SUBJECTS AND OBJECTS - A ROUSING
Subjects. Objects. Reside in oblivion. In suspicion. In suspicious oblivion.
That life is elsewhere.¹
Subjects and Objects, in the state of recurrence of the Common and the Same, detect and suspect that there is some other text, somewhere else of this assuring site of narrative they have been accustomed to. This narrative which has endured as the constitution of fundamental tenets that have long asserted their validated hegemony in the schema of things. This one which somehow manages to deliver a coherent, pertinent characterisation of subjects and objects.
Outside the circle of the known and the identified, that one, which is the beckoning of the unnameable, disclosed in naming of the unsurpassable, awakens. That begins the whole curiosity of subjects and objects, and the whole curiosity of our thought. This contemplation undermines the 'unities once held to be inviolable in both historical and literary studies - seamless canons; isolated and individual works of genius; linear chronologies; myths of ends and origins; and the enduring presence of privileged, and ultimately authoritative, authorial voices.'² Ever so ardently defining and conditioning the worlds of subjects and objects.
Subjects and objects begin to look beyond their hackneyed designations, over and above all that is needful, practical and tangible. In outbreaks of temperamental gestures, this disclosure shatters closed systems, shaking the ground which hosts the banalities of the commonplace, this seeming goodness of tamed regularities.
This narrative into which subjects and objects have been initiated seems to exchange the reality of words for something less definable. Subjects and objects begin to acquire a new kind of characterisation. In a profusion of revelations, they become identifiable by what they are not, these 'marvelous mechanisms'³ conjure beings endowed with fantastic characteristics out of subjects and objects previously defined by their ordinary beginnings and common destinies. Yet it could be the aphasic quality of the subliminal devices that subjects and objects become suddenly aware of, that renders saying to be unsaid.
Like Foucault’s laughter roused by a ‘certain Chinese encyclopedia'⁴ of Borges’ - 'the language that shattered all the familiar landmarks of my thought - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusions of existing things and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other.’⁵
Extracts from Final Year Dissertation
School of Architecture, 1995
1. 'Life Is Elsewhere' is a celebrated sentence of Arthur Rlmbaud. It is cited by Andre Breton at the conclusion of his Surrealist Manifesto.' It is also the title of Milan Kundera's book.
2, Gerry 0, Sullivan, The Library is on Fire: Intertextuality in Borges and Foucault, in Edna Aizenberg ed. Borges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1990.
3. To borrow Michel Foucault's words describing Raymond Roussel's writings. in Michel Foucault, Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel, Doubleday & Company, Inc., New York, 1986.
4. This 'certain Chinese Encyclopedia' can be found in 'The Analytical Language of John Wilkins', a short essay by Jorge Luis Borges originally published in Otras Inquisiciones (1937–1952).
5. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, Random House, 1970, preface.