This paper draws on recent developments in the energy humanities to argue for a more multifaceted account of the temporality of infrastructure (beyond the dyad of continuity and apocalypse) and for the vital role of literature in making an anti-apocalyptic temporality apprehensible. The argument consists of two steps. First, by interrogating our physical/emotional reliance on (energy’s) infrastructure, this paper intends to excavate a revitalised understanding of the promises & failures of infrastructure, which can help the field of literary studies move beyond its fascination with apocalyptical thinking. In a second move, the paper will show how contemporary American fiction has begun to model such a mode of physical and emotional attachment to a sustainable and durable infrastructure that just might survive the current Anthropocene emergency. The case studies are Yamashita’s "Tropic of Orange" and Lerner's "10:04”; two novels that are deeply engaged with infrastructure, energy, and the urgency to resist apocalyptic thinking. The focus will shift to the use of prolepsis, which serves to imagine a future that is not an intensification or denial of the present, but that is strangely continuous with what is worth preserving in the present.
Reuben Martens, KU Leuven, Belgium
Pieter Vermeulen, KU Leuven, Belgium