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102 the minnesota review Darko Suvin Transubstantiation of Production and Creation: Metamorphic Imagery in the Grundrisse 0. Introduction 0.1. The following essay attempts to read Marx's Grundrisse1 as an imaginative , i.e. literary, text — not as fiction by any means, but as a semantic and rhetorical artifact consisting of historically and ideologically shaped language. Thus, this attempt is not concerned with the verifiability of the cognitive process in the Grundrisse, but with a preliminary clarification of one important — I would argue central — aspect of them. I believe that, as in any text, such a clarification is an indispensable introduction to any overall or final judgment. In any case, the Grundrisse cannot be verified or falsified by a "literary" analysis (nor, I hasten to add, by what usually passes for scientific analysis in the natural sciences); they can only be verified in an interaction of practice with ideology (as I shall call it for want of a less ambiguous word). The metamorphic imagery I shall concentrate upon (to the exclusion of other important imaginative aspects of the Grundrisse) strongly enhances the whole text and helps to constitute its central value, but I am here primarily interested in establishing the coherent and meaningful existence of this metaphoric cluster rather than in discussing all the implications of its meaning(s), which would properly be the task for a book and not an essay. 0.2. Like all relatively brief analyses, this essay could have been fuller and more encompassing. It could have taken for its corpus a larger selection from Marx's writings, notably Capital and the early works. But I have gambled on the Grundrisse being sufficiently illuminating for a separate analysis — by virtue both of their central position in Marx's development between the "early" and the "late" phase (thus best denying the Althusserian cleavage between aesthetic and scientific cognition) as well as of being a first draft and not really a completed work, i.e. in some ways nearer to the imaginative matrix of Marx's own creativity as a process. No doubt, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Furthermore , in order to combine a synoptic view with arguing inductively from the text, this essay will proceed by a scissors-and-paste method, taking what I understand to be the paradigm-constituting elements of the text out of its middle-range syntagmatic context in order to reveal the underlying imagistic-cum-notional (or topic) paradigm. 0.3 Some Semantic Traps in Reading the "Grundrisse": Ellipse The advantages of the Grundrisse are countered by traps that have to be 103 suvin avoided when reading them. First of all, since this text consists of notes for a book rather than a book, it is a series of fragments (albeit sometimes very long ones) which are, paradoxically, both elliptical and redundant: they are syntagmatic chains developing a provisional paradigm in a feedback process itself clarifying and confirming that paradigm by expansion, qualification, and other retouching. (This is not a value-judgment: the fragment is a recognized literary genre.) The basic traits due to the first-draft character of this text can be divided into qualitative and quantitative ones. Qualitatively, the constitutive parts or fragments form a spread on the one end of which are excerpts from other writers and on the other end Marx's new texts. But most of them are shadings somewhere in between these extremes, often near the middle, where by mimicry the context, narrative voice, and even the point ofview are not explicated: in such cases, it is necessary to find out what are Marx's context, narrative voice(s), and point of view (see e.g. the discussion of two opposed meanings of production in 3.2 below). Quantitatively , there is a fair amount of repetition with variation as well as of omission of important points or links in the argument tacitly understood as existing elsewhere in the text. 0.4. Some Further Traps: Polysemy It is neither possible nor necessary here to go through the semantic and/or rhetorical "figures" that can be found in Marx's text (though we badly need a more skilled semanticist and rhetorician to do this...


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