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

Misha's own childhood he saw represented in the boy in the movie. A 1958 Soviet audience was still struggling with the experience of the war. For the movie to function as a part of a perezhivanie for the watcher, it has to be reflecting and repeating something in the watcher's own experience. I think this is a partial answer to the question you opened in another thread - the use of story-telling, movies, etc., - "mediational means" - to help Americans in surviving the coming period of Trump's America. ... Andy

Andy Blunden
On 19/01/2017 1:02 PM, mike cole wrote:
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 <mailto: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://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>

    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 Blunden

            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

                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,


                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

                        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
                        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


                        in the world as a temporal flow,
                        within finitude and situation. Indeed,


                        fascination of the film is that it
                        does not transcend our


                        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


                        to create a past” (1985, p. 39).
                        As Schechner ex-plains: “In a very
                        way the future – the project
                        coming into existence through the
                        process of
                        rehearsal – determines the past:
                        what will be kept from earlier


                        or from the “source ma-terials”
                        (1985, p. 39)."


                        on behalf of Christopher Schuck
                        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


                        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


                        it not so much as a complete,
                        self-sufficient "example" of


                        a *tool *for pivoting back and
                        forth between the concept of


                        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


                        it) that reveals new insights
                        about perezhivanie, rather than


                        the concept from the film per se.

                        On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 3:08 PM,
                        David Kellogg

                            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


                            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


                            but it is a designed
                            perezhivanie rather than an
                            evolved one; it


                            explicitly display the various
                            stages of emergence required for a


                            analysis, unless we analyze it
                            not as a complete and finished
                            work of


                            but instead for clues as to
                            the stages of its creation
                            (the way that,


                            example, "Quietly Flows the
                            Don" was analyzed to determine its

                            I remember that In the
                            original short story, the
                            schnapps drinking
                            scene seemed like pure sleight
                            of hand: an artistically


                            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 <



                                Fellow XMCa-ers

                                I have watched it through
                                now, thank you Andy, but
                                right now only


                                psychological categories
                                come to mind.  I will
                                watch it again and in


                                meanwhile let my fellows
                                with more recent experience of



                                the discussion further.

                                It is a kind of timeless
                                story, and modern film
                                techniques would



                                more explicit. At the
                                least I would say it has
                                for me a Russian
                                understanding of
                                suffering, perhaps because
                                of their unique



                                it. But having said that,
                                WWII must have generated
                                other similar
                                experiences, apart from
                                the first part about
                                Andrei's family dying in




                                On 14 January 2017 at
                                02:15, Andy Blunden

                                    I watched it in two
                                    parts with subtitles:






                                    Andy Blunden


                                    On 14/01/2017 2:35 AM,
                                    Beth Ferholt wrote:

                                                Thank you
                                                for taking
                                                us to a
example. I think that

                        having a

-- Carol A Macdonald Ph.D (Edin)
                                Cultural Historical
                                Activity Theory
                                Honorary Research Fellow:
                                Department of Linguistics,
                                alternative email address: