| More

Automata: Professional Lives and the Time of the Contingent

Views: 207 Downloads: 122
Chryssa Marinou
Chryssa Marinou


Kostas Peroulis’s collection of short stories Automata (2015) consists of ten short stories that narrate the experience of ten different characters involved in differentkinds of labor. The stories’ characters constitute the book’s labor force and have afoothold in all sectors of economy: the primary sector (agriculture), the secondary sector (industrial production) and the tertiary sector (services, including sex work). The automatisation and repetition that define the work experience of Peroulis's unnamed characters also define their present while the context of the Greek crisis and its social and political effects lurk in the background. This essay reads the characters’relation to labour at a time of historical contingency that is well beyond the austerity measures and what is generally called the financial crisis. I argue that the stories map the experience of the contingent in contemporary Greece as Peroulis’s text focuses onthe minutiae of the characters’ professional lives. The details of their labour reveal the condition of contingency which becomes dominant in a literary text that, as this essay argues, returns to the subject, and thus, to the modern.


Kostas Peroulis; Automata; short stories; labour experience; labor power; automatization; contingency; professional lives; epiphany; working subject; modernism

Full Text:



Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. Massachusetts: The

Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1999.

Benjamin, Walter. Selected Writings 4 1938-1940. Ed. Howard Eiland, Michael W. Jennings. Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 2006.

Buck-Morss, Susan. The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.

Cadava, Eduardo. “Sternphotographie: Benjamin, Blanqui, and the Mimesis of Stars.” Qui Parle 9.1, The Dissimulation of History (1995): 1-32.

Clark, T.J. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from the History of Modernism. New Haven: Yale U P, 1999.

Hatzivasileiou, Vaggelis. “Professions and Social Images.” To Vima (newspaper) 21/02/2016 [«Επαγγέλματα και Κοινωνικές Εικόνες»].

Karavanta, Mina. “Introduction: In the Wake of the Polity to Come.” Synthesis: an Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies (0. 2016) 1-13.

https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/synthesis/article/view/16221/0. Accessed 20 May 2019.

Kornetis, Kostis. “From Reconciliation to Vengeance: The Greek Civil War on Screen in Pantelis Voulgaris’s A Soul so Deep and Kostas Charalambous’s Tied Red Thread.” FILMICON: Journal of Greek Film Studies 2 (2014): 93-116.

Maloutas, Thomas and Nikos Karadimitriou. “Vertical Social Differentiation in Athens: Alternative or Complement to Community Segregation?” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25. 4 (2001): 699– 716. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17672030. Accessed 20 May 2019.

Manoukas, Dimitris. “’On All Fours’: Queer Sex and Prostitution in Late Capitalism” [«Στα τέσσερα»: Queer σεξ και πορνεία στον ύστερο καπιταλισμό]. http://milanode.cloudmin.gr/%CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B8%CF%81%CE%B 1/39/. Accessed 20 May 2019.

Marx, Karl. Capital A Critique of Political Economy. Introduction: Ernest Mandel. Trans: Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin Books, 1990.

Marx, Karl. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Trans. and Ed. Martin Milligan. New York: Dover Publications, 2007.

Peroulis, Kostas. Automata. Athens: Antipodes, 2015 [Αυτόματα: Αντίποδες, 2015]. Voskuhl, Adelheid. Androids in the Enlightenment: Mechanics, Artisans, and

Cultures of the Self. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2013. Google Books Search.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Chryssa Marinou

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.