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Amodern 6: Reading the Illegible


Diana Hamilton

We can often trace the origin of a work’s “style” somewhere external to the work. This is true despite style’s frequent framing, for at least a few hundred years, as some original product of an artist: for Sontag, “Style is the principle of decision in a work of art, the signature of the artist’s will;”1 for Buffon, of course, “Le style c’est l’homme meme.”2

There are many critical accounts of style’s constitution by means other than simple craft. In Mimesis, Erich Auerbach ties style inextricably to history, such that the New Testament requires the portrayal of everyday life without subordination to the Greek standard of presenting the everyday as comic;3 style emerges from the context rather than from either subject or author. In another move that distances the writer from her style – even where the focus is on one body of work – D.A. Miller describes Jane Austen’s as constituted by its resistance to personification, to such an extent that some of her work can be considered not to be in her own style.4 In perhaps the most persistent reading of style originating outside a text, Harold Bloom provides a Freudian account of belatedness and anxiety as it conditions any poetry that must struggle with the knowledge of other strong poems – this list could go on.5

The fact that style can be found outside of the text itself, or outside of the contours of the writer’s subjectivity, is not so mysterious, then; the question is not why or how this process of style’s creation starts, but when it seems to stop, when, that is, an individual style seems to emerge. Style then describes both the process of its own development and its endpoint, the strange consistency that allows a text to take on the impossible specificity of the author-turned adjective – the cause of so much allergy to style’s theorization.

By this “allergy,” I mean that contemporary critics seem to have at once mistaken a relatively specific concept of style for its long-standing meaning – a romantic or modernist emphasis on the individual author at the expense of a more “normative,” as D.A. Russell and others have put it, sense of elocutio – and rejected the word on the very grounds of their myopia.6 They relegate style to the individual, mourn the individual’s recent demise, and then mourn style’s relevance alongside it. Those who come to defend style often attempt to resolve this apparent contradiction with a renewed longing for stylistics-qua-science, writing programs that will given us a description of, say, Austen’s sentences. More compelling accounts of style handle this tension between fingerprint and indebtedness, or, as Jakobson and Tynjanov put it in “Problems in the Study of Language and Literature,” the tension between “archaism as a fact of style” and the “tendency toward innovation in language and literature.”7 To create what seems like a “new” style, writing has to process past styles.

If all style borrows, a more dramatic version of this process ought to be visible in texts that literally give up their own voices, incorporating the actual language of other sources, or applying procedures that ought to prevent anything like single-author style from remaining relevant. For this reason, works included under the imprecise umbrella of the “postmodern” are less likely to be described stylistically. In “Postmodernism and Consumer Society,” Fredric Jameson describes modernism as hinging on a “personal, private style, as unmistakable as your fingerprint, as incomparable as your own body,” whereas postmodernism assumes that “that kind of individualism and personal identity is a thing of the past” – either that it no longer exists, or that, retroactively, “it is also a myth; it never really existed in the first place.”8 For Jameson – as well as for countless other readers of experimental post-war literature – the kind of appropriation used by T.S. Eliot or Ezra Pound somehow still solidifies into a personal univocality, whereas style is rendered moot by later appropriative acts’ move towards increasing disjunction.

Even if this position is not taken up directly, it is implicit in the most common critical approaches to procedural, highly disjunctive, or appropriative works. At the same time, the story wherein “disjunctive” writers “return” to continuity is equally familiar. In his critical overview of John Ashbery’s long poem “The Skaters,” Brian McHale describes how “Ashbery’s poetics parallels or anticipates the shift in postmodernism generally from forms of disjunction to recycling, appropriation, pastiche, and other varieties of secondhandedness,” implying that pastiche functions as a transition to continuity.9 According to McHale, the fact that Rivers and Mountain seems, at least on first glance, more coherent than The Tennis Court Oat, tempts Ashbery’s readers into ascribing a greater sense of clarity than the poem merits.

In a compelling account of style’s relationship to a bad sort of clarity, Douglas Crimp’s “Appropriating Appropriation” bemoans the way appropriation in visual art can produce a sense of false continuity. He distinguishes between good appropriation, in which the lifted objects are found “materials,” and bad appropriation, in which the artist appropriates the “style” of another artist or artwork.10 Using two architectural examples, he describes Michael Graves’ public services building in Portland as an “eclectic mix of past architectural styles drawn generally from the orbit of classicism,” while Frank Gehry’s personal home in Santa Monica “appropriates only a single element from the past . . . it is not, however, an element of style; it is an already existing 1920s clapboard house:”

Graves appropriates from the architectural past; Gehry appropriates laterally, from the present. . . . Grave’s approach to architecture returns to a premodernist understanding of the art as a creative combination of elements derived from a historically given vocabulary . . . Gehry’s practice, however, retains the historical lessons of modernism even as it criticizes modernism’s idealist dimension from a postmodernist perspective . . . Moreover, the individual elements of Gehry’s house resolutely maintain their identities. They do not combine into an illusion of a seamless whole. . . . these fragments never add up to a style.”11

Here, the emergence of style becomes a sign of aesthetic failure. He offers this example of art’s turn from maintained disjunction to stylistic coherence not as a narrative for the progression of postmodernism in general, but as a lesson in the danger of art’s institutionalization. Crimp’s article ends by reading a (then recent) turn in Robert Rauschenberg’s career towards photographing objects that, according to Crimp’s description, once would have been materially incorporated into his combines, such that Rauschenberg “appropriates his own work, convert[ing] it from material to style.”12 He accuses Rauschenberg of responding only to museum and gallery curators’ desire for specific kinds of art objects, and suggests that Rauschenberg’s newfound emphasis on style betrays a failure of the intended effects of appropriation.

This reading only makes sense if we accept Crimp’s initial premise: that appropriation’s relationship to style is one of failure, because what ought to maintain aesthetic disjunction instead creates “a very strong illusion indeed of the wholeness of the end product.”13 Crimp’s argument offers a persuasive distinction between two different endpoints of acts that, on first glance, seem similar: the appropriation of materials and the appropriation of style. But his argument only holds if 1. Style itself is a problem for art, and 2. Some art exists that manages to elude style’s seeming wholeness.

