Khlebnikov radio of the future

Radio of the FutureThe Radio of the Future–the central tree of our consciousness–will inaugurate new ways to cope with our endless undertakings and will unite all mankind.
The main Radio station, that stronghold of steel, where clouds of wires cluster like strands of hair, will surely be protected by a sign with a skull and crossbones and the familiar word “Danger,” since the least disruption of Radio operations would produce a mental blackout over the entire country, a temporary loss of consciousness.
Radio is becoming the spiritual sun of the country, a great wizard and sorcerer.
Let us try to imagine Radio’s main station: in the air a spider’s web of lines, a storm cloud of lightning bolts, some subsiding, some flaring up anew, crisscrossing the building from one end to the other. A bright blue ball of spherical lightning hanging in midair like a timid bird, guy wires stretched out at a slant.
From this point on Planet Earth, every day, like the flight of birds in springtime, a flock of news departs, news from the life of the spirit.
In this stream of lightning birds the spirit will prevail over force, good counsel over threats.
The activities of artists who work with the pen and brush, the discoveries of artists who work with ideas (Mechnikov, Einstein) will instantly transport mankind to unknown shores.
Advice on day-to-day matters will alternate with lectures by those who dwell upon the snowy heights of the human spirit. The crests of waves in the sea of human knowledge will roll across the entire country into each local Radio station, to be projected that very day as letters onto the dark pages of enormous books, higher than houses, that stand in the center of each town, slowly turning their own pages.

These books of the streets will be known as Radioreadingwalls! Their giant dimensions frame the settlements and carry out the tasks of all mankind.
Radio has solved a problem that the church itself was unable to solve and has thus become as necessary to each settlement as a school is, or a library.
The problem of celebrating the communion of humanity’s one soul, one daily spiritual wave that washes over the entire country every twenty-four hours, saturating it with a flood of scientific and artistic news—that problem has been solved by Radio using lightning as its tool. On the great illuminated books in each town, Radio today has printed a story by a favorite writer, an essay on the fractional exponents of space, a description of airplane flights, and news about neighboring countries. Everyone can read whatever he chooses. This one book, identical across the entire country, stands in the center of every small town, always surrounded by a ring of readers, a carefully composed silent readingwall in every settlement.
But now in black type, news of an enormous scientific discovery appears on the screens; a certain chemist, famous within the narrow circle of his followers, has discovered a method for producing meat and bread out of widely available types of clay. A crowd gathers, wondering what will happen next.
Earthquakes, fires, disasters, the events of each twenty-four-hour period will be printed out on the Radio books. The whole country will be covered with Radio stations.

Surges of lightning are picked up and transmitted to the metal mouth of an auto-speaker, which converts them into amplified sound, into singing and human speech.
The entire settlement has gathered around to listen. The metal trumpet mouth loudly carries the news of the day, the activities of the government, weather information, events from the exciting life of the capital cities.
The effect will be like a giant of some kind reading a gigantic journal out loud. But it is only this metal town cryer, only the metal mouth of the auto-speaker; gravely and distinctly it announces the morning news, beamed to this settlement from the signal tower of the main Radio station.
But now what follows? Where has this great stream of sound come from, this inundation of the whole country in supernatural singing, in the sound of beating wings, this broad silver stream full of whistlings and clangor and marvelous mad bells surging from somewhere we are not, mingling with children’s voices singing and the sound of wings?
Over the center of every town in the country these voices pour down, a silver shower of sound. Amazing silver bells mixed with whistlings surge down from above. Are these perhaps the voices of heaven, spirits flying low over the farmhouse roof? No
The Mussorgsky of the future is giving a coast-to-coast concert of his work, using the Radio apparatus to create a vast concert hall stretching from Vladivostok to the Baltic, beneath the blue dome of the heavens.
On this one evening he bewitches the people, sharing with them the communion of his soul, and on the following day he is only an ordinary mortal again. The artist has cast a spell over his land; he has given his country the singing of the sea and the whisding of the wind. The poorest house in the smallest town is filled with divine whistlings and all the sweet delights of sound.
Radio and Art Exhibits

In a small town far away, a crowd of people gathers today in front of the great illuminated Radio screens, which rise up like giant books. Why? Because today Radio is using its apparatus to transmit images in color, to allow every little town in the entire country to take part in an exhibit of paintings being held in the capital city. This exhibit is trans- mitted by means of light impulses repeated in thousands of mirrors at every Radio station. If Radio previously acted as the universal ear, now it has become a pair of eyes that annihilate distance. The main Radio signal tower emits its rays, and from Moscow an exhibit of the best painters bursts into flower on the readingwalls of every small town in this enormous country, on loan to every inhabited spot on the map.

Let us move up closer. Majestic skyscrapers wrapped in clouds, a game of chess between two people located at opposite ends of Planet Earth, an animated conversation between someone in America and someone in Europe. Now the readingwalls grow dark; suddenly the sound of a distant voice is heard singing, the metallic throat of Radio beams the rays of the song to its many metallic singers: metal sings! And its words, brought forth in silence and solitude, and their welling springs, become a communion shared by the entire country.
More obedient than strings beneath the violinist’s hand, the me- tallic apparatus of Radio will talk and sing, obeying every marked pulse of the song.
Every settlement will have listening devices and metallic voices to serve one sense, metallic eyes to serve the other.
The Great Sorcerer

Finally we will have learned to transmit the sense of taste–and every simple, plain but healthful meal can be transformed by means of taste- dreams carried by Radio rays, creating the illusion of a totally different taste sensation.
People will drink water, and imagine it to be wine. A simple, ample meal will wear the guise of a luxurious feast. And thus will Radio acquire an even greater power over the minds of the nation.
In the future, even odors will obey the will of Radio: in the dead of winter the honey scent of linden trees will mingle with the odor of snow, a true gift of Radio to the nation.
Doctors today can treat patients long-distance, through hypnotic suggestion. Radio in the future will be able to act also as a doctor, healing patients without medicine.
And even more:
It is a known fact that certain notes like “la” and “ti” are able to increase muscular capacity, sometimes as much as sixty-four times, since they thicken the muscle for a certain length of time. During periods of intense hard work like summer harvests or during the construction of great buildings, these sounds can be broadcast by Radio over the entire country, increasing its collective strength enormously.
And, finally, the organization of popular education will pass into the hands of Radio. The Supreme Soviet of Sciences will broadcast lessons and lectures to all the schools of the country–higher institutions as well as lower.
The teacher will become merely a monitor while these lectures are in progress. The daily transmission of lessons and textbooks through the sky into the country schools of the nation, the unification of its consciousness into a single will.
Thus will Radio forge continuous links in the universal soul and mold mankind into a single entity.
Sourced from Khlebnikov, The King of Time, ed. Charlotte Douglas, trans. Paul Schmidt, Harvard University Press, 1985, pp 155-159; repr. in Khlebnikov Collected Works, 1, ed. Charlotte Douglas, Harvard University Press, 1987, pp 392-396.

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