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The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

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Victor Pelevin, the iconoclastic and wildly interesting contemporary Russian novelist who The New Yorker named one of the Best European Writers Under 35, upends any conventional notions of what mythology must be with his unique take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. By creating a mesmerizing world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide, The Helmet of Horror is Victor Pelevin, the iconoclastic and wildly interesting contemporary Russian novelist who The New Yorker named one of the Best European Writers Under 35, upends any conventional notions of what mythology must be with his unique take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. By creating a mesmerizing world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide, The Helmet of Horror is a radical retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur set in an Internet chat room. They have never met, they have been assigned strange pseudonyms, they inhabit identical rooms that open out onto very different landscapes, and they have entered a dialogue they cannot escape — a discourse defined and destroyed by the Helmet of Horror. Its wearer is the dominant force they call Asterisk, a force for good and ill in which the Minotaur is forever present and Theseus is the great unknown. The Helmet of Horror is structured according to the way we communicate in the twenty-first century — using the Internet — yet instilled with the figures and narratives of classical mythology. It is a labyrinthine examination of epistemological uncertainty that radically reinvents this myth for an age where information is abundant but knowledge ultimately unattainable.


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Victor Pelevin, the iconoclastic and wildly interesting contemporary Russian novelist who The New Yorker named one of the Best European Writers Under 35, upends any conventional notions of what mythology must be with his unique take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. By creating a mesmerizing world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide, The Helmet of Horror is Victor Pelevin, the iconoclastic and wildly interesting contemporary Russian novelist who The New Yorker named one of the Best European Writers Under 35, upends any conventional notions of what mythology must be with his unique take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. By creating a mesmerizing world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide, The Helmet of Horror is a radical retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur set in an Internet chat room. They have never met, they have been assigned strange pseudonyms, they inhabit identical rooms that open out onto very different landscapes, and they have entered a dialogue they cannot escape — a discourse defined and destroyed by the Helmet of Horror. Its wearer is the dominant force they call Asterisk, a force for good and ill in which the Minotaur is forever present and Theseus is the great unknown. The Helmet of Horror is structured according to the way we communicate in the twenty-first century — using the Internet — yet instilled with the figures and narratives of classical mythology. It is a labyrinthine examination of epistemological uncertainty that radically reinvents this myth for an age where information is abundant but knowledge ultimately unattainable.

