Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book X. On the Metahistory of the Russian Culture

X. Chapter 4. Missions and Destinies (end)

There is a specificity in the history of Russian culture which, once taken notice of, stuns and gives rise to rather disturbing thoughts.

Antiquity would strike one with quite versatile and intense expressions of the Feminine Principle in the Greek mythology. Without Athena, Artemis, and Demeter, without the nine Muses, without a host of lesser goddesses and half-goddesses, the Olympian myth is inconceivable. Neither is imaginable the heroic-human plane of Greek mythology without Helen, Andromache, Penelope, Antigone, and Phaedra.

The spiritual world of the ancient Germans would be crippled without Freya, Frigga, Valkyries, and so too would be their heroic epics, without the images of Brunhilda or Gudruna.

In no other culture do women and Femininity play such a role in the pantheon, mythology, and epics and, further on, in all kinds of arts, as in the Indian culture. Goddess Saraswathi and goddess Lakshmi reign, sitting on the highest of thrones. Then, for two millennia, Brahmanism and Hinduism erect thousands of temples, sculpt millions of statues of the Great Mother of worlds – Kali-Durga, the sustainer and destroyer of the universe. Art, poetry, sculpture, drama, dance, philosophy, theology, cult, folklore, even the daily rounds of life – all in India is suffused with experiences of the Feminine Principle: now burning, then tender, then stringent.

Not only the pantheon, but also the epics of every people is familiar, at least to some degree, with feminine images, those loved by the people and reproduced by artists from epic to epic, from art to art, from century to century.

What do we see in Russia?

At the earliest, pre-Christian stage, not a single female name is comparable to Jarilo or Perun (heathen male gods, translator’s note) in terms of invocation or worshipping.

The Russian Christian pantheon borrows the cult of the Virgin Mary entirely from Byzantium, as well as worshipping certain, again, Byzantine female saints.

Folk legends about Saint Fevronia make one feel dismally frustrated, given the earlier exposure to the variety of her image in Rimsky-Korsakov’s mystery-play.

The image of Yaroslavna is barely outlined in “The Word about Igor’s Regiment”. Over six hundred years, not a single tale, piece of visual art, or poem tried to give a more detailed and elaborated variety of this image. The seventh century since the creation of the genius poem was drawing to a close and, finally, Borodin’s opera revealed a new musicality of Yaroslavna’s image.

A great many of Kievan and Novgorod epics are almost entirely stripped of the female imagery.

Save the legend about Cupid and Psyche that had been carried to our locale, in ways which are anyone’s guess, and had been transformed into “The Scarlet Flower” tale, the boundless sea of Russian tales seems to offer only one light-filled female image, bearing a deeper significance: Vasilisa the Wise.

And this scarcity lasts not for just one or two centuries, but is millennium-long, lasting up until the nineteenth century.

And, all of a sudden, there appears Tatyana Larina. She is followed by Lyudmila Glinki. Then it was as though some Aran struck the dead rock with his wonderworking rod, releasing a stream of fascinating images, one that is deeper, more poetic, more heroic, more touching, and more captivating than another: Lisa Kalitina, Elena from “On the Eve”, Asya, Zinaida, Lukerya from “The Living Hallows”, countess Marya Volkonskaya, Natasha Rostova, Grushen’ka Svetlova, Marya Timofeevna Lebyadkina, Lisa Khokhlakova, Volkonskaya and Trubetskaya of Nekrasov, Katerina of Ostrovsky, Marfa of Mussorgsky, mother Manefa and Flenushka of Mel’nikov-Pechersky, the grandma in Goncharov’s “The Precipice”, the grandma in Gorky’s “Childhood”, “The Lady with the Dog” and “Seagull” of Chekhov, Kuprin’s “Olesya” and, finally, Beautiful Lady of Blok.

What is that?

This is the direct outcome of the estrangement between Yarosvet and the Second Witzraor.

