Petersburg Perspective

Well – so there!

He had sung, played; putting the violin on the table, he wiped his perspiring forehead with a handkerchief; slowly heaved his indecent, spider-like, forty-five-year-old belly; at last, taking the candle, he set off for his bedroom; on the threshold he turned once more, indecisively, sighed, and reflected on something; Lippanchenko’s whole figure expressed a single vague, unutterable sadness.

And – Lippanchenko collapsed in the murk.

When the flame of the candle suddenly cut into the completely dark room (the blinds were lowered), the murk was cut apart; and – the pitch darkness exploded in yellow-crimson luminescences; along the periphery of the fierily dancing centre some pieces of darkness, in the form of shadows of all the objects, began to spin soundlessly in a circular movement; and in pursuit of the dark shoals, the shadows of objects, an enormous fat man, who burst out from under Lippanchenko’s heels, and with a bustling movement quickened his pace in a circle.

The outrageous, soundless fat man was thrown between the wall, the table and the chair, broke against the shoals and exploded agonizingly, as though now he had experienced all the torments of purgatory.

Thus, having cast out its body as ballast no longer required – thus, having cast out its body, the soul is caught up by the hurricanes of all its psychic movements: the hurricanes rush through the psychic expanses. Our bodies are wretched little vessels; and they race across the psychic ocean from spiritual continent to spiritual continent.

‘Yes … –’

Imagine an infinitely long rope; and imagine that your body is bound at the waist by the rope; and then – the rope is wound round you; with frantic, with indescribable speed; tossed up, in expanding, ever growing circles, drawing spirals in space, you will fly into the atmosphere beyond the air with your head downwards, and your back advancing; and you will fly, a satellite of the earth, away from the earth into the immeasurabilities of the universe, overcoming the multi-millennial spaces – instantly, and becoming those spaces.

That is the kind of hurricane by which you will instantly be caught up, when the soul casts out your body as ballast no longer required.

And let us also imagine that each point of the body experiences a mad urge to expand without measure, to expand to the point of horror (for example, to occupy a space equal in diameter to the orbit of Saturn); and let us also imagine that we consciously sense not simply one point, but all the points of the body, that they have all swelled up – cut apart, white-hot – and go through the stages of the expansion of bodies: from a solid condition to one that is gaseous, that the planets and suns circulate quite freely in the interstices of the body’s molecules; and let us also imagine that we have completely lost the sense of centripetal gravity; and in our urge to expand bodily without measure we explode into pieces, and that the only whole thing that remains is our consciousness: the consciousness of our exploded sensations.

What would we feel?

We would feel that our disjointed organs, flying and burning, no longer bound integrally together, are separated from one another by billions of versts; but our consciousness binds that crying outrage together – in a simultaneous futility; and while in our backbone, lacerated to the point of emptiness, we sense the seething of Saturn’s masses, the stars of the constellations furiously eat into our brain; while in the centre of the seething heart we feel the incoherent, diseased joltings – of a heart so enormous that the solar streams of fire, flying out from the sun, would not reach that heart’s surface if the sun were to move into that fiery, incoherently beating centre.

If we were able to imagine all this to ourselves bodily, before us would arise a picture of the first stages of the soul’s life, which has thrown off the body; the sensations would be the more powerful, the more violently before us were our bodily constitution to disintegrate …