Kowtow

Nepotyzm polega na tym, że jak masz kolegę, co rzeźbi w tym samym co ty, to chwalisz tego kolegę i lansujesz, bo jest kolegą, a nie dla tego że rzeźbi jakoś szczególnie dobrze. A więc ta notka nie będzie nepotystyczna, bowiem wcale mnie nie obchodzi, że Tetrix jest moim kolegą, tylko mordę mi cieszy niesamowicie to, co zrobił z tekstem Stanisława Lema.

Story jest takie, że jeden z wymierających bogów klasycznego SF, pan Frederik Pohl, co to dawno temu napisał Gateway i choćby za to należy mu się pogrzeb na Stacji Kosmicznej Mir, zapodał na swoim blogu życzenie, że chętnie przeczytałby dorzucone do ostatniego wydania Lemów z Wyborczej Drrama Wieloaktowe – Korzenie, niestetyż polszczyzną nie włada, a w języku Asimova utwór się nie ukazał.

A, że kolega Tetrix nie tylko dla mnie jest dobrym kolegą, tylko jest tak ogólnie dobrym kolegą i ma na to pewnie jakąś odznakę z harcerstwa, to rzecz całą przetłumaczył.

I żeby się nie marnowała li jedynie po dyskach pana Pohla, pozwolił mi tutaj przekleić. Tak więc dzisiaj zamiast autolansu – cudzolans. Stanisław Lem o Stalinie na mowę zgniłych imperialistów przełożony.

Stanisław Lem – Kowtow
transl. by Buddy Tetrix

Personae:

Dement Psychotich Bartulychtimuschenko, 42, director of pickled soda factory, a Bolshevik (deviating)

Avdotia Nedonogina-Praxiwtikhina, said Dement’s wife

Egor Nonenterablich, 49, fridge salesman

Varfalamotvey Retardischev, 25, a literate

Tributt Balalaikin-Michurenko, a Soviet biologist, disciple of Lysurin

Lubricanty Crapov, a true worker

Utterlych Inadvisabilidze, Party secretary at the soda factory

Iosif Vissarionovich himself

Curtains, red and pleasant

Those and others.

Act I

Psychotich pacing on a curvilinear trajectory in his office: Wife o’mine, know you what? Socialism is a great thing, and Communism an even greater one, yet I returned from the States yesterday. Just think, the Party, the government sent me to glean the imperialist and cosmopolitan ways of producing pickled soda, at which I succeeded, by the way. It wasn’t all fun and games, as I was peeping on an old imperialist through a keyhole, his secretary poked a fine knitting needle in my eye, but what’s an eye compared to Communism? Now why are you so silent, my Praxiwtikhina, my comrade, my wife, so to speak? Since you’re so silent, I’ll tell you – indeed, it’s like a snake bit me in the heart.

Do you realize (lowering his voice to a cosmopolitan whisper) it must be ever so nice to have a real car and a fridge, or even a villa.

Avdotia tragically: This I haven’t expected of you, comrade husband. This is why we did the revolution in 1917? To be running around in cars, of all things? To have some crappy fridges? What will you be wishing for now? How about a toothbrush? A finger’s not good enough for the likes of you? Have a care, what are you doing? No longer content to be toiling for the Revolution? No longer care for the production plan, for our joy, our sweat, our blood…

Psychotich: Blood and sweat, sure, but why can’t I have a fridge?

Avdotia: Cease this kowtow, this obscene kowtowing to the West. What do you need a fridge for? What’re you going to keep there, your longjohns? Stop it, or I’ll go see comrade Inadvisabilidze, he’ll knock the fridge right out of your head (crosses herself).

Psychotich: Why are you crossing yourself then, you Communist?

Avdotia: It’s legal now, ever since November 22, 1942. Oh, Dementik, my little Bartulychtimuschenko, what’s come upon you… You were the spotless one, always first to go work with the soda and the last to get back, one couldn’t wash the stuff off you, and now…

Knocking on the door

Psychotich: In with you, that is, please, come in.

Lubricanty entering: Welcome, Avdotia Praxiwtikhina and to you, Dement, our Soviet engineer. Shaken the American dust off your shoes yet? How’s the capitalism these days, rotting?

Psychotich: Rots along. Stinks even here, can’t you smell it?

