The Truth of Science

Hello, reader!

I am happy to announce the blog’s very first rubric – the author of the month. We have already greeted the spring’s arrival with Charles Dickens and now, let’s congratulate one of the most compelling “children of spring” – Alexander Belyaev. 

It is such a lucky coincidence to introduce both my blog and Russian literature with this incredible author’s help. 

Since the first impression is another crucial element of a good relationship, I’ll do my best to introduce him properly. 

Reading is a family’s decision.

Rereading his biography recently, I came to an instant thought that Belyaev would certainly love our modern world, and one of the main reasons would be the super-hero universe. 

A boy from Smolensk with boundless imagination always dreamt about adventures and super abilities that Studio Marvel’s characters possess. I frankly was not impressed by this part of the author’s biography until I found out about an “intriguing” detail. Our dear author was so absorbed with the idea of superpowers that one day he simply jumped from the roof, hoping to fly out in the sky. Goodness! The poor young man just could not find what he wanted in the adventure novels.

Sincerely, I wish now that someone would ask with whom from the past I wish to meet because I would by no means answer – with Belyaev in the movie theatre binge-watching superhero movies. 

Deviating from some sort of funny peculiarities of the author, Belyaev certainly was not prudent with this decision. In fact, attempting to gain out of this world power, he was condemned to spend a significant part of his life in bed with the hurt spine. I do not wish to say that these circumstances were a blessing in disguise, but his sickness produced one of his most famous novels – Professor Dowell’s Head. 

Once looking for a job, one of the main characters, Marie Laurent, finds an odd opportunity – lab assistant sharing a company with a man’s head. All that the employer needed from her is being quiet and tough with her nerves. Regardless of the offer’s peculiarity, the bold girl takes the opportunity and joins the scientist Kern in his experiments of “reviving” different parts of the human body. The first patient Marie encounters is a yet non-verbal Professor Dowell – or precisely the rest of him – who will turn all her life around as well as herself. 

The book is an essential piece of literature, in my opinion, since It exemplifies the way writing worked during the Soviet suppression. 

Belyaev himself was a politically-inclined man and was even searched once as a figure posing a “potential threat” to society. However, science let him escape from the unsatisfying reality of governmental dominance and his own illness. 

This aspect might have been the reason why the novel has no concrete setting. For instance, we know that there are some events in Paris, some in London, but the time and politics of the novel’s world remain unknown. This factor might also draw us back to the author’s illness and how science absorbed him at this unfortunate stage of his life. It is an interesting matter that Belyaev’s story finds its roots in the hospital, where he spent his sickness feeling nothing but his own head. 

Maybe, he just wanted the reader to comprehend the power of science, as he once did? Perhaps it is the message that science is an entirely different universe that should not be mixed with the ambiguous man’s desires but rather exist as a simple way to create order in this chaotic world?

Reflecting on the novel’s main ideas, I would certainly recommend it to all the lovers of science, infinite philosophers, and the seekers of the dynamic and unique plot! As for any other book, I cannot guarantee absolute satisfaction, but I think Belyaev is one of the best ways to dip into Russian literature besides the golden classic. 

Music: I would suggest listening to the album Bless the Woman by Eugen Doga, a widely-known composer from Moldova, whom I usually choose to create a “Russian spirit” setting. 

The Way to See

I do not quite recollect when I started translating different concepts into colors. Was it when I was eating something, and the color popped up in my head along with taste, or was it when I was in middle school and thought about different subjects in color. 

It did not seem important though – nothing extraordinary.

 Most of my geography and history textbooks were orange, so I connected them with this color. The sciences like biology and ecology dealing with the earth processes were green. The summer, with the leaves on the trees and vibrant life everywhere, was green, and the winter with its innocent teary snow was white – you get the idea, right? 

The situation turned to be “ intriguing”  when the scheme started deviating from the original one. Products like the meat and cheese rich in flavor seemed blue to me, while salad appeared to be violet. Moreover, I have not even noticed when I developed a particular color palette for each of my family members. The abstract concepts like liberty, loyalty, and love also gained their color meanings.

It was weird, but I did not give it much of a thought. I decided that it was a trivial brain processing occurring in everyone. 

However, one day, I read a novel about a girl who showed similar world perception signs. Furthermore, reading an analysis of the story, I’ve learned that she was a “synesthete” – a person who connects with the world through different senses. Thus certain sounds, smells, words, and objects can evoke a color association, and that is just one of the multiple examples of synesthesia. 

I cannot say that this information changed my whole life nor the perception of myself. However, it did change the way I think and digest the information. For instance, I found out that dividing historical periods by color proved to be incredibly useful. It is like you have a library in your memory where specific topics pop out right away, like searching a particular word in a document.

