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Contaminations"Beyond Dialectics in Modern Literature, Science and Film"$
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Michael Mack

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411363

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411363.001.0001

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Introduction: Climate Change and the Contamination of the Anthropocene

Introduction: Climate Change and the Contamination of the Anthropocene

(p.1) Introduction: Climate Change and the Contamination of the Anthropocene

Michael Mack

Edinburgh University Press

Introduces the figure of Contamination as an alternative to dialectics. Challenging various concepts of purity, Contaminations enables us to recognise the simultaneity of catastrophe and hope, of anxiety and grace. It develops the figure of contamination through a close reading of Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom. Analyses how the satirical irony of Freedom operates at the level of incongruity: Walter Berglund’s moralistic stance fighting the evil of the Anthropocene (humanity’s overpopulation) clashes with the ruthlessness of his actions (colliding with the interests the coal industry). Walter separates society from nature, playing off the latter against the former. Walter thus creates a notion of nature as pure entity which he opposes to the pollutions caused by humanity. The human induced destruction of our planet dialectically ensures the triumph of the positive after ecological collapse. In dialectical manner ‘collapse’ morphs into ‘a window of opportunity’. Walter’ environmental activism actually supports the destruction of the environment: he campaigns for the mining of coal (in order preserve a bird species). In search for the positive we delude ourselves about what is truly harmful. Walter Berglund evaporates his own sense of freedom by dialectically turning the negative into the positive: by spinning ecological collapse into opportunities for preservation.

Keywords:   Immunity, Anthropocene, Entanglement, Dialectics, Jonathan Franzen, Dipesh Chakrabarty, R. Esposito, Karen Barad, Nancy Cartwright, Franzen’s Novel Freedom

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