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CESARE CASARINO Gomorrahs of the Deep or, Melville, Foucault, and the Question of Heterotopia . . . the natural changes of the monads must result from an internal principle , since no external cause could influence their interior. . . . Consequently, there must be in the [monad] a plurality of affections and relations, though it has no parts. G. W. von Leibniz ISHALL SPEAK OF THAT DOUBLE-EDGED DESIRE which in Michel Foucault takes the name of "heterotopia" and in Herman Melville takes the name of "Neversink." It is from such a desire that I start in order to produce a Melvillean reading of Foucault. Foucault's remarks on heterotopias become here a heuristic starting point fot an investigation of spatial discourses in Melville—an investigation which hopes, in turn, to transform Foucault's conceptual apparatus and, as it were, to highjack it to quite different trajectories and destinations. In a sense, Melville and Foucault are here placed side by side as two theorists of space who, all the specificities notwithstanding, share in the common history of certain Western epistemologies of space—epistemologies which, ultimately, are also revealed to have emerged in crucial interaction with modern paradigms and representations of same-sex desire, practices and identities.1 In the 1967 lecture "Of Other Spaces," Foucault sketches the theorization of a concept he had first introduced in The Order of Things: "heterotopia."2 While utopias are condemned to remain forever "sites with no real place,"3 heterotopias are instead characterized as follows: Arizona Quarterly Volume 51, Number 4, Winter 1995 Copyright © 1995 by Arizona Board of Regents issN 0004- 1 610 Cesare Casarino There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places—places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society—which are something like countetsites , a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture , are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality. Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias.4 To represent, to contest, to invert: one can think of Foucault's heterotopia as a mode ofrepresentation, as a particular kind ofspace from and through which one can see and make new and different sense of all other spaces.5 After having delineated a set of "principles" which regulate heterotopias,6 Foucault thus concludes his lecture: Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of hetetotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth centuty until the present, the great instrument of economic development . . . , but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.7 It is such an outrageous claim of the ship as the heterotopia par excellence of Western civilization that I would like to elaborate here. It seems to me that a peculiarly new and unique characteristic of nineteenthcentury sea narratives—as opposed to eatliet versions of this literary form—was that they marked the vety space ofthe ship, and all of its intricate , internal circuitries of power, as the central narrative telos.8 If Gomorrahs of the Deep the plots of nineteenth-century sea narratives were centered on that element which is the very foundation of the sea narrative per se— namely, the world of the ship—that was so because this foundation, during the nineteenth century, was in...


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