Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Through the Arc of the Rain Forest anticipates what John Bellamy Foster calls the accumulation of catastrophe in the current stage of capitalism. The narrative demonstrates the inherent contradictions of global neoliberal capitalism and speculates about what will happen when these tendencies overwhelm all technocratic countermeasures. The novel also demonstrates how imagining the collapse of the current system allows us to glimpse its exterior. After the text’s dystopian elements have reached their peak, the novel concludes with a multipronged ending that suggests several possibilities for the imaginary reconstitution of society or utopia. Crucially, all of these hopeful futures emerge from the “radical potential of catastrophe.” Yamashita’s novel demonstrates how humanity’s despair is also likely to contain our best hope of reconfiguring society, our personal relations, and our orientation to the natural world.

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