The Nationalization of Philosophy:

Bulgarian 'National Ontologies' in the 1930-40s[1]


I. Debates on National Character in Bulgaria


The key problem of most of the social and political thought that emerged in Bulgaria from the late-nineteenth century up to the establishment of the post-WW II communist regime was the constantly evoked paradox of development. While civilizational advancement was the overall aim of the nation-building project,[2] it also meant social differentiation, the collapse of the traditional life-world of the peasantry and of the entrepreneurial layer that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century using the conjuncture of the Ottoman imperial setting. This posed a series of fundamental questions concerning the identity of the community. On the one hand, it implied the growth of the distance between the emerging nationalized middle-class and the rural population and raised the question of the means and forms of transmitting the "national" culture. On the other hand, it also meant the relativizing of traditional role-models, and threatened the newly-formed nation-state with apparent chaos caused by the permanent dislocation of the principal actors, leading to "misunderstood" forms and veritable mutants of the Western civilizational framework.

Gradually, the very act of cultural mediation and the entire social class of mediators came to be problematized, both in view of their Westernism (thus, blaming the inorganic import of Western ideas for the failures of the Bulgarian cultural-political ventures), and also in view of the mechanism of internal transmission, that is, the process of extending the canon of "high culture" to the more humble strata. While the actual pattern of mediation, assumed by the nation-building intelligentsia, was not questioned, and the critiques themselves were most often involved in the mediating process, albeit importing another model of cultural agency and political values than their predecessors, the critique of this mechanism of dissemination turned out to be one of the stock rhetorical references of the intellectuals who attempted to carve out a space for themselves in the symbolic and material infrastructure of the nation-state. With the passing of time, the most important structural shift was that the role of the state in this transmission was extolled even further, making it not only the "natural" framework, but the principal actor of the nation-building process.

As the political task of creating Bulgaria was intertwined with the pressing issue of deciding who the Bulgarians actually were, some sort of characterological rhetoric has been influential for the Bulgarian national discourse from the 1860s onwards. The early attempts were usually concentrating on the folk customs as the repository of the national soul, or thematized the national self in view of a comparison between ancient and modern patterns of life. By the turn of the century, an evolutionary-organicist discourse emerged trying to harmonize a modernist perspective with the protection of national specificities, thus, criticizing the superficial signs of imitation, but firmly believing in the civilizational agenda. The 1910s witnessed a significant turn in the evolution of the characterological discourse, giving birth to more "scientific" attempts of "theorizing" on the nation, adapting the German and French paradigms of the psychology of the peoples (Völkerpsychologie).

The first important work aiming at the creation of a self-standing national characterology was written by Todor Panov, a young teacher in the Sofia military academy.[3] Written just after the Balkan Wars, which resulted in a serious setback to the Bulgarian national aspirations, the book attested the general propensity of national characterology to flourish in the wake of great collective traumas. When he turns to the description of the Bulgarian nation, his imagery aims also at explaining the country's recent failures and, at the same time, extolling the regenerative potentials. The characterology thus developed by Panovbased on the public narrative of the Second Balkan War as being a "Dolchstoss" in the back of the heroic nation that sacrificed its best forces against the Turks, he used a self-stereotyping, which was intended to prove that the Bulgarians are a heroic, but politically yet immature nation, who are easily abused by their cowardly but cunning enemies. The Bulgarian nation is one and indivisible, marked by such impressive historical character-traits as valliance, egalitarianism, lack of serfdom and love of liberty. The negative traits are not real negativities, at least not in a moral sense, they are rather stemming from the overflow of some of the positive energies: the nation is overly democratic, often given to debate and hesitation instead of concentrated action, and it is also much too straightforward and heroic, while lacking sufficient political and diplomatic sense to realize its advantages fought out on the battlefield.[4]

The underlying preoccupations of the writer, Anton Strashimirov, who wrote the other key work of narodnopsichologia in the 1910s, entitled Book for Bulgarians, were in many ways similar to those of Panov, even in the sense that the appearance of the book coincided with the catastrophic ending of Bulgaria's next military involvement, i.e. the First World War.[5] The work was published for Christmas 1918, when the war, bringing yet another humiliation for Bulgaria, was already over, but the articles were part of Strashimirov's war publicistic and were not permeated by a feeling of total failure, but rather by that of a heroic fight. In contrast to Panov, he sought to devise a more encompassing characterology and did not identify the national character completely with that of the rural lower classes. At the same time, he called the attention to other cleavages, which were less accentuated in Panov's text. The most important novelty of Strashimirov's narrative was the unprecedented stress on the regional differences in devising a characterology, which was obviously in marked contradiction to the "unitarism" of Panov, and all those who tackled the national character before him. The organizing themes of his book were obviously connected to the specific experiences of the World War. The first issue was the question of the "opinion of others" (allies and enemies alike) about the character of the Bulgarians, obviously due to the intensification of direct contact with foreign armies, and the growing importance of transmitting a favorable image about the country abroad. The second question was that of the unity of the nation, which was put to a powerful test by to the military and social pressure of the war years. Most importantly, according to Strashimirov, Bulgarianness is manifested through the colorful variety of regional types and not in terms of a cleavage between the "elite" and the "people". Along these lines, the author distributes among the different sub-groups those character-traits, which were previously conferred on the Bulgarian type as a whole.[6]

After the catastrophic ending of the World War, there were other voices of social criticism, which instrumentalized the vocabulary of narodnopsihologia, pointing out the social and political incoherence of the country, while concentrating mainly on the rural aspect of the national character. This does not mean, however, that the national characterology was necessarily used by all political camps. In fact, in the early twenties, while both the agrarians and the socialists sometimes resorted to its sweeping rhetorical characterizations concerning the features of this or that social group, they did not find the way to integrate the complexity of the discourse into their political propaganda, which was devised in terms of rigid class-barriers. Thus, alongside with the general anti-intellectualism of these ideologies, their perspective relegated the problem of the mediating role of the cultural elite, the focal point of the previous characterologies, completely to the margins of the public discourse.

In the wake of the fall of the agrarians, this solution of the dilemma of characterology became extremely popular, contributing to the formation of an "ex post facto" agrarian-populist discourse extolling the peasantry as the principal focus of national essence.[7] The most important representative of this discourse was the writer, Konstantin Petkanov, who returned repeatedly to the question of national character throughout the twenties and thirties. Petkanov also described the interaction of the peasantry and the intellectual elite as the principal question of the national culture. He also used the vocabulary of narodnopsihologia as a basis of his character-discourse. There is, however an overall shift in his narrative compared to the characterologies of the previous decade. While the principal agents of his narrative were the same (i.e. the modern cultural and social structures breaking through the traditional life-world of the peasantry, causing a feeling of anomie and resulting in the collapse of social coherence), his tone was markedly darker and he did not cherish a belief in the ultimate harmony brought along by a more patient, organic and evolutionary development on the part of the political elite. Simultaneously, he also got close to abandoning the linear vision of cultural development as the direction of the unfolding "authentic national culture."

Petkanov subscribed to the classical claim of narodnopsihologia, according to which Bulgarians cannot be described either as essentially good or bad, as their character-traits can be turned into good and bad directions as well. In this sense, Petkanov's ideas concerning the solution of the "Bulgarian riddle" flowed from the previous suggestions, but there is also a significant difference. The task remains the same: to activate the constructive potentials of the national character and to create a new cohesion through extending the circles of solidarity envisioned by the citizens. At the same time, this cannot be achieved merely with the curbing of the excesses of inorganic reception and relying on the wisdom of piecemeal evolution. The solution of the riddle requires a much more unprecedented creativity: a cultural offer that is able to stimulate progress and also makes it possible for the Bulgarians to "remain primitive", i.e. close to their "real essence."

In the late-twenties, the semi-authoritarian regime of the Democratic Alliance became increasingly unpopular and was slowly but steadily decomposing. This opened the space for the various political formations that were marginalized by the regime to formulate their cultural and political agendas. At the same time, the public sphere was rather limited and party politics had a strongly negative connotation in the public consciousness. As a result, the intellectuals, who preferred to define themselves as free from daily political fights, tended to assume a more encompassing stance of cultural criticism to express their opinion. Throughout the inter-war period, one can observe the translation of the political dilemma concerning the ideal form of government into the characterological language, focusing on the question of the ideal match of political structure and the Bulgarian national specificity. This discursive situation, in essence, remained unaltered also during the short interval of parliamentary regime (1931-34), which was marked, after a momentum of enthusiasm, by an ever increasing distrust of party-politics, and it was naturally fitting the post-1934 autocratic period as well, which once again restrained the actual political involvement of the public sphere.

Therefore, the period witnessed an intensification of the characterological debates and these years produced an impressive number of divergent intellectual offers, coexisting in the same discursive field. It is almost impossible to give a full picture of the application of the discourse in different political and cultural projects, but one might try to map some typical usages and typical trends. Usually, the various attempts were aiming at the symbolic compromise of the different methodological, cultural and genealogical narratives which were coexisting in the public sphere.

One possible direction was to try to rephrase the characterology so that it supported an etatist discourse. As a matter of fact, in the early thirties, in the absence of a developed discourse of the role of state in a mass society, this attempt was rather self--defeating. While the discursive turn towards etatism was yet premature in 1931, when the parliamentary regime was revived for a short time, there were also other transformations going on in the value-orientation of the Bulgarian intelligentsia that were promptly mirrored by the debates on national character. One has to place the new turn in the debate around the interpretation of the national icon, Bay Ganyo, into this context as well.[8]

In view of the mid-thirties, we can speak of the general "inflation" of the characterological discourse. As a matter of fact, this vocabulary became the core of different political, meta-political, quasi-political, and anti-political inquiries. One of the highest points of this discourse was in the early-thirties, which was followed by a temporal ebb, in many ways coinciding with the introduction of non-parliamentary government, until it came back to the fore in the late-thirties. The genre did not remain unaffected by the transformation of the ideological context: in the limited public sphere peculiar to an authoritarian regime, the character-discourse lost its previous vividness derived from its polemic function rooted in the intention of having a direct impact on the political life of the country. In the late-thirties, the references to the "Bulgarian character" became more routinized and were often turned into merely legitimizing discursive functions, deriving the new regime's features from the putative national essence.

Some of elements of this discourse became incorporated into the more encompassing philosophical attempts of creating a "new identity" for the nation.[9] In the 1920s, Bulgaria was hit by the general crisis of evolutionary historical consciousness in a similar way as other Central and Southeast-European countries. This crisis was due to the traumatic events at the end of the war and the ensuing whirlwind of violent social and political changes, which undermined any kind of unwarranted belief in the beneficial and cumulative effects of historical evolution. Various new ideological trends reached Bulgaria, which were based on "cultural morphology", relativizing the linearity of historical time and stressing the incommensurability of civilizational circles. This was also overlapping with the emergence of new generational ideologies that also problematized the normative continuity of their tradition, asserting the fragmentation of the past and the need to reconstruct it under the aegis of a new creative synthesis.[10]

At the same time, the positions of this new "meta-historical" discourse were rather constrained. In the twenties and thirties, alongside with the growing sensibility to the problematic nature of the normative past,[11] the agents of "official" nationalism were busy establishing a historical canon to buttress their efforts of nation-building. As a matter of fact, as it befitted a culture with a rather belated institutionalization of "national sciences," the Bulgarian historical canon, built mostly on positivist grounds, was, to a large extent, created in the inter-war period. It is due also to this fact that most of the attempts at undermining this framework of historical narrativity and the corresponding national characterology remained rather idiosyncratic. On the whole, although the discursive potential was there, even those who sought to subvert the official narrative were trying to reach a compromise between the (symbolic) geographical and temporal aspects of defining Bulgarianness.[12] While it problematized the conception of normative continuity, the mainstream discourse, seeking to define the national self, never turned to the "ontologized" categories of atemporal symbolic geography.[13]

The other direction of development of the narodnopsihologia-discourse was towards "compartmentalization", which came to edge on the very dissolution of the genre, as the authors produced an extremely wide range of studies on the character of different social classes and types. Thus, apart from the more normative discourses about the character of the peasants or of the intelligentsia, one could read about the character of hooligans, prostitutes, bureaucrats, and even about that of the bachelors and spinsters. This proliferation did not mean, however, that the characterological discourse lost its innovative potential. Building on the previous traditions, but also reshaping them to a considerable extent, various narratives, ranging from "official" nationalism to fundamentalist autochthonism and radical leftism,[14] sought to expropriate it in order to legitimize their position with a reference to the "national essence." But these (meta-) political discourses were usually breaking through the framework of conventional narodnopsihologia, abandoning the social psychological vocabulary and bringing in other disciplines (history, philosophy, sociology) as the normative framework of defining the national character.

Of all this colourful variety, I am going to present here the most interesting instances of the complex interplay between the characterological discourse and the drive to create a "national philosophy," which was so prevalent in interwar Central and South-East Europe. The works by Nayden Sheytanov and Janko Janev can be considered as Bulgarian counterparts to the philosophical attempts by Lucian Blaga, Mircea Eliade, Mircea Vulcanescu and Emil Cioran in Romania, Lajos Prohászka and Sándor Karácsony in Hungary, or Vladimir Dvorniković and Nikolaj Velimirović in Jugoslavia, all striving to devise an ontological scheme based the specificity of their nation, as the reservoir of authentiticity, as dwelling especially close to "Being" itself. This, however, does not mean that all these authors had overlapping methodological and epistemological frameworks on the contrary, while the aim was common, the intellectual solutions were highly divergent. As a matter of fact, as we are going to see, Sheytanov and Janev had also fairly divergent itineraries both due to their specific intellectual dispositions and their social-institutional environments.


2. The Magic Realism of Nation-Building: Nayden Sheytanov


While emerging from the mainstream "official nationalist" ideological camp, Nayden Sheytanov was one of the most idiosyncratic figures of the inter-war intellectual scene. He was a clerk in the ministry of education, and an essayist of considerable influence, contributing to many important cultural magazines of the period, including Çëàòîðîã, Ïðîñâåòà, Áúëãàðñêà ìèñúë, or Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä. Studying his works, one can grasp the intricate connections of the "official" discourse and the more radical formulations of anti-modernism.

Sheytanov turned consciously back to the romantic model of the intellectual, fusing poetic creation and social activity in the framework of shaping an identity-discourse for himself as well as for his nation. He was mainly interested in collective magic and the ritual aspect of human existence, be it in a family or a more extended group. In his works, he fused this transcendentalism with some elements of the national characterology, offering a reinterpretation of the Bulgarian national canon, identifying the mystical aspects of folklore as well as of high culture, and finding magic structures in the special rituals as well as in everyday life-world of the Bulgarians. While he obviously sought to adjust his discourse to the "spirit of the age", one can still say that his ideas were not changing much from the mid-twenties to the late-thirties. From his first appearance as an essayist there were certain permanent elements in his texts, such as the willingness to identify "specific national traits" and the repudiation of the values imposed by the West. Probably the only major shift in his oeuvre was that his mystical collectivism, which for some time had a more personal aspect as well, gradually submerged into the nation-building ideology. For some time, in his early poetic works, the overlapping of microcosmic and macrocosmic concerns could still exist separately from the national ideology. The poetic cycle, entitled "Love"[15] was offering a cosmogonical vision, fusing a pan-sexual symbolism and a vegetative-organicist language, without too much reference to nation-building, even though evoking the national symbolism as a building-material for his metaphoric.

What makes Sheytanov's discourse rather unique is not so much this agenda, which was formulated by a host of essayists in the twenties, rather the highly idiosyncratic language he devised. Through his linguistic creativity, he came closest to formulating a Bulgarian "national ontology," with a specific set of analytical categories, intended to indigenize the universal metaphysical dimensions. To reach his aim, Sheytanov, already in his earlier publications, operated both with neologisms and atypical usages (e.g. the untranslatable formulation of "our nàtion is de-Bulgarianized" /èçáúëãàðÿâà íàøèÿò íàðîä/), also turning back to the linguistic universe of Bulgarian folk archaism and Church Slavonic. Another important mechanism of Sheytanov's texts is the use of a syncretic sacral intertextuality, fusing different mythologies and cultural traditions in constructing a Bulgarian self that is unique and universal at the same time (referring to the "Balkanic Dionysos," for instance).

