“Cities make who we are”. Oleg Maltsev
(Below is one of the papers of Dr. Oleg Maltsev from interdisciplinary conference “City as a Classroom”)
The title of the conference implies that cities have something to teach. Based on our research projects, we can convincingly assert that the city unquestionably can teach a lot, both in terms of how to implement daily life tasks and to achieve goals. Nonetheless, it should be noted that to make it possible, specific conditions should be provided:
- One has to have a certain methodology that would allow to explore cities most effectively through an interdisciplinary approach and transform the data obtained into tools for accomplishing different tasks;
- There should be a dedicated scientific highly qualified group that is capable to conduct systematic research activities on a global scale.
At the Memory Institute named after Academician Grigoriy Popov, both of these conditions are met at the moment. Expeditionary Corps—a special scientific division of the Memory Institute has a distinct research methodology that has demonstrated its effectiveness in more than 40 expeditions (by 2023) around the world. This short paper presents the activities of the Expeditionary Corps and the stages of the methodology formation and its application in the study of cities, regions, and entire countries.
Scientific activity in this direction has been carried out for over 20 years by our research institutes. But the decision to establish the Expeditionary Corps was made many years ago in Munich. During that trip, we began exploring cities as some kind of a classroom. The main motive was a small but interesting discovery which eventually grew into a continuous research course. The exploration of Munich began from the very center of it—Karlsplatz— where ships are stationed on one of the central buildings. It seemed very strange to see ships right in the center of the city which is not surrounded by a sea. Those ships have been there for at least a century and Munich itself is saturated with the symbols of the maritime tradition. Interdisciplinary study of Expeditionary Corps on different continents aims to explore how different nations and rulers attained power throughout history, with an emphasis on culture, military and scientific technique, and mentality.
The following question was posed for the research: “Why is Munich a framework of an unknown maritime tradition?” Based on many years of researching a similar phenomenon around the world, I finally wrote a methodological book on the topic “The Shadow of the European Continent” (2019). Let’s consider the three stages that we went through while forming our research approach.
Stage 1. Research of city language.
To scientifically study cities using practical historical methods, we had to have sources that do not mislead. Documents are not always a reliable thing since any document can be rewritten or made into a knowingly false statement. Moreover, they could be burned, destroyed or lost. In this particular case, buildings are way more reliable as sources, due to the fact that no one will allow the burning or destruction a building in the city center without consequences and public disclosure. The symbolism of these architectural structures is the language of European mysticism. During the study of the architecture of Munich—which spoke to us through symbols—a whole system of the city building was discovered; every building, every temple is located in the place where it has to be according to a meticulous plan. Here we saw that the city building system divides residents of the city into certain classes. Each class has a corresponding temple where it belongs. They can only go to a corresponding temple and not the one they like to. Besides, temples in Munich have a rather serious gradation of temples within the chivalry, starting from the Temple of the Knights-Guardians to the Temple of the Lords of the Hearts. In the architecture of Munich, one may find an expression of an entire chivalric order. Each step of this knightly order has its responsibilities in peace and war. And the most important thing is that all these buildings contain information necessary to provide well being for this or that class of society.
At the first stage, we studied the language of the city, applied a criminological approach, and dealt with other sources of information that would allow us to conduct research. In fact, Germany formed the “Expeditionary Corps”, it taught it to “read”, “write” and obtain necessary information under trying circumstances. Germany prepared this unit methodologically so that it can function in any country on the globe. All our expeditions to Germany educated us just like a textbook. Given that we have been researching European mysticism for more than 20 years we already had something to compare with. In a similar vein, we found this symbolic language in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the US, and all around Europe. It is exact almost throughout the entire globe, in almost all regions where the Spanish Empire reigned.
Stage 2. The city as a training system.
