chapter  4
32 Pages

Affiliations after the flood: Archipelagic poetics

WithPaul Carter

The Epic of Gilgamesh describes a local flood in southern Mesopotamia that destroyed the city of Shurippak. The Flood is impressive but hardly universal. The simplicity/complexity paradox of Tristan da Cunha neatly allegorises the relationship between philosophy and poetics. The Noah would bring to the story of the Flood the sense-making principles characteristic of an archipelagic poetics. Archipelagic thinking aims outwardly to find the principles of human, and perhaps post-human, co-existence distinctively expressed in the archipelagic ordering of relationships. The reference to Michel de Montaigne suggests another aspect of an archipelagic poetics, which is stylistic rather than thematic. Markman Ellis's 'archipelagic poetics,' for example, refers to Britain's desire to pass off its slave-based sugar trade as a kind of imperial benevolence reminiscent of Rome's Augustan Age. Imafuku hails Glissant's influential archipelagic poetics present a more ambiguous case. If archipelagic thinking asks what archipelagos mean, an archipelagic poetics asks how they relate.