Locating Female Experimental Stylistics within Avant-garde Aestheticism


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Locating Female Experimental Stylistics within Avant-garde Aestheticism Jorge Luis Borges, Mary Caponegro, and Carole Maso
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Bradley, Carolyn Collins
University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Committee Chair:
Bryant, Marsha C
Committee Members:
Sorbille, Martin


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borges -- caponegro -- cixous -- experimental -- maso
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
English thesis, M.A.
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My paper situates contemporary female experimental writing within an avant-garde tradition of amoral aestheticism, by drawing out how “metafiction” has progressed from Jorge Luis Borges’s apolitical critiques of Realism to Mary Caponegro and Carole Maso’s tentatively feminist, self-consciously aesthetic narratives.  To this end, I compare Borges’s “El Aleph” with Caponegro’s “The Star Café” and Borges’s “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan” with Maso’s AVA.  As I show, in both of his stories, Borges uses fantasy to deconstruct the Realist tradition: in “El Aleph,” he proposes a ‘surreal portal,’ through which the protagonist seems metaphorically dropped into a Realist narrative; in “El jardín,” he proposes an ‘infinite novel,’ consisting of all possible plotlines, which seems a parody of the Realist novel’s assurances of narrative certainty.  In “The Star Café” and AVA, Caponegro and Maso can be seen as writing into Borges’s fantastic proposals, not to critique Realism, but to champion anti-mimetic art: in “The Star Café,” Caponegro reconfigures the ‘surreal portal,’ to have her protagonist seemingly metaphorically released into an anti-Realist narrative; in AVA, Maso reconfigures the ‘infinite novel,’ to create a non-linear piece, designed to elude closure at every turn, allowing infinite interpretive possibilities.  However, whereas Caponegro creates in her story a realm of questions left unanswered about gender and literature, seemingly offering the reader no ‘message,’ Maso infuses her novel with a self-contradictory didactic quality, as she seemingly uses her protagonist to advocate for her own marginalized views on feminism and formally experimental, non-didactic art.
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by Carolyn Collins Bradley.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Bryant, Marsha C.
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2 2012 Carolyn Bradley


3 To my father, m other, sister, and two brothers


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my former creative writing teacher from Vassar Professor Joshua Harmon, who introduced me to Mary Caponegro and as well as a world of avant garde literature I had never previously known about. I thank my thesis director, Professor Marsha Bryant, for going beyond the call of du ty in helping me prepare this study with her careful readings of my various drafts and detailed suggestions for improvement. I thank my family for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for always believing in me.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 2 OBJECTIVITY (THE REALIST NARRATIVE) INTO A DOOR TO COMPLETE SUBJECTIVITY (ANTI MIMETIC ART) ................................ ................................ ... 17 Opening Argument ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 17 ................................ ................................ ................................ 18 ................................ ................................ .................. 29 3 AVA CERTAINTY (THE REALIST NARRATIVE) INTO A REALM OF INFINITE POSSIBILITY (ANTI MIMETIC ART) ................................ ................................ ...... 39 Opening Argument ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 39 ................................ ................... 40 AVA ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 47 4 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 60 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 64 BIOGR APHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 68


6 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts LOCATING FEMALE EXPERIMENTAL STYLISTICS WI THIN AVANT GARDE AESTHETICISM: JORGE LUIS BORGES, MARY CAPONEGRO, AND CAROLE MASO By Carolyn Bradley August 2012 Chair: Marsha Bryant Major: English My paper situates contemporary female experimental writing within an avant garde tradition consciously aesthetic narratives. To this end, I compare Borge AVA As I show, in both of his stories, Borges uses fantasy to deconstruct the Realist tradition: in he proposes a Realist narrative; in I AVA fantastic proposals, not to critique Realism, but to champion anti seem ingly metaphorically released into an anti Realist narrative; in AVA Maso linear piece, designed to elude closure at every turn, allowing infinite interpretive possibilities. However, whereas Caponegro


7 c reates in her story a realm of questions left unanswered about gender and literature, contradictory didactic quality, as she seemingly uses her protagonist to advocate for her o wn marginalized views on feminism and formally experimental, non didactic art.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Of the many difficulties one confronts in attempting to theorize innovative female garde, perh aps the most fundamental is precisely that experimental stylistics (at least, as they have been developed over the 20th and 21st century) are designed to elude rational interpretation. Mainstream feminist literary circles have long found this aspect of ex perimental female writing objectionable, preferring a conventional view of language as transparent and thus capable of representing female specificity and difference (Hite 13 6). However, post struct uralist feminists including such notable writers as Hl ne Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Mary Jacobus have tended to regard experimental stylistics as intrinsically gue the patriarchal symbolic order inheres. Yet, as Marianne DeKoven points out, this perspective is difficult to maintain in light of the similarity between female and male tics for) structuralist feminists have been forced to grapple with this contradiction by either embracing male experimental writing as part of criture fminine vileging of the male avant the existence of a separate avant garde tradition (72 8). A deeper problem with the post structuralist feminist position, in my view, is how it fail s to accept much female experimental writing on its own terms. While certainly many female experimental writers have political intentions for their work, many others


9 connect to a competing avant garde tradition of skepticism of politically or socially com mitted art. Moreover, I would argue that, precisely because experimental stylistics function to obscure reality, even those experimental writers who are politically motivated may find that their writing resists conveying the message they intend. Giving l ie to the critical notion that formal devices arrive already imbued with determinate political effects, Johnny Payne points comically to the fact that the Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, commonly regarded to have been a political reactionary during hi s lifetime, has wing aesthetic, even as Borges employs techniques distinctly similar to those found in the fictions of Luisa Valenzuela, William Burroughs, and Kathy Acker, all well known leftists, whom critics have lauded for producing radically progressive fictive realms (197). In my view, female experimental writing merits greater attention than it currently receives for its explorations of the freeing potential of form. According to the late Britis h experimental novelist, Christine Brooke Rose, the female experimental writer who does not write exclusively, or even mostly, on gender themes is perhaps the least likely writer to be read: not only does she face the indifference of the mainstream literar y community and the male avant garde, she also tends to be overlooked by feminist critics devoted to (67). Nonetheless, many female experimental writers continue to sha pe their work around a desire to provide the reader a space for imaginative freedom, where the or otherwise. Indeed, many female (and male) experimental writers expr ess a desire to attain for their writing the purity of music, an art form conceived of as consisting entirely


10 in style, lacking content (Benson 123). Ironically, the most controversial aspect of female experimental stylistics, then, may be its focus on ae sthetics over practical concerns, its suggestion that art has intrinsic value. In this paper, I would like to draw attention to two of the most formally subversive fiction writers in America today, both women, Mary Caponegro and Carole Maso, to suggest how (and why) their work opens the reader into a self consciously aesthetic realm. While both Caponegro and Maso owe demonstrable literary debts to earlier female writers including, most importantly, Virginia Woolf I can best serve my awing out the presence of a common male precursor in their fiction, Jorge Luis Borges. I agree with Herman Rapaport that Borges, perhaps more than any other writer, has used his fiction to dramatize the problematic of reading, calling attention both to th of the reader falsely presuming just this possibility (140 grappling with be fruitfully read as writing into what Borges suggests constitutes in which the assurances of referential language collapse, I believe Caponegro and Maso suggest that literature, though perhaps too unwieldy to offer remedies for worldly problems, may serve a quieter purpose for readers: extending release from the strain of being h uman. Importantly, Borges, writing in Argentina in the 1920s, was an early pioneer of many of the key literary critical notions which have dominated Euro American literary circles for the last fifty years. He independently developed a theory of literatur e as an


