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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate of a Man (from Misha)

It was extremely interesting to read Misha's interpretation of Fate of a
Man. It provides evidence against my speculation that it might have been
interpreted as Destiny of Mankind. If I understand correctly, Misha is
saying that the perezhivanie of entire populations is reflected in the
individual consciousness of the character.  And the film, combining
multiple media and a strong, patriotic narrative, creates perezhivanie in
the viewer.

I did not, personally, experience perezhivanie, while watching the film, at
least not perezhivanie of the sort that Misha is referring to. My
orientation toward viewing it, and my own cultural-historical background
interfered. I was viewing it through the lens of our discussion and my
acute awareness of the elisions and misrepresentations of these events in
historical time. This lens got in the way.

Misha's note is a good reminder of the difficulties of interpretation that
we all face in dealing with this topic! At the same time, there was no
missing different forms that correspond to different "kinds" or
"conceptions of kinds" of perezhivanie in the film.

On Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 3:53 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Misha went on to criticise my characterisation of the boy's life-world,
> and I have to say that I was mistaken about that. The boy's life world is
> also "difficult" in Vasilyuk's terms. ... Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> On 18/01/2017 7:50 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Misha, a Russian psychologist who has assisted Mike and me in analysing
>> previous movies, offers this comment on "Fate of a Man."
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> I need to re-watch this emotional film. After a while I can write
>> something regarding your theme. Glad to hear you. I think we'll have a lot
>> of discussions. Only one thing I want to say now - This movie is not an
>> /illustration/ of perezhivanie but it /is/ really the perezhivanie.
>> I re-watched the movie. Had a wonderful, unforgettable experience.
>> Andrey, being a simple Soviet carpenter before the War, fell into the
>> millstone of hard, bloody war by fate. He miraculously managed to survive,
>> losing his son on the front, his beloved wife and two daughters in his
>> native village near Voronezh. The war has warped him, forced to endure
>> emotional anguish, physical pain and spiritual suffering. The war has truly
>> wounded his soul, humiliated him as a man, but he remained a man of great
>> kindness, taking care of the orphan boy, treating him like his own son. The
>> film shows massive heroism of the Soviet people. Reading the story /Destiny
>> of a Man/ by Mikhail Sholokhov and watching the movie of Sergey Bondarchuk
>> with the same name, you can understand what it means to love the Motherland
>> truly. Pain and anxiety for homeland and personal tragedy of the individual
>> and the specific family were organically fused in the fate of Andrei
>> Sokolov.
>> Andrey's suffering is simultaneously private and public. But the hero of
>> the film found the strength in himself not to fall down, and continue to
>> work for the use and benefit of the country in the post-war period, and,
>> staying alone, to raise the kid without assistants, the child who had
>> experienced the intensive grief because of losing parents. The peculiarity
>> of perezhivanie in this film is closely interwoven with the social disaster
>> caused by the treachery and cruelty of the Germans in the great Patriotic
>> war, and personal grief associated with the loss of his beloved family. The
>> score of V. Basner naturally complements and musically ornaments this
>> movie. It resembles the mood of Shostakovich's symphonies, where you can
>> observe fear, terror and mental confusion, but it remains with kind and
>> optimistic fundamentals. Sincere, not-sugary kindness and human warmth
>> emanates from this strong and powerful film. The power of the spirit of
>> this man is the good (kind and strong) character of such person, united
>> with the solid beliefs of a healthy moral order.
>> The film triggers a strong, intense perezhivanie from the audience, where
>> an experience of art even gives priority way to perezhivanie of life
>> itself, without losing at the same time tonality of high art.
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> On 18/01/2017 12:39 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>> Thank you Marc! It was the third "plane" which was my intention in
>>> providing "Fate of a Man" for discussion. You picked out what were for me
>>> also the main (but by no means the only) instances of perezhivanija in this
>>> movie.
>>> It seems to me that Sokolov (the author) offers one perezhivanie in
>>> particular as the main theme of the movie. At the beginning of the movie,
>>> the man and boy walk up the path to the camera and at the end of the movie
>>> they walk off together again. So this is the central theme. As you say,
>>> when Sokolov's family has all been killed, even his talented war-hero son
>>> who was going to be a famous mathematician, his life has become
>>> meaningless. I really liked your reflections of Sokolov's reflections too.
