ISBN : 9782381130033 – Published March 3rd 2020 – Language : English (translated from Russian) – 110 Pages – Weight : 0,22 kg – Dimensions (centimeters ) 15,24 x 22,86
Victor Kogan-Yasny’s articles have, by current standards, been published in Russian for quite a long time now. The uniqueness of these works is that time has shown the accuracy and objectivity of his analysis. In analyzing the peculiarities of Russian politics in inseparable connection with European and world developments, and without being carried away by analogies, the author doubtless determines very precisely the place of Russia. Victor Kogan-Yasny’s involvement in practical politics certainly makes his conclusions even more credible. However, in my opinion, the author’s main achievement is his absolute intellectual honesty. I do not think I am mistaken in saying that, of all that has been published in Russia in recent decades, the political and philosophical works of Viktor Kogan-Yasny have indeed proved to be the most accurate and profound in their assessments and predictions. It is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to understand modern Russia to read, attentively and without haste, this wise and selfless book.
Many are familiar with the young Pasternak’s phrase (it even has a certain popularity): “A book is a cubic fragment of incandescent, smoking conscience — nothing more.” Even though the phrase has become something of a commonplace, it has not lost its meaning. Everyone gives it their own emphasis, highlights with a coloured marker in their mind what is for them of primary significance.
In the book I have had the honour to read, the author, Viktor Kogan-Yasny, clearly and definitively focuses on the notion of “smoking conscience.” Indeed, readers who know the author as a public figure will not be able to free themselves, as they read, from the constant presence of Viktor’s voice floating above the surface of the text. It is a quiet, slightly stuttering, stumbling voice, testing each word for its taste, even smell; an urban voice, but pure and sad, like a forgotten village bugle. He lives in each letter, in every turn of phrase. He stands above each article gathered here like smoke above a village hut. Evidently, in the spiritual world of Viktor Valentinovich it is always fresh morning! And this is surprising, since in that part of Russia’s spiritual life the author sees and describes every day, there is a deep, prolonged twilight, with muddy slush, and a Chekhovian resignation: “We shall yet see the sky in …”
This ellipsis points to the future of the Motherland, indistinct, perhaps better, but probably bitter, indeed yet more bitter, which is the main theme of the book.
Despite the clear reference to Vasily Rozanov, in all these texts it is the hum, rattle and movement of thought of Radishchev that is much more evident — and this is the inevitable fate of Russian political prose, which, primarily, is the genre of this book. The author travels around Russia in person or in his thoughts, and, in an extraordinary way he changes in accordance with his geographical location. In major cities he is energetic, while in the provinces he is more contemplative, a stance which corresponds to Kogan-Yasny’s main approach to life, for he is a witness. Not in the sense of “What extraordinary things we saw!” No. The author lives and works in the spirit of the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He has clearly defined for himself the era in which he lives and which is, consequently, the object of his studies, as the new, democratic testament of Russia.
The Teacher’s words spoken in parting from his students, now left orphaned without him — “You will be my witnesses … even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1) — are a law and a commandment for the author.
What serves as the Teacher are in fact the philosophical and ethical systems that arose in the West over the last three centuries and that, in Russia, speak of the rights and obligations of a person free of the dictates of power in the richness of a just and developing world. The author himself, I believe, occasionally compares himself with the Apostle Nathanael. And he would be in part correct. Friends and readers, meeting with conscience and an inspired mission is not easy, but read thoughtfully and keep on thinking to the very edge of this “cubic fragment … of conscience.”
The document of Victor Kogan Yasny reflects fully his soul searching journey on the society and churches he lives in. In a moving process he looks back at the heritage and fruits of the communist past in everyday life, even today. He links these reflections with a broad and rich background of philosophy and literature. He signals brief moments of hope but also the disappointments that followed because the occasions were not grasped. At very crucial moments the Western world and especially Western Europe does not really do an effort to listen and to understand the people in Russia. Quickly it abandons solidarity as it walks away into horizons of globalisation and beliefs in neoliberalism. Against the upheavals of Russian history with all its pain and suffering for so many people this is a deeply moving personal witness.
Etienne De Jonghe
The Pamphlet is arguing from an interesting mixture of values — on one hand the Russian History. On another hand, Western political Philosohy in a Liberal-Democratic from the days of the Frensh Revolutuion. In a collection of essays, the Author masters this doubble-track analysys. and in an admirable English translation. His conclusions are of great interest now, when the Russian political system for more than two decades is in a new flux.
Bjorn von Sydow
I find the collection of Victor Kogan-Yasny’s texts most stimulating due to its broad perspective both politically and culturally. It deepens my understanding of the Russian world and enriches the picture of politics both here and there. It is not very hopeful for the future but probably realistic.
Reading your work, at times I am overcome by a feeling I am reading an indictment for the loss of Russia addressed directly to me: for what I did not know, did not foresee, for failing to understand in time what was happening, for not doing anything and not realising how soon the the window of opportunity would close.
How to make your thoughts accessible to people who don’t read clever books? In the distant past people were enlightened by reading information printed on the pages of a tear-off calendar. In our times of the Internet, people read headlines. Why don’t we divide your texts into short messages, with the main sense of each concentrated in a headline?
All in all, thank you, my friend. Congratulations on your wise and perceptive writings
Writing a few words to accompany this book has been, for me, a difficult and daring exercise.
I am from Haiti. I therefore feel misplaced to comment on writings that relate to Russia, a huge and powerful country where I have never set foot.
But, I know the author: Victor Kogan-Yasny and consider him a friend. I got to know him through his writings, his interventions, as well as many exchanges during meetings, seminars and conferences in which we participated. Because we are both members of Pax Christi International: an international network of organizations working for peace.
It is on this basis that I allow myself to invite you, dear readers, to browse this book.
Victor Kogan-Yasny is a strong advocate of individual freedom and has a deep respect for human rights. He is also viscerally attached to his country.
Without preconceived ideas, let Victor introduce you to today’s Russia, thanks to his great sensitivity, his quest for the real and the true.