Language, lies and the crisis of representation in Such a Long Journey
This chapter studies Mistry's Such a Long Journey, a novel that contains elements of a political thriller and which shows that the operations of history are linked to, and impose on, everyday life. The novel, which is set in 1971, presents political events that put pressure on a family already under strain. The chapter discusses Such a Long Journey in detail, and notes the political features included that seem to be characteristic of a political landscape of deceit, corruption and decline. It determines that Such a Long Journey presents a powerful combination of casual brutality and political deception, which descends on the fiercely guarded private world of sensitive individuals.
. This prompts questions that I engage with in the following section about the specific role performing certain domestic processes in the context of an art session can play in supporting care home residents’ sense of identity.
Framing domestic performances in art sessions
There were important differences between how Betty’s laundry practice was framed in the context of an art session and how laundry is done in everydaylife. Her laundry practice had become performative: her actions had lost their practical application, she repurposed materials and spaces that were
seen both as the ‘“most noble, perfect and admirable” of the
senses’, while being burdened with the notion of ‘visual deception’ (p. 42). As a
result of this dichotomy, the ability of sense perception to enlighten or harm an
individual meant that people were constantly reminded to be vigilant, guarded
and to regulate their sensory activities. Our senses are often taken for granted
in everydaylife, but to early moderns, ignoring the sensations of the world upon
the body would have been unthinkable.
In addition to hierarchies and dichotomies, the senses are beset by
determinants outside or
beyond literature, Bennett’s anti-aestheticism is committed to a ‘sociology of social
forms’11 where the emphasis falls on exposing the regulatory character of ‘cultural institutions’ and on the need to bridge the gap between ‘literature’ and everydaylife.12 The
slippage implied here between art, literature and ‘lifeworld’ is certainly one which
some forms of aﬃrmative postmodern cultural criticism have facilitated, and in recent
years ‘anti-aestheticism’ has itself, at times, almost become a unifying device for articulating the shared concerns of
Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves as a reparative fantasy
also has a particular narrative function. As Rasmus’s eyes look straight
into the camera, they serve as an injunction to the viewer: you are seeing
this, and you are hailed as a witness.
With its narrative structure, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves
invites its viewers into what Roger Hallas has termed an ‘intersubjective
space of testimony’ (Hallas, 2009). Documentary footage is used to enhance
a sense of historical accuracy. Each episode features a title sequence in
which documentary footage of everydaylife in Stockholm is mixed with
dramatic scenes from the
wider sense is political. Persuasion is part of the business of
everydaylife. And, as Bacon himself notes in his aptly named
Essay, ‘Of Negotiating’, the business of persuasion requires techniques other than reason and logic:
If you would work any man, [writes Bacon] you must either know
his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so
persuade him; or his weakness and disadvantages, and so awe him;
or those that have interest in him, and so govern him.20
Successful persuasion is contingent upon knowledge of ‘ends’.
The man whose ‘ends’ Bacon ‘knew’ and
with a dash of karaoke, instead of the
sober method acting of everydaylife. Dreams are performative in the
Butlerian sense of the word; they bring something into being, enact something, and this process is taken to its logical excess in Journal d’Hannah.
Freud suggested that dreams were the dramatisation of an idea: ‘But this
feature of dream-life can only be fully understood if we further recognise
that in dreams . . . we appear not to think but to experience’.2 And the ideas
that we experience in our dreams are essentially derived from the translation of reality
Sylvie Germain and the generic problems of the Christian novel
tame wolves; the death
of his ﬁrst wife Mélanie is heralded by a sparrow ﬂying into her room;8 his
fourth wife Ruth wears a green dress on the day she meets him, and subsequently on the day she is deported to a concentration camp.9
Given the presence of such phenomena, we might categorise Le Livre
des nuits as an example of the ‘marvellous’: the reader is invited to suspend
disbelief and accept the supernatural phenomena as a part of everydaylife.10 Narrative point of view is key here. Neither the characters, nor, crucially, the narrator, express astonishment in the
, thus, have experience; but there is no truth to such experience. Once more, Erlebnis becomes
vacuous, despite our seeming validation of all kinds of experience; and, ‘truthless’, it
has little relation to education.
Against this we might set Paul Zweig, who argues that our knowledge of adventure tends to be literary nowadays, rather than being drawn from our everydaylife:
‘adventures are precisely what few of us know from experience’. Yet, he suggests, our
familiarity with adventure might be more common than we routinely think:
Haven’t all of us, now and then
the senses, representations of sensory encounters, and even accounts of the
sensory experiences that articulated everydaylife for early modern subjects.
This suggests a useful relationship of mutual elucidation between works of
art and wider culture: not only can a clearer picture of early modern thinking
about the senses clarify our understanding of particular artworks, but in turn,
the ideas about sensory experience suggested in these artworks might illuminate wider early modern understandings of the senses. Our investigation aims
at precisely this mutual