Author Topic: The Russian Soul  (Read 78213 times)

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #150 on: April 28, 2011, 03:29:03 PM »
I would agree with Rich C, except to say that the Mexicans I know tend to identify with the states they originate from, where they still have families, rather than any one tribe or ethnic background. Like almost all Americans, Mexicans  are a melting pot; that is a mixture. Personally, I think the Aztec influence in celebrations is mostly theatrical, they were colourful but not very nice people, after all.
 And, maybe just because SF is a big party town, but Cinco de Mayo and Carnaval,  attract  the whole population, not just the Latinos. Same with all the other celebrations, Gay, Irish, Chinese, etc.
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Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #151 on: April 28, 2011, 06:55:56 PM »
To give the US experience with uncontrolled immigration some further perspective consider Europe today. There the problem is unassimiliting Muslim arrivals. With the host countries' smaller areas and populations compared to the US' , they  can be  adversely affected by  a far smaller absolute number of immigrants. Significantly most of the recipient countries have well-earned reputations as places of asylum and succor for the oppressed , and for tolerance : France, Holland , Sweden, Great Britain,Denmark, most notably, but all are presently starting to resist or have problems with Muslim immigration.
But it's not unreasonable for a nation, a people,  to want to retain control of its identity. Though most European countries are not as   completely racially or linguistically homogeneous  as  say Japan, or Saudi Arabia, or Botswana, they are still predominantly (Judeo-)Christian, caucasian(well duh) and with a primary national language.
When experiencing a major influx of Muslim, Arabic-speaking ,  and Middle-Eastern , or North African immigrants, destination countries  will not unnaturally perceive a  threat (though none may be intended by the immigrant) to their national identities. To be blunt: while they're all homo sapiens,  a Dane is not a Somali; a Lutheran is not a Muslim, French is not Arabic. And viice-versa. It's unfortunate that political correctness has cast these basic distinctions in moral or value-laden terms. They aren't inherently. But they  represent challenges to the respective nations ' national identity, if not soul, and it seems national identity is a powerful thing and runs more deeply than we are inclined to think.
Rodney G.

Offline Nathalie

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #152 on: April 29, 2011, 02:28:27 AM »
Quote
There the problem is unassimiliting Muslim arrivals.

Definitely but then how what is the position of those, who have deep roots in their country/nation and CONVERT to Islam...?

Quote
it seems national identity is a powerful thing and runs more deeply than we are inclined to think

Or not, at least it is not the case with the above mentioned reverts/converts. They seem to drop rather quickly their identity to switch to an "arabized" one..*sigh*

(Back somehow to the topic, I met some Russian muslim converts before, I wonder how do they deal with such issues, i.e. identity, etc...Unfortunately I was too young in those days and was not interested in such issues so I did not ask...)

Dites-moi, Vladimir Lvovich, si j'avais une amie ou une sœur plus jeune, et si vous appreniez qu’elle…enfin, supposons qu’elle vous aime…que feriez vous á cette nouvelle?

Offline TimM

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #153 on: April 30, 2011, 11:52:07 AM »
Since this thread has already been knocked way off topic (it was about the Russian Soul, not legal/illegal immigrants), I hope no one minds if I break in to ask if anyone has heard from Bear lately.  She has not logged in since February 25, over two months ago.  She was an active poster here and then poof!

I only ask because in one post she mentioned she was near 70 (one thing this board has done for me is debunk the popular myth that the Internet is solely a young person's domain).  I'm beginning to wonder if something has happened to her.

So, has anyone here heard from her lately?
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #154 on: May 31, 2011, 05:38:33 PM »
I haven't heard from Bear, but then, I normally don't. I have a soft spot for her because she was the first (really the only) established member of the AP to welcome me warmly when I started posting here. I hope she is well. It's true she has been ill in the past, however, we must keep in mind that the AP is in the doldrums, at least recently. Bear might just be bored with all the new posts and not feel like contributing.

