Writing the Indian Ocean: Immersion in seven waves

Stephen Muecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aesthetic experience is often characterized as ‘working’ when the self loses its bearings in feelings of immersion. The text presented here experiments with immersion as engagement and ontological entanglement. This fragmentary piece has seven numbered sections spelling out the recipe for a genre—fictocriticism—that narrates without reproducing the familiar patterns of literary fiction. Each has actors representing different ontological modes: history (2), literary aesthetics (3) (in which a Jonathan Franzen character is given new life), myth (4), factual writing (5), performance (6) and economics (7). The writing makes explicit the pathways of research that could play a part in an impossible project: writing the Indian Ocean. All these actors are linked into networks that precede the writing, yet continue to traverse it as well. This heterogeneous text experiments with immersion in these different ontological modes, and no doubt fails, unless the reader responds better to more complex relations than to simpler subject–object ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-89
Number of pages5
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016


  • Literary Criticism
  • Literature -- Indian Ocean
  • Literary aesthetics


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