The narration is from the first person. The author and the narrator, who owns the Lotus Beauty Institute, paints a few strokes of the picture of Berlin during the occupation, in the cold winter of 1947: the population suffers from hunger, the surviving furniture goes on to kindle, the trade has stopped, no one pays taxes, life has stopped. The Institute of Beauty is gradually declining: employees have nothing to pay, premises are not heated. The master remains completely alone in it, but this does not in the least depress him. on the contrary, he is even glad that he got rid of annoying visitors who bore him with complaints about frostbitten limbs and varicose ulcers. He acquires a machine gun, regardless of the risk associated with such an acquisition, and shoots from the window of his Institute of all suspicious persons. The corpses of the dead, as the narrator notes, are no different from those, who froze or laid hands on himself. Rare passers-by also do not bother the sight of the dead: “The toothache or inflammation of the periosteum might still cause their sympathy, but not the hillock strewn with snow – maybe it’s just a cushion from a sofa or a dead rat.” The narrator is not tormented by doubts of a moral and ethical nature, for in a modern era when “moral fluids” are gradually dying in a person, the attitude towards death has radically changed: “In a world where such monstrous things happened and rested on such monstrous principles as the recent research, it’s high time to stop the empty chatter about life and happiness. Matter was radiation, Deity – silence, and what was placed in the gap – a trifle. ” toothache or inflammation of the periosteum could still cause their sympathy, but not a hillock covered with snow – maybe it’s just a cushion from a sofa or a dead rat. “The narrator does not suffer doubts of a moral and ethical nature, for in the modern era, when in man “Moral fluids” are gradually dying out, the attitude towards death has changed radically: “In a world where such monstrous things have happened and rested on such monstrous principles as recent studies have shown, it is high time to stop the empty chatter about life and happiness. Matter was radiation, Deity – silence, and what was placed in the gap – a trifle. ” toothache or inflammation of the periosteum could still cause their sympathy, but not a hillock covered with snow – maybe it’s just a cushion from a sofa or a dead rat. “The narrator does not suffer doubts of a moral and ethical nature, for in the modern era, when in man “Moral fluids” are gradually dying out, the attitude towards death has changed radically: “In a world where such monstrous things have happened and rested on such monstrous principles as recent studies have shown, it is high time to stop the empty chatter about life and happiness. Matter was radiation, Deity – silence, and what was placed in the gap – a trifle. “
At night, the Infinite addresses the narrator: “You believe that Kepler and Galileo are the greatest luminaries, and they are just old aunts.” As the aunts absorb the knitting stockings, they are obsessed with the notion that the Earth revolves around the Sun. the other was restless, extroverted types, and now see how this hypothesis folds! Now everything revolves around everything, and when everything revolves around everything, nothing rotates except around itself. ” The narrator listens to the words of the Infinite, but most often he conducts a dialogue with himself. Excursions to history, geography, atomic physics and paleontology are replaced by professional reasoning about the merits of all kinds of cosmetic products.
Explaining why he gave his Institute the name “Lotus”, the narrator refers to the myth of the lotophagi. Fans of the beautiful and those who crave oblivion, eat the fruits of the lotus, for they do not need other food, in their power – to hope and forget. In a world where all values have become relative, where the attempt at conceptual thinking to see the universal interconnection of phenomena is initially doomed to failure, only art is able to withstand the total spiritual crisis, for it creates an autonomous realm of absolute reality. Creativity has a sacred meaning and takes on the character of a mythical cult ritual, through which the artist “frees” the essence of a thing, taking it beyond the finite. The isolated I of the artist creates monological art, which “rests on oblivion, and is the music of oblivion.” “
The narrator violently attacks the mythologized idea of life that is characteristic of the philistine’s consciousness, which cowardly reconciles with any circumstances and motivates his obedience to the fact that the notorious “life” does not take into account the interests and aspirations... of an individual, subordinating it to his “eternal goals”. The narrator pronounces a severe sentence of “life”: “This is a spittoon, in which all the croakers – cows and worms and whores, this is the life they all devoured with skin and hair, its impassable dullness, its lower physiological expressions like digestion, like sperm, like reflexes, and now they have seasoned all this with eternal goals. ” In the course of these discussions, the narrator, inexplicably for himself, suddenly feels that he loves this fierce winter, which kills all life: ” let this snow always lay forever, and there was no end to the frost, for the spring stood before me like a burden, there was something devastating in it, it unceremoniously touched that autistic reality that I had only foreseen, but which, unfortunately, has left us forever. “However, the narrator hastens to add the following: he is afraid of spring, not because of the fear that the snow will melt and close to the Institute will find the numerous corpses of people he shot, for him these corpses are something ephemeral:” In the era, when only the mass of something nachit, the concept of a single dead body smacked of romance. “
The narrator is proud of the fact that he does not come into conflict with the spirit of the time in which his being is or rather is immovable. He accepts everything as it is, and only contemplates the stages of the spiritual history of the West, although he himself resides as if outside time and space, declaring these latter “phantoms of European thought.” He conveys his impressions in the form of free associations: “It was morning, the rooster crowed, he shouted thrice, resolutely calling for betrayal, but there was no one else who could betray, like the one who betrayed.” Everything was asleep, prophet and prophecy; The dew was covered with dew, the palm trees rustled in an inconspicuous breeze – and the dove flew up, the Holy Spirit, its wings almost silently dissecting the air, and the clouds took it, it no longer came back – Dogme came to an end. ” The narrator has in mind the dogma of man, about homo sapiens. He explains that there is no longer any talk about the decline in which a person, or even a race, a continent, a certain social structure and a historically established system, is not present, everything that is happening is only the result of global shifts, by virtue of which the entire creation is deprived of the future: the end of the Quaternary period is in line with the last period of geological history, which continues to this day. – V. R.). However, the narrator does not dramatize this situation, before which humanity as a species stands, he prophetically proclaims that “a reptile we call history” does not immediately and “suddenly collapse”, that we are expecting new “historical” epochs, and the closest picture of the world will most likely be “an attempt to tie together a mythical reality,
In the life of society, the narrator foresees two main trends: unrestrained hedonism and prolongation of life at any cost with the help of fantastically developed medical technology. The narrator is sure that the epoch of capitalism and “synthetic life” has just begun. The coming century will take humanity into such a grip, put people in front of the need for such a choice that it will be impossible to evade it: “The coming century will allow the existence of only two types, two constitutions, two reactive forms: those who act and want to rise even higher, and, who are silently waiting for change and transformation – criminals and monks, nothing else will be no more. “
Despite the gloomy prospects that await mankind in the near future, the narrator is sure that his Lotus Institute of Beauty will continue to thrive, for his services are always needed, even if people are replaced by robots. The narrator does not consider himself to be either optimistic or pessimistic. Finishing his prophetic-confessional essay, he says of himself: “I turn the disk, and I turn myself, I’m a ptolemaic.” I do not groan like Jeremiah, I do not groan like Paul: “I do not do what I want, but what I do I do what I do, I do what I am, I do not know about any “abandonment” that modern philosophers talk about, I’m not abandoned, I was determined by my birth. before life, “of course, I do not hang a wife and child, coupled with a summer house and a snow-white tie, I wear bandages that are invisible to the eye, but at the same time I wear a suit of impeccable cut, on the outside – a count, inside – a pariah, low, tenacious, invulnerable. Everything is as it should be, and the end is good. “