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The writing of Francis Ponge : from the subject of language to the object of autography

posted on 08.02.2017, 03:43 authored by Anderson, Philip
This thesis explores the writing of Francis Ponge in terms of a shifting subjectivity, beginning with the discovery of self as subjected to language. That subjection is the experience of speech as alienation, as a form of social embodiment, metaphorised in the image of language as that which engulfs, contaminates and penetrates the body as the locus of resistant desire. Language is experienced as coextensive with dominant discourse, not as an effect but as the substance of ideology. Resistance to alienation takes place as resistance to words, the subject subjected to discourse discovering in the fact that it contains language - constrains and restricts it, but equally is subject to the realisation of its material forms - the means of his resistance. In flight from words, he discovers words to be his means of flight in the disfiguring of dominant discourse, in the shifts he produces in it according to the rules of language (whereby other meaning is found in the material of the construction of dominant meaning). His flight becomes a saying anything that language authorises in and against dominant discourse. In Ponge's parti pris des choses, saying anything is focussed on saying any thing. An object standing for the world of matter stands at the foundation of a writing as desire to speak of difference - of the riens of dominant discourse, the object and the subject it excludes from expression. In writing as de/ire, which returns dominant discourse, through its fragmentation, to the materiality of language, Ponge discovers desire, of which the object is the metaphor, to be a contradictory multiplicity (already signalled in its disavowal). He recognises and rejects the desire of oneness that stands in the meaningless materiality of the object and of language reduced to matter, but does not espouse the recourse to meaning that dominant discourse provides, its appeal, or rather demand, revealing it as alienated desire. Rather than a meaning, he espouses the meaningfulness of language in the de-lire that reads, according to the rules of language, through the fragmentation of dominant discourse to another discourse. Ponge enacts the writing of the reading of a writing: the fragmentation of discourse by writing, the un-becoming of a meaning, becomes, through reading, its becoming meaningful otherwise which writing then records. In the un-becoming and becoming of discourse subjected to the rule of language, meaningfulness is contained while meaning is uncontained. The question of representation of object and subject is resolved in the shift in meaning - equivocation- that Ponge's writing enacts and displays. The subject is written as the object of his desire in the displacement of meaning rather than any replacement meaning. They stand not in any unequivocal meaning of the text, but in the text as equivocation, in the process of discourse and meaning un-becoming and becoming, in the multiplicity of meanings that bear witness to language as the possibility and desire of ongoing meaningfulness, and therefore as the site of a politics of language and subjectivity.


Principal supervisor

Marie Maclean

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

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