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Ecopoetic Knowledge and Text: Self-Reflexivity, Relational Landscape and Metaleptic “Epistemontology” in Alexis Wright's The Swan Book

ContributorsBarras, Arnaud
Presented atASLE-UKI: Green Knowledge, University of Cambridge (UK), September
Publication date2015

The knowledge of one's surroundings is not fixed in time, but rather consists in a constantly evolving set of propositions (scientific, social, cultural, legal, etc.) and experiences (including emotions, perceptions, actions, and imaginations) that are updated through trial and error. An individual's ecological knowledge is idiosyncratic; it arises from a unique four-dimensional interaction between the organism and its sociocultural and physical environment. On a societal level, transforming this incommensurable epistemic body is incredibly arduous. However, the literary medium has the potential to convey a form of knowledge that moves beyond individualism: literary narratives have the ability to aestheticize nonlinear, dynamic and complex systems and to immerse readers in a fictional world. In the Australian Aboriginal episteme, knowledge (experiential or linguistic) and art (plastic, graphic, or performance) are ecological: in one way or another, they always refer to the matrix of interdependence and intersubjectivity of Country. In this essay, I argue that Alexis Wright's The Swan Book dramatizes an indigenous ecopoetic way of knowing that reveals to the reader the enmeshment of organism and environment and that invites the reader to reconsider the notion of Text as an ecological process. Through self-reflexivity, relational landscapes, and a metaleptic "epistemontology" (i.e., a neologism that underscores the indivisibility of knowing and being), The Swan Book enables readers to adjust their knowledge system and adopt what Gregory Bateson, Tim Ingold and Ted Toadvine have respectively called a "systemic view", a "dwelling perspective" and an "ecophenomenological understanding".

  • Epistemology
  • Ontology
  • Ecopoetics
  • Aboriginal literature
  • Metafiction
  • Landscape
  • Environment
  • Ecology
  • Country
  • Knowledge
  • System
  • Dwelling
  • Ecophenomenology
  • Phenomenology
Citation (ISO format)
BARRAS, Arnaud. Ecopoetic Knowledge and Text: Self-Reflexivity, Relational Landscape and Metaleptic “Epistemontology” in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book. In: ASLE-UKI: Green Knowledge. University of Cambridge (UK). 2015.
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  • PID : unige:75392

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