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Poiein and Infinite Identity: A Meta-critical Inquiry into Marginality

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.7, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 359-363

Keywords : poiein; infinite identity; marginality; formative framework;

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The paper argues that the theoretical ‘definitions' of marginality assume a fixed essence to the experience of marginality. And such definitions necessarily contradict the experience of marginality: the social experience as well as the experience performed in literature. The paper traces the evolution of different theories of marginality to locate the inherent contradictions caused by the mismatch between theory and experience. Following that, the paper explores the representations of marginality in S Hareesh's novel Meesha (Moustache (2018)) in the Malayalam language. The protagonist Vavachan belongs to a lower caste community and he often violates the caste equations and terrorises the social order with his uncanny appearance. This reading consequently shows that the literary experience of marginality does not ‘fit' to a framework that theorises the ‘marginal' as a finite category, and it necessitates a new framework to understand the 'marginal' as well as the dynamic relation between the margin and the centre. To accommodate the dynamic nature of the centre-margin relations, we need a formative critical framework that changes itself when it encounters a new possibility of centre-margin relations. The critical framework is perpetually formative in relation to new readings and experiences; such a framework transcends all predetermined models of centre-margin relations in a community. Jean-Luc Nancy adopts a similar approach in his work The Inoperative Community (1986). According to him, the predetermined conception of society as an ‘essence' or constituted in an essence leads to the ‘closure of the political'. Admitting the lack of an ‘essence', the framework becomes open to differences and nuances of the experiences. The departure from ‘essence' is also the departure from the theoretical fixities. In contextualising this idea in literary criticism, the primary inspiration of my paper is Stathis Gourgouris' conceptualisation that critical frameworks are in ‘poiein' state. The framework is always in a perpetual reworking or ‘in the making' state and never finite. By incorporating the ‘infinite identity' of the community within a ‘poiein' mode of criticism, my paper attempts to forge a new critical framework that understands the dynamic nature of the centre-margin relations

Last modified: 2022-05-26 16:59:37