On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre
Edited By Gerry Canavan
Preface to the Classics Edition: Contradiction and Resistance (2016)
… pity poor fleshand trees, poor stars and stones, but never thisfine specimen of hypermagicalultraomnipotence. We doctors knowa hopeless case if – listen: there’s a hellof a good universe next door; let’s go
Is the Earth so?Let her change then.Let the Earth quicken,Search until you know.
When Ernst Bloch decided the Stalinist East Germany had become too stifling for him and his work and defected to West Germany, he chose for his first course at the University of Tübingen an Introduction to Philosophy, that is, a summa – overview and development – of his 50 years’ work on the philosophy of utopian hope, its Marxist possibilities of realisation, and its categories. One of his developments was the introduction of the pair Widerspruch und Widerstand, contradiction and resistance (it sounds nicer in German, since in it both terms begin with wider – against, anti or ← xxxvii | xxxviii →contra, literally: counter-speaking and counter-standing).1 Both are variants of differential opposition (without which, paired with identity, writing and presumably thinking itself are impossible); both “would not exist were there not in the world something that should not be.”2 Contradiction is classically the key word of Marxian dialectics: as his teacher Hegel, who erected it into a central logical term, put it in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, the marvellous appears where there are contradictions, and earlier it was also the pulsation...
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