Sharing Worlds through Words: Minor Cosmopolitics in Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being

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Abstract

Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being (2013) responds to the radical global interconnectedness of today's world. I coin the term "minor cosmopolitics" and explain its indebtedness to as well as differentiation from "minority cosmopolitism" and "minor transnationalism" to explore the world-making potentials of minoritized individuals and the minor dimension of cosmopolitics in this novel. If we look at the relationship between the novel's two protagonists, Ruth and Nao, as that between a reader and a writer, we see how energy and matter on a small scale, in particular the energy and matter embedded in the words used in literary writing and reading, can actively engage with a scale as large as the world. Specifically, A Tale for the Time Being draws on quantum mechanics as a trope and sees words as quantum particles that illuminate the plasticity and multiplicity of space and time. Instead of aiming at a position of transcendence over the world, the novel tests out the possibilities of delivering, through words, worlds out of historical ignorance and amnesia, based on the quantum rules of randomness and undecidability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-52
Number of pages26
JournalAriel
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan

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