30 review for The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Did the author understand what he was thinking? If I had written a review of this novel the first time I read it, it would have been short and sweet: [email protected] "What the xxx?" Wish I had done that, instead of taking it on a second time. If I had written a review after that reading, it would probably have been a tedious analysis of the traces of Greek mythology I could find in the strange internet community featured in the novel - consisting entirely of a long chat room thread. Wish I had done th Did the author understand what he was thinking? If I had written a review of this novel the first time I read it, it would have been short and sweet: [email protected] "What the xxx?" Wish I had done that, instead of taking it on a second time. If I had written a review after that reading, it would probably have been a tedious analysis of the traces of Greek mythology I could find in the strange internet community featured in the novel - consisting entirely of a long chat room thread. Wish I had done that, instead of proving my insanity by TAKING IT ON A THIRD TIME! So, here I am, trying to review this novel, in order to prevent myself from reading it a fourth time. To be honest, I was very optimistic at times. I kept thinking: "I think I get it now, it makes sense, sort of..." But then again, there were phases when I was completely lost: "How come I don't remember ANYTHING of this thread, having read it TWICE before?" And then the end came, and I resigned myself to not getting it. Whoever thinks The Life of Insects - with its characters metamorphosing between humans and insects - is strange, try this little hell in Sartre's Huis clos, suivi de Les mouches style: Characters remotely resembling literary role models from different world classics are put into a building, where they stay isolated in rooms that provide their bare necessities and a screen to communicate via some kind of intranet, resembling the internet, but without connection to the outside world. Ariadne opens a thread (who else could take on that role in a labyrinth?), and all characters start to analyse their reality in order to understand their situation and to find a way out. It turns out everyone has access to the labyrinth, and to some information regarding the guardians of the building. While sharing their experiences, it transpires that each member of the group sees a reality that fits his or her profile. Romeo and Isolde are looking for love (but obviously they are ill-matched lovers, as they belong to different love stories). There is a character with a deeply religious take on life, seeing the maze as punishment. There are technical and metaphysical explanations for the reality they all perceive. Some of the characters suffer from not knowing whether the others really exist, and are afraid of conspiracies. All pursue the goal to discover who is the master of the labyrinth, the Minotaur, wearing the helmet of horror, a symbol for past, present and future perception of life. The horns of plenty on the helmet (symbolising the bull in the Minotaur) contain everything humankind knows about itself. Ariadne trying to explain the helmet of horror and the horns of plenty to the others after discussing them with a dwarf in a dream (DON'T ASK!), is as close to making sense as you will get in this novel: "Because they contain all sorts of everything - tender feelings, sidelong glances, exalted words, final thoughts and everything else. A genuine treasure house or rubbish tip. But all this infinite variety actually consists entirely of past. As far as I could understand it, the horns of plenty operate like enrichment units in a chemical plant. When it's driven through them by the force of circumstances, past gets mixed up with everything else, becoming richer and acquiring value, with the result that bubbles of hope are produced in the occipital braid, go gurgling through the region of the future, are reflected in Tarkovsky's mirror and perceived as the novel freshness of a brand new day." At this point, my horns of plenty had produced quite a few bubbles of desperation! The characters try to understand the meaning of their existence by analysing the mechanisms of their perceptions and behaviours, and what (or who) triggers them. There are as many solutions as there are individuals, of course. "Everyone has his own Minotaur, she said, but in reality it's not he who pursues us, we pursue him. And the labyrinth in which we seek him is the dopamine chains of pleasure linking up into the rings of the human brain - they're different for everyone, as unique as fingerprints." Reading this, I understood that I was actually chasing my personal Minotaur in this novel, not willing to accept that I didn't understand it, voluntarily entering the labyrinth over and over again to beat the Minotaur of my literary vanity! And this is the moment I turned into Theseus: destroying the mystery of the Minotaur by understanding the pattern (in my personal, unique helmet of horror, that is!). The book literally disintegrated, the characters lost their ability to speak properly, and found themselves face to face with a tabula rasa, a new thread that will lead them on a new journey through the maze, with bubbles of hope, horns of plenty, and individual interpretations! Did you understand my review? Yes? Then I did not explain the book properly...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The Hungry Labyrinth Thread #00000001: Started by ARIADNE at xxx p.m. xxx xxx BC GMT ‘No one realised that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same …’ – who said thIs and about what? :-) Sarpedontosaurus: What’s going on? Where am I? Sarpedontosaurus: Hi? Is there anyone else here …? Pls reply ... Sarpedontosaurus: I see that I have been "liked". What does that mean? This is weird. Hello? Borgesausaurus: I'm here - can't you hear my voice echoing down the labyrinth of years.. Sarpedontosaurus: Are The Hungry Labyrinth Thread #00000001: Started by ARIADNE at xxx p.m. xxx xxx BC GMT ‘No one realised that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same …’ – who said thIs and about what? :-) Sarpedontosaurus: What’s going on? Where am I? Sarpedontosaurus: Hi? Is there anyone else here …? Pls reply ... Sarpedontosaurus: I see that I have been "liked". What does that mean? This is weird. Hello? Borgesausaurus: I'm here - can't you hear my voice echoing down the labyrinth of years.. Sarpedontosaurus: Are you being cryptic? Do you know where we are? Where are you typing this from? Why do we seem to have names that suggest we are lizards? Leto-of-the-Light: Well, I don't have a lizard name, at least ... But other than that, I don't understand a word of what you are saying. I am just not bright enough I guess. Why do I seem to be trapped in this "review" of a book that I cannot see the title or cover of? Is this just a chat room? Meletē-thinker: Umm.. what the xxx is all this? This is just plain weird! And how is this xxx clamor a review? I happen to know what those are! Sarpedontosaurus: So much for my lizard-theory. Does anyone remember how they ended up here?? I remember sleeping in xxx yesterday and when I woke up I am trapped in this room with a terminal that can load only this web address! I am xxx and xxx is waiting for me ... How do I get out? Where is this Ariadne who started this "thread" or "review" or whatever? PeisinoeFatale: Hi everyone. I have been silent till now, but I happen to know a bit about what is going on. xxx, and an intricate garden of xxx paths. A labyrinth of symbols and time. And then, after reading this "chat room" review, I got curious. Interesting book that is going to my TBR shelf. Thank you, by the way, for making me think about xxx. again, xxx. A very original review. Sarpedontosaurus: @PeisinoeFatale, you mean to say you are here voluntarily? How did you enter here? You seem to talk as if you are able to see the author of the review and other things ... censored out by our moderators/moderator? Are you in a garden? I seem to be in a school room with an elaborate door and only this terminal around. NotHerakles: Well, hi everyone. I seem o be caught in here too now. Seems like commenting on the comment thread is what does it. Maybe we are here to learn something? By the way, I would be careful of what PeisinoeFatale says. Her name suggests that she is one of those beautiful, dangerous and misleading Sirens, She seems to suggest we are in a review of a xxx novel, but I am pretty sure we are not. I am xxx, and I am the author of all reviews on this profile on xxx.com. But I DID NOT start this thread. And I really want to get out of this xxx box now. Sarpedontosaurus: @NotHerakles, what comment thread? Are you telling em there is some parallel thread which you can see? Can anybody else see this? Is there life outside of this review box? How do you guys direct your words to that place? Do you think my xxx will be able to see what I am writing if I can get a message out on that comment "thread" instead of on this "review" "thread"? NotHerakles: I think my xxx profile has been hacked. xxx! How can they censor me in my own review! xxx! There! Sarpedontosaurus: 10 "likes". What is that? Are all of you here as well? Pls reply. PIXELATEDMONSTER: Ok, if we are in a labyrinth and if we are also having these ancient names, is it possible that Theseus and Minotaur are here as well? Perhaps silently liking? And why is Theseus wearing a minotaur's head for a helmet? And what is so horrifying about that? Funny review, @NotHerakles! :) Calm down @Sarpedontosaurus :) A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja: Love this! Woo! Sarpedontosaurus: What helmet? What labyrinth? @PIXELATEDMONSTER how do you know this? Any theories on where we are? @A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja, symbolically? CraftyDaedalus: Is Ariadne the militant feminist hacker? I demand an audience! Oh! My name suggests I must have helped Ariadne with the "thread"! NotHerakles: @CraftyDaedalus, A militant feminist hacker? Why militant? Why feminist? Is this labyrinth/book post-modern? Strange to be so lost i one's own review ... Sarpedontosaurus: Everyone seems to be ignoring me ... I am off to try and open this door in my room. BRB. Sarpedontosaurus: What do you know, it does open onto a labyrinth! But it seems to be made of papyrus scrolls instead of trimmed hedges. I think that is what Ariadne was trying to say ... we are caught inside a book ... or just inside the review of one, as some of you have already said. I think the way out would be to figure out what is the connection between a review and a helmet. How does a review mask the reviewer? Ariadne? You there? Could really use your inputs here ... +++ MODERATOR NOTE: IF THE THREAD HITS ITS WORD LIMIT BEFORE ANY CONCLUSION HAS BEEN REACHED, ALL PARTICIPANTS WILL BE SACRIFICED TO THE MINOTAUR. SOLVE THE LABYRINTH. GOOD LUCK. +++ Sarpedontosaurus: This xxx just got real! Guys, what is the connection between a review and a labyrinth. What could be the Minotaur who hides inside a review? How do we "solve" it? I am just not cut out for this sort of stuff ... we need a scholar. Any here among the silent "likers"? ARIADNE: Sorry I had slept off. THen it took me some time to go through all your comments ... sorry. I had a dream. A dwarf appeared in my dream, led me through a few turns of this strange looking labyrinth and told me this: "Some have argued that as language IS the medium of knowledge, that which comes in the form of language con­stitutes a text; since language is interpreted by the indivIdual, the readIng by the IndIvIdual gives meaning to the text; therefore each time a text IS read by a different Individual it acquires a fresh meaning. Taken to Its logIcal conclusion, this denies any generally accepted meaning of a text and is implicitly a denial of attempts at hIstorical representatIon or claims to relative obJectivIty, since the meanIng would change with each reading." What could this mean? Should we be talking of the the meaning of words? Or is the search for this meaning that traps us? Is that why Review = Labyrinth? I am so glad to see so many have joined my thread! The room given to me is a bedroom with the softest bed ever (along with the Terminal, of course). When I lie down on it, it is like flying ... I am just carried away. I must be meant to sleep and dream ... and wait for one of you to make sense of my thread. I will keep