This essay argues for the importance of style’s role in reading the kind of works most typically discussed only according to their relative abilities to stave style off – often, via disjunction or proceduralism. These works’ styles ought to be illegible, that is, within many understandings of style’s progression. While this argument will largely hinge on a reading of the movement of style through two major periods in William Burroughs’ writing, both Crimp’s reading of Rauschenberg and McHale’s account of Ashbery’s stylistic progression offer useful detours on a broader path of to portray style as movement.

By movement, I want to present style as the actual process that generates seemingly procedural literature – as the means by which writing proceeds – rather than a static description or definition of a given text. If we return to D.A. Russell’s account of theories of style in antiquity – written generously for those like myself “whose Greek and Latin is perhaps vestigial” – where he explains that contemporary readers struggle to understand style in antiquity because it was “normative rather than descriptive,” the idea of style here is neither.14 It’s not a term for appropriateness of form to content, or for mere description of how language functions in a given text, but something functional, where the latter description not only identifies a replicable system, as in Hugh Kenner’s account of language’s systematicity in The Counterfeiters, but also generates that replication.15

If we reject both premises of Crimp’s critique of Rauschenberg – assuming that style is not a problem, and more forcefully, that no artwork escapes its own style – there is another way to understand what is at stake in Rauschenberg’s “turn” to the combinatory effects of photography from the material combine. According to Crimp, Rauschenberg converts materials into style by returning his formerly appropriated objects to their contexts in photographs, creating a problematic continuity. Instead, it is this continuity between the combines and photographs that reveals the extent to which style was always at work: in order for the photographs to be “continuous,” the combines must be too.

Rauschenberg’s 1955 “Short Circuit (Combine Painting)” directly engages the relationship between style, medium, and materials. Those materials include the paint, fabric, wood, various collaged items, a painting by Susan Weil, Elaine Sturtevant’s reproduction of a Jasper Johns flag painting (the original was stolen), and the cabinet in which the materials of the upper half of the combine are hidden, depending on how the piece is displayed. This work likely functions, for Crimp, as a positive example of the artist’s appropriative works, since even the work’s structure is designed to prevent it from being viewed “whole.” At the same time, it shows how style’s coherence becomes legible only retroactively, since Rauchenberg’s combines are as identifiable as any signature brush stroke. This work can’t escape style – assuming, with Crimp, that that would be the goal – but not on account of the identifiability of its artist. The cabinet itself – allegedly, a means of including the work of new artists in an exhibit that had changed its rules to prevent such inclusion – speaks to the fact that this early work already includes an “appropriation of style.” Most importantly, its eventual need for Sturtevant’s reproduction points to both the interdependence of its individual elements and the way style circles around the appearance of originality and its relationship to imitability.


Image 1: Robert Rauschenberg, “Short Circuit (Combine Painting),” 1955.

Starting from the interior upper-left-hand quadrant, the Johns-Sturtevant flag opens out onto the rest of the combine; it takes the same structural position as stars do in the flag itself. From there, the work shows its stripes: Weil’s painting, covered or not with a white door, a red stripe below with the instruction “open,” a small postcard, and vertical white strokes of paint that bleed into the lower section, itself separated into a number of lateral segments, with a cloth rectangle in red and white polka dots seeming to quote the pattern of the original stars. The flag painting can itself be covered with another striped rectangle, this time multi-colored. The reappearance of various elements of the flag is not necessarily proper to Johns’ or Sturtevant’s painting, but the discolored blurring of the stripes, the way a “found” image becomes the work of another individual through the specificities of paint, dirt, and geometry, all seem related to the enclosed flag, regardless of the order in which the elements proceed (whether the combine seems to come “from” Johns or vice versa).

If we turn to a photographic example of Rauschenberg’s use of the American flag, it is clearer still that style plays no greater role in this secondary appropriation. Some elements here do seem in line with the style of the combine: the chance meaning produced by a combination of found elements – an antiwar slogan, a patriotic symbol, and a one-way sign, suggesting the inevitability of one course of action – the apparent lack of intervention into a number of these elements, and the actual visual motifs (a similar proliferation of shapes that suggest laterality or striping). But we do not need the photograph’s existence to render the style of the former materials visible. Instead, Crimp’s privileging of the combine’s materiality is a fantasy of physical authenticity, a fear that art could transcend its individual elements.

Robert Rauschenberg - Untitled (American Flag, Enough Is Enough), 1980

Image 2: Robert Rauschenberg, “Untitled (American Flag, Enough is Enough),” 1980.

Style is, in its loosest meaning, this relationship between art’s elements – the expression of the interaction between elements in a way that neither reduces the work to them nor loses sight of them. It makes sense that a theory of appropriation that wants to ward off the threat of coherence would also be wary of style, of course, but this hope never seems to bear out. Gérard Genette defines style’s relationship between its constituent parts in his attempt to develop a structuralist stylistics, taking issue with any “atomist, or punctualist, conception of style” because “style is indeed in the details, but in all the details, and in all their relationships.”16 I have applied this notion to Rauschenberg in order to point out the absurdity of attributing style to only one period of the artist’s work, but also to show the way individual stylistic elements or descriptions seem to move beyond the confines of individual works, especially in the literal combination of other artist’s paintings.

My question here is proper to a style of literary appropriation, though, so I will turn to a closer example: the operation of style in relationship to both citation and disjunction in the early work of John Ashbery, among the most important of what can be called post-war, or postmodern, or experimental, U.S. poets. Like Rauschenberg – and like Burroughs later – Ashbery is sometimes accused of leaving behind the experiments and disruptions of his early work. Those experiments can have stylistic effects, though, even where they have not been applied.


The Poet as Collector

Critical accounts of Ashbery’s work often gesture to this concept of style as something first overheard or found in another’s words. At the same time, Ashbery appropriates differently than the artists Crimp critiques. In Ashbery’s poetry, so many different elements coincide that critics often use the plural when addressing his style(s). His Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror speaks to this process by which a distorted sense of self is reflected back, and not just in the mirror’s constitution of the self first as if it were another: the poem describes “imaginative methods” as overused, and as creating a “medium/In which it is possible to recognize oneself.”17 But the actual process by which something like a “oneself” of style is formed from the ruins of experimentation starts not in Self-Portrait, but in The Tennis Court Oath, which seems, from the perspective of many decades, to have invented one of the most legible poetic styles of the second half of the twentieth century through a process of collage and quotation that functions, in terms of its actual implementation, much differently in the works that follow. Rather than some dramatic stylistic shift, the same style functions by different means in these works. Unlike with Rauschenberg, Ashbery’s style does seem confined to the first five or six books; a truer change happens after that. Here, I am interested in the move between the very early books, where the effects of an earlier citational practice are more clearly visible.

