Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
LIKE A CORPSE IN THE DESERT Dehumanization in the New Moscow Poetry

Mikhail Epstein

1. The new Moscow poetry has a disquieting effect on those readers who feel in it a fuzziness of aesthetic orientation points. There are complaints about its hermetic quality, its excessive complexity.... It is not a question of complexity of language only, but of the absence of a stable center, which used to be identified with the lyrical hero. All complexities were clarified once they were correlated with a centralized system of self-reference: "I am so-and-so ... I see the world as such ...." Whether or not such a hero was demonically horrible or cynically depraved, fanatically cruel or naively obtuse (as in the poetry of the decadents, futurists, members of Proletkult or the Oberiuts 1), he would nevertheless provide the reader with the pleasant possibility of aesthetic empathy, of expanding the reader's self by assimilation of the author's or the lyrical hero's.

Now there is no one with whom to identify. Poetry ceases to be the mirror of the narcissistic Ego. All that remains of this Ego's last lyrical sighs on the surface of the poetical mirror is a murky little stain of banalities. Instead of multiple mirror images, there is the crystalline structure of stone, which does not return the gaze back upon itself. The poetry of Structure displaces the poetry of Ego. At a

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