Lithic Time, Human Time, Lyric Space

Lithic Time, Human Time, Lyric Space:
Narrating the Anthropocene


This project explore narrative causes for climate change denial and address ways that the Anthropocene, the epoch in which humans have become a geological force, offers a means to understand and circumvent this denial. I argue that the problem is spatiotemporal. The narrative of human-induced climate change involves reconciling two incongruent timescales: the human and the lithic, which offers perhaps the most expansive nonhuman temporality possible. The Anthropocene demands a new sense of space-time in which human spatiotemporality engages with the expansive scope of the lithic. One strategy for this reconciliation is aesthetic. I argue that we can turn to a nonnarrative mode, landscape poetry, for strategies to resituate these disjunctive temporalities. As lyric sites for thinking about interactions of human and lithic timescales, landscape poems complicate ontological boundaries between natural and human spaces and employ lyric settings as sites of temporal interaction. While nonnarrative, their investigations into relationships between human and lithic time provide a hermeneutic for articulating the narrative of climate change. In other words, lyric space-time in these poems establish frames in which narratives of climate change become more seeable and sayable. This hermeneutic builds on Jesse Matz’s “time-work” that see narratives as phenomenological sites for temporal transformation, what he calls “the forms of imagination necessary to rethink the singularities of time today and to subject its totalities to the diversity of narrative’s provisional designs” (“The Art of Time” 282). This essay develops Matz’s call by considering transformative possibilities in both time and space.