Tomas Kavaliauskas. Romano „Zen Sex“ ištraukos (anglų k.)
Prozininkas, eseistas, filosofijos mokslų daktaras, Lietuvos PEN centro narys Tomas Kavaliauskas 2000 m. debiutavo „Nemune“, o 2007 m. pasirodė pirmas jo mažasis romanas „Atsisveikinimas“ (Vilnius: Versus aureus, 2007). T. Kavaliausko esė išverstos į bulgarų, slovėnų, vengrų, rusų ir anglų kalbas ir paskelbtos eurozine.com tinklapyje, didelio dėmesio sulaukė rašytojo romanas „Du šimtai brolių, altoriaus laukiančių“ (Vilnius: Alma littera, 2015), o visai neseniai pasirodęs detektyvinis romanas „Originalas“ (Vilnius: Alma littera, 2017) atgaivino ir praturtino Dogu Bankovo legendą.
Tačiau ne visi T. Kavaliausko tekstai randami lietuviškai ir nesunkiai – štai 2016 m. anglų kalba pasirodęs romanas „Zen Sex“ (Saarbrücken: JustFictionEdition, 2016) spausdinamas tik užsakovui pageidaujant (print-on-demand), tad susidomėjusiems teks pasistengti (kauniečiai jį pasiskolinti gali VDU bibliotekoje).
Amerikoje atrastas nežinomos kilmės ir lyties sutvėrimas Penguee pradeda daryti humoro nestokojančius stebuklus. Paaiškėja, kad jis turi supergalių sustiprinti žmogiškąjį libido, o tai tampa problema palaikant viešąją tvarką. Moralinių tabu greit nelieka, net Immanuelio Kanto moralinės filosofijos sekėjai pasiduoda nežemiškoms seksualinėms pagundoms, o lyties tapatybė nebesileidžia apibrėžiama… Nenuostabu, kad net dirbtinės Esperanto kalbos kūrėjas Zamenhofas transformuojamas į Zenwomanhofą. Ir kas sakė, kad nežabota vaizduotė, humoras, fantastika, seksualumas ir filosofinės įžvalgos sunkiai suderinami? Netiesa! Pateikiamoje ištraukoje autorius kviečia susipažinti su Penguee kilmės istorija bei pasakoja, kaip ši būtybė galiausiai atsidūrė… Lietuvoje.
Romano „Zen Sex“ (JustFiction Edition, 2016) ištraukos
This text is fiction and all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real places, facts, dates and persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
To the American and Lithuanian fans of the Green Penguee
Zen Sex in the Promised Land
It was not difficult to describe what this creature looked like. It was harder to put a finger on its identity. The creature was mostly green and small. It looked like a penguin, but was not a penguin – didn’t hatch and had no wings, only perched on four tiny legs that were smaller than those of a wiener-dog.
The creature was green-eyed, sort of smiley, sort of cunning; you could not miss the beak of a duck that was so yellow, quite like that of Donald Duck, who originally did not wear pants – the cartoon that was forbidden in Finland. “No Donald Duck for moral Finns, unless the cartoonist puts pants on that creature!”– in 1977 used to panic moralists in Helsinki. But this creature that looked like a penguin, but was not a penguin at all, and was not a cartoon either; it stood on its tiny wiener-dog’s legs on the U.S. soil for real and nobody knew for how long, although there was a myth of finding the creature in the 17th century. Even without trousers, just like the original Donald Duck, the creature for some time did not provoke Americans for a moral concern. But that changed in the 21st century.
That sort of ducky-wiener-penguin was so exceptionally soft that anyone could nestle it to the chest or somewhere in a more intimate place where one, being less moral than a Finn in 1977, might be desperate at the moment. True, some men – like truck drivers or body builders – were less attracted to the creature, since they feared to disclose their feminine side. Reportedly, some gays found the creature’s softness very alluring, but not necessarily for those gays, who admired sexuality of Tom of Finland.
But the feminine boys declared: “Femininity does not have to be reserved only for the Eastern European girls. Look at us!” Of course, it was said in that well familiar tone that rises from the depth of alternative male personality when estrogen is preferred instead of testosterone, which was not the case for Tom of Finland, whose real name, Touko Laaksonen. That Finn certainly would never complain about Donald Duck being naked. The only thing that Tom of Finland could possibly complain would be his failure to draw a picture of a man having a superlative erection, truly engorged phallus. But that Finn never failed in his extraordinary imaginary when drawing a fetish male body.
At last this soft creature was named Penguee, without any influence of Finns – neither of those like the opponents of naked Donald Duck nor of those like the proponents of a superlative erection in fetish drawings by Touko Laaksonen. Keeping in mind that the main body of the creature was all green, except for the yellow beak and a red wad of hair on its sconce, this soft-being was named the Green Penguee.
The pronunciation was clear and obvious – the end had to be pronounced with /i:/, as in the following words: “attendee”, “trustee”, “nominee”, “devotee”. According to the myth, this particular pronunciation never became an issue as supposedly it was sort of settled on naturally when the creature was first spotted in the Promised Land by the settlers in the 17th century.
The First Finders of the American Penguee had left a narrative of this mysterious being, whose gender was not known, and that meant the name had to be neutral, no gender implied. According to the legacy, the First Finders of the Green Penguee at first prayed to God; only then did they reach a consensus that the creature was neither she nor he, but merely IT, if not the very ID, God forbid…
The legacy of the First Finders told a story about how they witnessed in the sky a divine light upon the discovery of the Penguee. That was when they heard the voice from the Heavens reciting the five theses that appeared inscribed in the clouds of the Promised Land in green, yellow and red letters. Then they prayed thanking for the revelation and painstakingly copied those theses by inscribing them on a stone that they found in Plymouth. Inspired and transfixed, the First Finders – predominantly of Dutch ethnic origin from New Amsterdam – rolled that stone from Plymouth all the way to Concord, Massachusetts, while chanting mysterious mantras in Dutch, and drowned the stone with the text on it in the Walden Pond. Supposedly they, being filled with the Holy Spirit, left the Penguee IT-self to perch motionless on the shore, but with smiley, cunning green eyes staring directly at the calmly rippling water.
According to the association of archaeologists, symbolic acts should be that golden thread that helps to weave the logic of the story. Some archaeologists of the 21st century even applied for various funds to receive the support for the expenses of the excavation of the Walden Pond in search of the 17th century stone that was drowned there.
One social anthropologist of questionable reputation, needless to say, posted on his blog personal research findings with the conclusion that the oral tradition of Concord town leads us to the belief that the First Finders of the Green Penguee saw IT in the 17th century exactly the same as the creature appears to be today – with a red wad of hair on its sconce. According to the legacy, you cannot comb that wad because it is too tiny, so the wad is always a bit messy. All one can do is twitch it. “No crown or anything royal on the head, but just a stupid wad of hair?” one disappointed commentator reacted.
Of course that social anthropologist added comparative photos of the Green Penguee “today” and “yesterday”. Of course he, fame oriented, posted on his blog a photo of a painting of the Penguee supposedly made in the 17th century by a grand Dutch master of painting. The picture depicted the creature staring at the Walden Pond at the moment the stone splashed into the middle of the pond. No serious art critic bothered to comment that picture – it was an obvious fake at a rather amateur level. Certainly that was no Han van Meegeren faking van Vermeer himself. One painter even left a comment on that blog: “Before you try to fool anyone, you should learn the techniques of forgery. Sorry, but as a painter, you’re equally as bad as you are a social anthropologist.”
But these photos of the unsuccessful fake, just like many others, circulated the Web. No matter what photo you looked at, the Penguee was equally photogenic and sort of smiley. In pictures the creature was always overly expressive. Those green eyes were openly cunning, but for an unknown reason the discourse of the Penguee spoke of a saintly innocent gaze. Supposedly purity in the eyes obviously pointed out to innocence of the Penguee’s soul, which was pure nonsense as there was no evidence that the creature had a soul. But most importantly, the eyes of the Penguee did not contain a single element of purity or innocence. The gaze of the creature contained something premeditated, twisted, ironic. And above all, in the gaze of the creature one could always notice implied superiority of the creature.
