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Archive for July 23rd, 2005

Jetztzeit Boredom

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AVW is on a roll… Today, on “Realism, Counterrevolution, Capital.” Here’s a bit of the payoff:

The protagonist of the realist novel who is caught up in this grand battle between everythingness and nothingness must retreat from attachment even to the cause of everything and appear to be exempt from definition by any cause or community, in order to achieve a meticulously limned particularity. The forces of history and the social and political order as depicted in novels grows steadily detatched from the actions of novel protagonists. Civil strife is no longer imagined on the Guelf vs. Ghibelline, Capulet vs. Montague model, a state made by protagonists and reducible to their agency, although lovers still frequently derive from warring camps (but more often from incompatible classes, and/or faced with other obstacles than incompatible political allegience.)

Which makes me think of this – perhaps the emblematic moment of what AVW brilliantly describes as a “retreat from attachment. Frederic Moreau anxiously, impatiently awaiting Mme Arnoux as the revolution of 1848 finds its jetztzeit right around the corner…

Then he resumed his post on the corner of the rue de la Ferme and the rue Tronchet in order to be able to keep an eye on both at the same time. Looking down the street, he could see massed groups of people lurching confusedly to and fro on the boulevard. From time to time he picked out the plume of a dragoon or a woman’s hat; he strained his eyes to recognize her.

I wonder if AVW’s brilliant diagnosis of the secret affinities between realism and reaction couldn’t also serve as an introduction to an analysis of Flaubert as someone who ran realism’s reactionary codes in reverse, allowed realism to rot itself out from within? Flaubert wrote a realism of realism and its discontents… What else does Emma Bovary struggle against than the petit bourgeois realism of her life, against the inevitable reign of Homais (the same)?
It is, by the way, also possible to run the Flaubertian process in reverse…
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July 23, 2005 at 9:30 pm

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