Reconfiguring Subjectivity : Experimental Narrative and Deleuzean Immanence
Abstract: This thesis aims to re-think subjectivity in constructive rather than deconstructive terms of disintegration and dismantling. This shift is effected through a reading of Gilles Deleuze that brings together two concepts that are incompatible in his philosophy – immanence and subjectivity – and by my reading of three fictional texts that engage Deleuze in a generative dialogue.Kathy Acker’s novel Great Expectations, David Mack’s graphic novel series Kabuki, and David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive are all postmodern texts that have been read predominantly as portraying subjectivities as fragmented through strategies of intertextuality, metatextuality, and fragmentation. These texts, I argue, can be seen as positing alternative and more productive subjectivities if approached via the Deleuzean concepts of repetition, univocity, and the event. At the same time, these particular works “speak back” to Deleuze and create some tensions concerning how his concepts may be understood.In Chapter One, I show how Deleuze’s concept of repetition is applicable to but also rethought through Acker’s novel via the more forceful notion of pirating. Pirating, I suggest, can be seen as a textual strategy that employs and builds on repetition to help us re-envisage certain literary traditions of how subjectivity is presented. In Chapter Two I suggest that the concept of univocity makes it possible to envision how a violent inscription of subjectivity can be reconfigured through negotiations of visual and verbal signs. I investigate how Mack’s presentation of faces and masks questions Deleuze’s understanding of the face as a crucial component in the construction of a transcendent subjectivity. In Chapter Three, I discuss aural and visual reconfigurations of Hollywood clichés in Lynch’s film through Deleuze’s concept of the event.The event, as denoting a shift between virtual and actual, enables me to discuss the creative potential opened by the complex temporalities through which the main female characters are portrayed. In sum, alternative and more affirmative subjectivities emerge in the works of Acker, Mack, and Lynch once their textual tensions and slippages are put in a productive exchange with Deleuzean thought.
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