maanantai 1. joulukuuta 2014

INVISIBLE PICTURES OF NON-EXISTENT THINGS






                                                                 

O




I N V I S I B L E    P I C T U R E S    O F    N O N - E X I S T E N T    T H I N G S





Kartoshka
(walks in, paces back and forth)
Well, there isn’t anything here 
(leaves, humming quietly) 
nothing, nothing, nothing, totally nothing at all.



Guide
(arrives)

Yes, when there isn’t anyone, then there isn’t anyone… but can we be sure that our eyes are showing us the truth? 

Sometimes, you see, one develops a blind spot where there may in fact be some little thing, or even two.



(leaves; a short pause, flavored with noise, as if a prelude)




The blind point, the two ficures and something to tell you


mox the Recorder

Yes, yes. Did you hear Grishka? Grishka, Grigory Alexandrovich! Wake up. 

People are coming; it’s time to start getting to the bottom of things.



G

Iiin in, indeed? Really?...don’t. You will awaken me from a pleasant dream. 

I’m still almost somewhere else, in a sparkling landscape lit by the moon.


mox the Recorder
Of course, where else, but now you have fallen down here!


G: 
Indeed, I realize that now myself. Is there some specific circumstance which has brought me here?

mox the Recorder: 
Circumstance indeed, and circumstances. First of all, I ended up in your home town in spring of 1993. My occupation considers it its right to take me here and there as it pleases. I was working on a Russian motif;... 




...I built a unity, presented it and thought that was that, but what, just a small introduction, that two years, for when I came back to Finland, I was not alone. You followed me.

G: Yes, I must have been clinging to something. I had been alone for so long.

Kartoshka: 
(arrives)
Was there something here? What’s seems to be the matter here?

mox the Recorder: 
That’s just what I’m clearing up…But you were already here a moment ago, it woke me up, and there was someone else in addition to you... but I want to tell you both right at the beginning that this Grishka here has a tale that is…how should I say?. In the last few years I’ve tried…

Kartoshka: 
Tales and tales! Is there some of that here too? There seems to be an overabundance of everything now. But it isn’t my business; I came to perform my duty. I take care of upkeep and such; otherwise it’s all the same to me what goes on.

mox the Recorder: 
Dear Grishka! Tell us about yourself now so we can get started, explain your background!

G: 
However you like… I can easily tell of myself, if there is someone here who wants to listen. There was a certain… individual. I am… was a patron, a count… well, I had different titles, but my first name is Grigory, which is where my nicknames come from, like Grisha... and Grishka. Grigory Alexandrovich is my name with my father’s name. In Russia we have a tradition of adopting our fathers’ first name after our own first name. I was born in St. Petersburg in 1832 into a grave and distinguished family…

Ivan Painov
(arrives stealthily and surprises the group) 
Hahaa! There is more of a crowd here! You must be part of that small noble family whose members didn’t even grow beards and which finally dried up completely!

Kartoshka: 
Bless me, you gave us such a start! My heart almost stopped.

mox the Recorder: 
Do we know each other? You seem to remind me of someone, but I can’t quite get it into my head…

Ivan Painov: 
Well, you’ve gotten plenty of other things into your head; you’ve practically had things crawling into your temples. Hah hah! Kartoshka hit the nail on the head; my arrival can sometimes stop a heart! But better a sudden stop that a flow of molasses, haha! But let us hear more; this fey pale being will no doubt stutter through the whole story, so let us listen; we may be amused and at least pass the time!

G: 
Yes, if you will allow me to continue my account. I will start from the earliest times, selecting from the history of Russia’s great national events a certain member of our family, Alexander, who was Catherine II’s personal advisor in her final years.

mox the Recorder: 
I remember seeing this Alexander sitting at Catherine’s bronze feet in the center of St. Petersburg! It was… but who…? Excuse me; we’re receiving another guest. Why, you were already here!

Guide: 
Good day. I was I was, and now I returned; what else would I do? I am a wandering follower; I… follow things; so I know a bit of everything. I am called the Guide. Excuse me, but I heard people talking and then I saw Ivan Painov…

Kartoshka: 
Do join us as well, wandering fallow… [intentional misspelling]

mox the Recorder: 
So, this is Ivan Painov… he didn’t present himself… interrupted. And we didn’t hear Grishka’s surname.

Ivan Painov: 
But Guide, you are like a shadow at my heels!

Guide: 
A shadow is sometimes a healthy thing, but in this matter I desire to illuminate. Let us continue the tale the count has begun.




mox the Recorder: 
A Guide! Do tell us if you have something to add!

Guide: 
Well, Count, about the Alexander you mentioned, there are many stories about his actions as the instrument of Catherine II’s last wishes, but all in all this product of Kiev University was considered an exceptionally wise and clever politician.

Ivan Painov: 
A damned clever man! Nicked Catherine’s will and took it to the idiot Paul in his back pocket!

Kartoshka: 
So you too have some knowledge of this event!

Guide: 
Alexander died childless, was unmarried and his great fortune fell to the following generation through his brother, and really… straight to you, Grigory Alexandrovich. The fortune also contained one of Russia’s greatest art collections: Rembrandt, Rubens...

Ivan Painov: 
A luxurious way of life!

mox the Recorder: 
One small painting from this collection ended up in Finland, in the national collections.

Guide: 
Indeed, and an exhibition was organized around that tiny painting and its story in Finland in 1995 in the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. But if we now continue the actual story and jump forward from the time of Catherine one generation, we find the count’s father, Alexander Grigoryevich, who was born in the Winter Palace in early spring of 1800. By the Tsar’s edict after his 16th birthday his mother’s surname was added to his own that “a family known for its great deeds would not be forgotten.”
G: My father had already begun receiving his education at a very young age. Before his 20th year he had already graduated as a doctor and traveled around Europe, meeting the renowned thinkers of his time, Dubond, Pestalozzi, Mezzofanti; worked in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria; and collected many books.

Ivan Painov: 
(snorts, hardly audibly) 
Imbecile, imbecile…

Guide: 
Early on he had a desire to found a school in Russia.

G: 
At his Majesty’s command in 1820 the Gymnasium of Higher Sciences was founded in Nizhyn, and my father took up the position of overseer. The school was named after my mother’s family. Later my father became a member of the education administration, an honorary member of the academy of sciences, head of the national bank, director of the national treasury department, a senator, an honorary regent, oh… (drinks a drop of water), a government censor. My father was a secret counselor, a chamberlain and a knight.

Ivan Painov: 
It’s already a day’s work just to write the litany of titles.

G: 
My father Alexander Grigoryevich met my mother, Alexandra Nikolayevna at a court ball.

Ivan Painov: 
Look, he found the namesake!

G: 
My mother… 
(pauses for a moment, as if lost in a daydream) 
…My mother was… ...Mother… 
(sits, frozen, tongue caught)

Ivan Painov: Eh, what was that? Your mother what?




Guide: 
Your mother, Alexandra Nikolayevna Repnina, was a beautiful and noble woman who died shortly after giving birth to four children. You were three years old at the time. Your life sunk into a deep sorrow. Your father Grigory Alexandrovich buried himself in his work and the skirts of the woman paid to fill your mother’s place rustled in the halls.  

Kartoshka: 
(as if trying to lighten the mood) 
We live life and then we die.

Ivan Painov: 
What did you have to complain about: tall carriages took you where you wished, wide landscapes shown on the golden walls!


A wild connections

Guide: 
Well, one oughtn’t judge on external appearances… But dear Count, it comes to mind that you father had dealings in Finland as well. He added extensive gifts of land on the west shore of Ladoga to his possessions in 1846 and the next year a property in Helsinki.

G: 
Indeed, 
(clears his throat) 
indeed. The Meilahti Estate… a small and peaceful place. My father visited the baths in Helsinki now and then.

Ivan Painov: 
And because he was bathed in money too, he gambled. And lost ungodly sums!

Guide: 
That is indeed true, for your father’s gaming losses have been written about in Helsinki’s histories.

Ivan Painov: 
He had other undertakings fit for a count, yes yes! A stench had spread in the form of a rumor that your honorable father was cultivating more than fields in Karelia. To wit, there happened to be a small maidservant named Maria in the Tervu court at Kurkijoki whose midsection began to swell after the count’s visit. Perhaps she ate a teacake with too much yeast, haha...


