9061 - Roberto Bolaño's 2666 and the "inner circle of hell". About the literary simulation of emotional experiences in a postmodern globalized text world

In a review a critic expresses her puzzlement that in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 events do not occur as they normally do in a book. “Things happen more like in the world”, she states, referring to this mammoth novel from 2004, that was celebrated as a „novela total y global“ and considered by Latin American authors a model for a basic realignment of their writing. This presentation focuses on the question of how ‘world’ as experienced in times of postmodern globalization is created in 2666 at the level of structure and content. I will highlight the techniques by which complexity is produced, contradicting usual ways by which narrative generates sense reducing complexity through hierarchy, linearity and finiteness. This allows a new aesthetic and (post)emotional experience that coincides with fleeting suspicions of the arbitrariness and contingency of meaning which emerges in the unpredictable links between subplots and elements that bear traces of worldwide movements and relations. Still the novel offers two major reference points: a temporal (the future year of 2666) and a spatial: Santa Teresa, the fictional double of the border town Ciudad Juárez, where storylines tend to converge. I will argue that, as an "allusion to all things in the world, even those that did not occur yet", it can be understood as a "strange attractor"– a state that chaotic systems evolve towards and thereby develop a readable pattern: The series of feminicides in Santa Teresa indicate a terrible logic of empathic marginalization in a world that reveals itself as ‘evil’ but does not allow the identification of an evildoer. As I wish to show, 2666 simulates a particular emotional experience linked to postmodern globalization, marked by feelings of distance and proximity, the accumulation of psychoaffective excitations through the confrontation with horrifying facts that are not subject to narrative hierarchization and emotional elaboration, and an inability to identify guilt and act upon it.

Keywords: Roberto Bolaño, literature, emotion, complexity, globalization

Author: Fleischmann, Stephanie (l, Lao / Lao)


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