AB issue 32 – see it here

* The Place of Measure (Blues Mondo). T. Apraksina
* Great and Mighty. What the Old Seer Prophesied. N. Yarygin
* The Artist and the Rich Man (translated by A. Kiselyov)
* Osip Mandelstam and Martiros Saryan. Some Parallels of Artistic Thought. S. Saryan
* Would You Like to Meet Me? G. Caproni (translated by Y. Sventsitskaya)
* And I Sing of Love for You. S. Quasimodo (translated by Y. Sventsitskaya)
* The Musical Experience of the Listener. E. Cho
* The “Vijuaru Kei” of Japanese Rock. E. Molochkovetskaya
* For Soviet Rock. S. Vasiliev
* Step by Step Through the Season with “Blues” (Blues Reports): Keepers of the Postal Fleece. Meetings with Fast-Witted Fan. Punk Defense, Punk Ballet. Boogie-Woogie Biosphere and Ethnogenesis: Lev Gumilyov. Finding a Face Before Sound. J. Manteith
* The Idea of a University. J.H. Newman (excerpts in translation)
* The Essence of the Mind. Lama Gendun Rinpoche (translated by V. Ragimov)
* Stages of Formation in the Verbist Order (interview)
* The Positive Tensor of Curvature. V. Lyubeznov
* Ibn Ezra and His Chess Poem (translated by A. Kiselyov)
* Defending Dostoevsky. N. Orlova

Seva Logo And Guitar

Vsevolod Gakkel and His Songs.

November 17, 2022 (Thursday)


8:00 pm,

Doors open at 7:30 pm


Apraksin per., d. 3, kv. 4


310 9640,

+7 981 015 3721

Gate code #1469


All are invited!


Donations to musicians are welcome.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Musical Zen

Contemporary music with a Japanese accent


Vladimir SHULYAKOVSKY (violin)

Nikita CHASOVNIKOV (shakuhachi)

Shulyakovsky Zen

Doors open at 7:30 pm

Concert starts at 8:00 8:00 pm


Apraksin pereulok, d. 3, kv. 4 (gate code #1469)

Phone numbers: 310-9640

 (NEW!!) +7-981-015-3721


Donations for the musicians are welcome

Георг Гейм (перевод Галина Снежинская)

Гробы поживали в гробовой лавке со множеством газовых ламп. Там вечно сквозило, там холод стоял, — зима без конца и без краю. За дверью мартовский ветер шумел, а в лавке в ту пору ноябрь наступал. Мертвые листья без шума, без шороха падали вечно с балок гнилых. Случались и гости — из морга подружки, варили себе кофеек. Судили-рядили, судачили. А под потолком на тонких бечевках саваны сохли, сушились. И странные были разводы-рисунки на них, там, где мертвое тело лежало: острова в морях голубых, корабли на якоре, в бухтах. Саваны сохли, сушились долго, но досуха не высыхали. Тяжкими темными тучами под потолком нависали. И воздух был волглый, соленый, морской. И лампа мерцала бледной луной среди грозовых облаков.

Гробовщик был древний старик. Он звался Факоли-Боли, «Век-в-Тысячу-Лет». Борода у него была такой длинной, что он наступал на ее конец. Поутру он выходил в исподнем, и гробы желали ему доброго утра и щелкали жадно громадными челюстями. Есть хотели гробы. Гробовщик доставал дохлых крыс из угла, где было крысиное царство. Крысы в своей стране мертвечины не терпят, они выбрасывают мертвецов за шлагбаум на имперской границе. Гробовщик швырял дохлых крыс в зияющие черные пасти. Гробы переваривали, рыгали довольно, а он, укротитель отважный, расхаживал между рядами гробов, по жирным широким бокам их похлопывал и говорил:

— Потерпите уж, потерпите! Скоро будет вдоволь еды. Потерпите пока, потерпите!
Читать целикомгробы-пе..


The conference will take place in St. Petersburg and remotely in mid-May, 2022.

The working language of the conference is Russian.

The theme of the conference is “The Petrine Era” (and everything that might bear some relation to it).

Articles (six pages with 1.5 line spacing) should be submitted around mid-March (the anthologies collecting these articles come out before the conferences).

More information will follow.

Questions may be sent to the AB editorial address.

The Encyclopedia of “Sweet N”: James Manteith’s presentation from the 50th International Scholarly Conference of the V.I. Startsev International Association of Historical Psychology — Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Fall of the Soviet Union: Historical Parallels and Attempts at Interpretation. Dec. 13, 2021


Among the goals of culture is to help people survive such changes of eras as the collapse of the Soviet Union. From this point of view, I’d like to talk about the perception of one song as a bearer of the healing power of cultural continuity.


