Informace o publikaci

“Vast, Even Endless”: The Role of the Paranoid Aesthetics of the American Desert Town in Welcome to Night Vale



Rok publikování 2020
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Popis While one cannot (and should not) claim that paranoid narratives are bound to a specific aesthetic or physical setting, there is merit in discussing physical boundaries of paranoia in significant works of American paranoid fiction. Though the spectacular aesthetic of postmodern urban spaces may cross, surpass, and even break boundaries in their own way, there is another environmental aesthetic that allows us to completely disregard boundaries and fully immerse ourselves in meanings of boundlessness and their implications for the paranoid postmodern condition. This paper focuses on the aesthetics of the American desert as a setting of paranoid fiction. Building on theories of place and space by Yi-Fu Tuan, Greg Garrard’s thoughts on wilderness, Burke’s idea of the sublime, writings on travelling through the American desert (including Jean Baudrillard’s 1986 travel diary America and Ellen Meloy’s 2019 essay collection Seasons: Desert Sketches), and theories of American conspiracy and paranoia, I argue that the boundless aesthetics of the American desert (as opposed to the frantic urban spaces found in popular post-WWII paranoid novels) represent the ideal setting for American paranoid fiction as their quality of “otherness” helps maintain tension necessary for the retention of paranoid suspense. Specifically, this paper examines the paranoid aesthetics of the boundless American desert in the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and novels (2012–), focusing on the interplay between the works’ “high-functioning paranoia” and its “friendly desert community” setting.
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