Story Telling In The Powerbook English Literature Essay

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Such playful reconstruction of history, myth, and fairy tale is less overt in Wintersons most recent work, but these novels, nonetheless, recall the quest story, particularly Art and Lies, Gut Symmetries, and The Powerbook, which depicts mini-epic journeys through space and time, reaching always for what cannot be found.

Feminist aesthetics (Audre Lorde)

We tell stories, we listen to stories, and we create stories. We have to. If we did not we would not be human. Story and projection (Turner, 1996), narrative and time-Paul Ricoeur (1984) called it a "healthy circle" (p. 76), "an endless spiral that [carries] the meditation past the same point a number of times, but at different altitudes" (p. 72).

Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and narrative vol. 1 (K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago.


Nonetheless, love-as positivity and possibility-drives all of the texts, which, like a certain home found in them here and there, "celebrat[e] ceilings and den[y] floors" (Sexing 15, Gut 142).


Cixous insists, "Women must write through their bodies [.. .] they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse, including the one that [. . .] aiming for the impossible, stops short before the word 'impossible' and writes it as 'the end'" ("Laugh" 256).

Cixous. Hélène. "The Laugh of the Medusa." New French Feminisms. Ed. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1980. 245-64.


Grosz explains that such a flowing conceptualization of the subject's body as always interacting is the basis of Delueze and Guatarri's work. She argues:

Their notion of the body as a discontinuous, nontotalizable series of processes, organs, flows, energies, corporeal substances and incorporeal events, speeds and durations, may be of great value to feminists attempting to reconceive bodies outside the binary oppositions imposed on the body by the mind-body, nature-culture, subject-object and interior-exterior oppositions, (164)

This notion proves highly productive in Winterson's texts; for as difference and movement take the foreground that previously belonged to symbolic law and its encapsulated lack, what gets articulated is positivity. As dancing princesses usurp narrative (Sexing), as a commuter train travelling at the speed of light carries passengers of three different centuries (Gut), and as story becomes indivisible from reader and writer (particularly in The Powerbook), binary oppositions, depending always on one dead term, founder. Because the laws of postmodernity, which dictate lawlessness, provide a certain context for language that defies notions of binary opposition, Winterson's texts harness this power for constructive feminist purposes. Story, language, body, and identity are intricately linked systems; to reconceive one system is, effectively, to restructure the others. Moreover, as Grosz argues, to imagine a system that is fluid, simultaneous, and always moving matter and energy is to begin to reconstruct a body and its accompanying experience of subjectivity as limitless possibility.

Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1994.


Section 3.2

Does Sexing the Cherry subvert the Cartesian mind/body dualism? If so, which methods are used?


It's not about the WHAT but about the HOW!


4.2 Sticky Words: Blurring the Reader/Writer/Text Divide

4. This bypasses the question of what it would mean to hear the term 'diversity'. I will

address this question later on. I am also qualifying my argument about sticky signs in

my book, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Ahmed, 2004a), which links the repetition

of terms to the accumulation of affective value.

The Abject

[The abject] is death infecting life.

In Powers of Horror, Julia Kristeva describes the abject as that which "disturbs identity, system and order... [and] does not respect borders, positions, rules." It is "that which defines what is fully human from what is not." By this, Kristeva is referring to that which threatens us by transgressing the bodily boundaries between self and other, challenging our bodily identity. Most of what is abject centres around the body - vomit, blood, saliva, filth, waste, pus, bodily fluids, and open wounds - those substances which are disturbing because they turn our insides out, dissolving the acceptable perimeters between inner/outer, living/dead, human/animal, male/female, clean/defiled, natural/supernatural.

The Dog-Woman is a challenging configuration, as she incorporates the abject (body horror) by displaying the body as disfigured, deformed, diseased, infiltrated, mutated and transformed. Kristeva says we feel repulsion and horror when confronted by images of the abject because of their ambiguity, whether the other is external or internal, a part of ourselves. We define ourselves in opposition to that repulsive body that disgusts us, and it is that slippage between us and them that threatens to dehumanize us because it is so close to ourselves. In Cronenberg's films, it is the human animal who becomes the monster by transgressing taboos of the flesh.


On Winterson:

Jeanette Winterson is one of the most acclaimed feminist writers in Britain of the last two decades. Winterson rose quickly to international fame in the 1980s with the publication of comical and fantastic novels like Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry, and The Passion.


On androgyny:

Winterson's aesthetic presses on the problem of androgynous voices in her writing. "Androgyny" resonates not only in characters like Handel, who looks androgynous to Picasso on the train and who is described in subtly feminizing terms, but androgyny also refers potentially to Winterson's ideal voice. Responding to an early critique of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, she began to include more fleshed-out and vocal male characters in her novels, so that Sexing the Cherry and The Passion are alternately narrated by a man and a woman. In Written on the Body, however, she goes infamously further: the nameless narrator who has affairs with both men and women has no determinable sex, unless one were to interpret the language of love in a gendered manner. One of Pritchard's objections--that Handel is "gelded"--demonstrates a discomfort with a more androgynous male voice, one that models a less aggressive form of masculinity, given a negative foil of Sir John or Picasso's brother. In Winterson's alternative creation of a male voice, sensibility is central and the connection to women is sometimes more open. In this sense, the voice operates as a teleologically constructive fantasy, treating androgyny as a partial antidote to gender strife. However, "androgyny" as a term was dismissed in the mid-1970s, as Rich argued that it threatened to perpetuate the notion that certain human aspects were inherently masculine and feminine. Deirdre Lashgari regrets the loss of the term, though, pointing out that we are still in need of a way of describing the process of crossing over from old into new ways of thinking (12). Winterson's work would seem to be enacting just such a crossing, so that cultural (not natural) constructions of male and female can be recognizably altered. Yet another concern, however, arises, if "masculine" and "feminine" are defined on a binary construction as oppositionally valued, so that the combinations of such terms would rather idealistically describe the erasure of gender differences, something which seems impossible, although gaps might be lessened. Androgyny would then be an escape into fantasy, rather than a constructive use of it.



Reproduction and sex remain mysterious principles to the Dog-Woman. She bases her knowledge of these deeply embodied acts on her experiences with her dogs' (mating) behaviour, and as a result, is frequently baffled and disgusted by sexual acts


Further references to add from STC:




Maybe add:

[add reference to the importance of the use of 'voice', or rather, the point of view in literary studies. Then add a FOOTNOTE stating that this use of voice is a highly debated and analysed theme in psychoanalysis, predominantly in Lacan's view of the symbolic order].