TRACING RACE: PHILOSOPHY AS ANTHROPOLOGY
The block on Race, Deconstruction and Critical Theory comprises three essays edited by Dragan Kujundzic, the authorized proceedings from the "tRaces" conference held in 2003 by Etienne Balibar and Jacques Derrida, and an introductory essay also by Dra-gan Kujundzic. The idea of the conference was to bring together two ways of thinking about race — one provided by a prominent Marxist philosopher and the other by the founder of deconstructionism — in order to show not only the differences, but also the similarities and convergences of the two theoretical strategies.
In his introductory essay "Race, deconstruction, critical
theory", Dragan Kujundzic (
In his essay on "Election/Selection", Etienne Balibar (
Jacques Derrida‘s essay "tRaces" draws into sharp relief the fact that the decon-struction of Western metaphysics has always been also a deconstruction of racism. From the beginning, Western metaphysics constructed hierarchical oppositions be-tween phusis, nature, and techne or nomos (law). Thus, claims Derrida, the drive to racialize precedes the notion of race; race is an aftereffect of this foundational moment, which has conditioned Western philosophy from its very origins. Race is thus always a tRace, a spectral other haunting the origins of philosophy. The deconstruction of race promoted by Derrida in this essay constitutes the most radical reading and critical as-sessment of the racialization of philosophy to date.
"Physicists vs. lyricists: towards a history of a certain ‘dimwitted’ discussion", from Kon- stantin A. Bogdanov (RAS Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House), St. Peters-burg), analyses the argument between "lyricists" and "physicists" that rocked 1960s Soviet intelligentsia — representatives of the social and hard sciences were locked in debate over which group could claim ownership of the future. Bogdanov provides a de-tailed illumination of the ideological context of these debates, and of the evolution of utopian expectations that developed along lines of faith in infinite scientific progress, in the synthesis of disciplines and the possibility of developing a harmonious personality.
In "The second science or ‘The glass-bead game’. The seminar movement in 1960s— 1970s sociology", Marina Pugacheva (HSE NRU Center for Fundamental Sociology) addresses the phenomenon of scientific seminars, which in the 1960s- 1970s were wide-spread in the social sciences overall and particularly in sociology. Proceeding from interviews and materials from personal archives, Pugacheva analyses the functions, profiles of participants and leaders, themes and results of the activities. Her conclusions reflect the particularities of informal scientific communication during this period and their role in the development of a professional sociological community.
Tomas Glanc (
This block of articles continues our series of publications devoted to re-thinking the work of Andrei Platonov in the context of the 1917 revolution. In "A merging of living beings: human and animal in A. Platonov", Hans Gunter ( Universitat Bielefeld) analy-ses the figure of the animal in Platonov’s prose as part of a tradition of the Russian avant-garde, connected with the idea of the transformation, emancipation and huma- nisation of the animal world. Gunter demonstrates how, by taking up the rich spectrum of relations between human and animal rooted in Russian scientific, philosophical, literary and visual traditions, Platonov develops his concept of the interrelations — and often, interchangeability — of human and animal.
A short essay from
PARADOXES OF SOCIAL REPUTATION
Igor Nemirovsky‘s article "Liberalists and libertines: the case of Pushkin" presents an analysis of the circumstances determining the Decembrist I. Gorbachevsky’s harsh judgment of Pushkin. In a letter to M. Bestuzhev, Gorbachevsky wrote that the De-cembrists were forbidden to make Pushkin’s acquaintance while the latter was living in the South — because Pushkin, "due to his character and cowardice, and his de-bauched lifestyle" would inform the government of the existence of the Secret Society. Nemirovsky discusses the factors informing Gorbachevsky’s judgment, which corre-lated the poet’s social reputation with two important points — his participation in the activities of the "Green Lamp" society and his relation to the French poet Evariste de Parny. Nemirovsky asserts that the Decembrists (like the authorities) were unable to accept Pushkin’s creative worldview, which combined "distinct eroticism, religious freethinking and political liberalism". In "The unknown Pestel", Olga Edelman exam-ines the family correspondence of the Decembrist Pavel Pestel; these letters signifi-cantly supplement and change our idea of this figure. She puts forth the hypothesis that Pestel could have been the prototype for the character of Germann in Pushkin’s short story "The Queen of Spades".