The song “Sweet N” was written by the Leningrad musician Mikhail “Mike” Naumenko, one of the first authors of artistically powerful blues and rock music in the USSR. Naumenko belonged to the Soviet Union’s unofficial so-called “second culture”. His songs initially had to circulate by amateur means, but quickly gained popularity and recognition, which have only grown since then.


One of Naumenko’s most famous songs — “Sweet N”, which appeared in 1980, was notably embraced by contemporaries as an “encyclopedia of life” in the author’s hometown and country. This definition implies a reference to Belinsky, who called Eugene Onegin an “encyclopedia of Russian life.” With this, the critic gave Russian literature an important symbolic yardstick, which remains in place to this day.


Such representatives of the second culture as Alexander Startsev, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya and Boris Grebenshchikov called “Sweet N” an encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet or St. Petersburg life, as different variants of recognition. That is, they agreed about the quality of encyclopedicity, which we can trace in the song at many levels, and about the song containing life as such. We might say the song has both facts and a sense of life, a characteristic search. In addition, these observers seem to have found it valid to compare this short, modest song from the late 20th century with the classic “novel in verse” of the golden age of Russian culture. And we can also surmise their feelings that in the song’s psychological space, Russian, Soviet and St. Petersburg life remains unified, and Leningrad’s life remains St. Petersburg’s.


Written in the style of a precise material and human document, the song forms at least a “short story in verse.” Naumenko made sure that the paths and perspectives of this story’s characters accommodate thoughtfully selected details which entrancingly convey typical second-culture realities: its settings, moods, habits, personalities, layers, manners of communication and relationships, its food and drinks, its economic life, and so on.


The song narrates a simple sequence of events. The main character, who tells its story, casually wakes up and goes outside, where he meets a second character, previously a stranger, on a bridge. They buy wine together, and the new acquaintance take the main character to visit a loft, where cursorily described bohemians are having a party. And at the end the hero returns home, where he claims he finds a sleeping woman, Sweet N, the character who occupied his imagination during the song. The way each of these scenes is described conveys a lively, direct notion of an alternative internal code for how people of the Soviet era — and of any era — might partition themselves from the official world’s categories and aspirations. This attitude has as much resonance with the legacy of classic contrarian thinking of earlier ages of Russian culture as with the Soviet equivalent.


Like the cultural movement it represents, the song focuses on observations about its own world, on the natural actions, feelings and dreams of its circle. A personal world becomes an environment for spontaneous artistic transformation. The song’s hero sets out without specific plans, but still winds up in an adventure. On the surface, he doesn’t spend his day constructively, but he guilelessly and observantly engages in making sense of his environment. And the song reveals his experience and orientation as containing a whole universe, into which listeners are invited, and to which they can relate.


Listeners’ attitude to the song shows that for many, literally every detail has an inspired resonance with their everyday lives. The sung testimony that exactly four rubles were spent on three bottles of apparently cheap wine in the Soviet Union during the stagnation period has remained poignant against the general backdrop of later financial vicissitudes. It’s also nice to learn that in the loft people are listening to Bach and discussing Zen Buddhism and flying saucers — an ironic, truthful eclectism not likely accounted for in the official reference books of that time.


Music helps to show the metaphysical scale that lies behind this dailiness, against whose background the hero remains preoccupied with his life’s meaning, embodied by the image of his muse, Sweet N. This harmonious dedication helps to give the song’s compressed encyclopedicity the expansiveness of a ballad or saga.


As with the cosmogony of Onegin and other classics of Russian literature, the dynamics and development of a life as diminutive and intuitive as described in “Sweet N” can easily affect a listener’s imagination even now. A thorough recollection of the norms of such a life in Soviet times provides an example for the present. The historical and current perception of the song tells us that the task of a person of the past, present and future is to find meaning and happiness where he is, and, if possible, to share his findings with the utmost encyclopedicity — that is, with artistic orientation on a reality independent of change.

Back in St. Petersburg by the beginning of November 2021, AB’s editors immediately found many opportunities to assess current attitudes toward culture. At the 5th Cultural Congress, in which we took part, we encountered the opinion that the era of the cult of globalism is already over and has given way to a new era of recognizing the need for attention to various individual phenomena, on the scale on which a person really exists. The topics of our sections overlapped: “Cultural Industries” and “International Research and International Cooperation in Culture,” where we presented our views on “culture as a model and vector of evolution” and on the preservation of cultural heritage based on our work with the poetic archive of Anna Alekseeva (see AB 30).

Some reflections on the sections: in some of the lectures one could feel the inertia of conformity to the old world, and in some, on the contrary, the recognition that a new time is already coming by necessity — for those, at least, who are determined to truly belong to the culture. It is not enough to rely on abstract globalism, which removes individuals’ personal responsibility for their own development and leaves a void in society, which then fills with fragmented interests and values. Structures called upon to serve culture should not use their powers for this.

Therefore, it seemed natural that after the congress a strong desire remained to continue the conversation about culture in an even more vivid form — especially since the congress itself shifted to a remote form at the last moment. Indeed, a very lively dialogue took place on November 18 in our editorial office on Apraksin Lane, thanks to Tamara Viktorovna Partanenko’s seminar on L.N. Gumilyov’s theory of ethnogenesis. The seminar formed a successful precedent for the activities of our club Boogie-Woogie? -Ῥῆμα (Rhema).

Boogie-woogie is a rock-and-roll term that implies an active mutual exchange. Ῥῆμα is a Greek term for the action of utterance. The latter term was suggested to us by our author, philosopher Alexander Lvov, trying to characterize what happens at our seminars. By the end of the evening, philosopher Andrei Patkul looked at his watch and couldn’t believe the three hours dedicated to the event had flown by so quickly. Yes, we managed to elude the influence of time. Among the participants, who included both professional philosophers and supporters of philosophy representing other specialties and manners of life, namely the kind of polyphonic state of interaction transpired about which we can confidently say that yes, that was Boogie-woogie ῥῆμα.

The seminar participants’ additional interest was sparked by Partanenko having personally known Gumilyov, whose lectures she unexpectedly began to attend while still a psychology student. As a result, Partanenko switched to philosophy and began to study and apply Gumilyov’s theory, primarily in examining the relationship between cultures. Although Partanenko became a successful expert on Russian-French relations, her desire to make Gumilyov a central source in her work led to difficult consequences for her academic career at a time when Gumilyov himself was officially in disgrace.

Partanenko spoke about the reasons for this disgrace, connected with Gumilyov associating the evolution of civilization with the effect of cosmic radiation at certain moments striking the Earth like a whip. Because of this view, unacceptable for the Marxist-materialist intellectual environment of the Soviet Union, Gumilev faced serious professional restrictions. However, in parallel, he achieved great popularity among readers due to his lively style and the scope of his perspective, combining history, geography, biology, psychology and other disciplines.

The former student remembers Gumilyov as a brilliant lecturer who taught without notes and who, in an uncharacteristic way for Soviet times, asked questions directly to students, asking for their opinions. This approach at first embarrassed Partanenko but eventually contributed to her fascination with his personality and thought.

The scholar N.V. Serov, who attended the seminar, also recalled his personal contact with Gumilev at lectures in the 60s. Gumilyov impressed him as a kind person who spoke with students as equals. Serov, who eventually also took up syncretic thought in his own way, wrote an article comparing Gumilyov’s theory with Confucian philosophy, establishing an analogy between the concepts of “biosphere” for Gumilyov and “heaven” for Confucius.

Those present at the seminar were interested in the relevance of Gumilyov’s thought today:

– Was Gumilyov really ahead of his time, as Partanenko believes, anticipating recent discoveries about space?

– Or does Gumilyov remain an antiquated anachronism, whose ideas no one is developing?

– On the basis of what information or influences did Gumilev build his theory? Or did he invent it himself?

– Was what Gumilyov considered a discovery actually more a new presentation of thoughts about evolution, characteristic of Darwin’s century, while including other ideas about the mechanism of “passionarity,” the readiness for self-sacrifice, which he considered the driver of evolution?

– Did Gumilev prove the existence of this mechanism in the form that he describes, or does his system depend solely on his personal intuition?

– Does his system contain arbitrary distortions, even if its more cosmic part is treated metaphorically?

– Does his theory too strongly equate militancy with evolution, paying less attention to other manifestations of human nature, for example, in culture, peacemaking, dialogue?

– Do ethnic groups really exist as rigid, unchanging categories, if people demonstrate an ability to freely adapt to new geopolitical contexts?

– Is the tendency to adapt a sign of the strength or weakness of an individual or ethnic group?

– Is it possible to compare Gumilyov’s ideas about the energy of an ethnic group with, for example, what Machiavelli said about the people’s inherent energy, which the “prince” absorbs into himself?

– Or is the power of a ruler always illusory compared to more essential factors in the evolutionary state of a people?

– Was Gumilyov’s desire to think in ideal categories laudable or doomed?

All these and many other questions raised during the conversation remain open for further discussion.

Игра Заглавных Б(л)укв …


Мир притаившихся решений,
нераспиаренных пространств,
сердечных гладов разрешений,
интеллигентных мессианств,

неугасающих традиций
глубокой мысли. Симбиоз
философических амбиций
и рефлексии метаслёз.

