Posts tagged ‘history’

11 April 2011

The irrational in Russian history and culture

Conference in Moscow next week from 14 to 16 April 2011, at the German Historical Institute. Programme:

Thursday 14 April 2011
9.30-9.45 Welcome
9.45-12.00 Panel 1: The Irrational and Religious Experience

  • Michail Dmitriev (Moskva) 0b irratsional’nom v traditsionnoy pravoslavnoy kul’ture Moskovskoy Rusi i Rossii
  • Ekaterina Emeliantseva (Bangor) Emotional Styles within Ekaterina Tatarinova’s Spiritual Brotherhood (1817-37)
  • Irina Paert (Tallinn) Preternatural, Irrational, Bizarre and the Russian spiritual elders (startsy)
  • Page Herrlinger (Bowdoin College) Healing Russia: Religious and Secular Perspectives on the “Miraculous” powers of brother Ioann Churikov in St. Petersburg, 1894-1917

12.00-12.20 Coffee Break

12.20-14.00 Panel 2: Anthropology/Narodnaya kul’tura

  • Jule Herzberg (Munich) On the Rationality of Dreams: Visions, Nightmares, and Dreams in Peasant Writing from Tsarist and Soviet Russia
  • Anton Salmin (Sankt-Peterburg) Znacharstvo u chuvashey kak irratsional’noe yavlenie
  • Ekaterina Chodzhaeva (Kazan’) «Sumasshedshie» i militsionery

14.00-15.30 Lunch

15.30-17.15 Panel 3: Literature

  • Mariya Mayofis (Moskva) Sumasshestvie, slaboumie ili sotsial’nyy nevroz? Poet Aleksandr Kvashnin-Samarin
  • Ilya Vinitsky (Pennsylvania) Mystical Undercurrents of Russian Realism
  • Nikolay Bogomolov (Moskva) Simvolizm kak pogranichnoe sostoyanie: vzglyad iznutri i izvne

Friday 15 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 4: Psychology

  • Michail Velizhev (Moskva) Chaadaevskoe delo 1836g. i istoriya bezumiya v Rossii
  • Sabina Maier (Moscow) Analyzing Dostoevsky: Concepts of the Irrational in Early Russian Psychoanalysis
  • Gregori Dyufo (Paris) Ratsional’naya organizatsiya dlya bol’nych umov? Psichiatricheskie uchrezhdeniya v Sovetskom Soyuze 1920-ch godov

11.45-12.15 Coffee

12.15-13.50 Panel 5: The Irrational Self

  • Lynn Patyk (Florida) The Terrorist State of Mind: I. Kaliaev
  • Julia Mannherz (Oxford) Occultism and Irrational Insight
  • Polina Barskova (Hampshire College) The Super-Fantastic Reality of Historical Disaster: The Siege Self in Contact with the Irrational (1941-1944)

14.00-15.30 Lunch

Trip to Muzey istorii Moskovskoy gorodskoy psichiatricheskoy bol’nitsy im. N.A. Alekseeva

Saturday 16 April 2011
10.00-11.45 Panel 6: Musical and Literary Aesthetics

  • Rebecca Mitchell (Urbana-Champaign) In Search of Orpheus: Music and Irrationality in Late imperial Russia
  • Amrei Flechsig (Hannover) The multi-faceted Russian irrational in Music: Alfred Schnittke’s opera Life with an Idiot
  • Yelena Karlinsky (Rutgers) Performance Vision: Psychic Break and Aesthetic experience in Andrei Monastyrskii’s Kashirskoe shosse

11.45-12.15 Coffee Break

12.15-13.50 Panel 7: Science

  • Nikolay Mitrochin (Bremen) Sovetskaya intelligentsiya v poiskach chuda: religioznost’ i paranauka v SSSR v 1953-1985 godach
  • Aleksandr Panchenko (St. Petersburg) “Sacred energies”: History of Science and Esoteric Culture in Twentieth Century Russia

12.55-14.00 Concluding Discussion

24 February 2011

Presuppositions and the GDR

A discourse analytical moment: Reading about a survey of perceptions of the GDR. Very critical study of how the “east Germans” are oh so nostalgic about the GDR and simply won’t accept the view of these west German scholars that the free, democratic FRG was the much superior state. The study led to a good deal of controversy in its time (2007).

One of the questions in the survey (Agree/Disagree as possible answers):

Sich in einer Gemeinschaft oder Gruppe unterzuordnen wie in der DDR, ist für mich grundsäzlich wichtiger, als meine eigene Persönlichkeit zu entwickeln.

To subordinate oneself to a community or group, as in the GDR, is more important to me than developing my own personality.

And here, once again, analysing presuppositions comes into its own. The explicit statement, to be supported or negated, is “X is more important to me than Y”.

It takes a lot more work to negate the presuppositions. Indeed, within the frame of the survey it is not possible to question the presuppositions.

Presupposition 1: In the GDR one subordinated oneself to the community/group.

Presupposition 2: This subordination hindered the development of one’s own personality.

Well, as long as we know what our “common knowledge” is.

22 October 2008

Virilio and the financial crisis presents Paul Virilio’s take on the financial crisis, first published in Le Monde, now translated by Patrice Riemens. For Virilio, the current crisis is the ‘integral accident’ par excellence, i.e., a catastrophe with massive global resonance, whose seeds were lain in the very technology that led to progress in the financial field. The eyes of thousands are trained upon one issue. He argues that we can not undestand the crash if we think of it as a political and economic issue. We must consider the political economy of speed, the speed brought about by technological progress. Le Monde’s interview:

Gerard Courtois/Michel Guerrin:

In 2002 you produced an exhibition at the Maison Cartier under the title “Ce qui arrive” (‘that which occurs’). It was about the accident in contemporary history: Tchernobyl, 9-11, the Tsunami… A statement by Hannah Arendt was the banner of your demonstration: “progress and catastrophe are the two faces of the same coin”. Is this where we have come to with the ‘crash of the stock exchange’?

Paul Virilio:

Well, of course. In 1979, at the time of the mishap at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the U.S., I did mention the occurence of an “original accident” – the kind of accident we bring forth ourselves. I said that our technical prowess was pregnant with catastrophic promises. In the past, accidents were local affairs. With Tchernobyl, we have entered the era of global accidents, whose consequences are in the realm of the long term. The current crash represents the perfect ‘integral accident’.

Its effect ripples far and wide, and it incorporates the representation of all other accidents.

For thirty years now, the phenomenon of History accelerating has been negated, together with the fact that this acceleration has been the prime mover of the proliferation of major accidents. Freud said it, speaking of death: “accumulation snuffs out the perception of contingency”.

Contingency is the key word here. These accidents are not contigent occurences. For the time being, the prevalent opinion is that researching the crash of the stock exchange as a political and economic issue and in terms of its social consequences is adequate enough. But it is impossible to understand what is going on if one does not implement a (policy based on the) political economy of speed, the speed that technological progress engenders, and if one does not link (this policy) to the ‘accidental’ character of History.

Let’s take just one example: the dictum “time is money”. I add to this, and the stock exchange testifies to it: “speed is power”. We have moved from the stage of the acceleration of History to that of the acceleration of the Real. This is what ‘progress’ is: a consensual sacrifice.


Full interview in English at

On a different similar note: