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Lecture 4

JULY 15th, Lecture 4.docx

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Mike Johnstone

JULY 15 , Lecture 4, ENG237H1 Wilson, Spin - The spin and the Archway: A New World - Darko Suvin’s “Cognitive Estrangement” - Science and Religion: Making Sense of Doomsday The Spin and the Archway: A New World 9 4x10 AD. Fundamental view: Scientific and imperialist. Explanations of events. Jason becomes the key source of where Tyler gets information, and we are with Tyler. Originally published in 2005. Jason and Diane. Basically occurred in early 21 st century. Contemporary. Novel takes known familiar world and makes it strange and new. Specific date for the start of the novel. Present time of when Tyler is telling the story. He is in fact, four billion years into the future. Tyler constructs this narrative altering present and looking back to working through the events of the past. 4 Billion years is the actual date of the solar system. Wilson establishes (from a chapter heading) this sense of difference from our known familiar world. Not just moving back and forth present and past, but also conflation. Merging together past and present. While on Earth, time is for the most part our time. Outside of time, real date is 4x10 AD. Time plays a crucial role. Tyler. There is a difference between his presence, relative present and past. “She was silent for a few seconds more. Then she shuddered, turned and tossed— threw—the binoculars back at Jason, who protested but didn’t seem to grasp that Diane had seen something disturbing. I was about to ask her if she was all right-- When the stars disappeared.” (11) Process of the phenomenon. Understand it and to do something about it. Overall, this response is presented and predominantly as ration and imperialist as cognitive. Tyler is trained as medical doctor. Jason very much is a scientist. Jason’s access to information seems to be predominantly privileged. Cognitive perspective. Predominantly privileged. Scientific notation. Second chapter. Crucial point of the narrative. Divergence of the novel and our world. Powerful. “People began to speak of ‘a hypothetical controlling intelligence.” (25) Hypotheticals. Aliens? Plausible attempt to arrive at some sort of explanation. Tangible evidence? Hypothesis. “After repeated debriefings the Russians concluded that Glavin had lost his mind as a result of his ordeal. The colonel continued to insist that he and his crew had spent three weeks in orbit, but that was obviously madness…. Because the Soyuz capsule, like every other recovered piece of man-made orbital gear, had fallen back to Earth the very night of the October Event.” (31) Realizing this discrepancy how to understand this October event. Fundamentally changes everything about this world. Third chapter is Russian astronauts. Know that they spent three weeks, but they returned the very night. Start to get process of trying to understand. How to deal with it and take advantage of it. Confronted with new and strange. Going through this process of trying to make sense of it. Predominantly trying scientific approach. “[…] But the idea of a time gradient has a certain explanatory power… So the electromagnetic barrier around the Earth isn’t concealing us, it’s protecting us… all these things are being manipulated, not just slow us down but to keep us alive while they do it.’ ‘Managed,’ I said, “It’s not an act of nature, then. It’s engineering.” … ‘This is being done to us.”(45) Jason constructed by Tyler. Tyler trusts Jason completely. Debate science and religion? Conformation that time is slowed down on Earth. Explanatory power. Spin. Heart of role that science plays in the novel. Science is not privileged, privileged as the ability to explain. Engineered and purposefully done. Why would this be unsettling for Tyler? Being protected something, Tyler is something engineered and done to us. Disturbing? Lack of control. Beyond our cope to understand it. “Priests”. Tyler had to go to Jason to understand it. There are people who don’t even know about it. People have different means to turn to different points of information, discourses that have explanatory power. What happens to religion when it can explain? Starts to play significant role in forms and responses. “How much time, Jason?’ ‘It’s been five years and a couple of months since the October Event. Outside the barrier, that translates into a little over five hundred million years.” It was a breathtaking number. […] The Diane, who had seen straight to the scary heart of the thing, said ‘And how long do we have left?’ […] ‘How long, Jason?’ He gave her a pitying look. ‘Forty, maybe fifty years,’ he said ‘Give or take.’ (46) Traumatizing to comprehend. The end of Earth and humanity. The end is all but inevitable. At least they have figured out a way to avoid it. Dystopian setting established in the opening setting. […] We could see the nearest part of the Archway: a cloud-colored vertical line that rose from the horizon and vanished… What was it made of, and how did it do what it did?” (1-2) Indistinguishable magic. Archway is that full dimensions, complete shape. Beyond total comprehension. One part to the other. Only get a fraction of it that is seen. Tyler’s pov. From this point, will this questions will be answered? Certain extent answered later. Opening chapters, several means, different from another world. Primary point of view, enframing, rational and scientifical perspective. Technology has a specific way of make sense and give meaning to the world. Kind of framing that is important to note. How strange things are slowly being made sense of this world. Wilson seems to be most concerned about in the novel is how people respond to what has happened. How they react to certainty of end of the world. How Wilson explores and pays attention to different forms. Key ones are science and religion in the novel. Darko Suvin’s “Cognitive Estrangement” Darko Suvin, “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre,” College English 34 (Dec. 1972): 372-82 In the following paper, I shall argue for a definition of SF as the literature of cognitive estrangement. (372) Trying to explain what science fiction does. Identify how science fiction works, ideologically and aesthetically works. Thus SF takes off from a fiction (“literary”) hypothesis and develops it with extrapolating and totalizing (“scientific”) rigor…
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