Evolving Nowness and Quantum Theory as New Explanations of Nonlinear Temporality in Kerouac's Duluoz Legend



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Discussions on Kerouacian non-linearity have been recycled and have not taken into account recent and experimental developments in the study of the present as a peculiar philosophical and cognitive configuration of time. Furthermore, they have focused disproportionately on On the Road, disregarding the role that the connectedness between the novels that comprise the Duluoz Legend plays in revealing unconventional expressions of narrative temporality. This presentation proposes a new way of looking into non-linear temporality in the Duluoz Legend, which is that of the neurophenomenological angle, particularly the neuroscientific interpretation of Husserl’s nowness. I study the example of the 1959 summer stay at Mount Baker National Forest where Kerouac’s narrator worked as a fire lookout, and consider that experience as a narrative dimension that generates what Tikka and Kaipainen call a retentive perspective. The retentive perspective is Jack Duluoz’s continuously evolving explanation of the present in terms of the selected narrative dimension. I show how the same narrative dimension (the mountaintop experience) generates two different retentive perspectives (explanations of the nowness): the present as a state of neutrality and oneness, and the present as a state of solitude. As soon as the temporal distance separating the present from the narrative dimension spaces out, the first Retentive Perspective RP1 begins to destabilize and a second retentive perspective RP2 takes over, and so on. This notion of narrative nowness treats time as a spatial component with the distance between events referred to as narrative coordinates. In the end, I offer another, more experimental perspective on the spatialization of time in the works of Kerouac, which proposes to view temporality in the context of the quantum mechanical explanation of reality, specifically the Many Worlds Interpretation and the Hartle–Hawking state to account for narrative omniscience and timelessness.
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