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.



A personal note

14/07/2010 § Leave a comment

So I’ve sold my car 8 days ago, still hasnt really sunken in, i still sometimes look for it parked outside my house, its a bit like relinqueshing a limb. Im working on the forever shrinking then expanding list of “final catch ups”, returning books, dvds, selling, sorting and tyding.

Somehow finding tasks that were forgotten years ago but now seem important to finish. I even finaly found time to send a parcel to the night manager of the Melbourne backpackers from a trip long-faded, to thank for a cd he send me that summer, with contact lost since, in one way it seems kind of pointless as my suitcase and bag stand ready but completely empty.

I suppose I’m filing what i regard as an era of my life away. I am embarking on the trip I’ve wanted to take since I was 10. Then, i was too young. Later, I was too mentally imbalanced from trials of the not-old-enough years. Later still, i hadn’t yet fully completed my education. 13 years later, the excuses have finally run out. Even the fear has exhausted itself (but only in the last short months).

Relisation of just how much this book from childhood has formed my character today pushes me forward, gives me hope that I might find some comfort.

Exactly 3 weeks from 11:15 tonight, I will set out on my expedition. Its an expedition because these are usually brave, well considered attempts to find some sort of truth. And this is a fact finding mission. In my case the camera is set to play the part of an objective observer (at least it is a little bit more neutral than me). I hope to make it into my ever present pet, who eats gigabytes out of my external drive – therefore it may have to be rationed.

We don’t know what we will find or what obstacles we will face – me and my pet. I spend my time trying to predict: intruding on long lost family for an impolite duration (up to 5 months), my shyness to film those who are sceptical, sound quality, and of course my (lack of) ability to face other people’s (let alone my treasured few relatives’) opinions of my nostalgia and nationality/extent of belonging.

When sorting my organiser and found a note (a sort of reminder) I made a year ago, when I was just realising that this trip was the only way forward for me. “My Vision: I had many enemies, I am following the one that I couldn’t loose.”

Thank you to all those who have offered their sincere and full hearted well wishes for this trip – there have been so very many – absolutely amazing.

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