Five Unfinished NarrativesDear Yakov Semyonovich,
1. A certain man, having taken a run, struck his head against a smithy with such force that the blacksmith put aside the sledge-hammer which he was holding, took off his leather apron and, having smoothed his hair with his palm, went out on to the street to see what had happened. 2. Then the smith spotted the man sitting on the ground. The man was sitting on the ground and holding his head. 3. -- What happened? -- asked the smith. -- Ooh! -- said the man. 4. The smith went a bit closer to the man. 5. We discontinue the narrative about the smith and the unknown man and begin a new narrative about four friends and a harem. 6. Once upon a time there were four harem fanatics. They considered it rather pleasant to have eight women at a time each. They would gather of an evening and debate harem life. They drank wine; they drank themselves blind drunk; they collapsed under the table; they puked up. It was disgusting to look at them. They bit each other on the leg. They bandied obscenities at each other. They crawled about on their bellies. 7. We discontinue the story about them and begin a new story about beer. 8. There was a barrel of beer and next to it sat a philosopher who contended: -- This barrel is full of beer; the beer is fermenting and strengthening. And I in my mind ferment along the starry summits and strengthen my spirit. Beer is a drink flowing in space; I also am a drink, flowing in time. 9. When beer is enclosed in a barrel, it has nowhere to flow. Time will stop and I will stand up. 10. But if time does not stop, then my flow is immutable. 11. No, it's better to let the beer flow freely, for it's contrary to the laws of nature for it to stand still. -- And with these words the philosopher turned on the tap in the barrel and the beer poured out over the floor. 12. We have related enough about beer; now we shall relate about a drum. 13. A philosopher beat a drum and shouted: -- I am making a philosophical noise! This noise is of no use to anyone, it even annoys everyone. But if it annoys everyone, that means it is not of this world. And if it's not of this world, then it's from another world. And if it is from another world, then I shall keep making it. 14. The philosopher made his noise for a long time. But we shall leave this noisy story and turn to the following quiet story about trees. 15. A philosopher went for a walk under some trees and remained silent, because inspiration had deserted him.