Postmodernist Fiction by Brian McHale. Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format. POSTMODERNIST FICTION POSTMODERNIST FICTION Brian McHale London Master e-book ISBN ISBN (Adobe eReader. In this trenchant and lively study Brian McHale undertakes to construct a version of postmodernist fiction which encompasses forms as wide-ranging as North.

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Read "Postmodernist Fiction" by Brian McHale available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. In this trenchant and lively study . Read Postmodernist Fiction book reviews & author details and more at Echo & Alexa Fire TV Stick site E-Readers & eBooks site Prime .. In this trenchant and lively study Brian McHale undertakes to construct a version of postmodernist fiction Get your site here, or download a FREE site Reading App. Postmodernist Fiction [Brian Mchale] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In this trenchant and lively study Brian McHale undertakes to.

Postmodernist Experimentalism 6.

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Lettrism and Situationism Tyrus Miller 9. Metafiction Ralph Berry Experiments with Identity The New Experimentalism Avant-Pop Lance Olsen Post-postmodernism Robert L. McLaughlin Globalization and Transnationalism Liam Connell Altermodernist Fiction Alison Gibbons Manifestos and Ars Poetica Laura Winkiel Post-criticism: Conceptual Takes Gregory L. Experiments with Language Concrete Poetry and Prose Joe Bray Words in Visual Art Jessica Prinz Experiments with Narrative and Fiction Impossible Worlds Marie-Laure Ryan Experimental Life Writing Irene Kacandes Experiments with Form and Design There are, indeed, historical as well as thematic parallels between the popular and the avant-garde genre.

The origins of both genres lie in the first decades of the 20th century. What H. Wells is for science fiction, Joyce, Beckett, or Kafka are for the postmodernists. The development of postmodernism and science fiction as literary genres, however, takes place after World War II, and mainly in the United States.

Both genres reflect the cultural change that was later to be called postmodernism, marked by multinational capitalism, the increasing importance of global communication and information, or the blurring of boundaries between all binary oppositions.

Thus science fiction and postmodernist literature share their themes, since they are both children of their age. As the culture of postmodernism progresses and the boundary between high and low art vanishes, postmodernist authors such as Thomas Pynchon write science fiction, or science fiction writers such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

While postmodernist literature often tries to reflect the discontinuous structure of the culture from which it emerges in its narrative form, the science-fiction genre has an innate thematic interest in the said cultural changes, for many of these arise from scientific and technological revolutions. SF has an advantage over most other disciplines in that is has had something like a theory of postmodernism ingrained in its futurism for many years.

Csicsery-Ronay Thus if life imitates art in the postmodernist age, its model is science fiction. In Brian McHale's definition, the defining characteristic of both postmodernist literature 10 and science fiction 59 is that they are governed by an ontological dominant. That is, their main theme is the discussion of the basic condition of existence, whereas modernism's main interest lies in epistemology, the condition of knowledge McHale In science fiction, the dominance of the ontological theme is apparent, since it is one of the genre's defining features that it always creates new worlds, be they distant planets, the near of far future, the past, or even an alternate present.

In other words, "Science Fiction inevitably redefines reality" Hunt Science-fiction novels and stories typically describe conditions of beings which are similar to the readers, even though they may be aliens, cyborgs, or androids. However, it is an important premise of this paper that the discussion of ontology in these texts do not correspond to an attempt to foretell future conditions of the subject.

They are rather figurations of the ontology of the present moment. Hence Brian Aldiss' definition of science fiction does not refer to the future, but to the present. Science Fiction is the search for a definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge science Aldiss, Spree 8 [2] When Philip K.

Dick writes "I never could make out the future too well", "Schizophrenia" he knows that his talent is to grasp the present. However, he uses the planets, futures, and alternate presents of the fantastic genre in order to express how much, already in his present, the ontology of the real world has been challenged.

In fact, Rosemary Jackson takes such a challenge to be a defining characteristic of the fantastic genre, to which science fiction belongs. Presenting that which cannot be, but is, fantasy exposes a culture's definitions of that which can be: it traces the limits of its epistemological and ontological frame.

Jackson 23 Philip K. Dick's science fiction not only traces, but stretches the ontological limits of American post-war culture. It is the aim of this paper to investigate these ontological experiments and compare them to the reality of postmodernist culture. In any discussion of ontology, two elements and their relation to each other must be examined, i.

I have thus divided my paper into two large parts — the first examining Dick's fictional worlds, the second his characters. At the same time, the two parts also represent the examination of the two main themes Dick identifies in the quotation heading this paper: 'What is reality? Each part contains three chapters.

The first chapter focuses on Dick's novel Ubik and the ways in which the stability of the world described in this and other texts is deliberately undermined. After this discussion of Dickian space, the second chapter will examine Dickian time — more specifically Dick's use of historicity in texts such as Time Out of Joint.

