Time Traveller visits the Soviet Union, plots to assassinate Stalin and starts smoking to Russian Dissident Jazz, all while waiting for Clair
Greetings, Time Traveller, we welcome and congratulate you here and now! It’s been nearly 10 months! We missed you.
Hello, how are you?
Good, but how are you?
There’s something you need to know. I started smoking.
What? Aren’t you too old for that?
I started smoking on my 28th birthday, just about two months ago. You see, I was in the 1930’s for about a month.
Oh, but of course. New York, jazz, people were so sleek with their cigarettes back then. You know, they thought it was healthy!
I was in Russia actually.
Yes. Well, in the Soviet Union, to be more accurate.
In the 1930’s? what were you doing?
Well, I wanted to witness the first wave of Russian Dissident Jazz, but ended up plotting to kill Stalin, basically. I went to this concert –
You mean Joseph Stalin?
Yes. Keep up.
I can’t. Last time we talked, you were writing a ridiculous novel and promised you’d make James Joyce’s Ulysses win a Nobel Prize. It hasn’t.
Well, I don’t think Ulysses is such a great novel, to be honest.
What!? You haven’t read it.
I read it in 2120 on the beach in Brussels, if you don’t mind.
The beach in Bru –
Anyway, it was quite difficult. They had surprisingly advanced technology in the Soviet Union, which is weird, if you think about it. We tend to think ours is the most advanced technology, and in a way, it’s always true. Since year 0 that is. B.C years, that’s another story. But yes, we tend to think our time’s technology is the most advanced, but they had technology back then in the 30’s. Plotting to kill Stalin wasn’t easy. It was dangerous.
What happened was, we’d meet in this bar –
The plotters, the dissidents.
Do you speak Russian?
No, but I do speak a little French. That helped enough to get by. Don’t get me wrong. I can talk about it now, smoking a cigarette, relaxed and composed, but back then, the only thing I thought about was how I don’t wanna die in Russia, in the 1930’s. think about it. Dying away from your present time, that’s… I can’t explain it, it’s somehow worse. It accentuates the anonymity of any death, really. Death is just death. No matter where you are, no matter when you are. Our body is pure temporality. And Russian Jazz, you know, it just resonates these thoughts within you –
Does Clair like Jazz?
Which Clair? 2022-Clair or Current Clair?
I have my own interests and ideas that aren’t all related to Clair, in case you haven’t noticed.
I haven’t, actually.
Well I do. I like first wave Russian dissident jazz and I wanted to kill Stalin.
Because it’s good, profound, thought provoking music.
Why did you want to kill Stalin?
He murdered millions!
So did Hitler, and you said you’re not going to try to kill him. You said something about a towel and small stains or something.
That was a long time ago. I’m not that person anymore. I’m an across-time activist and musicologist.
Yes. Don’t get me wrong. Russian dissident jazz is not an elite music genre, surely there are better, more innovative, jazz schools in the east –
Yes, so where’s Clair?
She’s moved to London, alright?
How could she have left Uppingham?
Are you being sarcastic? Cos that’s uncalled for. It’s temporary, alright? She decided to take two months to try to find the author of ‘Twice Even’.
The author of the masterpiece novel, ‘Twice Even’, Mark Montgomery Smiths. Which is of course an alias. Cos it’s me. it’s my novel. Written 2018-2019. Published January 2016.
Oh, yeah. not a best seller, really.
I don’t care. She liked it. She became obsessed with it, actually. It was just last year that she started to seriously look for Mark M. Smiths online. The only thing you can find about M.M Smiths is that he lives in Epping, in seclusion. Some presume he lives in High Beech, where the old mental asylum used to be. Clair read that the poet John Clare had lived there, too. She saw it as a sign, you know? So she decided to go there. So I went to the Soviet Union for a while, just to get my mind off it.
I see. If I remember correctly, the plan was to go to 2022, after 2016-Clair had read the novel, and see if it can help you make things right with 2022-Clair, who broke up with 2019-you, after she had encountered 2022-you. Is that correct?
Yes. That was the plan.
I haven’t gone to 2022 yet. It’s complex.
Yes. It’s something I’ve realised while working on ‘Twice Even’. You see, in the novel, if I may remind you, there’s a developing relationship between Kiera, Marvin’s girlfriend, and his twin brother who suddenly appears, who she mistakes to be Marvin. In the end, well, I don’t want to spoil it.
No, for future readers, I really wouldn’t –
No one’s going to read it, let’s be honest.
That’s uncalled for. The fact it’s not a best-seller doesn’t mean it’s not good. Clair loved it. Someone wrote a Wikipedia page about it.
Isn’t it hard for you keeping it a secret? Especially when Clair loves it so much, don’t you just want to tell her? Is that why you went to Russia?
To the Soviet Union. Yes. I think the Russian dissident jazz scene is really underrated, even today –
Wait, wait. So why didn’t you go to 2022, to fix things with Clair? What happens in the end of the novel?
Right. So spoiler alert, alright? Clair, I mean, sorry. Kiera, she ends up being with Marvin’s twin brother, without even knowing. Cos Marvin, he basically kills himself.
Yes. So you understand my choice.
Are you going to kill yourself?
No. it’s not funny. It’s not even a little bit funny.
I didn’t say it was.
The point is, that 2022-me and 2022-Clair might end up together. That’s what working on the novel made me realise. That maybe things just happen when it’s time. And I’m not going to check, I’m not planning to go to 2022 to check if that’s happened. I’m going to wait and see if it happens to me. to me in 2022. When I get there. They say time fixes everything, that’s not true. But time travelling can’t fix everything either. Sometimes a time best spent is a time in which you wait. That’s life, isn’t it? Life is a meantime. A mean-time. Mean as in average, you know? The mean of time is the wait.
There’s really something about the first wave of Russian dissident jazz that resonates these thoughts, this sensation of time. Something somehow appeasing, not pacifying, but appeasing. Jazz is defiantly the music of time travelling.
Right. That’s just plain weird.
I know! It’s complex. But that’s where things are at right now, for me.
Well, we wish you to keep on time travelling to jazz music. We congratulate you here and now, Time Traveller.
Cheers, thanks. Keeps safe and cherish your present time.