"Krall Krall" follows two scientists with the same name as they investigate consciousness and its logical corollary, suffering. They work in different times and places: the first in pre-World War I Germany, the second in the living laboratory of the American-occupied South Pacific after World War II. Both are driven by a fascination with animal minds that alienates them from humanity. Both face political consequences for advocating radical new forms of thought and feeling. A series of interconnected historical fragments, the text incorporates fictional laboratory journals, appropriated archival material, poetry, and a short play. A polyvocal narrative emerges from these fragments, modeling the theory of distributed consciousness that both attracts and dissolves its actors.
These intertwined stories trace a historical trajectory from a period of openness and potentiality to the “closed world” of the Cold War. Karl Krall becomes a constellation of scattered voices, an impossible figure of sympathy and danger.