The publication of the following selection of theoretical materials was prompted by discussions of the anthropological turn in the humanities (or, more precisely, of the need for a "new anthropology of culture"), which were initiated and sup­ported by NLO as part of a broad-ranging intellectual strategy towards developing the humanities in Russia. In the last of these discussions, one of the many questions raised concerned the very essence of anthropology, and of the humanities in gene­ral — the question of "man" (the human being).

The problem of the human being as such emerges at the very limits of any anthropology — cultural, social or physical — that deals with traditional commu­nities and cultures, modernity or the experience of the human body. Over the course of the 20th century, the concept of "man" was subject to such a radical philo­sophical critique that is now simply impossible to ignore. It should also be noted that, paradoxically, the moment when anthropology began to gain momentum and attract more and more attention from other disciplines also saw the serious defeat of humanism as a global cultural project — both in theory and historical practice.

The decline of the humanist project began with the age of modernism, when the white man began rapidly losing his central position in the universe; with the secularization of knowledge, the anthropological interest in the "other", but also with the philosophical critique of the idea of the subject and its cognitive abilities. One could say that the anthropological turn was preceded by the post-humanist turn, which was reflected in structuralism and poststructuralism, in psychoanalysis and schizoanalysis, the destruction of metaphysics and deconstruction, in post- colonial and gender studies, animal studies, etc. — wherein the idea of the other is fundamental and key.

Viewed in this light, recurring discussions of the exhausted state of the human­ities can be seen as containing a rather important intuition (rather than just seeing them as typical lamentations over the crisis or the end of all and everything). One could say it is not the humanities that are exhausted, but rather the traditional anthropocentric rhetorical models that form the ideological tool-kit, so to speak, of humanist knowledge. Classical man with his limitless power over the world is becoming an illegitimate construction, but humanist knowledge is transcending its own ideology and discovering new, non-anthropocentric perspectives for its own development — on the reverse side of itself, as it were.

The selection begins with an appeal to the ambiguous philosophico-ontological antihumanism of M. Heidegger, suggested in an article from H.U. Gumbrecht in the context of a critical conceptualization of the prospects of the anthropological turn. Gumbrecht finds particular value in the element of mental risk-taking, pre­paredness to enter into new territory and deal with unusual topics and situations. "Metaphors of human habitat" presents updated versions of critical treatments of Heidegger's legacy through analysis of some of his architectural-geographical metaphors (the world, the earth, the home, the door etc.) that have been most im­portant for the construction (and deconstruction) of the idea of man, and their development in philosophy, poetry, literature and music. This section opens with an essay by Davide Tarizzo on the door as a foundational metaphor for man's existence in the world — doors that open or close, doors of truth, doors that divide me from the other, man from animal. What is an open world, and could there exist a world wherein all doors are open? asks Tarizzo, and comes to a paradoxical conclusion: that in order for the human world to function as "open", one of the doors must necessarily be locked (and it is that very same main door which today, perhaps, is being guarded by art and literature). A chapter from Iain Chambers' Culture after humanism: history, culture, subjectivity discusses Heidegger's meta­phors of the home, the world and the earth, but reads them as if against Heidegger, through the ideas of globalization and postcolonialism. Chambers addresses the question of how to think about world history on the reverse side of predetermined intellectual constructions: in a perspective of openness wherein every idea of "one's own" is founded solely on an unstable "other", while the present enters into a strange harmony with the past (like the combination of rock with Baroque music).




The section suggests various versions of post-humanist philosophy and introduces a few (though far from all of the possible) perspectives for viewing the world "after the subject" or "without the subject". These attempts are all founded on investi­gations of the visual and the perceptual that position themselves on the far side of the authority of the human "I" as classically understood. It becomes clear that this path involves the encounter of phenomenology with an aesthetics that demands ever more serious attention. Mikhail Yampolsky introduces a distinction between two types of post-humanist philosophy that breaks with the myth of man's auto­nomy. On the one hand, he presents a zoontology which, in removing the radical metaphysical difference between people and animals, places humans in the context of nature; on the other hand, a modern conceptualization of technology that in­corporates the human being. The contradiction, however, turns out to have a so­lution, the key to which lies in a phenomenological analysis of art — particularly, of the cinema. In a programmatic article, Graham Harman presents a radical view of aesthetic experience. Developing the basic principles of object-oriented onto­logy, Harman attempts to cogitate without any reference to "that which is human", introducing in its stead the difference between two types of objects — "real" objects (among which is the "I" with its immediate absolutism) and objects of sensory per­ception — and seeks to establish anew mediated causal connections between these objects — connections between objects of one type through the mediation of others, etc. Inevitably, Harman moves aesthetics into the rank of "first philosophy". The final text in the section is an article from Emmanuel Landolt devoted to one of the most authoritative and well-known contemporary Russian philosophers, Valery Podoroga. Landolt focuses mainly on the "phenomenology of the body" (which can obviously be read as a sort of challenge to Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit) — a topic developed by Podoroga in the 1990s and which immediately preceded his analytical anthropology of literature. Landolt both analyzes Podo- roga's thought in its specific historical context (the 1990s in Russia with their revolutionary pathos), and places it in a broader philosophical dialogue about cor­poreality with 20th-century French thinkers.




