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Moved by the PastDiscontinuity and Historical Mutation$
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Eelco Runia

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168205

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168205.001.0001

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Crossing the Wires in the Pleasure Machine

Crossing the Wires in the Pleasure Machine

Chapter:
(p.158) 8 Crossing the Wires in the Pleasure Machine
Source:
Moved by the Past
Author(s):

Eelco Runia

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231168205.003.0008

This chapter offers a “substantive” reflection on the making of history by connecting the notion that “novelty”—or discontinuity—springs from the dehors texte with Jacob Burckhardt's intuition that we have become, and continue to become, what we are in an endless series of Verpuppungen (metamorphoses). To this end, it considers one particular metamorphosis: the way Vladimir Ilyich Lenin succeeded in bringing off the Russian Revolution. In particular, it explores Lenin's capacity to recreate contexts “in his image and likeness” in relation to the concept of “somnambulistic clairvoyance.” It first discusses Leon Trotsky's observation that the revolution was a cascade of improvisations and that Lenin owed his success to his “imagination.” It then examines what complexity looks like at the level of the species by using an axiom: that the best way to complicate a situation is to try to simplify it by throwing all cautions to the wind and fleeing forward. It also looks at the notion of inventio, as opposed to imaginatio, in connection with the Russian Revolution.

Keywords:   history, novelty, discontinuity, Jacob Burckhardt, metamorphosis, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky, inventio, imaginatio

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