Provocation in V. Shukshin’s Artistic Consciousness: Motives and Limits of Testing Meanings
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Abstract: This article analyzes Shukshin’s radical moral and artistic position as a writer and cinema director. The aim of the study is to describe the paradox of the provocative uniqueness of the artist, fighting for his right to speak in the name of the people. The challenge is addressed to the official ideology, esthetical norms, nationalists’beliefs, and even to the people themselves as a sacramental invective question: “What is happening to us?” The definition of the challenge as a provocation is justified by correlating metaphoric discoveries and principles of communication and suggestion in Shukshin’s works with the theory of provocation and the history of the establishment of radical concepts and forms in art. The methods of analysis combine phenomenology (the content of artistic ideas) with the search for comparative and typological associations (Dostoevsky’s investigators). Analysis of the provocative part of Shukshin’s art unveils the characteristics of his way of thinking, psychology, conditions for self-determination, and principles of interaction with the public. The motives of the challenge are manifold – the protest against the norm and the dogma, the forced position of an “underground person” (“uncovered fighter”), and the loyalty to the truth. The most radical provocation is comparing Stepan Razin to Christ, and the historical role of the Cossacks’chieftain to the Savior’s mission: “I came to give you freedom.” The writer was well aware of the chieftain’s cruelty, who caused the bloody uprising, but who showed such an example of tenacity, that by the power of his will he was able to turn the masses into the people and became the embodiment of the protest against despotism and servile psychology. In contrast to the idea-driven and esthetical provocation of his contemporaries, Shukshin in his solutions looks for the truth, appeals to the natural mind, strives for suggestion via compassion, and demands action. High provocations are separated from the actions of idea-driven manipulators (“Srezal” (Cutting Them Down to Size), “Vybirayu derevnyu na zhitelstvo” (A Village to Call Home), “Vechno nedovolniy Yakovlev” (Constantly Dissatisfied Yakovlev)). Charming weirdos are not God’s fools, their consciousness is deeply reflexive. Challenge is in the thought (“Zabuksoval” (Stuck in the Mud), “Veruyu!” (I believe!)), in the absurd search for the calling (“I Beg Your Pardon, Madam!”, “Gena Proydisvet”), and in ridiculing the pseudo intellectual art (“Pjedestal” (The Pedestal), “Do tretyikh petukhov” (Before the Third Rooster)). The answer came in the form of acrid deconstructions of conceptualists (V. Sorokin and D. A. Prigov). Shukshin’s provocations are genuinely heuristical, because his thinking is intellectually pure, free, and passionate.
Key words: INTELLECTUAL CREATIVE ACTIVITY; THE TRUTH; RUSSIAN WRITERS; LITERARY CREATIVE ACTIVITY; ARTISTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Plekhanova, I. I. (2020). Provocation in V. Shukshin’s Artistic Consciousness: Motives and Limits of Testing Meanings. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №1. P. 18-29. DOI 10.26170/FK20-01-02.