Опубликовано в журнале НЛО, номер 2, 2020
The Anthropology of Fear
The articles that comprise the main core of the issue were presented as a part of the “Anthropology of Fear” conference, the fourth international conference (St. Petersburg, 17—18 May 2019) organized by European University at St. Petersburg and the New Literary Observer publishing house (Moscow) as a part of their joint program “Anthropology of the Humanities and Social Sciences.”
The Philosophy of Fear
Based on the example of Edmund Burke’s and Immanuel Kant’s theories of the sublime, Valery Podoroga’s article “Great Fear: Kant reads Burke (Towards the Deconstruction of the Sublime)” aims to show how the norms of aesthetic perception were formed in the age of Enlightenment, and how later, after the catastrophe of Auschwitz, these norms lose their aesthetic value, because art is no longer able to turn to the beautiful and sublime without falling into false pathos and kitsch. If for Burke the feeling of the sublime is based on fear, for Kant the sublime must be understood as the aesthetic experience of natural phenomena, as if they were not terrifying.
Fear and Modernity
Generally, seventeenth-century writers treated fear as a moral phenomenon, reinforcing their descriptions of it both by the ancient examples and by the scientific theories of their own time. Yet as it is examined in his essay “On Fear” Montaigne characterized this emotion not only as an anxiety about the future but also as a kind of “horrible dazzlement” that occurs at the moment of sudden danger. It paralyses the individual’s will and the ability to act but passes very quickly and does not affect his reputation as long as his subsequent behavior cannot be interpreted as cowardly. Maria Neklyudova’s “‘A Horrible Dazzlement’ and its Consequences: Toward a Typology of Early Modern Fears” focuses on some examples of such “dazzlement” which can be found in the number of seventeenth-century memoirs, including the one written for le duc de Sully and in the life account of the cardinal de Retz.
The fear of the Other in Spain of the 16th—17th centuries had specific forms of expression and ways of overcoming it. In her article “The Other: in the Old World, the New World and Aminadab. Fears in Spain of the Golden Age” Maria Ignatieva (Oganissian) considers three aspects of the relationship of “ours” and “the other” as reflected in literary texts of this period: 1) Fear in the Old World: theatricality in the Inquisition’s auto-da-fé and on the Baroque stage (using the example of the comedy by Calderón de la Barca “La dama duende”) are discussed; 2) Fear in the New World: the fears associated with sailing across the Atlantic Ocean are described, and the features of the theory of Providence with reference to the The Natural and Moral History of the Indies by missionary José de Acosta are examined; 3) Fear of the Devil within: the theology of fear in the poetry of John of the Cross (Juan de la Cruz) is studied.
In his article “Demons of fear from the Secret Office” Evgeny Anisimov focuses on materials from an 18th-century political investigation that provides enormous possibilities for the study of the “lines of fears” that arose in the consciousness of people of this time during their interaction with the state. The main “line” was the universal Great State Fear, which tormented people their entire lives, regardless of their social position. It was the product of the whole system of autocratic power, which was built upon the violence of a despotic state, for which the individual was nothing. This universal Fear had its specific “extensions” for those who remained free and for those who ended up in the confines of political investigations.
Elena Marasinova’s article “The Fear of God and the State Court ‘Interrogating Priest’ in the Russian Justice System in the Second Half of the 18th Century (According to New Archival Sources)” covers the mechanisms of the use of fear of the Court of God for overcoming the criminal’s fear before punishment from the state court. In other words, it talks about the use of church practices to conduct investigations into cases of serious crimes in Russia in the second half of the 18th century, when, by a decree published in the very beginning of Catherine the Great’s rein, the use of torture during questioning had been limited. The work’s pertinence is connected to the phenomenon, which has not been studied much within historiography, of reducing the sphere of the church’s jurisdiction and the further secularization of law through the increasing use of religious ideology by secular courts and church practices for the investigation and punishment of criminals under conditions of the humanization of criminal law.
Fear in Soviet Society
The article “The ‘Memoirs War’: Fear Motifs in the Narratives of the Soviet Past by Two Medievalist-Adversaries and (Non-) Soviet Subjectivities (Evgenia Gutnova and Aron Gurevich)” by Olga Bessmertnaya examines the role of fear motifs in the construction of author’s subjectivity in the “fighting” memoirs (published in 2001—2002) of two Soviet medievalists: the leader of the so called non-official medieval studies, A. Gurevitch, and a representative of the Soviet historical establishment, E. Gutnova. Whereas both authors see fear as the product of the repressive Soviet regime, engendering silence and slavery, Gutnova uses the discourse of fear to victimize and justify the “hers” collectively suffering under the regime’s pressure, while Gurevitch contrasts the “his” as active agency to “silent majority”. Links with the romantic ideals of the non-official Soviet humanities, the structure of the dissidents’ memoirs, and general vision of history are discussed.