11 exploration of form and syntax, rather than of content, believing that literary novelty can only consist in the crafting of old ideas into new forms (Alazraki 101 5). Although the Russian Formalists were cultivating similar ideas during the same p eriod, their work was not introduced into western Europe until the 1940s, and Borges was almost certainly unfamiliar with it (Alazraki 105). Moreover, unlike the Russian Formalist critics, Borges considered himself primarily a creative writer, and tinkere d in literary theory mostly to hone his craft (Alazraki 105); thus, he must be acknowledged as one of the first writers to model his creative work upon these ideas of literature. At the same time, given that Russian Formalism led the way for French struct uralism and post structuralism, Borges can also be seen as anticipating these important critical movements (Alazraki 105), knowledge that determine and stabilize meaning thro ugh a fixed interpretive framework. Writing Degree Zero Writing Degree Zero Barthes privileges form ov er content, arguing that formal conventions reproduce hegemonic ideologies and binary modes of consciousness. In forms, can the writer topple the literary structure, to liberate her writing from ideology, and compose the ideal, third 8). Like Barthes, Borges was strongly opposed to politically motivated art, and believed in the possibility of literary experime ntation opening an apolitical realm (Gonzlez 4).


12 Anoth er key literary critical notion of which Borges was an early practitioner is notably, by the influential post structuralist feminist, Julia Kristeva ( Desire 36 8) the concept of or Borges, texts do not live isolated from one another within the borders of their physical surfaces, but rather exist in unity, as they all confer meaning upon and derive meaning from one other. With this view of literature, Borges also became one of th e first writers of approach consists of a metafiction which, as Robert Chibka argue s, functions to deconstruct Realist fiction from within a seemingly Realist form (117). Importantly, Mary Caponegro and Carole Maso also predominantly compose metafictions. Yet, whereas construct Realism, Caponegro and Maso seem to accept and move beyond his critique of Realism, using and beautiful p cies of mimesis. Indeed, other reasons, to hint to the reader how she might enter into their own highly stylized


13 pieces. Caponegro, a writer of short stories and novellas, crafts densely worded, syntactically playful stories of surrealist and fabulist content. Maso, a novelist, composes non linear, image driven, lyrical fictions, replete with typographical blanks roperty of their writing, Caponegro and Maso indicate their hopes for their unconventional writings, that the reader find might within their pages a space, freed from the authorial control of the Realist tradition, for imaginative freedom and aesthetic joy Whether or not Caponegro and Maso should be identified with the tradition of criture fminine is a difficult question, given the theoretical complications of that term. criture fminine c French post structuralist literary critical school. Within this school, Jacques Derrida stresses existence o of legitimacy) (Dely 5 (309), by disrupting conventional literary forms as well as standardized language codes to challenge the philosophies of determinacy and male superiority at the same time. In this way, Cixous argues, women can communicate their experience of the female body,


14 essen based on biological difference, would be too simplistic: in fact, feminists have also neglect of earlier, and arguably more radical, female writers, such as Gertrude Stein crit ure fminine is that the desire to subvert both the philosophy of determinacy and patriarchal power at once creates a double bind, as these two objectives frequently emerge in conflict; to this end, one might argue that feminism (or any political movement) relies upon a degree of logocentrism to stake its claims. Of course, by the same token, because Cixous argues against the import of logic, that her theory of criture fminine is rife with contradictions need not necessarily be viewed as troublesome. I n any case, as shown, Cixous advocates an approach to writing nearly indistinguishable from that which Barthes and Borges advocate, and yet, she ironically views this writing as politically positive, functioning to challenge patriarchal norms, whereas Bart hes and Borges view it as politically neutral, functioning to sever the link between literature and the world. Meanwhile, Caponegro and Maso arguably represent opposite poles in their views on the relationship between experimental stylistics and Papin 18 19), presumably because she fears how such categories prefigure the reading experience, when she


15 prefers to view literature as a sphere of indeterminacy. Meanwhile, Maso emphatically fluid, porous, acknowledges her debt to Cixous. Despite these distinct perspectives, Caponegro and Maso notably both introduce issues of gender difference and inequality into their fiction. At the same time, both writers stress equal levels of commitment to the primacy of aesthetics not ideolo gy in fiction. For these writers, literature exists, not to dominate her aesthetic joy as consolation for the incomprehensibility of the world. As Maso puts it beauty, in pattern, in language, as a child believes in language, in diversity, in the possibility of justice To reveal why Caponegro and Maso maintain such an idealized view of conception of fiction and, moreover, metafiction continues to shape contemporary AVA (1993). In both and Borges proposes (but only proposes ; does not attempt to portray) a distinct fantastic possibility,


16 in order to deconstruct the Realist tradition: in he proposes the existence of a being metaphorically dropped into a Realist narrative; in he proposes the existence and AVA proposals, into critique Realism, but to champion anti metaphorically viewed as an anti Realist narrative; in AVA Maso reconfigures the linear highly experimental piece, designe d to elude closure at every turn, to allow infinite interpretive possibilities. Writing after the criture fminine Caponegro and Maso both incorporate gender issues into their fictions, while simultaneously suggesting a desire not to advocate ideas through their work, but to simply open the reader through aesthetics into new channels of perception. However, as I will show, a fundamental story in an unusually humble manner, offering the reader a realm of questions left unanswered about gender and literature, Maso infuses her story with a self contradictory didactic quality, as she uses her protagonist to articulate her own marginalized vi ews on the importance of feminism, and moreover, formally experimental, non didactic art.


17 CHAPTER 2 CONVERTING FROM A DO OR TO COMPLETE OBJECTIVITY (THE REALIST NARRATIVE) I NTO A DOOR TO COMPLETE SUBJECTIVITY (AN TI MIMETIC ART) Opening Argument seem ripe for comparison, with both stories depicting a protagonist who stumbles upon what might be described a However, whereas B orges seems to use the surreal portal to introduce his protagonist metaphorically into an anti portrays a span enters and concluding only moments after she exits. To my mind, then, whereas Borges a fantast ic experience as a potentially productive site for constructing a new, more open aesthetic form. In this form, Caponegro offers lush, resonant sentences, designed to the same time, Caponegro notably introduces gender issues into her story. However, rather than offer didactic messages to the reader, she situates these issues within a


18 realm of questions, where the reader might think through, free from authorial control what answers such questions might yield. In displays all of the points on the globe, from every angle, without overlapping. His the reader tha carries that impulse to a comic extreme, presenting his story as an essay, thus literally encouraging the reader to wonder if the story is true. Most conspicuously, he names his protagonist, Aires. At the same time, he floods his story with a continuous stream of seemingly unnecessarily precise and abstruse references to actual (though little known) geograp hical locations, historical artifacts, and cultural practices: for example, to the Poly Olbion intell ectual strutting, Borges renders his reader passive to his seemingly boundless knowledge, his reliability as sure as that of an encyclopedia as an arbiter of truth. However, when Borges suddenly turns the tables, and introduces an element of the fantastic into his rigidly realistic narration, the reader becomes fully subtler manipulations of the Realist writer, who is similarly guilty of attempting to


