We present here three excerpts from Gibaydulina's drafts of Spiritual Movements of the Future. These three movements-the Conscience-keepers, Foam-brewers, and Gift-givers-are characteristic of the three primary positive transformations of Gibaydulina's negative atheistic patterns:
1) Humanism: conscience as the principle of moral self-regulation, in contrast to religious belief where human behavior is regulated by an external supernatural force;
2) Materialism: a poetic vision of matter in its spiritual-symbolic density and richness, in contrast to the abstract, diluted visions of idealism;
3) Communitarianism, with donatism as its manifestation: gift-giving as the mode of creative and individual exchange in contrast to the market-inspired "circulation of commodities."
CONSCIENCE-KEEPERS. A spiritual movement bearing witness to "the call of conscience." "Conscience is neither religious nor atheistic; it is prior to this distinction. In some epochs, conscience moves people to religion, in others-to atheism. It is against conscience to live by the belly alone, but it is also against conscience to give God the responsibility for improving human life. Conscience is what moves people, prevents them from coming to rest either in bodily satisfaction or in passive prayerfulness." (Yu.M., "The Tribunal of Conscience")
The Conscience-keepers disagree with both the Social-Moralists and the Existential-Moralists about the nature of morality. "Conscience is not merely the right of free choice, but the responsibility for it before all of mankind. Existentialism claims the sovereignty of the individual above the masses, as represented by Sartre's saying, 'Hell is other people.' But, in truth, the 'masses' are present within each individual. The voice of conscience is 'the others' in me, all of mankind within a single man." (S.V., "Mass Existentialism")
One branch of the Conscience-keepers is called Chekhovism. This is an authentically atheistic (as opposed to antitheistic) worldview that gives supreme importance to the concept of "decency." As D.Sh. puts it in "The Ordinary Ones of This World": "Not to deceive, not to betray, not to lie, not to pretend . . . This is the whole basis of all values. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are far too insistent and grandiose, always addressing us either in a scream or a beyond-the-grave whisper. Pushkin's voice rings clear, of course, but it's somehow too smooth and harmonious. The real ideal is Chekhov, precisely because he was afraid of all ideals and couldn't endure the very word 'ideal.' It's in Chekhov that we can recognize the true measure of man: neither a god nor a slave, neither a king nor a servant, but simply himself, simply a human being. It is said that 'Man is the measure of all things,' but what is the measure of man himself? Ordinariness! Neither to rule nor to obey, neither to swagger nor to grovel. This is the teaching we find in Chekhov: fortitude, but not invulnerable; sensitivity, but not lachrymose. This is why we call this ideal 'decency,' in the sense of being neither great nor small, neither above nor below, but within the ordinary proportions of men. Courage, but not to the point of harshness; modesty, but not to the point of cowardice-a constant process of self-correction, canceling out all extremes for the sake of the golden mean. Chekhov is our own home-grown Aristotle. This calm and dignified Chekhovian bearing is what is needed by the Russian people. They have been run ragged by the demands of their civil and ecclesiastical authorities to 'struggle for greatness' or to 'sink into humility' But who, after all that, will be left to be ordinary?"
FOAM-BREWERS. A spiritual movement that arose from the ranks of the so-called "Beer Party," formed in 1995 with the slogan "Beer is the best policy," which the Foam-brewers replaced with "Beer is the new metaphysics."
"Foam is the perfect state of matter, the play of liquid with air and light. As symbolically expressed in the myth of Aphrodite's birth, it was foam that gave rise to life in the beginning, and from foam a new spiritual universe will arise in the end of days." (V.M., "Foam of Ages")
The Foam-brewers trace their doctrine to certain discoveries of contemporary vacuum physics, according to which the universe consists of foamy waves of nothingness. The Soviet physicist K.P. Stanyukovich compared the universe to an ocean full of little bubbles-but instead of an ocean of water, it is an ocean of emptiness, a gravitational vacuum. Matter itself is a bubbly brew in an ocean of emptiness, and spirit, a bubbly brew in an ocean of matter. This process of world-fermentation is the source of all energy and the spring of cosmic evolution.
