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• Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop Mekhanika – all documents
• Сергей Курёхин и Поп-механика – все документы


Hannelore Fobo

Sergey Kuryokhin: Improvisations and Performances

Part Three

Empire and Magic. Sergey Kuryokhin's “Pop-Mekhanika No. 418” (1995)

Second, revised version 11 March 2020 (First version 13 August 2018)

page 3 • “Everything related to America is horrible!”

Table of Contents >>
to page 4 • The “hedgehog-type” model of an empire, and other paradoxes >>



page 3 • “Everything related to America is horrible!”

The personal relations between Alexander Dugin and Sergey Kuryokhin constitute a further issue. It is true that, with the exception of Pop-Mekhanika No. 418, Dugin left no mark on Kuryokhin’s work; thus their friendship made only a minor contribution to the musician’s artistic legacy. On the other hand, four months before his sudden death, Dugin was present at Kuryokhin’s last public appearance, during which they gave a joint lecture on “Pop-Mekhanika” (in March 1996). It may be assumed that the collaboration between the two would have continued in one way or another, at least for some time.

Dugin, born in Moscow in 1962, and thus eight years younger than Kuryokhin, had joined the “unofficial” Mamleev circle in about 1980[1]. In the preface to Mamleev’s novel about the 1970s, “Moskovskii gambit” (The Moscow Gambit), Andrei Stepanov characterises this circle as follows: “We were all living in a kind of atheist coffin, and this gave our quest a specific tinge of metaphysical radicalism.”[2] Through this circle Dugin came into contact with the philosophy of the so-called traditionalists, René Guénon and Julius Evola, both of whom were at that time still fairly unknown in the Soviet Union. Their critical views on Western modernity and its alleged lack of true spiritualty helped Dugin to frame his aggressive anti-Western stance. In 1980 or 1981, Dugin translated into Russian Evola’s 1928 book “Pagan Imperialism” (“Imperialismo Pagano”), in which criticism of European “decadence” and the need to install a new elite form the main line of argument. [3]

Kuryokhin may have been flattered by Dugin’s “patriotic” Pop-Mekhanika theory, which deemed him an “archaic priest” – though for his part, Kuryokhin had cited the German band “Globe Unity Orchestra” and their 1977 LP “Jahrmarkt / Local Fair” as being his source of inspiration.[4] Either Dugin didn’t know of this or had decided to ignore it.

Dugin’s promotion of the need for the reinstitution of Russian pre-Western and “pre-cultural” forms – prior to Peter the Great and even prior to the church reforms of Patriarch Nikon of Moscow in the seventeenth century – chimes with his being an “Old Believer”.[5] Yet his concept would have wiped out most of Kuryokhin’s cultural heritage and repertoire, from the baroque period right through to jazz, rock and pop music. A statement made by Dugin in 2008 leaves no room for doubt in this connection: “We need to kill the Westerner inside ourselves every day.”[6]

In other words, Dugin is not simply “pre-Western”, so to speak, but actually wants to destroy Western influences, and even the West itself – i.e. the external enemy. The second point in the NBP's 1994 programme, entitled “The Enemy”, defines the party’s “external enemies” as follows: “The external enemies of National Bolshevism: The Great Satan – the USA and the European globalists, united via NATO and the UN.”[7]

The NBP’s aggressive anti-American rhetoric was inherited from the Soviet times, but reappeared in an inverted form: if the aim of Soviet Communism had been to produce more material wealth than the USA,[8] Dugin was now accusing the USA of producing nothing but material wealth. An entire chapter of Dugin’s book “The Mysteries of Eurasia”, written in either 1989 or 1991, abounds with castigation of “The worrying and sinister country on the other side of the ocean. Devoid of history, devoid of background traditions, and having no roots. Artificial, aggressive, obsessed by reality, utterly devoid of any soul, concentrating only on the material world and on technical effectiveness, cold, indifferent, and blazing with neon signs and meaningless luxury…”[9] and so on and so forth. In other words, America is utterly devoid of pre-cultural values.

