Book 1. Anastasia (1996)
Attentiveness to Man
I asked Anastasia who taught her to speak and converse, if she had almost no memory of her father and mother and her grandfather and great-grandfather talked with her only rarely The answers she gave were quite a shock to me, and require interpretation by specialists, and so I shall try to reproduce them as fully as I can. Their meaning has gradually begun to sink in for me. She responded to my first question with a question of her own:
“Do you mean the ability to speak in different people’s languages?” “How do you mean, ‘different’? What, you can speak more than one language?”
“Tes,” she replied.
“Including German, French, English, Japanese, Chinese?”
“Yes,” she repeated, and then added: “You can see I speak your language.”
“You mean Russian?”
“Well, that is too general. I speak, or at least try to speak, using words and phrases you yourself use when you talk. At first it was a little challenging for me, since your vocabulary is not very large and you repeat yourself a fair amount. Nor do you have much expression of feeling. That is not the kind of language which easily lends itself to accurately saying everything one wishes to say.”
“Wait, Anastasia — I’m going to ask you something in a foreign language, and you give me an answer.”
I said Hello to her in English, and then in French. She answered me right off.
Unfortunately I myself have not mastered any foreign language. In school I studied German, but with rather poor marks. I did remember one whole sentence in German, which my schoolmates and I learnt by rote. I recited it to Anastasia: uIch Hebe dich, undgib mir deine Hand.”
She extended her hand to me and answered in German:
“I give you my hand.”
Amazed by what I had heard, and still not believing my ears, I asked:
aSo then, any person can be taught any language?”
I had an intuitive feeling that there must be some kind of simple explanation for this extraordinary phenomenon, and I had to know what it was so I could tell others about it.
‘Anastasia, perhaps you could explain this in my language, and try to do it with examples, so that I can understand,” I asked somewhat excitedly
‘All right, all right, only calm down and let go, or you will not un-derstand. But let me first teach you to write in Russian.”
“I know how to write. You tell me about teaching foreign languages.”
“I do not mean just handwriting — I shall teach you to be a writer. Avery talented writer. You shall write a book.”
“It is possible! It is quite simple.”
Anastasia took a stick and outlined on the ground the whole Russian alphabet along with the punctuation marks, and asked me how many letters there were.
“Thirty-three,” I replied.
“You see, that is a very small number of letters. Can you call what I have outlined a book?”
“No,” I answered. “It’s just an ordinary alphabet, that’s all. Ordinary letters.”
“Yet all the books in the Russian language are made up of these ordinary letters,” Anastasia observed. “Do you not agree? Do you not see how simple it all is?”
“Yes, but in books they’re — they’re arranged differently” “Correct, all books consist of a multitude of combinations of these letters. People arrange them on the pages automatically, guided by their feelings. And from this it follows that books originate not from a combination of letters and sounds, but from feelings outlined by people’s imagination. The result is that the readers are aroused by approximately the same feelings as the writers, and such feelings can be recalled for a long time. Can you recollect any images or situations from books you have read?”
“Yes, I can,” I replied, after a moment’s thought.
For some reason I recalled Lermontov’s Hero of our time, and began to tell the story to Anastasia. She interrupted me:
“You see, you can still depict the characters from this book and tell me what they felt, even though quite a bit of time has gone by since you read it. But if I were to ask you to tell me in what sequence the thirty-three letters of the Russian alphabet were set forth in that book, what combinations they were arranged in, could you do that?” “No. That would be impossible.”
“Indeed, it would be very difficult. So, feelings have been conveyed from one Man to another with the help of all sorts of combinations of these thirty-three letters. Yon looked at these combinations of letters and forgot them right off, but the feelings and images remained to be remembered for a long time.
“So it turns out that if emotional feelings are directly associated with these marks on paper without thinking about any conventions, one’s soul will cause these marks to appear in just the right sequence and combinations so that any reader may subsequently feel the soul of the writer. And if in the soul of the writer...”
“Wait, Anastasia. Speak more simply, more clearly, more specifically, show me through some kind of an example how languages are to be taught. You can make me into a writer later on. Tell me first: who taught you to understand different languages and how”
“My great-grandfather/5 replied Anastasia.
“Give me an example/51 asked, anxious to understand everything in a hurry
'All right, but do not be concerned. I shall still find a way to help you understand, and if it is that important to you, I shall try teaching all the languages to you too. It is simple, after all.”
“For us it’s quite incredible, Anastasia. So do try to explain. And tell me, how much time will it take to teach me?”
She thought for a moment, looked at me, and then said:
“Your memory is not very good, and then there are your domestic problems... You will need a lot of time.”
“How long?” I was impatient for an answer.
“For everyday comprehension of phrases such as Hello and Goodbye, I would say it will take at least four months, possibly six/5 she replied.
“Enough, Anastasia! Tell me how your great-grandfather did it.” “He played with me.”
“How did he play? Tell me.”
“Calm down! Let go! I cannot understand why you are so impatient!”
And then she quietly went on:
“Great-Grandfather played with me, as though he were joking with me. Whenever he came to me all by himself, without Grandfather, he would always approach me, bow at the waist, and hold out his hand to me, and I would hold out mine to him. He would first shake my hand, then get down on one knee, kiss my hand and say 'Hello, Anastasia!5
“One time he came, he did everything as usual, his eyes looked at me tenderly as usual, but his lips were saying some kind of abracadabra. I looked at him in surprise, and he said something else, equally unintelligible. I could not take it any longer and asked: '"Granpakins, have you forgotten what to say?5 “'Yes, I have,5 Great-Grandfather answered. Then he stepped away from me a few paces, stopped to think about something and came over to me again, extended his hand to me and I held out mine to him. He dropped on one knee and kissed my hand. His look was
gentle, his lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. I was even a bit afraid. Then I decided a reminder might help.
“‘Hello, Anastasia!51 hinted.
“‘Correct!’ Great-Grandfather confirmed with a smile.
‘At that point I realised it was a game — he and I would often play games together after that. At first it was quite simple, but then the game became more complicated, and more fascinating. It is a game that begins when one is three years old and goes on until the age of eleven, when one undergoes a kind of test. This involves looking attentively at the person you are talking with and being able to understand what they are saying, no matter what language they are expressing it in. This kind of dialogue is far superior to speech — it is more rapid and conveys far more information. You would call it thought-transfer. You think it is abnormal, something out of fantasy, but it is simply an attentive attitude toward Man, drawing upon a developed imagination and a good memory It involves not just a more efficient method of information exchange, but getting to know a person’s soul, along with the animal and plant world, and what constitutes creation as a whole.”
‘Anastasia,” I said, “what do plants growing in a garden-plot have to do with this — what is their role in all this?”
“What do you mean, what have they to do with it? At the same time as the child is getting to know the world of plants as a part of the functioning of the Universe, he is also entering into contact with his planets. With their help and the help of his parents he quickly, very quickly, gets to know the truth and develops intensively in the fields of psychology, philosophy and the natural sciences — your disciplines. But if the game goes on and some kind of man-made object from the artificial world is used as an example, the child will become lost. He will not receive any assistance from the powers of Nature or the Universe.”
“I have already noted, Anastasia, that in the final analysis such a child could become an agronomist. Now where would his knowledge come from in other areas?”
But Anastasia maintained that a Man raised in such a manner would show an aptitude for quick learning in any of our scholarly disciplines.