(Exceprt from Victor Pelevin’s anthology “Love For The Three Zuckerbrins”, originally from here, translated from Russian by that one guy)
“The aim of humanity is to find the Creator, defeat Him, draw from Him the terrible mystery of our purpose and then, perhaps, kill Him.” –Limonov
The lock snapped, the doors opened, and a frigid wind burst into the Chariot of Death. Nikolai turned around, saw the morose grey sky, the crowd gathered around the scaffold in spite of the morning frost - and the Birds.
The most terrifying of all were, of course, the Birds. To be fair, they did not resemble birds very much – they were great human-like figures in masks with beaks.
However, Nikolai had already understood that those were not masks, but real bird heads. One could not animate a mask so authentically. Small fierce eyes of the Birds floated in yellow sockets, beyond which stretched the fringes of tiny feathers. The beaks, too, were real – when they opened, one could see the pale pink flesh, living and damp, growing from the sharp bone. Even if it was a fabrication, then surely one of the highest quality.
The birds appeared as ancient conquering warriors, towering over the lowly crowd of the defeated humans.
Two of the birds, waiting beside the doors of the Chariot, flashed in tri-coloured metallic scales – silver, gold and bronze. They grasped Nikolai under his arms and dragged him to the high bridge, over which rose the Cross of the Headless, resembling a giant black letter “Y”.
The crowd, which was jeering and chattering a moment earlier, grew silent, gazing attentively at the sacrifice being moved through the living hallway. People tightly packed the passage on either side, but fear still overpowered them – not one foot dared to step over the rope barriers. Nikolai somehow knew that this crowd was composed of sleepers, brought here by the Birds right in the midst of their dreams. He knew that he himself was asleep, but did not remember how this dream began or what had happened before it started.
The Birds standing at the scaffold had different heads. Their beaks glistened with sharp-yellow corners, and dark circles arched around their eyes, making it look as though they were wearing spectacles. One of the Birds grasped in its claws a transparent table with faintly-glowing script.
Perhaps the Birds at the scaffold were of a higher rank and performed the functions of officers – their appearance seemed more serene, and in it there even seemed to be a sense of relaxed freedom. They were wearing long robes of dense fabric, shining with holographic depth. This fabric appeared to give off a strange and seemingly-inappropriate shimmer for this grey day – as though traces of an invisible sun. From the backs of these Birds’ heads there hung short braids that wavered in the wind – or something resembling that.
But their serene appearance was merely a deception. When Nikolai reached about the middle of his sorrowful path, the crowd to his right started pushing, and a few of those that held up the rope barrier fell to the ground.
Immediately, one of the birds that stood upon the raised bridge soared into the air. It moved in uneven zig-zags, as though climbing an invisible ladder. It looked freakish and frightening, as though it flew by deception, which it had to evade with another deception, and so on endlessly – but in the end it somehow rose higher.
The crowd froze in fear and despair.
Employed in this flight was some sort of ruthless principle, inconceivable to a person, but without a doubt so powerful that it could not be resisted. Everyone sensed this.
With a long “ah”, the people moved away from the passage.
It’s hard to say exactly where and how long this Bird flew – flashing by in different sectors of the sky, sometimes quite far apart from each other, it lowered itself onto the scaffold and only at this time did everything return to its normal pace. Nikolai thought that if it were to circle above them one more time, the entire audience would’ve died right there in their sleep.
But he was already being taken up the steps.
When Nikolai entered the scaffold, the elder Birds turned their beaks toward him with a very human motion, and in this first moment it seemed to him as though they were just dressed-up actors, like ones that give out leaflets beside shopping malls, pretending to be happy animal mascots in order to disable the critical awareness of reality among the passers-by, along with the instincts that protected them from human ignobleness.
But then one of the birds tilted and started rolling towards him along the surface of the scaffold, like sliding down a toboggan track – as though changing the angle of the planetary surface under its feet. Or not even the angle, but the very direction of gravity.
This was terrifying – and immediately destroyed all resemblance to humanity. Nikolai wanted to fall to his knees, and resisted only because he wasn’t sure if the Birds would like that or not.
