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Making mythopoeic meaning out of plants
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6170-0666
2019 (English)In: Cogent Arts and Humanities, E-ISSN 2331-1983, Vol. 6, no 1, article id 1687256Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article discusses literary and scientific discourse in relation to plant cognition. I argue that one purpose of literature is to let humans make meaning out of their environment. My focus is not on literature as fiction, or any a priori faculty of counterfactual construction. Rather, I consider literature as the inspired response to external phenomena. In this aspect, literature springs from outside; and this it shares with scientific explanation. But where science lays bare the mechanical laws of the universe, literature operates with compelling narratives of individual wills. I further suggest that the literary mode is specifically suited for envisioning non-human life. Poetic thought is considered as a mode of human cognition that, by suspending the distance between human and world, allows us to think modes of non-human cognition. In literature, we are able to represent those affects we share with other forms of biological life. My focus is on two literary representations of plant life and the blending of life forms in stories where people turn into plants. I start by considering how a few botanists have taken the literary mode as a negative point of departure for their attempts to explain plant behavior. Then, I muster two theoretical accounts in order to read two such stories. Henri and Henriette Frankfort’s description of mythopoeic thought is used as the starting point for an interpretation of Ovid’s take on the myth of Echo and Narcissus; and Roger Caillois’ “comparative biology” for a reading of Johan Borgen’s short story “Kaprifolium”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cogent OA an imprint of Taylor & Francis , 2019. Vol. 6, no 1, article id 1687256
Keywords [en]
Mythopoesis, plant studies, Ovid, Johan Borgen, plant cognition
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-77837DOI: 10.1080/23311983.2019.1687256ISI: 000494490700001Scopus ID: 000494490700001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-77837DiVA, id: diva2:1369549
Funder
The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), 2017-00015/NOS-HSAvailable from: 2019-11-12 Created: 2019-11-12 Last updated: 2019-11-22Bibliographically approved

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van Ooijen, Erik

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1516171819202118 of 173
CiteExportLink to record
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