‘Always another breath in my breath’: on Denise Riley, the polyvocality of the subject and poetry

Bell, Vikki. 2020. ‘Always another breath in my breath’: on Denise Riley, the polyvocality of the subject and poetry. Feminist Theory, 21(3), pp. 317-329. ISSN 1464-7001 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article explores Denise Riley’s argument in Words of Selves (2000), that the self is multiply constituted, since many speak through and ‘as’ us. This polyvocality means that there is ‘always another breath in my breath’, she argues, citing Deleuze who is, in turn, citing Pierre Klossowski. Here, I trace the quotation back through Deleuze’s (1969) Logic of Sense to Klossowski’s peculiar Roberte Ce Soir (1953). In that work Klossowski elaborates the notion of the simulacra, a discussion which for him is intertwined with
the exploration of how affect repeatedly attempts, and repeatedly fails, to produce adequate representations in the world. His exploration of inhabiting a world of simulacra, however, takes place on a terrain that is problematic for a feminist reading, not to say with an ‘aggression of thought’, to use Deleuze’s phase. Returning to Denise Riley’s work, the article finds a preferable – and very beautiful – exploration of the notion of the multiply refracted self through Riley’s extraordinary poem ‘A Part Song’ and her Time Lived Without its Flow (2012).

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Subjectivity, simulacra, loss, polyvocality, Denise Riley, Gilles Deleuze, PierreKlossowski, Sophie Calle

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2 January 2020Accepted
2 June 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Aug 2020 11:29

Last Modified:

14 Aug 2020 13:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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