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Showing posts from June 9, 2013

Resurrecting the dead

I’m reading   George Young’s book, The Russian Cosmists. The Cosmists notion of things was heavily influenced by   a man named Nikolai Fedorov, a nineteenth century thinker who thought that the energies of humankind should be directed towards physically resurrecting the dead. Fedorov also was opposed to death in its other forms: metaphysical, social,   and metaphorical. For him, the primary mode of death was disaggregation – hence, he saw in the atomization of society under the influence of capitalist individualism the marks of an apocalypse of death. However, he also saw fusion as a form of death – and thus as vehemently opposed fusing the individual with the mass. His dream was that humanity would finally realize that it was a project with an endpoint: the resurrection of the dead. With death overcome, there would be no need for birth, so life after death would be rather strangely sterile. Because the world would be crowded with the newly resurrected, Fedorov proposed colonizing

The unbearable

I like to think of degrees of separation, of connecting links, that come about because “the production and consumption of all lands have become cosmopolitan” as a result of the relentless bourgeois search for markets.   Take, for instance, Pavel Annenkov. It was Annenkov who happened to visit Belinski right as he was reading an ‘extraordinary’ novel, one that, one that, Belinski said, ‘reveals such mysteries and such characters in Russian life as never discussed before.” The novel was Poor Folks, and the novelist Dostoevsky. Pavel Annenkov happened to be in Russia in 1846, which is why a friend of his from Brussels, Karl Marx, was writing him letters there. Poor Marx, of course, had had to move to Brussels at the prodding of the French police, although in truth it was a strange affair. Why should the wrath of the Prussian government – pressuring the French government – come down on him? He was not even involved in the article that was the cause of his expulsion – an article a

Plots and secrecy

When I used to review novels for Publishers Weekly, the form was dictated partly by the editorial limitation of space: I had 250 to 300 words to operate in. Conventionally, the review would either start out with or end with some elaboration of an adjective – basically, blurb territory. Then would come characters and plot – or telling what the novel was about. If I could find the room, I might refer to the writer’s reputation. Now, this procedure relies heavily on the idea that a novel is about a plot, and that a plot is something that one can extract from the text that ‘moves’ the events and characters in the novel forward. Even if the novel varies “forward” – even if it is arranged chronologically so that it looks backwards, or it mixes up narrative patches that are in the past or future of the narrative’s present – the plot is the thing that makes the novel. The plot is to the novel what the plays are to a game – a plot encloses, in a determined field, the chances that the nar