Toward a Meta Understanding of Reality: The Problem of Reference in Russian Metarealist Poetry

Albena Lutzkanova-Vassileva, City University of New York

Through an in-depth analysis of Russian metarealist poetry, the paper seeks to undermine the increasingly popular belief in the self-referential nature of postmodern literature and deconstructive writing. To challenge the conviction that postmodern texts have cut off literary discourse from reality, I focus on the writing of Olga Sedakova and Elena shvarc. My analysis of Sedakova's Vrata, okna, arki attempts to draw a parallel between the schools of Russian symbolism and metarealism, and demonstrate the increased referential potential of metarealist writing. While symbolism juxtaposes the mundane reality here to the eternal spiritual world beyond, I argue in the paper, metarealism practices an optimistic monism, interconnecting perceptual realities to levels of existence in a metaphysical beyond. Introducing Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's concept of the rhizome, I analyze the ways in which the poetry of Sedakova establishes connections with the multi-layered corpus of reality and thus expands the notion of referentiality.

The paper proceeds with an examination of shvarc's Locija Nochi. The analysis of three of its poems: "Simbioz," "Temnyj angel," and "X'jumbi: Prakticheskij ocherk evoliucionnogo alximizma" aims to reveal the ceaseless transformational activity occurring in the works of metarealist poets. Applying the principles of Mikhail Epstein, I introduce the concept of the metabole, a literary trope that registers the metamorphic transmutations of one reality into another and the creation of a multi-referential network among the disparate realities. I further analyze the vigorous transfigurational capacity of shvarc's poetry from the point of view of Deleuze and Guattari's theory of de- and reterritorialization. The vast theoretical apparatus of the paper also includes the critical perspectives of Mark Lipoveckij, Vjacheslav Kuricyn, Konstantin Kedrov, Thomas Epstein, S. B. Dzhimbinov, and Vladimir Aristov.

By way of examining the metamorphic quality of metarealist poetry and the multifaceted modes of reality's manifestation within it, the paper discards as unwarranted the mourning over the postmodern eclipse of reality and the subject's incapacity to represent it. Metarealism, I conclude in the paper, restores the pristine polyphony of our multidimensional universe and vindicates the prestige formerly allotted to referentiality.