Todd Comer deposited A Mortal Agency: Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds in the group Irish Literature and Culture on Humanities Commons 6 years ago
In addition to showing how politically oriented Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds remains despite its playful exterior, this essay constitutes an extended reflection on issues of power and agency within the postcolonial Irish context. It demonstrates that Irish identity is constructed and controlled via a god-like architecture of temporal and discursive surveillance. Second, it argues for an agency that does not simply place the subaltern in a new tower, but for one that displaces the panoptical structure. Such a displacement is grounded in a mortal agency, an agency that does not recreate god-like Cartesian subjects, but emphasizes proximity and relation to one another. O’Brien’s text — full as it is of strange and disparate odds and ends — becomes the ultimate exemplar of this relation.