Issue 1
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On the following pages is the reprint from Cabinet of the first English translation, by Anne O. Fisher, of Andrei Platonov’s “The Anti-Sexus,” written in 1926. Originally signed “Andrei Platonov, translator from the French,” the text purported to be a promotional pamphlet translated into Russian by Platonov. “The Anti-Sexus” was not published in its original Russian until 1981, when it was included in a special issue of Russian Literature, with annotations provided by Thomas Langerak; the endnotes provided here rely heavily on his authoritative commentary.



This essay is intended as an introduction to Andrei Platonov’s short satirical brochure for a universal masturbation machine, titled “The Anti-Sexus.” I discuss some of the philosophical issues the pamphlet raises about capitalism and desire, death drive and satisfaction. Part of the trickiness of the text is that it is difficult to discern exactly who or what Platonov is lampooning. Is there a way to think about sexuality that avoids the alternatives of the invisible “handjob” of the market, revolutionary puritanism, and bureaucratic regulation? The essay makes connections between Platonov’s antisexualism and Viktor Shklovsky’s literary formalism, a more recent treatment of the same theme in Stanisław Lem, and Norbert Wiener’s apocalyptic cybernetics.


Communism, Masturbation, Platonov, Psychoanalysis ,Sex


The article begins with a critique of the prevalent interpretation of Platonov’s novels from the 1920s. These novels supposedly present a critical depiction of the Stalinist utopia and its catastrophic consequences. The article argues against such an interpretation by demonstrating that the aforementioned novels do not present a critique of Stalinism but rather a critique of the gnostic-materialist utopia against which late Stalinism reacted in the early 1930s. The article critically confronts various aspects of this utopia of “biocosmism” as the forerunner of today’s techno-gnosis, focusing primarily on its tendency to surpass sexuality as the last stronghold of the bourgeois counterrevolution. This aspect of the critique of the gnostic-materialist utopia is also at work in Platonov’s essay “The Anti-Sexus,” conceived as an advertisement for a masturbatory device. The text discusses this device in the context of the proliferation of gadgets (what Lacan called les lathouses), the “undead” organs which are not mere supplements of the human organism but rather provide the key to the sexuation of human beings as beings of language.


Buddhism, enjoyment, Gnosticism, materialism, Platonov, sexuality, Stalinism


The paper takes its cue from Freud’s short text “Observations on ‘Wild’ Psychoanalysis” (1910), where Freud considers the advice that presents sex as the universal cure for anxiety and ultimately all psychic troubles. The advice, dispensed by a non-analyst but also circulating in general opinion, is presented as supported by the psychoanalytic scientific discovery. The paper follows Freud’s steps arguing that sex is not an entity that can be located, but rather resides in a dislocation; that it doesn’t have predictable effects that would follow the path of somatic causality; that sexual satisfaction is not the cure for neurotic disorders; that one has to take into account the specificity of the Freudian notion of the unconscious; that sex is neither a fact nor a cause, but nevertheless produces effects. Freud’s argument is pitted against the Anti-Sexus machine, presented by Platonov as a device that rests on the mistaken assumptions about the sexuality Freud was fighting against.


Anti-Sexus, Platonov, psychoanalysis, sexuality, “wild” analysis


Sexuality is not possible without phantasm, phantasm is not possible without the imaginaries maintained by private property. Private property resides in surplus economy.
Surplus economy is libidinal. The question would then be: how much could sexuality cost? Or does sexuality vanish if the economy stops to be libidinal?


consciousness, libidinal, sexuality


The paper proposes an original approach to the analysis of the sexual economy of war and, together with Donna Haraway’s claim “We have never been human,” reconsiders Lacan’s formula “There is no sexual relation” proceeding from the idea of sex as a humanizing practice. This idea is opposed to popular metaphors of animality and the naturality of human sexual life. Thus, according to Georges Bataille sex, or rather eroticism, is what transforms not human beings into animals, but animals into human beings: just like labor in Engels, it presents a central principle of anthropogenesis. For Bataille, this transformation is an event that marked the passage between pre-history and history and the appearance of historical humanity. The paper places this argument into a paradoxical twist by suggesting a hypothesis that such a transformative event has not yet happened, and that, instead of sex, in today’s capitalist society people rather practice, to quote Žižek, “masturbation with a living partner,” where the integrity of a person is replaced by partial objects. This argument finds support in Platonov’s satire on masturbation and his critique of the Anti-Sexus, the latter being both masturbatory and antisexual (i.e., something that prevents sexual relationships). The paper shows that there is a remarkable gap in Platonov’s writings between two understandings of sex—as “the soul of the bourgeoisie” which is to be overcome by the consciousness of the proletariat, and as what is to be postponed until a communist society will be built. It analyses the constitutive character of this gap, or ambiguity, for Platonov’s radical revolutionary asceticism.


Andrey Platonov, Georges Bataille, masturbation, sex, war

Introduction. Multiple-love: Polyamory and its Discourse

Yelena Kostyleva

Emerging in 1990s America among the educated white middle class, polyamory is not so much a trend or a movement, not so much a practice or theory, as a new ethic of human relationships that has long found no place within the framework of the nuclear family and cannot be described within its terminology. That which is commonly referred to as the crisis of the traditional family is, in essence, the emergence of new forms of the same, but until the appearance of the term “polyamory” these forms had no language to describe themselves except in negative terms with regard to traditional social mores.

In its doctrine, polyamory has brought together the most recent popular achievements of European humanitarian thought, including gender theory, feminism, and queer theory. In principle, it represents a kind of collection and complex of explanations of why it is that entering into intimate relations with multiple people can be just as acceptable from the point of view of the wider society as doing so with a single partner, and of how this can be done in an ethical manner without adversely affecting, oppressing, or causing suffering to anyone (utopian components are, of course, just as present in polyamory as the sadomasochistic).

