Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson

CHAPTER 1
The Arousing of Thought

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1.3

Among other convictions formed in my common presence during my responsible, peculiarly composed life, there is one such also—an indubitable conviction—that always and everywhere on the earth, among people of every degree of development of understanding and of every form of manifestation of the factors which engender in their individuality all kinds of ideals, there is acquired the tendency, when beginning anything new, unfailingly to pronounce aloud or, if not aloud, at least mentally, that definite utterance understandable to every even quite illiterate person, which in different epochs has been formulated variously and in our day is formulated in the following words: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and in the name of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

1.3

That is why I now, also, setting forth on this venture quite new for me, namely, authorship, begin by pronouncing this utterance and moreover pronounce it not only aloud, but even very distinctly and with a full, as the ancient Toulousites defined it, “wholly-manifested-intonation”—of course with that fullness which can arise in my entirety only from data already formed and thoroughly rooted in me for such a manifestation; data which are in general formed in the nature of man, by the way, during his preparatory age, and later, during his responsible life engender in him the ability for the manifestation of the nature and vivifyingness of such an intonation.

1.3

Having thus begun, I can now be quite at ease, and should even, according to the notions of religious morality existing among contemporary people, be beyond all doubt assured that everything further in this new venture of mine will now proceed, as is said, “like a pianola.”

1.4

In any case I have begun just thus, and as to how the rest will go I can only say meanwhile, as the blind man once expressed it, “we shall see.”

1.4

First and foremost, I shall place my own hand, moreover the right one, which—although at the moment it is slightly injured owing to the misfortune which recently befell me—is nevertheless really my own, and has never once failed me in all my life, on my heart, of course also my own—but on the inconstancy or constancy of this part of all my whole I do not find it necessary here to expatiate—and frankly confess that I myself have personally not the slightest wish to write, but attendant circumstances, quite independent of me, constrain me to do so—and whether these circumstances arose accidentally or were created intentionally by extraneous forces, I myself do not yet know. I know only that these circumstances bid me write not just anything “so-so,” as, for instance, something of the kind for reading oneself to sleep, but weighty and bulky tomes.

1.4

However that may be, I begin…

1.4

But begin with what?

1.4

Oh, the devil! Will there indeed be repeated that same exceedingly unpleasant and highly strange sensation which it befell me to experience when about three weeks ago I was composing in my thoughts the scheme and sequence of the ideas destined by me for publication and did not know then how to begin either?

1.4

This sensation then experienced I might now formulate in words only thus: “the-fear-of-drowning-in-the-overflow-of-my-own-thoughts.”

1.4-5

To stop this undesirable sensation I might then still have had recourse to the aid of that maleficent property existing also in me, as in contemporary man, which has become inherent in all of us, and which enables us, without experiencing any remorse of conscience whatever, to put off anything we wish to do “till tomorrow.”

1.5

I could then have done this very easily because before beginning the actual writing, it was assumed that there was still lots of time; but this can now no longer be done, and I must, without fail, as is said, “even though I burst,” begin.

1.5

But with what indeed begin…?

1.5

Hurrah!… Eureka!

1.5

Almost all the books I have happened to read in my life have begun with a preface.

So in this case I also must begin with something of the kind.

1.5

I say “of the kind,” because in general in the process of my life, from the moment I began to distinguish a boy from a girl, I have always done everything, absolutely everything, not as it is done by other, like myself, biped destroyers of Nature’s good. Therefore, in writing now I ought, and perhaps am even on principle already obliged, to begin not as any other writer would.

1.5

In any case, instead of the conventional preface I shall begin quite simply with a Warning.

1.5-6

Beginning with a Warning will be very judicious of me, if only because it will not contradict any of my principles, either organic, psychic, or even “willful,” and will at the same time be quite honest—of course, honest in the objective sense, because both I myself and all others who know me well, expect with indubitable certainty that owing to my writings there will entirely disappear in the majority of readers, immediately and not gradually, as must sooner or later, with time, occur to all people, all the “wealth” they have, which was either handed down to them by inheritance or obtained by their own labor, in the form of quieting notions evoking only na├»ve dreams, and also beautiful representations of their lives at present as well as of their prospects in the future.

1.6

Professional writers usually begin such introductions with an address to the reader, full of all kinds of bombastically magniloquent and so to say “honeyed” and “inflated” phrases.

1.6

Just in this alone I shall follow their example and also begin with such an address, but I shall try not to make it very “sugary” as they usually do, owing particularly to their evil wiseacring by which they titillate the sensibilities of the more or less normal reader.

1.6

Thus…

1.6

My dear, highly honored, strong-willed and of course very patient Sirs, and my much-esteemed, charming, and impartial Ladies—forgive me, I have omitted the most important—and my in no wise hysterical Ladies!

1.6

I have the honor to inform you that although owing to circumstances that have arisen at one of the last stages of the process of my life, I am now about to write books, yet during the whole of my life I have never written not only not books or various what are called “instructive-articles,” but also not even a letter in which it has been unfailingly necessary to observe what is called “grammaticality,” and in consequence, although I am now about to become a professional writer, yet having had no practice at all either in respect of all the established professional rules and procedures or in respect of what is called the “bon ton literary language,” I am constrained to write not at all as ordinary “patented-writers” do, to the form of whose writing you have in all probability become as much accustomed as to your own smell.

1.6-7

In my opinion the trouble with you, in the present instance, is perhaps chiefly due to the fact that while still in childhood, there was implanted in you and has now become ideally well harmonized with your general psyche, an excellently working automatism for perceiving all kinds of new impressions, thanks to which “blessing” you have now, during your responsible life, no need of making any individual effort whatsoever.

1.7

Speaking frankly, I inwardly personally discern the center of my confession not in my lack of knowledge of all the rules and procedures of writers, but in my nonpossession of what I have called the “bon ton literary language,” infallibly required in contemporary life not only from writers but also from every ordinary mortal.

1.7

As regards the former, that is to say, my lack of knowledge of the different rules and procedures of writers, I am not greatly disturbed.

1.7

And I am not greatly disturbed on this account, because such “ignorance” has already now become in the life of people also in the order of things. Such a blessing arose and now flourishes everywhere on Earth thanks to that extraordinary new disease of which for the last twenty to thirty years, for some reason or other, especially the majority of those persons from among all the three sexes fall ill, who sleep with half-open eyes and whose faces are in every respect fertile soil for the growth of every kind of pimple.

1.7

This strange disease is manifested by this, that if the invalid is somewhat literate and his rent is paid for three months in advance, he (she or it) unfailingly begins to write either some “instructive article” or a whole book.

1.7

Well knowing about this new human disease and its epidemical spread on Earth, I, as you should understand, have the right to assume that you have acquired, as the learned “medicos” would say, “immunity” to it, and that you will therefore not be palpably indignant at my ignorance of the rules and procedures of writers.

1.7

This understanding of mine bids me inwardly to make the center of gravity of my warning my ignorance of the literary language.

1.7-8

In self-justification, and also perhaps to diminish the degree of the censure in your waking consciousness of my ignorance of this language indispensable for contemporary life, I consider it necessary to say, with a humble heart and cheeks flushed with shame, that although I too was taught this language in my childhood, and even though certain of my elders who prepared me for responsible life, constantly forced me “without sparing or economizing” any intimidatory means to “learn by rote” the host of various “nuances” which in their totality compose this contemporary “delight,” yet, unfortunately of course for you, of all that I then learned by rote, nothing stuck and nothing whatsoever has survived for my present activities as a writer.

1.8

And nothing stuck, as it was quite recently made clear to me, not through any fault of mine, nor through the fault of my former respected and nonrespected teachers, but this human labor was spent in vain owing to one unexpected and quite exceptional event which occurred at the moment of my appearance on God’s Earth, and which was—as a certain occultist well known in Europe explained to me after a very minute what is called “psycho-physico-astrological” investigation—that at that moment, through the hole made in the windowpane by our crazy lame goat, there poured the vibrations of sound which arose in the neighbor’s house from an Edison phonograph, and the midwife had in her mouth a lozenge saturated with cocaine of German make, and moreover not “Ersatz,” and was sucking this lozenge to these sounds without the proper enjoyment.

1.8-9

Besides from this event, rare in the everyday life of people, my present position also arose because later on in my preparatory and adult life—as, I must confess, I myself guessed after long reflections according to the method of the German professor, Herr Stumpsinschmausen—I always avoided instinctively as well as automatically and at times even consciously, that is, on principle, employing this language for intercourse with others. And from such a trifle, and perhaps not a trifle, I manifested thus again thanks to three data which were formed in my entirety during my preparatory age, about which data I intend to inform you a little later in this same first chapter of my writings.