 


... At least she didn’t produce a pastry, but instead a hardy bastard!

Guide: 
In any case the count was well positioned and left an inheritance...

mox the Recorder: 
Indeed he did—in the care of the parish—but that money that was entrusted to the priestly bosom was sticky sweet and never came unstuck to fill the needs of a poor bastard child.

Kartoshka: 
God the Father’s representatives on earth certainly know best about financial matters. But… mox, you…Recorder, how did these rumors reach your ears?

mox the Recorder: 
My relatives told me of them. That bastard was my mother’s grandfather...and your half-brother, Grishka!

Ivan Painov: 
So this is the family reunion of these two nutcases that we are witnessing! Hah hah!

G: 
Whether I knew or whether I didn’t, I… but…

Guide: 
But there are bastards everywhere! I hear they are born out of thin air.

mox the Recorder: 
Exactly, like from a virgin, but how sinfully! But in any case, no matter who is looking in the mirror, no one knows what ancestries are staring back.

Guide: 
This is fresh in my mind! From a book I just read, Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot. The main character, Prince Myshkin, had a secret half-brother in an outlying province.

Kartoshka: 
I don’t read made-up stories at all.

Guide: 
Made up? But he just…

Ivan Painov: 
What, Guide, you didn’t run all the way to Spain! 
(snatches the book from the table) 
This book fits in nicely here! This also tells about the exploits of an idiot knight. I’ll take a passage at random. Look hear: ... “A fine thing it would be, indeed, to marry our Maria to some great count or grand gentleman…” 
(Slams the book shut).

Kartoshka: 
Does it say that there? Does it tell about him, I mean… About the, or…?

Guide: 
Look at the cover, for goodness sakes, it’s Don Quixote!

mox the Recorder: 
There are these books here too… Courtly Powers…this book by Lempi Jääskeläinen tells about the history of feudalism… there is a courtier… and a maidservant Maria… and … a bastard is born. And this… King of Paris, about Alexander Dumas’ life. There is one scene here… a bastard is born… and the father is Alexander… Then Lauri Haarla’s book about Georg Magnus Sprengtporten. It tells about a poor little boy, a bastard, who is supposedly capable of greater deeds than the weak-blooded heirs of the marriage bed.

Ivan Painov: 
Be that as it may, it sure is a juicy story! So, bastards can accomplish great and heinous works. Well, well, how very terrifying! 
(spins around bellowing and giggling)

Kartoshka: 
Don’t start. I found something too… This book was written by J.M. Coetzee… The Master of Petersburg. It says here that, “Maria was simple, and simple people should not marry for fear they will bear simple children, and the simple children will then have simple children themselves, and so forth, till the whole land is full of simple people…” ...and listen to this; it says here that that Maria is a witch! 

Ivan Painov: 
Witch, witch, she’s a witch!

mox the Recorder: 
But listen, Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film tells about an actor who fled to the countryside, Alexander, who has become famous for his performance as the main character of The Idiot, prince Myshkin. This Alexander receives an order from an unidentified party to spend the night with the maidservant Maria…


Kartoshka: 

Really?



G: 

(joins the conversation, to everyone’s surprise, and recites) 

“Don’t kill us, save us, Maria!”



mox the Recorder: 

Just so, but how to you know that film?



Kartoshka: 

How does the same theme keep circulating like this? Always, again and again: Alexander, Maria and a bastard?



mox the Recorder: 

That is a good question, for nothing has been sought or collected. It’s far more interesting than a genetic relationship—it’s a question of a kind of relationship in which it’s as if things start to find each other.



Ivan Painov: 

Let’s get back to the matter at hand—this is starting to make me dizzy. This wraith here is as pale as soda water.




G: 

Shadows and reflections float in my mind. My youth… If I may tell a little. My environment, my position determined expectations which it was not fitting to ignore. I studied in the Imperial Alexander Lyceum, and after I graduated at the age of eighteen, I set down to work in the office of the Committee of Ministers. Then one, 

(counts on his fingers) 

two, three, four, five years passed; it was the year 1855 and my father Alexander Grigoryevich left, died.


Ivan Painov: 
Then the chains were broken! The lion was free, and rich! 
(laughs)

Guide: 
As the oldest son of the family you inherited primary responsibility for everything.




G: 
Truly, the new situation brought things into my life which it was not a pleasant experience for me to accept. The property I inherited and its care brought attorneys and an avalanche of papers to sign; different advisers hovered around me and pressed me constantly about different matters. I tried to drive that contingent away, but they only withdrew when I gave all of them broad mandates for handling matters.

Guide: 
You inherited an enormous fortune. Your father Alexander Grigoryevich’s will contains such a mass of worldly goods that just reading it can make one breathless. You also inherited a host of different titles.

G: 
Because of the new situation I composed a letter to the seat of my father’s knighthood, Helsinki. I declared that I was stepping into his place, a living knight in place of he who had lapsed into memory.

Ivan Painov: 
As if you were Cervantes’ hero himself, crawling after that empty office: 
(in a drawn-out voice) 
“tomorrow you shall knight me.”

mox the Recorder: 
I visited the Helsinki House of Nobility to look at your decorations, the family crest. It still hangs there with its heart and lion. Then when I stepped out of the building into the park, I noticed a street sign that said “Alexander…” ...And on the same corner, “Maria.” So the official and dead lineage was inside, in the building, and the unofficial and living outside, in the yard. With a signpost as a cape!




Ivan Painov: 
Batman can testify as well, for he has a cape too, ha!

G: 
I don’t know him...but where did I leave off in my tale? Oh yes, I founded a home for abandoned children in St. Petersburg and took several children into my special protection. I found a suitable building for this purpose on Vasilevsky Island, next to the Cathedral of St. Andrei.

Guide: 
Around that time you became a member of the Imperial Charity Society.

Ivan Painov: 
“Count Charity!”

mox the Recorder: 
Grishka also founded a house for cripples, which carried his own name and was intended for women.

Ivan Painov: 
Didn’t anyone think to take anyone there outfitted with his own name, huh? Alms and feminism, “light-blue blooded!” Hah hah!

Guide: 
(clears his throat a bit, as if striking out this comment, then focuses his attention on Grishka) 
You… you also became the supervisor of the lyceum your father founded, after his death. You bought the manuscripts of all of Gogol’s most important books from an estate sale and gifted them to the school.




G: 
A splendid treasure! Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol shone and illuminated the light of our lyceum, and he himself was a product of our lyceum!

Ivan Painov: 
Dead souls, crippled hags and hungry brats, that’s what dragged his career down!

Kartoshka: 
Who is dead?

Ivan Painov: 
Well, Mr. Count himself.

Guide: 
(severely) 
A little restraint! 
(more softly) 
Everything in good time.

G: 
(a little invigorated) 
Many people started to visit me. Authors… Turgenev, Maikov, Gontsarov, Pisemsky, Annenkov, Mey and many others. A new and wonderful cultural world drew me in. All were great geniuses! How fortunate it was that they found their way to me. They had such important projects which I wanted to be involved with. Together we had the opportunity to build something, to find new directions!

Kartoshka: 
(sweeping the floor) 
Directions, directions 
(flails about) 
to the left, to the right! On broom, on!

G: 
In addition to receiving visitors, I did my composing, wrote and played the zither…

Ivan Painov: 
Oh, your childish writing, everyone laughed at it, and Turgenev thought your playing was just strumming! “Strums that zither with his toadies around him!” 





Frail and ill person tries to cope with her role in the reputed head of the family


Guide: 
Even though matters started to be in order, and you were enthusiastic about your new position as a patron of the artistic community, your strength started to fail, you fell.

G: 
My world became confused. Clarity fled and in its place came a cloudy, whirling jumble.

Ivan Painov: 
You shouldn’t complain, if the bother indicative of such gay activity follows! Ha haha! The dancing disease!

mox the Recorder: 
The disease was also called “St. Vitus’ dance,” and this St. Vitus was a child martyr, a child tortured to death by his father in the third century. St. Vitus is the patron saint of children taken with the dancing disease. But what of you and your disease?

G: 
I followed my doctor’s orders, stayed at home, and there was always someone at my side. But my unfulfilled responsibilities weighed on me...

