Кирпич, часть вторая

by Don  

Previously we discussed the endings and common uses of кирпич ‘brick.’ There is a Russian idiom that uses this word, «морда просит кирпича», which literally means “his face is asking for a brick.” It means someone whose face is really ugly, and it’s often accompanied by the idea that the person’s behavior is vulgar as well. The word for ‘face’ in these contexts is often «рожа, морда», which don't really have equivalents in current American English, although previously “mug, puss” were mild versions of them. Sometimes the phrase is associated with the very vulgar ебало, a word for face that is derived from the Russian eff word, which generally foreigners should avoid using. English has a few idioms to express the idea of someone being exceedingly ugly. Among them are:

Here is an example of how the кирпич idiom is used in Russian.

Сегодня ко мне на собеседование очередной кандидат заявился. Тот ещё кадр: все руки в наколках, морда кирпича просит, и перегаром прёт за три метра. Пришлось вежливо отказать. (source) Our next applicant came to see me today. What a great co-worker he’d be: tatoos all over his arms, ugly as a baboon’s ass, and reeking of alcohol from ten feet away. We had to politely reject his application.
— Ты вчера познакомился с другом Светы?
— К сожалению, да. Он такой урод!
— Что ты имеешь ввиду?
— Такой роже и кирпич не поможет.
— Да ты что! Наверно переувеличиваешь.
— Сама посмотри! Я не удержался, перешлось сфотографировать.
“Did you meet Sveta's friend yesterday?”
“Unfortunately, I did. He is so freakin’ ugly.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you hit him in the face with a brick, it would be an improvement.”
“Oh, come on. You must be exaggerating.”
“You should look for yourself. I couln’t help myself. I had to take a picture.”

Although the phrase is mostly used of physical ugliness, it can be used metaphorically as well. There is a well-known piece of WWII bilingual Nazi propaganda that uses the phrase:

Бей жида-политрука, рожа просит кирпича (source) Kill the Jewish political officer; he’s as ugly as sin.

Y’know, most of the time I'm delighted to present a Russian idiom, but on this occasion it makes me sad. The idea that those who are ugly deserve a brick in the face is a horrible one. There is, I think, evolutionarily in many human beings an idea that those who are weak, ugly, less fit for the wolves-vs-sheep existence decreed by pure materialism, an idea that such people are less fit to live, to be happy, to survive to wisdom and maturity... that idea is simply awful. Instead we should dedicate ourselves to a life where not only the strong-vicious-dominant survive. It is one of the reasons that I think religion is still significant in the scientific age: religion teaches that we will be judged in the same way that we treat the least of our brethren. Let us live in such a way that we do not have to throw a brick in the face of those who are different from us, those who are odd, those whom we don't yet understand. That way we can all enter the next millenium knowing that we have done the best we can to pursue kindness, wisdom and diversity in the best sense. And if you think you don't like the idea of diversity, then you need to rethink that right now.


Comment from: A minor typo [Visitor]

— Что ты имеешь ввиду?
— Что ты имеешь в виду?

2019-09-1019 Don responds: Thanks!

12/14/15 @ 04:51
Comment from: Liz WiId [Visitor]

Love your blog. Thanks for putting it out there for us.

Minor quibble: “exaggerating” has two ‘g’s’ … one ‘r’.

Don responds: Thanks! Typo corrected.

10/15/14 @ 11:53
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]


I agreed with your last paragraph right up till when you touted the benefits of religion. There is religious theory and then there is religious praxis. In my experience it’s quite often the religious believers who are the most aggressive, the most violent, the most intolerant, the most hateful.

The bible and the koran contain pretty little phrases promoting tolerance and universal love. However when put into practice the result is an ossified ideology of hate and intolerance.

For the record, I consider “communism” (the USSR was never communist, nor China, hence the quotation marks) and the various varieties of fascism to be religions. Smash the old set of rules and replace them with a new set of rules; replace the old saviour, the old shepherd, with a new Leader and there you have a new religion.
No, my friend, religion is not the answer. Religion is part of the problem.

I have faith, faith in Humanity, faith that we can come together without the need for invisible beings and selective morality enforced from on high. Morality comes from within each of us, it doesn’t come from a book and it doesn’t come from the twisted words of a supposed prophet. Morality certainly does not come from a fear of being judged in a next life; that is a very disingenuous “morality". Morality, love and tolerance come from within each Human Being, some more than others.

In peace,

P.S. Have you ever read Jacque Ellul’s “The Technological Society"? I think you might enjoy his thoughts on technology, materialism and conformity.

10/08/14 @ 09:51

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