Approaching coherence : reflections on a writing practice
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- The work from ‘The Barbarous Sideshow to Before I Wake’ may be seen as a livre composé, encompassing an ongoing enquiry into desire and loss. The early poetry is characterised by the use of a metamorphosing heterotopian space. The language is generally one of extreme opacity and, in its utilisation of aspects of the ‘absolute metaphor’, appears to have a certain commonality with a symboliste aesthetic. By way of ‘summary’, the narrative “Preface” includes what may be seen as a manifesto of incoherence, based on a number of characteristic usages: ambiguity, metamorphosis, ellipsis, limitation, contraction and intensity, with the subsequent narratives “Elegy” and “The Apology” adding the notions of digression and recurrence (including proliferation). Central to ‘What I Have Written’ is the problem of how a work can be written capable of conducting an essentially ethical debate (as part of a general move towards a detailed and explicit dramatisation of certain psycho-social behaviours based on a form of ficto-biographical self-criticism) set in real locations with conventional characterisation – that is adopting mimetic representation – whilst resisting recuperation into a realist mode. A series of writing strategies are considered, collectively described as scriptural realism: the foregrounding of the act of reading or writing; the persistence of a sense of written ‘mark’ in character; the use of epistolary elements; the utilisation of mimetically-represented surfaces which are revealed as constructions in the twice-read text; the inter-weaving of variously statused realities; the use of lyric subversion and digression; the process of recurrence within the livre composé; the inclusion of sections of discontinuous narrative; the general adoption of strategies of detection. ‘What I Have Written’ proposes a multivalent prose whose fundamentally mimetic surface is set against a series of self-referential propositions embedded at linguistic and structural levels within the book and between books within the livre composé. Above all, there is a sense of play allowing neither mode – mimetic or self-reflexive – to provide a master narrative. An increasing move towards realism within ‘Before I Wake’ has been necessitated primarily as part of an exercise in reclaiming – the text emerging as a piece of autobiographical salvage. In the light of ‘Before I Wake’ it is possible to view the poetic of “Preface” and its subsequent elaborations as a form of stylistic denial – a persistent obscuring and a withholding from self as much as any manifestation of neo-symbolisme.
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