>>> He sees the young orphan boy who, he discovers, has no family and doesn't
>>> even know what town he comes from, but is aimlessly living on pieces of
>>> rubbish. He sees that the two of them are in the same situation. So after
>>> some time mulling this over a they sit together in the truck, he lies to
>>> the boy and tells him that he is the boy's father, and they embrace. But
>>> the boy questions this and he reasserts his claim and the boy accepts this.
>>> The man is able to define a new meaning for his life; he has done this
>>> autonomously without the help of a therapist, but he still needs another,
>>> the boy, to embody that meaning. But he knows it is his own invention. The
>>> boy on the other hand has to be made to believe it is true; he is not
>>> sufficiently mature to manufacture this meaning himself, but as a child he
>>> can be guided by an adult. As you say, Marc, it is very significant when
>>> Sokolov tells us how he is now, again, worried about his own death. What if
>>> I died in my sleep? that would be a shock for my son!
>>> For me, this reflection causes me to look back on the man's whole
>>> struggle during the war: in the first phase he does not differentiate
>>> between his life as a father and husband and his life as a Soviet citizen -
>>> war is his duty and he is confident, as is everyone else, of victory. His
>>> bravery in driving his truck to the front line under fire reflects the fact
>>> that he has never imagined his own death. Then he finds himself prostrate
>>> before 2 Nazi soldiers who we assume are going among the wounded shooting
>>> anyone who has survived. But surprisingly, he is allowed to live, but is to
>>> be used as a slave. Sokolov has been confronted by his own mortality for
>>> the first time and he chooses life, but accepts slavery (Sartre and Hegel
>>> both thematize this moment in their philosophy). In this second phase of
>>> Sokolov's life he is a survivor. Everything hinges on surviving and
>>> returning to his wife and family. As you point out, Marc, his later
>>> reflections on this are particularly poignant, when he discovers the
>>> futility of this hope. Eventually, the life of forced labour becomes
>>> unbearable. He cries out: "Why are we forced to dig 3 cubic metres when 1
>>> cubic meter is enough for a grave!" Sokolov has accepted and embraced death
>>> after all. (Transition to the third phase.) To his German masters this is
>>> an unendurable act of defiance. As David points out, there are flaws in the
>>> scene which follows, but ... he confronts his own death defiantly, stares
>>> it in the eye, spits on it, and his life again gains meaning as a "brave
>>> Soviet soldier" unafraid of death even in such an impossible moment. Not
>>> only does he survive, but takes the Nazi Colonel prisoner and hands the war
>>> plans over to the Red Army. Now, when he is offered the chance to return to
>>> his wife as a war hero he declines and asks to be sent back to the front.
>>> His life has adopted this new meaning which casts his life as a father into
>>> the shade. He no longer fears death. But he is persuaded to take time off
>>> and learns of the death of his family. As Marc relates, the continued
>>> survival of his son, who is now also a war hero, provides continued meaning
>>> and integrates the two themes in his life. This takes work, as Marc points
>>> out, and he has the assistance of an older man, in achieving this
>>> redefinition of his life. But tragically, with the death of his son (and NB
>>> the end of the war, albeit in victory) his life is again without meaning.
>>> Fourth phase. He has survived, but has no purpose. By becoming a father
>>> again (Fifth phase), he regains the fear of death and meaning in his life.
>>> It is real work, and we witness this psychological turmoil as he copes with
>>> the idea that this scruffy orphan boy could be a son to him, and eventually
>>> he manages it.
>>> The transition between each phase is a critical period during which
>>> Sokolov's personality is transformed. Note also, that there is a
>>> premonition of this perezhivanie in Sokolov's earlier life: his family is
>>> wiped out in the Civil War and the famine of 1922, then he meets his
>>> wife-to-be, also raised in an orphanage, and they together create a life
>>> and have 17 happy years before the Nazi invasion intrudes. So from the
>>> beginning of the movie we are introduced to the main theme.
