Issue 2/2016

Pamiętnik Literacki 2 / 2016

Remarks on Still Unwritten History of Masculinity in Poland

The article presents the fundamental methodological assumptions which, according to the author, should be considered in a project of writing a history of masculinity in Poland. It follows that it: 1) is a socio-cultural construct, 2) shows many variants, 3) is definable also in relations to women, 4) sets a matrix of normativeness in culture, 5) is viewed in various cultures as a task, 6) when reconstructed on the basis of literary works, history of males is a narration which arranges the textual representations of masculinity. The second part of the paper indicates most crucial processes and situations decisive about early modern history of masculinity in Europe and in Poland, namely 1) a crisis of cultural formation of Christianity, 2) colonial expansion, 3) development of cities and urban culture, 4) civil and dynastic wars.

“Intensive” Subjects in Stanisław Przybyszewski’s Novels (“De Profundis,” “Synowie ziemi” <“Sons of the Earth”>, “Krzyk” <“Scream”>)

The author of the article is interested, first of all, in the figure of Przybyszewski, which is perfectly described by the terms “homo viator [wanderer]” and “homo irrequietus [man driven by anxiety].” Second of all, the author attempts to study the cases of identity produced by “the brilliant Pole.” Mrówka analyses Przybyszewski’s three novels: De profundisSynowie ziemi (Sons of the Earth), and Krzyk (Scream). The novels’ protagonists, as Mrówka ascertains, are linked by a common subject construction which he calls “intensive.” It is proven that the protagonists without any special resistance toss and turn, which means that they try, as if unwittingly but persistently, to “slip out of” language that strives to “name,” “pin” and “mercantilize” them. Third of all, the author is curious about the category of the writing subject revealed from Przybyszewski’s texts which, as he acknowledges, is constituted by “short memory” – forgetting as a process – inseparable from nervous, collective and temporal rhizome (according to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s theory).

Benedykt Dybowski and Włodzimierz Popiel or about Some Polish Male Profeminists at the Turn of 19th Century

The article is devoted to the participation of males in Polish women emancipation movement at the turn of 19th century. At that time we may distinguish several strategies used by male profeminists, namely pedagogical movement (A. Świętochowski, A. Wiślicki), economical (L. Biliński, L. Krzywicki) and legal (E. Prądzyński, J. Lange, L. Petrażycki). The subject of the article is an analysis of “biologial” discourse. Benedykt Dybowski and Włodzimierz Popiel in their papers wanted to find arguments for women equality in natural and medical phenomena. The first one adopted the strategy of misandry in that he claimed women to be better than man, and which he evidenced in the world of nature and in egalitarian cultures. The second resorted to the strategy of misogyny as, in spite of his declarative support for women, he lead his argumentation in the way that discriminated women. Undoubtedly, they advocated women anticipation and granted them full rights, though they were unable to properly argument their views. As a result, Skucha sees both texts as a representative of a more general phenomenon, i.e. as an attempt of including males into women feminist movement of the turn of 19th century and as a mode of striving for a proper language to validate the rights of women.

What Do Animals Dream about? Stefan Flukowski and Psychoanalysis

The main aim of the article is an analysis of Stefan Flukowski’s two early short stories, namely Sen kota (Cat’s Dream) and Sen psa (Dog’s dream), and considerations about the various difficulties with interpreting the pieces. The difficulties result from the narrative experiment used by Flukowski. The Polish writer, like many Inter-wars men of letters, was fascinated by Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, especially by his concept of interpretation of  dreams. Signs of the fascination are the short stories, being the subject of the article, which almost entirely make up a record of “literary dreams after psychoanalysis” (Inga Iwasiów’s term). An additional interpretative “difficulty” with which an onirism researcher in literary text has to face is the fact that the protagonists of the pieces, the ones which dream, are animals.

A Psychoanalytical View on Witold Gombrowicz’s “Zdarzenia na brygu Banbury” (“The Events on the Brig of Banbury”)

The article is a psychoanalytical view on Witold Gombrowicz’s short story Zdarzenia na brygu Banbury (The Events on the Brig of Banbury). The research, based on correlated Sigmund Freud’s and Jacques Lacan’s approaches, shows in what way a text, constructed on the basis of logics of signifiants, remains in constant move, escapes an unambiguous interpretation. The topology of the brig refers to Freud’s concept of psyche, and thus to Lacanian planes which determine a man’s mental construction. Więcek’s studies by no means lead to stabilizing the works of signifiants; they rather offer the reader the experience of Barthes’ “pleasure of reading.”

