As I write this welcome to this second issue of SPSR of 2020, it is my sincere hope that this note finds you and your family in good health during these times of unprecedented challenge in our lifetimes.
This issue of SPSR contains two articles in addition to the resumption of our normal number of book reviews. The first article is entitled “The Grand Narrative of the Mukhomor: ‘Communist Dunaev’ as a Mushroom Eater in Mifogennaia Liubov’ Kast: Understanding the Ethnobotanical History of the Younger Group of Russian Conceptualists.” Authored by Professor Dennis Ioffe of the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), this article addresses the complex role of mushrooms, particularly that of the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) [Russian: Mukhomor], in the art of Moscow conceptualism. Ioffe explores the mythopoetic theme of mushroom-induced beliefs which influenced the Moscow conceptualists and explores impact of various ethno-botanical entheogens on that group. This article also focuses on Pavel Peppershtein’s novel Mifogennaia Liubov’ Kast (The Mythogenic Love of the Castes), in which the wounded and shell-shocked character Partorg (Party Organizer) Dunaev finds himself deep in a mysterious forest during the Second World War. Partorg Dunaev inadvertently snacks on hallucinogen mushrooms of unknown kind and subsequently transforms into a wizard who is capable of fighting spectral enemies both on earth and in heaven. Ioffe contextualizes the fungi-entheogenic episodes of Moscow conceptualism and places them into a broader sphere of a constructed hallucinogenic reality. This article analyzes multi-cultural and inter-traditional perspective by focusing on psilocybin fungi, particularly the fly agaric/Amanita muscaria/Mukhomor, and their cultural significance.
This issue’s second article is “Do It Yourself Monopoly in the Late Soviet Period” by Professor Roman Abramov of the National Research University of the Higher School of Economics (Moscow). Abramov examines the role of the monetary world inclusion in the world of children’s games in the late Soviet period by opening a previously unknown page of board games’ social history in the Soviet Union. This article describes the practices of playing Do It Yourself (DIY) Monopoly by Soviet children in the 1980s, when Soviet youth used friendly relationships to exchange tacit knowledge about the basic rules of the board business game. Soviet youth made playing fields and developed the rules of the game and used school knowledge about the principles of the capitalist economy. Abramov traces the game rules’ evolution of the DIY Soviet Monopoly versions and shows the creativity of the Soviet teenagers in the re-invention of the rules of the board business game. Abramov argues that DIY Monopoly versions were a form of adaptation of western goods to socialist conditions, which were a common practice in the Soviet Union since its inception.
I trust that you will enjoy this second 2020 issue of SPSR, and convey my sincere wish that you and your family remain in good health as we face the pandemic together.
Christopher J. Ward