Here and Now, Then and There: Past, Present, and Future in the Tree of History
This thesis is a creative/critical project with an essay and footnote structure designed to frame my long sequence of novels, collectively titled The Sophist Chronicles, and more specifically my current novel-in-progress, Second Exodus, in an exploration of the complicated, multivalent, interdependent relationship between past, present, and future. The projects are an effort to dispel notions of history as past, something which is over and done with rather than occurring around us at all times, a recognition that allows for a more conscious and conscientious personal and collective engagement between the people and peoples of the world. To carry out this work, I turn to speculative fiction as a narrative mode that bears the capacity to affectively orient readers in the position of living within the process of historical formation rather than outside of it. I draw on theorists and critics—including Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Édouard Glissant, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Gayatri Spivak—as well as my own fiction, using a traditional academic apparatus to compose a running commentary on the speculative narrative and history-as-process, and how this mode of fiction and my own work narrativizes such theoretical and philosophical concepts. Charting a reflexive, discursive inquiry into these subjects, I engage in a kind of meta-reflection that orbits between creative and critical, body and paratext, between what I intend either one to achieve and where I feel that they (and I) failed at achieving it, but using that “failure” as a space of generative discourse for reaching a greater empathetic appreciation for the capacity of each individual to be an historical agent, affecting and effecting the future for the diverse multitudes of humanity.