It was such nonsense when someone twittered this: “Without a doubt, the eyes of the Penguee emanate divine goodness.”
Such a misunderstanding may have occurred due to positive experience that people would get while being around the Penguee. Since after the encounter with the Green Penguee people would do something extra nice to each other, they tended to overlook what truly emanated from the eyes of this Soft-being.
One could not help but also notice the Penguee’s bright yellow beak. Small children loved to put their mouth on it, kiss it. But the beak was like a duck’s, quite flat. Some people simply gingerly patted on the beak with a finger tip and that was it.
So who or what was that Penguee?
There was a theory contending that the Green Penguee somehow evolved from pure American cultural ID-ealism. But the fans of Socratic philosophy argued that the Green Penguee was never born because the creature had always existed on the level of permanent and unchangeable ideas. Another theory believed that someone manipulated genetics purposely with evil intent and mixed a penguin with a duck. After such a combination the creature got green. And yet another secular theory stated that the Penguee’s green color betrayed an alien’s nature from outer space. The proponents of the latter theory said that “This creature is from space and therefore the divine elements might be coded in the Penguee”. These proponents passionately pointed to the legacy of the First Finders contending that already in Plymouth the creature was engulfed by divine light.
Not a single distinguished scholar treated the latter theory seriously. For instance, the American association of biologists was quite skeptical about divine elements, but for the sake of certainty they insisted on keeping the Penguee under laboratory isolation until all mysteries were clarified. One biologist argued: “We have already seen the consequences of the ‘bird flu’; just think what kind of a virus could spread from something totally unknown to us. Who knows maybe that creature contains some kind of cosmic bacteria that could destroy mankind?”
The Republican politicians demonstrated concern over the fact that children were allowed to play with the creature. According to them, the Penguee may bring unprecedented harm to American children.
“Who can verify that the Penguee is moral?” the Republicans kept repeating before the elections overlooking the fact that the creature was genderless, and sort of abstract. But the Democrats glorified the Penguee by saying that the Green Penguee was exactly what the children of the Great Nation needed – a toy without traces of race and gender – an all inclusive IDeal IT!
But then the American association of psychoanalysts and hard core Freudian followers scratched their heads wondering: if all moral implications rise from a gender oriented ID, then this time the genderless Penguee might be libido free. “ID, that is libido free, would no longer create an Oedipus or Electra complex,” reasoned psychoanalysts at their conferences.
Such a psychoanalytic interpretation was immediately picked up by Christian denominations in the U.S. and the clergy passionately shared ideas about possible moral revolt, a kind of new Reformation: a libido free ID could potentially de-sexualize over-sexualized America. A libido free ID, if proven to exist, might be something that Christian churches would be very interested in. It could be a great alternative recipe for sainthood for what so many believers have striven for through religious practices, ascetic self-control, and meditations in solitary cells of monasteries up in the mountains, yet unable to escape the almighty sexual allures. Who could possibly control ID during sleep?
Not even the Vatican escaped that – the nightmare of the Pope Benedict XVI – as Time magazine said on its cover on March 29th, 2010. Thus, the clergy of Christian denominations agreed that if the cure for America’s over-sexualization is just around the corner, why not use the Penguee for the benefit of believers, especially in the days of moral crisis?
However, the Vatican supported the idea of American biologists that the creature in question should be kept in isolation in a lab until the moral status is clarified. “The Penguee has to show a sign of spiritual powers before we believe in the creature’s divinity or sainthood,” added the Vatican spokesman.
But isolation in a laboratory meant experiments. The Greens in the U.S. as well as other countries sensed the danger immediately. For them the Green Penguee was meant to be ecological by definition and they strongly identified themselves with the creature. Actually they advertised the creature as their ID-eal idol – green externally while expressing green values internally. So the Greens of the U.S. contended that the greenness of the Penguee not only symbolized primeval nature untouched by technologies in agreement with Henry David Thoreau’s vision of America as the Promised Land, but actually was the embodiment of our planet’s green nature symbolizing spring, birth, resurrection, life, healthy life of humanity, preservation of nature and sustainability of all living species.
But the American Catholic priests could not avoid their doubts. The Vatican spokesman for the U.S. press managed to put complicated matters quite succinctly:
“If the Green Penguee does not have a soul, this creature, either of earthly origin or from outer space, will not be resurrected at the second coming of the Savior.”
The Anglican Church, inconsistent throughout the process, never took a firm and fixed position. Still, in the end, the officials of the Anglican Church managed to say diplomatically:
“Our Church is open for everyone. We have a homosexual bishop and women ministers and, as you all know, the Church has not disintegrated because of this. God holds us all in one faith! Our Church’s morality is above sexual matters. Thus, if the Penguee wishes to join our Church and if this creature is the creation of our Lord, then we are kindly inviting the Penguee to participate in the universal salvation plan of Jesus Christ.”
The officials of the Pentecostal Church seemed very skeptical:
“One has to pray ceaselessly so that the Holy Spirit might embrace a sinner. Does the Penguee look like someone who is praying ceaselessly? The creature perches constantly. The word of God could hardly come out of the yellow beak…”
However, the Mormons had different ideas:
“Our Church welcomes all Americans. Looking forward to meet the Penguee in Utah! Salt Lake City might be the right place. Just don’t forget a donation, please. Don’t forget 10% of your income…Gee, but does the Penguee have an income? Raise funds and don’t waste your time!”
Jehovah’s Witnesses were more sophisticated:
“The Green Penguee does not celebrate holidays or birthdays, seems to be sedate and is likely to be from outer space. It is possible that the Penguee has ITs own planet somewhere in the universe and, therefore, meets the criteria of our church. Welcome.”
Everything would have been simpler if the Penguee would have said something. Everyone expected the yellow beak to blurt out: at least a sound, a vowel or a syllable. But the creature just kept silent and would stay where someone placed IT. And that was the biggest problem: how could you evaluate someone who did not move or speak? After all, anyone who does not act, cannot be ethical or unethical.
Because of the creature’s softness, some philosophers called the creature the Soft-being. Some sociologists, influenced by Zygmunt Bauman’s book Liquid Love, strongly recommended to name the creature Liquid-being or Liquid-Penguee or even Liquid-ID; but “liquid” indicates readiness to flow, whereas the Green Penguee did not indicate readiness to flow or to move in any way. All the softness of the creature had a crystal-clear localization – Penguee as the subject had the attribute of softness being in the place of ITs own location and nothing more.
The social processes that surrounded the mysterious creature were liquid from the day of the Penguee’s annunciation by the First Finders, but the creature IT-self was not liquid. As boneless as IT was, still the creature somehow had a well-defined form. How that form existed without the support of a carcass remained a secret for the time being. Evidently this softness was of a special kind that only a Soft-being of ITs own kind could possess. Many respondents described that softness as the experience of blessed babyhood – total security in the arms of the most caring and devoted mother while breastfeeding. As if there was a message: if you need the experience of ideal softness, dissolve your mind within the superlative softness of the Penguee.
But it turned out that such neutral treatment of the Soft-being was too abstract and insufficient for everyday usage. Politicians, representatives of various religions and their denominations as well as scientists, after a heated debate, decided that this existence of unclear origin had to be given to expertise. The idea to keep the creature in a lab until the clarification of moral status was accepted. The creature had to be ripped up, every part painstakingly examined. Upon confirmation of the creature’s harmless mode of existence, Penguee could be reconstructed via microsurgery. IT could be stitched up and sewn to such perfection that no one would even dare to say that this creature had ever been ripped into bits and pieces, that ITs every single fiber, even the green eyes, were examined in a laboratory.
The Green Penguee was destined to face a microscope. The creature had to be put on a surgeon’s slab, and not without the attendees – bishops and cardinals, who had seen it all, but would not miss yet another opportunity to catch an immoral being, who may try to seduce altar boys of their parishioners. The Anglican Church showed a relaxed attitude towards the surgery procedure and did not send any attendees, reasoning that spiritual supervisions for potential perversions should be left aside as the American relic of the outdated Puritanism. As the spokesman of the Anglican Church said, “We are no longer doing witch hunting. Read my lips – no more Salem witches.”