19 persuad faade. At the same time, I would argue Borges, unfortunately, also acts in this way to p osturing here as a subversive master, out to dupe and expose the mindlessly conventional masses. That said, Borges goes to lengths in to suggest that all people live in delusions, that people invent whole worlds for themselves in their m inds. As the story years, as he mourns the death of his longtime unrequited love, Beatriz Viterbo, who, during her lifetime, amply conveyed her indifference toward him. While Beatriz was justifying his presence with gifts of books. However, to pre emptively protect himself from any painful disruptions of his delusion, he reveals th at he finally learned to cut the pages of these books in advance, (Monegal and Reid 155). Subconsciously aware of his statu s as an unwanted guest in now he can continue to indulge his obsession with her, without feeling her irritation. He plans to start visiting her home every year on her birthday; he says, treinta de abril era su cumpleaos; visitar ese da la casa de la calle Garay para saludar a su padre y a Carlos Argentino Daneri, su primo hermano, era un acto corts, ed that April 30 th was her birthday; on that day to visit her house on Garay Street and pay my respects to her father and to Carlos


20 Argentino Daneri, her first cousin, would be an irreproachable and perhaps unavoidable 155). The superfluity of euphemistic adjectives at delusion, crafting a socially acceptable veneer for his pitiful behavior. He then goes on to describe how he manages to bu the hosts find themselves obligated to invite him to stay for dinner, an opportunity which as seemingly n o encouragement from them. tion of (158) poorly written long poem in progress, in which he plans to describe every point on the r the telephone the source of his poem: the presence of an Aleph all places are seen from every angle, each standing cl ear, without any confusion or neri invites


21 descends the stairs to the basement or what Ludmila Kapschutschenko views as repre senting, 1 and lies down alone in the dark, staring up at the nineteenth step as Daneri prescribed. Suddenly, he becomes stricke n with panic: S bitamente comprend mi peligro: me haba dejado soterrar por un loco, luego de tomar un veneno. Las bravatas de Carlos transparentaban el ntimo terror de que yo no viera el prodigio; Carlos, para defender su delirio, para no saber que esta ba loco, tena que matarme. (168) a cellar by a lunatic, after gulping down a glassful of poison! I knew that ht not see the promised wonder. To keep his madness undetected, to keep from admitting he was mad, Carlos had to kill me. (Monegal and Reid 160) emptively cutting the Borges captur w hich I tried to pin to my uncomfortable position and not to the effect of a drug. I shut my eyes 1 Translation mine.


22 tet experi ence this surprise linguistically as well. stresses his inability to do so, inviting the re beyond the scope of language: Arribo, ahora, al inefable centro de mi relato; empieza, aqu, mi desesperacin de escritor. Todo lenguaje es un alfabeto de smbolos cuyo ejercicio presupone un pasado que los in terlocutores comparten; cmo transmitir a los otros el infinito Aleph, que mi temerosa memoria apenas abarca? (168) I arrive now at the ineffable core of my story. And here begins my despair as a writer. All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past. How, then, can I translate into words the limitless Aleph, which my floundering mind can scarcely encompass? (Monegal and Reid 160) lang uage arguing that this tool faces limitations, precisely because it serves a social function. He suggests that, even as human beings employ language in order to make themselves comprehensible to one another, language simultaneously pre supposes a certain c communication breaks down.


23 ure of language renders it incapable of conveying what he considers the most miraculous aspect of his vision of the Aleph. As he explains: En ese instante gigantesco, he visto millones de actos deleitables o atroces; ninguno me asombr como el hecho de qu e todos ocuparon el mismo punto, sin superposicin y sin transparencia. Lo que vieron mis ojos fue simultneo: lo que transcribir, sucesivo, porque el lenguaje lo es. (169) In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and awf ul; not one of them amazed me more than the fact that all of them occupied the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency. What my eyes beheld was simultaneous, but what I shall now write down will be successive, because language is successi 161) spectacular experience, implicitly encouraging the reader to use her imagination to conjure what language cannot express. Then, somewhat ironical effort to describe what he saw. In a long sentence, consisting of thirty seven tarde, vi las muchedumbres de Amrica, vi una plateada telaraa en e l centro de una 70) saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (i asks the reader to keep in the foreground of her mind the fact that all of these images emerged before his eyes simultaneously. As the long sen tence finally nears its objeto secreto y conjetural, cuyo nombre usurpan los hombres pero que ningn hombre


24 nd wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon observations from within the Aleph to describing his own powerfully emotional response to these script). When Daneri distraught, rather than exhilarated, from the knowledge he has acquired. He gazes upon Daneri with pity, and leaves the house in a rush, believes, with terror, that he recognizes every face around him; he says, ever again terror that he may never be able to return comfortably to his former position in the universal order. He finds his world suddenly depleted of mystery, and he has become but rather deeply painful. Whil a site from which the entire world can be seen, from every angle is an exceptionally rich symbol, which critics may never finish mining, I would argue that the text privileges two particular readings of this symbol, as representing either the false projection or


25 Supporting the first reading, Borges seems to go to lengths to offer Daneri as a satiric portrait of the Realist writer whom Borges defines himself against. As Jonathan Stuart Butler points out, Borges treats Daneri with a light tone, and always presents his nd metrical his writing valuable, by the standards of Realism (Nez Faraco 623). By this reading, e) claim to possess Daneri does not pick up on the hint, because Borges the n devotes more than three pages of the nineteen includes: the Realist author, who conceives of himself as transform ing into what Ralph Waldo


26 repr claim to objective truth implied by Realist eloquently suggests that human beings are undergoing radical changes in their nature, due to the unprecedented amount of knowledge becoming available to them, through technology: gabinete de estudio, como si dijramos en la torre albarrana de una ciudad, provisto de telfono s, de telgrafos, de fongrafos, de aparatos de radiotelefona, de cinematgrafos, de linternas mgicas, de glosarios, de [Daneri o]bserv que para un hombre as facultado el acto de viajar era intil; nuestro sigl o XX haba transformado la fbula de Mahoma y de la montaa; las montaas, ahora, convergan sobre el moderno Mahoma. (158) inner sanctum, as though in his castle tower, supplied with telephones, telegraphs, phonographs, wireless sets, motion picture screens, slide [Daneri] remarked that for a man so equipped, actual travel was superfluous. Our twentieth century had inverted th e story of Mohammed and the mountain; nowadays, the mountain came to the modern Mohammed. (Monegal and Reid 156) In other words, Daneri holds that technology is becoming so advanced that human beings no longer need to physically explore; they can satisfy their curiosity about the then, as a metaphor for technology, which does allow human beings something like his 2012 reader, the Aleph


27 conveyed both by his visible enthusiasm as well as by his playful rhymes contrasts sharply with depletion of mystery in the world is nothing to celebrate. For him, it seems, technology is actually ggest the mountains closing in on Mohammed. remains the same: when he leaves Daner becomes stricken with the fear that he would never again be treated to the pleasure of surprise. To this end, Borges suggests that Realism is destructive, not only (or even primarily) because its projection of picture, whether true or false, denying the human longing for mystery. his sense of panic did not last long: abandonara jams la impresin de volver. Felizmente, al cabo de unas noches de hat not a single thing on earth would ever again surprise me; I was afraid I would never again be free of all I had


28 (Monegal and Reid 162). With this passage, Borges comica lly highlights the fleeting melodramatic trepidation to his blithe forgetfulness. In a surprising twist, Borges re opens the story after the ostensible conclusion with a 2 un falso (173) speculates that a true Aleph lies within a stone pillar in the mosque of Amr, in Cairo. Existe ese Alep h en (176) Monegal and Reid 163). H owever, rather than proposing answers to these questions, or to the many questions they inspire including (1) how might one distinguish between a false and true Aleph?, and (2) how would it would look to view an Aleph through an Aleph? questions ringing in the air, as he closes the postscript. He only adds, para el olvido; yo mismo estoy falseando y perdiendo, bajo la trgica erosin de los ss seeps in; I myself am distorting and losing, under the wearing away of the years, the face of Monegal and Reid move on even from 2 Translation mine.


