Alena Solntseva Pelevin and the Void on Absence Strategies, Rodion Chepel’s Movie and The Mystery of the Man with Black Glasses 04.12.2022, 08:09

Rodion Chepel’s animated documentary film “Pelevin” was released in the KION online cinema on the occasion of the author’s 60th birthday. For his 50th birthday, another film “Author P. Identification Attempt” was made, shot by the famous documentary filmmaker Boris Karadzhev.

Both films essentially do the same thing – they’re trying to recreate the biography of a man who hasn’t appeared in public for a long time, doesn’t take photos, don’t give interviews, and doesn’t leave a mark on the Internet. After 2002 Pelevin is just a text and no one knows where or in what condition his physical body is. This will not become clear even after Csepel’s movie: No secrets are revealed in it, but a task such that it seems undetermined.

You can get much more concrete information about Viktor Pelevin from Karadzhev’s film, many people who knew him well during its formation participate in the film, there is an analysis of the texts that reveals some details of personal views. In the traditional form of the picture about Pelevin, witnesses of the formation of the author say: the editors of magazines and publishing houses that he began to print, the translator who was the first to receive the right to translate the first novels into German, critics who wrote about his work. Even the simple story of a female MPEI associate professor who knew both Pelevin’s mother, a grocery worker, and her uncle, who was the department head of the same MPEI, gives a lot to understand the character of student Vitya. Observant, witty people well formulate their impressions, give appropriate explanations: “the appearance of an ideal spy”, “a quick-thinking, gloomy high school student”, “a depraved person”. But this is a glimpse from the old, pre-virtual world, the world of the editorial, where they walk with their feet, the world of home phones, the gradual recognition and quiet life in Northern Chertanovo. The famous writer Pelevin left the world’s space to dissolve into billions of unknown people, not forgetting to send a novel from his anonymous world every year. While filming Karadzhev, this may still seem like a character trait. It had already become a strategy when Csepel had the idea to get his own. Absence strategy.

In our age of media that is constantly affirmed for any writer, their work is just an excuse to create their own audiovisual project. To stay popular, you need to sell not only texts, but also yourself: post photos on social networks; running podcasts; talk about cats and their attitude towards current affairs in the general agenda. And most importantly – for those who want to get autographs right away, meet, meet, meet readers, sign books, answer questions, sell books at meetings. Every writer who claims to be famous signs a contract with a publishing house, organizes tours to clubs, libraries, cultural centers. If you want success, it is impossible to remain a non-public person. It’s also good if you’re young, handsome, fashionably dressed, and capable of speaking fluently. Or you are not young and handsome, but you have an original appearance, a catchy appearance and bright facial features.

Inconspicuous, unspoken and shy – there is no point in going on this trip, they do not appear on television and are not invited to video interviews, but for them there are social networks and relevant informational opportunities.

But, as you know, all rules must have exceptions. Parallel to the constant presence there must be a void, a gaping anonymity, a complete absence of signs.

The most famous example of absence is Banksy. One of the world’s most famous artists maintains such complete anonymity that Pelevin never could. No one knows who Banksy is, what he looks like, where he was born and whether he is a human. However, there is a journalist who claims to have seen and even talked to Banksy and that it was a white young man, but maybe it’s just a publicity stunt. We can confidently say that behind the name Banksy lies only his work and actions: he paid for a poor house, bought a boat to save drowning people in the Mediterranean, organized a graffiti exhibition, made a film, participated, was not recognized. Oscar nomination ceremony.

In the literary world, no one knows who is hiding under the name Elena Ferrante: supposedly a woman and an Italian, but it is also possible that it was a man or a group of writers. Although there is no information about her identity, as in the case of Banksy, Elena Ferrante’s works are very popular.

Even in the performing arts there are anonymous names – for example, the musicians of the group Lordi performed at Eurovision in costumes and hid their faces. Buckethead guitarist shows up with a bucket of KFC on his head. Australian metalworkers Portal also explains this with a kind of mystical teaching about astral beings who have temporarily taken the form of physical bodies, hiding their faces under masks and hoods. There are also musicians in Russia who hide their identities – the Dvar group. And rapper Babangida, also known as Bob and the Hood Master.

Sometimes anonymity is a way of attracting attention, sometimes security, as in the case of Iranian blogger Riverband.

But Pelevin did not need to hide from the persecution, and he hid from people strictly not for the purpose of advertising, but precisely when popularity came to him, and with it money. Given the opportunity to financially secure anonymity, the author, the idol of the generation of online internet culture, has completely erased his presence in any form, digital or physical. But as an “ideal spy” it is not difficult for him to hide his face – it is enough to take off his black glasses, which have become the main mark of his original mask, to melt into the crowd.

Csepel’s film was shot to decipher the formula for his escape, not to track down Pelevin’s presence in the world, at least not to capture it in the form of a biography. Pelevin’s glasses are tried on by Rodion Chepel, who once made an appointment with the author in the empty space of the main Russian library named after Lenin (who, by the way, remembers, it is also a pseudonym).

Csepel is the creator of the Telegram messenger and an investigative writer who made a movie about Listyev and his murder. His third film about Pelevin is mostly an animated document, this is a very specific genre to describe events that cannot or cannot be shown in ordinary reality. The acid world was created for him by the Zhi-Shi Production studio, which, among other things, produces motion pictures for computer games. As a result, the film turned out to be visually very rich, bright and entertaining. But there is no hero in it. Attempts to make Pelevin into Gurdjieff, an adherent of some kind of occult mystical teachings, an admirer of Castaneda and an advanced Buddhist or esotericist who attained a high level of knowledge, receive neither confirmation nor incarnation. It seems that there is no riddle behind Pelevin’s riddle. Behind the reluctance to appear in public is nothing but the absence of such a desire and the possibility of its realization.

And Pelevin most likely sits at his desk and writes and has no time for anything else. Thus, his new novel, the 19th in a row, was published this September at 500 pages in bold, titled “KGBT+”. Dystopia, the plot of which is the previous novel “TRANSHUMANISM INC.” continues with. In the ongoing new world, the protagonist born from previous heroes (“We’ve been living for five centuries from confiscation to mobilization”) works as a tyrant. In other words, it brings a whole emotional sensation to the minds of the witnesses-spectators. So, maybe Pelevin doesn’t have time to distract himself. And for traveling in virtual worlds, an apartment in Northern Chertanov is quite enough.

The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the editors’ position.

Source: Gazeta


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