Radical Juxtaposition: Troubling the Gaze

Last year I began a dark ecology reading of Sam Delany’s novel Trouble on Triton using the techniques from Ecology Without Nature by Timothy Morton. In the first part I asked, What poetics does Delany deploy to describe the environment? ? Next, I considered two other readings of the novel that are interested in content and form, and I compared them with a dark ecology reading. Now I am into the third section that asks:

What does this novel make possible/impossible today? ?

Two concepts emerge from Morton’s politicizing of dark ecology: radical juxtaposition and radical kitsch. First, I will consider the technique of radical juxtaposition, which Morton identifies as a method of criticism and an artistic practice favored by the avant-garde. Radical juxtaposition doesn’t just contrast content but also plays with form and subject position (p.143). It is disconcerting, because it troubles the gaze.

Frame tales, for example, call into question content, form, and subject position by problematizing the seemingly straightforward questions: What is the story, and who is the author? Likewise, […]