The Foam-brewers are conscious participants in this process. In their terminology, "brewing foam" means stirring up the heavy lower layers of matter, bringing them up to the surface where they can be touched by air and light. Foam is the prototype of the final transfiguration of the world. There seems to be a contradiction among ancient sources, some saying the world will end in a new flood, others in an all-consuming fire. But perhaps both prophecies are true, and will be truly understood only when the future world turns out to be an ecstatic foam of fire and water.
Beer, of course, produces the best and thickest foam, the truly royal foam; but other kinds of foam are not to be sneezed at. In principle, any substance can be induced to foam, and Foam-brewers experiment with the possibilities in a growing number of specialized fermenting studios where they produce foams of sugar, flour, birchbark, raspberries, etc., each with its own characteristic color and index of refraction. For guidance, Foam-brewers look to materials such as sponges, laces, and snow-all types of porous, permeable, or leaky substances. Their task is to rarify each thing as far as possible and then whip it up into a thick foam or, as they put it in the ancient treatises, "make a cradle for Aphrodite." . . .
GIFT-GIVERS. A spiritual movement that considers ordinary gift-giving a type of sacrificial offering. Gift-givers devote their lives to thinking up gifts and presenting them to all their acquaintances-sometimes even to strangers, for "a gift from the blue is a double gift." In their view, every thing is a potential gift and every person a potential recipient; the discipline of Gift-giving lies in matching up the qualities of the things with those of the people.
"True Gift-givers are capable of the most harmonious orchestration of the interactions between people and things, suggesting the perfection our world would have if only each person got what he truly needed and each thing were owned by someone who could make the most perfect use of it. This sort of elective affinity between people and things cannot receive full expression in purchase, because a person negotiating a purchase is closed in on himself, while a person receiving a gift is open to the giver." (E.A., "The Art of the Gift") Of course, there are mechanisms of exchange for the coordination of people and things, but they regulate only the impersonal quantity and price of goods without reference to the actual people involved. When a thing is made a gift, it acquires a personal quality that it could never have had as merchandise. Merchandise is exchangeable, but a gift is a gift only when it is given to its intended recipient.
"By uniting the individualities of the giver and the receiver, the gift becomes a symbol in the literal, unsymbolic sense of the term. In ancient Greek, "symbols" were the two parts of an unevenly broken object which, when matched, could testify to the relationship of friends or relatives. In religion, art, and poetry, the term "symbol" has taken on a purely conventional sense, which barely hints at that original union of two individuals through the medium of a unique thing." (E.A., "Towards a History of the 'Symbol'")
The giving of birthday gifts is a ritual deification of the recipient: his first appearance in the world is memorialized with sacrificial offerings. The birthday is the emblematic holiday of the atheistic age. In the Soviet period, the place of Christmas, the holiday of God-become-man, was taken by the birthday, the little one-day religion in which each person is honored as a god.
Gift-givers are priests of the Personality; they specialize in bringing to each individual the sacrifice that most exactly corresponds to his individual qualities. And the poorer the material life of a given society, the greater the dignity and holiness of the gift. In Russia, the material level has always been lower than in the West, but the culture of the gift is proportionally higher. As E.A. writes, "Gift-giving is an exact science. It has no place for approximations. The correct gift to one person cannot be given to another without turning into merchandise or a bribe rather than a gift. The correct recipient of a volume of Lermontov cannot be given a volume of Pushkin. The maker of a thing is a connoisseur of that thing, but its giver must be a connoisseur of the human soul as well, able to make fine discriminations among those delicate links that connect the world of the soul to the world of things. Gift-giving is the most democratic of religions, the applied science of practical ethics, esthetics, and psychology. . . . " (E.A., "On the Art of the Gift")
Continue to Doomsday Sects >>