Georgi Grozdev about Iliya Troyanov’s Dog Times
Iliya Troyanov’s popularity helps the topics from the book of “The Arranged Revolution” acquire a more serious resonance than the vaudevillian “we’ve heard that one before”. Actually, what’s new in this book, “a literary reportage” by the definition of the author himself, written based on documents, media information, and personal meetings with a miner, a peasant, repressed people, newly-fledged politicians and journalists? The main material has been seized from the dawn of the “burst democracy” and the author’s pathos is sorrowful because the great expectations have been let down. By whom? From the distance of time this is becoming ever clearer. By the Nomenclature and State Security. But, actually, they never promised anything. By the new faces and parties of democratic processes. But they were compromised and compromised themselves much faster than the communists did after Sep 9. The author traverses different coordinate systems, teleports himself to different social and analytical levels and is definitely most readable and interesting when he describes his personal encounters with fellow-countrymen from different corners of Bulgaria and because of his sense of humor.
Iliya Troyanov enters a noisy, repressed and deterred conversation which, from a point on, always ends with the statement “so what?” regardless of the conclusions. I’m sure this conversation will continue through the years through different means: new novels and journalistic books, new documents from the archives inaccessible today to the mass reader.
Personally, I feel the book close to me because it challenges, seeks arguments on hot issues from the so-called Transition which have for over 17 years now remained shrouded in apparent secrecy:
To what extent were the leaders of the newly-created opposition in Bulgaria Trojan horses of the former rulers?
Why did the West allow the unfolding of gentle revolutions following the same scenario in Eastern Europe which have been arranged beforehand with the Nomenclature since they led to the transformation of its political power to an economic one? Weren’t thus the ideals of Democracy betrayed? A deal from which nations did not win.
What is the fate of the repressed, of the young, of the pensioners in a society in which the victim apologizes to the executioner and crimes remain unpunished for decades?
Generally speaking, is total democracy possible in a society which was unprepared for it (this democracy, like the incursion of communism, was instituted overnight)?
Why was a society of public conspiracy created in which policemen, prosecutors, politicians of any party, judges, journalists, MPs and ministers play on the same team against their own nation whose youngest and most perspective representatives have almost been driven out from the field and turned into economic emigrants?
Why is Bulgaria the only Balkan country which does not have its own national vision? Why high positions in the state hierarchy are occupied by people who don’t know written and spoken literary Bulgarian?
Why in its 17th year is Bulgarian democracy already a banana democracy –small towns where nothing has worked in years saw the appearance of many casinos and the shutting down of reading centers, hospitals and kindergartens?
Why many professions in the fields of culture, science and manufacturing are doomed to be marginalized and to disappear? Because the pathetic comprador Bulgarian neo-bourgeoisie wants to go to the movies or theater in other cultured states, like in Latin America?
Thinking is a dangerous activity now as it was before. Iliya Troyanov proves that again. Without thinking there’s no creativity. And let me note here that thinking is even more doomed when a king-premier calls Petko and Pencho Slaveykovi brothers, a minister of culture confuses Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with Pancho Vladigerov, a president gives pension to a deceased artist, and another minister of culture accidentally demonstrates for TV his poor spelling. All these are, of course, pure incidents.
In the dog times in which we’ve sunk neck deep after the fake revolution of 1989, in the times of betrayed democratic ideals, we’re ever more unlikely to notice that we’re more expressly losing the remains of our cultural insight than our pathetic banknotes. And it is precisely this insight that no one from the European Union will give us through any program. Again due to this cultural inadequacy the name and work of the emblematic in the new Bulgarian literature Georgi Markov, the author of “The Correspondent Reports about Bulgaria”, have been cast into artificial oblivion, have been excluded from literature textbooks, whereas there are constant awardings and renamings of streets, constructions of monuments and statues of writers whose work is only 1-2 years old. And the reason for all this is the fear of the future’s verdict.
I share the pain and pity of Iliya Troyanov and wish him in the years to come to spend more time, if possible, in Bulgaria, to be able to see not only the literary reportage but also to have an inside look at the “social and psychological terrain” where young and old, artists and workers, employed and unemployed are forced to survive. What’s more – why not conduct, with foreign aid, a concrete and profound investigation that we’re incapable of of some of the many affairs here. Of course if he wants and has the ability to do so. Something like John Grisham’s nonfiction “The Innocent Man”.
Frankly speaking, the Bulgarian public has become bored with some of the more general statements of Iliya Troyanov’s, even though they may be interesting for the foreign public. It’s a fact a critical mass of discontent has been accumulating despite the manipulations of the mass conscience, the conspicuous and indirect means of perverting people, of killing their solidarity and humanity. We, down here, already know that the dilemmas have been falsified, and Truth is somewhere very far away at the moment, even though the Big stolen money with all its brutality is right before our eyes.
And one more thing: we’ve reached a balance point from which onward comes a sudden pitfall which could be fallen into after the least of provocations. The most serious symptom of this is that anything can be said but there’s no one to hear it, and no one wants to hear it, if it doesn’t suit him. The post-totalitarian Bulgarian dumbness should soon thunder, but not through the fireworks of the parties of the newly-rich, I hope.
Not too long ago Publishing House “Balkani” organized a “Competition for an Emigrant Story” and we received via email many texts from all over the world. We turned out to be the first publishing house which is not indifferent to the fate of our emigrants. I want to tell you that most stories are very sad. Here’s another thread resulting from the topic of “the arranged revolution” which Publishing House “Balkani” continues to discuss.