In the mid-twenties, he produced a series of poetic essays about Bulgarianness, continuing the tradition of narodopshihologia, but in many ways subverting its message.[16] While the mainstream national characterology described modernity as a tragic cleavage that undermined the coherence of the nation, Sheytanov projected this coherence entirely on a symbolic-metaphysical plane, thus resolving the contradiction by destroying the linearity of historical sequence.[17] Instead, he created a framework of magic correspondences and a symbolic language which might lead to a new coherence "restoring some of the faces of the many-faced Bulgarian dragon".[18] This new discourse is based on a "magic mechanics", referring the contemporary life to archaic elements, and structures of the ancient life (ïðàæèâîò). First, in his vision, everything evokes everything in the endless cycle of meanings and occurrences. This eternity of creation and dissolution can be grasped through archetypes, and especially though archetypal polarities: male/female, youth/age, rhythm/stillness. We are constantly reviving the archetypal occurrences, running up and down the circle of life. In this sense, life is nothing but memory: the supra-historical Being reviving its own past. Actual history is but an eternal repetition of a finite set of phenomena: Bogomilism and the haiduks were just different manifestations of the same archaic spirit.

Third, Sheytanov identified the role of the "homo sacer", who is the principal "subject and object" of this eternal vegetative circularity, reflecting on the world and thus becoming the self-reflection of the universe. This priest of the divine rhythm, identified as the male principle, is characterized by an ability of transgressing the established norms of his community in order to reinstate the universal harmony "reaching salvation through orgy", he "does not commit a sin when he destroys."[19] But it was not so easy to apply these considerations on a political material, which was permeated by a language of duties, norms, institutions and a more linear perception of history.

In his early texts, Sheytanov used the ethnic material in a poetic register, even though it had an obvious meta-political message about modernity, tradition and identity. The symbolic sequence of the Sun, the Dragon and the Balkans, which, in turn, symbolize each other, creates a framework for the historical existence of the Bulgarians. This symbolism is the focus of "dragonology" (çìåéâåäà), which is a par excellence autochthonous science, not only studying the local material, but emerging from the subject-matter of the local.[20] The hermeneutic asset of "dragonology" is conferring an air of continuity on Bulgarianness, where everything converges, from pre-history to the present.

At the same time, the autochthonism of his early texts did not lead to an overall repudiation of modernity. Modern mechanistic culture is also integrated into the supra-historical Dragon. Through the "magic mechanism", Sheytanov describes the steam-ship or the airplane as embodiments of a mythical-vegetative force, a new configuration of the archaic elements. Modernity means a return to chthonic powers. It is not by chance that exactly Western modernity discovered the "Bulgarian truth": the turn towards archaism inherent in the spiritual crisis of modernity valorized the fragments of pre-history, which can be found in the Balkans, as a special source of inspiration.[21] This makes it possible for the Bulgarians to reach the universal exactly through immersion into the local: defining Bulgarianness as a special focus of the sacred, a symbolic "axis mundi." Sheytanov gives a series of references to this authochthonized sacrality: he talks of a "Dragon Gospel", and refers to the "Bulgarian world empire" as an "eschatological promise." If in socio-economic terms Bulgarians are behind the West, in ontological terms they are superior and the actualization of their metaphysical potential might lead to a complete subversion of the current symbolic geographical hierarchy.

The locus of Bulgarian sacrality is, predictably enough, the village. It is endangered by the effects of modern civilization: "the wolves of new time" are threatening the "valleys of Balkanic existence."[22] But this danger is rather stimulative than destructive history had repeated itself many times, and throughout its historical itinerary the Bulgarian nation was exposed to dangers, but always managed to develop a specific spiritual culture that was even inspiring for the West. In view of this "ontological" harmony, the connotations of the concept of Europe in Sheytanov's description are definitely positive. What is more, the trajectories of reception are inverted it is not Bulgaria that got something from Europe, but the values were "traveling" the other way round, as well. The West imported Bogomilism, and turned it into Protestantism, while the people of the Balkans defended Europe against the Asian riffraff throughout the course of history.

While the previous national characterologies were emphasizing the dissolution of the Bulgarian military traditions, Sheytanov, looking at the Bulgarian past from a supra-historical perspective, described the warrior as a central Bulgarian mytho-historical figure. The war is an important motif of the Bulgarian folklore, and the classical identity-figures always had an "imperialist" aspect. For Sheytanov, Bay Ganyo, who outsmarts the Westerners, is just another manifestation of this Balkanic heroic tradition, comprising of such celebrities as Alexander the Great, Constantin, or Justinian. The "magic mechanism" resolves the contradiction between archaic heroism and modern technique: "Krali Marko prepares to break out of his cave with airplane", "Saint Dimitar takes lessons of driving a tank"[23]

In the twenties, however, Sheytanov wrote more practical texts as well, marked by a deep concern with the shape of the national community. It is possible to read these works as a special combination of the anti-traditionalist nationalism permeated by Kulturphilosophie, similar to that of Galabov or Kazandzhiev, and the more bureaucratic vision of nation-building. In an early article, from 1926, he hailed the "nationalist revolt of small cultures" against the "urban melting pot" as the most important new cultural-political phenomenon in the world.[24] Translating these developments into the Bulgarian context, he was putting forward the program of "nationalizing the cities", and declaring that the universal values of culture can only be realized through an immersion into the specific.

His book from 1928, entitled the "Cult of the Body," was an important step towards a synthesis of the institutionalist discourse of nation-building and Sheytanov's version of collective metaphysics.[25] It was also interesting in the sense that Sheytanov attempted here a self-contextualization, connecting the concern with the biological aspects of politics with his generational experiences. As he put it, after the World War, a new epoch started for the "body of the Europeans."[26] The challenges of mass-warfare also signalized the necessity of cultivating the body of the nation, and made sport not only an entertaining pastime, but an important aspect of shaping the "body politic" as well. For Sheytanov, however, this transformation did not have any "anti-traditionalist" connotation, as he was conveniently inserting into the archaic features of the Bulgarian self. Thus he connected the spirit of folk songs with the sports, describing Krali Marko, the epic hero of super-natural capacities, as a sportsman avant la lettre, while Bay Ganyo became the epitome of tourism.

The most important question of Sheytanov's development in the mid-twenties was to what extent it was possible to bring together the tree registers he was operating with: that of the poetic-metaphysical language, the Bulgarian version of the European crisis-literature, and the official canon of nation-building. The first attempt of synthesis was probably his article written back in 1925, entitled "The Transfiguration of Bulgaria", which sought to put the metaphysical narrative of Bulgarianness into a broader European cultural-political context.[27] The mediation of these registers was the language of national-characterology, even though Sheytanov did not necessarily subscribe to the normative connotations of its analytical categories. In addition, interestingly enough, his political orientation was rather ambiguous and the text illustrates the considerable divergences among the authochthonist, radical collectivist, and extreme right-wing options, which in the thirties crystallized into a more compact unity. As he put it, after the Great War, Europe was broken into two parts, Soviet-Russia and the West. In geographical and cultural terms, Bulgaria can be placed in-between, eternally torn between Charybdis of the East and Scylla of the West, manifested in different historical forms, like the conflict of Byzantium and Rome, and later Austria and Russia.[28] This forced the Bulgarian leaders to opt for one of the two directions, thus giving up the autochthonus forms of development in the magnetic space of an overwhelming cultural influence. The only exception for Sheytanov was Georgi Rakovski, who refused to align himself both with the East and the West and fought for an autochthonous Bulgarian development.

The message of the essay was similar to the argument of his previous meta-historical speculations, but in many ways he was reverting to the organicist-evolutionary canon. Modernity is unstoppable and sweepingly present, but it is not unprecedented its effects must be somehow integrated into the magic structures of supra-historical circularity. "The winner is the thousand-headed monster, called city" the task is not to eliminate it, but to "tame it."[29] He poses the question: "who will be its lord?" The new inventions and life-forms are reinforcing the archetypal social hierarchies the "aristocrats of the present" are the ones who master the mechanical dynamism of modernity, manifested in such spheres as the sport, which is the "mobilization of the body", or cinematography, which is the mobilization of the image.[30] In this process, the focus of dynamism, Europe is expanding towards the East, thus Bulgaria cannot avoid Westernization. In this transitional moment, Bulgaria is marked by a "tragicomical" fight "for the new world-view", resulting in a total disorientation of the intelligentsia, following foreign examples, marked by egoism and self-serving exclusivism. But the real solution was to bring together Western technique and local symbolic assets to turn the "local reason" into an universal knowledge, creating a Bulgarian style which becomes an uncontestable value for the entire humankind.

By the turn of the decade, the problem of national character became even more important for Sheytanov as he turned to the constitutive issues of the characterology-debate. He sought to answer the basic questions these debates raised about Bulgarian identity, concerning Bogomilism, the rebelliousness of the nation, the lack of social and cultural cohesion, the conflict of the elite and the common folk, and the issue of the "second Renascence." As for Bogomilism, he described it as the manifestation of an autochthonous tradition of revolution, in an indisputably positive connotation. But, radicalizing the usual interpretation, which credited the Bogomils with launching the European movement of church-reform, culminating in Protestantism, Sheytanov coined an even more straightforward protochronist argument, describing it as an archetype for any messianistic movement of political modernity, the first appearance of the idea of "New Jerusalem", thus even professing a continuity between Bogomilism and Bolshevism ("a historical fog from the East").[31] In the Bulgarian context, he establishes the continuity between the Bogomils, the haiduks, and the heroes of national liberation. Once again, he refers himself back to Rakovski, who was proud of the "bogomil faith" of his compatriots.[32]

As for the question of social cohesion, Sheytanov's strategy was to create a very broad symbolic framework which is able to accommodate the different forms of his society as manifestations of an encompassing Bulgarian character. Most importantly, he tried to come to terms with the issue of the "spirit of repulsion", which many critiques held to be a constitutive negative trait of the Bulgarian character.[33] In his interpretation, this psychological pattern is typical for the mountaineers. This does not mean that he considered it a viable strategy of interpretation to derive behavioral patterns from socio-economic conditions. He was rather thinking in terms of "psychical geography." In Sheytanov's interpretation, mountain is one of the vital loci of identity of the Bulgarians, giving birth to two "parallel" histories, unfolding next to each other: that of the refugee and the revolutionary, both using the mountain as their natural space. Repulsion is thus not so much internal, but external-oriented: Bay Ganyo, the Bulgarian icon "of malignancy" is not a sign of internal division, but the symbol of the "resistance of the nation to be kept in political-social and cultural ahistoricity for thousand years."[34] In similar terms, he attenuated the potential danger posed by the racial variety of the population. The Gypsies, for example, are forming part of the Bulgarian mentality, adding their specific couleur locale to it, while the Jews also made a useful contribution in teaching the Bulgarians the secrets of commerce, so much so that finally the students especially the merchants of Gabrovo overcame their teachers in frugality.

He was also among the first to tackle the question of a return to the Renascence. Once again, his position can be read as a radicalization of the autochthonist option inherent in the nationalist canon.[35] Repudiating Boris Jotzov's argument about the inherent romanticism of Paissy, he described him in terms of the "Balkanic eternal return." Merging the "official nationalists" with radical Westernizers, he attacked all those interpreters, who sought to thematize the Bulgarian revival in terms of foreign influences and the "adaptation to Western modernity". According to him, this perspective implied a "slavish methodology" attributing everything automatically to external influence. Instead, he extolled some of the cultural creations of the revival period which were subsequently dropped from the national canon due to their idiosyncrasy, such as the linguistic speculations of Rakovski, trying to define the Bulgarian language as an Ursprache. For him, the real question of the program of returning to the Renascence was to define what would be exactly the ideas one would like to return to. Some of the main demands of that generation were fulfilled in the meantime, such as the extension of the national culture, the creation of a national Church, or the establishing of the nation-state. These achievements might have been criticized previously, but only because the perspective of the critiques was distorted. Instead of comparing the Bulgarian institutional development to Western Europe, marked by centuries of undisturbed evolution, it should be contrasted to the neighbors, who were tracing similar conditions.

At the same time, however, he did not give up Western Europe as a source for ideological inspiration. He referred to the Italians, pointing out that the idea of "returning to the periods glory," formulated in terms of rebirth,` was characteristic of many European cultures. But we can see from this example that the ideology of rebirth was not necessarily connected to the period of 19th century national awakening.[36] The Italians' return to some great historical period does not target the epoch of Garibaldi, but the Roman Empire.[37] Similarly, the other nations also search for the classical period of their greatness to serve as a catalyst of national regeneration. This means the return to pagan ancestors in the case of the Germans and Hungarians, but, in the Czech case, the normative epoch is Hussitism. Along these lines, even the nominally internationalist Soviet Union returned to the glory of Russian medieval past. The "new nations", which do not have a direct continuity with the past, also created their normative images, devising an ideology of illirism, pan-Turkism, and pan-Hellenism. Sheytanov reminds us that the Bulgarian Renascence of the 19th century was also evoking the Middle Ages as a normative model.

This means that the ideology of the "second Bulgarian Renascence" should also be liberated from its 19th century fetters, and should be placed into a much broader scheme of the cyclical returns of Bulgarian history to the "magical" origins. For Sheytanov, the cult around the figure of Hristo Botev, for example, was also an epiphenomenon of something deeper a "national-Bulgarian mysticism," venerating its mythical "ancestors." Instead of searching for some kind of regenerative potential in the actual historical context of the Renascence, Sheytanov formulated the program of a fundamental return to the "classical antiquity" of the Bulgarian nation: "the tree of life will only grow if its roots are reaching deep into the Slavo-Bulgarian and old-Thracian soil."[38]

This discursive turn was fitting Sheytanov's overall attempt in the early thirties to bring together his "magic" collectivism with the canon of "official nationalism." The common ground of the two registers was a special interpretation of national education (íàöèîíàëíî âúçïèòàíèå), creating a new identity-discourse and imposing it on the people. After a number of essays, published throughout the decade, his synthesis, entitled "Great-Bulgarian world-view", eventually appeared in 1939.[39] The book was the first volume of a never-finished trilogy, which was meant to lay the ideological foundations of a new national identity, comparable to the imperialistic Pan-movements of Europe, bearing the telling name of Balkano-Bulgarian Titanism.

The starting-point of the book was the assertion that until that moment there had not been any encompassing attempt to create a new Bulgarian ideology in line with the profound ideological transformation in Europe. In order to face the challenge, it was not enough, as the old-fashioned nationalists believed, to strengthen the state or develop more effective means of propagating the Bulgarian national position at home and in abroad. What had to be done, instead, was a fundamental change in the very basis of allegiance on the part of the Bulgarians to their nation-state. A new world-view was needed "to determine the laws of the past and to proceed in tune with the contemporary spirit."[40]

Thus, Sheytanov's aim was not only to devise a new political ideology or historical interpretation, but something much more fundamental to recreate the national canon, from which a "Great-Bulgarian ideology" could stem, stepping into a mimetic competition with other national essentialisms. The work was intended to be not a mere characterization, but a normative image, "not a historical study, but a national and nourishing book" a "law-book," "expressing the world-view of every Balkano-Bulgarian."[41] With all the excentrism of his ideas, Sheytanov was deeply rooted in the local debates on national character and national identity. In a sense, he was seeking to fulfill what, among others, Spiridon Kazandzhiev expected from the new perception of history, when asserting that it is not the factual side which is the important, but the way this historical narrative shapes the community. What, in Sheytanov's work, exceeded Kazandzhiev's wildest speculations was the total indigenization, not only of the aesthetics of nation-building, but of the very "meta-historical" system of categories, which were meant to structure the historical narration.

Similar to the conventional identity-discourses, the source-materials of this new ideology were thus mostly historical and geographical. These registers enter a specific interaction in Sheytanov's writings. The whole narrative is couched in a symbolic geographical frame based on the proliferation of some classical Bulgarian topoi of self-description - which provides the ultimate framework for the arguments. The Balkans feature as the principal meeting-point of the four geographical directions, a kind of axis mundi, "a focus of world history", "a bridge between three continents."[42] It is "a branch of the East" but, at the same time, also the "Guardian of Europe." This symbolic geographical narrative, however, does not lead to a full-fledge anti-historicist vision, where the past is frozen by the eternity of spatial determinants of identity. Sheytanov's conception can be called rather "historiosophic" analyzing the symbols in a key of a normative historical canon even though this canon is not linear, but envisioned in terms of cyclicality.

The overlapping of these two registers is also apparent in Sheytanov's meta-political argument about the Bulgarians' entitlement to rule over the peninsula. On the one hand, he claims that Bulgarians are a "pure peninsular nation", i.e. their essence overlaps with their spatiality. On the other hand, Sheytanov asserts that they have a "historical right" to rule over the region i.e. particular historical events, and the historical continuity make their dominance legitimate.[43] This fusion can be taken to represent the principal mechanism of the book, intended as a symbolic unification of the various registers of self-description employed in the Bulgarian national discourse. Sheytanov's "Great-Bulgarian world-view" was thus an attempt to harmonize all those ideological fragments which previously were played out against each other or were used mainly to illustrate the incoherence of the national self. In this sense, it was a program of "internal identity-building," as much as a project of territorial expansion. What his predecessors identified as elements of an anti-thesis, Sheytanov tried to describe as a synthesis. The Bulgarians embody all the qualities of metaphysical harmony: they are a new and an old nation, Northerners and Southerners, Slavonic and Hunnic, urban and rural, pagan and Christian at the same time.

