Thanks to everyone at last week’s “Water, Animals, and Arctic Climate Change” conference in Joensuu, 12-13 December 2018 (pdf programme here). Special thanks to Markku Lehtimäki and Arja Rosenholm of the Changing Environment of the North project, all the organizers at Joensuu, and Scott Slovic for an inspiring keynote and feedback on the presentations.
In this presentation, I will explore the trope of the balloon explorer in Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017), with a specific reference to Carl Schmitt’s idea of nomos (as proposed in The Nomos of the Earth (1950/2003), and drawing on the idea of visual agency. How does the balloon paronama, and the panoramic visual agency over the Arctic expanse tie in with the process of appropriation, distribution, and production involved in the construction of a nomos of the arctic? What kinds of mastery, and epistemological order, does the balloon panorama attempt? I will focus on Robinson’s futuristic novel, but will also draw on Philip Pullmans’s His Dark Materials, and Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, literary texts that utilize complex strategies of imaginative worldmaking that involve arctic balloon exploration as a way of assessing new kinds of knowledge of humans’ relationships to their environment, but also as means of territorial and epistemological control.
picture source: https://blogs.uef.fi/cen-aqua/events/