Compitalia, Demon's whistling wings & Aqua's long libellula wings in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Tue, 07/27/2021 - 10:41

According to Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969), his published works include Compitalia (1921):

 

As Ada, Mr Oranger (a born catalyzer), and Van were discussing those matters one afternoon in 1957 (Van’s and Ada’s book Information and Form had just come out), it suddenly occurred to our old polemicist that all his published works — even the extremely abstruse and specialized Suicide and Sanity (1912), Compitalia (1921), and When an Alienist Cannot Sleep (1932), to cite only a few — were not epistemic tasks set to himself by a savant, but buoyant and bellicose exercises in literary style. He was asked why, then, did he not let himself go, why did he not choose a big playground for a match between Inspiration and Design; and with one thing leading to another it was resolved that he would write his memoirs — to be published posthumously.

He was a very slow writer. It took him six years to write the first draft and dictate it to Miss Knox, after which he revised the typescript, rewrote it entirely in long hand (1963-1965) and redictated the entire thing to indefatigable Violet, whose pretty fingers tapped out a final copy in 1967. E, p, i — why ‘y,’ my dear? (5.4)

 

In ancient Roman religion, the Compitalia was a festival celebrated once a year in honor of the Lares Compitales, household deities of the crossroads, to whom sacrifices were offered at the places where two or more ways meet. Na perekryostke (“At the Crossroad,” 1904) is a poem in blank verse by Alexander Blok:

 

На перекрёстке,

Где даль поставила,

В печальном весельи встречаю весну.

 

На земле ещё жесткой

Пробивается первая травка.

И в кружеве берёзки –

Далеко – глубоко –

Лиловые скаты оврага.

 

Она взманила,

Земля пустынная!

 

На западе, рдея от холода,

Солнце – как медный шлем воина,

Обращенного ликом печальным

К иным горизонтам,

К иным временам...

 

И шишак – золотое облако –

Тянет ввысь белыми перьями

Над дерзкой красою

Лохмотий вечерних моих!

 

И жалкие крылья мои –

Крылья вороньего пугала –

Пламенеют, как солнечный шлем,

Отблеском вечера...

Отблеском счастия...

И кресты – и далекие окна

И вершины зубчатого леса –

Всё дышит ленивым

И белым размером

Весны.

 

In his poem Blok mentions mednyi shlem solntsa (the copper helmet of the sun). Describing his journey with Lucette on Admiral Tobakoff, Van mentions the Helmeted Angel of the Yukonsk Ikon whose magic effect changes anemic blond maidens into konskie deti, freckled red-haired lads, children of the Sun Horse:

 

To most of the Tobakoff’s first-class passengers the afternoon of June 4, 1901, in the Atlantic, on the meridian of Iceland and the latitude of Ardis, seemed little conducive to open air frolics: the fervor of its cobalt sky kept being cut by glacial gusts, and the wash of an old-fashioned swimming pool rhythmically flushed the green tiles, but Lucette was a hardy girl used to bracing winds no less than to the detestable sun. Spring in Fialta and a torrid May on Minataor, the famous artificial island, had given a nectarine hue to her limbs, which looked lacquered with it when wet, but re-evolved their natural bloom as the breeze dried her skin. With glowing cheekbones and that glint of copper showing from under her tight rubber cap on nape and forehead, she [Lucette] evoked the Helmeted Angel of the Yukonsk Ikon whose magic effect was said to change anemic blond maidens into konskie deti, freckled red-haired lads, children of the Sun Horse. (3.5)

 

Vesna v Fial’te (“Spring in Fialta,” 1936) is a story by VN. At the end of his poem “At the Crossroad” Blok mentions belyi razmer vesny (the blank meter of spring). Angel-khranitel’ (“The Guardian Angel,” 1906) is a poem by Blok. In the first and last stanza of his poem Ya vyshel v noch’ (“I came out into the night,” 1902) Blok mentions mnimyi konskiy topot (imaginary clatter of a horse’s hoofs):

 

Я вышел в ночь - узнать, понять
Далёкий шорох, близкий ропот,
Несуществующих принять,
Поверить в мнимый конский топот.

 

In her review of Blok’s first collection, Stikhi o Prekrasnoy Dame (“Verses about the Beautiful Lady,” 1904), Zinaida Hippius quotes this stanza:

 

Не будем же требовать от этой милой книжки более того, что она может дать; она и так даёт нам много, освежает и утешает нас, посылает лёгкий, мгновенный отдых. Мы устаём от трезвого серого дня и его несомненностей. И мы рады, что поэт говорит нам:

  

Я вышел в ночь -- узнать, понять

Далёкий шорох, близкий ропот,

Несуществующих принять,

Поверить в мнимый конский топот…

 

Let’s not ask of this nice little book more than it can give; in fact, it gives us a lot, refreshing and consoling us, sending to us a light, instantaneous rest. We get tired of the sober gray day and its undoubtedness. And we are happy that the poet tells us:

 

I came out into the night – to learn, to understand

a distant rustle, a near murmur,

to accept the inexistent creatures,

to believe in imaginary clatter of a horse’s hoofs.

 

According to Hippius, the Knight of the pale Beautiful Lady managed to grow only the faintly glimmering wings of a butterfly:

 

Нежный, слабый, паутинный, влюбленный столько же в смерть, сколько в жизнь, рыцарь бледной Прекрасной Дамы — сумел вырастить себе лишь слабо мерцающие крылья бабочки. Он неверными и короткими взлетами поднимается над пропастью; но пропасть широка; крылья бабочки не осилят её. Крылья бабочки скоро устают, быстро слабеют. (I)

 

“The wings of a butterfly soon get tired, weaken quickly.” In his poem “At the Crossroad” Blok mentions his wretched wings and compares them to kryl’ya voronyego pugala (the wings of a scarecrow). According to Van, Demon Veen (Van’s and Ada’s father who is also known in society as Raven Veen) has wings:

 

Ada was much better three days later, but he had to return to Man to catch the same boat back to England — and join a circus tour which involved people he could not let down.

His father saw him off. Demon had dyed his hair a blacker black. He wore a diamond ring blazing like a Caucasian ridge. His long, black, blue-ocellated wings trailed and quivered in the ocean breeze. Lyudi oglyadïvalis’ (people turned to look). A temporary Tamara, all kohl, kasbek rouge, and flamingo-boa, could not decide what would please her daemon lover more — just moaning and ignoring his handsome son or acknowledging bluebeard’s virility as reflected in morose Van, who could not stand her Caucasian perfume, Granial Maza, seven dollars a bottle. (1.29)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Granial Maza: a perfume named after Mt Kazbek’s ‘gran’ almuza’ (diamond’s facet) of Lermontov’s The Demon.

 

Demon compares the letters of his wife Aqua (Marina’s poor mad twin sister who committed suicide) to golubyanki (small blue butterflies):

 

In mid-July, 1886, while Van was winning the table-tennis tournament on board a ‘luxury’ liner (that now took a whole week to reach in white dignity Manhattan from Dover!), Marina, both her daughters, their governess, and two maids were shivering more or less simultaneous stages of Russian influentsa at various stops on their way by train from Los Angeles to Ladore. A hydrogram from Chicago awaiting Van at his father’s house on July 21 (her dear birthday!) said: ‘dadaist impatient patient arriving between twenty-fourth and seventh call doris can meet regards vicinity.’

‘Which reminds me painfully of the golubyanki (petits bleus) Aqua used to send me,’ remarked Demon with a sigh (having mechanically opened the message). ‘Is tender Vicinity some girl I know? Because you may glare as much as you like, but this is not a wire from doctor to doctor.’

Van raised his eyes to the Boucher plafond of the breakfast room, and shaking his head in derisive admiration, commented on Demon’s acumen. Yes, that was right. He had to travel incontinently to Garders (anagram of ‘regards,’ see?) to a hamlet the opposite way from Letham (see?) to see a mad girl artist called Doris or Odris who drew only gee-gees and sugar daddies. (ibid.)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): golubyanka: Russ., small blue butterfly.

petit bleu: Parisian slang for pneumatic post (an express message on blue paper).