Along these lines, he declared that, contrary to the followers of narodopsihologia, the three historical regions of Bulgarianness, Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia were harmonically fitting into the unitary national type as regional versions. Furthermore, the "motherland," which he ultimately defined as the Balkans, is an indivisible unitary formation, thus the presence of any foreign power there is profoundly "anti-historical."[44] The geo-political unity of the territory could be underlined by a symbolic geographical interpretation, focusing on the topos of autarchy, but also described in terms of the dynamic balance of East and West. It is characterized by the harmony of lowlands and highlands, and it is framed by three seas: the Black, the White and the Blue. Its Northern border-river, the Danube, symbolizes the Western influence, while the Balkans, the spinal column of the whole peninsula, evokes the flow of Eastern civilization into Europe: "ex oriente lux."[45] This unitary vision extends over the geographical factors, and incorporates also the social sphere. The interaction of nature and the people form the crucial constitutive elements of a spiritualized geography making up "our Balkanic mythology and popular philosophy." Nature and culture, thus, converge into a magical harmony. The mountains "guard our homeland", while the folksongs evoke "cosmological images", and carry the memory of prehistory. All this symbolism leads to a proliferation of autochthonist images. The "generations emerge from Mother Earth as plants"; "we are unthinkable without our motherland."[46]

While this stress on autochthonism was unusual, this symbolic imagery of identity was obviously not a novelty in the Bulgarian culture. Sheytanov himself was referring to Pencho Slaveykov as his principal source of inspiration. What made his discourse, however, unprecedented, was the radical shift of registers. Whereas, for instance, Slaveykov was asserting the primacy of the poetic self in defining reality, and he inserted a political message into a poetic text, Sheytanov transferred the poetic imagery into a framework rooted in the generic conventions of a political discourse. By devising the myth of an "eternal Bulgaria," Sheytanov's main intellectual aspiration was to create an all-encompassing autochthonist narrative for the nation-state building. In the magic circle, the organic imagery fuses with the inorganic material, the natural forms with the historical events, and the political structures come to be rooted in cosmogonical archetypes, organized into a dualism of the active and passive principles. The chthonic figure Mother Earth provides the material, while the "paternal" figure of the state shapes the "bio-mass" and builds it into "himself," creating a "nation-state."

Of course, a potential critique could point out that, for many hundreds of years, Bulgarians were devoid of an independent state. Sheytanov, however, was referring to the continuity of the Bulgarian nationhood, which was in a way transmitting the potentiality of the nation-state even in a period which was making it impossible to realize this aim. The Bulgarian nationhood is in fact supra-institutional and even supra-historical: "we existed from times immemorial", as the focus of "Bulgarian eternity" was the "ethno-nation", the narod.[47] Consequently, the entire Great-Bulgarian ideology had to focus on the narod, the principle of national self-reproduction. Sheytanov collects these elements of the national self, connected to the symbols of procreation, nationalizing Eros, that is, once again, "indigenizing the universal". From this perspective, he accentuates the strong ties of kinship, the symbols of fertility, the matriarchal memories in the national folklore, and the cult of Dionysus, who, by the way, had a clear androgynous aspect in his reading. This quasi-religious representation of the fundamental principles of vegetativity links the ethno-national existence of the Bulgarian nation, that is, its androgynism before the formation of a nation-state, to the most archaic civilizational assets of the Balkan peninsula. The cult of Dionysus directs us back to the "beginnings of Balkanic humanity" - a humanism which predates Christianity with many centuries.[48]

This cult of "national procreation" provides Sheytanov with excellent materials to develop his "anthropological" theory about the inhabitants of the Balkans. Doing this, he resumed a thread of his thoughts from the previous decade, delineating the "sexual philosophy of the Bulgarians".[49] In his essays, which were expanding the genre of narodopsihologia into a previously unexplored domain, he was offering a thematization of sexuality in terms of a national identity-discourse. While the previous interpreters were usually emphasizing the closeness, defensiveness and overall restraint of the Bulgarians in these matters, Sheytanov devised a completely opposite characterization, stressing the ritual and orgiastic elements, derived mostly from the analysis of a textual corpus, which he defined as the "unofficial folklore."[50] This also meant that these eminently anthropological aspects of human existence could be turned into a national vision, what is more, according to the author, the return to the "bio-sensitive spheres" of existence opened up the way to national regeneration.

This fusion of the spheres of cultural creation and procreation under the aegis of the emerging nation-state became a crucial train of thought in his book on the "Great-Bulgarian world-view" as well, forming an autochthonous philosophical anthropology, "A Balkano-Bulgarian philosophy of Eros."[51] Interestingly enough, the anthropological categories are immediately transferred to the historical dimension as well, thus configurating into protochronism instead of a national ontology. The pre-Christian cult of procreation appeared in the Bogomil ideas about the equality between the sexes, which can be contrasted to the patriarchalism of the Bible. This means that, for Sheytanov, the origins of the late-medieval chivalry ethos, with its cult of the woman, originated in Bulgaria. If the dualism of the male and female principles were so deeply embedded into the Bulgarian popular culture, in this respect, exactly the legislation after 1879, commonly taken to be "progressive", was introducing an "unnatural" civic inequality. So the later moves for emancipation, which were perceived as being based on an imported ideology, were in reality rooted in autochthonous soil, just this connection came to be forgotten.

The proliferation of self-descriptive tropes is a crucial trait in Sheytanov's views concerning the Bulgarian ethno-genesis as well. The available ethnic substrates, which were previously connected to alternative genealogical narratives, were fused into one meta-narrative, which once again legitimized a protochronist stance. The modern Bulgarians do not represent one specific ethno-national community: they are products of various ethnicities, representing, in fact, a unique combination of "Northern" and "Southern" peoples. Thus, they can count among their ancestors the pre-historic Mediterranian tribes, the Japhetian Middle-Asians and, finally, the "Nordic" Thracian and Slavic peoples.

This ethnic mixture, the elements of which constitute "the geo-biological forces of our country" makes the Bulgarians not only the unquestionable lords of the peninsula, but in a way the most complete conjunction of the different types of human civilization, where paradoxically - every new influx has been reinforcing the autochthonous nature of the population. It is only a matter of perspective which aspect of this self-perpetuating continuity we stress: if we want to accentuate the pre-historic and antique face of the inhabitants, they are Balkano-Bulgarians, if we emphasize their confluence and "common historical destiny," they are "Bulgaro-Balkanic."[52] This makes is possible for Sheytanov to claim that the Bulgarians are a "classical" and a "new" nation at the same time. In their classical form of Balkanic civilization, they have universal significance, since history itself originated here: "the sun of powerful historicity came from our historical lands". The Bulgarian Kingdom also scored high in the protochronist "olympics" in view of the Middle Ages: Bulgarians formed the second state after France, theirs was the third imperator, the second patriarch, the first Renaissance, and, finally, the first Reformation. At the same time, however, they are also among the youngest nations after the long period of political repression, the last to be liberated among the peoples in Europe.

Theoretically, there could be some danger that these two sides might paralyze each other. Sheytanov tried to avoid this trap by dissolving their duality in the flow of history. The Bulgarians are old and new, but not in the sense of two different essences they are "ever old" and "ever new" in the circularity of historical becoming. In fact, the historical movement in a perfect circle is the ideal form of existence for every people. It represents the connection between the nature and civilization, the vegetative pulsation of the community, and the harmony of corporeality and spirituality. The inorganic elements usually break through when, for some reason, this circularity is interrupted.

The "symbolic geographical" turn in his identity-discourse, fused with a cyclical vision of Bulgarian history, led to a highly original solution of the dilemma posed by narodopsihologia concerning the dissolution of the unitary character. Sheytanov rejected the principal assertion of the organicist nationalists, according to which the city is "alien", while the village is authentic. In fact, the Balkans provides a unique space, characterized by the organic intertwining of the village and the city. This organic relationship, once again, unfolds in a circular pattern the village becoming a city, and then the city turning into a village. According to Sheytanov, there is a specific pulsation in the "Balkano-Bulgarian" history, in fact, an interference of two histories, which connects these two "ontological" spaces. In times of foreign invasions, the slopes of the mountains often served as a refuge for the inhabitants of the plain, triggering the "ruralization" of an urban population.[53] The nomads of the peninsula, such as the Vlachs, the Karakachans, or the Gypsies (whom he also considered an autochthonous Balkanic ethnicity) are archaic fragments of a previous layer of the indigenous population, "the Pelasgs." But even these communities could turn once again into historical actors, such as in the case of the emergence of the Second Bulgarian Empire, when the Vlachs (i.e. a "pre-historical nationality") were supporting the Bulgarians in their fight for independence.

Throughout the Bulgarian history, independent statehood was always re-created with the help of rural archaism flocking to the urban space. As he puts it, somewhat ambiguously, this is exactly what happened after 1918 as well, creating a momentum of turning back to the village for inspiration. In this dialectics of the village and the city, the villagers always had ultimately urban origins, while, in turn, the city-dwellers were coming from the village. This also means an organic relationship of high and low culture, the elite and the people. For instance, the rural haiduks of the 18-19th century were progenies of the erstwhile knights (bagaturs). Rooted in this circularity, the potentiality of greatness is always there, even in the most modest manifestation of Bulgarian soul. "Our psychical maximalism is based on our erstwhile historicity:" under the surface of an ahistorical peasant culture, the glorious past is waiting for its turn to become actualized once again.[54]

The same circularity determines Sheytanov's interpretation of the Bulgarian "historical pantheon" as well. He describes the heroes of the 19th century as symbolic re-appearances of ancient deities. Thus, Botev is the reincarnation of Orpheus, Rakovski is that of Zalmoxis, while Benkovski is a new Hector. Bulgarianness is "a riddle and an epic", a focal point of Faustian, Dionysian and Bogomil mythologies.[55] These legends expanded to the North and the West, thus the Hungarian, the Romanian, and even the Bavarian cultures were formed under Bulgarian influence. Bay Ganyo is also a mythical figure, a reincarantion of the pre-historic titans. The archaic structures of sociability appear in modern context as well: the continuity of the metallurgic philosophy, from the archaic times to the village industry, or the "orgiastic" bazar-scenes (ïàçàðëúê), connecting the economic activities with something primordial.[56]

Looking at these examples, one can say that, ultimately, history is overcome by meta-history, with a set of symbolic categories organizing the material into a new, supra-temporal and trans-cultural order.[57] The Madara-horseman, the primordial Dragon, Dionysos and Saint George are just different apparitions of the same pre-historic essence. The "yunak"-tradition of arm-bearing freemen was transfigurated into the army of janichars (who were mostly of Christian origin), and into the outlaw world of the haidutin. And this haidutin, characterized as a "national" fighter, actually prefigures the Renascence.

This supra-historical continuity is the main legitimation for the Bulgarian overlordship on the whole peninsula. The Bulgarian participation in the liberation of other peoples was comparable to "the help of the benevolent lord to his tenants (...)."[58] The only state-building nation in the Balkans is the Bulgarian. The first Bulgarian state was founded 1200 years before the emergence of Greece.[59] Sheytanov, who explicitly referred his opinion back to Fallmerayer, excluded the modern Greeks from the inheritance of the ancient Balkanic state-formations. It is the conspiracy of the neighbors to assert that Bulgarians were not an eminently state-forming nation. The outfit of these "Balkano-Bulgarian" states was varying due to the crossroad-situation of the peninsula, but the Bulgarian ethnos never became "ahistorical."

The circular model also implies that there is a living potentiality of social organisation, a promise of higher form of collective existence, rooted in the "eternal return of greatness", even in the most amorphous actual community. To grasp this specific quality, Sheytanov turns to the concept of sociability (îáùåñòâåíîñò). This category creates a symbolic continuity between the ethno-nation and statehood it is the ever-present seed of regeneration transmitted by generations of Bulgarians in the periods of adversity. Along these lines, he devises a historical tableau of an "ethno-civil society", a sphere of existence devoid of statehood, marked by associations, where their specific "sociability" organizes the members of the ethnic community into a nation. Such manifestations of sociability were the leagues of boyars, the brotherhood of haiduks, but, in a somewhat inverted sense, even the political parties. This feature is crucial precondition for Sheytanov's political project. After the independent statehood was created, the task is not to supplement the structures of this "sociability" with imported and mechanic patterns of administration, but to create a new form of social organisation, based on a sort of "ethno-corporativism," supporting the indigenous forms of sociability "from above."

While the nation-state is not the starting-point of the development, it is definitely the aim and highest level of self-realization: "the state raises the peoples to the heaven of higher historicity."[60] Of course, it was an open question, what form of government was exactly fitting the "national character." Sheytanov's answer was once again based on the willingness of creating a harmony between the two available options, democracy and autocracy. In his opinion, both of these principles were present in the Bulgarian national character.[61] The Old Bulgarian rulership and Byzantine traditions inclined towards autocracy and the fusion of secular and spiritual rule in the form of caesaropapism. At the same time, however, the ancient Thracian traditions, linked to Dionysos, with their inherent egalitarianism and the ecstatic cult of the body, were at the very origins of democracy. Furthermore, the Slavs were the first "democratic nation." In the Middle Ages, the autocratic pretensions of the rulers were countered by the eruptions of "Balkano-Bulgarian democracy", in the form of Bogomilism.

The symbolic compromise between these two options is conceptualized as "nation-statehood" (íàðîäîäúðæàâèå), a new national ideology, which, in Sheytanov's understanding, required the fusion of the "ideal" German and Russian patterns of rulership. This concept also meant an attempt to harmonize "geo-politics" and "ethno-politics", in the sense of bringing together the territorial and the ethnographical registers of legitimating the Bulgarian pretensions. According to Sheytanov, the ideas of natural borders and historical continuity cannot be played against each other, as they both refer to the very same "Balkano-Bulgarian" entity. This space is not only the center of the Bulgarian nation-building, but the very axis of world history. Imperialism itself is a Balkanic invention, linked with the idea of "geo-politic messianism", the Roman, Spanish and English empire-builders were all just beneficiaries of the process of "translatio imperii" which originated in the Balkans.[62] In fact, the very idea of nationalism is credited with Bulgarian roots. It is not true, that Bulgarians were somehow "'de-nationalized" throughout the centuries. On the contrary, they were nationalistic in an exemplary manner: for instance, Tsar Simeon's measures of defending the "national-language" were probably the first conscious policies of "nation-building".[63] The Bogomils, reaching the highest form of Balkano-Bulgarian mystique, can be interpreted as the first full-fledge nationalist cultural movement. Not to speak about social protectionism, which goes back to Han Krum, who made the very first social legislation in the world.

While these speculations were rather hilarious, they were still connected to the problems of the "mainstream" nationalist discourse. In fact, Sheytanov's ambition was to offer a fundamentally new solution to the problem which was troubling his entire generation: how is it possible to reach the level of existence of world historical significance for a small nation, which was usually not taken into account in the gigantic power-games. While the "young generation" of the inter-war period usually tackled this problem from the aesthetic point of view, searching for a synthesis of "native" and "foreign" influences, Sheytanov drew a conclusion, which was on a different level drawn by the entire cohort of politicians all over the world, that only a strong state with a strong identity can withstand the external pressures. According to Sheytanov, the only way of survival for Bulgaria, and the only available means to counter external aggression is to subvert the symbolic hierarchy between the local and the universal. The classical organicist solution did not seem to be viable, since it advocated an artificial self-enclosing from the effects of modernity. According to Sheytanov, this stance could only lead to total failure, as the instruments of modernity could be turned easily into symbolic and real weapons in the hands of Bulgaria's enemies. His offer was, therefore, to indigenize the very framework of modernity. Of course, this was a variation on the central theme of the inter-war meta-political literature concerning the domestification of Western achievements. But Sheytanov was quite unique in pushing this to a logical extreme, asserting that it is not at all a problematic venture to localize the achievements of European modernity, as they were "rooted in Bulgarian soil", and thus the very gesture of identifying them as "native" breaks the spell and liberates the community from the painstaking work of harmonizing them with their own life-world.