1.9

However that may have been, yet the real fact, illuminated from every side like an American advertisement, and which fact cannot now be changed by any forces even with the knowledge of the experts in “monkey business,” is that although I, who have lately been considered by very many people as a rather good teacher of temple dances, have now become today a professional writer and will of course write a great deal—as it has been proper to me since childhood whenever “I do anything to do a great deal of it”—nevertheless, not having, as you see, the automatically acquired and automatically manifested practice necessary for this, I shall be constrained to write all I have thought out in ordinary simple everyday language established by life, without any literary manipulations and without any “grammarian wiseacrings.”

1.9

But the pot is not yet full!… For I have not yet decided the most important question of all—in which language to write.

1.9

Although I have begun to write in Russian, nevertheless, as the wisest of the wise, Mullah Nassr Eddin, would say, in that language you cannot go far.

1.9

(Mullah Nassr Eddin, or as he is also called, Hodja Nassr Eddin, is, it seems, little known in Europe and America, but he is very well known in all countries of the continent of Asia; this legendary personage corresponds to the American Uncle Sam or the German Till Eulenspiegel. Numerous tales popular in the East, akin to the wise sayings, some of long standing and others newly arisen, were ascribed and are still ascribed to this Nassr Eddin.)

1.10

The Russian language, it cannot be denied, is very good. I even like it, but… only for swapping anecdotes and for use in referring to someone’s parentage.

1.10

The Russian language is like the English, which language is also very good, but only for discussing in “smoking rooms,” while sitting on an easy chair with legs outstretched on another, the topic of Australian frozen meat or, sometimes, the Indian question.

1.10

Both these languages are like the dish which is called in Moscow “Solianka,” and into which everything goes except you and me, in fact everything you wish, and even the “after-dinner Cheshma1 of Scheherazade.

1.10

It must also be said that owing to all kinds of accidentally and perhaps not accidentally formed conditions of my youth, I have had to learn, and moreover very seriously and of course always with self-compulsion, to speak, read, and write a great many languages, and to such a degree of fluency, that if, in following this profession unexpectedly forced on me by Fate, I decided not to take advantage of the “automatism” which is acquired by practice, then I could perhaps write in any one of them.

1.10

But if I set out to use judiciously this automatically acquired automatism which has become easy from long practice, then I should have to write either in Russian or in Armenian, because the circumstances of my life during the last two or three decades have been such that I have had for intercourse with others to use, and consequently to have more practice in, just these two languages and to acquire an automatism in respect to them.

1.10-1

O the dickens!… Even in such a case, one of the aspects of my peculiar psyche, unusual for the normal man, has now already begun to torment the whole of me.

1.11

And the chief reason for this unhappiness of mine in my almost already mellow age, results from the fact that since childhood there was implanted in my peculiar psyche, together with numerous other rubbish also unnecessary for contemporary life, such an inherency as always and in everything automatically enjoins the whole of me to act only according to popular wisdom.

1.11

In the present case, as always in similar as yet indefinite life cases, there immediately comes to my brain—which is for me, constructed unsuccessfully to the point of mockery—and is now as is said, “running through” it that saying of popular wisdom which existed in the life of people of very ancient times, and which has been handed down to our day formulated in the following words: “every stick always has two ends.”

1.11

In trying first to understand the basic thought and real significance hidden in this strange verbal formulation, there must, in my opinion, first of all arise in the consciousness of every more or less sane-thinking man the supposition that, in the totality of ideas on which is based and from which must flow a sensible notion of this saying, lies the truth, cognized by people for centuries, which affirms that every cause occurring in the life of man, from whatever phenomenon it arises, as one of two opposite effects of other causes, is in its turn obligatorily molded also into two quite opposite effects, as for instance: if “something” obtained from two different causes engenders light, then it must inevitably engender a phenomenon opposite to it, that is to say, darkness; or a factor engendering in the organism of a living creature an impulse of palpable satisfaction also engenders without fail nonsatisfaction, of course also palpable, and so on and so forth, always and in everything.

1.11-2

Adopting in the same given instance this popular wisdom formed by centuries and expressed by a stick, which, as was said, indeed has two ends, one end of which is considered good and the other bad, then if I use the aforesaid automatism which was acquired in me thanks only to long practice, it will be for me personally of course very good, but according to this saying, there must result for the reader just the opposite; and what the opposite of good is, even every nonpossessor of hemorrhoids must very easily understand.

1.12

Briefly, if I exercise my privilege and take the good end of the stick, then the bad end must inevitably fall “on the reader’s head.”

1.12

This may indeed happen, because in Russian the so to say “niceties” of philosophical questions cannot be expressed, which questions I intend to touch upon in my writings also rather fully, whereas in Armenian, although this is possible, yet to the misfortune of all contemporary Armenians, the employment of this language for contemporary notions has now already become quite impracticable.

1.12

In order to alleviate the bitterness of my inner hurt owing to this, I must say that in my early youth, when I became interested in and was greatly taken up with philological questions, I preferred the Armenian language to all others I then spoke, even to my native language.

1.12

This language was then my favorite chiefly because it was original and had nothing in common with the neighboring or kindred languages.

As the learned “philologists” say, all of its tonalities were peculiar to it alone, and according to my understanding even then, it corresponded perfectly to the psyche of the people composing that nation.

1.12-3

But the change I have witnessed in that language during the last thirty or forty years has been such, that instead of an original independent language coming to us from the remote past, there has resulted and now exists one, which though also original and independent, yet represents, as might be said, a “kind of clownish potpourri of languages,” the totality of the consonances of which, falling on the ear of a more or less conscious and understanding listener, sounds just like the “tones” of Turkish, Persian, French, Kurd, and Russian words and still other “indigestible” and inarticulate noises.

1.13

Almost the same might be said about my native language, Greek, which I spoke in childhood and, as might be said, the “taste of the automatic associative power of which” I still retain. I could now, I dare say, express anything I wish in it, but to employ it for writing is for me impossible, for the simple and rather comical reason that someone must transcribe my writings and translate them into the other languages. And who can do this?

1.13

It could assuredly be said that even the best expert of modern Greek would understand simply nothing of what I should write in the native language I assimilated in childhood, because, my dear “compatriots,” as they might be called, being also inflamed with the wish at all costs to be like the representatives of contemporary civilization also in their conversation, have during these thirty or forty years treated my dear native language just as the Armenians, anxious to become Russian intelligentsia, have treated theirs.

1.13

That Greek language, the spirit and essence of which were transmitted to me by heredity, and the language now spoken by contemporary Greeks, are as much alike as, according to the expression of Mullah Nassr Eddin, “a nail is like a requiem.”

1.13

What is now to be done?

1.13

Ah… me! Never mind, esteemed buyer of my wiseacrings. If only there be plenty of French armagnac and “Khaizarian bastourma,” I shall find a way out of even this difficult situation.

1.14

I am an old hand at this.

1.14

In life, I have so often got into difficult situations and out of them, that this has become almost a matter of habit for me.

1.14

Meanwhile in the present case, I shall write partly in Russian and partly in Armenian, the more readily because among those people always “hanging around” me there are several who “cerebrate” more or less easily in both these languages, and I meanwhile entertain the hope that they will be able to transcribe and translate from these languages fairly well for me.

1.14

In any case I again repeat—in order that you should well remember it, but not as you are in the habit of remembering other things and on the basis of which are accustomed to keeping your word of honor to others or to yourself—that no matter what language I shall use, always and in everything, I shall avoid what I have called the “bon ton literary language.”

1.14-5

In this respect, the extraordinarily curious fact and one even in the highest degree worthy of your love of knowledge, perhaps even higher than your usual conception, is that from my earliest childhood, that is to say, since the birth in me of the need to destroy birds’ nests, and to tease my friends’ sisters, there arose in my, as the ancient theosophists called it, “planetary body,” and moreover, why I don’t know, chiefly in the “right half,” an instinctively involuntary sensation, which right up to that period of my life when I became a teacher of dancing, was gradually formed into a definite feeling, and then, when thanks to this profession of mine I came in contact with many people of different “types,” there began to arise in me also the conviction with what is called my “mind,” that these languages are compiled by people, or rather “grammarians,” who are in respect of knowledge of the given language exactly similar to those biped animals whom the esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin characterizes by the words: “All they can do is to wrangle with pigs about the quality of oranges.”

