Orientation: The relationship between peripateticism, transposition and "How a Russian Sees America"

 
Now that Yuri (Smirnov) has had a spurt of inspiration and lined up a number of posts on his book tentatively titled "How a Russian Sees America", I thought I would discuss why we are even involved in such a project.
The origin of almost everything related to peripateticism started with the linguistic concept of transposition. Naratologists refer to the shift of direct discourse to indirect discourse as transposition. In English, this generally causes the tense in indirect discourse to differ from what it would be in direct discourse. Narratives told in the preterite generally relate the direct discourse of characters in the present tense. When this discourse is transposed to the past tense for indirect discourse, especially in the case of narrated monologue (Cohn) or free indirect discourse/style indirect libre (Genette, Booth), it can be hard to distinguish from the narrator's narration in the past tense. The consequences of this shift (or lack thereof in Russian) are immense (see here or request my unpublished work), but it is inevitable that a degree of uncertainty and instability enters the narrative.
Transposition and transposing emblems take up this concept of potentially shifting one element while retaining another. This has been discussed repeatedly in posts (here, here, here) so I won't go into it again, but these genres share the effect of uncertainty and instability, as you never quite know whether the speaker lies in the past or is actually in the present, whether the statements are old or new - an experience questioning what you know and dissolving any certainty in your worldview.
As young adults, our experiences in Russia and China were eye-opening. They raised serious questions about our western way of life, particularly our preoccupation with the physical and material - objects, products, money, consumption, physical condition, appearance - at the expense of the spiritual or metaphysical - relaxing, thinking/reflecting, concentrating, producing, and above all living not by ideology, program, agenda, but by accepting different states.


But when we considered the differences we perceived between the East and West, we realized that they only seemed so great because we (Westerners) stemmed from the culture-defining group in the West that differed from the culture-defining group in the East. In fact, these Easterners existed within our own society, only they did not define its leitculture and we were not in their circle, primarily because we, as scions of families in the leitculture, had been socialized by it and adopted patterns of behavior that decreased the likelihood of mixing with the subculture. 
 
Furthermore, this subculture that evinces extensive similarities to Eastern leitcultures, lived the same life of uncertainty and instability that we were exploring in transposition and transposing emblems. What's more, identification of its existence and the ease with which one can find poetry in it  destabilizes the uniform view of Western culture advanced by the mainstream media. Awareness of this duality in the West also destabilizes the assumptions guiding who we are and what we identify as Western.
Transposition and transposing emblems question certainty and attempt to explore diverse sides and aspects of instability. Outside of these concepts and the arts, one of the places we find widespread acceptance of uncertainty and instability is in these Eastern cultures such as Russia and in subcultures in the West. We call this group "romantics" and juxtapose them to pragmatics on the most simplistic level.
Since we have already published so much theory on transposition (and are trying to on transposing emblems), we decided to have Yuri present the art of instability in this accessible, potentially controversial form of a book about how a Russian sees America, which is simultaneously about how a romantic views a pragmatist.
Texts by Henry Whittlesey
Photos by Koen Douterloigne
February 2016

Further reading

Smirnov. Yuri. How a Russian sees America: So!? (excerpt of chapter three). February 2016
Smirnov. Yuri. February 2016
Smirnov. Yuri. (excerpt). January 2016.  
Smirnov, Yuri. How a Russian sees America: What happens when you do not sacrifice the mind to the body. Excerpt. November 2015.

Smirnov, Yuri. How a Russian Sees America. Feb. 2015 
Smirnov, Yuri. Chapter 1 (excerpt): A Russian's View of America: What Do You Have That We Don't? Mar. 2015 
Smirnov, Yuri. Chapter 6 (excerpt): How a Russia Sees America: Are We Really That Different? - Security. Mar. 2015 
Smirnov, Yuri: Chapter 2 (excerpt): A Russian's View of America: What's The Point of Living? Apr. 2015 
Smirnov, Yuri. Chapter 1 (excerpt): A Russian's View of America. What Do you Have That We Don't (Continued)? May 2015 

Smirnov, Yuri. How a Russian Sees America - what if America is the best? (excerpt of chapter 5). July 2015
Smirnov, Yuri. How a Russian Sees America - Excerpt from chapter 8 - The exalted place Russia can occupy in the future world order. August 2015
Smirnov, Yuri. How a Russian Sees America - Excerpt from chapter 8 - The exalted place Russia can occupy in the future world order (continued). August 2015
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