The Christian God
About My Mother
It is very strange that a kind of empty white page should be left in my hand. How I walked there, how I waited (I remember I had to wait), I know nothing about it; I remember not a sound, not a face, not a gesture, as if all communicating wires between me and the world were cut.
When I came to, I found myself standing before Him. I was afraid to raise my eyes; I saw only the enormous cast-iron hands upon His knees. Those hands weighed upon Him, bending His knees with their weight. He was slowly moving His ﬁngers. His face was somewhere above, as if in fog. And, only because His voice came to my ears from such a height, it did not roar like thunder, it did not deafen me but appeared to be an ordinary, human voice.
“Then you, too, you, the Builder of the Integral! You, whose lot it was to become the greatest of all conquistadores! You, whose name was to have been at the head of a glorious new chapter in the history of the United State! You . . .”
Blood ran to my head, to my cheeks — and here again a white page; only the pulsation in my temples and the heavy voice from above; but I remember not a word. Only when He became silent, I came to and noticed how His hand moved heavily like a thousand pounds, and crawled slowly — His ﬁnger threatened me.
“Well? Why are you silent? Is it true, or not? Executioner? So!”
“So,” I repeated submissively. And then I heard clearly every one of His words.
“Well, then? Do you think I am afraid of the Word? Did you ever try to take off its shell and look into its inner meaning? I shall tell you. . . . Remember a blue hill, a crowd, a cross? Some up on the hill, sprinkled with blood, are busy nailing a body to the cross; others below, sprinkled with tears, are gazing upward. Does it not occur to you that the part which those above must play is the more difﬁcult, the more important part? If it were not for them, how could that magniﬁcent tragedy ever have been staged? True, they were hissed by the dark crowd, but for that the author of the tragedy, God, should have remunerated them the more liberally, should He not? And the most clement, Christian God himself, who burned all the inﬁdels on a slow ﬁre, is He not an executioner? Was the number of those burned by the Christians less than the number of burned Christians? Yet (you must understand this!), yet this God was for centuries gloriﬁed as the God of love! Absurd? Oh, no. Just the contrary. It is instead a testament to the imperishable wisdom of man, written in blood. Even at the time when he still was wild and hairy, man knew that real, algebraic love for humanity must inevitably be inhuman, and that the inevitable mark of truth is cruelty — just as the inevitable mark of ﬁre is its property of causing the sensation of burning. Could you show me a ﬁre that would not hurt? Well, now prove your point! Proceed! Argue!”
How could I argue? How could I argue when those thoughts were once mine, though I was never able to dress them in such a splendid, tempered armor? I remained silent.
“If your silence is intended to mean that you agree with me, then let us talk as adults do after the children have gone to bed; let us talk to the logical end. I ask: what was it that man from his diaper age dreamed of, tormented himself for, prayed for? He longed for that day when someone would tell him what happiness is, and then would chain him to it. What else are we doing new? The ancient dream about a paradise . . . Remember: there in paradise they know no desires any more, no pity, no love; there they are all-blessed. An operation has been performed upon their center of fancy; that is why they are blessed, angels, servants of God. . . . And now, at the very moment when we have caught up with that dream, when we hold it like this” (He clenched his hand so hard, that if he had held a stone in it sap would have run out!) “. . . . At the moment when all that was left for us was to adorn our prize and distribute it among all in equal pieces, at that very moment you, you . . .”
The cast-iron roar was suddenly broken off. I was as red as a piece of iron on an anvil under the moulding sledge hammer. The hammer seemed to have stopped for a second, hanging in the air, and I waited, waited . . . until suddenly:
“How old are you?”
“Just double the age, and as simple as at sixteen! Listen. Is it possible that it really never occurred to you that they (we do not yet know their names, but I am certain you will disclose them to us), that they were interested in you only as the Builder of the Integral? Only in order to be able, through the use of you —”
“Don’t! Don’t!” I cried. But it was like protecting yourself with your hands and crying to a bullet: you may still be hearing your own “don’t,” but meanwhile the bullet has burned you through, and writhing with pain you are prostrated on the ground.
Yes, yes: the Builder of the Integral . . . Yes, yes. . . . At once there came back to me the angry face of U- with twitching, brick-red gills, on that morning when both of them . . .
I remember now, clearly, how I raised my eyes and laughed. A Socrates-like, bald-headed man was sitting before me; and small drops of sweat dotted the bald surface of his head.
How simple, how magniﬁcently trivial everything was! How simple . . . almost to the point of being ridiculous! Laughter was choking me and bursting forth in puffs; I covered my mouth with my hand and rushed wildly out. . . .
Steps. Wind. Damp, leaping fragments of lights and faces . . . And while running: “No! Only to see her! To see her once more!”
Here again an empty white page. All I remember is feet: not people, just feet, hundreds of feet, confusedly stamping feet, falling from somewhere in the pavement, a heavy rain of feet . . . And some cheerful, daring voice, and a shout that was probably for me: “Hey, hey! Come here! Come along with us!”
Afterward — a deserted square heavily overloaded with tense wind. In the middle of the square a dim, heavy, threatening mass — the Machine of the Well-Doer. And a seemingly unexpected image arose within me in response to the sight of the Machine: a snow-white pillow, and on the pillow a head thrown back, and half-closed eyes, and a sharp, sweet line of teeth. . . All this seemed so absurdly, so terribly connected with the Machine. I know how this connection has come about, but I do not yet want to see it nor to say it aloud — I don’t want to! I don’t!
I closed my eyes and sat down on the steps which led upward to the Machine. I must have been running hard, for my face was wet. From somewhere far away cries were coming. But nobody heard them; nobody heard me crying: “Save me from it — save me!”
If only I had a mother as the ancients had — my mother, mine, for whom I should be not the Builder of the Integral, and not D-530, not a molecule of the United State, but merely a living human piece, a piece of herself, a trampled, smothered, cast-off piece . . . And though I were driving the nails into the cross, or being nailed to it (perhaps it is the same), she would hear what no one else could hear, her old, grown-together, wrinkled lips. . . .