The link between scientific discovery and empire building was never more evident than in the latter decades of the eighteenth century. During that time, as Mary Louise Pratt has noted, the ‘international scientific expedition’ became ‘one of Europe's proudest and most conspicuous instruments of expansion’. For Pratt, this period coincided with the emergence of a new version of Europe's ‘planetary consciousness’ — one which was characterised by ‘the construction of global-scale meaning through the descriptive apparatuses of natural history’.
Empirical observations of the natural world were indeed indispensable to the European Enlightenment ambition of obtaining a complete and taxonomic knowledge of the globe — and thereby gaining mastery over it. At this time, too, there was a growing realisation that the visual could play just as valuable a part in that process as the verbal. Accordingly, by the end of the eighteenth century, it had become common practice for professional artists to be included on scientific expeditions. Their role was to keep a pictorial record of the places visited, the peoples encountered and the specimens of flora and fauna that were collected or otherwise examined. The natural history drawings, ethnographic portraits, coastal profiles and landscapes that they produced, together with the various maps and hydrographic charts that the officers and geographers compiled, formed a rich store of iconographic material that became just as important to the imperial project as the discursive observations to be found in the logbooks and journals that their fellow travellers kept.
This development had profound implications, for both the sciences and the arts. As Bernard Smith has argued, progress in the arts not only paralleled scientific progress but also assisted it by providing scientists with ever more accurate and reliable visual material for analysis. Conversely, the increase in scientific knowledge of the world constituted an ‘enduring challenge to the supremacy of neo-classical values in art and thought’. The artist was henceforth required to depict nature accurately, not enhance or idealise it as the Renaissance had programmatically set out to do. The visual imagery that scientific travellers compiled had to conform to a new ideal of objectivity, as illusory as we now understand that ambition to have been. The pursuit of scientific knowledge thus influenced the development of artistic practices as much as art served and impacted upon science.
Upon losing their homeland at the end of the Algerian War of Independence in 1962, the community of Pieds-Noirs, or former French citizens of Algeria, set out to protect their fragile memories through literature, photography and film. Every year the communities gather together in France to commemorate their exodus, and each reunion is guided by images of colonial Algeria. As the ageing Pieds-Noirs assemble, so do fragments of their past: school photos endlessly emerge from Pieds-Noirs seeking to identify lost or forgotten classmates, and iconic Algerian monuments reappear in slide presentations, films, photodocumentaries, paintings and websites. The Pieds-Noirs are eager to collect each remnant from their homeland, and the visual pieces are among the most evocative. As these accumulated images represent an entire community's long absent home, and as many members contribute to the composite image of colonial Algeria, a process of layering and overlapping occurs. The representations of places become densely piled, heavy with consolidated meaning and multiple memories of places to such an extent that the image becomes larger than life.
Through an analysis of recurrent images of Algeria produced by its former French citizens, from photodocumentary to mixed-media artwork, I hope to make apparent that the visual layering of a colonial past progressively narrows what is remembered from the colony while solidifying specific landmarks. I will then attempt to demonstrate that rather than jogging, confronting or preserving memory, the accumulated images of Algeria distance the viewer from the reality of the past by compressing personal experience under communal memory.
In the Souvenirs de là-bas series of Algerian photodocumentary books, author Elisabeth Fechner expresses that, in spite of distortions, the photograph is the reality that endures through time: ‘La photo alors, la belle affaire. Floue? Surexposée? Mal cadrée? Vue du ciel? De trop loin? De trop près? Ce rêve d'un soir, allez savoir comment, restait à jamais fixé sur la pellicule’. Fechner's goal is to let the Pieds-Noirs compare and contrast their memories with the assembled images in her works dedicated to Algiers, Oran and Constantine. Each text begins with the same introductory call: come and see how your memories match up to these pictures. After all, this is all we have left. Fechner similarly collects images in broader works such as Le Pays d'où je viens: Souvenirs d'Algérie 1910-1962 (1999) and La Gloire de l'Algérie: Écrivains et photographes 1830-1960 (2000).
Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit arrived at Sydney Town in mid-winter 1802, the first French artists to visit Britain's colony at Port Jackson. Two seasons lay ahead of them, providing respite after a gruelling exploration of Australia's south coast, and, more importantly, providing the young men with an invaluable opportunity. Lesueur and Petit were members of the Baudin expedition, which — prepared by the Institut National and sponsored by the First Consul at the close of the French Revolution — was the first scientific expedition to carry official anthropological instructions. It was thus with the varied advice of philosophers, humanists and comparative anatomists that Baudin's artists entered upon their most prolonged cross-cultural encounter of the voyage and, still more importantly, upon their only opportunity to observe Aboriginal Australians experiencing colonisation. The outcomes of this encounter were significant: Lesueur and Petit produced a rich body of portraits, ethnographic landscapes and settlement scenes depicting the Aboriginal people of Port Jackson. A number of these illustrations were published in the Voyage de découvertes, Atlas Historique, in 1807, and more again in the second edition of the volume in 1824. Intended to feed studies of human nature in France, these visual records also represent how Petit and Lesueur viewed the humanity of Port Jackson's Aborigines and intimate how they felt about the matter of colonisation.
It has long been clear that the way these artists looked at Aboriginal people in the Colony led to depictions that are exceptional in the context of early colonial art. Most earlier paintings and drawings of local Aboriginal people had been produced by ex-convict Thomas Watling and the ‘Port Jackson Painter’. They convey little about Aboriginal life and any hint of the artists' empathy for their subjects is less evident than the sense of the Aborigines' alterity. The French depictions reflect a more open and penetrating view. Bernard Smith highlights Lesueur's ‘typical’ rather than picturesque or neoclassical form of landscape art as well as the great degree of detail his scenes provide about Aboriginal life; Rhys Jones declares that Petit's is one of the best series of portraits produced of Aboriginal people; and Ian MacLean describes the drawings overall as ‘sympathetic studies … which showed a proud, dignified and stoic people’. The dissimilarities between the roles and circumstances of the voyager-artists and ex-convicts explain these differences to a degree; however, …
Why would a writer publish a text that seemingly undoes the literary innovation of her life's work? Annie Ernaux has achieved fame by writing short, pithy narratives that recount isolated autobiographical moments. Rather than recounting events and extrapolating their meaning to her life within an autobiographical text, such as Michel de Montaigne falling off a horse, Jean-Jacques Rousseau stealing a ribbon, or André Gide travelling to North Africa, Ernaux chooses a specific incident — a love relationship, an abortion, a scene of domestic violence, for example — and describes this in sparse, unlyrical prose with no discussion of its consequences upon her developing selfhood. These moments instead hang as though suspended in mid-air, forming disjointed snapshots of episodes which invite identification or disidentification from the reader. Likewise, rather than linking these autobiographical moments into a coherent, cogent and complete self that hints at the Lejeunian notion of autobiography as the history of development of personality, Ernaux's texts defy linkage; some narrators are identified by different names or not at all, she rejects a chronological approach to life writing, and she plays with temporality.
So why now publish an anthology of previously published texts in one volume, placing her texts chronologically within her life and seemingly joining the dots between her autobiographical moments? Why invite a reading of ‘her’ as one, unitary identity that is a process and a product of the moments that she had previously rendered in such an isolated manner? Ecrire la vie, published in 2011, presents ten of Ernaux's texts in one volume, organised, according to the author's preface, by her. She claims that ‘c'est la succession des âges qui organise les textes’ (p. 8), since they are not presented according to their order of publication but instead to the time of her life that they depict. Furthermore, she does not comment upon or justify the choice of the ten. Since Ernaux is the author of nearly twenty texts, part of her corpus is absent, which gives rise to questions over concealment, repression and, as Derrida has written with respect to archives, how a narrative of identity may be based on what is discarded rather than on what is included.4 Some of her most famous, prize-winning texts, such as Une Femme and La Place, form part of the anthology.
Since its inception, Surrealism has been associated with conservative art forms aspiring to a higher synthetic unity, unlike those modern art movements such as Pop Art or installation art, which have eschewed aesthetic and transcendental values in favour of the purely material and commercial. In Displaying the marvellous, Lewis Kachur writes that Breton was ‘holding fast to Surrealism as “high” art’. According to Hal Foster, ‘reconciliation is the raison d'être of Bretonian Surrealism’, whereby the binding or ‘synthetic principle’ underlying Surrealist works is Eros and ‘the uncanny is recoded as the marvellous and arrested animation is sublimated as convulsive beauty’. Although Foster's book uncovers many of the tenebrous themes which have come to define Surrealism's visual lexicon, he argues that Surrealism's general thrust was to synthesise and sublimate, attempting to create a harmonious unity cleansed of psychic tensions. Rosalind Krauss characterises Surrealist visuality as the dissolving of writing and vision, vision and presentation into ‘the higher synthesis of Surreality’. For José Pierre, Surrealist collage expresses an underlying aesthetic of association: ‘[Le poète] tentera, de la réunion des éléments discordants, de faire surgir une unité lyrique inattendue’.