„O! posągu Komandora, wejdź nareszcie za mój próg!” (“Oh, Commander statue, cross my threshold at last!”) – Remarks on Jan Lechoń’s “Don Juan”

The aim of the article is an attempt at interpretation of Jan Lechoń’s poem Don Juan from the collection Lutnia po Bekwarku (The Lute after Bekwark) mainly from the angle of the presence of Commander – Don Juan’s main antagonist and also animated statue without whom the figure of most famous seducer in history would not have reached complete meaning. The author also strove to find possibly greatest number of cultural references, due to which a marked part of the paper is occupied by the figure of Casanova (symbolized by the statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni) and by a description of relations between the myths of Don Juan and Casanova. An attempt is also made to interpret Don Juan in the context of the whole collection of Lutnia po Bekwarku with special attention paid to intertextual plays with tradition, such as e.g. the use of the motif of animated statues referring to Stanisław Wyspiański’s Acropolis.

Witold Gombrowicz’s Invisible “Operetka” (“Operetta”). From Hegemonic Masculinity to Atopic Masculinity

The article about Witold Gombrowicz’s last drama was composed as an expression of discontent about the former readings of the play (by Jan Błoński, Jerzy Jarzębski, Maria Janion, Michał Paweł Markowski, Małgorzata Sugiera, Tamara Trojanowska) that inaccurately, in Mazurkiewicz’s view, consider certain fundamental literary historical and historiophilosophical issues touched upon in the play with its unexpected conclusion in which naked Albertine emerges from a coffin. Thus, Mazurkiewicz’s interpretive efforts leads to defining 1) previously not found intertextual traces of Albertine deeply rooted in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time; 2) the problems of Operetta as a thorough reevaluation of 19th century modernity; 3) the play as a hegemonic masculinity drama in its nature constantly taking part in turning history of humanity into a terrifying nightmare; 4) Albertine as a factor establishing a different, radical project of masculinity which the author proposes to be referred as “atopic.”

“Do Not Theatre Yourself!” On Marian Pankowski’s “Chrabąszcze” (“Bugs”)

The article offers an analysis and interpretation of Marian Pankowski’s Chrabąszcze (Bugs): many years after the war, a journalist from Poland reaches for a fashionable Paris set designer in order to take down the story of her rescue from the Holocaust. Róża Karp, the set designer, is the last in his Galician town living representative of a Jewish community which accounted for a few thousand people. The local authorities want to commemorate the society’s extermination. Pankowski juxtaposes the private and public dimension of memory, unmasks collective memory’s functioning mechanisms and shows its performative character as a field of crashing points of view and interests. Pankowski’s drama is interpreted from many theoretical perspectives, inter alia, psychoanalysis, trauma studies, and gender-oriented Shoah studies.

Demilitarization of the Polish Masculinity

The considerations presented in the article refer to the fortune of “military masculinity” in Polish culture after World War II. Against a comparative background (Germany, USA, USSR) the author reconstructs the process of “military masculinity” ethos breakup. He also indicates that in the Polish reality an important role in the negotiations over the shape of the dominating pattern of masculinity was played the martial law as a final discredit of “military masculinity” model.

Creature – Świetlicki under the Pretence of Masculinity

Marcin Świetlicki identifies the speaking subject of his creativity as a “metrical creature.” The author of the article juxtaposes this poetic insight with Benjamin’s concept of creation (die Kreatur) and on that basis builds a theory of subject which emerges from Świetlicki’s writing.

The creature is a subject and a litter, creator and creation within one “speaking person.” Its creative work does not base on avant-garde formation of everything anew but rather on converting and reshaping the present situation, to date literary reality. Creature is “incomplete”: it belongs to the collection of “literature” but at the same time incompletely falls into its scope thus distorting it. In this sense and according to Jacques Lacan’s formulas of sexuality, creature is a woman.

The author proves that the demonstrative “masculinity” of Świetlicki’s writing is only a staffage due to which a writer may tactfully, in woman-like manner, change the rules of the play from the inside, and concurrently protect himself against the pressure of bodily and shameful for constantly beyond himself being a male.

Julia Dickstein-Wieleżyńska’s Letters to Adolf Chybiński. On Mieczysław Karłowicz’s Biography

The introduction to the letters treats of the correspondence preserved at the Universtity Library in Poznań. It describes briefly Julia Dickstein-Wieleżyńska’s work and life and her relationship with Adolf Chybiński, the eminent musicologist, Mieczysław Karłowicz’s friend, and the author of the monograph Mieczysław Karłowicz (1876–1909). Chronicle of the Artist’s and Mountaineer’s Life (Mieczysław Karłowicz <1876–1909>. Kronika życia artysty i taternika).

