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Soviet Death as a Draft of Homo Mortem
by Serge Roganav

“… If you shoot yourself,
you’ll become God, won’t you?
- Yes, I’ll become God…”
F. Dostoevsky “Demons”

1.

Death was an instrument of the XX-th century. The appearance of the new century in history required the death of the old one. Man has easily forgotten his own limits and has ruthlessly destroyed those who are condemned by belief to be mortal, dominating as im-mortal. His potentials were boundless except his absolute limits of his earth existence. But he declined his own death, which couldn’t be his need, as it was inaccessible to him and unwanted. Inaccessible to his consciousness and will death had lost its place in the human existence. His “out-of-place” death ruled history like decay, like mere decomposition, destruction available either as fear and laughter or as delight of his power and nonentity. The former Christian death as a finite story of “wandering” of immortal soul in the ultrasensual realm transformed into an instant event of “cessation of vital psycho-physiological functions” and as inaccessible to his mind and will, lost its “place” in man’s existence. Biological death appeared as a symbol of immortality of new men. We called this historical movement “an epoch of God’s death.”

2.

The first steps of im-mortal humanity in the shade of “dead God” are the predominance of murder in the first half of the XX-th century both in world wars and in the reality of the political systems of communism and fascism. These regimes are not the only invention of im-mortal people, but it was under them that death openly appeared as a master of time. Mass destruction of similar beings embodied the ineradicable human need for stability and peace. The powerful illusion – the murder is a universal means of self-confirmation - allowed re-creation of the new world. “Belief” in other’s people death as a murder and passion for suicide, at first glance, mere acts of absolute violence of human will on human nature, dominated in actions and comprehension of the historical everyday life of the century.

The world of culture couldn’t go on moving beyond the new good and evil. Philosophy of the XX-th century found itself acting outside the limits of the world of murder in wars, revolutions and concentration camps, astonished by the contemplation of its own decline. Freezing of thought was soon over, but the aims and means of the new comprehension didn’t differ at all from the aims and means of the world of “absolute violence.” Habitual removal of the cultural world from the real death of people allowed to continue moving thoughtfully in the world of ideas, images, symbols but in reality, the “end” of all created by man and of man itself dominated in the world of mentality. “The play in the cemetery of ideas” became commonplace. The dictatorship of the new culture doomed “values” and “ideas” to ruin – the world submissive to the new man was inaccessible to them, and they could be and had to be destroyed. They were even denied the right to die submissively, following the new mankind like humanity were denied to be submissive itself and only when people noticed the first signs of disintegration of the old, they rightfully got down to destruction themselves.

The idea of death as an unreversible instant cessation of biological functions is the latest acquisition of the man as well as an industrial atheism. Traditionally, “to be” of instant cessation has always belonged to another power – nature, political regime, war or another direction of culture – man could treat the event of another person’s death this or that way, but his own death became “an impossible possibility” for him. Man needed murder or another person’s death in order to create a New World or to be opened to his own inevitability. Being deep in the analysis and comprehension of “being-to-death,” “need-for-death,” man acquired features of obedience in front of his own existence, devoid of illusory gleam of eternity, against which in the end man secretly arouse.

No matter how hard man tried to keep serious expression on his face in front of his “out-of-place” death, it lost its glamour of creative power, and the need to comprehend this fundamental event in the existence stepped back to the sphere of academic everyday life. No matter, how man admired his own possible death, it became “wild” (Aries) in the common life of the century; moreover, it became the most widespread toy in all the civilized continents. The endless “murder”-play forced out the former feeling of transience of all beings from books and screens. Death had even ceased to astonish us. Our own end turned into an obstacle, an annoying misunderstanding of nature, and the science was fast to fight against it.