1.15

This kind of people among us who have been turned into, so to say, “moths” destroying the good prepared and left for us by our ancestors and by time, have not the slightest notion and have probably never even heard of the screamingly obvious fact that, during the preparatory age, there is acquired in the brain functioning of every creature, and of man also, a particular and definite property, the automatic actualization and manifestation of which the ancient Korkolans called the “law of association,” and that the process of the mentation of every creature, especially man, flows exclusively in accordance with this law.

1.15

In view of the fact that I have happened here accidentally to touch upon a question which has lately become one of my so to speak “hobbies,” namely, the process of human mentation, I consider it possible, without waiting for the corresponding place predetermined by me for the elucidation of this question, to state already now in this first chapter at least something concerning that axiom which has accidentally become known to me, that on Earth in the past it has been usual in every century that every man, in whom there arises the boldness to attain the right to be considered by others and to consider himself a “conscious thinker,” should be informed while still in the early years of his responsible existence that man has in general two kinds of mentation: one kind, mentation by thought, in which words, always possessing a relative sense, are employed; and the other kind, which is proper to all animals as well as to man, which I would call “mentation by form.”

1.15-6

The second kind of mentation, that is, “mentation by form,” by which, strictly speaking, the exact sense of all writing must be also perceived, and after conscious confrontation with information already possessed, be assimilated, is formed in people in dependence upon the conditions of geographical locality, climate, time, and, in general, upon the whole environment in which the arising of the given man has proceeded and in which his existence has flowed up to manhood.

1.16

Accordingly, in the brains of people of different races and conditions dwelling in different geographical localities, there are formed about one and the same thing or even idea, a number of quite independent forms, which during functioning, that is to say, association, evoke in their being some sensation or other which subjectively conditions a definite picturing, and which picturing is expressed by this, that, or the other word, that serves only for its outer subjective expression.

1.16

That is why each word, for the same thing or idea, almost always acquires for people of different geographical locality and race a very definite and entirely different so to say “inner content.”

1.16

In other words, if in the entirety of any man who has arisen and been formed in any locality, from the results of the specific local influences and impressions a certain “form” has been composed, and this form evokes in him by association the sensation of a definite “inner content,” and consequently of a definite picturing or notion for the expression of which he employs one or another word which has eventually become habitual, and as I have said, subjective to him, then the hearer of that word, in whose being, owing to different conditions of his arising and growth, there has been formed concerning the given word a form of a different “inner content,” will always perceive and of course infallibly understand that same word in quite another sense.

1.16-7

This fact, by the way, can with attentive and impartial observation be very clearly established when one is present at an exchange of opinions between persons belonging to two different races or who arose and were formed in different geographical localities.

1.17

And so, cheerful and swaggering candidate for a buyer of my wiseacrings, having warned you that I am going to write not as “professional writers” usually write but quite otherwise, I advise you, before embarking on the reading of my further expositions, to reflect seriously and only then to undertake it. If not, I am afraid for your hearing and other perceptive and also digestive organs which may be already so thoroughly automatized to the “literary language of the intelligentsia” existing in the present period of time on Earth, that the reading of these writings of mine might affect you very, very cacophonously, and from this you might lose your… you know what?… your appetite for your favorite dish and for your psychic specificness which particularly titillates your “inside” and which proceeds in you on seeing your neighbor, the brunette.

1.17

For such a possibility, ensuing from my language, or rather, strictly speaking, from the form of my mentation, I am, thanks to oft-repeated past experiences, already quite as convinced with my whole being as a “thoroughbred donkey” is convinced of the right and justice of his obstinacy.

1.17

Now that I have warned you of what is most important, I am already tranquil about everything further. Even if any misunderstanding should arise on account of my writings, you alone will be entirely to blame, and my conscience will be as clear as for instance… the ex-Kaiser Wilhelm’s.

1.17-8

In all probability you are now thinking that I am, of course, a young man with an auspicious exterior and, as some express it, a “suspicious interior,” and that, as a novice in writing, I am evidently intentionally being eccentric in the hope of becoming famous and thereby rich.

1.18

If you indeed think so, then you are very, very mistaken.

1.18

First of all, I am not young; I have already lived so much that I have been in my life, as it is said, “not only through the mill but through all the grindstones”; and secondly, I am in general not writing so as to make a career for myself, or so as to plant myself, as is said, “firm-footedly,” thanks to this profession, which, I must add, in my opinion provides many openings to become a candidate d-i-r-e-c-t for “Hell”—assuming of course that such people can in general by their Being, perfect themselves even to that extent, for the reason that knowing nothing whatsoever themselves, they write all kinds of “claptrap” and thereby automatically acquiring authority, they become almost one of the chief factors, the totality of which steadily continues year by year, still further to diminish the, without this, already extremely diminished psyche of people.

1.18

And as regards my personal career, then thanks to all forces high and low and, if you like, even right and left, I have actualized it long ago, and have already long been standing on “firm feet” and even maybe on very good feet, and I moreover am certain that their strength is sufficient for many more years, in spite of all my past, present, and future enemies.

1.18-9

Yes, I think you might as well be told also about an idea which has only just arisen in my madcap brain, and namely, specially to request the printer, to whom I shall give my first book, to print this first chapter of my writings in such a way that anybody may read it before cutting the pages of the book itself, whereupon, on learning that it is not written in the usual manner, that is to say, for helping to produce in one’s mentation, very smoothly and easily, exciting images and lulling reveries, he may, if he wishes, without wasting words with the bookseller, return it and get his money back, money perhaps earned by the sweat of his own brow.

1.19

I shall do this without fail, moreover, because I just now again remember the story of what happened to a Transcaucasian Kurd, which story I heard in my quite early youth and which in subsequent years, whenever I recalled it in corresponding cases, engendered in me an enduring and inextinguishable impulse of tenderness. I think it will be very useful for me, and also for you, if I relate this story to you somewhat in detail.

1.19

It will be useful chiefly because I have decided already to make the “salt,” or as contemporary pure-blooded Jewish businessmen would say, the “Tzimus” of this story, one of the basic principles of that new literary form which I intend to employ for the attainment of the aim I am now pursuing by means of this new profession of mine.

1.19

This Transcaucasian Kurd once set out from his village on some business or other to town, and there in the market he saw in a fruiterer’s shop a handsomely arranged display of all kinds of fruit.

1.19

In this display, he noticed one “fruit,” very beautiful in both color and form, and its appearance so took his fancy and he so longed to try it, that in spite of his having scarcely any money, he decided to buy without fail at least one of these gifts of Great Nature, and taste it.

1.19

Then, with intense eagerness, and with a courage not customary to him, he entered the shop and pointing with his horny finger to the “fruit” which had taken his fancy he asked the shopkeeper its price. The shopkeeper replied that a pound of the “fruit” would cost two cents.

1.19

Finding that the price was not at all high for what in his opinion was such a beautiful fruit, our Kurd decided to buy a whole pound.

1.20

Having finished his business in town, he set off again on foot for home the same day.

1.20

Walking at sunset over the hills and dales, and willy-nilly perceiving the exterior visibility of those enchanting parts of the bosom of Great Nature, the Common Mother, and involuntarily inhaling a pure air uncontaminated by the usual exhalations of industrial towns, our Kurd quite naturally suddenly felt a wish to gratify himself with some ordinary food also; so sitting down by the side of the road, he took from his provision bag some bread and the “fruit” he had bought which had looked so good to him, and leisurely began to eat.

1.20

But… horror of horrors!… very soon everything inside him began to burn. But in spite of this he kept on eating.

1.20

And this hapless biped creature of our planet kept on eating, thanks only to that particular human inherency which I mentioned at first, the principle of which I intended, when I decided to use it as the foundation of the new literary form I have created, to make, as it were, a “guiding beacon” leading me to one of my aims in view, and the sense and meaning of which moreover you will, I am sure, soon grasp—of course according to the degree of your comprehension—during the reading of any subsequent chapter of my writings, if, of course, you take the risk and read further, or, it may perhaps be that even at the end of this first chapter you will already “smell” something.

1.20-1

And so, just at the moment when our Kurd was overwhelmed by all the unusual sensations proceeding within him from this strange repast on the bosom of Nature, there came along the same road a fellow villager of his, one reputed by those who knew him to be very clever and experienced; and, seeing that the whole face of the Kurd was aflame, that his eyes were streaming with tears, and that in spite of this, as if intent upon the fulfillment of his most important duty, he was eating real “red pepper pods,” he said to him:

1.21

“What are you doing, you Jericho jackass? You’ll be burnt alive! Stop eating that extraordinary product, so unaccustomed for your nature.”

