Participating in Goce Smilevski’s Conversation with Spinoza

Note (26 February 2017): I doubt I ever read anything written by a Macedonian before. The novel attempts to recreate the inner life of the historical Spinoza, who lived an austere life following his excommunication from the Jewish community of Amsterdam. The novel has the unusual feature of directly addressing the reader. In the beginning, the reader is gazing at Spinoza's corpse—which is the “you”. But then the story switches to first person: “I” = Spinoza. The “you” is the reader: a blank underline appears in the text for the reader to insert his/her name in the appropriate blank, where the reader is directly addressed.

Now this is the kind of philosophy I can get behind! Everything persists in its being till it squirts...

“Can you imagine her, Spinoza? Can you imagine yourself approaching her while her eyes are trying to avoid your pupils? While she is breathing and gasping for air a little, can you imagine yourself beginning to undress her slowly? She pauses between breathing in and breathing out, between breathing out and breathing in, as if she is carrying air to some unknown place. Then, while you quickly undress, can you imagine placing her under your body and feeling the warmth of her thighs? Can you imagine yourself slowly going into her? Does your fantasy end here, while your hand is making a last movement on your penis as you spill your semen?”

Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel, by Goce Smilevski, translated from the Macedonian by Filip Korženski (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2006)

Spinoza & Marxism: Selected Bibliography (with Basic Spinoza Web Guide)


The Philosopher, the Heretic, the Jew and His Lovers
by Benjamin Lazier

In the spider’s web of the Conversation

Review in Publishers Weekly

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