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Literary Theory

Personal: The small, private familiarity of being hit by a freshness of Sweet Pea fragrance again. They were planted late, yet bloomed early.

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Idea: The Toppling of Edward Colston; a sea-shanty set in the fine tradition of political folk songs.

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Idea: Everyone knows the Bechdel-Wallace Test, right? I wonder if, in our current age of the Anthropocene, with the rise of cli-fi and eco-fiction, we could propose a similar ‘Eco Test’…?

eg. Is there any moment, scene, or setting in this book/play/movie/comic where the natural or non-human world exists not just as a plot device, deus ex machina, or as emotional background for the human characters? For example: Why isn’t the environment of the characters (the landscape they might be traveling through) a central character in it’s own right? Is it possible to write a story where the human protagonists exist in equal relation, and with equal prominence, to the non-human?

examples: Overstory by Richard Powers.

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Question: Are literary devices (points-of-view, allegory, pathos and bathos, Chekov’s Gun, flashbacks; flash-forwards; irony; synecdoche; reliability etc blah) tools in the sense that they are made-up conjurer’s tricks? Or do they describe reality?

As writers, artists, we are trying to express, display, explore something that exists, right? Even if it just a feeling, even if it is set on the blood-plains of Mars. It’s the reality of a feeling where all the juicy story nutrition comes from… It is the empathy we can encourage for characters and stories outside our own, r/t, first-person point-of-view.

So… In real life, it is not a host of ‘plot instances’ (I get that job, that lucky/unlucky thing happens to me) that form the bulk of our story. Instead, our daily motivations and actions seem just as comprised by other important, plot-defining things that don’t often get mentioned: half-remembered dreams; fragments of poetry; songs on the radio that wont go away; daydreams (or flash-forwards?); gut-reactions and subconscious instincts; premonitions and anticipations; ruminations and private dreads; things left unsaid; anxieties and sudden moments of satori…

How do we put all of that stuff into the literature of the future?

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Miéville Reader Thoughts

To continue where we left off [a post a day? I apologise to my singular Googlebot for all the extra work] we can talk about some of the threads that run through China’s work.

A Critique of Modernity

Especially true for TC&C, Last Days of New Paris, and the Bas-Lag series. Modernity can be simplified as everything that happened from the Enlightenment onwards; the Industrial Revolution, mass production and consumption, the ascent of materialist science and secular society. It’s usually valorized as a ‘victory of Reason’ over our supposed superstitious and feudal past. It has many critics however, and to this list I would add a large chunk of China Miéville’s books.

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