One noteworthy challenge to this prevailing view of Surrealist art has been formulated by Elza Adamowicz in her work on Surrealist collage. For her, Surrealist works are chaotic, sprawling and fragmentary entities. They are
monstrous proliferating shapes both material and metaphoric, never achieving closure. The organic unity of classical statuary is replaced in these works by an aesthetics of the hypertropic detail, its euphoric complete forms giving way to the disturbing hybridity of the informe.
The observation that Surrealist works are fundamentally ill-defined, unending and ‘informe’ (or formless) — a term one naturally associates with the philosopher Georges Bataille — seems astute, since it accurately describes those aspects of the Surrealist aesthetic (based on disharmony and disunity) which have all too often been overlooked. One type of formlessness, which, I believe, also encapsulates these qualities, providing a useful theoretical model to explain how Surrealist art is realised, is entropy.
Entropy is the phenomenon of irreversible and disorderly energy exchange between two closed systems. An example of such closed systems are ice cubes melting in a warm drink, whereby the ice absorbs the heat energy of the drink, and progressively loses its molecular ‘order’ to the hotter liquid into which it dissolves. Ice and drink thus begin to blend chaotically and irrevocably into one.
Dans ma façon de penser, je n'ai jamais pu m'imaginer qu'il y eut de justice et même de loyauté de la part des Européens à s'emparer au nom de son gouvernement d'une terre vue pour la première fois quand elle est habitée par des hommes qui n'ont pas toujours mérité les titres de sauvages ou de antropages qui leur ont été prodigués; tandis qu'ils n'étoient encore que les enfants de la nature et tout aussi peu civilisés que le sont actuelment vos montagnards d'Ecosse ou nos paisants de la Basse Bretagne, etc, qui s'ils ne mangent pas leurs semblables, ne leurs sont pas moins nuisibles. D'après cela, il me paroit qu'il seroit infiniment plus glorieux pour votre nation comme pour la mienne, de former pour la société les habitants de son propre payis sur lesquels on a des droits plutôt que de vouloir s'occuper de l'éducation de ceux qui en sont très éloignés en commençant par s'emparer du sol qui leur appartient et qui les a vu naître. Ce discour n'est pas sans doute d'un politique, mais au moins il est raisonable par le fait; et si ce principe eut été généralement adopté, vous n'auriez pas été obliger de former une colonie par le moyen d'hommes flétris par les lois et devenus coupables par la faute d'un gouvernement qui les a négligé et abandonné à eux-mêmes. Il s'en suit donc que non seulement vous avez à vous reprocher une injustice, en vous étant emparés de leur terrain, mais encore d'avoir transporté sur un sol où les crimes et les maladies des Européens n'étoient pas connus, tout ce qui pouvoit retarder les progrès de civilisation, qui ont servis de prétexte à votre gouvernement etc.
Tout portrait est ‘sacré’ (autant dire d'ailleurs ‘secret’).
The 1802 portrait by French artist Nicolas-Martin Petit (1777-1804) of a young woman from Bruny Island (Figure 5.1), Tasmania — or Van Diemen's land, as it was known at the time — is the subject of the following discussion. Petit's portrait3 of Arra-Maïda, as she was called, …
The artists on the Baudin expedition, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit, left us a substantial legacy in terms of the drawings of antipodean peoples, landscapes and coastal profiles which they executed during and after their voyage of scientific discovery to Australia between 1800 and 1804. Many of these works are now well known, thanks to the publication of the various Atlases of the official account of the expedition, the Voyage de découvertes aux Terres australes, and their modern facsimile editions. Other images, which have remained unpublished, demand to be better known, given the energy that emanates from them, their sense of engagement with their subjects, and, not least, the information encoded within them of the new worlds and people they encountered. Although there are some exquisite watercolours of antipodean marine life to be found in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, by far the most important repository of the unpublished drawings and sketches of Lesueur and Petit is the Lesueur Collection in the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle of Le Havre. Within the Australian subjects of the collection, one vividly coloured map stands out, as much for its attractiveness as for its picturesque detail: this is the watercolour entitled ‘Nouvelle Hollande’, executed by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (Figure 4.1). Although the form and presentation of its title, ‘Nouvelle Hollande’, indicate that Lesueur originally intended this work for the Atlas of the official account of the Voyage, it ultimately remained unpublished. Given the formal beauty of the image, we are quite naturally led to regret its exclusion from the Atlas, especially since the engraved map of Sydney that does feature in it singularly lacks the aesthetic appeal of the watercolour (Figure 4.2).
