Lines of (De)Construction

“The lines are constantly crossing, intersecting for a moment, following one another.” – Deleuze and Guattari

Continuing and responding my previous commentary in section “Politically Charged Critique of Representation,” I found many misunderstanding opinions I had made due to the lack of resources/reading materials. In the previous writing, I only focus on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s essay entitled “Can the Subaltern Speak” and try to find the thread between my new comment and my previous comment regarding “Literature, Theory, and Criticism.” Therefore, I will discuss some materials which are not written in the previous commentaries, and extend the discussion into the narrative structure.
Previously on the first and second sections, Horace in his work entitled The Art of Poetry says that literature is poetry so others are not considered as art. However, the poetry should move the audience’s heart if it wants to be considered as an art. On the other side, Plato’s Ion confidently states that poetry as well as its criticism are not works of art but they are merely “divine inspirations.” They are only the chains of magnets which attached to a giant stone, or in this sense is God. These two statements gained its crown for over one hundred years. Yet, many theoreticians are born and gradually attacks the formerly absolute statement by putting it into questions.
Questioning eighteenth century novels, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar argues in their essay that women’s images in eighteenth century novels are the representation of women in men’s eyes and men’s inability “to control his own physical existence, his own birth and death” (Gilbert and Gubar 822-3). This representation of women leads to a common stereotypical of women’s images for many years. Thus, it makes female authorship in the following years – and perhaps until today – becomes hard to accept by many people. In researching this topic, they analyze literary works written by men in eighteenth century, examine the structure of their texts and find out the thread of each novel to make a conclusion of their analysis. They found out that many male authors have the same characteristics in writing the image of women so that their works indirectly links with each other. Therefore, I assume that Gilbert and Gubar focus their analysis on the crosscut of the works by eighteenth century male authors. The crosscut is identified by the discovery of the “angelic” woman and the “monster-woman” who are repeatedly opposed to each other and, finally, won by the angelic one. Nonetheless, their analysis, in my opinion, fails to scrutinize the economy of every text appeared in the essay.
However, this crosscut may also create, in Deleuze and Guattari’s term, a “crack line” which “occur[s] when things are going well on the other side” (Deleuze and Guattari 198). While Deleuze and Guattari calls this event a “crack line” as it comes from their botanical term “rhizomatic”, Jacques Derrida coined a new term which is now widely used in literary critic named deconstruction. Yet, the two of them are completely different in pointing out their main topic. Deleuze and Guattari proposes a crazy yet possible idea with his “rhizomatic”. He argues that this rhizome has complex lines which are composed of molecular lines in which they leda to the “crack line.” Furthermore, they argue that these lines are inscribed in “a Body without Organ” which may refer to the text itself. However, I still cannot understand his term of Body without Organ for he (again) relates it with the schizoanalysis which “does not pertain to elements or aggregates, nor to subjects, relations, or structures” (Deleuze and Guattari 203). If the analysis does not pertain to the structure, how, then, it is analyzed? I am confused because they again explain about the lines concerning the schizoanalysis but it begins to enter the place of “nothing imaginary, nothing symbolic.” Meanwhile, Derrida proposes deconstruction as a unity of the freeplay of structure. He argues that every discourse has its own destructions as soon as the discourse is formed. In playing this term, he borrows Lévi-Strauss’s argument in which we should start from the very beginning at the level of signs to find the opposition and his term, bricoleur. These arguments help him to elaborate what the deconstruction of the text is which creates the absence of the center.
In this following paragraph, I will briefly discuss about the deconstruction of a novel which I use as my research object. Malcolm Bradbury’s Rates of Exchange presents its own deconstruction from the first pagination. The first pagination of the novel is regarded as “a few brief hints” of Slaka so that the reader will not confuse of what Slaka is when they read the following chapters. This section is made in resemblance to a guidebook we always see and read if we go abroad. However, this section/line is a part of the structure and a part of the novel too. The opening of the novel, thus, leads the reader into two different lines when we follow the story of the text: to criticize it – whether by using Christian theology, Marxism, folklore theory, or structuralism as the narrator suggests – yet at the same time to remember it as a fiction which is again reminded by the narrator who “like[s] [his] fictions to remain fictions” (Bradbury 10). Moreover, we will find a ticket plane before entering the first chapter of the novel. These two lines of the novel which present another writing inside the text have already deconstructed the structure of the narrative we usually find when we read a novel. Therefore, it leads into two segmentaries, the first is the text tries to deepen the issue of its narrative structure and the second is merely to emphasize the fictional side of the text. The text, then, continues to fragment each chapter into another sub-chapter, dividing each chapter into another segmentary compose of different story – each sub-chapter may tell about the next event of the story or the flashback of the current event. These lines keeps on spreading and cracking as we find a crosscut between each character (Petworth-Katya Princip-Plitplov-Marisja Lubijova), each sub-chapter, and each chapter to create a whole. This structure continues to form a building as the story flow yet it also starts cracking in the inside as soon as the first line of the text appears. Nevertheless, these lines of deconstruction will meet the dead end once the novel reaches its end. Here, whether the story has already finished or not, the threads have to be cut and become a form of literary work. After becoming a whole, this novel will have another line which extends to the production and publication of the novel creating a new system and economy.

