Questions for Keun

Greetings All,

A few thoughts for tomorrow:

I’d like to return to some of the questions that have come up in out other discussions this week: It was suggested by Katherine on Monday that “risk” is crucial to the modern: what/how do we think about that at the end of this week? In conversation, specifically, to Keun? 

“They are talking to each other and I understand nothing, nothing at all. There are enormous things going on in the world, and I have no idea. It’s stupid…I’m starting to doze off” (ASG, 132). 

Today Russell spoke of an “oblivious simultaneity” that foregrounds relationships [in Ding Ling] while there is a “catastrophe out there and we don’t know what it is.” It seems to me that there is ample evidence of this in Keun; I wonder if we can think about this some more.

“Here, in pure externality, the audience encounters itself; its own reality is revealed in the fragmented sequence of splendid sense impressions. Were this reality to remain hidden from the viewers, the could neither attack nor change it; its disclosure in distraction is therefore of moral significance…In the streets of Berlin, one is often struck by the momentary insight that someday all this will suddenly burst apart. The entertainment to which the general public throngs ought to produce the same effect.”
From Siegfried Kracauer, “Cult of Distraction: On Berlin’s Picture Palaces” (1926).

Can we speak of distraction in Keun’s Artificial Silk Girl? If so, how? Is it useful to re-think the specific failures of distraction in relationship to gender in this and the other texts we have read this week? 

“Heavenly Father, perform a miracle and give me an education—I can do the rest with make-up” (ASG, 177).

Doris’ epistemological claims are many and they pivot on emotion and appearance. Some first questions about that:

Do her truth claims have a teleological trajectory in the novel? Can we talk about these claims within the context of a novel staged as diary? What is private about Doris and/or what is private about urban modernism?