Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

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

Chapter 21
POST-ATHEISM From Apophatic Theology to "Minimal Religion"

Mikhail Epstein

We are turning demystification inside out: within the profane, we are discovering the sacred.

Mirca Eliade

There are numerous philosophical investigations into the relationship between religion and art.1 However, what interests me in the present chapter is not the eternal question traditionally broached, but the phenomenon of a new type of religious consciousness--or, more precisely, a religious unconscious--that is coming into existence in twentieth-century Russian culture. The term "religious unconscious" is applied here specifically to the state of Russian spirituality in the Soviet epoch and in particular to its latest phases when the official atheism is succeeded by various forms of post-atheist mentality.

What is commonly understood by the term "unconscious" is the sphere of primal drives and vital instincts, which the religious consciousness seeks to repress and eliminate. However, what was repressed and excluded during the Soviet epoch was precisely religious consciousness, which occupied the sphere of the unconscious in place of the baser instincts of hate, aggression, cruelty and

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