Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Master and Margarita

The world is in a fine fix. It's a crisis of belief, believe it or not. Belief in what, you ask? The Devil, I say. Evil incarnate. Satan. There's plenty of evil around. Terror, for example. Demons at work, if you ask me. Evidence. Evil exists. Oh? You have no problem with that statement? Well, consider this: What good is good if evil did not exist, and what would earth be like if shadows disappeared? Hey, I'm talking causality here. This stuff does not just happen. An entire religion--Islam--does not highjack itself. Zealots burning with hatred and bent on blowing up themselves and as many "infidels" as possible don't become a global threat without facilitation. I say it's the work of the Devil. You can say whatever you want.

But, no matter what you say, I have a recommendation. Pick up a copy of "The Master and Margarita," by Mikhail Bulgakov. It is a highly entertaining account of Professor Woland's visit to Moscow and the supernatural events that follow. The setting is Stalinist Russia, a period of oppression during which people informed on each other and disappeared without explanation. The State ran everything and a cynical protocol governed just about every action one might take. Life was tense and uncertain. Suspicion was the operant attitude. Unbelievable things happened all the time. Enter Professor Woland and his motley retinue: Korovyov, the resourceful secretary, Azazella, a utility demon and Behemoth, the anthropomorphic giant black cat. Read and imagine the chaos following a series of dirty tricks perpetrated by this trio of evil. Follow along as pompous bureaucrats find their pants around their ankles and refined and learned literary figures become babbling fools and lunatics when confronted with a certain Trickster. Throw in a writer who has unwisely selected Pontius Pilate as the main character in his resurrection story and get him hooked up with Margarita, a lovely upper class woman with the audacity and courage to use Woland's powers to her advantage. It's quite a tale. And, after you read this remarkable book, tell me again why you don't believe in the Devil.

Later, The Stickler

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