29 her. By describing the mind as he suggests that maintaining rigid positions or beliefs i s antithetical to the constantly shifting, mutable nature of human perceptions. A vision of objective truth nature, its need to absorb new ide as, but also wring them out, to remain open to uncertainty and change. which is perhaps not surprising, as Caponegro cites Borges as an important influence (Interview, Palleau f his critique. Whereas Borges dramatizes in the tension between the Realist impulse to tends to resist falling into line, Caponegro seems to take up Borge and crafts a fiction which does not attempt to present an orderly and comprehensible projection of reality, and instead embraces disharmony at every turn. In this way, Caponegro presents literature as a rare place in which reality c an be re thought, in which the reader can (at least, temporarily) roam freely through the rooms in her mind, even the socially unacceptable ones, which she has been encouraged to avoid. By tics as the site of this anarchic space.


30 incapable of describing such a wondrous experience, C sequences, loose threads, and narrative gaps, for whi ch Caponegro neither accounts method can actually be seen as reinforcing Realism, to an extent: one might argue that the Aleph is the only part of his story which cannot be rendered adequately in language, arguably suggesting that Realism is adequate for describing the real, the non fantastic. Meanwhile, Caponegro submerges her reader in a realm of uncertainty, without providing life rafts of faith in representable experience. epigraphs, Borges begins his story: La c andente maana de febrero en que Beatriz Viterbo muri, despus de una imperiosa agona que no se rebaj un solo instante ni al sentimentalismo ni al miedo, not que las carteleras de fierrro de la Plaza Constitucin haban renovado no s que aviso de ciga rillos rubios; el hecho me doli, pues comprend que el incesante y vasto universo ya se apartaba de ella y que ese cambio era el primero de una serie infinita. (154 55) On the burning February morning Beatriz Viterbo died, after braving an agony that n ever for a single moment gave way to self pity or fear, I noticed that the sidewalk billboards around Constitution Plaza were advertising some new brand or other of American cigarettes. The fact pained me, for I realized that the wide and ceaseless univers e was


31 already slipping away from her and that this slight change was the first of an endless series. (Monegal and Reid 154) Meanwhile, Caponegro begins her story: Carol heard a noise as she undre ssed for bed; it frightened her actually been half undressing for bed and half searching for the book she had intended to read in bed, but after she heard the noise she was only a third involved with each of these tasks and a third involved in trying to figure out where the noise had come from though of co urse these things could not be measured like sugar or flour; in fact, it would be more than a third of trying to determine the source of the sound anyway, because there was fear attached to that fraction, and fear has a way of dispossessing its neighbors. (23) style becomes unmistakable: the long musical phrasings, the lawless conjunctions, the t, the shorn of these sorts of journalistic niceties, and the story seems to resis t being pinpointed in time and space. At the same time, whereas Borges portrays his protagonist as seeking deeper meaning in his experiences, drawing connections from them to timeless philosophical concerns ( univer r her (hearing a frightening noise, undressing, searching for a book). In this way, Borges y, but


32 overwhelm the reader with detail, the surplus of information in her story does not seem to dominate the reader, so much as offer her a rich texture for her imagination, sou nds to play off in her mind, to read aloud. while searching her apartment for a book she has misplaced, hears a frightening noise from below. Carol exits her apartment to place the noise, although not before first coincidentally locating the book and carrying it out with her. In the apartment stairwell, Carol accidentally drops the book, and it falls to the second to bottom step. Recalling airs to view the Aleph from the nineteenth step, Carol descends the stairs to the penultimate step, and sits beside her book. While narrative, I emphasize it here, because it seems to serve a crucial purpose of projecting next as actually occuring in her imagination as she reads the book. However, if the Aleph can seem a symbol for Realist l iterature, the Star Caf appears as a symbol for anti Realist or experimental literature, for reasons that will soon become clear. After a moment, Carol walks down the apartment hallway, and opens a door to the little caf she had lived above for months w ithout having entered: the Star Caf. There, Carol discovers, to her relief, that the noise was due to a blender, mixing banana daiquiris. The bartender, whom Carol has never met, greets her by name, and immediately offers her a daiquiri, recalling Daner


3 3 been so wound up with fear, begins babbling meaninglessly to the man, opening up to him. In the passion of the moment, the two quickly f move into a back room (with a bed) to make love. For Carol, the sex is exquisite. Afterwards, she falls asleep. When Carol awakens, she finds herself alone again. She discovers that the room is entirely covered in mirrors making it impossible for her to locate an exit. With this image, Caponegro audibly pronounces her debt to Borges, in whose fiction the very often facing mirrors, b And indeed, recalling the Aleph, with its infinite projections of every point on the globe, body from eve they begin to have sex again. As Carol observes their twists and contortions in the mirrors, s he suddenly realizes, with horror, that she cannot see the man in the reflections, despite feeling his weight on top of her. In this way, the mirrored room the world i n the Aleph, without seeing himself reflected in any of the mirrors, Carol can perceived objective projection of reality, evoking the idea that we can know the world independently of our own filters, the mirrored room seems to offer Carol an emphatically subjective projection of reality, insisting that we can only see ourselves when we look to the world.


34 From this disturbing experience, the story evolves into further scenes, equally baffling, portraying Carol as (1) relieving herself in a restroom urinal, in front of the bartender, (2) back in the caf, demanding that the bartender explain the preceding events, and (3) retreating into another restroom, this time alone, where she masturbates to her own image in the mirror. In other words, Caponegro portrays two rounds of sex on the bed in the back room, two conversational scenes occuring within the cafe itself, and two scenes in which Carol uses the restroom. While eac are far from mirror images of the other, they nonetheless echo one another, and a mosaic of responses in the reader. In this way, the story evokes the associative logic of dreams, as well as the disquieting sense of unplaceable familiarity provoked by dj vu issues pr 3, Gard aph 195). Indeed, Caponegro representing the process of a man becoming transformed into a woman, and then turning back into a man at the end (Interview, Palleau Papin 21). T o this end, the story Orlando man born in England during the Elizabethan era who lives into the twentieth century, and, during the course of his life, transforms into a woma n. As critics have observed, manipulates the concept of biological difference to justify female repression (Watkins story functions to deconstruct


