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Produced with Rob Giampietro


ON THE NATURE OF THE PARALLEL CAMPAIGN

The joke here, of course, is on General Stumm: the librarian is just doing his job. It's also funny, though in a different way, that the General guards the Campaign's mission like a military secret -- after all, the goal of the Campaign is not only to find an idea that will promote human unity, but to publicize it. For Stumm to be guarded is certainly in his nature, but it goes beyond that: Stumm, whose name in German means "mute," doesn't quite want to admit to the librarian that he has no idea what he's looking for. The dialogue that follows springs from this attempt to dance around saying the unsayable:

'Oh, all sorts of things,' I said, as if he were prying into state secrets; I was playing for time.

'I only meant what subject or what author,' he asked, 'Is it military history?'

'Oh no,' I said, 'more on the lines of the history of peace.'

'History as such? Or current pacifist literature?' No, I said, it wasn't that simple. 'Might there be, for instance, something like a compendium of all the great humanitarian ideas or anything like that?' You remember how much research I've already got my people to do along those lines. He didn't say a word. 'Or a book on realizing the most important aims of all?' I say to him.

'Something in theological ethics?' he suggests.

This exchange of self-definition between the librarian and Stumm serves, in a way, as a microcosm of the Parallel Campaign's entire purpose, both in the world of The Man without Qualities and as part of Musil's outlook on the nature of writing. Thomas Sebastian, a Musil scholar, explains in his book The Intersection of Science and Literature in Robert Musil's The Man without Qualities that "The [Parallel] Campaign is shown to originally exist only in the form of a vague idea manifesting itself first in loose verbal associations, then in a circular letter, and finally in a press release. It is thus an allegory of what one can do with words. The campaign only exists because people start to speak about it. From the start then, the novel's main plot has the peculiar qualities of being merely the possibility of becoming a plot; it has the potential of a plot because it is spoken about and written about. Accordingly, the novel's own progress depends in a peculiar way on the creation of a story that relates to how stories are made." This revelation, as Coetzee, Gass, and Musil himself might all suggest, is tied to the unideological ideology of essayism: in writing around the knowledge we seek, we discover it.

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DEXTER SINISTER WILL OCCUPY THE COMMANDER'S ROOM AT THE 7TH REGIMENT ARMORY EVERY DAY FROM 4 MARCH TO 23 MARCH 2008 RELEASING A SERIES OF PARALLEL TEXTS THROUGH MULTIPLE CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION WHICH REFLECT ON THE 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL.

MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON THE TRUE MIRROR WEBSITE:
http://www.sinisterdexter.org/



Posted 12 March 2008 19:17:04

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