Viktor Tsoi – a man of his era or an “eternal teenager”?


Creativity is often viewed as a mystical process. Many believe that the poet transmits creative energy, receiving it from the universe. Carl Gustav Jung would call this a manifestation of the collective unconscious.

Describing the lyrical hero, the poet manifests himself to a certain extent, sometimes unconsciously revealing himself, and sometimes trying on one or another image. Without knowing the biography and context, it is difficult to determine what is the share of the author’s “I” in poetry. However, songs as a way of self-expression definitely imply the manifestation of oneself, one’s self.

This does not mean that Viktor Robertovich Tsoi was walking around Leningrad with a blood type on his sleeve. But, perhaps, when he went on stage in a black shirt and, with a characteristic movement squeezing the microphone, sang this song with all sincerity, he felt exactly as he sang. Otherwise, the viewer would feel false.

The eighties – and the Kino group recorded their first album in 1982 – is the last decade of the era of “stagnation”, the end of which is considered the beginning of perestroika in 1987. One can talk a lot and difficult about stagnation. In this context, this is an era of stagnation, commodity shortages, the prosperity of the so-called blat and ties and the continuation of the struggle against dissent. In 1982, “Komsomolskaya Pravda” published an ideologically verified article “Blue Bird Stew”, which condemned the work of “The Time Machine” and Russian rock in general.

However, the trends of the new time were already making themselves felt – readers bombarded the editorial office with letters in defense of the musicians. In the same year, Brezhnev died, followed by a carousel of rulers and a funeral, until in 1985 Gorbachev took the post of general secretary, who two years later proclaimed the beginning of perestroika.

The feeling of inevitable changes after a long stagnation is manifested in the work of Viktor Tsoi. In his songs, the opposition is quite often encountered: “they” and “we”, ordinary people and rebels. At the same time, this is a confrontation between generations – a teenage revolt against the “daddy”:

You were ready to give your soul for rock and roll

Extracted from a snapshot of someone else’s aperture.

And now – TV, newspaper, football,

And your old mother is happy with you.

Tsoi’s romantically restless lyric hero is somewhere alone, on the dark, cold streets, incomprehensible to those “who studied in a special school.” Images of war reinforce the antithesis between him and those like him and those “for whom the theorem is true.” The latter agreed with the proposed or imposed answers and solutions and do not seek to change anything. And the former seek, disagree, fight, rebel, dispute and defend, perceiving everything practically in black and white.

This is very similar to the thinking typical of adolescence: total denial or total acceptance, “they or we.” The ability to assimilate, to appropriate for oneself and to discard the unnecessary is a quality of maturity. It is more important for teenagers to declare loudly about themselves: “We will continue to act.”

There will always be riot, there will always be protest and there will be those who will find the words inside themselves to describe it

The romanticization of love and death, inherent in almost all Russian rock, is also a typical teenage theme. “Death is worth living, and love is worth the wait.”

Tsoi’s songs form a collective image of the “last hero” who fights for the truth and is doomed to die young. After all, war is “a medicine against wrinkles”, and “life is only a word – there is only love and there is death.” Perhaps the current popularity of Tsoi’s songs among adolescents of a completely different era is explained precisely by the specificity of the topics and the talent with which he revealed them.

“What can be a psychotherapeutic reading of the work of both Tsoi and everyone who came out of the underground, in any era? It seems that every time is characterized by the appearance of those who do not agree with the structure of the system, call themselves a nonconformist and reread the book “The Catcher in the Rye,” comments psychotherapist Gurgen Khachaturyan. “And it seems that Winston Churchill is credited with the phrase:“ Whoever was not a revolutionary in his youth has no heart. Who in old age has not become a conservative has no brains. “

Indeed, a hot, ardent heart is always looking for an answer to some of its questions. And it’s great that we have singers, performers, groups who are able to express in songs, poems, movies, pictures all the power of internal contradiction with society, through which most people go through growing up. It’s just that some do it more brightly, others less.

Of course, songs can hardly be called a way of purely self-expression. These are not only subjectively personal experiences. If you experience any feelings and know how to express them through creativity, there will be another group of people who will experience something similar.

And since the main problems faced by a maturing person do not change from generation to generation, then, probably, you can be both an “eternal teenager” and a person of your era.

As strange as it may sound, at one time both Mozart and Haydn were also considered rebels. They did not accept any classical canons of the music that was then, but now no one records them in the classical underground for some reason – for us they sound the same classics on a par with everyone else. It is quite appropriate here to speak of the collective unconscious.

There will always be rebellion, there will always be protest and there will be those who will find within themselves the words to describe it. And people who, for lack of their own words, will listen to musicians. And these musicians will eventually enter the “hall of fame” of rock and roll or any other music – not necessarily because they are great poets, but because the words they found are best suited to more people, experiencing exactly the same thing. “

Gurgen Khachaturyan

About the expert

Gurgen Khachaturyan – psychotherapist.

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