I will conclude the first part of this paper with an investigation of the processes of meaning-production in the Dickian corpus, specifically Dick's preference for allegory and metafiction in his story "Small World" and the novels The Man in the High Castle and A Maze of Death. This will result in a tentative conclusion on Philip K. Dick's poetics, or, in other words, the ontology of his texts.

In the second part of my paper, as I have mentioned, I will concentrate on the position of Dick's characters in the worlds described in the first part. Chapter four will delineate some guidelines of how the often-quoted 'death of the subject' is immanent in the Dickian corpus. My discussion of the novels Eye in the Sky and A Scanner Darkly will demonstrate how these texts consistently dissolve the boundaries between self and world, and between self and other.

The final two chapters will correlate this fluidity of selves with two forms of mental illness which figure dominantly in Philip K.

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Dick's texts. Firstly, chapter five will trace Dick's portrayal of schizophrenia as the process of a subject succumbing to a discontinuous world.

The quintessential text on schizophrenia is Martian Time-Slip. Secondly, the sixth chapter will describe a reaction against the multiplicity of the subject's world, expressed in the form of paranoia.

This chapter will mainly discuss Dick's early short fiction, focusing on the story "Impostor". Finally, my conclusion will present the essentials of Dickian ontology based on the findings of this paper and discuss its relevance to the contemporary reader. This paper aims to discuss features which are relevant to Philip K.

Dick's entire body of work. On the one hand, this is an endeavor suggested by the texts themselves, for their interconnectedness and the reoccurrence of themes are obvious.

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All his novels are one novel, elegant, surprising, Aldiss, "Web" On the other hand, due to the sheer size of the Dickian corpus, it is not possible to discuss more than just a few selected novels and stories in a paper of this size. Anton counts 52 novels - eight of these unpublished, two lost - and short stories.

Thus, the texts for any study of Dick's writing must be carefully chosen. I have selected the texts to be discussed on the basis of several criteria. Firstly, I have excluded Philip K. Dick's mainstream novels, i. Most of Dick's realist novels have not been published until after his death, and have never attained the success of his science-fiction works.

This is partly due to the fact that, as I will argue in this paper, Philip K. Dick's particular talent was the poetic transformation of his world, culture, and reality into science-fiction allegories, and not the realistic portrayal of any actual social reality.

It is this transformation that will be discussed in this paper. In other words, my particular interest was to show that Dick managed to be the more relevant to the contemporary moment, the crazier his science-fiction metaphors and allegories were. Although the science-fictional nature of works such as The Man in the High Castle or A Scanner Darkly could be doubted, it will become clear in my paper that, even if the science-fiction elements in these texts are scarce, they are always part of the fundamental structure of these works.

These represent the literary reworking of Dick's mystical events in March ,[3] when, as Dick said, he experienced an "invasion of [his] mind by a transcendentally rational mind" Sutin, Exegesis xviii. This alleged theophany has led to a radical reinterpretation of Dick's texts, in the VALIS trilogy itself as well as in critical works and Dick's non-fiction.

It would be interesting to investigate the nature of this reinterpretation, and show how much Dick's portrayal of and exegetic meandering on the event resemble the narrative strategies of his earlier novels. However, it is clearly necessary to discuss the ontology of Dick's text before such an investigation. An essential criterion for a selection of Dick's texts is their diverging quality. Some texts have obviously been written only for the little money they yielded, and can be considered hack-work.

Unfortunately, some critics have judged many of Dick's works too rashly, which has led to their exclusion from the quickly built canon. Hence novels such as Time Out of Joint or Eye in the Sky are regularly underestimated, and hardly ever thought worthy of critical discussion.

In Robinson's opinion, it can be said that Dick saved his fullest writing efforts for the projects that he felt most deserved them, slighting the lesser projects to save needed time. Robinson 78 Hence, bearing in mind the danger of canonization or re-canonization, I have chosen, based on critical agreement and my own judgment, not only the most typical, but also some of the best novels by Philip K.

Dick for my discussion. Moreover, while the novels are investigated more thoroughly, I will also examine a number of short stories. It will become obvious that, in Dick's early short fiction, ideas and themes are suggested which are developed and combined in his novels. However, since most of Dick's novels are overloaded with interwoven ideas, it is often useful to first isolate the kernel of a theme in a short story.

The critical material at my disposition was not quite as prolific as Philip K. Dick's literary output. Moreover, most of the earlier critical readings of his texts were, first and foremost, attempts to structure the Dick corpus. Firstly, many early essays on Dick, e. I think it's the worst news a writer can get, that he did his best work fifteen years ago, and is obviously never going to do anything good again as long as he lives.