Olga Skubach’s “Fear and the North: The Arctic Through the Eyes of Soviet Polar Explorers of the1920—1930s” claims that fear is a key element in the structure of the totalitarian world, determining almost all of its aspects; however, at the level of official rhetoric, the Stalinist culture forbade both Summary 462 sources of fear and its manifestations. The «Golden Age» of the Soviet development of the Arctic (1920s—1930s) marks the beginning of a «high» imperial period in the history of the USSR and at the same time coincides with a period of repression. Over the years, the Arctic campaign gained momentum, reaching a climax by the end of the 1930s, as did Stalinist terror. In the mass of essays and ego-documents, the Soviet Arctic becomes a way of sublimating fear, generated, as a rule, by circumstances far from geography.
Natalia Gramatchikova’s “The Appearance of Fear: The Evolution of Soviet and Post-Soviet Narratives of the First Uralmash Builders and Their Descendants” analyzes the “traces” left in texts by the fear people experienced in the past or during the creation of said text. This research is based on the ego-documents of three periods: the construction of Uralmash (1928—1933); the establishment of the Fund of the First Builders of Uralmash, based on the memories of the factory workers (1954—1983); and the post-Soviet memories of the their descendants, born from 1930 to 1940. In each period, genres or elements of a narrative structure containing disturbing feelings and experience are identified. The article suggests a hypothesis on the epic canon of the first builders and its relation to the creation of the situation of “early initiation” for the next generation.
War and Fear
Using the example of mass events that took place in the USSR from the 1950s through the 1980s, Aleksei Popov in the article “Auschwitz Ovens and Hiroshima Ashes: Fear of a War in Directing Soviet Mass Events in the 1950s—1980s” discusses the practices of Soviet “affective management”, associated with the condemnation of wars of the past, present, and future on the basis of the formation of the affect of scare tactics. In the author’s opinion, this corresponded to the dispositions of the Soviet “emotional regime” and was aimed at forming an “emotional community,” which including not only citizens of the USSR, but also representatives of other countries. Counting on the generation of the short-term affects of fears, the directors of such events used manipulative techniques: strict binary oppositions featuring sham, but well known symbols of evil that demonized American imperialism and equated it to Nazism. Such stereotypes, schematism, and the lack of alternatives in the long term led to unexamined emotional reactions as a result: panicked reactions, the distribution of informal folkloric texts, and the formation of an aggressive, rather than pacifistic, model of the struggle for the world.
“‘Sweetened Condensed Milk as a Medicine for Stress’: Military Psychology and Practices of Overcoming Fear in the Army” by Feodor Nikolai and Igor Kobylin examines the interweaving of existential and professional narratives of overcoming fear that has arisen in Russian military psychology and the military history anthropology of war. It works largely on the reproduction of the military machine, since it depicts violence in war as rare intense actions of the “special forces”, as opposed to the daily life of the “infantry”. This dominant narrative symbolically encodes the experience on the front, emotions, feelings, and affects, including them in the existing normative / exceptions network. Its other is to legitimize the distribution of the microphysics of power and the addition of new strategies of “stress management” and the neoliberal rhetoric of “resilience” to old forms of disciplinary power and sovereign violence. In this context, the testimonies of the combatants themselves do not fit into the framework of the dominant narrative, which allows us to build an analytical distance from the dominant language of “new wars”. Although most combatants cannot completely rid themselves of this language, their memories fix the gap — the heterogeneity of experience, which allows us to rethink critically the dominant narrative.
Fear and Culture
French popular science works of the 18th century often mention the reader’s fear of scientific texts, associated with the condemnation of pedantry, which was caused by the new status of the text and knowledge in secular culture, salon culture in particular, the expansion of the reading audience, etc. The first use of effrayer le lecteur / lecteur effrayé, the main expressions that marked this fear in texts, is related to the famous polemics of Antoine Arnauld and Nicolas Malebranche of the late 17th century. The Anna Stogova’s article “The Public Polemic of the Late 17th Century as a Source of Fear: The Origin of Lecteur Effrayé” discusses the main contexts in which opponents are accused of intimidating readers and which help to understand the meaning and circumstances of the appearance of images of readers’ fear.
