TIME AND MOTION
According to Fedorov, “progress is veritable Hell, and the truly divine, truly human task is to save the victims of progress, to take them out of Hell.” 7 One way to do this would be to remove humankind from the flow of time’s river entirely, as Muravyov proposed to do, an alternative attempt at merging humanity with the Universe to Fedorov’s dream of turning us all into quasi-incorporeal psychic space-plants. 8 Like Fedorov, Muravyov was steeped in alchemical thought, as can be seen from some of the passages in Control Over Time describing laboratory experiments into a process he termed “the resurrection of water”. As everyone knows, water is made from two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen. However, it is possible to separate the oxygen from the hydrogen in a lab, and thus ‘kill’ the water. By recombining the two elements, though, the skilful Communist could then resurrect the water’s ghost back from its brief sojourn within the fourth dimension with Lenin, a process Muravyov deemed to be one of time-travel, or at least “limited time-reversal”, but which sounds not unlike the mediæval alchemists’ old idea of reflux-distillation. 9 Muravyov’s thinking here was inspired by the medical experiments of another contemporary GodBuilder named Alexander Bogdanov, Lenin’s one-time leadership rival, and a pioneer in the art of blood-transfusion. Unfortunately, Bogdanov eventually ended up accidentally killing himself after a bout of ill-advised self-experimentation in this field, but his early, more successful adventures in medical vampirism had, he thought, made him feel much younger and fitter – it was almost as if he had managed to reverse time itself. 10
Bogdanov’s key idea was that of ovladenie, or ‘control’; and we will recall that Ovladenie
Vremenem was the original Russian title of Muravyov’s book. In this, both men followed Fedorov, who also felt that mankind’s ultimate destiny was to control creation; he envisaged super-sciences of the future, in which, for example, weather-forecasting would become weather-control. Humanity could already measure time, so for the Cosmist Muravyov the next step was for us to direct it. His definition of time, though, was that it was nothing more than an expression of change and motion. The hands on clocks, the procession of the Sun and planets, the decay of biological matter we call ‘aging’; all these signs we use to measure the passage of time were based, ultimately, upon things moving or changing. Stop all movement and decay, therefore, and you would also stop time. But how? The problem was, said Muravyov, one of
mnozhestvo, or ‘multiplicity’. Einstein had recently shown how there were multiple time-frames in existence; his Theory of Relativity implied that the closer to the speed of light you travel, the slower you age. There was also a difference between external time, as measured on calendars, and internal time, as measured by the psyche; a determined Stakhanovite worker, for example, could get a job done in half the time of a demotivated wrecker, for whom the endless hours in the tractor-factory tended to drag. Such dissenting independence of thought created kinks in time which only impeded efficiency.
The remedy was to get everything and everybody operating in unison within all possible time-frames at once – and the only way to do that was through the compulsory collectivisation of labour. For Muravyov, as for many bureaucrats, all people and things were reducible ultimately to numbers, so he proposed that the multiple time-frames which currently existed within us should be forcibly synchronised so that society became organised upon fractal lines, like a giant Mandelbrot set. Just as when you break a twig off a tree, you see it is a smaller version of the shape of the larger branch whence it came, so it should be with the proletariat; each man’s internal calendar should look precisely the same, though smaller, as that of the gigantic external calendar of society as directed by Lenin or Stalin, with their beloved Five-Year Plans. In this way, the individual is reunited with the greater Marxist collective in the same way the alchemists sought to join together the microcosm of their own psyches with the macrocosm of the entire Universe. If everything moved at precisely the same speed and in the same direction, then movement itself – and time – would stop, and all become one. The only true freedom, therefore, was to be found in submission to a greater will; that of the time-controlling Soviet dictator, who now wound up the very clock of civilisation itself. Muravyov termed this social model one of “Cosmocratic Government”, which should envelop the entire globe, and from which dissent should be made impossible. But what to do with anyone who did dissent? Muravyov doesn’t specifically say so, but the obvious answer was to seal them all within non-cubic coffins, then banish them into the fourth dimension of death forever... a measure which, ultimately, the real-life government of the USSR proved all too happy to implement.
LEFT: Alexander Bogdanov.