October 1st, 2021

voice of the city

Olga Sedakova on Averintsev, Dante and the “new serious”

https://www.olgasedakova.com/Events/2180

From an opening essay in her recent book on Sergey Averintsev:

"The novelty [of his worldview] consists not in inventing new methods and keywords, and not in disrupting the familiar; the novelty potential of these avenues was exhausted long ago. What would be novel and unexpected now? What is it that our era lacks? I'd say, it is clarity and hope. Clarity that takes seriously what was disregarded earlier – and a substantiated hope. Nothing is needed more acutely."

"I think, Averintsev possessed the classical prudentia, prudence. This three-pronged virtue was usually depicted with three eyes; it included good memory of the past, a sharp image of the present, and a vision of the future. In other words, prudentia implies responsibility (memory of the past), the ability to remove the focus from oneself (otherwise you won't see the present in its totality), and foresight. Manipulative argumentation, oversimplification, exaggeration, selecting your facts – all of these modern communication skills were incompatible with his position. He always remembers (and demonstrates how beautiful this way of remembering is) that everything is complicated – more complicated than an adventurer wants – but also totally simple – much simpler than a scheming mind thinks. In Averintsev's words, these are the divine complexity and divine simplicity."

"Without a hint of didacticism, he kept reminding that our perception of the human world as a whole, logical and hopeful space does not come from above and does not stay in place throughout our life. Many humanitarian truths are confessional in nature: you have to do something in order to reveal and retain them, and you have to stay faithful to them."

From an interview:

"Are modern [Russian] authors freer than their predecessors? I don't think so. The question of freedom arises when the author wants to communicate something yet unknown or sensitive to many. Something that carries the risk of being a statement; something that requires courage. We have this old, inertia-driven conception of "courageous" and "free" as something that pushes the limits of decency, something especially blunt, rude, cynical, etc. But this has long entered the mainstream. Try showing you are not a cynic and not a sceptic, and you'll see what happens. It is safer to arrive at your own wedding in a coffin, as was recently demonstrated."