' To d o r o v i c

« A p e i r o n »

Mycelium samizdat publishers, 2013 © Sibelan Forrester, translation, 2013

Miroljub Todorović

excerpt from the verbal-visual novel

Translated from the Serbian by Sibelan Forrester With thanks to Draginja and Mima Ramadanski

“Mycelium” - 2013

Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»


and I saw a planetary who stood on a great metal platform covered here and there with artificial wood and grass glowing with the light of an enormous sun and shouted in a hoarse voice speaking to all the birds who fly beneath the sky come and gather on the great day of the planet when another skyblue sun sinks into the ocean and you eat the flesh of starosaurs with beans from the crystal forests of staralia and the flesh of marvelous metals trapped in the dark wombs of northern mountains at the time of great eclipses and the flesh of man the conqueror from distant worlds and the flesh of his silver ships and the machines of incomprehensible language which we slew with sword and fire which he vomited out of our womb desirous of stars trapping them like beasts in a forest trap furious in their own helplessness while we transformed oxygen into nitrogen and back splitting the atomic nuclei of these elements without any problems at all penetrating into their structure stuffed with positive electricity their flesh repelling the protons neutrons alpha particles and other atomic nuclei that we did not wish to use as destructive bombs in an unequal struggle our thirst for blood entwined with powerful electrical and magnetic fields produced exceptionally penetrating and rapid currents destroying the particles that like glowing swarms of giant hornets attacked people and machines overwhelming with their kinetic energy and with the most penetrating rays of familiar radioactive substances the gloom of the planet was riven by the horrified cries of those who had called themselves conquerors but were powerless as a child in the cradle as a seed enclosed in a fruit stone and thrown far from its bedding damp furrows already from the very beginning directed toward death in a desperate struggle with chance without the possibility of emerging from its hard dungeon to break with the walls and move into space into time onto dry land into the ocean turned toward the sun as the constant source of energy uninterruptedly creating living matter a


Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»

gathering of organisms that spreads over the whole surface of the planet in a manner similar to the spreading of gasses exerting a certain pressure on the environment changing it avoiding obstacles that it meets on the path of its ceaseless movement or attempting to take mastery of them covering them over or more simply imbibing them into itself devouring them easily with time gradually mastering greater and greater spaces like a flame that a person lit once long ago in some already forgotten folktale in the beak of some bird whose head rolls away in place of a word between the leaves of grass into the open spring of the abysses from which the smoke emerged as if from a big stove so that both sky and sun turned black from the smoke from the spring and from the smoke locusts came out onto the planet and were given a province just the way the scorpions have a province on the earth and they were told not to go into the green grass nor any kind of tree or fruit but only into people who lack the starrier’s seal on their brows and they were designated not to kill them but to torment them and the locusts were like horses ready for battle and on the heads of the horses like crowns of gold and the faces of the horses like the faces of men and they had long hair like the hair of women and their teeth were like unto those of lions and they had armor like casings of cast iron and the voice of their wings was like the voice of a wagon when numerous horses run into battle and they had tails like a scorpion’s and stings were on their tails from which a heavy scent of urine spread which they ceaselessly dribbled in the shade of their broad wings sprinkling the dry earth frightened and hungry that barely concealed its trembling and suddenly they were freezing and falling out of the whirring swarms from the sky like enormous threatening lumps of snow out of which immediately afterwards there formed avalanches sweeping through our valleys flattening our houses with mourning black digging up the graves of our forebears from time to

Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»


time icy pillars reached up as far as the other planets growing uninterruptedly through the universal depth like crystalline octopodes like the incomprehensible speech of a night wanderer when he catches sight of the mighty treetrunk of dawn all in bloom in the east while himself shortly before he had touched his member and his testicles trusting deeply in their might to act always effectively and in time never either too early or splendidly existent and tender like a well-tended mechanism of the gods the stars exploded above the planet I eavesdropped on that ringing of a future cataclysm on the cheered-up surface of the ocean with bread in its hands raised towards the black moon that has just emerged darkening the whole northern side of the sky with a fiery spear of energy directed towards the navel of the planet nothing worried me in that suspicious catastrophe although that is precisely why the starry spectra gave a multitude of data first and foremost that the stars are composed of the same material of helium hydrogen calcium sodium and iron in which their radiation in the spectrum was more intensive insofar as the given element was present in greater quantities such as for example with extremely bright stars such as sirius vega capella arcturus rigel and others of which we say that they are because of their radiance stars of the first magnitude in both hemispheres there are one-and-twenty such stars and after them come the less bright stars of second magnitude then of the third magnitude and so on all the way to the sixth magnitude which we can still see without a spyglass on top of a green mountain entirely lost in the wilderness where the magical fire burns crackling with furious flames ignited by invisible hands its red light fell onto the surrounding stony slopes covered with moss and snow while I was trying to grasp my existence in this universum now no longer hidden in the mist of poisonous fumes in the desert before the enormous serpent that stopped within reach of my sunburned face and looked me over with its cold bluish eyes


Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»

that like two thirsty crystals speak only of death while my body contorts from immeasurable fear here before the prison and icy emptiness behind the thieving glow of weakly pupils a motley monster completely unreal in the leaden wilderness of the sky earth and stars tempts my blood my hunger while I lie on my belly on the sharp stones on the very brink of the depths of its half-open tongueflickering mouth with stinking breath that splashes in waves my head is seized by dizziness am I at the beginning or at the end of some world whose meaning I can’t find out I wait for my brain to receive at least the initial image on which I can rely in further searching for my ancestry and after that blinded by the flash of immeasurable luminous power that runs through my whole being in a moment I give myself over to sleep passing into another world through the crevices of my own cleft consciousness whose outlines I can only for a moment barely guess at but now on the other hand not before the jaws and the flickering tongue of the beast rather in one entirely different world of machines and illumination where my excited heart beats like a bell and every beat provokes in me an immeasurable satisfaction that is absorbed with their own tiny suckers by the great gods the ordinators according to an already well-tended system of the interdisciplinary process of government and of transfer of the signal by technical and biological systems while my electrical blood flows through tiny fibers of aluminum right up to the last cells of the metallic flesh of longdistance measurement they make possible a momentary and simultaneous attention to the state of all the parts of a great system regardless of its size while the advantage of electrical blood in its rapid arousal heating up and transformation into informational energy by development of electronics broad possibilities obtained for effective study of electrical signals in that manner are compensated weakenings which are reached by necessity on the occasion of their transfer

Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»


to greater distances given a strong wind and transparent air while you are splashed by a wave of premature morning warmth you will look at a boat that destroys the infuriated sea pouring waves across the deck the tremor of the propellers in the heatwave of dread on an enormous cliff with its back turned towards a nonexistent atlantis expecting the final blow the final picture of the boat that disappears with a furious tillerman (cybernetes) of swept paths of the one who is handed over to inertia into an abyss or the sudden cessation of a storm the powerful oblivion of wind and water that in this moment means life moving down to the one who in the damp-filled womb of the cabin had already lost every hope desperately sending calls for help with a primitive apparatus whose signal-wails were swallowed by space not letting them through even a centimeter from the hedged chasm of the whirlpool and of death variously lured precisely in genera not noticing them indifferent to everything making no distinction between the living and the dead so long as the spidery thread of general and allencompassing entropy doesn’t hook onto something some little spark just vanishing agitated already by chance many hundreds of years ago one of the fundamental characteristics of living material is observed irritation if into the liquid where an amoeba is swimming freely we put a drop of diluted acid that single-celled live organism will immediately extending and retracting its protoplasmatic pseudopods flee from that place that is now dangerous for it if the acid is too concentrated the amoeba will change its appearance its movements will be hindered it will become yellowish in color both phenomena occur after a stimulus from its external surroundings except both reactions are of distinct nature the first is an expression of the irritability the living while the second is a consequence of the chemical reaction of the acid on the protoplasm during which a profound change of the material occurred the irritation arose under the action of some external cause is


Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»

transferred to other parts of the cell in more developed organisms with one cell to the neighboring ones in organisms without a nervous system that transfer is imperfect slow and weak quickly exhausted and does not reach farther than the irritated place with time individual cells lengthened and improved their internal structure and conducted signals from the surface of the body to the tissues inside the organism more craftily and better thus the first specialized nerve and muscle cells arose by conducting irritation through the nerve fibers it is explained first by movement of a special fluid and then it is confirmed that electrical phenomena accompany all life processes as well as the process in the nerve cells if one extension of a sensitive mechanism for demonstrating and measuring the movement of electricity of a galvanometer carefully place it on the surface of any living cell and put the other end takes it away through this surface in the protoplasm the galvanometer will indicate through movement of its needle that there is a current further examination has confirmed that the inside of the cell is electronegative with regard to its surface from the external side for are free electrons negatively charged particles inside the cell whose movement we call electrical current if the cell membrane is injured in any way whatever or is made permeable to electrons they flow through in a current during the irritation the nerve cell changes the permeability of its surface at the moment of irritation electrons move away from the irritated place the cell becomes electronegative the action of the current appears without hesitation a silent and patient spider weaves its web of light extends its delicate fibers into the most intimate most hidden corners of the organism which is not a static creation the way whole structures of atoms and crystals are but is something like a flame the form through which matter flows towards some goal and outcome known only to itself

Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»


…the next day wanted to go off into the city and find the right stuff having taken pity on his followers more than ever earlier he responds… I am that undefeated one the light at dawn ignited after the battle the end of all imagined worlds the fountain that bedews a series infinite circling flowers tumble through the windows for in the autumn people with mallets break into the house with eleven apostles o lord who knowest the hearts of all show which thou art from these ones chose in churches what is orange horses sparkle on the warming springs sung through that you decide in a few seconds the precise definition of the epoch has no significance for from the high towers they aimed and shot between the eyebrows while your marrow gradually flows out into the feral earth angels flutter through the window flowers unreachable in the indigo sky who are you all with the bloody kiss on your chests teachers or pupils ready for the struggle otherwise you strengthen in the lord and in power of his strength while you stand thus before the house thresholds lightning flashes in the blackened abyss and droplets of dew on your face while it is just awakened and still seduced a dream that has been tormenting it for years after the first steps in the room glowing with sunlight eavesdrops on a penetrat-


Miroljub Todorović «APEIRON»

ing whistle of a blackbird from somewhere from a nearby grove from time to time seeking an answer to all those things that until the unexpected decision of the sky follows straying through boiling summer nights and rainy days can it be you have no answer man who judges but who was that for as you judge another you condemn yourself prince left-handed across the meadows and indigo earths like a snake like an ant crawling can it be in your unmoving membrane of darkness you have no sense of your own spectrality ….

Miroljub Todorović (1940), the founder and theoretician of Signalism, the Serbian neo avant-garde artistic movement. He has published numerous books of poetry, essays, multimedia works, and has had 12 independent exhibitions and has had his work displayed at more than 600 collective international exhibitions. Sibelan Forrester has published numerous scholarly and literary translations from Croatian, Russian, and Serbian. She has published translations of work by Irena Vrkljan (/The Silk, the Shears/), Dubravka OraićTolić (/American Scream/ and /The Palindrome Apocalypse/), and Milica Mićić Dimovska. Her translation of Vladimir Propp's /Russian Folktale/ was published in 2012 by Wayne State University Press, and her translations of poems by Maria Stepanova will appear in /Relocations/ from Zephyr Press in 2013. Forrester teaches Russian language and literature at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.