dreaming. Zzzzz. NotHerakles: @ARIADNE, Readings of Myths can often be quite hegemonic … or there can be attempts to ignore alternative readings. But readings with little or no structures of how to read a text can be self-defeating in terms of acquiring knowledge. Which is why readers often can make no sense of complicated myths. NotHerakles: BTW, am I the only one here who has read the book under review? I must be Theseus then? NOT Herakles = IS another Hero? Possible, right? WhiteEuropa: I'll surely return to this review again to see how many new members have joined the chat room. Myths can be both complicated and fun. Bit too much sometimes. Dangerous too, then. Right now, I don't think any of you are close to figuring this one out. Toodles. Artemis:The-Bear-of-Wallstreet: I feel we have all been thrown into xxx's Quran review which is labyrinthine and mysterious! I'll check back in like WhiteEuropa to see how many more people with weird usernames are trapped in this 'chatroom'. Sarpedontosaurus: I step out for a minute and now we are in a religious discussion. Just what was needed to introduce the "LIMBO" ambience here! EvergreenHebe: Please tell the minotaur he cannot eat me. He wouldn't like me anyway, i have very high cholesterol. My plan is to wait this out and avoid the Big M. You don't have to be faster than the bear, you only have to be faster than your buddy, eh? NotHerakles: @EvergreenHebe, I think the idea is that one of us is the Minotaur... I am pretty sure you cannot avoid it. According to legend, Minotaur is meant to restore balance by taking sacrifices. Minotaur is the Great Volcano... the Great Rumbling Hunger... our Quest for Meaning? How can you avoid that? The moment you used language here, you enter the labyrinth... because language is the labyrinth. Welcome. NotHerakles: In short, the Minotaur cannot be communicated with... he can only be communicated through. PeisinoeFatale: LOL. "Peisinoe". This review is a weird labyrinth made out of comments, with a possible massacre... nice. A labyrinth of language and time has many paths. Each bifurcation of time can take us to a new place. Anyway, I fear you all, even the moderator. Now he imparts orders, in any time, he could be our Minotaur, just like the silent likers. Everything is possible due to the numerous branches of time. But, since my mythological nature is deception, no one will care about what I say anyway. Hope somebody do something. See you. ARIADNE: @PeisinoeFatale, I had another dream and I was told that "The Siren shall be the Kassandra". So we should probably be paying more attention to you. You seem to know your way around labyrinths! I also dreamt of the great Temple for Apollo towering over the Labyrinth, as if that was a guiding post - the guiding light of Reason to set our compasses to? That is why I do worry for you, PeisinoeFatale... Apollo might be among the Moderators here and in that case... NotHerakles: I think PeisinoeFatale has done us a great favor by expanding our conception of Minotaur. The "likers" scare me too. And for those of you who can see the parallel universe of the "comments thread", you can see how much the moderators are guiding this conversation. It is almost as if we have no free will and are being guided through the labyrinth, being shown glimpses of meaning, lambs to the slaughter! @PeisinoeFatale, what about Theseus? Who/What do you think is going to save us? And how? What should we be doing meanwhile? +++ MODERATOR NOTE: APPROXIMATELY 9500 CHARACTERS LEFT, BEFORE NONE ARE LEFT. BE AWARE. +++ CraftyDaedalus: Everybody worries about the Minotaur, no one seems to be worried about Theseus. I flag Theseus as the villain. Earth-Shaker: Well ... an interesting review and comment "thread" to be sure! I must say that the Minotaur is nothing to be afraid of. if anything, Minotaur is our savior. Minotaur is the sacrificial Christ! CraftyDaedalus: @Earth-Shaker, Yes, but Theseus should remember to pull down the black flag or sail ..... otherwise his father Aegeus... Or his father who-art-in-heaven... might destroy the earth? Sarpedontosaurus: @CraftyDaedalus, Should we, who are on the brink of being massacred, worry about what happens after our demise? @Earth-Shaker, are you Poseidon? I think the first full-god on this thread! Now this feels Homeric! Paganus: Time for me to pitch in: @Earth-Shaker - Papa, If you desire to exit the labyrinth, seek after Hereyes, not Herankles. See what I did there? Windows to the soul? Love is the answer! Anyway, back to the myth, though I have my grudges with Perseus, I will take even him over T... Theseus is going to be our downfall, I agree. Decapitation is the best way to free us from our reason, no? PeisinoeFatale: Flags! C/Kassandra. Which is the same since no one can believe her. We know. The Minotaur isn't evil, according to my God of Language. He, Asterion, was a victim liberated by the hand of Theseus. In light of previous statements, Theseus is not a villain either, not for the Minotaur, at least; and certainly, not for generations to come. But that's one way of looking at this, one path. Anyway, he might be hungry, so I'm not taking any chances. I think the little flags that will lead us out of here are red, not black nor white, so no one should die. Now, I haven't seen a true seeker in a while. Go figure. ARIADNE: @PeisinoeFatale, you are definitely a seer! Once again you have anticipated my dreams/revelations. I was taken through the labyrinth by the dwarf again and told that the only God is Asterion, the only consciousness, the only voice, the only book, the only review in the universe. Minotaur is just one aspect of his. I happened to get a glance at a partially opened room which seemed to be set with video game stuff... with virtual reality helmets and controls, etc. Could it be possible that we are all wearing the helmets? And once we do, we find Asterisk to be Minotaur? I think Theseus would be the one who believes the most in the Helmet, in free will. Sarpedontosaurus: You mean to say Theseus is whoever among is the most deluded and follows the virtual reality flags/Ariadne's "thread" to escape the Labyrinth? Escaping is what makes us sacrificial victims? @PeisinoeFatale, in that case, should we even want to be "liberated"? I feel we are trapped inside the Helmet... and that is why it feels like the "Helmet of Horror" - to the wearer who wants to escape the illusions... but that is a Life of Reason? Escaping language/reason... is that what we pray for? Pray for a Savior - a Theseus, a Christ? The-Long-Porpoise: This is all too much for me I'm afraid xxx. My brain is not working properly. Apologies... I will tag along if any of you find a way. But we will probably have to vote on it. HA! Leto-of-the-Light: Welcome to the club, @The-Long-Porpoise. We are the backbenchers, but boy will we make a dash for it when we get the chance. Or it could even be that by refusing to get lost in the labyrinth we are the real front-benchers in this class! NotHerakles: @Leto-of-the-Light, @The-Long-Porpoise - Hey, that is the whole point! TO get lost in meaning. That is the labyrinth, that is the review, that is the One Book! ;-) Mythcellaneous: Hi, I have been among the silent looming "likers" here. @Sarpedontosaurus, it is said that: A long time ago xxx wrote that there are only four stories that are told and re-told: the siege of the city, the return home, the quest, and the (self-) sacrifice of God. It is notable that the same story could be placed into different categories by different viewers: what is a quest/return home for Theseus is a brutal God’s sacrifice for Minotaur. Maybe there are more than just ‘four cycles’, as xxx called them, but their number is definitely finite and they are all known. We will invent nothing new. Why? This is where we come to the third possible definition of a myth. If a mind is like a computer, perhaps myths are its shell programs: sets of rules that we follow in our world processing, mental matrices we project onto complex events to endow them with meaning. People who work in computer programming say that to write code you have to be young. It seems that the same rule applies to the cultural code. Our programs were written when the human race was young – at a stage so remote and obscure that we don’t understand the programming language any more. Why does the Minotaur have a bull’s head? What does he think and how? Is his mind a function of his body or is his body an image in his mind? Is Theseus inside the Labyrinth? Or is the Labyrinth inside Theseus? Both? Neither? Each answer means that you turn down a different corridor. There were many people who claimed they knew the truth. But so far nobody has returned from the Labyrinth. Have a nice walk. Sarpedontosaurus: "But so far nobody has returned from the Labyrinth. Have a nice walk."?? WELL, THANK YOU FOR THAT! XXX you! XXX! XXX! Leto-of-the-Light: I am growing old here. :( KingMinos: Ok, I am not with the Minotaur-as-savior gang here. Because the reader is a blind bull intent on imposing his own creativity. Bring it on, Theseus. TheGreatLizard-of-Knossos: I like this review. I just wonder if I'll still like it after a new Person is introduced. It may be so, maybe not. Maybe I have to withdraw the like. Will the Person then disappear too? Is it still the same review. Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones? KingMinos: The reader should (only) see what is shown. And not talking of interpretations here. Recall how, in certain novels, you imagine a house in a certain way and then the author goes into describing that house. And then there is dissonance because you vision is at odds with the writer's. As a reader, you are jumping the gun... The writer has made the mistake of allowing that. Sarpedontosaurus: @KingMenos, so the mask is forced on the reader? After which no free will is left? You are taken through the labyrinth and led to the Minotaur? At the end of which the mask is allowed to be taken off, and the "reader" ceases to exist? Metaphor for life? I think this only applies to reading Myths... but according to @Mythcellaneous above, all readings/novels/stories are one of the Four Myths! Mythcellaneous: Yes, if it is not a myth, it can have no meaning. The only things you can read outside of myth is gibberish. Now look back at this review. LOL ;-) Mythcellaneous: Ref: List of Characters in Comments "thread" parallel --- --- some of the participants (including me) are coming in from other comment threads outside of the goodreads universe... such as facebook and twitter. just to add to the element of mystery. Yeah! A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja: Still loving it! My participation in this review (Labyrinth) is only to Love something. Now I love my Username! It's so nice. Thank you! And I want to be clear on this -- I don't mind where I am being led (lambs to the slaughter?) in all this as long as my character is so lovely. That is the only way to live! Paganus: Those who name themselves are the special children of God/Theseus/Christ. @A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja, Ah-din-even-no-hu-dju-wa-til-now. LOL. Couldn't resist! This is what I do. Soon I will Haiku, before this road is over. Borgesausaurus: Hercoolian! Stables! Bulls! Capture! Behead! Wander! xxx! VICTORPELEVIN-The-Finger-of-Zeus: Here is a labyrinthine examination of epistemological uncertainty that radically reinvents this myth for an age where information is abundant but knowledge ultimately unattainable. Get a grip! ARIADNE: @Paganus, you are very funny. But one must laugh quietly or Asterius/M will take offence. He does not know that in reality he does not exist, but sometimes he begins to suspect it and this scares and angers him greatly. M should not be feared. If you fear him, it means that you are wearing the helmet of horror and he is master of your world. But once you have removed the helmet, then M disappears, and nothing remains at which to laugh. It is a grave error either to wear the helmet or to remove it. One should do absolutely nothing with it, if only because in reality it does not exist. +++ MODERATOR NOTE: NO ONE REMOVED THE HELMET> THESEUS NEVER CAME> YOU HAVE EXCEEDED THE WORLD/WORD LIMIT THE FIRST ITERATION IS OVER> THIS THREAD HAS BEEN TERMINATED> ALL OF YOU ARE NOW FREE = NOT ALIVE = MINOTAUR MEALS> THE NEXT THREAD MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT START> YOU MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT BE INVITED> TAT TWAM ASI> GAME OVER> XXX