1.21

But our Kurd replied: “No, for nothing on Earth will I stop. Didn’t I pay my last two cents for them? Even if my soul departs from my body I shall still go on eating.”

1.21

Whereupon our resolute Kurd—it must of course be assumed that he was such—did not stop, but continued eating the “red pepper pods.”

1.21-2

After what you have just perceived, I hope there may already be arising in your mentation a corresponding mental association which should, as a result, effectuate in you, as it sometimes happens to contemporary people, that which you call, in general, understanding, and that in the present case you will understand just why I, well knowing and having many a time commiserated with this human inherency, the inevitable manifestation of which is that if anybody pays money for something, he is bound to use it to the end, was animated in the whole of my entirety with the idea, arisen in my mentation, to take every possible measure in order that you, as is said “my brother in appetite and in spirit”—in the event of your proving to be already accustomed to reading books, though of all kinds, yet nevertheless only those written exclusively in the aforesaid “language of the intelligentsia”—having already paid money for my writings and learning only afterwards that they are not written in the usual convenient and easily read language, should not be compelled as a consequence of the said human inherency, to read my writings through to the end at all costs, as our poor Transcaucasian Kurd was compelled to go on with his eating of what he had fancied for its appearance alone—that “not to be joked with” noble red pepper.

1.22

And so, for the purpose of avoiding any misunderstanding through this inherency, the data for which are formed in the entirety of contemporary man, thanks evidently to his frequenting of the cinema and thanks also to his never missing an opportunity of looking into the left eye of the other sex, I wish that this commencing chapter of mine should be printed in the said manner, so that everyone can read it through without cutting the pages of the book itself.

1.22

Otherwise the bookseller will, as is said, “cavil,” and will without fail again turn out to act in accordance with the basic principle of booksellers in general, formulated by them in the words: “You’ll be more of a simpleton than a fisherman if you let go of the fish which has swallowed the bait,” and will decline to take back a book whose pages you have cut. I have no doubt of this possibility; indeed, I fully expect such lack of conscience on the part of the booksellers.

1.22

And the data for the engendering of my certainty as to this lack of conscience on the part of these booksellers were completely formed in me, when, while I was a professional “Indian Fakir,” I needed, for the complete elucidation of a certain “ultraphilosophical” question also to become familiar, among other things, with the associative process for the manifestation of the automatically constructed psyche of contemporary booksellers and of their salesmen when palming off books on their buyers.

1.22

Knowing all this and having become, since the misfortune which befell me, habitually just and fastidious in the extreme, I cannot help repeating, or rather, I cannot help again warning you, and even imploringly advising you, before beginning to cut the pages of this first book of mine, to read through very attentively, and even more than once, this first chapter of my writings.

1.23

But in the event that notwithstanding this warning of mine, you should, nevertheless, wish to become acquainted with the further contents of my expositions, then there is already nothing else left for me to do but to wish you with all my “genuine soul” a very, very good appetite, and that you may “digest” all that you read, not only for your own health but for the health of all those near you.

1.23

I said “with my genuine soul” because recently living in Europe and coming in frequent contact with people who on every appropriate and inappropriate occasion are fond of taking in vain every sacred name which should belong only to man’s inner life, that is to say, with people who swear to no purpose, I being, as I have already confessed, a follower in general not only of the theoretical—as contemporary people have become—but also of the practical sayings of popular wisdom which have become fixed by the centuries, and therefore of the saying which in the present case corresponds to what is expressed by the words: “When you are in Rome do as Rome does,” decided, in order not to be out of harmony with the custom established here in Europe of swearing in ordinary conversation, and at the same time to act according to the commandment which was enunciated by the holy lips of Saint Moses “not to take the holy names in vain,” to make use of one of those examples of the “newly baked” fashionable languages of the present time, namely English, and so from then on, I began on necessary occasions to swear by my “English soul.”

1.23

The point is that in this fashionable language, the words “soul” and the bottom of your foot, also called “sole,” are pronounced and even written almost alike.

1.23-4

I do not know how it is with you, who are already partly candidate for a buyer of my writings, but my peculiar nature cannot, even with a great mental desire, avoid being indignant at the fact manifested by people of contemporary civilization, that the very highest in man, particularly beloved by our COMMON FATHER CREATOR, can really be named, and indeed very often before even having made clear to oneself what it is, can be understood to be that which is lowest and dirtiest in man.

1.24

Well, enough of “philologizing.” Let us return to the main task of this initial chapter, destined, among other things, on the one hand to stir up the drowsy thoughts in me as well as in the reader, and, on the other, to warn the reader about something.

1.24

And so, I have already composed in my head the plan and sequence of the intended expositions, but what form they will take on paper, I, speaking frankly, myself do not as yet know with my consciousness, but with my subconsciousness I already definitely feel that on the whole it will take the form of something which will be, so to say, “hot,” and will have an effect on the entirety of every reader such as the red pepper pods had on the poor Transcaucasian Kurd.

1.24-5

Now that you have become familiar with the story of our common countryman, the Transcaucasian Kurd, I already consider it my duty to make a confession and hence before continuing this first chapter, which is by way of an introduction to all my further predetermined writings, I wish to bring to the knowledge of what is called your “pure waking consciousness” the fact that in the writings following this chapter of warning I shall expound my thoughts intentionally in such sequence and with such “logical confrontation,” that the essence of certain real notions may of themselves automatically, so to say, go from this “waking consciousness”—which most people in their ignorance mistake for the real consciousness, but which I affirm and experimentally prove is the fictitious one—into what you call the subconscious, which ought to be in my opinion the real human consciousness, and there by themselves mechanically bring about that transformation which should in general proceed in the entirety of a man and give him, from his own conscious mentation, the results he ought to have, which are proper to man and not merely to single- or double-brained animals.

1.25

I decided to do this without fail so that this initial chapter of mine, predetermined as I have already said to awaken your consciousness, should fully justify its purpose, and reaching not only your, in my opinion, as yet only fictitious “consciousness,” but also your real consciousness, that is to say, what you call your subconscious, might, for the first time, compel you to reflect actively.

1.25

In the entirety of every man, irrespective of his heredity and education, there are formed two independent consciousnesses which in their functioning as well as in their manifestations have almost nothing in common. One consciousness is formed from the perception of all kinds of accidental, or on the part of others intentionally produced, mechanical impressions, among which must also be counted the “consonances” of various words which are indeed as is said empty; and the other consciousness is formed from the so to say, “already previously formed material results” transmitted to him by heredity, which have become blended with the corresponding parts of the entirety of a man, as well as from the data arising from his intentional evoking of the associative confrontations of these “materialized data” already in him.

1.25-6

The whole totality of the formation as well as the manifestation of this second human consciousness, which is none other than what is called the “subconscious,” and which is formed from the “materialized results” of heredity and the confrontations actualized by one’s own intentions, should in my opinion, formed by many years of my experimental elucidations during exceptionally favorably arranged conditions, predominate in the common presence of a man.

1.26

As a result of this conviction of mine which as yet doubtlessly seems to you the fruit of the fantasies of an afflicted mind, I cannot now, as you yourself see, disregard this second consciousness and, compelled by my essence, am obliged to construct the general exposition even of this first chapter of my writings, namely, the chapter which should be the preface for everything further, calculating that it should reach and, in the manner required for my aim, “ruffle” the perceptions accumulated in both these consciousnesses of yours.

1.26

Continuing my expositions with this calculation, I must first of all inform your fictitious consciousness that, thanks to three definite peculiar data which were crystallized in my entirety during various periods of my preparatory age, I am really unique in respect of the so to say “muddling and befuddling” of all the notions and convictions supposedly firmly fixed in the entirety of people with whom I come in contact.

1.26

Tut! Tut! Tut!… I already feel that in your “false”—but according to you “real”—consciousness, there are beginning to be agitated, like “blinded flies,” all the chief data transmitted to you by heredity from your uncle and mother, the totality of which data, always and in everything, at least engenders in you the impulse—nevertheless extremely good—of curiosity, as in the given case, to find out as quickly as possible why I, that is to say, a novice at writing, whose name has not even once been mentioned in the newspapers, have suddenly become so unique.

1.26-7

Never mind! I personally am very pleased with the arising of this curiosity even though only in your “false” consciousness, as I already know from experience that this impulse unworthy of man can sometimes even pass from this consciousness into one’s nature and become a worthy impulse—the impulse of the desire for knowledge, which, in its turn, assists the better perception and even the closer understanding of the essence of any object on which, as it sometimes happens, the attention of a contemporary man might be concentrated, and therefore I am even willing, with pleasure, to satisfy this curiosity which has arisen in you at the present moment.

