Year XIII, Issue 11-12 (145-146)

December 2009
George G. Grabowicz. Ihor Ševčenko (1922-2009)
Dmytro Shevchuk. Postpolitical unconscious
Maria Maierchyk. Without Europe, but with Morality
Tamara Martseniuk. Fear of Difference: National Aspects of Tolerance and Homophobia
Olga Karpova. History and Orthography
Artur Bracki. The Euro­pean Context of the Ukrainian Language Question
Antonina Berezovenko. Sentimental Discourse and the Authority of the Word
Lesya Stavytska. The Discursive Field of the Ukrainian Marshrutka
Taras Liutyi. In Praise of Typos, Errors, Slips of the Tongue
Volodymyr Rychka. Under the Banner of the Igor Tale
Vadym Aristov. Ukraine in Search of "Rus"
Oleksandr Stepanenko. A Knight of the Order of Freedom
Tamara Hundorova. Ten Years with Solomia
Volodymyr Yermolenko. Tropic of Lévi-Strauss
Eleonora Solovei. Otar Chiladze: the Road to Mtatsmindu
Taras Vozniak. The Great Santa – Piotr Vail



The November-December 2009 issue of Krytyka opens with an obituary by Krytyka editor-in-chief, George G. Grabowicz, for Professor  Ihor Ševčenko, noted Byzantinist, co-founder of the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University, and member of the editorial board of Krytyka, who died on Dec. 26, 2009.

The historian and political scientist Dmytro Shevchuk of the Ostrog Academy writes on the Postpolitical unconscious in which he examines the crisis in contemporary political philosophy, sums up the arguments for and against seeing the present state of affairs as a “break with tradition” and “an end of ideology,” and postulates that the post-political moment is the one where politics is reduced to political technology and mass culture.

Two Kyiv authors, the philosopher Mykhajlo Mykhajlov and Maria Maierchyk, a specialist in gender studies, write on a subject that has been repeatedly featured in recent issues of Krytyka, i.e., the ongoing attempts to limit human rights in Ukraine under the guise of “protecting social morals.” In the first article, “Disillusioned with Reason,” Mykhailov places the role of the National Committee of Experts who have the function of defending public morality in the broader context of a general drift in Ukraine – this, despite the avowed course on integration with Europe–towards anti-modern attitudes stemming from both the communist legacy and an obscurantist ethnic nationalism. In “Without Europe, but with Morality” Maierchyk focuses on various cases of official censorship or violent responses to perceived “immorality” (such as the attacks on the Krytyka-published anthology of queer literature; cf. Krytyka 9-10, 2009) and examines the disparity between the underlying attitudes here and those that now predominate in Europe and the West. This topic is continued in “Fear of Difference: National Aspects of Tolerance and Homophobia” where the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy sociologist Tamara Martseniuk examines in detail the content and dynamics of homophobia and the way it fits into the larger frame of other phobias that plague Ukrainian society.

The first of several articles that deal with the social context of language is “History and Orthography” by the Moscow historian Olga Karpova which examines the success and failure of various reforms of Russian orthography in the course of the 20th century. In his “The Euro­pean Context of the Ukrainian Language Question” the Gdansk linguist Artur Bracki focuses on the various ways that the phenomenon of “surzhyk,” the broadly represented mix of Ukrainian and Russian, is being sanctioned and expanded. With respect to the possibility of normalizing and codifying surzhyk—as various linguists have argued—the author finds this strategy coun­terproductive in light of the present state of Ukrainian in Ukraine. Instead he proposes the introduction of firm and stable norms for Ukrainian, with a transparent lexicographic base, as well as the development of functional territorial variants. 

In her “Sentimental Discourse and the Authority of the Word,” the Kyiv sociolinguist Antonina Berezovenko looks at the interplay of the pragmatic and the emotional aspects of language in the political sphere, particularly during elections and during the Orange Revolution, and in the general practice of the Ukrainian political elite. Lesya Stavytska, also a Kyivan sociolinguist and author of several works published by Krytyka, analyzes in her “The Discursive Field of the Ukrainian Marshrutka”the various signs and notices to be found in that form of post-Soviet transportation (the private mini-bus or route taxi) and offers some psycholinguistic explanations for the bizarre fare that is to be found there. In “In Praise of Typos, Errors, Slips of the Tongue” Taras Liutyi reviews a book devoted to that subject by Mykhailo Minakov. 

