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Modernism and Time Machines$
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Charles M. Tung

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474431330

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474431330.001.0001

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The Heterochronic Past and Sidewise Historicity: T. S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso and Murray Leinster

The Heterochronic Past and Sidewise Historicity: T. S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso and Murray Leinster

Chapter:
(p.35) 1 The Heterochronic Past and Sidewise Historicity: T. S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso and Murray Leinster
Source:
Modernism and Time Machines
Author(s):

Charles M. Tung

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474431330.003.0002

At the beginning of the twentieth century, primitivism and paleomodernism appeared to reflect primarily those conditions out of which both modernism and SF have been shown to emerge: evolutionary and imperial conceptions of history. Modernism’s complex engagement with late-nineteenth-century time culture went beyond a simple turn toward the past and produced alternative conceptions of time and history. This chapter explores the idea of heterochrony derived from evolutionary biology’s knowledge of the body’s hodgepodge of disjunctive timings and times in order to reexamine two canonical orientations toward the past—Eliot’s tradition and Picasso’s primitivism. Drawing a connection with Murray Leinster’s “Sidewise in Time” (1934), which features a jumbled and patchwork geography comprising a “Post-Cambrian jungle left in eastern Tennessee,” a Russian Alaska and California, and preindustrial Chinese settlements around the Potomac, this chapter reconfigures modernist “pastism” against the notion of a single, progressive, evolutionary history justifying racist imperial schemes, as well as the shallowing of time by capitalist space-time compression.

Keywords:   Heterochrony, historicity, Eliot, tradition, Picasso, primitivism, Leinster, alternate history

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