In to expose ideas from human consciousness and

In their manuscript called The German Ideology written in 1836, Marx and Engels introduced
their idea of breaking away from normative thoughts and ideologies; “Let us
liberate them from the chimeras, the ideas, dogmas, imaginary beings under the
yoke of which they are pining away. Let us revolt against the rule of thoughts.
Let us teach men, says one, to exchange these imaginations for thoughts which
correspond to the essence of man; says the second, to take up a critical
attitude to them; says the third, to knock them out of their heads; and —
existing reality will collapse” (The
German Ideology, Marx and Engels, Preface). By stating that they were
trying to help people not to follow the established system and thus not to
maintain it in order to reach a more equal and respectable society. Indeed,
“Marxist philosophy may be seen as an attempt to answer the call of the above
three voices; to understand the human being in his or her essence, to look
critically at the thoughts that humans hold true and to expose ideas from human
consciousness and replace them with other, more vital propositions and
realities” (Inside/Out: Contemporary Critical Perspectives in Education,
Martusewicz and Reynolds, p.63) which is to take some distance with the
established ideologies and preconceived ideas to be able to think by oneself
and be truer. An ideology is “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one
which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy” (Oxford
Dictionaries definition) it comes from the French word “idéologie” and before
that the Greek’s terms “idea” (which
means “form” “pattern”) and “logos”
(which means “denoting discourse” or “connotation”). Following the idea that
Marx and Engels introduced in their manuscript, is it possible to have this
realization and change with and through art and literary forms in genera? An
artist, is an “artisan” who goes beyond his work to create a new world and thus
a new reality. So, what is art and how can it be used to break away from
ideologies and create a new way of understanding the world?  First, with Viktor Shvlosky’s essay Art as Device (1990), I will show how he
presents art or literary forms as a good way to obtain this change by provoking
the reader or the audience to feel it and explain what kind of “device” he
suggests using to obtain this result. And then, I will exemplify this argument
by looking at Sam Selvon’s novel The
Lonely Londoners by seeing how he manages to distance himself from the
normative literary ideologies as much on the form and organization of his text
that on the content of it.

In his essay Art,
as Device, Viktor Shklovsky explains how a literary text – or more
generally art – can influence us and create new ways of understanding the world
He introduces the principle of “enstrangement” also know as “defamiliarization”
or “ostranenie” in Russian which
literally means “making strange” and which is “the artistic technique of forcing
the audience to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way (literally
“making it strange”), in order to enhance perception of the familiar” (New World Encyclopedia).
Furthermore, he completely opposes this principle of “defamiliarization” with
“habitualization” or “automation” which is when one is so used to the things
that are surroundings them that one is no longer able to distinguish their
“uniqueness” anymore; “we get used to horrible things and stop fearing
them we get used to beautiful things and stop enjoying them. We get used to
people and stop experiencing them as personalities. Art is meant to make things
real again.” (Art, as Device, Viktor Shklovsky, Introduction)
“Defamiliarization” is then used to present things under a new angle and by
doing so avoid the stereotypes of thinking. Thus, the goal that art or any
literary forms should reach is to create the sensation of seeing things without
recognizing them; the real “device” of art is the “enstrangement” of things and
the complication of the form, which increases the complexity of perception, and
this process is, in art, an end in itself and must be prolonged and always
questioned. What is already established in our conscience does not matter in
art, what matters is the making of a thing and the understanding of it. Thus, Shklovsky’s concept of “Art as Device” or “Art
as Technique” is linked to his vision of how to make a work of art more
artistic by making the automatic and habitual perceptions “de-automatized” and
renewed. Defamiliarization serves as a mean to force individuals to “experience
the everyday, the ordinary in new ways through the use of artistic language”
(New World Encyclopedia). The objective of the artist must be to create a shift
in the normal or anticipated form of perception and by so doing, reveal the
world anew. According to Shklovsky the technique is meant to “challenge the
reader’s (or viewer’s) expectations and jar their sensibilities” (New World
Encyclopedia). As a result, the reader is forced to see from a different
perspective and appreciate the form of the text and not just its content or
meaning. In other words, the readers have to break away from their preconceived
ideas and ideologies to really appreciate the art and then make a new
signification out of it. 

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