohol bestializes and perverts you.”

“Decent people will avoid three things: drinking, gambling and debauchery. – Card and drink has never any good effect.”

“Two girls were washing at the river / they were washing, were whitening / letting their
beauty being admired / Oh my beautiful daughter / how heavy yoke is marriage!
/ If you’ve got a husband – he’s a drunkard / goes to the pub by singing /
comes from the pub by sliding / “Woman, undress!” he is crying /
but I do not want to undress / my heart turns away from him.”

Above: “People must be healthy, strong and smart to enjoy the treasures of nature. –
I. P. Pavlov.” – Labels: “sun, Katya, Petya, spring water” – Bottom: “Do
not drink your fill with wine, / do not eat your fill with bread /
it is a beautiful world where we live, / do not turn it into
a stable.” – Subtitles: “pigtaur [svintaur instead
of kentaur,
from svinya], flies, filth”

“A drunkard is touring the pub, the wife is at home killed by the grief.” – To the left, from
above: “He’s a drunkard, lingering in the pub. He just loafs around, and the fence
is already lost. The drunkard at home regrets in the evening and starts drinking
again in the morning.” – To the right: “The drunkard wallows in filthy puds.
The drunkard is even avoided by the cat, while the pig attacks and bites
him. A drunk is swearing, the girls just laughing at him.” – Below:
“He drained the whole bottle, the blood ran in his head, the green
snake has squeezed him, he’s just lying without a word.”

“Proverbs. – Drink water, it does not take away your mind. – I’m a drunkard, my children
are hungry; I’m a villain, my children are bastards. – The drunkard asks a tip not for
vodka but for tea. – If there’s no wine, it is only one grief; if there is, then
three new griefs are added: he’s drunk, beaten-up, and with a headache.”
Labels: “headache, ficus, Masha, Tonya” – “On an empty stomach
today like yesterday, and the cow is removed from the court.”
Labels: “vodka, no more table, cow, courtyard”

“He who loves wine will destroy himself. – If the husband drinks, half the house is on fire. If the wife drinks, the whole house is on fire.”

“You have drained your wine – you have sold your soul. The devil is set free in the drunkard.”

“They were drinking at Filya, so it was Filya whom they have beaten.”

“Alcoholism is a nation’s collective suicide. He who drinks does not think – he who thinks
does not drink. – Short is the road from rum and vodka to the grave. – Do you
respect me?” [a Russian drunkard’s typical question after the umpteenth cup]

“Wine is no friend of work. / In work you find experience / in the wine only danger.”

“More people have drowned into vodka than into water.” – Labels: the two winds: “trouble,
sorrow”, ship: “Little cruiser of vodka, unreliable friends.” sea: “vodka, wine,
cognac”, glass: “cirrhosis”, life buoy: “temperance society”

“I have not yet married, but it is better to be a maiden / if my lover took me away now I would struggle with a drunkard.”

Chastushka: The cooperative employed a soaker, it took a whole year to have him sobered.”

“The teetotaler drunkard. – First, I do not drink by default. Second, today it is not such a day.
Third, I have already taken two shots.” – Labels: “host, wife, port wine” [attention,
in Russia this is a cheap sweet wine that has not much to do with real port]

“Our job is to make sober life a norm for everyone. – Kirill does not turn away his mouth
from the glass. – Drunkenness and alcoholism is a very great social evil, which is
incompatible with the principles of Socialist coexistence and Communist moral.
It reduces the political and cultural prosperity of people, decreases their
production and social activity, has a bad influence on the
education of children and undermines the family.”

“Which is the best drink, vodka, wine or beer? – It is enough to ask this question in any
company, and immediately there raise supporters of each position who jealously
protect their own truth. However, the question is simple to answer. – They
who drink vodka rush in a fast gallop toward their graves. – The beer-
drinkers follow them on foot, dragging on themselves the whole
weight of the liters drunken. – They who drink wine trot
on a bony goat toward their graves.”

6 comentarios:

Araz dijo...

Wonderful illustrations. It reminds me of a 1979 cartoon "Magic ring": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3BcOJflIYc

MOCKBA dijo...

From the magic land of the Zion Wall and the Zion Curtain, with a few nitpicking comments as usually.
палёная водка isn't "burning", it's a fake vodka, a cheap surrogate.

And "The drunkard does not ask tea
into the tea with rum" is a bit harder to translate literally but essentially it means that when the drunkard asks for a tip, he's still using a customary "for tea" rather than "for vodka". Although tipping an извозчик a hundred years ago would have invoked just the right words, "for vodka" ... but this formula was gone with the horse-carts.

MOCKBA dijo...

Another cool bottle which you didn't yet translate :)

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks a lot for the corrections, I have implemented them. As to the tip for wine (rather than for vodka), it put so strong roots in Hungarian that even now the only equivalent of “tip” is “borravaló”, “for-wine”.

I have intentionally not translated the label of the foreign drink, considering that it would be easy to guess, and also for leaving some secret discoveries for the reader. And it was justified by the fact that both you and the first commenter of the Hungarian version discovered it with the same great pleasure.

Thanks for the charming film, Araz! Yes, some elements of lubok appear in it, especially in the opening part. As far as I see this is exactly the period when the first influences of lubok can be traced in modern popular arts in the Soviet Union.

MOCKBA dijo...

I love the whole Shergin's series too! It's hard to pick the most fav scenes ... maybe the ones with white bears and brown bears ? Or the one with a Beatles tune masquerading as a folk song? Ahh, but that's the region of my own Russian roots, in the fisherman hamlets of the Summer Coast...

On the meaning of tips: Russian word for "a tip" (чаевые) is literally tea-money. Etymology of the English word "to tip" is pretty murky BTW, but in German and in Spanish as in Hungarian it is drink-money, while in Czech or Italian a tip is literally food-money,

паленый "fake" is recently derived from "самопал" (originally a "crude homemade firearm" but by extension, any crude surrogate)

And a few more assorted corrections:
already taken two rums => actually "two shots"
he’s drunk, he beats me, he has a headache => drunk, beaten up, and with a headache
life buoy: “anti-alcohol company" => "temperance society"

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks for the corrections, as always. And thanks for the animation: I did not know it, and it is beautiful!