THE GRADE OF INSULT
Until quite recently, an insult was regarded in jurisprudence as a matter for “private prosecution,” which was of no concern to the state and society. Since olden times, a private individual could vindicate insulted honor in a fight or in a court of law, but it was the human person that invariably remained the subject of an insult. In the last two decades, however, the subject of an insult has become less distinct. Not only numerous social groups but even their “religious feelings” have become capable of feeling insulted. Analyzing the mechanisms of insulting and the dynamics of their development in different social milieus and cultures, the contributors to this issue nonetheless lead the reader to an overall optimistic conclusion: the concept of honor, while being variable in content, remains a social constant that has not lost its significance in the present-day world.
THE SOURCES OF PEOPLE’S OFFENSES
Alexander Baunov. There Is Nothing for Russia to Laugh About
The world is more complex than the Mani-cheans believed it to be: it goes beyond a simple struggle between the two camps of light and darkness. Nevertheless, people do not want to be bothered to look into complexities. Insult and offense are the best ways to interrupt a communication channel. Conversely, the simplest way to avoid a public dialogue with dissenters, with an opposition, or with others in general is to take offense at them. As a matter of fact, in the days of old ritual insulting of a triumphator or a king by a jester served precisely for ensuring that communication was preserved. Today something from those days has remained. We can see that the strong are insulted. Nations and countries are divided into those that take offense, those that should not be offended, and those that go all over the world to see whether they have been offended. Russia has traditionally belonged to those that can be laughed at. Its present elite’s susceptibility to offense puts it into the rank of weak, second-rate countries.
Sergei Medvedev. Russian Resentiment
This essay focuses on the phenomenon of resentiment — a feeling of animosity and impotent envy towards a fictitious enemy — using the Russians’ attitude towards Ukraine in 2014 as an example. The author examines the role of resentiment in Russian literature and philosophy, Russia’s self-concept as a “victim people,” and also the use of resentiment in the official propaganda of the last decade for creating myths about a “geopolitical catastrophe” and “humiliation of Russia” and for inciting hatred against Ukraine, the United States and the West. The author comes to the conclusion that today’s Russian resentiment is a sign of Russians’ inability to adapt to the new social reality and of Russia’s inability as well to the complexity of the global world.
Konstantin Skorkin. The Common Language of Hate
In 2014, the language of enmity moved to the center of public space in relations between Ukraine and Russia, having divided along the way the societies of the two countries. This process has been accompanied by the revival of Soviet Newspeak, the barbarization of public discourse and a precipitous drop in public morals. The language of enmity contributes to the dehumanization of opposing parties and produces new images of the enemy. The post-Soviet humanitarian intelligentsia is facing one of the greatest challenges since the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Irina Glushkova. The “‘Minefield’ of Insulted Hinduism”: Explosions and Mutilations
Numerous events of the last twenty-five years have given India a new self-appellation, the “republic of offended feelings,” which reflects the establishment of a cultural paradigm that breaks with stereotypes about that country. “Religious feelings” have turned out to be the most “offended,” something that is contrary to the notion of feelings as a process that cannot be an object of insult and of the nature of a particular feeling (fear, delight, shame, disgust, etc.) in general. Man-made and imitated constructs giving a go-ahead solely to various types of anger and social practices of an openly destructive nature are described as “cynical euphemisms for police edification and lynching,” “aggressive moralizing,” and a way of “taking possession of the law,” while posing as a “collective victim.” They also pave the way for such powerful regulators of Indian statehood as censorship and bans.
THE EVOLUTION OF PERSONAL HONOR
Nina Stavrogina. Slap, Duel and Honor Killing. A History of the Concept of Honor. An abstract of the book: Speitkamp, Winfried. Ohrfeige, Duell und Ehrenmord. Eine Geschichte der Ehre. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2010. — 366 s.
The book by German historian Winfried Speitkamp deals with the emergence and development of the concept of honor from classical times to the present. Based on an analysis of varying concepts of honor and types of conflicts over honor in different cultures, the book seeks to draw larger conclusions about the transcultural character of honor. The author examines in detail the connection between concepts of honor and statehood and law. He shows that the concept of honor, while being variable in content, remains a social constant that has not lost its significance in the present-day world.
Yekaterina Reshetnikova. Canine Invective in The Iliad
The author examines the dog-related insult used in The Iliad. She arrives at the conclusion that the symbolic meaning of the animal, including the basis for its invective potential, should be looked for in the stable character of the relationship between man and animal. Among the animal images found in The Iliad, the dog marks the lowest military status, the youngest stage of initiation. A dog, being included in systems of human relations, ignores numerous human norms of behavior and, at the same time, has a minimum of rights: when calling a man a dog, we are pointing out the breaking of a norm and reminding others of the existing hierarchy and the need to know one’s place.
Maria Neklyudova. The Boots of Philippe de Commynes: The Archaeology of Insult
Why did Philippe de Commynes abandon the Duke of Burgundy to enter the service of Louis XI? In answering this question, historians and writers have for four centuries retold the legend about how he was insulted by the duke. This article traces back over time the shaping and possible ge-nesis of these rumors and the changes in the notion of “insult” across different periods.
