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Suspended Souls, Ensnaring Discourses: Theano PapazoglouMargaris ' Immigration Stories Yiorgos D. Kalogeras The recent interest in "minority discourse" has set in motion a growing movement that urges the reconsideration of national literary canons and demands the inclusion, among the classics, of texts long considered marginal or as not worthy of critical attention and study. This movement, however, has been striving for the valorization of "minority ," but has also been neglecting the problematics "discourse" poses, problematics that Michel Foucault brought to our attention in his seminal analyses and observations. Taken together, "minority" and "discourse" are seen as the appropriate accoutrements for besieging the "canonical citadel." Still, there is a prevalent failure to recognize that, in the name of an imposed regularity, discourse by nature predicates a violent imposition. As Foucault has argued, any differences, discontinuities, gaps and silences are forcedly occult for the sake of a purported plenitude. This presupposes mechanisms and systems which preclude and/or marginalize. Thus, an attempt to develop a minority discourse which would allow us to further the cause of minority texts often backfires, excluding what ironically it tries to include; it suppresses what it it supposed to bring to the foreground of critical and theoretical attention, namely the minor and the marginal. On the contrary, it creates systems of exclusion, such as the commentary. As a consequence, a number of texts are valorized but not the minority category. The canonization of certain texts, in its turn, functions repressively and the general project of furthering the interests of minority discourse and avoiding the pitfalls and biases of the past goes awry. As mentioned earlier, this aporia is a consequence of failing to deal with the problematics of the category, "discourse" in the light of Foucault's analyses and observations. For Foucault, a discourse is a Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 8, 1990. 85 86 Yiorgos D. Kalogeras family of concepts with the statement as its fundamental unit. Statements are, however, far from forming a unified, continuous whole, but on the contrary appear as "a series full of gaps, intertwined with one another, interplays of differences, distances, substitutions, transformations " (Foucault 1972: 37). Yet one can detect certain regularities , perhaps a certain simultaneity in their appearance and furthermore a noticeable hierarchical relationship among these statements or an appropriation of a common space. In such a case, we can claim to have detected a system of dispersion. Having observed "between objects, concepts or thematic choices ... a regularity (an order, correlations , positions and functioning transformations) we will say, for the sake of convenience, that we are dealing with a discursive formation" (Foucault 1972: 38). Such a choice of term suits Foucault's purpose well, since it is more neutral than "science," "theory," or "discipline." Foucault demonstrates how in the case of psychopathology these formations are subject to certain conditions which he calls rules of formation . These rules determine that "concept, object, theory and operation partake of the same discursivity" (Said 1985: 308). Discourse is, after all, an ongoing reality with a discursivity (behavior) of its own. It goes without saying that this behavior necessitates the imposition of a regularity; in the process, systems of exclusion are developed which marginalize, suppress, or exclude, branding some statements as acceptable and others as unacceptable. The ultimate aim of discourse then is the occultation of differences, discontinuities, gaps, silences and the enveloping the whole in a "a false and misleading plenitude" (Foucault 1977: 135). Predominant among the systems of exclusion and control and central in the discussion of this paper is the commentary (Foucault 1971 : 220—223). Every society valorizes a number of texts, whether these are legal, religious literary or scientific etc.; however, they give rise to a number of secondary texts or commentary and as the latter proliferates , it becomes difficult to distinguish between the primary and the secondary. Thus although new discourse becomes possible, this new discourse paradoxically comes into being by replicating the primary one. In other words, it extracts its hidden meaning, it repeats what has already been said, or it makes up for an absence in the primary one; in brief it says what has never been said. In this sense, commentary seeks to suppress and contain discourse...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 85-96
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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