Abstract

ABSTRACT:

My article starts by disproving the established critical consensus that Ken Saro-Wiwa's Sozaboy features a child soldier. Instead, I argue, we see a tactical psychopathy at work, in which the adult soldier's flattened moral choices and fluid political affiliations become expedients to ensure his survival. As a consequence, I argue, the soldier's libidinal attachments become insecure. Correspondingly, objects in the world of Saro-Wiwa's book become animated and partially autonomous. My article turns to the autonomous partial object to pioneer a model of non-anthropocentric environmental agency, which I term an "environmental unconscious." I establish this argument with the help of Melanie Klein's psychoanalytic work on part-objects. Klein allows us to infer that the infant's earliest introjective identifications with the breast and its projective identifications with feces involve fantasies of consumption and pollution. These identifications contribute to the eventual making of the subject and its subsequent psychic dispositions. That is to say, the part-objects from which all of our later identifications proceed are always already enmeshed in an early environmental politics. Within this conceptual schema, the autonomous partial object (which Zizek terms an "organ without a body") becomes readable, in relief, as an obdurate environmental agency whose independence both retains and exceeds human attachments. Accordingly, Sozaboy's repeated emphasis on renegade organs, disembodied voices, and Mene's involuntary bodily response can be thought of as moments in which the environment speaks what the befuddled human protagonist is unable to formulate. I argue that what is articulated in such moments is the silent but ever-present legacy of oil production in the Niger Delta, which becomes something like the unconscious of Saro-Wiwa's book. Moreover, the ambivalence of Kleinian object relations allows us to sustain, without contradiction, the three mutually exclusive outcomes for Mene's mother and Agnes in Saro-Wiwa's plot. My article concludes with a reconstitutive alphabet of Sozaboy's autonomous partial objects and argues that the novel's distorted extremeties of the human amount finally to modes of environmental restitution.

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