If Ashbery’s style is borrowed, it is by means of imitation as much as citation. In his reading of Ashbery’s treatment of political economy, Chris Nealon describes the poet’s debt to Auden, who himself used “high/low juxtaposition [to] modulate into a historical account of the poem’s bivalent present, which still bears traces of both a heroic mode . . . and a mischievous, schoolboy low style.”18 This paralleling of the two poets goes beyond identifying similarities in their writing. Nealon also considers their shared relationships to history, relying on a “dialectical understanding of style that is always in relationship to catastrophe.”19 It is not just that Ashbery was “inspired” by Auden’s stylistic registering of history, but that Nealon needs to understand Ashbery’s style in order to read him historically.

Nealon is hardly the first to think of style’s relationship to history: in his essay arguing for a return to style as a solution to a number of apparent impasses in literary criticism, Marshall Brown describes “the return to style [as] a return to language in its function as the determinate negation constituting history from deep within as a continuously modulating process.”20 Jameson, on the other hand, historicizes the significance of style itself, arguing in his dissertation on Jean-Paul Sartre’s style that modernism required an increased intelligibility of and attention to style that indicated “not so much a weakness of the writer’s talent but a new problematic moment in his situation, a moment of crisis in the history of the development of writing itself.”21 Style comes secondhand – as the product of some other style – not only because of appropriation or imitation, but also because of the historical conditions of writing.

In these chapters, as well as in the introduction to The Matter of Capital, Nealon effectively traces a number of theoretical accounts of style’s historical import, reading Auerbach, Adorno, and others against (at times, even their own) subordination of style to a generic quality of poetry (Adorno’s “lyric intensity”). I see this theoretical history as underscoring the continued importance of stylistic readings within a critical context that so often turns to history at the expense of literature’s specificity – i.e., one that looks at style non-dialectically.

But Nealon’s reading of Ashbery is important here not for its historicity, but for his curious identification of what constitutes Ashbery’s style. It is “both a comportment of Ashbery’s, and a collection of images and ideas that assert themselves thematically across the course of his career.”22 The idea that style functions as an individual’s “comportment” is not unusual, nor, necessarily, is the relationship of style to themes (although it requires incorporating the “what” of literature under style’s umbrella “how”) or images, but the relationship between these two descriptors is uncertain. Is it that Ashbery has a particular comportment towards “thematically asserted” images, or are these things separate? Is his work marked stylistically by the images themselves, or by the fact that they appear as a mere “collection”? The word “collection” on its own implies the author is more of a curator than a writer of the images, not least because Nealon’s sentence lets the images “assert themselves” with unusual autonomy. Brian McHale’s describes how “Verbal ‘found objects’ litter the poem’s surface,” and how the style of “The Skaters” “shifts erratically and without motivation,” juxtaposing bureaucratic, religious, critical, and colloquial registers.23 Ashbery’s style is constituted by both a collection of images and a collection of styles.

In John Shoptaw’s description of the stylistic shift from the more explicitly collaged and disjointed The Tennis Court Oath to Rivers and Mountains, it is this diversity of rhetorical registers, these leaps from image to image or source to source, that makes Rivers more coherent. Though Tennis is more disjunct, Rivers’ continuity is produced by heteroglossia; the consistency is itself variable. This seeming contradiction – the leaps produce coherence – is one I have already repeated; again, appropriation (or the sense of “secondhandedness,” in McHale’s terminology) is associated with a less disjunct end product. For Shoptaw, this results in not just poem-level coherence, but also in the emergence of what seems like a subject: Rivers and Mountains “reconnects the syntactical fragments of The Tennis Court Oath and joins a newly discovered authorial persona with his implied readers.”24 This “persona” is specifically the product of the use of speech as opposed to quoted writing in poems like “The Skaters,” such that The Tennis Court Oath is more unified by its literariness, but in a way that prevents Ashbery from “addressing the readers in their own language.”25 Often, critics connect coherent style to the semblance of subjectivity. We look for a person more when the “voice” of the poem is consistent.

I am more invested in Shoptaw’s discussion of a continuous “persona” than in his (and others’) insistence that speech takes priority in “The Skaters.” This argument often rings false to me. Lines from Tennis, like “Oh my daughter,/My sweetheart, daughter of my late employer, princess,” seem just as turned towards the possibility of being spoken as those of the “The Skaters,” and the opening of the latter hardly aspires to the direct address of speech: “These decibels/are a kind of flagellation, an entity of sound/Into which being enters, and is apart.”26 Shoptaw emphasizes speech because of the poem’s use of the second person, but even these moments of apparent connection seem solidly on the level of “writing,” though the poem describes an act of listening:

The performance has rapidly reached your ear; silent and tear-stained,
      in the post-mortem shock, you stand listening, awash
With memories of hair in particular, part of the welling that is you,
The gurgling of harp, cymbal, glockenspiel, triangle, temple block, English
      horn and metronome! And still no presentiment, no feeling of pain
      before or after.
The passage sustains, does not give. And you have come far indeed.27

There is no imaginable person that emerges from the noisiness of such lines, no particular you identifiable with an “implied reader,” whose ears are irrelevant to reading, and whose tears cannot be guaranteed. But even though his reasons for the shift seem strange, the sense that a shift itself has happened is shared by most accounts of Ashbery’s literary trajectory. Both The Tennis Court Oath and certain poems from Rivers and Mountains include strategies of literary experimentation and citation that are gradually left behind, even though the same sense of polyvocality and rapid observational shift continues to characterize poems built by other means. More than it suggests personal address, his identification of a new “persona,” built from Tennis’s experiments, in fact opposes any sense of “the personal.” The persona is not a person, but the mask that replaces him. The experiments of the first book create a style so recognizable that one imagined voice unites both, even if the imagined speaker acts differently in each.


