Jutustaja kui kujutluse etnograaf eksperimentaalses süsteemis / The Narrator as an Ethnographer of the Imagery in an Experimental System


  • Taavi Remmel Tallinna Ülikool / University of Tallinn




kaks kultuuri, nüüdisfüüsika, fiktsionaalne kvantmaailm, eksperimentaalne süsteem, etnograafia, two cultures, modern physics, fictional quantum world, experimental system, ethnography


Käesoleva artikli eesmärgiks on tuua nähtavale kahe kultuuri (reaalteaduste ja humanitaaria) pingeväli ja näidata, kuidas eelkõige 20. sajandi teise poole kirjandusteadus, adapteerides põhiliselt populaarteadusest nüüdisfüüsika, sh kvantteooria mõistevara, on võimaldanud pingetel jätkuda. Artikkel tutvustab põhilisi kirjandusteaduse suundi, mis on arenenud kvantteooria mõjuväljas, kuid suhtub neisse reaalteadlaste seisukohti arvestades ka kriitiliselt. Vastukaaluks sellele pingeväljale esitab artikkel alternatiivse lahenduse, kuidas võib kirjandus ise olla uue teadmise kandja, ning näitab, et kirjandusteaduse rolliks on seejuures anda õige suund tekstis „osalemiseks“.


The aim of this article is to explore the conflicting situation of two cultures: science and the humanities. Due to erroneously orientated practices of literary criticism in which the concepts of contemporary physics and quantum theory have been adapted mistakenly, the conflict of the two cultures has continued. The article introduces the main outcome of this kind of inaccurate science making: a usage of scientific concepts as metaphors, the genre of quantum fiction, and Susan Strehle’s concept of actualism. As an alternative approach, the article explains how scientific and epistemological value lies in fiction itself, considering its ability to awaken imagery expressions of the unknown. Based on Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s ideas on experiment and Gabriele Schwab’s ethnographical perspective, a text can been seen as an “experimental system”, which includes “epistemic things” as bizarre or unknown but familiar objects which offer resistance to immediate interpretation. Instead, they actuate a process in which “knowing that” transforms to “knowing how”. This process in which the imagery is evoked in an experimental situation carries a scientific value in itself. If the reader or scientist pays special attention to the internal resistance of the “epistemic things” and to the power of the imagery, a quantum reality is more likely to open up in fiction.

Another aim of this article is to expand upon a quantum-based study within Estonian literary theory. However, the introduction begins in a critical manner: up to now, no deeper study of the relation between contemporary physics and fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries has been considered and the word “quantum” has only occurred in Enn Kasak’s study of quantum mythology. Therefore, in order to avoid random connections between Estonian literature and, for example, the genre of quantum fiction, the article starts with a broader perspective by exploring thoroughly the relation between the two cultures, also asserting the need for further investigation.

Furthermore, the article is may serve as a quest into trying to understand how to define a fictional quantum world. In order to avoid incoherency between physics and humanities, the article takes Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s idea of “experimental systems” as a basis. By doing this, the epistemological value would lie in the text itself; more importantly, rather than creating direct connections between fiction and contemporary physics, an “experimental system” will provide knowledge by resisting knowledge and therefore setting the focus more on the attunement of the text.

The article is also a starting point for further research. An approach from the idea of “experimental systems” might attribute new meanings to the fiction by the physicist Madis Kõiv, especially as regards his novels Päev (Day) and Aken (Window). So, instead of highlighting some keywords that might show the relation of Kõiv’s fiction and quantum theory, considering a text as an “experimental system” could expose the inadeqacy of such assertions. Rather, what might be revealed is that Kõiv’s novels are “heading” for a quantum reality, but they are also relocating it in open field.


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Author Biography

Taavi Remmel , Tallinna Ülikool / University of Tallinn

Taavi Remmel – MA, Tallinna Ülikooli humanitaarteaduste instituudi kultuuride uuringute doktorant. Peamised uurimissuunad: kirjanduse ja kvantteooria suhe, eksistentsialism, eksperimentaalne kirjandus, loovkirjutamine.

Taavi Remmel – MA. PhD student in Cultural Studies at the University of Tallinn. His main research interests include fiction in the context of quantum theory, existentialism, experimental writing, creative writing.