Avdotia: Who wouldn’t smell it? (all laugh socialistically, i.e., not for personal benefit)

Lubricanty: Good to have you back. I’m bringing staunch soc-greetings from the Partorg, the NKVD, the soc-rev-tribunal, and the Ukr-region-god-save-us-bang-boom-central bureau. And here’s the papers and the plan.

Avdotia: Tell us, do tell us, dear Lubricanty – exceeded?

Lubricanty: Ya mean, the plan, like?

In chorus: The plan.

Lubricanty: The plan’s exceeded, but the soda, not so good. Recently there’s crumbs in it.

In chorus (fearfully): Crumbs…

Lubricanty: They say it’s due to our soc-cat, Marfasha. Poor kitty slid down into the tank and got steamed to tarnation. It broke down into cat disodium.

Psychotich: And what did you do about it?

Lubricanty: Me? Nothing. These things don’t scare a Bolshevik. We threw a production meeting, just like that.

Avdotia: And what happened then?

Lubricanty: Turteltaub, your assistant, dear Dementich, ‘s got a few years hard time coming.

Psychotich: Uh… Uh…

Lubricanty: Well, gotta run. There’s the oven full of pickled soda waitin’ for me, plus I need to finish a chapter in my book, How to get the spots out of your shirt and on to where you can whack ’em but good, or, Soda It, I’m a Young Stakhanovite. Best wishes of witnessing the Communism to you! (singing): Hello, Sasha, Hello, Masha, life’s beautiful, fi de fo (leaves).

Act II

Varfalamotvey: Oh, brother… Been to Paris myself… Oh, that Moulin Rouge, oh, those girls of negotiable morals, oh, the dear rotting capitalism, cappy, pippy, tally, my dear gold imperialititty, and where’s us, then?

Psychotich: And what if we’re wrong, Varfalamotvey Ivanovich, huh? Perhaps you, gorged on caviar by the Soviet rule, shouldn’t be licking your maw at the thought of failings of flesh? Didn’t you write sonnets on Stalin, an epic poem about the Leader, a novel about Young Iosif, a volume of aphorisms about the Sun of the Working Masses, et cetera? Well? Huh?

Varfalamotvey: Kowtowing, you mean? Like, I kowtow? But it’s so pleasant… One can actually breathe… do whatever one feels like doing…

(Utterlych walks in)

Inadvisabilidze: Chicks came to roost, you dogs and sons of dogs. Here’s a surprise for ya. Now, defeatist comrades. I did hear about your deviation from the Party line. So I thought: Right, the clock strikes the final hour for our enemies. Was it really that necessary to deviate, brothers? The line’s bad? Not to your liking, huh? (fondling his Nagant revolver nervously)

Defeatists: Uh… uh… have mercy, Utterlych Inadvisabilidze… our dear, respected Party secretary… We look up to you like you’re our sun… we’ll give to you this… and that… just let us repay our mistakes. Won’t happen again.
Inadvisabilidze: You tainted yourselves with kowtowing, huh? Smelled it as soon as I came here.

(Michurenko comes in at a trot, straight to Dement):

Michurenko: Uncle Psychotich, you know I invented a great thing? Among my dreams, like a mangrove pine, I bred a new type of a cactus, a cross-over with a cow, having nipples for thorns. It’s being milked right now, downstairs, at the gate.

Inadvisabilidze: Incredible, what’s it yield?

Michurenko: Cactus juice.

Inadvisabilidze: Drinkable, that?

Michurenko: Well, stinks a bit, but goes down fine. Besides, that’s only the socialist stage. You’ll see what will come in Communism.

Inadvisabilidze: And what was the basis for your invention, comrade? Not the rotten bourgeois science, by any means?

Michurenko: Feh, feh. It’s based on Lysurin. Oh yes, we, the Soviet agribiologists can do anything. All is possible that is impossible, only with Marx and Engels (stormy applause). And why are you so down in the mouth, uncle Psychotich? Not doubting the progressive cactus, are you?

Inadvisabilidze: Your uncle is tainted with kowtow.

Michurenko: Huh? What? Kowtow? Cactus? What? Kowtow? What uncle? Who?

Inadvisabilidze: Well, this here Dem Psychotich Bartulychtimuschenko, director of pickled soda factory… until today.