Beyond the Cut-Up Method

Ashbery offers only one example of this process, in which a poem’s relationship to a predecessor or source material establishes the solidity of the work’s style rather than introducing a new one. Just as Hugh Kenner noted of T. S. Eliot that “the achievement of many passages in The Waste Land is to make lines identical with lines Shakespeare or Webster wrote sound like lines Eliot might have written himself,” many poets’ citationality has the effect of developing the style of the text instead of disrupting it.28 It’s easy enough to produce a list of examples of this process: the New York School’s “chattiness;” the OULIPO’s claiming of its anticipatory plagiarists, retroactively made legible as part of a collective they could not have foreseen; the way twentieth century poetics of fragmentation make the brackets in our printings of Sappho seem integral to the original poems. But this effect is not necessarily specific to poetry; most early accounts of the effect of quotation on authorial style deal with the dialogic quality of the novel.

With his use (and abandonment) of the cut-up method, William Burroughs provides a parallel example to the stylistic effects of appropriation in Ashbery. Moving between his two trilogies, we can re-read the already-noted shift from apparent disjunction to apparent clarity, from “experimentation” to “writing.” The Nova trilogy was compiled from 1961-1964 via cut-ups and self-appropriation from the “Worde Hoard,” a long manuscript of collected writings that were also edited to compile Naked Lunch, while the Red Nights trilogy is often read as the author’s late comfort with more established narrative, or celebrated as a masterpiece, or simply considered less interesting given its apparent lack of experimentation.

These works are not simply another example of this shift, though. More strongly, Burroughs’ writing provides an example of a style that seems to function on its own, like the experiments that constituted it initially. The progression from Naked Lunch and the first trilogy to his later work demonstrates how appropriation and experimentation alter not only the texts on which they are performed, but the style of the author who performs them, so that certain experiments are somehow “internalized” in the process of writing and no longer require actual implementation. Once used, that is, the cut-up method appears to branch out behind the limits of the scissors; once it has been implicated in the constitution of style, style takes up the cut-up for itself.

An early review of Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night, the first and titular book of his 1980s trilogy, remarked that there “are sometimes eight or nine pages of continuous, linear narrative!”29 At least on the sentence level, this later work is undeniably more “continuous,” if continuity means conforming to a handful of grammatical and narrative norms. Here, the plots are familiar to readers of Burroughs: an unknown virus, one that especially affects redheads, is spreading through the population, with symptoms that include uncontrollable ejaculation, foul smells, rashes, and death, and which can be treated only with narcotics, making the already addicted characters more likely to recover. Eventually, the virus is identified as love, because it produces “fever . . . loss of appetite . . . even allergic reactions,” and this – the “human virus” itself – sets off a process of investigation that enables the book’s use of generic conventions of detection and science fiction.30 There are still unexplained temporal shifts, romping gay adventure, and mystical effects of death by hanging, but this “content” – which, for Burroughs at least, is clearly not detachable from style – appears only to be interrupted by further content, not by syntactical or logical breaks, barring some sections that depict dreams or films that do “see fragmentation occur at a syntactic level, in the same way as in the cut-up.”31

In Cities, then, we have what most critics agree looks like a far less fragmented writing style. But in the work of an author for whom eight pages of linear narrative justifies an exclamation mark, it is clear as well that continuity, at least in this context, itself functions as a break, at least within the Style of what goes by the name Burroughs. Much of Burroughs criticism (where it deals with the later trilogy at all) hinges on this question: whether the later work constitutes a conservative return to the conventions of fiction, whether he functionally disavows the formal experiments of the 60s, and, more simply, of what this shift consists. This move towards continuity is not only one from disjunction to clarity, but also involves the continuation of the earlier projects: Burroughs claimed that “all [his] books are one book, it’s just a continual book.”

To the extent that there is a shift between these two trilogies, a temporary suspension of the text’s identification with its own style, it can be seen from the first pages of both. At the beginning of The Soft Machine, the section titled “Dead on Arrival,” the disjunctive quality of the first trilogy is already apparent. He uses short sentences with little punctuation, whose connection is neither unmotivated nor transparent:

I was working the hole with the sailor and we did not do bad. Fifteen cents on an average night boosting the afternoons and short-timing the dawn we made out from the land of the free. But I was running out of veins.32

But while this syntax is characteristic of the cut-up novels, it is not necessarily the product of the cut-up method. Lydenberg describes The Soft Machine as “a relatively accessible introduction to Burroughs’ writing experiments during the 1960s” not because of its frequent use of these experiments, but “because of its tentative and restrained use.”33 From these opening lines, the text generates materials that will repeat in different sentences throughout, and which point back as well to phrases in Naked Lunch, where he “work[s] the hole with the Sailor, out on the hyp afternoons.”34 The definition of “working the hole” comes thirty pages later:

“I’m thin”—Crisscross of broken light from wood lathes over the patio, silver flak holes in his face—We worked the Hole together in our lush rolling youth—(Footnote: “working the Hole,” robbing drunks on the subway)—And kicked a habit in East St. Louis—Made it four times third night, finger scraping bone—At dawn shrinking from flesh and cloth—35

And five pages after its first appearance, “short-timing the dawn” also returns: “Looking at dirty pictures casual as a ceiling fan short-timing the dawn we made it in the corn smell of rectal mucus and carbolic soap.”36 The work generates its own stockpile of vocabulary, to which it necessarily returns, as the same phrases are put in different contexts, in different orders than they would apparently be in an “original,” uncut text. Here, Robinson and Lydenberg’s description of Naked Lunch as “an unconscious cut-up apprenticeship in cutting and rearranging the voluminous material that finally yielded the published version.”37 starts to make sense, since the cut-up method, in fact, only exaggerates this effect: since these novels were built from the same materials, they share a great deal in common textually and thematically.

From this, we know that the cut-up has some effect in addition to or in collaboration with simple, sentence-level fragmentation, and that The Soft Machine’s use of both creates a particular syntactical style. Similar operations pervade the later, more straightforward writing of the second trilogy, but their deployment is very different here. Even more visible than the censored “content” of this text is the structure of its sentences, which cohere grammatically just often enough to still ask for coherence from sentences that do not. Because of this, the stylistic shift in sentence structure is the easiest to spot, and the reason it is so tempting to assume that Cities of the Red Night functions as a return to some un-cut language.

But it only takes reading Cities to see that this does not describe a “conservative turn,” or a rejection of a prior writing method. Instead, disjunction moves here from the level of the individual sentence to the relationship between larger sections of text; it is dispersed to a narrative in which an 18th century pirate ship staffed by young boys and a 20th century drug plot overlap somehow in a detective’s experimental search for a missing boy. As Robinson puts it, “Burroughs effectively reinvents the cut-up, on the level of narrative blocks rather than syntax.”38 This relationship between disjunction and continuity, already apparent in The Soft Machine’s “restrained” use of the cut-up, suggests that this process of fragmentation’s extension was already at play before the experiment was realized, rather than simply being its aftereffect.

