A Woman’s Work Is Never Done by MIKKO TUHKANEN
Non-oedipal love is pretty hard work.
– Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations (10).
In The Second Sex (1949), a classic of second-wave feminism, Simone de Beauvoir writes of a woman’s work:
In domestic work, … woman makes her home her own, finds social justification, and provides herself with an occupation, an activity, that deals usefully and satisfyingly with material objects—shining stoves, fresh, clean clothes, bright copper, polished furniture. (451)
A woman’s work, de Beauvoir suggests, is a form of powerless displacement, where frustrations find an outlet in the repetitive activity of domestic hygiene and where the gatekeepers of bourgeois patriarchy are personified in the seemingly less nefarious form of household lint and dust. Yet, like a symptom of an unaddressed complaint, dirt endlessly returns to haunt the woman, keeping her busy, distracted. This insidious cycle is propelled by what de Beauvoir identifies as the reactivity of a woman’s work: “Such work has a negative basis: cleaning is getting rid of dirt, tidying up is eliminating disorder” (451). Never truly active but always an obsessive and resentful response to one’s limited existence, chores not only trap the woman but also renew the conditions of her imprisonment. In her work, she has become her own keeper.
This repetitiveness of a woman’s existence is illustrated in We (1996-1999), one of Pirjetta Brander’s key works. The drawing unfolds as a series of (self-)portraits of seemingly identical women: one is smoking on the bed, one having a bath; one figure is seen washing up dishes, while next to her another is flipping through television channels; yet another woman, having ostensibly finished dinner, reads by the kitchen table, shadowed by her doppelgänger on the edge of the bed. Such female self-replication in the enclosed space of domesticity suggests the humdrum progression of a woman’s time, where that which exists at once repeats the past and anticipates the future, where the new is an unimaginative rearrangement of the preceding moment. This temporal understanding is encouraged by the figures’ roughly circular arrangement on the canvas, immediately eliciting the reflex of a clock-wise reading of the scene. In its approach toward midnight, the scene proceeds via the figure in the rocking chair—suggesting an inevitable aging—to the one woman whose face is hidden from the viewers. Turned away from us, she is sitting on the window ledge and, like the “first” figure on the bed, smoking. The clock-wise reading thus ends with a faceless, anonymous woman, staring into an impenetrable darkness. Extending into the figure of the smoking woman on the bed, she completes yet simultaneously re-initiates the repetitive cycle.
The drawing—which, appropriately, hangs under a clock in Brander’s studio—thus suggests the disciplinary spatialization of temporality that female domesticity effects. The circularity of measured time, rendered visible as much in the face of a clock as in the drawing’s circular composition, turns the flow of temporality into quantitative units, into representation itself, thereby divesting it of what Henri Bergson would identify as the creativity of pure duration.
If We suggests the trapped circularity of a woman’s time, for de Beauvoir, too, the obsessive cleanliness of bourgeois female existence is marked by a particular temporality: “Washing, ironing, sweeping, ferreting out rolls of lint from under wardrobes—all this halting of decay is also the denial of life; for time simultaneously creates and destroys, and only its negative aspect concerns the housekeeper” (451). In its dedication to domesticity’s endless renewal, the habit of housewifely hygiene seeks to negate what Bergson in his theory of “creative evolution” calls life’s incessant productivity, unceasing change. While habits allow the persistence of material arrangements (specific organisms and species) in duration, they also, and paradoxically, prevent the movement of creative life force, trapping us into mindless (and, as Bergson argues in his theory of the comic, ridiculous) forms of existence.
In Gilles Deleuze’s and Félix Guattari’s terminology, de Beauvoir and Brander analyze the role of gender in the stratification of pure duration into manageable units of existence and representation. While stratification and territorialization, like habit-formation for Bergson, are indispensable elements in the emergence of life, they are also mechanisms that, by trapping the vital impulse into rigid forms, prevent further invention and becoming. It is this paradox of becoming that concerns me in this essay, particularly from the specific perspective of a woman’s temporality that Brander illustrates. I wish to trace some of the “key moments” in her work, which suggest that, through its habitual insistence, a woman’s work may nevertheless enable something else than a reproduction of the already-known. It may, that is, open to new possibilities that can only be understood as grotesque in their novelty.
