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Ears and arrears. The start to an unfinished novel



Ears and arrears. The start to an unfinished novel
By alienrhymer on 01/11/2016
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[Ears and arrears]

These days Petya couldn?t remember what it was that triggered his... what d?you call it? His religious explorations, let?s say. It happened quite often that he?d walk down a street, would see a notice on a pleasant-looking façade, something like ?service hours Sunday 10 to 12? and this was enough for him to come in. Or they?d give him a printed sheet or a booklet somewhere in the street. Little pretty things, printed nobody knows where. They often promised ?a miracle for your pray?, and it would be silly, or, perhaps, sinful? not to try. That?s how he came to masons. Or maybe not masons, they were called something else, it wasn?t important, to him, although, maybe, it actually was? Potters or gardeners, maybe. Anyway.

Trying to tell himself what it was that attracted him so inexplicably, if not to say powerfully, to places like this, Petya told himself clearly: it was the exotics. The attraction for - can one even say love, perhaps? - for the exotics was an important factor, he decided. The love of all things strange and unfamiliar. Stupid, really. A driving force in many ?. What d?you call them? Spiritual adventures, maybe?
But if you think of it, Russian Orthodox are as exotic to him, or should be, at least. He grew up in a family that wasn?t religious, no tradition, no knowledge of the Bible nor the church service, and the old women in babushkas one can see in a church are total strangers to him. Why can?t he see it as truly alien? Or pleasantly exotic? But no. It was different. This was something that he didn?t really know, true, but could have, it could have been his from birth, if only? It was something easy enough to imagine, however. If his parents had enough intellectual bravery and contradictory spirit in them some thirty or thirty-five years ago to get baptized and start being active Christians at the time when it was still punishable. It didn?t happen, but it easily could have. Would he see it all differently now, if it did? Possibly. Anyway, babushkas in babushkas were simply not strange enough. Not strange at all, although completely unknown. But something unthinkable, unimaginable before Australia? like masons? pentacostal friends?third-hour-after-sunrise-gardeners; builders-of-fences-best-supporting-creepy-plants. That was it. What if, Petya suddenly asked himself, pushing the door of their ? was it a church? ? he wasn?t sure ? or should he call it a temple? a religious venue? ? what if, when Vladimir baptized Russia, he did it out of love for all things exotic? Why not? They say in Russian that there is no prophet in his own land, and, by the way, it?s the wisdom right on the topic. A popular wisdom can?t be totally wrong, or can it?

Letting his mind wander, if not quite loose, Petya pushed the door of the venue, which was, just maybe, a church, and came in.
Why unthinkable? Everything seemed reasonable here. The main reason why he couldn?t feel what?s required at home, with the Russian Orthodox, that is, he thought, was that he didn?t want to be like the old women there. What they were like and believed in, and how, he didn?t really know, but was sure that he?s not like this. So what? Surely, in this he wasn?t the only one like this. His desire to obtain some exotic spiritual product, luxuriously alien, and wrap himself in it, as if it was a warm scarf, was growing stronger.
If he ever met any Russian Orthodox in his new life, in Australia, that is, there always was something peculiar about them: neither speak nor understand Russian, for example. But although this was unusual enough, from any normal point of view, Petia was sure that this isn?t really exotic, not in the right sense, anyway. Rather it was, to him, a sign of an obvious professional ineptness. And certainly not a soft spiritual scarf to wrap himself in, that he was so longing for. To his taste, insatiable, he found, this was not what he was looking for, not enough, nor in the right direction. For some mysterious reason he was sure about this bit: if they were called Russian Orthodox, he wanted them to speak Russian. And if they weren?t in Russia, he wanted them, best of all, to preach something he?s never come across before. A free unrestricted leap of faith, or what d?you call it?