 Thus the fight for liberty became orange, wars and massacres – grey, and political intrigues –  purple. This library started gaining its complexity with the different color shades where the extreme and vivid events seemed brighter, while the least important, controversial, or just simply lacking knowledge seemed bleaker. 

But does the same works with literature? 


Our Final Journey

Reflecting on Great Expectations, I usually think about purple. It feels reasonable since the narration circulates around dignity and integrity, wealth and social status, romance and compassion, with a pinch of mystery. 

However, what I find weird, that purple does not reveal the “genuineness” for me.

 I will explain. 

Though we see an absolutely charming, naive, and honest protagonist (whom I cannot resist but mention again), the romance, people, and even surroundings – all of them seem artificial.

As a reader, I could not comprehend Pip’s feelings for Estella, the girl he claims he felt for. I always wonder if he loved her or the image she created for him as an independent, confident, elegant, with high standards and social status dream-like lady. Despite all her cruelty and injustice, Pip feels an unconditional love that he cannot abandon, and I cannot understand. 

Moreover, many people seem here more like doll puppets. And I do not suggest that they are spiritless and without any character. Absolutely not! Dickens does a wonderful job of developing complex and unforgettable personalities. Please, don’t get me wrong here. All I am trying to point out is that all of them are trying to be what they are not. It is an excellent play of pretending, so do not get surprised by multiple theater references. 

“The whole world – theatre, and the people in it – the actors.”

William Shakespeare

The mysterious Satis House, full of frustration and the crashed hopes for a happy future, shares something odd as well. It just does not seem natural. Of course, the deadly-like atmosphere and the gothic architecture make their job perfectly, but it instead feels that the gloom comes from the weakness of the owner of the house. And this idea is revealed at the end when she, Ms. Havisham, got her revenge without any sparkle of enjoyment – she never wanted that.

Was it just a pointless game to give herself another meaning to live?

Purple or violet colors were historically scarce in nature and cost enormously. It seems quite logical now that it usually suggests power, glory, luxury, or spirituality – only the wealthy could afford it. But in the current world, purple is available as much as any other color, which suggests that it just lost a part of its meaning. That might be an explanation as to why, despite all the qualities mentioned above, purple seems shadowy and unclear.

But it is just a guess or the way to explain how my mind works. 

The Boy with the Unfortunate Fortune

I am indescribably happy to meet the charming spirit of springtime with you, my reader. 

Through the experience of various literary pieces, none of the books, except the one I will discuss today, has yet illustrated how I perceive this time of a year. Picking the sight of the world out of my window, I can’t but hear Dickens’s words come to my mind –

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot, and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” 

Greeting a charming spring^^

Great Expectations

It is a story of a boy – cute and ambitious – gaining an unbelievable fortune and an invitation to become a real gentleman.

As a classic bildungsroman character, our protagonist Pip walks the reader around his life journey, endorsing his moral and psychological developments and the challenges he faces. The juxtaposition of Victorian “class virtue” and the desire for self-improvement is one of the core ideas of the novel. 

A heart-melting idea relevant to many young scholars leaving their hometown greets a reader during Pip’s reminiscence of the past. Reading Great Expectations, we learn about the moral values Pip greatly regards and yet leaves for a while, tempted by the Victorian society caring for duty and proper behavior rather than authenticity and kindness. 

Though this novel falls into the “dark section” of Dickens’s literary career after David Copperfield’s creation and deeply rooted disappointment in his love life, I still believe that Great Expectations is a charming piece of a gothic romance. He makes the reader’s experience enjoyable with his humorous approach toward the narration, which feels quite paradoxical reading wordy and long sentences without being overwhelmed. But that is the art of Dickens! He makes the images vivid and alive as if they will pop out from the pages of the book and start waltzing with you around the room. 

It might seem already evident, but if being asked, I would certainly recommend reading this masterpiece. The novel is undoubtedly terrifying with its hefty amount, as most of other Dickens’ works, but it is worth it. It is lovely. 

Pip became one of my favorite characters with his brilliant naivety and fascinating kindness. Witnessing his whole life journey, I’ve realized how badly I wish to meet a person in my life who would convince me that “we need never be ashamed of our tears.” 

 Deviating from the unquestionably dear protagonist, I would also point out that this novel offers a genuine “tap on a shoulder” for the young scholars. It provokes not only the desire for knowledge but also questioning of what one is going to do with it. What does it mean to be a gentleman, and what defines one? Is it fortune, manners, or knowledge? Ideally, a gentleman would reflect all of those core values, but at Pip’s time, society cared for the first the most.

Music Suggestions: I would recommend listening to the soundtrack from the movie The Secret Garden of both 1993 and 2020 to create a whimsical and light atmosphere.