The mentioned correspondence is particularly valuable not only for the knowledge about the famous composer Mieczysław Karłowicz and many legends and uncertainties surrounding this person, but also for the knowledge about Julia Dickstein-Wieleżyńska, a poetess, suffragist, literary critic, and translator who knew twelve languages, barely known to date.

Pioneering Monograph
Review: Tomasz Tomasik, Wojna – męskość – literatura. Słupsk 2013

The review discusses Tomasz Tomasik’s book Wojna – męskość – literatura (War – Masculinity – Literature) which is a pioneering presentation of the subject of masculinity in the context of Polish prose of the time of occupation.

Early Modernism in a Demonic Scene
Review: Gabriela Matuszek, Maski i demony wczesnego modernizmu. (Kraków 2014)

The review discusses Gabriela Matuszek’s book Maski i demony wczesnego modernizmu (Masks and demons of early modernism) (Cracow 2014), an assortment of 13 monographic sketches published earlier in collective volumes, conference proceedings and scholarly periodicals. It is an interesting edition among the recent literary historical and cultural studies analyses about the strand of thought and artistic achievements of the turn of 19th and 20th centuries which rightly recognises the writers’ self-knowledge about the hidden phobias, anxiety and obsessions  of a man at the “threshold of modernity” – all of which so far either rejected from awareness or intentionally dissembled. Matuszek’s sketches are devoted to the interpretation of important Young Poland’s writers’ creativity (inter alia Stanisław Wyspiański, Stefan Żeromski, Stanisław Przybyszewski and Stanisław Brzozowski) as well as to the analysis of Polish premodernism phenomena as, e.g. misogyny, incest, neurosis, hysteria, formalistic narcissism, nihilism, emancipation of women. In her considerations the author employs the tools used in psychoanalysis, psychiatry, cultural anthropology, feminist literary theory and gender studies.

Other Faces of Masculinity
Review: Marian Bielecki, Kłopoty z innością. Kraków 2012

The review discusses Marian Bielecki’s book, the subject of which is broadly understood “otherness” and its complicated relations with “identity” examined in Witold Gombrowicz’s or Miron Białoszewski’s works. Notions such as “abiect,” “foreigness,” “camp” or “queer” are focal in Bielecki’s considerations, and he treats them as synonyms or variants of “otherness.”

The Sex of Transformation
Review: Agnieszka Mrozik, Akuszerki transformacji. Kobiety, literatura i władza w Polsce po 1989 roku. Warszawa 2012. “Lupa Obscura”

The review is a description of Agnieszka Mrozik’s book Akuszerki transformacji. Kobiety, literatura i władza w Polsce po 1989 roku (Midwives of Transformation. Women, Literature and Power in Poland after 1989) on modern women literature viewed from the context of most crucial changes, problems and social processes in Poland at the time of transformation. The key category of female (and male) identity for the analyses proves a dynamic and complex concept, embroiled not only into gender matters, but also class and national and ethnic ones. The author explicitly points at the important patterns of identification that dominate also in literature – important from the point of view of political memory areas of concealment and denial.

Subversive Promises
Review: Teorie wywrotowe. Antologia przekładów. Edited by Agnieszka Gajewska. Poznań 2012

The review discusses  the volume Teorie wywrotowe. Antologia przekładów (Subversive Theories. Anthology of Translations) edited by Agnieszka Gajewska, a monumental work which contains most important, so far unpublished papers from the borderline of various postfeminist theories. The diversity of the translations reveals not only the richness of emerging perspectives, but also a multitude of theories which have ‘subversively’ reshaped or are shaping the contemporary humanistic thought.

Aporias of Daily Intimacy
Review: Bjørnar Olsen, W obronie rzeczy. Archeologia i ontologia przedmiotów. Translated by Bożena Shallcross. Warszawa 2013. „Nowa Humanistyka”

The text is an attempt at a critical assessment of the view on the project of appreciation of material aspects of culture and of pointing at their constitutive role in shaping the social “everyday commonness” as presented in Bjørnar Olsen’s book In Defense of Things. Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects. The researcher, taking a stand against binary oppositions which follow Cartesian marginalisation of matter as “extended thing,” does not avoid stumbles and inconsistencies. They are revealed mainly in combining, as in bricolage, often remote modes of thinking about things (juxtaposing Heidegger to Latour, in which the former’s peculiarity of thinking, seems controversial).

Heidegger’s conceptions of understanding proposed by Olsen induces the reader to ponder on a possibility of reconciling “emancipation” discourse (going in the direction in which “the defense of things” follows) with non-linear one (opposing the idea of progress) view on history. Olsen also points at aporias that scientific discourse is entangled in when he is trying to describe what in an imperceptible and “reserved” way is founded by social reality.

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