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Post: Stop Russian culture: Pelevin mocks cancel culture in new novel


MOSCOW, September 29 – RIA Novosti, Pavel Surkov. A good tradition has developed in Russia: once a year read a new novel by Viktor Pelevin, which, naturally, is published in strict secrecy. Today another book was published – “Journey to Eleusis”.

New book from V. Pelevin, Journey to Eleusis
V. Pelevin’s new book “Journey to Eleusis”

Leading from the nose: why the new book is not new

And now for the third time in a row the author openly holds the reader by the nose, offering, in fact, nothing new, but a continuation of the old. Apparently, in the stash of one of the most secret Russian writers lies a huge work, from which he methodically cut out parts – individual books.

“Journey to Eleusis” continues the plot of the previous “Transhumanism Inc.” and “KGBT+”. In fact, it reinforces the general plot of Pelevin’s legend, introduces the heroes of all previous books into the world of the future described without exception.

Viktor Pelevin
Viktor Pelevin

This is the “neuronet” that the reader knows very well and that Pelevin makes fun of: there is no physical body, humanity has condescended to exist in the form of a brain in a jar with a life-giving solution that supports its functioning. .

The disembodied humans are focused on building a global virtual network, and this network is controlled by the vampires from Empire V and the Batman Apollo dilogy.

Cover of Victor Pelevin's book Empire V
Cover of Victor Pelevin’s book “Empire V”

Ideal consumers, bloodsuckers, lovers of ostentation and rhetoric, they created the logical world of perfect sleep. It includes real people and virtual images. In fact, this is what the new book is dedicated to.

This time, Pelevin is trying to tackle one of the fundamental modern fears about the activity of neural networks: how to distinguish what a person has created from what a program has done. So is this necessary at all?

New book from V. Pelevin, Journey to Eleusis
V. Pelevin’s new book “Journey to Eleusis”

Detective program: Where Porfiry’s conspiracy comes from

The main character of “Journey to Eleusis” is Porfiry Petrovich (this time just Porfiry), a writer who is a detective program and also the main character and narrator of the novel “iPhuck 10”.

Porfiry is perfectly comfortable in his part of the virtual future, mimicking Ancient Rome. He has declared himself emperor, organized gladiator fights (where people actually die, being cut off from life support), and appears to be planning some kind of global coup. To find out Porfiry’s plans (if such a word applies to the program) a man named Marcus is sent to him. He must be the emperor’s bodyguard and confidant, understanding his thoughts and stopping his plans if they are global and destructive.

Porfiry and Marcus travel to virtual Eleusis, a mysterious place where they will have to go through a series of inexplicable mysteries, as a result of which the future will be revealed.

Marcus does not know what the rituals consist of and how much confidence can be placed in the revelations received as a result of them. With this begins a fascinating travel novel that continues the tradition of Pelevin’s first books, such as “The Hermit and the Six-Fingers.”

Viktor Pelevin
Viktor Pelevin

The two heroes wander, sometimes finding themselves in an elegant file from which they emerge with unchanging nobility and ease, and, as befits a traveling book, they constantly have long conversations about the meaning of existence.

Pelevin’s irony: the elimination of Russian culture

At the same time, Pelevin would not be Pelevin if he did not mock the current media demons.

This time the subject of the satire is cancel culture with its horror of all things Russian. Because Porfiry Petrovich clearly comes from Dostoevsky’s world, he is doubly feared. It is “an aggressive imperial metastasis originating from the Russian classics” and must be neutralized.

Reproduction of Vasily Perov's painting Portrait of Dostoevsky - RIA Novosti, 1920, 28.09.2023
Reproduction of Vasily Perov’s painting “Portrait of FM Dostoyevsky”

Pelevin again masterfully sets foot on foreign soil: in fact, “Journey to Eleusis” elegantly parodies Merezhkovsky’s “Tutankhamun in Crete.” And the choice of the Eleusinian mysteries as a central metaphor is very successful.

In Eleusis, a suburb of Athens, mysterious rituals were actually performed that were forbidden to talk about. They appear to have been dedicated to the cult of the goddess Demeter (but this is not true) and required some psychological and physical preparation.

Phryne at Eleusis.  Painting by Henryk Semiradski
Phryne at the festival of Poseidon in Eleusis. Henryk Semiradsky

A person who experienced the mysteries saw something that radically changed his life. For example, the famous skeptic Cicero, who visited Eleusis, stopped criticizing the local mystics and instantly became their supporter.

Zilch or reality: What is Eleusis

In fact, Eleusis is another mystery, but as in Pelevin’s world, it may turn out to be nothing like we (or the characters) imagine, or not at all. And our hope that the author will finally stop trampling his old world and start building a new one seems to be drowning in the mythical Acheron. Viktor Olegovich is extremely comfortable being in his own “canned” universe, and he still has many ideas on how to deepen this world.

So we can assume that the author’s next book will be published in exactly a year – and in this book we will continue to wander through another garden, consisting of diverging paths, merging in distant virtual space.

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Source: Ria

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