35 heterosexual male norms of sex, showing that when the protagonist transforms into a woman, sex transforms into an intensely dangerous and alienating experience. agree with Robert McLaughlin that critics who have sought to apply feminist messages story resists easy feminist morals. Even as the bartender seem s to border on raping nonetheless derives much satisfaction from the experience: She felt the irony of the whole thing as deeply, as physically, as a metallic taste body, when will and act had meshed, was with him; it had felt so right, but clearly had been wrong, as wrong as anything can be (38). And notably, when the bartender finally finishes, a nd moves off of her, Carol suddenly room, he forces her to have an orgasm, she becomes furious with him. As she describes the experience, the sudden climax causes her to fall back forcefully against periphery vision. In a sentence that evokes formally the fleeting instance it describes, ncluding with his absence, instant there: a single thrust by all the reflected men in all the mirrors: multiple petals around her lonely, central, actual pistil, from which n her feelings of violation, but also her feelings of desire, pleasure, shame, anger, and loneliness, Caponegro seems to refuse to offer t he reader a coherent reading of the


36 sexual encounter, encouraging her to embrace the questions, rather than seek solutions, for the questions her story raises. field for questions of every kind, to thrive. Perhaps she learns this from Borges, whose closing questions in the post script of about the possibility of another Aleph a true Aleph in the Mosque of Amr in Cairo, radically suggest that an author may not be able t o answer every question his story raises, that an author might play other roles to questions more continually and subtly throughout her story. She sprinkles questions throughout the story a total of forty six! and she frequently uses them to reflect upon con ct was biased toward those ascending? Or would it be the electrician? She knew so little xperience in we all know of the environments we inhabit, the communities in which we live. In this way, Caponegro returns the reader to a state of humility, disabli ng the confidence we have in our knowledge upon which our ideologies rely.


37 confidence in her knowledge of reality is to establish a subtle disconnect between evidence from the scenes themselves. This disconnect becomes most loudly pronounced when Carol returns to the caf front the first time, apparently after having found her way out of the mirrored room The bartender is in the caf and offers her explicitly asks her if she is certain sh e has had one of his daiquiris before, as if he does not recall the previous encounter (39). When Carol begins to argue with him, demanding to know if he was actually in the room with her when they were having sex, he offers her only cryptic answers that she cannot decipher. In this way, the story seems to suggest that, even as Carol believes that the scenes are occurring in a linear sequence, this may not actually be the case. It is even possible that she is here reliving the earlier scene a second time Arguably, Carol here can be compared to a reader, raised in the Realist tradition, suddenly immersed in a non linear fiction, and finding herself perplexed, unsure how to organize a story without the assurances of a reliable chronology. Importantly, jus t as Borges aligns the Aleph with questions about the meaning of Greece, hanging i n the caf. Caponegro reveals that Carol had always dreamed of


38 0). Then, as the story closes, and Carol returns to the caf one last time, naked, after masturbating in the restroom, the closing image consists in Carol gazing at the poster: [I]t was far away, and the contents of the little boxes were fuzzy, like the last letters of the eye sand, and tall, white columns. She was drawn toward them, she wanted to see every box clearly; her nakedness did not inhibit her for some reason. exploring (45). sense of claustrophobia, as he ha s already seen every element of the globe, and has suggests how experimental fiction functio


39 CHAPTER 3 JARDN DE SENDEROS Q UE SE BIFURCAN AND MAS AVA : INFINITE NOVEL FROM A REALM OF INFINITE CERTAINTY (THE REALIST NARRATI VE) INTO A REALM OF INFINITE POSSIBILITY (ANTI MIMETIC ART) Op ening Argument due to the surface similarities that exist between their stories, Borges also merits recognition as a fundamental theoretical precursor for other metafictionalists of stylistic debts AVA a novel which shares principally The Waves allows for a richer conception of the novel, by revealing how and why Maso uses the novel to glorify the aesthetic AVA story, story, as in Borges deconstructs the Realist narrative from within a seemingly Realist form. In he presents an ostensibly Realist plotline before the to suggest the fallacies of mimesis. At the same time, Borges incorporates a which narrates all reader the narrative assurances which Realism claims to but cannot provide, it becomes a parody of Realist exigencies for certainty and closure. Through this critique of Realism, Borges implies the need for alternate forms of fiction, which might embrace, rather than deny, the incomprehensibility of the world.


40 In AVA taking his fantast AVA a spacious, non offering AVA relies upon suggestion rather than completion, and refuses closure at every turn, encouraging the reader to element into her piece as well, through the reflections of her protagonist, Ava Klein, a move beyond his critique, with Ava suggesting what beauty might be discovered in an anti mimetic, aesthetic sphere. At the same time, through Ava, Maso indicates her fasc ination with Hlene Cixous and the concept of criture fminine inviting the reader didacti cism with Maso seemingly advocating for her marginalized views on feminism and the importance of alternative art forms which actually seems at odds with the kind of non moralistic art she desires to make. j ardn de senderos que se bifurcan linear narrative provides a frame for a less conventional narrative


41 approa ch narrative, Borges focuses upon the protagonist, Dr. Yu Tsun, a Chinese doctor working as a German spy in England during World War II, who uncovers knowledge of a British artillery p ark in Albert, France. Aware that a British agent, Captain Richard Madden, is trailing Tsun in order to kill him, Tsun embarks on a mission to first murder a man by the last name of Albert Dr. Stephen Albert in order to signal to his employers the artille ry Realist in nature, he goes to lengths to undercut its reliability, shining a light on As this The Garden of Forking Paths ) who by grandfather but is actually retiring to write a novel and build a labyrinth were actually one and the sa me: as Albert explains, Pn attempted to write a labyrinthine novel, in which every event in the storyline forks into infinite possible outcomes for the reader to choose from, thus first seem an antidote to the Realist narrative, by providing the narrative certainty and highlighting the need for new fictional forms, more welcoming to the unknowable nature of reality.


42 As he does in Borges presents as if it were a true story, carrying the Realist imperative to persuade the reader c extreme. He fashions the As begins, an unnamed speaker briefly addresses the reader, explaining that n order to shed light on the postponement of a British offensive, planned for July 24, 1916, until July 29. As the narrator explains, Liddle Hart, on page 242 of his Historia de la Guerra Europea History of the World War presents the delay as a consequen suggests an alternate explanation. In fact, this British offensive did occur, though earlier though on page 315 (Chibka 110). While a typical reader would not likely know whether or not Borges had his facts straight, the experience of being barraged by an author with highly abstruse, seemingly irrelevant information in a short fiction is inherently unsetting, precisely because it is such a dominating way of approaching the reader; as a result, the author obtains from the reader (at least, from this one) a sense of distrusting trust, Indeed, as B orges shows, the reader is correct to be hesitant about him, as Borges calls attention to the unreliability of the entire narrative which he presents before her. For example, in an unusual move in a fictional piece, Borges offers a footnote to one of Tsun that the presence of Captain Richard Madden in the Prussian


43 Hiptesis odiosa y estrafalaria. El e spa prusiano Hans Rabener alias Viktor Runeberg agredi con una pistol automatic al portador de la orden de arresto, capitn Richard Madden. ste, en defense propia, le caus heridas que determinaron su muerte. (Nota del Editor.) (101) A malicious and outlandish statement. In point of fact, Captain Richard Madden had been attacked by the Prussian spy Hans Rabener, alias Viktor Runeberg, who drew an automatic pistol when Madden appeared flicted wounds of which the spy later died. Note by the manuscript editor (Emec 89) In this way, Borges highlights how the past lies open to competing claims and d missing; as it turns out, the remaining document begins mid sentence: (ellipsis points in the original) c 89) (ellipsis points in the original) And similarly, Albert explains that he only managed to discover a fragment of a letter Pn wrote to the future readers of his novel. In this way, of the story, as these two documents have not been fully read. Moreover, Borges taunts the reader by having Tsun discover within his pockets, while preparing to leave to find Dr. Albert, (103) Borges reminds the reader that a story can always be opened out further, that complete narrative comprehension would be impossible. To this end, he deconstructs the Realist presentation of certainty and closure.