Has anyone here read Tzvetan Todorov's column, "Letter from Paris," in the American humanities journal Salmagundi? Todorov is a well-known "public intellectual" in France, where he emigrated from Bulgaria in the early 1960s, fleeing totalitarianism. Recently he wrote about the current geopolitical situation, that is, post-communist world politics, as being divided among the countries of appetite (e.g., Japan, China, India, potentially Russia and Mexico), the countries of fear or anxiety (most obviously the United States and the European Union), the countries of resentment (much of the Middle East, parts of Latin America) and the countries of expectation (probably most of the former Soviet bloc, i.e., most of Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe). In his opinion, the biggest evil and threat to the world right now is the vicious circle of violence that is ever-present and ever-intensifying between the countries of resentment, via terrorist acts, and the countries of fear or anxiety, via violent retaliation against such acts. Todorov cautions that fear is not a good place from which to conduct a foreign policy. Moreover, he sees American foreign policy in the Middle East under the Bush administration as on a continuum with the French Revolution and even communism -- in his opinion, all preach a form of secular political messianism.

At any rate, Todorov is a really interesting writer and thinker, and I believe what I'm posting here is actually quite relevant to our discussion. But of course I could be wrong.  
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 05:40:11 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline TimM

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #155 on: May 31, 2011, 07:13:11 PM »
Quote
I haven't heard from Bear, but then, I normally don't. I have a soft spot for her because she was the first (really the only) established member of the AP to welcome me warmly when I started posting here. I hope she is well.

Actually, she was here on May 11, so it seems she's okay.


Quote
we must keep in mind that the AP is in the doldrums, at least recently

Yeah, what happened to all the dicussion and debates that were going on in this area just a few months ago, they just seemed to fizzle out.  It's been dead in here for ages now.
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Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #156 on: June 02, 2011, 05:53:00 PM »
Quote from Elisabeth : "we must keep in mind that the AP is in the doldrums, at least recently."

Aren't they south- east of the Bahamas and  way south of Ultima Thule?
Rodney G.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #157 on: June 28, 2011, 12:35:26 PM »
Yes,  I'm still around.

No,  I haven't been ill.    My husband and I had added an in-law apartment to our home, brought my parents to live with us,  so,  I could help my mother with my father, an Alzheimer victim.... Been kinda busy with a lot of other things, too.  Thanks for being concern.

Back to this subject, "The Russian Soul", which I have always found  interesting and I'm glad to see it has spark some new interest.

I have come to believe that the majority of  countries have an individual soul,  which is made up of it's >>self, inner being, life force, vital force; individuality, makeup, subconscious <<.   I view each country as a whole, which is the sum of it's parts.   Some have old souls and some have new souls.

My own personal view:  the area which we once called Russia has an old soul and many are still is clinging to this old soul in the newly named countries which no longer holds the name Russia....   The US, as it is today, is a new soul, because we (the newcommers, which started with the European impact) torn apart what was the old soul, which had been  created by the natives that stretched up and down  North America and South America.

AGRBear
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 12:48:57 PM by AGRBear »
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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #158 on: June 28, 2011, 01:19:20 PM »
I can see the image of an"old soul" in the European and Asian countries.  That makes sense.

There may have been an "old soul" in the Americas before the invasion of the Europeans, but they did shatter it and I don't think it has come back together in any form that we would recognize and, not yet anyway.

It seems to me that there are just too many differences in the people who live in the Americas to have any kind of joined or common soul.  Everyone is still pulling in different directions and unwilling to give up those differences.

I said before that what was once called a "melting pot" was long ago tipped over and the contents have spilled out to become the new "communities" that we hear about.  Communities who are forever looking for confirmation of their right to be different.  I think that has a detrimental effect on a common soul.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 02:13:40 PM by Alixz »

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #159 on: June 28, 2011, 01:34:25 PM »
I asked my Russian buddy what he thought  "Russian soul" meant to him. He took a long time to think about it, but when it came to his answer, he said "guarded, a bit suspicious.  But generous and helpful  towards one's mates [he was in the military and police so I think that meant comrades in work and friendship]. I know, towards me he is very generous and helpful and I am not Russian. He is also very protective. So I take him as an example of "Russian soul".
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #160 on: August 04, 2011, 09:52:51 AM »
I think the Russian soul, if ever in fact it existed (and that's highly debatable) is now officially dead. I've been subjected to several weeks of cheesy Russian music videos (on Russian Music Box and some other dreadful channel) and I can honestly say, I now understand completely why great Russian writers have for centuries been obsessed -- yes, obsessed, it's the only word one can use in this instance -- with the concept of "poshlust'" -- which is a difficult term to translate from Russian into English, but basically means, cheesiness, over-the-top sentimentality, bathos (as opposed to pathos), and kitsch. I mean, okay, maybe this is the "Russian soul"... Vera Brezhneva (the breakaway "talent" from the hit girls group Viagra) breathing multicultural lyrics while dancing around half-naked in Thailand or some other "developing nation" with cute little brown children. Most of the videos are far worse than this. They feature white Russian guys trying to be inner-city African American guys, rapping away in Russian even as they sit around the table and drink tea out of glasses... pathetic.

