restricted access “Think Galactic. Or Your World is Lost”: The Boundaries of Science and Art and Samuel Delany’s New Poetics

Critical thinking and creative thinking are not the same, nor are the resulting worlds and ways of being that each process brings to bear. In this essay, I examine Samuel Delany’s Empire Star and Babel-17 for the way each challenges the neoliberal rhetorical privileging of critical thinking skills in the valuation of the arts and humanities in U.S. society. Delany uses space exploration and espionage as metaphors for advancements in science and technology and human evolution in a future society dominantly shaped by empirical evidence, rationality, and reason. I propose that Delany’s fiction warns readers that imperialist and capitalist uses of knowledge become impediments to the production of new knowledge and therefore new worlds and ways of being human. In each case, he concludes that the creative processes arising from art and culture are seeds of salvation for how to continue developing innovative knowledge to sustain old and emerging worlds.