However, this substitution is only too easily explained. Unlike the engraving, which Lesueur drew to scale, based on a survey by the expedition's hydrographer, Charles Boullanger, the watercolour bears no such endorsement as to its accuracy. As Robert Irving has pointed out: ‘Lesueur's map is exquisite, but he was no surveyor. The map is wrong in a number of respects, including the waterline’. Indeed, is it even a map? Paul Carter describes Lesueur's work more generally as ‘poised between rival visions, between the first impressions appropriate to a logbook and the scientific figures fit to adorn a scientific treatise’.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that set designers create the space in which films take place. But, as Alessio Cavallaro reminds us, set designers ‘never simply replicate reality: they always involve the artificial creation of a world … carefully selected to generate a particular aesthetic or mood that draws the audience into the story’.
Hungarian-born production designer Alexandre Trauner (1906-93) fits neatly into this definition. Time and again, in his groundbreaking and highly evocative designs for a series of 1930s French Poetic Realist films — most notably Le Quai des brumes (1938), Hôtel du nord (1938) and Le Jour se lève (1939) — and his monumental, almost mythical sets for Les Enfants du paradis (1945) and Les Portes de la nuit (1946), Trauner created the visual and physical realm of the film and conceptualised sets consistent with the film's mood. Beyond the Hexagon, Trauner's abiding collaborations in Hollywood with directors like Howard Hawks, Orson Welles and, in particular, Billy Wilder (The apartment in 1960, One, two, three in 1961 and Kiss me, stupid in 1964) won him an Academy Award and the status as one of the post-war film industry's most influential and innovative production designers.
Trauner's designs in both these French and American contexts intertwined familiar iconography with stylistic and decorative markers of excess, and covered numerous genres and historical periods, be it biblical epic, Shakespeare adaptation or medieval allegory. Famously, in both France and the US, he distilled an image of Paris even more Parisian than Paris itself — his exemplary iconic representations of the city in Les Enfants du paradis (1945) and Irma la douce (1963) were uniquely his, and today remain a time capsule of the capital's architectural and fashion trends. Throughout his career, Trauner reiterated that the role of the production designer was critical in establishing a visual mood ‘so that the spectator has an immediate grasp of the character's psychology’. Somewhat self-effacingly, he also suggested that the best designer should simply ‘suggérer des choses’. Both these pronouncements — design-as-mirror and design-as-suggestion — consistently inflected his style. By distilling a visual concept from the thematic and psychological concerns of the screenplay, Trauner's skill was to appropriate realism and then simplify, stylise or accentuate it into an expressive, often highly memorable set of designs.
A propos de Manet, Mallarmé disait déjà: il n'importe qu'une oeuvre ne soit pas tout à fait achevée, ‘alors qu'il y a entre tous ses éléments un accord par quoi elle se tient et possède un charme facile à rompre par une touche ajoutée’. (Georges Bataille)
Il faut acquiescer à ce principe de ruine au coeur du nouveau le plus nouveau.
Il ne saurait être éludé ni dénié.
