Field Notes, Summer of 2017 in Siberia

During this summer I spent as much time as it was possible in Siberia. I brought notes from there, that I now offer to your attention. I hope to work on the photographs that I took; some of my best shots were taken there this year.

Without further ado, Stenography of the Itinerary on the Academia.edu.

“Suddenly (and I have to fly tomorrow) I am not excited to go to “the field,” which is also “home.” The distance is never a stable measure. The distance grows. With time, it deepens. I am clinging to things: a kerchief that I have not been wearing for months, I definitely need to take it with me. All the colorful pens. All these books I have not finished. The pages of handwriting I did not have time to type; I am spending the last day before the departure trying to determine what I might be missing the next day. A futile wonder. I will miss nothing in particular and everything at once, but I probably will also be too occupied with what immediately arises in my sight to ponder over anything that I have left.

My phone is suddenly broken, of all things–my phone, which prosthetic qualities are never as evident as they are now, when it is not “here,” out of order. I suspect that I inhabit the screen: Evernote, messengers, colorful icons of familiar apps–icons and anchors of familiarity itself. To go without the phone, a false body member, is to be derived of the instrument, of techne, of the possibility of art, which is only available through technology. To have a new phone on the eve of flying from one country of another is more like changing planets. Now I will have to spend at least two hours and likely more recalling all the passwords that open myself to myself.

Derrida doubtlessly did not anticipate the development of technology which by a peculiar twist favors writing–for the first time in human history writing seems ubiquitous, everyone is writing, it is not going to last long, I think, when the advance of video will take over. Derrida issues old-fashionable laments on the death of love letters (as a genre) that he predicts tirelessly in his own love letters–little did he know. He would have been thrilled by sexting.

Itineraries deprive one of that little sense of home which one might possibly have after having moved from one hemisphere to the other. Every travel is a little bit of death, death foreshadowed, half-disclosed, hinted, promised–a rehearsal of how you’ll leave everything at once on a certain day to come. The inevitability of it is monotonous: it is not the event itself but the inescapability of it which is gruesome. To think about all the orphaned objects you will leave, and of the facelessness, the indiscernibility of these objects.”

~

read the rest here: https://www.academia.edu/34156517/Stenography_of_the_Itinerary

Pink Girlhood (Stenography of the Itinerary 83)

Connection between the mother and the daughter is a special connection, full of warmth, hope, and care. In the pink room that Catherina created for her daughter with a rare, mellifluent name Evelina, all dreams should come true. Fairies, unicorns, barbies, princesses, and all the inhabitants of the world of wonder, world of fairy tales, would witness the growth and development of the happy Evelina’s life.

The girlhood. The desire that the happiness would come true, is so pronounced.

The soft light envelopes the tiny figure on a toy horse. And it seems like all the pink shine in the pink room emanates from this source of light.


The pictures are taken by the author in the village of Anosovo, Siberia

Anthropology of the Everydayness in the Izmaylovo Gallery in Moscow, 03/26/2017

http://vasilinaorlova.tumblr.com/post/162236811220/anthropology-of-the-everydayness-talk-at-izmaylovo – photos

https://www.academia.edu/33676442/Антропология_повседневности – text (in Russian)

“Aнтропология повседневности” – текст выступления в галерее “Измайлово” в Москве 23 июня 2017 года. О методах антропологической работы, автоэтнографии и о субъективности антропологического знания, не означающей, впрочем, произвольности. Об использовании поэзии как научного метода.

In this talk on autoethnography, anthropological methods, and subjectivity of anthropological knowledge (which does not mean arbitrariness), in Moscow on the 23rd of June, 2017, I am mentioning Courtney Morris, Chelsi West Ohueri, and S.C.

Thank you for your all-defeating radiance.

Robots Between the Past and the Future

Сегодня на 12-ом Конгрессе антропологов и этнологов России, проводимом в Ижевске 3-6 июля, был прочитан мой доклад “Робот: фигура будущего или ностальгический объект?” Читала его Elena Sokolova. Спасибо ей за это, а организатору, Sergey Sokolovskiy, – за приглашение участвовать.

