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In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
In: Discovering the Religious Dimension of Trauma
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Keri Hulme’s 1984 Booker Prize winning novel, the bone people, tells the story of the formation of a biologically unrelated nuclear family in the cultural context of New Zealand with its mixture of Maori heritage, English settlers and recent immigrants. The story is presented through the juxtaposition of dialogues and inner monologues of the main characters, demonstrating how the self negotiates its progress towards integration. On the individual level, the characters are battling their own pasts on their way towards growing into responsible persons. Taken together, they also represent the process of integrative development of a national self for New Zealand. In even more abstract terms, the novel presents the narrative development of a Self that will be able to contain, recognize and coordinate its animus, its shadow and its inner child, along with its conscious part. An interpretation relying on these Jungian concepts is justifiable not only because the novel, reportedly, originated in a dream, but also because it applies diverse mythical elements and strategies. The article aims to add another psychological dimension to the discussion of a novel that has continued to impress with the flexibility of its language, ranging from the poetic to the profane, and with its polyphonic exploration of the many voices in which the self addresses itself.

In: Explorations of Consciousness in Contemporary Fiction

The main character of The Medusa Frequency by Russell Hoban, fighting his writer’s block with the help of a mind-altering machine, experiences what can be interpreted as a hallucination or an encounter with the supernatural. I argue that four supernatural beings he meets – the head of Orpheus, Eurydice, the Kraken, and Medusa – correspond to the artist, inspiration, the set of unrealized possibilities from which inspiration is derived, and the artist’s consciousness. The allegorical meaning of the supernatural characters adds to the metafictional layer of the novel, serving as a core of its philosophical message and explaining the references to Plato and Kant reappearing throughout the text. The ambiguity between hallucination and the miraculous, in connection with the allegorical element of the novel, allows for interpreting The Medusa Frequency as presenting a philosophical position on the nature of art and, indirectly, religion: artistic creation is made possible by the cognition of the reality behind the natural world, conveyed by the artist’s experience. At the same time, the novel approves of art’s escapist function, presenting it as answering an important existential need and cooperating with the mimetic function in depicting reality.

In: Explorations of Consciousness in Contemporary Fiction

Novels about autism have become popular in middlebrow fiction in the early 21st century. With the rise of autism diagnoses and the end of the Decade of the Brain, a once unknown condition has gripped the minds of novelists as well. In this chapter, I analyse several “autism novels,” which explore what it is like to live with an atypically developing brain and mind. I argue that autism is a fundamental part of these works, and the depiction of mental functioning on the spectrum constitutes a unique experiment in the literary display of mind-reading, an essential skill of social cognition.

With the examination of Elizabeth Moon’s Speed of Dark, Claire Morrall’s The Language of Others and Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, I outline how the complexity of consciousness representation creates the illusion of a disabled mind for the reader. I focus on the social interactions between characters to show that autism is constructed in the text as a cross-neurotype biosemiotic underreporting and misreporting of mental dispositions and content. I examine the meticulously and irrelevantly detailed descriptions that issue from the autistic narrators to claim that these demonstrate a different grade of cognitive granularity from those of typically developing minds. I conclude that these techniques represent a less person-oriented mindset that aligns well with Ian Bogost’s concept of “alien phenomenology,” but affirm the inalienable humanity of the autistic community.

In: Explorations of Consciousness in Contemporary Fiction