Friday

Week 14: Text: EXTRACT OF COURT TRANSCRIPT

REPORT OF THE TRIAL OF MIKHAIL ZEMANOVIC. HEARD BEFORE THE MILITARY COLLEGIUM OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE USSR, MOSCOW, NOVEMBER 8TH, 1936.

Comrade Anatole Y. Vyshinsky, State Attorney of the U.S.S.R., Prosecutor: Esteemed comrade judges, these are cold blooded times we live in. Our children are stalked by foreign snipers, saboteurs corrupt our grain supplies, the military forces of world capital are massed at our borders and yet this is not sufficient to make all Russians unite in common cause. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is besieged from within by reactionary thinkers who seek to infect the collective mind of the people with superstition and fear.

In 1917 the ancient fog of religious spiritualism evaporated before the great red luminescence of the revolutionary star. But today it creeps back, reaching out to suffocate the hearts and minds of the masses. It seeps through the hallways of the very scientific institutions the revolution established to dispel it! I am of course speaking of the pseudo sciences of alchemy, astrology and parapsychology.

You see before you in the dock the Grand Wizard of this occult conspiracy, Mikhail Zemanovic. Here today, before the good citizens assembled and the coterie of foreign correspondents perched above us like crows along the terrace, we shall expose this black guard. We must not shy away from the truth, nor cower before the fearful images contained within these film reels stacked upon the table, but, like the times, make our hearts cold, and with cool, clear, scientific eyes examine the devil seated here among us.

Comrade Fydor Geboren, President of the Court: Your exemplary oratorical skills notwithstanding, Comrade Vyshinsky, I believe the defendant has already confessed?

Prosecutor: He has, Comrade President.

President: May we not therefore dispense with the harangue and request the defendant make his own declaration? We have several persons’ condemnations to oversee this afternoon.

Prosecutor: If it please the court. Comrade Zemanovic, the tribunal is impatient for justice. You and I have spent many hours together in your cell dissecting your life and crimes. After long struggle we have brought you back to the light of reason you once sought to obscure with spectres of the paranormal. Now complete your rehabilitation and confess in open court. How did you come to practice the dark arts? To what diabolical ends did you aspire?

Mikhail Z.: (The witness struggles to speak) Comrade Prosecutor, might I have a glass of water? (A pitcher and glass are placed before him) Thank you. (He pours and drinks) Comrades, I have been like a child, stumbling about in the dark, fearful lest I wake the household, yet so lost and desperate that I could not but set tables toppling and the cups and cutlery so carefully placed there by my parents crashing to the floor.

Prosecutor: No riddles please, comrade.

Mikhail Z.: Forgive me. I began in all sincerity. I had an experience that I did not understand and I sought to investigate it. When I was nineteen years of age I was studying my bachelors degree in Minsk, many miles from my home village, where my brother lay dying of pneumonia. One night I was startled from sleep by a sharp sound I could not at first identify. The next day I received word that my brother had passed away during the night. I sped to my village and found my brother laid out, his room untouched, as is our custom.

Prosecutor: Comrade, your personal anecdotes are of no significance to these proceedings. We want only the facts.

Mikhail Z.: Well the fact is, Comrade Prosecutor, I became fascinated by a glass sitting at the bedside table. It had a spoon in it. When our mother noticed me staring at it she burst out crying. She told me that she had been trying to feed my brother some medicine with that spoon when he died. She had then dropped the spoon into the glass and crossed herself

President of the Court: How is this of any relevance?

Mikhail Z: Comrade President, that was the sound that awoke me from my sleep. The high pitched tone of the metal spoon resounding in the glass. That sound had somehow been communicated to my consciousness over a great distance. I was at once determined to discover by what power, by what function of the brain this was possible.

Prosecutor: Did you conduct experiments?

Mikhail Z.: Of course. We tested subjects’ ability to communicate across various distances. The best results came from sleeping lovers, their dreams appeared to cohere frequently, depending upon the degree of intimacy their were sharing.

Prosecutor: Did you perform vivisections?

Mikhail Z.: If by vivisection you mean operations on live animals, no.

Prosecutor: This film, of Case 23, clearly shows…

Mikhail Z.: Dissection of a monkey brain. I can assure you the subject had died long before its removal. We were treating the brain as a biological transmitter/receiver.

Prosecutor: In your own words you were “seeking the mystical third eye.” I submit this journal for the President’s inspection.

Mikhail Z.: I was young and romantic.

Prosecutor: Your youth does not excuse propagating fantastical ideas in direct contradiction of materialist Marxist philosophy.

President of the Court: I thought this was supposed to be a confession.

Mikhail Z.: It is comrade. I confess to being fascinated by the potential these forces represented. To assist the development of faculties we may only now be growing into. To bring the world into harmony. Isn’t that the revolutionary ideal? But the military applications of what I discovered attracted the attention of powerful men. The forces we sought to control would not conform to their plans and for their short sightedness I have been condemned a heretic.

Prosecutor: Comrade Zemanovic, do you want to go back to your cell where we can discuss this matter again, more strenuously?

The defendant does not answer for some time. The court is accustomed to such standoffs and awaits the defendant's inevitable acquiescence. Then a smile spreads over his face.*

Mikhail Z.: No comrade. I shall not be returning to that hole. I thank you though for giving me this opportunity to transcend pain and open my third eye completely to the vistas that exist beyond this mundane reality. The passion you have put me through is not something that anyone would volunteer for. Unless of course you are the Son of God.

President: What? Did he say God? We will have no God in this courtroom. The people are God.

Mikhail Z.: You are right, Comrade President. All that we dream of God is within Man’s ability. That celestial vision, as old as humanity, is a blueprint, a projection of what we will one day become if we are courageous enough to seek it. Remember that when his disciples asked Jesus if he was the Son of God, he himself said, No, I am a Son of Man.

President: Guards, detain… restrain… shut that fellow up!

Mikhail Z.: Comrade Stalin, I feel you seated there beyond the mirror wall. I am pleased that you are here to witness this.

The court is in uproar. The defendant begins to hum.

Prosecutor: You see the religionist! You see how he chants in code. No doubt sending messages to the foreign press. Or triggers for his coven to erupt into an orgy of human sacrifice.

The Bailiff of the Court, Comrade Boris Miltkin, ascends the witness stand to take custody of the defendant.

President: Anatole, calm yourself. Bailiff, what is taking you so long? Remove the defendant.

Bailiff: I cannot rouse him, Comrade President. His heart has stopped. The defendant is dead.

The mirror at the side of the courtroom shatters.

President: CLEAR THE COURT. CLEAR THE COURT! AVERT YOUR GAZE! CLOSE YOUR EYES! RUN!



* Subsequent to this event, the court stenographer, prosecutor, and all attendant clerks and bailiffs were taken into custody for re-education.

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