The Bird pointed towards a spyglass installed on the edge of the scaffold. Nikolai noticed it when he came up on the bridge – the glass resembled a commercial telescope on a sturdy mount, through which one could observe the surroundings for a few minutes after inserting a coin. The telescope was not a creation of human hands – but Nikolai understood that the Birds created it precisely for people. It seemed wise for him to look into this glass.
Nikolai moved his eye near to the eyepiece. Before him flashed a red spot with strikingly sharp infusions of dust particles. It seemed to Nikolai like the telescope was being drawn away from him. He grasped it with both hands, and sensed how it was balancing around a precarious point of equilibrium. When he finally managed to catch it, a sharp squeak was heard. The picture in the eyepiece became focused and froze still.
Nikolai saw a desert with red rocks which stuck out of the ground. In the very middle of his field of vision was a stone elevation, where there was constructed something like a rostrum with a lectern stand, resembling the working place of an orchestra conductor. But on the lectern there lay not scores, but a stack of transparent sheets with symbols – Nikolai already saw similar tables being held by one of the Birds.
Before this lectern there stood a short-statured figure – some chubby person, wrapped in a mantle of oddly-luminous fabric, precisely the same as that worn by the Birds. Upon his head there was a round hat made of the same material, with long brims that fell unto the figure’s shoulders.
The chubby figure was almost indistinguishable among the rocks that surrounded him – his mantle and hat echoed their colours. He looked like a little friar before his altar – and was occupied in a similar manner, reading from his glowing sheets either a prayer or a homily, the sounds of which broke into Nikolai’s consciousness the same moment that he distinguished their reader from the stony outcrops. The chubby figure had a characteristic, if not to say funny, voice – a snorting whisper, which sometimes broke off into a quiet but nervous squeal.
Nikolai understood that he was looking at his target.
The clawed appendage of one of the Birds tore Nikolai away from the telescope. Immediately, something like a gown or a chasuble made of the same strange shimmering material as the Birds’ was thrown upon him. The fabric resembled a flowing, colour-changing brocade – but touching Nikolai, it turned yellow and was covered by small black triangles. Nikolai wanted to fix the broad ribbons that hung from his shoulders to fall more neatly – but suddenly the fabric started moving.
This was terrifying. Nikolai felt like he was being strangled by a gigantic python. There was no sense in resisting, so he immediately gave up. However nothing awful happened. The ribbons of fabric wound around his legs, tightened around his chest and back and made him assume an uncomfortable pose – squatting down and squeezing his knees against his chest, throwing his head back. It resembled something like the position of a fetus observing a visit from dad. But that thought didn’t amuse Nikolai even one bit.
Now directly in his line of sight stood the fork of the Cross of the Headless, cutting the sky in three with is giant black “Y”.
Nikolai felt how his body was vibrating, and understood that between the ends of the cross and the yellow fabric that enveloped him there was now some sort of tension. The cross was shaken by a wave of humming shudders – and then an irresistible force grasped Nikolai and, with a fierce swing, launched him into the gap between the cross’ horns. An electric crack then sounded, and Nikolai lost consciousness from the g-forces.
When the shock passed, the sky was no longer above, but around him – and from grey it turned dark-red.
Below there stretched an endless red desert, which Nikolai previously saw in the telescope. It was clear: it grew old so long ago that there was no longer a fitting word to describe how ancient this desert was. Above the desert, raising scarlet plumes, blew a powerful wind – likewise tired and ancient. From the dusty murk, outcrops resembling stumps of a petrified forest were showing – or perhaps they were wind-eroded pillars of ruined temples.
In the desert, Nikolai noticed a circle with some kind of dark point in the center. This circle was very far – but, when Nikolai drew his own attention toward it, it was as though a guidance system connected to his consciousness was coming into action. The circle started growing and soon turned into a ruin of a circular colonnade, around which there only remained red, bloated stumps of pillars.
All of this was inexplicably visible in the most minute detail – as though Nikolai’s eye was imbued with that very telescope, through which he gazed at the sky from the scaffold. Simultaneously, he again heard the quiet muttering and saw the same chubby figure before the lectern. Then it turned around and looked up – and Nikolai saw his face.
