KIM

Artur Klinau Karl Marx \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Artur Klinau Karl Marx \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Artur Klinau Lenin \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Artur Klinau Lenin \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Artur Klinau Kropotkin \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Artur Klinau Kropotkin \ serias ‘Texts’, 1997

Tell Me Who Has Come to Bury You and I Tell You Who You Are

Kim Chadziejeu or just Kim is the legendary dissident and unique intellectual Minsk Soviet times. It’s a ‘living encyclopedia’ mentor of many talented young Belarusianmen and women that, like gnats, consulted around of him during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s of the last century.

Archive! © Published in pARTisan #03’2004. Translated fragmentary

***

‘I should like to put down his profession, age and what made him so dear… You are so many – it must mean something. I see he was an honourable man. A beard and an air of importance on his face. A bright-coloured outfit. For skiing, isn’t it? (Might come in handy for our guys.)’

‘Well, you know, HE is… wow, a big fish. A researcher and a writer…’

‘What are his major works? Was he awarded with any orders? I shall enumerate them… To make it solemn!’

‘Well, actually… He would write and write… write and read… talk and talk… HE is a philosopher. Yes, that’s it – a P-H-I-L-O-S-O-P-H-E-R!..’

‘Who are his relatives here? What are their names?’

‘He has no relatives. Or rather, all of us are his family.’

***

Kim Chadziejeu had a big family, ranging from ministers and generals to plumbers, problem children and bankers, of course. He was very concerned if no ‘new boys’ turned up. (For some reason, he did not care about girls that much, which stirred up certain rumours about his distinctive persona.) No less was he upset when old chaps suddenly forgot about him. A well-trained ear could often hear deep irony and self-irony in his words:

‘My first generation, well, died out in some 10 or 15 years… My second generation, well, actually died out, too. I thought I would never see anyone new. But you know what? Some new boys have cropped up! They have g-e-n-i-u-s! Especially Hlebby! Yes…’ a cigarette holder goes back into his mouth.

‘Excuse me, Kim, has he written anything?’

‘No, nothing yet,’ he blew a smoke-ring. The guys ringing around him were to be active – that was what really mattered.

Kim’s generations used to compete for his love and were even jealous. Some got away, others got rich, got poor, got old or got dead. But Kim was always there, a cigarette holder in one hand, a detective story in the other. ‘A good detective story must have loads of stiffs.’

So he seemed to be gradually drifting towards eternity. Kim’s foes spitefully suspected him of ‘cannibalism’: he seduced young prepubescent boys by having them write verse and prose. So the poor things became queer, oriented towards literature and art rather than chicks. Of course they would all end up in a lunatic asylum…

***

Kim lived as if he had never been born – and died as if he was going to rise from the dead forever.

He considered himself the master of the Creation. He was willing to share his love with everyone and never concealed his loathing for anyone. It did not matter if the subject of his adoration vanished – the loss intensified the charge of absolute undying love. It was important for him to accumulate logos and passion. In that sense he was really different…

***

The City of Immortals

In the early 1950s Kim openly called for overthrowing Stalin and hanging all communists in the USSR. Probably there would not have been enough nooses, the country was going through hard times, national economy still lying in ruins. After all, we are still living through hard times, economy still lying in ruins…

Kim got away with a ludicrously mild sentence: four years in Vladimir prison and three years in the Crosses, Petersburg. Kim learnt there from pre-revolutionary professors and intellectuals. It was like studying for his second university degree. Soon after Stalin’s death the new wave of Soviet leaders couldn’t think of anything better than transfer the prospective hangman of communists to a loony bin.

It was there that he wrote his first thesis for the head of the institution, in which he studied his own case: for five years Kim had been having one and the same dream: six cucumbers on black velvet.

‘It’s horrible,’ I said.

‘It’s a great dream! I love velvet. And cucumbers – they are a symbol of life! An amazing dream. It’s awesome.’

Kim loved velvet and would sometimes mooch around, wearing an enormous beret à la Rembrandt and his red skiing outfit, a stick in one hand, a detective story in the other, a cigarette holder in his mouth. One hundred per cent exposed lone wolf. He really couldn’t have looked wackier: either a retired skier or a cuckoo painter…

***

In the 1960s Kim really exerted himself. He was a guard at the Calvary cemetery, where he now rests in peace. Then one night he had a revelation! And behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and pecking him on the top of his head. And he got his head round the true causes of human misery. Ever since he had been writing his magnum opus to put into words the philosophical idea that came upon him from the heights. No one could make head or tail out of it.

For years, even decades, it had been entitled Duality, then a few months before his death, Kim decided to rename it Towardsencounterness. He may have never intended to finish it, for Kim creative process probably meant more than any practical outcome.

***

The Eggbroken House

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, before perestroika that Gorby kicked off before we could smell a rat, a bunch of hippies showed up at V-Circus. They drew close to the Eternal Flame, but then instead of commemorating the heroes, got down to frying eggs on it. Well, of course they all got their hair trimmed, just like hedges, and got to do porridge. That is how the dead get in touch with the living.

Yet, the Eternal Flames are not the whole of the eternity. There are also Eternal Fumes. Kim’s window overlooked an apricot tree. It was sometimes used by the guests for climbing in. There was a time when a jumbo tabby cat used to call upon Kim. The cat vanished in the morning, only his grin was still there. When Kim was working, he always had his window open, clouds of smoke coming into the air.

Year after year, Kim’s apricot tree was the first one in the city to break into blossom. Personally, I attribute its early bloom to the Eternal Fumes it was constantly fumigated with.

***

Kim was a virtuoso when it came to working on a play. He owed it to his experience and relaxation, he loved the theatre as a way of thinking, and he loved acting as a way of living. You couldn’t escape a feeling that it was easier for Kim to write a play than a statute for some limited liability and ability company.

Time evaporated then. When there is no time, but you are alive, this is happiness.

You saw her yesterday only; you wanted to know her name. Today she has moved in with you. Tomorrow, tomorrow she will have moved out. Leaving behind her lace curtains and lace briefs. For you to remember. Happiness!!!

‘Kim, let’s have a drink. It’s getting late.’

‘OK.’

‘Here’s to…’

‘To… um?… FECI QUOD POTUI, FACIANT MELIORA POTENTES. Good idea, by the way’.

Alaksandar Suśkou. Translated by Volha Kalackaja

© photos by Artur Klinau

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