Adolfo Bioy Casares’s story “The Celestial Plot” (1948) is among the best known examples of Latin American science fiction writing of the early twentieth century inspired by contemporary advances in quantum physics. Most readings of the story focus on the movements of its main protagonist, Captain Ireneo Morris, as he traverses realities while test-flying a plane. This approach overlooks the role of the story’s other protagonist, Dr. Carlos Servian, who, we argue, is the lynchpin upon which the multiple realities are dependent. We read the changes to Dr. Servian’s character from a variety of scientific and philosophical perspectives on parallel universes. By addressing variations in Servian’s character and language, and focusing on the disparate representations of the key objects in the story, we show how the story anticipates in some ways the Many Worlds notion which argues that reality bifurcates during quantum measurements, leading to near-identical copies of observers.
Two works focusing on the corporeality of grief, The Logbook of a Merciless Year by Connie Palmen and the theatre text Requiem for a Metamorphosis by Jan Fabre, are explored alongside Merleau-Ponty’s ontology for their way to transform personal grief, characterized by identity crisis and spatiotemporal disorientation, into an act of remembering. The two works are approached as fictions of the body in pain, enacting grief like body art pieces in order to make pre-reflective sense of it. Pain becomes an agent, allowing the authors to open up by transforming their introvert portraits of grief into corporeal landscapes, characterized by a temporality of stillness/movement. Based on Merleau-Ponty’s notions of simultaneity and institution, this essay demonstrates how movement allows a spatiotemporal opening so that memory may be enacted from the point of view of the present upon all temporal moments. Therefore, grievers reinvent themselves in their works, as those who enact memory.
Although many SF texts proceed from the speculative premise that our species will continue to develop technologically, and hence become increasingly posthuman, our species’ continuance into even the next century is by no means assured. Rather, the Anthropocene exerts a new temporal logic; it is an age defined by an intensification of geological timescales. It is therefore noteworthy that many contemporary SF texts are ecologically interventionist and figure apocalyptic future temporalities which curtail the posthuman predilection common to the genre. This article analyses a tetrad of literary texts, written at various points during the last three decades, which summatively reveal the mutations of the (post)human temporalities figured by cli-fi texts. These four texts are: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (1992-1996); Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007); Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (2014); and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015).
In this article, I engage with the present-tense narration in Anne Enright’s novel, The Gathering. The narrator, Veronica Hegarty, is tasked with assembling her family for a wake after the suicide of her closest brother Liam. What his death unleashes in her is a compulsion to write down an “uncertain event,” which may or “may not have happened,” in which Liam was sexually assaulted as a child. The narrative suggests that Veronica witnessed this “event” and, in line with the aporetic nature of traumatic experience, did not register it as such. The narrative temporal strategy, as this article will demonstrate, is key to the author’s representation of the “event” which, due to its traumatic nature, is always of the present, and never successfully relegated to the past. I also explore the ways in which the novel suggests a healing which can be neither contained nor enacted within the confines of this overtly present-tense narrative.
In this paper, documentary and artistic pairings of nineteenth-century survey photographs with rephotographs from the 1970s-2000s of identical views of western U.S. sites are read within divergent temporal and historiographical paradigms about historical and geological change. Viewed and interpreted within the legacy of American technocratic “progress” and of debates about the “old” and “new” western histories, this juxtaposed work across a century speaks to shifts in historians’ paradigms about the meaning of western expansion, from optimism to tragedy, and to whether geologic and human history are continuous or discontinuous. The ecological rupture of the Anthropocene returns us to nineteenth-century debates, which in part motivated survey photographs, about whether changes in geological and life forms are gradual or catastrophic—or some uneasy combination of the two. What haunts these photographs today is both a lost ideological past and a precarious, humanly viable future that the Anthropocene exposes.