Friday, August 11, 2017

Notes on Estrangement 2: Flushed With Pride

I spend a not inconsiderable time yesterday tweeting about these little signs at WorldCon. This thread goes right round the U-bend.

I wonder about the distinction between moments of estrangement in which the estranged person has a clear sense of for whom such moments are estranging, and for whom they are not, vs. moments in which the estranged person is simply disquieted in a way that offers no such distinctions, and a way in which they perhaps may assume to be universal.

I don't know yet how well that distinction would map onto the distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive, let alone how it might relate to science fiction, fantasy, horror, the weird, etc. What do you think?

Read the thread, if you like. This small sign being a text, might it offer an instance of literary estrangement? Was your first thought, "Why would you put up such a sign?" or "Why would you leave poop papers piled in a corner?" or "Good, that might help" or "If only I had a boss who would put up a sign like that"?

If the sign does offer an instance of estrangement, literary or otherwise, where does it stand as regards Suvin's distinction between the cognitive and non-cognitive? And can its status as cognitive and/or non-cognitive be reconfigured through conscious effort? Does reading the thread shift it from non-cognitively estranging to cognitively estranging? Or does it shift it from estranging to non-estranging? Or is there some other shift? Or is there some other shit?

The concept of "cognition," for Suvin, is loosely informed by Kantian critique (and less directly, feminist epistemology): cognition has something to do not only with recognising your object, but with recognising who and what you are.

So who encounters estrangement here? In the thread, among those whom I hint are less likely to encounter any sharp estrangement are:

  • Finns
  • Greeks, Macedonians, Bulgarians, etc.
  • Women
  • Cleaners

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