UW-Madison Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia (CREECA)
BEYOND A ZERO-SUM GAME:
MIRON BIAŁOSZEWSKI’S PROSE”
Indiana University Bloomington
From the CREECA website:What is re-enchantment? Broadly speaking, it is an attempt to re-connect with the world–an attempt to see the world as meaningful and view the world’s meaning as having an impact on human praxis. To re-enchant the world, therefore, is to conceive of human cognitive activity as a response to the meaning which is not arbitrarily created through choice or some contingent desire, but rather exists objectively.This talk addresses the issue of visual perception in the works of Miron Białoszewski (1922-1983), with a special focus on the perceptual experiments that frequently feature in his prose. These explorations–or, as Białoszewski’s narrator calls them, “intrigues – are permeated by a playful attitude, which undermines habitual ways of seeing, often rendering the perceived reality unstable. In my talk, I will demonstrate that the perceptual experiments of Białoszewski’s narrator are part of a strategy whose aim is to re-enchant the world by reaching beyond conceptually determined limits of experience. Foregrounding the epistemological foundations of this strategy, I will argue that it escapes the framework of essentialism but at the same time allows for human cognition to be understood beyond the confines of antirealist constructivism. As such, I will argue, the strategy of Białoszewski’s narrator can be seen as a uniquely non-essentialist understanding of re-enchantment.