Cult of the cosmic
October 15, 2015 10:24 AM   Subscribe

 
Oh, man, now I want to go find some of those TV shows. The End of Eternity as a cyberpunk nightmare? Yes, please!
posted by Mogur at 10:29 AM on October 15, 2015


Oh, I am completely willing to believe this, especially since I discovered the existence of this book a few years ago. Cosmonauts have never looked so saintly.
posted by redsparkler at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


i want that book i want prints of all the pages from that book i want to put those prints on all my walls i want to live in that book.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


мы должны выйти из этого места, если это последнее, что мы когда-нибудь сделать

we've gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing we ever do
posted by tilde at 10:48 AM on October 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


redsparkler's book is no longer available to view at that Etsy listing, but it looks like much of it has been scanned for our pleasure here.
posted by incomple at 10:54 AM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nnghhhh, I sort of want to take issue with her thesis just because of the large amount of mysticism in the Soviet Union, a lot of it of the ufological type, but I suspect based on her background a journalist on the subject she knows more than I do and has made those assertions knowing more than I do but still nghhhh.
posted by griphus at 10:54 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


all of this stuff gives me so many rapturous feels, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly not so much transcendent rapture as like pants-based rapture.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


griphus, I'm curious what you mean about the large amount of mysticism in the USSR. I'm no better qualified than you are to talk about how it felt to be a citizen of the place, but the main article here struck me as sensible and interesting. Also, I'm a sucker for that weird aesthetic in the visual art of the USSR: state-sanctioned whimsy. I'm reminded of the recent post about Soviet bus stops, which all seemed similarly fantastic/leaden.
posted by The Baffled King at 11:11 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of the many implausible things about the Vorkosigan books (but the one that bugged me the most apart from the, yanno, Feudalist Aristocrats in Space thing) is that the Russians got to colonize a planet and there isn't a Gagarin Ocean or Leonov Island or a majestic Tereshkova Mountain Range or any cosmonaut-related name in the whole of Barrayar.
posted by sukeban at 11:16 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, there's nothing, like, factually wrong with the article -- not that I can tell, anyway -- but it just doesn't entirely jibe with my experiences. The cult of space exploration was definitely a thing, but there were all sorts of tributaries flowing into it that did not come from a rational, scientific place, but very much used aspects of the whole going-into-space thing. Space-oriented mysticism (stuff like UFO cults at the most extreme) and space exploration getting syncretized into existing theosophic/esoteric mysticism definitely went on not as a religion necessarily (and certainly not as a state-supported one in the way she describes the cult of space exploration) but a ever-evolving belief system.
posted by griphus at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have long been intrigued by the cross-over between our perception of space and modes of religious thought. It seems to be hard-wired that the gods come from or occupy the skies - so, what happens when we get there? Religion certainly seems to be more than capable of expanding into the space available - take a look at The Starry Universe, The Christian's Future Empire from 1909, which says that it's all out there and God wants us to have it. Or Borman reading Genesis from lunar orbit Or Vasily Tsibliyez consulting his astrologer from Mir (just before the aborted docking manoeuvre that nearly wrecked the space station).

It would take very little for the space travellers of today to become the gods of tomorrow. It's a sort of reverse von Daniken, I guess.
posted by Devonian at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


the gods come from or occupy the skies - so, what happens when we get there?

i plan on chilling and drinking a lot of wine with my new buds
posted by Greg Nog at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2015


That first link is a nice little summary, but I have to nitpick this sentence: "There were novels and short stories by authors like Kir Bylichev, Chinghiz Aitmatov and the Strugatsky brothers, and many of the books were made into films including the Tarkovsky classics Stalker and Solaris." It's Bulychev (or Bulychov), not "Bylichev," and Solaris was of course based on a Lem novel (i.e., Polish, not Russian).

> The cult of space exploration was definitely a thing, but there were all sorts of tributaries flowing into it that did not come from a rational, scientific place

But she's not saying it all came from a rational, scientific place. I think you're reading a lot that isn't there into the article; I don't think the author would disagree with anything you're saying.
posted by languagehat at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh and five, cult of wot?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2015


I just watched Good Bye, Lenin! and, though it's about East Germans, it's interesting in light of this piece that the main character is obsessed with the Soviet space program as a kid and in the final act uses an East German astronaut as his ideal national leader for taking East Germany into the future with the west.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


If anyone wants the Palekh illustrations of Gagarin, there's several copies on Ebay. Just made an impulse buy myself. Wonder how long it takes for mail to travel from Kiev to the midwest?

Speaking of mystical cosmonaut art, there's been a set of paintings which haunt my memory but I can't find them anywhere online. Maybe someone here will remember them.

In the second half of the 90s, there was a traveling exhibit of Soviet space hardware and it was accompanied by a series of paintings in a flat style and deliberately reminiscent of Russian Orthodox icons. The one I remember most was a Russian village scene with a cosmonaut descending christlike from the heavens--arms outstretched and a halo behind his helmet--and the peasants kneeling on the ground in a circle. Some praying. Some lifting their hands up to the cosmonaut. The other paintings were variations of this scene, or depictions of cosmonauts (always with their helmets on; no faces) as saints.

Does anyone remember this Russian artist?
posted by honestcoyote at 3:46 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


The striking things about the Palekh pictures is their resemblance to Eastern Orthodox Art. I guess it shouldn't be surprising, given that the church had dominated less than 50 years prior, but the Soviet Union always seems categorically different from Russia before.
posted by claudius at 4:06 PM on October 15, 2015


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