It is difficult to doubt this when, for example, you read: “Everyone knows that there is such a thing in the world as an agenda. At the simplest level, this is a kind of mandatory program. It can be downloaded by the implant from many different places. For example, from the district council: to appear by ten in the morning for punishment with rods for failure to appear at /V-word/ fees. But the concept itself is much broader. Our life is also determined by the agenda that is lowered (or rather, raised from its depths) by a body that lives according to biological laws. And if you take it very broadly, the agenda is a changeable wind in which all beings rush like yellow leaves to their inevitable disposal. Everything is an agenda."
Or a no less accurate and caustic (however, quite timeless) observation from novel reality: “A change of power in Russia is always a dangerous time. True, many say that we don’t have any change of power, but only the guard changes, that is, the same transphysical entity, which the poets optimistically call the sky, and the camp spirit seers as the national logos, turns to the Russian person either as an ass or a snout . So our system is also in a certain way a two-party system. Perhaps it is. But while the guard is changing, no one is responsible for the mess, and everything that for the past half century has been gathering spikelet to spikelet (ten years for a spikelet, bro) suddenly disappears somewhere. Gone with the wind of changes, and the power, as it were, has nothing to do with it. Well, maximum relatives and school friends, this is something sacred. And then again spikelet to spikelet and ten years for the right to correspond.
But with all these signs of intellectual and everyday relevance, after reading the novel, a strange feeling is created, which is harshly and accurately called bad infinity. There is no doubt that Pelevin achieved precisely this effect - in the new novel, just as in all the previous ones. But there are doubts that such an effect still coincides with what is somewhat pathetically called the nerve of time.
But they do not appear immediately. Perhaps because the elegance with which Pelevin connects the visible world with the invisible mechanism of the world order has not changed.
The protagonist, a Japanese officer, ends up in Burma during World War II; this is where the novel begins:
“It rains in Burma from May to September. Water pours from the sky, and a strong wind brings it into all the cracks. Everything rots; life becomes so disgusting that the war somehow calms down by itself - after all, its main goal is to inflict torment on people, and what is the point in hostilities when everyone is bad and so?
The everyday life of an officer is spent in conversations with a local monk on relevant topics - for example, that the emptiness of all things is made "from the cognitive effort of our mind, from experiences and concepts", and "personality always arises as a set of internal comments to direct perception." It soon turns out that the Burmese monk, who speaks brilliant English, is able to send the hero into transmigration, that is, transfer his consciousness to another existence, and in such a way that he will find deep roots in this new existence, as if returning home. What for? The monk explains: “A dark age is coming, so monstrous and ridiculous that you cannot even imagine it. You will benefit its inhabitants many hundreds of years from now by working in secret and incomprehensible ways.”
Having agreed to such a transformation, the hero, after a series of twists and turns, finds himself in the world described in Pelevin's previous novel "Transhumanism Inc", among the circumstances and characters already familiar to the reader, among which, by the way, was the one who appeared before the hero in the form of a Burmese monk . For those who do not know all these people or have forgotten, the author reminds them in a new book.
In the world of transhumanism, the immortal wealthy elite exist as brains floating in jars with virtual reality connections. The usual reality is left for the poor of different levels for the time of their life. It is totalitarian, "green" and regulated through an implant implanted in everyone's brain.
“The cuckoo with the implant does not highlight the too distant expeditions of human curiosity. We do not even know what kind of economic system we have - feudalism? Capitalism? Post-capitalism? Meta socialism? Maybe even klepto-corporate communism? Questions no longer stand. Now they don’t stand at all, because they stopped putting them. Here is your horse, here is your estate, here is your farm, here is your office. Judge, my friend, not higher than a boot, and specifically - the crocodile top of General Sudoplatonov, which is so fond of spitting in crypto-liberal circles. You start to see new pieces of the puzzle when you're in the right place - or when the puzzle is being sold to you. No one really understands the situation."
A former Japanese officer becomes a hacker in this world, that is, a creator of ideas that can capture the masses. He goes by the name KGBT+, abbreviated to Kay, and finds an incomparable thrill from the fact that the ability to influence minds, hammering bright ideas into them, brings him extraordinary fame. He goes to success with inspiration and prudent:
“Life is meaningless and evil, it is impossible to change it with all the desire - and most of all, our brothers and sisters need mental anesthesia. They are consoled by beautiful fairy tales and the hope of squeezing into eternity, even as a carcass, even as a scarecrow. So it must be given. This is what the artist is fed for.”