In addition, Sheytanov's radical protochronism was a perfect tool to rephrase the framework of Bulgarian irredentism. While the previous legitimizing discourses of the Bulgarian claims were always shipwrecked on the complexities of the overlapping pasts and ethnicities, Sheytanov could devise a discourse where all these bickerings became meaningless in the prism of Balkano-Bulgarian authochthonism. From this perspective, all the neighbors were inheritors of an erstwhile Balkano-Bulgarian nation. Consequently, the Serbian, Romanian, and even the Hungarian statehood was built on a considerable Bulgarian ethnic element. What is more, even Byzantium was "Thracian and Slavonic", rather than Hellenic.[64] In this interpretation, the neighbors all aspire to Bulgarian territories while their own core-territory was also a traditional Bulgarian space before. [65]

Interestingly, this position did not lead him to advocate an uncompromising stance towards the other nations, least of all any policy of ethnic cleansing. While he was convinced that the Balkan peninsula was a "Bulgarian historical arena", he also accepted the actual existence of other nationalities. In fact, he believed that at some point their ignorance can be broken by peaceful means and they can be turned back to pan-Balkanism, the "idea of salvation" preaching the common interests of all the peoples living in this region. To reach this compromise, Sheytanov returned to the traditional rhetoric of Bulgarian irredentism, phrasing his demand in terms of a self-limitation of the Bulgarian nation-building project.[66] As a minimal price, he put forward a scheme where the neighbors were to give back those territories which were "inhabited by Bulgarians" (of course, this list included, first and foremost, Macedonia), but in exchange, he was absolutely open to develop a "tradition of mutual understanding."

As we could see, both his relationship to modernity and to Bulgarian irredentism were negotiated with the different contemporary ideological traditions. This is also true of his attempt to devise an ethnic philosophy, but probably this was the aspect where his discourse was the most atypical. In a way, this was the ultimate step, and the metaphysical legitimization, of his project of autochthonizing history and geography. In order to make his interpretation intellectually coherent, he had to push it to its extreme: "indigenizing" the very categories of thinking, creating a "national ontology." In contrast to some Romanian philosophers, who indeed developed "scholarly" philosophical texts, fusing the traditional "European" patterns of argumentation with the unusual material, Sheytanov was inserting his project into a more encompassing, and therefore "softer," spiritualist texture. He sought to devise a kind of interdisciplinary organon of the "national soul," trying to fuse every potential register of - collective identity into a "meta-signifier" of Bulgarianness, and also following the local Bulgarian tradition which usually subsumed philosophy and ethnography to narodopsihologia.

The "Great-Bulgarian world-view" was supposed to function as a religious system, defining the Bulgarians as an "elect nation," and the Balkans as the "holy land of Europe."[67] Sheytanov was attempting to devise a mimetic religious discourse, where any historical manifestation of sacrality was ultimately converging into the cult of the national community. This syncretism, in his opinion, was not at all a problem, in fact it fitted very well into his cultural morphology stressing the eternal return of pre-historical archetypes. This "circularity" of different religious traditions was confirming his claim that the Balkans were somehow "closer to the heavens" than the other regions. As for the organization of this "national pantheon", Sheytanov was focusing mostly on the principle of procreation. This could be called Eros, as an archetype, but from another perspective it could be identified with the Sun as well. The central mechanism of Balkanic spirituality is its anthropomorphism, personifying these essences, giving them such mythical forms as that of Dionysos. All these figures form part of a "meta-historical" (Sheytanov actually uses this term) framework, which connects the different divinities to different constitutive layers of our collective memory. [68]

These principles, gods and mythical heroes are inserted into a series of ritual structures connected to the circularity of procreation and proliferating in many directions. Some of these have orgiastic character, others symbolize death, again others are connected to rebirth; some evoke the cultural memories of matriarchy, some, however, are rooted in the patriarchal vision. According to Sheytanov, the elements of this Balkanic "meta-history" can be studied in the popular language and popular art, which often evoke the cultural memories of pre-historical times. There are special hermeneutic methods that make it possible to unearth these archaic references from the source-material. Most important for Sheytanov was the "meta-historical" etymology, establishing the intricate trajectories of transformation, connecting divinities, ethnicities and the chthonic forces, indicating the "great chain of Balkanic Being".[69] One such meta-historical sequence starts with Hermes, who evokes the Aramaei, who, in turn, evoke the city of Rome, from which we can jump easily to the Gypsies (Roma), while not forgetting about the Aromans either: all of them somehow referring to the pre-historic ethnicity of the peninsula. Even more entertaining are Sheytanov's other examples, connecting the general Belizar via the Valkyrs to the "Pelasg" people, not to speak about the meta-historical link of Dionysos Phallus through the Philistei to the Vlachs.

The archetypal Balkanic divinity, Dionysos plays a prominent role in the theoretical "domestification" of Christianity as well. He is the "god of democracy", and here he meets the spirit of the Apostles, as the Gospels were also "democratic". The idea of a vegetative god, resurrected in a human body, is also a Balkanic mythological trope, so it is not hard then to reach the conclusion that "it was not Palestine, but the religion-creating Balkans, together with the Thraco-Phrygian Asia Minor, that made a world religion out of Christianity." [70] Its main ideas are rooted in the "tragic titanism" of the orphic movement, thematizing the "poetic self-destruction." This "titanic" spirit of self-negation can be still traced in the everyday life of the Bulgarians, if not elsewhere, at least in their unusual way of saying yes while shaking their hand. [71]

"Titanism" is also a constitutive element of the Balkanic art, which thus became co-terminuous with the religious register of the national self. Art always had a tragic aspect, as it was always the property of an ethnic fragment going "downwards" on the wheel of becoming and dissolution. Nevertheless, with their titanic aspiration, the Balkano-Bulgarian artists were close to heaven. Every artistic manifestation bears the sign of this divine element. Botev is a "Dionysian poet", the Bulgarian folk songs are fragments from a "national cosmogonical epic." and "Rhodopism" will be the new Renaissance.[72] The ballad about Master Manoil (who, by the way, is identical with Meşterul Manole of the Romanian folklore and national characterology) here comes to bear the memory of "orphic homophagy." He also reiterates his previous arguments about the cult of the body, inserted into the framework of sacrality. For example, the novel interest in tourism among the Bulgarians receives the adjective "orgiastic".

Sheytanov inserts his quest for a national philosophy into this quasi-ethnographic context. The manifestations of the national mindset can be reconstructed from proverbs and stories of folk wisdom and wise villagers (whom he calls "Socratics" Ñîêðàòîâöè).[73] The major principles of folk wisdom are built on the archetypal dualism, contrasting the male and female principles, the microcosm and the macrocosm, nature and history. What is more, these dualities are symbolizing each other as well ultimately the central idea of the national philosophy (i.e. popular wisdom) is that the whole existence is ruled by the very same ideas. It is natural, then, that from the "national metaphysics" one can derive a "national ethics," connecting popular practices to the sphere of moral imperatives. This is based on matriarchal elements, the idea of self-sacrifice ("homophagic ethics"), and "haiduk wisdom". Finally, Sheytanov develops a specific "indigenized" political philosophy as well. The main tenet of this system is the fundamental unity of the nation, even if on the surface it seems to be divided. The Balkano-Bulgarians are the politician-demiurges of Southeast-Europe, as their greatest ideological achievements the cult of heroes, anthropomorphism, Renascence, and the spirit of creation constitute the essence of "Balkan-Bulgarian Greatness" the "Holy Trinity of our historical existence".[74]

While these speculations cannot be equated with the mainstream "national canon", Sheytanov's vision about the dissemination of this new national creed was very much fitting into the framework of "national education" as thematized by the "official nationalist" establishment. He put the accent on the transmission of the "national knowledge" through education, and the creation of mass-organisations, especially for the youth, intended to shape the coming generations. But he was far from just replicating the "official nationalist" patterns of thought. In fact, when he turned to the question of implementation of his "reform project", his formulations contained a rather outspoken polemics with this position. He was trying to assess the possibility of realizing his vision about a Bulgarian world-view in the context of the erupting World War. He referred to the position most powerfully formulated by Boris Jotzov according to which Bulgaria is but a small nation. Isn't it too insignificant, then, to have its own world-view? Isn't it better to wait who will win in this confragration, and then implement the winners' ideology? he posed the rhetorical questions, only to counter them with the claim that the Bulgarian nation is in mortal danger, and it could be saved only by a radical ideological transformation.[75]

The danger is eminently bio-political the steady decrease of the number of Bulgarians and the concomitant increase of the neighbors. "The titanic nation became a martyr nation".[76] This biological challenge became even more acute by the emergence of radical in fact, totalitarian - ideologies ("neo-nationalism," "neo-humanism" and "socio-ethism"), which reshaped the national identities all over Europe, posing an powerful "ideological" challenge to any community which stuck to the anachronistic belief-systems of the 19th century.

In the book about the "Great-Bulgarian youth, which he published a year later, together with Nayden Pamukchiev, who was one of the protagonists of the imitative-totalitarian youth movement, Sheytanov was trying to implement some of his ideas in the context of the "etatization" of radical nationalism.[77] The book was once again complex negotiation between the canon of "official nationalism" and Sheytanov's own philosophical interest in "corporeality" as an eminently political issue. The preface of the book was written by Bogdan Filov, who was a crucial figure of the official nationalist establishment around Tsar Boris. Filov used the typical bureaucratic language of this ideological trend, fusing the authoritarian and the "constitutional" idioms in a peculiar way. He greeted the "quasi-totalitarian" youth movements as being "in line" with the new law on youth organizations, appealing to the "civic duty" of every citizen to prepare for the defense of the motherland.

The main text of the booklet was also supporting the authoritarian project of "national reintegration," hailing the Germans for making it possible to create Greater-Bulgaria. In fact, the entire argument was an attempt to "domestify" the generational impetus and turn its "revolutionary energies" into the service of the official nationalist project. This meant that many elements of Sheytanov's previous essays about the "youth as the source of life", or "love as the principal force" were re-iterated, but their original "anarchic" potential was significantly tamed. Rather than devising a totalitarian project of fusing the nation's body into an organic entity under some kind of Führerprinzip, the book retreated to a corporeal aesthetics, recalling the ideas of the German Jugendbewegung, which had a considerable cultural impact mainly in the 1910-20s. Sheytanov sought to disseminate the "cult of beauty and strength"[78], and extolled the figure of the young "player" and potential "fighter", "the eternal guard and creator of the nation." He envisioned the fight of old and new as the root of dynamism, but once again, instead of turning this potential against the establishment, he sought to channel it to the "right direction" of defending the fatherland against the external enemies.

All this argument was inserted into an interpretative framework focusing on the increase of the political role of etatism. According to Sheytanov, after the World War, Europe underwent a profound ideological and structural transformation, which made the state the principal agent of the social and political spheres. Interestingly, he did not make an ideological difference here, evoking the Soviet Union as a positive example as much as post-1933 Germany. The common denominator for him was the youthful dynamism in the framework of a "messianic nationalism" as opposed to the English, American and French "gerontocracies".

The task of the Bulgarian elite was to devise a "generational indoctrination": i.e., reshaping the community in view of the new challenges. Sheytanov's own intended contribution to this epochal work was the formulation of a new canon of identity. In fact, he was re-iterating the main elements of the "Great-Bulgarian world-view," but now his "national ontology" became an "applied science", subordinated to the "generational" perspective. He evoked the continuity of the Thracians, the first and the second Bulgarian Empires, the legendary heroes (bagaturs)of the Middle Ages, the haidutins and finally the Renascence as the periodical manifestation of the regenerative potentials of the young generation. His "magic" sequences also made it possible to create a symbolic connection between the young generation and the past implying that, in fact, the youth were always the principal actors of reinstating the national tradition, as opposed to the decadence of the older generations.[79]

In this sequence, the period after 1878 was a deplorable decline, "destroying the aura of our past" by declaring that "ours is nothing the other's is everything". In this reading, Bay Ganyo, far from being a titanic character, is rather a symbol of decay.[80] This meant that even though Sheytanov sought to import as much as possible from his metaphysical speculations, there were certain limits that he could not trespass if he wanted to have a more official resonance. He nevertheless kept to some of his more idiosyncratic ideas, such as contrasting the optimistic "Great-Bulgarian" ideology to the "scepticism of the Slavic-Bulgarians", or his cyclical image of history, with decline and regeneration following each other in an eternal circle. But, instead of developing a full-fledge cultural morphology connecting the local and the universal, he restrained himself to depicting the levels of national identity in a linear pattern. When a community exists only on an instinctive level, this can be called a "biological" bond. When it reaches a consciousness of its national self, it becomes a "creative force in history." Finally, when it elaborates an ideology of its national solidarity, it reaches the highest level of existence.

But, once again, instead of devising a "Great-Bulgarian world-view", Sheytanov formulates rather vague ideas about the constitutive elements of such an ideology. Bulgarianness is defined here in terms of the cult of the "motherland", the knowledge of the national past and the racial properties, the respect for the state, love of war, and appreciation for culture. In any case, the vision of a "new Bulgarian man" is less of an ideological problem here than a matter of "physis": most of all, the "Great-Bulgarian" will need to have a "healthy body", a "fiery soul", and "an iron will."[81] But, in order to reach this it is not enough to formulate an ideological matrix: the canon has to be projected on the community. Hence, Sheytanov's discourse became much more institutionalist he returned to the framework of "national education", soliciting the teachers to mediate between the creative elite and the people, helping to bring the identity to the surface of consciousness and eventually "turn our already unified motherland into a real nation."

When it came to the dissemination of the national ideology, he had to make even further concessions to the official canon and tone down some of his heterodox formulations. One can follow this "negotiation" in his books from the early-forties, which were, contrary to "Great-Bulgarian world-view", couched in established institutional frameworks. The "knowledge of the fatherland"(oòå÷åñòâîçíàíèå)-textbook, co-authored by Sheytanov, was an attempt to translate the "creed" of new nationalism to the language of school-children.[82] His tone became normative ("Bulgaria is our fatherland""we love our fatherland"), without, however, the previous philosophical ideas about the ontological specificity of being Bulgarian. The aim was rather to introduce the readers to the ethnographic-geographic specificity of the nation; providing, as it were, a "guidebook" of Bulgaria for the locals.

What made the book rather intriguing was the very ambiguity of defining what exactly the "Bulgarian territory" was. It was written in the moment of the collapse of the inter-war geo-political order, and it obviously focused on the question of potential territorial expansion. Therefore, the entire book was inserted into a dynamism of the "liberated" and "not-liberated" Bulgarian lands, and its main aim was to prepare the new generation for the new historical ordeals connected with the fulfillment of the irredenta-project. Therefore, the comparative horizons of the textbook were reaching, first of all, at the neighbors defining, for example, the Romanian competitors for Dobroudja "less cultured" then the Bulgarians. In this process of conversion, the character-discourse gets simplified to a series of "basic truths" concerning the essence of Bulgarianness: "we speak Bulgarian, we have a common past and identical interests." [83]

Sheytanov's textbook of history, published in 1943, was also retreating to the traditional nationalist canon.[84] In the book, we find markedly different views about the Buglarian ethno-genesis than in the pages of the "great-Bulgarian world-view". Thus, the book stressed the conventional Slavic/Proto-Bulgarian fusion, leaving the Thracians entirely out. The book also reverted to the traditional catalogue of national virtues and vices, contrasting the Bulgarians' magnanimity, heroism, peace-loving, love of science and cult of work to the lack of care for the common good, the aping of the foreign models, or their haughtiness.[85] Instead of the holistic strategy of describing Bulgarianness in terms of a metaphysical perfection, the language of the textbook is typical for the "official nationalist" pattern of indoctrination, fusing national characterology and the "language of civil duties": "every good Bulgarian should help rooting out the negative qualities."[86]

While it was not a problem for him to fuse the socio-cultural imagery of the tsar and the haidutin, thus creating a symbolic continuity of the modern rulers through the popular tradition in the time of non-existent statehood, religious orthodoxy posed major limitations to the prospective institutionalization of Sheytanov's "Balkano-Bulgarian" doctrine. Abandoning the positive tone of his previous works, the textbook retreated to the more mainstream image of the "harmful influence" of Bogomilism upon the historical development of Bulgaria. The ideological setting was close to that of Mutafchiev, focusing on the question of national unity. The division of this unity, through internal discord and faction in Church, always led to the "alienation of the nation from the state", and ultimately to decline.[87]

The textbook also returned to a more mono-linear vision of cultural development. For instance, the Turks, in this scheme, were declared to be "less cultured" than the Bulgarians.[88] This "culturalist" discourse takes the place of the "Bulgarian Titanism" formulated in the "Great-Bulgarian world-view." Radical protochronism gives way to a "milder" formulation of historical achievements, intended to evoke the feeling of "national pride." The "universalist" tinge of Sheytanov's autochthonism is also qualified, while the intra-regional comparisons come to play a much more important role. Thus, Bulgarians were the alleged founders of the "first Balkanic state" and the first "national church", the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet, and the agents of the first Church reform (in fact, the role of the Bogomils is judged here somewhat more positive).[89]

To sum up, the interaction of "national ontology" and the canon of "official nationalism" turns out to be much more uneven than in the previous work: the discourse of the textbook is rather a negotiation between the "civic" language of the "Tarnovo Constitution" and the authoritarian ideologies than any kind of metaphysical speculation. Consequently, the central question of the book focuses on the respective rights and duties of the citizen and the state. Of course, certain elements of the "Great-Bulgarian" rhetoric were still present. For instance, the symbolic mediation between the state and citizen was located in the nation (the state "is a body from the body of the nation"),[90] which thus retained its pivotal position in the identity-discourse. But the general tendency of Sheytanov's thought in the forties was towards greater integration into the "official nationalist" framework. His idiosyncratic role of a "national metaphysician" was putting him into a respected, but marginal, position. Ultimately, his ideas could neither reformat the national identity-discourse, nor could they emerge as the focus of an alternative cultural-political project in opposition to the establishment. His essays were read mostly for their peculiar poetic language, and the innovative combination of philosophical and ethnographical material, regardless of the "meta-political" ideas he formulated. While the very originality of Sheytanov lied exactly in the specific way he brought together all these elements such as generational ideology, authoritarianism, "Konservative Revolution", cultural morphology, radical protochronism, narodopsihologia, ethnography under the aegis of a national identity-discourse, his synthesis remained a "personal" ideology, lacking real followers and one can perhaps add here: fortunately without any chance to turn into reality.

