The Beast in the Machine: Modernity, Aviation and the Legacies of Colonialism in Roger McDonaldⳠSlipstream
Embargoed until: 2019-04-01
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The expectation that a novel about a celebrity aviator will romanticise flight and glorify the pilot is a product of the mythologisation of aviation, which this essay understands is a response to the threat of technology and the alienating conditions of modernity. Roger McDonald’s novel Slipstream refuses to reproduce this mythology, expressing a literary aspiration to use the form of the modern novel to explore the entanglement of the subject under the conditions of postcolonial modernity. My argument will develop through three parts. The first section will explore the mythologisation of aviation as a symptom of modernity. The second will examine the ways in which the novel uses its modernist form to call into question the celebrity of the aviator and the spectacle of flight. This part of my argument is indebted to the critique by German philosopher Martin Heidegger of the technological mode of Being. Finally, I take up the postcolonial implications of the Heideggerian critique in a country in which many of modernism’s standard antidotes to the problems of its century are compromised by the legacies of colonialism.
Journal of Australian Studies
Copyright 2017 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Australian Studies on 16 Oct 2017, available online: 10.1080/14443058.2017.1380686
Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)
Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)