F R E A K I N '

N E V E R : T W E A K I N '
From the long-ago day that a space was made in language for a representative simulacrum of itself, composed of its own substance, the work of language has continually dramatized the struggle against death in which language has all along been engaged. "[A] virtual space," Foucault calls it, "where speech discovers the endless resourcefulness of its own image and where it can represent itself as already existing behind itself..." This is "the space in which writing has been able to flow and establish itself"--and yet the development of the printing press appears to have effected a more fundamental change in the work of language's mode of resistance to death than writing itself ever did. Though subtly made, this point of "Language to Infinity" flies in the face of the so-called "Great Divide" theory which would make of writing the most transformative innovation in all of human culture--or at least that's how I'm taking it here on The Ingredient, where Foucault writes:

"The date of this transformation is roughly indicated by the simultaneous appearance at the end of the eighteenth century of the works of Sade and the tales of terror. It is not their common predilection for cruelty which concerns us here; nor is it the discovery of the link between literature and evil, but something more obscure and paradoxical at first sight: these languages which are constantly drawn out of themselves by the overwhelming, the unspeakable, by thrills, stupefaction, ecstasy, dumbness, pure violence, wordless gestures, and which are calculated with the greatest economy and prescision to produce effects (so that they make themselves as transparent as possible at this limit of language toward which they hurry, erasing themselves in their writing for the exclusive sovereignty of that which they wish to say and which lies outside of words) --these languages very strangely represent themselves in a slow, meticulous, and infinitely extended ceremony."

The Marquis de Sade is of surpassing interest as the model for ROTF's arch-villian, the Marquis de Montalt. But let me skip ahead to what Foucault has to say about the tales of terror: "[N]ovels of this type were not meant to be read at the level of their writing or in the specific dimensions of their language; they wished to be read for the things they recounted, for this emotion, fear, horror or pity which words were charged to communicate, but only through their pure and simple transparency." Is this ever true in ROTF, where plot is motivated primarily as a means of inducing emotional extremes--first in Adeline, then on to the reader--in succession. "[E]ach episode must follow the preceding one in keeping with the simple but absolutely essential law of increment. It is necessary to approach always closer to the moment when language will reveal its absolute power, by giving birth through each of its feeble words to terror; but this is the moment when language inevitably becomes impotent, when its breath is cut short, when it should still itself without even saying that it stops speaking."

Tell that to the wretched author of Adeline's manuscript, which fails abundantly to end with the words: "I will continue my journal nightly, till the hand that writes shall be stopped by death: when the journal ceases, the reader will know I am no more. Perhaps these are the last lines I shall ever write."] Now COMING SOON ON THE INGREDIENT!! these words: "Adeline could not go on."


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