Each city is a whole system of training for a person who finds himself in this or that city. The idea that the city could actually shape and train us, came to me during my first trip to a unique city of Palermo. The first interesting phenomenon which is noticed is the strange rules and traditions in that area, which are incomprehensible to all others. For example, it is considered to be acceptable to empty a bucket of dirty water from the second floor. This was strange for me and I started looking into the reasons for it. I quickly realized that people who were born and grew up in Palermo are accustomed to the fact that a bucket of water could be poured over their heads at any time, so they walk in a certain way. They become very attentive and see everything above and below, to the right and to the left. As a result, they develop skills that keep their heads dry.
The second thing that grabbed my attention was the enclosed catacombs. This, in fact, tells us about another phenomenon—the three-story city. To put it simply, there was a city which fell underground, following which a second city was built on the top of the former and then a third, the city we observe today. In fact, Palermo is a unique city that provides an unconscious training and education system for its residents.
After a long term work, I ended up having a scheme which explains the foundation of all cities. This paper gives an example of every layer of training on the example of Palermo.
- Anthropological level of training
Palermo trains you to look not only around but also up and down, the city trains your attentiveness and vision. At the same time, the anthropological level in every city is different.
- Biomechanical level of training
In Palermo, at this level, it is worth noting the training process of “driving a car”, which teaches you eyesight measurement and trains your memory. The streets in Palermo are narrow and they discipline the driver to determine if he can drive his car in a certain environment. This being said, the streets are confusing so it is important to be able to navigate the city drawing from memory.
- Psychological level of training
In Palermo, it would be about the relationship between people, government authorities, and police. It is the level of conflict resolution and Palermo educates it well.
- Symbolic training level
Palermitan temples are fascinating textbooks of European mysticism. Certainly, each city has its own scheme and drip of training levels and its own features.
Stage 3. Exploring the factual history of the city and the factual history of personality re-transformation in that city.
At this stage, we studied phenomena in different parts of the world (South Africa, South and North America, Western and Eastern Europe). We continue these studies even now. Investigations of criminal traditions has helped us a lot in this study, for the reason that a criminal tradition is a unique vehicle of history that helps to restore the actual history of the city (2018). Criminalistics and criminology studies showed the main reason behind the re-transformation of personality.
This formation scheme is just an example typical for a certain region. Any criminal tradition is a symbiosis. Crime has always existed in one form or another. Let’s consider a fundamental model of the formation of “X1”—the original equivalent—people who committed crimes, people who were sent to hard labor. “X2”—at a certain point in time, Jews become ones who were considered to be criminals by others. “X3″—the era of great geographical discoveries—pirates became the worst people for others. Meanwhile, new categories of people appeared such as conspirators, nobles, villains, and others. They are indicated as “X4”, “X5”, “X6” in the scheme. Further “X1” and “X2” form a new generation—B1, which is a re-transformation of these equivalents. B2 appears as a re-transformation of X2 and X3, then B3-B5 appear as a re-transformation of other equivalents.
There are only two extreme equivalents that are not subject to re-transformation—“X1” and “X6”. All people who found themselves in the conditions of these two equivalents from B1 to B5 have absorbed all the experience of previous generations. How could that happen? All because of the power. Instead of separating these people, they were united and sent to one place—prisons. The Jews gave them the most powerful religion. The pirates taught them to fight in the most unbearable conditions by means of cold weapons and firearms. The “dissenters” taught them the methods of the conspiracy of how to evade law enforcement representatives. The revolutionaries taught the terror, basically, how to be a terrorist. It turned out to be a serious isolated training center and in a given time, prisons become excellent schools for training special services. These people absorbed all of the “destructive experience” of all previous generations. They were even given special institutions to get skills. The establishment and its power that invented prisons and penal servitude “founded” terrifying criminal communities that exist even today.