At a minimum, this implies that we can attribute the way fragmentation gets dispersed, in the moves towards and away from experimentation, to something other than just the effect of that experiment. This is what I mean by “style” as a function of art’s consistency with itself rather than as a static description. Sticking with the opening volumes of each trilogy for the sake of simplicity, we can examine a few ways style bears a relationship to this consistency. In this section, I focused on the most apparent stylistic difference between The Soft Machine and Cities of the Red Night by briefly noting the syntactical clarity of the latter as the most common way it is used to exemplify a break in the author’s practice. But to linger only on this difference would be to reduce style to the sentence, which runs counter to my identification of (once-syntactical) disjunction on the level of narrative in a less collaged novel. Reading these two novels alongside each other more meaningfully raises many other questions pertinent to style’s identification.

Here, I will focus on just two: first, the question of stylization as a subcategory of style, and second, the effect individual characters appear to have on the style of writing outside of characterization. Far more is at stake in style’s constitution – we have already considered the role of images, quotation, procedure, and syntax as they relate to style – but these two examples are useful precisely because they are both particularly problematic.


Style, More or Less

In attempt to raise style to the level of literature’s primary operation, bringing the term “stylized” into play introduces a serious problem: it suggests that some works – or some excerpts – have more style than others, or engage more directly with it, which suggests in turn that style might be somehow escapable. At the same time, style comes up against the question of stylization even where critics want to insist that the former is an aspect of all literature. Susan Sontag’s “On Style” argues that style is frequently denounced only in the name of “a new stylistic vocabulary” – all complaints against it function simultaneously as stylistic interventions – but uses “stylization” to rename the unnecessarily decorative writing that others would reject.39 If critical discussion mistakes style for something separable from content, “stylization” is the name for where that divide actually occurs; it is “what is present in a work of art precisely when an artist does make the by no means inevitable distinction between matter and matter, theme and form . . . [it] reflects an ambivalence . . . toward the subject matter.”40 She usefully distinguishes the two, describing stylization as a separation of “manner” and “matter” that is not implied by the word style itself.

In Cities of the Red Night, the word “stylized” appears in a way that highlights the differences between how each of these novels are written and what they are written about. In this section, the private investigator (alternately referred to as a “private asshole”), Clem Snide, realizes he is not making progress on his case, and “decide[s] to knock off and take in a porn flick”:

It was good, as porn flicks go—beautiful kids on screen—but I couldn’t understand why they had so much trouble coming. And all the shots were stylized. Every time a kid came all over a stomach of an ass, he rubbed the jism around like tapioca.41

Like Sontag, Snide uses “stylized” as an insult, implying an unnecessary relationship between the mode of presentation and the thing being presented. At the same time, this relationship is constitutive of his description of the film. This implies that trait of being “stylized,” like the shots in the porn, could be one aspect of an overall style, even if we remember that the words are far from synonyms. We could not then cast the question of stylization out from the question of style, especially in a body of work where both the “matter” and the “manner” are so striking. If these two novels seem to be in fundamentally different styles on first glance – the second trilogy being where Burroughs claims to have “appli[ed] what [he had] learned from the cut-up and other techniques to the problem of conventional writing” – is one more stylized than the other? Quoted in42 Does one resemble the porn flick in which every orgasm is followed by an absurd, repetitive ritual – that is, does the style of one rely more on such devices?

Noting The Soft Machine’s recourse to various levels of syntactical fragmentation, I would expect it to be more stylized than Cities. However, close examination of an early section of the novel only complicates the attempt to maintain the distinction between manner and matter. “Public Agent,” a section that also deals with pornographic films, returns to the operation of a self-generating vocabulary I described above. The text presents a public agent who “doesn’t know who [he] work[s] for: ‘I get my instructions from street signs, newspapers, and pieces of conversation I snap out of the air the way a vulture will tear entrails from other mouths.’”43 His primary task seems to be fighting homosexuality via the “blue movies of James Dean” and killing those with “a James Dean habit,” as he puts it. The following pages describe a number of his attacks:

The broken fruit was lying with his head damning the piss running over his face and the whole rough a light pink from his blood. I winked at the commuters. “I can smell them fucking queers,” I sniffed warningly “And if there’s one thing lower than a nance it’s a spot of bloody grass.44

So far, nothing that strange is happening to the sentence structure – the plot of a double agent sent by unknown forces to murder gay men in Turkish baths is more improbable than a few missing commas. But later down the page, in the same section, we start seeing the phrases from this initial section recombined:

Piss running over his face. Don’t know who I work for. I get mine from his blood, newspapers and pieces. “I can smell them fucking the air the way a vulture will.” In any case bloody grass. I sloughed him with the iron room and strangled him like rotten cantaloupe. Then I had to check in. I was the blood jumped out his mouth, nose receding flesh to finish. Across the room huddled my clothes shivering grey flannel suits under terminal drugstore. So I am a public agent the whole trough a light pink instruct from street. I winked at the commuters. “Conversation I snap out of queers,” I sniffed warningly. “It’s a spot up on my back cases.”45

This text seems more stylized than most; with seeming indifference to the narrative set up on the prior page, the manner of writing takes precedence over its materials, literally reorganizing them. As with all problematically simple form/content divides, though, more than that is happening, because the “matter” always changes along with the apparent “manner.” The cut-up of the previous text forces various elements not just to be near each other, but to mean each other. The “I,” who previously simply did not know his employer, now gets his assignments from the blood of his victim. Later in the same paragraph, he becomes the blood as it leaves the mouth, and then, after briefly becoming the pink light, himself “snaps out of queers:” via the rearrangement of phrases, he goes from moving towards the “nances” in the bath house to coming out of them. Matter and manner cohere after all, and the syntactical disjunction seems necessary to the plot.

If the sentence-level breaks are necessary to a “content” shared by the later trilogy, would Cities be the stylized one, then, with similar plotlines about viruses, transportations of souls via hanging, and even descriptions of the cut-up method itself, in the absence of its implementation? Hopefully, it is clear that the answer to the question also has to be no: the second trilogy’s “manner” also internalizes its “matter.” In lieu of a style generated via the splicing of sentences in such a way that a new subject is produced by style itself, though, the unit of juxtaposition is much larger. It often hinges on a combination of generic norms or aspects of “plot” that, while also part of the work’s style, seems less directly “stylized” only because their effects are not as often registered on the level of individual units of excerptable writing.