The verbal attack culminates in a series of fantasies relating to the complete destruction of America. In his study written in 2016, “The New Third Rome: Readings of a Russian Nationalist Myth”, Jardar Østbø describes Dugin's position as outlined in the latter's essay, “Budushchii russkii Katull” (“The Future Russian Catullus”)[10]:

    Although the Americans have gained the upper hand in the ‘great war of continents’ and the struggle might seem lost, Dugin writes, the Russian Army will be able to defeat the enemy and annihilate the Evil Empire.[11] At the moment, the Americans are triumphing, but they have not taken into account the spirit of the Russian army.[12]

Østbø then quotes Dugin

    “But they will never understand […] the spirit of the Russian Army, the ineradicable, indestructible voice of Eternal Rome, the Third Rome, the Bright City of clandestine Rus’. I have no doubts whatsoever that sooner or later in the future, a Russian poet, on his way home to his remote Orel, Tambov or Omsk, similar to ancient Roman Catullus of Sirmio, will say: ‘Carthage is destroyed, the United States of America no longer exists’.”[13] [14]

We can compare these paragraphs with Kuryokhin’s views taken from an interview he gave NBP member Dmitrii Zhvaniia in November 1995. In 2012, Zhvaniia published the integral version online.[15] 

What Kuryokhin initially states is moderate in tone: he simply disapproves of “giving up all pretensions of exclusivity and becoming a supplier of raw materials to America.”[16] But then we come to understand that the only difference between Kuryokhin and Dugin is that Dugin wants to actively destroy America, whereas Kuryokhin predicts that America will destroy itself:

    I am categorically against pragmatism. Therefore everything related to America is horrible. […] for many years the whole country has been living on leeching the earth of its resources, making use of its disgusting pragmatic politics, of its total egoism.

    When you start to recognise this mechanism, you understand that it’s a monster. And this society is bound to collapse, in spite of its seemingly coherent ideology. All it would take for the whole thing to collapse is a single human urge or notion. A society ought to adhere to certain natural prerequisites.[17]

Although Kuryokhin’s criticism of the West was nothing new, his approval thereof equalled it – or, at least, had equalled it earlier. Alexander Kan writes about Kuryokhin’s immense delight at everything that came across his path during his first trip to America in autumn 1988 – from food and drink to clubs, not to mention the various encounters he had with people.[18] This is very unlike what he said in his interview with Zhvaniia: “Personally, I found the West disappointing, and it made me take a fresh look at the history of Russia. My travels around the world made me a Russian patriot.”[19]

This personal disillusionment might, in part, have been caused by lack of recognition regarding his PM performances in Europe – or, at least, the absence of the type of outright recognition he had been expecting. Further information concerning the reasons behind Kurokhin’s disappointment is provided in the second part of this research paper, entitled “Pop-Mekhanika in the West”.[20]

However, quite apart from Kuryokhin’s above-mentioned experience, we notice a sceptical attitude in Kuryokhin’s early statements, even as far back as 1982 – though at that time it related purely to specific forms of expression:

    I am very sceptical of the very popular trend in contemporary jazz which is exemplified by the jazz produced by the West German ECM label. It is very European, very refined, rational and expressive, but I just don’t understand what it is trying to express. It's very thin and doesn't express anything from within. I am not criticizing the musicians; there are some very good musicians playing the music. What I criticize is the content of the music.[21]

Yet the same interview also contains a curious remark concerning the formation of Russian culture:

    GD: You said that you were a nationalist chauvinist. What did you mean?
    S.K. I was talking about Russian culture being isolated from the West. Some people see it as dependent on Western culture, subordinate to it, yet detached from it. This sensation of inferiority gives Russian culture its special element of self-confidence.

Russian culture has always been great. It has developed along less rational lines than Western culture because it is influenced by its origins, roots – the Tartar invasions, for example. Russian culture could be said to be looking towards the West while being influenced by the East.[22]

“This sensation of inferiority gives Russian culture its special element of self-confidence” certainly sounds quite strange. How should a sensation of inferiority create self-confidence?