Works Cited

Bradbury, Malcolm. Rates of Exchange. London: Picador, 2003. Book.
Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. “1874: Three Novellas or ‘What Happened?’.” (n.d.): 192-207.
Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” (1970): 1-13.
Gilbert, Sandra and Sandra Gubar. “The Madwoman in the Attic.” 1980. 812-825.
Plato. Ion. n.d.

The Beau(ty)

I wonder what is considered as a ‘beauty’ in men’s eyes? Is it her Grecian nose, thick and black eyebrows, full and pinkish lips, a perfect smile, a symmetrical face, white skin, or a slender body? Or, is it all of them? Ever since I was in Junior High School, I was always jealous to my girl friends who are considered as a ‘true beauty’ by men because they have all the criteria I have mentioned before. Furthermore, the advertisements in television added my self-consciousness by showing women who exceeded the criteria. Therefore, I worked really hard to be what Homi Bhabha says in his essay entitled “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse,” “almost the same, but not quite” (1984, p. 127). He also argues that this kind of desire “has strategic objectives which [he] shall call the metonymy of presence” (1984, p. 130 author’s stressing). To be seen by men, I, therefore, started using whitening facial foam and cream, whitening lotion, whitening toothpaste, and whitening masker and scrub. I also decided to lessen any greasy and sweet foods, use a corset, and stop going outside without wearing a jacket or sweater so that my body will be slender and my skin will be whiter just like those women in the advertisement. Quitting the basketball club and Boy Scouts, I, then, joined a traditional dance club to be the place for exercising my body. It actually worked (a little), yet I had to pay for the beauty’s price which was quite expensive and affecting my life.

In my first year of ‘fixing’ my body, it was in the second grade of Junior High School, I already felt the effect of lessening certain foods and using some specific clothes. I got dizzy easily everytime I did the Monday morning ceremony and, at certain points, I fainted for the heat and crowd were unbearable. I fainted for about two times every Monday and it made some teachers decided to write an excuse for my health so that I could stay in UKS when the ceremony began. On one hand, I felt ashamed of myself because my friends would think I was weak but, on the other hand, I did not regret it. It was a part of the consequences I should get in order to achieve the true beauty. Fortunately, my body was getting used to the condition and I gradually followed the Monday morning ceremony again after three months. Besides, boys started to recognize me after the fixation of my body and, finally, I had my first boyfriend.

However, puberty ruined all my efforts at that time. A half year later, my body was not slender anymore. I have got few pimples, few acnes, quite wide hips, bigger buttock, and bigger breasts. I was stress at that time because not only my body was changing, but also some seniors, girls especially, used to harass me, such as poking and pinching my buttock. I was and am angry. Nevertheless, I was just a middle class person who must obey and be afraid of them at that time so I did not protest nor report them to the teachers or my parents. I was having a mental breakdown and took what I think was a perfect decision: wearing oversized school uniform so that the curve of my body would not be seen. Since then, the third year girls never harass me again and never even glance at me. Bell Hooks calls their action as “dehumanizing oppressive forces […] that render us invisible and deny us recognition” (1992, p. 35) in which people in the upper class – students in senior year are represented as the upper class based on the level of experience and age – indirectly oppresses and threatens the lower to show their power. Whether it was because my body was considered different in their eyes or they simply regarded me and my body as the other who did not fit their qualification to roam around their place.

Senior High School was not as bad as Junior High School for I learned from the previous that I would rather be invisible to avoid trouble. Thus, I came to a decision to cover my body by wearing a heejab in my third year. The reason was because I was aware that my friends and society valued a woman who wore a heejab. At that time, I wanted to be valued more and if covering my body would make people value my being more, then I would be gladly to do it even though I felt uncomfortable wearing it.

Entering college, I began to realize that this is my body so I can do whatever I want to it. I decided to not wear heejab anymore for I felt like I was hiding myself behind it. Nonetheless, the awareness of true beauty is still haunting me. I still have that urge to hide my lack of beauty. I have a flat noise, thin eyebrows, pale lips, and an asymmetrical face; hence, I decide to apply an eyebrow pencil, lipstick (occasionally), and to stick on the bob hairstyle. I still use facial foam, facial cream, and lotion but with a different type – not a whitening type anymore. After that, I feel confident after founding what is perfect for me for I do not need to push myself to be the “mimicry” of a true beauty. However, I do realize that by applying an eyebrow pencil, lipstick, and bob hairstyle, I still have the desire to become the appropriate other for those things are the common and normal acts for women at the age of twenty. Every girl friends whom I have in the college and every advertisement in television which shows women at my age directly say that it is natural for girls to have some make up on their face in order to be beautiful in other people’s eyes, especially men’s eyes.

As Homi Bhabha says, it is the desire which makes those actions happen with the purpose to be the same as women who are regarded to be the top of the social level so that, at least, my body is considered to be in between. I cannot deny that the identity of my own body is built by what other may see in their eyes and what I think they may see in their eyes. Therefore, it shapes the way I dress, do my make up, and regard my own body every day.

Work Cited

Bhabha, H. (1984). “Of Mimicri and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” October, 28(A Special Issue on Psychoanalysis), 125-133.
Hooks, B. (1992). “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance.” Black Looks: Race and Representation (pp. 21-39). Boston: South End Press.