Insubordinate Gestures And The Ends Of Life: The Aesthetics Of Gesture In Henri Michaux, CéSar Vallejo, And Diamela Eltit
Insubordinate Gestures and the Ends of Life is a study of the aesthetics of gesture in the work of Henri Michaux, César Vallejo, and Diamela Eltit. Focusing on the process of creation and the tension between theory and practice, language and thought, I read the writing of gesture as a Cynical practice through which these authors create vital signs without presuming to define the contents of the self. By examining how gesture configures form as a site of struggle, this study seeks methods of reading the materiality of language and the body beyond the materialism/signification divide. Writing in different genres across the twentieth century, each of these authors offers a means for thinking the conditions of the emergence of sense and the subject, and art as praxis. I begin with Michaux's writing, where gesture is both a shifting idea relative to other concepts in his work and an embodied practice of painting through which, I argue, he re-creates the conditions of his oeuvre and himself. Whereas Michaux's 'gesture-signs' and 'passages' invoke a physics of the phrase beyond words, Vallejo's late poetry probes the limits of the body's role as a signifying economy by re-imagining the technē of writing as a practice of the body. The last chapter examines how the gestural kinetics of Eltit's sentences disrupts biopolitical dispositifs, and considers how gesture creates an aesthetic form that articulates the precarious situation of bodies through the tension of its material inscription. This dissertation thus interrogates the 'ends' of gesture in a double sense: as a suspension of formal ends, and in terms of the stakes or end its aesthetics has in life. In tracing the malleability of gesture as a concept and phenomenon across these authors' works, it does not seek to develop a continuous theory of gesture, but to mine the differences between them; each chapter reflects critically on the previous chapter to elaborate gesture's constitutive paradoxes. This project therefore conceives itself as an indirect response both to contemporary critiques of the linguistic turn and of biopolitics as 'thanatopolitics.'
Writing of Gesture; Affect; Gesture and Biopolitics
Murray, Timothy Conway
Culler, Jonathan Dwight; Castillo, Debra Ann
Ph. D., Comparative Literature
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis