Prophesy and Science: On the Nature of Velimir Xlebnikov’s Doski Sud′by

Velimir Xlebnikov’s work Doski Sud′by is very complex in nature. The poet fused many different kinds of discourse to create what can be seen as his cosmological legacy. The work hinges on Xlebnikov’s conviction that the underlying and at the same time unifying code for all phenomena, be they numinal or phenomenal, is numeric. He suggests that deities, planets, and of course time are manifestations of numbers.

There is no critical edition of the work as of yet. Xlebnikov died before he could finish his preparatory work for the publication of Doski Sud′by. What we have is a table of contents drawn up propably by the poet’s friend Petr Miturič, and an arrangement of texts into seven fascicles. In my paper I want to explore the architecture of Doski Sud′by with an emphasis on the ways in which Xlebnikov’s central mathematical ideas may be relevant for the work’s structure. One important aspect of the paper will be the discussion of the role of the innumerable mathematical equations as a textual fact. If numbers and formulae indeed lie at the core of Xlebnikov’s vision and consequently of Dosky Sud′by, then should a critical edition include the pages and pages of the poet’s calculations?

Another aspect of the presentation, if time permits, will be to sketch out part of the numerical and numerological heritage Xlebnikov draws on. His idea of numbers representing an ultimate Truth is by no means new and needs to be put in its propper historical context in order to shed more light on the puzzle of the text’s nature.