Ilya Kalinin. Historicity of traumatic experience: routine and revolution

The rich theoretic historiography of the trauma phenomenon proceeds, one way or the other, from the apparent recognition of traumatic experience negativity. Such axiomatics has a lot of reasons: from common sense and etymology (in Greek «trauma» means  «wound») to clinically observed consequences of traumatic experience. Trauma blocks usual communication course of the man with the external world, deforms speech competence of a person, escapes from representation and rationalization hindering the attempts to go beyond its own limits.      

Revolution, turning over the usual routines of human everyday life, represents one of the paradigmatic examples of collective historical trauma. The paradox, however, consists in the fact that, despite its undoubtedly traumatic nature, the experience of revolution counts quite a number of examples where trauma is evaluated as an adequate price for the deliverance from alienating routinization of «normal life», for the return of historicity lost by the man due to reproduced habits of his being. And it refers not to ideologized judgements motivated by political commitment of «fiery revolutionaries». It refers to such cases when representation, without concealing brutal and traumatic image of  revolution, introduces onto the stage its dialectical counterpart as well discovering it in the effect of renewal: when destruction of cultural tradition, disruption of usual temporality, shift of receptive habits do not only wound the person who undergoes this experience, but also make such experience historical. 

In this perspective, the traumatic experience of revolution can be described as deautomatized impulse covering all the spheres of life – from social and cultural to intimate. In such circumstances, revolutionary excess comes out as a creative historic impulse. And the intensity of trauma experience itself eliminates the border between the common and the existential, between the external and the internal, between the history and the biography. Revolution links up to the history depriving you of the feeling of integration into the stable temporal continuum and symbolic landscape. Revolution takes away the confidence in naturalness of habitual context, but by means of doing so, it restores and nurtures the sensitivity towards everyday life, material environment, ordinary practices, as well as to cultural tradition collapsing right in front of your eyes. Excess, catastrophe, revolution temporarily interrupt ritualized replicating of daily routine, but it is exactly this moment that gives you the opportunity to distinguish its structure. The same happens also in relation to cultural heritage which ceases to be perceived within conventional frames of natural continuity and possession.   

The dynamics of routine and excess, tradition and revolution, of trauma that doubts representation possibilities, but simultaneously exposes its concealed structure and renews the perception of the world, will be the focus of this report. The texts the similarity of which in the respect that interests us is even more symptomatic due to the fact that their authors are rather little resembling each other (first of all, V. Shklovsky, O. Mandelstam and E. Zamyatin) will serve as the examples of such paradoxical commemoration and reflection in respect of the traumatic experience of revolution.