We went for a drive yesterday and, as usual, I took my camera with me. But I wasn’t really in the mood for taking pictures; I wanted to see things for myself rather than look at them through a viewfinder. Sadly, that means that although I have a few nice pictures of a reservoir, I missed a really good shot of black cows straggling across the Spanish hillside and another of a herd of bracken-coloured goats grazing on the scrubby roadside.
We also saw an elderly rustic walking down the middle of the road carrying a seriously dangerous-looking rifle, apparently stalking something. I didn’t take a picture of him, either, but that was mainly because I think that pointing a camera at a man with a gun is not the wisest of acts.
He would, however, have made a good illustration for a blog post talking about Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died this week and who is mostly famous for inventing the AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon which is said to be responsible for more deaths than the Hiroshima atom bomb.
Perhaps poetry is not the first idea you’d associate with his name, but a few years ago, at a reception at the Kremlin in honour of his ninetieth birthday, Kalashnikov was quoted as saying:
I wrote poetry in my youth, and people thought I would become a poet. But I didn’t become one. There are many bad poets out there without me. I went along a different path.
The reason for the huge success of the gun Kalashnikov invented lies in the fact that, while being easily mass-produced by unskilled workers, it is extremely reliable in the battlefield.
This, of course, is totally unlike poetry where, to be successful, each piece requires individual crafting and attention by a skilled writer. And when put in the hands of different readers, the same poem can produce entirely different effects.As a slightly unconnected afterthought: if a picture is worth a thousand words, and the pen is mightier than the sword, how does shooting photos compare to wielding an AK-47?
3 thoughts on “words & weapons”
As usual with legends, Khalashnikov’s is not al his merit. The famous gun and caliber concept were the improvement of a german idea, the Sturmgewehr 44 por 40. The german gun needed development but because it was designed undercover from Hitler, it did not harvest the success the russians did. The front half is identical in both guns.
Many inventions build on other people’s work.
Anyway, I thought it was a “known fact” that everything useful was invented by a Russian (!). I’ve read that Kalashnikov also invented a very efficient lawnmower, but I guess a gun was more useful to the USSR at the time.
It used to be a common jok
e that Russia’s greatest inventor was comrad Regus Patoff (registered us patent