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The Digestive Tract of the Universe: Andrei Platonov's "Antropo-tekhnika"

Event Type
101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)
Oct 20, 2015   12:00 pm  
Marina Filipovic (Ph.D. Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Illinois)
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
Russian, E. European & Eurasian Center: Speakers

In the 1920s, Soviet Russia embarked on a project of creating a super-science with the ultimate goal of achieving immortality. Biotechnology of human rejuvenation and life prolongation was the leading trend both in science and in fiction, while the human biological cell became the Archimedean point in research and the metaphor of liberation from death. Biotechnological research was a fertile ground for Soviet authors like Andrei Platonov who responded to this state-sponsored venture to reshape human life by engaging in “antropo-tekhnika” — a literary attempt to overcome the problem of death. In this presentation, Marina Filipovic (Ph.D. Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Illinois), will discuss Platonov’s ideas on human-cell transformation through carefully designed technology, the project called “the ethereal tract” or “the digestive tract of the universe”— one of the most potent metaphors in Platonov’s prose of the twenties and early thirties. Through the organic imagery of the digestive tract that is simultaneously envisioned as a powerful machine system comprised of animate (muscles, bowels, enzymes, hormones, blood vessels, etc.) and inanimate properties (human waste), Platonov produces a peculiar, hybrid understanding of the human organism that runs according to both inexplicable life forces and precise, mechanical functioning, and represents a perfect medium for technological manipulations.

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