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Vladimir Maiakovskii’s “The Flying Proletarian”

This is what I’m planning to read at the Platypus Affiliated Society’s Prometheus in Drift: A Night of Modernist Readings event: Maiakovskii’s 1925 sci-fi piece, “The Flying Proletarian.” Here’s the description that Viktor Terras provided of it:

…set in the year 2125 and features a giant air battle, with death rays and such, between the Soviet proletarian and the American bourgeois air forces. The latter prevails until an uprising of New York workers against their government turns the tide. Maiakovskii’s communist future is all comfort and electric ease: electric razors, electric toothbrushes, everybody with his own private airplane (Moscow no longer has any streets, just airports). Labor is wholly mechanized, so that a worker merely operates a keyboard. Altogether, Maiakovskii’s utopia is written from the viewpoint of a laborer who is tired of backbreaking, dirty work…There are no kitchens, no housework. People eat in aerocafeterias and amuse themselves with cosmic cinemas, cosmic dances, and such — all nonalcoholic (alcohol is served by prescription only). The sport of the future is avio-polo — football has long since been abandoned as crude and boring.

The cartoon itself is a degenerate Khrushchev-era attempt to retrieve the contributions of the avant-garde movement that Stalinism crushed. Notice the space-age imagery, the cosmonauts. But something of the original futurism survives even still here. It’s something that’s been lost.

So anyway, to plug the event taking place tomorrow, here’s the info:

Prometheus in Drift

G o e t h e   |   H ö l d e r l i n   |   R e n a r d   |   K l e i s t   |   W a l s e r   |   V a l e r y   |   B e c k e t t

|   K a f k a   |   S t e v e n s   |   E s e n i n   |   B a u d e l a i r e   |   M a i a k o v s k i i   |   C e l a n

friday, 03.02.12, 7pm | nyu kimmel, rm 909, 60 washington sq s

if you would like to volunteer to read one of the selections or have any questions about the event, please contact nyu@platypus1917.org.