On Borderlines: Creativity and Permeability in Ponge, Giono, and Duras Open Access

Stamm, Gina (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/z890rt90c?locale=en


This dissertation develops the thesis that in the period following World War Two, there was widespread cultural preoccupation with the idea of the borderline between the inside of the individual (especially the body) and the outside world. This anxiety was spread over multiple disciplines, including literature and art, philosophy, natural sciences, and psychoanalysis. So far, psychoanalysis is the only discipline to have officially thematized this phenomenon and to have provided a vocabulary for it in response to an influx of new patients requiring this new theoretical approach. I offer an overview of this work, as well as its relationship to the larger question of language's place in creating borderlines between the self and the outside world. Beyond this, I provide a close reading of the work of three very different authors of the postwar period, all of whom use a coherent set of motifs in both their work and critical writing to describe how they use language as a border between themselves and the outside world. This use has concrete implications for what they see as the possibilities and responsibilities of the author in society. The poet Francis Ponge sees literary or artistic creation as the movement of material from the inside of himself to the outside, to form a shell that will change the overall organization of the outside world little by little, with eventual revolutionary consequences. Jean Giono was interested less in creating boundaries than in opening up separate subjective "worlds" between people and in opening oneself to integration with the natural world. The violent gesture of artistic or sensual opening was meant to displace inherent human violence from the political sphere to the artistic. For Marguerite Duras, however, writing requires the creation of protective borders against the outside, and shows how these same structures can turn destructive. In her work, images of walls and houses attempt but do not succeed in shoring up barriers to the exterior to make space for writing, and they distance her from the outside world.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter I: The Conceptual and Clinical Borderline and the Creative Process. 7

Chapter II: Francis Ponge's Revolutionary Physics of Writing. 51

Chapter III: Opening the Grande Barrière: Giono's "Théâtre du Sang". 95

Chapter IV: L'Anonymat Sacré et L'Ombre Interne: Ecrire at Home with Marguerite Duras. 141

Conclusion. 187

Works cited. 189

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