Three features of a Bolshevik:

If we really want to maintain and develop a Bolshevik tempo … the main thing is to have the passionate Bolshevik desire to master technique.

And when we have done that we shall develop a tempo of which we dare not even dream at present. (Works, volume 13, pp. 43, 44, 75)

For some reason, this reminds me of that great Australian film, Children of the Revolution.


Always fun, this one: seeing how you or perhaps what you have written is read and misread. It struck me again recently while I was negotiating the passage for a revised edition of Marxist Criticism of the Bible. Being a thorough bunch at the press, the senior editor sent out the proposal to a spate of reviewers. Apart from one or two of the more bitter and twisted types using the occasion to unload – ‘anonymously’ – their layers of resentment, what I noted above all was the way the original edition of the book had been ‘misread’. I thought I had written a book primarily targetted at Marxist literary and cultural critics who may have an interest in the Bible. These reviewers read it very differently: as an introductory survey for biblical critics (and students). They were commenting on a book that did not exist; or perhaps they were trying to conjure it up. Somewhat bemused by all of this, I have agreed with the press to revise it as precisely that book. At least it might exist second time around.

But that reminded me of the somewhat annoying but infinitely entertaining people who believe they know how you tick. I keep coming across such people – mostly those who think they might be or have been my friends, or pride themselves on having an insight into human nature, or wish to be paternal/maternal, or whatever. The weird thing is that when they attempt to provide an insight into my own workings, the result is a person I don’t recognise or know. Given that I reckon there are two people in the world who know me rather well (and about that number of friends), the rest offer amusing tall tales. Then again, it might be fun to try and be the person they conjure up.

Last night I met Žižek in a dream (fully-clothed, thankfully).

‘Why haven’t you published much lately?’ I asked.

‘I’ve been studying for a degree in theology’, he said.

‘A degree in theology?’ I said. ‘Why?’

‘I’m sick of relying on idiots like Chesterton and Milbank to develop my theological arguments’.

Reluctant as I am to write up dreams, this one had me awake, sweating and spooked in in the middle of the night:

I was in a house, deep in a forest, with rooms of horror, a type of gruesome prison in which the inmates themselves inflicted ‘punishments’ that often led to the most painful deaths. These punishments seemed to be for a wide range of misdemeanours, developed by an unknown law to which the prisoners felt irrevocably bound – they simply had to carry them out on each other and could not refuse to do so, even though there were no guards or police. As my turn for punishment drew near, I walked past a room and a man with mad eyes, bloody hands and spatters all over the rest of his body emerged, ran out and passed me on his way to the bathroom to wash. ‘I got carried away’, he said. I looked in the room and caught sight of sophisticated, stainless-steel items covered in blood and unidentifiable body parts.

Three inmates and I gathered at a small arena, facing outwards from the house. There I was to be punished. Now I paid close attention to what was in store for me: one involved a series of blunt steel clubs, another has something to do with my head, but the last was – upon close inspection – the most grisly of all: an over-sized, sharply angled, grater-like object with sharp notches in it. A massive thug held it at the end of a rope, with which he would swing it viciously and with great force into my body. Clearly, it would tear off chunks and strips of flesh with great ease.

‘Now I’m shit-scared’, I said to a couple of them. ‘I’m going to die, aren’t I?’

They nodded in sympathy and silence, but were unable to refuse to punish me. Their silence seemed to hint that the best option was escape into the forest that surrounded the house. Chances of survival were low – I would be hunted – but better than here.

Must have been hot last night, for I dreamed of what had become or was about to become an Olympic event: one was sucked into a cone-like structure that became a wide tube until you reached a large and solid brick barbeque, over which you then were required to leap backwards and then out of the tube once again. For some reason it was called ‘the resurrection jump’.

Broad beans are known to be difficult to digest, leading to flatulence, unsettled sleep and nightmares. In the Middle Ages it was thought that the souls of the dead lived inside the humble broad bean because it disturbed people’s sleep. Going further back, even Pythagoras, the man of science and mathematics, would not eat broad beans under any circumstances, so convinced was he that they were possessed by evil spirits. (Can you tell I am taking a mental holiday?)

I was in a new a city with  unique yellow and blue buses with large windows and drivers in a cubicle in the centre on the front of the bus. Late one evening I was out walking. I became lost and found myself in an alley in a sinister part of town. As I came out of the alley, a very large, purple, convertible car was just turning into a gateway towards my left. The street onto which I had turned was a wide boulevard, but the driver, an Italian, looked at me very suspiciously. I wanted to get away, but when I looked further down the boulevard to my left I saw a mob, stretching across the boulevard, carrying shovels, clubs, flags, and so on. They meant business, so I fled to the right. Eventually I came upon a five-way intersection, where the colours of the ground were of the Argentinean flag. Here people were celebrating a football holiday, so I warned some of them of approaching Italian mob. They began scampering here and there to prepare to face the mob. I was keen to escape, so I went left, but realised this tree-lined street led me away from where I was staying. So I went back to the intersection and up a very, very steep street. I had to use my hands as well, but the ground was a soft and flexible and the colour of the Argentinean flag. Eventually I made it to the top of the hill, followed the road that curved to the right, which had a view over the city. Finally I found the bus that would take me home.

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