 

Aqua’s letters to Demon were sometimes signed: Madame Shchemyashchikh-Zvukov (‘Heart rending-Sounds’):

 

Actually, Aqua was less pretty, and far more dotty, than Marina. During her fourteen years of miserable marriage she spent a broken series of steadily increasing sojourns in sanatoriums. A small map of the European part of the British Commonwealth — say, from Scoto-Scandinavia to the Riviera, Altar and Palermontovia — as well as most of the U.S.A., from Estoty and Canady to Argentina, might be quite thickly prickled with enameled red-cross-flag pins, marking, in her War of the Worlds, Aqua’s bivouacs. She had plans at one time to seek a modicum of health (‘just a little grayishness, please, instead of the solid black’) in such Anglo-American protectorates as the Balkans and Indias, and might even have tried the two Southern Continents that thrive under our joint dominion. Of course, Tartary, an independent inferno, which at the time spread from the Baltic and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean, was touristically unavailable, though Yalta and Altyn Tagh sounded strangely attractive… But her real destination was Terra the Fair and thither she trusted she would fly on libellula long wings when she died. Her poor little letters from the homes of madness to her husband were sometimes signed: Madame Shchemyashchikh-Zvukov (‘Heart rending-Sounds’). (1.3)

 

In the first line of his poem Priblizhaetsya zvuk... (“A sound approaches...” 1912) Blok mentions shchemyashchiy zvuk (a heart-rending sound):

 

Приближается звук. И, покорна щемящему звуку,
Молодеет душа.
И во сне прижимаю к губам твою прежнюю руку,
Не дыша.

 

Снится - снова я мальчик, и снова любовник,
И овраг, и бурьян,
И в бурьяне - колючий шиповник,
И вечерний туман.

 

Сквозь цветы, и листы, и колючие ветки, я знаю,
Старый дом глянет в сердце моё,
Глянет небо опять, розовея от краю до краю,
И окошко твоё.

 

Этот голос - он твой, и его непонятному звуку
Жизнь и горе отдам,
Хоть во сне твою прежнюю милую руку
Прижимая к губам.

 

Aqua believed that her real destination was Terra the Fair to which she would fly on libellula long wings when she died. When Ada joins him in Manhattan, Van mentions Ada's libellula wings:

 

He had prepared one of those phrases that sound right in dreams but lame in lucid life: ‘I saw you circling above me on libellula wings’; he broke down on ‘...ulla,’ and fell at her feet — at her bare insteps in glossy black Glass slippers — precisely in the same attitude, the same heap of hopeless tenderness, self-immolation, denunciation of demoniac life, in which he would drop in backthought, in the innermost bower of his brain every time he remembered her impossible semi-smile as she adjusted her shoulder blades to the trunk of the final tree. An invisible stagehand now slipped a seat under her, and she wept, and stroked his black curls as he went through his fit of grief, gratitude and regret. It might have persisted much longer had not another, physical frenzy, that had been stirring his blood since the previous day, offered a blessed distraction. (2.6)

 

The element that destroys Demon is air:

 

He liked composing his works (Illegible Signatures, 1895; Clairvoyeurism, 1903; Furnished Space, 1913; The Texture of Time, begun 1922), in mountain refuges, and in the drawing rooms of great expresses, and on the sun decks of white ships, and on the stone tables of Latin public parks. He would uncurl out of an indefinitely lengthy trance, and note with wonder that the ship was going the other way or that the order of his left-hand fingers was reversed, now beginning, clockwise, with his thumb as on his right hand, or that the marble Mercury that had been looking over his shoulder had been transformed into an attentive arborvitae. He would realize all at once that three, seven, thirteen years, in one cycle of separation, and then four, eight, sixteen, in yet another, had elapsed since he had last embraced, held, bewept Ada.

Numbers and rows and series — the nightmare and malediction harrowing pure thought and pure time — seemed bent on mechanizing his mind. Three elements, fire, water, and air, destroyed, in that sequence, Marina, Lucette, and Demon. Terra waited. (3.1)

 

In March, 1905, Demon Veen perishes in a mysterious airplane disaster above the Pacific. Van does not realize that his father died, because Ada (who could not pardon Demon his forcing Van to give her up) managed to persuade the pilot to destroy his machine in midair. Demon learns about his children’s affair by chance, when he visits Van in Manhattan to tell his son about Uncle Dan’s odd Boschian death. Describing Demon’s visit, Van mentions his father’s whistling wings:

 

