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Weak PlanetLiterature and Assisted Survival$
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Wai Chee Dimock

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226477077

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226477077.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Weak Planet

Wai Chee Dimock

University of Chicago Press

Beginning with the months spent in a wheelchair after being struck by a car while crossing the street, the author explores "assisted survival" as a form of collateral resilience, a mediating network that enables the vulnerable to have a shot at the future. Important to disability studies, assisted survival also has implications for environmental humanities, bringing what Mark Granovetter calls "the strength of weak ties" to bear on the large-scale hazards of climate change. Linking these efforts to the pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, the Introduction develops the concept of "subjunctive agency" as a fact-based but not outcome-obsessed form of action, a wager with time and against time to save a world probably beyond saving at this point. Not fully confident about its procedures, yet pitching in all the same, subjunctive agency enables those who don’t have much time left to spend it without reservation and without panic, not paralyzed by the lack of guarantee.

Keywords:   assisted survival, collateral resilience, mediating networks, strength of weak ties, pragmatism, subjunctive agency, not paralyzed

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