Eco-epistemology and Eschatology: Examining the Savior Complex in Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée and Patrick Chamoiseau's Les neuf consciences du Malfini
- French Forum
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 45, Number 2, 2020
- pp. 223-237
- Additional Information
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we often couch our present catastrophe of climate change in eschatological terms. In Greek, "apocalypse" signifies to "uncover, disclose"—the savior figure thus serves to enlighten us (OED). This trope of an enlightened messiah finds expression in two environmentally focused Caribbean novels: Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée and Patrick Chamoiseau's Les neuf consciences du Malfini. Although largely different, these novels both imply that humanity and the Earth need saving by exceptional figures. Outside the domain of fiction, recent groups such as the "Ecomodernists" have staked out technological ingenuity as our best way out of otherwise sure ecological disaster. Whether our salvation will stem from an extraordinary individual or profound technological advancement, these suggestions point to an apocalyptic end barring something bordering on the miraculous. My question, then, centers on this persistent anxiety: is modern eco-epistemology beset by a savior complex? What I wish to explore at present is how this tendency likely inhibits our ability to effectively act in a way that best mitigates the impending damage. Rather than argue, however, that these two novels are guilty of stymying collective action, I will contend that they are simply symptomatic of this proclivity—typical in Western literature—to produce savior figures. Furthermore, I will explore their nuanced approaches to the difficulties of representing an earth in ecological crisis, and how we might find alternatives to the capitalistic mode that has drastically accelerated environmental devastation.