Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

“A Temporal Stuttering”

Dementia and Disaster in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (1), 39–56.

Abstract

Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being shuttles across collapsed geographies and temporalities—from the transpacific aftereffects of the Fukushima disaster back to intergenerational histories of the Second World War. Against this backdrop, the narrative’s central concerns surrounding the memory of social, historical, and environmental traumas come into relief through the discourse and formal disruptions of dementia. But dementia does not merely operate as a simple metaphor for disaster and loss. Rather, Ozeki deploys dementia as a generative aesthetic, rhetorical, and epistemic resource to illustrate common challenges of remembering and writing as well as its imaginative possibilities for narrative expression. Highlighting how intertwined personal and public histories are in a global era, moments of dementia’s “temporal stuttering” throughout the novel demand readers to approach memory, communication, and relationships anew, giving pause to the politics of forgetting the past when pulled into “the now” of dementia.

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Author details

Lie, Crystal Yin