Where exactly he wanted to leap, he wasn?t sure, but knew he didn?t want to be, where the old women were. At least not where he thought they were. Babushkas he didn?t mind, really. Yes, a leap of faith. And masons, or sunrise gardeners, maybe, was their name, can you believe it, had it all.
Petia and his friend Sasha came to them by pure chance. Walked along the road, suddenly saw a notice, and came in. What can be possibly wrong about it? But it wasn?t that simple.
Everybody was so nice to them. Everybody shook hands: each person endeavored to shake hands with each one, which, of course, could take time, but this was their own ritual, they said. When this was finished, they played guitar and sang songs. It was difficult to make out words. Petia understood just two: the law of resurrection. There was a sermon, too. ?Brothers and sisters,? the priest said, ?we are gathered here today to celebrate the salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.?
The more Petya listened, the less he wanted to celebrate. Although the man, the priest that is, if this was what they called him here, was obviously a skilled public speaker, and spoke well. Nothing particularly unusual, it seems, everything as always in its place, but the emphasis slightly shifted. What was it, really? It was difficult to retell, he realized. Because the emphasis was sometimes just the tone of voice, sinking deeper and darker. When he spoke of Christ?s suffereing. He suffered like they did in concentration camps ? this was what the man said ? and it was good. For him, and for us, this was a road to salvation. Although normally, of course, there can?t be anything good about concentration camps. Obviously. Which pushed you to ask why was it good in this particular case. Or was ?good?, perhaps, not the right word? Not a universal concept?
Anyway, Petia decided to end the confusion, and to push the emphasis back, where it was, in its usual place. But no. Something?s changed. He saw it differently now.
The only thing he wasn?t sure about was how much the effect, achieved in his case, was intended. Was it, perhaps, entirely accidental? Did it just happen and nobody meant it at all? Petia couldn?t believe they meant it, but, on the other hand, it was impossible to believe that this person, who clearly knew what he was saying, why, and how, did something unintentionally. But why? And how?

He couldn?t say why, simply because it was much too exotic for him. Who could tell what they thought when they said it all? Certainly not him, and maybe, it was for the best. Because it left some room for doubt. Who knows what this doubt can lead to. Perhaps away from the complete loss of faith, if he ever had any. They say thoughts are material, so, if he will believe in this man, just a little bit, who knows?
In a few days, the same man came to visit him at home. Petia wasn?t there, so the man left a book. It was called ?Friday to Sunday: the law of resurrection.? Reading it, Petia finally convinced himself? he wasn?t sure what of?but somehow he felt, that however shaky he was in his beliefs, these clever people talking of concentration camps as a road to salvation were as alien to him as the old women in the Russian church at home, who simply wouldn?t listen nor understand, having something important cocooned inside them, unreachable for all clever talk. Petia knew they didn?t know, mostly, what they believed in, but he liked the word ?cocoon? that just came up, so much? Can it be the best way, after all? Like this? There must be a way somewhere in between not knowing anything at all and that know-it-all deconstruction, flowing smoothly into destruction, but where was it?
And Friday sounded to him, suddenly, as a hint: Frida was the name of an old friend who disputed the ownership of a chocolate bar that Petia just bought once before her very eyes.
He should have turned the other cheek. Instead he shoved the chocolate into his bag and rushed away.

No, knowing a bit less wasn?t a solution, he decided. What I need is a totally new system, he thought. Something that preaches ? or should I say advocates? ? joy and pleasure. Petia remembered chocolate and thought, unexpectedly, that ancient mayas had what he needed. It looks so, anyway. It?s true that it was all a long time ago, and obviously you can?t find any live followers of their system of beliefs nowadays, but there are books. More or less detailed reconstructions. He read some and decided that he knew enough already to start practicing like a real maya. Of all he read, he remembered, most of all, two things. Mayas liked chocolate and were, maybe, the first to make it. The other thing was, that their ancient epos was called ?Popol Vukh?. Almost the same as Winnie-the-Pooh, although, of course, not quite. Somehow Winnie-the-Pooh almost melted, like a piece of chocolate, in Petia?s mind into this big empty unknown which was maya?s religious practice. He had to fill the void with something. And what else was there, really? After a while he started to think of mayas as heffalumps. There weren?t, of course, any. But, on the other hand, were there mayas? Who knows. Actually, yes, perhaps, but then in what sense the heffalumps are different? Their image is also a documented one. The remains must be a crucial point, he thought. In real and any spiritual
sense
But anyway, what?s the connection between heffalumps and chocolate? Heffalumps must make it, he decided. Let?s say, they make chocolate with their trunks. They must have a trunk, how else? Pour liquid chocolate into a mould. Slurp it in and slip-slap-slop-spit it out. The main thing is not to miss the container, when you spit it. The only thing that worried him was that heffalumps? trunk could become congested with chocolate, he suspected, if they use a technology like this. What would mayas do then? As heffalumps? owners and protectors? Put their trunks in warm water? Drink tea? Petia wondered hard about it and wanted to look for answers in Winnie-the-Pooh, pardon me, Popol Vukh, but then remembered that there was nothing on chocolate there.
And what, if their feet become dirty, smeared with chocolate, because of their work? There is nothing bad about it: perhaps chocolate-smeared paws leave wonderful footprints. Everywhere, and especially on snow. Chocolate footwprints of heffalumps. What if other heffalumps want to know, whose footprints they see? Which heffalump?s? They don?t have skin patterns on their paws, fingerprints, Petia decided, in the same sense as humans do. So what do they do to track down another heffalump?


? By alienrhymer On 1/11/2016 7:28:43 PM
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