After all the scientific procedures and the prayers of the Catholic clergy, the committee, comprised of racially balanced scholars, concluded that the Green Penguee had nothing within IT-self that could worry society. The creature was a simple genderless Soft-being.
Zen Sex in Lithuania
The Penguee ended up in Kaunas when the Pengueegon got fed up with the creature’s increasing popularity at Walden – of course, once again with all kinds of new supernatural adventures and miracles – and decided to send “the animal from Mars” out of the country. So the creature arrived to Lithuania from America as a part of cultural exchange on the basis that the Penguee had the colors namely of the Lithuanian national flag.
That wasn’t so simple, because quite a number of countries that also have the colors of green, yellow, and red on their national flags protested against such a decision. The list of protesters was long:
But the American ambassadors in these countries kindly explained that the matching colors were just one variable in deciding to which country to send Sen Seksa (Esperanto “sen” – without; “seksa” – gender) for a cultural exchange. The other criterion was that the country must be a native country of Esperanto. American ambassadors kindly explained to Bolivians, Cameroonians, Myanmarians, Beninians, Congoans, Grenadians, Malians, Togonians, Ghanaians, Guineians, and Guyanaians that Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof had worked in Kaunas town, Lithuania, therefore, that place meets fundamental requirements for the transcontinental cultural exchange program.
Poland was appalled by such reasoning. Polish diplomats lost their diplomatic abilities when they started shouting in all possible directions accusing Americans of incredible ignorance and horrible lack of education on East-Central Europe: Zamenhof’s native language was Polish among the many others and he was buried in Warsaw. They angrily asked: “Why was this criterion overlooked? Did Lithuanians lobby in America to get the creature for themselves? If so, how come American Polish politicians in the U.S. failed to lobby, especially having larger numbers than American Lithuanians?”
But then Belarusians insisted that Zamenhof’s native was Belorussian dialect. Some Polish agreed, but then added a correction: supposedly that Belarusian dialect was a mix of Russian, Polish and Yiddish. Then Lithuanian philologists said: “Sorry, but why Lithuanian was omitted from the list? That Belarusian dialect was a mix of Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Yiddish.” Then yet other scholars, especially biographers of Zamenhof, added that the Founding Father of Esperanto also knew Italian, German, French, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Aramaic and always kept his eye on Lithuanian. At one point he learned Volapük. Yes, he did go as far as learning Volapük.
American honorary consul in Warsaw, who spoke neither Esperanto nor Polish, but was absolutely fine with the English, kindly explained to the Polish media that Poland did not meet the criteria of the colors on the national flag.
“Sorry”, he said, “but your flag happens to be white and red, which is certainly not the same as the Lithuanian yellow, green, and red.
That argument made Polish politicians furious, especially during their painful recovery after losing the cold war (especially the year 2010–2012) to the Lithuanians over the demand to spell Polish names applying the Polish alphabet in Lithuanian passports.
Now that the Penguee resided in Kaunas – in spite of the fact that Poland stopped exporting Polish Kielbasa to the U.S. and Lithuania – endless excursions of Poles lined up on Zamenhof’s street. The Poles came by tourist buses to visit what they considered their stolen national heritage and complained that the information about the creature was available only in English, Esperanto, and Lithuanian.
“Where is Polish?”
Lithuanian Minister of Education replied:
“So you don’t read in Esperanto?”
That reply only fueled the heated dispute. Now the Polish tourists or pilgrims were furious that Lithuanians spelled the creature’s name without using any Polish letters like “ę”, and “ł”. They demanded that the correct spelling had to be “Pęguee” as the Polish letter “ę” indicates the sound “n” just like in the famous name “Wałęsa”, therefore, letter “n” should be omitted and the letter “ę” added.
A member of Lithuanian PEN club, who might have been Tomas Kavaliauskas, stepped in saying that the Green Penguee by nature is beyond spelling issues as well as beyond nationalistic politics. He asked to stop this ultra-conservative linguistic discussion.