Clem Snide, Cut and Uncut

If stylization does not provide a useful way to distinguish between the two modes of operation, then, I’ll turn to another level of style mentioned earlier for better disambiguation: characterization. The attempts to simplify the differences between these two novels seem to come from how much they have in common, not least among which is the reappearance of characters (or, at least, characters’ names). What relationships do fictional characters have to the construction or identification of a work’s unifying style? A character produced by one method ought to differ from one less subject to experimentation. Returning to Clem Snide – who we left a few minutes ago, dissatisfied with the stylization of the pornographic movie – his introduction in both novels shows how a single character is shaped by (and shapes) the style of his characterization. In Soft Machine, his introduction is broken by the novel’s characteristic dashes:

The name is Clem Snide—I am a Private Ass Hole—I will take on any job any identity any body—I will do anything difficult dangerous or downright dirty for a price—
      The man opposite me didn’t look like much—A thin grey man in a long coat that flickered like old film—He just happens to be the biggest operator in any time universe—
      “I don’t care myself you understand”—He watched the ash spiraling down from the end of his Havana—It hit the floor in a puff of grey dust—46

The accumulation of dashes on the one hand creates a greater sense of connection between phrases by suggesting a sequence, such that his willingness to take on any identity seems to logically follow from his being a PI, which itself follows from his name. At the same time, the dashes separate the phrases from each other spatially, suggesting that the passage is a list, or a disconnected set of observations; the punctuation is (by nature) both disjunctive and connecting. Snide introduces himself in Cities of the Red Night with less syntactical interruption:

The name is Clem Williamson Snide. I am a private asshole.
      As a private investigator I run into more death than the law allows. I mean the law of averages. There I am outside the hotel room waiting for the correspondent to reach a crescendo of amorous noises . . .47

Given the already acknowledged syntactical differences between these two novels, it is tempting to look in these examples for the different sentence-level establishment of the same character, but this effort is disrupted by the passages’ surprising similarity. Both start with the first person declaration of position and introduce the character in relationship to a current case – although the latter gains a middle name and temporarily loses the “asshole” designation – and both playfully appropriate the conventions of the detective story. The clearest difference between the two is the replacement (in the second) of first’s dashes with periods. Even this replacement, though, has fewer effects than one might expect: if the dashes of the first were replaced by periods (or, in one instance, a comma), the passages would read much more alike. In fact, realizing this also reveals that, within the context of Soft Machine itself, these dashes have already changed in purpose. Both dashes and ellipses in this first trilogy often function to make the cuts in the prose visible:

The gate in white flames—Early answer to the boy wake naked—Down on his stomach is he? Ah there and iron cool in the mouth—Come see me tonight in bone wrenching spasms—Silver light pops something interesting—The boy features being younger of course—To your own people you frantic come level on average—Wait a bit—No good at this rate . . .48

Whereas the dashes elsewhere in the text highlight narrative disjunction, the dashes in the chapter on Clem Snide in fact themselves obscure the narrative continuity. In The Soft Machine, Snide already appears in the same, more regulated sentences in which he will reappear later in Cities of the Red Night, exaggerating the impression that the latter somehow opens out from the earlier work. This is important because, as the book’s detective, Snide is in the center of narrative discontinuity, given the task of sorting it out, not as a stand-in for the detective-reader, but as a plot device for establishing connections via investigation.

In this role, he also moves the operation of the first text’s primary stylistic trait – the cut-ups and fold-ins that provide chance juxtapositions – to the level of plot, using these methods to solve the cases themselves. In his attempt to find more information about a murder case, he visits the room where it happened, records a number of different sounds, and then splices them together and plays them back for clues:

I recorded a few minutes in all three rooms. I recorded the toilet flushing and the shower running. I recorded the water running in the kitchen sink, the rattle of dishes, and the opening and closing and hum of the refrigerator. I recorded on the balcony. Now I lay down on the bed and read some selections from The Magus into the recorder.49

The effects of the literal splicing of texts in one novel have turned, on the one hand, into the more fictional cutting of temporally and narratively disjunct plotlines, and, on the other, into a method for a character to piece together these narrative fragments within the story itself (although this process of investigation clearly does not actually resolve the narrative). The same process I described in tracking the book’s relationship to disjunction and stylization reappears as we follow Clem Snide: while the prose in both books bears some relationship to the chance juxtapositions promised by the use of literary experiments, the effects of those experiments extends both before and after the time of their use.


Automated Style

I began by considering the ways critics think of style as secondhand, whether via inspiration, imitation, misreading, dialog, quotation, collage, or procedure. Throughout my attempts to pin down the relationship of Burroughs’ use of the cut-up method with respect to these problems, though, the question has turned out not be one of the effect of borrowed materials or experiment on the style of the text, but on how the text seems to have anticipated that effect in its style before the procedure or the quote is actually incorporated. Despite the fact that both Soft Machine and Cities of the Red Night elude the issue of citation, there is still an overall impression of secondhandedness, in that phrases, processes, and characters all reappear, abbreviated or elaborated, presented as if new or disjunct. Instead of temporarily suspending a fantasy of originality by turning outward to borrowed materials, Burroughs’ work appropriates itself. This is the effect I was looking for when I described style as itself a process or movement, rather than a static description: the markers of “Burroughs’ style” are not products of the cut-up method, but the individual elements of a functional style that produces the cut-up.

Similarly, Rauschenberg’s combinations are not only the product of the combine’s structure; there’s a style at play that produces analogous combinations across media and materials, just as Ashbery’s combinations of styles function beyond the moments of heteroglossia. Style is an operation and an experiment in its own right, one that can supersede the more literal “experiments” that mark proceduralism – and we must read style to read these lower-level experiments in citationality.

