Corbin Hiday Responds to Caroline Levine
While I thoroughly enjoyed your response, and I am in agreement with many of your lucid and poignant observations, I figured I would start with the moment of the text where our readings of Taylor’s book diverged the most. My reading of the “invisible hand” as “a metaphor for a synecdoche that is itself a synecdoche for a metaphor” (62) leaves me uncertain of how these appendages, invisible hand and carbon footprint, become understood as “collective metaphors” (67). While I am not necessarily in disagreement over the effectiveness and deftness of Taylor’s analytical moves, I wonder if it would not be more clear and direct to name the “whole” that the “body” and “parts” exist within. This figural language is consistent with type of analogies and metaphors that Marx employs in Capital, making constant recourse to atomization and appendages. The “whole” or “assemblage” that Taylor collectivizes seems to be rather capital as totality.
I am very much convinced by, and in favor of, Taylor’s formulation of the novel as “climate model,” and your related remark about the novel being a “useful abstraction.” I think these are some of the most powerful ideas in the book, and I am especially struck by your comments regarding “portability.” I cannot help when reading this remark, and when reflecting on Taylor’s abundantly useful formulation, “novel as climate model,” of H.G. Wells’ unnamed protagonist in The Time Machine, read by V21 this summer as a part of the Summer Reading Group. The model of his eponymous “time machine” is both scaled and portable, a signifier of present innovation and scientific interest, but also symbol and possibility for an imagined future. And, as Taylor reminds us, many “creations” of the Victorian period persist beyond their historical moment: “How exactly does one periodize Sherlock Holmes?” (9). This type of “portability” could also be applied to characters like Dracula and even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If there is persistence and portability from the Victorian period to our contemporary moment, following your closing remarks, this does seem like an opportunity to explore new (or old) models, spaces and gaps, insisting on Utopian forms.