Alexander Arkhangelsky: In my novel there is neither nostalgia nor aversion to the Soviet era

In the spring of this year published the novel “Bureau of inspection” by Alexander Arkhangelsky, writer, broadcaster and television Director, writer, culturologist whose collections of essays and novels “of 1962. Timothy”, “Museum of revolution”, “cut off Price” and other books familiar to the Russian reader. Questions about the life of the Orthodox Church in the modern world and Christian it described in the novel, is close to everyone, especially the person votserkovleniya. The author talks to a priest Sergei Kruglov.

Alexander Arkhangelsky. Photo: Anna Danilova

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And suddenly I realized that I talk to a hero

– Tell us about how the novel came to light, how to create?

– I do not remember in detail. Five years have passed. All then waited for the 2014 winter Olympics and hoped that she will bring us “peace and security”, and for some reason I was thinking about how July 19, 1980, entered an empty Olympic Moscow, and that was already burning Afghanistan.

And suddenly I realized that I talk to a hero: he is coming off of the train and goes… and where it goes, I didn’t know. It was clear to me that he is suffocating from the tight, stopped the existence, but the output is looking sluggish, because infantile. Infantile, but decided that if suddenly will not be diverted. He has some strange correspondence with a certain priest, whom he had never seen. And an affair with a girl from another layer. Thus, I don’t quite understand. And with interest began to write, to find out how it will end. With interest and flour, hundreds of times rewriting the same thing.

One thing I can say: a novel surrogate parents were not. My friends and colleagues then drafted a lot of sources from which allegedly gave rise to this novel. Some books like “the Long goodbye” Trifonova, of course, I read it, but when I wrote – didn’t remember some missed time, and now studying with interest – for comparison. About anything that I didn’t.

The story came together with the hero, and not with the read books. And time bound novel, also came along with the hero. Only in 1980 he was able to deal with everything you need to plan a set of trials that have shaped it completely. The test of faith, immaturity, fear and inevitability of change, freedom.

– Each reader reads a book differently. Someone reads the “Bureau of inspection” as a detective (for example, I was reminded of Graham Greene), who is something like a bildungsroman, someone- as detailed post from social networks on a nostalgic theme of “Made in USSR”… Tell me, what is the reader and what reading was waiting for you as the author?

– Thanks, Graham Greene I love, “Power and glory” is considered a model novel of faith and fidelity, and the literary example, and not moralistic, that is important. But I not the detective. We do not have a criminal investigator is, even two, but the first did not investigate, and the second appears at the very end and basic puzzles to solve does not help, rather it helps to make one more.

And I have no nostalgia. Neither in myself, nor in the novel. Neither in his youth nor in age. And disgust is also gone. Many wrote about admiring the real world of the late Soviet time. But to explain, “I wanted to tell the author of his work”, a bit awkward, so I will quote a phrase from a letter of my friend and colleague art historian Anna Novikova, of course, with her permission: “This objective world really is very important to the novel. But not because the author relishes with delight and longing. And because the Church was one way out of this Soviet objective world that his poor manifestation of that “intelligentsia” that in the nomenclature-“rich”.

So I wrote Anna Novikova, and I hope that’s true. Such a reader I was waiting for: which an interesting plot, time, details, ideas, but more importantly the search out of dead ends and the hamlet’s issues that face us always. So rather it is a novel testing and bildungsroman rolled into one.

A fragment of the cover of the book by Alexander Arkhangelsky, “Bureau of inspection”

– Alexander Arkhangelsky – universal man: TV presenter and Director, culture, specialist in media communications, novelist, critic… I see that all your field externally heterogeneous creativity, from TV shows to books, fed by some single idea, “one, but ardent passion” – am I right? In relation to the books: the identity of the author, “Papa” polar bear, a character in the children’s book “I’m a polar bear”, Alexander I, whose biography you have written, and Alexei Nogovitsyn, of course, one and one, but are there and his characters something in common?

– About the person you do not know, do not judge me. I’d like to believe that not so boastful, like a white bear, not so sly, like Alexander I, not as infantile, as (in the beginning of the novel) Nogovitsin. Rather stubborn and willful.

But who knows? It seems to me that in this life it would be good to combine incongruous, samostoyaniya and trust. All my heroes somehow are fighting over this almost unsolvable task. I want to shy away from it, not out… don’t bear everything is already decided for themselves…

And about the fact that I’m scatter – Yes, it’s true. I suddenly thought that my childhood dream was to be silent and to think, had to speak and write. It is said too beautifully to be a complete truth, but kind of…

Now try to answer the question about how it’s all connected. Generally, the most honest answer I don’t know. But what kind of interview in which the interviewee says “I don’t know.” Therefore, begin to talk. There is an irreparable difference between criticism, which I broke up 15-16 years ago, a TV with which those same 16-17 years professionally connected with journalism, kulturtregerstvo and literature.