Irina Levontina. Insult and Related Concepts in the Modern Russian Language
An insult is an injury inflicted on a person’s dignity, self-respect and honor. The Russian language is very “meticulous”: it offers a broad range of words to describe various moral injuries. What is the difference between offense, insult and humiliation? What is the distinction between derision and mockery? How are traumatic situations, which should be avoided, described (there are a whole series of words, from nevmestno [an obsolete word meaning “improper”] to zapadlo [a slang word meaning “it is not befitting”], to describe them)? How is all of this reflected in the formulation of law?
BEYOND THE ROUTINE
Alexei Ustinov. Insult as an Artistic Gesture
In this article by Kostroma philologist Alexei Ustinov, the phenomenon of insult is treated as a problem of artistry. The author represents the line between art and reality as the ethical boundary of permissible expression. Using numerous examples from the history of world literature, graphic art and social and political journalism, Ustinov has been able to examine the mechanism of communication between the parties in the conflict designated in the insult, to compare the use of similar techniques in various historical and political contexts, and to reveal the significance of the national color of artistic details as one of the main tools for achieving the “insulting” effect.
Kirill Martynov. The History of Insults in Western Philosophy
This article centers on the history of insults in Western philosophy. In what way exactly did philosophers insult one another over the course of centuries? How did an insult become a subject of philosophical reflection and, in parallel, a form of philosophical argument? The author maintains that philosophy has historically developed as a form of insulting the common opinion, the opi-nion of the majority. Philosophy is bound to be insulting.
Konstantin Bannikov. On Extreme States of Mind
Beginning with an examination of the phenomenon of insult and offense in extremist groups emerging in prisons and army barracks, the author moves to a discussion of similar mechanisms in the global world at the core of which lie a hyperdensity of information flows within the total information space, which at once subjugates, suppresses and dissolves the human subject.
THE LAND OF OZ
Yekaterina Samkova. The “Karelian Case” of Yekaterina Solovyova
OZ continues to publish essays by participants in the competition of historical research papers by senior high school students titled “Man in History: 20th-Century Russia” conducted annually by the “Memorial” society. Yekaterina Samkova, the author of the work presented here, was the prizewinner at the 15th competition, the results of which were concluded in April 2014. Our student writes about the hard life of her great-grandmother who was repressed in the 1930s.
Vladimir Kitayev. Alexander Solzhenitsyn as Perceived by Alexander Schmemann
This article analyzes the views of the outstanding Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann towards the personality and creative work of the writer and social thinker Alexander Solzhe-nitsyn during the years 1974—1983.
Denis Sdvizhkov. The Autocracy of Love: The Year 1812 as a Romance
This article examines the key concepts of the year 1812 and the processes that shaped them. They include, in the first place, the transformation of the concept of love with respect to the individual and the social community. Beginning with the period of Peter the Great, love was not only at the center of changes in sensual life, it also became a key element in the process of emotiona-lization, a shift that denoted new relations between the historical subject and supra-individual values in both civil and religious self-consciousness. The phenomenon of sentimentalism is regarded as a component part of these processes. The author analyzes the different meanings behind the notion of love of the fatherland in the Russian, French, English and German contexts of the late 18th — early 19th centuries. In the reign of Nicholas I, with the establishment in Russia of “bureaucratic patriotism,” love was limited to the private sphere and at the same time transferred to a new project of love of the people.
Vasily Kostyrko. On Folk Tales of the Olden Times
Traditional Russian culture, on the one hand, has answers to many questions. On the other hand, ancient texts are multilayered and ambiguous, and their literal understanding quite often turns out to be false. The author presents four newly published books dealing with the ways folkloric consciousness is shaped and operates. These are Afrika, migratsii, mifologiya. Arealy rasprostrateniya folklornykh motivov v istoricheskoi perspektive [Africa, Migrations, Mythology: Areas of Distribution of Folkloric Motifs in Historical Perspective] by Yu. E. Beryozkin (2013), Izbrannoye: obryadoviye i epicheskiye traditsii [Selected Works: Ritual and Epic Traditions] by A. N. Veselovsky (2013), Drevnerusskoye letopisaniye. Vzglyad v nepovtorimoye [Old Russian Chronicle Writing: A Look into the Inimitable] by G. M. Prokhorov (2014), and the collection of articles U istokov mira: russkiye etiologicheskiye skazki i legendy [At the Sources of the World: Russian Etiological Fairy Tales and Legends] (compilation and commentary by O. V. Belova and G. I. Kabakova, 2014).
Valentina Bykova. Life without Trust: Two Views of Political Institutions
The question of the future of democratic institutions remains ever relevant in modern political science. It has been raised recently, each in his own way, by the authors Leonid Blyakher (Iskusstvo neupravlyayemoi zhizni. Dalny Vostok [The Art of Ungoverned Life. The Far East], 2014) and Ivan Krastev (Upravleniye nedoveriem [The Management of Mistrust], 2014). Although both of these books focus on the crisis of trust in political institutions, the authors approach the problem from fundamentally different methodological perspectives.