Now listen and try to justify, and not to disappoint, my expectations. This original personality of mine, already “smelled out” by certain definite individuals from both choirs of the Judgment Seat Above, whence Objective justice proceeds, and also here on Earth, by as yet a very limited number of people, is based, as I already said, on three secondary specific data formed in me at different times during my preparatory age. The first of these data, from the very beginning of its arising, became as it were the chief directing lever of my entire wholeness, and the other two, the “vivifying-sources,” as it were, for the feeding and perfecting of this first datum.

1.27

The arising of this first datum proceeded when I was still only, as is said, a “chubby mite.” My dear now deceased grandmother was then still living and was a hundred and some years old.

1.27

When my grandmother—may she attain the kingdom of Heaven—was dying, my mother, as was then the custom, took me to her bedside, and as I kissed her right hand, my dear now deceased grandmother placed her dying left hand on my head and in a whisper, yet very distinctly, said:

1.27

“Eldest of my grandsons! Listen and always remember my strict injunction to you: In life never do as others do.”

1.27

Having said this, she gazed at the bridge of my nose and evidently noticing my perplexity and my obscure understanding of what she had said, added somewhat angrily and imposingly:

1.28

“Either do nothing—just go to school—or do something nobody else does.”

1.28

Whereupon she immediately, without hesitation, and with a perceptible impulse of disdain for all around her, and with commendable self-cognizance, gave up her soul directly into the hands of His Truthfulness, the Archangel Gabriel.

1.28

I think it will be interesting and even instructive to you to know that all this made so powerful an impression on me at that time that I suddenly became unable to endure anyone around me, and therefore, as soon as we left the room where the mortal “planetary body” of the cause of the cause of my arising lay, I very quietly, trying not to attract attention, stole away to the pit where during Lent the bran and potato skins for our “sanitarians,” that is to say, our pigs, were stored, and lay there, without food or drink, in a tempest of whirling and confused thoughts—of which, fortunately for me, I had then in my childish brain still only a very limited number—right until the return from the cemetery of my mother, whose weeping on finding me gone and after searching for me in vain, as it were “overwhelmed” me. I then immediately emerged from the pit and standing first of all on the edge, for some reason or other with outstretched hand, ran to her and clinging fast to her skirts, involuntarily began to stamp my feet and why, I don’t know, to imitate the braying of the donkey belonging to our neighbor, a bailiff.

1.28

Why this produced such a strong impression on me just then, and why I almost automatically manifested so strangely, I cannot until now make out; though during recent years, particularly on the days called “Shrovetide,” I pondered a good deal, trying chiefly to discover the reason for it.

1.28-9

I then had only the logical supposition that it was perhaps only because the room in which this sacred scene occurred, which was to have tremendous significance for the whole of my further life, was permeated through and through with the scent of a special incense brought from the monastery of “Old Athos” and very popular among followers of every shade of belief of the Christian religion. Whatever it may have been, this fact still now remains a bare fact.

1.29

During the days following this event, nothing particular happened in my general state, unless there might be connected with it the fact that during these days, I walked more often than usual with my feet in the air, that is to say, on my hands.

1.29

My first act, obviously in discordance with the manifestations of others, though truly without the participation not only of my consciousness but also of my subconsciousness, occurred on exactly the fortieth day after the death of my grandmother, when all our family, our relatives and all those by whom my dear grandmother, who was loved by everybody, had been held in esteem, gathered in the cemetery according to custom, to perform over her mortal remains, reposing in the grave, what is called the “requiem service,” when suddenly without any rhyme or reason, instead of observing what was conventional among people of all degrees of tangible and intangible morality and of all material positions, that is to say, instead of standing quietly as if overwhelmed, with an expression of grief on one’s face and even if possible with tears in one’s eyes, I started skipping round the grave as if dancing, and sang:

“Let her with the saints repose,
Now that she’s turned up her toes,
Oi! oi! oi!
Let her with the saints repose,
Now that she’s turned up her toes.”

… and so on and so forth.

1.30

And just from this it began, that in my entirety a “something” arose which in respect of any kind of so to say “aping,” that is to say, imitating the ordinary automatized manifestations of those around me, always and in everything engendered what I should now call an “irresistible urge” to do things not as others do them.

1.30

At that age I committed acts such as the following.

If for example when learning to catch a ball with the right hand, my brother, sisters and the neighbors’ children who came to play with us, threw the ball in the air, I, with the same aim in view, would first bounce the ball hard on the ground, and only when it rebounded would I, first doing a somersault, catch it, and then only with the thumb and middle finger of the left hand; or if all the other children slid down the hill head first, I tried to do it, and moreover each time better and better, as the children then called it, “backside-first”; or if we children were given various kinds of what are called “Abaranian pastries,” then all the other children, before putting them in their mouths, would first of all lick them, evidently to try their taste and to protract the pleasure, but… I would first sniff one on all sides and perhaps even put it to my ear and listen intently, and then though only almost unconsciously, yet nevertheless seriously, muttering to myself “so and so and so you must, do not eat until you bust,” and rhythmically humming correspondingly, I would only take one bite and without savoring it, would swallow it—and so on and so forth.

1.30-1

The first event during which there arose in me one of the two mentioned data which became the “vivifying sources” for the feeding and perfecting of the injunction of my deceased grandmother, occurred just at that age when I changed from a chubby mite into what is called a “young rascal” and had already begun to be, as is sometimes said, a “candidate for a young man of pleasing appearance and dubious content.”

1.31

And this event occurred under the following circumstances which were perhaps even specially combined by Fate itself.

1.31

With a number of young rascals like myself, I was once laying snares for pigeons on the roof of a neighbor’s house, when suddenly, one of the boys who was standing over me and watching me closely, said:

1.31

“I think the noose of the horsehair ought to be so arranged that the pigeon’s big toe never gets caught in it, because, as our zoology teacher recently explained to us, during movement it is just in that toe that the pigeon’s reserve strength is concentrated, and therefore if this big toe gets caught in the noose, the pigeon might of course easily break it.”

1.31

Another boy, leaning just opposite me, from whose mouth, by the way, whenever he spoke saliva always splashed abundantly in all directions, snapped at this remark of the first boy and delivered himself, with a copious quantity of saliva, of the following words:

1.31-2

“Shut your trap, you hopeless mongrel offshoot of the Hottentots! What an abortion you are, just like your teacher! Suppose it is true that the greatest physical force of the pigeon is concentrated in that big toe, then all the more, what we’ve got to do is to see that just that toe will be caught in the noose. Only then will there be any sense to our aim—that is to say, for catching these unfortunate pigeon creatures—in that brain-particularity proper to all possessors of that soft and slippery ‘something’ which consists in this, that when, thanks to other actions, from which its insignificant manifestability depends, there arises a periodic requisite law-conformable what is called ‘change of presence,’ then this small so to say ‘law-conformable confusion’ which should proceed for the animation of other acts in its general functioning, immediately enables the center of gravity of the whole functioning, in which this slippery ‘something’ plays a very small part, to pass temporarily from its usual place to another place, owing to which there often obtains in the whole of this general functioning, unexpected results ridiculous to the point of absurdity.”

1.32

He discharged the last words with such a shower of saliva that it was as if my face were exposed to the action of an “atomizer”—not of “Ersatz” production—invented by the Germans for dyeing material with aniline dyes.

1.32

This was more than I could endure, and without changing my squatting position, I flung myself at him, and my head, hitting him with full force in the pit of his stomach, immediately laid him out and made him as is is said “lose consciousness.”

1.32

I do not know and do not wish to know in what spirit the result will be formed in your mentation of the information about the extraordinary coincidence, in my opinion, of life circumstances, which I now intend to describe here, though for my mentation, this coincidence was excellent material for the assurance of the possibility of the fact that this event described by me, which occurred in my youth, proceeded not simply accidentally but was intentionally created by certain extraneous forces.

1.32

The point is that this dexterity was thoroughly taught me only a few days before this event by a Greek priest from Turkey, who, persecuted by Turks for his political convictions, had been compelled to flee from there, and having arrived in our town had been hired by my parents as a teacher for me of the modern Greek language.

1.32-3

I do not know on which data he based his political convictions and ideas, but I very well remember that in all the conversations of this Greek priest, even while explaining to me the difference between the words of exclamation in ancient and in modern Greek, there were indeed always very clearly discernible his dreams of getting as soon as possible to the island of Crete and there manifesting himself as befits a true patriot.

