The Body in Pieces

Théodore Géricault's Study of a Torso for The Raft of the Medusa

Théodore Géricault’s Study of a Torso for The Raft of the Medusa

‘Mechanism and organism share the ideal notion of an endless, empty repetition without difference, of an overall functionality and a rigorous subjection of the parts.’

Raunig G, A Thousand Machines, semiotext(e), pp.28

“By the end of the eighteenth century a sense of anxiety and crisis began to preoccupy European writers and artists in their relationship to a heroic past. The grandness of that history no longer fit into the framework of the present, and artists felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of past heroic accomplishment.This was soon reflected in artistic representation, from Fuseli on. The partial image, the “crop”, fragmentation, ruin, and mutilation — all expressed grief and nostalgia for the loss of a vanished totality, a utopian wholeness. Often such feelings were expressed in deliberate destructiveness, which became the new way of seeing: the notion of the modern.In The Body in Pieces, the noted critic and art historian Linda Nochlin traces these developments by looking at work produced by artists from Neoclassicism and Romanticism to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, and beyond.”

To write the fragment/ary is to explore writing in and of itself as affect. This affect seeks to establish its own ground transposing objects and phenomena [philosophical, literary, political, cultural] into a new aesthetic space that is perpetually in media res. The form of the fragment encompasses a range of interrelationships including the part/whole, being/becoming, finite/infinite, philosophy/poetics, system/anti-system manifesting in  the incomplete, the unfinished, the ruin, the circular, the interrupted, the negative, the space between not/knowing and is characterised by the cut, montage, edit, discontinuity, iterability, heterogeneity, hyper-text,  incorporation, multiplicity and polyphony.

Writing the Fragment/ary opens the intermedial relationships between word, image, voice, gaze, look, the other, response and responsibility by way of  the anecdotal, enigmatic, speculative, hypothetical, the imaginary, the peripatetic and above all the contingent. The fragment/ary embodies a shared surface of writing where writer, reader, creator, critic merge and dissolve. This negation of the empirical ‘I’ in authorial self-effacement seeks to secure the autonomy of the work, the author is the mechanism through which the organism evolves.

Nochlin, L, The body in pieces: the fragment as a metaphor of modernity
Volume 26 of Walter Neurath memorial lectures, Thames and Hudson:2001

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