Scholarly article on topic 'The Totalitarian Ideological Discourse and the Literature of the Captive Mind'

The Totalitarian Ideological Discourse and the Literature of the Captive Mind Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Livia Silvia Rău (Marcu)

Abstract Literature in the totalitarian space is placed in a dystopian register constructed in reference to a system imposing upside-down values. Marin Preda weaves a fictional pattern relating to the social-political system. Entering the memorialist pattern, a literary work like Viaţa ca o pradă (Life as a prey, 1977) marked, on the one hand, the novelist's perspective of the world and a mirror image of the genesis of the fictional text, on the other hand. The divorce between the I and the world gives birth to a new perspective upon the writing. The alienation represents a stage of the axiological perversion felt by the dilemmatic creator. Most of the times, the literary works become parables of the contemporary human's tragism, chronotopes of the abandonment before a restrictive system of ideas. The upside-down perspective upon the relationship between logos and existence manifests itself via textual strategies ranging from the parodic return to history, the un-solemnisation of the discourse, and the capitalisation of the prosaism up to the ostentatious mythologisation of the banal. In its relating to reality, fiction seems to transcend history with its preference to recompose a dystopian version of the universe, which mirrors the captive mind.

Academic research paper on topic "The Totalitarian Ideological Discourse and the Literature of the Captive Mind"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 63 (2012) 271 - 275

The 4th Edition of the International Conference: Paradigms of the Ideological Discourse 2012

The totalitarian Ideological Discourse and the Literature of the Captive Mind

Livia Silvia Rau (Marcu)a *

a PhD Candidate "Dunarea de Jos " University of Galati, Romania

Abstract

Literature in the totalitarian space is placed in a dystopian register constructed in reference to a system imposing upside-down values. Marin Preda weaves a fictional pattern relating to the social-political system. Entering the memorialist pattern, a literary work like Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey, 1977) marked, on the one hand, the novelist's perspective of the world and a mirror image of the genesis of the fictional text, on the other hand. The divorce between the I and the world gives birth to a new perspective upon the writing. The alienation represents a stage of the axiological perversion felt by the dilemmatic creator. Most of the times, the literary works become parables of the contemporary human's tragism, chronotopes of the abandonment before a restrictive system of ideas. The upside-down perspective upon the relationship between logos and existence manifests itself via textual strategies ranging from the parodic return to history, the un-solemnisation of the discourse, and the capitalisation of the prosaism up to the ostentatious mythologisation of the banal. In its relating to reality, fiction seems to transcend history with its preference to recompose a dystopian version of the universe, which mirrors the captive mind._

© 2012 TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos UniversityofGalati

Keywords: Ideological discourse, system, chronotope, captive mind

In an era of great constraints imposed by the political discourse over the cultural and especially literary one, the writers vacillated between conformity to social order and the choice for inner exile, as a form of dignity, dissidence, but also recluseness from the life of the citadel. For the Romanian literature, the period between 1971 and 1989 represents an opening for evasiveness and self-reflexivity or for the mythical dimension of existence, but also the association of the literary fiction with the biographical genre. This way, the response to topicality and, with it, the concern with the issues disturbing the existence of an individual ready to constantly relate to history, were manifest from the 60s to 80s, against the background of some radical changes in perspective in the everyday political theory and praxis, with clear ethical and aesthetical implications.

* Räu (Marcu) Livia Silvia. Tel.: +4-078-696-7273. E-mail address: marculiviasilvia@yahoo.com

ELSEVIER

1877-0428 © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos University of Galati doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.10.038

The starting point of the analysis is represented by the relationship between the individual and history, which points to a value crisis, at a time affecting the destiny of an entire community managing only to be out-of-step with the totalitarian system, the true hyperordinating force. This view is presented by Doinita Milea in Spatiul liter ar forme liter are in secolul al XX-lea. Reconfigurari (Literary space and literary forms in the twentieth century. Reconfigurations, 2005), in which the author discusses the idea of double captivity, that of the text sender and of its receiver, with direct reference to Milan Kundera's The unbearable lightness of being (1984), Nicolae Breban's Bunavestire (The annunciation, 1977), and Augustin Buzura's Refugii (Evasions, 1984), fictional spaces in which functions la parole double mentioned by C. Milosz in Gandirea captiva (The Captive Mind, 1953):

In the prose fiction which is the image of the relationship between the individual and history in totalitarianism, the metaphor of the closed space and the individual's depersonalisation become benchmarks of a double discourse constructed in the mirrors of counter-utopia, forms of textual ideologization, the reader ending up as a prisoner of the fictional space, itself possessed by a social scenery upon which he supports its fundamental queries (my translation) [1].