When we look at the city, we see the same paradigm and by studying the city, its history, and re-transformation of personality, we can understand how personality is shaped by the city in modern settings. It is also possible to explain why an average resident of the city is the way he is and behaves in a certain way. The underlying condition of it is the whole system described above, which shaped the life of a person and his ancestors for many years, and transmits this knowledge at an unconscious level in the mode of programmed fate, as described by the founder of fate analysis, Leopold Szondi (Szondi 1956). Based on the results of the research of South Italian criminal organizations such as ‘Ndrangheta, Mafia, and Camorra, as well as the territory where they originated (Calabria, Palermo, and Naples), I and my colleague Professor Lunov wrote the monograph “Philosophy of Southern Italy” (Maltsev, Lunev 2020). In this book, among other things, “Baudrillard’s paradox” was explained, the key thesis of which is “a copy without the original” or a simulacrum. Why do people perceive phenomena completely incorrectly and in their own way? In fact, we studied the main reason for the emergence of simulation in the city.
For example, the Mafia in Palermo has been perceived differently at different periods of history. People’s perception of the mafia in the 12th century is different from their perception in the 13th, 14th century and so on. These types of perceptions fall into a pie chart. That is, there will always be a certain percentage of people who perceive the mafia as “the mafia of the 12th century”, but there are those who still perceive it as if it was the way it was in the 15th, 16th centuries and in a similar way until the 21st century. In addition to this, at some point in time, the Mafia split into the American and the Italian mafia, which are also different. If we take two people, their perception of the same phenomenon will be radically different, and the reason for this is the “paradox of Baudrillard”.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the aforementioned three stages demonstrate the research approach of the Expeditionary Corps. However, it is difficult to describe it comprehensively within the framework of one brief paper since every stage and each tool we use has its depth. But the fundamental diagram of this method looks like as follows:
- The research of the factual history of the city with the help of impeccable sources such as architectural formations, weapons, martial arts, and criminal structures;
- Study of the re-transformation of a person’s personality by special methods;
- Comparison and analysis of data with each other, with the assistance of expert judgment based on Leopold Szondi’s calculation machine, and Rorschach’s calculation machine of space measurement. Having an integrator one can directly move from spaces to the system of coordinates, figures, etc.
Based on this data, it is possible to certainly state not only the way a city affects a person today, but why the city has shaped and formed people the way they are over numerous historical periods. This approach is applicable to a city and a country as well. We can characterize a person who lives in a certain country and understand which kind of people we are dealing with, correspondingly what to expect from them—it relates to the mentality component. We apply the method of immersion in the environment in field research with the Expeditionary Corps. The method was developed by Academician Grigory Popov, which was elaborated and completed by me in the course of my scientific activity in the field research mode (Popov 1951). The essence of the method of immersion in the environment is that a scholar basically becomes a real resident of the city which he is studying, which is a highly complex task. The abovementioned special research methods allow solving research problems and obtain highly reliable data. Thus, the Expeditionary Corps conducted field research for more than 8 years around the world, scientifically deduced and substantiated the efficiency and reliability of this methodology, both in terms of obtaining accurate and exclusive information, and practical application of this data in daily life and work.
Leopold Zondi (1956). Ich-Analyse. Die Grundlage zur Vereinigung der Tiefenpsychologie. Teil 1. Bern: Hans Huber.
Leopold Zondi (1956). Ich-Analyse. Die Grundlage zur Vereinigung der Tiefenpsychologie. Teil 2. Bern: Hans Huber.
Oleg Maltsev (2019). “Shadow of the European Continent”. Serednyak T.K.
Oleg Maltsev (2018). “Deceptive Silence”. Serednyak T.K.
Oleg Maltsev, Vitalii Lunev (2020).“Philosophy of Southern Italy”. Serednyak T.K.
Grigorii Popov S. (1951). Phenomenology of memory: basic methodological approaches to the study of human memory. [Manuscript]. Archive of the Memory Institute.
Ph.D. Oleg Maltsev
Academician of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.
Researcher, psychologist, criminologist
Founder and director of The Memory Institute
Head of Expeditionary Corps