But I’m always at the words. Of all the arts for us the most important are the words. Powerless to change anything. Important because only with the death one is separated from the word. So, between words and life is some kind of connection.

Are you among the characters in the book Pets and neljubimyj? And how authoritarian you are the author? You crunching slide of the character in the blank of an idea, of a narrative of progress, or allow them to live their lives, and then cry because this crazy Karenina bucked and all of a sudden threw herself under a train?

– I didn’t know what in the novel was going to end, when I sat down to write. Didn’t unfold as “secular” teacher hero a philosopher.. Don’t know what will turn the letters. Didn’t know KGB Evgeniya Maksimovna will be more like a human than a fury. But by the middle of the road knew all about. And then the big surprises was not. Although, again, I calmly refer to the secondary characters-the ligaments, with no cardboard in the installation not do. About them I just knew from the very beginning to the very end.

About Pets… with rare exceptions, I am the author of a skeptical but good-natured. To the end to expose me interested until the end to accept the hero – impossible.


We were part of something bigger than classes and class

We talked about the fact that the “Bureau of inspection” is read differently. Amused me given your blog Facebook words some disappointed readers that, say, nonsense, polniy hero can only pray Yes to the temples goes… the novel can be read as an Elegy, the story of the young, the neophyte, on entering a person in the Church, the story and bitter, and tender. For example, I have read including so, even thought, whether in the Christian book world relevant thematic series, “Bureau of inspection” could be published under one cover with, for example, “the rain God” Maya Kucharski. And even inspired the poem:


Of insomnia are in power.
Outside the window thick darkness.

In her caesarean part
The Church is moving here.

Pictures brittle’ll get:
“Remember? – I won’t.”

This milky page
This reality and the dream
The air, these faces:
The Tsaritsa of Shemakha,
Stargazer, the people and spoke,
Magnolol life bird
Migratory border
Inconspicuous Rubicon.

These tears, these beads,
This Abba Dorotheos –
Crane light converged
Wedge my youth.

Passionate and timid exploration of the space in which you have to build a life with God, an attempt at once to grasp the immensity of the legacy of tradition, dogma and practices of the Holy fathers, fasting and prayer and all that is more fasting and prayer, disillusionment and the birth of a new, pain from bruises about Church realities – tell me, what experience churching Alexei Nogovitsyn similar to the same experience Arkhangelsk Alexander?

– Thank you for your poems and for mentioning the wonderful books by Maya Kucharski. I while wrote, thought, put the point – and immediately remembered. Her roll, of course – probably about the “rain God”, “thought” for me, the subconscious. It was possible to publish the book “on three,” with your poem… yet, alas, does not.

I grew up in a normal, proper Soviet family – that is not loyalty and not dissident.

Although my ancestors by decades, if not centuries, served as the Dace, as I understand it, in the resurrection Cathedral, the communication with them and with the Church were lost. But with humanity, I hope not.

Class in the 8th or 9th I started to suck in the stomach – well, not all of this can be so empty and hopeless, that life with its dead end in the form of death. And it occurred to me that man himself invents nothing, takes everything from nature, hence, God could not think. And then began the search. And the astrals were, and yogi ramacharaka, and the great Tarot cards, and meditation, and all that in the middle of the state of victorious atheism.

But then my future godfather, Alexander Melik-Pashayev took me, freshman Lenin peda, in the Church, Obydenko, abandoned the court of the Academy of Sciences, near the pool “Moscow”. There was a fine priests, already beaming old father Vladimir Smirnov, humble, and deep father Alexander Egorov, fiery, bony, quick Serge of Bordiga.

For a short time, to polysilk in Serpukhov, and served as a young father Vyacheslav Reznikov with a luxurious black beard and severe (more MagCheck over the years) look. Well, there was no father Abbot, the head with glazed eyes. But they do not interfere.

And in the queue for confession was Gleb Kaleda with many children, and no one knew that he was a secret priest himself at home canaverial Windows, locks tightly doors and serves the Liturgy. And Sergei Averintsev would drop. And many others but did not feel closed intellectual ghetto, were all equal and part of something bigger than all of these classes and class.

And I there like, like, and I became very good, and I wanted to stay here forever. No yogi I was not rejected and cursed with the dust of otrazenie, samsara did not deny, just I got so much more than I asked that question about reincarnation just became uninteresting. Christianity – the religion of the sudden rescue. And it’s great.

