Andrei Bogdan POPA
Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Letters
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Towards a Postnaturalist Ethics of Fiction: Misanthropocene and the Commons in Pond (2015) by Claire Louise-Bennett
Abstract: This article conceptualizes a postnaturalist ethics of fiction in order to trace the interconnections between anthropogenic effects on the environment and the reading and writing of texts as thematized in Claire Louise-Bennett’s collection of short stories Pond. Starting from different theoretical formulations regarding epistemological “gaps,” I explore theoretical links between Jacques Rancière’s notion of fictional democracy, its relation to micro-events, and Steven Vogel’s concept of the artifact as the practice which changes an already socially built natural environment. I then build upon this framework by relating it to Paul de Man’s theory of unreadability and its effects upon the space of reading. In applying this framework on the close reading of the volume, what first surfaces is a tacit self-consciousness regarding the complicity between human practices upon a rapidly declining environment and the consumption and production of text, which following Vogel, is just another artifact in our fragile, dysfunctional Commons. Moreover, the protagonist’s fascination and longing for the apparent autonomy of the natural world is threatened by the traces of sociality she invariably finds in the environment. The subsequent section of the textual analysis addresses Pond’s ecological brand of misanthropy and notion of belonging and emplacement, social dialogue, mobilization, and democracy that are all calibrated according to the threat of climate change. I will thus argue that Bennett’s texts, in their antisocial, tense escapism to environmental thinking, can re-valorize the concept of Misanthropocene by expressing a frustrated but honest disillusionment regarding the apparently nonsocial autonomy of nature.
Keywords: postnaturalism, narrative ethics, unreadability, Misanthropocene, the Commons.
Citation suggestion: Popa, Andrei Bogdan. „Towards a Postnaturalist Ethics of Fiction: Misanthropocene and the Commons in Pond (2015) by Claire Louise-Bennett”. Transilvania, no. 3 (2022): 57-66.