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The Skin of the SystemOn Germany's Socialist Modernity$
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Benjamin Robinson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762472

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762472.001.0001

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The Skin of the System and the DIN of the System: A Poetics of Sovereignty and System

The Skin of the System and the DIN of the System: A Poetics of Sovereignty and System

Chapter:
(p.79) Chapter Three The Skin of the System and the DIN of the System: A Poetics of Sovereignty and System
Source:
The Skin of the System
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804762472.003.0004

This chapter examines socialist ontology by focusing on East German literature—in particular, the life and work of the socialist author Franz Fühmann. It discusses the contrast between indexical pointing and symbolic mediation, presenting the examples of Fühmann and the most famous East German literary figure, Christa Wolf. Fühmann and Wolf represent what the chapter calls the “skin of the system,” referring to a system's being both an intact whole and a vulnerable body, and the “din of the system,” which indicates both a system's physical norms (a pun on DIN, or German Industrial Norms) and their susceptibility to the noise of infinite regression. The chapter considers an important aspect of Fühmann's poetics to illustrate a related theoretical term, sovereignty, which it subsequently turns back onto the poetics of real socialism. It demonstrates how Fühmann's depiction of socialism's encounter with antagonistic social forms is expressed in the poetry and philosophy of erotic desire.

Keywords:   socialist ontology, socialism, East German literature, Franz Fühmann, Christa Wolf, German Industrial Norms, poetics, sovereignty, erotic desire, social forms

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