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Title: Haptic Writing as Micropolitical Art in Michael Ondaatje's Narrative Works
Author: Marinkova, Milena Dobrich
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis offers a reading of Michael Ondaatje's narrative works that correlates certain aesthetic choices with alternative forms of political allegiance. Starting with a discussion of what constitutes the haptic qualities of these texts, I demonstrate how synaesthesia and indexicality as aesthetic devices and thematic choices forge a more egalitarian and interactive relationship between reader, author and work. Whilst the dissolution of monologic textuality gives way to heteroglossic textural propinquity, Ondaatje's works do not simply celebrate multivalent meaning, but recurrently remind one of the disruptive potential of the haptic. For not only are these narratives postmodernist flights into imagination and experiment, but they also constitute disturbing interventions into mainstream. discourses. Furthermore, haptic writing iscapable of offering an ethicil1ly responsible narrative that disrupts normative regimes of representation without dismissing the personal and the intima~. The indexical nature of hapticity constructs the text as a trace of a material reality and real material bodies; a remainder that is itself physical and opaque. Thus, the inscrutable corporealities and untranslatable textualities enact a form of witness writing, which does not become a redemptive spectacle, nor does it offer a cure-all solution. Resisting transparent repres;ntation and absolute cognitive me'chanisms, Ondaatje's works bear just witness to the irreducibility of difference and self-reflectively acknowledge their own representational limits. Similarly to the physicality of the body,· haptic writing testifies to its own insufficiency and invites the reader in her tum to become an embodied and participatory, an agentive and vulnerable witness. The agency conferred by a haptic writing is of a microscopic rather than macro nature. Ondaatje's much criticised interest in the personal and the intimate, however,does not soar into a celebration of individualism. The haptic emphasis on the irreducibility of corporeality highlights a site where multiple allegiances can gain recognition without being subsumed into a uniform political stance. However, such immanent relationality can be romanticised or exoticised, just as multiple microscopic allegiances can be co-opted by regimes of dispersed control or of qmisi-fascistic nature. In this respect, Ondaatje's narratives not only gesture at their insufficient and constructed nature, but also outline their potential implication in and appropriation by normative discourSes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available