This is a blog about Russian history. It’s called a “pointillist history” because its entries are contextually contained[1] and totally without discipline of subject or arrangement. It leaps unapologetically and spastically through time, and has no political convictions save a sort of bemused pessimism.[2]

Theoretically, the regular accumulation of entries on randomly selected blips of Russian history might eventually grow and congeal into a wide and breathtaking cultural portrait, though one considerably less soothing than anything by Georges Seurat. It is important, therefore, to emphasize that this will not happen, not on anyone’s blog – but particularly not on this one, because the “pointillist” conceit is actually calculated only to allow the author[3] to write about whatever he happens to think is interesting that week – whatever is sad or funny or (more frequently) both.

Because these entries are not scholarly essays (and are sometimes written from memory), they generally do not contain strict citations. Each entry, however, is followed by a list of resources with which the suspicious reader could probably fact-check the entry – not to mention learn far more about the topic than he would here. Being interesting enough to direct people to these sources is the author’s greatest ambition.[4]

1. Although there are a great many footnotes, like this one, through which entries bleed out of their subjects into the edges of a wider context. The footnote form is used because it allows for long-winded digressions at any point in the text without actually having to interrupt anything. There’s a whiff of academia about them, sure, but think of it this way: as internet users, we’re quite comfortable with having the frequent option to abandon someone’s thought for entire websites full of other people’s thoughts, and we’re quite comfortable with coming back when we’re done, if we feel like it. If you do feel like it, click the footnote’s number.

2. An awful lot of Russian intellectual history is preoccupied with the frustrating search for a definition of What It Means To Be Russian – for a unifying cultural principle. “Bemused pessimism” might work pretty well.

3. The author, by the way, is a Portland State University history student undergoing a temporary interruption in academic service who will, theoretically, one day obtain a degree in Russian history. His name is Theon Weber, he is not Russian at all, and his professional writing and criticism (for the Village Voice and other publications) can be found scattered around the Internet under his name, which a colleague once praised for its “Googleability”.

4. Also, a book deal, like that StuffWhitePeopleLike guy.



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