3. Baedecker For Übermensch-Tourists: Janko Janev and the Ethnicization of the Absolute Spirit


While Sheytanov was more of an autodidact, Janko Janev was going through a proper schooling in philosophy. As many thinkers from his generation, he was also formed by a powerful impact of German culture. His early publications in Bulgarian cultural periodicals were mostly dealing with the German cultural pantheon, focusing mostly on Schiller, Goethe and Hegel, while, simultaneously, he was also engaged in a more "creative" project of devising a neo-Hegelian philosophy of history.[91] At the same time, he was also fascinated by Russian culture and published a series of books on Russian literature and intellectual history, focusing on the dilemmas of identity formulated by the most important writers and philosophers of the 19th century. This also meant, that the texts he published in the twenties there were very few direct references to the questions Bulgarian identity, even though, from the very beginning, Janev's writings had a certain "meta-political" thrust, rooted in his attack against rationalism.

His aspiration was to devise a new philosophy of history, in accordance with the cultural preferences of the "Konservative Revolution," such as ritual, collectivism and anti-liberalism. In this sense, Janev can also be placed into the Bulgarian context of the cultural philosophies developed in reaction to the "crisis of historical normativity." Drawing on German examples, as well as the "local" ideological traditions, the young philosopher turned to "Romanticism" as an exemplary ideological matrix of inspiration. In his reading, Romanticism is an eternal option, appearing in different cultural epochs, denoting the irrational creative potentials of the individual. According to this perspective, Plato, Napoleon, Schelling and Nietzsche were all "romantic."[92] The period after the World War seemed to be another potential period of romanticism, rooted in the "fatal disenchantment with the system of reason and right." This disenchantment is accentuated by the crisis of contemporary sciences, the "enthusiasm for chaos" and the Dionysian inspiration of culture. As, according to Janev, a "new vision of history" was at the root of romanticism, he also considered the moral and epistemological issues intimately linked with the philosophy of history. As his philosophical project was focusing on Hegel, he attempted to remold him in this new framework, asserting that Hegel's doctrine was not rationalism, but mysticism.[93]

In the twenties, Janev was tackling the problems of Bulgarian culture and politics from this "philosophical" framework, without offering a direct national identity-discourse. It is not by chance that, in Bogomil Kanchev's review article, Janev features in a "universal context," as a follower of Bergson and Spengler, and most importantly he represents a new phase in the Bulgarian reception of Nietzsche, superseding the reading of Pencho Slaveykov, without almost any reference to political matters.[94] On the whole, in this period, Janev was indeed devising a "Nietzschean" interpetation of Bulgarianness making the question of national identity an occasion for philosophical speculation rather than the aim of the philosophical inquiry.[95] He defined the "first and greatest deed of the Bulgarian soul" the repudiation of Christianity: the Bulgarians "have never been Christians, but always pagans."[96] They were "godless" "but this does not mean that they could not be godly in the presence of their limitless thirst for life and power."[97]

But this spiritual potential does not form a basis for a discourse of national uniqueness: in contrast to the two "metaphysical nations", the Russians and the Germans, the Bulgarians lack any kind of mystic propensity and thus any ontological originality. Janev go so far in undermining the local discourse of national pride as to risk the assertion that, maybe, even Bogomilism was originated somewhere else. In his opinion, the "Bulgarian soul is in its elementary consciouslessness", and the "full awakening" from this slumber will be the task of the future. At this point, typoligically, Janev's discourse came quite close to the more mainstream characterological narrative about the non-existence of the Bulgarian type, the creation of which is the task of the coming generations. The "awakening," envisioned by Janev, does not entail, however, the creation of a modern nation-state, but "metaphysical" a return to the sphere of primary and authentic passions. His "philosophical" discourse of national essence thus adapts the Nietzschean vision of the creative potentials inherent in primordiality and delineates the "resurrection of the proto-Bulgarian man" as a return to the primacy of the "motherland".[98] This return would entail the reintegration into the overall "rhythm of the world", a process of periodical creation and dissolution which reaches its climax in the vision of a "world tragedy." But this framework, the references to the "national sphere" notwithstanding, is not really a political-collective, but rather an aesthetic-individual discourse. The mobilizatory call is centering on the poets who are asked to "fit in the rhythm" of the universe, and the fundamental sin is again personal - not so much the inorganic relationship to the national community, but "acosmism" the inauthentic stance towards the deeper structures of the universe.[99]

In fact, "national symbolism" is considered to be part of the superficial existence, being satisfied with "slimy sentimentalism", and sinking into naturalism. the young philosopher thus repudiated the slavish adaptation of "national forms" in art, and asserted that "nation has a meaning for the poet only as a living genius", an invisible creative substance, and not a political-institutional framework. Apart from accentuating the "instinct of irrationality" in the poet, Janev harshly criticized the "superficial folkishness" of contemporary artists. The only positive examples for him were Pencho Slaveykov, and the sculptor Majstora, whose return to the folklore was not a mere imitation but a profound gesture of creation, evoking the irrational potentials of the subconscious "awakening the Bulgarian daemon."

By the turn of the decade, Janev, who was publishing in various cultural periodicals, gained a staunch reputation of being one of the most promising young intellectuals of the country. In his publications from this period, one can still identify an "universalist" thrust: while occasionally he was writing about Bulgarian questions too, he was much more at ease with the questions pertaining to the "overall meaning" of history. This problem was at the root of his early essays on cultural and political issues as well. He shared the perspective of the "Western" proponents of the "crisis discourse" and the protagonists of a new "irrationality", seeking to undermine the evolutionary-organicist paradigm of human civilization from the view-point of a new philosophy of history.

In his opinion, only religious faith can give an answer to the question concerning the meaning of history, as the march of history is utterly illogical and therefore cannot be encapsulated into a rationalist scheme.[100] If the past cannot be understood with the help of rational models, it can only be grasped with the specific capacities of the genius, who returns to the creative chaos for inspiration.[101] Studying history thus leads us back to the irrational and ahistorical "pre-essence". In devising this image of historicity as a bridge to the transcendental, he obviously had to delineate his own reading of Hegel, breaking with the traditional interpretations which emphasized the rationalist aspects of Hegel's philosophy of history. Janev, in turn, put forward a series of claims which were challenging this reading. He repudiated the idea of "progressive" periodization, and proposed an organicist perspective, concentrating on the corsi and ricorsi in the history of humankind, although still relating all this to some kind of "Absolute Spirit". But this Absolute Spirit is not unfolding in a temporal scheme of self-alienation and eventual self-realization, but is projected on the binary pattern of "corruption" and "authenticity." Thus, the quest for the meaning of history becomes a search for the "desacralized" absolute. The Hegelian term of alienation becomes identified with the historiosophic category of the "periods of decline" although Janev still keeps to the more longitudinal vision of historicity as a product of the "antithetic character" of the phenomena.

Although these ideas could form part of a more abstract speculation on the nature of history, this perspective could be turned back to a Bulgarian context as well, translating the traditional conservative discourse to a new key by problematizing the very core of conservative politics, i.e., normative historicity. For Janev, historical legitimacy does not have much relevance in the case of Bulgarians: "we are the most ahistoric nation that presently exists;" "everything in our country happens without any common historical aim whatsoever."[102] As his philosphical position was rooted in a negotiation between Hegelian language and Kulturmorphologie, his emerging meta-political doctrine was the result of a complex interaction between the symbolic framework of the nationalist discourse and his specific philosophical ideas.

Janev thus turned to the classical debates about Bulgarian identity, instrumentalizing these radical formulations for a brutal criticism of institutions and traditions in the public sphere. The social-cultural disorientation is rooted in the crisis of self-knowledge and the "panic of the transition between two periods."[103] Bulgarian politics is a permanent failure, as it is conducted without any respect to the instincts and the primordial structure of the nation."[104] Only self-knowledge makes it possible to gain self-consciousness and thus to "act historically." This should be the basis of the Bulgarians' existence as a national organism, and this is the real meaning of the Renascence demanded by so many publicists.

The most important new aspect of this emerging identity-discourse is the conviction that Bulgarians as a collectivity do represent something completely specific, peculiar, and primordial. Janev repudiated those theories that sought to place the Bulgarian nation into a broader ethno-cultural context, such as, for instance, the Pan-Slavic vision. He asserted the impossibility of such an alternative: it is doomed to fail, not only in ethnic terms, but also because "Slavonic spiritualism" is dead as well since it was replaced by "Soviet industrial modernism." Taking this path, Janev came to avow a cultural autarchist position, repudiating both the Eastern and the Western models. "We do not have anything in common with Eastern ecstatic, or the mechanistic formalism of Western civilization" the Bulgarians are marked by a specific in-betweenness, which, in its actual form, is rather a spiritual deficiency, but potentially it is a promise of regeneration.[105]

Of course, these claims were not at all unheard of in the Bulgarian context. In general, Janev's texts from the early-thirties were formatting some elements of his metaphysical idiom into the shape of the more conventional organicist narrative. Thus, he asserted that the Bulgarian high culture was based on the imitation of the West, which ultimately led to the inorganic reception and the loss of authenticity in the Bulgarian culture. If the Western influences upon the Bulgarian culture were harmful in the 19th century, in the meantime, they became even more destructive: "all lyrical forces are suppressed there, nihilism looms large in all directions (...)."[106] The only way left for Bulgarians is to retreat into themselves: "to expiate their barbarity", to return to their "own heroic deeds and sacrifices."[107]

In the early-thirties, this vision of a "potential synthesis" of collective identity became gradually more politicized, and Janev was moving even closer to the German model of the "Konservative Revolution" as an ideological framework of reference. While other ideologists were usually satisfied with adopting certain rhetorical tenets from this canon, Janev immersed himself more thoroughly into this tradition. Among others, he was carefully studying the opinions of some prominent members of this camp about the Bulgarians. Thus, for instance, in a review article he was reiterating Moeller van der Bruck's assertion that the Bulgarians were an ideal-typical "new nation," full of creative energies, as opposed to the less favorable judgment of Count Keyserling.[108] The other references of this period to Heinrich von Gleichen, Ferdinand Fried, Gieselher Wirsing and Edgar Jung[109] were obviously signalizing Janev's intellectual and political orientation. In view of his sources, one can state that, while he did not change his position fundamentally, clearly more accent was put on the political implications of the emerging German neo-nationalism than before.

This also entailed that Janev gradually abandoned most of the references to the "crisis-discourse", and set to create a synthesis between this "neo-nationalist idiom" and the traditional Bulgarian national discourse. He thus "translated" the classical narrative about the loss of cultural authenticity, caused by the inorganic reception of Western cultural assets, into the language of philosophy of history.[110] His starting-point was the assertion that, after the Liberation, Bulgarians were living a period when politics was held to be principal constitutive force of history, and thus neglected any form of more complex speculation about their past. In addition, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 had a devastating effect on the national identities in general, proposing a vision where the socialist-internationalist considerations overwrote the national registers, producing a new culture "without Landschaft."

The only possible solution for Janev seemed to be to catch up with the rhythm of the "latest" international developments: "we are living in the age of national revolutions."[111] Such a revolution in the Bulgarian context would mean the veritable re-enactment of the Renascence, the triumph of the national Weltanschauung, and also a final showdown with the "anti-Bulgarian ideas" such as Bolshevism, internationalism, and Pan-Slavism. This means that, in Janev's writings from the early-thirties, the previous concentration on the "spirit of romanticism" was gradually fused with the actual nationalist canon, converging into a neo-nationalist doctrine, valorizing the archaic essence as a root of collective regeneration: "the national soul should be let out from the wells of our villages and permeate the whole country."[112] As the catalyst of this national revolution, a new type of Bulgarian is expected to emerge, a "nationalized Übermensch", who will (re)start the Bulgarian "national romanticism."

This ideological turn gained a philosophical underpinning in his essay focusing on the concept of Motherland (pîäèíà).[113] The text is very important also due to the fact that it contained more cultural references to foreign ideological sources than most of the similar works by his contemporaries. The new canon devised by Janev was built on the different versions of the "Konservative Revolution": mostly fusing German Volksgeschichte with some ideas of the Action Française. In the opening paragraph, he enumerates Carl Techet, Adolf Grabowsky, Max Hildeberth Boehm and Maurice Barrés, announcing the final break with the old "progressivist" nationalism in the name of the new creed based on the "mysticism of the nation." The principal "cult object" of this mystique is the Motherland "a space lived as destiny."[114] It is a normative locus, everything else is subordinated to it, even the category of temporality. As due to a mystical object, Janev turned to describe the essence of the Motherland in the tradition of apophatic theology: it is impossible to understand, utterly invisible, self-referential and autarchic, exists in time, but also outside of temporality. This proliferation of self-referentiality underlines the main argument, according to which there is nothing normative outside of the national community: national consciousness is "the beginning and end of all things."[115]

The text can be considered as an attempt towards a "national ontology" in a similar sense, although with somewhat different result, as in Sheytanov's case. While in Janev's previous texts the "metaphysical" questions were applied to the national material, here the order is reversed: the nation itself becomes the principal frame of metaphysical speculation. This does not mean, however, a complete abandonment of the "universal" referentiality of philosophical ratiocination. He considers three inter-connected philosophical categories, which contextualize the national sphere: circularity, Eros and remembrance. As Janev points out, circularity is a constitutive element of many cosmogonical and anthropological visions, ranging from Plato to Schelling. What Janev sought to add to this intellectual tradition was to transform the "foundational myths" of philosophical anthropology into a national mythology. In this, he was operating with Western references, even though he was searching for the most convenient ways of contrasting the decadence of Western civilization with the creative potentials inherent to Bulgarian archaism.

The "tragedy" of the Western man, according to Janev, is "his longing for a motherland." Motherland in this sense stands for something ontological: it denotes existential rootedness and "cultural allegiance." Predictably enough, these categories stand in sharp contrast to "civilization" which denotes ontological homelessness the "modern nomadism" of the "urban intelligentsia." In this sense, the task of the philosopher becomes eminently political: retaining existential authenticity means keeping to the "national community" participating in the eternal circle of creation and dissolution and becoming conscious of the previous stages of the cycle in evoking the constitutive elements of collective identity.

While in many other cases this assertion of autochthonism was the logical conclusion of the re-orientation of the national discourse, Janev's itinerary led him to shift his perspective once again, and insert the Bulgarian collective metaphysics into a broader discursive framework provided by the post-1933 German context. In his works written after 1936, mostly published by German editing houses, one can follow an interesting cultural negotiation, as he gradually abandoned the Bulgarian internal system of references and set to format the German discourse on South-East Europe, while inserting certain cultural references taken from these cultures into the National Socialist-oriented geo-political and "geo-philosophical" narrative. In this sense, it is hard to say whether these works can still be taken as "Bulgarian projects" on the other hand, they can definitely be read as a belated continuation of a genre which was, in fact, one of the most archaic registers of the "identity-discourse" in Eastern Europe, namely the scientific literature in "international languages" seeking to place the given nation on the cognitive map of the European public. This approach was rather prevalent in the Enlightenment context, and was also present in the period of national romanticism. In a way, it is quite natural, then, that the European ideological reconfiguration of the thirties, which once again seemed to propel the South-East European small nations into the vortex of global ideological and political transformations, catalyzed a similar attitude.