  3. 5 out of 5

    Szplug

    The Helmet of Horror is what I called the spongiform cap of my third eye during the period when I had a nasty urinary tract infection. It is also Russian writer Victor Pelevin's contribution to the Canongate series of modern authorial reinterpretations of the classic myths—in this particular case, that of Theseus and the Minotaur. In a marvelous bit of inspiration, Pelevin has opted to set his tale within a singular textual thread—geddit?—scrolling upon a computer screen and generated by a handf The Helmet of Horror is what I called the spongiform cap of my third eye during the period when I had a nasty urinary tract infection. It is also Russian writer Victor Pelevin's contribution to the Canongate series of modern authorial reinterpretations of the classic myths—in this particular case, that of Theseus and the Minotaur. In a marvelous bit of inspiration, Pelevin has opted to set his tale within a singular textual thread—geddit?—scrolling upon a computer screen and generated by a handful of personages who have found themselves—without any memory of how they got there—ensconced, perhaps imprisoned within separate rooms sporting a keyboard and monitor, sparse furnishings, and an attendant labyrinth tailored to each of their disparate personalities. Known to each other only by their screen names—Organizm(-:, Monstradamus, Nutscracker, Ariadne, Romeo-y-Cohiba, UGLI 666, IsoldA and Sartrik—and what they are allowed to type in real-time conversations—an unknown and arbitrary censor replaces offending text with a signature XXX—they are required, via this limited medium for discourse, to figure out exactly where they are, what connexions they share, and what purpose their unknown keeper has in assembling them for this incorporeal exchange. And that's it. The entire book is one vast comment chain, with each named participant displaying the differentiated aspects of their revealed personalities, ofttimes through banal and/or rhetorical quips, that will both help and hinder their attempts to piece together the puzzle of their amnesiac assemblage and what relevance their customized labyrinths bear towards it. Pelevin's use of floating voices, anchored only to the words they proclaim, serves as the perfect vehicle for his existential exploration, a deft, humorous, and circuitous exchange upon the nature of consciousness, the duality of mind and body, and the meaning of our existence in a physical environ that projects its illusions and taunts with its meaninglessness at seemingly every moment. Via the dream dispensations of Ariadne, this text-bound collective is made aware of the sinisterly looming presence of a Helmet of Horror, a complexly constructed and intertwined artifact with various layers and gadgetry whose function is to create the present and anticipate the future from the chambered arising, dissection, and wheat/chaff combing of the perduring past—linear and yet timeless in its omnipresent operation, an Eternal Return that never began conceived by a cross-eyed Nietzsche with a ganja 'stache. In fact, as its various mechanisms are brought to light through the questioning probes of this chatroom crew, the helmet seems a to serve as a nifty allegory for a particular view of the human predicament. We are the enactors not the authors of our own being—and in facing down the Gordian knot of conscious paradox we can fume and fret upon why the author pens in such maddening prose and tends to tricksiness in plotting ends and means. The entire affair unfolds almost as if in a B-movie horror starring a Descartes or Berkeley who ogle the ladies and revel in farting and poop jokes—though, for all I know, that last bit might be a redundancy. With the interlocutors discovering the provision of food and beds, as well as limited egress outside into a bizarre maze-world ordered by a pair of dwarfs and their titanic master and capable of springing a few nasty surprises, things proceed towards the anticipatory intervention of Theseus, famed from yore. But as his arrival becomes imminent, the drugs kick in and Pelevin knocks over the apple-cart in gleeful fashion. MOOOOOO! MOOOOOO! MOOOOOO! Indeed, the author crafts a perfect ending for this particular book, entirely in keeping with the qualities that define its fictive essence: funny, strange, swift-paced, and a heady puzzle to try and piece together. In fact, I'm afraid that I can stake no claim to having done so conclusively yet; but I'll be damned if those cow calls aren't echoing on the replay as I continue to try and come up with a definitive picture*. *Hmmm, come to think of it, I might just have hit that nail on the head...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    This book is a total mindf*ck. - Thoughts on The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield) Here’s the thing: I don’t know what to feel about this book. It frustrates me; it frustrates me to no end after reading. You see, I didn’t get it. No, that's not true, because I did, really, generally get it. But that’s the thing, see – it’s the surface things that I understood, but for anyone who’s ever read Victor Pelevin, there’s always more to his books, and The He This book is a total mindf*ck. - Thoughts on The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield) Here’s the thing: I don’t know what to feel about this book. It frustrates me; it frustrates me to no end after reading. You see, I didn’t get it. No, that's not true, because I did, really, generally get it. But that’s the thing, see – it’s the surface things that I understood, but for anyone who’s ever read Victor Pelevin, there’s always more to his books, and The Helmet of Horror is no exception. Merely understanding does not cut it. So why am I so frustrated? Why don’t I just altogether hate the book and be done with it? Because it’s so good, that’s why – it is dark, it is funny, it’s subtle, it’s shrewd. It loses you and then pulls you back again and then loses you again, but this time it is you who forces yourself back in it. It is a labyrinthine book about labyrinths – actual and imagined, in all shapes and sizes and meaning – and nothing gets crazier than that. Pelevin’s modern (and nothing says modern more than a chatroom conversation by virtual strangers, from different backgrounds and with different issues in life) adaptation of the story of the labyrinth, the Minotaur (half man, half bull), Ariadne and Theseus, The Helmet of Horror gets weirder and darker and seemingly confounded as it progresses. It reminds me of the movie Saw, only minus the bloodshed and more of a psychological thriller of sorts. “I shall construct a labyrinth in which I can lose myself, together with anyone who tries to find me,” so it begins, opening up a cyberworld devoid of time and true identity, and touches on aspects of religion, philosophy, politics, technology, even love. “In fact, the whole cycle is simply the circulation of now in various states of mind, in the same way that water can be ice, or the sea, or thirst.” And yet, with all that heaviness, Pelevin nevertheless threw in some irony and humor for good measure – moments that allowed for one to breathe in-between lines. Mind you, though, these were inserted by Pelevin in the long-winded conversations so discreetly, so as not to mess with the whole somber, mysterious mood of the book. A sampling: “Dead people don’t hang around in chat rooms.” “People go bald because they have no choice, but they shave their heads out of self-respect.” “If you had genuinely free choice, the results could be pretty miserable.” “If we start worrying about spies, pretty soon the world will be full of them.” And my favorite, on the subject of free will – not only because the analogy is funny, but because it’s so true, too: “Life’s like falling off a roof. Can you stop on the way? No. Can you turn back? No. Can you fly off sideways? Only in an advertisement for underpants specially made for jumping off roofs. all free will means is you can choose whether to fart in mid-flight or wait till you hit the ground. And that’s what all the philosophers argue about.” This book deserves a re-read – one day, when I’m ready enough to devour the book entirely, and not just nibble on the surface. And if this is how Pelevin leaves me after reading his books – babbling and confused – the by Jove, bring it on. PS. The title isn’t a quote from the book – I couldn’t find one (or if there was one, I’d have missed it) to fully encompass what the book is. Also, it really is a mindfuck. PPS. Look out for Romeo-y-Cohiba and IsoldA - they’re my favorite of the bunch of online misfits. Originally posted here.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Namrirru

    I could not put this book down! I loved it! It was so interesting and clever. But it's not the type of book that everyone would like. A group of very different people are locked into a labyrinth that reflects their own personalities. They can communicate with each other through an online chatroom. The text of the book is what they write to each other as they're trying to figure out how they got there and why they're there. I was a little disappointed in the ending. Like a deflated wet balloon, b I could not put this book down! I loved it! It was so interesting and clever. But it's not the type of book that everyone would like. A group of very different people are locked into a labyrinth that reflects their own personalities. They can communicate with each other through an online chatroom. The text of the book is what they write to each other as they're trying to figure out how they got there and why they're there. I was a little disappointed in the ending. Like a deflated wet balloon, but it's probably the only logical conclusion one could make out of the story. The whole story - a prank on the reader.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    This is one of those experimental books that's trying to be too clever for its own good. It's supposedly taking place in a chat room where all these captives are mysteriously chatting with each other to compare their experiences in captivity... But the format (chat log) was really annoying and the author didn't really do anything interesting with it. No emoting. No multiple threads going at the same time. No private messages. Nothing. I can sometimes get behind experimental fiction and strange bo This is one of those experimental books that's trying to be too clever for its own good. It's supposedly taking place in a chat room where all these captives are mysteriously chatting with each other to compare their experiences in captivity... But the format (chat log) was really annoying and the author didn't really do anything interesting with it. No emoting. No multiple threads going at the same time. No private messages. Nothing. I can sometimes get behind experimental fiction and strange book formats, but IMO, you have to do something interesting with it. And this just doesn't. There's no real reason the conversations and philosophy etc, couldn't have been presented a different way. And, IMO, if I can't point out a reason that a book is formatted strangely, it hasn't earned the right to be strangely formatted.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Woodman

    I did not love this but it was very clever. In The Helmet of Horror Victor Pelevin re-sets the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in a very modern setting -- what has the appearance of an Internet chatroom. After a 'Mythcellaneous' prologue, the entire text consists of dialogue, between a group of people who find themselves in similar mysterious circumstances, isolated, and connected only to each other via computer screen and keyboard. It's not quite the Internet but it's quite a group, and it al I did not love this but it was very clever. In The Helmet of Horror Victor Pelevin re-sets the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in a very modern setting -- what has the appearance of an Internet chatroom. After a 'Mythcellaneous' prologue, the entire text consists of dialogue, between a group of people who find themselves in similar mysterious circumstances, isolated, and connected only to each other via computer screen and keyboard. It's not quite the Internet but it's quite a group, and it all begins with ... Ariadne's thread (though Ariadne only returns to the fray a while later). There's also some sort of monitor somewhere on the line that exerts some sort of control -- preventing the exchange of a lot of personal information, as well as swear words, replacing these with "xxx". (The monitor's real-time powers in these regards suggest that it might -- or at least could -- be doing other things as well.) In their separate but nearly identical rooms (or cells), dressed up in ancient Greek tunics, the characters find themselves in a sort of labyrinth and try to talk their way out of it. or at least figure out what is going on, leading to a great deal of what amounts to philosophical speculation, as their situation poses fundamental questions about the nature of perception and reality. There are a variety of clues in the rooms themselves that push the discussion forward (and make their fate/situation clearer), and some of the characters offer additional information as well -- especially Ariadne and her dreams. Pelevin uses the set-up fairly cleverly, and there are quite a few good bits here as well as some pretty sharp dialogue ("Oh Mama ! When I hear the word 'discourse', I reach for my simulacrum"). The 'helmet of horror' idea itself is also decent, though Pelevin does try to do a bit much with it: The helmet of horror fractionates the one thing that is, into the multitude of things that are not. But since the helmet of horror is in no way the one thing that is, it is also one of the multitude of things that are not. As a variation on the Minotaur's labyrinth, Pelevin does come up with some ingenious ideas, but on the whole it's more clever than a convincing re-imaging of the myth. Pelevin offers enough to amuse and entertain, but it doesn't feel like he's done all that he could with the material and this specific approach.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Negin

    i can shorten the review in a sentence: " i didnt understand a single thing " . i gave ⭐⭐ to this book because it was frustrating to no end , and the only good point of all this was the orginal plot and cleverness of each sentence, nothing less and nothing more. i suppose its my stupidy or the lack of philsophical thoughts in me that i didnt understand a damn thing ,i dont know for sure but something is for sure , the plot was so orginal, but stagnant at the same time . i mean nothing particular i can shorten the review in a sentence: " i didnt understand a single thing " . i gave ⭐️⭐️ to this book because it was frustrating to no end , and the only good point of all this was the orginal plot and cleverness of each sentence, nothing less and nothing more. i suppose its my stupidy or the lack of philsophical thoughts in me that i didnt understand a damn thing ,i dont know for sure but something is for sure , the plot was so orginal, but stagnant at the same time . i mean nothing particular happened at all . just a bunch of boys and girls conversing in a chatroom that God knows how it had appeared on their screens from the first place . this will not be a book that I willingly would pick out of my shelf and reread again . never in a billion years . no one had any idea in the book and everyone was wandering in and out of some hallucinations and dreams , you would probably say " the book was kind of mythic and its normal not to be as understandable " but then i would say " there are thousands of mythic books out there that are actually so interesting and catchy " . the ending was fogged-up as well , like i didnt really get how on earth they had got out of their screened-cells and to the real world , nothing was clear and if you'd like to self harm and torture by reading a very complicated and twisted book , i highly recommend The helmet of horror , its the best book for you , i assure that . here's a paragraph or tow of what i've been talking about all this time : Question : ' how can the helmet of horror be located inside one of its own parts ? ' answer : The helmet of horror fractionates a one thing that is , into the multitude that are not . but since the helmet of horror is in no way the one thing that is , it is also one of the multitude of things that are not and the things that are not may enter into every possible conceivable and inconceivable kind of relationship, since these relationships do not in any case exist anywhere except in the helmet of horror , which doesn't actually exist itself . Question : does that mean that inside the helmet there is another helmet and in the other helmet there is a third one and so on to infinity in both directions ? ' let me know if i was dumb for not understanding a single bit of this said dear helmet of horror that belongs to this Theseus or this so-called Minotaurs.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ape