In his “Under the Banner of the Igor Tale,” the Kyiv historian Volodymyr Rychka returns to the centuries-long controversy over the authenticity of the Igor Tale (the 18th century mystification still considered by many scholars and the full array of the academic and pedagogical establishments of Russia and Ukraine to be an authentic 13th century work). Vadym Aristov of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy turns in his essay “Ukraine in Search of Rus’” to the ongoing attempts to find Ukraine in historical Rus’ and the various schemata and detours of Ukrainian historiography. 

The issue concludes with several reminiscences and obituaries. In “A Knight of the Order of Freedom” Oleksandr Stepanenko writes of the Polish poet and aphorist Stanisław Jerzy Lec (1909–1966). In “Ten Years with Solomia” Tamara Hundorova writes about the literary critic, translator, intellectual, feminist and Krytyka editor Solomia Pavlychko (1958–1999). Volodymyr Yermolenko devotes his “Tropic of Lévi-Strauss”to the eminent French anthropologist who died last year at the age of one hundred. Eleonora Solovei remembers in her “Otar Chiladze: the Road to Mtatsmindu” the outstanding figure of contemporary Georgian literature. Taras Vozniak honors in “The Great Santa–Piotr Vail” the memory of his friend, the Rusian essayist and  leading reporter of Radio Liberty.

Summary of this Issue

The September-October, 2013 issue of Krytyka opens with “A Framework for the Post-Soviet Demodernization” by the Ukrainian political analyst and director of the Krytyka Institute, Mykhailo Minakov. He examines both the phenomenon of post-Soviet demodernization, particularly its use by power elites to hold on to their power, and also  the modernization discourse in Russia and Ukraine during the last 20 years.

The discussion on modernization is continued by Szabolsc Pogonyj’s “After Democratic Transition” and Volker Weichsel’s “The Outdatedness of Human Beings.” Pogonyj, Assistant Professor at the Central European University Nationalism Studies Program, and editor of BudaPost and Metazin web-magazines, analyzes the role and the balancing potential of democratic institutions in post-Communist countries, taking into account the economic challenge and the lack of favourable factors that they enjoyed two decades ago. The editor of Osteuropa magazine, Volker Weichsel, notes that all countries freed from communism were in a process of catching up on modernization, and “the aim was to make the East into an image of the West as soon as possible, largely in the matter of civil liberties and political rights, but most of all in fulfilling the wishes of the consumer.”

Both articles are based on speeches delivered at the 3rd conference “Discourses of Modernization” (October 25–27, 2013, Kyiv). The conference was organized by Res Publica Nowa magazine (Poland) in cooperation with Krytyka. Yulia Iemets-Dobronosova, a poet and philosopher, reviews the Ukrainian translations of several books by the well-known futurologist Michio Kaku, i. e., Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century; Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes; Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension; and Physics of the Future. In her review  “Toward a Stupendous Future” she examines the context of popular science as well as Kaku’s strategy for popularizing science and underscores his optimism. 

In “The “Eurasian” Orientation and its Discontents” Igor Torbakov, senior fellow at the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the Center for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University (Stockholm), challenges the notions of “Eurasia” and “Eurasian integration” as “the only game in town” for Russia. The author believes that it will be ceding ground to the rise of Russian ethnic nationalism in the long run. The essay was presented at the 13th Annual Aleksanteri Istitute’s Conference “Russia and the World,” (October 2013, Helsinki, Finland).

In his article “Gagging for God” Frederik Stjernfelt, Professor at the Centre for Semiotics at the University of Aarhus and the editor of the periodical KRITIK (Denmark), challenges the uncritical and complacent approach to multiculturalism in today’s Europe. He urges all to stand up for Enlightenment values, above all free speech and secularism.

In her “Are We Puppets in a Wired World?” Sue Halpern, a scholar and The New York Review of Books editor, gives an overview of the newest books on the history of the Internet and on the great stories of failure and victory in Silicon Valley, the high-speed journey from the Department of Defense to Wall Street and back, and the recent controversy about privacy. The article first appeared in The New York Review of Books (vol. 60, No. 17) and Krytyka presents it in Ukrainian translation as the exclusive partner of the NYRB in Ukraine.

