Boris Groys (ed.): Russian Cosmism (2018)

19 March 2018, dusan

“Cosmism emerged in Russia before the October Revolution and developed through the 1920s and 1930s; like Marxism and the European avant-garde, two other movements that shared this intellectual moment, Russian Cosmism rejected the contemplative for the transformative, aiming to create not merely new art or philosophy but a new world. Cosmism went the furthest in its visions of transformation, calling for the end of death, the resuscitation of the dead, and free movement in cosmic space. This volume collects crucial texts, many available in English for the first time, by the radical biopolitical utopianists of Russian Cosmism.

Cosmism was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov in the late nineteenth century; he believed that humans had an ethical obligation not only to care for the sick but to cure death using science and technology; outer space was the territory of both immortal life and infinite resources. After the revolution, a new generation pursued Fedorov’s vision. Cosmist ideas inspired visual artists, poets, filmmakers, theater directors, novelists (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky read Fedorov’s writings), architects, and composers, and influenced Soviet politics and technology. In the 1930s, Stalin quashed Cosmism, jailing or executing many members of the movement. Today, when the philosophical imagination has again become entangled with scientific and technological imagination, the works of the Russian Cosmists seem newly relevant.”

With texts by Alexander Bogdanov, Alexander Chizhevsky, Nikolai Fedorov, Boris Groys, Valerian Muravyev, Alexander Svyatogor, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Anton Vidokle, and Brian Kuan Wood.

Publisher e-flux, New York, and MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2018
ISBN 9780262037433, 0262037432
ix+249 pages

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Cosmic Shift: Russian Contemporary Art Writing (2017)

17 October 2017, dusan

“In this, the first anthology of Russian contemporary art writing to be published outside Russia, many of the country’s most prominent contemporary artists, writers, philosophers, curators and historians come together to examine the region’s various movements of contemporary art, culture, and theory, from communism, cosmism and conceptualism to past and future futures.

With contributions from Barte de Baere, Boris Groys, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Anton Vidokle, Bogdan Mamonov, Pavel Pepperstein, Dmitri Prigov and Masha Sumnina amongst many others, this definitive collection reveals a compelling portrait of a vast and complex nation built on a contradicting dialectic between the material and the ideal and a culture battling its own histories and ideologies.”

Edited by Elena Zaytseva and Alex Anikina
Foreword by Bart De Baere
Publisher Zed Books, London, 2017
ISBN 9781786993243, 1786993244
xvii+516 pages

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George M. Young: The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers (2012)

9 June 2013, dusan

“The nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the emergence of a controversial school of Russian thinkers, led by the philosopher Nikolai Fedorov and united in the conviction that humanity was entering a new stage of evolution in which it must assume a new, active, managerial role in the cosmos. In the first account in English of this fascinating tradition, George M. Young offers a dynamic and wide-ranging examination of the lives and ideas of the Russian Cosmists.

Suppressed during the Soviet period and little noticed in the West, the ideas of the Cosmists have in recent decades been rediscovered and embraced by many Russian intellectuals and are now recognized as essential to a native Russian cultural and intellectual tradition. Although they were scientists, theologians, and philosophers, the Cosmists addressed topics traditionally confined to occult and esoteric literature. Major themes include the indefinite extension of the human life span to establish universal immortality; the restoration of life to the dead; the reconstitution of the human organism to enable future generations to live beyond earth; the regulation of nature to bring all manifestations of blind natural force under rational human control; the transition of our biosphere into a “noosphere,” with a sheath of mental activity surrounding the planet; the effect of cosmic rays and currently unrecognized particles of energy on human history; practical steps toward the reversal and eventual human control over the flow of time; and the virtues of human androgyny, autotrophy, and invisibility.

The Russian Cosmists is a crucial contribution to scholarship concerning Russian intellectual history, the future of technology, and the history of western esotericism.”

Publisher Oxford University Press, 2012
ISBN 0199892946, 9780199892945
280 pages
via falsedeity

Review (Stephen Roulac, Russian Journal of Books)
Review (Julia Mannherz, Slavic Review)

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