>>> These are the main moments in the movie, which caused me to select it
>>> for discussion rather than any other movie. Also, there is no doubt that in
>>> producing this movie in 1958 the Soviet government was engaged with its
>>> people, in a process of collective perezhivanie and by reflecting on the
>>> collective perezhivanie during the period of the war, before and after,
>>> they aim to assist the people in collectively assigning meaning to this
>>> terrible suffering and like the man and his "son" walking again into the
>>> future. As a propaganda movie, of course, it is open to much criticism, but
>>> that is hardly the point. I appreciate Marc's analysis in terms of the
>>> other concepts he has introduced. I wouldn't mind a recap on these. In
>>> terms of Vasilyuk's concepts, Sokolov's life-world is *simple and
>>> difficult*. The boy's life world is *simple and easy*.
>>> Can we continue to discuss "Fate of a Man", while I open another movie
>>> for analysis? I think there are at least 10 subscribers to this list who
>>> have published in learned journals on the topic of perezhivanie in
>>> childhood. Perhaps one of you would like to reflect on the boy's
>>> perezhivanija?
>>> Andy
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden
>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>> On 18/01/2017 5:14 AM, Marc Clarà wrote:
>>>> Hi, all,
>>>> and thank you, Andy, for sharing this amazing film, which I didn't
>>>> know. I
>>>> think it will be very useful to share and discuss our respective views
>>>> on
>>>> perezhivanie.
>>>> In my view, the film could be analyzed in terms of perezhivanie in three
>>>> different planes. First, we could consider the person who watches the
>>>> film,
>>>> and we could study how the meaning she forms for the film restructures
>>>> her
>>>> relationship with aspects of her real life -such as, for example, her
>>>> own
>>>> death or the death of a beloved one, etc. (perhaps this is a little bit
>>>> like what Beth and Monica, or Veresov and Fleer, do with their study of
>>>> playworlds?). In this plane, which would be perhaps the most
>>>> naturalistic
>>>> one, the film could be studied as an human-made cultural artifact which
>>>> restuctures psychological functions; here, the meaning formed for the
>>>> film
>>>> by who watches it and uses it as mediator in her relation to her real
>>>> life
>>>> would be an m-perezhivanie.
>>>> In a second plane, we could proceed as if the film was real life, and we
>>>> could consider Sokolov telling his story to the man he meets by the
>>>> river
>>>> (a little bit like Carla telling her story to me). In this plane,
>>>> Sokolov's
>>>> narrative (i.e., what is showed to us as narrated flashback) could be
>>>> considered as a cultural artifact that Sokolov uses to relate to all
>>>> what
>>>> happened to him. At this plane, the meaning of this narrative would be
>>>> the
>>>> m-perezhivanie that, in that moment, mediates the relationship between
>>>> Sokolov and the war events he experienced years ago (but these events
>>>> are
>>>> still very present to him, so although relating to past events, there is
>>>> here a Sokolov's activity [towards the past war events] which is in
>>>> present
>>>> -this echoes Christopher when, within our conversations, said: “Part of
>>>> this might also be a question of what it means to describe and represent
>>>> one's own perezhivanie figuratively/narratively (whether to others, or
>>>> to
>>>> oneself), as opposed to living that perezhivanie. Especially if the
>>>> attempt
>>>> to capture/represent one's own perezhivanie is, perhaps, also central to
>>>> the living of it?”
>>>> In a third plane, we could proceed as if Sokolov's narration was not a
>>>> retrospective narration, but the on-time sequence of events with on-time
>>>> Sokolov's explanation of these events (in the moments in which the
>>>> narrator
>>>> voice is assumed within the flashback). In this plane, there are several
>>>> interesting perezhivanie phenomena. Clearly, there is a Sokolov's
>>>> activity
>>>> of experiencing-as-struggle, which initiates when he realizes that all
>>>> his
>>>> family, except one son, had been killed 2 years ago. At this moment, his
>>>> life becomes meaningless; the meaning (m-perezhivanie) he uses to
>>>> relate to
>>>> all his life (including the past) at this moment is expressed in his
>>>> conversation with his oncle: “it's got to be that this life of mine is
>>>> nothing but a nightmare!”. In this moment, Sokolov's past in the prision
>>>> camp becomes also meaningless: then, his link to life (the
>>>> m-perezhivanie
>>>> that made being alive meaningful to him) was meeting his family; but at
>>>> that time his family was already dead, so when he discovers it, he
>>>> realizes
>>>> that this m-perezhivanie (the idea of meeting his family) was linking
>>>> him
>>>> to death, not to life, so all his efforts to surviving become
>>>> meaningless:
>>>> “Every night, when I was a prisioner, I talked with them. Now it turns
>>>> out
>>>> that for two years I was talking with the dead?”. In this conversation,
>>>> however, his oncle offers him an alternative m-perezhivanie to relate to
>>>> his life: he still has a son, so the m-perehivanie of meeting his family
>>>> can still turns Sokolov's life meaningful: “you've got to go on living.
