Anna Berseneva, writer
No matter how much snobs were indignant at the fact that Viktor Pelevin methodically writes from a book a year, no matter how much they put forward conspiracy theories about his bonded agreement with the publishing house, and the reader got used to himself, got used to, and got used to the fact that by the beginning of autumn this outstanding the writer offers his contemporaries his version of what was important and unimportant in the past year. And each time the “theme of the year” proposed by him for understanding turns out to be unexpected.
This September, which Pelevin met with the novel Invincible Sun (Moscow: Eksmo. 2020), was no exception. Everyone thought and wondered: how will he respond to the covid pandemic? After all, it covered humanity at a time when the writer still had time to weave it into the novel. However, it seemed quite possible that he would completely ignore her.
I did not ignore: there is a pandemic in the new novel, how can it be without it. But ... not as something worthy of any deep comprehension, but as an annoying bug, a mistake made by the creator of the modern world out of his own inexperience - as follows from the unexpected ending, excusable. Such an obviously fundamental reluctance to comprehend an event that has been occupying the minds for six months and destroying the health of millions of people is understandable. It is enough to familiarize yourself with the materials on how the Spanish flu pandemic took place in the 1920s to make sure: not only epidemiological algorithms have been studied for a long time, but the reaction of our contemporaries is practically no different from the reaction of people who have faced a similar event for a hundred years back. The same deniers of varying degrees of aggressiveness, the same alarmists, the same responsible or mediocre politicians and the same feat of doctors... Pelevin has nothing to add, and this only once again demonstrates how significantly he differs from many authors who vied with each other to philosophically comprehend this , which does not require complex philosophy, but only practical actions in accordance with simple common sense.
It is interesting that the casually mentioned pandemic in Pelevin is on a par with many other phenomena and concepts, without which it seems impossible to imagine the modern world. Trauma, trigger, personal boundaries, awareness - everyone can continue this current series. In the novel, when any of these terms are mentioned, the very Pelevin irony for which readers love him immediately turns on.
Here he casually grins at the fashionable attraction to feminitives: “I stopped at the door and stared at him like a ram. Like a steering wheel, my fighting friends would correct me - but here I disagree, because the word "steering wheel" hints that I tried to interest him with my hole".
“We are all like that today - instead of investing in media like religions or CDs, we just use a service like “dither” or “mindfulness”. Such a netflix of the spirit, where everyone, without exception, is subscribed to individual selectivity. A tag with the word "exclusive" is a necessary condition for mass sales".
"Out of grief, I drank a can of red Coca-Cola with sugar, which in today's cultural conditions is equivalent to Dostoevsky's vodka bottle".
By the way, the Dostoyevskys and the Tolstys are now appointed by the author of cultural reviews in the media, "a gray-haired libertine marketer, whose advice would be invaluable when choosing an anal plug".
In the novel "iPhuck 10" Pelevin analyzed in detail the current state of mind with its iconic concepts. In Invincible Sun, he looks at these concepts as waste, irrelevant rubbish, which he has already weighed and found too light. If he mentions any of them in the dialogues, then these dialogues immediately begin to resemble the well-known conversation from “The Twelve Chairs” by Ilf and Petrov: “Hamite, boy,” Ellochka said slyly. “Ho ho”, Ostap explained...
It should not be surprising that modern social theories are presented in the novel mainly by useful idiots, specially invited to the yacht AUrora, where the main character Sasha Orlova turns out to be the will of her own intuition. The purpose of these conversations is just to create white noise, which makes the vibrations of the Invincible Sun, a stone, or rather, a projector that creates our entire reality, imperceptible. Sasha herself, a thirty-year-old Moscow blonde from among those people who are said to have a great future behind them (in her case, however, not even a particularly great one), gets to the Invincible Sun on her journey, the purpose of which is to understand how the world is arranged, who created it, how he created it, why he created it and what she personally should do in this world. There are not many fewer people on earth who spend their lives in such reflections than blondes, and Sasha understands the price of such searches:
“Here's my dad. He digs in the same way with a shovel, only without any questions and answers. Just for the money and pasta part. After all, where does any successful spiritual search end? Yes, by the fact that a person says: "Aha!" - and then lives an ordinary human life from second to second, not sticking to anything. And then he dies in the same way. He just no longer has great questions. So my dad doesn't have them either. And what's the difference?"