On the one hand, the demythisation of reality is effected through the hero's complete failure, at both social and individual levels, there where history becomes a devouring hyper-character. It is what happens at the level of the actual reality as well, in which dogma kills, anonymises and atomises the internal structure of the individual:

Dogmatism had taken off the shelf the omniscience of the narrator, external focalization, classical typology (making it even more rigid), calendar-historical temporality and the mechanicist psychological determinism. The ideology and the excess of significances are more obvious in the novels of the 60s that they had ever been before, in the heyday of the doric. This artificial comeback of the doric vision is fairly easy to explain (my translation) [2].

On the other hand, the deliberate game of reality masking in novel discourse grants the author the illusion of freedom. The external space of the writing conceals a dense human profile, a conscience of his time which needs to be sought in the deep textual web. The subversion of history is effected through self-referentiality, confession, biographism, memoirs, diaries, irony, self-irony, assumation of all the techniques for the duality of the creator become (once again) social conscience. The committed game between authenticity and ambiguity allows the author to conceal his accusing intentions towards the totalitarian system.

Thematically, the pursuits of the epic in this period refer to a few fundamental directions: the death of the old world and the birth of the new one (in the novels of Marin Preda, Alexandru Ivasiuc, Augustin Buzura), the relationship between individual freedom and historic necessity (Absentii/ The Absentees, 1970; Intrusul/ The intruder, 1968; Ingerul a strigat/The angel cried, 1968; Galeria cu vita salbatica/The wildvine gallery, 1976).

In Genurile biograficului (The genres of biography, 2002), Eugen Simion notes that memorialism stands out among the genres of biography because "in memoirs, the narrator, narrating himself, narrates especially the world he travels through" (my translation) [3]. Even though memoirs make use of conventions specific to literature and the assumation of existence presupposes the subjectivisation of the evocation, they respect nonetheless the 'pact with the history'. Hence, the emphasis moves from the individual to the social space in which he lives and to which he relates.

Beyond the autobiographic intentions, an author like Marin Preda 'covers' a level of depth which overturns the significances of the writing become a meditation on dismay, violence, obsession with failure in a restrictive space. Otherwise, the obsession with failure is the topos of totalitarian literature which justifies the inadequacy of the individual to himself and the world and:

The twentieth century prose fiction is inhabited by a central, universal figure, the individual without any merits, a character who allows his functioning both in the fictional and the non-fictional text, his crossing the boundaries of such diverse genres as the authentic historical story, the essay, the correspondence, travelogues, or the 1st person

confessions, i.e., those texts defined by the sequence of facts - referentials, in D. Cohn's terms, or factual/non-

fictional, in Genette's (my translation) [4].

The external writing space conceals a dense human profile, a conscience of his age that needs to be sought in the deep textual web. The stories with peasants, the colloquial language are only external signs of the involvement of a captive intellectual trying to communicate outside the text.

The atomization of the traditional rural universe is presented by Preda as the twilight of an entire spirituality that can find but the strength to believe in its value imposed by the passage of time and not "how much necessity history contains, but what the fate of every individual is, knowing that the man has only one life, whereas history is slow and uncaring" (my translation) [5]. The subsequent literature, preoccupied with the search for the Truth, will prove that the issues of the rural world cease to matter in authentic novels.

In Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey, 1977), then in Delirul (Delirium, 1975) and Cel mai iubit dintre pamanteni (The most beloved of earthlings, 1980), Marin Preda takes on the history understood as fatum from Tolstoy's writings, thus establishing a polemic across time. History is not a result of the divine will for the novelist, but an event bringing in surprising energies, a force placing the individual in difficult situations that make the return impossible. Otherwise, the reference to the political space makes the contemplative inner conflict the recurring theme in Preda's works. The relations active/passive, freedom/power or individual /history make the man seem defeated most of the times, which becomes a source for reflexivity.