Kay considers the ideology of letitbism to be his main invention. What it is is clear from the name: let everything take its course, you still cannot change what should happen. It seems to hacker Kay that, since letitbism has almost gained popularity as a new religion, he, its creator, is of value to the powers that be. But no - at first, Kay arouses the envy of ideological servants, that is, information lackeys who "believe that it is worth banning the rest, and someone will start sucking up their shit product", then the authorities declare him a reptilian influencer (as they call "anyone who influences on someone else's perception - at least with a word, at least with a smell, at least with an appearance"), and then they are completely blindly used in a geopolitical adventure and imprisoned in a jar prison.
Global changes are taking place in the life of mankind: a new world balance of good and alternative good has been created, the world has switched to thunberg or greencoin, the Fatherland has introduced a piece of wood in response, after which “for five centuries we have been living from confiscation to mobilization, and the heartbreakers from their estates recommend giving birth to more children , because you need to enlist someone in the cavalry. - So that from the cradle they played with wooden horses, sabers ... ".
And Kay vegetates in prison, realizing that his era is gone, because "every time he chooses his singers, and my specific voice is unlikely to be able to hit the note that is needed today."
He also creates numbered art series (“a chicken flapping its wings soars in the center of an invisible cube, the sides of which are marked with Yesenin’s volumes. In the background is a bot-flyer wandering away”).
He also reflects on whether “is it possible to have an emigration more internal (and final) than leaving the material world for your gray matter? And we have been living in this emigration since birth. We arise in it, and in it we disappear. We have never been anywhere else. It's just that not everyone understands."
Also, walking. What do I do while walking? Nothing special. And this “nothing special” is my practice.”
Kei generously shares his life wisdom with everyone.
“Children often ask in letters: what is the meaning of life? Oh, children, as if life is something so serious and long, and we must look for its meaning. Blink and you're an adult. Blinked - old junk. He blinked, but couldn't open his eyelids. Life, even a canned one, is so short that its only meaning is to have time to change into clean clothes.
“Look at the last ten thousand years - why do you think that our time will be any different? Have we humans gotten any better? Kinder? Honest? Everything that is happening now has happened many times before. And in carbon, and earlier, and later. And the cunning meanness in the world does not become less. On the contrary, it mutates, marks itself with signs of indisputable goodness and becomes invulnerable.”
And, of course, he reflects on his role in the universe:
“Peace and freedom, guessed by Pushkin, are not too amenable to description, because all our words are made of coals. But I'll try. Peace and will are when there is no one in the transparent clarity of presence, and this “no one is there” does not aspire to anything. But that's not all. I know the secret of peace, said Nicholas Roerich in a poem about a gatekeeper guarding empty chambers. So he whispers the hero himself. Today this secret can finally be revealed. To keep the room empty, he needs a bouncer who knows how to work with visitors. So I am such a gatekeeper - and at the same time such peace.
And when in the finale the hero says all this (mentally, of course, because he is now a jar brain), another character comes to mind - Vasily Lokhankin. Because it is as difficult to argue with what Kay learned about the world order as with the thoughts and conclusions that a resident of Voronya Slobodka indulged a hundred years ago.
It is clear that the hero, even if the main one, is not the author. And all Pelevin's books, including this new one, testify that in understanding the complexity of life, he will give odds to many. But, apparently, the time has come when “and I’ll show you now how everything really works”, even vividly imaginative, even virtuoso inventive, even covered with a Buddhist-ecclesiastical veil, only raises an annoyed question: so what? .. The reminder of human imperfection looks as banal as the arrangement of internal emigration and other evil infinities. All this has been studied in such a way that even mentioning it seems superfluous, let alone reflecting and reasoning.
It is possible that with the novel "KGBT +" Pelevin just drew a line under the world, the mechanisms of which he had been thinking about for many years and novels. Well, he deserved to let her down, there's no doubt about it. And, perhaps, he will step over this line into some brave new world, which his reader has not yet guessed about.