Andrei Platonov: Uncertainties of Spirit by Thomas Seifrid

By Thomas Seifrid

The Soviet author Andrei Platonov (1899-1951) belongs to a Russian philosophical culture that incorporates such figures as Vladimir Solov'ev, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Boris Pasternak. This research investigates the interrelation of issues, imagery, and using language in his prose. Thomas Seifrid indicates how Platonov used to be relatively motivated by means of Russian utopian considered the past due 19th and early 20th centuries, and the way his global view was once additionally formed via its implicit discussion with the "official" Soviet philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, and later with Stalinist utopianism.

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And what the body desires cannot be immaterial, spiritual, abstract. Truth is a genuinely real thing (Istina reaVnaia veshcK)" In " Svet i sotsializm " he asserts that socialism demands an "equivalent physical force" (in this case, the energy of light, which is to be harnessed for industrial use) if it is ever to become a "tangible thing" ("tverdoi veshch'iu" literally, a " h a r d " thing). 15 The similar claim of "Revoliutsiia 'dukha'" is that there will be a communist art only when communism itself "becomes desire, a tangible, visible thing" ("stanet zhelaniem, tverdoi vidimoi veshcKiu").

He termed his solution " empiriomonism" and drew many of its basic notions from the " empiriocriticism " of Mach and Avenarius, though he claimed to have transcended that doctrine's lingering dualist assumptions. What philosophical convention regards as the discontinuous realms of matter and idea, he argued, in fact merely represent different aspects of man's experience of the world; their essence is the same. That experience accessible to the individual, and corresponding to the traditional category of idea, he termed "psychical," while "matter" in his definition was merely that "physical" form of experience accessible to the collective and constituted merely the sum of individual "psychical" experiences.

18 Andrei Platonov which most of Platonov's reputation rests) there are both the derivative early stories and poems, and the later, distinctly conformist, "Socialist Realist" works of the thirties and forties - s o that in celebrating an exclusively "modernist" Platonov one risks denigrating or even ignoring a significant number of his works. Indeed, the nature of even the most "modernist" moments in Platonov is itself problematic. Platonov's claim to modernist qualities rests principally on the striking deformations to which he subjects the Russian language (in works of roughly the mid 1920s to the early 1930s), and on the fact that he does so in the course of narrating a series of often bizarre events within a loose, anti-novelistic form.

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