RUSSIAN GULLIVER → NEW PROJECTS OF RUSSIAN GULLLIVER: Norumbega. Myth on Helvig

Vadim Mesyats project is based on two his published books: Norumbega: heads of ancestors (NLO, 2011) and Myth on Helvig (Ripol-Classic, 2016) 13263914_1196719370361364_3201398372838205259_n.jpg

In earlier times, we burned incense in sacred groves, peacefully herded bison, jumped through bonfires and collectively bathed naked in mirrored water cisterns. But then came civilizing personalities, crusaders… the whites… A familiar ditty, yes? I have no desire to idealize paganism and wrathful demonism. I look poorly on ritual sacrifices, scalpings, and decapitations. And yet, the completely headlong movement of rational civilization that boasts of whatever it likes except the depths of reflection and the selflessness of faith continually forces me to pose banal questions of the sort: “who side are you on, you artists of the word?”

It would seem that the answer is clear: on the side of the weak, the poor, the oppressed – such is the law of this genre. Why does everything turn out the opposite? Why are poets occupied with themselves alone or why do they shake off from themselves the last specks of traditional cultures with suicidal delight, while trying on the garb of second-hand consumer goods? Peoples are interesting only in how they differ one from another. It is not that I appeal to the collective-mystical consciousness. It exists, and it makes its appeal to me. I feel like a primitive whose pagan temple is about to be ravaged, whose women are about to be carried away into a forced voluntary slavery, whose land is about to be sold for a handful of glass beads, and whose life is about to be stripped of sense in the likeness and image of its powerful neighbors. And this isn’t a political stance. This is poetry wrung from a doubt that exasperates the soul to exhaustion, or if you like, from fear.

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On Mercator’s map (XVI century), Norumbega appears in the region of New England. Thor Heyerdahl called this place “Norwegian Home,” having supposed that the territory was all but acquired with the blessing of the Roman Pope long before Columbus sailed. Other sources say that the name is Indian, Abenaki, and that it means “an abundance of waterfalls.” For me, the phonetics are what was important, the strange word Norumbega: I am trying to write an epic of a certain northern people of that gigantic European nomadic expanse that the Romans called barbarian.

Latin poetry is created, barbarian – is not, and this, possibly, is due to another approach to language. The absence of written language among some of the tribes most likely speaks to the great scruples they had with respect to the word: prayer and newspaper, heavenly and earthly alphabet. Celtic lore, Germanic-Scandinavian sagas, Slavic bylinas, the folklore of Siberia and Northern America can serve as a source for this work, but only in the process of re-conceptualizing and adapting it to modern language conventions.

02.06.2016

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