However, merciless sanity does not prevent Sasha from embarking on a decisive journey “I don’t know where”, which leads her to the clue of the Universe - the Invincible Sun. At the same time, her path is bizarre not only existentially, but also geographically - from Moscow to Istanbul, Cuba, Canary Islands, Thailand. And the range of meetings is amazing: Pelevin creates an extremely rich mental space for Sasha, in which not only corporate anarchists and transgender arhats can fit, but also the Roman emperors Caracalla and Elagabal. Actually, he always did this, in this sense, Sasha is not an exceptional heroine for him, although he looks humanly especially attractive with his directness, decency, interest in people and intellectual honesty.
However, for all these qualities, Sasha is an absolute artistic convention, which Pelevin not only does not hide, but even emphasizes; evidence is scattered throughout the text. She's not too smart for a blonde - the author doesn't show sexism towards women, on the contrary, and Sasha's apt remarks like: “What else do I believe in? Well, money, of course. In general, everyone who goes shopping believes in money - this is the very core of the scientific worldview”- inspire complete confidence in her intellectual abilities. However, a Moscow girl for her thirty years physically would not have had time to live a life that allows her to take into account in her thoughts those phenomena that Sasha takes into account. Well, such a girl will not hear the line "what do you dream about, the cruiser Aurora" in her head at the sight of the yacht of the same name in the port of Istanbul; she just didn't hear this song. I don’t believe that Pelevin does not understand this. This means that he makes such numerous signs not only noticeable, but demonstratively noticeable for some artistic purpose. I think, precisely so that the reader is not distracted by psychological characteristics, which are not in the novel at all, but concentrate on beautiful, absolutely Pelevin generalizations. This really does require concentration, as they tend to elude the summaries through which generalizations are usually internalized.
One of them, for example, says to Sasha a dead boy: “We look at the world through you. As long as this goes on, you think you are living. You see and hear for us. You are all the former people looking out the windows of your senses. " Another is the mysterious woman So, whom Sasha meets in Hagia Sophia and who will play a decisive role in her destiny: “There was wisdom in this world. She lived in this temple. But now it has disappeared without a trace. Every century must look for it anew, and every person too...".
The elusive flight of such thoughts - and there are much more of them than the characters of the characters' conventions - gives the novel that living harmony that it lacks compositionally. The fact is that the mystical path, which in the final will lead Sasha to the fact that she will be forced to re-create the Universe at her own discretion, otherwise our world will perish by the will of the Invincible Sun, also runs through the lives of the Roman emperors. The stories of Caracalla and Elagabal, their relationship with the universal projector, do not just make up a huge part of the text - without them the novel would have disintegrated both conceptually and plotally. Pelevin took a big risk by building it in this way. It is clear that assessments like “not carried away” belong to an area so subjective that they should not even be mentioned. However, if some of the readers - like me, for example - were left indifferent by the Roman part, there would be nothing to make up for. There is simply not enough in this novel the rest of the narrative array to outweigh the monotonous lethargy of this imperial story. Yes, it seemed to me exactly monotonous, sluggish and secondary. Even the mystical masks of the Sun and the Moon associated with the universal projector, for all their obvious novel uniqueness, somehow look familiar. Not to mention the detailed daily ancient Roman life - it is certainly familiar or it is not difficult to get acquainted with it from any historical non-fiction, in which it will be described in much the same way as in "The Invincible Sun".
The “Roman” part piled up in front of me like a heavy, man-made lump, not allowing me to completely immerse myself in this novel as a living intellectual element, which all Pelevin's texts are. So I envy readers who will like it too; such will certainly be.
As will those who like, to put it mildly, a simple final conclusion made by Sasha: “Because the Invincible Sun of our world is not at all some black stone, which either was or not. This is a woman. We are all saving our world. We save him every day, you just don't know. Even when we do not give birth to children, but only we balance the cruel and stupid male will, dreaming of making holes in everything, and then tearing everything to shreds". To tell the truth, this ending made me look at the cover: did Pelevin really write this? Yes, he... Of course he is! You, dear ladies, quietly turned the world into some kind of party committee 2.0, set sanctimonious rules in it, insist that it consists of injuries, triggers, awareness and other primitiveness, tearing to shreds anyone who tries to say that the world is it actually arranged elusively complicated? Well, here you are, the final, reminiscent of the standard samples of socialist realism. And try to argue that this is bad. I'm sure no one will dare.
This great ironist is Viktor Olegovich Pelevin!