Poetry News

Aaron Winslow on Russian Cosmism, Edited by Boris Groys

By Harriet Staff
Boris Groys, Russian Cosmism, cover

"Russian Cosmism, edited and introduced by art critic Boris Groys, reveals that [Soviet poet Alexander] Svyatogor was only one of a loose conglomeration of revolutionaries, artists, scientists, and mystics who operated under the name of Cosmists in the decades surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution," writes Aaron Winslow for Los Angeles Review of Books about the MIT Press book, published earlier this year. More from "Russian Cosmism Versus Interstellar Bosses: Reclaiming Full-Throttle Luxury Space Communism":

The primary texts of Russian Cosmism are important not just for showing us where recent technofuturist ideas came from, but why they were appealing in the first place. The volume shows us that Russian, and specifically Russian communist, Cosmism is not just appealing, but important. Radical. Revolutionary.

Svyatogor perhaps gets at the true core of Cosmist thought when he writes that Biocosmist society “requires terrifying freedom for man.” Cosmism takes human liberation right down to the cellular level as its goal. The critical difference lies in the fact that the Cosmists were largely animated by the ideas of collective political struggle. Films such as Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Cameraand new histories such as China Miéville’s October show the messiness, upheaval, and transformation of Russian society produced by the Bolshevik Revolution. Moreover, the Revolution acted as a crucible for avant-garde art and radical politics that produced movements such as the Constructivists, the Maximalists, Futurists, and the Proletkult, all of which sought — to varying degrees — the overthrow of all existing aesthetic, political, and social norms. This was a moment in which any and all ideas were possible, and the Cosmists played a significant role in creating this new world.

Read the full piece at LARB.


Originally Published: August 22nd, 2018