They took a great many precautions — all absolutely useless, for nothing can change the end (written and filed away) of the present chapter. Only Lucette and the agency that forwarded letters to him and to Ada knew Van’s address. Through an amiable lady in waiting at Demon’s bank, Van made sure that his father would not turn up in Manhattan before March 30. They never came out or went in together, arranging a meeting place at the Library or in an emporium whence to start the day’s excursions — and it so happened that the only time they broke that rule (she having got stuck in the lift for a few panicky moments and he having blithely trotted downstairs from their common summit), they issued right into the visual field of old Mrs Arfour who happened to be passing by their front door with her tiny tan-and-gray long-silked Yorkshire terrier. The simultaneous association was immediate and complete: she had known both families for years and was now interested to learn from chattering (rather than chatting) Ada that Van had happened to be in town just when she, Ada, had happened to return from the West; that Marina was fine; that Demon was in Mexico or Oxmice; and that Lenore Colline had a similar adorable pet with a similar adorable parting along the middle of the back. That same day (February 3, 1893) Van rebribed the already gorged janitor to have him answer all questions which any visitor, and especially a dentist’s widow with a caterpillar dog, might ask about any Veens, with a brief assertion of utter ignorance. The only personage they had not reckoned with was the old scoundrel usually portrayed as a skeleton or an angel.

Van’s father had just left one Santiago to view the results of an earthquake in another, when Ladore Hospital cabled that Dan was dying. He set off at once for Manhattan, eyes blazing, wings whistling. He had not many interests in life.

Next day, February 5, around nine p.m., Manhattan (winter) time, on the way to Dan’s lawyer, Demon noted — just as he was about to cross Alexis A venue, an ancient but insignificant acquaintance, Mrs Arfour, advancing toward him, with her toy terrier, along his side of the street. Unhesitatingly, Demon stepped off the curb, and having no hat to raise (hats were not worn with raincloaks and besides he had just taken a very exotic and potent pill to face the day’s ordeal on top of a sleepless journey), contented himself — quite properly — with a wave of his slim umbrella; recalled with a paint dab of delight one of the gargle girls of her late husband; and smoothly passed in front of a slow-clopping horse-drawn vegetable cart, well out of the way of Mrs R4. But precisely in regard to such a contingency, Fate had prepared an alternate continuation. As Demon rushed (or, in terms of the pill, sauntered) by the Monaco, where he had often lunched, it occurred to him that his son (whom he had been unable to ‘contact’) might still be living with dull little Cordula de Prey in the penthouse apartment of that fine building. He had never been up there — or had he? For a business consultation with Van? On a sun-hazed terrace? And a clouded drink? (He had, that’s right, but Cordula was not dull and had not been present.)

With the simple and, combinationally speaking, neat, thought that, after all, there was but one sky (white, with minute multicolored optical sparks), Demon hastened to enter the lobby and catch the lift which a ginger-haired waiter had just entered, with breakfast for two on a wiggle-wheel table and the Manhattan Times among the shining, ever so slightly scratched, silver cupolas. Was his son still living up there, automatically asked Demon, placing a piece of nobler metal among the domes. Si, conceded the grinning imbecile, he had lived there with his lady all winter. (2.10)

 

The white sky, with minute multicolored optical sparks, brings to mind Pod znóynïm nébom Argentínï (‘To the hot hum of mandolina’), the tango that Van dances on his hands as Mascodagama (Van’s stage name):

 

Neither was the sheer physical pleasure of maniambulation a negligible factor, and the peacock blotches with which the carpet stained the palms of his hands during his gloveless dance routine seemed to be the reflections of a richly colored nether world that he had been the first to discover. For the tango, which completed his number on his last tour, he was given a partner, a Crimean cabaret dancer in a very short scintillating frock cut very low on the back. She sang the tango tune in Russian:

 

Pod znóynïm nébom Argentínï,

Pod strástnïy góvor mandolinï

 

‘Neath sultry sky of Argentina,

To the hot hum of mandolina

 

Fragile, red-haired ‘Rita’ (he never learned her real name), a pretty Karaite from Chufut Kale, where, she nostalgically said, the Crimean cornel, kizil’, bloomed yellow among the arid rocks, bore an odd resemblance to Lucette as she was to look ten years later. During their dance, all Van saw of her were her silver slippers turning and marching nimbly in rhythm with the soles of his hands. He recouped himself at rehearsals, and one night asked her for an assignation. She indignantly refused, saying she adored her husband (the make-up fellow) and loathed England. (1.30)

 

The second stanza of Zinaida Hippius’ poem Apel’sinnye tsvety (“The Orange Blossom,” 1897) begins with the line Pod serym nebom Taorminy (beneath gray sky of Taormina):

 

О, берегитесь, убегайте
От жизни легкой пустоты.
И прах земной не принимайте
За апельсинные цветы.

 

Под серым небом Таормины
Среди глубин некрасоты
На миг припомнились единый
Мне апельсинные цветы.