Only was not a face, but a green pig’s snout.
A wave of signification sent by the Birds passed through Nikolai’s consciousness, and he understood who was before him. The Ancient Boar. This was how the Birds named and portrayed the Creator in human minds.
The most amazing of all was how this understanding burst into Nikolai’s mind: the guidance system, through which the birds controlled his flight, could broadcast not only images, but even meanings directly, bypassing the linguistic interface.
Nikolai immediately realized that before him is not the real Creator, but merely a mockup. The creator of the cosmos was, of course, not like this. He did not have a snout, because he did not need to dig up earth in order to eat roots. And the world where He was located also had nothing in common with the reddened desert. All of this was merely a cartoon, allowing the incomprehensible to be translated into symbols accessible to man – and to allow Nikolai to grasp his target.
Nikolai thought that human religious icons had a similar nature – they, too, were translations of the abstract and unembodiable into the language of symbols, which can be understood by a bodily mind… But people imagined the Creator to resemble them. The Birds, meanwhile, saw Him as something entirely opposite to them and even to people: they gave the Creator the appearance of a green moustached pig with a broad damp snout instead of a nose.
Nikolai understood that from the point of view of the Birds, the Ancient Boar was not a sacred and all-seeing spirit, benevolently resting upon the cloud of almightiness. Instead, the Creator seemed to them more like an eccentric from a circus, riding along a tightrope on his unicycle while juggling a set of dinner plates. From the moment that he wheeled out onto the tightrope and threw the first plate upward, he no longer seemed to them to have any freedom. Or more accurately, he had just one choice: to fall crashingly into oblivion together with all his hardware – or to continue maintaining his balance.
In all the cosmos, there was no being more unhappy and burdened. The Creator was unable to help anyone, even himself: He was fastened to his creation, like a gunner in the penal battalion chained his “Maxim”, boiling from non-stop firing.
The way in which the combat graphics of the Birds reflected their reality was revealing – not so much about the Creator as in regard to them. They hate the Creator, understood Nikolai. Hate Him because He is their very cause. And they only dream of one thing: to no longer have any cause and themselves become like unto gods – so that Creation as such would stop. And for this purpose, they were destroying one dimension after another…
The Birds’ optics allowed Nikolai to see the Ancient Boar before him the entire time.
One must admit that the Birds had a certain sense of humour. Above the Creator’s snout, there shone black beads of his nervous eyes. In his dense wheat-like moustache there looked to be something Stalinist. The mouth of the Creator flapped quickly. Nikolai understood that the Creator was unyieldingly repeating spells which renewed the world. Reading his kabbalah, he repaired the constantly-disintegrating universe. Nikolai did not understand the meaning of individual words, but somehow managed to comprehend the general sense of this recitative – and it was truly awe-inspiring.
The grunting whispers of the Boar created space, time and matter. He created the laws which connected bodies suspended in the void – from the tiniest to the greatest in scale. And also – microcosms inside each physical body which mirrored the outer cosmos precisely. These laws, however, were not eternal – they only acted for a brief period after the Words of Might were sounded. Yet slowly, their vibrations were extinguished, their power fell to naught, and the incantations had to be repeated.
The eyes of Nikolai met the eyes of the Ancient Boar. Nikolai understood that the Boar knows of the Birds’ plan, but cannot – or does not wish to – do anything about it. The Boar was doomed. And yet He continued to perform his work.
All these meanings were located somewhere on the periphery of those which came from information cloud broadcast by the Birds. They themselves had no plans to explain the finer points of their metaphysics – the knowledge passed by them to Nikolai was strictly functional. It had merely one purpose: to show the target’s weakness.
Nikolai understood that the incantations read out by the Boar were raising a wall around Him, through which not only was it impossible for an attack to pass, but even a single ray of outside intention would be unable to penetrate. The Ancient Boar was invisible and imperceptible to the Birds themselves. Despite their might, they could not be where Nikolai was now located – this space was forbidden to them. All that they were capable of was to destroy world after world, reaching it only through its inhabitants.
