Platonov was not a philosopher, but his novels provide, among many other things, a critique of thinkers like Žižek and Badiou who would revive the specter of communism as a kind of pure political leap out of the everyday, material constraints of necessity. Platonov shows only too vividly how the leap comes crashing down, how any truth that claims to be self-instantiating burns up on reentry from the heavens.
In our quest to find what is living and what is dead in the communist experience, Platonov steers us aright: in place of political fantasy, the struggle of labor against necessity. In place of Hegel, Lenin, and the Great Men of History, ordinary people and their reworkings of abstract language in concrete situations. In place of a romantic concept of romantic love, sexuality and comradely feelings as an aesthetics of a more interesting kind of grief — the only response proper to an enervating world.
As Platonov writes in an essay included in this edition of Happy Moscow:
“The ancient life on the ‘surface’ of nature could still obtain what it needed from the waste and excretions of elemental forces and substances. But we are making our way inside the world, and in response it is pressing down upon us with equivalent force.”
As the world presses down on us, Platonov shows us how we can stick together, in and with and against the world.
—The conclusion of McKenzie Wark’s review of Andrey Platonov’s Happy Moscow (and The Foundation Pit, and Soul) in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Happy Moscow was also reviewed by Zack Friedman in The New Inquiry, a sure sign that Platonov, though writing for a different time and place, still speaks to political and literary issues of today.