Pain in the News

October 31, 1994|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans.--Two seemingly unrelated stories from Eastern Europe point to a new situation over there.

Dracula's Bran castle in Transylvania, Romania, needs $300,000 worth of repairs, or it's going to fall down. ''If we have an earthquake or if something is not done, it will just fall down,'' Cornel Talos, the castle's architectural director, said.

The other bit of news is that city authorities in Lviv, Ukraine, have been tormenting a group of artists who want to honor Leopold Masoch, the famous masochist, who was born in their city in 1836. The artists have formed an International Masoch Fund and are trying to persuade the U.N. to declare 1995 ''The Year of Masoch.'' The Lviv city council has been rejecting the pleas of the Ukrainian Masocho-philes.

The international community, which has been indifferent to so many of the problems of post-communist Eastern Europe, such as hunger, economic development and the rise of nationalism, can no longer afford to remain on the sidelines. If Dracula ends up having no place to live, he might just move to the West permanently. Our immigration problems being what they are, I don't think we can handle it.

Leopold Masoch, on the other hand, has much to offer the West. The 20th century has had more sufferers than just about any other, and none of them have suffered voluntarily. Masoch offers us the possibility of suffering pleasurably by laying down the terms of our contract of pain. Masoch is a lawyerly lens through which we can transform our pains into ecstasies. He is very much like Christ, only more bureaucratic.

These two indispensable symbolic pillars of our pained and painful world, Dracula and Masoch, are in danger. Let's help them get together in a renovated castle. We need them, they need other, I need a vacation.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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