Nevertheless, the mankind of the last century faced its own real death, but, at first, as a habitual for the latest history threat of its own destruction and real destruction, which fully covered the essence of what was going on. This insignificant event was as evident in history as the defeat of fascist regimes as a result of the world war. The “Overman” of Nazism took away the mystery of his death, and let a new power of civilized mind and will to peace and prosperity to be firmly established. The cannonade of victories deafened mind in such a way that it was impossible to notice death as such, and death of the winners overtook the history of the XX-th century in no time – for many people the collapse of the political regimes of communism was like thunder out of the blue sky.

The Soviet epoch of “god-man” came to its end without any interference from outside, as a result of the Soviet society development; it died peacefully long before the rise of the post-soviet expanse. It could be left unnoticed, but for the rest of the last Russian decade. Death in history doesn’t usually leave the ordinary idea of a century, sunk into a web of ethics, political freedom and democratic institutions but now common life stepped back facing the new and unusual for the traditions image of death. The latest history of Russia is the only place in contemporary life, where natural death of the whole is easily accessible to it, disclosed to it and goes away together with the epoch, is the only event in the modern history of the post-christian culture, that makes everyday life itself, not only highest sphere, return to their sources. “The death-of-god epoch” got to speak in the language of plain human actions.

3.

Death or murder of gods is an ordinary event in history: from sacrifices of gods in ancient tribes to disorderly death of show-business stars. Each epoch sought and found its gods, and their death in the form of “intransient” or “superhuman” values reminded of itself every time when new generation of the transient world started moving. For many times, gods have properly embodied the death of generation and epoch. The institution of replacing one’s own death by the death of god or godman is the oldest invention of mankind. Reason taught itself long ago to avoid fatal inevitability and to find those, whose death could leave the tribe or its leader the necessity to die in the name of natural surrounding surviving or the tribal customs, or the prosperity of the ruling clan. “The tragedy” of Christian god’s death has diverted itself by the impetuous flow of the century and doesn’t bother the minds of the generations any more. “Mankind parts with the past laughing” (K. Marx), it was only “gone forever” that kept its air of seriousness on book pages. The restless man of century has got lost himself among national and strange gods, among the ancient and new one, among the dead gods and the newly-born ones. The greatness of the historical movement was always measured by the greatness of destroyed values and no epoch started without the death of the old “divine” sources at the beginning of its movement. It was the exultant freedom of the new historical human image that was hidden behind these “tragedies.” Not death of gods but the beginning of new history of immortal humanity that destroys longlasting culture of monotheism.

The former man was destined to habituate on the boundary of eternity and history. Any way of action is an irreversible process of choice, which arose and is inevitably developing to its end – all the human existence is the history of choice from birth to death. We call it the world of transient. Only the transient is able to be the history in reality. How can relativity of human doubt be fixed up in human existence on the Earth from birth to death? How can we be possible as irreversible presence in the real space and time of history? It’s through the fact that human doubt is always relative in the face of eternity, and a man is mortal being, he is born and dies. Every time in the history of culture such sort of doubt-questions give the same doubtful answers. The power of “pre-eternal” illusion over the mortal world was so boundless and history was so sluggish that it took centuries to learn to overcome the transciency of human needs and abilities and to see the wholeness in the funitude of one’s own being – death.

Death was the only event that filled up with itself the impossible connection of the eternal and the transient, an inevitable and irreversible event in human existence; it was the only event that allowed him to be steady in the earth world, that disclosed him up the way to the “depth of human spirit,” and that was why any movement in the history and thought of the christian culture was always, first of all, the answer to the question about of death, the search of another attitude to death – no matter whether we talk about the transiency of human existence or the transiency of human cognition. In the end, the time has come when mankind inevitably needs all the human history and all its existence, from beginning to end. Man got to be easily satisfied with his own world, his own aims and means and could freely proclaim not only the beginning of the death of God, but also the murder of the decrepit “eternity,” for the new mankind began dominating over its former limits. It got to become the creator of its own history itself.

4.

