Dissemindignation

roth

Who is it that is addressing you? Since it is not an athor, a narrator, or a deus ex machina, it is an I that is both part of the spectacle and part of the audience, an I that, a bit like you, undergoes its own incessant violent reinscription within the arithmetical machinery. An I that functioning as a pure passageway for operations of substitution is not some singular and irreplaceable existence, some subject or life. But only rather moves between life and death, between reality and fiction. An I that is a mere function or phantom.’  JACQES DERRIDA DISSEMINATION

‘[w]hat happened next I had to puzzle over for weeks afterward. And even dead,as I am and have been for I don’t know how long, I try to reconstruct the moresthat reigned over that campus and to recapitulate the troubled efforts to eludethose mores that fostered the series of mishaps ending in my death at the age of nineteen. Even now (if “now” can be said to mean anything any longer), beyondcorporeal existence, alive as I am here (if “here” or “I” means anything), as mem-ory alone (if “memory,” strictly speaking, is the all-embracing medium in whichI am being sustained as “myself”), I continue to puzzle over Olivia’s reactions.Is that what eternity is for, to muck over a lifetime’s minutiae? Who could haveimagined that one would have forever to remember each moment of life down toits tiniest component?’ PHILIP ROTH, INDIGNATION

‘It would appear, then, that Marcus is nothing more than a disembodied voicein the void, a narrating presence that brings to mind Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable (1953) or even How It Is (1961), a sharp postmodern swerve that temporarily detours Marcus’s realistic tale and violently disrupts readers’ expectations. (One might even imagine the “dead” Marcus, torn between the endless tedium of his story and his desire to narrate a cohesive self, echoing theIrish novelist, “you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on” [Unnamable 414].) However, Roth later contextualizes this narrative aberration in the penultimate section of the novella. Appearing 224 pages into the 233 page book, in a chapter titled “Out from Under,” an anonymous heterodiegetic narrator enters to inform us that the story we have been reading up until this point is not a note from limbo. Instead, the text in front of us represents the thoughts of a young man in a morphine-induced stupor—astute readers examining Roth’s brief table of contents will have guessed as much from the title of the first chapter,“Under Morphine”—unaware of the fact that the bayonet wounds he suffered on the battlefields of Korea have gravely incapacitated him, severing all but one leg from his torso and mutilating his intestines and genitals.’ DEREK ROYAL, WHAT TO MAKE OF ROTH’S INDIGNATION
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