Et pourtant. Au coeur de cet acquiescement, alors qu'on saurait dire oui au principe de ruine, au-delà du savoir et de la vérité, justement, une place vide serait laissée — par Nietzsche tel que nous voudrions peut-être le lire: un lieu ouvert pour ce qui peut, par chance, peut-être, arriver encore. (Jacques Derrida)
A break with the times
In Manet, Georges Bataille focuses on the life and work of Édouard Manet, undoubtedly one of the greatest painters in the Western world and considered by some to be the founder of modern art. Bataille's text, which opens with a chronology of detailed biographical and historical information, was originally published with some black-and-white reproductions in 1955 by Albert Skira Editions and now appears in volume 9 of his Œuvres complètes after Lascaux ou la naissance de l'art. The juxtaposition of Manet with this piece on the birth of art is not without significance, as Bataille examines the artist's extraordinary status at the dawn of a new era. The richness and variety of Manet's canvases have been studied in depth in a multitude of publications over the years, including by eminent authors such as Zola, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Valéry, Malraux, T.J. Clark and recently Vitoux, to name only a few of his critics. Identifying as one of the great discontinuities in the episteme of Western culture the one which marks the threshold of modernity at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Foucault reminds us also that Manet is credited with changing modes of representation and techniques in art; that this painter of the nineteenth century brought about a major break, for example through the use of colour and light, making possible not just Impressionism but also no doubt movements well beyond it.
Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot's mutual interest in the Lascaux cave paintings signals their common concern to construct a discourse of origin in relation to art. Both writers consider origin in terms of the anxiety-filled questioning surrounding the ontological and historical aporias that have plagued Western thought, including those that appear under the banner of the Modern and the Postmodern. Both ask: what kind of discourse presides over the disconcerting doubling of reality performed by the first artists? For Bataille, origin is bound up with the ritual significance of eroticism and death as these underpin all forms of artistic endeavour; Blanchot, for his part, focuses on the existential void that takes up residence at the centre of all poetry and art.
In attempting to break with tradition, modern art and literature heralded a period of anxious questioning in relation to origin. James Joyce, in Ulysses, illustrates the modern preoccupation with origin by making his young characters recall impertinently their forebears:
— Pooh! Buck Mulligan said. We have grown out of Wilde and paradoxes. It's quite simple. He proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.
— What? Haines said, beginning to point at Stephen. He himself?
The youthful disdain of their illustrious forefathers brings the young men all the more surely to the question of origin: who are we to claim absolute knowledge, given that we have done no more than appear in the shadow of our fathers?
Joyce's insights find their theoretical underpinnings in the work of Michel Foucault, particularly in his historico-philosophical account of the Modern reconfiguration of the concept of origin. In Les Mots et les choses, Foucault points to the radical change that occurred around the middle of the nineteenth century in the manner of thinking about origin. From this moment, it was no longer possible to define origin solely in terms of the presence or absence of an external authenticating instance (such as God, Nature, Man). Instead, origin came to signify an enigmatic relation to being. What one ‘is’, essentially, is a condition of the invisible founding principle from which one emanates.
This is a theme that permeated twentieth century thought via the human sciences in particular, inasmuch as the latter aimed essentially to redefine the workings of language, …
… la Tour attire le sens comme un paratonnerre la foudre; pour tous les amateurs de signification, elle joue un rôle prestigieux, celui d'un signifiant pur, c'est-à-dire d'une forme en laquelle les hommes ne cessent de mettre du sens (qu'ils prélèvent à volonté dans leur savoir, leurs rêves, leur histoire) … Regard, objet, symbole, tel est l'infini circuit des fonctions qui lui permet d'être toujours bien autre chose et bien plus que la Tour Eiffel.
The visual impact, and iconic status, of the Eiffel Tower have long been established. Indeed, it was conceived as both a monumental sight and as a place for viewing, and so its place in visual culture, it might be argued, was a very part of the Tower's conception in 1884, long before a committee had even been formed to select a centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Recent innovations in a range of fields, including cultural geography and visual culture, have led scholars to reflect on what constitutes an urban icon, to question that which is precisely the ‘visual’ in urban culture, and to propose that ‘the Eiffel Tower is actually the original and defining urban icon’. This recent work in visual culture, and on the urban icon, constitutes the latest inquiry in a long lineage of critical reflections on seeing, the panoramic, the spectacular and the semiotics of the image, many of which have profoundly affected our field.
As we might expect, and as we know from other studies, such as those by Jonathan Crary and Maurice Samuels, this line of critical inquiry takes root in the moment of viewing, and in a culture of spectatorship. Indeed, Vanessa Schwartz and Jeannene Przyblyski contend that ‘the very notion of “visual culture” was made possible by many of the changes in image production in the nineteenth century’ — the kind of ‘imageries’, to borrow Philippe Hamon's term, that, they go on to argue, ‘forever altered our connection to such fundamentals as materiality, experience, and truth’. To explore the notion of ‘framing’, then, here I examine some connections between the discourse on the Eiffel Tower at the time of its construction, as well as the ways in which representation of it has developed, alongside the way that the theorising impulses of a number of disciplines in the human sciences, profoundly affected by semiotics, have engendered the discipline of visual culture.
