Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears

“Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears” left me with mixed emotions. In this movie, we see the different lives of three women, all friends. Antonina is the least interesting character, but also appears to be the happiest in her life. She marries Nikolai, who is unextraordinary, but is kind. They have a few children and both continue working in a factory. Antonina certainly fits the role of the Soviet Woman, unassuming and hardworking, both in and out of the home.

On the other hand, we have Lyudmila and Katarina, who both rebel against the roles assigned to them, albeit in different ways. Lyudmila is obsessed with landing rich husband, someone who will lift her out of her meager existence and into a glamorous life. However, this does end well for her, as her big ticket, a famous hockey player, eventually drinks all their money away and she divorces him. She works in a laundry, still convinced she will somehow meet the “right” man.

Katarina, our main character, also does not fit into the stereotypical image of a housewife. In her youth, she studied to enter an institute to become a chemical engineer, but failed the exam. She hoped to re-take the exam, but her pregnancy puts off those plans for good. However, she highly capable and works up through the ranks of a factory, even as a single mother, eventually becoming director.

On the surface, this movie is about women, but it is really about the relation of women to men. All three main characters are defined by their relations with the men in their lives. However, I found the movie’s message unclear. Our main character, Katarina, does eventually find happiness, in a man she says she waited all her life for. This is a man who left her once he realized that her economic status was higher than his, although he does return. A man who expected to be the unquestionable head of the household, even prior to their marriage. On the other hand, he does seem to genuinely love her and he does adhere to a moral code, although I might not agree him on everything. Such consistency seems hard to find in any of the men we see in the film, Antonina’s husband excluded.

Although I have mixed feelings about the film’s message, one thing that was loud and clear was the unhappiness of the women of Moscow.

Igor Stravinsky: Firebird

While every piece at the Friday night concert was extremely well done, none stood out more than the Stravinsky piece called Firebird. It was significantly different than classical music of the past. There was so much emotion and drama in this music, it was truly amazing to listen to. The church that the concert was at was the perfect setting for the music. Every note was clear and sounded throughout the entire hall. Stravinsky effortlessly broke from classical music and put his own personal twist into the music. Its no wonder that Stravinsky was so successful, and why this piece, when it was first introduced, was so popular.

The piece opened quietly, with a single eerie melody and a tremelo from the violins in the background. This create a very haunting, almost sad tone at the beginning of the piece. The tremelos creating a very interesting harmony throughout the first section of the score. I really loved how the horn came in again midway through with a quiet melody. With the entrance of the harp and flutes into the ensemble, the whole sound created was truly awe-inspiring, there was a sense of wonder emitted through this piece.

Eventually, the entire orchestra was added in, and the music turned very majestic and grand. There would be alternates between the quiet tremelo to loud, booming melodies led by the horns and violins. Eventually, the beat slowed significantly, with each note being clearly emphasized. At the end, the whole piece climaxed with the cymbals at the end. The whole ending was very majestic.

The Firebird

Last night I went to the First Evangelical Lutheran Church to listen to the Dickinson Orchestra perform several pieces including Stravinsky’s, The Firebird. I went into this performance quite unsure as I know little about classical music and generally have trouble reading into it they way others might, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and was able to hear the variations in the music as the story progressed.

One thing in particular that I noticed was that this piece seemed to follow the Russian guidelines on classical music where one instrument takes precedent over the others. This is a very new concept to me as the only classical music I have ever listened to was of Western origin, such as Bach or Beethoven. These pieces focus on harmony among the instruments in order to bring about one cohesive sound. The Firebird, on the other hand, flips this around and routinely has one instrument or one type of instrument come forward and have its sound heard over the others.

Another part of this piece that I particularly liked was that I could hear where the story of the ballet changed in the music. In spite of my family continually trying to get me to hear it, I have never been able to distinguish between different parts and pieces of classical music. However, for whatever reason, this piece was much easier for me to listen to and understand.

Despite my typical dislike of classical music, this piece captured my attention throughout its performance. Unlike the classical music of the west, I felt that this piece had significantly more enthusiasm and excitement in it as it continually changed tempos and focused on multiple instrument groups, rather than blending them all together.

Trout Gallery

Throughout these past few weeks I have inquired more knowledge about the Trout Gallery that I had ever intended to do.  Most of my research has been with the help of Professor Earenfight, the current director of the Trout Gallery.  He has helped me enormously by giving me material that is relevant to my research.