History, imposed upon the community, breaks from the individual, becoming hostile, irrational, absurd. It makes the individual face the ideology subjected to power, no matter if it is royal dictatorship, legionary terror, or Antonescu's dictatorship. Beyond the political aspect of history, the hero finds out that the social space becomes an absurd concentrationary universe which tragically alters the self.

A memorialistic text, Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey, 1977) is a parable of the contemporary human's tragism, a chronotope of the abandonment before a restrictive system of ideas. Literary criticism has mapped Marin Preda's work together with Sartre's Les mots (The words), Hemingway's A moveable feast, or Sadoveanu's Anii de ucenicie (Years of apprenticeship).

The topos of the Predean character is the revelation of the world, and the adventure of consciousness goes the way from the discovery of the word to the existence through the word, which gives birth to a mythology of reality perceived via creation, as an escape from the constraints of the totalitarian concentrationary space. The ex-abrupto incipit sets the direction for the reception of the message: "the adventure of consciousness" is a challenging existential maze. The traps of the "ages" also represent proofs of the ego's inadequacy to a concentrationary space, while the acknowledgment of personal failure is just a mask signaling social failure. The narrating I becomes a conscience adrift asserting its being through an experience that it subdues by exposing it rudely, a bare existence in which the I feels cast out by the fate: "It's as if I'm awake now" (my translation) [6].

The external themes of the book, i.e., school, family, childhood, the obsession with fatherhood, the travels, all accounted for in retrospect, represent the surface level of the writing. In fact, Marin Preda's strong rural structure hides an intellectual distinction perceivable by the "chosen ones". The sketches of the people around are signs of passage through the world. For example, "the fake librarian" forfeits his happiness for going into politics, "fanaticised by ideas that were essentially alien to him" (my translation) [7]. Either way, the obsession with failure runs across the novel, the individual seems not to find his place in the world, and the confession is a subversive strategy of depicting the world as a trap. In fact, the main theme is the telescopic, retropsective exploration of the universe, with various filters. The author owns that the world is what crushes the individual and the fondness for history is an opportunity to prove that "millenary thinking" diminishes with the passing of time, and that at the end of the historical row is in fact the self. A theme of the novel seems to be the consciousness of the Predean characters' consciousness.

Although he promotes traditional values, the consciousness-hero saves himself from reality through the authenticity of the discourse. The tendency to escape from "a barberic contingent" is doomed to fail because the being witnesses helplessly the spectacle of humanity. A self-referential novel, Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey) posits the issue of the relationship with history as a dialogue between uneven tragic forces, the consciousness of the self and the force of community, generated by the assumation of the contingent.

The force of the logos determines the awakening of consciousness through denial of violence and of social conventions. The break from the social becomes the secondary theme of the writing, manifesting through the rejection of the environment, even though the connection with the world will never be cancelled. Biografically, the relationships with people like Pavel, Diaconescu, or Geo Dumitrescu acquire symbolic value, in the sense of the hero's becoming. Pavel, the blind man, considers that the writer should reveal the world essence hidden from common sight. Diaconescu, a former schoolmate at the Normal School, believes that, through creation, the man lives the illusion of eternity. Geo Dumitrescu is the link between the insular world of the creators and that of regular humanity. For that matter, the awareness of belonging to a beaten generation seems to be a form of acknowledging a doomed fate.

If opened, the door to the writers' world reveals strong personalities, controversial figures projected in the atmosphere full of tension of an environment subjected to censorship: Zaharia Stancu, Ion Calugaru, Miron Paraschivescu, Ion Caraion, Ion Vinea, or Nechifor Crainic. Bibliographical references reveal a genuine intellectual rounding the vigour of his rural origins. The critical, objector spirit defines a lively conscience able to reject imposed patterns, such as Ion by Liviu Rebreanu, The peasants by Wladyslaw Reymont, or Steinbeck's The grapes of wrath. The intertextual references (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Mann, Maupassant, Swift) draw the novel away from its apparent rural theme, closer to the existentialist discourse: "What was I? Why, what did I think I was? (...). Villains can also ask grandiose questions triumphantly. Who can possibly answer?" (my translation) [8].

In Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey), Marin Preda recalls his literary beginnings under the sign of the literary circle represented by Geo Dumitrescu, Virgil Untaru (Ierunca), Gh. Niculescu, Ion Caraion, and Miron Radu Paraschivescu, all of them associated with the generation of the marginal spaces. As a matter of fact, the ideas of the Communist International had contaminated and turned them, at some point, into intolerant critics blaming genuine values such as Liviu Rebreanu, Nichita Stanescu, loan Alexandra, or Tudor Arghezi. Without being explicitly a diary, a memoir, or a novel, Viata ca o prada (Life as a prey) can be regarded as a bildungsroman, in the sense of the author's intellectual becoming. Nonetheless, the connection with the volume Imposibila intoarcere (The impossible return), a result ofthe collaboration with the poet Adrian Paunescu for the journal Luceafarul, is obvious. The title points to the uncompromising message of the text, as the writer feels captive in a world of upside-down values. Although Marin Preda chooses a contemplative attitude, not involved in the political life, the analysis of the Iorga case represents in fact a landmark to mark off the status of the intellectual who has the power of writing: "It was true that neither was book writing a peaceful occupation, not running the risk of being exiled, watched or imprisoned" (my translation) [9].

Marin Preda's ironic discourse fines the ideological system pervading the literary space: "As for literature, the fact that Marx had found out more about economy from Balzac than from all the economists taken together seemed to me all the better for Balzac, whose legitimism had surely been disliked by Marx or Engels" (my translation) [10]. This way, the allusive language betrays the inner conflict of the intellectual who feels that politics maculates the artistic field.

Published in 1980, Cel mai iubit dintre pamanteni (The most beloved of earthlings) can be construed as either a social novel (the evocation of the "iron age"), a thesis novel (a meditation upon the fate of the intellectual), a romance (love is an alternative in the attempt at escaping from reality), or a philosophical novel, in which Petrini's failure is understood as marking off the failure of philosophy in its confrontation with reality.

In this complete novel, history becomes an objective reality that aggresses the individual progressively and against which he acts on the realm of ideas exclusively. This way, the author initiates a dialogue with posterity, even though the existence in a concentrationary universe represents the acquiescence of life's absurdity. Judging by the narrative pattern used (a confession written by Victor Petrini in prison), one can assert that the hero relives the experiences he was subject to in his confrontation with history, being the actor of his own reality, and this is precisely why he presents history from within, from his point of view exclusively. Once out of the maze of the four lovestories of initiation, Victor Petrini understands that in this anomalous, absurd and irrational world, life can only be a mixture of filth and innocence, sin and virtue, lie and truth, and that history can only be dominated by spiritual openness.

Marin Preda's novel can be construed as a maze presupposing both closure, brought by the suffocating undertaking of history, and opening, facilitated by the emancipation of consciousness. If irony conciliates the individual with society, the tragical, existentialist crisis isolates him. History "goes" through and sometimes over people, heightens and drowns destinies: "Forging the world in the direction of its tendency, the ideological discourse completely breaks with reality. As projections, both utopia and dystopia result from this catching of the intellectual, of the thinker, in the toils of the demons of power" (my translation) [11].

A lucid spirit, the self analyses itself bluntly, having the courage of confession, but also the fears and the absolute honesty of the dostoyevskian character. The siege of history is implicit to the siege of the material time, of the concentrationary space, of the labyrinthine consciousness; nonetheless, the hero firmly declines solitude, constantly aspiring to communication, the only form of authentic existence. Thus, the suffering, exasperation, revolt, and fears are converted into genuine force in order to defend the principle of life, the supreme good of humanity.

Acknowledgements

This paper is supported by Project SOP HRD - TOP ACADEMIC 76822.