Soviet communism is a radical implementation of “the death-of-god epoch.” The former “miserable” existence and Homo sapiens’s independent world died struck by the revolutions in the beginning of the last century - it is only what is intelligeble to human mind, what is depend on human will, that got the right to be called “Human.” The energy of millions was aimed at creating a New World of history and nature. The genuine need to create the new is now carefully forgotten; moreover, it is denied the right to have some place in the recent past. It is not the need to re-create human history, but the “inhuman” ways and means of revolutionary changes that let the contemporaries to deny the past “to be human,” to keep away from their own sources in order to conceal their own nature – the new “doers” of history establish their own “civilized” principles, easily breaking connection of recent events.

“Divine elements” of the transcient world are easily forgotten, and now we avoid talking about the death of the Soviet empire, as the death of “the last” values of human culture, as the death of the epoch that has put an end to the former human existence, as the death of what any history had to be ended with, on the whole, as the death of the epoch for which its own death was impossible. This forgetfulness is born not so much by the triumph of the new order of the Russian world, by the irony of modern knowledge, but by our up-to-date reality – we are just completing that which were our own “last values” not so long ago, that could not come to an end themselves as well as the “last values” of Great October’s epoch.

“The invisible” death of Soviet regime came to reality in the form of “deconstruction” of the whole regime; it got its second wind thanks to the breakthrough of the Soviet man, the transformation of Soviet norms, values, ideals into the new space and time. This “revolutionary destruction,” in fact, reanimates the communist epoch which is gone away long ago, allowing the long-avaited freedom to step out. “Resurrected” dictatorship confirms the right of the Soviet reformers to another reconstruction of their own world – our freedom could be impossible without the “dead communism"’s permission to fight. “The struggle” required the image of “destruction” and death of the “rotten-to-pieces regime,” and so became the illusion of the beginning of social reforms. The becoming of the new living space of Russia and its political system comes to its own death as a result, but not the traditional invisible death of the century, but death as such. We are not talking about the death of Stalin epoch - it belonged to the other generations, but about the death of the Soviet generation, which exploded by democratic reforms its own history. It is not a particular death, as a triumph of civilized humanism, but death as such, that came into being as an aim and way for the last Soviet generation, that occupies our everyday life.

Despite the attempts to find some new words, acts or social structures, it doesn’t open up any other measurement for the Soviet reformers’ generation, it doesn’t admit anything new to their up-to-date reality; like the previous history, death seemed inaccessible, but was disclosed in the present as an event, “taking place” in the human silence, but its habitual image – “disintegration,” “decomposition,” “decay,” - turned into a caricature. The only result of our history is the loss of death, as such. For us, the new “doers” of all-national happiness, another person’s death destroyed and disappeared. Now it is possible, but as an event devoid of value and sense for the man. Why do we talk about the loss of sense and value of death for us as the main result of our history?

The loss of death was opened up as a new need, the need not just to treat death but to realize one’s own. This need, as usual, is hidden by the cover of political doctrines, ideological discussions, and cultural values. Our generation has no time to understand what is going on in the Russian everyday life, but it does act, and while reconciling the society, which “ruined” the epoch of the whole century quite recently, there appears something new that has to be comprehended and realized into knowledge. The generation faces the so far unclear, vague feeling that our own stead[i]ness does not require a desperate escape from the present but it requires its own death in the present. We could not act any other way - through history man has never come out so “humanly,” relying only on himself and disposing of his possibilities; that is why death comes out as his human possibility that must be comprehended and realized.

The need for death is just like an obedient admission of one’s own failure. This “general to all mankind” gets struck in inactivity, or in that man is closed down to the world in the abyss of his own uselessness and unnecessity. The social instinct of self-preservation – to avoid one’s own death – as before, conceals death in the illusory forms of reality. One can now lose oneself in the old image of death – lose oneself and save oneself in the “impossible possibility” for the modern man in order to hide from oneself what is going on: the death of the newest history does not just belong to our generation, but the existence of this generation itself is becoming “the impossible possibility” outside the reality of the human death world.