One is tempted to interpret “self-confidence” as an erroneous translation from the Russian. Perhaps Kuryokhin had used not “самоуверенность” (samouverennost’), which expresses trust in one's own abilities, but the more neutral “самосознание” (samosoznanie) – “self-image, identity”. Samosoznanie can also be translated as “self-confidence”, although this doesn’t make sense in this context. If it was actually “samosoznanie”, the “sensation of inferiority” would simply create a particular Russian identity.

Either way, a sensation of inferiority paired with a feeling of greatness might well have facilitated Kuryokhin’s interest in Dugin’s political position, although, as mentioned earlier, this had limited consequences for Kuryokhin’s activities as a musician. Kuryokhin seems to have deliberately ignored Dugin’s praise of the pre-classical period. It obviously stood in sharp contrast to Kuryokhin’s own preferences, in that he was clearly not inclined to replace the grand piano with a balalaika. What is more, Kuryokhin continued realising his artistic projects in the West. In early 1996, he recorded and produced some music in Florida[23] and was planning at least two more Pop-Mekhanika concerts, one of them at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

His wish list for London was anything but modest: a list of nineteen international stars, mostly emanating from the West, has been preserved on a page of his diary. The names, neatly written in capital block letters, are complemented by several musical sections and also a number of other sections: [24]

1. RINGO STARR, 2. GEORGE HARRISON, 3. KEITH RICHARD, 4. ARTHUR BROWN, 5. ROY WOOD, 6. BEE GEES, 7. GARY GLITTER, 8. GINGER BAKER, 9. ALLEN GINSBERG, 10. ROBERT WYATT, 11. MARC ALMOND, 12. ERASURE, 13, KESHAVAN MASLAK, 14. EVAN PARKER, 15. FRED FRITH, 16. HAN BENNINK, 17. OTOMO YOSHINIDE, 18. MASONNA [sic][25], 19. ALAN TOMLINSON , HARMONICA PLAYERS, STRINGS (много) [many], PERC. ENS, 3 GRAND PIANOS, 6 HARPS, Кукольный театр [a puppet theatre], Фехтованчики [a number of fencers], TUVA[26], Цевты [flowers].[27]

There is, however, a statement that can be seen to be in line with Dugin’s stance on the Russian “pre-cultural” era. We find it in the closing paragraph of Kuryokhin’s New Year’s column written for the Moscow magazine, OM, that appeared in March 1996. The article is entitled “Happy Year of the Beast!” (С Новым годом Зверя!). The title can be interpreted as a twofold allusion, alluding both to the animal-based signs of the Chinese horoscope and also to the name Aleister Crowley had chosen for himself: “The Beast”, often combined with the number 666[28], taken from Chapter 13 of the Apocalypse of John, the Book of Revelation.[29]

The article’s last lines are:

    Long Live War and Peace. May Mozart and Salieri suffer forever! Hurrah to the faction of Yavlinsky, Bugaev and Lukin! The Party is the Mind, the Honour and the Conscience of Our Era![30]

Indeed, Mozart and Salieri belong to the period following Peter the Great, so they are superfluous, in Kuryokhin’s opinion. Bear in mind point 15 from the party programme of the NBP, which encourages culture to “grow like a wild tree”. Culture is not something to be watered or to be grafted in, and its fruit – should it bear any – is not to be collected.

But what – one would like to ask Kuryokhin – have Mozart and Salieri done to you such that they deserve eternal suffering? It sounds rather like childish envy.


[1] Sedgwick, Mark Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press 2004, p. 222.

Sedgwick calls the “Mamleev circle” the “Golovin circle” – the “Yuzhiinkskii circle” being another popular name.

[2] Все мы находились в условиях атеистического гроба и это придавало нашим исканиям особый оттенок метафизического радикализма.

Stepanov, Andrei. Foreword to Yury Mamleev’s bookMoskovsky gambit.” (The Moscow Gambit.) [Московский гамбит.] Website of Izdatel’skaia gruppa Traditsiya (Traditsiia Publishing House), 2016.

Web. 25 July 2018 http://gambit.moscow

[3] In his 1990 foreword to his translation of Imperialismo Pagano, Dugin calls Evola “the supreme authority and the prime example of what should be imitated” (высшим авторитетом и примером для подражания).

Dugin, Alexander. [Aleksandr] Iulius Evola, Yazycheskii imperialist. (Julius Evola, The Pagan Imperialist.) [Юлиус Эвола, Языческий империалист.], 1990

Published on Dugin’s website Arctogaia. Web. 28 July 2018.

http://arctogaia.com/public/konsrev/dugevol.htm

[4] Kan, Alexander [Aleksandr]. “Sergey Kuryokhin Interview. Taken by Alexander Kan.” Translated from Russian by Felicity Cave. In Cadence. The American Review of Jazz & Blues, Vol. 9 No. 2, February 1983, p. 12. Web. 31 July 2018

http://www.e-e.eu/Sergey-Kuryokhin-Interview/index.html

[5] The editor’s foreword to an article by Alexander Dugin published on the website of the “Old Believers” calls Dugin a member of the Edinoverie Church of Archangel Michael of the Russian Orthodox Church. (Edinoverie is a particular branch of the “Old Believers” which is treated as part of the normative Orthodox Church system.)

See: Dugin, Alexander. [Aleksandr]. “Esli by ne grazhdanstkaia voina, edinoverie moglo by stat’ glavnym soderzhaniem tserkovnoi zhiyzni.” (“If it hadn’t been for the civil war, edinoverie might have become the main content of church life.”) [“Если бы не гражданская война, единоверие могло бы стать главным содержанием церковной жизни.”] 5 Feb 2016. Web. 25 July 2018.

http://ruvera.ru/articles/aleksandr_dugin_doklad

[6] Dugin, Alexander. [Aleksandr]. “Kazhdyi den’ my dolzhny ubivat’ v sebe zapadnika” (“We need to kill the Westerner inside ourselves every day”) [“Каждый день мы должны убивать в себе западника”]

Headline for Dugin’s answers to questions by readers of InoSMI (May /June 2008).

Russia Today, InoSMI, 10 June 2008. Web. 28 July 2018

http://inosmi.ru/world/20080610/241918.html

[7] Внешние враги национал-большевизма: Большой Сатана - США и мондиалисты Европы, объединенные в НАТО и ООН.

Programme of the National Bolshevik Party from 1994

Website of “The NBP without reference to Limonov in Kaliningrad”, undated. Web. 25 July 2018

http://www.nb-info.ru/prog.html

http://www.nb-info.ru/nb/nb1.htm

[8] In his concluding speech at the 22nd Party Congress, Khrushchev specified the abundance of material values: In the course of the second decade, by 1980, our country will leave the United States far behind in industrial and agricultural output per head of the population

The Road to Communism. Documents of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, October 17-31, 1961. Moscow: Foreign Publishing House, 1962, p. 269

[9] Тревожная и зловещая страна по ту сторону океана. Без истории, без предания, без корней. Искусственная, агрессивная, навязчивая реальность, начисто лишенная духа, сосредоточенная лишь на материальном мире и технической эффективности, холодная, безразличная, сияющая неоном реклам, бессмысленной роскошью; […]

Dugin, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Misterii Evrazii. (The Mysteries of Eurasia.) [Мистерии Евразии.]

Written in 1989 or 1991. Moscow: Arktogeya, 1996

Chapter 6, “Зеленая страна” Америка (“The Green Land” of America)

Web 29 July 2018 http://litresp.ru/chitat/ru/%D0%94/dugin-aleksandr/konspirologiya/5

[10] Dugin, Alexander Osnovy geopolitiki (kniga 2) Moscow: Arctogeia Centre, 2000 (Basic Principles of Geopolitics, volume 2,) [Основы геополитики (Книга 2)]

Published on Alexander Dugin’s website Arctogaia. Web. 28 July 2018

http://arctogaia.com/public/carthago.htm

[11] Dugin obviously borrowed the term “The Evil Empire” – имерия зла in Russian – from Ronald Reagan, who first applied it to the Soviet Union in 1983.

[12] Østbø, Jardar, The New Third Rome: Readings of a Russian Nationalist Myth, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2016, p 147

[13] Ibid., p 147.

Østbø dates Dugin’s article to 2004. It was first printed in 2000 (see next footnote) and reprinted in Dugin, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Filosofia voiny (The philosophy of War) [Философия войны] Moscow: Яуза (Iauza), 2004.

[14] The translation is by Jardar Østbø

Kieran Scarffe suggests the following translation:

“But they will never understand […] the spirit of the Russian Army, the ineradicable, indestructible voice of Eternal Rome, the Third Rome, the Bright City of a shrouded Rus’. I have no doubt whatsoever that sooner or later some future Russian poet, on his way home to the depths of Orel, Tambov or Omsk, will – akin to Catullus of Sirmio, the ancient Roman – exclaim: ‘Carthage has been destroyed; the United States of America is no more.”

Но никогда не понять им “духа армии”. Духа Русской Армии, неистребимого, неуничтожимого голоса Вечного Рима, Третьего Рима, Светлого Града потаенной Руси. Я нисколько не сомневаюсь, что рано или поздно будущий русский поэт, скажет возвращаясь домой, в глубинку Орла, Тамбова или Омска, подобно древнеримскому Катуллу из Сирмиона - “Карфаген разрушен, Соединенных Штатов Америки больше не существует.”

Dugin, Alexander Osnovy geopolititki (kniga 2) Moscow: The Arctogeia Centre, 2000 (Basic Principles of Geopolitics, volume 2) [Основы геополитики (Книга 2)]

Chapter entitled “Budushchii russkii Katull” (“The Future Russian Catullus”) [Будущий русский Катулл]

Published on Alexander Dugin’s website, “Arctogaia”. Web. 28 July 2018

http://arctogaia.com/public/carthago.htm

[15] Zhvaniia, Dmitrii. “Sergei Kurekhin: Natsional-bol’shevizm – eto svezhii veter i podvizhnichestvo’”

(“Sergey Kuryokhin: ‘National Bolshevism: a fresh breeze – and asceticism too’”) [“Сергей Курёхин: «Национал-большевизм — это свежий ветер и подвижничество»”.] (1995) Novyi smysl, 9 July 2012. Web. 28 July 2018. http://www.sensusnovus.ru/interview/2012/07/09/13959.html

According to Zhvaniia, the shortended version of the interview appeared in the newspaper “Smena”, no. 278-279, 1 December, 1995, under the title “Svezhii veter v golove Sergeia Kurekhina (“The fresh breeze blowing through the mind of Sergey Kuryokhin”) [“Свежий ветер в голове Сергея Курехина.”]

Another version was published 11 October 1996 in Smena, Saint Petersburg, headed “Romantiki dolzhni pogibnut’” (“Romantics Should Perish”) [“Романтики должны погибнуть.”] The title seems to be a reference to Kuryokhin’s death in July 1996.

[16] The full quote is: “The state and ideology are one and the same. One either has to completely abandon the concept of the state and fade into universal history, giving up all pretensions of exclusivity and becoming a supplier of raw materials to America […]” “Государство это уже идеология. Надо тогда либо вообще отказаться от идеи государства и раствориться во всемирной истории, бросить все претензии на исключительность и стать сырьевым придатком Америки, […].”

Ibid.

[17] Я – категорический противник прагматизма. Поэтому всё, что связано с Америкой – это ужасно. […] эта страна живёт за счёт высасывания на протяжении многих лет соков из всего мира, за счёт омерзительной прагматической политики, за счёт тотального эгоизма.

На самом деле, когда начинаешь осознавать его механизм, ты понимаешь, что это что-то очень уродливое. И это общество, несомненно, развалится, хотя оно как бы и обладает цельной идеологией. Достаточно одного человеческого позыва и человеческой идеи, чтобы всё это рухнуло. Общество должно держаться на естественных предпосылках.

Ibid.

