martes, 6 de diciembre de 2011

#9. Ciencia-ficción. Artículo de Joanna Russ

¡Y hasta tres mujeres seguidas! De hecho se me está ocurriendo buscar algún artículo de Hollinger y que sean cuatro.

En cualquier caso, como Russ murió este año, no quería salir de 2011 sin haber enlazado algo suyo.

Joanna Russ (1975). Towards an aesthetic of science fiction. Science Fiction Studies 2(2), 112-119.

Algunos fragmentos:

Is science fiction literature?
Can it be judged by the usual literary criteria?

(...) Not only do academic critics find themselves imprisoned by habitual (and unreflecting) condescension in dealing with this particular genre; quite often their critical tools, however finely honed, are simply not applicable to a body of work that—despite its superficial resemblance to realistic or naturalistic twentieth-century fiction—is fundamentally a drastically different form of literary art.

Often critics may use their knowledge of the recurrent and important themes of Western culture to misperceive what is actually in a science fiction story. For example, recognizable themes or patterns of imagery can be insisted on far beyond their actual importance in the work simply because they are familiar to the critic. Or the symbolic importance of certain material can be mis-read because the significance of the material in the cultural tradition science fiction comes from (which is overwhelmingly that of science, not literature) is simply not known to the critic.

A third example of ways science fiction can be mis-read can be provided by Hal Clement's novel, Close to Critical. The story treats of an alien species inhabiting a planet much like Jupiter. Some psychoanalytic critic, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, once treated material like this (the story was, I think, Milton Rothman's "Heavy Planet") as psychoneurotic, i.e. the projection of repressed infantile fears. (...) In such a view Close to Critical is merely nightmarish. But to decide this is to ignore the evidence. (...) The final effect of the novel is exactly the opposite of nightmare; it is affectionate familiarity. The Jovian-like world is a real world. One understands and appreciates it. It is, to its inhabitants, no worse and no better than our own.

If the critic believes that scientific truth is unreal, or irrelevant to his (the critic's) business, then science fiction becomes only a series of very odd metaphors for "the human condition" (which is taken to be different from or unconnected to any scientific truths about the universe). Why should an artist draw metaphors from such a peculiar and totally extra-literary source? Especially when there are so many more intelligent (and intelligible) statements of the human condition which already exist—in our (non-science-fiction) literary tradition?

Despite its ultra-American, individualistic muscle-flexing, science fiction (largely American in origins and influence) is nonetheless collective in outlook, didactic, materialist, and paradoxically often intensely religious or mystical. Such a cluster of traits reminds one not only of medieval culture, but, possibly, of tendencies in our own, post-industrial culture. (...)

Science fiction is the only modern literature to take work as its central and characteristic concern.

Except for some modern fantasy (e.g. the novels of Charles Williams) science fiction is the only kind of modern narrative literature to deal directly (often awkwardly) with religion as process, not as doctrine, i.e. the ground of feeling and experience from which religion springs.

Like much "post-modern" literature (Nabokov, Borges) science fiction deals commonly, typically, and often insistently, with epistemology.

It is unlikely that science fiction will ever become a major form of literature.

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