Janev's first major work consecrated to this task was the "Mythos of the Balkans", published in German in 1936.[116] The very concept of the Balkan signalized a shift in his discourse in the direction of integrating the "external" perspective, as in his previous works he was focusing on Bulgarianness, rather than on anything like a Balkanic identity. Now, the same formulations, which were used to "ontologize" the Bulgarian motherland, came to be transferred on the "Balkanic" symbolic register, which, of course, should not be confused with anything like a regionalist identity-discourse, as it remained closely related to the Bulgarian nationalist project. Along these lines, he declares, that "Balkan is not a geographical concept" but "() a space that became destiny."[117] His argument, then, was built on a sophisticated "game of perspectives": constantly shifting between the "Western" imagery of the Balkans (and Eastern Europe, on the whole), and the auto-stereotypes of the "locals." In the books he wrote in the mid-thirties, these two registers became almost indivisibly entangled, even though it is still possible to trace the provenience of many of these topoi.

One of the obvious sources was the romantic pool of images, inserting the Balkans into an "orientalist" framework, conferring an air of mystery on the object of analysis. The Balkan peninsula is a space of orgiastic rituals, a world "without any trace of accomplishedness", full of "passionate women", and intriguing secrets outside of the grasp of Western rationality; in sum, it is a region, which is "not discovered yet." The proliferation of these hetero-stereotypes, based on stressing the radical alterity of the region, is supplemented with the hypertrophy of a "local" discursive modality, based on the assertion of the universal importance of these cultures in the march of world civilization. Thus Janev puts forward a claim that the Balkans is "the bridge of world-historical becoming"[118] a zone where the "future of the West will be decided."[119]

His interpretation is couched in a meta-historical model fusing a "Western" understanding of authenticity (in this case a quasi-Nietzschean vision) with the local auto-stereotypes, usually concentrating on the gradual loss of uncorrupted national features. This combination could be philosophically sophisticated, but it was clearly a point when his narrative radically diverged from the mainstream of the local self-narration. He argued that, while these nations were more archaic than the Western world, they were also hit by the fundamental processes of rationalization and mechanization. The agent of corruption was nothing else but Christianity, as everywhere else in Europe: as a result, these originally boisterous and joyful nations "lost their pleasure in the world", and also their ability of "living dangerously." [120]

What makes this region nevertheless special, is the considerable opposition to this process of rationalization. It was inevitable that these peasant societies came to clash with the externally imposed rational-mechanistic consciousness. Continuing this train of thought, Janev was trying to subvert the evolutionary discourse on a metaphysical level, asserting that exactly the "belatedness" of these cultures guaranteed their purity. While doing so, he turned to the Völkisch idiom, seeking to prove that the Balkans fits the main lines of this identity-discourse in an exemplary manner.[121] As he claimed, the "Volk" is not a concept, but an "Urfaktum", from which all the other objectivations of life derive. His argument was thus implicitly subverting the classical hierarchies embedded in the very core of any Western discourse concerning the "backwardness" of the Balkans, asserting that the South-East European region was permeated by the Völkisch principle, and thus all the neo-nationalist movements, seeking to devise a new order in Europe, should have looked to this direction with admiration.

For Janev, only the Bulgarians (and, to some extent, the Serbs) are par excellence Balkanic peoples. The Romanians are "clearly" externals: they are characterized by "decorative forms", "unvölkische intelligentsia"; what is more, in political terms, they are mere instruments of the French, and their sinister "historical task" is "to serve as a bridge of the Soviet Army" aspiring to invade Europe. The Turks are also obviously "out", as their roots are not "rural-peasant", while the Greeks are even unworthy of mentioning, as they are just the miserable remnants of the once-flourishing civilization, losing all their specificity: neither Apollonic, nor Orphic, but merely a historical corpse.[122]

Far from being a part of oriental decadence, the original Balkan population was ethnically constituted by "Nordic wandering tribes". They had the potential to become triumphant examples of the Nordic genius, had not the Great Powers' peace-making activities, conspicuously failing to create proper nation-states, prevented them of evolving further. It is obvious that this argument was also a complex mixture of assertions familiar to the German audience (such as the rhetoric of blaming of the "peace treaties" in general politely leaving aside the fact that, in the case of Bulgaria, exactly the Berlin Congress was held to be at the root of all calamities, or the claim that the post-1918 set-up does not overlap with the national allegiances, a key argument used by the Bulgarians in view of Macedonia). In addition, he elevated the local narrative about the "de-nationalization of the culture after the Liberation" to the more general level asserting that the actual shape of these cultures was deplorable due to the fact that they are neither Balkanic, nor Western, cutting off their ties to their motherland, but lacking real connections to Europe either. This, however, does not mean, that there are no "deeper" forces of regeneration available and here Janev once again reiterates his conception about the "spiritual self-defense of the Balkans": for example, fighting the corrupting forces of Christianity in the form of revolting against "Byzantine dogmatism", and, in the more recent times, repudiating the pestiferous ideas of the French Revolution.[123]

The apparent tension between the registers of auto-, and hetero-stereotypes in Janev's narrative comes to be resolved by an eschatological vision. The Balkanic regeneration envisioned by the "local" ideologists gains a universal significance through their inherent "barbarism", which has an apocalyptic feature. Pre-history can be thus turned into post-history: "these peoples are chosen to live further when the West will have to fall."[124] This claim was supported by an all-round critique of the traditional philosophies of history. The subject of history, according to Janev, is not some kind of generic humankind or tangentially attainable "Weltbürgertum", but the Volkstum conditioned by its spatiality (Landschaft).[125] Exactly these categories are characterizing the Balkanic world: "what Western Europe had lost, can be found here in unthinkable plenty."[126] The question is how this bio-cultural potential can be unearthed from below the inorganic fragments of imitative Westernism. Janev's answer was focusing on the symbiotic relationship of the German "nationalist revolution" with the national awakening of the Balkans. Thus, the regeneration of the Balkans must unfold in harmony with the growing self-consciousness of the German soul, as from the very beginning there was a "community of fate," and even a racial congruity, between these two cultural zones.

German romanticism was instrumental in leading these nations to self-consciousness: triggering the "unfolding of the Dasein-instinct of these peoples."[127] The great interpreters of Balkanic ethno-cultural essence, who became the most important international representatives of the "Balkanic spirit", the Serbian Vuk Karadžić and the Bulgarian Pencho Slaveykov, were both deeply related to German culture, and, in Janev's vision, they could even be described as "Völkisch philosophers." They represented the national and, at the same time, also the supra-national Dionysian aspects of their culture, fusing the "Volksgeist" with personal greatness.

Janev also referred to the cultural registers of Volksgeschichte when he tried to devise a new doctrine of Balkanic ethno-genesis. Most importantly, he sought to demarcate the Bulgarians from the Slavs, asserting that Pan-Slavism was only the ideology of Russian imperial influence, and, in reality, the Balkanic ethnic substrate should be located in the "Scythic" space, as opposed to Latin and Semitic universalism.[128] This authentic Balkanic culture is rooted in the "secret world of peasantry," which, from outside, is excelling only with its wildness, but from a closer look it also contains a sophisticated mythological framework, comparable to the "Teutonic vision." It features a set of mythical figures, like Marko Kraljevic (or Krali Marko), but the real hero is the supra-personal and supra-temporal Volk itself, existing in the mythical zone, "like the Nordic gods." This world cannot be grasped with reason "it is not thought of, but divinated."[129]

Creating a collective ontology on the basis of this specific life-world of peasantry requires a new methodological self-positioning. According to Janev, ethnography is closer to the Absolute than philosophy itself.[130] Taken from this perspective, the Balkans can become the principal context of theoretical investigation, especially by providing new materials for interpreting the concept of Volkstum. The "new science" to be elaborated on this basis means also the redirection of German thought to the abandoned path, reinstating the values of particularism after the dominance of universalism, climaxing in Hegel's thought, triggering the decline of the German spirit. This new relationship of ethnography and philosophy also means that Janev came to read the history of ideas in an ethnic register: a conception is always captured by the ethnos, it always serves the primary "will to power" of a racial community. The struggle of ideas is inseparable from the antagonism of nations: universalism is a "judeo-masonic-French conspiracy," masking a brutal craving for a particularist dominance.[131] This aspiration was instrumental, for example, in setting up artificial states, like Jugoslavia, in order to control the Balkanic space.

For Janev, the two "most pernicious" versions of universalism, endangering the Balkans as well as the "Teutonic" Western-Europe, were Christianity and Bolshevism, which were equally forming part of a grandiose Jewish conspiracy.[132] It is obvious that these claims, especially the aspects of metaphysical anti-Semitism, contrasting the Jew, the "man of the material," to the Germanic "man of the soul," were already quite far from the Bulgarian "local context" and meant the imitation of the national socialist "official philosophy" rather any genuinely Balkanic identity-discourse. The novelty was only topological, i.e., Janev's striving to apply these categories on the South-East-European context. Thus, the philosopher praised the these peoples for the inherent ethnocentrism of the countryside, which made it impossible for the Jews to settle on the Balkan peninsula in larger masses.

The Balkanic "barbarian" is thus opposed, alongside with the Germans, to the forces of corruption coming from the Latin and Semitic ethno-cultural influence. His essence negates the key concepts of the French rationalist conception of politics and society, which is based on a mechanistic vision of nation-statehood and citizenship, characterized by democracy (i.e. the lack of authority) and rootlessness.[133] In contrast, the Balkanic man is marked by "creative irrationality, profound desires, Scythian Romanticism, and balladistic haiduk-traditions". A representative of the chthonic aspect of humankind, a promise of the "recreation of unity with the homeland-based Dasein," he is also a necessary actor in the drama of collective salvation, "the Sacrament of Evil."[134]

The "German Revolution" of 1933 created the framework of a "new mythology." The new German ideology preaches the return to the organic rural roots, the "peasant empire", and the Nordic mission of restoring the organic life-instincts into their power. In contrast to the "Socratic-Pauline" cultural forms, it seeks to return to a "pagan heaven." This revolution means a chance for re-evaluating the place of the Balkans in the symbolic hierarchy as well. It cannot be considered only as a "political problem", the "powder-keg of Europe" and a place of chronic instability, but it has to be regarded as a zone of cultural authenticity, determined by the figure of the peasant, "the king of the peninsula." [135]

Although he was often just replicating the commonplaces of the new Weltanschauung, we should not disregard the "creative side" of Janev's work. The personal task assumed by Janev was to insert this vision of the Balkans into the symbolic geography of the National Socialist regime, which was normally based on a "racial" version of the traditional civilizational value hierarchy starting from the Nordic peoples and descending to the more inferior "Southern" races, placing the Balkanic nations well below the average.

Janev tried to modify this picture, focusing on the national character of the Bulgarians, and pointing out that there were many aspects of overlapping between the Nazi self-image and the topoi of the Bulgarian characterology. What is more, continuing the best traditions of German romanticism, the national socialists were allegedly the discoverers of the creative potentials of the Balkans. In order to convince his intended readership of the promising nature of cooperation with the Bulgarians, he sought to dissolve those stereotypes which were usually connected to South-East Europeans. As he declared, the Bulgarians were not a Levantine nation, but the "people of the Black Sea."[136] It is true that they are primitive, but this primitivity entails heroism and also means uncorruptedness. Far from being an "oriental" ethnic breed, they are direct inheritors of the "Aryan Urvolk", characterized by considerable racial purity. It is true that they do not have a sophisticated high culture, but their folksongs are the nicest in Europe; what is more, these songs are more than the sources of mere aesthetic pleasure, they are themselves fragments of a metaphysical vision of the universe. While, in their present form, they are indeed a young nation, this does not mean the lack of ancient roots. The promise of their regeneration is anchored in the circularity of history, returning once again to the ancient glory of the nation. As Janev put it confidently: the Bulgarians "will once again make history."[137]

While the traditional descriptions of the Balkan spirituality were usually concentrating on the orthodox religiosity of these peoples, Janev was violently repudiating this label. As he claimed, orthodoxy was far from being a force of regeneration it was rather the remnant of Byzantinism, destroying the autochthonous spiritual traditions in the peninsula.[138] In contrast, he was extolling the remnants of "local" spirituality, surviving in the semi-legal practices of popular religiosity and the heretic movements, connected to the cult of the heroes, the holiness of blood, the absoluteness of the "earthly" substrate, and the orgiastic aspect of the sacred.

Even though he was talking about the Balkans, from the overall tendency of this book it is quite obvious that Janev immersed himself into the German cultural-political context, gradually relegating the Bulgarian references to the background, while concentrating mainly on the "metaphysical" level and framing his narrative according to the German national socialist identity-discourse. Breaking out of the South-East European framework, Janev's ambition became to rewrite the European "meta-history" in view of the "titanic fight" between West and East. The outcome was an intellectual project which was gradually freed from any ambiguity and inductive historical argument, and became entirely deductive, forcing the complexity of cultural phenomena into an all-encompassing binary opposition. These efforts resulted in a "fearful symmetry", where everything fitted perfectly, everything became predictable, and the philosophical register was almost completely shadowed by the more straightforward rhetoric of a sacred text, not operating with arguments but explicating atemporal and alogical symbols. The Hegelian model of creating a synthesis out of the opposing elements is thus completely supplemented by the "manichean" vision of an irreconcilable conflict between two metaphysical principles.

We can see this turn in his next work, "Revolt against Europe", published in 1937.[139] The very starting-point of the book accentuates his effort to devise a "new sacrality" rooted in "collective metaphysics." Paraphrasing the Biblical phrase, he asserts that "in the beginning was the Volk."[140] This Volk, in terms of a Nordic racial substrate, still determines the culture of the West, while it was completely lost in the East, which became an inorganic melting-pot of different inferior races. Hence there is a mystical and unabridgeable antagonism between Orient and Occident, which ultimately boils down to the conflict of "free peasant cultures" and the "international men."[141]

In this scheme, the Orient is devoid of metaphysical debt, without any "tragic pathos": its only basis of action is its total negativity. "Here the time did not have an age, and here everything blossomed and faded, without ever becoming ripe."[142] It is thus a zone of eternal decline: its only valuable spiritual genre is Melancholy emerging from the experience of facing the endlessness and formlessness of the world. In contrast to the "heroic" Lied of the West, the Psalm of the Orient expresses exactly this self-immolation in front of something undefinable. Jesus himself was the representative of this spiritual culture: he was the "romantic of the doctrine of decline." In general, the oriental nations were always the agents of decomposition: the Phoenicians were the precursors of Jewish capitalism at home in calculation, but devoid of heroism.[143] Byzantium can be described as the very apotheosis of this oriental spirit ruled by an "international plebs", it was marked by effeminacy, corruption and protracted but unavoidable decline.[144] The Russians were the direct inheritors of this spirit, deriving their spiritual essence from their geographical position framed by the endlessness of the steppe. The Byzantine soul, and the Russian world-view, which was taking its place, were equally alien to the Balkan peoples, who were the "men of the mountains" rather than of the steppe, or of the multiethnic urban melting-pots.

