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02 March 2011

hagiography: sanctification of Soviet cosmonauts, including trading cards / Le Culte de la Raison

Click image to enlarge.

I bought the Baby Lenin pin from a Russian emigre on a New York City sidewalk. On my pin, Baby Lenin has a halo.

The trading cards come from their new residence in ConfÅ’deratio Helvetica, and apparently cost someone a considerable volume of vodka -- probably not Grey Goose (French, made from wheat).

These images continue a thread about hagiography, the manufacture and adoration of Saints, which began by discussing the tendency, in the decades following his death in 1982, to canonize and adore the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. He has a lot of worshippers who, like the Romans with their Emperors, have deified him and attribute miracles to him.

The leaders of the French Revolution invented a new state religion to replace Roman Catholicism. Le Culte de la Raison / the Cult of Reason was an atheist belief system that nonetheless glorified various new godesses and gods who were the embodiments of virtues of the Revolution.

Just killing the old religion, and leaving nothing in its place, will never do. It is always necessary to fill the vacuum with new deities and saints and glorious rituals. The Soviets substituted an elaborate state religion for the overthrown and muzzled Russian Orthodox church. Apparently people always have a need to worship something and attribute magical properties to it, they don't really care what.

Yes, I'd love more of these remarkable trading cards.


Dear Bob
I read a lot about the idea of Haigiography in context with GG on f_minor. And all of a sudden I remembered that I have both a piece of history and an example of haigiography right here:
This is the booklet containing a set of cards depicting the rise of the Soviet Space Program and Yuri Gagarin in particular. This set was given to me shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union ca. 1992-3. I will spare you details but a LOT of Vodka was involved. The title of the set is Son of Russia. Here are some of the cards:
Note the mixture of classical haigiography, kitsch and Propaganda. The guy next to Gagarin is The Great Integral, today identified as Sergej Koroliev. I still can’t decide if this is kitsch, beauty or both. But definetly Fun and a piece of history. More on request

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