The Hetero-affectionate Author, Bowles' Dual I
As the heir to an scene, the hetero-affectionate author [Bowles' differentiated I] could transfigure the burst seam.
By employing the second person pronoun, the “author” turns his “subject” [the silence of the Sahara] over to the reader, the you
, submitting his “identity,” to the interdisciplinary prod, exam; ebb, and flow of the thinker’s incorporative aesthetics. The “subject” is no longer subject to the distance of aesthetic; rather, improvisation, syncopation, base-line permutations, and the play
of language that has been exposed to “transculturation.” In Mary Louise Pratt’s essay, Arts of the Contact Zone,
she describes, transculturation: “a process whereby members of subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted by a dominant or metropolitan culture” (505, Pratt). As such, the material, which Bowles' is incorporating into his discourse is the dominating ‘silence’ of the Sahara the ‘other.’ Here I think the notion of solitary, and the bourgeoning of the ‘subject’ comes to life within the travel narrative. One can look at what the effect of the ‘solitary’ condition has had, within the philosophical discourse, yet still within the experimentation of the “subject” within the inventing the ‘self’ from the aesthetic materials from the place traveled, by looking at Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s work Reveries of a Solitary Walker.
Consider, Jean- Jacque Rousseau’s opening line in the work, which reads “[s] o here I am all alone on this earth, with no brother, neighbor, or friend, and no company but my own”. In his “Third walk” here I am
recurs, simultaneously recalling the first instance of the phraseand calling the reader’s attention to the second’s surrounding rhetoric. Within the paragraph of the second occurrence, Rousseau switches pronouns from first person singular,I
,to the objective pronoun, us.
When excavated from the encompassing prose the occurrences of Rousseau’s transfer from subjective to objective (initiator to target) pronoun reads as such: Let us be…/Let us seize…/Let us fix… / Let us be…/Let us hold/(fast).
Consider, the weight of this rhetorical gesture. Rousseau is (consciously or not) inciting an invocation of his future readership/ addressees, the external other positing the eternal nature
of his corpus. The topical primer for the paragraph, I said to myself
, seeminglydesignates its author’s activity as auto-affection. However, given the contextualization of the text—the text turns back on itself with the transference of singular to plural pronoun. Rousseau thereby posits the heterogeneous quality of auto-affection when talking to oneself that becomes hyper intelligible within writing. He is already a dual subject. The quality of alone, for me differs and defers. Here, on the page as an author, one is not alone. For Rousseau is “alone” only insofar as, a
,refers to the Greek prefix-a denoting, not. One is, as in the case of being amoral, beyond or outside of the singular conditions of –lone. More accurately the Anglo-Saxon etymology of alone
as all ana
from “all wholly” + an “
one” applies to Rousseau transfiguring semantically, and hermeneutically the condition of being alone when authoring. He incites the correspondence between oneself within oneself that defers from oneself towards the external reader (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Reveries of a Solitary Walker
. London: J. Calder, 1988. Print.). Within the illumination of the hetero-affectionate author that Rousseau’s work allows one, Bowles' words, brought to attention within Timothy Weiss’ work, "Without Stopping: The Orient as Liminal Space in Paul Bowles
" becomes prevalent, “I was not the I I thought I was or, rather, there was a second I in me that had suddenly assumed command” (quoted Bowels, 77, Without Stopping). As such, the proto-deconstruction of the anthropomorphic constitution of language’s metaphoricity articulated in the work intimates a three-step process wherein the stimulation of nerve
(the primary metaphor/ translation from the “real”) eventually begets an articulated sound
. As such, all language is indebted to metaphor. The linguistic operative that drives this psycho-sociological process i.e. metaphor-for-others-aimed-at-others-here-and-now
,does not exclude itself from the general enterprise of the written text. However, while writing regularly falls under this categorical imperative, the incidence of inscription
cannot be sublated without affirming the distinct externalization of the alterity ‘here-and-now’ within the one who writes. In this way, I believe that Bowles' use of second person within the context of the travel narrative is indeed revelatory, overcoming the Barthesian auto-biographic (auto-affectionate) problematic, and Said's notion of Orientialism
. Consider for a moment, Barthes admittance in the context of the travel writer, and Bowles' employment of second person to elucidate the silence of the Sahara, that posits the situation, when recalling the stance of his person, the signified writer, who having writ, is faced with the project of elucidating, (through the modality of the metaphor i.e. for others) the excavation of his blind spot, which is inextricably concurrent with the process of writing itself, one is thereby inevitably condemned to the realized status of an empty signifier: “I cannot write myself. What, after all, is this “I” who would write himself? Even as he would enter into the writing, the writing would take the wind out of his sails, and render him null and void- finite; a gradual dilapidation would occur, in which the other’s image, too, would be gradually involved (to write on something is to outmode it), a disgust whose conclusion could only be ‘what’s the use?’ … [S]omeone would have to teach me that one cannot write without burying “sincerity” (always the Orpheus myth: not to turn back). “The impulse of desire propels desire, within has its against in actuality, but what of force?” ( From “Works on Paper”, Victoria Blythe Class Notes, qtd. from Roland Barthes, A Lovers Discourse
, 1978). I believe that Bowles' transfigures the problematic of writing oneself, and the denigrate of Orientalism by using the ‘solitary’ condition of the culture, which dominated him within the moment of travel that is being reflected upon. He thereby opened up the totalized perspective, and allowing another to step into his subjectivity, and experience for themselves the following, “[i]mmediately when you arrive in the Sahara, for the first or tenth time, you notice the stillness. An incredible, absolute silence prevails outside the towns; and within, even in busy places like the markets, there is a hushed quality in the air, as if the quiet were a conscious force which, resenting the intrusion of sound, minimizes and disperses sound straightway” (“Baptism of Solitude,” 75).
Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination
. Chicago: University, 1981. 29. Print
Qtd. Friedrich Ulfers. Meeting. 2011.cf. Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination
. “Plato’s Pharmacy.” Chicago: University, 1981. Print. In response, the employ of the word “seem” as signifying a poet’s self-turned consciousness of the plasticity of meaning.