In the Andrei Teslya’s article “Poles, Jesuits, Jews, and the ‘conspiracy myth’: The Evolution of the “Dangerous Other” in Slavophilia” only a small subject from the multifaceted history of conspiracy myths is examined — their reflection and, at the same, their formation in Slavophile opinion pieces. Preferred attention is given to the period of the 1860s through the mid-1880s, i.e., “late Slavophilia,” as it is during this time, on the one hand, that the majority of Slavophile opinion pieces were published, and on the other hand, it was at this same time that conspiracy myths, first Jesuit and then Jewish, were applied directly in Russian reality. Following the lead of Luc Boltanski, and, indirectly, Carlo Ginzburg, we examine the logic of the conspiracy as an instrument of social perception that both provides some knowledge that reflects the current state of affairs to one degree or another and modifies reality.
The object of analysis in the Tatyana Dashkova’s “The Fear of Intimacy: “Erotic Scenes” in Soviet Cinema of the 1930’s—1960’s” is love scenes and erotic behavior in Soviet cinema of the 1930s— 1960s. The metaphor of a «fear of intimacy» is used as a tool for the analysis of the means of visualizing intimacy and overcoming the tension between the censorship of spontaneous eroticism and the need to develop a language for the representation of amorous relationships. The significance of this metaphor at different stages of the development of Soviet cinema is determined by the formation of the construction of a language of love.
Focusing on a satirical cartoon Once Happened to an Artist, Kirill Chunikhin’s “The Not-Scary Horrors of Modernism: An Episode from the History of Ugliness During the Thaw” explores the role of notions such as “ugly” and “horrible” in the representation of modernist art in the Soviet Union during the Thaw. Although defining modernist painting as “ugly” is an essentially transnational phenomenon, the author argues that a unique Soviet tradition of frightening with and amusing by modernism existed. Thus, Soviet satire effectively showcased modernism’s ugliness and fun, making this art a part of official discourse.
Linor Goralik’s essay “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge: The Hospital Space as a Setting for a Fashion Photoshoot” analyzes the specifics of hospital as a setting for contemporary (end of XX — early XXI century) fashion photoshoot and suggests a concept that allows to understand how the fear of hospital, sickness and medical procedures are reduced in order to invoke the viewer’s esthetical pleasure and consumerist desires instead.
Evgeny Ponomarev’s “Ivan Bunin’s Most Tolstovian Story” examines an unfinished, little-known story by Ivan Bunin, which could be considered a parody (in the Yury Tynyanov sense) of Lev Tolstoy’s style. The author comes to the conclusion that it is a Tolstovian influence upon Bunin as much as a modernist stylization, standing alongside the stylizations of his book Dark Avenues.
Maria Dmitrovskaya’s article “Yellow Angus as Genesis (A Conceptual System of Alexander Chantsev’s Prose)” reconstructs the conceptual system of Yellow Angus, a collection of short stories by Alexander Chantsev. Using the reception of Mircea Eliade’s views on eternal return, the general characteristics of the system are described. In Chantsev’s cosmogony, Judeo-Christian beliefs are intertwined with Buddhism, Shintoism and Taoism. The biblical basis of the development of the main framework of the plot and the means of its deployment in the texts are highlighted. The concept of eternal return facilitates ideas concerning the isomorphism of cyclical time and movement in space, as well as the combination of opposing values of the beginning and end of the world and human life. The significance of dynamic componenet of the concept of love them allows for the meaning of the title “Yellow Angus” to be revealed.
The Liu Zhiqiang and Wang Feng’s article “‘Poems about a Beautiful Lady and about One Gentleman’: The Poetic Works of Leonid Cherkassky” examines a virtually unexplored area of the multifaceted activity of Leonid Cherkassky (1925—2003), the theorist and master of poetry translation, literary critic and publisher, educator, and authoritative specialist in Sino-Russian cultural relation: his poetic creativity. Cherkassky’s translations made the poetry of medieval and modern China accessible to the Russian reader, and the academic merits of his translation and analytical works are generally recognized. Cherkassky’s work as a poet, however, is rarely touched upon in academic research. Based on an analysis of Cherkassky’s “Poems about the Beautiful Lady and One Gentleman” and “I’ll Calm My Soul Next to the Root,” the article attempts to fill this gap.