By the way, favorite song of the time, “Under the blue sky” – have you noticed how different it sounds from Khvostenko and BG? It is not only that the Tail sings as Volokhonsky wrote, “over the skies of blue” in heaven, and not under, that is – on earth. But that BG samsara sounds in every note, in every word. And the Tail and volkonskogo this song is about the sudden salvation. Does this mean that I should just put the BG to drop? No, of course, but the Tail is closer to me. For all its set to “full destruction seriously”.

– The slogan which made the publishers on the cover of the book – “You only hear what want to hear”. In the broadest sense of these words represent one of the major problems in every Christian at all times, especially in the present: cloisanne the relations of the believer with God or a sophisticated art of izbegavanje such a relationship. Take the same prayer – conversation with God: to be with Him in a genuine, not fictitious dialogue, to live in fellowship with Him, to know Him as a real Person, different from me, really interested in love this Person and respect His freedom and right to privacy, to work on the dispensation of that space, which is a possible dialogue.

If all this is not praying often slipping into destructive things – idolatory, that is to say in prayer to the “God” who was created on the basis of a loved one, their imagination, their desires or fears, and sooner or later a “God” inevitable enemy as a friend can be only God is True, remember the poem Chukovsky: “ugh-shakalaka biting, I’m out of my head making it up. – What do you threw the notebook ceased to draw? – I’m afraid of her!”… Some say that passion hard “care” system and “spiritual authorities” just perpetuates the believer such spiritual deafness…

– Yes, the culture of eldership is one thing, but the lack of culture of eldership is quite another.

It is one thing to seek a meeting with the source of living love, with a man who whole with Christ, and as clear as crystal, and through it shines forever, and the other with a certain instructor in the mystical diving, mountain climbing or skiing. (That’s the mountain, not a mountain.)

They say that this light source was father John (krestiankin), I, unfortunately, never saw him again. Such people can lift the veil over the future, probably, but accidentally and against their will, to go to them for insight – spend time in vain. But the massive query is not in clear light and mysterious darkness. On the Orthodox fortune teller with a beard and hood. Although, if you want predictions, artificial intelligence with qualitative analysis of big data, “big data” will cope with this task better. At least more precisely calculate the trends.

However, is this for only believers?! In my book their “elders” looking for all, just everyone has their idol, which for you to decide how to live: for a mouthy poet Petyunya is Andrei Sakharov, for akafistnaya men with unpicked the shoulder straps of an old monk Ignatius, a policeman at the funeral of Vladimir Vysotsky, if anything, Vladimir Semenovich. Or Sugars, neither Ignatius nor Vysotsky is not the answer because they are assigned the role of a visionary that the people they replace themselves and their heavy duty samostojni. Maybe the answer, I don’t know.

But most importantly, we all really do get exactly what we ask for. If the result does not suit us, need to get back to your query to perform, so to say, the address bar. Wanted idol? You will have the idol. Wanted “big date”? Get.

Avoiding spoilers, I will say: not all satisfied with the ending of the novel, as if uncertain, do not give a direct answer to the question, “what is it and where”. There and here, where we are now. A tornado comes from nowhere, goes nowhere, and appears again when you don’t expect. As you see, mysteriously I put it? Didactically?

Well, not “edifying”, but I’d say enlightening, in the best sense of the word: and now, reader, let himself think, to empty its meaning… Add about idolatory from a believer inevitably suffers and the relationship of “man – Church”, “I am near”. After hearing only what you want to hear, seeing only what is ready to see, the believer reduces the Church to one of her – I wanted to write “incarnation”, but that wouldn’t be right… let’s Say, a kind of mask that I own, or my “reference group” at Church and wearing the mask is extremely plausible, but, by the very nature of idolatory, devoid of real content: or the Church is just an earthly organization, with its political, ethnic, social, economic functions, or escapist “circle rescued”, or cultural interest club, or philosophical fantasy on the theme “mystical body of Christ”, sort of an abstract highrise mind… That is: from the jam believer in the “only hear what they want to hear” suffers the realization that his life is the greatest commandment: love for God and for others.

But sometimes, if the lesion is honestly made and thought out, it knocks the bottom and allows you to get out.

– Each of the Russian Church person probably has a “Golden age”, its nostalgia for the days when “the vessels were made of wood, Yes, Golden priests” and believers were – “true”: someone nostalgic for the atmosphere of the Church underground of the 60s-70s, someone at the “spring dashing 90-x”; I think, and the current time when the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church atmosphere is generally blamed for this and that both the left and the right, over the years, too, for someone will be the “Golden age”… do you think there is a “Golden age” in General, or the Church of illness, the difference between external reality, it is the same at all times?

