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The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture (Anglais) Broché – 22 mai 1997

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The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture A comprehensive account of the influence of occult beliefs and doctrines on intellectual and cultural life in twentieth-century Russia. Full description

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34 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Russian and Soviet Occultism and Esoterica. 23 septembre 2003
Par New Age of Barbarism - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
_The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture_ is a compilation of essays written by various scholars on the various underground and occult aspects of Russian culture and later of the culture of the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks who created the Soviet Union did much to portray Russian culture under the Tsars as backward and the Russian peasant as illiterate and prone to superstition; however, as one sees by reading this book many individuals within the Soviet Union themselves had elaborate occult and esoteric beliefs. While the Soviet Union tried to ban writers and intellectuals and suppress all religion or "irrational" developments of the human spirit, this effort largely failed due to the very creative nature of man (so misunderstood by Marxists). Russian culture has always been influenced by surviving pagan beliefs and through the Christian tradition preserved in the Russian Orthodox Church; however, influences from freemasonry, Swedenborgianism and spiritism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Eastern religions, and other occultists such as Gurdjieff and his interpreter Ouspensky have also played an important role in shaping the occult underground culture in Russia. In addition, various German philosophical idealists such as Kant, Schelling, and Hegel came to play an important part in the development of Russian thought along with iconoclasts such as Nietzsche and romantics and anarchists. This book includes a brief introduction to the occult culture in Russian and Soviet thought and various essays, followed by a conclusion dealing with modern developments in Russian culture. Essays included are an essay on folk magic and divination among the Russian peasantry with emphasis on the survival of paganism and the role of the Russian Orthodox Church; an essay on the role of the peasant and the occult in Russian literature with reference to the authors Ivan Turgenev, Andrei Bely, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; an essay on the role of the Jewish Kabbalah in Russian occultism including reference to Christian Sophiologists including the theologians Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Florensky, and Sergei Bulgakov; an essay on the role of Satanism with emphasis on the role of Satan in the Orthodox Churches and Russian tradition as well as mention of the novels of Andrei Bely; an essay on "fashionable occultism" including reference to the Theosophical and Anthroposophical societies, spiritualism, and freemasonry; an essay on the thought of Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov; an essay on Russian cosmism which included ideas on space exploration and immortality with reference to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Biocosmist and panpsychist; an essay on technology and the role of the Soviet engineer; an essay on occult socialist realism (interestingly occult ideas based upon the Christian veneration of saints were behind the Soviet action taken in preserving Lenin's body); an essay on the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and the role of the occult and gnosticism in his thinking; an essay on Vsevolod Ivanov; an essay on Daniil Andreev famous mystic and writer who combined world religions in what he termed "The Rose of the World"; and a concluding essay on the role of occultism in politics which mentions various Russian Rightist groups including the Traditionalist thought of Aleksandr Dugin and the role of the infamous antisemitic tract, _Protocols of the Elders of Zion_. In sum, this book constitutes an enormous compendium of material on various occultists, writers and groups, as well as a useful bibliography including details about various obscure journals and rare books, and will prove invaluable to the researcher in esoteric thought. Many in America are largely ignorant of the alternative belief systems which exist among the Russians and which existed under the Soviet tyranny, and hopefully this book will prove a useful tool to alleviating that ignorance. For all those interested in alternative modes of perceiving reality and in discarded belief systems, the ideas presented in this book will prove to be a fascinating look at the deep recesses of the Russian (and Soviet) psyche.
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Other Russia 21 septembre 2014
Par Ashtar Command - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
“The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture” is a collection of scholarly articles on exactly that subject, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal (an expert on Nietzsche's influence on Russia and the Soviet Union). Like most scholarly tomes, it's a hard and somewhat boring read. The quality of the contributions vary. I read a few of them and skimmed the rest. But yes, if you are seriously interested in this rather obscure subject – at least for us outside Russia! – this volume is probably a must. If you're a more general reader, I would rather recommend Andrei Znamenski's “Red Shambhala”, which concentrates on the exciting stuff.

Occultism was popular, to the point of faddish, during Russia's so-called Silver Age, a period in Russian literature and culture which began around 1890 and ended shortly after the Bolshevik revolution. Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Freemasonry were all known in Russia. The Symbolist movement in poetry and theatre was influenced by occultism, including Satanism. Even the Futurists drew from occult sources – apparently, their obsession with cubes comes from Ouspensky! The bizarre ideas of Nikolai Fedorov (also spelled Fyodorov), a kind of messianic-salvific evolutionary materialism, inspired the Cosmists, a group of “materialists” really indebted to esoteric sources such as Theosophy. The Bolsheviks weren't unaffected. The “Nietzschean Marxist” Lunacharsky was prominent within a Bolshevik faction known as God-Builders, which also regrouped the famous writer Gorky, who wanted to abolish death and matter in favour of a purely spiritual-energetic existence.

