Feeling-things: an ethics of object-oriented ontology in the magic realism of Murakami Haruki and Don DeLillo

Chin, Gabriel Patrick Wei-Hao (2020) Feeling-things: an ethics of object-oriented ontology in the magic realism of Murakami Haruki and Don DeLillo. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis studies the writers Don DeLillo and Murakami Haruki in conjunction with the philosophical field known Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO). I argue that all three are united under the figure of Magic Realism, which I read through the critic Franz Roh, who first coined the term. Magic Realism in this frame is centred upon representing the persistence of discrete and finite objects and things in spite of a background of flux which seeks to engulf them. OOO shares this philosophical concern in arguing that objects are the central constituent of reality. I hold that the writing of DeLillo and Murakami mobilises these concerns in an ethical response to the overwhelming forces of late-stage capitalism, which is the totalising force par excellence when it comes to reducing independent and discrete entities to mere parts or useful energy within a system. This project reads these writers through the affects of anxiety, humour, and charm, and the lens of everyday life to extract an ethical response to the age of anthropogenic forces in a non-anthropocentric frame, a response to the non-human other based on the basic contention that no entity holds a privileged position in the universe of things. My methodology remains within the realm of literary close-reading, but with the added caveat that, in the spirit of objects, it does not pursue any great investment in authorial intention or author biography as part of the function of the literary text as an object in its own right. This work concludes that a proper ethical position, on the level of an everyday affective stance, requires a vulnerable commitment to being amongst things, to abandon any aspiration to a limitless or unbound free-floating freedom, and to believe in changing the world by living from it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania > PL0501 Japanese language and literature > PL0784 Individual authors and works > PL0844 Shōwa period, 1945-1989 > PL0856.U673 Murakami, Haruki, 1949-
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0045 Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics > PN0045.5 Relation to and treatment of special elements, problems, and subjects > PN0056.A-Z Other special. Topics A-Z > PN0056.M24 Magic realism
P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0700 Individual authors > PS3550 1961-2000 > PS3554.E4425 DeLillo, Don
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2020 09:37
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2020 09:37
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/92823

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