Michurenko: You’re joking! What uncle? Whose uncle? Mine, you mean? I don’t know this citizen, I mean, this comrade. I just called him “uncle” sometimes for fun, but I always thought he’s got something suspicious about the eyes, cosmopolitan, reactionary and, God save us all, counterrevolutionary. I’ll be running off, then, so the cactus won’t wither.

Inadvisabilidze: By all means, just leave us some address, please.

Michurenko: Me? Address? Uh… address? W… why? Maybe you’d like some cactus juice… or rather milk… perhaps… maybe…

Inadvisabilidze: Cactus is one thing, and my request for your address – quite another.

Michurenko: Ah (slowly provides his address and leaves, stumbling with freedom).

Inadvisabilidze: So, how’s it gonna be?

Varfalamotvey and Psychotich (looking at one another, raising right hands and addressing the audience): Oh, how disgusting the cars are, how repulsive the clean shirts, how noisome the perfumed soaps, how redundant, detrimental and obscene are the toothpastes. Down with the rotten comforts, with nasty armchairs and sofas. We want to toil very long and very hard. We want to exceed the daily norm by 460 percent, we want to be too thin for any pants and to spit blood, because that’s what we want, period. And now we pledge to produce such a pile of soda that the imperialists will soften under it, dissolve utterly along with the North-Atlantic Treaty and the Voice of America.

Inadvisabilidze: Now that’s better. But I’m not sure if I can forgive you.

(trumpets, cymbals, batons and fanfares. The mood gets ever more socialist. It smells of communism. The door opens superhumanely, and Stalin enters inhumanely. Superhumanely good, inhumanely genial, genially smiling.)

Stalin (in inhumanely nice voice): Now what’s-a the matter, comrades? How’s them things? Wanted to make-a a bit of kowtow-a, a?

Inadvisabilidze (at attention): Sir yes sir, ComStalin.

Stalin: But not no more-a, a? Well then, never mind-a.

Everyone (in unison): You know everything, ComStalin.

Stalin: Which is due to the Marxist-Leninist situation analysis. And you wanted a fridge, Dement, right? (with a superhuman smile) Here they come bringing it in for you.

(Egor Nonenterablich carries the fridge in. After him, Avdotia runs in. On their knees):

Psychotich and Avdotia: Thank you, o Stalin the Great.

Everyone: Stalin the Great.

Psychotich: Stalin the Awesome.

Everyone: Stalin the Awesome.

Psychotich: And, like, everything.

Everyone: And, like, everything.

Avdotia: Thank you for stiffening my husband up and affixing him to the line. I beg of you, ComStalin, do work on about bringing in the Communism. I can hardly breathe without it. Oh, do work on.

Everyone: Oh, do unto us whatever you wish, it is so pleasant.

Inadvisabilidze: Just so as to get to the Communism.

Psychotich: To the commune, right.

Everyone: Just so, precisely.

Psychotich (in a shaky whisper): And what will we be doing then? When the Communism will finally come?

Stalin (in an inhumanely genial voice): We’ll be toiling really, really hard. Just don’t kowtow. I’m telling you (a kettledrum, a trombone, and off he goes).

(Psychotich switches the fridge on)

Psychotich: Ow, it doesn’t chill. Ow, it’s heating up. Ow, it’s scalding, what’s going on? (the fridge blows up with a bang, leaving a paired hole – in the floor and in the ceiling. The remnants of the fridge expire on the faces of those present.)

Lubricanty: Oh that’s because we rushed it, because this was beyond the plan, so the assembly job was done in a hurry.

Psychotich: What do you mean?

Inadvisabilidze: Silence, Communism can’t be kept waiting.

Psychotich: A Stalinist fridge.

Everyone: You crazy man, that’s not socrealism anymore. All you dog-fearing folk, show him what’s what (they rip him to shreds – and it’s curtains).

A za genialny portret Lema, wrzucony powyżej odpowiadają Piksele, którym udało się coś przepięknego – stworzenie momentalnie rozpoznawalnego portretu, który spokojnie mógłby przybrać ikoniczny charakter i wpakowanie weń tak obłędnie subtelnego nawiązania do klasycznych lemowskich rysunków Daniela Mroza, że choć ich nie widać, to od razu wiadomo, ze tam są.

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