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“Forgetting to Be”

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Experience of the Natural and Self-Loss in Molloy

This essay reads Molloy (1951) alongside theories of defamiliarization and aesthetic receptiveness to that which is outside the self developed by Kant, Edmund Burke, Schopenhauer, Viktor Shklovsky, and Heidegger, and comments on contemporary post-human scholarship’s orientation to objects and the natural world. Molloy, a subject constantly aware of his pained, decaying body, is able to escape the bounds of his self during intensely powerful, aesthetic experiences of the natural world. These instances destroy habit, allowing the subject to experience the vivid “presencing” of the outside world and to gain a temporary reprieve from existence via a state of non-being.

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