In La seconde main: Ou, le travail de la citation, Antoine Compagnon describes the relationship between a quotation and its context in terms of an organ transplant, given the necessary assimilation and the inherent risk of the quotation rejecting its source: “Aussi son assimilation, de même que la greffe d’un organe, comporte-t-elle un risque de rejet contre lequel il faut me prémunir et dont l’évitement est l’occasion d’une jubilation.”50 But to frame citation’s effects in terms of an organ transplant is to reassert, even if metaphorically, the importance of the body to style. For my examples here, at least, the “original” writing in which a quote finds its home doesn’t seem to fit metaphors of corporeal coherence. Perhaps quotation functions less like a new organ and more like a pacemaker, then: a machine that intervenes where the body of the text fails. In this metaphor, the author’s work still takes on the quality of a body, but not one prepared to reject any inassimilable organ; instead, that body malfunctions without interference.

In Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, Voloshinov describes how writing is contaminated, stylistically and thematically, by citation, even where quotes are safely identified:

The author’s utterance, in incorporating the other utterance, brings into play syntactic, stylistic, and compositional norms for its partial assimilation – that is, its adaptation to the syntactic, composition, and stylistic design of the author’s utterance, while preserving (if only in rudimentary form) the initial autonomy (in syntactic, composition, and stylistic terms) of the reported utterance, which otherwise could not be grasped in full.51

Here, he introduces two different modes of citation: one which assimilates the quote to the context only so far as is necessary, maintaining its “initial autonomy,” and another only implied by this description, where the stylistic assimilation would go so far as to remove the difference between quotation and its context. In this latter case, language would be appropriated primarily for this effect of mutual determination between quote and reporting context. For my purposes, the latter category is more important, as I am focusing on the counterintuitive development of style by means of this process of assimilation.

Mikhail Bakhtin’s critique of stylistics in “Discourse in the Novel” also addresses the effect of quotation or speech on the reporting context. He prioritizes this quality of the novel over and against poetry, which for him is essentially monologic, whereas in prose, the “social heteroglossia and the variety of individual voices in it” are not exceptions to a stylistic rule, but the mark of “authentic novelistic prose.”52 He argues against trying to identify any specific string of attributes as an author’s style; after listing five possible “basic types of compositional-stylistic unities” in novels, he suggests that they are all “subordinated to the higher stylistic unity of the work as a whole, a unity that cannot be identified with any single of the unities subordinated to it.”53 If this was not true for the poetry Bakhtin was reading, it certainly seems to apply to Ashbery, and to a number of other poets whose works avoid the stability of one implied speaker. Diverging from Bakhtin’s emphasis on speech genres, though, my reading of Ashbery rejects the priority of speech over writing – not in a Derridean grappling with this question on the level of language itself, but on the level of the operation of the poems – and sees the incorporation of varied and seemingly contradictory “speakers” as outside of the order of actual speech.

This misapplication of Bakhtin – understanding dialogism as inherently related to an effect of writing instead of one of speech – applies to novels just as well as to poetry, since the novel too turns to speech for writing’s sake, moving from the implication of voice to an emphasis on inscription. In all of these readings, the key moment is one where the quote, speech act, or line stand out from the surrounding context’s style; it’s a question of stylistic disruption. In the same way, the most aberrant books (or moments within texts) offer the clearest path toward a broader conception of style, not just because it is easier to identify anything negatively, but also because the exception creates a need to incorporate a new contradiction into a definition that would otherwise have failed.

This is clear in D.A. Miller’s Jane Austen, or the Secret of Style, where he argues that Persuasion – Austen’s last finished book, and one critics often describe in terms of its stylistic aberrations – is not in the style of Jane Austen. It lacks, he insists, her characteristic protection of the narrator from personification: “Before, the object of mourning in the Austen Novel had been a foregone personhood; now, what is to be mourned is the Style that used to stand in the place of that personhood.”54 In a sort of love-letter to the peculiar characteristics of Austen’s prose, Miller critiques Persuasion for its departure. Though Miller’s approach could hardly be equated with anyone else’s, he does share – if not exaggerate – the impression that Persuasion presents a problem for any attempt to coherently describe Austen’s complete oeuvre. Other critics, however, locate the problem on the level of should-have-been-edited inconsistencies: the non-necessity of the younger Walter Eliot’s narrative destruction, or the improbability of Louisa and Benwick’s happy engagement based on the novel’s set-up of the two characters. Instead, Miller’s problem encompasses the novel as a whole: Anne’s capacity for self-reflection undermines the narrative authority with which it often coincides, because she always submits herself to the kind of evaluation usually left to a narrator, “confront[ing] the Austen Novel with a certain problem, or possibility, which interferes with the usual functioning of its system.”55 To Miller, this is “the great false step of Austen Style,”[58] where the narrative voice that successfully and strangely managed to remain “No One” throughout her other novels here “contemplate[s] the possibility of its falling into personification.”56

Miller gives an entirely convincing account of the novel’s difference from Austen’s other works: Anne’s narrative role suggests at best the redundancy of the narrator, and at worst, this risk of its personification. This is only a problem for the novel, though, if consistency with what was previously recognizable as Austenian is a narrative priority. In a novel in which movement between positions is carried out on a number of different levels, in which characters only come to recognize themselves (or their lovers) by catching their reflection in other characters, in books, or in mirrors, in which constancy and inconstancy are both vital traits for the success of the main character, “Style” might only be rendered visible by its other. If Austen’s style is the non-personification of its narrator, Persuasion is the change to that style that winds up solidifying its eventual constancy, the lover who, like Louisa, style at once engages and leaves behind. Miller shows this himself: in a book that brilliantly describes the secret of Austen’s style, he devotes a third of it to the almost-angry identification of what is inconsistent with it. In this reading, Persuasion demonstrates something definitive in Austen’s other works by departing from them, while requiring the critic to develop a description of that larger body of work that can accommodate it.

It’s not just that exceptions prove rules, though: what Miller mourns is the elision of Style’s impersonality, the emergence of a character capable enough to overlap, at times, with the narrator’s voice. At the heart of the problem is that style’s impersonality seems to move closer and closer to “persona,” as we saw in Ashbery and in Burroughs – it’s the sense that style functions despite the author that gives it the impression of individuality.

