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Matter, Screens, Buffering, Veils, Text and Texture in Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In McCarthy’s novel the reader witnesses a media philosophical discourse dressed in the robes of a fictional narrative. Holistically viewed, it investigates the materiality of information and the sign systems of materiality. The materiality of veils merge with the veils of (dis)information. In addition to the well known trope of postmodern epistemological failure, Satin Island displays a full-fledged reality in which flows of matter resemble flows of information and vice versa. Anthropological historization of human culture—through textual documentation and extensive collections of artefacts—merges with the present flows of information. In certain respects the novel suggests that what we have come to know as “world” is actually a flow of matter-information. It is both an intricately coded message—or bluntly put, a thought—and an autonomous ontic bulk of materiality. In a subtle way, the narrative responds to the posthuman lack that inevitably seems to call into being a transcendental dimension (which in the orthodox secular-liberal ontology has become a despised anathema). The novel form seems—in the Bakhtinian sense—to be a very suitable medium for this kind of aesthetic cognition. As formulated by Hubert Zapf, certain literatures “suggest that phenomena and processes of matter, the biosphere, the body, and intense emotional states in their relation to processes of human culture are used as particularly frequent sources of literary creativity. Biosemiotic images from natural evolution are mapped onto and blended with images of a modern economic and technocentric culture” (65). Essentially, Satin Island is such a work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Specific Literatures
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176463OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176463DiVA, id: diva2:1376034
Conference
Media Matter: Media-Archaeological Research and Artistic Practice, Stockholm, Sweden, November 27-29, 2019
Available from: 2019-12-06 Created: 2019-12-06 Last updated: 2019-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • asciidoc
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