Contradictions and Heterogeneities in the Epistemes of Salt Water Joint Annual Conference of GAPS and IACPL 30 May-2 June 2019, University of Bremen
Photo: Sonia Bejarano, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)
Lucretian Slime, (Post-)Colonial Fluid Parcels and Subalterity in Science Fictions of the Deep Sea
By exemplarily looking at William Hope Hodgson’s Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907), John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes (1953) and Peter Watts’ Starfish (1999), this paper examines the relationship between the literary form in deep-sea fiction and its isomorphic forms of knowledge in the marine and biological sciences. I am especially interested in understanding how deep-sea science fictions use the tropes of both the gothic and the monstrous as well as Darwinian science to model (post-)epistemological confrontations and interactions with (post-)colonial hydro-environments – environments that geographers Kimberly Peters and Philip Steinberg describe as a “world of flows, connections, liquidities, and becomings” and whose dynamic force and complexity require a robust set of ‘wet ontologies’ that can serve as “a means by which the sea’s material and phenomenological distinctiveness can facilitate the reimagining and re-enlivening of a world ever on the move” (Steinberg/Peters 2015). The Peters/Steinbergian set of wet ontologies is clearly influenced by Lucretius’ theory of material currents or flows. With ‘Lucretian slime,’ I, therefore, want to foreground the dynamic and folding motions of water and it's supposedly monstrous, slimy materials as integral to both creating a literary wet ontology and to thinking through and with the ocean in deep-sea fiction. My aim in this article is to demonstrate the affinities of deep-sea fiction with the critical framework of ‘wet ontologies’ and Lagrangian ideas of ‘fluid parcels’, and to show how these texts offer specific (post)epistemic mechanisms for conceptualising the relations between (post-)colonial and post-humanist thought in non-terrestrial and thus highly subaltern modes.