1.33

Well, then, on beholding the effect of my skill, I was, I must confess, extremely frightened, because, knowing nothing of any such reaction from a blow in that place, I quite thought I had killed him.

1.33

At the moment I was experiencing this fear, another boy, the cousin of him who had become the first victim of my so to say “skill in self-defense,” seeing this, without a moment’s pause, and obviously overcome with a feeling called “consanguinity,” immediately leaped at me and with a full swing struck me in the face with his fist.

1.33

From this blow, I, as is said, “saw stars,” and at the same time my mouth became as full as if it had been stuffed with the food necessary for the artificial fattening of a thousand chickens.

1.33

After a little time when both these strange sensations had calmed down within me, I then actually discovered that some foreign substance was in my mouth, and when I pulled it out with my fingers, it turned out to be nothing less than a tooth of large dimensions and strange form.

1.33

Seeing me staring at this extraordinary tooth, all the boys swarmed around me and also began to stare at it with great curiosity and in a strange silence.

By this time the boy who had been laid out flat recovered and, picking himself up, also began to stare at my tooth with the other boys, as if nothing had happened to him.

1.33

This strange tooth had seven shoots and at the end of each of them there stood out in relief a drop of blood, and through each separate drop there shone clearly and definitely one of the seven aspects of the manifestation of the white ray.

1.34

After this silence, unusual for us “young rascals,” the usual hubbub broke out again, and in this hubbub it was decided to go immediately to the barber, a specialist in extracting teeth, and to ask him just why this tooth was like that.

1.34

So we all climbed down from the roof and went off to the barber’s. And I, as the “hero of the day,” stalked at the head of them all.

1.34

The barber, after a casual glance, said it was simply a “wisdom tooth” and that all those of the male sex have one like it, who until they first exclaim “papa” and “mamma” are fed on milk exclusively from their own mother, and who on first sight are able to distinguish among many other faces the face of their own father.

1.34-5

As a result of the whole totality of the effects of this happening, at which time my poor “wisdom tooth” became a complete sacrifice, not only did my consciousness begin, from that time on, constantly absorbing, in connection with everything, the very essence of the essence of my deceased grandmother’s behest—God bless her soul—but also in me at that time, because I did not go to a “qualified dentist” to have the cavity of this tooth of mine treated, which as a matter of fact I could not do because our home was too far from any contemporary center of culture, there began to ooze chronically from this cavity a “something” which—as it was only recently explained to me by a very famous meteorologist with whom I chanced to become, as is said, “bosom friends” owing to frequent meetings in the Parisian night restaurants of Montmartre—had the property of arousing an interest in, and a tendency to seek out the causes of the arising of every suspicious “actual fact”; and this property, not transmitted to my entirety by heredity, gradually and automatically led to my ultimately becoming a specialist in the investigation of every suspicious phenomenon which, as it so often happened, came my way.

1.35

This property newly formed in me after this event—when I, of course with the co-operation of our ALL-COMMON MASTER THE MERCILESS HEROPASS, that is the “flow of time,” was transformed into the young man already depicted by me—became for me a real inextinguishable hearth, always burning, of consciousness.

1.35

The second of the mentioned vivifying factors, this time for the complete fusion of my dear grandmother’s injunction with all the data constituting my general individuality, was the totality of impressions received from information I chanced to acquire concerning the event which took place here among us on Earth, showing the origin of that “principle” which, as it turned out according to the elucidations of Mr. Alan Kardec during an “absolutely secret” spiritualistic seance, subsequently became everywhere among beings similar to ourselves, arising and existing on all the other planets of our Great Universe, one of the chief “life principles.”

1.35

The formulation in words of this new “all-universal principle of living” is as follows:

1.35

“If you go on a spree then go the whole hog including the postage.”

1.35

As this “principle,” now already universal, arose on that same planet on which you too arose and on which, moreover, you exist almost always on a bed of roses and frequently dance the fox trot, I consider I have no right to withhold from you the information known to me, elucidating certain details of the arising of just that universal principle.

1.35-6

Soon after the definite inculcation into my nature of the said new inherency, that is, the unaccountable striving to elucidate the real reasons for the arising of all sorts of “actual facts,” on my first arrival in the heart of Russia, the city of Moscow, where, finding nothing else for the satisfaction of my psychic needs, I occupied myself with the investigation of Russian legends and sayings, I once happened—whether accidentally or as a result of some objective sequence according to a law I do not know—to learn by the way the following:

Once upon a time a certain Russian, who in external appearance was to those around him a simple merchant, had to go from his provincial town on some business or other to this second capital of Russia, the city of Moscow, and his son, his favorite one—because he resembled only his mother—asked him to bring back a certain book.

1.36

When this great unconscious author of the “all-universal principle of living” arrived in Moscow, he together with a friend of his became—as was and still is usual there—“blind drunk” on genuine “Russian vodka.”

1.36

And when these two inhabitants of this most great contemporary grouping of biped breathing creatures had drunk the proper number of glasses of this “Russian blessing” and were discussing what is called “public education,” with which question it has long been customary always to begin one’s conversation, then our merchant suddenly remembered by association his dear son’s request, and decided to set off at once to a bookshop with his friend to buy the book.

1.36

In the shop, the merchant, looking through the book he had asked for and which the salesman handed him, asked its price.

1.36

The salesman replied that the book was sixty kopecks.

1.36-7

Noticing that the price marked on the cover of the book was only forty-five kopecks, our merchant first began pondering in a strange manner, in general unusual for Russians, and afterwards, making a certain movement with his shoulders, straightening himself up almost like a pillar and throwing out his chest like an officer of the guards, said after a little pause, very quietly but with an intonation in his voice expressing great authority:

1.37

“But it is marked here forty-five kopecks. Why do you ask sixty?”

1.37

Thereupon the salesman, making as is said the “oleaginous” face proper to all salesmen, replied that the book indeed cost only forty-five kopecks, but had to be sold at sixty because fifteen kopecks were added for postage.

1.37

After this reply to our Russian merchant who was perplexed by these two quite contradictory but obviously clearly reconcilable facts, it was visible that something began to proceed in him, and gazing up at the ceiling, he again pondered, this time like an English professor who has invented a capsule for castor oil, and then suddenly turned to his friend and delivered himself for the first time on Earth of the verbal formulation which, expressing in its essence an indubitable objective truth, has since assumed the character of a saying.

1.37

And he then put it to his friend as follows:

1.37

“Never mind, old fellow, we’ll take the book. Anyway we’re on a spree today, and ‘if you go on a spree then go the whole hog including the postage.’”

1.37

As for me, unfortunately doomed, while still living, to experience the delights of “Hell,” as soon as I had cognized all this, something very strange, that I have never experienced before or since, immediately began, and for a rather long time continued to proceed in me; it was as if all kinds of, as contemporary “Hivintzes” say, “competitive races” began to proceed in me between all the various-sourced associations and experiences usually occurring in me.

1.37-9

At the same time, in the whole region of my spine there began a strong almost unbearable itch, and a colic in the very center of my solar plexus, also unbearable, and all this, that is these dual, mutually stimulating sensations, after the lapse of some time suddenly were replaced by such a peaceful inner condition as I experienced in later life once only, when the ceremony of the great initiation into the Brotherhood of the “Originators of making butter from air” was performed over me; and later when “I,” that is, this “something-unknown” of mine, which in ancient times one crank—called by those around him, as we now also call such persons, a “learned man”—defined as a “relatively transferable arising, depending on the quality of the functioning of thought, feeling, and organic automatism,” and according to the definition of another also ancient and renowned learned man, the Arabian Mal-el-Lel, which definition by the way was in the course of time borrowed and repeated in a different way by a no less renowned and learned Greek, Xenophon, “the compound result of consciousness, subconsciousness, and instinct”; so when this same “I” in this condition turned my dazed attention inside myself, then firstly it very clearly constated that everything, even to each single word, elucidating this quotation that has become an “all-universal life principle” became transformed in me into some special cosmic substance, and merging with the data already crystallized in me long before from the behest of my deceased grandmother, changed these data into a “something” and this “something” flowing everywhere through my entirety settled forever in each atom composing this entirety of mine, and secondly, this my ill-fated “I” there and then definitely felt and, with an impulse of submission, became conscious of this, for me, sad fact, that already from that moment I should willy-nilly have to manifest myself always and in everything without exception, according to this inherency formed in me, not in accordance with the laws of heredity, nor even by the influence of surrounding circumstances, but arising in my entirety under the influence of three external accidental causes, having nothing in common, namely: thanks in the first place to the behest of a person who had become, without the slightest desire on my part, a passive cause of the cause of my arising; secondly, on account of a tooth of mine knocked out by some ragamuffin of a boy, mainly on account of somebody else’s “slobberiness”; and thirdly, thanks to the verbal formulation delivered in a drunken state by a person quite alien to me—some merchant of “Moscovite brand.”

