Text 16 – To Leap Fictively Under Electronic Representation


‘To Leap Fictively’ focuses specifically on a selection of writers (‘novelists’) whose writing is driven by a questioning relation to the everyday life of language as it is inhabited and ‘used’ in a culture saturated by media-representation and the construction-dissemination of information.

In making-for-art they have recognised that they have to find and make ways through and out of the culture’s language binds in order to disclose the possibility of different relations to and within language (to be extra-ordinary to the current forms of language’s ordinariness). For them the leap into telling-writing ‘fictions’ has both to inflect this different relation whilst engaged in the very process of separating themselves from the authority of the knowledge- and information-heavy modes of representing characterising the everyday world.

Language becomes both the medium and the question in its intrication with all forms of power. ‘Voicing’, its sources and conjoining, becomes the focus of these writings. They listen to and seek to transliterate their own embodiment, the moderns’ multiplicity, and the body of language-in-use. In the course of figuring out a voice-in-difference they cast themselves adrift among Language’s fragments.

Artaud’s exposing of the voice’s ventriloquial-becoming as it opens onto ‘inspiration’ is taken as a ‘way in’ and guide to the zone in which these writings seek to make their way. Virginia Woolf’s ‘Between the Acts’ opens onto and opens out writing’s contemporary search for a voice (or voices) that, making-toward-art, moves across and draws from Language’s fragmenting region.

Sebald’s writings, in searching for ways of voicing our epochal involvement with combustion-powered destruction, explore a range of writing forms. Several such (fiction, poetry, re-memorative essay) are consulted here for their address of our and Language’s post-pleistocenian ‘evolution’. In his not-quite-fiction both citation (written and image) and the play of ‘naming’ are given prominent roles; they open up the writing’s relation to multiple ‘outsides’.

For Gaddis art’s fate hangs in the balance in the face of technoscientific appropriation. His re-voicing of writing’s possibilities entail the abruption and diversion of narrative conventions and an explicit confrontation with the ever-present threat of ‘failure’.

Brooke-Rose, as both novelist and literary analyst, takes on language at the conjunction of ‘fiction’ and ‘technical knowledge discourses’ (exemplified in ‘the academy’) in a culture where the latter permeate everyday language-use. She explores the challenge to hold to art’s ‘otherness’ within this threshold.

The text concludes with a consideration of the sources of the complexities and paradoxes of fiction’s engagement with the prose of the world. Blanchot’s discussion of the relation between syntax and the law of the story is taken as opening up writing’s contemporary challenge.