Rethinking, anticipatory comprehension - Weekend - Kommersant



Nastya Krasilnikova's podcast "Pupils" - an investigation into harassment at the Summer Ecological School - is perhaps the main media sensation of the year in Russia: a million listens, and in general, did people ever talk like that about a five-hour audio series? Even if you are far from the issues raised in it and have never experienced anything like it, it's hard not to try this story on yourself. In a sense, this is a universal - and extremely painful - experience, familiar to everyone who finds himself at the point of reassembling cultural norms.

Text: Yuri Saprykin

It would seem that another story of harassment revealed years later, what can be added here, and even in a format designed for several hours of attention (and without pictures), but - dramaturgy, intrigue, characters, everything is built flawlessly, works perfectly and does not let go, when it's all over. It makes you look into your own past: what if what seemed like an innocent hobby was an abuse? And what, according to the generally accepted former ideas, was considered quite normal, turns out to be something impossible and unacceptable today? Suppose we didn’t take part in anything like that and just lived side by side, without interfering in someone else’s personal life, but it turned out that we were witnesses to a crime? We did not see the obvious, did not understand the main thing, and generally looked in the wrong direction. How to live with it now?

How to live - even the heroes of the podcast answer this question in different ways: some go into a deaf refusal, others continue to claim that everything was good and right, others with difficulty, but admit - yes, we can now look at things with different eyes, and yes, we were wrong. Society as a whole reacts to these topics in approximately the same way - the range of reactions extends from the opinion that these are “stuffings” for the sake of “hype” and “newsletter” to an almost religious zeal with which new norms are upheld. But somewhere between the cynical conspiracy theory familiar to the Russian mind and the no less familiar fervor of a neophyte lies an irrevocable fact: people live inside stories through which they explain their lives, these stories change over time, if a statistically significant set suddenly began to look at things that way, - this can not be overcome either by grumbling on Facebook or by a prohibitive law. A million listeners and listeners cannot be wrong.

The story of rethinking what is now commonly referred to as "relationships" - especially complicated by age differences or power/submission dispositions - is somewhat reminiscent of the paradigm shift in the disintegrating Soviet Union of the late 1980s, when people, and on a much more significant scale, I had to face the realization that they were doing the wrong thing and living the wrong way. The man thought that he was doing heroic work for the glory of the Motherland - but it turned out that he spent his whole life on the production of useless pieces of iron. He believed in a brighter future, but in fact turned a blind eye to suffering and humiliation in the present. He cherished "secret freedom" in kitchen conversations - but in fact he was engaged in meaningless chatter. Everything was a mirage, illusions, and now the scenery collapsed - and he found himself alone with his own trauma, which he had not been aware of before, and with a sense of guilt for what he had considered the norm all his life.

For all the strained analogies and the difference in scale, the mechanics are similar: a kind of “conversion of Saul”, in the light of which the entire previous life began to look like one big mistake. And this applies not only to LESH teachers or the Soviet sixties, the pattern is reproduced in different eras and for different reasons, you involuntarily wonder: has there been at least a day and hour in history when there would be no change in cultural norms? And not some abstract ones, but ones that make you look at your own life differently? When these changes are brought about by a social revolution or a political upheaval, there is no escaping from them. But even if there is no external reason, the change of attitudes still occurs in some creeping and imperceptible way. This is clearly seen in the Russian 1990s; British documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis just released a seven-episode film recently "TraumaZone" about this decade, and all the newsreel he used adds up to one many hours of indictment: while you were sticking out at your raves or arguing that the country was on a course of reforms, SUCH was happening around! How could you not see this? And what to answer to this - it’s not that we didn’t notice the same unfortunate grandmothers standing along Tverskaya, trying to sell a loaf of bread, of course, we saw them and even bought something from them. But then it seemed something justified ... necessary in the name of something ... the devil knows how one could look at it calmly!

Okay, about the 1990s, of course, about this decade, we saw a lot of rethinking and even repentance; Let's take times that are not imprinted in history. The same 2000s is a quiet time, if you did not participate in the creation of the Kremlin youth movements or did not burn raw material rent in the Diaghilev club, everything seems to be fine. But these endless rush jobs, overwork, nightly surrenders, which were considered the norm and even valor - were they for what? In whose interests, exactly? And the monstrous money thrown away at strategic sessions, business trainings and corporate parties - where did they go? And the loans, which helped everyone to settle down and settle down so much, didn’t they drive some other “everyone” into a black hole of hopelessness and lack of a future? Reassessment of one's own past is such a thing, one has only to start here.

What now? In an era of complete information openness, it would seem that it is no longer possible to use the excuses of previous generations: they say, we did not see this and did not understand this, and did not know anything. Now everyone knows everything - but the completeness of information does not make vision less selective. As for the previous decade, the metropolitan public seems to have already formed a consensus on which the collective “we” were wrong: they were too happy about parks and bike paths, completely unaware of where everything was going. Well, it's fair - and for many it was a conscious choice of what to consider important and what to ignore: all the more so "at the moment" at each such fork there are always a million arguments why exactly your option is correct.

The future is unpredictable, you never know which (bike)path will turn into the main highway, which will lead to a dead end. The difference of this decade is, perhaps, that for the first time we found ourselves in such an information space where every choice is immediately questioned, a set of accusations is always ready for every life event, what you did wrong and what you turned out to be wrong, and rethinking happens even faster than comprehension. In a sense, going out into the open public space today, everyone becomes a little LES teacher, whom Nastya Krasilnikova calls: there is always someone to ask, how did you let this happen, and how could you not notice it, and how do you live with all this now ? One must either grow armored skin, or spend time day and night in self-torture - neither one nor the other contributes to a real “change of mind”, or, if you like, the establishment of new norms. And since the most serious changes in these norms always come from where they were not expected, and concern things that were not noticed before, where is the guarantee that today's mutual accusations will also not turn out to be “about nothing”, and the real reassembly will concern something completely another, what now seems completely natural? Yes, at least in the same environment in which these reproaches are heard - after all, it may turn out that in the future the very habit of lashing out at each other in comments on the most insignificant reasons or starting lively discussions around issues that seem to have been resolved centuries ago - such as the permissibility of torture ; in general, it is these generally accepted customs that will seem to future generations as a strange anomaly that needs to be corrected? After all, maybe?

One of the major non-fiction bestsellers of the last year is Nikolai Epple's An Inconvenient Past, a book about how historical trauma is worked through. In addition to the urgent relevance (and possible recipes for the future), this work carries a certain consolation: everyone has dark pages of the past, this is not evidence of some kind of fatal exclusivity and is not a reason to fall into despair, you can work with it. Probably, the same approach can be applied to the reassessment of the personal past as to the analysis of socio-historical blockages: everyone has something that seemed normal, but over time began to look reprehensible. And the ability to look at yourself with different eyes and admit that you are wrong is not a sign of weakness, but rather the opposite. Mankind hardly learns from its own mistakes, but the individual is quite able to deal with them - when and if the future calls him from the podcast studio.


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