Today at the XII Congress of Anthropologists and Ethnologists of Russia in Izhevsk, conducted in the 3-6 of July, my presentation
was delivered. It is titled “Robot: a Figure of the Future or Nostalgic Object?” It was read by Elena Sokolova. I am grateful to her, and to the organizer Sergey Sokolovskiy for the invitation.

Summoning

Summoning Ghosts: Mutant Sensibilities and the Politics of Haunting

I am going to devote this writing to claiming the existence of instances and procedures of summoning. People summon certain discourses in order to establish the narrative of everydayness. I offer this term, summoning, as defining the evocation, mobilization, or materialization of the past. Different actors conduct such evocations with a goal, whether conscious or not, of influencing the present and changing the delineation of the future. For instance, the state summons a “glorious past” to create a sense and feel of national unity at the face of some threat, oftentimes fictional. An example of such threat might serve a foreign influence which seeks to corrupt Russia through imposing the politics of acceptance of “homosexual body” (Somerville, 1994). An ethnographic center of this essay will be a case of “mutant sensibilities” in Bratsk, to which we will arrive shortly. This episode will be analyzed in connection to a sci-fi novelette by Ivan Yefremov “Nur-i-Desht Observatory,” first published in 1944 in the Noviy Mir literary journal and then republished several times; it was also translated. In this short story, a group of scientists, including an archeologist, a geologist, and a “professor,” are working on the remnants of an ancient observatory. There, people feel an unusual rise of energy in them; the ruins make them happy. Soon they find an explanation for their joy. Radium used in the details of ornamentations is what impacts the organisms in a positive manner and makes humans feel good. At the time, it was unclear whether the influence of radiation on humans is positive or negative. These “mutant sensibilities” summoned suddenly in 2017, are the examples of the use of a certain narrative that people create and uphold, for them to work around the pollution of the atmosphere. The literary story functions as an example and a counterpoint, providing a historical context to this particular way of summoning.

Susan Sontag

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York, 1999.

Susan Sontag foresees ruins as the result of actions and as the ultimate result of everything pictured by photography. “Many buildings, and not only Parthenon, probably look better as ruins.” Photographs themselves are mementos of what is passing, and thus the representation of debris of a disappeared moment.

Urbicide

Penski, Max. Three Kinds of Ruin: Heidegger, Benjamin, Sebald. Poligrafi, 2011.

Max Pensky analyzes “urbicide” of the European cities in the Second World War and the way urbicide was reflected in thinking of three key successive cultural figures: Heidegger, Benjamin, and Sebald. For Heidegger, it is a project of “re-pastoralization of Germany’s shattered cities,” Benjamin wrests “the power of the image of the ruin from the experience of the big city,” and Sebald seeks “to recuperate a discourse of the ruin as site of moral catechism.”

Austerlitz

Sebald, W.G. Austerlitz, London: Hamish Hamilton. 2001

In Sebald’s novel which verges on the border of fiction and nonfiction, the person named Austerlitz appears and reappears in connection to a desperate attempt to grasp the meaning of German concentration camps as perceived by relatives of victims. For Sebald, ruins are allegory of being. From fascination with abandonment and depopulated landscape to mental reconstruction of the stories based on their subtle traces, Sebald is engrossed with the idea of ruination in its historic and mnemonic dimensions.

Teaching Dreams

I’d love to teach a course on gender and sexuality leaning towards researching and questioning BDSM practices because they, in their turn, are exploring questions of power, violence, and gendered expectations. If I ever have such an opportunity, in this course I’d prompt students to read classical texts, such as Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and Butler’s Gender Trouble; ethnographic or historic accounts, like Chauncey’s Gay New York and Kulick’s Travesti, and some non-nonfictional literature too–memoirs, old and recent, written mainly by women, exploring their sexuality through writing.