Class unconsciousness
in Modernism and the making of the Soviet New Man
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The scribble on a grid is a plan of a scene in the play "The Magnanimous Cuckold," performed in Moscow in 1922 in the theatre of the director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Meyerhold's "biomechanical" proletarian actor performing in this space was trained to work in a chronotope, to think about his body and its actions as existing in both space and time. The idea of "biomechanics" and space coming together as a chronotope inhabited by a modern, progressive worker was actually created by a bureaucrat. Aleksey Gastev, the bureaucrat in question, was the founder of the Central Institute of Labour, an institution formed in the 1920s dedicated to training workers to develop precise, timed, efficient movements. Gastev's entire theory of proletarian spirit fits in a peculiar and idiosyncratic way into the communist theoretical tradition. Karl Marx defined the notion of workers' "class consciousness" in German Ideology of 1885.


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