Posts Tagged ‘Alain Robbe-Grillet’


Deleuze and the Sign

July 6, 2010

Signs are one of the more overworked bits of thought, like small pack animals carrying the weight of the world’s meaning. And along with this each philosopher or school of thought likes to have their own take on what exactly entails the framework of the sign, how they behave, their dynamics, and with each new approach they morph, pinch, subvert, or are twisted in order to fit within some larger framework. Signs are like the proteins of philosophy, in that they begin to “taste” like whatever they are cooked or seasoned with. It’s with this in mind that I approached Christopher M. Drohan’s Delueze and the Sign. As someone who’s only recently begun dipping a toe into the ideas of Delueze, it was through the familiar vantage point of the sign that I chose to approach. In Delueze and the Sign, Drohan highlights a surprisingly cohesive and accessible set of Deluezian semiotics from various sources into a concise volume that remains true to the language and dynamic approach. Through this system, signs emerge as a means for understanding the relationship between things as a way of learning and making meaning in the world. As Drohan observes: “It is signs that expose new relations in our world, and it is the search of signs that creates the most basic meanings through which we know the world” (23). In all of this Drohan should be commended on his ability to use language to clarify Deleuze’s key concepts, but also as a means to illustrate and give passion to the dynamic process set forth by Delueze, who in a sense is marrying a world of essences and ideals to objects and material realism through an analysis of the sign.

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Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy

August 17, 2008

After reading Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy, it’s apparent why his writing is so closely aligned with visual art, as his approach embodies a sort of object based conceptualist mise-en-scène. The reader is bound meticulously to the cataloguing and scrutinizing of objects in rooms and nurtures a relational system based on distance, proximity, and difference.

Jealousy is a compulsive observation of interactions between the implied narrator/character’s wife A… and a neighbor Franck. The novel is set on a banana plantation and documents the narrator’s growing suspicion that A… and Franck are having an affair. The language focuses on extreme surface, chronicling objects, proximity of things, and disembodied individuals treated as bits and pieces; relational. All is static, purgatorial, and repetitive in this world; change and growth come through revisiting the flood of surfaces and exterior observations. What is different? What changed in how the narrator decodes the tableau of objects as he seeks to confirm his suspicions? A slightly damaged and subjective empiricism is at work here. Sitting on the veranda the narrator observes:

A…’s arms, a little less distinct than her neighbor’s because of the color—though light—of the material of her dress, are also lying on the elbow-rests of her chair. The four hands are lying in a row, motionless. The space between A…’s left hand and Franck’s right hand is approximately two inches. The shrill cry of some nocturnal carnivore, sharp and short, echoes again toward the bottom of the valley, at an unspecified distance. (49)

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