Chthonic countermeasures: A Geological conte

Chris French, Maria Mitsoula

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The conte was a literary form addressing varieg themes through often loose and unregulated literary structures, deployed expertly by La Fontaine, Perrault and Voltaire. This chapter develops a geological conteconnecting two homonymous works—Voltaire’s conte ‘Micromegas: A Philosophical Story’, written in 1752, and Daniel Libeskind’s drawn series Micromegas produced in 1979. This speculative fabulation—to invoke Donna Harraway—seeks to ‘find tangles’ by exploring the interplay of visual and material subjugations arising from representational regimes attached to surveying, recording and exploiting landscapes. Through journeys into geometry and geology, the architecture of an underworld, measure, landscape, isometry and representation, the chapter traces Maupertuis’ proposed tunnel to the centre of the Earth and the shafts and sinkings of Newtongrange colliery in Midlothian, Scotland. It traverses the conflated surfaces of the geological drawings of a Scottish landscape of coal to plot the figures of Egon Riss’ serial architectural interventions in this landscape, a megastructure for a subterranean landscape. As Harraway urges, the outcome is a tale, a geological conte, which puts into question the current status of things, the ‘now’, kainos of chthonic beings, of contemporary ‘beings of the Earth’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMountains and Megastructures
Subtitle of host publicationNeo-Geologic Landscapes of Human Endeavour
EditorsMartin Beattie, Christos Kakalis, Matthew Ozga-Lawn
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Chapter6
Pages93-116
Number of pages24
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9789811571107
ISBN (Print)9789811571091
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

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