According to Brander, art allows one to analyze the hierarchies and modes of relationality in which we live and which live us; art enables one to make sense of the violent, unfathomable, destructive ways people behave and relate to one another, particularly in families. Indeed, some of her work can be seen as kinds of pictorial livre à clefs, as illustrations of the artist’s nearest and dearest. As such, it is tempting, yet also imprudent, to categorize her work as confessional. We would be misguided in personalizing, tabloid-fashion, what we see on the canvas or the screen as fragments of the artist’s psychobiography. Art, whether visual or literary, “exists only when it discovers beneath apparent persons the power of the impersonal—which is not a generality but a singularity at the highest point” (Deleuze, Essays 3).
Brander’s work traces such points of absolute singularity that open territorialized spaces—for example, the domestic confinement of a woman’s work—onto radically different possibilities. As much as Brander provides detailed analyses, meticulous to the point of absurdity, of familial arrangements, and particularly of gender’s role therein, she is not content to illustrate that which exists. What her work shows is that art never merely maps the existing terrain of power relations but is always involved in the production of openings and moments that will explode our enclosed spaces, like that of domesticity in We, outwards, from static spatial coordinates to the movement of duration. It is here that, according to Deleuze and Guattari, art “attains its own grandeur”: it “creates chains of decoding and deterritorialization that serve as the foundation for desiring-machines, and makes them function” (Anti-Oedipus 368). Brander’s work describes what we have before us, our familial landscape, but also reveals that landscape as but a momentary congealment, whose stability is constantly threatened by grotesque becomings, by the actualization of alternate, monstrous worlds.
In this sense, the artist actualizes what Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus call the “schizorevolutionary type,” that which “follows the lines of escape of desire” (277). The artist, as they write elsewhere, “is a seer, a becomer” (What 171). Yet, art’s ability to actualize parallel worlds may not be much more than a cliché. It has become a cliché because of its easy appeal, an appeal inseparable from the innumerable possibilities of its failure. True to my scholarly training, I wish to illustrate such failures with literary examples, culled from two authors whose sensibilities Brander admits to admiring. The protagonists in Daphne du Maurier’s “Alibi” and Ruth Rendell’s Make Death Love Me experience an ambivalently empowering alienation through the affect of art, one through painting, the other through literature. While this deterritorializing affect enables them to discern something that may exist beyond the rigid stratum of bourgeois existence, they nevertheless are unable to follow the escape lines that art and literature unexpectedly draw.
Du Maurier’s short story opens with the male protagonist’s sudden epiphany that reveals everyone around him, including his wife, as “tiny puppets on strings. Even their steps were jerky, limping caricatures of real movements” (175). Having unexpectedly glimpsed the crude mechanisms of the world’s puppet show, James Fenton seeks an alternative existence of away from his suburban married life. He rents a studio in the basement of an immigrant woman’s house, where he takes to painting abstract, in his estimation groundbreaking works of art. His conviction of his art’s value is supported by the “stupid” (203) and “simple-minded” (209) landlady’s incomprehension at his work, and his feelings of superiority find expression not only in abstract art but also in his callous plans to murder her, a pregnant single mother living in poverty. Living in “blessed anonymity” (206), Fenton feels he “has been set free from his chains and has stepped into another dimension” (178).
In Make Death Love Me, Alan Groombridge, a bank manager in a small branch office, similarly wakes up to the emptiness of life’s rituals as he stumbles upon and begins reading “high” literature. Works that had seemed pompous and useless now casts his customary life in an alien light: he suddenly sees the pretentiousness of his wife, the monotony of his work, the ruthlessness of his children, and the complete failure of communication between all of them. As his bank is burglarized, he fakes his own kidnapping and disappears with three thousand pounds, beginning a life of seeking affects and experiences that his habitual existence had deprived him of.
In du Maurier and Rendell, art expresses the male protagonists’ consciousness of bourgeois alienation. While art thus enables or sustains deterritorialization, the escape route it provides is blocked as Fenton and Groombridge are immediately recaptured. Fenton regards himself as an exception to the puppetry around him, endowed with the ability to discern others’ ensnarement in meaningless existence. His feelings of transcendence, of superhuman inculpability—articulated in his art and murderous plans—are enabled by his uninterrogated privilege. His position, which entails misogyny (203-04) and xenophobia (182, 211), is never submitted to the defiguring work of deterritorialization.