The notion of framing is one that has emerged as a key factor in current investigations into representations of culture. In the disciplinary area of French Studies, framing is understood as collective and individual rules of identity construction that are based upon a combination of modes of visual production, past and present narratives, and discourses of knowledge and power. The present volume will pursue the question of framing in all three areas.
The first sustained discussion of framing, understood in the modern sense, is attributed to anthropologist and linguist Gregory Bateson. In 1954, in ‘A theory of play and fantasy’, Bateson argued that no form of communication can be understood without reference to its metacommunicative frame; monkeys are able to distinguish the same gestures as aggression or as play, depending upon their framing, according to one of his examples. Sociologist Erving Goffman took up the concept in Frame analysis (1974), positing that individuals interpret experiences and situations through a series of frames. These frames are cognitive structures that guide perception; if one saw a person being chased down the street by a police officer, one could surmise that s/he had committed a theft, for example. The notion was soon adopted in the field of Literary Studies, which during the 1970s was busily adopting models from other disciplinary areas as ways of changing the scope and pattern of traditional literary interpretation. The rise of structuralism in particular gave prominence to the idea of ‘narrative’ and to the ‘science’ of narratology, and Gerald Prince notes how this new theoretical application led to the positioning of ‘narrative as a thematic frame’.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, framing as a theoretical device has since been employed across an array of disciplines to open new modes of interpretation, and between disciplines as a way of crossing disciplinary borders. Studies of the use of frames exist in, for example, Sociolinguistics, Cultural Studies, Psychology and Psychotherapy, Anthropology, Sociology, Museum Studies, Film Studies, Architecture, Cognition Theory, Discourse Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Postcolonial Studies, Intermediality Studies, Communications and Policy Studies. Framing has become commonplace and we readily accept that we interpret the world through the medium of frames. We understand reading, in its broadest sense, as a framing activity and use framing as a way of approaching the heterogeneous quality of texts.
Michel Beaujour states his dissatisfaction with the term ‘autoportrait’ to encapsulate adequately literary endeavours at self-representation. The connection between self-portraiture and painting is evident, and the slippage of the term across mediums leads, in Beaujour's opinion, to deny the specificity of literary works. Yet, referring to works such as Michel de Montaigne's Essais, Michel Leiris's L'âge d'homme and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Rêveries, Beaujour highlights its usefulness as a tool that distinguishes it from autobiographical texts for two fundamental reasons. First, self-portraiture insists upon an absence of continuity, thus defying any clearly arranged order of events that contribute to a personality created in narrative. Furthermore, the self-portraitist responds to time differently from the autobiographer, since s/he does not necessarily write a retrospective narrative; whereas the autobiographer is generally concerned with how s/he has become what s/he has — the scope of the self-portraitist is who s/he is now, in the present time of writing. Herein lies one of the main reasons for the derision of the self-portrait: it may be viewed as mere ‘scribbling’, an attempt to encapsulate the present self in words with no clear purpose or direction. As Beaujour resumes, the self-portrait ‘ne s'adresse à un éventuel lecteur qu'en tant que celui-ci est placé en position de tiers exclu. L'autoportrait s'adresse à lui-même’.
In contrast to autobiography, the self-portrait is relatively undertheorised, but Beaujour offers a partial definition, declining how the self-portrait
tente de constituer sa cohérence grâce à un système de rappels, de reprises, de superpositions ou de correspondances entre des éléments homologues et substituables, de telle sorte que sa principale apparence est celle du discontinu, de la juxtaposition anachronique, du montage, qui s'oppose à la syntagmatique d'une narration, fût-elle très brouillée, puisque le brouillage du récit invite toujours à en ‘construire’ la chronologie.
Moreover, the correlation between textual and visual elements — between a painter's self-portrait and a writer's — adds a further layer to a narrative self-portrait. Beaujour points to Leiris's and Montaigne's metaphors for painting in their work, showing their preoccupation with the visual genre and its impact upon their narrative. Yet, Beaujour argues, the writer's work departs from that of the painter since when s/he begins to write, s/he cannot render her/himself as though looking at a mirror, but is instead affected by the culture and the language in which s/he is immersed.
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