Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Words to Flail By

December 7th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Ruhnama
A Thursday comment thread led us to unearth a true Web gem: an English translation of the Ruhnama, the textbook authored by the late Saparmurat Niyazov, better known to the world as the megalomaniacal dictator Turkmenbashi. The tome was infamously the only source of history and philosophy instruction for pupils during Turkmenbashi’s ruinous reign, a fact which probably goes a long way toward explaining why so many of the nation’s young’uns are desperate to study abroad.

Having thumbed through all glorious 281 pages, we can only say that Niyazov could really, really have used an editor to teach him the art of the segue—as well as the fact that too many exclamation points tend to undermine one’s literary cause. Take a look at one of our favorite passages—absolutely no changes made by us:

The human is not the only interacting, communicating and thinking living creature in the world! All living things and animals are able to perform some mental process or communicate in the world! All plants can interact among themselves; they know how to process messages in some ways conveyed to them too!

After ruthless attacks [by] Chenghis Khan, the Turkmens spun a circle of development from East to West. Turkmenistan was the most developed country in the world.

The first type of carriage was devised by the Turkmen. It served to make much work of the army and the state easier.

There is also a fantastic meditation on the importance of smiling on page 234. Highly recommended.

(Image via Begemot’s Flickr stream)

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    After half a dozen pages or so, part of me wants to read the whole thing. The other part of me thinks that I’d need a big ol’ bucket of brain bleach by the end.

    I’m also a bit shocked that it took him so long to get to the “and here’s why you should do absolutely everything I say” part of the book. Though I’ll give him a couple of points for being smart enough to not try to place the Rukhnama on the same level as the Quran. Not that he doesn’t think it’s too far behind…

  • jackal

    This is so on my vacation reading list..

    [reads some]

    .. well, a few pages a day is all I can stomach. Studying this in school would drive me insane. Poor turkmen kids..

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @jackal: The worst part is, as I understand it, this was the ONLY history/philosophy/poli-sci textbook allowed in schools during Turkmenbashi’s reign. Poor kids, indeed–and poor country as a result.

  • Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

    [...] What we wouldn’t have given to see Bokassa duke it out in the Thunderdome with Turkmenbashi. [...]

  • begemot

    I’d be grateful if you would respect the creative commons license on this photo, which was taken by me. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/begemot/339696512/

    Thanks.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @begemot: Fixed, thanks. Sorry, place I found it didn’t have the attribution.

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