My sister collected stamps. My recollection is that from family of friends she received stamps of cosmonauts, ballet dancers and athletes, all marked CCCP. Which I knew meant Russia, or more formally the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. What I could never understand was how you got from USSR to CCCP. The strangeness of the CCCP was a sign for the strangeness of the place they came from, so removed, so far behind not just the iron curtain, but the particularly South African Suppression of Communism Act. That Russia was a mythic place, one that did not really exist or had to be taken on trust. The CCCP sounded like Morse code, a blip of letters sent from some sputnik, which I was assured you could see if you looked in the right section of the night sky.
Now I know that C=S and P=R. I am told this is because of the Greek alphabet. At any rate in this scheme of transformations, H=N and C still equals S. An O is an O and the E of nose is silent. While working on the opera I taught myself the alphabet equivalents and can now slowly pronounce out Russian words at about the same speed I could read English when my sister started her stamp collection.
This text by William Kentridge appears alongside the illustration of this print in William Kentridge Nose: Thirty Etchings, edited by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen and published by David Krut Publishing in 2010.