After the conquest of Paris, the second demon of “greatpowerness” swelled with an inordinate pride and something similar to what psychiatrists call “delusion of grandeur”. Through involtating the king and other political figures of Russia, he saw to the emasculation of the original idea of the Holy Union and the establishment of “arakcheevschina” (the period of great influence of general Arakcheev upon the political process, t/n) inside the country. Finally, the demiurge stipulated a condition, an ultimatum of sorts, to Zhrugr – to not block Alexander I from apprehending the demiurgic involtation, which came down to, by and large, planting the idea for immediate and radical reforms: the liberation of peasantry and the convocation of the all-people Assembly of the Land on a permanent basis. The witzraor spurned this demand. Then, in 1819, Yarosvet, for the first time wielded his light-filled weapon against Zhrugr: a part of the igvas’ citadel in Drukkarg was destroyed; the involtation of Navna that had been vainly trying to break through these agelong agglomerations, so as to reach the creative layers of the suprapeople’s consciousness, finally succeeded. It is highly emblematic that the birth of the first image in the female pantheon of Russia – that of Tatyana Larina – falls precisely in the years following 1819. Open confrontation between the two hierarchies ensued. One of its forms on the part of the witzraor was the forcible elimination of those people in Enrof that were bearers of light-filled missions. Directly connected to this are the tragic deaths or, rather, murders of Griboyedov, Pushkin, and Lermontov; the obscuration and entanglement of Gogol, Alexander Ivanov, and Mussorgsky in unresolvable contradictions; the untimely death of Vladimir Solovyov and Chekhov.

The history of “messagery” in Russian literature is a chain of tragedies, a string of unaccomplished missions.

Russian poets’ lot is dismal:
Fate, in its mysterious ways,
Finished Pushkin with a pistol,
Saw to Dostoevsky‘s chains.

(M. Voloshin)

But it was the witzraor, even Urparp at times, not fate, that did away with some, only to be replaced by others. Here, standing out is Turgenev, a great writer that was endowed with the highest degree of artistic giftedness.

Undoubtedly, Turgenev’s images of “superfluous people” are quite lively and curious to a historian. Yet – only to a historian. Characters such as Rudin, Lavretsky, or Litvinov, to my mind, hardly provide any material that would be interesting to a psychologist, let alone to a metahistorian, for they express or reflect neither metahistorical beings, nor metahistorical processes. The figure of Bazarov is more symptomatic, of course. But the great metahistorical significance of Turgenev’s works lies in a totally different sphere.

The mission of Turgenev came down to creating a gallery of female images marked with Navna’s and Zventa-Sventana’s influence.

Whether as a result of his idiosyncratic, defective personal destiny, or, perhaps, some of the deeper, inborn traits of his temperament and endowment, Turgenev – more than anyone else in his generation of writers – understood and adored love at its budding stage: he is a genius poet of “first dates” and “first declarations”. The further development of events leads every time to a catastrophe, which happens before the destinies of the lovers have been united at that. Perhaps, this way the prejudice of the “old school” writers would manifest to the effect that happy love is a shallow and ungracious theme. Yet, it seems this specificity in Turgenev’s stories could better be explained in terms of his personal life experience: in that he simply lacked the material for some other development of love plots.

Nonetheless, he tried to overcome this deficiency of his. One of his most wonderful female characters, Elena, as is known, becomes united with Insarov, accompanies him in all the twists and turns of his life, and partners him in his life feat. Yet, having outlined a way out of this vicious circle, Turgenev was unable to find such a material in the storage of his life impressions that would have allowed him to artistically elaborate and clothe this plot into flesh and blood. Moreover, having put together these two characters in their common life cause, Turgenev succumbed to his typical love melancholy – he had Insarov die and Elena continue her husband’s work in solitude. So too, the idiosyncrasies of Turgenev’s love esthetics did not fail to show: that apparently, he had a special artistic fondness for collisions, steeped in grief, breakdown, and a breach between hope and reality – a heart-rending melody of regretting the irremediable. Apparently, other collisions did not seem to him beautiful enough. True, there are people and entire epochs that see ruins as more poetic than any structure living in full bloom. Yet, if we recall that Navna still languished in Zhrugr’s captivity, and Yarosvet had destroyed the citadel of igvas only in part, this deficiency of Turgenev’s love poems would no longer appear just an outcome of his own personal collisions – it would be understood with full objectivity and regularity.