 

Поверьте, встречи нет случайной, —
Как мало их средь суеты!
И наша встреча дышит тайной,
Как апельсинные цветы.

 

Вы счастья ищете напрасно,
О, вы боитесь высоты!
А счастье может быть прекрасно,
Как апельсинные цветы.

 

Любите смелость нежеланья,
Любите радости молчанья,
Неисполнимые мечты,
Любите тайну нашей встречи,
И все несказанные речи,
И апельсинные цветы. 

 

Minataor (the famous artificial island on which Lucette spent the torrid May) is an anagram of Taormina. Miss May (1909) is a story by Zinaida Hippius. The orange blossom mentioned by Hippius at the end of each stanza of her poem bring to mind Ronald Oranger, old Van’s secretary and the editor of Ada who marries Violet Knox (old Van’s typist whom Ada calls Fialochka, “little Violet”) after Van’s and Ada’s death. Nochnaya fialka (“The Night Violet,” 1906) is a poem in blank verse (subtitled "a Dream”) by Blok. Blok is the author of documentary Poslednie dni imperatorskoy vlasti (“The Last Days of the Imperial Power,” 1921). When she takes over, Ada mentions sverhimperatorskaya cheta (a super-imperial couple):

 

Hammock and honey: eighty years later he could still recall with the young pang of the original joy his falling in love with Ada. Memory met imagination halfway in the hammock of his boyhood’s dawns. At ninety-four he liked retracing that first amorous summer not as a dream he had just had but as a recapitulation of consciousness to sustain him in the small gray hours between shallow sleep and the first pill of the day. Take over, dear, for a little while. Pill, pillow, billow, billions. Go on from here, Ada, please.

(She). Billions of boys. Take one fairly decent decade. A billion of Bills, good, gifted, tender and passionate, not only spiritually but physically well-meaning Billions, have bared the jillions of their no less tender and brilliant Jills during that decade, at stations and under conditions that have to be controlled and specified by the worker, lest the entire report be choked up by the weeds of statistics and waist-high generalizations. No point would there be, if we left out, for example, the little matter of prodigious individual awareness and young genius, which makes, in some cases, of this or that particular gasp an unprecedented and unrepeatable event in the continuum of life or at least a thematic anthemia of such events in a work of art, or a denouncer’s article. The details that shine through or shade through: the local leaf through the hyaline skin, the green sun in the brown humid eye, tout ceci, vsyo eto, in tit and toto, must be taken into account, now prepare to take over (no, Ada, go on, ya zaslushalsya: I’m all enchantment and ears), if we wish to convey the fact, the fact, the fact — that among those billions of brilliant couples in one cross section of what you will allow me to call spacetime (for the convenience of reasoning), one couple is a unique super-imperial couple, sverhimperatorskaya cheta, in consequence of which (to be inquired into, to be painted, to be denounced, to be put to music, or to the question and death, if the decade has a scorpion tail after all), the particularities of their love-making influence in a special unique way two long lives and a few readers, those pensive reeds, and their pens and mental paintbrushes. Natural history indeed! Unnatural history — because that precision of senses and sense must seem unpleasantly peculiar to peasants, and because the detail is all: The song of a Tuscan Firecrest or a Sitka Kinglet in a cemetery cypress; a minty whiff of Summer Savory or Yerba Buena on a coastal slope; the dancing flitter of a Holly Blue or an Echo Azure — combined with other birds, flowers and butterflies: that has to be heard, smelled and seen through the transparency of death and ardent beauty. And the most difficult: beauty itself as perceived through the there and then. The males of the firefly (now it’s really your turn, Van).

The males of the firefly, a small luminous beetle, more like a wandering star than a winged insect, appeared on the first warm black nights of Ardis, one by one, here and there, then in a ghostly multitude, dwindling again to a few individuals as their quest came to its natural end. Van watched them with the same pleasurable awe he had experienced as a child, when, lost in the purple crepuscule of an Italian hotel garden, in an alley of cypresses, he supposed they were golden ghouls or the passing fancies of the garden. Now as they softly flew, apparently straight, crossing and recrossing the darkness around him, each flashed his pale-lemon light every five seconds or so, signaling in his own specific rhythm (quite different from that of an allied species, flying with Photinus ladorensis, according to Ada, at Lugano and Luga) to his grass-domiciled female pulsating in photic response after taking a couple of moments to verify the exact type of light code he used. The presence of those magnificent little animals, delicately illuminating, as they passed, the fragrant night, filled Van with a subtle exhilaration that Ada’s entomology seldom evoked in him — maybe in result of the abstract scholar’s envy which a naturalist’s immediate knowledge sometimes provokes. The hammock, a comfortable oblong nest, reticulated his naked body either under the weeping cedar that sprawled over one corner of a lawn, and granted a partial shelter in case of a shower, or, on safer nights, between two tulip trees (where a former summer guest, with an opera cloak over his clammy nightshirt, had awoken once because a stink bomb had burst among the instruments in the horsecart, and striking a match, Uncle Van had seen the bright blood blotching his pillow). (1.12)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): pensive reeds: Pascal’s metaphor of man, un roseau pensant.