– Well, what do you mean “Golden age”? What gold? This gold salary, near which, pray, or gold calf around which we dance?

Does not happen in Christianity, the Golden and bronze ages, there are different stages of the disease. That sounds sad, but essentially optimistic: the disease is a sign of a living organism, the dead are all healthy, they are not treated.

Another thing is that these stages give a different flare and different relief as any incurable disease. That is the stage which we have found in the late 1970s and early 1980s, gave a deceptive hope for complete healing, fueled euphoria, we are cool, we were chosen. That is very nice and very dangerous. But she also gave us broken by the Soviet power of the priests, who, as a broken, pitied and spared all around.

Of course, there were saber-toothed grandmother who was pulled bags with parishioners and hissed at the girls in trousers. But most priests were not arrogance, impudence, arrogance partsekretarey that will put in place anyone, and a school teacher, and physician, and scientist and dissident, because we have the true doctrine omnipotent because it is true. In contrast to the present day. Moreover, it was impossible to imagine that Church people, especially mere Sana’a, there will be different kinds of “DUSHECHKA” for their opponents.


But then you need to understand that all was quantitatively less, and temples, and priests and parishioners. Now like to compare the current formation of the Soviet school, they say, she was taught better. Also a question, what is better, what worse, but it’s not even that, but the fact that more than half of students were weeded out at the turn of 8th and 9th classes were mostly motivated to study.

To a much greater extent this applies to the Church; those 30,000 parishes that were open for 90 years, the gift is not passed, the environment has changed, the Church joined the people, it is still pursuers or indifferent to it, and now decided that they all teach because the government has allowed. The priests had to put no experience, unprepared. Opened many monasteries, some have turned to religious women’s and men’s dormitories, where abbots and for some reason especially often abbess ruled with an iron fist, not sparing the stomach, and especially someone else’s.

And there was that alienates from the Church, an increasing number of thoughtful contemporaries, mines (and not so slow) steps. Ignorant complacency and impudence. The conversation from the standpoint of social power. We are the power. With mustaches, you know, get out of here.

Yeah, with a mustache. And even sometimes with a beard. But that does not help.

And it did not disappear parishes and monasteries where everything is arranged differently according to strict and responsible love. For example, the father of Alex uinskogo in the Trinity in Khokhlov, the father of Alexander Stepanov in St. Petersburg, Yes, many, hundreds and thousands, just no one sees. And those who came to these paradises, there are, of course, to remember the ten years of the XXI century as the Church of happiness.

“Liberalism” has nothing to do with it; firstly, it is necessary to know the priests to consider them liberals – they are ON these watersheds; secondly, the same thing in a much more conservative parishes, father Valentin Asmus, father Nikolai Balashov in Bryusov lane… And the Lord Roman and his cronies in Yakutia? And many, many others, can dozens to name names.

Here is the Theme Lebedev angrily asked: who in the last years, the Church helped? Artemy, come to charity fairs and auctions in the same Trinity in Khokhlov, where day surgery patients collected millions of rubles, participate. Every penny to the needy. Or children’s Liturgy on Saturdays for children from the hospice, see how many volunteers bring the kids, take away, help parents.

Photo: Yefim, Richman

Who’s pulling the strings, we will not see

There is a saying: “If you need to explain, don’t explain”, and a direct question about what, in fact, wanted to tell the author, the latter often proudly silent. However, dare to pretend to be a naive fool and still to ask: who is the mysterious priest who asks her to send him a letter to address some “Sokolova M. S.”? Met in social networks the views of readers: someone thinks that it is a collective image of “priests who have all the straps under the cassock” and the whole Church, which is the opium of the people, who, on the contrary, the image of Church revolutionaries, some embodiment only one of the totalitarian sects whose activities in Russia will blossom later in the 90s, someone – even a phantom, a projection of the unfortunate Alexei Nogovitsyn; I this character indirectly reminded Conchita, the hero of the famous novel by John Fowles “the Magus”, imagines himself a demiurge and preside over the destinies of approaching it people… so, who is it? Is this character a real prototype?

To answer the question is difficult, not surrendering the story of guts. The mysterious absentee person, which was intertwined with the life of the hero, does not associated with the KGB, even in a sense challenging him. He, on the one hand, represents for me the whole Church with her troubles and adversities. On the other – I can’t say that the Church has nothing to do with it. More to say, not tearing the last veil of mystery, I can’t.

Therefore, in General, the answer to the question, “what the author wanted to say in my work.”

