Melt into Thin Air

M&M (unburnt between 1928-1940):

Margarita poured Azazello some cognac, and he willingly drank it. The master, not taking his eyes off him, quietly pinched his own left hand under the table. But the pinches did not help. Azazello did not melt into air, and, to tell the truth, there was no need for that. There was nothing terrible in the short, reddish-haired man, unless it was his eye with albugo, but that occurs even without sorcery, or unless his clothes were not quite ordinary—some sort of a cassock or cloak—but again, strictly considered, that also happens. He drank his cognac adroitly, too, as all good people do, by the glassful and without nibbling. From this same cognac the master's head became giddy, and he began to think.

'No, Margarita's right...Of course, this is the Devil's messenger sitting before me.'

A Fateful Place for a Meeting

- Do you know whom you are speaking with - Woland asked the newcomer - and whom you're currently visiting?
- I know - replied the Master - my neighbor in the mental asylum was this boy, Ivan the Homeless. He told me about you.
- Of course - Woland responded - I had the pleasure of meeting this young man at the Patriarch's Ponds. He almost drove me insane, proving to me that I do not exist! But you do believe that I am real?
 - I am forced to believe - said the newcomer - but, of course, it would be much safer to consider you a fruit of my hallucinations. I apologize - realizing what he had just said - added the Master.

(Bulgakov, Master and Margarita, chapter 24)

 

"A Specialist in Black Magic"

"At the hour of sunset, on a hot spring day, two citizens appeared in the Patriarchs' Ponds Park. One, about forty, in a gray summer suit, was short, plump, dark-haired and partly bald. He carried his respectable pancake-shaped hat in his hand, and his clean-shaven face was adorned by a pair of supernaturally large eyeglasses in a black frame. The other was a broad-shouldered young man with a mop of shaggy red hair, in a plaid cap pushed well back on his head, a checked cowboy shirt, crumpled white trousers, and black sneakers. [...]

And just at the moment when [one of them] was telling the [other] how the Aztecs used to fashion figurines of Vitzli-putzli out of dough - [a strange] man appeared on the walk. [...]

First of all, the man described did not limp on any leg, and was neither short nor enormous, but simply tall. As for his teeth, he had platinum crowns on the left side and gold on the right. He was wearing an expensive grey suit and imported shoes of a matching colour. His grey beret was cocked rakishly over one ear; under his arm he carried a stick with a black knob shaped like a poodle's head. He looked to be a little over forty. Mouth somehow twisted. Clean-shaven. Dark-haired. Right eye black, left - for some reason - green. Dark eyebrows, but one higher than the other. In short, a foreigner. [...]

"You're German?' [the second citizen] inquired.

'I? ...' the [man] repeated and suddenly fell to thinking. 'Yes, perhaps I am German ...' he said.

'YOU speak real good Russian,' [the second citizen] observed.

'Oh, I'm generally a polyglot and know a great number of languages,' the [stranger] replied.

'And what is your field?' [the first citizen] inquired.

'I am a specialist in black magic.'"

(MASTER AND MARGARITA, Mikhail Bulgakov, ch. 1, tr. Pevear and Volokhonsky)

Patriarch's Ponds, Moscow (mobile)

Moscow in Detail (part II)

Elsewhere, I've posted about random chance revealing what I consider the Byzantine-Eurasian essence of Russia. Today, however, mobile shots of various details throughout Moscow have channeled something that was almost Dionysian.

And it was not surprising: the places I passed by today, while engaged in tourist photography---associated with Bulgakov and Gogol--are infused with the kind of folkic and archetypal otherworldliness that is symptomatic of their literature. Though, not everyone feels it. More on that later.