Much more sympathetic a character, Rendell’s protagonist, on the other hand, desires an escape from the hierarchies in which he is embedded. Literature elicits in him a wrenching affect of being out of joint with his surroundings. We may compare this edifying but unhappy experience of the literary to classic scenes in the minoritarian tradition of African-American letters, particularly in slave narratives, where the narrator’s quickening through reading is inevitably followed not by an elevation (“uplift”) but an ascension to the real dimensions of his bondage. Reading has the distinct effect of a pharmakon for the African-American subject, providing the first step to freedom while at the same time paralyzing him in the seemingly inescapable enormity of his capture. Similarly, Groombridge becomes aware of his entrapment through high literature. Having discovered Shakespeare, he finds himself suddenly “a lost man. For his wits were sharpened, his powers of perception heightened, and he became discontented with his lot. … He had come late in life to the heady intoxication of literature and it had poisoned him for what he had” (206; see also 194). Unlike Fenton, Groombridge realizes his own confinement as the affect provided by literature heightens the deadening grind of everyday rituals. Even as his pity for his wife echoes Fenton’s scorn, he sees himself “as poor and pathetic” as those around him (211). Yet, try as he might, he cannot escape the habits that his previous life had inculcated in him: despite his willingness, he is unable to unlearn bourgeois scripts of romantic encounters and gender arrangements.
Rife with puppets, automatons, and other mechanical devices, Brander’s work seeks to elicit similar experiences of estrangement. The repeated figures of the mirrorball and the Christmas tree are perhaps most evocative in conjuring up this alienation. Their uncanniness stems from their ability to bypass any delay or interval between stimulus and reaction in educing an instantaneous pleasure, enjoyment, or happiness. Suggesting the scripted nature of our affective responses, they reduce our behavior to the predictability and manipulability of automation. For example, in In Cold Blood (2002), the glittering mirrorball seems to have provoked the man and the woman, reclining on an unremarkable bed, into ostentatious poses. Their showiness is belied by the heavy texture of their stagnated flesh. The human figures’ duplication in the mutilated mannequin peering from under the bed further suggests the indistinguishability of life and mechanism, as does the fact that we never quite know whether the electric cord snaking on the floor powers the mirrorball on the ceiling, the dummy under the bed, or one (or both) of the human figures. We find similarly ironic commentary about the manipulability of our fantasies in Paradise (1997) and a section of the video piece Drawing the Line Somewhere (2002). In both works, a glittering Christmas tree illuminates the all-too-human carnage of the otherworldly location.
The production of affects by the mirrorball and the Christmas tree blurs the distinction between organic and mechanical life, a distinction that is crucial to Bergson’s vitalist theory of creative evolution. Suggesting the mechanized nature of sentient life itself, these figures prevent invention, which, according to Bergson, finds its possibility precisely in the interval between stimulus and reaction (Matter 32). As numerous horror films have suggested, there is perhaps nothing more uncanny than automatic or automated laughter, for in it the one trait that, according to Bergson, guards us against the rigidity of mindless routines has become a routine affair in itself. Bergson’s argument in Laughter also suggests why Brander’s work, interrogating our imprisonment in the mechanized circuits of canned laughter, is nothing if not hysterically funny.
If the alienating epiphanies of du Maurier’s and Rendell’s male protagonists blow the lid off their canned happiness, Fenton and Groombridge fail the momentum of deterritorialization that art has provided them. Here they illustrate two ways of “falling into familiar, all-too-familiar traps” (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus 379) in escape’s trajectory. Fenton’s failure is characterized by his sense of transcendence, a limitless line of flight, that nevertheless depends on and bolsters majoritarian arrangements of gender and class hierarchies. While never evincing such arrogance, Groombridge is unable to rid himself of the bourgeois etiquette and values—his petty aesthetics (194), his gender conformism (299) and sexual inhibitions (298), his reliance on romantic love plots (292)—that have determined his life before his encounter with literature.
It is not accidental, of course, that du Maurier’s and Rendell’s protagonists are men. Unlike the alienation they experience, the one we find in Brander’s art is inflected through sexual difference. Neither Fenton’s masterful transcendence nor Groombridge’s middle-class etiquette is a sustainable fiction given the woman’s minoritarian perspective. That is, while alienation for Brander, like for Fenton, finds expression in the mindless mechanics of puppetry, we never get the feeling that there is anything uncontaminated by the violence and emptiness described in her work. On the other hand, Groombridge’s unwitting reproduction of petty-bourgeois values and aesthetics is replaced in Brander by the ironic consciousness of one’s inevitable participation in majoritarian rituals.
