Tuesday, July 08, 2008

news

So since my last post, much has transpired over here, much of which i feel is worth sharing.
Firstly, we took a tour through the part of town (including the museum made for this exact purpose)where pretty much every revolutionary action in moscow has occured (1905, 1991, 1993). The museum was incredibly well set up and the guides extremely informative (i also saw a picture of a 1905 participant with the last name Sobinov!). We then walked around the area Krasnopresnenskaya, visited the white house (!) and saw some of the memorial spots. Our guide, one of our resident directors, is a korennaya moskvicha (native muscovite, female edition) and was on a date in the park just next to the white house in 93 when the sniper started firing. pretty wild, but as all russians respond to such craziness, she seemed to be pretty casual with her attitude toward the event.

School has really stepped up the work load, if that was possible, I'm reading pikovaya dama a pushkin story, i just finished the stantsionii smotritel another pushkin. Both are really interesting stories in any language, but having a russian teacher to tell you "yes, this is a huge aspect of the russian character" makes studying these texts so much better. The population here is so well read, in my opinion, it makes me feel pretty dumb. Not only are the well read in russian texts, but my babushka, for example, has read the twain and sellinger anthographies--its nuts.

In another class we're reading articles on differnt politically relevant subjects to russians, the prevalence of advertising, the status of economic freedom, demography, immigration, art, etc. the debates, even in russian, get pretty heated, and our teacher finds that to be really funny. i'll come back to this in a second.

my economic geography course just ended, thankfully, it was painfully boring, but at least i could tell you where all the major industries are located in russia.
The history course just began, and it couldnt be anything but the opposite from geography. Its 20th century russian history, and the teacher is incredibly intelligent. we're reading both a russian textbook and a pamphlet that he made for the class, i'm very excited for that.

The 4th of july was wild, but i'll save that since most of it was very american. We did find a dive bar that reminded me a lot of le pape though, so i got pretty nostalgic!

The only intellectual comment i want to make today is that in these debates that we're having, one of the most prominent pedigogical elements is about america. Since most of our commentary is "well in america this but in russia that" we have to generalize america, and in my class of 5, we have students from all over the states, resulting in a conversation that to a russian makes it sound like we're from 5 different countries. i guess thats the beautiful part of our country, but at the same time, for example, how oblivious i was to the way southerners feel about the north, made me realize just how diverse this country is.

I'll have more this weekend, hope NaN is going well.
neil

2 comments:

MrC said...

Norm at Nite is scheduled for 11pm est tonite tuesday, July 7th, 2008. I think that is 8 or 9 am russian time 7-8.

Paddy said...

I'd say the intellectualism of the Russians, especially those over aged 30 or so, tends to prove the deleterious effect that the entertainment industry has had upon the so-called Western mind. While people such as Steven Johnson might argue that TV and video games are 'not as bad' for kids as concerned intellectuals make out, they are no substitute for focused reading. It is not that we are collectively 'stupid,' but rather that we are woefully uninformed. If even a fraction of the time many students put into researching and memorizing sports statistics, or bands for that matter, were to be spent on learning a little philosophy, history, or perfecting language skills we just may be equipped to respond to world affairs with something more than threats, bombings, and worn-out platitudes about American democracy. There are some eerie parallels to pre-1914 Britain's cult of sports in play here - and we all know how well that turned out for the British Empire.