Innokenty’s Epiphany

It was interesting which scenes stuck in my mind for twenty-five years until I came to read the unexpurgated translation of Solzhenitsyn's In The First Circle. One surely-unforgettable image comes when Innokenty has just been thrown into the Lubyanka, and receives a cup to drink from:

“The mug's capacity was three hundred grams; it was enameled, greenish, with a strange picture of a cat wearing glasses, pretending to read a book, but furtively eyeing a cheeky bird hopping around nearby.”

“They couldn't, surely, have chosen this picture especially for the Lubyanka? But how apt it was!”

The line from the book that stuck in my memory word for word was “the pit was calling its children home,” The Willetts translation has “the abyss was calling its children home,” but the older version still gives me more goosebumps.

Here's something that wasn't in the old, expurgated version --

“The lecturer had revived. He rose to his feet and, brandishing his big fist, demolished with ease the gimcrack formal logic created by Aristotle and the medieval scholastics, which now felt the full force of Marxist dialectic.”

“Marfino, by exception, received current American journals, and Rubin had recently translated for the Acoustics Laboratory at large an article that Roitman and several other officers had read on the new science of cybernetics. It was based on precisely those thrice-obsolete procedures of formal logic: 'Yes' means yes, 'no' means no, and Tertium non datur. (John Bull's Two-Digit Algebraic Logic had appeared in the same year as The Communist Manifesto, only nobody had noticed it.)”

Does anyone know if John Bull's Two-Digit Algebraic Logic was a real book? Its citation here seems to tie in with Solzhenitsyn's theme that the dialectic is spurious, that what we really need are binary concepts of good and evil... although Solzhenitsyn believes a man must be imprisoned to achieve such clarity -- “for Innokenty, good and evil were now distinct entities, visibly separated by that light gray door, those olive green walls, and that first night in prison.” Maybe the point of the reference to two-digit algebraic logic is that the future belongs to cybernetics rather than Marxism...

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