Review of Satantango.

Krasznahorkai structures Satantango as a Möbius strip, rendering topologically the movement from isolation to a more collective identity in the middle of the novel, hinging on Irimiás’s return and young Esti’s tragic death. The story buckles and spirals back on itself while still remaining intact — frayed, perhaps, chaotic, in as well as outside of time, maddened and utterly exhausted, yet somehow stoically in one piece. This movement is crucial to the novel, as well as to Krasznahorkai’s analysis of individual and group psychology. As Jacques Lacan reminds us, the Möbius strip allows us to see how “that which is interpersonal (conscious and spoken) is connected to that which is intrapsychic (unconscious and pre-spoken),” thus “indicating how an ‘inside’ (the unconscious) has continuity with an ‘outside’ (the conscious).” This continuity is exactly what Krasznahorkai is exploring so ambitiously in Satantango. When the resurrected Irimias — perhaps savior, perhaps devil — gives a speech that brings the community together in a state of hope (or delusion), it is eerily reminiscent of what Freud says of group psychology: “The impulses which a group obeys may according to circumstances be generous or cruel, but they are always so imperious that no personal interest, not even that of self-preservation, can make itself felt.”

Review of Satantango at the Los Angeles Review of Books. [via Los Angeles Review of Books]



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  1. Pingback: Rojak: is tasty. | Who Killed Lemmy Caution?

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