Ivan Painov: 
Druzhinin received a letter from you full of incoherent babble! In one place you apparently “were forced a little blindly and unixplicably to undispute from these goings on.”

Kartoshka: 
What? What did it mean?

Ivan Painov: 
It meant that 
(voice raised a little) 
someone’s broom is missing!

Kartoshka: 
Yah, I should still get that… it’s something… from shoes… 
(rushes to the side towards the broom)

Guide: 
But Count, you started to recover. The worst was past, but your doctor followed the situation the whole time from nearby.

G: 
Was I sick or well then… I don’t know, but people fussed over me, and I let everything happen.

Guide: 
But then something incredible happened, after which nothing was ever in its place! A fateful woman entered your life. She must have addled your brain completely.


  F a t a l   w o m a n   &   f a t    v o l i t i o n

G: 
(shudders a little) 
Lyubov Ivanovna… She… Truly, truly, like a breath of fresh air. I hadn’t thought that anything like that would happen to me, but... ...when she came, I melted like butter before her goodness, beauty and sad fate. I wanted to lift her high, wanted to open my door and be subject to her in all things.

Guide: 
Lyubov Ivanovna, née Kroll, had first been married to a militia officer named Penherzevsky, but after the man died she found a certain man named Golubtsov, who she nevertheless soon fled, because she couldn’t live in “family hell” with the old man.

Ivan Painov: 
“The lady” had gotten stuck in St. Petersburg and was looking for a groom! This beauty had already warmed Tsar Nikolay Pavlovich’s bead when she was young, and the archives also tell that the king of Italy himself, Viktor Emmanuel, sent Lyubov Ivanovna a love letter. Your “breath of fresh air” was unusually experienced.

G: 
Lyubov Ivanovna was like an injured bird, which was looking for safely and understanding in a panic. Oh, how she had been tried. All of the vicissitudes and the details of the marriages… All the confusion was just strange misunderstandings and bad luck.

Guide: 
Your close circle was utterly shocked when Lyubov Ivanovna appeared. Your sisters turned to the tsar for aid. They asked that the ruler prevent your marriage to that notorious woman, if such a thing should enter your mind.

Kartoshka: 
They went to the tsar? The tsar’s… But didn’t someone just say…

Ivan Painov: 
The tsar, the tsar, but now the kingdom was being ruled by Alexander II, the son of Nicholas I who himself experienced the pleasure of Lyubov Ivanovna’s charms.

Guide: 
When Lyubov Ivanovna heard of your sisters’ visit to the tsar’s court, she set out there herself.

Ivan Painov: 
And of course Alexander remembered this woman who had enjoyed his father’s favor and received her.

Guide: 
As she conversed with the tsar, Lyubov Ivanovna told him frankly that she lived in your house and slept in your bedchambers.




Ivan Painov: 
And in the same breath the “lady” explained that a marriage to you was a genuine sacrifice, because you brought her no pleasure. You supposedly panted at her heals like an imbecile and threatened suicide if this “lady,” the very incarnation of love, were to leave you. After hearing the grounds, the tsar declared that the marriage was a fabulous idea! She kissed the “lady’s” hand, wished her well and could see visions of Lyubov Ivanovna rising, along with her family, to great heights in the popularity contests of the elite of St. Petersburg, for in his opinion this couple had the makings of something great!

Guide: 
So you wed, and the effects were immediately visible. Your family and social circle distanced themselves coldly.

G: 
I rushed to save one breaking cup and upset a whole shelf of inestimably valuable family porcelain.

Guide: 
But after they left, new acquaintances came. At least the cultural crowd clearly saw the door you had opened. They came uninvited, often, and the group grew and grew. You were visited by authors, musicians, painters, diplomats, supporters of progressive ideas…




Ivan Painov: 
And old drunks, new drunks, sycophants, rogues! And even freaks of nature, like Julia Pastrana, “the world’s ugliest woman.”

mox the Recorder: 
Julia Pastrana’s story is moving and ghastly; her embalmed body traveled the world in a freak show until the 1970’s, and the American movie industry is currently cooking something up about her… but that’s a completely different story. Grishka, continue your tale.

G: 
Soon after our wedding we all decided to leave for Europe.

Ivan Painov: 
Did you hear, he said “we all decided!” Haha, everyone seems to have gone along, for there was company enough because it was all gratis, with money being thrown before them like a red carpet. The author Polonsky kept the Petersburgians up to date by writing letters on the journey. He’d had his fill of the noisy, carousing crowd that churned around you.

Guide: 
You traveled to Rome, Naples, Sorrento, and finally to Paris, where you rented a whole floor of a hotel on the Palais Royal square for the use of your party. You doors were open, and people came and went.

G: 
Oh how we amused ourselves in the loveliest, light, friendly atmosphere. The city of Paris came in through the windows, and its breathing residents walked in through the doors, and we watched into the wee hours again and again… ‘til morning...


A golden honey and a sweet flies

Guide: 
While you were in Rome your party was joined by a famous gentleman. He and your wife Lyubov Ivanovna’s sister, Alexandra, were taken with each other. That gentleman was the world-renowned master of magic, Daniel Douglas Home.

mox the Recorder: 
Home is a more than interesting figure, about whom there are articles in many publications dealing with paranormal phenomena, her too…

Ivan Painov: 
Yes, yes, quite an ordinary story! The gentleman floated out of windows and tamed burning coals! I don’t believe anything!

Kartoshka: 
Indeed! Not anything? Do you mean...literally?

Ivan Painov: 
Ah! You get tangled up in words like an idiot!

G: 
(becomes more alert and sits up in his chair) 
Idiot? 
(a silent realization)

Guide: 
You, Count, had promised to organize the wedding for Home and your wife’s sister in St. Petersburg, so Home was with your party in Paris. One night, when nearly all of Paris was already sleeping, and you had just started your day, Home brought a visitor to see you; do you remember?

G: 
You mean our meeting with Alexander Dumas! Yes, that’s how it happened. He came and enjoyed himself, and we all enjoyed ourselves... Oh what a blessed time; I was more alive than ever before! Dumas came to us night after night and we, Lyubov Ivanovna and I, we convinced him to join our party and come to Russia.

Guide: 
After Dumas became acquainted with you, he compared you to the main character of his novel The Count of Monte Cristo and called your traveling party a “caravan.”




Ivan Painov: 
Well of course he went along with you, he was nearly destitute! Why sigh penniless in Paris when his stomach was already turned towards Russia.

Guide: 
Then you left for St. Petersburg, you and your party.

Ivan Painov: 
The “caravan” set up shop in a train. Was there any room for other passengers on board, what with your missus having bought eighty gowns and thirty-six hats from the Paris boutiques, and all of the traveling unpacked.

G: 
I bought a Panama hat in Paris, but to my dismay it was crushed between Lyubov Ivanovna’s hatboxes.

Kartoshka: 
Oh yes, you had bad luck indeed!

Guide: 
In St. Petersburg a lively social scene sprung into life at your Polystrovo villa. Of course many wanted to see the great novelist as well.

G: 
People came and went in a continuous stream; I was the central character. I had succeeded in creating opportunities for discussion and...




Ivan Painov: 
How now! People ran to you to eat and drink. Soon people were talking about “the Roadhouse.” Turgenev called you a dolt and told his acquaintances that the only reason to endure you was the heap of money you were sitting on.

Guide: 
There was also sympathy… For example, the poet Fet considered you a benevolent individual… He was very sorry about the ridicule you endured. The poet Mey dedicated his poems to you… Ley also recalled how you served ice cream and cranberry juice in your gardens to those strolling about and organized concerts... ...and how you walked haggardly in your garden without wanting to disturb anyone, even though you were on your own property. Grigorovich also followed the events of your household with sadness. He reported how you fled the drunken fights and ruckus into the warrens of your house, letting the gallivanting and debauched mass of people wreck their havoc. Miss Shtakenshneider, herself afflicted with a hump, followed your figure sympathetically as you rolled and fidgeted in the clutches of your sickness.

Ivan Painov: 
Sure, everyone could imitate you. Yes, yes, you gave the Petersburgians many a good laugh. 
(starts to disfigure himself) 
Your head twisted to its limits, came back and sometimes your chin clenched to your breast then back with your shoulders accompanying, then your hands started to twitch and the whole time your expression was like that of a maniac.