horsecart: an old anagram. It leads here to a skit on Freudian dream charades (‘symbols in an orchal orchestra’), p.62.

 

Van does not suspect that Ronald Oranger and Violet Knox (whom Van believes to be a lesbian) are Ada's grandchildren and that they are, in fact, sverhimperatorskaya cheta (a super-imperial couple).

 

Ada’s “one cross section of what you will allow me to call spacetime” brings to mind “a bizarre confusion of directional signs at the crossroads of passing time” mentioned by Van when he describes the difference between Terra and Antiterra (aka Demonia, Earth’s twin planet on which Ada is set):

 

The details of the L disaster (and I do not mean Elevated) in the beau milieu of last century, which had the singular effect of both causing and cursing the notion of ‘Terra,’ are too well-known historically, and too obscene spiritually, to be treated at length in a book addressed to young laymen and lemans — and not to grave men or gravemen.

Of course, today, after great anti-L years of reactionary delusion have gone by (more or less!) and our sleek little machines, Faragod bless them, hum again after a fashion, as they did in the first half of the nineteenth century, the mere geographic aspect of the affair possesses its redeeming comic side, like those patterns of brass marquetry, and bric-à-Braques, and the ormolu horrors that meant ‘art’ to our humorless forefathers. For, indeed, none can deny the presence of something highly ludicrous in the very configurations that were solemnly purported to represent a varicolored map of Terra. Ved’ (‘it is, isn’t it’) sidesplitting to imagine that ‘Russia,’ instead of being a quaint synonym of Estoty, the American province extending from the Arctic no longer vicious Circle to the United States proper, was on Terra the name of a country, transferred as if by some sleight of land across the ha-ha of a doubled ocean to the opposite hemisphere where it sprawled over all of today’s Tartary, from Kurland to the Kuriles! But (even more absurdly), if, in Terrestrial spatial terms, the Amerussia of Abraham Milton was split into its components, with tangible water and ice separating the political, rather than poetical, notions of ‘America’ and ‘Russia,’ a more complicated and even more preposterous discrepancy arose in regard to time — not only because the history of each part of the amalgam did not quite match the history of each counterpart in its discrete condition, but because a gap of up to a hundred years one way or another existed between the two earths; a gap marked by a bizarre confusion of directional signs at the crossroads of passing time with not all the no-longers of one world corresponding to the not-yets of the other. It was owing, among other things, to this ‘scientifically ungraspable’ concourse of divergences that minds bien rangés (not apt to unhobble hobgoblins) rejected Terra as a fad or a fantom, and deranged minds (ready to plunge into any abyss) accepted it in support and token of their own irrationality. (1.3)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): beau milieu: right in the middle.

Faragod: apparently, the god of electricity.

braques: allusion to a bric-à-brac painter.

 

After the L disaster electricity was banned on Antiterra. Elektrichestvo ("Electricity," 1901) is a poem by Zinaida Hippius:

 

Две нити вместе свиты,
Концы обнажены.
То «да» и «нет» — не слиты,
Не слиты — сплетены.
Их темное сплетенье
И тесно, и мертво.
Но ждет их воскресенье,
И ждут они его.
Концов концы коснутся —
Другие «да» и «нет»,
И «да» и «нет» проснутся,
Сплетенные сольются,
И смерть их будет — Свет.

 

Two wires are wrapped together,
The loose ends naked, exposed
A yes and no, not united,
Not united, but juxtaposed.
A dark, dark juxtaposition —
So close together, dead.
But resurrection awaits them;
And they await what waits ahead.
End will meet end in touching
Yes — no, left and right,
The yes and no awakening,
Inseparably uniting
And their death will be — Light. 

(tr. George M. Young)