And yet, Elena is the first image of a Russian woman that breaks free from the age-long isolation of female destiny, from its narrow predetermination by custom, and takes to what was deemed as an exclusively male domain: to social struggle, to the space of social activism. The femininely heroic line, that line of Navna that originates from the monumental figure of princess Olga towering at the very dawn of Russian culture, followed by Marfa Posadnitsa and boyarina Morozova, then, in the epoch preceding Turgenev, by the figures of Decembrists’ wives – this line reached a whole new level in the image of Elena and, for the first time, found its artistic embodiment.

Whoever happens to write about Turgenev’s female characters, be it Pisarev or a small-time student, it seems that the character of Lisa Kalitina is yet to be given its due. This is only natural. It remains underappreciated, because the most influential critics, journalists, and literary scholars had been precisely those who wailed over Gogol’s departure from general fiction into religio-moral preaching, who boiled over the similar aspirations of Tolstoy, who ridiculed every writer that tried to show with his creativity or lifestyle that spiritual yearning had not completely dried up in humanity. Not only retirement to a monastery, but the very idea of monastery appeared reactionist and fundamentally flawed to Russian critics and the general public. The whole century, starting from 1855 passed under the sign of debunking and dethroning self-contained religious ideals. Even such mystic thinkers as Merezhkovsky, did not dare to approach the idea of the monastery, even from the angle of its temporary legitimacy at certain stages of religio-cultural personal and social development.

One would presume that deeply religious people (Lisa numbered among them) retire to monasteries without giving this any consideration, without any self-analysis, just flinging their young lives into some black hole on a whim. In other words, they commit a spiritual suicide of sorts, simply because they have not chanced to come across such forward-thinking and highly cultured people as us: a sober and bubbly voice from the outside would have certainly prevented the deluded from taking the fateful step. As if the drama of Lisa’s life had not struck a blow at something most cherished and tender that she bore inside – her religious conscience. There happened a collision between this conscience and love – Lisa was able to fall in love only once in her lifetime (she was the paragon of a one-man woman), and this love was as sacred to her as the notions of good and truth. She realized – and this realization was totally legitimate – that for her, for an individual with such conscience and such love, it was impossible to unravel this knot in her being, given the conditions of the human world. No sage would have offered another solution to this bind, provided that Lisa was precisely as described by Turgenev. If this knot was to be unraveled in ways unimaginable, what would fill in and make sense of the remaining years in Enrof, other than the preparation and self-purification for passing over into the next world, where the most intricate knots, which had been tied here, would finally unravel?

If so, what other path, except the monastic proves more solid and straight when it comes to such purification? It is true, however, that driving this home to people resenting Lisa, is as impossible as to those unhappy with Gogol and Tolstoy. What could they possibly know about the heights this most pure heart would have touched, beating under the nun’s robe over those forty or fifty years? – Perhaps, the same ultimate fruits of sainthood that great, widely recognized he- and she-ascetics had achieved!.. Lisa Kalitina was certainly the one whom Turgenev did not have to save and finish creating in his afterlife. Perhaps, quite the opposite happened: Lisa may have taken a lot of sins off Ivan Sergeevich after his death.

Even more significant yet, is another image, which we become familiar with, thanks to its literary reproduction by Turgenev. Incidentally, it is more significant for another reason: there, Turgenev talks not about a female soul entering the path of righteousness, but about righteousness as such, already achieved and crowing the earthly life. I am talking Lukerya from the stunning sketch “The Living Hallows”. What could be said about her? Each word there is filled with a deeper meaning. One is to keep poring over this masterpiece, rather than making some comments about it. There, Turgenev overcame everything: as his own deficiency, so literary prejudices, so the belligerent-secular spirit of the epoch, so his one-sided, hence not fully legitimate love for youth, so his constant terror of illness and death. As is known, Lukerya was not a purely fictional character – in “The Living Hallows”, Turgenev depicts his meeting with a former she-serf of his mother, after not seeing her for many years. Perhaps, he did not even realize the profundity of Lukerya’s simple words, which he thoroughly reproduced. It is doubtful that Turgenev himself believed that Lukerya “atoned her sins” and was going to atone the sins of her close ones. It is also highly unlikely that he understood the symbolism or, rather, the mystical reality of “the hot field”, which Lukerya is reaping in her “dream”, of the scythe turning into a crescent in her hair, and of the bridegroom Vasya, who is actually Jesus Christ approaching her over the wheat heads. This is one of those images that become invariably degraded through being interpreted. As Turgenev put it, it can only be taken notice of – and walked past.