When I initially started my research on the Trout Gallery I had countless questions that I wanted to explore and find the answers to.  A lot of my questions were basic questions that could be answered by reading information on the Gallery itself through the website.  I never thought to explore the questions as to why specific things happened and why the Trout Gallery for example, never established a set of guidelines when selecting donations until now.  As I met with Professor Earenfight, he was able to answer a lot of the basic questions for me, so now I need to focus more on the questions as to why these things occurred.

Finding time to do my research has been one of the challenges I gave come across.  Although there are not a ton of documents I need to spend hours reading through, I do have four other classes and homework that has been piling up since it is the end of the semester.  I try to find as much time as possible researching and writing my research paper but at times it is difficult.

Another challenge that I have come across is the insufficient amount of documents.  Because the Trout Gallery is currently in the process of establishing a mission statement and general guidelines, I do not have a lot of historical documents.  With that being said, I have to rely a lot on information Professor Earenfight is presenting me through meetings and interviews which may or may not be biased because I do not have another point of view.  I was thinking that interviewing the previous directors of the Trout Gallery may be helpful in finding answers to my ‘why’ questions.

U-S Russia Relations

In her lecture last night, Angela Stent brought up many points about the necessity of perspective in diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States that I think are really important when thinking about where they will go in the future. The United States has a hard time understanding others’ points of view, and calling this “empathy deficit disorder” is a clever way of getting to the center of the problem, or at least what other countries think is America’s problem when conducting foreign policy. In order for Russia to come to the table, the United States must find a way to realistically balance an emphasis on sharing our national values with realpolitik, so that we do not scare them off with too much of either.

I agree with her about how Russia’s view of how a state should act is much more conservative. Emphasizing sovereignty in the classical definition, where Russia maintains a status quo position in world politics, is an understandable strategy given post-soviet transitional instability. I think that by misunderstanding this, the United States is almost unfairly making Russia out to be the bad guy more than they should be (though sometimes this is perfectly called for), because we think that Russia should be playing a similar interventionist role as the United States in the affairs of other countries.

Dr. Stent managed to present a lot of information in a very short period of time, and I appreciated that she was able to do so from both the Russian and the American points of view.

Stent Response

Last night, Angela Stent came to speak at Dickinson. The discussion encompassed a range of post-Soviet Union politics in relation to the United States. One of the points she made that I found most interesting was (in her words) that “Russia does not really have any allies.” Our class has covered an enormous amount of historical material on Russia at this point, but we have yet to discuss the last two decades in any kind of detail. As this is the first time I have learned about Russia in an academic context, I was surprised to hear Stent make that statement. However, it is certainly not shocking. We have noted in class that in many different contexts, Russia spent a lot of time focusing on itself and believing in it’s own potential without the help of outside countries. Not only is this mentality true for politics, but it’s true for artistic movements as well.

Since the turn of the 20th century, Russia has been internalizing its methods and negating foreign relations (unless we consider taking new territory to be proper foreign policy). Stent also pointed out that Russia does not believe in meddling with other countries politics as the United States so frequently does. Is it truly necessary for Russia to become more social? I would argue that it is, but the issue of self-improvement is still Russia’s largest problem in many ways. Can self-improvement exist without more friendly global politics? This seems to me to be another idealized notion of Russian culture that will hold the country back until new policies are taken.

Do The Eagle and The Bear Really Get Along?

At the Clark Forum that I attended tonight there was a lot more cooperation between the U.S. and Russia then I previously thought.  Still, their progress and relationship is limited and in the developmental stages.

Putin has now agreed to meet with President Obama twice this year.  This will be a limited partnership with Russia. Like most European countries the U.S. has no plans to become their ally.  The Russian – U.S. relationship has been a steep and slippery slope since the down fall of the Soviet Union, but both sides have wanted to resolve the situation as much as possible and are disappointed it has not come to fruition.  This relationship has many dimensions and for the U.S. has importance due to Russia’s size, geography, nuclear arsenal, and its permanent seat on the UN Security Council.  In many ways then I previously thought, the U.S. and Russia share common goals.  We together would like to counter terrorism and and face the new and controversial arctic pass along with some global warming initiatives.  The U.S. and Russia’s splinter relationship can hopefully be glued to fit the needs of both countries so as to create the best correspondence possible.

