Wisarut Painark is a Lecturer of English at the Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University. He is also a PhD candidate in English Literature at National University of Singapore. His research interests lie in ecocriticism, contemporary literature, and media studies. E-mail: wisarut.p@arts.tu.ac.th


Rethinking the Mind/Body Dichotomy: The Posthuman Condition and the Environment’s Temporality in Merlinda Bobis’s Locust Girl and Thi Ngoc Ha’s “The Spirit Pond”

Abstract: This presentation aims to examine how the idea of posthumanism is inextricably interwoven with one’s conception of the environment’s temporality in Merlinda Bobis’s Locust Girl (2019) and Thi Ngoc Ha’s “The Spirit Pond” (2010). Specifically, it incorporates Robert Pepperell’s notion of the posthuman condition (2003) and Jane Bennett’s notion of vital materialism (2010) to shed light on how one’s notion of the mind/body affects one’s grasp of time. To elaborate, Peperell’s posthuman condition captures the interconnectedness of the human mind, body, and the environment, while Bennett emphasizes the nonhuman agency which can immensely affect one’s conception of the environment’s seamless temporality, thereby debunking the notion of rigidly demarcated time. In this light, the paper argues that both the novel and the short story delineate the collision between human and nonhuman temporality which aligns with human’s notion of the rigid demarcation between the human mind and body. This analysis of the literary texts also suggests that the characters’ development of the posthuman condition deepens their conception of time as they become cognizant of the environment’s prolonged temporality. Ultimately, the corpus illuminates the characters’ epistemic shift, depicted in the heightened perception of nonhuman materiality, as well as the exposed discursive construction of the human/nonhuman dichotomy. Essentially, this presentation exhibits how one’s attentiveness to “a vital materiality,” “to act, animate, and produce effects,” encompasses both epistemological and ontological dimensions.
Keywords: ecocriticism, posthumanism, temporality, new materialism, ontology