“Others must die and give the way to the new” and “I must die myself, depriving myself the need to expect the new” are the two quite different dimension of human existence, different images of man. Death in history is easily charged to another one, as a rule, not to one of us, but to the hated one, and saves the “new” ideals and values. Now the need for death requires neither salvation nor violence. In reality, the need for death itself appears as an unusual opportunity not to lose oneself, and this need requires death not as an event “on the other side” of human being, but what is within the capacity of man from the beginning to end. This unusual “need” is already opened up to the experience of death, is ready to search and finally finds it.

This new for us need – to realize one’s own death – steps out, at first, as outward violence, which seems to draw us back in our own world, but then it takes shape as a hidden need to take shape as we are, despite all the attempts to go beyond the limits of our “former” Soviet existence. No matter in what way this need is revealed to the generation - in the contemplation of the crash of our plans and projects or in the everyday reality of social reforms - in either case our wholeness makes us come back to our proper essence, even when people are lost in the illusion of political renaissance or in the endless play of philosophies.

We are not talking about some other, more “worthy” or on the contrary “depressed” image of human being, we are talking about our hidden decision to act the way history does, to choose ourselves as history does and to act in history, an irreversible process with its beginning and end. To reject the new opportunities is a simple need to remain oneself, to stay the way we really are. To speculate about the necessity of human death now means not to speculate about the opportunity of suicide or about destroying the political institutes of power, not about the opportunity for man or generation to stay in the form of the “living cadaver,” but about the opportunity of completing one’s own existence.

Each epoch and each man are given their own death. In what way can a man die and how can a human death make sense? Time and space in the history of human being are now revealed in the opportunity to realize one’s own death. Man realizes his own death, his originality (self-being) is in the possibility do this and in the way he does it. Birth and death belong to man and are realized by him. The problem of death is neither one of “transitory nature” of human being nor the one of the attitude in this or that way to the fact of “natural death.” It is the problem of his real existence in the transcient world, for us - the problem of our reality in our own transcient being.

In the Soviet everyday life the need to realize one’s own death could not but arise: literary madness of the beginning of the epoch with the course of time always find place in the future reality of careful social instincts – “If you shoot yourself you will become God…” – this unclear mad need a century afterwards is expressed by absolutely other human words : “if you can die – you will become man.” The need to realize “the impossible possibility,” i.e. the need to destroy oneself, sounds like a former murder, suicide, but now such “threat” rises on the bound of destruction and death and doesn’t allow us to say just plain words. The habitual image of fatal inevitability is in paradoxes of everyday reality, for it faces a new man, something that appeared long ago out of and apart from the traditional world of culture.

The salutary distance of the West between personality and culture, between sense and integrity of an individual doesn’t exist in Russia. Any problem of the Russian world always turns into a personal one; it is possible only as a personal choice and decision. How can the history die? and does my history have to die? are inevitably questions about oneself, about one’s own death and its possibility. Is my death possible or should I die myself?

5.

One has only “to ask for death” and an instant event of “the cessation of biological functions” of man disappears in another order of madness. My death has its own history – from the ordinary mourning for the nearest, available to everyone from the simple question: “ Whom does the realization of my death belong to?” The realization of my death belongs to me. I’ll realize my death one day.

The search of the meaning and value of death, the “analysis” of “death” need step back as well as its image of “instance,” and now it is not the sense and need of “impossible possibility” that occupy my mind, but the meaning and need of realization of my death. We guess that we are mortal: both people and history. We “know” that we are mortal, but now we do not know why we are mortal, why we are mortal not related to something else, but mortal regarded to ourselves. That is only why we are real in the real world.

Never mind god’s death in the form of political dictatorship or the world in supersensible values - now we are absolutely different. All these “instant cessation,” “soul leaving its body“ are the things that someone else faces; they are for someone else, the things that could never belong to us because of our perpetual human unsoundness, and if they did belong to us, as victims of an accident and suicide. It is not only god and man in front of the god that died, but the death of the lonely person in the shadow of Eternity is also dead. The world allows itself to play with death, because it is dead. The endless line of the tragic images went to pieces, when I died myself, and only then I was opened to my death.

