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Language as a fence…

Two paragraphs, separated by many pages, from Gert Jonke’s “Individual and Metamorphosis” (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 2012, volume XXXII).

I am an invention of my own self.  Since coming upon myself facing myself I’ve been faced the whole time with the problem of how to place myself somewhere, in some place where I would be able either to find or somehow cobble together on my own, through hints and hunches at least, something like a roof, a lodging, a shelter for me and my head.  In my case it was clear soon enough that this would be most feasible if I came to settle in a region of my own arranging, a plot of land in the realm of language, or narration.

How, nonetheless, from a purely technical standpoint, can language express what has always been inexpressible, grow literate enough to produce literature?  Allow me to try illustrating it for you through an image.  Picture language as a fence you’re erecting: letters and words as fence posts, sentences as fences put up around an area itself unknown, intangible, unmeasured, perhaps not even really accessible; but my fencing it in with language delineates its outlines to me, allows me to see its contours, even though I cannot gain access or perhaps do not even need to enter this area…

Gert Jonke Individual

Jonke’s essay is fascinating and thought provoking.  However, I’m halfway through his Awakening to the Great Sleep War (published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2012), and, to paraphrase Jonke, I’m not gaining much access yet.

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  1. Fr. 436 | Anaesthete

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