Aware of the history of art production and the fate of her female predecessors therein, Brander in her work indulges in no such easy epiphanies. As female artists have always known, the work of art production has more often than not been strictly incompatible with that which de Beauvoir calls a woman’s work, and women have faced an enforced choice between dedication to art and other loyalties. As if to register this history, nothing in Brander suggests that art as such can function as a transcendent line of escape without the most painstaking and painful practice of what we could call ascetic perseverance. This ascesis resembles what Deleuze considers the necessity for philosophers who are after “a new image of thought” to immerse themselves in the history of philosophy (see Olkowski, 34-35). Thinkers unaware of their implication in their discipline arrogate to themselves, like Fenton, the ability to make an absolute break, to rise above the puppetry around them, through “inspiration” or “genius.” As long-standing arrangements present themselves as breakthroughs, they are consequently captured by the very territory they seek to transcend. The same with art: the “painter is not a pure spontaneity, but a situated being who always works in relation to an already done” (Polan, 249). Or as Deleuze puts it in the title of chapter 14 to Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, “Every Painter Recapitulates the History of Painting in His or Her Own Way…” (ellipsis in the original). It is only through the ascetic practice of work that one can produce an opening onto the new.
Consequently, if an escape to another realm figures as a possibility in Brander, it opens only via the woman’s insistent residence in the very domain that most violently confines her to her place. Similarly, it is only through a painstaking exploration of family arrangements that one can find any promise of affective attachments that may reconfigure Oedipal reproductions. Often such openings surface in Brander as monstrous deviations from within, and produced by, the bourgeois family itself. For example, the dummies that litter her landscapes not only suggest that we have confused living matter with inert, mechanized objects (a distinction central to Bergson); this mixing of the organic and the inorganic exemplifies what Deleuze calls “nuptials against nature” or “unnatural alliances,” the queerly productive unions between human and inhuman, flesh and plastic. Such aberrant couplings threaten to hybridize existence into unforeseeable monstrosities. Monstrosity in Brander’s work gestures to the importance of teratological variations in the production of the future as unforeseeable. In the inconceivablity of the monstrous lies also its strange fecundity: while monstrosities are only rarely sustainable (more often than not, they, in crossing the limits of tolerable change, constitute evolutionary disadvantages that are eliminated by natural selection [Grosz, 35; Darwin, 65]), we should note, as Keith Ansell Pearson does, that Darwin himself saw their production as “an essential component of the complex machine called ‘natural selection’” (144). Monstrosities work for the future: when these variations do survive, they do so by precipitating an evolutionary leap that radically transforms the existing horizon of possibilities.
Beyond the stratification of life into organisms and culture, Deleuze finds a “nonorganic” force that continues to bleed through the already existing constellations of life. Brander’s dummies suggest this continuous seepage and the consequent breeding of new organizations of reality. Borrowing from Bergson’s theory of élan vital, Deleuze argues that art expresses “the power of nonorganic life that can be found in a line that’s drawn, a line of writing, a line of music. It’s organisms that die, not life. Any work of art points a way through for life, finds a way through the cracks” (Negotiations 143). Such cracks fissure the veneer of the most domestic of scenes in Brander. Even when, as in Self-Portrait with Buns (1999), the woman is cast in the stereotypically feminine role—that of the caretaker, the housewife, or the party host—her acquiescence to normative demands is belied by hints of monstrosity. Traveling from the host’s compliant smile to the goods she offers, our gaze is arrested by the veins that uncannily mark her chest. I use the term “uncanny” advisedly here, for the veins indicate something incongruous with yet inseparable from her domestic role: the extreme strain that her seeming gracefulness demands, perhaps, or the irrepressible facticity of her body. Something here comes to light that should have remained hidden. The woman’s veins and bloodshot eyes point to her fragility and deformity, articulate a “‘breakdown’ of the organic body” (Marks, 29). She is produced as a housewife only with an effort that threatens to undo not only the domestic role but the integrity of the human form itself, to turn the body into a gross image of blood and tissue. It is as if the body was a mere habit domesticating an array of disparate impulses into a manageable structure, a patriarchal territorialization. The habit of the body is haunted by matter’s fragility, the body’s susceptibility to breaking down, to bursting open. As the etymological link to the Latin monstrum, “omen,” suggests, the woman’s monstrosity shows (de-monstrates) for us future, as-yet unimaginable forms of being. Such moments of deterritorialization are everywhere in Brander, indicating lines of escape that “dismantle the subject, disorganize the body, or even … destabilize the state” (Olkowski, 34). In Brander, then, the body’s fate, its dissolutions and defigurations, is never without larger ramifications for the arrangements of the body politic.
