Finally, in the concluding chapter of the volume, Juha Raipola enquires how we – as humans and as literary or cultural scholars – could make sense of the emergent, self-organizing capacities of the nonhuman material world. The chapter returns to the insights of cognitive narratology introduced in Chapters 3–5 and uses them to reassess material ecocriticism’s notion of “storied matter”.
Contrary to the recent claims that nonhuman matter has narrative agency, Raipola asserts that matter consists of countless emergent processes, which can never be reduced to their narrative representations. When the more-than-human world is interpreted through a narrative lens, one must always remain wary of the basic human tendency to reduce complex emergent behavior into simplified anthropocentric storylines. Instead of joining in celebrating the endless “narrative” agency of matter, the chapter thus concludes that it might often prove more fruitful to analyze the numerous ways in which different nonhuman material entities escape and defy our human desire for narrative logics and descriptions.