[xmca] Perezhivanie and Catharsis?

From: Cathrene Connery <cconnery who-is-at ithaca.edu>
Date: Tue Dec 04 2007 - 09:59:57 PST

Hi Peter and friends,
I think you are onto something here. If we look at the ontology of
Vygotsky's work, we see that he uses the term catharsis in his doctoral
dissertation The Psychology of Art. Perhaps his later writings on
perezhivanie were an attempt to come full circle with the totality of
experience he was seeking to describe as root or motif of his original

In this early work, Vygotsky's definition of catharsis moves beyond
processing the experience of trauma and angst to a larger perspective in
which emotions are economized and mental energy is conserved through a
"discharge that introduces order and harmony into the psychic household
of our feelings" (p. 248). Catharsis is achieved through the movement
of opposing emotions that develop in two different directions, resulting
in a dialectic that both validates and transforms the emotions
involved. I see parallels here between the internal / external
dialectic he sought to capture in his description of perezhivanie.

Perhaps the next step in this mystery is to obtain the etymology of the
Russian term catharsis and compare the two?


Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> The one discrepancy between most of my reading and what Dot's contributed is
> Dot's grounding of the term in some sort of trauma. She included, for
> instance, something from http://www.webaby-corp.com/home_zen_fire_tale.htm
> This is actually a very unusual site. Webaby-corp.com is a software company,
> and their home page includes a link to
> http://www.webaby-corp.com/skomoroh_hut.htm. I couldn't find an explanation
> for why this section appears, but it's an anonymously authored set of
> "tales" including the zen fire tale at Dot's link, which includes attention
> to perezhivanie as quoted in Dot's post. Here, overcoming pain or trauma is
> a central aspect of perezhivanie; yet this dimension does not appear in
> other writing I've come across. Any thoughts on this, especially if you are
> fluent in Russian and can help unpack the term and its component parts?
> Thanks,Peter
> Peter Smagorinsky
> The University of Georgia
> 125 Aderhold Hall
> Athens, GA 30602
> smago@uga.edu/phone:706-542-4507
> http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/faculty/smagorinsky/index.html
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
> Behalf Of Carol Macdonald
> Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 2:11 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Polymathicus on perezhivanie
> What an enchanting blog. It even helped us Anglophones de-compose the word.
> On 03/12/2007, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:
>> http://polymathicus.blogspot.com/2007/09/stanislavskys-elusive-word.html
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Dr. M. Cathrene Connery
Assistant Professor of Education
Ithaca College
xmca mailing list
Received on Tue Dec 4 10:05 PST 2007

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