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‘Fathers and Sons’

Sovereign State

The great Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev wrote “Fathers and Sons,” taking place in 1859, two years before the serfs were freed.

The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863.

Bazarov, one of the protagonists (yes, there can be more than one), is a nihilist, who believes not in art, love or any such sentimentality. Until, of course, he meets the Madame Odintsova, to whom he soon plights his troth.

You know what that gets him. Nichevo.

Another main character is Arkady, who looks up to Bazarov, his fellow student.

Arkady’s uncle, a member of the old guard, is horrified by Bazarov’s lack of belief in anything — this, the nihilism, the first time, this belief in nothing, some say the first time expressed in literature, although we do have Hamlet’s Except my life, except my life, except my life.

And countless ancient Greeks.

Bazarov believes in science. Unfortunately, he is careless with an experiment and accidentally poisons himself. So much for nihilism. Nietschze, eat your heart out.

I re-read the Turgenev every few years and it enriches me every time. This time it’s because of Christian Walker, one of Herschel Walker’s four children, who was seen on YouTube railing against his father, then Georgia Senatorial candidate (who of course lost), repeatedly calling him a liar. Walker pere railed against abortion but seems to think that prohibition shouldn’t apply to women he impregnates.

We’ve seen this Republican Hypocrisy Movie before. And no doubt will see it again.

So who do the Georgia Peaches vote for? The Reverend Raphael Warnock, the incumbent, pastor of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church in Atlanta, or the philandering football star? Duh. Obviously, Warnock won.

A young man I have known since he was 2, now 31, I have had a hand in raising. I call him my son and he calls me Dad.

He has had brushes with the law and has been jailed. I visited him during his 6-month stay for minor, non-violent, but repeated, offenses. I found it harrowing. Never having visited a prisoner before, I didn’t exactly know the drill. The regulars did and walked me through.

No, don’t stand there, the door will open out, put your key in the locker this way, et cetera. The Regulars. Every week, I guess.

I sat across from 31 during the 30 minutes and didn’t know whether to hug him at the end. How is the food? Awful. Others hugged. We were not separated by barriers. So I hugged him.

He got out. Screwed up again. We have not hugged since.

Where are we with sons shouting at absent fathers? And did I feel absent? And is Walker a walking stereotype? And will he join the most elite club in the world? Will his son scream at him as he is invested in the Upper Chamber?

Recommended reading: “Between the World and Me”. Ta-Nehisi Coates, his letter to his 15-year-old son.

The literal translation of the Turgenev is “Fathers and Children.”

I have three daughters. None of whom has done time.


Lonnie Carter is a playwright, Obie winner and his signature play is “The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy.”

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