Miller’s description of style as an obvious Secret, an impersonal detachment of writing from personality, returns us back to the mixed metaphors left up in the air: citation as organ transplant, style as pacemaker, the word as virus. In style’s distance from personhood, in its movement, indifferent to actual practice or chronology, across a body of work, it becomes easy to leave the body behind altogether – and with it, the overvaluation of the kind of originality Rosalind Kraus dismisses as “an organicist metaphor referring not so much to formal invention but to sources of life” – in favor of the machine.57

To conceive of style as “automatic” is not merely to allude to mechanicity, though. The machine requires an outside force to operate it, whereas style seems to move on its own here, in a shift that does not “return” to some original authorial intent. Instead, an initial procedure identifies a text’s style, and then spreads out from the sentence to the plot, as in the move from manner to matter addressed above. Or it spreads out from the line to the poem, from the poem to the book, from the “overheard” quip to the written-as-if-overheard stanza. From there, it creeps into the actions of one its fictional creations, so that the writing’s own style informs the decisions the protagonist makes. Or it moves from the physical object in a combine to its representation in a photograph. Once disjunction, secondhandedness, or combination are set in motion – once style has become automatic – they can operate by any means, including the means of clarity or coherence, and spread out across a body of work, a time period, or a region. By “style,” then, I mean a quality of the writing that can be considered self-animated, such that it subtracts from the question both the personhood of the artist and the experiments already put into practice to effect that subtraction. In Cities of the Red Night, the detective knows something is wrong when the missing person’s face looks the same in all of the photos, because “anyone who always looks like the same person isn’t a person. He is a person impersonator.”58

Style can be a “person impersonator” too, especially when readers ask it to stand in for their sense of a subject responsible for writing – or, worse still, ask its supposed absence to promise the analog absence of the subject. As if in some uncanny valley of stylistic verisimilitude, the closer the persona of style gets to seeming like a person – wherein, for example, Ashbery can be personally held responsible for the fragmentary images that constitute much MFA poetry today, or, inversely, Anne Eliot held responsible for Austen’s narration – the more it seems impersonal and procedural. It returns full circle, though, to a renewed sense of agency divided from either the naïve attempted at divestment from subjectivity or its equally naïve replacement by authorial recognizability: style operates as if “on its own” across works to produce a retroactive impression of coherence. In works that have tried to stave style off, whether by citation, collage, chance, disjunction, or some other exceptionality, style itself renders the work legible.

  1. Susan Sontag, “On Style,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1966), 32. 

  2. Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon, Discours sur le style (Paris: Société d’édition “Les Belles lettres,” 1926). 

  3. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. Williard R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 44. 

  4. D.A. Miller, Jane Austen, or, the Secret of Style (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). 

  5. Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). 

  6. D.A. Russell, “Theories of Style,” in Criticism In Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981). 

  7. R. Jakobson and Ju. Tynjanov, “Problems in the Study of Language and Literature,” trans. H. Eagle, Poetics Today 2, no. 1a (1980): 29-31. Accessed May 19, 2016. 

  8. Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society,” in Peter Brooker, Modernism/Postmodernism (New York: Longman, 1992), 17. 

  9. Brian McHale, “How (Not) to Read Postmodernist Long Poems: The Case of Ashbery’s ‘The Skaters,’” Poetics Today (200), 563. 

  10. Douglas Crimp, “Appropriating Appropriation,” On the Museum’s Ruins (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993). 

  11. Crimp, “Appropriating Appropriation,” 127. 

  12. Crimp, “Appropriating Appropriation,” 136. 

  13. Crimp, “Appropriating Appropriation,” 127. 

  14. Russell, “Theories of Style,” 129. 

  15. Hugh Kenner, The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968). 

  16. Gérard Genette, Fiction and Diction, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 141. 

  17. John Ashbery, The Mooring of Starting Out: the first five books of poetry (Hopewell, N.J: Ecco Press, 1997), 266. 

  18. Christopher S. Nealon, The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in the American Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 60. 

  19. Nealon, The Matter of Capital, 73. 

  20. Marshall Brown, “Le Style est l’Homme Même: The Action of Literature,” in College English 59.7 (1997): 801–809. Accessed April 13, 2013. 

  21. Fredric Jameson, Sartre: the Origins of a Style (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), vii. 

  22. Nealon, Matter, 74. 

  23. Brian McHale, “How (Not) to Read Postmodernist Long Poems: The Case of Ashbery’s ‘The Skaters,’” in Poetics Today 21.3 (2000): 565. 

  24. John Shoptaw, On the Outside Looking Out: John Ashbery’s Poetry (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1994), 74. 

  25. Shoptaw, On the Outside Looking Out, 74. 

  26. Ashbery, Mooring, 194. 

  27. Ashbery, Mooring, 195. 

  28. Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 79. 

  29. Thomas M. Disch, “Pleasures of Hanging,” New York Times, March 15, 1981, accessed March 1 2013,

  30. William S. Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night: A Novel, (New York: Macmillan, 2001), 25. 

  31. Edward S. Robinson, Shift Linguals Cut-up Narratives from William S. Burroughs to the Present (New York: Rodopi, 2011), 144. 

  32. William S. Burroughs, The Soft Machine (New York: Grove Press, 2007), 5. 

  33. Robin Lydenberg and Jennie Skerl, William S. Burroughs at the Front: Critical Reception, 1959-1989 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991), 56. 

  34. William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, (New York: Grove Press, 1959), 281. 

  35. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 34. 

  36. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 10. 

  37. Robin Lydenberg, Word Cultures: Radical Theory and Practice in William S. Burroughs’ Fiction (IL: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 44, quoted in Edward S. Robinson’s Shift Linguals, 41. 

  38. Robinson, Shift Linguals, 131. 

  39. Sontag, Against Interpretation, 16. 

  40. Sontag, Against Interpretation, 19-20. 

  41. Burroughs, Cities, 116. 

  42. Lydenberg, Word Cultures, x. 

  43. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 27. 

  44. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 28. 

  45. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 28. 

  46. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 67. 

  47. Burroughs, Cities, 35. 

  48. Burroughs, Soft Machine, 50. 

  49. Burroughs, Cities, 43. 

  50. Antoine Compagnon, La Seconde Main: Ou, le travail de la citation (Paris: Seuil, 1979), 31. 

  51. V.N. Voloshinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, trans. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), 116. 

  52. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (TX: University of Texas Press, 1981), 265. 

  53. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, 262. 

  54. Miller, Jane Austen, 92. 

  55. Miller, Jane Austen, 71, 70. 

  56. Miller, Jane Austen, 68-9. 

  57. Rosalind Krauss, “The Originality of the Avant-Garde: A Postmodernist Repetition,” October 18 (1981): 53. 

  58. Burroughs, Cities, 40. 

Article: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Image: Kristen Mueller, "The Two Versions of the Imaginary," from Partially Removing the Remove of Literature, 2014.