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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Chantal Maillard has something that I might use as an epigraph.*
Siempre me ha llamado la atención la facilidad con la que reducimos una persona a unos pocos datos. Una persona es una multitud de fragmentos, su vida no es una historia sino un mapa o, mejor, una retícula o rizoma que ofrece itinerarios diversos, cada uno de los cuales daría pie, si lo siguiésemos, a construir una una historia distinta de las otras.
[I've always been struck by the ease with which we reduce a person to a few data points. A person is a proliferation of fragments, her life is not a story but a map or, rather, a reticle or rhizome offering multiple paths, each one of which, if we followed it, would create a story distinct from the others.]

*I used to love epigraphs, but am using them less and less. More than one or three in a book would be excessive.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

There's lots to think about in that image of a life as a map not a story. It seems inspired by Deleuze and Guattari, who urge us to "make a map, not a tracing".

"The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real." (ATP)

I'm not quite sure, though, why a story should be more reductive than a map. It's interesting that some people argue that "if any old map will do" then so, too, will any old story. (If Maillard is right about the distinction here then the analogy won't be so easy.) It seems to me that a life can't (even metaphorically) be either a map or a story, but it can be indicated by either kind of representation, always approximately. And here the "data points" on the map will be as much a reduction of the space of the possible as those in a story, which always allow for significant happenings before, after, and between the events being recounted.