Patrycja Podgajna: Slapstick as a Utopian Weapon in Juliusz Machulski’s Embassy
Slapstick as a Utopian Weapon in Juliusz Machulski’s Embassy
Although closely linked to the poetics of alternative history in its fictional imaginations of alternatives and ideal states of being, the utopian genre has not been extensively explored for its counterfactual potential. Rather than being conceptualised as alternative world-constructions, utopian texts function predominantly as aesthetic projections of desirable political systems and ideal forms of social order. Paradoxically, this lack of interest in interrogating utopian writings for their counterfactual impetus runs counter to the frequent use of the terminology of the “alternative” in utopian studies. The theoretical tendency to emphasize a binary opposition between the mundus idem and alter mundus (in utopian fiction usually the ideal world) reverberates in J. Max Patrick’s definition of utopias “not as models of unrealistic perfection but as alternatives to the familiar” (qtd. in Sargent 293). By the same token, Darko Suvin emphasises that most utopias are based on “an alternative historical hypothesis” (Suvin 132), which, Dorothy Birkee (234) claims, validates categorising utopian fiction as a counterfactual genre par excellence.
The presented tendency to project utopian visions within the paradigm of the counterfactual model, involving “a binary pair of events, the factual one and its hypothetical other – the counter-factual” (Dannenberg 130), is particularly evident in those texts or films that manipulate the course and outcome of important historical events. Undeniably, speculations and hypothetical imaginations about alternative outcomes to the Nazi era have become a notable phenomenon in postwar consciousness...
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