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Conclusion Engendering Catastrophes A dynamic that haunts this book from the very first pages comes through explicitly in the final chapter. This dynamic is the question of the feminine: as excess, as madness, as satanic, in short, the feminine as catastrophic. It is perhaps necessary to highlight briefly the character of this notion of the feminine , with full awareness that the varying facets of the feminine in literature is a subject that requires a thorough study of its own, which I hope to undertake in future projects. For now, I wish to reiterate that the notion of the feminine deployed throughout these texts distinguishes between woman as a gendered being, biologically and socio-politically, and the feminine as a dynamic, or as Khatibi says, as a principle. Le livre du sang shows the extent to which the feminine is the mark of the excess of gender identity, allied with the Androgyn as the principle that confounds and confuses, that threatens and destroys, and that opens structures. The feminine becomes the dynamic of impossible closure, another name for excess. The alliance between the feminine and catastrophe in thought and language is marked by the contact between them, and from which neither language nor thought can regain their bearings. Rather, they become directed otherwise and to another place than to safety and assurance of concepts and established discourse. This does not mean that there are no relationships between the position of women within historical, cultural, and ideological landscapes and this principle of the feminine. However, what interests me most immediately in the context of this project is the ways in which femininity is inscribed in récit and as récit and what the figures of femininity do for the story and as the story. In the texts I have read, the feminine is often inscribed as engendering. The possibility of the story, as well as the movements of the turn in language and thought, which I have characterized as catastrophic, are intimately related to the feminine. But this engendering, which may come close to PAGE 188 188 ................. 17176$ CONL 01-15-09 14:19:00 PS Conclusion: Engendering Catastrophes 189 gendering in the sense of metaphorizing women’s childbearing capacities, is in fact marked by the suspension of the biological framing of women as child-bearers. In an oblique way, we have perhaps inherited this suspension from A Thousand and One Nights, where it appears that the childless woman becomes the menacing force. It is this woman who must either be destroyed or contained so that laws may be safeguarded and sovereignty may keep its place. We must remember that Shahriyar has no heirs to reassure the continuity of the place of sovereignty. The infidelity of the queen puts into question the possibility of this genealogical reassurance; and the protective measures taken by the king to contain the possibility of impurity give rise to the violence of the law of beheading. The childless woman who speaks becomes the possibility for the story and the condition for the suspension of the law of beheading, the madness of containment. But the childless woman is not the impotent woman. She is not the woman who cannot have a child, but rather the woman who is suspended as child-bearer. Shahrazad is such a figure. She brings forth the story that comes about in a double suspension: of violence and of childbearing. But she no longer tells stories once the story registers the birth of her sons and the concomitant recovery of the king’s genealogical line. We are finally told that in the course of her storytelling she has given birth to more than one son, but we do not know about these births until at the very end, at the point where the story stops, with the inscription of these births within it. The happy ending, where motherhood and patriarchy join up as the logic of sovereignty, brings about the silence of the story and of the storyteller. A Thousand and One Nights warns us against this happy ending with its implications for the questions of politics, law, and gender. This suspension of motherhood is perhaps the mark of the catastrophic. When the genealogical model can no longer frame woman and the discourse on woman, as we see with la Bi-langue, femininity becomes the dynamic of the story, or the récit. It is released in the story with the threat that silence may be imposed on it at any moment, when...


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