    Oh my goodness. I think I need to go and lie down in a quiet dark room for a while now. This is one of the maddest, strangest, most addictive, frightening and funny books I've read in a long time. I feel like I've been given the meaning of life and yet I don't understand what on earth was going on at the same time. Mad. I can't recommend this enough. "Monstradamus I don't understand what the difference is between the two stories. Nutscracker The difference is one's about a dream and one's about real Oh my goodness. I think I need to go and lie down in a quiet dark room for a while now. This is one of the maddest, strangest, most addictive, frightening and funny books I've read in a long time. I feel like I've been given the meaning of life and yet I don't understand what on earth was going on at the same time. Mad. I can't recommend this enough. "Monstradamus I don't understand what the difference is between the two stories. Nutscracker The difference is one's about a dream and one's about reality. Monstradamus But all I can see are letters on a screen." (p.138) Yes, the internet is an unreal and terrible thing taking over reality!! This book is a lot more than just about why the internet can be scary. It's part of the Canongate series of myths books - this particular one taking on the Minataur's labyrinth. To give a rough intro, a number of people all wake up alone in rooms where there is a computer screen with access to just the one thread on a chatroom. No one knows how they got into their room. And outside of the room there are different things for different people - grecian style labyrinths, middle ages Christianity in the form of a cathedral, strange dreams with bull headed men and dwarves, a video editing suite... all sorts. The only means they have to contact one another is this chatroom thread. And this entire tale is told as a transcript of that chatroom thread. So you gradually get to know the characters, where they are, what they think is going on and how they're going to get out. And, it's just.... it has to be read. I think there's a bit where I appear (and anyone else who reads this book). I think the first letters of the usernames spell something. I think. I think. I think. I definately think I could read this again and again and discover new things every time. I tell myself I'm not meant to understand this one all in one go.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Okay, so this book makes you work hard. Instead of just describing the plight of people stuck in a confusing and challenging thought experiment of co-existing contradictory truth states and partial revelations, Pelevin actually makes you experience this yourself. I underestimated the mental energy required for this book - I snuggled into bed late at night, realising it was written as a series of online discussion threads, thinking it would be nice, wind-down reading. Instead, I found I had to sta Okay, so this book makes you work hard. Instead of just describing the plight of people stuck in a confusing and challenging thought experiment of co-existing contradictory truth states and partial revelations, Pelevin actually makes you experience this yourself. I underestimated the mental energy required for this book - I snuggled into bed late at night, realising it was written as a series of online discussion threads, thinking it would be nice, wind-down reading. Instead, I found I had to stay awake, and in picking the book up again the next night, backtrack in order to really know where I was. Some parts - such as the description of the helmet itself - I'm still working out. And this is a good thing. I'm a relatively intelligent person who already knows a fair bit about myth, psychology and philosophy (and I'm currently making my way through the Canongate myth series) - but this book gave me a challenge. At times the challenge was enough to make me want to put it down and walk away. At other times, I could see the workings - especially playing around with the text itself, in the screen names and "censored" parts - this worked surprisingly well given the book has been translated. I think I need to come back to the book again to see if I can get a better understanding - and it's not the kind of book that leaves a definitive, singular explanation of what exactly is going on. This might just be a lazy way to end the story - or it could serve the purpose of making people like us get on discussion boards and talk it through - which is ideally the function of myth.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    Canongate Myths series. Ugh. So much more could have been done with this book - it's structured like a chat room, but for no discernable reason other than to make the story take place in a "virtual" world. You would think that the nature of hypertext would lend great things to the narrative, but it's completely linear. The whole thing reads like a high school freshman's version of a Socratic dialogue. Allegedly, A.S. Byatt, Chinua Achebe and Donna Tartt have or will have books in this series, but Canongate Myths series. Ugh. So much more could have been done with this book - it's structured like a chat room, but for no discernable reason other than to make the story take place in a "virtual" world. You would think that the nature of hypertext would lend great things to the narrative, but it's completely linear. The whole thing reads like a high school freshman's version of a Socratic dialogue. Allegedly, A.S. Byatt, Chinua Achebe and Donna Tartt have or will have books in this series, but it's difficult to find the entire thing in the library catalog since the Library of Congress eliminiated Series Control.

  12. 4 out of 5

    S.j. Hirons

    Interesting up to a point.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the myth of Theseus, the king of Crete, Minos, commands his captive invetor, Daedalus, to build a maze so intricate that nobody could escape from it without help. In this maze he places the Minotaur, a man-bull hybrid who eats people. (The minotaur is also, I think, the king's wife's son. By a bull. Yep, we're definitely in a Greek myth here). Every year, Minos demands tribute from lesser kings (Theseus's father Aegeus among them) in the form of a shipload of treasure and seven youths and sev In the myth of Theseus, the king of Crete, Minos, commands his captive invetor, Daedalus, to build a maze so intricate that nobody could escape from it without help. In this maze he places the Minotaur, a man-bull hybrid who eats people. (The minotaur is also, I think, the king's wife's son. By a bull. Yep, we're definitely in a Greek myth here). Every year, Minos demands tribute from lesser kings (Theseus's father Aegeus among them) in the form of a shipload of treasure and seven youths and seven maidens, chosen by lot, to go into the maze to be eaten by the Minotaur. One year, Theseus volunteers to take the place of one of the youths, meets Minos's daughter Ariadne, who falls in love with him and agrees to help him by giving him a ball of string he can use to thread his way through the maze. He succeeds in killing the Minotaur and escaping the maze, but his father believes he has died and kills himself even as Theseus is on his way back. Very few of these details are conserved in Victor Pelevin's hilarious, thought-provoking and ultimately baffling retelling of the story. We meet eight characters: Ariadne, and seven pseudonymous strangers who find themselves in different hotel rooms sitting at computers. They are all confused as to where they are and how they got there, and find their chat (over some kind of in-house intranet) is being filtered to prevent the exchange of concrete, real-world facts (names, places of origin, addresses, etc.) and also swear words. The form of the novel is the online dialogue between these eight characters, replying to the single message posted on the sole online forum they can access (as I mentioned, they're not on the Internet, but an intranet): I shall construct a labyrinth in which I can lose myself, together with anyone who tries to find me - who said this and about what? Ariadne, who posted the message, acts as a sort of guide through the "labyrinth" that seems to be both physical (the hotel) and psychological. The characters explore their literal and figurative environments in different ways: a know-it-all type named "Monstradamus" uses his academic knowledge to parse the hidden symbolic and etymological meanings of the few clues that are present; "Romeo" and "Isolde" jointly decide to leave their rooms and try to find each other, periodically reporting to the group what they find; "Nutscracker" uses his background as a computer programmer to try to understand what he comes to believe is the virtual reality they've entered; "Sartrik" gets drunk and disparages everyone else's suggestions; Ariadne, who seems to be a lucid dreamer, dreams about meeting a dwarf who explains the labyrinth and the Minotaur to her; and "UGLI 666" sees religious symbolism in everything around her, and decides that her imprisonment is a penance for her sins, which she must endure before finally meeting God. Nobody gets very far in their attempt to make sense of the maze and identify Theseus and the Minotaur. (Monstradamus, interestingly enough, is named as both). Ariadne dreams of a "helmet of horror," which her diminutive guide tells her represents the Minotaur's mind: a machine that generates past, present and future from the immediate past. (The "stream of impressions", which come from both outside the helmet of horror and within its "horns of plenty", is diffracted through the "separator labyrinth" and changed into "bubbles of hope," which are enriched by memories stored in the horns of plenty --- Monstradamus is the first to discover that this process does not actually transform anything, since the stream of impressions and the contents of the horns of plenty are all memories --- past --- so logically nothing would seem able to enter the helmet of horror at all). Much time is spent discussing and speculating on the nature of the helmet of horror, and the implication of Ariadne's dream that they are all trapped inside a virtual reality, perhaps all wearing helmets of horror that filter and shape their perceptions. I did not really understand the ending, except in the most abstract sense. What happens is that each character hears a loud knocking on their doors, and the doors are broken down and a stranger enters their rooms, his speech appearing on their screens under the name of "Theseus." He believes them all to be minotaurs, and they all shout "MOO!" at him. (Several times near the end, the characters all speak a nonsensical phrase in unison; it seemed to me like something was taking possession of them all when it happened, since it did not flow out of their conversation and clearly perturbed them). My understanding, at the end, was that the story started over again, with the characters now assigning themselves the role of Minotaurs (as opposed to Athenian youths and maidens). Thus the story is not a story, but a single arc of a(n endlessly recursive) circle. Other reviewers have said that this book is not worth the effort it takes to understand what the heck is going on in it. I don't agree --- for all its inscrutability, the story reads amazingly quickly. (I finished it in maybe two or three hours). It reads quickly, the ideas flow well enough, and the dialogue (except for the occasional trippy descriptive passage --- lay off the acid, okay Ariadne? --- or random outburst) is laugh-out-loud funny. Pelevin's introduction, "Mythcellaneous," a discussion of what myth is, and of the modern mythology of progress (in a self-consciously nonlinear narrative; I C wut u did there, Pelevin!) is also worth reading; it's lucid, interesting and witty in a more subdued way than the wacky, sometimes-profane dialogue. Skip it if you hate authors who play tricks on their readers and characters; if you like a challenge, or even don't mind one, check it out. It's like "Neuromancer" meets "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna (Tējtasītes blogs)