1.39

If before my acquaintance with this “all-universal principle of living” I had actualized all manifestations differently from other biped animals similar to me, arising and vegetating with me on one and the same planet, then I did so automatically, and sometimes only half consciously, but after this event I began to do so consciously and moreover with an instinctive sensation of the two blended impulses of self-satisfaction and self-cognizance in correctly and honorably fulfilling my duty to Great Nature.

1.39-40

It must even be emphasized that although even before this event I already did everything not as others did, yet my manifestations were hardly thrust before the eyes of my fellow countrymen around me, but from the moment when the essence of this principle of living was assimilated in my nature, then on the one hand all my manifestations, those intentional for any aim and also those simply, as is said, “occurring out of sheer idleness,” acquired vivifyingness and began to assist in the formation of “corns” on the organs of perception of every creature similar to me without exception who directed his attention directly or indirectly toward my actions, and on the other hand, I myself began to carry out all these actions of mine in accordance with the injunctions of my deceased grandmother to the utmost possible limits; and the practice was automatically acquired in me on beginning anything new and also at any change, of course on a large scale, always to utter silently or aloud:

1.40

“If you go on a spree then go the whole hog including the postage.”

1.40

And now, for instance, in the present case also, since, owing to causes not dependent on me, but flowing from the strange and accidental circumstances of my life, I happen to be writing books, I am compelled to do this also in accordance with that same principle which has gradually become definite through various extraordinary combinations created by life itself, and which has blended with each atom of my entirety.

1.40

This psycho-organic principle of mine I shall this time begin to actualize not by following the practice of all writers, established from the remote past down to the present, of taking as the theme of their various writings the events which have supposedly taken place, or are taking place, on Earth, but shall take instead as the scale of events for my writings—the whole Universe. Thus in the present case also, “If you take then take!”—that is to say, “If you go on a spree then go the whole hog including the postage.”

1.40

Any writer can write within the scale of the Earth, but I am not any writer.

1.40-1

Can I confine myself merely to this, in the objective sense, “paltry Earth” of ours? To do this, that is to say, to take for my writings the same themes as in general other writers do, I must not, even if only because what our learned spirits affirm might suddenly indeed prove true; and my grandmother might learn of this; and do you understand what might happen to her, to my dear beloved grandmother? Would she not turn in her grave, not once, as is usually said, but—as I understand her, especially now when I can already quite “skillfully” enter into the position of another—she would turn so many times that she would almost be transformed into an “Irish weathercock.”

1.41

Please, reader, do not worry… I shall of course also write of the Earth, but with such an impartial attitude that this comparatively small planet itself and also everything on it shall correspond to that place which in fact it occupies and which, even according to your own sane logic, arrived at thanks of course to my guidance, it must occupy in our Great Universe.

1.41

I must, of course, also make the various what are called “heroes” of these writings of mine not such types as those which in general the writers of all ranks and epochs on Earth have drawn and exalted, that is to say, types such as any Tom, Dick, or Harry, who arise through a misunderstanding, and who fail to acquire during the process of their formation up to what is called “responsible life,” anything at all which it is proper for an arising in the image of God, that is to say a man, to have, and who progressively develop in themselves to their last breath only such various charms as for instance: “lasciviousness,” “slobberiness,” “amorousness,” “maliciousness,” “chicken-heartedness,” “enviousness,” and similar vices unworthy of man.

1.41

I intend to introduce in my writings heroes of such type as everybody must, as is said, “willy-nilly” sense with his whole being as real, and about whom in every reader data must inevitably be crystallized for the notion that they are indeed “somebody” and not merely “just anybody.”

1.41-2

During the last weeks, while lying in bed, my body quite sick, I mentally drafted a summary of my future writings and thought out the form and sequence of their exposition, and I decided to make the chief hero of the first series of my writings… do you know whom?… the Great Beelzebub Himself—even in spite of the fact that this choice of mine might from the very beginning evoke in the mentation of most of my readers such mental associations as must engender in them all kinds of automatic contradictory impulses from the action of that totality of data infallibly formed in the psyche of people owing to all the established abnormal conditions of our external life, which data are in general crystallized in people owing to the famous what is called “religious morality” existing and rooted in their life, and in them, consequently, there must inevitably be formed data for an inexplicable hostility towards me personally.

1.42

But do you know what, reader?

1.42

In case you decide, despite this Warning, to risk continuing to familiarize yourself with my further writings, and you try to absorb them always with an impulse of impartiality and to understand the very essence of the questions I have decided to elucidate, and in view also of the particularity inherent in the human psyche, that there can be no opposition to the perception of good only exclusively when so to say a “contact of mutual frankness and confidence” is established, I now still wish to make a sincere confession to you about the associations arisen within me which as a result have precipitated in the corresponding sphere of my consciousness the data which have prompted the whole of my individuality to select as the chief hero for my writings just such an individual as is presented before your inner eyes by this same Mr. Beelzebub.

1.42

This I did, not without cunning. My cunning lies simply in the logical supposition that if I show him this attention he infallibly—as I already cannot doubt any more—has to show himself grateful and help me by all means in his command in my intended writings.

1.42-3

Although Mr. Beelzebub is made, as is said, “of a different grain,” yet, since He also can think, and, what is most important, has—as I long ago learned, thanks to the treatise of the famous Catholic monk, Brother Foolon—a curly tail, then I, being thoroughly convinced from experience that curls are never natural but can be obtained only from various intentional manipulations, conclude, according to the “sane-logic” of hieromancy formed in my consciousness from reading books, that Mr. Beelzebub also must possess a good share of vanity, and will therefore find it extremely inconvenient not to help one who is going to advertise His name.

1.43

It is not for nothing that our renowned and incomparable teacher, Mullah Nassr Eddin, frequently says:

1.43

“Without greasing the palm not only is it impossible to live anywhere tolerably but even to breathe.”

1.43

And another also terrestrial sage, who has become such, thanks to the crass stupidity of people, named Till Eulenspiegel, has expressed the same in the following words:

1.43

“If you don’t grease the wheels the cart won’t go.”

1.43

Knowing these and many other sayings of popular wisdom formed by centuries in the collective life of people, I have decided to “grease the palm” precisely of Mr. Beelzebub, who, as everyone understands, has possibilities and knowledge enough and to spare for everything.

1.43

Enough, old fellow! All joking even philosophical joking aside, you, it seems, thanks to all these deviations, have transgressed one of the chief principles elaborated in you and put in the basis of a system planned previously for introducing your dreams into life by means of such a new profession, which principle consists in this, always to remember and take into account the fact of the weakening of the functioning of the mentation of the contemporary reader and not to fatigue him with the perception of numerous ideas over a short time.

1.43-4

Moreover, when I asked one of the people always around me who are “eager to enter Paradise without fail with their boots on,” to read aloud straight through all that I have written in this introductory chapter, what is called my “I”—of course, with the participation of all the definite data formed in my original psyche during my past years, which data gave me among other things understanding of the psyche of creatures of different type but similar to me—constated and cognized with certainty that in the entirety of every reader without exception there must inevitably, thanks to this first chapter alone, arise a “something” automatically engendering definite unfriendliness towards me personally.

1.44

To tell the truth, it is not this which is now chiefly worrying me, but the fact that at the end of this reading I also constated that in the sum total of everything expounded in this chapter, the whole of my entirety in which the aforesaid “I” plays a very small part, manifested itself quite contrary to one of the fundamental commandments of that All-Common Teacher whom I particularly esteem, Mullah Nassr Eddin, and which he formulated in the words: “Never poke your stick into a hornets’ nest.”

1.44-5

The agitation which pervaded the whole system affecting my feelings, and which resulted from cognizing that in the reader there must necessarily arise an unfriendly feeling towards me, at once quieted down as soon as I remembered the ancient Russian proverb which states: “There is no offence which with time will not blow over.”

But the agitation which arose in my system from realizing my negligence in obeying the commandment of Mullah Nassr Eddin, not only now seriously troubles me, but a very strange process, which began in both of my recently discovered “souls” and which assumed the form of an unusual itching immediately I understood this, began progressively to increase until it now evokes and produces an almost intolerable pain in the region a little below the right half of my already, without this, overexercised “solar plexus.”

