Through the discovery of the meaning of a pair of ordinary words from the Russian language, we found that it had a religious origin. Should that supposedly biblical source be ignored, we still have an expression with surprisingly current meaning to everyday events, even in a world which more and more, suffers the twilight of the gods; or, if you will, of God. This little article, while examining some other symbolism of the United States of America, and its apparently current number one nemesis, Russia, examines the expression, [злоба дня], and its application to events at the time of this writing.
Champion and Challenger: Stars and Chess-Players
Charges and countercharges are made by the expert chess-players, one Black, (once red, and still using a red star on its military airplanes); and the trying-to-be great again White (knights, – king repudiated over 200 years ago – yes, and a white star on its planes).
Interesting it may be to analyze the question of these colors – red and white. Red is synonymous with beautiful in the one country, white, in a roundabout way, has the same meaning in the other. Calligraphy, “beautiful handwriting”, from white, understood as the beautiful color. Its roots are found in “chalk”, or cal, with the addition of “graphy”, the art of writing.
One might say that when these colors are applied to questions of temperature, white-hot trumps red-hot, but in questions of complexion, rosy cheeks win over deadly pale ones.
We wish to impart no special meaning to having turned red into black. Let us just say, in a black and white photograph, red is depicted in the dark hue. Those who so desire, may choose to see villainy in it, but on the other hand, “black” is related to Latin-derived words meaning white: blanc (French), or blanco (Spanish), from whence our word “blank”.
Hence, in the interests of as much equilibrium as possible, not only is black, black; and white, white; but white is black … ! Except in out metaphorical chess game, by necessity, we have a distinction.
Some White Goes Dark …
The country supposedly founded by settlers, such as the Puritans, in search of religious liberty, is hell-bent on the search of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as long as religion no longer interferes.
One hundred years after the events leading up to the October Revolution in Russia, elements in the United States are trying to have their own czars capitulate to mobs in the street. We read that they are in favor of such ideas as love, peace, and tolerance, while making exceptions where ideology so requires. If we are to look upon this in terms of some kind of game, it must be American-type football, where the idea of some of the players is, as once read in the 60s in a Canadian magazine supplement to a daily newspaper, to “kill the enemy”.
… Others go Back to the Light
Meanwhile, the long-suffering, cold-suffering, despot-ruled Russia, where the Communists denied the authentic religion of the nation, had its faith burn beneath the surface. The high priests of the country had left its altars to contemplate the almost-infinite possibilities of a chess-game. Amongst those who maintain their patriotism, without converting back to religious faith, we might find the most dangerous opponents. We’ve heard of the poker-face, but the chess-player is inscrutable until his king is cornered. Bloodless coup?
When religion is defended according to the strategies of chess, i.e., where religion is king, other formidable opponents may be suspected.
[The preceding metaphor is not meant to say that religion was ever totally wiped out, even at the worst of times.]
So, what does the preceding have to do with spiteful news?
As I was glancing through the Pocket Oxford Russian Dictionary, I hit upon a strange translation, which was just begging for verification.
Let’s call the Russian expression “zloba dnya”, “zloba dña” [злоба дня]. “Zloba”, alone, means malice, spite, or, according to Google Translate, 12 similar ideas. The second word means “day”.
But, in spite, I say, that despite appearances, our expression is not translated as “Dies Irae“, Day of Wrath!
Rather, according to our dictionary, zloba dnya is “latest news”, “topic of the day”, or, as suggested by Google, “nine-day’s wonder”. To spare nine days of wondering about what that means, let’s say it’s the issue of the day.
The expression comes from the Gospel of Matthew, 6:34. Our Russian source emphasizes that the wording in the Church-Slav[on]ic text, according to our own re-interpretation here, identifies the evil, the day’s malice, as quite enough, for which reason we are exhorted not to worry about the next day.
The Latest, i.e., Spiteful News, near the Time of this Writing
Nevertheless, how true is the case of malice in the “latest news” at the time of the writing of this article: the media buzz being the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, andthe protests against what we hope are nothing more than misinterpretations of his true self – many “spite” him.The “latest news”, for several days – weeks even – before the election, was Russian hacking. “Malice” towards the Russians is what this might be called. I’m not going to lose my temper at a nation just because I myself was almost a conduit for some individual hacker (pretending to offer services to Canada from the south of the United States, and immediately connecting to a dot ru web-site) on one of my own pages.
I see here an almost miraculous foresight in the way the Russians interpret the biblical passage, maintained alive through a religion which was never interred; and applicable to the situation created by Trump’s enemies. The neo-coms (I mean here those of a communist bent) should take a lesson from Stalin on the question of religion:
The harder you hit a nail on the head, the deeper it goes into the wood.
The above was the way I remembered it, more authoritavely, it comes from Anatolii Lunacharskii, a minister of education, who, in 1928 said:
Now, the question of religion is only an aside here, meant to explain the origin of the expression about spiteful news being the same as the hot-topic of the day. Even a virtuous atheist would (or should) agree that spitefulness is inappropiate in a civilized society.
Yes, those that supposedly choose to give us a better world, do so with cacophony, cacography, and all-round cacoethes.
Clearly, we would need no politicians to solve our problems if Matthew’s report that today’s evils are sufficient, and for that reason, we should not worry about the morrow.
But the world does have its prime ministers and presidents. Slightly rephrasing the words of one of these, Republican president Abraham Lincoln, I hereby express my wish:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, …, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (last paragraph, emphasis added).
So, my dictionary did not give me a false translation, but the latest news sure had a lot to do with fake news, spite, and days of wrath. Let’s hope for better!
January 22 – 24, 2017.
© 2017, Paul Karl Moeller