Fortean Times - - STRANGE STATESMEN #23 -

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.

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