What National Psyche Is

24/04/2011 § Leave a comment

“We will explore the “mental software” which influences the everyday behavior of the average Russian.” – school of Russian and Asian Studies

Im unsure whether to categorise this into poetry or something else.

Its a description of a very interesting course offered to English speaking students studying Russia.

“This practical course is intended to produce future businessmen, diplomats, historians, professors, and other professionals skilled at overcoming cultural differences and culture shock. To achieve this, the arts are used as a starting point to facilitate cross-cultural communication through a better understanding of local culture, beliefs, and mentality. We will explore the “mental software” which influences the everyday behavior of the average Russian.

This course invites students to think critically about a range of issues that affect everything from diplomacy to daily life. We will explore the Russians’ use of patronymics and other ways of addressing people. We will discuss the role of the smile in Russian culture. We will learn why so many Russians believe that corruption is a permanent fixture of their society and why a “good tsar” is best to lead their country. We will understand better the role of language, religion, and history in modern Russia.”

Educational Texts: The Russians by Hendrick Smith; Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russiaby Orlando Figes; and The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich (The Squabble)by Nikolai Gogol.
As well as: Lefty by Nikolai Leskov; The Bronze Horseman by Alexander Pushkin; The Twelve, by Alexander Blok; and Heart of a Dog, by Mikhail Bulgakov.



The Trip Series: In Flight

31/01/2011 § Leave a comment

Last page of Aeroflot magazine.

click to enlarge and read

Russia's national airline publishing mistakes mid air...

Being Frank and Open

14/07/2010 § Leave a comment

I found myself absolutely captivated by this interview.

Because of how open and positively retrospective Barbara Want is. She doesn’t make it easy, she talks about how angry it made her that people would just say “if there’s anything I can do let me know”, unapologetically informing the world that that wasn’t good enough. She discloses things she had felt she had to keep very secrete in the past, such as having made a list of people she wished death upon because she thought they had behaved badly following her husband’s death. She lets us in to view her raw, hardly censored (- and this is very important, I think) emotional opinions and with that thrown into question what we think we are as human beings. To some degree it is self-sacrificial. Maybe its going a little bit far but to me when raw emotions are offered up to be inspected in such a way they are being surrendered as hugely valuable case studies to psychology, sociology and even philosophy.

Here is a transcribed taster from the interview:

Do you think your anger that you say you felt, to some degree simply exaggerated your personality, that you were quite an angry person and this just brought it out? the presenter asks.

“I think, um, I think that’s a fair question. I think I am probably the kind of person why wears her emotions on her sleeves, I don’t take things lying down, I’ve always been driven to do things, I’ve been a journalist all my life and at times as a journalist anger at injustice has driven me to write stories and to pursue stories. So maybe I was an angry person anyway… um, its interesting that you ask that because again I think, again, that anger is such an ugly emotion that I think looking back over the last three years and seeing my anger and maybe recognising that there had been anger in my life before. I think it is an emotion we perhaps could do with understanding better because it is very motivating, its what drives as human beings, its what motivates us.”

Listen to the program “The Interview” from BBC Worldservice.

Books to collect

04/07/2010 § Leave a comment

by Svetlana Boym

– fantastic, has already seeped into the glossary definitions on the site.

by Michael Hanne

NON-PLACES: introduction to anthropology of supermodernity
by Marc Auge


by Kapka Kassabova

click here to play an audio file of poem: “My Life in Two Parts” HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


26/12/2009 § Leave a comment

Laleh Khadivi’s family fled Iran after the Islamic Revolution, finally settling in the US. Her debut novel The Age of Orphans tells the story of a dispossessed Kurdish boy growing up in recently established Iran under the Shahs. She tells Harriett Gilbert how the book is loosely based on her family history and how she felt compelled to write about a nation of 40 million people who have no country.

Interview played on BBC World Service on the Dec 9 2009


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