The apocalyptic fight for the "liberation of the European soul", bringing the Germans and the Balkanic peoples together, is thus against this Oriental influence carrying the seeds of destruction. Janev once again reiterates his idea that the spiritual basis of regeneration is the German tradition of thematizing the Volkstum. Herder discovered the "elementary human" in folk cultures: it was a gross distortion of his teaching to make him the instrument of pan-Slavism, whereas he was originally theorizing "the Aryan concept" of the Volk.[145] The Bulgarians are the par excellence manifestations of this heroic authenticity, they are only linguistically Slavonic, but in the depth of their soul they are marked by "Scythian haiduk-spirit".[146] This Balkanic archaism was once again discovered by the German soul, most prominently Goethe and Grimm, if only in its Serbian manifestation. It was an irony of history that these conceptions were picked up by Slavic ideologists and were turned against the Germans. Pan-Slavism was thus an imitative subversion of the Nordic myth, which, in the end, became the weapon of the Russians, who sought to destroy the Western civilization on the whole.[147]

Janev's argument is thus necessarily circular, as the analytical method applied for determining the cultures' essence, i.e. relating them to their "Landscape" (an approach he called "geo-gnosis"), is also described as the central idea of the "Western" or "Germanic" Weltanschauung. Politics in this sense is nothing improvisative, but realizing the in-built geo-political and "geo-philosophical" propensities of the community, which unfold in the tragic "conflicts of destiny." The struggle is between fundamentally different Weltanschauungen, one centering on rootedness, the other on formlessness. But only the first has anything to say about the world (the "man grows up in a determined space, and this space becomes his destiny. The Landscape is living power, which shapes the style of a world-view"[148]); while the essence of the second is pure negation. The historical struggle is thus between the forces of European regeneration, mostly located in the German racial and spiritual reservoir, and the forces of oriental corruption, mainly represented by the Russians in geo-political terms, but also promoted by the "fifth column" of Semitic and Latin cultures in Europe itself. The greatest enemy of the Western spirit is the Weltanschauung of limitlessness, represented by the Russian soul, emerging from the feeling of an "measureless Landscape", and also by the boundless "anarchistic universalism" of Orthodoxy (in Eastern Europe) and Catholicism (in Western Europe), marked by a disregard of ethnic provenience, Judaisation, and a propensity of destruction.[149]

The revolt of the "original and true West" will be exactly aiming at the elimination of these spiritual fetters. History is not something external, but the result of a "self-made decision" of a given people. It is a matter of concerted commitment to regain the lost transcendence. This history "will be made by a creative and original people, and not by priests."[150] This does not mean, however, that Janev sought to desacralize the world, on the contrary, he thought that the ethnic community is constituted transcendentally. Originality means "to be rooted in the cosmos", but every community has "its own" immanence to which it returns for inspiration. He considered his own historical time as an occasion of this "European awakening", triggered by the Kriegserfahrung after the overall decline culminating in the Great War.[151]

He imagined the coming "New Europe" as "Church-Godless", but "godly" at the same time. It will be the result of a metaphysical revolt, after "two thousand years of erring", destroying the Christian straight-jacket and reinstating the "tragically and earthly determined faith."[152] The "German Revolution" is a final showdown with the truths of the New Testament. The core of this "metaphysical" revolt is the belief that only the "particular and limited substance" yields creation. The Aryan man is the "man of the borders," as opposed to Christian limitlessness: "there is no culture outside of the Völkisch", "only from the temporal does the road to eternity lead", only the earthly evokes the transcendent.[153] In socio-political terms, the "German Revolution", for Janev, meant a promise for the "empire of the peasants", the program of "the ruralization of the city", "barbarized education," in one world, liberation from the tedious layers of civilization: "there should be again singing and laughing in Europe."[154]

All in all, a "new heroism," couched in an eschatological framework, is meant harmonize those categories which were contrasted to each other before, such as time and eternity, folk and history, nature and freedom.[155] With the "German Revolution", a "new theocratic millenium" has been started in the center of which we can find the concept of Volkstum an earthbound "piece of eternity." The meta-political discourse thus fits into a framework of a mystical philosophy of history, where history transcends itself to become a myth. Indeed, behind the surface of political sequences there is "another history" of metaphysical entities. The Soul is closed into itself "it is a monad, which does not have a window."[156] Its itinerary is circular history is ultimately just the way of the Soul to itself. This circular-mythical space is the real sphere of happening, with a process culminating in the climactic point where the autarchic spirit regains itself after its wandering in otherness.

Obviously, these claims were fitting well into the national socialist ideological framework. Janev was identifying with this doctrine to the extent that he even took up the fight with Italian fascism, pointing out that it is too state-centric, a Caesarism rather than an organic ethnic community. In contrast, the German example is featured by the idea of Führertum, featuring a much more organic relationship between the Volk and the leader. In some ways, however, he was nevertheless keeping to his "Balkanic" starting-point. While subscribing to this radical identity-discourse taken from German sources, he implied that in fact the Bulgarians were fulfilling perfectly these "metaphysical requirements", at least as much as the Germans themselves. For example, they possessed the last remaining entirely "ethnic (Völkisch) soul" while the Balkan peninsula, far from being a periphery of Western civilization, could be seen as the very center of world history: "an apocalyptic battlefield between Europe and Asia."[157]

The Balkanic peoples, especially the Bulgarians, should be then taken as important allies of the German national socialists both in "metaphysical" and in geo-political terms. This region can be recommended as a source of inspiration for those who want to build a "New Europe" based on the values of autarchy, autochthonism, and irrationalism. "The one who wants aconceptual and magic life, should wander in the Balkans", where "even the moon shines differently" and everything is "deep-rooted".[158]

While one can read Janev's works as a complex dialogue between the Bulgarian character-discourse and the national socialist thread of the "Konservative Revolution", as he was doubtlessly seeking to format both the image of the Balkans in Germany and the self-narration of the Bulgarians, his ideological offer was in many ways incompatible with the "official nationalist" canon which determined the Bulgarian public discourse in the late-thirties and early-forties. One of the unabridgeable cleavages was due to Janev's violently anti-Christian, and especially anti-orthodox stance, which was hardly compatible with the mainstream discourse extolling the spiritual traditions of orthodoxy, even if the Bulgarian nationalist discourse remained considerably more secular than the neighboring radical right-wing traditions, such as the Greek or the Romanian.

Second, Janev's perspective was also hardly compatible with those elements of the official discourse, which were based on the "culturalist" idiom, retaining at least some elements form the evolutionary perspective and cherishing the Bulgarians' relative advancement in "Western" civilizational markers. While the claim that the archaic rural culture of the nation had its own moral value was possible to integrate into the official discourse, these ideologists were most probably not so delighted to hear that exactly the "barbarism" of Bulgarians is the promise of regeneration.

It is not by chance, then, that Janev was conspicuously missing from the "shop-window" when Bulgarian culture was presented for a foreign public. Even for the German audience, the Bulgarian cultural institutions usually delegated Kiril Hristov, Petar Mutafchiev, or the neo-romantic historical novelist, Fanny Popova-Mutafova. Janev's German-language works were never published in Bulgarian and, after his definitive settling in Germany, his intellectual presence at home was minimal. Rather than "elevating" the local discursive traditions to the "European level", he managed eventually to dissolve the material of Bulgarian national-characterology in the rigid counter-positions of totalitarian dogmatism.




Selected Bibliography


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14.         Filov, Bogdan (Ôèëîâ, Áîãäàí) Ïúòúò íà Áúëãàðèÿ. Ïðåç âåëèêè èçïèòàíèÿ ïî ïúòÿ íà íîâà Åâðîïà êúì âåëè÷èå è íàïðåäúê (Ñîôèÿ: Íàðîäíà ïå÷àòíèöà, 1941).

15.         Galabov, Konstantin (Ãúëúáîâ, Êîíñòàíòèí) Çîâúò íà ðîäèíà (Ñîôèÿ: 1930).

16.         Genova, Irina (Ãåíîâà, Èðèíà) and Tatyana Dimitrova (Òàòÿíà Äèìèòðîâà) Èçêóñòâîòî â Áúëòàðèÿ ïðåç 20-òå ãîäèíè Ìîäåðíèçúì è íàöèîíàëíà èäåÿ. Art in Bulgaria during the 1920's. Modernism and National Idea. (Ñîôèÿ: Èíñòèòóò çà èçêóñòâîçíàíèå ïðè ÁÀÍ, 2002).

17.         Gesemann, Gerhard - "Der problematische Bulgare," Slavische Rundschau 3 (1931), pp. 404-409.

18.         Hadzhiyski, Ivan (Õàäæèéñêè, Èâàí) "Âúðõó áèòà è ïñèõîëîãèÿòà íà íàøåòî åñíàôñòâî," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, IX/2., 1937, pp. 149-159.

19.         Hadzhiyski, Ivan (Õàäæèéñêè, Èâàí) /pseud. Èâàí Ìèíêîâ/ - "Èñòîðè÷åñêèòå êîðåíè íà íàøèòå äåìîêðàòè÷åñêèòå òðàäèöèè," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, IX/1., 1937, pp. 71-82.

20.         Hadzhiyski, Ivan (Õàäæèéñêè, Èâàí) - íàøèÿ íàðîä, I-II. (: , 1940, 1945). Reedited: 1972.

21.         Hadzhiyski, Ivan (Õàäæèéñêè, Èâàí) Îïòèìèñòè÷íà òåîðèÿ çà íàøèÿ íàðîä. (: 1966).

22.         Nikolaev, I.P. (Íèêîëàåâ, È. Ï.) - "Èäåàëèòå íà òâîð÷åñêèÿ èäåàëèçúì," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1934/6-7, pp. 110-116.

23.         Nikolaev, I.P. (Íèêîëàåâ, È. Ï.) - "Èçãëåäè è íàñîöè íà áúëãàðñêèÿ íàöèîíàëèçúì," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1933/1, pp. 19-21.

24.         Iliev, Athanas (Èëèåâ, Àòàíàñ) - Ôèçèîíîìèÿòà íà áúïãàðèíà è ïðîáëåìàòà çà ðîäíîòî (Ñîôèÿ: Àêàöèÿ, 1927)

25.         Iliev, Athanas (Èëèåâ, Àòàíàñ) - Ëè÷íîñò íàðîäíîñò è êóëòóðà (Ñîôèÿ: ×èëèíãèðîâ, 1937).

26.         Iliev, Athanas (Èëèåâ, Àòàíàñ) Íàöèîíàëíî âúçïèòàíèå (Ñîôèÿ: Ìèíèñòåðñòâî íà íàðîäíîòî ïðîñâåùåíèå, 1944).

27.         Iliev, Ivan M. (Èëèåâ, Èâàí M.) "Êúì ïñèõîëîãèÿòà íà èíòåëèãåíöèÿ," Ñîöèàëäåìèêðàò, 1920/15 December, p. 11-17.

28.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Çà áúëãàðñêèÿ äóõ," Ëèñòîïàä, 1925/3-4, pp. 88-90. (1925 a)

29.         Janko Janev, (ßíêî ßíåâ) - "Íîâè êíèãè âúðõó ðîìàíòèêàòà," Áúëãàðñêà ìèñúë, 1925/6-7, pp. 571-577. (1925 b)

30.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Âúçâðúùàíå êúì Õåãåë," Áúëãàðñêà ìèñúë, 1925/9-10, pp. 718-732. (1925 c)

31.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) Âúðõó èðàöèîíàëíîòî â èñòîðèÿòà, (Ñîôèÿ: 1927).

32.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Èäåè âúðõó ñìèñúëà íà èñòîðèÿòà," in: Îáùåñòâåíî ðàçâèòèå, 1931/6, pp. 262-276.

33.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Ðåëèãèîçíîòî è ðåâîëþöèîííî íà÷àëî â Ðóñèÿ," in: Îáùåñòâåíî ðàçâèòèå, 1932/1, pp. 17-30. (1932 a)

34.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Ìåæäó ïîëèòèêàòà è íàóêàòà," in: Îáùåñòâåíî ðàçâèòèå, 1932/5, pp. 178-193. (1932 b)

35.         Janko Janev (ßíêî ßíåâ) "Ïîëèòèêà è ñòîïàíñêà êðèçà," in: Îáùåñòâåíî ðàçâèòèå, 1932/11, pp. 385-401. (1932 c)

36.         Janev, Janko (ßíêî ßíåâ) Ôèëîñîôèÿ íà Ðîäèíàòà (Philosophy of the Motherland), Çëàòîðîã, 1934/6, pp. 263-266.

37.         Janeff, Janko Der Mythos auf dem Balkan (Berlin: Verlag für Kulturpolitik, 1936).

38.         Janeff, Janko Die Wende auf dem Balkan (Zürich : Nauck, 1936).

39.         Janeff, Janko Heroismus und Weltangst (Herrsching/Obb.: Deutscher Hort Verl, 1937).

40.         Janeff, Janko Aufstand gegen Europa (Berlin: Verlag für Kulturpolitik, 1937).

41.         Janeff, Janko "Herder und die Slawen," - Leipzig : Armanen-Verl, 1939. - S. 398 406

42.         Janeff, Janko "Die Sendung des Bauerntums auf dem Balkan," Sonderdr. - Goslar : Verl. Blut und Boden, 1941. - S. 583 594

43.         Janeff, Janko Dämonie des Jahrhunderts (Leipzig: Heling, 1943).

44.         Janeff, Janko Zwischen Abend und Morgen: eine Balkanrhapsodie. (Leipzig: Heling, 1943).

45.         Jotzov, Boris (Éîöîâ, Áîðèñ) "Áàëêàíà â íàøàòà ïîåçèÿ," Çëàòîðîã 1922/1, pp. 20-57.

46.         Jotzov, Boris (Éîöîâ, Áîðèñ) - "Áúëãàðèíúò ïðåç ïîãëåäà íà áúëãàðñêèÿ ïèñàòåë," Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä 1934/1, pp. 45-59.

47.         Jotzov, Boris (Éîöîâ, Áîðèñ) "Ïàèñèé Õèëåíäàðñêè êàòî ôèëîñîô íà èñòîðèÿòà," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1934/1, pp. 8-12.

48.         Jotzov, Boris (Éîöîâ, Áîðèñ) "Hàðîäeí áóäèòåë," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1930/19-20, pp. 287-295.

49.         Jotzov, Boris (Éîöîâ, Áîðèñ) "Áúëãàðñêàòà èñòîðèÿ, íåéíàòà ðàçðàáîòêà äî îñâîáîæäåíèåòî è çíà÷åíèåòî é çà ïðîáóäàòà íà áúëãàðñêèÿ íàðîä," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1933/8-9, pp. 6-11.

50.         Jovev, Stefan (Éîâåâ, Ñòåôàí) "Ñåëÿ÷åñòâî êàòî îñíîâà íà íàöèÿòà," Ôèëîñîôèÿ è ñîöèîëîãèÿ, vol. 2, (March 1942), pp. 10-28.

51.         Kanchev, Bogomil (, ), "Íîâè èäåè," Ëèñòîïàä, 1925/2, pp. 59-62.

52.         Kazandzhiev, Spiridon (Êàçàíäæèåâ, Ñïèðèäîí) - Ïðåä èçâîðà íà æèâîòà (Ñîôèÿ: Õåìóñ, 1943).

53.         Kepov, Ivan (Êåïîâ, Èâàí Ï.) Èíòåëèãåíöèÿ è íàðîä. Áåëåæêè ïî êóëòóðíàòà èñòîðèÿ íà Áúëãàðèÿ (Ïëîâäèâ, 1925).

54.         Kinkel, Mara (Êèíêåë, Ìaða) - "Íàöèÿ è íàöèîíàëåí âîïðîñ," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, IX/4., 1937, pp. 372-82.

55.         Kiossev, Alexander , a) - "The Debate about the Problematic Bulgarian: A View on the Pluralism of the National Ideologies in Bulgaria in the Interwar Period," in: Katherine Verdery and Ivo Banac, eds., National Character and National Ideology in Interwar Eastern Europe (New Haven: Yale UP, 1995), pp. 195-217.

56.         Kotzev, V. (Êîöåâ, Â.) Ôàøèçúì, íàöèîíàëèçúì, áúëãàðèçúì (Ñîôèÿ: Þíèîí, 1928).

57.         Krastinkov, N. (Êðúñòèíêîâ, Í.) - Îïèò çà ïñèõîëîãè÷åñêè àíàëèç íà íàøèÿò îáùåñòâåí æèâîò (Ñîôèÿ: Ô. ×îëàêîâ, 1922).

58.         Krsteva, Ànna (Êðúñò, .) et al., íàöèîíàë â áúëãàðñêàòà êóëòóðà (Ñîôèÿ: 1996)

59.         Lazarov, Ivan (Ëàçàðîâ, Èâàí) "Áèò è èçêóñòâî," Çëàòîðîã, 1934/6, pp. 278-282.

60.         Manchev, Konstantin (, ), - "Íàçàä êúì åïîõàòà íà âúçðàæäàíåòî!" Âúçõîä, 1935/2. pp. 28-29.

61.         Meininger, Thomas A. - The formation of a nationalist Bulgarian intelligentsia, 1835-1878 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1987).

62.         Meshekov, Ivan (Ìåøåêîâ, Èâàí) - Ëÿâî ïîêîëåíèå (Ñîôèÿ: Áðàòÿ Ìèëàäèíîâè, 1934).

63.         Mutafchiev, Petar, (Ìóòàô÷èåâ, Ïåòúð) - "Äóõ è çàâåòè íà Âúçðàæäàíåòî". "Îòåö Ïàèñèé", 7, 1934, - 10, 197-200.

64.         Mutafchiev, Petar, (Ìóòàô÷èåâ, Ïåòúð) - "Çà êóëòóðíàòà êðèçà ó íàñ "

65.         Mutafchiev, Petar, (Ìóòàô÷èåâ, Ïåòúð) - Èçòîê è Çàïàä â åâðîïåéñêîòî Ñðåäíîâåêîâèå (Ñîôèÿ: ÀÈ Ïðîô. Ìàðèí Äðèíîâ", 1999).