    "Šausmu ķiveres" galvenais vadmotīvs ir labirints un autors nepavisam nekautrējas tajā ievest arī lasītāju, kuram, līdzīgi kā šī stāsta varoņiem, bieži vien nav ne jausmas, kas vispār notiek. Raksturojot romānu, paša romāna vārdiem: "Vēl bija interesants vācietis, kurš teica, ka Minotaurs esot laika gars, Zeitgeist, kurš izpaudies kā govju trakumsērga, tāpēc arī viņa simboliskā reprezentācija ir cilvēks ar buļļa galvu. Mākslā tā analogs ir postmodernisms, kas patiesībā ir govju trakumsērgas pavei "Šausmu ķiveres" galvenais vadmotīvs ir labirints un autors nepavisam nekautrējas tajā ievest arī lasītāju, kuram, līdzīgi kā šī stāsta varoņiem, bieži vien nav ne jausmas, kas vispār notiek. Raksturojot romānu, paša romāna vārdiem: "Vēl bija interesants vācietis, kurš teica, ka Minotaurs esot laika gars, Zeitgeist, kurš izpaudies kā govju trakumsērga, tāpēc arī viņa simboliskā reprezentācija ir cilvēks ar buļļa galvu. Mākslā tā analogs ir postmodernisms, kas patiesībā ir govju trakumsērgas paveids kultūrā, kuras pārtika ir no pašas kauliem ražots pulverītis."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Riina Ojanen

    Nyt olen vakuuttunut. Ja hämmentynyt, mutta pääosin vakuuttunut. Pelevinin Kauhukypärän sivuilla yhdeksän henkilöä keskustelee reaaliaikaisessa chatissä, josta ei ole kuitenkaan pääsyä internettiin. Heidät on lukittu pieniin koppeihin, joista ulos johtavan oven takana on jokaiselle erilainen labyrintti. Ja labyrintissä asuu tietenkin hurja Minotauros, mutta missä on alkuperäisen tarinan sankari Theseus? Kirjassa seurataan käytännössä vain hahmojen chattikeskustelua, kun he kertovat omista kokemuk Nyt olen vakuuttunut. Ja hämmentynyt, mutta pääosin vakuuttunut. Pelevinin Kauhukypärän sivuilla yhdeksän henkilöä keskustelee reaaliaikaisessa chatissä, josta ei ole kuitenkaan pääsyä internettiin. Heidät on lukittu pieniin koppeihin, joista ulos johtavan oven takana on jokaiselle erilainen labyrintti. Ja labyrintissä asuu tietenkin hurja Minotauros, mutta missä on alkuperäisen tarinan sankari Theseus? Kirjassa seurataan käytännössä vain hahmojen chattikeskustelua, kun he kertovat omista kokemuksistaan ja hieman itsestäänkin. Taustalla hyörii näkymätön moderaattori, joka pitää huolta keskustelun kielellisestä tasosta sekä siitä, ettei kiellettyjä keskustelunaiheita lipsahda ruudulle. Koko konsepti on kiintoisa, jos miettii millaisen kuvan keskustelijat antavat itsestään ja ympäristöstään pelkän tekstin välityksellä. Teoksessa on paljon filosofista pohdintaa ja vaikeasti avautuvia virkkeitä, mutta myös hienovaraista huumoria. Mukana on unia, uskonnollista puhetta, virtuaalimaailmoja ja outoja tekniikkakuvauksia. Myös alkuperäinen myytti olisi hyvä tuntea ainakin nimellisesti ennen teokseen tarttumista. Siksi en ehkä suosittelisi kirjaa kaikille, mutta persoonallisuutta ja haastetta kaipaavalle kirja on varmasti antoisa.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ashen

