Primo Levi on Science Fiction

Reflecting upon the causes and the implications of this “ immense biological and social experience,” as he defines it, Levi, the story teller, ponders on the issue of segregation in our own times, on the heritage the camps have bequeathed on the present, establishing a disquieting continuity between past aberrations and present normality, showing beyond any doubt how the present is subtly interwoven by the logic of the past.

In his hallucinated fiction, and, specifically, in his play La bella addormentata nel frigo (Sleeping Beauty in the Fridge), Levi shows with great acumen and perspicacity the strict relationship between science, new technologies, and subjective alienation, as well as the ways in which normality, the tranquility of a prosperous life, are in fact the product of a bio-political normativity, universally accepted with careless complicity.  As a reminder of our own situation, Levi writes:  “Monsters do exist but are too few to be really dangerous; by far more dangerous are common men, executives always ready to believe and obey without ever questioning what they are told.”

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