>>>> You
>>>> have to find Anatoly. When the war is over, your son will get married,
>>>> you
>>>> will live with them. You will take up your carpentry again, play with
>>>> your
>>>> grandkids”. It takes some time to Sokolov to enter into this
>>>> m-perezhivanie, but he does it and his life becomes meaningful again:
>>>> “and
>>>> then, unexpectedly, I've got a gleam of sunlight”. But, then, Anatoly
>>>> also
>>>> dies. How to keep living? Here, Sokolov holds the m-perezhivanie that
>>>> linked him to life until that moment, and therefore, he needs a son;
>>>> pretending being the father of Vanya turns his life meaningful again.
>>>> Another interesting thing, still at that level, is how Sokolov's
>>>> relation
>>>> with his own immediate death changes along the different occasions in
>>>> which
>>>> he faces it. I thing here there are examples of
>>>> experiencing-as-contemplation -in my view, this is not
>>>> experiencing-as-struggle because the situation of impossibility (the
>>>> immediate death) is removed existentially (Sokolov's life is given back
>>>> to
>>>> him), so that there is not a permanent situation of impossibility which
>>>> is
>>>> initially meaningless and is turned into meaningful. In each occasion in
>>>> which Sokolov is faced with his immediate death, the m-perezhivanie that
>>>> mediates this relationship is different. When he is captured, his
>>>> m-perezhivanie is expressed as: “here's my death coming after me”. When
>>>> he
>>>> is conducted to meet the nazi official, the m-perezhivanie is expressed
>>>> as:
>>>> “the end of your misery”, “to my death and my release of this torment, I
>>>> will drink”. In the first, the death is running after Sokolov; in the
>>>> second, it is Sokolov happily going to meet death. Later, at the end of
>>>> the
>>>> film, he faces his immediate death again, and the m-perezhivanie is
>>>> expressed as: “I'm really worried that I might die in my sleep, and that
>>>> would frighten my little son”.
>>>> Well, just some thoughts after watching this wonderful film.
>>>> Best regards,
>>>> Marc.
>>>> 2017-01-15 0:06 GMT+01:00 Christopher Schuck <schuckcschuck@gmail.com>:
>>>> Yes, definitely that article! And specifically, when I used "pivoting" I
>>>>> couldn't help but think of Beth's earlier example about how a child
>>>>> will
>>>>> use a stick as a pivot for a horse. Perhaps a somewhat different
>>>>> application but related, no?
>>>>> On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 4:06 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <
>>>>> a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Chris, all,
>>>>>> your post is totally relevant to Beth's and Monica's article in the
>>>>>> special issue. They write about film and perezhivanie (quoting
>>>>>> Sobchack)
>>>>>> the following:
>>>>>> The reason that film allows us to glimpse the future is that there is
>>>>>> a
>>>>>> connection between filmic time and ‘real’ time: “The images of a film
>>>>> exist
>>>>>> in the world as a temporal flow, within finitude and situation.
>>>>>> Indeed,
>>>>> the
>>>>>> fascination of the film is that it does not transcend our
>>>>> lived-experience
>>>>>> of temporality, but rather that it seems to partake of it, to share
>>>>>> it”
>>>>>> (1992, p. 60).
>>>>>> And later
>>>>>> "Specifically, the way that the flow of time becomes multidirectional
>>>>>> is
>>>>>> that “rehearsals make it necessary to think of the future in such a
>>>>>> way
>>>>> as
>>>>>> to create a past” (1985, p. 39). As Schechner ex-plains: “In a very
>>>>>> real
>>>>>> way the future – the project coming into existence through the
>>>>>> process of
>>>>>> rehearsal – determines the past: what will be kept from earlier
>>>>> rehearsals
>>>>>> or from the “source ma-terials” (1985, p. 39)."