    I got this book as present from a Russian blogger friend. Not sure I would have picked it from a shelf. Some reviewers report they swallowed the text quickly, like in two hours ... Huh. I took little bites over several weeks, alternating the read with several other books I dip into before bedtime. Characters emerge during dialogues reflecting back to them their discourse, which revolves round aimlessly seeking explanations, sharing hallucinations and possible ways out of the labyrinth, a pun on I got this book as present from a Russian blogger friend. Not sure I would have picked it from a shelf. Some reviewers report they swallowed the text quickly, like in two hours ... Huh. I took little bites over several weeks, alternating the read with several other books I dip into before bedtime. Characters emerge during dialogues reflecting back to them their discourse, which revolves round aimlessly seeking explanations, sharing hallucinations and possible ways out of the labyrinth, a pun on what virtual reality can feel like at times, a soul-sucking spider. And a truth, since we are stuck in the projected simulation of a collective intranet. In small doses I did enjoy the word plays and clever takes on philosophers the characters meet. Some have advice. Nutcracker cracked me up a few times. He relates a proposal to get out ... It all came down to how many times to turn right and how many times to turn left, and in which order. Everyone wanted to do it his own way... One can of course stop thinking of a way out and wake up. But that's just between the lines. The end merely turns to another fatalistic round.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    Only "The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur" in the sense that it's framed by the themes of that myth; "A Philosophical Discourse of the Labyrinth and Reality" would have been a better title, and then I would have been expecting this story instead of a fresh take on the mythology I know. There's also something in the tone, something that says "Look how clever I am by writing this!", that I just don't like. When the author's ego gets involved, I tend to dismiss everything they've said. That being Only "The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur" in the sense that it's framed by the themes of that myth; "A Philosophical Discourse of the Labyrinth and Reality" would have been a better title, and then I would have been expecting this story instead of a fresh take on the mythology I know. There's also something in the tone, something that says "Look how clever I am by writing this!", that I just don't like. When the author's ego gets involved, I tend to dismiss everything they've said. That being said, parts of it were clever, and parts of it were tedious in their lack of originality. I think the clever presentation might have been intended to gloss over the arguments you may have heard in other philosophies, but it just didn't work for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Despite the title, which sounds to me like a bad horror/fantasy novel, this is a book about ideas, not people. It is about myth, metaphor, epistemology, wordplay, reality, nothingness, and mind. It's a one act play performed in an Internet chat-room, a trick, a ritual, an incantation, a meditation. It is about T versus S. It is the myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. verdict: Victor Pelevin is a mad genius, and I will search for more works by him.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    Like listening to a conversation among strangers: titillating, but not exactly enduring. Victor Pelevin rewrites and updates the myth of Theseus and the minotaur for the information age. The story is told as a long conversation among a number of characters on an internet chat room: Organizm(-:, Romeo-y-Cohiba, Nutscracker, Monstradamus, IsoldA, UGLI 666, and Sartrik. Each of the characters, in turn, reports that they have awoken is a room, dressed in ancient Greek clothing, not sure of where they Like listening to a conversation among strangers: titillating, but not exactly enduring. Victor Pelevin rewrites and updates the myth of Theseus and the minotaur for the information age. The story is told as a long conversation among a number of characters on an internet chat room: Organizm(-:, Romeo-y-Cohiba, Nutscracker, Monstradamus, IsoldA, UGLI 666, and Sartrik. Each of the characters, in turn, reports that they have awoken is a room, dressed in ancient Greek clothing, not sure of where they were or how they got there. They communicate this on an (ahem) thread initiated by Ariadne. They subsequently spend time interpreting a series of dreams that Ariadne reports—these are about the so-called Helmet of Horror, which seems to be the head of a minotaur. The conversation then expands to discuss virtual reality. The various participants each have their own characteristics—Nutscracker is the VR expert, Monstradamus the know-it-all, UGLI 666 a fundamentalist Christian and so on. They report that there rooms open on different labyrinths, these in accord with each person’s qualities: Nutscracker’s is a series of videos of people auditioning for the role of minotaur and Theseus; Monstradmus’s is a dead end, with a gun that has a single bullet; UGLI 666’s is a church with a medieval labyrinth. Ariadne, who reports her dream—her labyrinth is another bedroom, with a very soft bed and sleeping pills. These various discussions circle around the question of what does the labyrinth mean, what plays the role of the minotaur, when will Theseus come and see them, and who are the so-called monitors that censor the messages—cutting out curse words, hiding identifying details. Eventually, at the end—this cannot really be a spoiler, since we’re not reading Becket—Theseus does arrive, and the book becomes increasingly difficult to parse: it’s a puzzle-book, and to understand the end one has to understand the puzzle. That’s Pelevin’s big point, too: we all have to understand our historical situation. We, as readers, are also caught in a labyrinth. He opens the book with a quote from Borges: “No one realised that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same.” So, I should put down how I understand this book to work. I will say, upfront, I generally do not like puzzle books of this sort (“The Sound and the Fury” is the least satisfying of Faulkner’s works, in my opinion, for this reason), and I didn’t make a study of Pelevin’s novel: I read it once. So I am certain that I got some details wrong. But I think I understood the big picture. The book is rooted in Buddhist notions of mind. That’s what the Helmet of Horror is, an extended tweak on Buddhist psychology. Humans are completely at the mercy of their perceptions, he is saying—we all wear the Helmet of Horror ourselves, trapped in it and its infinite generation of the moment ‘now’ from the elements of the past. There are various ways to gain access to its workings—one of these is through dreams and self-introspection—and it should be understood as the same kind of thing as virtual reality: the same coding that goes into VR is at work in constructing our own perceptions. In addition to perceptions, our thoughts are structured by the discourse into which we are born, and given to us by the culture in which we are raised. This is the ground, and we are the minotaur. We just don’t usually recognize it, thinking, instead, we are Theseus. But we wear the helmet; and when we look in the mirror, we see the minotaur, but think it’s someone else. The key figures here are the two who show up the least, Sartrik (that is, little Sartre) and Theseus (also spelled Thezeus). It is important that the letter T is simultaneously near the center of the word Minotaur—its heart, so to speak—and isomorphic with a cross. T—Theseus, the Zeus—is the savior. It can be Jesus, as UGLI 666 notes, but need not be: it’s anything that pushes us out of the bounds of regimented discourse and to new ways of understanding the world. (Even as these new ways just create new discourses themselves, which also serve to hide the labyrinth, the minotaur, and Theseus.) Sartrik is the one who recognizes what is really going on, and cogently explains that everyone wears a Helmet of Horror. He’s also a drunk (his labyrinth is a fridge full of alcohol), presumably because of his knowledge. But the group doesn’t fully understand what Sartrik is trying to tell them; only when Theseus arrives and forces a change does the matter become clear—although the text is anything but. Theseus forces the minotaur to recognize itself, to be born, and also to die—another Buddhist image of infinite cycles. The first letter of the character names spell out—and at the time of Theseus’s arrival, they are put in the order to spell out—Minotaur. And what do they say? Moo. In an introduction, Pelevin says that the Minotaur does not like the word—presumably because it is then forced to recognize its own nature: as part bovine, or, in this case, as part virtual reality—MOO here referring to the text-based virtual games that were present at the beginning of the internet. (These are still sometimes called MOOs.) But then Theseus leaves, and we get the momentary return—again spelled out by the letters of the names—of the Minotaur’s father, Minos. Following that—again, the acrostic is the clue (or should I say clew?)—comes a new thing, with Sartrik replacing Theseus. We are meant to know that the new thing is really old, though—the characters write Pre Pasiphaë—meaning, before the Minotaur’s mother—and reconfigure themselves as the Minosaur, a dragon, a dinosaur. And at its center is Sartrik, a drunk existentialist, pushing towards a new discourse, a new set of moderators. So they have recognized their own situation, but nothing’s changed, ultimately. After all, they all just remain people known only by their nyms, avatars, and what they write to each other: each remains in the labyrinth of his or her own prison. And so are we. Which is all well and good, though it takes a lot of work to get here, and there were certainly some large chunks of exposition I skimmed. Overall, it was a good read—that’s what I meant when I compared it to listening in on someone’s conversation. Even the mundane can seem pretty interesting when you’re eavesdropping. I read the book through pretty quickly, swept up by the conversation. In the end, though, I’m not sure where it gets us? We’re all trapped by our own perceptions of reality? Yeah, fair enough. The only hint at freedom comes in recognizing our situation—though we cannot necessarily change it. Ok, heard that one, too. In the introduction, Pelevin shows that he understands the rugged, contradictory demands of myth, how they are both supposed to tough on the central themes of human existence but also supposed to be untrue. And they might also be the codes by which we live—what he calls, using computer lingo, the shell code. I would have liked to hear him develop his ideas in an essay. Because I don’t think what he did in the book works as well. The threaded nature of it—I get the temptation, when discussing Ariadne, to use a computer thread. And there are echoes of philosophical discourses, from Plato through Galileo, a traditional form, if one not used to much effect anymore. But the discursive nature of the myth also drains it of its power, its weight. And it dates it—the reference to there being no additional Star Wars stories after the death of Darth Vader is just wrong, now, and I wonder for how long the central metaphor of a chatroom will even be understood; in 2006, when this was published in English, it might have looked timely; now it looks hoary, if not archaic. Which is the other part of what I was trying to get at when I compared this to eavesdropping on strangers. It was fun to listen, and I enjoyed—as much as I could—piecing together the little pieces into a bigger vision of what’s going on (though I realized to get an even more complete idea would require more of a time investment). It’s all very ingenious. Pelevin is smart, knows lots of things, arranged them in a cover way that was also readable—and yet, it seems, ultimately, forgettable, too. Which is the last thing you’d want from a myth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wolf

    It was okay. I guess. Look, the idea is very clever, and maybe something got left behind or added because of translation, but by page 122 I wanted everyone to get picked off one by one. Rarely do I want the entire cast of a book to die, but in this case I think it might've been the last resort to make it interesting. The problem I faced with this book pertained to a lot of spiffy ideas: mind as labyrinth, dreams as maps, chatrooms/dialog as labyrinth, etc... not being executed in either in an in It was okay. I guess. Look, the idea is very clever, and maybe something got left behind or added because of translation, but by page 122 I wanted everyone to get picked off one by one. Rarely do I want the entire cast of a book to die, but in this case I think it might've been the last resort to make it interesting. The problem I faced with this book pertained to a lot of spiffy ideas: mind as labyrinth, dreams as maps, chatrooms/dialog as labyrinth, etc... not being executed in either in an interesting manner or happening to characters I could care less about. I understand the circumstances were..unusual, but I didn't care about the dreams, maybe because I've actually been subjected to hearing a ditz go on about her dreams as if it was important in life. Maybe I just object to dwarfs being a necessary trope of "mythical" or "fairytale" nature. Especially after the introduction (which is really the best part). Maybe I'm still pissed off at the ending. Maybe I'm just fucking shocked that nobody hacks the chat in five minutes (seriously, I'm barely computer literate by comparison and not ONE person in this group knows binary, perl, etc... or basic DOS prompts? Really?)which would have been more productive than most actions taken by the cast. I guess I'd recommend it if you liked the movie The Cube, but you didn't want people to die.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Borton

    I think "like" is the completely wrong word to use in relation to this book. I understand is a better phrase and description. Those who have already read it will know what I mean and those who don't are going to think I'm insane. The philosophy behind it is cliché, everyone has always said the same thing (I wont spoil it by telling any new readers) however the way Pelevin chooses to entice the reader into his way of thinking is very unique... but it doesn't always work. I found this book hard t I think "like" is the completely wrong word to use in relation to this book. I understand is a better phrase and description. Those who have already read it will know what I mean and those who don't are going to think I'm insane. The philosophy behind it is cliché, everyone has always said the same thing (I wont spoil it by telling any new readers) however the way Pelevin chooses to entice the reader into his way of thinking is very unique... but it doesn't always work. I found this book hard to read, not difficult but tedious in places and racing in some. I was completely flabagasted by the ending and I still can't get my head around how Pelevin thought that to be a good way to finish. If anything I felt he finished this book at the very point it could have turned around and really done somethign fantastic, unique and enlightening. Initially I thought the book was rubbish! I couldn't get to grips with it and it was taking a long time to get through for what it was, though as soon as I got to the centre of it, all the pieces fell into place and I understood. Definately a read for the modern lovers of this generation... and it helps to have prior computer-related knowledge.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Philipp