44 strategies. If Re resolution to this internal conflict, by insisting from the outset that all possibilities successful d isordered rather than ordered forms. time, in which infinite plotlines occur simultaneously across infinite dimensions, Borges encourages the reader to wonder if he mean s to endorse such a non conventional view of time. In fact, just as in Borges invites readings of the Aleph as both a genuinely false claim to an objective projection of the world, Borges here invites the reader to remain uncertain as to whether including, as already mentioned, that the m an Tsun selects to murder happens to be an expert on grandfather certainly becomes more palatable to the reader if she coincidences need not be marveled at, as assuredly occur along some branch of time. Nonetheless, even if the conventional


45 singular conception of time is accurate, coincidences can still be expected to occur; as the mathematician John Allen Paulos once sa (Neimark 1). To this end, seems to neither advocate for nor reject its suggestion of the p ossibility of a plural conception of time, and instead allows the reader the freedom that emerges from her uncertainty. two philosophical conceptions of time, as Tsun pre perpetuamente hacia innumerables futuros. En uno come to accomplish, Tsun then turns to look out at th e garden, and seems to see the scene sprouting into its infinite number of possible outcomes: hasta lo infinito de invisibles personas. Esas personas er an Albert y yo, secretos, damp garden surrounding the house was infinitely saturated with invisible people. All were Albert an d myself, secretive, busy and 1). To this end, Borges seems to s infinite number of characters,


46 quickly narrows into a single person (115): pero ese hombre avanzaba por el sendero y era el single man, but this man was as strong as a statue and this man was walking up the In this way, Borges seems to conversely portray the story through a conventional conception of time. With the striking image of Madden marching down the garden, which was only moments before overly populated and now utterly desolate, Borges dramatizes ho w, in a conventional conception of time, the future, with its endless possibilities, suddenly rapidly gives away to the present, with its singular and finalized event. And indeed, just a moment after observing Madden, Tsun aims his revolver at Albert and shoots. With this gun shot, Albert dies, and Tsun remains forever bound to what he terms at the end of his dictation his tic conclusion raises questions about what the Realist narrative strategy tends to imply about human agency. Of course, in a conventional Realist narration of the murder scene, Tsun would be presented as simply shooting Albert, while the infinite other ch oices he opted not to make would be suppressed from events as a logical outcome of the events which came before, creating a false veneer of inevitability to how the story un folds. Notably, Tsun himself advises anyone who must


47 debe imponerse un porvenir que sea ir Whosoever would undertake some atrocious enterprise should act as if it were already accomplished, should impose upon himself a future as irrevocable as the past Albert, he would seem to offer this advice both to help the person in question bring himself to commit the dreaded act as well as to avoid feelings of personal shame at a later date. Yet, ironically, as ents as inevitable implies a plural conception of time, in which all possible sequences emerge; under a conventional singular conception of time, the future remains open. In this way, comically implies that the Realist writer perhaps might be best understood as presuming a plural conception of time, crafting her story along a single branch within it. If, however, a writer presumes a conventional singular conception of time, and wishes to more closely portray the present by highlighting the infinite possibilities which await her in the future, she would seem to then need to consider other fictional strategies: the strategies of neither the Realist writer nor Pn accomplish this task. Mas AVA If Borges, in parody how Realism tends to drain life of mystery through its assurances of certainty and closure, Carole Maso in AVA create a novel of infinite imaginative possibility, which eludes closure at every turn.


48 Structured over the co AVA portrays the final day of its Ava finds herself flooded with memories from her lifetime, presented to the reader in lyrical fragments interchanged with typographical blanks, representing textual silences. this en d, Maso seems to privilege the role of chronology in the novel. And yet, the three sections maintain no discernible distinctions, in style or subject matter: throughout each fas 5). In about the past and uncertainty about the future. As Maso interweaves within these fragments metafictional, nearly essayistic reflections upon the purpose of expe rimental art, the novel itself becomes a meditation on how literature can offer a field of solace, even joy, when the conventional narrative rod with its logical development of a beginning, middle, and ending has been broken. Pn. To accomplish this, Maso relies on suggestion rather than concrete explication, as a dominant narrative devi ce to elude closure. For example, in the following passage


49 complete: But after Q? What comes next? After Q there are a number of letters the last of which is scarcely visible to mortal eyes, but glimmers red in the distance. He was swallowing special pills and light. We dressed as the planets. Wore solar meteorites around our n ecks and charms. (193) thoughts or experiences, inviting the reader to wonder how the lyrical fragments might develop if she were to offer more information. Of course, whil e fiction writers have long worked to build suspense into their stories, prodding their audience to continue reading curiosity, without then going on to satisfy it. No tably, as Courtney Holden points out, Maso does frequently allow the fragments to congeal into a sharper image; as the novel obtain a more vivid picture of the specific m emory to which they refer (20). And yet, independent of one another, that they contribute littl e to creating a coherent plotline in and ends, thus forcing her to focus on her pos great bewilderment and vulnerability, but also great possibility: without access to a


50 greater authorial design, the reader is suddenly f reed to form her own connections between the fragments, and invent a storyline (or multiple storylines) of his own. Through her blurred plotline, and carefully caressed brushstrokes/lyrics, Maso, in AVA can be fruitfully seen as drawing from 19 th centu ry French Impressionistic painting an observation first hinted at by The New York Times Book Review upon AVA Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Paul Czanne, Maso instills movement in (and presumptive addressees) from fragment to fragment, without clearly signaling to the reader who should be presumed as speaking, nor to whom. At the sa me time, the hospital bed. By rejecting conventional fictional techniques for establishin g narrative voice as well as for demarcating interior and exterior experience, Maso evokes a highly fluid conception of the relationship between personal/subjective impression and w the past, consider the following passa


51 Nine A.M.: time for a treatment, Ava Klein. Yvette Poisson in a fuzzy pale sweater, returned now, at this desolate moment, as the nurse wheels me up the cold hall and the ease at which I arrive at this: Yvette Poisso n dancing. You were wearing a dress without straps. You were quite burned by the sun. Tell me again the story of your love affair with Philip. Start with the way his hair caught the light. I can try to complete it in my head. That perfect purring com fort. To do when I get out: feline leukemia shots for everyone. Bend your arm, Ava Klein, for the nurse. (49) As in the rest of the novel, Ava clearly stands in this passage as the central figure, whom the story revolves around. And yet, the narrative speaker (and presumptive the middle lines perhaps being spoken either by Ava memory, or in the present moment there as Ava is wheeled from one hospital room to another for treatment. This perpetual shifting from one uncertain dialogue to another transforms a perhaps lazy Euro American fiction since James Joyce and Euro American poetry since William Wordsworth ting moment of clarity when the events of the past are finally comprehended in their entirety (Langbaum 336), Maso mind never alights upon a