1.45

Wait! Wait!… This process, it seems, is also ceasing, and in all the depths of my consciousness, and let us meanwhile say “even beneath my subconsciousness,” there already begins to arise everything requisite for the complete assurance that it will entirely cease, because I have remembered another fragment of life wisdom, the thought of which led my mentation to the reflection that if I indeed acted against the advice of the highly esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin, I nevertheless acted without premeditation according to the principle of that extremely sympathetic—not so well known everywhere on earth, but never forgotten by all who have once met him—that precious jewel, Karapet of Tiflis.

1.45

It can’t be helped…. Now that this introductory chapter of mine has turned out to be so long, it will not matter if I lengthen it a little more to tell you also about this extremely sympathetic Karapet of Tiflis.

1.45

First of all I must state that twenty or twenty-five years ago, the Tiflis railway station had a “steam whistle.”

1.45

It was blown every morning to wake the railway workers and station hands, and as the Tiflis station stood on a hill, this whistle was heard almost all over the town and woke up not only the railway workers, but the inhabitants of the town of Tiflis itself.

1.45

The Tiflis local government, as I recall it, even entered into a correspondence with the railway authorities about the disturbance of the morning sleep of the peaceful citizens.

1.45

To release the steam into the whistle every morning was the job of this same Karapet who was employed in the station.

1.45-6

So when he would come in the morning to the rope with which he released the steam for the whistle, he would, before taking hold of the rope and pulling it, wave his hand in all directions and solemnly, like a Mohammedan mullah from a minaret, loudly cry:

1.46

“Your mother is a——, your father is a——, your grandfather is more than a——; may your eyes, ears, nose, spleen, liver, corns…” and so on; in short, he pronounced in various keys all the curses he knew, and not until he had done so would he pull the rope.

1.46

When I heard about this Karapet and of this practice of his, I visited him one evening after the day’s work, with a small boordook of Kahketeenian wine, and after performing this indispensable local solemn “toasting ritual,” I asked him, of course in a suitable form and also according to the local complex of “amenities” established for mutual relationship, why he did this.

1.46

Having emptied his glass at a draught and having once sung the famous Georgian song, “Little did we tipple,” inevitably sung when drinking, he leisurely began to answer as follows:

1.46

“As you drink wine not as people do today, that is to say, not merely for appearances but in fact honestly, then this already shows me that you do not wish to know about this practice of mine out of curiosity, like our engineers and technicians, but really owing to your desire for knowledge, and therefore I wish, and even consider it my duty, sincerely to confess to you the exact reason of these inner, so to say, ‘scrupulous considerations’ of mine, which led me to this, and which little by little instilled in me such a habit.”

1.46

He then related the following:

1.46-7

“Formerly I used to work in this station at night cleaning the steam boilers, but when this steam whistle was brought here, the stationmaster, evidently considering my age and incapacity for the heavy work I was doing, ordered me to occupy myself only with releasing the steam into the whistle, for which I had to arrive punctually every morning and evening.

1.47

“The first week of this new service, I once noticed that after performing this duty of mine, I felt for an hour or two vaguely ill at ease. But when this strange feeling, increasing day by day, ultimately became a definite instinctive uneasiness from which even my appetite for ‘Makhokh’ disappeared, I began from then on always to think and think in order to find out the cause of this. I thought about it all particularly intensely for some reason or other while going to and coming from my work, but however hard I tried I could make nothing whatsoever, even approximately, clear to myself.

1.47

“It thus continued for almost two years and, finally, when the calluses on my palms had become quite hard from the rope of the steam whistle, I quite accidentally and suddenly understood why I experienced this uneasiness.

1.47

“The shock for my correct understanding, as a result of which there was formed in me concerning this an unshakable conviction, was a certain exclamation I accidentally heard under the following, rather peculiar, circumstances.

1.47

“One morning when I had not had enough sleep, having spent the first half of the night at the christening of my neighbor’s ninth daughter and the other half in reading a very interesting and rare book I had by chance obtained and which was entitled Dreams and Witchcraft, as I was hurrying on my way to release the steam, I suddenly saw at the corner a barber-surgeon I knew, belonging to the local government service, who beckoned me to stop.

1.47-8

“The duty of this barber-surgeon friend of mine consisted in going at a certain time through the town accompanied by an assistant with a specially constructed carriage and seizing all the stray dogs whose collars were without the metal plates distributed by the local authorities on payment of the tax and taking these dogs to the municipal slaughterhouse where they were kept for two weeks at municipal expense, feeding on the slaughterhouse offal; if, on the expiration of this period, the owners of the dogs had not claimed them and paid the established tax, then these dogs were, with a certain solemnity, driven down a certain passageway which led directly to a specially built oven.

1.48

“After a short time, from the other end of this famous salutary oven, there flowed, with a delightful gurgling sound, a definite quantity of pellucid and ideally clean fat to the profit of the fathers of our town for the manufacture of soap and also perhaps of something else, and, with a purling sound, no less delightful to the ear, there poured out also a fair quantity of very useful substance for fertilizing.

1.48

“This barber-surgeon friend of mine proceeded in the following simple and admirably skillful manner to catch the dogs.

1.48

“He somewhere obtained a large, old, and ordinary fishing net, which, during these peculiar excursions of his for the general human welfare through the slums of our town, he carried, arranged in a suitable manner on his strong shoulders, and when a dog without its ‘passport’ came within the sphere of his all-seeing and, for all the canine species, terrible eye, he without haste and with the softness of a panther, would steal up closely to it and seizing a favorable moment when the dog was interested and attracted by something it noticed, cast his net on it and quickly entangled it, and later, rolling up the carriage, he disentangled the dog in such a way that it found itself in the cage attached to the carriage.

1.48-9

“Just when my friend the barber-surgeon beckoned me to stop, he was aiming to throw his net, at the opportune moment, at his next victim, which at that moment was standing wagging his tail and looking at a bitch. My friend was just about to throw his net, when suddenly the bells of a neighboring church rang out, calling the people to early morning prayers. At such an unexpected ringing in the morning quiet, the dog took fright and springing aside flew off like a shot down the empty street at his full canine velocity.

1.49

“Then the barber-surgeon so infuriated by this that his hair, even beneath his armpits, stood on end, flung his net on the pavement and spitting over his left shoulder, loudly exclaimed:

1.49

“‘Oh, Hell! What a time to ring!’

1.49

“As soon as the exclamation of the barber-surgeon reached my reflecting apparatus, there began to swarm in it various thoughts which ultimately led, in my view, to the correct understanding of just why there proceeded in me the aforesaid instinctive uneasiness.

1.49

“The first moment after I had understood this there even arose a feeling of being offended at myself that such a simple and clear thought had not entered my head before.

1.49

“I sensed with the whole of my being that my effect on the general life could produce no other result than that process which had all along proceeded in me.

1.49

“And indeed, everyone awakened by the noise I make with the steam whistle, which disturbs his sweet morning slumbers, must without doubt curse me ‘by everything under the sun,’ just me, the cause of this hellish row, and thanks to this, there must of course certainly flow towards my person from all directions, vibrations of all kinds of malice.

1.49-50

“On that significant morning, when, after performing my duties, I, in my customary mood of depression, was sitting in a neighboring ‘Dukhan’ and eating ‘Hachi’ with garlic, I, continuing to ponder, came to the conclusion that if I should curse beforehand all those to whom my service for the benefit of certain among them might seem disturbing, then, according to the explanation of the book I had read the night before, however much all those, as they might be called, ‘who lie in the sphere of idiocy,’ that is, between sleep and drowsiness, might curse me, it would have—as explained in that same book—no effect on me at all.

1.50

“And in fact, since I began to do so, I no longer feel the said instinctive uneasiness.”

1.50

Well, now, patient reader, I must really conclude this opening chapter. It has now only to be signed.

1.50

He who…

1.50

Stop! Misunderstanding formation! With a signature there must be no joking, otherwise the same will be done to you as once before in one of the empires of Central Europe, when you were made to pay ten years’ rent for a house you occupied only for three months, merely because you had set your hand to a paper undertaking to renew the contract for the house each year.

1.50

Of course after this and still other instances from life experience, I must in any case in respect of my own signature, be very, very careful.

1.50

Very well then.

1.50

He who in childhood was called “Tatakh”; in early youth “Darky”; later the “Black Greek”; in middle age, the “Tiger of Turkestan”; and now, not just anybody, but the genuine “Monsieur” or “Mister” Gurdjieff, or the nephew of “Prince Mukransky,” or finally, simply a “Teacher of Dancing.”

1.50

1 Cheshma means veil.