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The (Anti-)Ecology of Nietzschean Aesthetics in Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9530-555X
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Satin Island (2015) contains a number of Tom McCarthy’s already established and interrelated fictional characteristics. Excessive recycling (borrowing or stealing), intertextual and allusional frenzy, monomaniacal preoccupation with seemingly trivial details, fascination with the material and technological aspects of human culture, problematisation of traditional dichotomisation of human vs. non-human, detached and unempathic protagonist, a distinctly imaginative and associative narration—which makes itself manifest primarily as cerebral (hence the affective indifference)—and last but not least an obsession with patterns and pattern analogies. One such pattern is the conspicuous theme of oil spills in the narrative. In taking on the regularity of configurations, the spills become aestheticised as black artworks, “the oil-flower unfurling its petals, the dark water swelling and cresting” (13). Oil spills are in a traditional environmentalist discourse seen as adequate punishments for human hubris. According to this moral logic, the human greed for energy backlashes and spreads death on coastlines and on ‘innocent’ animal and vegetational life. However, in McCarthy’s twisted fictional world, the spills become manifestations of a full-blown Nietzschean aesthetics that overrides all values, so that aestheticised reality becomes everything beyond and above any apocalyptic or utopian human telos. The ultimate level of (post)humanity is the revelation of a dehumanised and autonomous aesthetics of the world itself. Basically, McCarthy’s novel tries out the idea of the beauty of destruction as a maximation of the anthropocene. In addition, the narrative dramatises the impossibility of such an event, since it suggests that this would entail human extinction and therefore there can be no conceivable recording of the accomplishment. This paper analyses pattern, matter and surface aesthetics in Satin Island as a provocative comment on more ethically oriented environmentalist stances.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169161OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-169161DiVA, id: diva2:1318586
Conference
The Great Environmental Switch: Ecology, Technology, and Thinking Conference on the New Ecological Paradigm with Erich Hörl, Stockholm, Sweden, 20 - 21 May, 2019
Available from: 2019-05-28 Created: 2019-05-28 Last updated: 2019-12-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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