66.         Mutafchiev, Petar, (Ìóòàô÷èåâ, Ïåòúð) Êíèãà çà áúëãàðèòå, Edited by V. Gyuzelev. 1987.

67.         Oren, Nissan - Revolution administered: Agrarianism and communism in Bulgaria (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973).

68.         Panov, Todor (Ïàíîâ, Òîäîð) Ïñèõîëîãèÿ íà áúëãàðñêèÿ íàðîä (Â. Òúðíîâî: Óíèâ. Èçäàòåëñòâî, 1992).

69.         Peleva, Inna (Ïåëåâà, Èíía) Èäåîëîãúò íà íàöèÿòà. Äóìè çà Âàçîâ. (Ïëîâäèâ: Ïëîâäèâñêî óíèâåðñèòåòñêî èçäàòåëñòâî, 1998)

70.         Penev, Boyan (Ïeíeâ, Áîÿí) - Èçêóñòâîòî å íàøàòà ïàìåò,(Ñîôèÿ: , 1978).

71.         Petkanov, Konstantin (Ïåòêàíîâ, Êîòíñòàíòèí) "Áóíòàðñêè íàñòpîåíèÿ ó áúëãàðèíà," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, X/1., 1938, pp. 52-61.

72.         Petkanov, Konstantin (Ïåòêàíîâ, Êîòíñòàíòèí) "Äúðæàâà è ïèñàòåë," Âúçõîä, 1935/4. pp. 30-32.

73.         Petkanov, Konstantin (Ïåòêàíîâ, Êîòíñòàíòèí) "Çà ðîäíîòî â ëèòåðàòóðà," Âúçõîä, 1935/2. pp. 30-31.

74.         Popov, Metodiy (Ïîïîâ, ) "Ðàñîâàòà áèîëîãèÿ íà áúëãàðñêèÿ íàðîä è íåéíîòî îòðàæåíèå â èñòîðè÷åñêîòî ìó ðàçâèòèå," Ðîäèíà, 1939/3, pp. 14-24.

75.         Popov, Stefan (Ïîïîâ, Ñòåôàí) - Áúëãàðñêàòà èäåÿ. Èñòîðè÷åñêè î÷åðêè (München: private edition, 1981).

76.         Rosen, Petko (Ðîñåí, Ïåòêî) - "Áúëãàpñêè íàöèîíàëíè ÷åðòè," Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, 1931/I, pp. 70-75.

77.         Rouscheva, Stella (Ðóñ÷åâà, Ñòåëëà) "Âúðõó áúëãàðñêàòà äóøà," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, IX/4., 1937, pp. 358-371

78.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) "Câÿòîâíà Áúëãàðèÿ," Çëàòîðîã, 1926/4, pp. 168-176.

79.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) Êóëòú íà òÿëîòî. Áîðáà çà íîâà êóëòóðà è íîâà ìèðîãëåä (Ñîôèÿ: Äúðæàâíà ïå÷àòíèöà, 1928).

80.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) "Ñåêñóàëíà ôèëîñôèÿ íà áúëãàðèíà," Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, 1931/3, p. 241-256.

81.         .Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) "Êúì ïðîáëåìà íà âúçðàæäàíåòî íu," Îòåö Ïàèñèé, 1933/4, pp. 114-118

82.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) "Óâîä â áúëãàðñêàòà ñåêñîëîãèÿ," Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, 1935/5, p. 428-441.

83.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) Âåëèêîáúëãàðñêè ñâåòîãëåä (Ñîôèÿ: Ðîäíà ìèñúëü, 1939).

84.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) - Áúëãàðñêè ñâåòîãëåä (Bulgarian world view) Prosveta, 1942, 4.

85.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) and Bozhidar Bozhkov (Áîæèäàð Ä. Áîæêîâ) Áúëãàðñêà è îáùà èñòîðèÿ çà òðåòè ïðîãèìíàçèàëåí êëàñ (Ñîôèÿ: Ìèíèñòåðñòâî íà íàðîäíîòî ïðîñâåùåíèå, 1943).

86.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) and Ivan Vasilev (Èâàí Âàñèëåâ) Îòå÷åñòâîçíàíèå çà ÷åòâúðòî îòäåëåíèå (Ñîôèÿ: Ï. Ìàðòóëêîâ, 1941).

87.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) and Maria Sheytanova (Ìàðèÿ Øåéòàíîâà) Ëþáîâ, êîñìîãîíèÿ, âñåëåíîãëåä (Ñîôèÿ: Ãëàäñòîí, 1930).

88.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) and Maria Sheytanova (Ìàðèÿ Øåéòàíîâà) Ëþáîâ, âñåëåíîãëåä, íà÷àëî (Ñîôèÿ: Ãëàäñòîí, 1931).

89.         Sheytanov, Nayden (Øåéòàíîâ, Íàéäåí) and Nayden Pamukchiev (Íàéäåí Ïàìóê÷èåâ) Âåëèêîáúëãàðñêa ìëàäåæ (Ñîôèÿ: Ô. ×èïîâ, 1941).

90.         Slaveykov, Pencho (Ñëàâåéêîâ, Ïåí÷î) - Íà îñòðîâà íà áëàæåíèòå (Ñîôèÿ: ,1911).

91.         Stanev, Nikola (Ñòàíåâ, Íèêîëà) "Èñòîðè÷åñêè çàâîé," in: Îáùåñòâåíî ðàçâèòèå, 1932/1, pp. 1-9.

92.         Strashimirov, Anton (Ñòðàøèìèðîâ, Àíòîí) - "Áúëãàðñêèÿò áèò," Íàöèÿ è ïîëèòèêà, 1935/1. pp. 6-9.

93.         Strashimirov, Anton (Ñòðàøèìèðîâ, Àíòîí) - Êíèãà çà áúëãàðèòå (Book for the Bulgarians) (Ñîôèÿ: 1918).

94.         Todorova, Maria - "The Course and Discourses of Bulgarian Nationalism," in: Peter F. Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Washington: The American University Press, 1995)., pp. 55-102.

95.         Tsvetarov, Lyuben (Öâúòàðîâ, Ëþáåí) "Ïðåäïîñòàâêèòå íà áúëãàðñêàòà äúðæàâà ," Âúçõîä, 1935/3. pp. 14-16.

96.         Tsvetarov, Lyuben (Öâúòàðîâ, Ëþáåí) "Ïúòèùàòà íà áúëãàðñêàòà èíòåëèãåíöèÿ," in: Ôèëîñîôñêè ïðåãëåä, XI/1., 1939, pp. 31-51.

97.         Tsvetarov, Lyuben (Öâúòàðîâ, Ëþáåí) "Ïúòèùàòà íà íàøàòà èíòåëèãåíöèÿ îò îñâîáîæäåíèåòî äî äíåñ," Âúçõîä, 1935/12. pp. 6-17.


[1] The present study is an extract from my longer book manuscript on inter-war Bulgarian political discourse, entitled "Symbolic Geographies and Normative Pasts: The Search for the True Bulgarian Self," resulting from the research conducted within the framework of the NEXUS Project at the Centre of Advanced Study Sofia (September 2001- June 2002). During my stay in Sofia, the staff of CAS kindly provided me with all the necessary infrastructural and logistical help to be able to concentrate on my research. I would like to say thanks especially to Diana Mishkova, Boyan Manchev, Alexander Kiossev, Alexei Kalionski, Blagovest Zlatanov, and Ivan Elenkov for their ideas, suggestions, and intellectually extremely stimulating company, which made my immersion into Bulgarian culture and history not only a matter of bookish research, but also an unforgettable personal experience. Part of the text was written in Autumn 2002, in Vienna, while I was a Junior Visiting Fellow at the Institute für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen. I am extremely grateful for the ideal working conditions provided by IWM, and I would also like to thank János Mátyás Kovács for his perceptive comments.

[2] On the social and ideological roots of Bulgarian nationalism in the nineteenth century, see Meininger, (1987).

[3] Panov (1992). Original edition: Sofia, 1914.

[4] ibid., pp. 105-117.

[5] Strashimirov (1918).

[6] ibid., p. 10.

[7] For this symbolic negotiation in the artistic sphere, see Avramov (1993) as well as Genova and Dimitrova (2002).

[8] The debate was launched by Gerhard Gesemann (1931), whose text, in turn, was a reaction to Petkanov's re-intepretation. The most interesting reactions can be found in Filosofski pregled, 1931/4, pp. 349-363. For a recent interpretation of this debate, see Kiossev (1995).

[9] The best study on the Bulgarian "metaphysical" nationalist discourses is Elenkov (1998). See also Nina Dimitrova (1996); and Daskalov (2002b).

[10] One of the protagonists of this new Kulturphilosophie, fused with a generational disocurse, was Konstantin Galabov (1926).

[11] The best document of the negotiation between official nationalism and the metaphysical crisis-discourse, is Spiridon Kazandzhiev (1943), which contains texts written in the twenties and thirties.

[12] A good example of this attempt of compromise is Athanas Iliev (1944).

[13] He most representative author for this official narrative, instrumentalizing history for constructing a new identity, is Boris Jotzov, who also served as a minister of culture in the early 1940s. See Jotzov (1930) and (1933). The most coherent attempt of creating a historical-characterological narrative was by Petar Mutafchiev, which remained however unfinished due to the death of the author. It was edited by V. Gyuzelev (1987).

[14] The most important attempt to reshape the Bulgarian national character along a left-wing political agenda is due to Ivan Hadzhiyski. See his Being and spirituality of our nation, Hadzhiyski (1940, 1945); and the posthumous collection Optimistic theory of our nation: Hadzhiyski (1966).

[15] Sheytanov and Sheytanova, (1930) and (1931).

[16] Sheytanov, "Áúëãàðñêa ìàãèêà (Çìåÿò, Ñåëî, ×îâåêúò, Âîèíúò)," (1923-1926), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 242-262.

[17] In this vein, it is an interesting question, whether a thinker or an intellectual tradition conceptualized modernity in terms of an ontological cleavage with the preceding social and cultural configurations, or did not see any fundamental transformation, thus making it possible to handle it in similar terms. I am grateful to Vintilă Mihailescu for formulating this problem in terms of a contrast between Émile Durkheim's and Dimitrie Gusti's visions of modernity, during one of our conversations in Vienna.

[18] "Áúëãàðñêa ìàãèêà (Çìåÿò, Ñåëî, ×îâåêúò, Âîèíúò)," in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 242.

[19] Sheytanov and Sheytanova, (1930), p. 75.

[20] "Áúëãàðñêa ìàãèêà (Çìåÿò, Ñåëî, ×îâåêúò, Âîèíúò)," in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 245.

[21] ibid., p. 248.

[22] ibid., p. 252.

[23] ibid., p. 262.

[24] Sheytanov (1926).

[25] Sheytanov, (1928).

[26] ibid., p. 6.

[27] Sheytanov, "Ïðåîáðàæåíèå íà Áúëãàðèÿ," in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 266-269.

[28] ibid., p. 266.

[29] ibid.

[30] ibid., p. 267.

[31] Sheytanov, "Õèëÿäîãîäèøíèíàòà íà Áîÿí Ìàãåñíèêà," (1923), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 263-265.

[32] Sheytanov, "Ïðåäîñâîáîäèòåëíî èëè öÿëîñòíî Âúçðàæäàíå," (1937) in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 292-298.

[33] Sheytanov, "Äóõúò íà îòðèöàíèå ó áúëãàðèíà," (1937), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 270-279.

[34] ibid., p. 279.

[35] Sheytanov (1933).

[36] Sheytanov, "Ïðåäîñâîáîäèòåëíî èëè öÿëîñòíî Âúçðàæäàíå," in: Elenkov and Daskalov (1994), p. 292.

[37] ibid., pp. 294ff.

[38] ibid., p. 298.

[39] Sheytanov (1939).

[40] ibid., Preface, p. I.

[41] ibid., p. II.

[42] ibid., p. 7.

[43] ibid., p. 8.

[44] ibid., p. 9.

[45] ibid., pp. 9-10.

[46] ibid., p. 16.

[47] ibid.

[48] ibid., pp. 19-20.

[49] Sheytanov (1931) and (1935).

[50] Compare, for example, with Stefan Gidikov, "Ïîëîâàòà ñâèòîñò íà áúëãàðèíà êàòî îñíîâà íà íåãîâèÿ õàðàêòåð," (1932), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), pp. 422-428.

[51] Sheytanov, (1939), pp. 21ff.

[52] ibid., p. 25.

[53] ibid., pp. 28ff.

[54] ibid., p. 31.

[55] ibid., p. 34.

[56] ibid., p. 48.

[57] ibid., p. 63.

[58] ibid., p. 81.

[59] ibid., p. 88.

[60] ibid., p. 90.

[61] ibid., pp. 91ff.

[62] ibid., pp. 97ff.

[63] ibid., p. 110.

[64] ibid., p. 121.

[65] ibid., p. 127.

[66] See Maria Todorova's analysis of the turn-of-the-century "unificatory nationalism" on the basis of a text by D. Rizov. Todorova (1995), especially pp. 80-83.

[67] ibid., p. 130.

[68] ibid., p. 135.

[69] ibid., pp. 152ff.

[70] ibid., p. 189.

[71] ibid., pp. 201-202.

[72] ibid., pp. 213ff.

[73] ibid., p. 224.

[74] ibid., p. 241.

[75] Áúëãàðñêè ñâåòîãëåä (1942), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 302.

[76] ibid., p. 306.

[77] Sheytanov and Pamukchiev (1941).

[78] The connection of the two terms might have not been entirely accidental: "Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit", directed by Wilhelm Prager, was the most popular German Kulturfilm of the twenties, shown in many European countries. With a very straight-forward use of naked images, it sought to propagate the cult of healthy body and the life in accordance with nature, contrasted to the decadent and unhealthy modern urban life-style.

[79] Sheytanov and Pamukchiev (1941), p. 105.

[80] ibid., pp. 121-122.

[81] ibid., p. 202.

[82] Sheytanov and Vasilev (1941).

[83] ibid., p. 75.

[84] Sheytanov and Bozhkov, (1943). See especially the chapter, "Îáù ïðåãîâîð íà îòå÷åñòâåíàòà èñòîðèÿ," pp. 110-126.

[85] ibid., p. 111.

[86] ibid., p. 112.

[87] ibid., pp. 119.

[88] ibid., pp. 121.

[89] ibid., pp. 123-124.

[90] ibid., p. 125.

[91] Janev (1927).

[92] Janev (1925 b)

[93] Janev (1925 c)

[94] Kanchev (1925)

[95] Janev (1925 a)

[96] ibid., p. 88.

[97] ibid.

[98] ibid.

[99] ibid., p. 89.

[100] Janev (1931).

[101] ibid., p. 268.

[102] Janev, "Èçòîê èëè Çàïàä," (1933), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 337-341.

[103] ibid., p. 337.

[104] ibid., p. 338.

[105] ibid.

[106] ibid., p. 340.

[107] ibid., p. 341.

[108] Janev (1932 b).

[109] Janev (1932 c).

[110] Janev, "Äóõúò íà íàöèÿòà (1933), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 342-344.

[111] ibid., p. 343.

[112] ibid., p. 343.

[113] Janev, Ôèëîñîôèÿ íà Ðîäèíàòà, (1934), in: Elenkov and Daskalov, (1994), p. 345-348.

[114] ibid., p. 345.

[115] ibid.

[116] Janeff (1936).

[117] ibid., p. 7.

[118] ibid., p. 9.

[119] ibid., p. 8.

[120] ibid., p. 9.

[121] ibid., pp. 10ff.

[122] ibid., pp. 117-118.

[123] ibid., pp. 19-22.

[124] ibid., p. 20.

[125] ibid., p. 23.

[126] ibid., p. 38.

[127] ibid., p. 23.

[128] ibid., p. 41.

[129] ibid., pp. 43-45.

[130] ibid., p. 46.

[131] ibid., pp. 55-56.

[132] ibid., p. 63.

[133] ibid., pp. 101-102.

[134] ibid., p. 64.

[135] ibid., pp. 130-131.

[136] ibid., pp. 132ff.

[137] ibid., p. 134.

[138] ibid., p. 144.

[139] Janeff (1937).

[140] ibid., p. 7.

[141] ibid., p. 9-10.

[142] ibid., p. 14.

[143] ibid., p. 15.

[144] ibid., p. 23.

[145] ibid., p. 81-82.

[146] ibid., p. 77.

[147] ibid., p. 107.

[148] ibid., p. 110.

[149] ibid., p. 140.

[150] ibid., p. 215.

[151] ibid., p. 225.

[152] ibid., p. 226.

[153] ibid., p. 237.

[154] ibid., pp. 228ff.

[155] ibid., p. 237.

[156] ibid., p. 262.

[157] ibid., pp. 255-261.

[158] ibid., p. 270.

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