Gennady Estraikh in "Sholem Aleichem's Soviet Career" focuses on the ideology and practice of translation and official representation of Sholem Aleichem's works into Russian during the Soviet period. From sporadic efforts of the 1920s, mostly by marginal and provincial presses which produced translations for popular mar­ket, emerged a whole industry of recreating Sholem Aleichem's oeuvre in Russian, which culminated in the 1959 edition of a six-volume set of his Collected Works, which marked the writer's hundredth anniversary and signaled an official "reha­bilitation" of Yiddish culture after its destruction in the last years of Stalin's rule. Mikhail Krutikov in "Sholem Aleichem in the Soviet Literary Criticism before World War II" examines the ideological transformation of the Soviet Yiddish crit­ical discourse on Sholem Aleichem. Celebrated as the quintessentially folk writer during the first years after the October revolution, Sholem Aleichem was reinter­preted as a literary voice of the Jewish petite bourgeoisie in line with the Marxist theory at the turn of the 1930s, only to be reevaluated again on the eve of the war as a perennial classic of Yiddish literature and a precursor of socialist realism. Alexander Frenkel in "The Russian Writer Sholem Aleichem" analyzes Sholem Aleichem's works written in the Russian language and his attempts at translating his own works from Yiddish into Russian. Although Sholem Aleichem was comple­tely fluent in Russian and spoke it at home, he was not able to invent an adequate Russian idiom for his creativity. After a number of experiments with Russian at the beginning of his literary career he realized his failure and switched fully into Yiddish, leaving translation to professionals.




Evgenii Soshkin's article "Estrangement devices: an attempt of unification" begins with a set of questions pertaining to Viktor Shklovsky's famous essay «Art as De­vice». Did the author mean device in general or estrangement as device? If he meant device in general, why his essay is about estrangement only? And are there other devices? And if there aren't, why didn't Shklovksky entitle his essay "Art as Estrangement Device"? Responding to these questions, Soshkin attempts to describe estrangement as a consistent synchronistic model.




This section is dedicated to the memory of the poet and prose writer A. Nik (Niko­lai Akselrod) (18.11.1945, Leningrad — 31.05.2011, Prague), who was little- known and under-appreciated during his lifetime. It opens with an obituary from Tomas Glanz (Prague), followed by a piece by Boris Konstriktor (St. Petersburg), "Ts.K. (A. Nik: a life canvas)". In a provocative and very personal piece, "Aglet- free Akselrods" Ry Nikonova (Kiel, Germany) writes about Nik's place in con­temporary Russian prose. In "From samizdat to postizdat", Julius Muller (Prague) reminisces about his years of collaboration with Nik — they published the avant- garde samizdat journal MuNk. In " 'But it's still better to think about the past still to come...' (approaches to the work of A. Nik)" Petr Kazarnovskii (St. Petersburg) contemplates the stylistic particularities of Nik's poetry and prose. The section concludes with an extensive selection of Nik's short stories, The dream of Felmor




Why did free verse catch on in the West but not in Russia, where regular rhymed verse continues to rule the day? Unsatisfied by comparative historical-literary and poetic analysis, Mikhail Gronas (Dartmouth College, USA) in "By heart: on the mnemonic social existence of verse" puts forth his own, quite bold hypothesis, tied to the study of mnemonics. Or in other words, to a set of cultural practices that are built into the educational system and prescribe the memorization, repli­cation and transference of texts "of heightened significance", first and foremost religious and subsequently literary in nature. (cf. M. Gasparov's definition: "Verse is a text felt as speech of heightened significance, intended to be remembered and repeated"). Regular meter and rhyme are mnemonic devices. But while in the West, the mnemonic function of poetry and of education overall is dying out (roughly speaking, "learning by rote" is being replaced by more democratic forms of teaching and indoctrination), in Russia this function was artificially shored up for ideological reasons.

The hypothesis put forth in Gronas' article could not help but provoke lively discussion. Some writers question and/or seriously correct the basic principles (such are the responses from Kirill Korchagin, Dmitry Kuzmin, Ilya Kukulin, Kevin F. Platt, Eugene Ostashevsky and Sergei Zavialov), while others use them as an opportunity to express their own ideas about poetry and the forms of its existence in various social and cultural habitats (Aleksandr Ulanov, Dmitry Golynko-Volfson, Shamshad Abdullaev, Anna Glazova). The subjects touched upon in Gronas' article and throughout the related discussion extend far beyond the boundaries of a narrow problem for literature specialists; it seems they will attract a great deal of attention for a long time to come.