“He was the last to remain – an utterly naïve hope. They had nearly ceased to take him seriously. He – the phantom of love – hovered in the expanse where love was no more. This was worse than the School in Brighton. There, at least, it had never been at all…” – SEMMANT
The elusive phantom caught me unaware – at the countess’s house, on the lynx-skin rug. Its breath aroused my soul, and I rushed after the call of its shade. It teased me, ensnared me, but here: I tore myself away and turned everything around. I twisted it my way, however I wanted. Or how someone wanted who did not wish to be known.
Yet, after that Saturday, no one demanded explanations from me. My victory was undisputed, though I did not know the enemy. Lidia surrendered like a fortress whose defenders have fled in fear. They galloped away, disgracing their names. They gave it up to plunder: their homes, warehouses, stables. The temples of gods who had extended no aid. All their white-skinned, full-chested women…
“The very myth about the City of M. is depressingly indistinct, and those who visit it, or maybe just talk about its mystic spell, cannot be truly proud, although they try with all their might…” – THE BLACK PELICAN
What’s essential is to imagine the details you’ve never seen and, hitting upon them, to feel your pulse fluttering the instant your finger traces the route on a map and reaches the yellow dot denoting the city. It’s essential to go there, whether or not you destroy all the bridges behind you. You may not be the first and you’re even a follower in a certain sense – a follower in a way you cannot contemplate without protesting with all your heart. Still, you’re here, and that alone overrides all the reasons to belittle yourself, especially since you could always find plenty of them.
“There was no future in it, nor was there any double game – making it all the more intense to feel the present…” – A SIMPLE SOUL
At about thirty-five, Kramskoy began to consider the shallow nature of his romances to be normal, and he learned to regulate their duration and frequency. And then an event occurred that suggested something more: a different perspective and a new trajectory. He met Sweet Yana, a twenty-year-old gymnast, affectionate and limber, shameless and always cheerful. She changed lovers often and gave each of them only a small part of herself, but from that part, she created the coziest little world, a most comfortable space you never wanted to leave. Her men adored her and put her on a pedestal, fawning, head over heels. And she would just purr and stretch out full length, always knowing precisely what she wanted and why.
“In a month, the most difficult, hidden, internal modules were finished; my robot was born!…” – SEMMANT
I wasn’t just indulging in dreams, my brain worked at full power – projecting, designing, altering. I sped south in my car from Tyrol, homeward, while in my head the most complicated schemes spun tirelessly, the contours of new life – life created ex nihilo.
Somewhere on a serpentine mountain road at Bolzano I thought through the details for heuristic fine-tuning. The artificial mind would turn out impulsive – and quick and sharp. It was somewhat similar to my own, I thought with a certain satisfaction and began to picture the most important thing: self-learning. Success depended to a large degree on this, and I was so absorbed in my musings that several times I turned the wrong way or strayed onto forks in the road, cursing through my teeth. Finally, somewhere around Brescia the key algorithm became clear to me, and I was so encouraged I laughed out the open window, then pulled into the very next village and drank late into the night with truckers from Verona.
“When the next one caught my eye, when I found a pearl in an unexpected place, I instantly looked for a man for myself and would cheat on my lover – insatiably…” – SEMMANT
Semmant is also real, I wanted to say in response, but I merely jested, “Of course! If you find a pearl in the shell, you have to hand it over to the owners.”
Lidia looked at me dubiously. “Is that a joke?” she asked. Her tone was serious, but I didn’t believe it. As it turned out, I was mistaken.