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AnimalInside

AnimalInside is a haunting parable of the apocalypse. Not since Yeats’s darkly poetic prophecy of the second coming has literature imagined such a sinister messiah. However, Krasznahorkai’s baleful parable not only predicts the beast’s malefic resurrection, it graphically details its emergence.

AnimalInside is a haunting parable of the apocalypse. Not since Yeats’s darkly poetic prophecy of the second coming has literature imagined such a sinister messiah. However, Krasznahorkai’s baleful parable not only predicts the beast’s malefic resurrection, it graphically details its emergence.

Nearly all of AnimalInside’s compact narratives are spoken by an internal presence that warns of its pernicious arrival: “I am coming, one day I will be here, maybe not in one form, but immediately in two or three, or in four, one day I shall come, and I shall lacerate your faces, because I am ruin.” This is not the peaceful language of a loving savior, or even the slow and menacing slouch of Yeats’s ominous beast, but the corrosive tongue of a demon. Krasznahorkai’s beast will come to us with teeth gnashing, ready to scrape our flesh.

Space seems to be a central conflict throughout the narrative. For example, Krasznahorkai’s creature will often comment on its confinement and restricted movement. We soon learn that it is us that the creature is trapped inside. The metaphor seems to be more primal than political or ideological, simply a raw energy desiring to break free. Perhaps this imprisoned animal represents the Freudian id struggling against the constraints of the constructed self.

Krasznahorkai’s muscular language does not allow the reader much space to deliberate on this issue, but swiftly moves into action: “you won’t even have any eyes, because I shall begin by corroding both of them, because my coming is violent, just a few moments now, and I shall break out of you, and you will be that which I am, and that which I always have been.” Whatever this creature is, it is fueled by destruction. Not only does it wish to escape from our fleshy prison, it wants to first destroy our sight. It wants to cause us pain.

In the last section, we are presented with a post-apocalyptical landscape. The demon has done its damage. Yet the struggle goes on: “only the bare crust of the earth remains, only the thick black dead cold ashes, in which we stand facing each other, tensed, on each side pure muscle, and now there is only one question: which of the two of us shall be king.”

This other being is presumably that which he referred to earlier as his “twin brother.” In the midst of destruction, these two creatures engage in an aggressive standstill, the implication being that they will soon devour each other to achieve dominance. However, what will the victor rule over once it is the only thing left? Perhaps it will devour itself? Could Krasznahorkai be commenting on the nature of violence itself? The nature of war? The corruption of power? The brilliance of this work is that it makes comments on all of these things, but cannot be reduced to one clear commentary.

Although a slim volume, AnimalInside is a comprehensive examination of the human psyche. Significant to this work is the collaboration of text and image. In every section, there is always one image that corresponds with each textual passage. Like Krasznahorkai’s text, Neumann’s images are active and embody motion. Though never directly violent, this element is implicit in the red shapes that accompany the mostly black and white images. Max Neumann’s silhouetted figures of human and animal forms beautifully complement Krasznahorkai’s stark violence and vibrant energy.

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