Some aspects of the occult heritage were suppressed after the October revolution. Many Russian Anthroposophists supported (sic) the Bolshevik revolution, and even worked with Proletkult. Despite this, Anthroposophy was declared illegal. The Communist International condemned Freemasonry, Theosophical works became inaccesible and many esotericists languished in the Gulag. Others were expelled from the country by the Bolsheviks (Berdyaev and Bulgakov comes to mind). Daniel Andreev's “The Rose of the World”, a best-selling occult work during the 1990's, was originally written during the 1950's when the author was in prison for his religious views.

However, other aspects of occultism survived, often in quite subtle ways. For instance, the ideas of Gorky and others about mental telepathy and its power to cause mass hysteria or subliminally influence individuals have certain similarties to the philosophy behind Social Realism, developed by none other than Gorky himself. Soviet adulation of technology as a means to create a paradise on earth, including an obsession with space travel and the abolition of death, has obvious affinities to Federov and the Cosmists. The Lenin cult, including the bizarre mausoleum, are clearly quasi-religious. The cubic shape of the mausoleum is reminescent of Ouspensky's ideas about the Fourth Dimension, the idea of embalming a dead leader evokes ancient Egypt (the source of occult knowledge according to many such groups), and Fedorov makes another guest appearence with his ideas about science literally resurrecting the dead. Several contributors to this volume speculate about similarities between Symbolist view of language and the newspeak of the Soviet era, or between Symbolist theatre and the Moscow show trials! Note also the Stalinist paranoia about “wreckers” and “foreign agents”, and the pop superstition about our orderly existence being threatened by demons, witches and other malevolent forces (often unseen).

It's somewhere here that the analysis gets somewhat problematic. Yes, one can indeed see parallels between occultism and certain aspects of Soviet ideology and propaganda, but one may likewise point to similarities to Christianity. At bottom, Federov's “philosophy of the common task” is a quasi-Christianity shorn of its supernatural elements, even including a physical resurrection made possible through advanced technology. The idea of “deification” prominent in the Orthodox Church can be distorted by materialists claiming that *they* can deify man and make him a “god” on earth. There are propaganda paintings of Stalin where he is surrounded by a golden aura, almost like an Orthodox saint, and his portrait was born in procession, like the icons of the Orthodox Church.

But even Christianity isn't the end of it. One aspect down-played by the contributors to this volume is the similarity between Soviet worship of technology and *Western* ditto. The notion of Progress (with a capital P) has become the quasi-religion of the entire modern world. What's so special about Soviet dreams to abolish mortality, conquer space and turn men into virtual gods? Indeed, one of the contributors mentions August Comte, the founder of positivism, who also created his own humanistic religion! Comte, of course, was a French 19th century philosopher, not a Soviet propagandist... Finally, I think Arthur Versluis' work “The New Inquisitions” might be of interest to students of this material. Versluis points out that Communism and fascism have similarities to the medieval inquisitions, and that the “ideocratic meme” might be near-perennial. If so, one doesn't need to postulate a subliminal occult influence on, say, the Moscow show trials. They simply enact the same meme, which is independent from both Symbolism and Stalinism.

That being said, I nevertheless believe that “The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture” is a fine study for advanced students of The Other Russia, and therefore recommend it to the more scholarly part of your private library...

Four stars.
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Very useful book 7 juillet 2014
Par john the book guy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who studies Russian culture. The book originated in the 1991 conference "The Occult and Modern Russian and Soviet Culture" held at Fordham University (New York, USA), and as such is a collection of essays on a variety of topics. I found the most interesting essays to be "[Nikolai] Fedorov's Transformation of the Occult" (by George M. Young Jr.), "Russian Cosmism in the 1920s and Today" (by Michael Hagemeister). Students of the Silver Age would be very interested in the three essays on the occult in that period: Kristi Groberg on satanism among writers and artists of the Silver Age, Maria Carlson on "Fashionable Occultism: Spiritualism, Theosophy, Freemasonry, and Hermeticism in Fin-de-Siecle Russia," and Renata Maydell on "Anthroposophy in Russia." There is also a long and interesting essay by Mikhail Epstein on Daniil Andreev, who created his alternative religious and historical vision during the reign of Stalin.
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