Сошлись в одном ваянии целом
из музыки, бумаги, слов.
Наш Блюз! Нам проще Белым Мелом
Вчертить Твой Смысл на Карте Снов.

Чем отрывать скупое мясо
от Богом данных ветхих мех…
Или точить смердячьи лясы
на телешоу «Кто-то рех».

Мы зачарованы, как видно,
Твоим апостольским Пером.
И мне писать в Твой стол не стыдно!
Причастный к Блюзу ремеслом,

я благодарен Богу вечных,
лишь световидных сердцу фраз.
За дар любить на лицах Встречных,
простых людей Незримый Джаз.

И пронося его сквозь «голос
прочитанного в темноте»,
транслитерируя сквозь тропос,
я отправляю строчки те

Далёким гениям разлуки
что дышат сутью малых лун.
И той, чьи Созданные руки
создали Звук Печатных Струн.
Алексей Апраксин
С Днём Рождения Блюза Татьяна, Коллектив, и всех кому АБ небезразличен!
С небольшим опозданием 🙂 …

На Южных Заволжских Пляжах Отлично Пишутся стихи ..

Полноэкранная запись 20.02.2014 140106.bmp


Summer has arrived. According to Far Eastern traditions, it’s now a horse month, during which the sages advise to take special care to curb all manifestations of power now faced by and available to many.


Our authors continue to work or rest as best they can. Head Editorial Office Coordinator Elena Starovoitova, for instance, told us of her recent trip to Gorno-Altaysk, from which she crossed three mountain passes to a retreat center. In just a few days there, a group of Buddhists made more than 300 tsa-tsa — relief sculptures for spiritual practice. Having returned to Petersburg, Elena will soon resume this craft in a new place.


Other authors have either already sent materials for issue 32 or are working on their contributions, or will let us know their plans.


Yulia Sventsitskaya, always one of our most indispensable authors, has already sent her translations of Italian poet-translator Salvatore Quasimodo. We’ll present her Russian versions of a selection of Quasimodo’s translations of the poets of ancient Greece.


Anton Kiselyov, whose wonderful Mihai Eminescu translations appear in issue 31, sent a translation from Hebrew of a charming “chess poem” written by the famous poet, philosopher, grammarian and astronomer Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra in 12th century Spain. Kiselev also recently released a poetry collection, 100 Literary Riddles in Verse, highly recommended.


Olga Shilova, continuing to study her beloved Decembrists, is now examining their lyceum years.


Olga Zemlyanikina, according to recent reports, is engaged in either gardening in the country or decorating interiors in the city.


The poet Anna Alekseeva, whose archival poems were featured in issue 30 and also recently in the journal Svyaz Vremyon (The Time Joint), is quoted in a new Los Angeles Times review of Maria Bloshteyn’s anthology of wartime poetry Russia is Burning. The forthcoming issue of Cardinal Points magazine will include my translations of three poems by Alekseeva dedicated to N. Gumilyov, along with commentary on the poet and the story of people involved in recovering her legacy.


The editor-in-chief and translation editor are sitting in the mountains in California. In our Oakland studio, two started paintings wait on easels, but that space is hard to bear during the hot season. We felt it was best to stay in the mountains at least until the solstice, then see where things stand.


The most important feeling at the Campus, now as always, is tremendous gratitude for the inner purpose of all circumstances and all participants.


— James Manteith, Arroyo Seco, California

AB 31, our first issue since 1998 to be produced and published entirely in St. Petersburg, is imbued with the spirit of reconnecting with one’s beloved milieu.


The issue nonoctavely combines:


* the philosophy of pantheism in art (Sofia Saryan on her renowned grandfather’s worldview), of Tibetan monasticism (a new entry from Vagid Ragimov’s translation of “The Essence of the Ocean of True Meaning”) and of the human being as a project (highlights from the January 2021 seminar held by A. Lvov in our editorial office)


* the surprising songs of Vsevelod Gakkel and his disciple BG — through the eyes and ears of their admirers James Manteith and Andrei Advaitov


* the Decembrists at war, in a panoramic study by Olga Shilova


* inspired ways of measuring time, by Anna Kogan


* an apt, timeless critique of a failed musical, according to Alexander Donskich von Romanov


* the domestic wisdom of Tina Tiffany


* the poetry of Romania (translations by Anton Kiselev, in his first appearance here), Italy (Yulia Sventsitskaya, long known to our readers) and St. Petersburg (a wonderful cycle by Olga Alekseeva, who tragically passed away at the end of last year)


* the non-similarity of realities (according to the editor-in-chief).


All of this is now available in our Russian-language issue! Some can be available in English! If you know Russian, please feel free to help with translations. If you don’t know Russian, you can still help prepare translations — just get in touch to learn more. Meanwhile, please consider learning Russian — the language opens new worlds.