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In the preceding chapters, I have examined how authors writing at the turn of the twentieth century utilized the representational capacities of romance and melodrama to narrate empirically observable realities on scales that seemed incompatible with the forms of daily lived experience articulated in realist novels. Here I argue that Joseph Conrad pursued a related strategy by repurposing horror (a genre steeped, as we will see, in both “fantastic” and horrific depictions of the colonies) and substituting its imaginary terrors with actual atrocities.
The cover image of this book is a detail taken from Levi Walter Yaggy’s Geological Chart (Figure C.1). It was originally part of a teaching kit, Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio, a set of ten vividly colored chromolithographic prints housed in a large wooden box that could be unfolded as a display mechanism. Each of the ten charts in Yaggy’s Portfolio presents us with a slice of the planet, a resolving cut that brings it into focus on a specific scale.
In an unsigned essay published in 1923 – a year after modernism’s so-called annus mirabilis – Virginia Woolf declared the independence of a new literary generation. She did so not, as one might expect, on the grounds of its recent spate of creative energy. On the contrary, her essay complains of a “barren and exhausted age … incapable of sustained effort,” whose meager output is “littered with fragments, and not seriously to be compared with the age that went before.” What sparse praise she bestows on her “contemporaries” is qualified by assertions of their deficiency: a few phrases of T. S. Eliot might endure, and Joyce’s Ulysses, a “memorable catastrophe – immense in daring, terrific in disaster,” might persist, but as a whole the “moderns” had produced little of value to offer to the canon.
“London. Four million forlorn hopes!” reads Thomas Hardy’s notebook entry for April 5, 1889. Two days later, still contemplating the despair amassed in what was then the world’s most populous city, Hardy wrote of the “woeful fact – that the human race is too extremely developed for its corporeal conditions, the nerves being evolved to an activity abnormal in such an environment.” The strain that London’s overdeveloped urban environment was clearly exerting on Hardy’s own nerves opens onto a wider lament on the misery of the “human race,” which must suffer collectively the biological burden of consciousness. “Even the higher animals are in excess in this respect,” he writes, expanding the already immense range of his speculations by questioning “whether Nature, or what we call Nature, so far back when she crossed the line from invertebrates to vertebrates, did not exceed her mission.” Hardy concludes, “This planet does not supply the materials for happiness to higher existences.
Imagining what the earth might look like in the year 802701 seems absurd. The date is unfathomably distant: some 160 times longer than the roughly 5,000 years that comprise all of recorded human history. What could we hope to know about such a remote moment in time? What methods could we use to speculate so far into the future? How could any knowledge we generated in the process be made relevant or meaningful to our daily lives in the present? The sheer size of what this number signifies – the astonishing magnitudes of time it invokes – makes the task of narrating it seem inherently unrealistic.
Wells’s earliest works of fiction explore the dramatic possibilities suggested to him by the theories of Lyell, Darwin, and Huxley, both in their consistent foregrounding of the scientific experiment as leitmotif and in terms of their efforts to represent the scales involved in “scientific” reality. Wells’s secular worldview was grounded in the supposition that the conditions of life in the present could be grasped only by recourse to huge expanses of time and space – on scales that vastly exceeded the limits of subjective experience. However, working at these scales posed serious problems for the novel, whose narrative devices traditionally privileged subjective experience, and whose formal conventions, as I will discuss in this chapter, functioned at least in part as strategies for delimiting the potentially infinite horizons of modern life.
At the turn of the twentieth century, novelists faced an unprecedented crisis of scale. While exponential increases in industrial production, resource extraction, and technological complexity accelerated daily life, growing concerns about deep time, evolution, globalization, and extinction destabilised scale's value as a measure of reality. Here, Aaron Rosenberg examines how four novelists moved radically beyond novelistic realism, repurposing the genres-romance, melodrama, gothic, and epic-it had ostensibly superseded. He demonstrates how H. G. Wells, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, and Virginia Woolf engaged with climatic and ecological crises that persist today, requiring us to navigate multiple temporal and spatial scales simultaneously. The volume shows that problems of scale constrain our responses to crisis by shaping the linguistic, aesthetic, and narrative structures through which we imagine it. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.
To evaluate the effect of 70% isopropyl alcohol–impregnated central venous catheter caps on ambulatory central-line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in pediatric hematology-oncology patients.
This study was a 24-month, cluster-randomized, 2 period, crossover clinical trial.
The study was conducted in 15 pediatric healthcare institutions, including 16 pediatric hematology-oncology clinics.
All patients with an external central line followed at 1 of the 16 hematology-oncology clinics.
Usual ambulatory central-line care per each institution using 70% isopropyl alcohol–impregnated caps at home compared to usual ambulatory central-line care in each institution without using 70% isopropyl alcohol–impregnated caps.
Of the 16 participating clinics, 15 clinics completed both assignment periods. As assigned, there was no reduction in CLABSI incidence in clinics using 70% isopropyl alcohol–impregnated caps (1.23 per 1,000 days) compared with standard practices (1.38 per 1,000 days; adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR], 0.83; 95% CI, 0.63–1.11). In the per-protocol population, there was a reduction in positive blood culture incidence in clinics using 70% isopropyl alcohol-impregnated caps (1.51 per 1,000 days) compared with standard practices (1.88 per 1,000 days; aIRR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.52–0.99). No adverse events were reported.
Isopropyl alcohol–impregnated central-line caps did not lead to a statistically significant reduction in CLABSI rates in ambulatory hematology-oncology patients. In the per-protocol analysis, there was a statistically significant decrease in positive blood cultures. Larger trials are needed to elucidate the impact of 70% isopropyl alcohol–impregnated caps in the ambulatory setting.
The “demos paradox” is the idea that the composition of a demos could never secure democratic legitimacy because the composition of a demos cannot itself be democratically decided. Those who view this problem as unsolvable argue that this insight allows them to adopt a critical perspective towards common ideas about who has legitimate standing to participate in democratic decision-making. We argue that the opposite is true and that endorsing the demos paradox actually undermines our ability to critically engage with common ideas about legitimate standing. We challenge the conception of legitimacy that lurks behind the demos paradox and argue that the real impossibility is to endorse democracy without also being committed to significant procedure-independent standards for the legitimate composition of the demos. We show that trying to solve the problem of the demos by appeal to some normative conception of democratic legitimacy is a worthwhile project that is not undermined by paradox.