Then a member of Polish PEN club, who might have been Tomasz Kowalewski, also stepped in supporting the idea to drop ultra-conservative demands on spelling. He suggested to spell the Green Penguee in any way anyone wishes as the essence of the creature is in ITs spirit, not in the letters.
It is very possible that Tomasz Kowalewski and Tomas Kavaliauskas have sent to each other letters in which they purposely misspelled their Lithuanian and Polish names.
However, the Lithuanian Minister of Education did not hear or did not want to hear the advice of the member of PEN club and replied that the spelling was based not on any local nationalist motives, but on the American spelling version, which, as we all know, was the original. This was confirmed by the ambassador of the Netherlands in Lithuania, who said:
“I respect the tradition of the First Finders, my ancestor was one of them and he made sure to pass that legacy of the Penguee to his new generations; sorry, but the letter “n” has always been included in the spelling of the Penguee’s name, whereas Polish ‘ę’ has never existed.”
Then the Queen of the Netherlands paid homage to the Penguee’s new residence on Zamenhof Street in Kaunas. On her visit her Majesty reminded the legacy of the First Finders and expressed hope that Kaunas wouldn’t be the last stop:
“Amsterdam is waiting for the Penguee,” she said. “And for the sake of democracy, the Green Penguee could come to Amsterdam via Warsaw.”
Her Majesty also suggested to Lithuanians to use the Penguee efficiently in promoting tolerance for sexual and a-sexual diversity.
Following the example of the Dutch Queen, Polish President also expressed his hope that Kaunas should not be the final destination of the Penguee, because Warsaw is awaiting the creature on ITs real homeland; but he refused to share the idea of her Majesty to use the Penguee for sexual and a-sexual diversity. For that he seemed to have a big question mark.
Since so many Polish tourists – who refused to be called tourists, because they called themselves the pilgrims of the Polonized Pęguee – inundated Kaunas. Consequently, both the locals and the foreigners had to sign up for an excursion on Zamenhof street in advance. That was a prerequisite for being in a group that had an Esperanto guide.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, working hand in hand with Esperanto professionals, organized tourism on Zamenhof Street by appointing an Esperanto speaking guide for every group. On that occasion the guides started to teach adults as well as children a few words that Zamenhof had thought up in his linguistically imaginary realms.
Kaunas municipality decided to set up a monument to Zamenhof, of course, on the street of his name. But the sculptor, who won the grant for the job, happened to be fluent in Esperanto and was fully aware of grammatical gender issues. He envisioned himself as a man on a mission to solve those sexist issues once and for all. The sculptor regarded Esperanto as a dynamic language, which embraced gender development, for instance, from male to neutral.
He certainly caused a headache at the opening of the monument: believe it or not, but this sculptor dared to change the last name of Zamenhof to Zenwomenhof without any warnings or consultations. In addition to this naughty choice of the artist, he shocked the public by inscribing on the monument the following words:
In the memory of the founder of Esperanto,
let’s never forget what
Al feliĉulo eĉ koko donas ovojn / To a happy man even a rooster gives eggs
The sculpture itself portrayed a naked human sort of as a semi-man and sort of as a semi-woman. Many had to close their eyes as they faced Zenwomenhof with private body parts in superlative sizes: his phallus in the style of Tom of Finland and her busty chest in the style of Kim Kardashian.
Zenwomenhof seemed to be peacefully gazing at the sky holding a book, titled
 Regarding the story of forgeries by this painter, please visit a website at: www.meegeren.net
There is a story about a devoted philologist to the language of Esperanto, who converted to Volapük and died. Supposedly that man studied Esperanto all his life and felt like being on a sacred mission to make it number one language, but one day, for unknown reason, he changed his linguistic priorities. His wife found the philologist dead on the floor holding a new book. She read the cover and it said the grammar of Volapük. She read it out loud; of course, mispronounced it, as if the word “Volapük” had two words – French “vola” and English “puke”. Then she looked at the fireplace and saw Esperanto grammar catching the flame.