52 final interpretation of events, but instead perpetually flutters like a butterfly from perception to perception, memory to memory, interpretation to interpretation. and closure as artistic impetus, her work crucially begs the question as to what her novel thus serves to accomplish, what the reader should hope to gain from her experience within the pages of AVA Like Impressionistic painting, the novel seems to maint ain an insistent focus upon the ordinary, the everyday. As can be seen in the passage cited in the above descriptions profoundly understated. Instead of domin ating the reader by carving out a fully rendered image, Maso offers her reader only the barest hint of an image, and then immediately steps back, allowing her the imaginative space to flesh out the image on her own. Perhaps Maso can be viewed as explainin g her minimalist aesthetic strategy, when she has her (unidentified) narrative speaker request (of his/her unidentified his hair caught the light. // I can try to com looked in the light, yet subsequent contention that he/she can complete the story in his/her mind, suggests that narrat ive completion affects to provide is not always necessary, nor even desirable. By implication, Maso does not intend to use her novel as a tool for making the world comprehensible for the


53 reader, but rather as a location for providing her imaginative freedom. It is crucially in this way that Maso severs the link between AVA hands, the text converts into a consciously aesthetic realm, composed of language, of sounds, in which the reader freed from a controlling Realist projection of reality finds herself immersed in what might be described as a garden for imaginative recreation/re creation. the reader at first, Maso offers the reader suggestions as to how she might productively upon the value and possibilities of experimental art. In other words, Maso successfully art iculates her designs for AVA observes, AVA ration comparative literature professor who specialized in experimental writings, as deeply enamored of her work: I was a good teacher, once. Professor of comparative literatu re. The imperceptible of the text, the unconscious dimension that escapes the writer, the reader. Confetti. My students and I celebrating the death of plot. For one thing. (161) As this passage suggests, Ava seemed to use her classroom as a forum for teaching and sharing her passion for nonconventional literature. By placing the words


54 classroom setting indeed. At the same time, because Maso indicates that this me rry obsessed literary culture the text, the and her students conceive of as truly obscures or even represses. With this line, Maso/Ava undoubtedly alludes to French ansformation of 5). Because, for Derrida, the phallogocentric order itself is a structure, which relies upon formalized modes of communication to sustain itself, Maso/Ava seem to dream of a novel which might employ alternate linguistic modes in order to undermine the structure and open into the AVA pt of criture fminine (311). Indeed, Maso seems to invite the reader to conceive of AVA as representative of criture fminine by evoking discussions about the nature of female experimental writing and raises questions about the link between experimental stylistics and female expression. In a seeming reference


55 continues to escape all b oundaries, that cannot be pinned down, controlled or even conceptualized. // Cannot be arrested, and which remains 8). In this way, Maso employs the term, structuralism, to evoke the elusive or that which lives outside the realm of meaning and intelligibility. At the same time, Maso signals her endorsemen expressing specifically female linked with sexuality for Cixous. She believes that because women are endowed with a mor e passive and consequently more receptive sexuality, not centered on the penis, ex perience reality. criture fminine Maso further delineates her aesthetic strategy in AVA for the reader, by frequently incorporating quotations of other artists into the text, seemingly present ed as comments upon art that Ava either admires or identifies with. By incorporating into AVA the voices of such anti mimetic artists as Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Vladimir Nabokov, Jean Luc Godard, John Ashberry, Joseph Cornell, Rosmarie Waldrop, and, significantly, Jorge Luis Borges, Maso establishes and aligns her novel with a current of artistic irreverence for conventional techniques of representation. Notably, while Maso employs quotations which address art from a range of angles, t hey tend to cluster


56 around the struggles that truly original artists face in a conformist and philistine culture. For example, she writes: husbands] quotes Nabokov: Not a single magazine has found fit to buy or indeed to unde rstand (and this refers also to the New Yorker ) my last story, and as I have no intention whatever to B y incorporating this quote, Maso seems to present Nabokov as a model of the subversive spirit, for refusing to capitulate to the cultural pressure for artistic conformity, even as he knows his resistance will frequently cost his writing access to publicati on. Along similar lines, Maso quotes Beckett, arguing that the non conformist stance is not in a tree: To be an artist is to fail, as no other dares fail. T hat failure is his world and to argue that his conflation of the creation of ar twork with failure implies a view of art as established standards of artistic him ten times during the course of the novel, always between pages 138 and 1 42, offering passages from his Atlas (Berlin 16). In Atlas Borges composed an unorthodox autobiography, describing his (both imagined and actual) adventures around the globe, through photographs and attached commentaries presented in a range of different usions to Atlas


57 radical piece, while also functioning to highlight how texts might live within one another. Importantly, Maso characterizes Ava as a participant in this experimental artistic tradition, certainly in her critical work, and probably in her creative work as well. (Without stating it explicitly, the novel frequently hints that Ava is not just a critic, but published an sharply critical of the rampant conformity present in mainstream American fiction, given the allusio say: Accuse me again, if you like, of overreaching. . . Of wanting too much. . . I make no apolo With these lines, Ava conveys her sense of defensiveness about the way her writing tends to be received, while also insisting upon her own determination to continue down the path of most resistance in art, by refusing to express remorse. Of course, Ava here seems a thinly veiled stand in for Maso, with Maso anticipating how mainstream readers are likely to respond to the formal innovations of AVA By using her novel to both insist upon the existence o f a subversive tradition and the importance of such a tradition, Maso works to both argue for the value of her own novel, as well as do her part to create a culture more accepting of non conventional art.


58 Clearly, AVA textual elements iscussion of Deconstruction, criture fminine and the non conformist artistic ethic play a crucial role in allowing this highly experimental novel to be simultaneously highly accessible to the reader. Whether or not a mainstream reader might be receptiv approach, she would at least have a reasonable grasp on what Maso intended to darkest obscurity, such that only his most dedicated specialist, Dr. Albert, su cceeded in more with the typically male Wake The Cantos which are frequently considered as impenetra ble without AVA Notably, Maso repeats one Cixous e at a language that writing might simultaneously separate from dominant speech codes, in which without leaving the reader simply bereft, alienated, but rather simultaneously offering her a sense of comfort from a new direction. Where such comfort may come from is a question left open, but in the absence of narrative development in the intertwining of past, present, future in the loss of the faith in representation in the loss of the philosophy of beauty, rather than guidance. Like Caponegro, Maso transforms the text into a delightfully aesthetic realm, where the reader might find solace, even pleasure, as she


59 simultaneously becomes aware of her vulnerability in an infinitely remote world of which she can know almost nothing.


60 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS In The Pin k Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice (1990), the post structuralist the production of formal, epistemological, and thematic strategies by members of the group Woman, strategies born in struggle with much of already existing culture, and overdetermined by two elements of sexual difference group (5). By this definition, Caponegro and Maso might be categorized as composers of the and Maso seem at odds in terms of how they answer Caponegro shakes up, like a snow globe, all kinds of social sensitivities and proprieties surrounding gender including issues of female objectification, rape, multiple o rgasms, bathroom etiquette, and masturbation and yet, she never displays to the reader where the snow settles. That is, she refuses to dominate the reader with an authorial message, and instead keeps the story as an open space for the reader to respond to and wrestle with its questions as she sees fit. In AVA Maso takes a more direct approach, by seemingly endorsing her own feminist beliefs and particularly the literary movement of criture fminine minded theorists/artists. To this end, Maso imbues her novel ted to the her marginalized perspective on feminism and criture fminine Maso seems to


61 er reader might be best understood, I have tried to show in this paper that the critical preoccupation with t his sociopolitical aspect of their writing, and that of contemporary female experimental writers in general, has functioned to conceal a more central emphasis in their work ch opens into the aesthetic dimension of language. Indeed, Caponegro explains her unreal with Papin). Instead, Caponegro seems far more fascinated by the stylistic properties of her writing: she says, The virtuosic spontaneity and complexity both te mporal and harmonic cherish beauty and complexity and strive to make clauses the equivalent of musical phrases the daredevil syntactic leap that kind of thing but controlled; it must be meticulously calibrated (Interview, Madera). In this elegant passage, Caponegro makes clear the painstaking effort she employs to create her highly ornamented style, not to reinforce this or that message, but because the pursuit of beauty is itself a wo rthy goal. Meanwhile, Maso, with all of her ardor for criture fminine expresses (throughout AVA and elsewhere) an even stronger passion disregard for original forms At the same time, even as Maso does infuse her writing with didactic messages, she continually expresses her ambivalence about doing so.


