Writing a Politics of Perception

Writing a Politics of Perception: Memory, Holography, and Women Writers in Canada

DAWN THOMPSON
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 152
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442683709
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  • Book Info
    Writing a Politics of Perception
    Book Description:

    Looking at five novels by women writing in Canada, Thompson develops a theory of ?holographic memory,? in which texts are performances that invite constant revision, remodelling, and interaction between narrative, memory, and, potentially, reality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8370-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Pre-holographic fragments: Configuring the memory theatre
    (pp. 3-15)

    In order to ensure that their mathematical calculations match their expectations, physicists sometimes find it necessary to measure time in ‘imaginary numbers.’ Events that take place in ‘imaginary time’ are said to exist in Euclidean space-time, where the distinction between time and space disappears. Euclidean spacetime is an imaginary four-dimensional universe, a mathematical device used to calculate answers about real space-time (Hawking 134). However, the efficacy of this construct has led scientists to speculate that ‘maybe what we call imaginary time is really more basic, and what we call real is just an idea that we invent to help us...

  5. 1 Re-inventing the world: Calculating the con/volutional integrals of holography in Nicole Brossardʼs Picture Theory
    (pp. 16-42)

    ‘Décembre la neige’ (Picture Theory108): ‘les mots volaient dans toutes les directions’ (112). And in the confused blizzard of words, of signs disseminated across a text, you catch a glimpse of the hologram. The hologram enacts memory, orla mémoire: the faculty for thought. Memory is a semiotic system. And semiosis, like memory, functions holographically. What follows is a thought experiment, an attempt to come to terms with what is usually considered to be an essentialist, Utopian text from a constructivist position while expanding the political potential of that text.

    Nicole Brossard’sPicture Theoryoutlines a Utopian feminist project...

  6. 2 ReSurfacing: Quantum visions of shamanic transformations
    (pp. 43-62)

    Margaret Atwood’sSurfacingmakes no reference to either holography or quantum physics in the development of its political strategy. However, likePicture Theory, this novel employs experimentation with language and memory to point towards a Utopian integration of women into their environment. Whereas Brossard strives to integrate women into a socially constructed reality, Atwood turns to the natural world. By establishing that a holographic theory is also relevant to this text, I hope to show that this theory is not simply a product of one brilliant and innovative text (Picture Theory). Rather, it designates a cognitive strategy that may or...

  7. 3 Looking for livingstone in Marlene Nourbese Philipʼs Looking for Livingstone
    (pp. 63-78)

    Livingstone: ‘the boulders float, melt, everything is made of water’ (Atwood,Surfacing195). The transformative moment inSurfacingmarks a change in perception; what was once perceived as static, inorganic, and thus a reliable reference point on a cognitive map suddenly becomes a ‘relatively autonomous subtotality,’ a moment in the holomovement that can at any other moment become re-enfolded out of perception. Marlene Nourbese Philip traces that same movement in the opposite direction, responding that ‘Stone mourns / haunted / into shape and form / by its loss...’ (‘Testimony Stoops to Mother Tongue,’She Tries Her Tongue78). For Philip,...

  8. 4 Typewriter as Trickster: Revisions of Beatrice Culletonʼs In Search of April Raintree
    (pp. 79-95)

    It is tempting to simply place a holographic memory ‘grid’ on a text by a First Nations author, to search for an aboriginal example of earth-dwelling, one that presumably, because indigenous, would not be aborted as Atwood’s attempt is. However, how could I do so without simply repeating Atwood’s appropriation of the Native sign? Without, in the search for livingstone, repeating Livingstone?

    How, then, to forge an alliance between a post-structural, feminist theory of memory and the politics of First Nations, without simply ‘forcing’ a text to fit into my theory? Taking the advice of Philip, I shall attempt to...

  9. 5 The wandering memory of Régine Robinʼs La Québécoite
    (pp. 96-115)

    Régine Robin’sLa Québécoitereturns us to Montreal, where once again a window frames a snowstorm that becomes a metaphor for the dissemination of meaning across a text (188). Like Nicole Brossard’sPicture Theory, this is a text of memory, of writing, of cognitive mapping, identifications, and semiotic inventions that simultaneously alter both the subject and the city. The narrative is non-linear and non-local, yet relates the desire to dwell - in a site that can only be in a memory of the future.

    The autobiographical protagonist ofLa Québécoiteis an Ashkenaze Jew, born in Paris, who immigrates to...

  10. In/conclusion: A writing that is never whole
    (pp. 116-122)

    In her semiotics of subjectivity, Teresa de Lauretis traces the interaction between the subject-in-process and her environmentin- process, melding notions of cognitive and semiotic mapping. She suggests that by altering the mode of mapping, reorganizing that process, and shifting the relationship between map, mapper, and mapped, a subject can produce an invention that can eventually alter her semiotic environment (Alice55). Memory is implicit in de Lauretis’ semiotics; it is necessary to both the notion of a cognitive map and that of subjectivity. Nicole Brossard’s holographic memory suggests how memory might function in the process of invention, asPicture Theory...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 123-132)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 133-140)
  13. Index
    (pp. 141-143)