One of the basic problems with Russian rap "artistes" is that the Russian language is simply not suited to rap. It's too soft and musical a language, arguably too feminine, and when used as rap it's completely laughable. Languages like English and German, which are harsher-sounding, more guttural, are infinitely better in this context.

Although that's the other fave of these awful Russian pop "artistes," the artful ballad. With violins and aching chords and sappy sentimental lyrics (unfortunately, ideally suited to the Russian language). One song is indistinguishable from the other, except for the women's breasts and other consumer goods on display.

At any rate, judging from these videos, the "Russian soul" is currently addicted, to an even far greater degree than the average American consumer (and that's saying a lot) to material goods -- cars, real estate, bling -- and of course the inevitable scantily clad, writhing "chiksy" (chicks).
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 09:59:22 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #161 on: August 07, 2011, 05:23:54 AM »
This is a link to a music video by Russia's most famous rapper, Timati (Timothy in English). I think it's a very catchy tune and also quite funny for three reasons: 1) it shows how desperately little white Russian guys want to be big African American rappers; 2) the sexual component is actually pretty innocent here, in that most sexual energies seem to be directed at the boats and cars, which consequently are far more important than the "chiksy" and 3) Timati is in fact the son of a Russian millionaire and there's no question but that his father hired all the boats and cars for this video, so much for making one's own mark on the world. For that matter, so much for buying one's own bling!

Here's the link on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhC6g_KVfG0
... I love my poor earth
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Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #162 on: August 08, 2011, 01:20:41 PM »
Elisabeth, it's scary how well you've nailed this aspect of Russian popular culture (and more), with its implicit lack of a distinct Russian soul. (soullessness?). I think Russia indeed had a soul pre-Revolution consisting of, among other things, sentimentality, stoicism, insecurity, etc. But at the risk of making 'the big statement', I think that soul was lost over seventy years of, well, soul-deadening communism. This is not easy to do, since this,'soul', however characterised, would have been formed by a huge population over a period of a millenium. Still, just as an individual may be said to have lost his soul, I think Russia did.

 But your observations wonderfully confirmed what I have been thinking for years about Russia , not only in terms of culture, but in many other spheres of life as well, namely that Russia doesn't import well. The attempt at importing the French/European Enlightenment was a failure. Likewise , and disastrously, with German Marxism. Likewise now with Western capitalism. And for a long time now I have been cringing at Russian efforts to capture popular American culture. From early 20th century American jazz, Argentinian tango, original American 50's rock and roll (with Elvis wannabes that made you want to laugh and cry at the same time), through Madonna and Lady Gaga wannabes to present day black rappers. Even allowing for the considerable difficulty of effectively capturing the spirit of an original artist (let alone a foreign one), Russians somehow always seem to latch on to the superficial features of a foreign culture and the result is inevitably cringeworthy.


I think the prevalence of "poshlust", (though cheesiness, kitsch, and bathos are pretty accurate, too) represents a desperate attempt to fill at least a part of the void left, not only most recently by the fall of communism, but even more so,  by the loss of much of the preexisting  Russian 'soul', i.e. predating communism. Could we say now that blingy and 'chiksy'-filled tv and videos are the opiate of the masses?(even of some of the American masses?)
Rodney G.

Offline Petr

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #163 on: August 08, 2011, 02:46:53 PM »
I think people are overlooking the resurgence of the Orthodox Church.  What in Soviet times was the province of little old ladies ("Babushky") is now increasingly becoming a part of the lives of individuals seeking a spiritual meaning in their lives and young families who want to rear children in the faith. The Church has been ingrained in the Russian soul for over a thousand years and despite all teh efforts of the communists to extirpate it it has survived. I have been impressed with the number of churches that have been or are in the process of being restored after years of neglect or worse (and I'm not only talking about the major churches such as, recently, the Monastery of New Jerusalem, but also small village churches). Further, there has also been a resurgence in the Monastic movement which has always been an integral part of Russian life and culture. What was originally a politcal decision on the government's  part (i.e., seeking the Church's support) has now been surpassed by what appears to be a self-sustaining movement with popular support "back to the future".  In this develoment, hopefully, the Russian people will truly recapture their "soul".