Kartoshka: 
Hehe! Like a poorly-seated bolt! Was that really how he flailed about?

Guide: 
Enough! That’s pure cruelty!

Kartoshka: 
Why not humor, when it’s so laughable?

Ivan Painov: 
Yes, humor, see, harmless.

Guide: 
Humor is a difficult art, it… 
(annoyed)

mox the Recorder: 
Hey Guide, listen 
(lowers her voice). 
Don’t let yourself get riled up; you can see that Ivan Painov just wants a target of flesh and bones because the count is already safe in history.

Guide: 
You’re right, but save your strength as well, for in the end it will all come at you!




G: 
(sits pale and thin in his chair) 
Dumas was very comfortable as my guest. I rented a ship and introduced him to Finland, to the shores of Ladoga. I had a small estate in that region, and I even wrote an account of one of our excursions there, which can be found in my book otseki, razskazy.

Ivan Painov: 
What? “turkey racy crazy”?

G: 
I published that work in 1857 under a pen name, but then again in 1868 under my own name.

Ivan Painov: 
Secretly and under a false name, but always the same charcoal woods.

Kartoshka: 
Let him speak already!

G: 
As your vessel floated on the Neva, I gave the great author a full description of the beauty of the landscapes we were traveling towards. Dumas had clearly emphasized those sorts of areas in his reports, so immediately when I mentioned lichen and the quality of the light he hurried to inquire about the customs of the people and the tsars’ highways. I thought that when he would see the delicate and strong glow of the shorelines as we traveled further, he would forget all the paths and feet of men and would dedicate his pen only to nature!

Ivan Painov: 
Your visitor certainly did get a taste of nature as he tossed and turned his authorial body in his hard bed in Konevitsa, trying to find some harmony between his sleeping arrangements and his cultured nature, even wishing for his bed in St. Petersburg, despite finding it unnaturally hard as well.




mox the Recorder: 
Dumas published his two-volume book about this trip to Russia. It also contained descriptions of Finnish areas and people. These have nevertheless not been published in Finnish, and no wonder, since the Parisian intressant wrote that we… well, we weren’t even mainstream “upstarts” yet.

G: 
The hearts of the Petersburgians opened before the greatness of my pen-wielding visitor. Everyone wanted to see him. One moving instance was a young man who wished to get close to the author. He had just lost his own painter-father and perhaps felt the author represented… some sort of … center of creative energy, from which flowed forth something… ingenious! This sad-eyed boy was our tireless companion.

Ivan Painov: 
Do you mean that sly dandy with the fluttering black eyes who tried to get at your wallet through a friend? He had just inherited a stack of paintings and the paintings had started to come to life, filled with dormant possibilities. Sausages, fatty hams, pastries and foaming drinks. The visions made him feverish, and after hearing that you, a well-known fat cat, had an important visitor, he started to be worried that you would rashly go and buy the visitor diamonds and furs. But why when there were wall hangings painted by the hand of the father of a real Russian boy to be had! The boy couldn’t get in the door through your friend, but one day it was obvious that the way had opened somehow anyway, for he was flitting about Dumas with his tail in the air like a fox who has lost his sense of smell, following the author’s every expression with his eyes aglow and his mouth stretched into a ridiculous smile.




Publications, mixed meanings, chess and dreaming


G: 
(shyly and quietly) 
I started to act as a publisher…

Ivan Painov: 
What, a mouse squeaked, a dancing mouse, haha!



G: 

(coughs, continues in a stronger voice) 

Yes, I started to act as a publisher… I published, I published… …I had long had a dream about a monthly literature magazine, and now I had a group of eager writers around me. We founded the Russkoe slovo journal immediately after I returned from Europe in 1858.



Guide: 

But there was at least as much confusion as enthusiasm around the journal.



Ivan Painov: 

Confusion to say the least—no one knew who was supposed to act as editor-in-chief or who was in charge of what. You seem to have promised the editor’s position to everyone who knew which way to hold a pen in their hand. Whenever a group gathered that included a couple of writers, there was always someone yelling, eyes ablaze, about what was going on at your journal. And the question was raised: “Who is this boob, a person or a mental patient?”



Guide: 

In any case the journal helped Russian authors, paying better than the others. And the count didn’t enslave authors, instead valuing them greatly, and despite all of the confusion the journal appeared for years. At first it was also accompanied by Russia’s first chess magazine as a supplement.



mox the Recorder: 

I go visit the journal often, now bound as annual volumes, for there is a beautiful row of them in the stacks of the Slavic Library… now, in the center of the city, 21st century Helsinki.







G: 

Chess… Chess, yes, a chess club met at my house; I played a little myself too.


Guide: 
Don’t be modest; you were gifted!

Ivan Painov: 
Do games require talent now, isn’t it just royal luck that carries the day?

Guide: 
Why do you keep on like that? Don’t you see anything positive in the count’s actions?

Ivan Painov: 
Why, I’m bulging with his good qualities! Soon I’ll have to pass some saccharine gas to express my feelings!

Kartoshka: 
Just don’t do it here, the air is already heavy!

Ivan Painov: 
Ha, just watch out! I’ll aim it toward you most of all!

Kartoshka: 
Just try it!

Guide: 
Come, come, let’s be civil… Count, you also published the works of numerous contemporary authors and also started the compilation of a three-part literary history.

mox the Recorder: 
It dealt with ancient Russian literature. I found one part of the work in a library in Berlin, also a facsimile edition that was printed in Paris in 1970.

Guide: 
Count, you also wrote literary reviews.

G: 
A few, just about works that had made a deep impression on my mind. I was just in the process of acquiring Oblomov’s manuscript, but a certain other party made haste and took it from under my nose. But then I still wrote a review of the work in my journal.

Ivan Painov: 
A one-page book review is already extensive, two pages starts to be substantial, but this man didn’t hold himself back at all! Three wasn’t enough; just guess if it took ten – no, t h i r t y – s i x pages of daydreaming about this feeble sphere of a man.


Before-unseen reflection


Guide: 
You wanted to collaborate with Dostoyevsky—you corresponded.

G: 
He was still in Semipalatinsk when our correspondence began. He was interested in my journal, and I about his writings. I published his piece “The Uncle’s Dream” in the fist number of my journal. He wrote that he wanted to meet immediately when he arrived in St. Petersburg.

Guide: 
At one point you wrote a review of his novel The Insulted and Injured for your journal.

mox the Recorder: 
Subjugated and demeaned, downtrodden and taunted, obliterated and invisible…

Kartoshka: 
Useless crowd 
(giggles)

Guide: 
Dostoyevsky repeated his wish about your meeting when he wrote to a certain friend from Tver.

G: 
Yes, he really did want to meet, and it was more than clear.

Kartoshka: 
Well, and what then?

G: 
Naturally…

Ivan Painov: 
My mouth is dry! Let’s swig some tee now; I saw a samovar here somewhere.




mox the Recorder: 
Someone brought me bottled water called “Poljustrovo” in St. Petersburg…

Ivan Painov: 
A spring must have erupted on the count’s land because of his wonderfulness.

G: 
Yes, the spring! That spring, the iron spring… One of Mother Nature’s miracles!




Guide: 
That reminds me that you wrote in your journal about the difficult position of women, about the domination of fathers, brothers and husbands.

G: 
I feel distress when I see humiliation… There is great wisdom in women, and still…

Ivan Painov: 
You’re practically gushing. Soon you’ll start to look like Mr. Home, the master of magic who ran to the protection of your wife’s sister’s skirts, who was very girlish.

Guide: 
Ivan Painov, you… You… the same thing over and over!

Ivan Painov: 
Thank you! You must admire me. Your posture is very tense. You know what that can mean?

Guide: 
Of course you mean to imply that it is some sort of veiled passion!

Ivan Painov: 
If I do mean something, then maybe I am implying something! Haha!

Guide: 
I cannot understand your strange disdain.

mox the Recorder: 
Do I have to get involved in this too; can’t I spend my energy on something else? Ivan Painov, you are no longer amusing; you are entirely predictable. Aren’t you getting bored already?

Ivan Painov: 
I don’t get bored, I won’t get bored, I’m just like that! 
(guffaws)

Guide: 
Count, I’m sorry these… Can’t we continue already…? Lyubov Ivanovna was not satisfied with your position in society.

G: 
She was a very sensitive person. Nevertheless, there was never any lack of company or entertainment; there was always something going on in our house… ...and she had a free hand in all things.

Guide: 
But your wife was not your only headache; your journal ended up in jaws of the censors; you had to abscond under cloak of darkness yourself.

G: 
But soon I made it to London, where my friend Herzen and I were able to share the wonderful news together: Serfdom had been abolished in Russia. We thanked Tsar Alexander with tears in our eyes and raised a glass to the new Russia!

Ivan Painov: 
A landlord’s delight over the slave’s new bondage!

Guide: 
While you were in London, you filed a complaint with your two friends about the arrest of the poet Mikhailov, of which you’d received word. He was being accused of having connections with certain “illicit” printing houses.

G: 
A poet, a beautiful soul with golden hands and a heart like a rose fashioned from pure sugar! What evil could he have caused? I wanted to pull all the strings I could to repair the situation. So I composed a complaint to the highest authorities, along with my friends.

Guide: 
There was even mention of your complaint in the official newspapers.

Ivan Painov: 
The emperor’s face turned from pink to purple when the matter came before him and he saw your name on the impudent papers. He ordered that you were to be stripped of the title of chamberlain.

G: 
Simply a misunderstanding… I did not wish to insult anyone, simply to promote justice. His Imperial Majesty was in the highest position in the shrine of my values... ...If he had gotten a bad taste in his mouth from my actions through some twist of fate, I could not but bow my submissive head and wait for the sunlight to reveal the truth. But my titles… do not call me count. Call me by my name, the simplest of them all, Grishka!

Ivan Painov: 
Moonlight would fit you better, your “countness without highness.”

Guide: 
But oh poor cou… I mean poor Grishka, your wife was still bored, disappointed with the level of your connections; your house had become a focus of gossip; Lyubov Ivanovna was at a dead-end. One night she appeared in a box at the St. Petersburg opera with a bouquet of live camellia in her lap. Then she belted out in a loud voice that she could have boldly and honorably taken the first place in St. Petersburg’s aristocratic circles, but she was not accepted, instead being overlooked. Then she continued to add that even though she had not become the first countess, she would become the “first of the camellias.”

Ivan Painov: 
And verily, verily that beauty, that fiery-eyed witch did it! She caused so many scandals that in the end you were forced to do something. Her pockets were filled with money and she was sent to travel towards other lands, and you only bought a one-way ticket.

G: 
No… ..How did it go… ...Someone told me that she was traveling… I was tired, a little down in the mouth. My brother Nikolai’s baby died… ...And soon after he himself. I was full of sorrow because my father’s hope for our family’s internal happiness had not been fulfilled; we didn’t meet his ideals, even though he spread a golden carpet before us and carried fragrant roses to its edges. My brother Nikolai…

Ivan Painov: 
Your brother married a wanton, frivolous widow, who even bore a child, but the weak runt died before a year had passed and then your brother immediately after. The hag took hold of Count Suvorov and got married again.

G: 
I would have wished to sail far away…


Ivan Painov: 
Why didn’t you leave with Dumas! Why, you funded his journey around the world!


A dark and silence end is near




G: 
I mean mentally… …because I was strained to my limits! I realized… …my intentions, intension… …I meant to say at once almost guessing… you don’t always get unconditional support... ...relationships, artifice... ...we want to bear them... I beg... ...what was it... ...let it be said, and I bet you to... ...is... They are hunting me!

Guide: 
Take some water, dear brother, take…. …and calm yourself; don’t get too involved!

Ivan Painov: 
I know why he’s so tongue-tied. He left his duties unfulfilled!

G: 
(sobs quietly)

O

(strained silence)

Kartoshka: 
Ghastly, behind the count… Grishka, someone is standing behind Grishka! He appeared there out of nothing!

Ivan Painov: 
Damn! Don’t look now. What is this about?

Guide: 
Grishka cannot continue any longer. Perhaps…

Kartoshka: 
Shh, quiet!

Ivan Painov: 
The specter’s assistant specter is whispering! Hah!

Guide: 
Let us listen! Perhaps he will continue where Grishka left off in his tale.

G’s spokesman: 
I am in a moonlit landscape! I am on the shores of Ladoga, surrounded by resinous pines, amazed by my tale. The surface of the water is broken, but not by ghosts, instead a young person is splashing in the water.

mox the Recorder: 
You donated a loan fund to Kurkijoki, your bastard brother’s home parish. Its profits were to be used to educate peasant children.

Ivan Painov: 
Yes, yes, the father’s seedlings and the son’s granary! But dear “Count,” now we’re getting going; confuse us more; where are you next?

G: 
(sobs in the background)

Kartoshka: 
(whispers) 
Tears, but it looks like he doesn’t understand what’s going on.

G’s spokesman: 
(as if seeing the events) 
I fill my table with victuals, they eat… …I sit to the side and watch them. They come to me and I pet them; they pet me. Dear Lyubov Ivanova, you have gone behind the cupboard; what are you looking for? Or is it you, Lev, back there? Dear God, answer me. A face ripples in the mirror… …poor, misunderstood Lyubov, whose lower lip trembles and beard is unkempt.




Ivan Painov: 
Now you see! No wonder the fable-master Saltykov-Shchedrin claimed you were rotting! He didn’t even see a head on you, just a transparent egg which rocked from sided to side! And all the time lunatic mouths gorged from your table and hands dug in your pockets!

Kartoshka: 
Gruesome!

Ivan Painov: 
Well, what do you say, answer!

Guide: 
Don’t you see that he’s gotten too involved and ready to faint?

Ivan Painov: 
If someone who’s already died faints, it will just revitalize him!

Guide: 
Grishka’s finances were in ruin, the family’s art treasures were put up for sale and Lyubov Ivanovna was still sending bills from Paris.

G: 
My book, my book… make sure that my book is published. I’ll give up my penname completely; put my own name on it!

Guide: 
Dear Grishka! Don’t get too involved in the events. You’re speaking in the wrong tense. Everything has already happened. Your book was published just as you wished. You can calm down!

Ivan Painov: 
Now he’s living!

Guide: 
Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky had also just published something new. It was his novel The Idiot.

Ivan Painov: 
During the same year the fire erupted! Your Poljustrovo, “The Road House,” your esteemed estate was in flames!

G’s spokesman: 
Everything is burning. The roofs… flames! How beautiful everything is! How beautiful this world is as it disintegrates into little pieces!




Guide: 
At least your main building was saved from destruction…

G’s spokesman: 
Is there any juice? Some fruit? There’s a bottle, but… …a dead bee is floating in it. Everything looks like milk… …I mean the landscape; the colors are running into it… …the outline of the room, there, far off. There is metal in my mouth, it floats and burns like salt. Someone is hovering at the window… …or is a mirror? What specter is rowing there?

Kartoshka: 
Here’s an apple.

Guide: 
No, no…

G’s spokesman: 
A gentle hand is tousling my hair; I try to reach for it; I fail. The hand pulls away, returns, takes hold of my hair again and pulls powerfully… …I rise into the air, it rips at my ears, it beats at my eyes. I fall through floor and plunge into the deep.

Kartoshka: 
(whispers) 
He dried up; do you see? No more tears.

G’s spokesman: 
I’m sitting on earthen ground, the spring warms me and my agitation has disappeared. If only I could tell you how close I am, how I spin and dance, beautifully and well!

(silence)

Kartoshka: 
It got awfully quite; did he fall asleep?

Guide: 
Fell asleep or died; got to the end of his life.

Kartoshka: 
Died?

Guide: 
Yes.

O

mox the Recorder: 
Well, Grishka! How do you feel now?

G: 
(wakes up) 
I apologize… Did I nod off in the middle of our conversation?

Guide: 
No, don’t worry. You died.

mox the Recorder: 
Yes, how are you now? Is your mood lighter?

G: 
Really? Death does one good! But what happens now?

Kartoshka: 
(mutters in the background) 
He regained consciousness.

mox the Recorder: 
We will see where all of this leads. Let us continue.


Back to the earth



Guide: 
Yes, Grigory Alexandrovich, you died, and three days later you were buried at Alexander Nevsky monastery in St. Petersburg. Luobov Ivanovna was in St. Petersburg, acted as the organizer of the funeral and appeared… in the part of the widow!

Ivan Painov: 
Probably placed camellias on the grave!

mox the Recorder: 
Let us follow Lyubov Ivanovna far enough to see the few facts that are known. Soon after the funeral she appeared to visit Dostoyevsky, who was then living in Dresden, Germany.

Guide: 
An extremely interesting fact!

mox the Recorder: 
It is clear from the author Ivan Turgenev’s correspondence that a few years after this meeting Lyubov Ivanovna was in prison.

Kartoshka: 
In prison! Goodness gracious, what had she done?

mox the Recorder: 
I don’t know; I haven’t run into an explanation for that. I can only guess a little, but chronologically the last record I have of her is from a genealogy published in 1901. According to it she lived in Nice, but a date of death wasn’t printed in the book.

Guide: 
Your book, Grigory Alexandrovich, and your papers and your library, which consisted of numerous family libraries and your own new library, as well as the ancient collection from Olvia, was inherited by your sister and her husband, Count Musin-Pushkin. They also inherited a large park area which was named after your family, which they, cash-strapped, soon started to sell bit by bit.

mox the Recorder: 
The park had the same name as the old connecting station between Finland and St. Petersburg.

G: 
A train!

Kartoshka: 
What! You startled me; I almost though that a train…!

Guide: 
And a train did come, bringing with it a pale foreigner… …well-intentioned and vulnerable to ridicule.

mox the Recorder: 
Classic elements!

Ivan Painov: 
What are you raving about! Drop the whole subject; no one understands what you’re talking about! We know that St. Petersburg is built on a wet bog. Sometimes, despite the great effort put into covering it with a stony armor of streets, the swamp’s vapor rises and forms illusion. Its form can be so real, so deceptive, that we start speaking of it like a real person.

mox the Recorder: 
Dear Mr. Ivan! Of course you mean that digging for definite facts and events is not pleasant to you, that you wouldn’t like to let even this day’s light fall on those murky pools.

Ivan Painov: 
I just don’t want to torment myself by remembering trivialities!

Kartoshka: 
But dear Ivan Painov, when I look at you more closely, I notice something… your body… what has happened?

Guide: 
Truly! If I hadn’t recognized your voice, I would have taken you for a different person.




Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
You’re getting tangled up for nothing. It’s just a small change of form, but… it is true that you are meeting a new me. Today, right now, after such a small change, I am Serp Ivanovich Molotin, the metal instrument of truth, hahaha!

O

Guide: 
The people who had suffered Russia’s oppression met a new era. The unavoidable change brought with it not only red, but black, white and different shades of grey. The steal steed of the proletariat galloped across Russia.

G: 
So it finally happened; all oppression ended and equality was born between humanity!

Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
Exactly, just so. You don’t appear to be entirely without understanding.

mox the Recorder: 
Grishka’s library was destroyed, along with all its books and pictures.

Guide: 
His father’s grave was desecrated.

mox the Recorder: 
And Grishka, your own grave in the church at Alexander Nevsky monastery was destroyed. Later a blood bank was built there.




Kartoshka: 
(sympathetically) 
Grigory Alexandrovich… I’ll bring you a blanket, you’re shaking…

Guide: 
You, Serp Ivanovich Molotin, “the instrument of truth,” tell us where his bones are!

Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
(mumbles something confused)

mox the Recorder: 
You started picking at your nails! Aren’t you listening? Say something!

Guide: 
Don’t you want to answer?

Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
Oh ho! 
(yawns and stretches himself, doesn’t answer)

mox the Recorder: 
What do you want? A requisition in triplicate, that veiled form of begging, or what? Blue jeans?

Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
(becoming more alert) 
Do you have blue jeans? Well… well, our procedure is that you can always ask, even about nonexistent things. You always have the right of petition, complete the appropriate form and deliver it to the office. If all of the sections are completed properly and the appended documents are in order then it will be sent on, in other words it will be dealt with in the prescribed order, but it is clear that in these matters it generally takes some time.

Kartoshka: 
Yes but… it certainly is complicated!

Serp Ivanovich Molotin: 
The only complicated thing here is that you are so ridiculous! You start bringing up some fly that, God only knows how long ago, I squashed and ground in a little too… with my finger like this on my pant leg.

mox the Recorder: 
Musca Domestica…

Kartoshka: 
Look! Grishka has hidden his head with the blanket!

(short pause, a victorious marching song tires and finally dies out completely)

Guide: 
The tea in the collective samovar got cold. Another time began again.




mox the Recorder: 
Look, do you see how many layers? And Grishka crept through! And now there he is! The blood connection was just a small path to a more important, solemn kind of kinship. And what about this time! Do you hear! It’s also crying out for this kind of family! Well, this is what we have here, but is this too early, are we still too far away?

Yeah Greathead
Oh, impossible “count,” now you’ve made an impression on this little scribe! She breathed the spark of life in order to get herself the craziest company possible!

Kartoshka: 
Remember that Grishka aked that we not call him count… but goodness gracious, Serp Ivanovich Molotin, you have undergone another transformation! Who are you this time?

Yeah Greathead: 
Serp Ivanovich Molotin? Where did you conjure that name up from? I don’t believe I’ve heard it before. It’s just that when you find the right kind of pole, you can get any kind of reputation to stick to it, things get easier and the past, that nauseating dry piece of bread flies away, haha! I am Yeah Greathead, well-known by all. Admit it, I am no insignificant character!

Kartoshka: 
Yes, yes… yes it is probably so! Of course… Yeah Greathead! You’ve been at the fore quite a bit. Please forgive me. Why didn’t I recognize you immediately!

Yeah Greathead: And to you, honorable “count,” I will fashion a turban out of this rag of a blanket, so it won’t have been written in vain that you were an eastern caliph, the Petersburgian eunuchs’ very own patron!

mox the Recorder: A new name doesn’t change anything; he’s the same customer.

Yeah Greathead: But I am just quoting others!



Idiot non-existent


Guide: 
Yes, of course, and never yourself. But now is time to start moving forward. Let us approach some interesting questions! Recorder, soon after your stay in St. Petersburg it was whispered in your ear that our guest, Grishka, was possibly the model for Dostoyevsky’s “Idiot,” prince Myshkin.

mox the Recorder: 
“Well, what of it,” I thought when I received this clue, but as time when on, the subject started to bother me.




Guide: 
You started to delve.

mox the Recorder: 
I wandered libraries and archives. At first it didn’t feel like anything would open up; a long time passed…and then something happened, all of a sudden. As if frantic fingers had started to toss into my lap everything that Grishka’s contemporaries had written about him. It was a powerful scene, and sometimes it made me shake a little.

I soon understood that I had entered a difficult straight stretch. I fled the city and settled on an island. I started a difficult physical project with my old house; I got some weight into my hands, correspondences from the world of matter for that which was that anaesthetizing-looking force field bound in paper, its confused form representing many years.

G: 
Have I caused you difficulties? Didn’t I succeed in leaving enough traces in the chronicles that my character would be a respectable traveling companion?

mox the Recorder: 
No, more…

Guide: 
Dear friend, you don’t seem to understand. Your character is very vexing for many reasons.

Yeah Greathead: 
It’s laughable to mix up Dostoyevsky’s great classic The Idiot in this concoction. Literary research around the world tells us the weighed facts.




mox the Recorder: 
Weighed on the scales of research! I realized quickly that the researchers have been researching each others’ research. In the light of everything that I’ve seen written, I can say that Grishka is unavoidably the model for the “Idiot;” of course researchers operating during the Soviet time had to conclude that… but at the same time it must be said that this archetype-theme is not so important, instead everything that lay hidden, which has remained concealed and which then sought the light via the most narrow of paths… and what about all the side roads? I want to say that in my opinion Dostoyevsky did not just use Grishka as a model, he outright declared it! Everyone knew, and kept silent.

Guide: 
Dostoyevsky’s finished novel did not inspire anyone to write any review or article for two years.

G: 
Two years…

Kartoshka: 
Grishka, Grishka! You want to say something! Speak, speak!

mox the Recorder: 
I imagine that you’re counting the years, aren’t you, you’re thinking of dates. You died two years after the novel appeared.