Dick in Rickman, Words 82 [5] Apart from inspiring some despair in the author, these quality judgments also led to the process of quick canon-building I have referred to above.

Warrick, while they did not always agree with earlier quality judgments, further strengthened this canon by periodizing Dick's work, not without suggesting that some periods are more valuable than others. Furthermore, Warrick in particular short-circuited these tentative writing periods with Dick's biography, basically allotting a period to each of his five ex-wives. Another endeavor that is encountered in these critical writings is Dick's elevation as an author.

In order to free him from the connotation of cheap pulp fiction and hack writing associated with the science-fiction genre, Dick is thus compared to critically acclaimed and accepted authors.

Ursula K. LeGuin, for instance, has called Dick "our own homegrown Borges," which is quoted as a cover blurb on the Vintage edition of Dick's novels. While a comparison of Dick with authors outside the field of sf is interesting, many critics are content with mere name-dropping in order to legitimate their studying popular fiction. It will become obvious in my discussion that the aim of this paper is neither to prove that Philip K. Dick is a postmodernist author nor that his texts are as good as those of Pynchon or Barth.

Instead, theories of postmodernism - in my case those by Jameson, Baudrillard , and McHale — will provide a helpful framework for my investigation of Dick's worlds and subjects. Furthermore, the parallels between Dick's texts and the fundamentals of postmodern culture as described in these theories will reveal some evidence for the specific relevance of the Dickian corpus for the contemporary reader.

Iridescent Worlds: Ubik I like to build universes that do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. Dick's work, Darko Suvin detected a "serious loss of narrative control in Ubik" While for Suvin this is clearly a failure on the part of the author, postmodernist critics such as Brian McHale or Scott Bukatman interpret the novel's lack of coherence as an integral part of its structure.

Paradox and oxymoron lie at the bottom of Ubik.

The text uses these elements, among others, to deconstruct the narrative coherence traditional critics like Suvin expect. Yet the result of these undermining tendencies is not a void, but a different kind of fictional space, described by Brian McHale as a 'zone'. McHale 45 The result of this deconstruction is an unstable, rather than confused, narrative, depicting an equally unstable world.

The point where, according to Suvin, Dick has lost his narrative control is easily found. In the middle of chapter 6 67 , a bomb explodes. Before this, the novel presents a futuristic world which is admittedly wild, but still operates within the boundaries of 'coherent' science fiction.

As is typical for the genre, the world Dick constructs is different from our reading present, and yet mirrors its most important structures and mechanisms. Most importantly, the pre-bomb world of Ubik presents the dynamics of multinational capitalism - as do many of Dick's earlier novels. In the world of the first five chapters of the novel, two huge multinational corporations work in opposing fields.

The Hollis Corporation provides telepaths and precogs for other companies,[7] which use these mostly for industrial espionage. On the other hand, the Prudence Organisations, most prominently Runciter Associates, have so-called inertials for hire, psychics who counteract telepaths and precogs rendering them ineffective. Hence these corporations live on the economic competition of other companies — the very nature of capitalism is their source of income.

Furthermore, since the two companies nullify each other's effect, they continually recreate their respective markets. However, there is an element of transcendence that at first glance seems to run counter to this dominance of the economic.

There is in the sf-nineties of Ubik an artificially induced state of life after death, or rather life-in-death, called half-life. Half-life is often referred to in religious terms: its followers, the "faithfuls" even celebrate a new holiday: "Resurrection Day" Even a hard-boiled business tycoon like Glen Runciter admits to the spirituality of half-life: "the half-life experience was real and it had made theologians out of all of them" The personality of a young boy, Jory, supercedes Ella and talks to Runciter instead of her.

The owner of the half-life "moratorium" explains that "[a]fter prolonged proximity An identity is suddenly superimposed onto another, one person fades out, another fades in — this outrageous process becomes regular for objects as well as subjects after the bomb-blast in Ubik. Even if the element of half-life introduces superimposition, paradox and oxymoron — "I'll consult my dead wife" — into the world of the novel, it is in itself a part of its capitalist structure.

Already in the first chapter of Ubik, Glen Runciter states that operating a moratorium is "a profitable business" Evidently, half-life is a privilege of the wealthy, and it is certainly no coincidence that Ella Runciter is kept in cold-pack as a consultant executive manager of Runciter Associates. Half-lifers are often judged according to their "functioning" , , , their ability of still being "cranked up" In chapter six, Philip K.

Dick literally explodes this seemingly stable fictional world. Taking a "business opportunity" that "happens once in a lifetime" , Runciter leads a team of inertials to the moon.

They think they are being hired by Stanton Mick, an important businessman who plans to speculate with real estate on the moon. Significantly, the novel's protagonist, Joe Chip, describes Mick in oxymoronic terms: "the loudest noise The man, however, turns out the be a "self-destruct humanoid bomb" With a man who is not what he seems starts a narrative which is not what it seems. After the blast, which seemingly kills Glen Runciter, a process of destabilization begins.

At first, mainly objects are affected. The characters are confronted with dry cigarettes, a two-year-old phone book, sour cream, stale coffee and a "brand new tape recorder, completely worn out" :[12] commodities originating from their stable world which now all of a sudden display signs of old age and decay. Soon, characters are affected as well. The inertial Wendy Wright at first feels old, yet shortly after that not only dies, but becomes a "huddled heap, dehydrated, almost mummified" While one character after the other suffers Wendy's fate, the decay of objects turns into regression.

Money, the essential element sustaining the capitalist world of the first five chapters of Ubik, does not grow stale but obsolete. A coin Joe Chip carries in his wallet turns out to be 40 years old, of merely numismatic interest. Moreover, the tape-recorder referred to above it not just worn out, "it's forty years obsolete" Objects revert to earlier forms, rather than growing old.

The TV set had receded back a long way; he [Joe Chip] found himself confronted by a dark, wood-cabinet, Atwater-Kent tuned radio-frequency oldtime AM radio, complete with antenna and ground wires. Chip refers to this process as regression, devolution, recession or reversion. Dick, in a speech a few years after the completion of Ubik, interprets this as "a motion along a retrograde entropic axis, in terms of Platonic forms rather than any decay or reversion we normally conceive" "If You Find" The Platonic concept of the world of ideas is already quoted in the novel itself.

Prior forms, he reflected, must carry on an invisible, residual life in every object. The past is latent, is submerged, but still there, capable of rising to the surface once the later imprinting unfortunately — and against ordinary experience — vanished.

Objects soon begin to fade in and out of existence, similar to Jory's superimposing himself on Ella Runciter. He [Al Hammond] ceased talking.

Because the elderly clanking contraption had dimmed, and, in its place, the familiar elevator resumed its existence. And yet he sensed the presence of the other, older elevator; it lurked at the periphery of his vision, as if ready to ebb forward as soon as he and Joe turned their attention away. A shimmer, an unsteadiness, as if the building faded forward into stability and then retreated into insubstantial uncertainty.

An oscillation, each phase lasting a few seconds and then blurring off into its opposite, a fairly regular variability as if an organic pulsation underlay the structure. This closely resembles Roman Ingarden's notion of iridescence and opalescence McHale quotes.

Ambiguous sentences may project ambiguous objects, objects which are not temporarily but permanently and irresolvably ambiguous. This is not a matter, in other words, of choosing between alternative states of affairs, but rather of an ontological oscillation, a flickering effect, or, to use Ingarden's own metaphor, an effect of "iridescence" or "opalescence.

Language, for instance, is also affected, as an obsolete term suddenly resurfaces in Joe Chip's mind Moreover, even characters fade in and out of existence. Near the end of the novel, there is an event closely mirroring the superimposition of characters in half-life described in the second chapter.

It is again Jory who surfaces on the inertial Don Denny He then says that he has taken on other identities, such as Bill and Matt, who have appeared in some of the inertials' dreams , and confesses that he has 'eaten' all the other characters who died such horrible deaths.

Hence Jory's identity seems to have permeated almost all the other subjects in this world, taking advantage of, and destroying them.

It is no surprise, then, that the characters in the novel feel threatened by the unstable and iridescent quality of their world. Continually, they try to interpret their ontological situation, to draw some coherence, and hence stability, out of their perceptions. This quest mirrors that of the reader. Every reader of Ubik becomes engaged, just like its characters, in the struggle to create a coherent explanation for the events of the narrative, and like the characters every reader is eventually defeated.

Robinson 97 At first, the characters' explanations remain in the scientific realm, as can be expected in a science-fiction novel. The blast of the humanoid H-bomb, Joe Chip considers, could have led to Wendy's death and the staleness of his cigarettes Yet already the two-year old phone book contradicts this theory. Then, different conspiracy theories come into play. In the beginning, these are rather vague, imagining an evil 'they'. It's as if, he [Joe Chip] thought, some malicious force is playing with us, letting us scamper and twitter like debrained mice.

During Chip's agonizing climb up the hotel stairs in Des Moines, Pat even confesses to her infiltrating Runciter Associates as a spy of the Hollis Corporation.

She actually thinks she is responsible for the process of regression as well as the death of the other inertials. And yet she dies shortly after her confession. The one interpretation that appears again and again is that the whole situation is actually inverted, i.A shimmer, an unsteadiness, as if the building faded forward into stability and then retreated into insubstantial uncertainty.

Soon, characters are affected as well. Fowles and Johnson are typical of these writers as are British contemporaries such as Angela Carter and J. Altermodernist Fiction Alison Gibbons Postmodernist fiction has brought the author back to the surface.

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