Permeated by scenes of disintegration of the human body, Brander’s work expresses a ceaseless, violent productivity. For example, the blood vessels on the gracious host’s chest are also found in the first installment of the Self-Portrait triptych of 1997, tracking the maternal figure’s five bulbous mammary glands. Her udders and acephalic form suggest her dehumanization, while the mosaic glass wings she bears evince a status of man-made saintliness. Yet, the self-portrait does not merely offer a familiar critique of the bitch/saint dichotomy in representations of reproduction and motherhood; rather, the viscerally present veins anticipate a possible escape from this condition. In the second installment of the series, we find the human figure decomposed into a human-inhuman hybrid. This depersonified, semi-cohesive figure is traced by a mixture of veins that meld into a collage of roots, leaves, and pebbles. Reminiscent of Ishihara plates, used to test a patient’s color vision, the image can be visually organized into one of a human figure only through proper discrimination, through one’s ability to isolate the contours of a human form from the surroundings with which it is rhizomatically implicated. A slight shift in one’s perception of colors and forms renders the human figure imperceptible, hybridizes it with its Umwelt.
Blurring the distinction between the human and the nonhuman, the image can be read as an example of grotesque art, which originally referred to “decorative painting[s] or sculpture[s] in which portions of human and animal forms are fantastically interwoven with foliage and flowers” (Oxford English Dictionary). The grotesque, then, denotes an uncanny hybridization of entities—plants, animals, humans—that are usually figured in terms of self-contained molar bodies. We can understand Mikhail Bakhtin’s famous description of the grotesque in terms of such hybridization. As Bakhtin writes in Rabelais and His World, the grotesque body is promiscuously receptive to exchanges with the outside. This body “is not a closed, completed unit; it is unfinished, outgrows itself, transgresses its own limits” (26). The experience of the grotesque, then, is an affect that registers the body’s obscene openness to the world. In this, it often figures as a failure of meaning-making. As Robert Cook writes of grotesque art, “one of its most telling and consistent effects has been to mark the limits of man’s reason and imagination in his attempt to understand a universe beyond his comprehension.” Similarly, in literature, the experience of the grotesque “bewilder[s fictional] characters and expos[es] the inadequacies of those categories and norms that would make sense of all that is mysterious in the universe” (544).
This is what we find in Brander’s works: they seek the limit of intelligibility, a limit that is affectively experienced as the grotesque. The rhizomatic connectedness of the human and the nonhuman in the Self-Portrait, for example, challenges the way we habitually make sense of the world by opening the human body onto the non- or inhuman domain. As Bakhtin writes, such openness of the grotesque body signals the body’s susceptibility to change, revealing “its essence as a principle of growth which exceeds its own limits.” Such potential for change risks the body’s current constitution and identity: “This is the ever unfinished, ever creating body” (26). If the grotesque affect is elicited by a promiscuous crossing of categories—the miscegenation, for example, of the human and the inhuman—this mixing also opens the door for change, for hybrid becomings.
Because of the promise of uncanny productivity in the monstrous, Brander’s rendering of families remains, in all its grotesqueness, ultimately loving, Always a passionate embrace of violent deformity, Brander’s works never bear the signature of ressentiment, never yield to the impulse of mere reaction (in which, according to de Beauvoir, the bourgeois woman’s work is trapped). Becomings can only be affirmative and active; yet, recognition of affirmation does not downplay the strenuousness of the work of becoming.
Among the most exhausting is the labor of losing the affect of shame. The unblinking gaze at families’ monstrosity that we find in Brander requires this loss. Facing the threat of shame, we avert our eyes, toe the line; this threat tells us to respect borders, not to go “too far.” Shaming blocks queer affiliations across bodies and organized units, interrupting the body’s ability of being promiscuously affected. It is by acceding to this promiscuity that, as Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science, we find our release: “What is the seal of liberation? No longer being ashamed in front of oneself” (aphorism 275).