Be that as it may, Russia had created only two images of such caliber by then: maiden Fevronia and Lukerya.
Those following the train of my thoughts, perhaps, expect me to characterize along the same lines, other bearers of the “messagery” gift in Russian literature: Alexei Tolstoy, Tyutchev, Leskov, Chekhov, Blok. But, for the purposes of this writing, I would rather indefinitely postpone sharing my thoughts on Tyutchev, Leskov, and Chekhov. Alexei Tolstoy is to wait for a special article dedicated to him. And Blok, before being subjected to scrutiny, will first make way for Vladimir Solovyov.

Vladimir Solovyov… Such a strange figure on the horizon of Russian literature he is! He is neither a genius, nor a mere talent (well, as a poet he is just a talent, not the greatest one, but there is something in his poetry that lies beyond talent). A righteous man? True, Solovyov’s ethical cast of mind was exceptional. Yet, as is known, he did not rid himself of many weaknesses while alive. A philosopher? Indeed, this is the only Russian philosopher deserving this title without a stretch. Yet, his philosophical system turned out to be not fully elaborated, did not leave a remarkable trace in the history of Russian culture, and remained largely unknown abroad. What was he? A prophet? If so, where and what, in actual fact, did he prophesize about and in what forms? Perhaps, “the silent prophet”, as Merezhkovsky called him, signified some spiritual realities not by way of words but through his very being? Perhaps, of all suppositions, the latter is closer to reality, yet it does not consort with it.

The philosophical activities of Solovyov were dictated by the intention he had articulated quite early: to substantiate Orthodox theological teaching with the modern positivist philosophy. Of course, he often stepped far beyond the bounds of this task. At certain stages in his life, he departed from the strict Orthodoxy, as a result of which his “La Russie et l'Eglise Universelle”(*1) could not be published in Russia. Yet, he was always concerned to not end up as a religious castaway, and the fate of a heresiarch appeared to him nothing if not appalling.

1 “Russia and the Universal Church” (trans. from French) ==========================================================

And yet, he turned out to be not a “heresiarch”, of course, but a precursor of the movement, which is to shape up in the future and which Orthodox scripturists, at least, at the beginning, would treat as something verging on heresy.

Vladimit Solovyov was but a great spiritual visionary. He had some spiritual experience, not very broad, it seems. Yet, in terms of the height of Shadanakar layers that burst open to him, his experience, methinks, surpasses that of Eckhart,

Böhme, Swedenborg, Ramakrishna, Ramanuja, and Patanjali. For Russia, his experience was totally unprecedented at the time. These are three visions or, as Solovyov calls them in his poem, “three meetings”: he had had the first meeting as an eight-year boy, while attending the church service together with his tutoress; the second – as a young man in the British Museum’s library in London; and the third, the most grandiose one, shortly after the second – at night, in a desert close to Cairo, from where he had headed for England, responding to the call of his inner voice. Those interested, yet unfamiliar with the poem “Three Meetings”, are welcome to acquaint themselves with this unique religious document, as it speaks for itself. At the moment, I am deprived of the opportunity to quote from the poem, and I do not dare rephrasing it. I shall only take note that Solovyov experienced three times – the third time being marked with a special richness – the revelation of Zventa-Sventana. That is, he was transported to Raoris, one of the highest layers of Shadanakar, where Zventa-Sventana sojourned at the time. He experienced this revelation in the form of a vision, apprehended through his spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, spiritual olfaction, through the organs of contemplating cosmic panoramas and metahistorical perspectives – that is, through nearly all the organs of spiritual perception that burst open in him. When searching for some analogy of or, rather, precedent to such spiritual experience within the compass of the European history of religion, Solovyov deemed the Gnostic idea of Sophia, the Wisdom of God, most pertinent. Yet, the gnostic Valentine had encumbered the idea with layers of speculations, which hardly agreed with Solovyov. Moreover, the latter deemed all such speculations to be unacceptable and even sacrilegious. This idea neither gained momentum, nor, all the more so, was theologically elaborated and dogmatized in the historical Christianity. This is only natural provided that the emanation of the great God-born female monad into Shadanakar happened only at the turn of the nineteenth century. This metahistorical event was, if rather vaguely, intuited only by Goethe, Novalis, and, perhaps, Zhukovsky at the time. Therefore, up until the nineteenth century, there could have been no mystical experience comparable to Solovyov’s: the object of such an experience was simply non-existent yet in Shadanakar. In the epoch of Gnosticism, something different was apprehended – the downpour of the Universal Femininity into Shadanakar, shortly before Christ, that had no concrete manifestation, no focal point in a certain God-born monad. The echo of this event reached the consciousness of the great Gnostics and was shaped into the idea of Sophia. The image of Sophia, the Wisdom of God, yet took hold in the Eastern Christianity, while, at the same time, standing apart from and even quietly contradicting the Orthodox theological doctrine. Feeble attempts to reconcile them only led to absurdity, not unlike understanding Sophia as a symbolic representation of the Logos, Christ.