Yeah Greathead: 
The idiot specter and the degree-less nobody are doing science here!

mox the Recorder: 
And we so needed titles, too!

Yeah Greathead: 
Witness! Enter! Finally, bring us the voice of reason into the midst of this muddle!

Witness: 
As far as The Idiot’s characters’ prototypes go, researchers have concluded that
the “Idiot”, prince Myshkin, is so ethereal that he is not a believable character: he is a person of fable. He is from another world; he is not realistic, and therefore cannot be tragic.

Guide: 
Someone also mentions that the character is one of the most enigmatic of all characters in literature…

mox the Recorder: 
Dostoyevsky himself wrote in his notes a most pertinent comment: “The truth will rest for a hundred years within humanity’s grasp, but they will not grasp it, instead seeking the fictitious, because they consider truth to be imaginary and utopian.”




Yeah Greathead: 
Witness! Now bring to bear the weight of science—present the true models.

Witness: 
Yes, exactly… Let me just… (digs a paper out of his briefcase): He is a physical incarnation; he is something which the author has carved from himself; he is the author himself, the author’s self-portrait.

mox the Recorder: 
But the author himself was more like the other side of the coin, the severe, dark Rogozin.

Witness: 
It must be remembered that many researchers see prince Myshkin himself, this “Idiot,” as a very disagreeable character.

Kartoshka: 
Disagreeable? In what way is he not what is wanted?

Yeah Greathead: 
He is plagued by a certain “eccentric virtue.” It’s ludicrous!

Witness: 
Some researchers’ opinion is that he is a dark emissary. Genuine interaction between him and other people cannot thrive because he is not evil!

Yeah Greathead: 
(overjoyed, grabs the paper from the Witness’s hand and reads) 
“…behind his innocence he uses his abilities for intrigue…”




Kartoshka: What kind of intrigue?

Yeah Greathead: 
Perhaps the answer is sitting over there. Haha! The main character of your, if I may say so directly, unscientific theories! Perhaps he can be implicated in this, he’s intrigued to get himself here, even though he should be resting in his place, but what then? It isn’t the slightest bit interesting!

Guide: 
But perhaps some other quarter will be of interest.

Yeah Greathead: 
You can go ahead and hit your head against the wall.

mox the Recorder: 
I have written down everything relevant (takes the stack of paper in her hands), collected my manuscript in which I travel a wild route through Grishka’s story. When you get acquainted with it, then maybe you can weigh more exactly what is what. Also, it goes in an important direction, it creates new families that are not encumbered by lands and cannot be governed by the hands of men.

Kartoshka: 
Well, what do you intend to do… with that mess of paper?

mox the Recorder: 
I’m going to present it to certain middlemen. It will be a miracle if anyone…

Yeah Greathead: 
Present it, present it, dear girl! Haha haha haa! Haha haha haa!




Guide: 
The air is very stuffy, ought we to open a window?

Kartoshka: 
You’re not allowed to open the window; it confuses the air conditioning.

Guide: 
We are living in a strange time. We cannot have fresh air, because then something will become confused. I will go and open it anyway!

Kartoshka: 
It’s pointless to try; the windows are screwed shut and caulked tight.




Guide: 
Then go press some button so we can breathe!

Kartoshka: 
This is an appropriate oxygen level for this class of space, and besides, the apparatus is complicated and only a professional can adjust it. Not to mention that before anything is adjusted, a detailed study of the room is required…

Guide: 
Enough! Let it be. We’ll breathe what there is.

O

Commentary:

Kartoshka: 
Then we breathed what there was, stale recycled air, which must have had some oxygen... no one fainted anyway, and of course one of us had already died long ago. Then the party disbursed, and the status quo returned, as if sliding back into its usual rut. Suuripää is a busy person. He can never be reached, but he still succeeds in being at the center of the hustle and bustle everywhere. He is a very famous, extremely important character, winning, and very, very successful.

The Guide teaches in a certain small-town school for a rather small salary, and during the evenings he researches some sort of old things which don’t produce anything worth mentioning. In addition he does volunteer work for no pay at all.
Grishka and mox the Recorder disappeared off somewhere. There is no reliable information about them. At one party Suuripää said in a loud voice that mox the Recorder had hit her head on some iron rail in St. Petersburg while she was drunk, had started seeing visions and disturbing decent people with her hallucinations, and was probably already locked up somewhere; and after saying this he and all the members of the party laughed heartily. He never said a word about Grishka. And I… when I think more closely, did I ever even hear a word?





In the forest



G: 
Time has passed, mox the Recorder... you are tired.

mox the Recorder: 
I am. I am.


G: 

You can rest well here in this forest. You have brought us to a place that is very pleasing to me as well.



mox the Recorder: 

Don’t speak to me so formally anymore, dear man, I mean...



G: 

Hmm… ghost?



mox the Recorder: 

What shall become of us, you and me? Oh dear God! You and your story… …and stupid I knocking on door!



G: 

I certainly understand what you mean. You have been overlooked...



mox the Recorder: 

Oh Grishka, I don’t know if it’s there’s any kind of looking at all, for by some demon trick we’ve become transparent.


G: 
Ahhh, you… so you believed that times would be different now?

mox the Recorder: 
Yes, or at least I believed once, long ago. I don’t believe anymore. The times are exactly the same.

G: 
I… I…

mox the Recorder: 
You, you! But now... it is too late for you to try to retreat anymore!

G: 
I will never again deny myself after all of this… But tell me now more specifically about your experiences.

mox the Recorder: 
Well, you perhaps remember Greathead's comments when I told about my hopes in regards to my manuscript?

G: 
Yes, he was perhaps slightly prickly…

mox the Recorder: 
It was only a little starter poison. Suuripää knows how to play this game very well indeed. I would have seen it coming if my head wasn’t made of wood.

G: 
Wood… Resinous pines…

mox the Recorder: 
I came in contact with very uncouth circles. Weak people, afraid in a very sad way.

G: 
(thoughtfully) 
Yes…

mox the Recorder: 
Delving deeply into topics is generally not recommended these days, because it takes time, and takes you…who knows where, and in the end it may reveal the open horizon, independent and common to all.

G: 
To me a common world sounds good?

mox the Recorder: 
A person who is walking a lonely road approaches a small world arranged according to his own desires, silence and perhaps some sort of reclusion. He doubtless finds it, but to his surprise he realizes that he isn’t alone after all! It is a common world, open and full of crystallized life, which radiates joyfully across time and consciousness. But its existence does not hurt your ears; it’s more a whisper that opens an important latch.

G: 
It sounds like a treasure!

mox the Recorder: 
Indeed.

G: 
I understand that! And… fear. It is threatening that those who walk their own paths are full of wanderlust.

mox the Recorder: 
They are no good at glorifying the achievements of the masses or serving collectors of emptiness.

G: 
But doesn’t emptiness need fullness to balance it?

mox the Recorder: 
They match wonderfully when the mix-ups conceptualize. Where the full-bellied calls for his share, his due, we don’t think anything is lacking there – even though the heart is missing, everything that is important.

G: 
But back to your experiences, your text and the rest… I am a publisher and a patron of the arts, I can support something!

mox the Recorder: 
Don’t confuse things now. But… now that I think about it, it wouldn’t hurt if you would arrange some necessities for me from the world of flesh when you were still… …alive.

G: 
How could I have guessed what the future would bring with it!

mox the Recorder: 
There isn’t any way to guess. Who knows if someone will force me awake after one or two hundred years! And what will he want?

G: 
Truly, wouldn’t it be best to find some safe hiding place and leave some sort of inheritance.

mox the Recorder: 
What could it be?

G: 
Something that would be particularly valuable to him. It should be something like that.

mox the Recorder: 
Valuable, yes. A sudden hope of inheriting money soon brings a hollow feeling. What an insignificant subject in this field! It’s pointless to mourn that you didn’t leave some… swollen pouches! I was able to see your life before my eyes!

G: 
(mutters) 
And I received a second life, this haunting!

mox the Recorder: 
And I will hide my manuscript away… in a safe place.

G: 
What place is safe?

mox the Recorder: 
Yes, what?

G: 
The flow of time?

mox the Recorder: 
A forest stream!

