‘Territories Of Risk’ within ‘Tropological Space’: From Zero to 2666, and back
(2015) Fear and Fantasy in a Global World, 81, pp. 55-73.
The essay examines the subversive treatment of discourses of fear and anxiety on both local and global scales to which they are subjected within what Michel Foucault has described as the “tropological space” of literature. The two case studies under focus are Ignacio de Loyola Brandão’s 1979 novel Zero and Roberto Bolaño’s 2004 novel 2666. Brandão’s fictitiously journalistic narrative of a complex discursive collage subverts the hypocrisy of some of the official political discourses of the 1970s Brazilian dictatorship, while Bolaño’s epically broad narrative revolves around Ciudad Juárez, the scene of some of the most terrifying, yet continuously silenced, crimes of post-World War II history. The essay hopes to demonstrate that although incapable of competing with social sciences in their analytic depth and methodological breadth, literature engaging with evil, violence, fear and fantasy can aspire to enrich their viewpoints in two broadly conceived fashions: in staging the problematic nature of writing and writability, and in calling attention to the medium through which any such writing must take place. Ugliness, shapelessness and repulsiveness are no longer the concerns of aesthetic novelty, but the very condition of writing that takes its task (of an ethical engagement with the complex present) seriously. © 2015 by Koninklijke Brill nv, Leiden, The Netherlands. All rights reserved.