Too scientific too early?

One thing that has struck me as unique about Russian history is the people’s dedication to a scientific manner of thinking even in inappropriate contexts. Somehow, even artistic venues for thought were broken down systematically with a direct objective and means of achieving said goal. To me, this is a very scientific way of thinking. Socialist Realism, for example, could be seen as something of an equation. Russians always had an end goal in mind, but the means of achieving these goals were often unfinished, sloppy or simply flawed.… Read the rest here

Power or Authority?

Something that I have been musing on since our discussion of Stalin’s cult of personality last week is the difference between power and authority and how these concepts were manifested in the beginnings of the Soviet Union.

I would define power as en essence that is projected outwards, implying a control given over the people that often results in their fear.  Authority is an essence more given from the outside, as in a ruler’s influence and their people’s subsequent respect.  … Read the rest here


On Saturday night I went to see Professor Ben Shute’s faculty recital of four works by Tchaikovsky, including the violin concerto in D major, considered to be one of the most important in this category of violin literature. During intermission, I remembered that the last time I heard Tchaikovsky played by a live orchestra was at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. A performance in Rubendall, despite its amazing transformation last year, does not quite achieve the same effect as one in the Russian state concert hall.… Read the rest here

Saturday at the Cumberland County Historical Society

Yesterday I visited the Cumberland County Historical Society on Pitt Street, across from Alibi’s. I wanted to take a look at their materials and get a general feel of the place. It’s a really neat center; the staff are amiable and accommodating and the library is clean, spacious, and full of light.

I went in with only a very vague idea of what I was looking for – sources that might tell me something about the history of the African American population in early twentieth century Carlisle.… Read the rest here

Racism: A Permanent Structure?

One key thing that I drew from watching the movie Circus was that no matter what society is represented, racial stereotypes seem to prevail. Going along with the racial oppression of the time, Circus was about an American woman who became pregnant with an African-American’s child. She flees to the Soviet Union in order to escape the persecution in the United States, yet she still fears to reveal her child.

Throughout the movie, the child is referred to in terms that are unfitting of an animal, let alone a human being.… Read the rest here

The Anti-American Russia

Today I read an article assigned by my Russian 100 professor about the recent legislation pushes against the United States by Russia.  To the Kremlin, being free of American influence is essential for the free will and sovereignty of the country. Russia now no longer wants to part of the west and no longer wants to be recognized as a prominent country in the west.  Instead it wishes to become its own entity.

In a way I see this as a relapse of the not-quiet-dead-yet Soviet ideals of the last century.  … Read the rest here

Russia Revamped

Yesterday, I was reading a copy of the New York Times when a “Special Advertising Supplement” fell out from behind the dining section. A disclaimer says that the supplement was written and sponsored by the Rossiyskaya Gazette and did not contain any reporting or editing from the staff of the Times. The supplement took the form of a short newspaper issue, but looking at the collection of articles included in this supplement, I think it is clear that its form was deceptive of its function.… Read the rest here

The Power of the Rumor

In Timothy Johnson’s introduction to Being Soviet, he talks about successful rumors. The author states, “Successful rumors… survive on the basis of ‘natural selection’. Those rumors which are credible to those who transmit them are passed on and become successful; rumors which are not credible do not survive” (Johnson, 27). When I hear the word “rumor,” I’m instantly skeptical- of the validity of the statement, and of the trustworthiness of the person relaying said rumor. In truth, I often associate the word “rumor” with “gossip.”… Read the rest here

Confronting the Past

In my class on Russian politics, we recently watched a documentary called “My Perestroika”, which documented the experiences of Russians who came of age during the era of Gorbachev, focusing on both their past and their present. Two of the people profiled are high school history teachers in Moscow. In one of the scenes, one of them teaches high school students the exact topic we were discussing; the forced collectivization of peasants. You can see the incredulous looks on the students’ faces, as he compares it to the government coming into their apartments today, taking everything, and telling them that it will become a communal dormitory.… Read the rest here

Anna Karenina film review

I tried to post this soon after seeing the film back in January, but because the wifi on the first floor Adams is useless I didn’t realize until recently that the post hadn’t gone through.

This weekend, I went with my roommate to see the most recent adaptation of Anna Karenina at the Carlisle Theater. I’ll make the disclaimer now that I’ve never read the book – I knew the plot line and general ending already, but I’ve never made good on my perennial pledge to read the novel over my summer break (the same can be said for The Illiad and Infinite Jest.).… Read the rest here