According to Solovyov himself, the milieu in the 1890’s was still ill-timed for openly raising the question of incorporating the idea of Sophia into the Orthodox teaching. He understood well that an irruption of such a grandiose supreme reality into the ossified compass of Christian dogma, would shatter it and only split the church with a new schism, which he deemed a great evil, an asset of sorts for the coming Antichrist. He was concerned with quite the opposite – the unification of churches. For this reason, he did not come forth proclaiming the new revelation till the very end of his too early ended life. He had only allowed himself to mention it in his light and unpretentious poetic work. His personal modesty, coupled with deep chastity, which had showed, among other things, in the crystal-clear language of his purely philosophical works, prompted him to clothe the three meetings, three paramount events of his life, into a humorous and unpretentious slice-of-life narration. The poem remained largely unknown beyond the circle of people taking special interest in such documents: this circle had been far from numerous even before the revolution, and now it is totally unable to manifest itself outside the confines of solitary rooms. Yet, the influence of this poem, as well as some other lyrical verses of Solovyov, dedicated to the same topic, caught up to the idealistic philosophy at the turn of the twentieth century, in the persons of Trubetskoy, Florensky, and Bulgakov, as well as in the poetry of the symbolists, in particular, Blok’s.

From what I have just said, one may draw a conclusion that the imminent birth of Zventa-Sventana in Heavenly Russia, is directly connected to the ideas of Solovyov, for Zventa-Sventana is nothing but the manifestation of the Feminine hypostasis of the Godhead in Shadanakar. It is clear to anyone that such ideas, stemming from the revelation of the Eternal Femininity, did not concur with the understanding of the Trinity in traditional Christianity. It should come as no surprise that Vladimir Solovyov, who saw to the unification of Christianity rather than its further fragmentation into sects, was in no haste to proclaim his prophetic experience.

Perhaps, there was another reason. Solovyov, who was well-versed in the history of religion, could not ignore the fact that the introduction of cults, differentiating between the masculine and feminine principles, into the various religious organizations, was fraught with extraordinary perils. Not understood enough spiritually, not strictly segregated from the human sexual sphere, such an introduction leads precisely to muddying spirituality with sexual impulses, to the sacrilegious identification of the cosmic spiritual marriage with sensual love and, ultimately, to ritual debauchery. For all we know, the positive experience of contemplating Zventa-Sventana in the form of superhuman and out-of-this-world feminine beauty, was so staggering for Solovyov, so incongruent with anything human or elemental, that any descent into the layers of the opposite principle felt repugnant to the visionary. He was aware of the existence of the Great Harlot, and quite well at that. Hence, he knew about the possibility of dreadful switches, lurking in wait for the insufficiently clear, insufficiently solid consciousness that has intuited the call of the Eternal Femininity, through the obscure layers of conflicting passions. Yet, the existence of the great elemental of humanity, Lilith, the molder and sustainer of peoples’ flesh, apparently remained outside of his scope. He used the expression “Aphrodite of the common people” two-three times, but he evidently meant the hazy mix of elemental and satanic principles. Their entanglement and indiscreetness were beyond doubt for Solovyov. Yet, pointing out, if only tentatively, the peril awaiting in that direction, was critically important. After what happened with Alexander Blok, one can only regret that the warning had not been articulated well enough.

Solovyov bears no responsibility for the fact that his mission remained unfinished. For him, bridging the gap between a spiritual visionary and a prophet, was just a matter of overcoming some petty human weaknesses of his, which he would have done had his life lasted several years longer. His mission came down precisely to the prophesizing of Zventa-Sventana and laying down historical and religious foundations for the emergence of the Rose of the World. Back then, the Rose of the World or, rather, its seed could have sprouted inside Orthodoxy, transforming it alongside and bringing it closer together with all spiritual movements of the right hand. This could have happened in Russia even under the conditions of the constitutional monarchy. Solovyov should have entered the ministry and, having raised it in peoples’ eyes to unheard-of heights through his authority as visionary, saint, and wonderworker, would have become the leader and reformer of the church. It is known that in the last years of his life, Solovyov more and more clearly saw with his inner eyes, the pictures of the last cataclysms of history and panoramas of the coming kingdom of the Antigod. Hence, he focused on the dream of the unification of churches and even the future union of Judaism and Islam with Christianity in the cause of fighting the common enemy, the Antichrist, whose coming lurked in the not-too-distant future. His letters unequivocally testify that he deemed the preparation of the social-religious consciousness for this struggle to be his calling. We cannot know of the organizational and structural forms of religiosity, which he would have relied upon to combine this task with the prophetic service to the Eternal Femininity. These forms depended not upon him alone, but also upon the objective conditions of Russian and world history. Yet, the very current of this history would have been different, if the first thirty years of the twentieth century would have been illumined with this exceedingly light-filled human image, going along the straight path, only to become a wonderworker and the greatest visionary the world had ever known.

His calling did not completely materialize, his preaching was not fully spoken out, his spiritual knowledge was not properly apprehended by its recipients: Solovyov was snatched out of Enrof in the prime of his life by that demonic will which saw in him, and rightfully so, an intransigent and dangerous enemy.

The charm of his personality, of his ideas, and even of his appearance, which truly seemed ideal for a prophet, immensely influenced the predisposed circles of his contemporaries, and this was despite the fact that his religious teaching had not been well elaborated. During those fifteen years between his death and the revolution, a multivolume collection of his works was published, and a whole corpus of literature about Solovyov and his philosophy saw the light of the day. This work was halted for more than forty years by the forerunners of the one, about whom he had predicted. Just as a shroud of deadly silence descended upon the leg of the life of Alexander the Blessed, following Taganrog, so too, the name of Vladimir Solovyov was as if submerged in quiet waters. His works and the works about him were made barely accessible, and his name lurked only in some footnotes to Alexander Blok’s poems, as the name of a clumsy reaction ideologist, who had planted some of his most regressive ideas into the young poet’s mind. Due to Russia’s philosophical poverty, only those in the nineteenth century that had had to their credit, social-political, literary-critical, or popular science articles, together with two-three artistically feckless novels – only those were proclaimed the luminaries of philosophy. The one and only Russian philosopher that created the methodologically spotless and totally original “Critique of Abstract Principles”, a remarkable theodicy “The Justification of the Good”, a host of prophetic concepts in “Lectures of Divine Humanity”, “Three Conversations”, and “Russia and the Universal Church” turned out to be as if nonexistent. It came to the point that entire generations of intelligentsia never heard the name of Vladimir Solovyov, resting under a cross-less gravestone in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.

It appears totally natural and legitimate that the Russian Synclite is home to the mighty Pushkin, glorious Dostoevsky, splendid Lermontov, or sun-like Tolstoy. Yet, millions upon millions would be astonished to see the one who used to be a forgotten idealistic philosopher in Russia, reaching and creating in worlds, unattainable to many luminaries of the Synclite.

to the next part: 10.5 The Fall of the Messenger
to the previous part: 10.3 Missions and Destinies (cont.)
to the beginning: «The Rose of the World». Table of contents
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