Wilma Stockenström as digter van die donker ekologie

Van den Heever, Aletta Jacoba (2021-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study uses the theoretical field of ecocriticism, and specifically Morton’s environmental philosophy of dark ecology as point of departure to do a qualitative, text-based investigation of Wilma Stockenström as dark ecopoet. Using Morton’s dark ecology, as set out in Dark Ecology. For a Logic of Future Coexistence (2016), three characteristics of the dark ecopoet are identified. Firstly, the dark ecopoet’s thinking springs from ecognosis. Ecognosis is knowing and letting be known in a strange loop (Morton, 2016:5). The dark ecopoet’s coexistence is characterized by an embrace of this strange loop of knowing and a hermeneutics without closure that accompanies it. Secondly, the dark ecopoet undermines agrilogistics. Agrilogistics is a technical and logical approach to space that tries to straighten out the loop structure of things and thought (Morton, 2016:109), partly by presenting the law of non-contradiction as inviable (Morton, 2016:47). Agrilogistics promises to get rid of fear, anxiety and contradictions – social, physical and ontological – by putting up thin and rigid boundaries between the human and non-human world (Morton, 2016:43). To undermine agrilogistics, the dark ecopoet has to let the arche-lithic flicker – that is the third characteristic. The arche-lithic is the primordial connection between human and non-human that has never disappeared (Morton, 2016:63). Agrilogistics supresses the arche- lithic flickering, the anxiety born from the fact that we don’t know everything and that we can’t know the future (Morton, 2016:82). The dark ecopoet embraces these gaps. Wilma Stockenström’s poetry is not only discussed in relation to the concept of the dark ecopoet; her work is also used to give further form to this concept. Except for the fact that the characteristics of the dark ecopoet will be traced in her poetic oeuvre, there will also be a specific focus on the way in which she embodies the ethical dimension of the dark ecopoet. To do this, the work of Latour and Purdy will be used. Particularly due to the ethics of uncertainty, openness and unfathomable ambiguity (Snyman, 2015:219) that characterises her work, her metapoetics does not lend itself to identify a “role” for the dark ecopoet. Instead, Stockenström helps us to think anew about coexistence: while she shouts out the unsayability of the earth, she continues – in her stammering and self-deprecating way – to give voice to the unrevealable surplus of being and meaning. As dark ecopoet she has no illusions that her poetry has the potential to save the “atmosphere rich one” (Stockenström, 1988:21) or the “other little noses”, but she honours the “coexistence” with “fellow animals” (Stockenström, 1984:60).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie gebruik die teoretiese veld van die ekokritiek, en spesifiek Morton se omgewingsfilosofie van donker ekologie as uitgangspunt om ’n kwalitatiewe, teksgebaseerde ondersoek na Wilma Stockenström as donker ekodigter te doen. Vanuit Morton se donker ekologie, soos uiteengesit in Dark Ecology. For a Logic of Future Coexistence (2016), word daar drie kenmerke van die donker ekodigter geïdentifiseer. Eerstens spruit die donker ekodigter se denke uit die ekognosis. Ekognosis is om te ken en te kenne te gee in ’n vreemde lusvorm (Morton, 2016:5). ’n Omhelsing van hierdie vreemde lusvormige kennis en die hermeneutiek sonder afsluiting wat daarmee gepaard gaan, kenmerk die donker ekodigter se mede-bestaan. Die donker ekodigter ondermyn tweedens die agrilogistiek. Die agrilogistiek is ’n tegniese, beplande en logiese benadering tot ruimte wat poog om die lusvorm van dinge en denke reguit te maak (Morton, 2016:109) deur o.a. die wet van nie-teenstrydigheid as onskendbaar aan te bied (Morton, 2016:47). Die agrilogistiek belowe om vrees, angs en teenstellings – sosiaal, fisies en ontologies – uit die weg te ruim deur dun, rigiede grense tussen menslike en nie-menslike wêrelde daar te stel (Morton, 2016:43). Om die agrilogistiek te ondermyn, laat die donker ekodigter o.a. die arche-litiese flikker – dit is die derde kenmerk. Die arche-litiese is die primordiale verbondenheid van mens en nie-mens wat nog nooit verdwyn het nie (Morton, 2016:63). Die agrilogistiek onderdruk die arche-litiese siddering, die angs gebore uit die feit dat ons nie alles weet nie en dat ons nie die toekoms ken nie (Morton, 2016:82). Die donker ekodigter omhels hierdie gapings. Wilma Stockenström se digkuns word nie net na aanleiding van die konsep van die donker ekodigter bespreek nie; haar werk word ook gebruik om beslag aan hierdie konsep te gee. Behalwe vir die feit dat die kenmerke van ’n donker ekodigter in haar digterlike oeuvre nagespoor word, word daar spesifiek gelet op die wyse waarop sy die etiese dimensie van die donker ekodigter inkleur. Hiervoor word Latour en Purdy se werk betrek. Juis weens die etiek van onsekerheid, openheid en ondeurgrondelike dubbelsinnigheid (Snyman, 2015:219) wat haar werk kenmerk, leen haar metapoëtika sigself nie tot die identifisering van ’n “rol” vir die donker ekodigter nie. Tog help sy ons opnuut om oor mede-bestaan te dink: sy basuin die onsêbaarheid van die aarde uit, terwyl sy aanhou om stamelend en selfspottend stem te gee aan die ononthulbare surplus van syn en betekenis. As donker ekodigter het sy nie illusies oor haar digkuns se potensiaal om tot die redding van die “atmosfeerryke een” (Stockenström, 1988:21) of “ander neusies” te kom nie, maar die huldiging van die “bysyn” van “medediere” (Stockenström, 1984:60) kenmerk haar mede-bestaan as donker ekodigter.

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