While the current focus on how digital technology alters our conception of the self and its place in the broader perceived reality yields fascinating insight into modern issues, there is much to be gained by analyzing the presence of dualist and augmented reality discourses in a pre-digital era. This essay will examine the ontological interplay of textual dualist
norms in the Russian and Soviet states of the 19th and early 20th centuries and how those norms were challenged by augmented
claims embodied in rumors, refrains, and the spelling of names. By utilizing the informational concepts of mobility and asynchronicity, three Russian historical vignettes—the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861, the documentation of Jews in Imperial Russia, and the attempts by Trotsky to realize Soviet symchka
—demonstrate that not only are dualist
discourses prevalent in periods outside of the contemporary, but also that the way in which those conflicts framed themselves in the past directly influences their deployment in today’s digital world.