62 composer. More than anything e this comment, Maso suggests that her deepest longing as a writer would be to strip language completely of its referential aspect, to transform it into pure sound, like music. Importantly, Caponegro their art must be understood as emerging within a greater philosophical shift among certain authors over the course of the twentieth century about their relationship to their work. As William Gass exp lains, such (anti pretend that [their] business is to render the world; [they] know[], more often now, that [their] business is to make one, and to make one from the only medium of which [they are] a master langua must be acknowledged as fundamental to this philosophical shift. By deconstructing may have viewe found within it an implicit challenge to write themselves out of the Realist labyrinth. Driven from mimesis, and the hope of understanding reality, such writers, including Caponegro and Maso, now seek to liberate the aesthetic dimension of language, to function of art is not, as if often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as


63 Caponegro and Maso, need not reflect upon nor offer false messages about an incomprehensible world. It is deliverance from the human condition.


64 LIST OF REFERENCES Borges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts Ed. Edna Aizenberg. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1990. 99 108. Barthes, Roland. Writing Degree Zero Trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang, 1953. Contemporary Fiction and the Fairy Tale Ed. Stephen Benson. Detroit: Wayne State U Press, 2008. AVA AVA Ed. Monica Berlin. Normal, IL: D alkey Archive Press, 2005. El Aleph Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1971. 155 83. --Borges A Reader: A Selection from the Writings of Jorge Luis Borges Various translators Ed. Emir Rodriguez Monegal and Alastair Reid. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981. 154 63. --Ficciones Trans. Emec Editores. Ed. Anthony Kerrigan. New York: Grove Press, 1962. 89 101. --Ficciones Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1997. 100 18. Brooke Fiction Ed. Ellen G. Friedman and Miriam Fuchs. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton U Pres s, 1989. 55 71. Hispanic Review 69.3 (Summer 2001): 1 24. Caponegr Francoise Palleau Papin. 4 (Dec 2002): 16 26. --Salt Hill Journal 28. 2012. --The Star Caf: Stories New York: Norton, 1990. 23 45. Representations No. 56, Special Issue: The New Erudition (Autumn 1996): 106 22.


65 Critical Theory Since 1965 Ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle. Tallahassee: Florida State U Press, 1986. 309 20. Critical Essays on Jorge Luis Borges Ed. Jaime Alazrak i. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987. 55 62. Perchance Sens Public Web Journal (Oct. 2007): 1 15. DeKoven, Ed. Ellen G. Friedman and Miriam Fuchs. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton U Press, 1989. 71 81. Derrida, Trans. Alan Bass. Critical Theory Since 1965 Ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle. Tallahassee: Florida State U Press, 1986. 83 94. DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. The Pink Guitar: Wr iting as Feminist Practice New York: Routledge, 1990. The Star Caf by Mary Caponegro. Los Angeles Times 1 Jul 1990: 1 3. Frost, Elisabeth A. The Feminist Avant Garde in American Poetry Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 2003. Gardaph, Fred L. Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative Durham: Duke U Press, 1996. Fiction and the Figures of Life Bost on: David R. Godine Publisher, 1979. 3 33. Gonzlez, Jos Eduardo. Borges and the Politics of Form New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1998. AVA Review of Contempor ary Fiction 17.3 (Fall 1997): 175 186. Hejinian, Lyn. My Life Los Angeles: Green Integer, 1987. Hite, Molly. The Other Side of the Story: Structures and Strategies of Contemporary Feminist Narrative Ithaca: Cornell U Press, 1989.


66 Holden, Cou AVA The Delta Vol. 2, Iss. 1, Article 5 (2007): 17 26. Howe, Susan. My Emily Dickinson Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1985. Kapschutschenko, Ludmila A. El Laberinto en la Narrativa Hispanoame ricana Contempornea London: Tamesis Books Ltd., 1981. Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art Ed. Leon S. Roudiez. Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia U Press, 1980. New Literary History 14.2 (Winter 1983): 335 358. Maso, Carole. AVA Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1993. --. Interview. By Brian Evenson. Rain Taxi Review of Boo ks 2.4 (Winter 1997/98). --Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, & Moments of Desire. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. 22 63. --. Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, & Moments of Desire. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. 64 71. --Break Every Rule: Essays on Lan guage, Longing, & Moments of Desire. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. 161 91. Review of Contemporary Fiction 21.3 (Fall 2001): 111 150. Bo rges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts Ed. Edna Aizenberg. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1990. 128 138. Lolita Lolita New York: Vintage Books, 1997. 311 17. Neimark, J Psychology Today 1 July 2004: 1 4. Nuez Modern Language Review 92.3 (July 1997): 613 29.


67 Borges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts Ed. Edna Aizenberg. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1990. 109 21. Payne, Johnny. Conquest of the New Word: Experimen tal Fiction and Translation in the Americas Austin: U of Texas Press, 1993. AVA as the Poetics of Female Italian American Cultural and MELU S 26.1 (Spring 2001): 91 113. Borges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts Ed. Edna Aizenberg. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1990. 139 54. Ramrez Molas, Pedro. Tiempo y Narracin: Enfoques de la Temporalidad en Borges, Carpentier, Cortzar, y Garca Marquez Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1978. Shaw, Donald L. Melksham, England: Francis Cairns, 1992. Smith, Wendy. AVA by Carole Maso. New York Times Book Review 12 Dec. 1993: 1 2. Critical Essays on Jorge Luis Borges Ed. Jaime Alazraki. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987. 16 5 173. Watkins, Susan. Twentieth century Women Novelists: Feminist Theory into Practice New York: Palgrave, 2001. Wood, James. How Fiction Works New York: Farrar, S traus, and Giroux, 2008.


68 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Carolyn Collins Bradley was bo rn in 1985 in Tallahassee, Florida to Robert Bernard Bradley and Carolyn Diane Herrington. The third of four children, she grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, graduating from the International Baccalaureate program at James S. Rickards High School in 2003. In college, she studied abroad for one semester in Florence, Italy, and wrote for several different newspapers. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a Correlate in q uantitative e conomics from Vassar College in 2007. After graduati ng from college, Carolyn spent a year working at home, before moving to Loja, Spain for two years, where she taught English at la Escuela Oficial de Idiomas. Then, she moved to Gainesville, Florida, where she received her Master of Arts degree in English She hopes to become a college professor of comparative literature focusing on the relationship between 20 th /21 st century experimental writings in the United States and Spanish speaking countries. She is the proud aunt of two children, Sebastian Robert Neel and Lisa Bradley.