'Between Consciousness and Cosmos': Quantum Thought, Postmodernist Poetics, and Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics
Stang, Heather A
Maloney, Edward J
Using Jean-François Lyotard's designation that the term `postmodern' refers to "the state of our culture, following the transformations which, since the end of the nineteenth century, have altered the game rules for science, literature, and the arts" (xxiii), this thesis endeavors to demonstrate that the scientific revolution incited by the formulation of quantum theory in the early twentieth century contributed to this distinctly postmodern cultural transformation. More specifically, I conclude that quantum discoveries had multidirectional effects on postmodern culture that manifest ontologically in postmodernist poetics. Using three quantum principles--quantum probability, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and temporal relativity--along with Brian McHale's understanding of postmodernist poetics, I illustrate the way that both quantum mechanics and postmodernist literature foreground issues of ontology. I use this relationary lens to examine a quantum presence in Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. Calvino's account of the history of the universe via the rambling narrator, Qfwfq, emphasizes the tense relationship between scientific and phenomenological realities that quantum principles uncovered. Cosmicomics ultimately assumes a mythological form to relay a sense of truth in a time wherein the quantum revolution was proving science incapable of satisfying the innate human desire to fully understand the world around them.
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Franco, Marie W. (Georgetown University, 2013)This thesis identifies representations of sadomasochism in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow as queer narratives that model the relation between Pynchon's postmodernist poetics and queer sexual practices. I employ a queer ...