In their 1998 Russian Best-Selling Book, The Art of Soaring (English Title), Russian Authors Vladimir Dolokhov and Vadim Gurangov outline a practical philosophy that the Russian people have developed to help cope with the historically harsh natural and political climates. This scene is from an explanation of one of the items in the Eastern Slavic toolkit which involves equal parts gratitude and absurdity.
Instead of being angry or upset at Ivan, a thug encountered in the street, the authors urge that we can be thankful for the lessons that Ivan can teach us (that the streets are dangerous and if we are not careful someone might mug us leaving us in turn destitute and desperate). To solidify our thanksgiving, we can conjure up absurd scenes and offer them as imaginary gifts to the things that would otherwise be our adversaries. This allows us to leave the situation with a lesson learned and a smile on our face.
While apparently stemming from a different philosophical taxonomy, this is closely related to the Stoic teaching that even if we cannot change exterior circumstances we can always change how we think about those circumstances.
This absurd scene comes from the chapter "Giving Thanks" in the passage that says, "Thank you, Yanya [a term of endearment for someone named Ivan], for warning me that what I am imagining could actually happen to me: you could beat me up and take all my money. Then I might become like you, or end up begging for money at bus stops, since my wife would never let me come home without any money. For warning me of this, I thank you and offer you a crane wearing rubber boots, which is painting a fence green with a vacuum cleaner."
Computer Generated Art / Photo Collage
6" x 8"
© 2017 Luke Bonewitz, All rights reserved.
Student Art in the Library Fall 2017 Exhibit
Absurd, Soaring, Abstract, Imagination, Stoicism, Russian Philosophy, Coping, Practical Philosophy