Revolutionary Corporality: Platonov and Filonov in Search of the Soul
This article explores a new relationship between body and soul as exemplified by the prose of Andrey Platonov and the works (pictures and writings) of Pavel Filonov. According to the author’s hypothesis, the revolutionary era provoked a shift in the harmonious union of body and soul, with the body becoming “deviant” in its apparent autonomy. This dissociation results in what is perceived as a manifestation of extreme naturalism in both authors’ works. It seems that the independent life of matter in Filonov’s works and the repulsive descriptions of the body in those by Platonov are signs of certain decadence, aesthetic formalism, avant-garde, or post avant-garde utopian experiment. In fact, a decomposing or suffering body (and not a body in the prime of life) appears disgusting because it is captured in its most extreme expression, but this is also why it is transient, i. e. it leads to something else – namely its metaphysical opposite, to the soul. Platonov hesitates between lack and excess in his representation of the body. The independent existence of the body results in its complete negation, and perhaps it is this particular “reduced” body that deviates from the norm the most. The excessive body cannot be thought of in complete separation from consciousness, even though consciousness and thought often appear blurred and are not put at the forefront of the narrative. Filonov analyses matter, dividing it into the smallest possible components. From the particular (bodily), the changing, the evolving, Filonov proceeds to the general (spiritual), invariable, to the “formula” of material content. The body is an object of analysis that always leads to synthesis. Thus, synthesis is the key procedure for the reunion of body and soul in the case of Filonov. The dissociation of corporality and spirituality is only a stage in the elaboration of a new relationship aimed at the creation of a new man, and the body is only a reason to talk about the soul.
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