Only one weapon in the entire Universe was capable of approaching the Creator – Nikolai himself… He could, as though a narrow stiletto blade which pierced through a gap in the armor, reach the very heart of the world… and to gaze into the Boar’s eyes before the impact… As an instrument of attack, he was perfect.
Choosing a moment for their final push, the Birds held Nikolai high up in the red sky. He soared above the valley, not letting his eyes off the target, absorbing ever-new meanings which were being revealed to him. And then, he understood that it was not just the Birds speaking to him – but also the Ancient Boar himself.
Or, more precisely, not speaking. Showing.
His green visage, remaining majestic even hidden behind the humiliating mask cast upon him by the Birds, was covered with a great many scars. These were the traces of earlier attempts, which His children made since the beginning of creation in their effort to amuse themselves – they, who were essences created by Him. Not even one of these attempts succeeded in its purpose. But each of them inflicted pain on the Boar. Nikolai looked into the caricatures of the Creator’s eyes – and through his chest there passed a wrenching pain of compassion.
The Boar was kind, endlessly kind – and full of love for each and every particle that floated through space. He created the world in order to love it – so that every creature in the world loved each other and their Creator, and lived as one great happy family. But the world was imperfect. Not because the Ancient Boar was evil or foolish, but because there was simply no other way for the world to be. Perfection could not be reconciled with Being. Nikolai was trying to understand why – and in the eyes of the Boar, he saw the answer.
It was so simple.
The world existed in time. Time presupposed change. And changes presupposed “better” or “worse”. Thus good and bad appeared, and the more complex this world became, the more difficult it became to predict their sequences. But nobody wanted to understand that. And all the creatures made by the Boar – from the highest angels to the lowest animals – tried to take revenge upon him for that imperfection, not realizing that without this imperfection they themselves would never be.
Even in an imperfect world, one could live almost happily – observing a few simple rules to which the Boar made all Creation subject. But the creations themselves had to follow those rules on their own. The Boar could not do it for them. In the eyes of the Ancient Boar, there stood still an endless love – and endless sorrow. To Nikolai it seemed as though He resembled a kind old shoemaker who reared too many ungrateful children, which daily blamed him for their poverty and misery – and yet the shoemaker simply shakes his head, wipes the spit which is cast upon him and tries only to work harder, knowing that his children will never understand the burden carried by their father, for they are that very cross…
The Cross of the Headless, grinned Nikolai.
Now the meaning of all that was transpiring became clear to him.
The birds were the most perfect creation of the Boar. In them, He tried to approach an absolute ideal – as much as it seemed possible. He attempted to make His creation greater than Himself. And so the Birds, sensing their superiority, understood the imperfection of the Creator. They grew ashamed of him and plotted to murder Him, so that they would no longer have any reasons. They wanted to destroy everything which was created by Him – except themselves.
The Ancient Boar, as Nikolai realized to his terror, wasn’t even opposed to this – He was tired and absorbed far too much ungrateful anger cast at him. He was only saddened by the fact that the Birds and all other creatures would have to disappear with him. The Birds did not understand the most important fact – they, too, were the Boar. In killing the Creator, they would be killing themselves. Or, perhaps, this was understood by some Birds, the highest among them, but these considered nonexistence to be the highest form of perfection.
The Boar was brought to the altar. And Nikolai was the sacrificial dagger – and now the Boar was gazing at him with his wise old eye, knowing full well why this frightened visitor was making his approach.
Soaring in the skies, Nikolai slowly noticed the traces of previous impacts upon the Creator’s fragile palace – indentations left in the mysterious substance of space-time. He did not know what all of this was in reality: his consciousness was only able to decipher everything in images habitual to human understanding.
He was far from the first living projectile launched by the Birds at the Boar. All about the scene which to Nikolai presented itself as a ruin of a round colonnade, there lay a great many corpses, partially obscured by red dust – which before he simply thought were rocky outcrops in the soil.