    A bunch of people are stuck in a labyrinth, each in their own room, only able to communicate via a thread in a forum (Internet! so modern!). They all discover bits and pieces of the labyrinth around them, exchange information, but ultimately, not much ever happens, it just goes nowhere. I didn't care for anyone, the philosophical parts about the helmet of horror were beyond boring (example: Ariadne The separator labyrinth is the most important part of the helmet of horror. It’s the place where ever A bunch of people are stuck in a labyrinth, each in their own room, only able to communicate via a thread in a forum (Internet! so modern!). They all discover bits and pieces of the labyrinth around them, exchange information, but ultimately, not much ever happens, it just goes nowhere. I didn't care for anyone, the philosophical parts about the helmet of horror were beyond boring (example: Ariadne The separator labyrinth is the most important part of the helmet of horror. It’s the place where everything else is produced out of nothing, that is, the place where the stream of impressions arises. And it’s also the place where the past, the present and the future are separated. The past moves upwards, the future moves downwards, and the present, in the form of the stream of impressions, falls on to the outer surface of the frontal net, generating the cycle’s passionate desire to recur, so that it becomes a kind of perpetuum mobile Monstradamus Hang on a moment. The bubbles of hope are just another state of past, right? etc. pp., are you still awake?) Anyway, absolutely not my cup of tea.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Niina

    At first I thought I might like this, but as it turned out, I was wrong. The course of events was as follows: I went from hopeful to bored and near gave up and dropped the book, because, apparently, this author's style doesn't suit me. At all. I've previously read The Life of Insects, and now, after The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, I won't try to keep on these tracks anymore. It is very possible I just don't "get" what the big deal was, and I confess I was a bit lost a At first I thought I might like this, but as it turned out, I was wrong. The course of events was as follows: I went from hopeful to bored and near gave up and dropped the book, because, apparently, this author's style doesn't suit me. At all. I've previously read The Life of Insects, and now, after The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, I won't try to keep on these tracks anymore. It is very possible I just don't "get" what the big deal was, and I confess I was a bit lost at times, even though in the end I dare say Mr. Pelevin was simply making things more complicated than they need be. Maybe it's his style, what rows his boat, I don't even care. I'm a bit disappointed (and not sorry), since I'm very interested in reading more about the myth of Theseaus and the Minotaur. Just.. in a form that doesn't bore or overwhelm me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    TinHouseBooks

    Molly Dickinson (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): Imagine waking up in a room that might be a hotel room and might be a prison cell. There’s an impenetrable metal door, and a computer built into the wall that allows the only form of communication with the other inhabitants/prisoners: a chat room forum. Oh, and you have no memory of how you got there. Disoriented yet? That’s how we meet the characters of Victor Pelevin’s The Helmet of Horror, a stunning re-imagining of the classic myth of T Molly Dickinson (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): Imagine waking up in a room that might be a hotel room and might be a prison cell. There’s an impenetrable metal door, and a computer built into the wall that allows the only form of communication with the other inhabitants/prisoners: a chat room forum. Oh, and you have no memory of how you got there. Disoriented yet? That’s how we meet the characters of Victor Pelevin’s The Helmet of Horror, a stunning re-imagining of the classic myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Pelevin invites us into this surreal chat room forum, where the odd array of characters try to make sense of their foreign circumstances and engage in a dialogue about the cosmos, the divine, and the absolute weirdness of their situation. This is an absolute must read: it is fascinatingly formatted, filled with diverse and comical characters, and a genius re-crafting of a familiar myth.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eija

    Tarina alkaa chatti keskutelulla, johon tulee pikkuhiljaa lisää osallistujia mukaan. Keskusteluun osallistujat kummastelevat, että missä he ovat ja miksi he ovat paikkaan päätyneet. He alkavat löytää yhteisiä tekijöitä. Kaikki on lukittuna samanlaisiin huoneisiin, joista ei tunnu pääsevän ulos. Vähitellen heille valkenee ulospääsy huoneesta labyrinttiin, joka on jokaiselle vähän erilainen. Aluksi tarinan konsepti tuntui kivalta, mutta juoni alkoi käydä sekavaksi ja mielenkiinto lopahti. Loppukir Tarina alkaa chatti keskutelulla, johon tulee pikkuhiljaa lisää osallistujia mukaan. Keskusteluun osallistujat kummastelevat, että missä he ovat ja miksi he ovat paikkaan päätyneet. He alkavat löytää yhteisiä tekijöitä. Kaikki on lukittuna samanlaisiin huoneisiin, joista ei tunnu pääsevän ulos. Vähitellen heille valkenee ulospääsy huoneesta labyrinttiin, joka on jokaiselle vähän erilainen. Aluksi tarinan konsepti tuntui kivalta, mutta juoni alkoi käydä sekavaksi ja mielenkiinto lopahti. Loppukirjan lukeminen oli ihan pakkopullaa ja ei siitä oikein tajunnutkaan enää mitään, kun kiinnostuminen tarinaa kohtaan oli jo nollassa. Ehkä en vaan jaksanut keskittyä tai taustatietoni Minotauros myytistä olivat riittämättömät. Hyvä puoli oli se, että kirja oli lyhyt, mutta lopullinen oivallus jäi minulta huomaamatta.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Tole

    Only the second Pelevin book I have read. His books appear to be much harder to get hold of in translation than I have been lead to believe by book sellers - not the least of which is Amazon, which will give you a vast list of available titles only to find that..... they aren't available. I greatly enjoyed his writing in Omon Ra. This, however, is something quite different. If there ever was a book for the Twitterati then this is it. Written as if in an internet chat room, the book is so overwhelm Only the second Pelevin book I have read. His books appear to be much harder to get hold of in translation than I have been lead to believe by book sellers - not the least of which is Amazon, which will give you a vast list of available titles only to find that..... they aren't available. I greatly enjoyed his writing in Omon Ra. This, however, is something quite different. If there ever was a book for the Twitterati then this is it. Written as if in an internet chat room, the book is so overwhelmed by the style that any content goes right oot the windae. I confess I could not read it in this form. I do not read in minimal sentences and textspeak. It's a real pity but I refuse to wade through this drivellous form. Writing is writing - not bloody chatroom scribblings or tweets.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Mcauley

    I genuinely do not "get" this book, despite my love for mythology. Of all the canongate myths series it is my least favourite so far (I hope to read all of them that have been published in English) I think it was about philosophy and virtual reality, but it left me with a headache. What even happened at the end? I have no idea. Maybe I'm not smart enough for this book. Maybe something was lost in translation. Maybe I rushed it and was supposed to linger over each cryptic sentence(I read it in aro I genuinely do not "get" this book, despite my love for mythology. Of all the canongate myths series it is my least favourite so far (I hope to read all of them that have been published in English) I think it was about philosophy and virtual reality, but it left me with a headache. What even happened at the end? I have no idea. Maybe I'm not smart enough for this book. Maybe something was lost in translation. Maybe I rushed it and was supposed to linger over each cryptic sentence(I read it in around two hours but did not skip anything) It just did not seem to do anything but discuss philosophical and psychological theories via the characters, who were a bit bland.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lura

    This is a very philsophical and abstract retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur. It oozes existentialism; the feel was exactly the same for me as Sartre's No Exit. It's more of a thought exercise than a story, and some passages are difficult to process...I think it would've been an arduous read without some background in philosophy. But if philosophy is your thing, then there are some very clever little twists in here, and the concept is fantastic. I got a huge kick out of the tale itself as a ch This is a very philsophical and abstract retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur. It oozes existentialism; the feel was exactly the same for me as Sartre's No Exit. It's more of a thought exercise than a story, and some passages are difficult to process...I think it would've been an arduous read without some background in philosophy. But if philosophy is your thing, then there are some very clever little twists in here, and the concept is fantastic. I got a huge kick out of the tale itself as a chat room "thread".

  29. 4 out of 5

    mandy

    I think you almost have to have a background in philosophy to appreciate this book. It really didn't have much of a story, but was instead a conversation that several people are having in an internet chat room of sorts. I could probably have gotten more out of this in print form, as I would have been able to re-read passages. The audio version was confusing and several of the readers were just terrible, so that was distracting as well. This is the second in the Myths series that I have read, and I think you almost have to have a background in philosophy to appreciate this book. It really didn't have much of a story, but was instead a conversation that several people are having in an internet chat room of sorts. I could probably have gotten more out of this in print form, as I would have been able to re-read passages. The audio version was confusing and several of the readers were just terrible, so that was distracting as well. This is the second in the Myths series that I have read, and so far I am not impressed....

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Not knowing the original myth in detail, there were times when my mind struggled to understand what and why was being implied by everything that was said by the characters in the modern retelling and in the end the book probably left me with more questions than answers. But this was probably the reason why the book drew me in so much I was not able to put it down until I had read it all. The style in which the book is written - as a chat room - is quite unique and at the same time mundane in this Not knowing the original myth in detail, there were times when my mind struggled to understand what and why was being implied by everything that was said by the characters in the modern retelling and in the end the book probably left me with more questions than answers. But this was probably the reason why the book drew me in so much I was not able to put it down until I had read it all. The style in which the book is written - as a chat room - is quite unique and at the same time mundane in this world of global communication.

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