Finnish etymology is instructive in revealing the gendered, corporeal dynamics of shaming. The Finnish for shame, häpeä, is derived from the Karelian häpie—“shame, shameful; vulva”—and häp(p)y, which refers to the female genitalia (Suomen 209). The term hävytön, shameless, literally means a person without a proper regard for her pubes, a person, quite simply, without genitals. For a woman to be shameless is to misplace her häpy, that is, not only her virginity or innocence but also, literally, her genitalia, the very sacred essence of her gendered self. Shaming as a threatened loss of (psychic and bodily) integrity renders women their own keepers, as de Beauvoir writes in The Second Sex. This imprisonment is suggested in Brander by the substitution of female genitals for keyholes, as in some of the works in the Hell exhibition: witness the hollow between the legs of the “woman tortured by a tornado” (Hell, 2004), the locked doors of the houses in House and Family (2004), and the key to Orgasm that dangles from one of Mother’s numerous arms in Three Muses (2004).
Of course, the trope of the key for the female genitalia is not idiosyncratic to Brander. As The Oxford English Dictionary tells us, “clitoris” finds its etymological root in the Greek term “to shut,” which itself is linked to the Greek kleís, “a key, latch, or bolt” (Intermediate 435). This history is played out in the nineteenth-century discourse of sexology, which found in the clitoris (and its “pathologies”) the key to the female essence and perversity (see Gibson and Traub). The organ’s earlier history is recapitulated in El anatomista, Federico Andahazi’s recent fictionalized account of the discovery of the “magic key” (13) to the woman’s heart, where the narrator asks: “What would happen if Eve’s daughters were to realize that they were carrying the keys to heaven and hell between their legs?” (14). The woman’s shamelessness, her cunty hävyttömyys, then, may be an escape from the molar body of the mother, wife, and host. It may undo the domestic cycle that, in We, left us staring into the opaque night.
Of course, we should note that the clock-wise reading with which we began relies on the habit of chronological, linear narration. It is such conventions that, according to Brander, painting precisely destabilizes by allowing us to enter the image at whichever point (Kantokorpi, 16). Paintings in this sense are like maps, which, as Deleuze and Guattari write, present us with “multiple entryways” (Thousand 12). For example, if we are to read the series of female figures counter-clockwise, we end up staring, not with the faceless woman into the night, but at the woman sitting on the bed with her legs wide open. Doubling the darkness outside the window, her cunt, in its shameless display, may open as another seemingly impenetrable realm beyond claustrophobic (another term etymologically linked to kleís) domesticity.
While Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion, in What Is Philosophy?, of Primo Levi’s work contextualizes shame differently, their suggestions resonate with Brander’s politics of embracing shame. For Deleuze and Guattari, this specifically human affect adheres not only to such catastrophies as the Holocaust but to our everyday existence in late capitalist societies. But they insist that this affect cannot be negotiated by recourse to human “values” and “qualities”—such as justice and democracy—that seemingly transcend shame. Rather, as the write, “there is no way to escape the ignoble but to play the part of the animal (to growl, burrow, snigger, distort ourselves): thought itself is sometimes closer to an animal that dies than to a living, even democratic, human being” (108). The creative response to shame proceeds not through the nobility of human achievement but by pushing the envelope of the human. Here we find what Deleuze calls animal-becomings, lines of escape that transversally cross between forms of existence and “unravel your body’s human organization” (Negotiations 11).
But such animal-becomings—the disintegration of the human form in Brander—require labor. One can negotiate “the great molar powers of family, career, and conjugality” (Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand 233) not through inspiration, like du Maurier’s male protagonist thinks, but only through work. It is by working at one’s impossible situation, by “banging one’s head against the wall,” that one may trace a line of escape. Indeed, that which leads to a seeming dead-end, that which looks like, to paraphrase Freud, the navel of one’s nightmare, may be the very condition of an elsewhere: “without a set of impossibilities, you won’t have the line of flight, the exit that is creation, the power of falsity that is truth” (Deleuze, Negotiations 133).
Mikko Tuhkanen (1967) is Assistant Professor of English at East Carolina University, U.S.A.
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