Seeing Disorientation: China Miéville’s The City & the City
AuthorSchimanski, Johan Henrik
Orientations revealed as false presumably lead to the need for reorientation. Outside this economy, can there be utopian unorientation or ambiguous post-orientation? The self comes into being in a moment of disorientation, as Althusser's famous scene of being hailed by a policeman on the street makes clear. Althusser represses this moment, but what if we allow for its accompanying self-reflexivity? The fictional cities of China Miéville's The City & the City (2009) are set in a fragmented and multi-layered space characterised by displacement and disorientation. This theoretically informed police procedural emphasises disorientation through the form of the detective story and plays with genre orientations through its fantastic/science fictional elements. Most strikingly, it reifies our everyday practices of ignoring certain things around us, using a science fictional novum: the institutionalised practice of ‘unseeing’. The novel suggests that the seeing that paradoxically lurks behind unseeing creates disorientation, giving momentary glimpses of ambiguous post-orientations.
Manuscript. Published version available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735784.2015.1122543