There is an interesting congruity to note here between the efforts of Pope Benedict to combat the materialistic and secular culture of Western Europe and the Orthodox Church's unwaivering adherence to traditional Nicean principles. This has accounted for encouraging efforts by the Pope (following the efforts of his predecessor John Paul II) to open a dialogue with the Orthodox Church in which lately Metropolitain Hilarion (the Russian Church's head of its external affairs department) has participated with Patriarch Kyrill's blessing and such things as the prior good faith gesture of returning an original  copy of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan (Казанская Богоматерь) to Russia in 2004. Perhaps we will finally see in our lifetimes  "the union of all in one holy apostolic church" and a reversal of the Great Schism of 1054.

Petr                       
Rumpo non plecto

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #164 on: August 12, 2011, 01:12:35 AM »
Elisabeth, it's scary how well you've nailed this aspect of Russian popular culture (and more), with its implicit lack of a distinct Russian soul. (soullessness?). I think Russia indeed had a soul pre-Revolution consisting of, among other things, sentimentality, stoicism, insecurity, etc. But at the risk of making 'the big statement', I think that soul was lost over seventy years of, well, soul-deadening communism. This is not easy to do, since this,'soul', however characterised, would have been formed by a huge population over a period of a millenium. Still, just as an individual may be said to have lost his soul, I think Russia did.

 But your observations wonderfully confirmed what I have been thinking for years about Russia , not only in terms of culture, but in many other spheres of life as well, namely that Russia doesn't import well. The attempt at importing the French/European Enlightenment was a failure. Likewise , and disastrously, with German Marxism. Likewise now with Western capitalism. And for a long time now I have been cringing at Russian efforts to capture popular American culture. From early 20th century American jazz, Argentinian tango, original American 50's rock and roll (with Elvis wannabes that made you want to laugh and cry at the same time), through Madonna and Lady Gaga wannabes to present day black rappers. Even allowing for the considerable difficulty of effectively capturing the spirit of an original artist (let alone a foreign one), Russians somehow always seem to latch on to the superficial features of a foreign culture and the result is inevitably cringeworthy.


I think the prevalence of "poshlust", (though cheesiness, kitsch, and bathos are pretty accurate, too) represents a desperate attempt to fill at least a part of the void left, not only most recently by the fall of communism, but even more so,  by the loss of much of the preexisting  Russian 'soul', i.e. predating communism. Could we say now that blingy and 'chiksy'-filled tv and videos are the opiate of the masses?(even of some of the American masses?)

Dear Rodney, you took the words right out of my mouth I guess. I did sense a complete moral degradation in Russia when I visited Moscow and St. Petersburg twenty years ago, in the summer of 1991. The overwhelming sensation was one of complete disarray, not only economically speaking but also spiritually, as if 70 odd years of communism had left the country with nothing much in the way of a moral compass. As if in fact it had destroyed that great nation's moral compass entirely.

Many people who come back from Russia now, 2 decades later, in 2011, say the same thing, that it is a nation given over entirely to hedonism and conspicuous consumption on the part of its wealthier denizens. However, I don't want to give the impression that I am completely negative about Russia or its future. My own feeling is, that this people -- the Russians -- are a very talented and endlessly resourceful people. They survived the twentieth century, for God's sake, and came up fighting for air and freedom. My guess is that they will emerge from the 21st century stronger than ever, and despite all the obstacles that their government (as usual) puts in their way.

Lolita Miliavskaia is a nice exception to the current reign of "poshlust'" (the actual proper transliteration of this word is "poshlost'", but Nabokov transliterated it as "poshlust'" to emphasize its sordidness) in Russian popular culture. See her latest summer 2011 video, deliberately filmed very much in the style of the 1920s. The song is entitled "Otvali" ("Get Lost"). Here's the link on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIqgk-TEAF8&feature=topics

Unfortunately the You Tube version is not the official version that I saw in Eastern Europe this summer, the lips don't match the lyrics. Nevertheless, I think it remains a wonderful video as well as a wonderful song. It's completely modern and completely Russian at the same time. Decadent, maybe, but not wallowing in it, in fact taking it all with a sense of humor (yes, that's Lolita in drag). And it owes next to nothing to Western influences, except to the extent that we're all influenced by each other, all the time, in popular culture.

Okay, yes, maybe it's decadent, but it's heartfelt and real at the same time. Also aesthetically pleasing to hear and look at.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2011, 01:20:18 AM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam