Paradoxical Participations

Thesis Abstract

Paradoxical Participations

Positions of the ‚Tartu-Moscow School of Cultural Semiotics‘ and Russian Post-Modernism

Salzburg 2002, 319 pp.

(Publication being prepared)


This thesis discusses the cultural-theoretical and cultural-philosophical relevance of the “Tartu-Moscow School of Cultural Semiotics” from a perspective orientated towards postmodern and poststructuralist theoretical positions.

Methodically, it applies a deconstructive rereading of central texts by the school of cultural semiotics, focussing on the writings of Yurij M. Lotman (1922-1993), thus taking into account theorems and results of the slavistic researches on Modernism and Postmodernism, as well as positions of French poststructuralism.

The analysis clearly shows the cultural and aesthetic models of the school of cultural semiotics to be in explicit opposition to the official Soviet culture. Consequently, the theory of cultural semiotics stands for a distinct symbolical sign-conception, as well as a transcendental conception of text and, finally, an aesthetics of normative transitivity. Art and culture represent a  certain hyper-individual consciousness, indicating the potential reversibility of objective time-sequence (disrupted development and evolution) and the regressive subversion of objective cultural space in the implemented reversed perspective. As far as the notion of Russian Post-Modernism is concerned, it can thus be stated, that its participations on both, idealistic construction of the school of cultural semiotics and Soviet-russian culture, has paradoxical characterizations. Being part of its ‚internal dialectics‘ but at the same time taking significantly intransitive position towards it.

As far as the Postmodern is concerned, a constitutive transgression of the furthest limits and demarcation-lines may be stated – aesthetically as well as theoretically. While cultural semiotics stresses the perfectly incompleted, the endings, the disruptions with the pre-history by the totalitarian soviet culture, in particular, serve as pre-positions to Postmodernism. Thus considering, that participation on the Post-Modern ex negativo may be applied for the theoretical models of cultural semiotics as well, the notion of “paradoxical participation” gains descriptive qualities, essentially pointing out the paradoxical nature of the artistic and cultural per se.

Finally, it may be stated, that, for the Russian Postmodernim, too, cultural pluralism, the side by side of the incompatible, can impossibly result in cultural or theoretical consent.