Natalia Gorbanevskaya

I found this article thought-provoking for a number of reasons. As 2018 draws to a close several media sites have published stories reminiscing about Apollo 8 and Earthrise, and rightly so — when I think of 1968 I think of Têt, MLK, RFK, Chicago, Prague, and Apollo 8. The article’s closing paragraph is jarringly disconnected with the previous train of thought and can safely be omitted. What interested me were the names Dubček, Kundera, Havel, Forman, and Gorbanevskaya, which prompted memories of the 1980s, when I read Kundera, watched Forman films, and knew of the imprisonment of people like Gorbanevskaya who had struggled for a socialism with a human face.

In the late 80s in a living room in Berkeley I remember my listening to Joan Baez’s plaintive sincere ballad to Gorbanevskaya being met with patronizing amusement by those who, cooler than me, preferred Talking Heads, R.E.M., and pretentious poser Bono. We age. I now read Kafka in German, continue to read of Dubček. The Berkeley crowd feels itself tortured by Trump and yearns for capitalism with a Hillary Clinton face.

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