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Wednesday, April 22 • 11:10am - 11:30am
“Making is Half, but Ruin is Everything”: Gender, Apocalypse, and the Performance of the Other in Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance

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Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s 1989 Hungarian novel The Melancholy of Resistance is, for lack of a better word, an apocalypse text. The work is primarily about a decaying, communal village invaded by a circus caravan containing a mysterious, deformed outsider known as the Prince, who commands the town to rise up in violent revolt at the idea of existence itself. Fueling this revolt is the complex negotiation of gendered and ethnic performances, as well as the decentering of embodied identities. Demarked as an other, the Prince is able to use his physical deformity as a locus of power, presenting himself as an othered presence. Mrs. Eszter, a fascistic political leader succeeding the Prince, also draw shame and performative power from her othered, masculine form. I argue the collapse in Krasznahorkai’s novel is most immediately reflected in both of these bodies; in many ways, the apocalyptic violence in the text itself gives authority to what Judith Butler terms the “domain of abjected bodies.” By more fully interrogating the performances of both Eszter and the Prince—the way they are villainized, their interactions with others, and the similar roles they both occupy in the work—they become understandable as both societally excluded forms and a potential site of resistance—of ruin-making—to oppressive, inhumane societies. Ultimately, by looking at the way these othered figures are empowered in the text, a greater understanding of collapse culture in general becomes possible.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 11:10am - 11:30am PDT
038 Karpen Hall