References

[1] Milea, D. (2005). Spatiul literar §i forme literare in secolul al XX-lea. Reconfigurari/ The literary space and literary forms in the twentieth century. Reconfigurations. Bucharest, [EDP, 44-46.; original text: „In proza care este imaginea relatiei omului cu Istoria in totalitarism, metafora spatiului inchis depersonalizarea individului devin repere ale unui dublu discurs construit in oglinzile contrautopiei, forme ale ideologizarii textului, cititornl ramánánd prizonieml spatiului fictional posedat el insuji de decor social, pe care-ji sprijina mtrebarile fundamentale".

[2] Manolescu, N. (1991). Arca lui Noe (Eseu despre romanul románese)/ Noah's Ark (Essay on the Romanian novel. Bucharest: Eminescu, 238; original text: "Dogmatismul scosese de la naftalina omnisciente naratornlui, infatijarea personajelor din exterior, tipologia clasica(facand-o 51 mai rígida), temporalitatea calendaristic-istorica determinismul psihologic mecanicist. Ideologia abuzul de semnificatii sunt mai vizibile in romanele anilor '60, decát tusesera vreodata inainte, la apogeul doricului. Aceasta revenire artificíala a viziunii dorice se explica relativ ujor".

[3 ]Simion, E. (2008). Genurile biograficului/ The genres of biography, vol. I. Bucharest: Fundatia Nationala pentru §tiinta 51 Arta/ The National Foundation for Science and Art, 18; original text: "in memorii naratorul, povestindu-se pe sine, povestejte mai ales lumea prin care trece".

[4] Milea, D. (2005). Spatiul literar §i forme literare in secolul al XX-lea. Reconfigurari/ The literary space and literary forms in the twentieth century. Reconfigurations. Bucharest: EDP, 142; original text: „Proza secolului al XX-lea este locuita de o figura céntrala 51 universala, individul fara calitati, personajcare sa permita tunctionarea lui in egala masura in textul fictiv, ca in cel non-fictiv, sa traverseze frontiera unor forme generice atát de diferite ca povestirea istorica atestabila, eseul, corespondenta, povestirile de calatorie, confesiunile la persoana intái, adica acele texte caracterízate prin ínlantuirea de fapte(<<referentiale>>, dupa definirea lui D. Cohn/factuale-non fictionale, dupa Genette".

[5] Marin P. (1972). Imposibila intoarcere/ The impossible return. Bucharest: Cartea Romaneasca, 24; original text: "cata necesítate contine istoria, ci care e soarta fiecarui om in parte, jtiind ca omul nu are decát o singura viata de trait, in timp ce istoria este inceata 51 nepasatoare".

[6] Marin P. (2006). Viata ca o prado/ Life as a prey. Bucharest: Cartex Serv, 7; original text: "Parca m-am trezit dintr-un somn".

[7] Marin P. (2006). Viata ca o prado/ Life as a prey. Bucharest: Cartex Serv, 21; originsl text: "fanatizat de idei care in fond 11 erau straine".

[8] Marin P. (2006). Viata ca o prado/ Life as a prey. Bucharest: Cartex Serv, 58; original text: "Ce eram eu? Ei, ce credeam ca sunt? (...). Marile intrebari le pun 51 ticalojii, cu un aer triumfator. Cine poata sa raspunda?".

[9] Marin P. (2006). Viata ca o prado/ Life as a prey. Bucharest: Cartex Serv, 97; original text: "Era adevarat ca nici scrierea cartilor nu era o indeletnicire pa$nica,fara riscul deafi exilat, urmárit,ínchis".

[10] Marin P. (2006). Viata ca o prada/ Life as a prey. Bucharest: Cartex Serv, 138; original text: "Cat despre literatura, faptul ca Marx aflase de la Balzac mai multe despre economie decat de la toti economijtii luati la un loe, mi se parea ca e cu atát mai bine pentru Balzac, al carui legitimism desigur ca nu-i placuse lui Marx sau Engels".

[11] Milea, D. (2005). Spatiul literar §i forme literare in secolul al XX-lea. Reconfigurari/ The literary space and literary forms in the twentieth century. Reconfigurations. Bucharest: EDP, 152; original text: "Contrafacándlumeaindirectia tendintei sale, discursul ideologic se disperseaza complet de realitate. Utopia, ca distopia, ca proiectii, sunt produsul acestei caderi a intelectualului, a gánditorului in plasa demoniei puterii".