>>>>>> Alfredo
>>>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.e
>>>>>> du>
>>>>>> on behalf of Christopher Schuck <schuckcschuck@gmail.com>
>>>>>> Sent: 14 January 2017 21:43
>>>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate of a Man
>>>>>> But that's both the limitation and strength of art or fictional
>>>>>> narrative
>>>>>> as opposed to real life, isn't it? That art focuses our attention and
>>>>>> highlights certain features in a way that is idealized and
>>>>>> artificially
>>>>>> "designed" to convey something more clearly and purely (but less
>>>>>> organically and authentically) than it would be conveyed in the
>>>>>> course of
>>>>>> living it, or observing someone else living it? One way to get around
>>>>> this
>>>>>> would be, as David says, to analyze the film in terms of clues as to
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> stages of emergence. But maybe another way to use the film would be to
>>>>> view
>>>>>> it not so much as a complete, self-sufficient "example" of
>>>>>> perezhivanie,
>>>>> as
>>>>>> a *tool *for pivoting back and forth between the concept of
>>>>>> perezhivanie
>>>>> as
>>>>>> imaginatively constructed (through fiction), and the concept of
>>>>>> perezhivanie as imaginatively constructed (through our real living
>>>>>> experience and observation of it). So, it would be the *pivoting*
>>>>>> between
>>>>>> these two manifestations of the concept (designed vs. evolved, as
>>>>>> David
>>>>> put
>>>>>> it) that reveals new insights about perezhivanie, rather than
>>>>> understanding
>>>>>> the concept from the film per se.
>>>>>> On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 3:08 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> I think there's a good reason why Andy started a new thread on this:
>>>>>> he's a
>>>>>>> very tidy thinker (quite unlike yours truly) and he knows that one
>>>>>> reason
>>>>>> why xmca threads are seldom cumulative is that they digress to related
>>>>>>> problems without solving the immmediate ones.
>>>>>>> Yes, of course, a film allows us to consider an example of
>>>>>> "perezhivanie",
>>>>>>> but it is a designed perezhivanie rather than an evolved one; it
>>>>>> doesn't
>>>>>> explicitly display the various stages of emergence required for a
>>>>>> genetic
>>>>>> analysis, unless we analyze it not as a complete and finished work of
>>>>>> art
>>>>>> but instead for clues as to the stages of its creation (the way that,
>>>>>> for
>>>>>> example, "Quietly Flows the Don" was analyzed to determine its
>>>>>>> authenticity).
>>>>>>> I remember that In the original short story, the schnapps drinking
>>>>>>> scene seemed like pure sleight of hand: an artistically gratuitous
>>>>>> example
>>>>>>> of what eventually gave Soviet social realism such a bad name.
>>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>>> Macquarie University
>>>>>>> On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 10:04 PM, Carol Macdonald <
>>>>>> carolmacdon@gmail.com
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Fellow XMCa-ers
>>>>>>>> I have watched it through now, thank you Andy, but right now only
>>>>>>> empirical
>>>>>>>> psychological categories come to mind.  I will watch it again and in
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> meanwhile let my fellows with more recent experience of
>>>>>>> /perezhivanie/
>>>>>> take
>>>>>>>> the discussion further.
>>>>>>>> It is a kind of timeless story, and modern film techniques would
>>>>>>> perhaps
>>>>>>> be
>>>>>>>> more explicit. At the least I would say it has for me a Russian
>>>>>>>> understanding of suffering, perhaps because of their unique
>>>>>>> experience
>>>>>> of
>>>>>>> it. But having said that, WWII must have generated other similar
>>>>>>>> experiences, apart from the first part about Andrei's family dying
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> famine.
>>>>>>>> Carol
>>>>>>>> On 14 January 2017 at 02:15, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>> I watched it in two parts with subtitles:
>>>>>>>>> http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x16w7fg_destiny-of-a-man-
>>>>>>>>> 1959-pt-1_creation
>>>>>>>>> http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x16wat4_destiny-of-a-man-
>>>>>>>>> 1959-pt-2_creation
>>>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>>>>>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
>>>>>>>> decision-making
>>>>>>> On 14/01/2017 2:35 AM, Beth Ferholt wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Thank you for taking us to a shared example.  I think that
>>>>>>>>>>> having a
>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>> Carol A Macdonald Ph.D (Edin)
>>>>>>>> Cultural Historical Activity Theory
>>>>>>>> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
>>>>>>>> alternative email address: tmacdoca@unisa.ac.za