Alexander Dmitriev of the Moscow Higher School of Economics explores the fascinating story of the intellectual paths of three prominent scholars through the 20th century: Aleksander Lappo-Danilevskii, a historian and “change agent” for Russian academia, Pitirim Sorokin, a sociologist, Russian émigré, and chairman of the American Sociological Association, and Mykhajlo Hrushevsky, the Ukrainian historian, reformer of academia and the first president of the country. In “History, Sociology, and a “National Science” – To-Be,” modernization and westernization are again at center focus. Annual Free Speech Partnership In “Ukrainian Soviet Kitsch, Veriovka Style” the Ukrainian musicologist Olesya Naydiuk examines the Soviet phenomenon of the famous Ukrainian Hryhory Veriovka chorus and its unique blend of pseudo-folklore and kitsch. In her article “A Collective Body of Chinese Culture” Olga Kyrylova, Ukrainian cultural studies scholar and a Ph.D. Candidate at Herzen State Pedagogical University (Saint Petersburg, Russia), explores the collective corporeality of contemporary Chinese art, as determined by political and ethical factors, and the conflicts between private and corporate, and individuality and the collective. 

Martin Scorsese, a highly regarded film director, writes on the power of cinema, his early fascination with it, and addresses the questions “What was it about cinema? What was so special about it?” His article, “The Persisting Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema,” first appeared in The New York Review of Books (vol. 60, No. 13) and Krytyka presents it in Ukrainian translation as the exclusive partner of the NYRB in Ukraine. Oleksandr Bojchenko, a Ukrainian literary critic and essayist, the senior editor for Krytyka’s “Critical solutions” web-project, explains “Why Grabowicz?” His article is a small fragment of Bojchenko’s intellectual biography in late 1990s, the time when he had first read the works of George G. Grabowicz, editor-in-chief of Krytyka. Bojchenko reflects on the scholar’s impact not only on his personal perception of Shevchenko’s poetry, but also on Ukrainian literary studies as a whole. The issue concludes with “A University Inside Out: Notes from the Expedition,” a collection of short stories on the odd, sometimes absurd reality of post-Soviet Ukrainian universities by Ukrainian author Olha Demianenko (a pseudonym).

The  issue opens with an article by Julia Ioffe who examines the nature of the Russian fear of change.

Simon Heffer, the author, presents an overview of the historiography on the First World War in Britain, which began as soon as the war did. Heffer also explains why the subject is considerably more complicated than it seems. 

In the journal version of the lecture "Historians as Public Intellectuals: The Case of Post-Soviet Ukraine," Ukrainian historian Volodymyr Sklokin examines what constitutes a public intellectual, what is the difference between "intellectuals" and the "intelligentsia," and how these concepts have been transformed in post-Soviet Ukraine - with a special focus on Ukrainian historians.

In her "In Defense of Narcissism," Vivian Gornick reviews Elizabeth Lunbeck's book "The Americanization of Narcissism." She praises Lunbeck for her criticism of the "Culture of Narcissism," a book by Christopher Lasch (1978), and of the negative application of the concept of narcissism. (English version published in Boston Review.)
George Scialabba argues against this criticism of Lasch's book in his "The Weak Self: Christopher Lasch on Narcissism." His main point is that both Gornick and Lunbeck are mistaken about "Lasch's views on the 'underlying character structure' of late twentieth-century America."

Olha Kyrylova, a Ukrainian cultural studies scholar, shares her impressions of the 2014 summer art season in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, various theater premiers, and the Moscow International Film Festival in particular. She examines the transformation of public speech, including that on stage, which results from the toxic political situation in Russia.

Freeman Dyson, a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a writer, and former US government advisor, reviews Graham Farmelo's book "Churchill's Bomb: How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race." In his essay "Churchill: Love & The Bomb" Dyson argues that, in fact, the book is not a history of the British nuclear weapons project, as it may seem, but rather a story of the personal rivalries surrounding it, one in which Winston Churchill played a leading part. (The English version first appeared in The New York Review of Books (vol. 61, No. 7)).

The issue concludes with the article by the Ukrainian musicologist Olesya Naydiuk. She reviews a book by the Ukrainian music critic and scholar Lidiya Melnyk who focuses on music journalism and criticism, and presents a short, short history of Ukrainian music criticism since 1989.

KRYTYKA needs your support: Subscribing to our journal, you support the best in quality intellectual discourse and in-depth social, cultural, and political analysis Ukraine has to offer.

Your subscription or donation will help us remain truly independent!