Book 8, part 2. The Rites of Love (2006)
Anastasia’s grandfather and I rode along in silence. As we ap-proached Suzdal and could see its buildings in the distance, I said to him:
“Look, there’s Suzdal! It’s a city around a thousand years old. Part of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality. In fact it was one of the religious capitals of that period.”
“Why are you going there, Vladimir?”
“I want to pay another visit to the museum, and take a look at the ancient sites, so’s I can get a picture of how people lived over the past millennium.”
“Try to get a picture before going into the city. Everything that lies around it is worth immeasurably greater attention than the city itself.”
‘All around are just fields,” I protested, “with the occasional dilapidated village here and there. No information to help with the picture.”
“Vladimir, stop the car. We shouldn’t be talking while driving.”
“Don’t be afraid, I’m a good driver.”
“I’m not afraid. I know, and so I’d better be quiet.”
I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. After a few moments I realised that I couldn’t really drive and have this conversation at the same time. The difficulty was that, just like Anastasia, her grandfather sometimes spoke with certain special intonations, so powerful that the listener could perceive visible images, almost like holograms in space. This kind of speech allowed the possibility of showing scenes
of the past or future, or even on another planet, as Anastasia once did.1
It’s hard to tell just what is behind this phenomenon. Possibly hypnosis, possibly some kind of mysterious abilities enjoyed by people of the priestly class. Or maybe it was something possessed by everybody living on the Earth back in ancient times. A talented actor on stage can also create all sorts of pictures and images for an audience with the help of intonations and his own emotions — albeit not as vivid and detailed as those of Anastasia’s. Still, it is actors above all others who confirm, through their mastery, the existence of such possibilities in Man.
It turns out that people of long ago didn’t need television, with its huge network of personnel and technology, including satellites even. It turns out that in losing his natural, God- given abilities, Man replaces them with awkward artificial substitutes which are far less perfect. And he even boasts about it, calling his inventions a significant achievement.
The saddest part is that mankind today is losing its capacity for logical thinking. This is more than just a sad state of affairs. It is a most frightful epidemic, capable of transforming modern humanity into a bunch of mad rodents, devouring one another and destroying their own living environment. Suicide-rodents.
What Anastasia’s grandfather was to tell me in the field needs to be understood. It gives rise to the following conclusion: in losing the ability to think logically, the people of the Earth no longer are able to see and understand the unenviable situation they are being pushed into. Judge for yourselves.
I had stopped the jeep at the side of the road. The grey-haired oldster got out and headed into a field. I followed along behind. Before long he stopped and bowed low to the ground, saying:
“Health to your thoughts and aspirations, dear people!”
He uttered this greeting most sincerely and with such a tone that it seemed as though there really were people standing there in front of him. Then something happened that I can’t put a name to, at least not for now.
At first there was some sort of stirring in the air, and a barely noticeable mist arose from the earth. It seemed to be congealing, and soon afterward I could clearly see the outlines of some kind of human figure becoming increasingly distinct. And, finally, there standing before us was an elderly man with a powerful physique. A headband encircled his light-brown hair. He had a calm expression on his face, with just a trace of despondency. Behind him, in the distance, I could see gardens, copses and beautiful wooden mansions. It looked as though the barren fields of a moment ago were now populated with a whole lot of families.
The man standing before us was speaking in inaudible tones to the Siberian elder. The vision lasted for several minutes. Then it slowly began to dissipate, as though being erased by an invisible hand. What was being erased was the genuine Rus’, not a Rus’ someone had simply thought up. The vision disappeared altogether when Anastasia’s grandfather turned in the direction of Suzdal. He stood there silently staring toward the city, then turned to me and asked:
“What, do you think, Vladimir, was the original purpose of the city we see in the distance?”
“What’s thinking got to do with it? Everybody knows this from their history: Suzdal was where the clergy was cloistered. The first Christian bishops lived here. The monasteries and the kremlin2 where the elite lived are still preserved today That’s a historical fact.” "kremlin — the Russian word describing a fortress in the middle of a city, the most famous example being the Kremlin in Moscow.
“Yes, you’re right, historical. But all Russia’s ancient cities have two histories. The original history is more significant.” “I guess we’ll never be able to rediscover the original history” “We shall know, Vladimir. You will figure it out through your own logic and you will even be able to see it. But start by determining the reason these cities sprang up, along with their original purpose.”
“I would say their purpose lies in the fact that they made it easier to live together and defend themselves against enemy invasion. For example, apart from the clergy and the elite, Suzdal was home to many craftsmen. They produced equestrian harnesses, carts, sleighs, earthenware pots, ploughs and harrows. They would sell these items and live off the proceeds.” “Who did they sell them to?”
“To the peasants, of course,” I responded.
“That’s it,” the old fellow confirmed. “They sold or bartered their handicrafts for produce. And the produce came into the city from all the many outlying domains.”
“Yes, of course.”
“But which d’you think came first, which was primary in this place — the domains or the city?”
“The domains, I would say The builders and the craftsmen would want to eat every day If they started to build things in the open fields, there would have been nowhere to get their food from.”
“Correct. So we’ve come to the conclusion that a little more than a thousand years ago the fields around this city were the site of marvellous, rich domains. And the place where the city of Suzdal sits now was the site of their kapishche “What is a kapishche?”
“It’s a place where people gathered together from all around for fairs, to exchange goods and procure household
effects. They shared experiences with each other. They put on massive celebrations with singing and dancing, and some of which were designed to help people find their soulmates.
“This was also the place the elders of the families gathered for a vieche and adopted unwritten rules for living. They could censure a wrongdoer for his crime, although such instances were rare. Their censure was even a more fearful sentence than physical punishment.”
‘And who was in charge of this whole land?”
‘A hired hand. I really can’t think of an alternative term. A hired hand was the administrator in the kapishche. But he wasn’t really in charge. Rather, he carried out the decisions taken by the elders.
“For example, when they desired to put in a new tether- ing-post or a new road or build a big barn, it transpired that people from each domain would be assigned to carry out that decision. Sometimes the hired hand would be required to find other hired workers like himself.
“It was also his job to keep the whole kapishche clean and neat. Let’s say they had a fair, and after it was over, people dispersed to their homes. Then the tethering-posts might have had to be fixed and the horse-droppings cleaned up all over the place. This task would be carried out by the hired hand and his assistants. If he performed his work carelessly, the elders could sack him from his job. And then either the hired hand would go and look for work at another kapishche, or he would stay where he was, but be demoted to a hired hand’s assistant. It was difficult for the elders to maintain hired help, as just about everyone wanted to live in their own domains. Thus it might happen that hired hands for kapishches could be acquired from foreign lands.
“The Vedruss social order of Rus’ before the princes rose to power lasted for many thousands of years. It was superior to all the state social orders we know today, and it extended to all the continents of the Earth.
“When the Earth was overcome by corruption, Egypt and Rome fell into slavery, but the Vedruss social order in Rus’ still lasted five-and-a-half thousand years.”
“But why did the Vedruss social order give way to corruption, too?”
“Which are you most interested in — Rome, Ancient Egypt or Rus’? Pretty much the same thing happened in all three.”
“If they’re pretty much the same, then let’s go for Rus’. I already know that it was subject to external invaders, resulting in the destruction of the traditions and culture of the great Vedruss civilisation.”
“There were invasions, but there’s much more to it than that. The Vedruss social order underwent its first changes in other lands, back when there was no foe to invade. There were no armies. There were no wars or military campaigns, because there was nothing that could lead to them. The whole Earth at the time was made up of marvellous domains. People’s culture and concepts were truly outstanding. Everybody knew that to take vegetables or fruit out of someone else’s orchard by force or stealth was not only improper — it was useless and dangerous to one’s self.
“Only through produce that was given freely and with desire could benefit be acquired.
“Neither was it considered proper to take household animals from someone else’s domain by deceit or by force. A cow would not have let a stranger come close. And somebody else’s dog might have shown itself to be not a friend, but a foe. And a horse might have taken the occasion to throw a rider if it were not its own.
“With concepts like these, who would dare invade? Such concepts made invasions absurd. Corruption, in the main, came from ignorance, or rather from treason or betrayal, even in little things, of the culture of one’s forebears, their way of life. The family chain leads us to God. To betray one’s forebears’ meaning of life is tantamount to killing God within one’s self.
“Yes, in Rus’, of course, the people were deceived, through the priests’ well-honed manipulative techniques — techniques which are still active in our own time. Back then the elders overlooked this subtle play, and their mistake is still being paid for by subsequent generations even today”