We would say that Hegel is coming back to current philosophical debates, if ever could we observe him disappear. But in fact, Hegel has always been at the forefront of the most sophisticated theoretical debates in continental “theory,” political philosophy, and history of ideas. The reviews gathered here do not merely testify this interest, but demonstrate just how broad and diverse the thinking with or against Hegel may be—ranging from historically contextualizing his work (as in the volume edited by Robert Stern) to incorporating dialectics while experimenting with new materialist ontologies (as in Andrian Johnston or Slavoj Žižek); from finding the unstable point in Hegel’s system (Frank Ruda) to acknowledging poetic and emotional elements of his texts (Katrin Pahl) to rethinking Hegel’s understanding of the revolutionary event (Rebecca Comay, Artemy Magun). This wealth of voices, with readers of Hegel readers, interpreters of interpretations sharing their reading experiences at the interface of Hegel, Hegel scholarship, and current theoretical/political debates, creates a polyphony necessary for grasping what Hegel’s legacy might mean for today’s thinking and acting.

Ivan Boldyrev

The best and most precise philosophical commentaries are rarely the ones that take a view-from-nowhere approach and try to give a general and “neutral” account of the text, but are more often the ones that have a highly specific angle, even an agenda, engaging with the text beyond its limited historical context. Frank Ruda’s book Hegel’s Rabble is exemplary of this latter type, letting Hegel’s philosophy refract through the notion of the “rabble” and following the repercussions this has for his Philosophy of Right and beyond. Ruda’s approach is so fruitful because it insists on reanimating rather than simply and solely reinterpreting the text. Pöbel, or “The rabble” can be provisionally defined as Hegel does in §244 of the Philosophy of Right: destitute poverty coupled with a negative attitude that unbinds this “class” from the sphere of right so that it disintegrates from society and falls into a state of inactivity.

Whilst reading Ruda’s long woven strands of beautiful argumentation and association through the twelve closely linked chapters of the book, one is led in interpretative detail through backdoors and avenues of the Hegelian system, drawing unexpected connections that suddenly lead to radically non-Hegelian territory. This approach is justified because the rabble marks the point within the system that threatens to explode, or at least irritate, the system in its present form, so in order to account for the rabble within Hegel one needs to move beyond Hegel. This is the governing methodological thought throughout.

Among the new tendencies in Hegelian studies today, an important (and highly welcome) one is the rediscovery of Hegel’s Berlin philosophy of subjective spirit, a previously neglected part of his encyclopedic project (alongside the philosophy of nature, which is also starting to get more credit), which is to this day eclipsed by the masterwork that is the Jena Phenomenology of Spirit from 1807. The present volume of essays, edited by David S. Stern, is a testament to this new interest, comprising thirteen papers by established and upcoming scholars. Consisting of three divisions—“Anthropology,” a doctrine of the human soul, sensation, individuality, and habit; “Phenomenology,” a theory of consciousness, self-consciousness, and reason; and “Psychology,” an account of spirit’s theoretical (from representation to thought) and practical (from practical feeling and drive to happiness) faculties culminating in subjective freedom. Hegel’s philosophy of subjective spirit not only encompasses a wealth of anthropological, epistemological, and other material, as well as pointing back to the philosophy of nature and forward to the philosophy of objective spirit, but also introduces a different logic of Geist’s development compared to the Jena Phenomenology and a plethora of new, or differently conceptualized, topics and concepts—so many, in fact, that only a limited number of them come under consideration in the volume under review. And while the prominence of the Phenomenology is hardly going anywhere, and deservedly so, the philosophy of subjective spirit is not only worthy of engagement in and of itself, but also bound to shed additional light on the development of Hegel’s phenomenological thought.

Brushing Hegel Against the Grain

Tropes of Transport is a book that provides a new and inspiring perspective on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit in view of its emotionality and philosophical imagery. It is in fact a series of essays commenting freely on various parts of Hegel’s text without sticking to the order of Hegel’s presentation. But this book, I would argue, is more than just a study of Hegel’s discourse in its emotional dimension. Pahl treats the Phenomenology as a literary figuration, as a poem—thus making the text speak as a text, not merely as a neutral form to convey a systematic speculative message. But the author’s real ambition is to show that the very idea of this message, Hegel’s philosophical legacy, cannot be adequately understood without referring to this “external” textuality. Philosophy is, after all, a kind of writing.

As is well known, Slavoj Žižek’s philosophical system is informed by three orientations: Hegelian philosophy, Lacanian psychoanalysis and a Marxist critique of ideology. While they are not symmetrically present in his work, Žižek proposes not only a diametrically different reading of these traditions, but also a conceptual and systematic re-organization and replacement of them into a new philosophical terrain. In a superficial analysis of his works from The Sublime Object of Ideology published in 1989 until his most recent Absolute Recoil, one cannot fail to see a shift in his references: Lacan has absolute privilege over Hegel and Marx, whereas from The Parallax View (2006) onwards, Hegel occupies that position.

Mourning Headache: Revolution from Hegel to Kant and Back

The French Revolution and German idealism constitute a couple, giving us a perfect example of the difficult and dramatic relationship between politics and philosophy. This is a highly relevant topic, and so it is reasonable that the case of Kant and Hegel, whose work is now a subject of massive reconsidering and reevaluation, attracts serious attention. We will address two recent books on this topic that present original and outstanding research on this problematic.

The Nature whence Spirit came: on Adrian Johnston’s Hegelianism

To understand the stakes of Adrian Johnston’s philosophical project “transcendental materialism,” we must, first of all, be able to grasp the singular inflection of his Hegelianism. This is best accomplished by dividing Johnston’s deployment of transcendental materialism in two subsequent phases.