This was an infernal scrap-heap of freaks, harpies and chimeras. Membranes, wings, clawed tails, many-toothed jaws, spikes, stingers… As though someone’s malevolent will tried form after form, labouring to find the right pick to the final gates, crossing angels with pigs…. The most terrifying, of course, were the little details – painted curls of fur, piercings in split-ended ears, precious rings inserted through eyelids and teeth… Clothing and accessories on some of these freaks led one to surmise that the Birds lay waste to entire civilizations and cultures, if merely to test the tip of their ultimate spear – and so these living blades must have, at some points, pondered by the light of ancient stars, the question of what power and with what purpose called them into being…
But the most modern weapon was Nikolai – and millions of those who, like himself, had already stepped into the abyss of revolutions and World Wars… Nikolai suddenly remembered the lines of his great namesake Gumilev:
“I cry out, and my wild voice
Is a strike of bronze against bronze
I, the carrier of a great idea,
Am simply not able to die…”
But what is, in essence, this great idea? – he thought - Perhaps, like all great ideas, it is in itself. That I, like the carrier of a great idea, cannot be dead. As long as I think this great idea, everything is okay. And if I stop for five minutes? Then what, am I then going to die? That seems so joyless… However, said very well – a carrier. The Birds are using humanity in order to throw something terrifying at this green pig. And then what happens to us all later, that’s simply not important to them…
This is the final post on this blog - the project is now complete, with a total of 49 Jerzy & Petruccio stories gathered from two spoken word CDs and a series of animated shorts. This comprises the entirety of published Jerzy & Petruccio works by Andrei Andrianov. You may read them on this tumblr, in any order you like - or look at the archive for a full index!
For your reading pleasure, the entire collection is also now available as a pdf e-book here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/68246298/JERZY.pdf
You may even print your own copy, as I did!
The Jerzy & Petruccio CDs are out of print and a bit hard to find, but some new copies are still available from casandra.ru here, which ships worldwide:
The Flash animations by Masha Yakushina, where all the art in this blog is sourced from, can all be viewed and downloaded on her official website here:
Finally, texts and some audio downloads are available on the project’s official website (Russian):
Thank you for reading!
My next ongoing Russian-English translation blog project may be found here: http://russongs.tumblr.com/
(watch original video)
Petruccio walked out on the road alone
Without any purpose
And headed somewhere
And suddenly there’s Jerzy
"Stop" - he says - "Who’s coming?"
"Petruccio doesn’t walk here
I knew Petruccio
This isn’t his territory”
And Petruccio says:
"This is MY WAY
What did they even teach you?”
And so they parted
There, on the road…
[End of all known Jerzy and Petruccio materials. Happy 2014!]
Jerzy was a salesman of water
And Petruccio - a salesman of air
Jerzy rolled barrels north
And Petruccio - to the east
That was where they met
Right in the middle
Petruccio started selling, and Jerzy -
And so Petruccio sells and sells
Now there’s no water
Only air, ringing in their ears…
Jerzy could not stand silence
Jerzy liked to walk and listen to different sounds:
The noise of rain, the singing of birds
The splashing of waves…
But sometimes nothing could be heard
Then Jerzy would start making noise himself
In all sorts of ways
Yelled, slammed doors
That was his medicine against silence…
But it rarely helped
In his dream, Jerzy saw the big city’s lights
And Petruccio didn’t see anything
But wouldn’t wake Jerzy
Was afraid that the lights would go out…
And Jerzy slept
Petruccio stayed next to him
Summoned some sort of higher powers
But Jerzy slept
Completely departed from real life
And slept the whole time…
Jerzy was a strong opponent
But Petruccio was an even stronger oppenent than Jerzy
They often contended against each other
Jerzy won more often, and Petruccio won more rarely
In open battle
Sometimes Jerzy has already won
But Petruccio still contends
Struggles against someone
But nobody wins in this
So strong an opponent was Petruccio!
And here’s Petruccio
Here is Petruccio
And here is Jerzy
They are perfectly identical
There are no distinctions
Even their mother couldn’t distinguish them
Though she tried
Once she managed
To distinguish Jerzy after all
But Petruccio -
Never distinguished him
So here is Jerzy
And here is Petruccio
And here’s Jerzy
They are perfectly identical