[HOW TO INCREASE MENTAL ACTIVITY?] Azbuka umstvennogo truda [i.e. Alphabet of Mental Work]
Moscow: Trud i kniga, 1929. Item #1663
127,  pp. 22x15 cm. In original publisher’s wrappers. Tears of the spine and extremities, otherwise in good condition.
Scarce. 1 of 5,000 copies.
AN INTERESTING SOVIET MANUAL ON THE WAYS OF INCREASING MENTAL ACTIVITY WRITTEN BY THE VICTIM OF SOVIET REPRESSIONS JOSEPH REBELSKY IN 1929.
The establishment of the Communist regime posed new challenges to the Soviet Society. Political authorities expected a “New Soviet Man and Woman” to develop qualities that would reflect surrounding circumstances of post-scarcity and unprecedented scientific development. As a result, one of the central places in the ‘construction’ of the new Soviet society was given to the problem of mental activity and its improvement mechanisms. Against this background, along with the birth of such efficiency-worshipping organizations as the League of Time, the Soviet reality witnessed the emergence of numerous editions dedicated to the subject matter.
Written in 1929, this book represents an interesting manual on mental activity and ways of its improvement. The edition was compiled by Joseph Rebelsky (1894-1949), a Soviet psychiatrist, psychologist, and author of several books on the organizational sides of self-education. Head of the Department of Psychophysiology of Labor at the All-Union Industrial Academy, Rebelsky was accused of Zionism in 1949 and executed a year later.
The edition features an updated text of 12 lectures read by Rebelsky at the courses of the Uyezd Party Workers of the State Institute of Theatre Arts, at the Moscow Workers' University of October Revolution, and at the Moscow Provincial School of the trade union movement MGSPS in 1924/1925. The lectures evolve around the organization of various facets of life and provide answers to such interesting questions as how to read properly? How to listen? How to prepare a speech? How to gain the attention of audience? In the beginning of the book, the author offers a detailed plan for the effective organization of mental work: creating a work schedule, calculating exact time needed for each task, recording actual time spent, etc. Rebelsky goes as far as detailing on which side of the table a dictionary (right), ink (center), or paper (left) should be placed. In the following sections, the author provides a number of recommendations about the hygiene of mental activity (to eat rationally, to keep a room at 14-15 degrees Réaumur; ca. 17.5-22.5 at the scale of Celcius) and the ways of improving different types of memory. While approaching the topic of reading, Rebelsky pays particular attention to the question of “What to Read?” and offers a list of bibliography, which includes such editions as “A Systematic Index to the Writings of Lenin”, “The Program on the Main Issues of Marxism,” etc. The text also features 9 rules of reading: Read with a pencil in hand! Read collectively! The author also provides instructions on how to behave at conferences, how to deliver a report, how to listen, etc., and states: “Bourgeois science told you: ‘Here’s the truth – bend your knee to it,’ and proletarian science never ceases to remind you: ‘Here's a number of propositions, figure it out, try it, improvise.”
Overall, an extremely interesting insight into the Soviet approach to improving mental activity.
Worldcat shows 1 copy of the edition at the Columbia University in the City of New York.