The Paraxial Realm: Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Truth

I think many of us are like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, in that we live outside the symbolic order that the majority of people on this planet seem to accept without thought or bother. Like the dead we wander the threshold lands in-between two-worlds: the world that most call ‘reality,’ and the other world – the world we can’t quite live in but know exists submerged in the underground just below the false one that the great majority cover over in their ruinous wastelands of capitalist luxury and mediascapes. Or as Jackson says of Dostoevsky:

Dostoevsky insists upon his fidelity to ‘truth’: ‘What other people call fantastic, I hold to be the inmost essence of truth.’ Dostoevsky undermines and corrodes the heart of a public ‘reality’. As with Mary Shelley, Gaskell, Dickens, Kafka or Pynchon, it would be misleading to dismiss Dostoevsky’s bleakness as personal nihilism. His figures are estranged from the social, occupying a ‘paraxial’ realm, because they do not feel themselves to be integrated within the symbolic order.

Dostoevsky’s un-covering of this meaningless, entropic zone uses fantasy rather more directly as a subversive mode than it is found in Lytton, Stevenson or Wells, where it is almost immediately re-covered. He pulls the reader towards a vision of a world other than this one, an ‘unreal’ underground reality, between life and death, from which all cultural order seems an absurd imposition. Such estrangement is not chosen: it is the consequence of a dissatisfaction with the ‘real’ as secularized, urban, atheistic, and ‘unnatural’, with what the underground man terms ‘our negative age’.

-Rosemary Jackson,  Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion

2 thoughts on “The Paraxial Realm: Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Truth

  1. I think there is a redundant kind of terrorism that occurs of itself being understood as a kind of polimical common vs marginal existence. One that manifests as it argues itself.

    While i undetstand this, i would say that it more proper to say The situation is like two spheres where the ‘real’ sphere lay inside where is encompassed by this other sphere. That this marginalization really only occurs from the perspective that reality is what is foundational, and that put this perspective is a perspective that does not want to correct itself, One that enjoys that marginalization, so to speak. As if what lay beyond the margin serves at us as a sort of well a creative well from which to draw things into reality and us to create a sort of terror or weirdness.

    I find this interesting because to me those things are not weird or even terrible, but in fact Marylee reinscribe what is real. Like to essential substrates, A real one and one that is transcendent or other than what is real, from where the individual may draw inspiration or intuition from. To me this is a real religious spiritual situation.

    I find that to get beyond this religious situation one needs merely to set aside the idea that there are two spheres.

    My curiosity is with this strangeness this weirdness, because somehow I don’t think it’s so weird. I suppose that’s what weird for me😋


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