Among other things, the author wanted to say that GB the last years of Soviet power weakened, Jahleel, infected life, relationships. And on the side of this era began to emerge a young, energetic, fearless force associated with faith. Not canonical, but not sectarian in its pure unalloyed form.

It is this force, will return sooner or later, will stake my claim on this world. Therefore the final so blurred; who’s pulling the strings, we do not see. It will be outside of the plot. However – will.

But again: the main thing – still not a problem and the characters, and the characters, the imagery, what happens to them, how they react. Direct prototype is almost there; except in the characters overact, perform the roles of heroes and ligaments, you can see some of the young neo-fascists ‘ 80s.

The self-styled philosophers of war, the German mystics, aggressive Islam. But it is secondary. As for the “important person”, I certainly heard about the mysterious father Paul the Trinity, who either was, or was not, or wrote letters to their absentee children, or wrote, or not. But the details missed, the story around the parish of Vsevolod Spiller read when Pyromania has already been written and the basic plot of the interchange invented.

I, of course, carefully read the anonymous book “Father Arseny,” which I thumbed through before, and which, in my opinion, represents an example of an invalid Orthodox splint. Read – and in one of his letters, “important person” she parodied. But to think that this “person” shows Paul the Trinity or that the reversal of the plot is borrowed from the history spielerische coming true. It was invented before and beyond. Moreover, I have no opinion about who is the author of the correspondence Epistles “of Paul the Trinity,” they are good or bad and what does any of this mean.

That’s one of the scenes – the main character gets in for questioning to the KGB, where his detain, but not charged, for some reason, let go, and Alex takes it as another mysterious “check”. I will quote a bit: “what about this… – a Lieutenant Colonel with a thick fingernail tapped the cover of the prayer book… – About this is a very difficult conversation. Individual. But not today. Can we please change the temper justice with mercy, meet me, have some tea, shall we? No? You don’t want? And for good reason. Then there’s a big topic.

– What issue?

– This. We have claws blunt. We will show, of course – but in the end. We urgently need a solid, fundamental, to find spiritual support… you Know the phrase – “there comes one after me”?”

I read here that: smart office feels that everything is falling apart, that the Soviet ideology will soon end, and to strengthen the state, is looking for an ideology to replace. And in order to continue to steer in the change situation, the Almighty KGB just need believers-infantile, taught that freedom is the beauty and the sin that would accept the “tradition of the elders” and “guidance from above” as the only possible norm of his life in the Church… How much do you agree with this opinion?

– And not only infantile. Why are they? Charismatics than in this sense is worse? Well, Yes, they do not like the KGB, while ideologies differ. And when you agree, what is the problem? Anything. They need an irresponsible faith. One that is not about Christ, love, sacrifice, the nail, the spear, the death and resurrection, and that which is about power and strength. They need it. And they’ll get it.

Remember the terrible end of Balabanovo “Cargo 200”, where the former is scientific, the atheist comes to be baptized, and the real grandmother sternly tells it: “over There, sit down, pray and wait”? Here I have a quite deliberate roll.

When all contradictions will be resolved, we will call on the court

– Where do you see the difference between Christianity Christian ideology? And as far as antagonistic, according to you, the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of Caesar? If absolutely antagonistic – how can we, then, to be loved by us culture? And if not, where the border between them? The question of “kako viruese”, but nevertheless, to me it seems that are constantly emerging as important on the pages of the novel.

– The ideology is all easy, I think. Theology is a superstructure over a living Christian compassion and ideology – superstructure of theology. It is possible to do entirely without add-ons? No, alas. We deceive ourselves if we pretend, as if do without ideology. And Caesar, the Kingdom and culture is complicated. And I think that the contradiction is insoluble. And you know what? When all contradictions will be resolved, history will end, we will call on the court. I’m not ready yet, so appreciate their insolubility.

– You are right, I also not yet ready… so our earthly life goes on. Will there be a sequel to “Bureau of inspection”? And if you think about it, what do you see the further life of its hero, Alexei Nogovitsyn?

– I don’t know – when Elena Lvovna the Board suggested that there will be a sequel, I was dumbfounded. Think. And about life… well, because the hero writes his philosophical confession, as he promised his teacher, from place to place. That is, of our days. So he survived. So he was not a philosopher. So, most likely, passed through Afghan, that is the joke of the elder Ignatius (“you need Tashkent climate”) was not only a joke.

And then he was faced, like all of us, with the consequences and outcomes of those stories that began in 1980. Political, that I was in this case less interest. And not only political.

About what to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, we all remember too well. But since there is a much more important sequel, “God – God”. The first part of the task we coped very well. I want to understand what about the second one.

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