[18] Kan, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Kurekhin. Shkiper o kapitane (Kuryokhin. What the Skipper says about the Captain) [Курехин. Шкипер о Капитане]

Saint Petersburg, Amfora, 2012, p. 92. PDF for Digital Editions version. Web. 31 July 2018.

http://lifeinbooks.net/chto-pochitat/kurehin-shkiper-o-kapitane-aleksandr-kan/

[19] Запад меня лично разочаровал и заставил по-новому посмотреть на историю России. Путешествия по миру сделали меня русским патриотом.

Zhvaniia, Dmitrii. “Sergei Kurekhin: Natsional-bol’shevizm – eto svezhii veter i podvizhnichestvo”

(“Sergey Kuryokhin: ‘National Bolshevism: a fresh breeze – and asceticism too’”) [“Сергей Курёхин: «Национал-большевизм — это свежий ветер и подвижничество»”.] (1995) Novyi smysl, 9 July 2012. Web. 28 July 2018 http://www.sensusnovus.ru/interview/2012/07/09/13959.html

[20] Fobo, Hannelore Pop-Mekhanika in the West. 2018. Web. 28 July 2018. http://www.e-e.eu/Pop-Mekhanika-in-the-West/index1.html

[21] Dulfill, Graham. “Russian Jazz: Sergey Kuryokhin Interview.” Magazine of the Leningradsky Club Sovremennoy muzyki. (Leningrad Contemporary Music Club) [Ленинградский Клуб Современной Музыки.] –1982(?), p. 46. Printed in English.

Web. 31 July 2018. http://www.e-e.eu/Sergey-Kuryokhin-Russian-Jazz/index.html

[22] Ibid. p. 47

[23] Incidentally, a geographical area ressembling Florida was the target in Putin’s animated video shown during his annual address to the Russian parliament on 1 March 2018.

Sanchez, Ray. “Putin boasts military might with animation of Florida nuke strike.”

CNN, 2 March 2018. Web. 28 July 2018.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/01/europe/putin-nuclear-missile-video-florida/index.html

[24] Paradoxically, this grandiose list of names is disappointing in the eyes of Sergey Chubraev, an expert on Kuryokhin’s work. In 2018, in a private conversation with the author, Chubraev said that he  believes that Kuryokhin deliberately left out some of the riskier names, such as that of Mick Jagger, relying on those he thought he might be able to convince to join his venture.

[25] It is not clear whether this was a spelling mistake; perhaps he wanted to write “Madonna”. Another possibility is an allusion to “Masonry”.

[26] TUVA possibly refers the Tuva region of Russia, where singers maintain the tradition of overtone singing.

[27] Kushnir, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Sergei Kurekhin. Bezumnaia mekhanika russkogo roka, (Sergey Kuryokhin. The Crazy Mechanics of Russian Rock) [Сергей Курехин. Безумная механика русского рока], p. 212. Moscow: Bertelsmann Media Moscow, 2013

[28] For instance, “I the Beast, whose number is Six Hundred and Sixty Six …”

Crowley, Aleister. Equinox of the Gods. Chapter 7. First published in 1936. Web 31 July 2018

https://hermetic.com/crowley/equinox-of-the-gods/remarks-on-the-method-of-receiving-liber-legis

[29] “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” Revelation 13:18. English Standard Version

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+13&version=ESV

For a detailed analysis of Crowley’s interpretation of the “Beast 666” see website “666 From Thelemapedia”. Web. 31 July 2108

http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/666

[30] Да здравствует Война и Мир! Пусть вечно мучаются Моцарт и Сальери! Ура блоку ЯвлинскийБугаевЛукин! Партия – ум, честь и совесть нашей эпохи!

Yavlinksy is a politician, Bugaev an artist who performed with Kuroykhin, and Lukin is probably an invented name rhyming with Dugin.

Kuryokhin, Sergey. “S Novzm godom Zverya!” (“Happy Year of the Beast!”) [“С Новым годом Зверя!”] OM magazine, Moscow, March 1996, p. 69. Web. 31 July 2018.

http://www.e-e.eu/OM/index.html


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