Even with that said, the U.S. and Russia still have some points of disagrement that may prove to haze over things.  The state behavior of the U.S. to Russia is almost appalling because of Russia’s view of classical sovereignty.  They believe sovereignty means not interfering with other regime changes.

The ties between Russia and America can be mended but with time a patience.  The U.S can not expect everting at once and must be realistic and focus on common interests and values that both countries share.



Russian/United States Relations

Tonight we attended a lecture on Russia and United States relations since the fall of the Soviet Union, given by Georgetown professor, Angela Stent. The lecture summed up many of the policies that have been put into place by the United States and Russia in regards to one another and how these policies may have either solidified or damaged a potential friendship between the two nations.

Professor Stent started off her talk with a question that many people have asked me when told that I planned on becoming a Russian major. Why is Russia still important if we no longer need to worry about the Soviet Union and communism? Stent responded to this by bringing the point forward that Russia still has the potential to drastically affect our lives without us even realizing it as they not only have a permanent seat on the UN security council, but they also have one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

As her lecture went on Stent continued to talk about various policies that Russia has put forward, but most importantly in my mind, she talked about the Russian views on these policies and how their point of view is completely different from an American’s. Of everything in her lecture I think that this idea of a differing opinion was one of the most important things that was brought up. For the most part, people (especially Americans), don’t really consider how another side feels about a particular issue and are quick to judge or condemn an action because of this lack of knowledge. I think that by putting the Russian point of view in higher importance that the American perspective, Stent was able to explain why relations between our countries have been strained and why they may talk a long time to get better. Without doing this, I very much believe that she would have been unable to get her point across as effectively.

US-Russian relations

Dr. Angela Stendt’s lecture on the prospects of US-Russian relations during the second Obama term presented valuable viewpoints on an important contemporary issue. To me, one of the most interesting aspects of her presentation was her discussion of Russian respect for state sovereignty.

                Since the 19th century, the US has built an image as the policeman of the world. US intervention in foreign affairs is a contentious yet recurring issue, and often begs the question of whether or not one nation has the right to interfere in the actions of a legitimate sovereign state. According to Stendt, Russia has maintained a non-interventionist policy since the fall of the Soviet Union, as Putin believes in the importance of classical definitions of sovereignty. This concept came back to me when Stendt discussed the claim that the reason for terse US-Russian relations is that the US has not had enough empathy for the hardships that Russia has faced in the past two decades. It occurred to me that Russia’s non-interventionist policy may be a result of its desire to focus first and foremost on itself. Many Americans see Russia as a powerful, wealthy, and even potentially dangerous country. You can debate for ages about whether or not US interventions have accomplished more harm than good, but I wonder whether their policies of non-interference can make them less dangerous than a nation such as the US that tries to act as a global police force.

                Tonight’s lecture also confirmed my belief going in that I am woefully ignorant of global politics. I thought Stendt’s presentation was an accessible and well-organized primer for those who wanted to learn more about US relations with Russia, and as we move forward in our study of Russian history I look forward to contextualizing many of the details of tonight’s talk.

Russian Civil Liberties and Social Uncertainty

I thought that Angela Stent’s brief mention of the reaction to Putin’s reset in her US-Russian relations talk this evening was interesting because of the contradiction set up between class and civil rights.  She said that the urban middle class believed that the Duma election was rigged and that they had no say in the matter.  She then went on to say that the thing the US has the most in common with Russia is a concern for civil rights.  While the demonstrations exhibited by the middle class seemed to be similar to those found in the US before and after elections, it seemed interesting that on a national and international scale that Russia would politically disregard an entire influential sector of the population, which does not seem to be in line with the pursuance of a policy of civil rights.  I think it can also be widely agreed that demonizing the US in response to the elite’s protest was definitely not the right solution, although it can be likened to our own Red Scare of years past.

This made me think of the relatively unsuccessful quests of activism we have studied in this class and references a history when demonstrations were the only means of participation in a political party under the Tsar.  From this incident and Stent’s answer to the democracy question, it seems clear that Russia’s government is unable to leave behind a past of power leaders with little respect for the people over which they rule.  In the absence of democracy, authoritarian leadership certainly provides for the social certainty she said was wanted by the Russian people, but only because there can be no choice but to be certain of one’s station when the government ignores the ideas of its people.