Oases of Air : A Phenomenological Study of John Banville's Science Tetralogy
This phenomenological study of John Banville’s fiction exhibits the way in which Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, The Newton Letter, and Mefisto persistently present air as a constituting factor. Air occurs as a phenomenological oasis permitting constitution to effectuate disclosure ex nihilo. As a self-constituting field of forms rather than as a system or arrangement of signs, Doctor Copernicus promotes a vision of reality that bypasses a world of scientific or aesthetic representation where objective or subjective deciphering has precedence over immediate revelation as immanent showing. In Kepler, air’s aseity marks a process of constitution intense enough to erase any sense of separation between the flight-paths of discovery and the thing discovered—thus producing the impression of an intriguing parity between the constituting and the constituted. Phenomena of aviation outline the experience of air’s constituting capacity as a prehuman directedness with no source outside itself. The scientist is drawn into an airborn or airborne allure recasting his life in more profound ways than those made available in cosmological inquiry. By means of the slightness of its constituting touch, air is shown as giving birth to apparently insignificant phenomena highlighting an explorability that cannot be defined in terms of mathematical models or logical postulations. In The Newton Letter penurious phenomena gain ascendancy over the scientist through a process defined as autochthonous substantiation. As in Mefisto, the destructive power of accidental fire reduces material and immaterial worlds to an empirical nothing where air, almost indistinguishable from that emptiness, becomes a form of saying facilitating recovery, or the semblance thereof. Finally the study elucidates the phenomenon of monozygotic gemination in Mefisto, a constituting force that allows a phantom brother or phantom limb to function as a regenerating resource rather than as a missing entity.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Aesthetic subjects; Literature; John Banville; science tetralogy; contemporary Irish fiction; aseity; air; substance; phenomenology; intentionality; constitution; epistemology
Date of Publication:01/01/2006