Thursday, July 21, 2005

History Lesson Time

Grigori Rasputin (1869-1916)

One has to be fascinated by the repetitions of History. Its not just Shakespeare who recycled stories. Sometimes, it actually happens in real time. Of course, we don't get all the good bits that Willy threw in like my favorite, "Et Tu, Brute." Or, as most of us do, "Et Tu, (insert loathed opponent who sucks up to you in public)."

There is no doubt in my mind that someday soon there is going to be a real attempt at drama with old Tricky Dick Nixon. I do think that there was a Nixon Agonistes (sorry Milton), and the recent outing of Sore Throat has provided fodder for a million trash novels (I eat up trash novels by the score). I can't wait for The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, Part IV. etc., etc., etc.

But old Greg Rasputin was a trip. According to Wikipedia:
Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin possibly was born a peasant in a small Siberian village .... When he was around the age of eighteen, he spent three months in the Verkhoturye Monastery. There, he joined the Skopsty, a renegade sect within the Russian Orthodox Church that “believed that the only way to reach God was through sinful actions. Once the sin was committed and confessed, the penitent could achieve forgiveness."
So far sounds like your typical St. Augustine wanna be (going to get MY oats in before the gate closes).
Rasputin was wandering as a pilgrim throughout Siberia when he heard reports of Tsarevich Alexei's haemophilia in 1904, a disease inherited from his great-grandmother (Queen Victoria). He was regarded as the last resort of the desperate Tsar and Tsarina. They had tried everywhere to find a cure for their son and in 1905 asked the charismatic peasant healer for help. He was said to possess the ability to heal through prayer, and he was indeed able to give the boy some relief.
Well the plot thickens, though not the Tsarevich's blood. I'm pretty sure that old R didn't infuse little T with Factor VIII. But then, who knows. Maybe he was a reverse vampire. Our story progresses:
Rasputin ..... became a controversial figure, leading a scandalous personal life with his mostly female followers from the Saint Petersburg high society. Furthermore, he was frequently seen picking up prostitutes and often drank himself into a stupor.
This sounds pretty run of the mill. Radical religious sect, lots of kinky sex.
According to Rasputin's daughter, Maria, Rasputin did "look into" the Khlysty sect, and rejected them. While the Western world is particularly interested in the sexual aspects of this sect (supposedly tied to a belief that one can obtain humility only by debasing oneself), Rasputin was particularly appalled by the belief that grace is found by harming one's body.
... Attaining divine grace through sin seems to have been one of the central secret doctrines that Rasputin preached to (and practised with) his inner circle of society ladies.
Why, this guy had nothing on Jim/Jeff Gannon/Guckert or Jimmy and Tammy Faye other than suggesting that the best way to a bird's knickers is via the pulpit. But I digress:
While Tsar Nicholas II was away at the front of the war, Rasputin’s influence over Tsaritsa Alexandra rose immensely. He soon became the confidante and personal advisor of Alexandra. He also convinced Alexandra to fill some government offices with his own handpicked candidates. To further increase his power, Rasputin slept with upper-class women in exchange for granting political favors. Because of World War I, and to a lesser extent, Rasputin, Russia’s economy was declining at an extreme rate. Many blamed Alexandra and Rasputin, because of his influence over her, for this.
G.W. take note, don't go to Iraq and leave Laura behind with Karl. Bad things might happen. But then, it would be a good excuse for the economy tanking.
Prince Felix Yusupov, Duma member Vladimir Purishkevich, and the Tsar's cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov, important members of the St. Petersburg elite, finally took the lead in the decision to murder Rasputin, because they viewed him as a source of major disgrace for the Tsar's family. They killed him on the night of Dec 29, 1916...How exactly they killed Rasputin is not clear. There was no police investigation after his death, so we know only their own version. According to them, Yusupov invited Rasputin to his palace on the pretext of his wife Irina needing his attentions as a healer. In a dining room in the palace basement, the two served their guest with wine and cakes laced with potassium cyanide. The poison was ineffective, so they shot Rasputin three times in the chest, back and head, and beat him around the head with a dumb-bell handle. They then tied him up in a sheet and dropped him through a hole in the ice into the Neva River. He drifted under the ice, still fighting to free himself.
Please note that Rasputin was a contemporary of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. (Everlasting sleep and the resurrection from the dead, which are the central themes of his Dracula, were of great importance for him (Stoker), because he was forced to spend much of his life in bed.) Although modern science had make strides at the beginning of the last century (particularly with killing people, as in machine guns), there was still the attraction of fundamental religion to undermine government and rationality. In any case:
A book by Edvard Radzinsky suggests Yusupov may have deliberately fluffed the murder, because he was in love with Rasputin. Nonetheless, with poison, bullets and bruises, he still managed to move about under the freezing ice water.

Alexandra then had the body drawn from the river three days later.

All three killers died much later from natural causes.

Supposedly, his penis was cut off and preserved after he died. A Russian Museum of erotica displays an object they claim to be Rasputin's penis, though there is no credible verification, which could be obtained in the form of DNA comparison.
Right now Jimmy/Jeff is going crazy.
It is also possible the object on display belongs to another species, or is merely a part of a sea creature or mushroom.
That's how things go. And then:
There is some evidence that the British Secret Intelligence Service, worried that Rasputin may influence the Tsar to make peace with the German Empire and thus free up German troops for the Western Front, was also involved.
Now we get to the crux of the story, politics.
I write and leave behind me this letter at St. Petersburg. I feel that I shall leave life before January 1. I wish to make known to the Russian people, to Papa, to the Russian Mother and to the Children, to the land of Russia, what they must understand. If I am killed by common assassins, and especially by my brothers the Russian peasants, you, Tsar of Russia, will have nothing to fear for your children, they will reign for hundreds of years in Russia. But if I am murdered by boyars, nobles, and if they shed my blood, their hands will remain soiled with my blood, for twenty-five years they will not wash their hands from my blood. They will leave Russia. Brothers will kill brothers, and they will kill each other and hate each other, and for twenty-five years there will be no nobles in the country.
O.K., time for the take home message:
1. Karl, you shouldn't let Dick and Wolfie get behind you with any sharp objects.
2. Laura, beware (see above).
3. G.W. if you are even thinking about doing in Karl (see 1), consider that Karl has left a prophecy. By the way, doing him in this day and age would be sending him to the farm where they all play fun games in the dorm at night and you can never, never go home. Actually, he might like it.
4. G.W., you don't have enough SEX in your administration. Condi in hip boots doesnt' count.
5. When the troops and the proles don't like a War, you better have a good Plan B. People like Lenin are getting ready to break a few eggs.
6. We may be in for twenty-five years without Republicans (except on the SCOTUS).

7. History repeats itself. Always as farce.


Recidivist said...


Dr. C said...

Thought you'd pick up on the "bird" terminology, R, shows my age.