Svetlana Boym Common Places Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia

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					Svetlana Boym, Common Places Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia (1994)

Goal: Exploring the intersections of everyday life and “high” culture

- Belonging to an “intimate public sphere” on the margins of the official public sphere

- Communication with half words:
       - reproduces the unspoken realm
       - protects the imagined collectivity from outsiders

- Deconstruction of the everyday mythologies and rituals of ordinary life
       - look at attitudes toward ordinary life, home, material objects and wit
       - expressions of emotions and ways of communication

Commonplaces: modern, derogative with reference to banality

Common places:multiple historical significations and poetic allusion of the word (public
                         architecture - topography of memory)

Mythologies as naturalized recurrent narratives (common places)

Boym tries to identify and discern
      the taken for granted both in everyday practices and
      abstract, historical and literal manifestations
It is not enough to look for the
      origins in intellectual history,
      state policy or
      actual practice.
She does not deny continuities between Russian and Soviet intellectual history.
       Looks at how cultural myths are

      appropriated and internalized and
      obscured
the diversity and hybridity of the cultural tradition.

Culture: literature and arts

culture:        way of making sense of the world and a system of patterns of behavior
                and signs.

- The book is about the unwritten laws of everyday existence
      everyday aesthetic experiences and
      alternative spaces

Boym's mapping of distinctions
Common place
What is “common” to all humanity is not the primary sensory reflexes, “languid affects,”
but precisely the ability to detach oneself from the senses in order to apprehend the
      the common place was devalued and literalized
      reemerged (the dreams of ideal communality in art, politics, and society )
             o (communist utopia or democratic commonwealth)
New oppositions and distinctions
      Palaces of Culture versus the Shopping Malls of Kitsch
      architectural utopia versus communal apartments and housing projectsthe
       sublime versus the banal

“Kitsch,” the Bavarian slang word “sketch” or “cheap stuff,”
      “the debased and academic simulacra of the genuine culture” (Greenberg),
      “a parody on catharsis” (Theodor Adorno), and
       a “sentimentalization of the finite ad infinitum” (Hermann Broch).

       unethical act, an act of mass manipulation.
       blurs the boundaries between art and life
       seems to be a sort of modern parasite

Is it
stylistic elements which characterize kitsch (ornamentation, eclecticism, and

Greenberg‟s example of kitsch
Ilia Repin‟s battle scenes,
       imitation of the effects of artistic battles
       battles of consciousness
       transformation to didactic objects of official Stalinist art.
The mechanisms of kitsch
       pacifying and sweetening the contradictions of human existence.
       does not resolve
       does not critically exposes the conflicts
       a mechanism of bridging, connecting
“Kitsch expresses the sensibility of a public that no longer believes in hell, but still
worships paradise,” Yaron Ezrahi.

Kitsch in quotation marks or aestheticized bad taste.
Susan Sontag
       a taste for everything “off,” old-fashioned, out-of-date, dmod, all of those
        things which, “from a „serious‟ point of view, are either bad art or kitsch. (Mainly
        in societies or circles with psychopathology of affluence)

      eroticization of daily life
      key metaphor is that of life as theater of “being-as-Playing-a-Role"
      emphasis on epicene style and playful reversals of gender and sexual
      associated with gay sensibility.

coincides with Pop art,
pushes the boundaries of art and of institutionalized good taste
use of commercial culture with modernist theoretical clichés about the autonomy of art.

Can be seen as identity marker:
       The “we” of this sentence is seductively inclusive – it is at once the “we” of the
       universal brotherhood of kitsch-people and the “we” of the ironic critics of kitsch;
       it includes those who live it and those who scorn it.

The everyday as a modern concept
      secularization of the worldview,
      the disintegration of the many levels of the common place,
      the division of the spheres of experience,
      the emergence of the middle class.

The everyday
      tells us a story of modernity
      ordinary chores,
      the arts of working and making things
The everyday is
      anticatastrophic,
      an antidote to the historical narrative of death, disaster, and apocalypse.

In Russian the secular conceptions of the everyday
kitsch and unnecessarily demonized or reified
the everyday was synonymous with
      bad art and
      counterrevolutionary banality and
had to be recreated
in accordance with the revolutionary “dictatorship of taste.”


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