Evgenii Bernstein‘s article "An Englishman in a Russian bathhouse: towards the con-struction of an historical poetics of Russian gay literature" elucidates the reasons be-hind M. Kuzmin’s decision to make Shtrup, the hero of his novel Wings, an Englishman (the ideas of W. Pater). Bringing in V. Rozanov’s critical response to the novel, Bern-stein then addresses the role of these writers in forming the means for working out the homosexual theme in literature. In terms of genre, asserts Bernstein, Wings anticipated the "coming-out novel"; meanwhile, Rozanov approached homosexuality as an "exis-tential collision principally lacking any solution". In "Labour, hack-work and the first Five-Year Plan (on L. Ginzburg’s novel The Pinkerton Agency)", Stanislav Savitsky describes Lydia Ginzburg’s experience of involvement with the "social mandate" and her attempts at self-determination in the 1930s Soviet Union. Konstantin Bolenko in "Anna Akhmatova’s ‘Behind was the Narvsky gate, /Ahead was only death…’: towards the question of the subtext of the artistic image" interprets Akhmatova’s poem in con-nection with the events of 9 January 1905. He suggests the poem contains a postulate of moral victory — the expiation of imperial and Soviet soldiers who participated in fratricide.
THE FAR SIDE OF THEATRICALITY, OR A FAREWELL TO MIMESIS
This block is based on materials from the "Theatricality in art and beyond" round-table organized by the "Theatre in cultural space" research laboratory (RSHU) in November 2010. An immediate impulse for the conversation was provided by the concept of "post- dramatic theatre" put forth by Hans-Thies Lehmann (Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat, Frankfurt am Main) in an eponymous book in 1999; the concept continues to be actively discussed and used by both theoreticians and practitioners of contemporary theatre. Although Lehmann’s ideas have been subject to constructive criticism on more than one occasion (for instance, consider the position of the French researcher Christophe Bidan as expressed in the article "Even theatre has become post-dramatic: history of an illusion"), their polemical potential is clearly far from exhausted. This has to do less with Lehmann’s notion of the "end of theatre" — in the sense of its notorious death or aesthetic renaissance — and more about global shifts in ways of seeing that have implications for directors, actors, playwrights, theatregoers, critics and re-searchers. The texts published in this block — fragments from Lehmann’s Post-dramatic theatre, a detailed analysis of Bidan’s critical position presented in an article by Maria Nekliudova (RSHU, Moscow) "Does post-dramatic theatre exist?" and materials from the "Theatricality in art and beyond" round-table — are all indicative of the search for a new "non-artistic" language that would allow us to make sense of the new "post- dramatic" moment, avoiding both anachronisms and the excessive use of neologisms.
THE "ANTHROPOLOGICAL CRACK": CONCEPTUALISM REVISITED
This block includes four conversations with
In his article "American Fazil", Aleksandr Zholkovsky ( University of South California, Los Angeles) analyses Fazil Iskander’s story "Balthazar’s Feasts", which constitutes the eighth chapter in his novel Sandro of Chegem — one of the acknowledged master’s finest works of narrative art. Zholkovsky finds a few keys to this small masterpiece in the author’s use of a Walter-Scott-type topos of interaction between an ordinary man and an historical figure. Islander’s treatment is meanwhile diametrically opposite: while with Scott or Pushkin the acquaintance is successfully made, and with Tolstoy it breaks off in one way or another, in Iskander’s novel the protagonist — who has been dying to get closer to Stalin — nevertheless himself turns away when the pivotal op-portunity arises to become more closely acquainted. However, the structural secrets in "Balthazar’s Feasts" are not limited to this point. Yet another one, as Zholkovsky convincingly demonstrates, lies in the subtle game with time (narrative and historical), which may evoke the poetics of the American novella (primarily Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allen Poe).