I died in the epoch of Soviet collapse, not because the circumstances or despair condemned me to death - all must die any epoch - but my death became comprehensible to me and my consciousness without condemning me to grief, without depriving me of happiness and joy. In fact, I didn’t even notice when I died. All happened so dull that there was nothing to be astonished at, as well as to the whole mankind, that has been realizing it during its whole history itself and all the human deeds and thoughts on the Earth realize too. I avoided a miraculous regeneration and resurrection to the new life. I would notice completely nothing, but something went wrong with time . . . past, present, future. Something was wrong with “inside time.” It has stopped and an “extraterrestrial” course began. There were more than enough new plans, new life, drafts, but the habitual future and past did not exist for inner world and for me. Neither did what used to be and what can and must be. It was my “continue present” that became my present forever, something I can hold with all my creature, and what holds me.

Human death stepped out openly in the modern world. “Instant disappearance” strikes by its senselessness in the wholeness of man. Now the death of the transcient human being has to be finite itself, not an instant event, but the history, which a man enters in himself and which he reveals himself as a history of his Rest; the need and possibility to realize death is revealed as a real “earth history” which has its beginning and its end, and, of course, as well as the man himself, this “time-less” history is not limited by the limits of biological nature. Death is given as my present way, not the history of “dying” – dying fully belongs to the former “christian” being – and not the history of my reflections about “the fundamental event” of philosophers, but death, as such – non-being.

The man is given “to be” and “not to be” keeping his presence in the real world. The man is given to present in the world by his own non-being. Non-being, as a real earth history, reality, gives the man the most destroying “history” – Rest. Destruction is the language of non-being, the language of death, as such. Rest is given as destruction, and it is only as destruction that it emerges as an absolute Rest of the man himself. My death revealed my wholeness, and I don’t demand either ruin or suicide or obedient waiting for the inevitable end. “The man is impossible without death.” This statement has found its “place” now. “The impossible possibility” has been unfolded as earth reality and has allowed me, in the end, to exist in the world as a human being of the Earth without demanding the impossible. Now I can say about myself: I am dead, I am present by the world of death, by the world that has its place, its space and time, but now as an absolutely different space-time of my way.

6.

Immortality is rushing for the new beginning of the world, but the beginnings always comes late and, as a rule, begins the end of epoch. In the former death, unaccessible to me, no beginnings are possible, neither is the independent completion of the earth way. The immortal habitual image of culture goes away, leaving the space for an ordinary mortal human being. The other “new” is inaccessible to me and despite possible efforts, it is slipping off over the limits of my mind and deeds – the new without me is getting stronger in history. I have lost domination of immortality over the springs of culture, reason and history. This “inaccessible domination” reveals me as a person able to stay as such when leaving, as a person able not to hurl back himself in despair, but to confirm my former authenticity by the destroying rest of my present way.

Man is not born mortal; he becomes mortal. My death will be over and will disappear together with me. Now, as transcient being I have to learn to be present in the “transcient world” among many people, in which some start their way, others die. I have gained my own rest and, of course, I’ll lose all created by me remaining the way I am “present” for myself and others up to the very last day. “The fundamental idea” of the human cognition’s transcience belongs to cognition itself. Man is mortal. Man is not born mortal; he becomes mortal. If man cannot open himself up, as a result, to the world of his own non-being, to the world of his own death, he will endlessly spin round human finitude, armed with finite human cognition. We are not interested in the question, how finitude of human cognition can reveal to man or generations of people the way to the “unknown depth.” Cognition can become known itself, can become rest itself, and being destroyed, being transcient, come into culture as a real process of human existence. I can see the whole of my generation and culture, can see the rest, because I have gained rest myself, my death, and I am calm to be here by own rest: everyday life itself is open to the history of self-deconstruction of what has erected and created as its own embodiment.

We step out as original beings with our own birth and death, and this uneasy action slightly discloses a new image of man, still slightly discloses what lies beyond the limits of thinking and language, beyond the limits of conscious movement in the world of history and culture. We can see the new generation incomprehensible to us, and they will have to gain their coming rest, being open to something different and incomprehensible but nothing else conceals from us what has happened and what is asking to come out by words and actions, but by the real words and actions.

We point the world to death, though in fact we reveal our own secrets. All the grounds and cultural cunnings, which reveal the new appearance of the world to us, hide the new source of our choice from us and create a new human mystery. “Civilized” silence of the West in something that is “unthinkable” to death as a “madness” of the Russian deed, which our proper existence appears to us. Non-being is the first outline of the history of death, the necessary, and that is why it is the inevitable reality of every human being. In his trying in the “traditional way,” i.e. to require the death of another person as the only possible way to himself, man reveals his image which is quite different than the former one, the appearance of new tradition and, without realizing his discovery, acts in everyday life as though the new mortal man has come into this world.

7.

Every process has to become non-being in the end – man, history and culture. We do not call up non-being to take part in earthly reality due to this or that historical circumstance; we reveal ourselves, our generations acting in the present in completely different space-time measurements. The world of the contemporary generations of the post-christian culture is newly-born. No matter what word might appear after “post” – post-soviet space or post-modernism, any “post” isn't able to belong to the gone forever, but allows the coming world to gain new power . . . . The world of contemporary generations is dying. Now it keeps and guards its own res,t and that allows him to really be destroyed, and thus to be kept, in the end, in the memory of contemporaries as the real human world.

Despite all efforts to “think of the unthinkable,” “the possibility of the impossible” death of man, man and his culture can go on with their own im-mortal movement and act as if death has remained “inaccessible forever.” “The new “ avoids habitual words and images, springs up revealing oneself in silence. This silence is unbearable for the one who leaves in rest; the world of words, spoken and written, force out man himself, threatening his presence with disaster. The non-being of their own century is inaccessible to the players of the Big Game of Philosophy, but it expresses itself in language of those who are striving in the endless word play to find the way to what has no place in their own history, to what is split as aporia of the “impossible possibility,” to what is available only to the old values and ideals. Paradoxes of death are a vain play, useless creation in the new reality, now the new silence speaks louder and louder.

The need for creating a new mortal world in face of new immortality is already “frozen” in rest; the world doesn’t need either a new death or a new end of the world. It doesn’t matter what ideas and fantasies can take up a human mind in the new millennium. What matters is that any idea, any fantasy, is a human idea and fantasy. We can speak about any values, about the man on the threshold of the third millennium, but we have to lose “the new” in the end, allow new values not only become but to stay in rest, in non-being, to be destroyed and go away by our own hands in our time.

Humanity of new millennium habituates, not noticing a novelty of his action, but first steps have made yet – not in the Soviet space of decay and dissolution, not in the post-Soviet decay but in the Russian everyday life. We don’t trouble whether ours or other gods are dead – we have entered the world as real mortal beings long before we ruined an old dimension of own world, and so our modern history doesn’t dissolve in ruin. Argument of millenniums between the eternal world and transcient world is exhausted in the pores of the Russian mode of life. At the limit of limits of Russian history destruction of the future mortal being has appeared, but he deprives the future of novelty yet and steeps in a tradition of the conscious world.

8.

Striving for immortality is untranscient illusion. It has two sides like a human being has and is inaccessible by its secrets. The escape from present allows to raze to the ground the limits of present existence and at the same time dooms to ruin those who forget forever his real existence. Nobody mortal can guess the ruin or help the future to find it’s right-to-death. The history itself starts the struggle for the right to die in the world of human multitude, among nations, cultures and people. A right-to-death steps out of the limits of human fights for prolonging of earth’s human presence and starts to demand new reconciliation for peace. Ability leaves the history; giving space to future is becoming the first lesson of mortal humanity. Future-in-the-present will see itself - whether we were able to avoid the ruin, revealing the history of own non-being. Presentiment of this epoch has opened for us yet.