G: The forest plays, and the stream sings along.

mox the Recorder: 
Everything in there!



G: 
Marvelous!

mox the Recorder: 
I’ll place a dirt clod as a marker.

G: 
Put some hay too, so that it is noticeable!

mox the Recorder: 
Yes, I’ll do that too.

G: 
That is a good plan. Is everything here now?

mox the Recorder: 
I believe so.

G: 
Hmmm…

mox the Recorder: 
(whistles)

OO

G: 
Tell me about your time, its cultural life, its ideals.

The  lalla lallallaa, fine art 


mox the Recorder: 
Time? Ideals?... Hey, look! What is that? Is it… what is it? Some little being… is coming here! What does it have in its hand?

G: 
Zither? Is it a zither?

mox the Recorder: 
Is it some kind of harp…clearly!




Fairy: 
(opens her mouth, strums the strings of her instrument) 
Lalalaaa, lalalalaa! 
(high) 
Laa, 
(low) 
laaaa! 
(humming) 
mmmmm, mmmmm. 
(despite the la la la’s, doesn’t sing, instead speaking):
Let us begin a blithe game
and delve deeply into art, aaah
I know naught of that,
I am but a voluptuous fairy

Yeah!

When this little naughty girl walks at an hour named zero,
that creator of quotations fiddles with himself,
alone, holds his mirror to the mirror,
the short journey to that mush-brained baboon's chamber
inspires the publisher, the curator to join together, to rise together.
and the familiar reporter to row.
Soon the whole land will meow.
Oh lovely discharge, skin deep,
market mammon, fever!
Greedy Gus takes pictures, while they strike old women,
or if the infirm’s wound festers.
The high-end lens frames the disenfranchised,
the shirker in the alleys of slums or war 
sends the genius' long-lens into a rapture of pain.

Nature in a squalid state is a good launch pad,
when the Midas of the arts, black-rimmed exalted,
exhausted from flying, grabs a taboo with a sigh.
And a hundred thousand squares in the concourse,
and a million quid pro quo gyros rustle rewardingly.
Far off a river with its burdens,
And that perv-formance’s backgrounds, 
a picture factory, squats on the bank doing its business.

(short pause and change in the tune)

Old dog moon and someone else like him recites:
It is wise to want the bone of happiness, to gnaw.
But if you have no scent, no tooth,
nothing will compel.
bread nailed to the door of an abandoned house,
Yah, yah, this bread is a head,
and your ears do not deceive you.
it chants: love!

Anything can be arranged when all you do is project,
who now in the world can anoint himself.

Everything is beautiful, great and lovely, no stench, no touch.
Earthly, loose with pudgy fingers,
just strokes the pillars.

o

G: 
Somehow frightening, but the words were clever! Did you understand what was being told about in the song?

mox the Recorder: 
Perhaps a little. That’s what you got when you started asking about culture. You got some kind of explanation from a fairy that’d eaten fermented cranberries, or some goddess… after a splendid performance it disappeared into nothing, but thankfully peace returned!

G: 
Indeed, true.

mox the Recorder: 
A reminder about what is outside this forest, it sent chills down my spine.

G: 
But aren’t we safe here in the forest!

mox the Recorder: 
I don’t know about safe, but I enjoy it here.

G: 
Nature enchants me.

mox the Recorder: 
I remember well your short story in which you traveled in Finland, in the forest. At first there were delicate descriptions of nature, and then you slipped into some kind of folktale world.

G: 
The daughter of a water elf rose from the water and in her hair… But over there… Really, someone is coming!


A forest, non-existent


guard: 
(appears suddenly and yells while still far off) 
What is your business? What are you looking for here?

G: 
What?

mox the Recorder: 
Yes, what?

guard: 
What is your business here?

mox the Recorder: 
Business certainly, but not exactly looking now, more like leaving. We’ve set up shop here to rid ourselves of a great burden. But why are you going around interrogating people out here?

guard: 
I am a guard and I am paid to do a job. My job is to make sure that nothing illegal happens here. The machines are coming soon.

G: 
Machines?

mox the Recorder: 
What machines are coming here?

G: 
Yes, into the forest?

guard: 
This forest is being cut down soon.

G: 
This forest too?

guard: 
This indeed.

mox the Recorder: 
This is normal, Grishka. N o r m a l, in other words common. And you heard right, he said this forest. Not just some trees from this forest, rather T H E F O R E S T!

G: 
What can we do in this situation?

guard: 
What do you mean? Are you planning some vandalism?

mox the Recorder: 
Do you suppose that we will try to prevent you from performing your duty? Do you really suppose that I, a tired Recorder, and an age-old specter would try to prevent the owner of this forest from receiving his legal and generally-accepted reward for his work of destruction?

guard: 
(mutters) 
I only do what I’m told…

G: 
Can’t we do anything?

mox the Recorder: 
We can’t. We won’t cross their path. They cut the hands and feet from godliness. They have their reasons. But their reasons are not our reasons. Do you know what will come of this, Grishka?

G: 
Not at all. What do you think?

mox the Recorder: 
I’m going to run away like a coward; I can’t take any more. I’ll look for another forest.

G: 
Dear Recorder, where will I go then?

mox the Recorder: 
Oh, Grishka, I will send you back to St. Petersburg! Myself, I’ll go… there, somewhere.

guard: 
I’ll be on my way too then. 
(Speaks as he goes) 
The forest has to be felled so the wheels will keep rolling. Where would they put all the culture if the paper runs out…?

mox the Recorder: 
And culture is not only soft, but absorbent.

G: 
What do you mean?

mox the Recorder: 
How can I explain it to you… great amounts of raw material are needed these days for many different things

G: 
Well of course, that is clear… progress surely needs it… to progress!

mox the Recorder: 
Progress, how did you get that in your head? It doesn’t have much of anything to do with progress. Simple greed—hollow values require us to squeeze the nectar out of nature’s delicate veins with increasing efficiency. Nothing is enough—the thumbed ape has taken hold of the reigns; the most brazen don’t get criticism, they get medals.

Adolescents have created a demon that gamblers capitalize on. The empty industry of high efficiency oppresses insults and injures, maintains dead houses. Only idiots hope anymore, and the punishment for their crime of existing they are driven underground. But although these people suffer, their nights are as white as snow.

G: 
Demons, gamblers, snow…? Life is miraculous and beautiful. Why…?

mox the Recorder: 
Let it be!

G: 
(mumbling) 
Is that for the best?

mox the Recorder: 
(also mumbling) 
The questions grow too broad, and too much pondering robs me of my strength.

G: 
Well enough, but regardless… what of your despair! You just spoke of godliness… broken boundaries, and then came “raw materials” and “delicate veins.”

mox the Recorder: 
Forget it, they were just smoke, delirium. That character is so very thirsty that creates his own reality by taking up tools or weapons and wishes to prosper by showing off his willfulness. That position, whether it is fighting for or against, becoming impassioned in one direction or the other, is always present. But it’s good to know that everything, winnings and losses together, disappear in the lightest breeze in the end, triviality melts and sorrow evaporates. All that is left is the essential, the treasure, the communal treasure. And it’s right here! 

G: 
Yes, the treasure! Left to be found!

mox the Recorder: 
There! But now to action! You go back to St. Petersburg. Crawl back into the gloom with your missing bones.

G: 
Traveling is painless for me—no sickness, no blisters from hard shoes, and best of all my heart is not heavy, for I am in this world in exactly the way you have written me, and no traveler like this suffers like those who live in the material world, and because of this, everything I cannot understand about all of this does not disturb my mind in the slightest. My veins are dry and light.

mox the Recorder: 
Excellent, Grishka! I will leave you now… I will never forget you, but… I’m not leaving you, I’m just continuing my own business, and I’ll try to rest and calm down, growing joyfully towards wisdom. Everything is as it should be.

G: 
Nothings stands in place, and still everything feels so eternal and unchanging. But what happened to the hay fronds, the little marker?

mox the Recorder: 
(giving a laugh) 
I don’t know! You ask so many questions… A person asks, and a ghost too.

o

mox the Recorder: 
(amused) 
There isn’t anything more to say… 
(then quietly) 
…let’s rest, let’s rest.





by mox mäkelä
translated by Owen Witesman








and :

"A kind of"
by Mox Mäkelä 2015